Loose Threads

FamilyPick a thread. Any thread. And start pulling. Gently does it, no need for force. A gentle pull on any of the loose ends of faith and the whole fabric will come apart quickly.

Here, pull on this one marked ‘the infallibility of the Bible‘. See how easily it comes loose as soon as you realise that most of it, Old and New Testament alike, was written long after the events it purports to describe, some of it by imposters and forgers.

Or this one – the salvation thread, much of it stitched into place by an excitable chap prone to hallucinations. Pull it and see how its pattern is nothing like the one proposed by the man it claims to be about.

Pull the magic threads, the ones about Gods, supernatural beings, heaven and hell, eternal life. Watch them disintegrate in your fingers once they’re teased out into the real world.

Take hold of the threads about Resurrections, Second Comings, Raptures and Judgements; so fragile, these break away as soon as they’re touched. The only miracle is that they’ve lasted this long.

Then there’s the promises threads, about how believers are going to do fantastic miracles and heal the sick and raise the dead. Imaginative and colourful, these have never really fitted in.

Then there’s the prayer threads, whose embroidery tells us how prayer works, how God will give us whatever we ask for. Downright embarrassing, these – yank ’em out.

And how about the strands that those who say they love the cloth pick out themselves and throw away? You know the ones; the threads which tell them how to live their lives that they just don’t like the look of and think spoil the overall effect. These have definitely got to go.

What about the threads that weren’t originally there – the ones about ‘defending God’s standards‘ and having a ‘relationship‘ with a dead person? These grubby, greasy threads have been added in to replace the ones those who love the cloth have pulled out for themselves.

Choose any number of other threads – the ones that clash with other bits of the pattern, the ugly brutal ones, the fantastic, the ignorant – and give them a tug. Oh, look. They come away too.

And before you know it, the entire fabric has come apart in your hands. All that’s left is a pile of worthless, brittle threads, good for nothing but throwing in the bin.

I Don’t Believe It

Fabric‘When you think about it’, the taller of the two men said, ‘there is no evidence whatsoever that God, nor indeed any supernatural being.

‘I suppose you’re right’, said the other.

‘With that realisation, my faith began to dissipate. I mean if there’s no God, no angels, demons or Christs, no Holy Spirit, devils, fairies or Santa Claus, then it must mean they’re just figments of the imagination. Take that human element out of the equation and what you’re left with is… well, the natural world and nothing else’.

‘I suppose not’, said the other.

‘From there one realises there is no point in praying – I mean, talking to a being who only exists in your own head. Or reading the Bible; one begins to see it as a very human book, which of course it is’.

‘I suppose so’, said the other.

‘It means too that Jesus can only have been a mortal man – of course he was – and that a good deal of his teaching – if we can believe it really was his and not simply invented by his followers – makes no sense whatever. It was only the eyes of misplaced faith that made it appear so’.

‘I suppose it doesn’t’, said the other.

‘I mean, “pray for whatever you need and God will supply it”. Who has ever believed that sort of thing anyway? No-one. Not really. We all know that doesn’t work; Jesus himself, one suspects. And as for the resurrection, well, if you read those accounts at face value all they saw – Mary Magdalene, Paul and the rest of them – all they saw were visions, not a real person. All in their minds, you see’.

‘I suppose I do’, said the other.

‘No, Christianity is nothing but false promises, failed prophecies – Jesus saying he’d return within his disciples’ lifetime – and impossible morality: “be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect”! Well, I’ve never met anyone who is, Christian or otherwise. Good people are good whether or not they’re Christians and the mean-spirited are mean-spirited whichever side of conversion they’re on.

‘I suppose so’, said the other, before seeing his chance to add, ‘well, that’s £1.80 for your Church Times, Archbishop. Will there be anything else?’

And the World Turns

SerpentOver at the wackily named ‘Cripplegate‘ blog, pastor Mike Riccardi has an urgent message. Mike, in case you’re wondering, is the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He also teaches Evangelism at The Master’s Seminary. His urgent message is that God is not happy and must be appeased.

As we already know, the most powerful, creative and omniscient being in the whole of the universe and beyond is so very easily upset. And as usual what’s upsetting him is the Gay. But that’s not all this time! Turns out he doesn’t like people changing sex and abortion too. The only way we can put things right with this petulant monster, pastor Mike tells us, is to preach and pray all the bad away, so that he will bless us – well, America anyway, which is all Mike is really concerned about – instead of punishing us.

God likes more than anything else to mete out punishment for the slightest infringement of his rules, even though he neglected to tell us what he thought of transgenderism and abortion when inspiring his Magic Word™. You will search in vain for mention of either in the Bible, or anything like them, so it’s a good job we’ve got pastor Mike to tell us what God really thinks. He ‘processes’ it thus:

these checkpoints of moral degradation – transgrenderism (sic), homosexualism and the destruction of marriage, and abortion – all stem from the same polluted fountain out of which even the first sin flowed: self-deification.

