Christians love, love, love to act as if they have the only moral leg to stand on by declaring that all morality comes from God, and that without God, or at least a belief in God, there is no objective standard for morality whatsoever. They even claim that atheists have agreed with this proposition, even though the vast majority have not. The problem with this argument, therefore, is that it is not only wrong, but the exact opposite is true: Christianity and a belief in God are not the basis of all morality, but are instead far more often the very impetuous of all immorality.
Most Christians who mistakenly believe that any form of objective morality must be anchored in an idea of a God who can dole out perfectly calibrated quantities of justice in the afterlife via heaven and hell - even though an inability to comprehend either infinity or "God" necessarily negates our ability to be responsible for "offending" either one - never notice that such ideas have only the opposite effect here on Earth.
Not only do the threat of eternal punishment and the bribe of eternal paradise always fail as incentives to those who who have a fear of eternity - known as apeirophobia - in general, but our human inability to fathom or relate to the concept of "eternity" itself, in any meaningful way at least, negates the efficacy of such concepts almost entirely. And if we have a hard enough time relating to our own neighbors, let alone a poor man relating to the life of a rich man and vice versa, then how much more impossible is it for a finite material person to be able to relate to an infinite immaterial afterlife?
After all, the death penalty and life in prison, for example, do little to dissuade the criminal or the addict from engaging in crimes that, sometimes unintentionally, warrant such penalties. Not only do such ideas of Heaven and Hell fail to work simply because they involve concepts too alien and abstract for us to relate to in any meaningful way, but also because many of the criminals who engage in the kind of crimes that warrant the death penalty or life in prison, or heaven and hell by extension, are often operating under either the effects of their addiction (on a given drug or under the symptoms of withdrawal), or the flood of emotions and adrenaline that come from the stress of the crime they are engaged in.
Known as an amygdala hijacking, a persons emotions can completely override their ability to think rationally or calmly when in particularly stressful circumstances. We see versions of this, for example, when Christians become flushed with emotions when their "beliefs" and thus their very identity, feel threatened or are too strongly challenged. Hence, at the moment many if not all serious "sins" or crimes take place, the person is often on a kind of adrenaline autopilot, which renders the "belief" that ideas of God and eternal justice may help us to control ourselves, utterly meaningless.
If such concepts do indeed have any effect on helping people "control" themselves, it is probably very little. And given the overall costs people associate with such eternal punishments and rewards, any positive effects that may stem from such "beliefs" are probably negligible at best, while the negative effects such "beliefs" produces are likely incalculable.
In the same way people are willing to engage in any degree of cheating or immorality to secure riches here on earth, so it is logical too conclude that they would only be willing to engage in similar such actions to secures the "riches" promised in heaven. Conversely, the fact that the death penalty actually often incentivizes petty criminals to engage in far worse crimes because they mistakenly think they are facing a death sentence for what they've done (see The Onion Field, In Cold Blood, and Alpha Dog, as examples), so the threat of hell and the insecurity of heaven (we tend to believe the worst is more likely than the best, after all) often only contributes to thinking "Fuck it! We're all probably going to hell anyway!"
Worse than this, however, is that those for whom such ideas really DO have an emotional effect, like Christian and Muslim extremists, they are often so truly terrified by the idea of eternal damnation that they are willing to engage in crusades, pogroms, inquisitions, beheading, burning and torturing heretics, and countless other such horrors, just to safeguard their own souls from their own fear of eternal torments.
In this sense, if the Christian and Muslim concepts of Heaven and Hell are true, then we are all living necessarily in the movie Saw, where a psychopathic serial killer forces his victims to often kill someone else in order to survive gruesome tortures and death themselves. God, then, is the serial killer, and hell is the gruesome tortures we all wish to avoid, because those tortures will never end, because we never die in hell. And any amount of death and suffering in this life would be, by comparison, always nothing more than a drop in the bucket of eternal suffering one one could expect in hell.
Who then would not kill Christ a million times, who then would not be willing to murder everyone on the planet, if need be, just to avoid such a fate for themselves?
And lastly, for the Christians who always respond to such criticisms with, "Well, if there is no God, nor heaven or hell, then why not just rape and murder and kill people all we want?" Such a rebuttal is truly disturbing, for it only implies that, but for their own irrational fear of God, such crimes are precisely what they would rather be doing on Sunday instead of going to Church.
Monday, March 27, 2017
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