Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Are you a good person? Part: The Third

Editor's Note: Click here to get a filter of all parts of this series.

Awhile ago I was handed a religious tract in a Montreal Metro (subway) station.  I thought it would be amusing to react to it on my blog. There's so much there that I wasn't be able to do any of it the kind of justice I think it deserves, but I tried my best.  Here's the links to the previous sections:

Are you a good person? Part: The First

Are you a good person? Part: The Second
Editor's Note:  I've added a tag to all these posts, so you can view them all using this filter here.

It started out as a kind of joke, but it's starting to feel a little like work now.  Honestly, I thought it would be more funny but instead it's kind of sad.  And as for this blog post, it ain't responsible journalism, that I know. Well, let's take this old dog out back and finish it off. Here's instalment three.
God Himself made a way where His justice and His goodness could meet. / We broke the Law, but He became a man to pay the fine. / Jesus suffered and died on the cross to satisfy the Law.
This makes so little sense to me that it might as well be in a completely different language. Let me try to wrap my head around this.  This Law thing, I'm guessing it means all of the commandments (10 or  200+?).  So anyway, God makes us all imperfect and tells us not to transgress a Law, ever.  No failures allowed.  We broke the Law.

Well duh that's to be expected, right?  I mean any moron would know that would happen - especially God.  No surprises there - especially when he lets this snake fellow himself into his garden.

Pass the (1 million) buck(s).
Anyway, God decides that he wants to set up some kind of loophole where (some of) humanity can pass the buck for transgressing his own Law. Okay, sounds like a learning experience for God, he goofed the first time but he'll make it right now. He gets points for effort.

Apparently the only way he can find any way to pardon humanity's infractions is become his own son and have himself killed.  What the hell?  Isn't this a little melodramatic?  Since he made up the law and the fine  (to who knows who) can't he just pardon humanity for their imperfections?

Maybe he could then fix them so it won't happen again.  I mean, apparently this is possible in Heaven, right?  Or will humans continue to sin in Heaven but it will be okay then?  If so then why not okay now?  I'm so confused.

This makes me wonder - just who or what expects to get this fine?  What if God had to die to satisfy some other badass god on our behalf?  I mean, it seems more plausible to me in a way.  But who would be such a bastard as to require Jesus God himself to die for 3 days?  The Devil maybe?  Now wouldn't that be a hoot?  That would probably explain a lot actually.

On a more serious note, I find all this scapegoat business a pretty barbaric historical artefact.  My head reeling with confusion, let's move on to the next part.
Then, He rose from the dead, defeating death forever.  Therefore God can forgive us and grant us the gift of everlasting life!
But you may still think that you can (from now on) keep the Ten Commandments.
Okay, even if I believe that he became a zombie forever and ever - which kind of make his sacrifice a little less impressive to me - what about all those other zombies in the Bible?  Apparently raising from the dead was so common place back then that no external historian even bothered to jot anything down about the dead walking the streets in Jerusalem at the crucifixion.

No I don't think that from now on I can keep the Ten Commandments.  It's pretty certain I won't.   Moving on.
But isn't it true that the best of us have lied, stolen, lusted, hated, failed to love God above all else, and failed to love our neighbour as ourselves?
Sounds like any interesting life to me.  I'd say that's pretty much the human condition.
How can we then, live a "good" life if we have already sinned against God?  As best as are reformed liars and thieves ... but still Lawbreakers.
Well I suppose we'll all just have to do our very best with what the good Lord gave us.  What a lousy creation indeed.  Utter failure.  Who's fault is this then?  This tract is getting downright dull, wait -- a thought experiment:
Think of it this way -- would you sell one of your eyes for a million dollars?
Just one? Yes, I probably would.  If it meant a more or less guaranteed financial security for my wife and child.  Unpleasant, yes, but I just might do so.  I'm certain there are billions of people on the planet that would jump at such a deal.  Of course, if I were a rich preacher or something, who already had a million (or more) dollars, I may not trade in one of my eyeballs for the money.  Funny, how things don't seem black or white at all.  Anyway, that question was refreshingly clear and comprehensible.  Things are looking up.
Would you sell both for $50 million?
I'd rather take the single eyeball deal, if you please, and keep the million dollars and vision.  For me the difference between one million and 50 million wouldn't be enough to sacrifice my sight.  Mind you, you can buy a lot of with 49 million.  Maybe I could get replacement eyeballs?  If I had $50 million bucks, would being blind be so bad?  Of course, if I only had the choice of the $50 million with no eyeballs without the option of getting a single eyeball removed for $1 million dollars, it would still be a difficult choice.

