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.

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

  1. phoodoo:

    This is also what Rumraket has said, and Keiths, well who knows what he believes.

    You know what I believe, because I’ve told you. Again and again.

    For example:

    phoodoo,

    I’ve told you more than once that I do not think that a loving God would necessarily produce a world devoid of suffering. There might be suffering, if it served a higher goal that couldn’t otherwise be achieved. Your “choice” argument is an attempt to identify such a higher goal, but it fails. That’s why you have been running away from my questions about it.

    I’ve also explained that I am not proposing a World 2.0, and that my argument in no way depends on such a proposal. Your continual demand for such a proposal is just a (lame) way of avoiding my actual argument, which you cannot refute.

    This says it all: You are still afraid to answer Timothy’s simple question, for obvious reasons.

    If someone asks you why you believe in a loving God, just be honest and say: “No good reason. It’s irrational, but I want to believe it. The truth scares me, so I sweep the evidence under the rug. I believe what I want to believe.”

    Yes, it’s an embarrassing admission, but it’s true. And it’s not like you don’t have company. Your fellow believers, including the Christians posting in this thread, are doing the same thing.

  2. keiths,

    There “might” be suffering is not an answer keiths. How much?

    And I am still waiting:

    keiths, you are at the hospital getting more medicine for that irritating rash you have had for a while, when you see a husband taking his pregnant wife in for a check-up. Do you:

    A). Pull your hand out of your shorts to stop itching, smile, and say, hello.

    or

    B). Rush up, push the man out of the way, kick the women in the gut as hard as you feel necessary to give her an abortion, because, well, the baby is going to die one day, so why would you want to cause such grieve. Then reprimand them for being so selfish. Then as the husband is coming forward to choke you, do you say, “You could say thank you, you are just digging the hole deeper by insisting you are right. Remember the last time you were wrong in an argument, that didn’t go so well did it? See, here, here, and here…”

    Well?

  3. phoodoo:

    There “might” be suffering is not an answer keiths.

    Here’s my actual answer:

    There might be suffering, if it served a higher goal that couldn’t otherwise be achieved. Your “choice” argument is an attempt to identify such a higher goal, but it fails. That’s why you have been running away from my questions about it.

    Since you obviously can’t defend your “choice” argument, see if you can come up with another excuse for why your “loving” God shits all over people.

  4. keiths,

    keiths, you are at the hospital getting more medicine for that irritating rash you have had for a while, when you see a husband taking his pregnant wife in for a check-up. Do you:

    A). Pull your hand out of your shorts to stop itching, smile, and say, hello.

    or

    B). Rush up, push the man out of the way, kick the women in the gut as hard as you feel necessary to give her an abortion, because, well, the baby is going to die one day, so why would you want to cause such grieve. Then reprimand them for being so selfish. Then as the husband is coming forward to choke you, do you say, “You could say thank you, you are just digging the hole deeper by insisting you are right. Remember the last time you were wrong in an argument, that didn’t go so well did it? See, here, here, and here…”

    So…??

  5. phoodoo,
    The latter is what your god is doing. Why does it ensure there are always antibiotic resistant bacteria?

  6. OMagain:
    phoodoo,
    The latter is what your god is doing. Why does it ensure there are always antibiotic resistant bacteria?

    Huh?

    Oh right, you are another brain in a vat for anyone or no one, no difference advocate.

  7. keiths: Out of curiosity, Charlie, how long have you been a Steiner acolyte? How many years?

    I first read a version of the book The Way of Initiation around the year 1973. That was when I first came across Steiner.

    I thought I had linked to this book in a previous post but that link doesn’t seem to work.

  8. keiths:
    keiths:

    CharlieM:

    How does “Christ uniting himself with earth existence” entail getting tortured to death on a cross?Couldn’t Christ have found a less bloody way to “unite” himself with us?

    He was tortured to death because human beings decided to torture Him to death. They were responsible not Him.

  9. keiths:

    Out of curiosity, Charlie, how long have you been a Steiner acolyte? How many years?

    CharlieM:

    I first read a version of the book The Way of Initiation around the year 1973. That was when I first came across Steiner.

    This passage from The Way of Initiation describes you to a T:

    He must begin with a certain fundamental attitude of the soul: the student of Occultism calls it the Path of Devotion, of Veneration. Only he who maintains this attitude can, in Occultism, become a disciple. And he who has experience in these things is able to perceive even in the child the signs of approaching discipleship. There are children who look up with religious awe to those they venerate. For such people they have a respect which forbids them to admit even in the innermost sanctuary of the heart any thought of criticism or opposition. Such children grow up into young men and maidens who feel happy when they are able to look up to anything venerable. From the ranks of such children are recruited many disciples.

