What is the point?

Stairway

There isn’t any point. At least, not ‘out there’ somewhere, waiting to be discovered. The point, purpose and meaning of life is what we make of it. We make our own purpose.

The Christians among us claim to have real purpose. Not like we sad non-believers whose purpose is to do with raising and supporting our family, being creative, doing things for others or whatever. No, Christians get their real purpose from God, or so they say. Perhaps some of them would be good enough to share it with us; is it rushing from one church meeting to another? Singing badly written hymns badly? Cosying up to one another? Telling others about the great salvation plan?

Apparently not, though they do seem to spend a lot of time doing these things. According to CARM the purpose of life ‘is to praise God, worship Him… proclaim His greatness, and… accomplish His will.’ Got Questions, on the other hand, says it’s to ‘1) glorify God and enjoy fellowship with Him, 2) have good relationships with others, 3) work, and 4) have dominion over the earth,’ while Open Bible claims it’s ‘to love and serve God in order to help bring about God’s glorious plan for creation.’

That’s it? The purpose faith supplies is this woolliness? It’s about doing stuff we already do (‘work’, ‘have good relationships with others’) and fawning over a needy, insecure deity? God help us if this is all it amounts to. Those who claim to know the secrets of eternal life and the mind of God himself should surely be able to come up with something better than the rest of us.

As I’ve written before, this isn’t what Jesus told his followers life was for. No, he said it was to work to bring about God’s kingdom on Earth (Matthew 6.33; 13.44, Luke 9.62 etc). Try as you might you’ll struggle to find a Christian site that says this is the point. That’s because Christians long ago – almost two thousand years ago – stopped believing that God’s kingdom was due to arrive here and switched their expectation to one of an after-life in heaven. But that’s not what the Bible promises, and it’s certainly not what Jesus said.

So maybe, Christians, you’re missing the point of your faith and your purpose in life; it’s to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth (Matthew 6.10) – in the first century (Mark 9.1). No wonder you’re now so rudderless, so lacking in direction and real purpose. You missed the boat, which sank without you two millennia ago.

Now you have to construct your own meaning, just like the rest of us. Except ours is better, lacking as it does the faux Biblical language and all those fairy tale elements.

 

 

For God So Loves The World

NepalFor God so loves the world he let an earthquake and its many aftershocks kill up to 10,000 people in Nepal.

For God so loves the world he stood by while up 100,000 more people lost everything, including their homes, because of the same earthquake.

For God so loves the world he drowned 900 refugees fleeing the terrors of war in their own countries.

For God so loves the world he allowed 250 individuals to be killed by a rogue pilot who flew the plane they were on into the side of a mountain.

But wait! One particular Christian preacher knows why this kind of thing happens. He can explain how these catastrophes, particularly the devastation caused by the earthquake, are compatible with a God of love. Here’s what it’s really all about:
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That’s right. God only allowed these terrible things to happen so that more people – excluding the ones he murdered, obviously – would have the chance to turn to Christ. Isn’t that marvellous? And Tony Miano, who is the same lunatic street preacher arrested in London in 2013 for sharing God’s ‘love’ for LGBT people, is not alone. German pastor Wolfgang Wegert said much the same thing of those who died on Germanwings Flight 9525: ‘A plane crash is a reminder of our own mortality. By that, God wants to make people repent, so that we (can) be saved by Jesus.’

And, do you know, they’re right. No, really, they are. There is no other response available to the Christian who wants to explain events that involve the terrible loss of life. That’s because the Christian God, the one who purports to love us so much, as well as all the other versions, is conspicuous by his absence. He’s always absent, always powerless to prevent such disasters, too remote to want to. Which might just suggest he doesn’t exist (which of course he doesn’t) leaving those who feel the need to cling to belief in him to explain his actions or, rather, the lack of them. So they supply him with an ulterior motive. And why not? A fabricated being needs a fabricated excuse. But this being the real world, the options are limited. So what we get is this; God is only trying to draw people to him. How truly loving. The equivalent of a human father murdering several of his children so that those he spares might love him more. A monstrous and preposterous idea for a monstrous and preposterous God.

And so it falls to human beings of all persuasions to show compassion and to help the survivors of earthquakes, the relatives of plane crashes, the misplaced and grieving refugees. We might be flawed, fallible and – according to the self-righteous – ‘sinful’, but we can at our best, demonstrate the love so lacking in their absent deities. And unlike the many meaningless gods, from Yahweh and Jesus to Allah and Vishnu, we can be present too, because we are real.

 

You can donate to the Nepal earthquake appeal here.

Gentle Jesus – meek and mild?

StonedWhen it comes to derogatory and hateful remarks about minorities, Jesus is frequently given a pass. His ‘meek and mild’ persona – not one he actually had, but one he’s acquired over time – is brought into play to absolve him of all unpleasantness.

