Schizophrenia can be fun!

How do you tell the difference between a Catholic and Protestant conspiracy theorist?

One thinks that the Pope is the antichrist, and one also thinks that but isn’t allowed to say it, so will tell you that the Pope is letting the antichrist into the Holy See.

I don’t know if you can see the difference at a glance, it is very subtle. Maybe an example will help. See if you can tell which type of conspiracy theorist this is:

http://shoebat.com/2014/06/07/vatican-makes-seat-antichrist-pope-francis-muslim-prayers-declared-within-vatican-first-time-history/

PLOT TWIST! Pope Francis is the antichrist because he is such a nice guy! Who knew?!

I do not know why Islam is the religion of the Antichrist, and the article never seems to substantiate its claims (to this person, surely, the conclusion is too obvious to require evidence?). I know there is a lot of animosity towards Islam right now due to a small sect of its more militant supporters (as opposed to the guy who murdered an abortion doctor? He wasn’t militant, obviously!), but they do worship the same God you do, and they believe in the Prophet of God, Jesus Christ.

The only real difference is their picture of God is more in line with the book of Judges rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That being said, that doesn’t make them Antichrists.

Let’s try another one, again see if you can spot which type of conspiracy theorist it is:

http://www.thelastpope.com/

I like the approach of this one, probably better than any of the others. “Well, if Pope Francis isn’t the antichrist, HE SHOULD BE!” Like, if it turns out he is just a nice guy instead of the Antichrist (I am sure his imminent assassination will shorten the timeline a lot), he has actually DISAPPOINTED someone by not ending the world. How weird is that?

Now, this link also cites “Catholic Prophecy” which is weird to me. It’s actually a term I’ve heard before, but only in passing; it bore some looking into. It turns out this is all related to the Great Roman Monarch, the Last Emperor who will restore the Holy Roman Empire. It has no roots in the Bible, and it seems no one quite agrees on the details. It is related to the religion of Conclavism; it is a group of Christians who, whenever they disagree with a Pope, decide “That guy is an antipope. We will arbitrarily elect our own Pope, who the Catholics should worship.”

Clearly they are doing a good job, because I was raised by a staunchly Catholic household, and I’d never heard of them. Specifically, they stood against Benedict and Pope Francis in recent years, but I didn’t know that. They clearly need better PR. Now, like many Christians, they do point so some Biblical passages in the Gospel that indicate the end times are coming. Do you want to know what specific, minute details they cite that shows CLEARLY THE END IS HERE?! Wait for it, you will be stunned and shocked! You will be FORCED to believe in the end times, because the evidence is so clear!

Near the end times, there will be natural disasters, civil unrest, and cataclysm. THOSE THINGS HAVE NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE, SHEEPLE! Open your eyes and see the Antipope! (Oh yes, the antipope is a thing now.) Now, the practice of Islam did not begin until the 7th century, 300 years (give or take a dollar) after the first Catholic Pope. You can say that Peter was the Pope right in Jesus’ time, so I am talking out of my ass by saying there wasn’t a Pope until 313AD, but that is a very common imagination… Especially considering the Catholic Church wasn’t even a thing until the fourth century. Even if you consider the Christian Church prior to Catholicism to be valid as “Catholic History” you will find that there was basically no central leadership. There were as many versions of “Christianity” as there were “People who believe in Christ”. Who was the first leader of the Christian Church? Peter? No, he only became leader after the untimely execution of James who led the Church from Jerusalem. But that’s nether here nor there (aside from the fact that James very likely would have seen Peter as an antichrist, now that I think about it).

Be careful with this next link; reading it without eye protection may cause spontaneous bleeding from your eyes. Practice proper safety!

http://www.pacinst.com/antichri.htm

This one declares that the Pope is mentioned SPECIFICALLY in the Bible… Never mind that the Papal seat didn’t even exist when any of the records mentioned were written. Also, for some reason Hitler is involved with Pope Francis (an Argentinian Jesuit)? Maybe I am not crazy enough to see the lines that link the two. Oh well.

The point, more or less, is this. There are people, many people, possibly even the majority of people, who (on some level) want the end of days to be here. There are lots of reason that this would be; the rapture, where people are taken bodily to paradise, is a romantic notion. Even on Earth, after the Tribulation (seven years of hell on Earth) there will be 1000 years of peace and prosperity, wherein God rules all nations of Earth, and all accept Jesus as their Savior. Well, that sounds pretty nice, too.

