Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I don't understand

I've thought a lot about the Christian Core Engine, and tried to understand it - listened to others try to explain it. I still don't understand.

I listened to a conversation where a Christian was trying to explain how the whole salvation thing works. Below is part of what he had to say, though I am of course giving some leeway that he may not have explained it ideally.

Well if you give me a minute to explain it - my view on it - yes - I will have to - okay - God is the - hypothetically if God exists - in your case - if he does - he's the ultimate judge - if he condemns you to hell then yes - I would have to be alright with it - because 1 - he's the ultimate judge - and let me just put it in this light - okay most people view God as total love - and God is love - and human beings were never meant to stand in front of the lord Jesus and and be judged - there was a hell created only for Satan and the falling angels - the 1/3rd that got casted out - that is reserved for Satan and his following angels - that's why we have a hell - human beings were never created to go to hell - but because God is love - but there's one thing that overrules God's love and that's his righteousness and his justice for holiness and sin cannot be in God's presence therefore he had to kick out the angels - therefore we in the garden of eden got casted out and we can come back into into his presence through Jesus Christ covering of - because he gave his life on the cross for us - he was a sacrificial lamb.

The Christian Core Engine

Specifically, I want to address the "Christian Core Engine", as I call it. What I mean by this term are those parts of Christian doctrine that cannot be removed without breaking the belief. As an analogy, how many parts can you remove from a car before it's not really a car anymore?

For instance, we can remove virtually all of the Old Testament, the misogynistic rants by Paul in 1 and 2 Corinthians - parts like that, without affecting the core belief. One could say that the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve is necessary, but I think I can argue that we can chuck that too.

Here's what I see as the "Core Christian Engine":

  1. Humans are imperfect and guilty of sins
  2. God doesn't want imperfect people in his club
  3. God relents and sends his son to go get sacrificed to atone for everything we've done
  4. If we accept Jesus into our hearts, we can get into heaven. Jesus either is vouching for us, or his sacrifice somehow absorbs our guilt somehow.
If you don't believe any of these parts (or some variation), then I would say you aren't a Christian. Different denominations of Christianity hold to different combinations of new/old testament doctrine, but these core parts are central to the religion. The sacrifice of Jesus is at the heart of what this "Christianity" thing is.

#1 is where "original sin" comes into play, and thus Adam and Eve, but it's probably sufficient to say that we're just naturally sinful, and how we came to that isn't really important.

#2 could also be said that it's not so much imperfect people that God doesn't want around, so much as that we have to be "acceptable" in his eyes, and hugging Jesus helps.

#4 is typically explained such that it's not so much that hell was created for us, but rather for true evil entities, and we're just collateral damage - Jesus is the loophole out of the problem. Also, there's an open theological debate about whether it's acts or belief that gets one into heaven.

If you believe that acts (being a good person) is the sole avenue for gaining entrance into heaven, then I'm not talking to you - this is about belief - accepting Jesus Christ Lord Savior as your uh Lord and Savior - as the deciding factor.

Everything else in the Bible, outside of these 4 items is essentially icing on the cake. Mostly putrid icing, but icing nonetheless.

Qualifications for Heaven

This is the first part I don't understand. 

Why did he decide to have such a high bar for admittance? Is he really that pompous? I thought he loved us. If he loved us so much, why doesn't he want us hanging around without heavy modification?

To create a sentient entity for the explicit purpose of being tortured and killed instead of simply lowering the standards, and forgiving us on minor infractions, is a testament to his character - a character that's an ass. No moral person would consider that a viable option. Plus, he's omnipotent, so he can do anything. He apparently chose the scenic route of blood and gore.

Why did Jesus have to die and be tortured? Why couldn't he have done a million years of community service? See, now we can atone for sins AND make the world a better place, all without atrocity.

One could point out that this would reveal that there's a God and free will would be extinguished, etc. Okay, fine, let him do the community service while invisible. God can remain invisible, so why not Jesus?

Most of these problems are due to having an omnipotent omniscient omnipresent omnibenevolent entity. A lot of these attributes start to conflict or are internally contradictory. Once we start mixing in poorly thought out doctrine, it makes even less sense.

Why couldn't God create a "minor heaven" or "tiered heaven system", where you went to better places based on how good you are. Most people would get into the "mundane" level.

I can only shake my head in disbelief that, as a mere stupid mortal, I can come up with better solutions than this supposed omniscient god.

