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Meditation 914
Critique of Religious Faith
Religious Beliefs Are Harmful (Part 8)

by: Fred Leavitt

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Points To Ponder (but not for long)

The first humans roamed the earth about 100,000 years ago. Why did god wait about 98,000 years before sending his messenger (Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha)?

The ancient Greeks believed that the heavens teemed with gods, and many of them were malicious. Has new evidence emerged to justify the notion of one exclusively benevolent being? Historian Lord Acton wrote that "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." He referred to politicians, but wouldn't his warning apply to an omniscient, omnipotent being? The Old Testament paints a decidedly unflattering picture of god's character. Consider the stories of Job and Abraham. god took everything away from his faithful servant Job--family, health, and possessions--just to test whether Job would stay devoted. What insecurity! In the Hebrew Bible, god asks Abraham to sacrifice his son on Mount Moriah and doesn't even deign to give a reason. What a sadist!

The biblical god is superior to humans in both strength and ability to create special effects, so if he existed and we knew what he wanted (directly, not via some power-seeking evangelist claiming a pipeline), it would behoove us to obey. Slaves do not fare well who displease their masters. But he's not a good role model. Willie Nelson sang, "Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." Humanitarian mamas won't let them grow up to be god either.
People of deep faith are called god-fearing. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 1:7). Ponder that. Fear of an all-loving being seems misplaced, even ungrateful. Loving children of loving parents aren't called parent-fearing. Yet many true believers worship a god whose level of tolerance is far below the standards of most mothers.

Theologians argue that the world's evil can be explained as the price for free will. That raises a question. Does evil exist in heaven? If not, then angels lack free will? How about god herself? Does his existence indicate the possibility of both free will and total goodness? If so, god shouldn't have rushed things. If he'd have taken eight or nine days, he might have been able to create creatures really in his image.

Even a supreme being may have occasional lapses of attention. He must get excruciatingly bored from watching day after uneventful day as televangelists eke out their ascetic lives and priests instruct altar boys. Oops, bad examples. The point is that he may not know what his creations will do at every moment throughout eternity, and his small gaps in knowledge may become chasms of ignorance. He might miss a trivial insult that triggers a murderous rampage or a bacterium that initiates a deadly plague. On the other hand, if he is always aware, always having us perform precisely as choreographed, how can we be faulted for bad behavior. Who deserves the blame, he or Attila? Torquemada? Hitler? Pol Pot? If an engineer built an automaton that tortured and killed people, we would consider the engineer to be either incompetent or evil. Should worshippers hold god to a lower standard?

Continued > Nobody who talks about life after death has experienced it.