The only problem is that whole tribulation thing. Most people will die, but that is OK. Killing people to make it through the haze into paradise is a totally Godly idea! It was there in the Old Testament, it is there in the New Testament, and it is there in the Qur’an and Hadith. People will die to make way for paradise, and the Godliest among us will be the ones tasked with casting the first stones. (I think it was Jesus who said stone thy neighbor who goes against God. That sounds about right, right?)

Long story short, this is another case of a theme that runs through human history; ours is a leader that loves ALL PEOPLE (but really mostly us. The rest of you can die, no biggie). This new Pope, being a harbinger of peace, tolerance, and love of your neighbor, who loves all people and wants to help all people, is secretly the Devil. GOD WOULD NOT TOLERATE POPE FRANCIS’ CRAZY IDEAS! Therefore, because I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO LIKE MUSLIMS, he is the Antichrist. Q.E.D.

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BRUTAL MURDER

http://liveactionnews.org/mother-wins-case-to-kill-her-disabled-daughter/

http://www.itv.com/news/2014-10-26/mother-wins-right-to-end-disabled-daughters-life/

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/527851/Mother-heartbreak-allows-disabled-daughter-to-die

I was going to post about this as soon as I read it, but I felt like I needed alternate points of view. To me, it is almost open and shut; I do not like suffering. I’ve linked three different takes on the article. The first link is clearly designed to get you up in arms, because something something life is something something, you can’t kill someone. If you let the terminally ill just DIE when they want to, MURDER WILL SOON BE LEGAL IN THE UNITED STATES!

The right to end suffering should be enshrined in the law around the world. This little girl, depending on the article you read and the view of the author, spent much of her life in surgeries. Not too long prior to her death, a surgery went wrong and she was screaming in inconsolable pain. Not only that, but due to her condition, she would never have a pain free life. She would never be able to feed herself, or drink on her own. She would never be able to walk or care for herself. She would probably have regular surgeries for the rest of her life.

I don’t understand how people get so up in arms about this. The top article basically says (and I am exaggerating very little here) that allowing people to die is horribleness that borders on the Satanic. The case resonates with me because I am a strong, strong believer in the right to die. While Nancy, the young girl referenced in this landmark ruling, may not have been choosing her own death, it is hard to believe that (could she speak to us) she would have said “Yes, I love being in constant pain, needing constant surgeries, unable to communicate or understand anything around me, being unable to move, having to be moved just so I don’t die of bed sores. This life is amazing to me!”. The article, thankfully for my agenda (I’m not shy about it; why should I hide my intentions?), goes on to say that right to death organizations in the US are now rallying. There is a case of a terminal cancer patient referenced, who plans to kill herself on November 1st.

This is monstrous, according to the article. She should not be allowed to end her own suffering! Maybe there is someone out there who can enlighten me as to why your outrage trumps this woman’s suffering. Why does your idea that everyone *should* want to live completely overshadow the idea that this person *DOES NOT* want to live in constant pain, knowing death is coming slowly, but suffering the walk towards that sweet, sweet release?

“Her family will be sad!” That is something that actually drives me a little crazy.

“She should constantly suffer so that I can feel better that she is there!” If that is your idea of familial love, you and I have different ideas. Yes, they may feel bad, but if they love her they will understand that she is in constant pain right now, and will be until she dies.

So what is it? What is your excuse for wishing suffering on this person? This isn’t a suicide because “I feel bad.” Hers is not a pain that will just “Go away” with time. This is not a temporary sadness, and she will not be happier if she stays alive.

She is not disabled, she is not mentally incapacitated, her judgment is not affected… Unless you want to make the stale argument that the pain is blocking her ability to think clearly. If the pain is so strong that her brain isn’t working properly, and that her pain WILL ONLY CONTINUE TO GET WORSE, then your VACUOUS, TERRIBLE, OFFENSIVE argument is that “SHE SHOULD SUFFER UNIMAGINABLE PAIN FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE SO I FEEL BETTER.”

Sorry, I feel strongly about this. I won’t lie, if you wish this pain on this woman, I hate you. I’ll say it, I am comfortable using such a strong word. If you wish suffering on someone else so you can feel better, that makes you a bad person.

I know I’ve repeated the same idea over and over, but it is important to me. What about someone in pain ending their own suffering offends you? I can’t find any argument I find even remotely compelling.

If you are someone who thinks that right-to-die is morally wrong, please comment, I implore you. I will of course try to make you understand my side just as you make me try to understand yours. Please know I am not attacking you (you heartless jerk), but I do have a vested interest in making you understand my side.

