Monday, October 4, 2010

The Moral Insanity of Religion

This particular post may seem to focus on Christianity, but because the god of Abraham is also the god of the Hebrews and the Muslims it will have some general application.

      “I am now convinced that children should not be subjected to
   the frightfulness of the Christian religion . . . If the concept of a
   father who plots to have his own son put to death is presented to
   children as beautiful and as worthy of society's admiration, what
   types of human behavior can be presented to them as

— Ruth Hurmence Green, Preface of Born Again Skeptic's Guide to the Bible

The god of Abraham shows every sign of being deeply disturbed.  His requirement is that we love and worship him or he will torture us forever.  And, if he does torture us forever, it is our own fault for turning down his "love".  This is precisely the sort of reasoning one might expect to hear from a man who is stalking his ex-girlfriend.  It is not the way an emotionally healthy and sane individual thinks.  (As I have mentioned in other posts, this reasoning has actually been presented to me by believers as if it were perfectly sane and rational.)

One of the most important stories in the old testament is that of Abraham and Isaac, where god is said to have ordered Abraham to sacrifice Isaac--i.e., murder him for god.  As the story is told, Abraham went through all the preparations and was about to sacrifice his son but then god "spoke" to him at the last minute and stopped him.  We are supposed to marvel at god's magnanimity and generosity.  In truth, however, what everyone should marvel at is the fact that the moral depravity of this insane incident doesn't immediately shock all who hear it into abandoning any religion associated with it. 

Today, such a parent would be declared unfit, have his parental rights revoked and perhaps even be institutionalized.  He might be able to avoid this by claiming it was a part of his religion, but there is little doubt that most members of his community, even those who sing god's praises in church on Sunday for sparing Isaac, would call child protective services and be appalled if nothing were done to remove the child from the home.  One can only guess at the psychological damage done to Isaac by this little incident.

Modern believers make much of the need for the moral guidance of their god.  But, what kind of guide is he, really?  The racist, mass-murdering god of Abraham, doesn't seem to have valued life very much: 
- - - - -
1 Sam.15:2-3 "Thus saith the LORD of hosts ...
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy
all that they have, and spare them not; but
slay both man and woman, infant and suckling,
ox and sheep, camel and ass."

Num.21:6 "And the LORD sent fiery serpents among
the people, and they bit the people; and much
people of Israel died."

Num.11:1 "And when the people complained, it
displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it and
his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD
burnt among them, and consumed them that were in
the uttermost parts of the camp."

Hosea 13:16 "Samaria shall become desolate; for
she hath rebelled against her God: they shall
fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed
in pieces, and their women with child shall be
ripped up."

Gen.7:21-23 (God drowns everything that breathes
air in the Great Flood.)

Gen.19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and
upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD
out of heaven; (killing innocent children, among

Exod.12:12 For I will pass through the land of
Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn
in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and
against all the gods of Egypt I will execute
judgment: I am the LORD.

Exod.23:27 I will send my fear before thee, and
will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt
come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their
backs unto thee. (the prior residents of the
promised land are all to be killed)

Num.16:20-35 (Because of a dispute between Korah
and Moses, God has the ground open up and swallow
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram "and their wives, and
their sons, and their little children." Then, just
for the hell of it, God has a fire burn to death
250 "men that offered incense.")

Num.21:3 And the LORD hearkened to the voice of
Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they
utterly destroyed them and their cities (including
infants, no doubt)

Num.31 (God directs Moses to kill the Midiamites,
except the virgins)

Deut.2:34 And we took all his cities at that time,
and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and
the little ones, of every city, we left none to
remain: (in Heshborn)

Deut.20:13 And when the LORD thy God hath delivered
it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male
thereof with the edge of the sword:

Deut.32:23-26 I will heap mischiefs upon them; I
will spend mine arrows upon them. / / They shall
be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning
heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send
the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of
serpents of the dust. / / The sword without, and
terror within, shall destroy both the young man and
the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray
hairs. / / I said, I would scatter them into
corners, I would make the remembrance of them to
cease from among men: (He kills all, including

Jud.11:21 And the LORD God of Israel delivered
Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel,
and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the
land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that

Jud.20:35 And the LORD smote Benjamin before
Israel: and the children of Israel destroyed of
the Benjamites that day twenty and five thousand
and an hundred men: all these drew the sword.

I Sam.6:19 And he smote the men of Bethshemesh,
because they had looked into the ark of the LORD,
even he smote of the people fifty thousand and
threescore and ten men: and the people lamented,
because the LORD had smitten many of the people
with a great slaughter.

I once asked a fundamentalist to explain to me how he could worship a god, and hold that god up as a source of virtue, who ordered bears to tear 42 children apart for the "horrible sin" of making fun of Elisha the prophet's bald head.  ((2 Kings 2:23-25)  He had no answer at first.  He said he would talk to his pastor about it.  After doing so, he came back to me and told me that his pastor said that "it just shows that you don't mess with god's messenger".

So there you have it:  God is just a psychopathic bully--according to his own spokespeople.

The alleged version of god in the new testament doesn't seem to have improved very much either.  The moral insanity of the christian religion is apparent even in its central myth.  Apparently, god was so mad at mankind (for being exactly as he made us), that he just had to kill someone.  Rather than kill all of us or almost all of us (as he is alleged to have done once before with a flood), he decided to have a child and kill it just to get his anger out of his system.  (I guess that is a bit of an improvement, maybe.)

Why a god who created the universe couldn't just use his magic powers to fix things is never explained.  Nor is it explained why a god capable of creating the entire universe is so emotional and irrational and interested in such an insignificant part of the cosmos as ourselves.

If you point these things out, you will get back some meaningless blather about the mystery of god's will, which is just a long-winded way of saying "I don't know".  It's a mystery to me why the religious can't just admit that they don't know as soon as it becomes true, such as before resorting to the god hypothesis to "explain" the existence of the universe.  It seems to me that only arrogance and vanity can explain such behavior.

Furthermore, as I have pointed out before, the religious have a very skewed view of morality.  Most theists are trapped in an infantile state of moral development where what is "good" is obedience to authority combined with a determination to control one's private parts.  (That is why they have no trouble watching movies with appalling violence but become outraged at any nudity.)  In short, they are pathologically anal retentive.

I guess if your moral authority is a psychopath and his spokespeople are greedy liars and child molesters, then absolute acceptance of the proclamations of the authority figures is the only way one can maintain the fiction that one is a member of a good group and that one's cherished delusions are real.  Those who peddle this insanity for a living have every reason to keep the sheep in this subjective, non-thinking state.

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