The Cross: An embarrassment at the heart of Christianity

In a recent thread, I challenged Christians and other believers to explain why their supposedly loving God treats people so poorly. Toward the end of the thread, I commented:

We’re more than 1200 comments into this thread, and still none of the believers can explain why their “loving” God shits all over people, day after day.

If you loved someone, would you purposely trap them under the rubble of a collapsed building? Or drown them? Or drive them from their home and destroy their possessions? [Or stand by, doing nothing, while a maniac mowed them down using automatic weapons?]

Your supposedly loving God does that. Why?

As you’d expect, the Christians struggled to find a good answer. One of their failed attempts was to appeal to the Cross. Fifthmonarchyman, for instance, wrote this:

I just think that the way to understand God’s love is to look at the Cross and not at the latest natural disaster.

That’s fairly typical. Christians do see the Cross as a great symbol of love. Jesus was willing to lay down his life for us, after all. What could be more loving than that?

The problem is that they haven’t thought things through. When you do, the Cross becomes rather appalling. Here’s how I put it in response to FMM:

That’s right. God had the power to forgive Adam and Eve. A loving God would have forgiven them. The Christian God refused to forgive them, banished them from the Garden, made their lives miserable, and then blamed their descendants as if they had anything to do with it.

The Christian God is an unloving asshole. Thank God (so to speak) that he doesn’t exist.

And just to complete the picture, he decides that since Adam and Eve ate a particular fruit — something he knew would happen before he even created them — everyone must be tortured for eternity after they die. (Can’t you feel the love?)

But wait — there’s a way out! This psychotic God is willing to forgive us after all, because he tortured himself to death! He just needed a little more blood and gore in order to forgive us, that’s all. (Can’t you feel the love?)

So FMM comes along and says “ignore the natural disasters, ignore all the ways God torments people, and look to the Cross,” as if the cross were some great symbol of love. It isn’t. It’s the symbol of a creepy God who

a) creates people and sticks them in a Garden;

b) gets the bright idea of putting a tree in the Garden that he doesn’t want them to eat from;

c) blames them for eating from it, even though he knew that would happen before he even created them;

d) blames their descendants, as if they had anything to do with it;

e) decides that everyone must be tortured for eternity, because Adam and Eve ate from a tree that he was stupid enough to put in the Garden;

f) decides that he might be willing to forgive everyone in exchange for more blood and gore;

g) in the ultimate act of self-loathing, tortures himself to death; and

h) with his blood lust satisfied, finally agrees to forgive people;

i) except that even with his bloodlust temporarily satisfied, he’s still an asshole; so

j) he decides that he’s still going to torture for eternity the folks who don’t believe in him at the moment of death, and only forgive the ones who suck up to him.

Can’t you feel the love?

Christians, pause and ask yourselves: What happened to me? How did I end up believing something as stupid and ridiculous as Christianity? Why am I labeling this monstrous God as ‘loving’?

The Holy Spirit is a wondrous thing. It descends on people, making them incredibly stupid. It even makes them forget what love is.

Now, I’m fully aware that Christians don’t all agree on the historicity of the Adam and Eve story or on how atonement works. We can discuss some of those differences in the comments below. But I do think it’s striking that Christians have not come up with a story that makes sense, and that a large number of them unwittingly hold beliefs that paint God as monstrous, not loving, and the Cross as the symbol not of love, but of a petty and ungenerous refusal to forgive until blood is spilled.

The Cross truly is an embarrassment, right at the heart of Christianity.

620 thoughts on “The Cross: An embarrassment at the heart of Christianity

  1. RoyLT: It seemed quite clear to you 2 comments ago. No choice, no consequences.

    What is clear? In your model is there any choice or consequences? You are saying there is none, right?

    And as I have said all along, in a world with choice, there must be suffering. You are now describing a world without choice.

    I have also said, if your model is God making one brain in a vat, which does nothing but experience orgasms 24 hours a day, and has no relationships, no purpose, no striving, no goals, no improvement, no actions, well, then I can think of many reasons why a God would not do that.

    I can’t make you contemplate that, that part is up to you. Part of the whole choices model.

  2. phoodoo: And as I have said all along, in a world with choice, there must be suffering.

    Yes, you have said that. But you have not explained why ‘choice’ is so important in your model.

    phoodoo: well, then I can think of many reasons why a God would not do that.

    That is not what I asked. Allow me to repeat:

    RoyLT: To phoodoo: How is the God of your model more loving than the one in my model?

    Your model:
    God creates beings on Earth with the ability to make choices. Some subset of them make the correct choice(s) and then get sent to Heaven for eternal whipped-cream orgasms, while the remainder are either sent to Hell for eternal torment or simply zapped out of existence (nothingness).

    My model:
    God creates beings and sends them all directly to Heaven for eternal whipped-cream orgasms. No Earthly toil, no one sentenced to eternal damnation.

    How is the God of your model more loving than the God of mine? Either answer the question or explain if I have somehow misrepresented your model.

  3. RoyLT,

    First, you haven’t explained why creating (one) beings, in a vat, which experiences orgasms all day but knows nothing else, is more loving then creating nothing.

    Secondly, I have told you in a world of choice, there are consequences. So, in a world of choice, some bad things MUST happen. The only alternative suggested is one brain in a vat, which knows nothing, has no relationships, makes no choices, and never will do a good deed, or overcome hardships, or be kind, or be heroic, or start a family, or wish, or hope or desire or decide…

    My answer is that given those two possibilities, I can think of many reasons why God would not do the one you present. I can’t help it if you can’t understand why God wouldn’t chose your method.