What about people who are already blind?  Then they get $50 million dollars.  I suppose this booklet isn't directed to them eh?
I'm sure you wouldn't.
Fail(!) Ouch.
Your eyes are priceless, yet they are merely the windows of your soul.  What then must your life (soul) be worth?
Huh?  This logical reasoning is too sophisticated for me.   My eyes receive information via light which send signals to my brain.  Are you asking what my brain is worth?  Well, a whole lot, thank you.
With these thoughts in mind, what would be a fair price to pay for everlasting life?  It is utterly without price.
I don't want everlasting life.  Of course, I'd need someone to tell me precisely what I'd need to be doing during this period.  If you mean everlasting this life with no bodily decay then science is working on it.  I would hope this would be an opt in deal with the option of termination at any time.  I'd buy that if science comes up with it.

This sort of reminds me of that B movie Zardoz with Sean Connery.  But then, what doesn't? Although it reeks of cheese, it still has a fairly smart message.  In a nutshell, the Eternals are unable to die and so suffer from acute boredom.  Connery is an Exterminator who at the end leads his army of fellow Exterminators inside the Eternals' force-field protected stronghold.  Towards the end, the Eternals gleefully throw themselves into bullets happily killing themselves so as to meet the relief of oblivion.  Unless heaven is really exciting, I think I'll take a limited life followed by obliteration, thank you.  Eternal life creeps me out.
Yet if we trust our own goodness to enter Heaven, we are saying to God, "I should enter Heaven because I have done good -- I have earned my way in."
Can I just get oblivion please?  I'll pass on Heaven. I'll take the same non-existence I had before I was born.  Awesome, another thought experiment.
Imagine if you wanted to give me a brand new (very expensive) car, but I said, "I can't take it! I feel embarrassed receiving such a gift... here's 10 cents for it."
I'm sure you would be very insulted by such a pathetic offer of payment. 

Uh, is it just me that thinks getting insulted like this is a pretty asinine thing to do?  I'd probably take the dime and give them the car.  There are many millions of people on the planet who don't have two quarters to rub together.  Now they could probably use food or clothing more, but I guess they could sell the car; much more useful than, say, a Bible.  You can't eat a Bible, but you can sell a car.

Again, wow. If you were giving someone a gift and then got miffed at them because they felt undeserving and tried to offer you some kind of compensation then I guess you're a real dick.  Even if the person wasn't financially destitute and had more money, you were going to give them the car anyway.  It may be confusing that they're giving you the dime, but why not just shut the hell up and take the dime?  I mean, way to ruin a charitable act.

Besides, if I pay for it, it is no longer a gift, it's a purchace -- it's mine by right.

Okay, I'm confused now.  Do you want to give the car to some guy as a gift? So why not just give the car?  What's the problem here?  Why so freaking complicated?

When we talk of entering Heaven by being good, by trying to keep the Ten Commandments etc., we are tossing God 10 cents of "self-righteousness," which is a terrible insult to Him, in light of His sacrifice.

Fucking hell.  Okay I don't particularly want to go the Heaven.  Can I get that for free, or 10 cents, or whatever?  Obliteration please.  Why is he so insulted anyway?  I never asked for his bloody car or heaven or whatever.  So why did he go break his back to make it right with himself for having created me the way I am which apparently isn't the way he wanted me to be in the first place.  Can I opt out of this please?
The only thing we can do is humble ourselves, repent of our sins, and receive the gift by trusting Jesus Christ alone.
 I don't want the freaking gift.
Almighty God demonstrated He loves you when Jesus suffered for your on the cross.
Why did god need to force his son, himself (?) to suffer on the cross so he would make it right somehow with his own sense of "justice".  Am I supposed to be impressed by this?  Imagine if I walked up to you and said, "You're a human being with faults that render it impossible for you to measure up to my perfect standards, but it's okay because I just gave my son (myself?) to a bunch of people to be crucified.  He (or me) loved you so much that I stood by and let them kill him (or me).  It was excruciatingly painful!  Isn't he great! (Aren't I fantastic?!?)"

Oh, and there were thousands of people crucified back in that day. I'm not saying it wasn't a horrible way to die.  But I'm also pretty sure that many parents would choose to be crucified on a cross rather than watch their own children get killed - as unjust as that deal is.