But Don’t Ask Questions

So I was browsing the internet, as is my wont, when I came across an article of almost stunning disingenuity. Given the specificity of this written account, it almost certainly bears the markings of exaggeration. If it isn’t exaggerated, it certainly bears markings of someone who has an incredibly poor grasp of the Bible, rather than someone who (as the article seems to imply) is a well educated man of the LORD. I won’t link the article itself, it is very long, and the anecdote in question is very short. Please see the below excerpt for context, or scroll to the split for my analysis.

***

Dr. D. James Kennedy wrote of an encounter he had with a Jewish man who said he did not believe in Christ.  Dr. Kennedy responded that he was sorry to hear that, and added “…Since He is the Messiah of the Jewish people who was promised in the Old Testament, you have rejected your own Messiah.”  He then went on to share with the Jewish man a few verses of scripture:

“All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him (Ps 22:7-8)”
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isa 53:5)”
“Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me (Ps 41:9).”
“They have pierced my hands and my feet (Ps 22:16).”
“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isa 53:12).”
“They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zech 12:10).”

When Dr. Kennedy finished reading these scriptures to the Jewish man, he asked him to whom these verses were referring to.  The man responded that “Obviously they are talking about Jesus… So what?”.  Dr. Kennedy then pointed out that all the verses he had just read to him were from the Old Testament!   The man was stunned and demanded to see the passages with his own eyes9.

***

The last paragraph is a lie; almost none of those passages refer to Jesus in context. Yes, if you take a single verse, and ignore that the author almost always specified a Non-Jesus person in the sentence directly previous, it is understandable that the Jewish man did not recognize the verses as referring to Jesus except when taken out of context.

The first reference, Psalm 22 is, like almost every Psalm, more… What is a good word? Masturbatory? Sorry, sorry… “Self pleasuring.”

Doesn’t sound like prophecy to me… But you know what? It could be. This one isn’t *obviously* false, even though it would have to be taken out of the context of the entire book of Psalms to be true. I’ll give them a half point. I mean, the whole thing is written in past tense, and to say “They pierced my hands and feet” is “Crucifixion in minute detail” is stretching my credulity quite thin.

Isaiah chapter 53 is legendary, both among the believers and among the unbelievers. I have read it more times than I can count. Hell, Wikipedia has an entry for Isaiah Chapter 53 specifically, and it isn’t a short entry.

Have you noticed how the quotes from the Bible are presented, by the way? I noticed a problem right away.

The writer WANTED to take context away, and he left obvious signs. He referenced Psalm 22 twice, and Isaiah 53 twice, but instead of putting the references sequentially, he split them apart. Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53. If that isn’t suspicious, I am a duck.

Right, so he quotes verse 5 and verse 12 specifically, but when you take context, things change a bit. The chapter, and the chapter preceding (Isaiah 52) refer to the suffering servant of God as the nation of Israel, rather than as a person. I mean, again, maybe God was speaking metaphorically, but I have often been told “God is not a God of confusion. He is clear in his meanings.”

So maybe he means something else when he says “My nation Israel”? Maybe he isn’t being clear? Iunno. And I hear Prophecy is often spoken in the past tense, as predicting the past is also difficult. Right.

The chapter referenced, Zechariah 10, speaks explicitly about “My people of Judah”, frequently and clearly. If it was meant to be a prophecy about Jesus, it seems Zechariah missed the point.

The point is this; if you are going to cherry pick verses, please don’t be an asshole about it. Don’t go up to a Jewish man and start telling him he doesn’t know his Tanakh; that is rude at the best of times, and cruel at any other time. It is disingenuous, especially when the verses in question don’t back you up.

Also, there are 39 BOOKS in the Old Testament. You just quoted 7 verses out of context and claimed the issue was closed.

No, sir. If you are going to say everything you just mentioned was explicit prophecy, you need to make a deep, detailed case, and you need to pick your verses more carefully.

There are many places in the Old Testament that said “And he will suffer.” JESUS SUFFERED, TOO! PROPHECY FULFILLED!

No. Here is my counter-prophecy, with equal specificity and minute detail. “It will rain in the near future.”

If you read this 2000 years from now, chances are that it rained shortly after I said it, even if it was 4 months away (DAMN YOU, WINTER!).

I am Bringing Good News; I know, I’m as confused as you are

http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/10/24/david-gushee-lgbt-homosexuality-matters/

My focus has been largely negative, but I have to say, this article (published on Friday, and which slid across my desk this afternoon) really made me optimistic for the future.

