The Word of God

When debating the origins of the Bible with most Christians, you’ll often be confronted with arguments to the effect that the Bible was written – or, rather, directly inspired – by God. The usual and justified response, then, is to point out the circular logic in the claim: The Bible is the word of God because it claims to be the word of God, and one could just as easily scrawl “All first-born daughters, upon turning fourteen, must be tied in the woods to be violated by bears; this is the word of God” and have just as much a chance at demonstrating the authenticity of either document. But it makes even less sense than that.

In the same or similar debates, you’ll likely encounter the “you can’t understand God because God’s mind is incomprehensible” variety of argument. That is, if you attempt to attribute any kind of characteristic like “love”, “hatred”, “pettiness”, “insanity”, et cetera to God, you’ll be informed that it’s a human-specific characteristic, and, thus, you can’t apply it to God, who is “incomprehensible” and operates beyond the understanding of man’s logic. But if religion was truly inspired or written by God, then why does God seem to have so many human-specific needs? Religion seems to exclusively fulfill the needs of humans, and none of the needs of an omnipotent being.

Humans need religion to be comforted by the notion that the people they don’t like will face some kind of unavoidable justice for their behavior. You can’t really do anything about it yourself, but that belief – that desire for vicarious vengeance – can help get you from day to day. Why would God – a supposedly omnipotent being – need this? Why would God have such a lowly human desire for vengeance and punishment? And why would he have such a complicated system for delivering it? But even with all of that aside, given the limitless ways he’d have of dealing with potentially pesky human souls, why limit himself to a binary, two-location (or a few more rather close to the others, depending on your beliefs) sorting system?

Now, I anticipate an argument against this along the lines of “God gives mankind what we want because he wants us to be happy.” But I guess this would imply that God is somehow man’s servant, or at least that the purpose and function of God is to fulfill mankind’s wishes by fashioning a reality for us that apparently caters to all our needs and inevitably fulfills all our wishes and desires if we’re good boys and girls and follow instructions. But that’s just silly. And doesn’t this assumption about God’s wishes also attribute to him characteristics that are apparently human-specific?

Further, what would God necessarily have to gain from all the hygiene-specific guidelines laid out in the Old Testament? Does it matter to him whether we live or… er… afterlive? Since he presumably exists in all places at once, does it really matter to him whether we die of some food-borne illness at age 25 or a heart attack at age 77?

Then, of course, is the whole ability to view hell from heaven. What need could God possibly have for that? Can’t he see everything anyway? Again, this is something that exclusively benefits – for certain rather psychotic definitions of ‘benefits’ – man.

I could go on for a while about this, and I’ll likely have greater elaboration in a future post with excerpts from the Bible and such, but the reward/punishment structure all seems to point to “faithful humans get everything they could possibly want; God gets nothing God couldn’t just effortlessly fashion for himself, but for whatever reason grants all the wishes of faithful humans based on some arcane, oversimplified system that is obviously the product of a mind no more complex than any human and designed specifically by the faithful to ensure that only they receive the reward they feel is coming to people in the afterlife, and that everyone else gets punished”.

Ultimately, Christians can’t have it both ways: If God cannot be attributed human characteristics, then he has no human-like needs and the whole system makes no sense, especially eternal damnation. But if God can be attributed human characteristics, then he’s really not much of a God.

12 thoughts on “The Word of God”

  1. Then, of course, is the whole ability to view hell from heaven.

    What in fuck? Does this come from anywhere other than Jack Chick’s illustrations of Heston-faced angels lovingly shoving people into the Pit of Yaaaaah? Please help: I’m ingorant or confused or both.

  2. There are certain passages in the Bible where people in heaven see people in hell and vice versa. I think there’s one in Luke 16, and some in Revelations, and a few others. Can’t remember specifically.