It’s because we want to be like God, Mike concludes, that we are morally polluted. Work that one out if you can.

Haven’t we been here before? We sure have. Go back 50 years and God’s emissaries on Earth warned that if we (i.e. the United States again) accepted inter-racial marriage, it would be the end of civilisation because – yes, you guessed – it was against God’s rules. His wrath should have rained down on everyone once inter-racial marriage passed into law, but for some reason it didn’t. Just as it didn’t when same-sex marriage became legal a little while back. Just as it didn’t because of feminism. Just as it didn’t over the devil’s music, rock and roll (still upsetting Christians and their God even today.) Just as it didn’t when Jesus told everyone that judgement was nigh two millennia ago. Just as it didn’t when the prophets of doom in the Old Testament insisted it would (for example in Jeremiah 23.10-12). Just as it didn’t when primitive humans sought to explain why the harvests had failed.

Always, it was that God or the gods were angry and would punish us if we didn’t mend our ways. “But,” you say (just like Pat Robertson), “disasters and calamities do follow our ‘disobedience’ and ‘degradation’”. Of course they do, and they precede them too, but that does not mean the one causes the other. There is no correlation between our supposed ‘moral pollution’ and natural disasters. The latter are random and indiscriminate events, not divine punishment.

It is a favourite occupation of human beings generally and those of a religious disposition specifically, to assume a higher power will punish us, in this life or the next, if we don’t adjust our behaviour and stop doing what it doesn’t like. This is usually – by pure coincidence – what the religious themselves don’t like. As a result, it’s not all of us the deity is keen to judge, only those who don’t believe the same things as the Saved.

God’s favour is always conditional; not only on whether we have faith or carry out rituals that are pleasing unto him or dress appropriately (or grow straggly beards) but also on how we behave – whether we’re ‘morally polluted’ or ‘degraded’ and whether we regard ourselves, consciously or otherwise, as God. And you thought it was only about believing in Jesus.

And so the Righteous Ones direct their prayers up into the void (saying what, I wonder?) with words that never leave the room, or, sometimes, even, their own heads. No-one is listening. There is no-one there to listen. This same not-there, not-listening human creation is not angry with us because some people are attracted to their own sex or have abortions or change gender. Just like it was not angry about all of those other things we were told it once was. Just like it is not upset about poverty, injustice and cruelty, even though these were the concerns of Jesus, if not his present day followers. Meanwhile, not much changes here on Earth, unless we change it ourselves.

We can expect the next Jeremiah along soon, to tell us how offensive we all are to his make-believe god.

Where was God?

GodGod

While they were communing with God, gunman Dylann Roof sat among them for forty-five minutes. Then he opened fire and killed nine of them. That’s forty-five minutes during which time God could have warned the Christians who believed he was listening to them that something terrible was about to happen. But he didn’t. The communication was all one way. They talked to him but he didn’t talk to them. He didn’t even listen. Why not? Because either he doesn’t care what happens to his people, despite what Jesus promised, or he isn’t there.

After the massacre, Christians across America resorted to pleading with this negligent God to comfort the bereaved and to help police find the killer. We can be sure God didn’t do any such thing because if he cared at all, he wouldn’t have let the massacre happen in the first place. 

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee declared that if only some of those at the prayer meeting had been ‘pistol-packing’ themselves, they could have taken out Roof before he did too much damage. And he’s right – absurd as it sounds, one of them could have done. So why didn’t the God who never forsakes his people prompt one of them to take a gun to church? Perhaps because, unreasonably, he thinks it’s better to turn the other cheek. Either way, mark God down for another fail.

Fellow crank, the ‘reverend’ E. W. Jackson, blamed the shootings on liberals, gays and Obama. So, God – pissed with those who don’t support ‘Christian values’ –  allowed a gunman to mow down nine of his own. Makes sense.   

Debbie Dills, meanwhile, spotted the killer’s car on the freeway and informed the police. She later claimed this was God’s doing; the very God incapable of warning his loved ones they were about to be murdered. This God, who allowed his people to be massacred, directed Debbie Mills, who cannot see that she was just happened to be in the right place at the right time, to notice the killer’s vehicle and report his whereabouts.

Let’s get real: a God who can’t prevent the murder of nine of his children but then behaves like a third-rate Jessica Fletcher is no God at all. He is an impotent creation, a being of trivial pursuits, who fails to materialise when he’s really needed; a mythical figure who keeps his super-powers to himself, except in the most insignificant and coincidental of occurrences; a figment of believers’ imaginations.

Show us he’s not, Christians, why don’t you. Show us how he loves you, never forsakes you and protects even the hairs on your heads. Where is he? Where’s the evidence he exists, outside your inconsistent, fallacious scriptures and your own wishful thinking? Where in this real world? The people of Charleston really need to know.