And one important distinction here.  Presumably all those other crucifees aren't sitteth at the right hand of the Father three days after the event.  Jesus dies on the cross and then spends the weekend in Hell before popping back up to life everlasting.  I'm not saying it's not horrendous - It's insane he even apparently needed to do this to appease some sense of (his own?) hyper-Justice, but I'd wager many people have suffered just as bad if not worse to save their children.
If you want to trust in your own goodness, then you are saying His agonizing death on the cross was in vain.
Well I guess I am, yeah.  Thanks for dying for me and all, but I'm not interested in what your selling.
The Bible says, "For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."  You cannot earn a gift.
I don't want the gift.
When Jesus said to "believe" on(sic) Him, He was saying we should have faith in Him, in the same way you would trust a parachute to save you when you jump from a plane.  You don't merely believe in the parachute -- you put it on.
Um, yeah.  I'd put the parachute on.  Incidentally, I can go see parachutes.  I have a pretty good idea about how they basically work.  There is nothing metaphysical or supernatural about parachutes.  Parachutes have been observed and relied upon fairly regularly within the last 2000 years.  There is no heated argument amongst intellectuals about the nature of parachutes, or whether they ever actually existed or were just legend.  People don't feel the need to come preach to me about accepting the validity of parachutes. Interesting, isn't it?
Please don't "jump" without Jesus.  If you die in your sins there is no second chance.  God will give you justice, and you will end up in Hell forever.
The threat.  Like a punchline to a bad joke, I was waiting for it.  Why would a loving God send me to Hell?  Why not give me annihilation?  When an animal is very sick we euthanize it, we don't leave it to suffer.  Why doesn't God at least extend that kindness?  Otherwise, it does seem to be unnecessarily cruel and vindictive for an all-loving all-powerful god, don't you think?
Any troubles you have at present are dwarfed by the trouble you are in with your Creator.  His wrath abides upon you (John 3:36).
What a rotten wrathful tyrant is being described here.  Thankfully I have several liberal Christian friends or I don't know how I would be able to wash some of the foul taste of this from my mouth.
God doesn't want you to go to Hell.  Neither do you want to go there, so confess your sins to God right now, put your trust in Jesus to save you, and you will pass from death to life.
I don't really have control over what I believe or disbelieve, short of brainwashing myself.  This threat business used to work when I was a kid but things have changed.  It seems to me like I'm pretty helpless and it's God who can change the parameters here - if he would/could/should only let himself.

Oh, and yet again I ask,  why not just annihilate me?  The way I was before I was born is perfectly acceptable to me.  I didn't ask to be created, I didn't ask for Jesus to get crucified, I didn't ask for these silly rules, but I do have the opportunity to ask now.  (Not that I even believe God exists.)  I guess I'm mostly asking those who hold the same views as the authors of this pamphlet to just give me this out so they can stop feeling the need to hand this stuff out in the subway and initiate theocracy etc etc.  But I'm  fibbing.  I like getting this crap in the subway - it gives me something to post about.

Then read the Bible daily and obey what you read. (See John 14:21) Your obedience to God is the proof of your love.  Have faith in God, He will never fail you.

Well that's it.  All done!  Am I converted?  I'm afraid not. So I won't be using the the prayer.  

Oh dear, I don't see a copyright notice anywhere on this booklet.  Anyway.

In Conclusion
Who do we have to thank for this masterpiece?  With this publication, I made the highly fortuitous discovering of Living Waters Publications!  These guys are a quite a lot classier than the classic tracts from Chick Publications.  If you've made it this far, I thank you with this parting gift.  This is the ministry of the infamous Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron (!) who have discovered the Atheist's Worst Nightmare - the BANANA!

You need to watch this video now!


  1. This is kind of awesome, in that I had never heard of Zardoz before (well, one of my acquaintances uses that as a nickname, but I didn't know it MEANT anything) and I made it through 2/3rds of the trailer. So today I learned something.

    God, as portrayed in the Bible, is kind of an asshole. That whole setting humanity up for failure thing is just the tip of the iceberg. The first time I seriously got mad at the Christian god is when I was a little kid in Sunday school and we learned the story of Job. God killed all his kids to "test" him, but then he passed, so he got all new kids! (Yay?) Like killing the old ones didn't matter. As a kid, that really bothered me -- so God might kill me to check if my Mom is good enough? WTF?

    1. Hi Fuse! Thanks for reading! Zardoz is very cheesy, but it actually is sort of smart in a way, if you can get over seeing an aging Sean Connery in nothing but a loincloth.

      Actually I'll cover the story of Job in a future installment of the "Teaching Religious Mythology" series. That story always bugged me. It showed just how much they regarded women and children as "chattel"or property. I'm happy to hear you were critical back then. Took me awhile for my brain to even think about it and I think a lot of people never think about it.

    2. I am pretty sure Sean Connery in a loincloth would not pose a viewing problem for me.


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