The line goes a little something like this:
“Do you consider yourself a good person?” (The presumption here is that most people will answer “yes”)
“Have you ever told a lie?” (Again, the answer here, obviously, is expected to be yes, as it is with the next couple of questions)
“Have you ever had a lustful thought about another human being?”
“Have you ever stolen anything in your life?”
“Have you ever taken the lord’s name in vain?”
“Well, then, by your own admission, you’re a lying, adulterous, thieving blasphemer. Do you still think that you’re a good person?”
The core concept here, basically, is that all human beings are, according to the standards held by Jesus in christian mythology, abhorrent and amoral monsters, and that they all deserve to be tortured in hell for eternity. But don’t worry! Just admit to Jesus that you are what he wants you to believe that you are, and you’ll be allowed into heaven in spite of the fact that you’re a misbegotten sack of shit! Hooray!
I’ve spoken before about this line of thinking, some time ago, and at that time remarked that this criteria is so broad that it is plainly defined in such a way as to catch up everyone; it would do just as well to have rules saying “Thou shalt not drink of the water nor breathe of the air, for both of these acts are abominations in the eyes of the lord thy god.” It would be about as meaningful and about as valid. Something more occurred to me this morning, however.
This same mythology holds that when the christian god, Yahweh, took on human form as Jesus, he lived out his life free of all sin, and was the one human being ever to have gone through his life without ever doing anything deserving of going to hell. All humans are held to that same standard, and all are found wanting by comparison.
It strikes me that this is insane bullshit.
We have Yahweh; a vast alien intellect, who we are told is without any of these traits which he holds to be so abhorrent and repulsive (though if one reads the old testament, one sees this god repeatedly having wrathful thoughts towards individuals and populations – in one memorable case a population which caught up all but eight people on earth, which seems to put lie to this, but we’ll leave that aside for the moment). He decides to take on human form and live out a human life, in order to serve a couple of purposes. The first is in order to show humans the moral standard they ought to hold themselves to. The other is so that he could eventually be sacrificed in order to redeem mankind and provide them a means of avoiding damnation in so doing(by which we mean that he would sacrifice himself to himself, in order to allow himself to create a loophole in a rule he himself created so that he could save us from a threat which he himself created).
So, he clothes himself in human flesh, walking around in this meat-puppet body which he called “Jesus”, for some thirty years or thereabouts, gradually working his way towards his pre-ordained end, all the while acting the way he demanded other human beings act, all the while knowing full well that no human could ever do so, thanks to the urges and desires which he designed humans to have. There’s a huge problem here, though.
While he’s walking around in his meat-puppet body, he’s doing so without fear of death. He’s omniscient; he knows full well he’ll be fine. In fact, he knows he really has no lasting harm to fear from anything or anybody. He never experiences a moment of lust. He never experiences a moment of anger. In short, he never experiences a lot of things which are basic and fundamental to the human experience. Things so basic that, without them, you are not living an actual human life. You are merely going through the motions; a crude charade, a puppet-show for the benefit of the lowly humans of the world. He lives out this brief lifetime without fear or uncertainty, desire or rage, and then tells all of mankind that if they do not do likewise – a feat he knows to be impossible – then they deserve to be tortured in his basement for all of time.
To me, this is a little bit like going to a resort town in a foreign country for two weeks, never leaving that resort once, never engaging with the local population, never experiencing life as they experience it, never really committing to or engaging with the realities of life in that place, and then going home and deciding to pass judgement on all of the people who live in that country based upon the fact that they don’t live their entire lives the way you did during your two weeks at the resort.
Jesus was a fucking tourist.
In fact, perhaps a more apt analogy would be a person who goes to live among the gorillas for a couple of weeks. They declare that while they are there, they ARE a gorilla, in spite of the fact that they lack many of the drives and instincts of a gorilla, and really have no real grasp of what it’s like to actually be one. During that time, this person sees what gorillas are like as they live their lives, and finds them to be disgusting and appalling. He never once experiences a moment of sexual attraction towards a gorilla of the opposite sex, for obvious reasons, and therefore finds it repugnant when a gorilla DOES find itself attracted to a gorilla of the opposite sex. So horrific is this to him, in fact, that that gorilla, he decides, ought to be tortured for all time for having felt that way. During these two weeks, he makes a number of other, similar judgements, and then goes home and feels he is in a position to say that he was the PERFECT gorilla, and that all of those other gorillas are flawed and imperfect by comparison to the perfect gorilla life which he led.
It rings a little hollow.
Now, there are a couple of fairly obvious counter-arguments which could be brought up here; “God is perfect, with perfect knowledge of humanity and indeed perfect knowledge of all things. Of course he understands what it’s like to have human flaws and such. He understands everything.” And within the context of the mythology, I’ll grant that this is logically consistent. However, KNOWING these things and actually FEELING and EXPERIENCING them are two very different things. An omniscient god, wearing his magical meat suit, going up to the cross, has nothing to fear for his continued existence. He feels no uncertainty as to what’s awaiting him after he dies. He knows he has nothing to lose. He may not enjoy the process, but he knows it’s temporary, and that he could end it any time he wanted to, merely by deciding it should be so. This is not a human life. This is the life of an incomprehensible alien intellect apparently devoid of many human emotions merely going through the motions in order to make the point that all humans ought to act as though they were incomprehensible alien intellects merely going through the motions of a human life, and that anyone who does otherwise is, in his eyes, a moral monster who he is perfectly justified in sentencing to an eternity of brutal torture.
This seems like a kind of unreasonable standard to hold people to.
And of course, a god who is omniscient would know that this is the case. If he goes ahead with it anyways, it would have to be because he simply does not care; he makes the rules; he does not need to justify them to anyone. After all, the whole point is to provide a set of standards which nobody can ever possibly live up to, and then demand a lifetime of servitude, worship, and abject ass-kissing in order to make up for this perceived failing.
And if that’s the case, then go ahead and say so. Let’s not be coy about it and pretend that the idea of living up to Jesus’s insane standards is anything other than a pretext for threats, emotional abuse, and the degradation of the human spirit. Cut to the fucking chase and show some respect to our intelligence, you know?
But then, respect for humanity is rather inimical to the guiding principle of this stripe of christian mythology, so perhaps that’s a bit much to ask.