For example, and as liberal bloggers are fond of saying, here’s what he had to say about gay marriage:

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Yup, that’s right; he said absolutely nothing about it – not directly anyway. But what Jesus did say, if ‘Matthew’ is to believed, was that he upheld the Jewish Law in its minutest detail:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5.17-19)

That’s the Law that prescribes death for even the smallest infraction that he’s endorsing there. Here’s a brief sample of that Law and the penalty for breaking its petty rules:

Stone to death anyone who works on the Sabbath. (Exodus 35.2 and Numbers 15.32-36)

Kill publicly children who dishonour their father or mother. (Leviticus 20.9)

Stone to death anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord. (Leviticus 24.16)

Execute a married couple who have sexual intercourse during the woman’s period. (Leviticus 18.19)

Put to death those involved in adultery. (Leviticus 20.10)

Execute any man who lies with another man, as with a woman. (Leviticus 20.13)

Stone to death at her father’s door any woman who is not a virgin on her wedding night. (Deuteronomy 22.13-14 and 20-21).

Sound familiar? With its oppressive brutality and liberal use of the death penalty, this sort of behaviour is like IS practices today. They’re both desert ‘moralities’, after all. And this is the law that Jesus advocates and insists remains in place until ‘heaven and earth pass away’. As that hasn’t happened yet, the Law, according to Jesus anyway, remains in effect. Never mind that Paul says it doesn’t – God himself, in the shape of Jesus Christ says it does. How’s that for meek and mild?

(Cue Christians referencing the story of the woman caught in adultery. That, however, is a late addition to the Bible and, in any case, Jesus only saves the woman because his beloved Law hasn’t been properly complied with.)

Thankfully, civilised human beings – and civilised Christians too – ignore Jesus and don’t seek to apply such old barbaric laws (though there are some believers who want to when it comes to LGBT people; see my previous post.) But if you want to know Jesus’ position on moral issues that he doesn’t pontificate on explicitly, just remember he fully supports the death penalty for adultery, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath, not being a virgin on your wedding night, having sex at the wrong time of month, dancing, listening to the radio, tweeting and texting… oh wait… now I have got him confused with Islamic extremists. It’s so easy to do.
Next time: Jesus says that the only way to gain eternal life is to follow this vicious Law with all its unreasonable demands.

And another three things…

Following on from last time’s post, here, below the picture, are some more points I hold to be true.Image

Human behaviour, not sin.
There is no such thing as sin and we don’t need God’s forgiveness for it. Sin is a Christian construct with no purchase in the real world. There is only human behaviour – good, bad and indifferent. Most of it is indifferent (or neutral if you like) including what consenting adults may do with each other sexually. Some of it is good, in the sense that it benefits others significantly; some of it is bad – evil even – because of the harm it causes others. None of it is offensive to God, because there isn’t a God, and none of it is forgiven by him for the same reason. We are moral or not, without the assistance of a God. This seems to me to be self-evident: if there is no God and yet we are capable of behaving morally then any goodness cannot come from him. Similarly, immoral behaviour, of which the religious are as capable as the rest of us, is also entirely human.

We can draw two conclusions from this:

  1. No sin = nothing to be saved from = no redemption.

  2. The Christian claim that because atheists don’t acknowledge God they have no grounds for behaving morally is demonstrably false. The golden rule of ‘do unto others…’ is of value to us as social animals, which is why it pre-dates Jesus by millennia. Non-believers are as capable of behaving morally as believers, and sometimes a darn-sight better.

It is impossible to know the future.
No-one can know the future. The same Christians who castigate scientists for not being there when the Earth came into existence, have the temerity to claim they know what will happen at some indeterminate time in the future. There will be, they tell us, an anti-Christ, a rapture and Jesus will return from Heaven. They cannot know this of course, even if their holy book seems to predict it. It too was created by human beings with no more ability to read the future as anyone else. People have long wished they could tell what the future holds, which is why fortune tellers, astrologers, priests who read auspices, oracles and prophets have been with us throughout history. They’ve never been right, except by chance, for the simple expedient that humans are not gifted with accurate foresight. Biblical prophecies are no exception and have already failed, as we’ll see in future postings.

(Scientists do of course predict what the consequences of certain actions might be, but scientific predictions are subject to amendment as more information becomes available and are always open to refutation. They are not in the same category as prophecies purportedly from a deity who doesn’t actually exist.)

We are all humanists.
We are all utterly reliant on other human beings, not God, to help us fulfil our needs. Believers do not turn to God when they are hungry, because if they did they would starve (in spite of what Jesus says in Matthew 6.25). They don’t turn to him when they are ill, but look to medical science to help them (yes, there are a small minority of extremists who, because of faith in God and the likes of Mark 16.18, let their children die. But most believers don’t; they have faith in other humans, in science and technology). Christians and believers of all stripes demonstrate their faith, not in God but in human endeavours every time they get dressed, put on spectacles, catch a bus, board a plane, buy a house, switch on a computer, television or oven, use a phone, listen to music, admire art and marvel at architecture. None of this is God-given, it is all human, and believers, whatever else they may claim, are all humanists at heart, having far more faith in the human than the divine.