The job title “Christian Ethicist” has in my mind many (sadly) negative connotations. The amount of suffering the LGBT community has suffered in the name of traditional ethics and morality cannot possibly be overstated, and those that grew up in the American Bible Belt have it bad in a way that I cannot even describe. The ostracism they face, from friends and family, if they come out of the closet to those closest to them has prompted many harrowing stories, documentaries, and nightmares.

The article speaks about David Gushee, a Christian Ethicist who has taught at many prestigious Bible Universities and Colleges (but he has not, ironically enough, been a Liberty University Professor at Liberty University. Liberty University.). While an interview with some of his former colleagues led to the rather discouraging comments such as “He’s now placed himself outside of employability at the previous institutions where he taught,” I still leave with hope. A man who grew up and was trained in Southern Traditional Christianity managed, through soul (and Bible) searching to come to the conclusion that LGBT people are not, in fact, the embodiment of Satan. Not a young one, either (the next generation of Southern Christians is proving far more liberal than their forebears), but Mr Gushee is 52 years old.

His coming out as being pro-LGBT (the word choice must be intentional) seems to have been prompted not by spontaneous soul-searching, mind you–his younger sister came out as lesbian. She is a single mother, a story that is too sad to possibly capture; she may have never wanted the sex that led to her pregnancy, and yet massive pressure from those closest to her (having an older brother who was a staunch traditional Christian Ethicist and all…) likely pushed her into it. I acknowledge that the previous statement is pure conjecture, but it is a story that has been told before, and will be told again.

Further, the same person who said he’d ruined his employability showed an almost stunning lack of empathy with the further statement that “David is not saying anything new. When you look at the figures who are making arguments for same-sex marriage and relationships, there is an expanding literature that is as much as 20 years old.”

You are right, he is practically rehashing old ideas. I mean, 20 is practically ANCIENT when you look at the tradition that dates back to the earliest pieces of human legend of hating the LGBT community! Why, compared to Sodom (after which the act of primary male homosexual intercourse was NAMED), 20 years is practically pre-history!

In any case, flippant marks aside, science and progressive thinking are coming to the fore in this debate, and it is getting harder and harder to ignore the consensus; being gay is not always a choice; it is often something you are born with (I won’t argue that every person who has ever shown homosexual tendency was born that way, but science is starting to see a picture that is difficult to ignore).

Thank you, David Gushee. While I won’t belittle the struggle of the LGBT community by comparing your upcoming trials with their ongoing history, I will say that standing up and speaking out in their favor, knowing that almost all of your prior colleagues will disown you… Well, that almost sounds like something Jesus said in the Bible.

“They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” John 16:2

A Story from my Past

Alternate title: A word of caution.

I am a huge fan of Harry Potter, but not one of the crazy ones any more.

That is the important part, mind you; the part that says “Any More.” Imagine back to a time when there were still only six books in the series. We, that is to say, the fans, were waiting with an almost rabid curiosity (seriously, I would have bitten someone for more information) for the seventh book. We would go to any lengths for information, the speculation was rampant, and fan fiction writers were in their Pre-Twilight Golden Age. (Their next Golden Age would come plenty soon enough, though.)

As the release came closer, things started to get a little funny. People were trying to convince other people that their fanfiction was actually the legendary leak from the initial printing run. Some were obvious forgeries, with poor spelling, grammar, or formatting (the first page in a chapter might look off, or the margins would be wrong for a standard book from the English publisher).

Then one came out that had all the hallmarks of being the True Heir. The spelling and grammar were solid, it was written in the same tone of prose as Rowling would use, the jacket was leaked and had everything down to the legal disclaimers and fine print intact as you would expect it; the copyright information was valid…

Like thousands of other Potter fans, I flocked to this release; I thought I could reach out and touch the FUTURE (the leak released about six weeks prior to the scheduled release). I devoured it, starting with all the excitement of a child presented with their favorite food. As I got deeper in, though, a look of sourness spread over my face… Like the child who has finished their favorite part of the meal only to come face-to-face with the ugly reality that they still had broccoli to read.

There are those who knew me around this time, who will recall.

“The leak is a forgery,” I would tell them after I had read it but before the book released. “The relationships are done really poorly, I’ve read fanfics that did them better. And the story goes off on a tangent, and a third of the book is nothing but camping.

Don’t bother downloading it. It is a well done forgery, but a waste of your time nonetheless. JK Rowling would never do that to us, the fans. Never.”

Some weeks later, the book released. I was there at midnight, breathing heavily, sizing everyone up to see who I thought I could beat in a fight if there wasn’t enough stock of the book. I was also wearing a heavy jacket. Thinking back, I can see why people were wary of me… AS THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN.