  3. From what I understand of this omnipotent being called “God” He supposedly puts everyone through tests to see if they are worthy to be one of His chosen ones. We are supposed to pray for nothing else but the strength to endure these tests. Funny though that everyone isn’t given the same test. For example, by giving a child cancer, are we testing the child? the parents? both? If a set of parents have three children who all have the same disease and are not expected to live to a ripe old age and then give one of the parents terminal cancer, how is this the same test as someone who wins the lottery at the ripe old age of 25 and blows it all having the time of his/her life? I can see this working if everyone is given the same type of test but when the scales aren’t balanced then what’s the point? You walk ten miles on broken glass with bare feet and I am given an air-conditioned limo with a fully stocked bar and we both arrive at the same destination, who is more worthy?

    There is one Bible, one word of God yet there are so many different religions with different interpretations of the same scriptures. Why? Each of these organized religions profess to be the one true religion with all others being wrong. What’s up with that? If we are all reading the same book of instructions, why are we all coming up with something different and judging others as being wrong and we are right? Is this another one of God’s sick tests?

    If you are tired of taking tests, and just want to quit and go to heaven, are you given a lifeline? Can you phone a friend? What’s the deal?

    This all seems like one strange game with no clear rules. Everyone seems to have the answers and the answer is…..
    “It’s a mystery.” Hope that clears it all up for you.

  4. Here’s a multiple-choice test:

    Question: Which of the following proves that all triangles have four sides?

    (a) Uranium

    (b) Forty-two!

    (c) The Pope

    (d) Argentina

    Oh, and there are several dozen similar answers to choose from, and if you choose the wrong one, you’ll burn for all eternity.

    This is what religion is like. There are dozens of religions, each of them offering different utterly-illogical answers to questions that don’t relate to the real world, each of them proclaiming itself to be true on the grounds that it proclaims itself to be true. There’s no rational, independent basis for choosing any one of them over the others, and if you choose the wrong one you will supposedly be punished forever.

    The only sensible response is to ignore the whole concept as what it plainly is — gibberish unworthy of serious attention.

  5. “Humans need religion to be comforted by the notion that the people they don’t like will face some kind of unavoidable justice for their behavior.”

    Not only that, but they also use religion to justify their own actions in this world. The Greeks used “The Illiad” as justification for their conquoring of Troy. The Romans used “The Aeneid” as justification of their conquoring of Northern Africa. And the Hebrews used the Bible as a romancification and justification for their leaving Egypt and battles for the land of Caanan.

    A large section of the Old Testament talks about the Hebrew’s battles for the land bridge between Europe and Africa. These battles did actually happen. King David was a real person. Of course, when you are writing about your peoples history, you want to put them in as best of a light as possible. Having “God” and “Faith” on your side is a big plus.

    Then, there is trying to answer questions about the universe. People are naturally curious and look for answers to many things. Most look for the easy answers. “The sun is carried across the sky in Apollo’s chariot.” “The sky is a giant’s skull being held up by four dwarves named North, South, East, and West.” “The universe was created in six days by a great being called God.” The huge problem is that people are also stubborn, and when the actual reason for things are shown, they reject them and cling to their easy answers.

    I do believe in a supreme being, but religions are created by human beings.

  6. Linkage; that’s pretty much what I’ve decided. Religions come and go, at the whims of humans. If there is a Supreme Being, none of the religions can possibly grasp the entire concept. Humanity remains, and you have to deal with life as it is rather than spending your whole life worrying over whether some random being that may or may not exist gives a shit about what you’re doing.

    Ever read Pratchett’s “Small Gods”? The idea in that is that gods only have power if they have true believers. The Great God Om has lost all his believers except for one rather thick temple novice, and so Om is stuck in the form of a small one-eyed tortoise.

  7. i like the “the sky is a skull held up by dwarves” one. it beats the hell out of “all you chicks are sinful cos that other chick ate that fruit that time”

  8. I believe it’s from the Old Norse cosmology. This also includes such interesting elements as gods shitting and vomiting at the same time and having sex with horses, as well as a ship made out of the toenails of the dead.

  9. I like “all you fruits are sinful cos that chick ate that other chick that time”.

    I wonder if Chick has ever eaten a chick.

    This also includes such interesting elements as gods shitting and vomiting at the same time and having sex with horses

    Sounds like these people were worshiping the frat house I used to live next door to.

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