  4. phoodoo: I have told you in a world of choice, there are consequences. So, in a world of choice, some bad things MUST happen.

    That is a bald assertion. Why is choice important? Because it allows the possibility of honor, and relationships, etc? What good are those things to the souls which go to Heaven for eternal joy? What can Earthly existence possibly add to Heavenly existence when one is temporally finite while the other is eternal?

    Your ‘world of choice’ utterly fails the test of Occam’s Razor if God’s endgame is to send souls to Heaven for eternity anyway.

  5. phoodoo: I can think of many reasons why God would not do the one you present.

    Another bald assertion. What are the reasons that you can think of? Am I just supposed to take your word for it, or can you produce those reasons for discussion and analysis?

  6. phoodoo: First, you haven’t explained why creating (one) beings, in a vat, which experiences orgasms all day but knows nothing else, is more loving then creating nothing.

    I haven’t explained it because it isn’t something that I said. Creating just Heaven, or creating nothing at all are equally compatible with a loving God. What is not compatible with a loving God is the creation of a ‘world of choice’ and suffering where the decisions made by a subset of his creations will ultimately consign them to eternal torment in Hell.

  7. RoyLT: God creates beings and sends them all directly to Heaven for eternal whipped-cream orgasms.

    Yes, this is your model, a brain in a vat that does nothing. You have already agreed that 1 is the same as 1 billion, so let’s just stay with 1.

    So, the problem for you is, you claim making this one brain, is more loving than creating a world full of choice, and relationships, and honor, and doing noble deeds, and struggling to improve, and having love being heroic, and helping others, and trying your best…this world is less loving than your world. But that’s just your opinion of what is more loving. I don’t agree with your version of love, and many other people wouldn’t agree with your version of love, so unless everyone would agree that is more loving, its just what you prefer, why is what you prefer what a loving God would do?

    Maybe to some people, love is a world full of only zebras. Does that make it so?

  8. phoodoo: So, the problem for you is, you claim making this one brain, is more loving than creating a world full of choice, and relationships, and honor, and doing noble deeds, and struggling to improve, and having love being heroic, and helping others, and trying your best…

    Again…

    RoyLT: What good are those things to the souls which go to Heaven for eternal joy?

    For souls spending an eternity in Heaven, what can Earthly existence possibly add?

  9. RoyLT,

    Memories, knowledge, relationships, discovery, pride, sense of self, honor, accomplishment, ….

    Things which you think have no value.

  10. phoodoo: Memories, knowledge, relationships, discovery, pride, sense of self, honor, accomplishment, ….

    Things which you think have no value.

    What value do those things hold in Heaven? When a newborn dies, does it experience a different Heaven than an 80-year-old Purple Heart recipient?

  11. RoyLT,
    Perhaps.

    What’s the relevance to your argument that a brain in a vat is more loving that the world we have?

    I still don’t buy your version of a God as more loving.

  12. phoodoo:
    RoyLT,

    Memories, knowledge, relationships, discovery, pride, sense of self, honor, accomplishment, ….

    Things which you think have no value.

    None of which make any sense in heaven. You just dream with a childish state of “frozen” immortality. I wonder if you think only positive memories will remain in your heavenly state. Is that it? or will good people be forced to also recall insufferable traumas for eternity? or is heaven all about whip cream orgasms?

  13. phoodoo: What’s the relevance to your argument that a brain in a vat is more loving that the world we have?

    I still don’t buy your version of a God as more loving.

    So you don’t understand what the relevance is, but you definitely disagree? Nice.

    phoodoo: Perhaps.

    Another cop-out. For someone who has been issuing challenges in all directions throughout this thread, you are surprisingly reluctant to articulate your own position.

    I’ll ask again:

    When a newborn dies, does it experience a different Heaven than an 80-year-old Purple Heart recipient?

    phoodoo: Please explain. Don’t be shy.

  14. RoyLT,

    You want my position about what happens to newborns in Heaven? When did I claim to have an opinion about that?

    I also don’t know what color robe God wears.

  15. phoodoo: You want my position about what happens to newborns in Heaven? When did I claim to have an opinion about that?

    If you don’t have an opinion on the nature of Heaven or of Hell, then you don’t have a position. Your criticism of keiths earlier in this thread is particularly apt:

    phoodoo: If you are too scared to come to grips with the fact that your can’t even speak what it is you believe, just take a deep breath and try to relax. There is no devil under your bed, and people aren’t going to laugh at you for admitting you don’t know what you want to say.

    When you are willing to elucidate your position and present your opinions for analysis and discussion, then we can have a rational conversation. But as long as you continue to waffle, deflect, project, and hypocritically condescend, your non-existent opinions are not of much interest to me. And they certainly do you no credit.

  16. dazz: I wonder if you think only positive memories will remain in your heavenly state. Is that it? or will good people be forced to also recall insufferable traumas for eternity?

    An excellent question. I wish that I had thought to ask it.

  17. RoyLT: or will good people be forced to also recall insufferable traumas for eternity?

    How about remembering all one’s transgressions, presumably with the victims present for eternity.

  18. It was recently discovered that the Romans never used crucifixion at all and that there were never any Jews in Palestine at the supposed time of Christ.

    Now I am really embarrassed.

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