Luckily (for them) there was enough stock to last until the third in line (I showed up at 7pm for the midnight release. Apparently normal people don’t camp out for Harry Potter. First, normal people suck. Second, I was glad to be so far forward in the line.). I exercised my weak willpower to its very limits to walk to the car and get it moving. I did not read on the drive home. I did not open the book. I did not even read the jacket. This was a hallowed moment, to be enjoyed in the fullness of time at home, with a lamp over my head, a drink by my side.

And so it was that I made it home without incident, and grabbed my drink, and turned on my reading lamp, and set the book gently down on my lap, admiring it. I then opened the cover, and read the jacket. It matched the jacket from the leak, but still I was not worried. You can leak a jacket with a cell phone camera; that will hardly allow you to leak a 600 page hardcover book. I flipped pages of legal information and dedications, until I arrived at chapter one. My eyes opened a little wider as I saw that the first page was written exactly as the leak had said. I was breathing a little shallower by now, nervousness creeping into my mind for the first time. “Maybe,” I thought with renewed optimism, “The author of that leak had actually seen the book at the publisher and was able to copy a page, or a few pages. Everything will be all right.”

And so I turned the page again, and again, and again, each time finding words, spacing, and events exactly as they had appeared in the leak. With the feeling of horror one can only experience once per life, I realized that the world truly is a cursed place, and that betrayal can come in the most surprising and profound ways.

The leak I had read was legitimate, and I had negatively criticized it to my friends.

I had said “JK Rowling would never do this to us!”

I now had to walk towards my own reckoning. I had to admit to those who I had spoken to with an almost religious fervor that I was mistaken. That JK Rowling WOULD do this to us. There are those who stood by her, and I stand by her still, but I have to admit that Harry Potter has six amazing books and one good book. I had to admit that I–was–wrong.

What is the point of this story, then? The point is that you should never make absolute statements about your idols. You must eat your own shame when you say “That could NEVER happen,” when that thing happens.

I wrote this specifically in response to a statement made by someone with whom I had a disagreement.

“God said His Creation was Good! That means there was no death, because if there was death and God said it was Good, that means He thinks death is Good! And God would NEVER say that!”

Be careful, friend. Believing as you believe with the faith that you have could leave you in a very awkward position if you claim to know the mind of God, and are incorrect. If you stand at Armageddon, and see the fullness of the book of Revelations, and there is still death… What will you say to those to whom you professed such strong beliefs?

Lesson 6: Truth

This is the final major lesson in the “Beginnings” course for Young Earth Creationism. There is a sub-lesson called “Resources and fun facts”, and if it delivers I’ll probably write something about what can be classified as a “fun fact” to YECs.

Anyway, onto the questions!

Question One: Can science give us absolute truth? Why or why not?

Their Answer: Science is inductive and therefore cannot give us absolute truth. It can only make educated guesses based on the circumstantial evidence and clues, but it can never give absolute certainty. The Bible, however, provides the complete story, giving us the key to sorting out the clues.

My Answer: I will agree that science is inductive, and cannot provide an answer that could be called “absolute truth.” The problem is, while we will look at one thousand pieces of evidence, and eventually come up with an educated guess as to what will fit, you have accepted as “absolute truth” a book that a man told you was dictated by a voice he heard one day.

I cannot wrap my heard around how The Bible is accepted so fully by some people as to believe that every word in it is absolutely true, devoid of errors, and more believable than anything science can come up with. The thing is, many moderate Christians accept that the Bible was written by man and prone to error, but what is it that causes someone to accept it despite so much evidence to the contrary?

Question Two: How should the vastness of creation affect us?

Their Answer: It should show us how small we are, and how big and amazing God is, thus leading us to glorify and serve Him.

My Answer: It should show us how small we are, and how big and amazing the universe is, thus leading us to study it and understand more about our place in the cosmos.

Question Three: If God made this world, He is the Ruler and Judge of all the earth. What is the only way we can be reconciled to Him, after having been found guilty of breaking His law?

Their Answer: Repentance and trust in Christ are required for salvation. We have sinned against God and only after we turn from our sin and put our full faith in Christ for our salvation will we be born again.

My Answer: Maybe I can’t fully related to the question, but when my dogs do something that very much displeases me, I give them a short punishment. When they do something that pleases me, I give them a treat. The punishment or reward are temporary, and I’d like the think the reward or punishment fit the behaviour. Not only that, but when my dog dies, I do not judge all of the behaviours they showed during their life, and either punish or reward them eternally based on that.

Maybe I am too forgiving. Maybe the husband who beats his wife is closer in mind to how God handles judgement than I am. In any case, I am sure I won’t know until I die.

