This post is by Jesse Galef, who works for the American Humanist Association
Via William Lobdell‘s blog, I found Dinesh D’Souzu‘s vapid piece in Christianity Today entitled “Why We Need Earthquakes.” In it, he explains why earthquakes cause suffering but are really just another sign that God loves us. I couldn’t help but notice some eerie parallels.
“If he’s hurting me, it must be for my own good. I know he loves me.”
“It’s my fault. I should have obeyed him better.”
“He’s just checking up on me, testing me.”
Do these sound like an abusive relationship or religious attempts to reconcile suffering with a just and loving god? Hard to tell, isn’t it.
I’m not saying that being religious is like being in an abusive relationship. But the same turmoil arises whenever a person tries to hold these two thoughts in their head: 1) this person loves me 2) this person is hurting me. The result is either a distorted idea of love or a distorted idea of hurt.
But the most damning similarity – in all three major monothesitic traditions – is:
“If I leave him I’ll be punished.”
I can think of no better time to show this video of Alister McGrath and Christopher Hitchens on whether religion is voluntary or imposed:
[EDIT: Apparently I can’t embed videos in my current capacity. Until we get that sorted out, I recommend clicking the link above. it’s really quite an impressive exchange.]
EDIT the second: I just typed up a quick transcript of the exchange:
McGrath: …transformation being offered to me but not being imposed upon me. For me it’s about a god who offers but does not demand that I respond to him in this way. And I find that to be a very good summary of what the Christian faith is trying to say about a god who offers but does not impose… he leaves that action open to us.
Hitchens: Not imposed? Did you really say not imposed? What if you reject this offer? What have you been told for centuries by Christians? … If you accept it you can have eternal life and your sins are forgiven… “I don’t want it.” “Oh you don’t? Well, then you can go to hell!” This is not imposed? This has not been preached to children by gruesome elderly virgins backed by force for centuries? This hasn’t poisoned whole societies? No, of course it’s imp- it’s not voluntary!