The Gods of Christianity

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Christians who argue that only their God is real and that life is futile without him, are like the person who jumps up and down on thin ice insisting the ground beneath him is solid.

The various forms of Yahweh belief have rarely been monotheistic. While Isaiah declares there is only one God, the Jewish scriptures also refer to ‘him’ as ‘Elohim’ and ‘Adonai’, plurals meaning ‘deities’ and ‘my lords’ respectively. Other gods abound, with Psalm 82.1 relating how Yahweh presides over an assembly of other deities. From the beginning – certainly the beginning of the bible – a belief in other supernatural agents has been a requirement; Satan and angels are both present in Genesis and throughout the Old Testament. There are also the cherubim and seraphim of Genesis 3.24 and Isaiah 6:1-8 who do Yahweh’s dirty work for him. All of these beings are supernatural entities of immense power; gods in everything but name.

And this is before we get to the New Testament where several new superhuman characters are introduced. Most notable, of course, is the Christ, the invention of cultist Paul. This eternal being is capable of rescuing human beings from the wrath of God and has the power to resurrect them after death. He is, in Paul’s eyes, on an equal footing with Yahweh himself, a god in his own right (Philippians 2.6-11). While the Christ himself has resided in heaven for the past two thousand years (or for eternity, give or take thirty years), his spirit haunts the Earth to this day, possessing members of the Christ cult. The three of them together – the Christ, the Spirit and Yahweh (re-imagined as ‘The Father’) – are the chief gods of Christianity. The church has spent almost two millennia trying to explain how there is only one god who is simultaneously three distinct deities. The Vatican declares the Trinity to be the greatest mystery of all, though of course it is only a mystery in the same way something that makes no sense whatever can be considered a mystery.

According to the gospels, Jesus himself believed in yet another collection of supernatural agents; demons who caused all manner of illness and mischief, opposing Jesus wherever he went. According to the writer of Ephesians (6.12), these ‘wicked spirits’ and ‘principalities’ rival God in terms of power, and are, together with their overlord, Satan, the real rulers of this world

For Catholics, this pantheon of three-in-one gods, angels, devils and demons is supplemented by another layer of super-beings. These are humans who have attained the status of divine immortality, and who are prayed to and worshipped by acolytes on Earth. Mary, the supposed ‘mother of God’ is the most significant, followed by ‘saints’ who have been translated to Heaven and now have free access to the chief gods, ‘interceding’ with them on behalf of ordinary mortals. While no doubt Catholics would dispute that these figures are themselves gods, it’s difficult to see how they are not: they’re immortal, eternal, possessed of great power and in direct communication with the Big Three. They are the equivalent of the Titans’ offspring in Greek mythology.

There is nothing monotheistic about Christianity (nor Judaism) despite the protestations of those who claim to follow the one true God. Christianity has, like most of its predecessors, a pantheon of gods. This not surprising when history repeatedly demonstrates the extent to which humans are inclined towards ensemble theistic imaginings.

So, beware those who tells us they know what the one true God wants, what he approves of and what he condemns: that ice is exceedingly thin and already cracked. It has been from the very beginning.

Let’s Play Pointless

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If anything underlines the pointlessness of religion it’s the Pope’s declaration this weekend that two of his predecessors are now ‘saints’.

It’s pointless because, according to the Bible, Pope John XXIII and John Paul II (not their real names) were already saints. Yes, truly. According to the Bible all believers are ‘saints’ (Romans 1.7, etc).

Pointless because the two of them are dead and bestowing sainthood on them does not affect their fatal condition in any way.

Pointless because the dead are of even less use than the living.

Pointless because the Catholic church’s many adherents already hold these ex-popes in ridiculously exalted esteem – witness the hundreds who turned out yesterday for Pope Frankie’s saint-making ceremony. It hardly matters that he bestows a further, dubious accolade on them.

Pointless because, when alive, both men presided over an obscenely wealthy organisation whose God directed his followers to sell all they had to give to the poor; an organisation that, during these men’s reigns, repeatedly covered up child sex-abuse by its priests, prohibited the use of condoms in Africa (thus aiding the spread of HIV), denied women control of their own bodies and regarded LGBT people as evil. How ‘saintly’ is that?

Pointless because it’s all dressing-up make-believe anyway.

In other news, a giant crucifix in Italy, erected in honour of Pope John Paul II, collapses and kills a twenty-one year old man. Surely this is a sign of… well, something. Sure to be. Maybe someone can tell us… God? Catholic commentators? Saint John Paul?