No matter which way the afterlife ends up swinging, though, I am sure I will be surprised.

That’s it for the questions. 

In the application section for this lesson, they say that if evolution is true, there is no purpose to life. I think I just had a revelation of my own; certainly it hadn’t occurred to me before, though now it seems so obvious. I believe strongly in evolution, and I do not know if there is or is not a God; by the logic presented, there should be no purpose to my life. As I’ve said before, my personal purpose is to bring more happiness into the world than I take out of it.

I found that purpose on my own.

Perhaps the problem so many YECs have is that they are unable to find their own purpose, and thus their own purpose HAS to be told to them. The reason that Christianity works so easily for them is that they are told explicitly what their purpose is; it is to glorify their God. I am sure that says something about their psychological profile, and I don’t even think it is negative (honestly, the world does need people content to follow; not everyone can be the boss; there’d be no one to be the boss of). That being said, the appeal was never there for me.

Ironically enough, they stress the importance of keeping the idea of God in perspective. And then clarify that proper perspective is to blow your perspective out of the water. The observable universe, all that is seen in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (my favorite photograph of all time), times 2,000,000, fits in the span of his hand (because a single verse in the Old Testament said so).

If, as they say so frequently, God created all things solely for His own glory, then why’d he make it so that the majority of the conscious beings living in it are ignorant of His existence? I am sure it would take all the effort of my passing gas for him to merely whisper in the ear of every person alive today, and all would convert as the spirit moved them. Of course, to allow us to exercise our own free will, we would still be able to reject what we heard… But we would all have heard it.

The Challenge asks me to share the information from this course with everyone I know, with my acquaintances, friends, and family. Oddly, I expect I have used this information in a way they did not intend… But I am just a bad person that way.

And no one was surprised.

The Personality of Gods

The height of moral perfection, the leaders of our lives, omnipresent for as long as we have had language, gods (or God) have ruled over the lives of humans. Now that we are able to look back into our storied past at what we now call mythology, but what for hundreds or thousands of years was called religion, we have the ability to uniquely criticize our own roots. It is an odd exercise, and one which paints a very interesting picture of religions even today.

Greek mythology was recently summarized thus.

Zeus, created by man, written to be the god of the gods, could have been a paragon of virtue. Instead, he was pictured as a drunken, chauvinistic, lecherous mess of a being. From the infinite set of human traits, the highest of all beings in Greek mythology bore some of the worst that could be given him.

The funny thing is that this religion was considered so solid, it was picked up by the Romans. They had to integrate the names, of course, but even so, the god of gods, Jupiter, maintained his lecherous, hedonistic lifestyle.

He was a mythological celebrity, and the tales of his excesses would hardly be out of place in a modern day tabloid (Pictures of Zeus exiting a limo and flashing his junk? I’d imagine those would be so frequent that even tabloids would just pass them up).

I could mention Norse mythology, of course, as its gods were lovers of war and violence. Odin is an interesting case study, taking on so many personality traits that it is often said his personality is unknowable, as knowing his true personality, it was said further, is to know his true weakness. That out of the way, he is tied to madness, to battle, but also to knowledge, prophecy, mystery…. He was also the god of wandering, which would be a chief belief among such a nomadic people as the vikings.

There is something odd here, often overlooked, in that deities (while taking on some of the worst traits of humankind) often take on so many traits that their personalities are a mess that doesn’t make sense. I am far less knowledgeable in Egyptian mythology, but I know early mythology and late mythology are at odds with each other in strange ways. They simply merged gods together, and the same event was credited to many gods or goddesses independently (rather than cooperatively).

That is a very short summary of the oddness of gods in mythology, but let us pass through the veil into the modern world of religion, and see if we can find any odd personality quirks.

I’ll try to do this chronologically, but for those who have studied religious history, you will understand that this is difficult to do. That being said, my focus will be on the God of Abraham and His three sects; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

In the Beginning, as the book of Genesis famously begins, God created the heavens and the earth.

Among such things as are attributed to God is omniscience; he knows what was, what is, and what will be; ignoring the questions this raises as to the nature of free will, we can see something odd from the very beginning.

Not too long after the creation of Adam and Eve (which itself is more complicated than many Christians would have you believe), Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. Further, she convinced Adam to do the same. By this act of treason, this act of defiance, Sin and Death entered the world. Regardless of which of the three primary Abrahamic traditions you follow, you believe that this original sin has condemned (to varying degrees) all humans to the Pit. This was, if you are Christian, a temporary condition remedied by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. If you are Jewish or Muslim, there is atonement in the hereafter before you enter into the light of Heaven and the presence of God. Forgive me for preaching a history lesson, this is all very important to the overall point, and I would like to make clear where I am coming from.

