First, we’re told that God is all-loving and all-powerful. Then, we’re told that if you don’t believe in a specific God in a specific way then you’re going to burn in hell for all of eternity. If the Christians have it right, then two-thirds of the earth’s population is doomed to an eternity of hell-fire and damnation. If the Muslims are right, it’s an even higher percentage that is damned. And so on and so forth. So, essentially this all-loving God is setting things up in such a way as to have more than half of the earth’s population spend eternity in hell. And, this God loves everybody? And atheism is complex? It just doesn’t make intellectual sense.
Two reasons why religion was invented
It is my premise that religion was invented for two reasons. It is there to explain the unexplainable. It is also there to help people continue to have control over the morality of society. At the dawn of humankind, the man had always questioned why things are the way they are. They’ve tried to explain nature. Why does the sun always rise in the east and set in the west?
What creates the waves in the oceans? Why are we even here? Before we had scientific explanations for these and other questions, the answer was much more simple. It is part of God’s plan. If inconsistencies were ever pointed out, the religious types had a pat answer for that, too. “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Talk about a cop-out answer. And, what of the early scientists who started to show natural explanations to the way nature works? When Galileo began to explain the nature of the universe, he was shunned by the Catholic church. He was actually sentenced to death, but because of his advanced years, the Catholics cut him a break and “only” held him under house arrest for the rest of his life. Over the intellectual evolution of man, religion has shown itself to be no longer necessary to explain the unexplainable. So, what’s left?
Morality Question Remains
Most of us can agree that killing is wrong. Likewise for taking things that don’t belong to you, being disruptive in public places and a million other things grown-ups can agree to as being “wrong.” But, try telling that to a young child when the answer “Because I said so” isn’t working anymore. Now’s the time to bring in God. It’s much easier to tell little Johnny that if he takes something that isn’t his, he’s making God mad. Sure, Johnny might not be afraid of a little spanking, anymore, but spending forever burning in hell is a pretty good deterrent. It isn’t until later that we understand morality for morality’s sake. As the individual child matures, there is less and less necessary to bring God into the picture, just as when mankind continues to mature, there is less need to have God to explain everything.
C.S. Lewis was a great writer. One might also call him a moralist and a philosopher. He has often been labeled an existentialist. Most existentialists lean toward the atheist viewpoint. Read the works of Sartre, Camus, and Kafka for example. Enigmatically, like Soren Kirkegaard, C.S. Lewis was actually a Christian. As much as I admire his intelligence and his writing, I have some severe reservations about some of his views of the world. Lewis wrote a very cool novella called, “The Great Divorce.” In it, residents of hell are on a bus ride to heaven. If things go well and they choose to, the bus riders can stay in heaven afterward. To a person, none of the riders choose heaven. The underlying theme of their story, however, is that intellect gets in the way of understanding God. Essentially, Lewis is saying we must forego intellect in order to be with God. Again, I admire Lewis as a writer, but I have to question this philosophy. If intellect gets in the way, then why did God give us intellect to begin with? To me, believing this train of thought means that God is just playing games with us. So, God gives us intellect. We’re not supposed to let this intellect interfere with our faith. If we do, we’re taking a bus to hell. And, we’re supposed to figure all this out before we die. If someone answers these legitimate arguments with, “Well, the Lord works in mysterious ways,” I think I’ll scream.
Cope with the stresses of everyday life through Deities
Look, if a person wants to have faith in some deity because it helps him cope with the stresses of everyday life, who am I to stand in his way? Faith is exactly that-faith. It is the belief in something, sight unseen. I have no problem with faith, per se. On the other side of the same coin, I’ve heard a number of intelligent people try to tell me that God exists and that certain things in nature only strengthen their belief. I say to them, that’s wrong. Faith is faith and nothing more. You can’t prove God’s existence using science and intellect. It isn’t atheism that is complex. What’s complex is a belief system in which an all-loving God banishes an incredibly high percentage of the earth’s population to eternal damnation for simply believing the “wrong” thing, when God places these “wrong” things in the way to begin with. Again, it just doesn’t make intellectual sense.