    [emphasis added]

    That’s you, Charlie. Your veneration of Steiner keeps you from criticizing even his idiotic pronouncements on tomatoes and black people. You’re trapped in the prison of belief, and you’ve been there for decades.

  10. keiths,

    keiths,

    keiths, you are at the hospital getting more medicine for that irritating rash you have had for a while, when you see a husband taking his pregnant wife in for a check-up. Do you:

    A). Pull your hand out of your shorts to stop itching, smile, and say, hello.

    or

    B). Rush up, push the man out of the way, kick the women in the gut as hard as you feel necessary to give her an abortion, because, well, the baby is going to die one day, so why would you want to cause such grieve. Then reprimand them for being so selfish. Then as the husband is coming forward to choke you, do you say, “You could say thank you, you are just digging the hole deeper by insisting you are right. Remember the last time you were wrong in an argument, that didn’t go so well did it? See, here, here, and here…”

    So…??

    You seem to have time now. Which one and why? If loving people would never allow something to suffer if they could prevent it, why would people have babies?

    Please explain. Don’t be shy.

  11. CharlieM:

    So in order to compensate for this something had to take place by which humankind could be redeemed. That something was achieved by the actions of Christ uniting himself with earth existence.

    keiths:

    How does “Christ uniting himself with earth existence” entail getting tortured to death on a cross? Couldn’t Christ have found a less bloody way to “unite” himself with us?

    CharlieM:

    He was tortured to death because human beings decided to torture Him to death. They were responsible not Him.

    And he was helpless to resist, and to “unite himself with earth existence” in a less bloody way?

  12. phoodoo: Please explain.

    See this part keiths?

    You made the claim that a loving would mean preventing suffering if you could. So having babies is not preventing suffering, so that is not loving. People suffer, so why make them?

    Why can’t you defend your position??

  13. phoodoo,

    The answers are not important to my argument. At all.

    Sure they are. But you’ll pretend that they aren’t, as a way of covering up your failure.

    Any other believers out there who can step in and defend the “choice” argument, since phoodoo cannot?

  14. phoodoo,

    Read this again. The same logic applies to your dumb argument about parents having children:

    Ditto for phoodoo’s goofy argument. He says that if I were correct, a loving father wouldn’t allow his daughter to go on dates, because she might get raped. Yet that isn’t true at all.

    Loving fathers (in relatively safe Western societies — I’m not talking about the boondocks of Afghanistan here) allow their daughters to go on dates because they judge the rewards to outweigh the risks. They don’t think their daughters are going to be raped, although they know it’s a possibility. They could keep their daughters locked in the house all the time, but they know that if they did that, they’d be harming them.

    Which is more loving,

    a) allowing your daughter to date, despite some risk, or

    b) deliberately harming your daughter by keeping her locked away in your house all the time?

    The answer, of course, is (a). Loving fathers do the loving thing and allow their daughters to date.

    Now for your God, the situation is completely different. He knows ahead of time exactly what is going to happen. He knows whether a young woman will be safe on her date or whether she is going to be raped. And some women do get raped. It happens on a daily basis.

    How does your God handle these rapes? He lets them happen.

    A loving father, if he knew his daughter was about to be raped, would try to prevent it. God doesn’t bother.

    A father’s love for his daughter is far superior to God’s “love”.

    Believers, including the two of you, want God to be loving. When they worship him, most of them think they are worshiping a loving God. The sad reality is that if their God exists at all, he is clearly not the loving God they want him to be.

    They are worshiping an unloving asshole.

  15. keiths,

    keiths,

    keiths, you are at the hospital getting more medicine for that irritating rash you have had for a while, when you see a husband taking his pregnant wife in for a check-up. Do you:

    A). Pull your hand out of your shorts to stop itching, smile, and say, hello.

    or

    B). Rush up, push the man out of the way, kick the women in the gut as hard as you feel necessary to give her an abortion, because, well, the baby is going to die one day, so why would you want to cause such grieve. Then reprimand them for being so selfish. Then as the husband is coming forward to choke you, do you say, “You could say thank you, you are just digging the hole deeper by insisting you are right. Remember the last time you were wrong in an argument, that didn’t go so well did it? See, here, here, and here…”

    So…??

    Why keiths, WHY?

    Why is your stance so hypocritical?

  16. phoodoo,

    I’ve explained why I wouldn’t kick the woman.

    Now go ask your God why he causes so many miscarriages, and then get back to us.

  17. phoodoo,

    My position isn’t inconsistent.