Of course, as has become rather public lately, martyrdom is one way for Muslims to queue-jump, and enter directly from this life into the presence of God (Though there is a passage in the Qur’an that says you should not destroy yourself, so it may be that suicide bombers have inadvertently made a mistake for which they will pay for all eternity).

Ok, so we have Adam and Eve, original Sin, and untold generations of humans condemned to the Pit. Why?

Because Adam and Eve defied God.

This story is odd to me, since God knew the heart and soul of Adam and Eve before they even existed, and by knowing all things to come, He knew they would eat of the tree. Since He knew they would do this, He knew that they would go to the Pit.

He created the Pit, mind. That is important, too. Not only did he create Adam and Eve knowing they would suffer for an eternity for defying him, he created HUMANKIND knowing that ALL people would suffer the pit, before ever creating Adam and Eve.

Is that not odd to you? “I love this dog more than all others, but before he has even been trained, I have to let you know that I will kill him if he ever pees on my carpet. Oh, he peed on my carpet. Well, I will breed this dog, allow him to die, then take his puppies, breed them, then spend the rest of eternity torturing them. BOY I LOVE DOGS SO MUCH!”

That is only the beginning, though. Our God is a Jealous God (a more famous line would be difficult to find), he is wrathful, quick to anger. He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, millions of people gone, millions of his own beloved creations, because he didn’t like the way they acted. He saved but one, though for good measure He killed Lot’s wife. Lot, the man who was righteous in the eyes of God, then became drunk off his ass repeatedly, and had sex with his daughters. We have here, friends, a God who is a great judge of character. Nevermind that when the people of Sodom wanted to rape a pair of angels living temporarily in the city, Lot said “No, don’t rape the angels. Here’s my daughter. She’s a virgin. Go nuts.”

This is the only man God found to be righteous in all of Sodom.

Let’s move on, out of the book of Genesis. In Exodus, of course, God killed a huge number of people, but he was really only getting started. “I don’t like the Pharaoh,” God tells Moses, “So I will strike down the first born male of all of Egypt.”

The God who knows the hearts and minds of all men saved the Jewish people from bondage, but killed the first born male of every family in Egypt. Were they a social justice warrior of their day? Did they fight against the cruel conditions put upon the salves of Egypt? Doesn’t matter; your ruler, whom you have no control over, made God mad, and now we have killing to do.

We now, from this saga, gain the ten commandments. The fifth commandment is thou shalt not kill.

Reading the Old Testament, we find that God kills an estimated 2,476,633 people EXPLICITLY. This does not count the populations of Sodom and Gomorrah, nor does it count Noah’s Flood. The God who knows the hearts and minds of all of the people saved only eight from His wrath, and four were related by blood.

This is the God of deepest love.

This also does not fully account for the fact that in the book of Judges, God orders (on more than one occasion) the murder of countless people. Not just people in the general sense, he is pretty explicit; He orders the murder of the men, the women, and the children; and their oxen, and their crops, and their belongings (except the gold and silver; you should keep the gold and silver), so that no trace of them ever having BEEN remains here. The book of Judges, please recall, takes place AFTER God thought that Thou Shalt Not Kill was worth a place in his list of SIX moral tenets. SIX! That is the total number of things you aren’t allowed to do. “But Chad, there were TEN commandments. Duh.”

Right. The top four were “No carven images, worship me and no other, don’t use my name as a swearword, and don’t work on the Sabbath day.” At best, those can be said to be good in keeping with his Word, but they certainly do not count as moral teachings. They have nothing to do with morals. So we have six rules God created for morality. And, as many a historian has made note, the Ten Commandments are the ONLY words that are supposed to have been written by God Himself. The rest are by divine inspiration.

Do we have a picture of God’s personality, yet? I think we have a vague outline, but let’s move forward a little.

I will gloss over the rest of the Old Testament and many other pieces of weirdness. (Okokok, I have to mention one. A man of God went to the Philistines and proposed to his girlfriend using an engagement gift of…

Wait for it…

Two hundred foreskins. Yup, that deserves a place in the Bible, friends. I am not sure what I am supposed to learn here, but men inspired of God thought it an important enough story to include. The funny thing? SHE ONLY ASKED FOR 100 FORESKINS! Don’t believe me? Read 1 Samuel, Chapter 18. That story always makes me chuckle.)