Idiotic Stuff Jesus Said 12: My words will never pass away

AndersonThe premise of my first ‘Jesus’ book* is that while Christians profess to believe in Jesus, they choose to ignore most of what he taught while he was alive. While they claim a vapid super-hero Christ as personal saviour, they replace what the human Jesus had to say with words of their own choosing. In reality, they have about as much time for Jesus’ ‘eternal words’ as the average non-believer or atheist. You don’t have to look very far to see how much his words have already ‘passed away’:

Jesus said, ‘Don’t judge so that you won’t be judged’ (Matthew 7.1). Our representative Christian says, ‘LGBT people are filthy and wrong.’

Jesus said ‘Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5.44). Our representative Christian says, ‘I’m gonna pray a transgender person dies and goes to Hell.’

Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12.31). The Christian says, ‘The way to show love is to tell other people they’re going to Hell.’

Jesus said, ‘sell all you have and give to the poor’ (Mark 10.21). The Christian is concerned about where to buy jewellery: ‘…somewhere other than Tiffany’s, because Tiffany’s is gay friendly.’

Jesus said, ‘Forgive those who sin against you so you can be forgiven yourself’ (Matthew 6.14). Our believer rants, ‘LGBT people should be executed.’

Jesus said, ‘Don’t commit adultery and don’t get divorced’ (Matthew 5.27-28 and 19.9). Significant numbers of Christians , including our own Stephen Green, say, ‘that doesn’t apply to me.’

See what I mean? Christians regard the words of their saviour, not as having everlasting value, but as if they’re nothing more than worthless bits of fluff. Even if God were real, every word of the Bible true, every aspect of the Great Salvation Plan genuine, it wouldn’t change the fact that believers treat as optional almost everything Jesus commanded and live as if he never had.

 

* Why Christians Don’t Do What Jesus Tells Them To …And What They Believe Instead is available from Amazon worldwide (UK here, US here) but not, alas, from Tiffany’s.

The picture shows the deplorable Pastor Steven Anderson (linked above). He knows better than Jesus ever did.

 

 

 

Idiotic Stuff Jesus Said 9: God knows what you need before you ask him

PrayJesus said: ‘Do not be like non-Jews, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.’ Matthew 6.8

Prayer has been in the news quite a bit lately. Not, of course because it’s suddenly started working, but because prominent Christians have been pretending, yet again, that it does:

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has been telling us just how important prayer is. He prays for others while he does the ironing.

The pope has been praying for victims of Islamic State.

Churches in Glasgow have been praying for the victims and families involved in last Monday’s terrible accident there.

Bishops in Australia prayed for victims of the Sydney seige.

Christians inherit this futile behaviour and empty posturing from Jesus himself. He believed that talking ‘in secret’ to his god-in-the-sky could actually change things down here on Earth. This God, according to Jesus, knew what his children wanted even before they asked.

His children were not, however, Christians; they were Jews. The phrase I’ve interpreted above as ‘non-Jews’ is ‘Gentiles’, which means exactly that – outsiders who weren’t Jews. These outsiders, Jesus implies, just don’t get prayer. Only the chosen people, the Jews, do. Only they know how to talk to the big Sky Daddy properly and it’s only their needs that he knows about beforehand. He isn’t interested in others, their needs or their prayers.

But if he knows the needs of his chosen before they even ask him, why doesn’t he simply meet those needs? Why does he have to be asked? What sort of perverse and twisted version of a loving father is this, who insists on being asked before he will consider acting? I’m only a fallible and flawed human being but when I know my children’s needs, I don’t wait to be asked to meet them.

Maybe God isn’t really as magic as Jesus seems to think. Maybe he needs time to let things happen by chance so that he can then take the credit. Because there’s absolutely no evidence prayer works. The opposite is the case; there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the supposed results of prayer are no more likely than if they happened by chance.

As if this weren’t ludicrous enough, many of the examples of prayer we’ve heard about recently are prayers after the event; appeals for the victims and survivors of disasters once the disaster has struck. So did God not know those involved ‘needed’ not to be killed or tortured or bereaved? If he didn’t already know this, then Jesus’ claim is, like so many others he made, utterly worthless. And if God did know, why did he not do anything to prevent the loss of life, the hardship, the devastation? Because he wasn’t asked

It’s likely though that he was asked, by those believers who were caught up in appalling circumstances. So then, why didn’t he act? Why didn’t he meet those needs he knew so much about beforehand?

Perhaps he just doesn’t care or he’s not able. Or, more likely, maybe he doesn’t exist.

And if he doesn’t exist, then Jesus was wrong in everything he said about him. He was wrong to think God was there in Heaven, taking an interest; wrong to think he cared. It also means Jesus certainly wasn’t the son of any such god. Nor was he the human manifestation of a make-believe Sky Daddy on Earth.