    Now go and ask your God to explain why he causes so many miscarriages. He’ll give you an excellent answer that will shut this discussion down. You do have faith in him, right?

    And if he pulls the “invisible God” routine and leaves you in the lurch, as usual, perhaps you can tell us. Is it because the high miscarriage rate is essential to “choice”? How does that work, exactly?

  18. keiths,

    Well then when are you going to explain why?

    keiths, you are at the hospital getting more medicine for that irritating rash you have had for a while, when you see a husband taking his pregnant wife in for a check-up. Do you:

    A). Pull your hand out of your shorts to stop itching, smile, and say, hello.

    or

    B). Rush up, push the man out of the way, kick the women in the gut as hard as you feel necessary to give her an abortion, because, well, the baby is going to die one day, so why would you want to cause such grieve. Then reprimand them for being so selfish. Then as the husband is coming forward to choke you, do you say, “You could say thank you, you are just digging the hole deeper by insisting you are right. Remember the last time you were wrong in an argument, that didn’t go so well did it? See, here, here, and here…”

  19. keiths:
    keiths:

    How does “Christ uniting himself with earth existence” entail getting tortured to death on a cross? Couldn’t Christ have found a less bloody way to “unite” himself with us?

    He was powerless to resist in a way the would not have been selfish on His part.

    And he was helpless to resist, and to “unite himself with earth existence” in a less bloody way?

    Yes He was. To do so would have been to give in to the temptation of Satan.

  20. Kantian Naturalist: What’s your motivation for being at TSZ if you’re not interested in having a reasoned argument about what is most likely to be true?

    A reasoned argument about what is most likely to be true is precisely what I’m interested in. I am looking for my views to be challenged and I know that I will get that here. I like the variety of outlooks that come together here.

  21. phoodoo: So if you were only always just brains in a vat doing nothing, is there any difference between God only creating one souls ever, and creating an infinite number of souls, since the experience will be the same for all, and all will never have known any different.

    Why the need to differentiate souls? If all souls will spend eternity in Heaven, what difference do their experiences in a previous existence make? Is there a Silver, Gold, and Platinum membership for Heaven?

    phoodoo: We must forget about relationships, we must forget about doing good, and being heroic, about being decent, about every aspect of human existence that we call good, because instead we are just brains in a vat which do nothing.

    If the Trinity is to be believed, The Father loves The Son eternally. How is it that he/they can be perfectly good and love without first having an Earthly existence, but humans cannot?

  22. phoodoo: So what percentage of souls are in hell? I have no idea, because I don’t believe in hell the way it is described. Maybe hell is just nothingness.

    And you completely avoided the question. You are free to have your own beliefs as to the nature of Hell, but what I want to know is what percentage of souls you think have been sent there. Rebranding it as nothingness “maybe”, doesn’t avoid the problem. But as newton pointed out, it does create some theological difficulties.

    If it makes it easier, what proportion of souls do you think have been denied access to Heaven? Again, a very, very rough estimate will suffice.

  23. phoodoo: Why can’t you defend your position??

    Any other disbelievers out there who can step in and defend his position, since keiths cannot?

  24. RoyLT: Why the need to differentiate souls?If all souls will spend eternity in Heaven, what difference do their experiences in a previous existence make?Is there a Silver, Gold, and Platinum membership for Heaven?

    If the Trinity is to be believed, The Father loves The Son eternally.How is it that he/they can be perfectly good and love without first having an Earthly existence, but humans cannot?

    Well, you could try addressing my question then. If we skip Earth, we skip choice, we skip responsibility, we skip relationships, we skip doing something noble, we skip excellence, we skip motivation, we skip everything we know to be a human being. So if you say a loving God would skip all those, then when does good mean, when bad doesn’t exist? And if there is no such thing as bad, wouldn’t one soul in heaven be the same as 1 billion? Or none? Its all the same right? Why have any souls at all, no souls is the same as infinite souls.

    So your definition of a loving God is one in which he makes one brain, puts it in a vat, and gives it 24 hour orgasms. That’s love?

    Rumraket I guess shares your belief.

  25. RoyLT: If it makes it easier, what proportion of souls do you think have been denied access to Heaven?

    I think I answered this. I have no idea. How would I have any idea? How would my guess be any better than yours?

  26. phoodoo: If its just brains in a vat, with no prior experience of what good and bad is, wouldn’t one be exactly the same as an infinite number?

    Apologies. I missed the heart of your original question. Let me try this again.

    Yes, for the scenario of skipping Earth, I agree that one soul would be exactly the same as an infinite number of souls.

  27. phoodoo: I think I answered this. I have no idea. How would I have any idea? How would my guess be any better than yours?

