Friday, August 31, 2007

John 3:16

Atheists are often asked, "What do you have against the Bible?" or something to that effect. There are very, very many ways to answer this question. I'll attempt to answer it one way in which most Christians may understand. It's pretty well understood by many atheists that Christians know very little about the Bible, and have actually read only very small pieces of it. So it's easy to see why many of them don't see why we would have a problem with the "good" book. Every Christian should at least be familiar with one Bible verse, and I think it pretty well sums up what Christianity professes. You see it as sporting events, bumper stickers, and t-shirts. Of course, I'm referring to the ever-popular John 3:16. According to the King James Version: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Let's dissect this verse, and see what truth or logic we can or cannot glean from it.

For God so loved the world...- Did God love the world? The Old Testament is full of wrath and vengeful acts. He condemned a couple of naked people to death and pain for eating 1 fruit off a tree that he had forbidden (would you do this to your child if he ate something you told him not to?) He wiped out the entire population of the world except for a boat full of animals and 1 family because he loved the world so much? God was jealous and vindictive of anyone who worshiped other Gods, and ordered their rape and slaughter. He turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt for the grievous offense of looking back at the destruction of everything she knew in Gomorrah. Does God love the children who he afflicts with birth deformities? Does God love amputees? Very rarely does God show love in the Old Testament, and it is only Jesus who comes along and starts telling us about God's love, but apparently God loved us all very much before Jesus, but apparently had a very hard time showing it. So I guess we just have to believe Jesus when he says that "God loves us," in spite of all the evidence we have from scripture to the contrary.

...that he gave his only begotten Son...- Here is a part that it illogical at its base, but somehow Christians manage to rationalize around it. The whole concept of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They maintain that they are all one God, yet separate individuals somehow. It is logically impossible for a being to be itself and at the same time its own father. Even if you clone a person- so that they are exactly the same as you on a genetic level- you would still be separate individuals. You would have separate thoughts, separate minds, separate atoms composing you, etc. If Jesus and God were the same, then how come Jesus so often referred to God as, "Father" and "The one who sent me"? Wouldn't it have been more accurate to say "It is I, your God, made as man"? Why, when Jesus was crucified, did he say "My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?" Would he not be forsaking himself. Did he not even know the mind of God when he is supposedly part of the same being? It is all extremely illogical, and simply falls apart upon examination.

...that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Here's the clincher- believe or burn. I believe it was Jesus who first introduced the notion of Hell. The Jews didn't really have a concept of eternal torment and suffering, so it had to have been introduced later. Christianity is the first to use fear tactics to win converts and prevent questioning. "You better believe or you'll suffer for eternity." Not only is this belief immoral at its core (eternal punishment for finite crimes), but the whole notion is just ridiculous.

So here's basically what this verse (and others in the Bible) boil down to: God loves you, but actually really thinks you deserve to burn for all of eternity and to be tormented by demons for the crime of being born a human. So he decided to have himself born to human as a Man-God, while also retaining his own God role. The purpose of this was so that he could be tortured and killed by humans, so that he could forgive them if they would just acknowledge this Man-God as God. Confused yet? And why can't God forgive us of his own volition? Certainly this is exactly what he expects us to do with regards to our fellow humans. Is he not omnipotent? Does he not make the rules? If he wanted to forgive us, but couldn't, is he really omnipotent? Why does a blood sacrifice (especially when it's yourself) make everything okay? Which leads me to my next point-

Imagine that you are in a strange society that you are unfamiliar with. Imagine that you picked up an apple and took a bite, and the authorities grabbed you and arrested you because you held the apple with your left hand instead of your right. In this society, this offense is punishable by death. At your trial, right before your death sentence is handed down, a man stands up and says, "Take my life instead of his." The judge says this is acceptable, and asks you if you accept. What would you choose? This is exactly the dogma that Christianity puts forth. Now I love life as much as the next guy, but condemning an innocent man to death because of my minor crime is worse. The sentence is not just in either case, but at least I take the moral high ground by refusing play along with the rules of such an unjust court.

Where's the morality in the idea that Criminal Person A can get off the hook punishing Innocent Person B? If I have committed crimes (sins) in the eyes of a moral and just God, than I ask that I answer for those crimes personally.

And to those that say the Bible has no contradictions: Go Here to see that the Bible cannot get its "central theme" in John 3:16 right.