Friday, April 25, 2008

Letter to a Christian Nation

Nothing angries up the blood like reading atheist literature. Seriously. You want to get pissed off? Pick up The God Delusion or Letter to a Christian Nation. I expect the same is true about God is not Great or Breaking the Spell. I haven't read them, and I lament my ignorance.

But to be honest, I'm not sure I could read them all at once, anyway. I found myself agitated and upset while I read Delusion, and again this morning as I finished off Letter. I need to go back and read them both again, and soon, because I found emotion often clouding my perception, and certainly fogging my memory. It all seems so fucking obvious while I read it that I don't internalize it as much as I ought to, and while the reactions and ideas are cemented forever in my brain, the actual substance of the arguments and evidence are lost.

Atheism came to me after little actual conscious thought, really. I've discussed before the argument by Epicurus:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
It's quite simple really, and it's more or less the way I came to my atheism. If god does exist, he's clearly an asshole. I'd rather believe in nothing than in that kind of god. The god that everybody told me about is a merciful, just, kind and loving god. That guy doesn't exist.

So it's interesting to me to read the logical arguments, see the evidence, and get reassurance that what my gut told me was in fact my brain telling me that I was delusional.

It's just so fucking obvious. I can't get past the fact that people can't see that belief in god requires such nimble fallacies and denials of fact. It's the first of many things that apologists have to apologise for, and it makes me nuts that otherwise sane and sensible people believe in a just and merciful god that actually gives a shit about them, when the evidence is so obviously contrary.

Based on this false premise, their logic only gets more twisted:
  1. If something horrible happens to me, god is teaching me a lesson, or making me stronger.
  2. If something horrible happens to me, god is teaching someone else a lesson, or making them stronger.
  3. If something horrible happens to me, god loves me but is punishing me.
  4. If something horrible happens to me, god loves me but is punishing someone else.
  5. If something horrible happens but I am spared, god saved me.
  6. If something horrible happens, and I am uninvolved, it is an opportunity for me to be compassionate. Once again, god is teaching me a lesson.
  7. If something horrible happens when I asked god for help, I obviously don't have enough faith.
  8. If something horrible happens to an entire population, it must be divine retribution for something. Like a gay person choosing to live there.
  9. If something horrible happens, god has nothing to do with it. It must be Satan (which puts aside god's infinite grace, ability and mercy).
  10. If something horrible happens, it's our fault, because god gave us free will.
When I hear this shit coming from someone I love I want to shake them, "Do you hear what your saying? Do you know how fucking stupid you sound? What the fuck is the matter with you?"

And these are only the mental gymnastics required to deal with the existence of pain and suffering. These contortions are non-denominational (unless you worship an actual evil deity and recognize their evil as part of the package; then there's no problem). When it comes to believing in the inerrancy of their chosen holy book, it get even more fucked than that.

I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. If you're reading this, the odds are pretty good you've already realized that faith is craziness, but accepted craziness:
Lisa: Poor Maggie. How many insanity hearings have you been to in your
short little life?
Psy. 2: Mrs. Simpson, before we begin, I just want to assure you that this is
not a trial.
[other psychologists groan]
Alright, it's a trial.
[all high five]
Psy. 1: [opens a file] Now, Marge, according to this, you recently went
berserk in a ice cream parlor.
Marge: Yes.
Psy. 1: And, Marge, did you ever have an unhealthy fixation on Ringo Starr?
Marge: It was healthy; he reciprocated.
[psychologists take notes]
He reciprocated! [mumbles a prayer]
Psy. 1: Excuse me, what are you doing?
Marge: Oh, I was just praying to God that you'll find me sane.
Psy. 1: I see. And this "God", is he in this room right now?
Marge: Oh, yes. He's kind of everywhere.
[psychologists exchange disapproving looks]
Psy. 2: Marge Simpson, you give us no choice but to declare you utterly--
Marge: [rising] I'm not insane!
Psy. 2: You didn't let me finish. --insane!

1 comment:

Adrian Hayter said...

I think the Epicurus quote was the one that really pushed me over the edge from a agnostic theist to an agnostic atheist. It's so mindbogglingly simple, and worded so effectively. It's surprising to think that a man who lived over 2,300 years ago managed to destroy all religious credibility in a single paragraph.