So we move from purely Jewish words now, into the age of Christianity. It is important to note that even in its current form, Christianity decided that the God of the Old Testament was definitely worth believing in. But now we have Jesus, the pacifist, the moral teacher, the Rabbi, the Son of God.

To recall a famous quote “I must punish you for the Sin I knew you would commit, then I will redeem that sin by sacrificing myself to myself, because I could forgive you no other way.”

But even then, it would hardly have been believable that the God of the Old Testament would be one to preach love and tolerance of all, so we have introduced a new character. To this point, I would recommend you read the book “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” by Reza Aslan. He can say more than me, and much better. Long story short, Jesus may not have been what we recall in the Bible. At the very least, there are certainly parts of the Bible we can disprove factually.

But now we have a God who loves and tolerates all people. How odd, from the God of the Old Testament, who periodically purged just about anything or anyone who looked at him funny. He purged everyone in the whole world at one point, condemning billions (I am using YEC numbers, since they are generally the only group who takes the story literally, and puts serious thought into it) to HELL. He created them, and he sent them to hell, and that’s ok, because it is ok for a creator to judge his creation (seriously, they say that). By that logic, should it be ok for me to beat my dogs? My cats? My children? Certainly, in the Old Testament, beating your children was considered not just justified, but actually important for their upbringing. It is the book of Proverbs, a book of the Old Testament, that made famous “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”

Do we have a clear picture of God’s personality, yet? To me, it looks like the canvas was half finished, erased sloppily, then repainted. The picture is actually less clear than it was about a thousand words ago.

Also, is it not odd that even the people closest to the heart of Christianity had no idea what the religion was about when it was first created? I can’t really blame them, with a God who appears dangerously bipolar. I am comfortable saying it; this is the God who commanded the killing of women and children and animals, but ALSO commands that we are to treat all equally, help the poor, and love all.

In any case, Paul (I am going to say he did more for Christianity than Jesus did, and those who look deeply into religious history will likely agree) disagreed with James the brother of Jesus (I’ve talked about it before, but it deserves a place here). Was God here to save all people, or just save those who already worshipped God? Paul will say all should be converted, James would say Jesus came to call the flock (read: the Jewish people) back to the God of their ancestors.

Again, we have two directly conflicting opinions on the personality of our God.

Let’s move forward again, and we end up in the palace of Islam. While they certainly are an Abrahamic religion (One cannot read the Qur’an without having first read the Bible. I do mean that literally; the Qur’an frequently references the Bible), they have many core disagreements with Christianity. In fact, the God of Islam is very much reminiscent of the God of the Book of Judges. The interesting thing, of course, is that this God still recalls his flock; Muslims are commanded, both by the Qur’an and Hadith, as well as by a scrip dictated by the Prophet himself (Muhammed), to protect the Christians and Jews wherever they find them. Not tolerate, not kill, not wipe, but to protect and cherish. But what about those not of the flock (People of the Book, as they are called in the Qur’an)?

They are to be cut down, wherever you may find them. Killed, converted, or wiped out. Apostates (those who were Muslim but have renounced their faith) are to be killed quickly, without thought or mercy. Now we are talking Old Testament! Now we have a God that we recognize from a previous age!

But now the canvas is all muddied again. A God who is jealous, wrathful, loving, kind, merciful (THAT FLOOD WAS SO MERCIFUL, GUYS!), peaceful, but quick to war.

This, the height of morality and love, the greatest of all Gods (certainly, more worship this God, between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, than any other God that came before)… The God we look to for true justice, for help in tough times, is a dangerously bipolar sociopath?

If we look back on the gods of history, and compare them to the prevalent God of today, we find many common themes. We can’t decide on His personality. We can’t decide what He wants.

Perhaps God, the God of the Bible is real. I don’t know, He could be. But if He isn’t, what does that say about humankind?

It says that we WANT to worship a God who is unstable, bipolar, hedonistic, misogynistic, hateful, jealous, wrathful, vengeful… So if we step outside of religion, what do most people worship today? Well, that is clear enough; celebrities. Today, celebrities are often all of these things. When a celebrity has a meltdown, everyone is totally on board. Everyone loves it (even if they don’t love *it*).

That’s right. When society creates something PERFECT to worship, they just take whatever their current celebrities look like, turn the dial up to 12, and there we have it.

We never wanted a moral compass. We wanted someone to tell us what to do, and we wanted someone to tell us what we are doing already is ok. In our gods, in our God, I think we have always had that. In our gods, we have created that, and told ourselves this is what is perfect.

And this dangerous thought… I think it really should make you think.

But that’s just me.