    That’s a cop-out. We’re not talking about doing a census of the residents of Hell. I’m asking for your opinion based upon your belief of the nature of God and any sort of afterlife. How large of a proportion of souls do you think are denied access to Heaven based upon their actions on Earth? Is it small, large, an even half, a baker’s dozen, just Hitler and Voltaire?

  28. RoyLT:

    Is it small, large, an even half, a baker’s dozen, just Hitler and Voltaire?

    Don’t forget Darwin.

  29. phoodoo, to RoyLT:

    Well, you could try addressing my question then. If we skip Earth, we skip choice, we skip responsibility, we skip relationships, we skip doing something noble, we skip excellence, we skip motivation, we skip everything we know to be a human being.

    You think there’s no choice, responsibility, nobility, excellence, or motivation in heaven?

    How did God screw up so badly?

  30. Also, if earthly life is so important, why does God steal it from infants and children who die young?

    Guess it’s not so important after all.

  31. Another question for you Christians out there. Consider this part of the OP:

    g) in the ultimate act of self-loathing, [God] 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?

    Why does your supposedly loving God limit salvation to those who suck up to him? Why not do the loving thing and grant salvation to everyone?

  32. RoyLT,

    Its a cop-out to say I have no idea how many people are in hell? Sorry.

    So, to you, a loving God, instead of making a world full of choice, and consequences, and relationships and families, and heroic acts, and learning to be decent and noble, where people are mortal, but could one day live forever, a loving God could just make one brain in a vat, give it 24 whip cream orgasms that keiths wants so bad, and that IS love?

  33. phoodoo: Its a cop-out to say I have no idea how many people are in hell? Sorry.

    Yes, it is a cop-out. As I said above, all that I’m looking for is an extremely rough guess. A fraction, a percentage, a gut feeling…

  34. phoodoo: Why not one brain in a vat….

    I already answered that:

    RoyLT: Yes, for the scenario of skipping Earth, I agree that one soul would be exactly the same as an infinite number of souls.

    No difference between one brain and one billion brains in a vat with 24 hour whipped-cream orgasms for eternity. Someone besides keiths wants them, and he’s got two thumbs… this guy!!!

  35. RoyLT: I already answered that:

    No difference between one brain and one billion brains in a vat with 24 hour whipped-cream orgasms for eternity.Someone besides keiths wants them, and he’s got two thumbs… this guy!!!

    Right, you have said that opposed to the world we have, a loving God should have made one brain, gave it eternal orgasms, and be done with it.

    Of course, all along, I have said the consequences of this world are necessary, given choice, but you apparently don’t want choice as well. keith claims he wants choice, but that is of course not true, because he wants the same thing as you, ONE brain, in a vat, forever. No choice, no consequences no motivation.

    I, for one, can understand why that would not be what God would do.

  36. Poor phoodoo. Reduced to lying about my position.

    Meanwhile, the list of questions he’s avoiding just gets longer and longer.

    Add this:

    You think there’s no choice, responsibility, nobility, excellence, or motivation in heaven?

    How did God screw up so badly?

    And this:

    Also, if earthly life is so important, why does God steal it from infants and children who die young?

    Guess it’s not so important after all.

    Phoodoo can’t answer the questions, so he starts blathering about whipped-cream orgasms instead. A pathetic performance.

  37. keiths, to phoodoo:

    You think there’s no choice, responsibility, nobility, excellence, or motivation in heaven?

    How did God screw up so badly?

    Mung:

    He’s not as smart as you.

    He doesn’t exist. But if phoodoo’s God did exist, he wouldn’t be any smarter than phoodoo. Funny how that works.

  38. CharlieM:

    Calling something horseshit is not a challenge that I would take seriously.

    Do you actually think you can defend it? Last time I asked, you begged off, citing your ignorance of tomatoes.

    See this:

    Charlie,

    You are a grown man who, when confronted with evidence that your Dear Leader is spouting nonsense about tomatoes, cannot bring himself to acknowledge that obvious fact.

    “The Dear Leader is wise, and I know so little about tomatoes. Who am I to question him?” you ask.

    What about the people who do study tomatoes? Do you think they’re on board with the Dear Leader’s claims?

    You’re a cultist, Charlie. You can’t bear to see the Dear Leader challenged or mocked, and you can’t bring yourself to acknowledge even the most obvious and ridiculous of his errors.

    Just like a Scientologist defending L. Ron Hubbard.

    You lost the desire for truth a long time ago, Charlie, and installed Steiner-worship in its place. Decades have passed, but it isn’t too late to reverse course and seek the truth again.

Leave a Reply