Acceptance of Jesus

Time Delay between Hell and Sacrifice

My first question is - what was the time delay between hell being created, and God's plan to create the Jesus loophole? When did the "Great Shakedown" happen that God created hell?

I ask because, in the time God was farting around, people were dying and going to hell, right? Jesus's sacrifice hadn't happened yet, and so there was no capacity to accept him into one's heart for salvation.

If Hell was incorporated and then God set out on his plan with Jesus, that's about 33 years minimum that people were dying before Jesus did his trick. Maybe God planned it out so that Hell was created the instant Jesus did his sacrifice thing, so hell is actually only as old as Jesus's resurrection. Wouldn't that mean that, during the following decades that Christianity hadn't yet spread out across the world by Paul, people were still screwed? If Hell was around since the beginning, then that's thousands of years of doomed people.

It's a theological and moral mess. Of course, one can make up some band-aids for the problem such as saying that God knew ahead of time those who would have accepted Jesus, etc, and brought them into heaven ahead of schedule. Sure, as long as we're just making things up...

All of this potential problem could have been avoided if God had narrowed his Hell qualifications to Satan and his minions only. The qualifications he made were too broad and many people supposedly suffered for it. Whoops!

Substitutional Atonement

Jesus dying for our sins is substitutional atonement - meaning, that he took the punishment so we didn't have to. This isn't a recognized moral action. 

Let me put it this way. Let's say there was a murderer who went on a shooting spree, killing 30 people. I volunteer to go to jail and be executed in his place, and the murderer gets to go free.

No one would think that's just or moral. There's no way to remove the fact that he did it (guilt). This is how Jesus's sacrifice operates, though. We're not talking about taking a bullet for someone, we're talking about appeasing the blood lust of an omnipotent being so he'll decide "alright, you can come in", once someone else was punished in your stead. 

This concept is gibberish in terms of justice.

Acceptance Mechanism

I don't understand how the "Accept Jesus H. Christ as your Lord and Savior" mechanism works. If you believe in him (and/or God, depending on your theological flavor), you get to go to heaven.

Yes, but how?

The most comprehensible explanation is that it's cronyism. Jesus went through this horrible experience, and if you love him and give him praise, etc, he'll put in a good word on your behalf. This system is not the mark of a moral character. If God truly loved us, he would let us in whether we believed in him or not. It should simply apply to anyone who's reasonably good. That's what the "heaven through acts" people tend to believe, more or less.

If the mechanism isn't that, then maybe it's some kind of mental synchronization, where by believing in God, you're tuning your soul to the proper frequency to be uploaded? Bizarre, it sounds. 

Often, Christians try to characterize the salvation as though they're throwing you a life preserver, and all you have to do is grab it. In this case, it's sort of an action my part to simply choose to go to heaven?

The acceptance mechanism is probably the more baffling part of the core. It's either unethical or unintelligible.

Where's the Sacrifice?

"God sent his only begotten son to die for our sins", they say. 

Couldn't have make more? He should be able to create an infinite supply of Jesus clones, if he wants. After all, he's omnipotent, right? How is that a sacrifice?

Is Jesus in hell right now? Not according to Christian doctrine. He's up in heaven at God's right hand. He endured some torture and died, and now he's in paradise forever. How is that a sacrifice? 

If that meant that no one would die a horrible death anymore, that might make sense, but that's not the case. People still do die horrible deaths, and that apparently doesn't atone for anyone else's sins. I guess the Jesus-God hybrid has special sin-absorption powers?

The Life Preserver

On a broader note about the salvation assertion - I can't accept any of this. None of it is justified by evidence. Thus, I simply cannot be convinced that it's true. I care too much about my beliefs being accurate to compromise on that.

Going back to that life preserver the Christians cast to me, as I sit in the water. All I have to do is take it, they say, and if I don't grab ahold of the life preserver then I'm choosing to drown, and it's not God's fault or anything. That's what they say.

Well, no. That's not what's happening at all. My perspective is much different.

I'm sitting on dry land, not drowning, or in any risk of drowning. A Christian comes by and tells me that I'm about to drown as I'm over my head in water. He claims that he's thrown me a life preserver, although it's apparently invisible and intangible. From my perspective, there's nothing there to cling to, and there's no water to save me from.

They've invented a problem out of nothing, and invented a solution for the invented problem, and all you have to do is join their club, and give them political clout and money.

Well, sorry if I just don't take his word for it.

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