Monday, June 25, 2007

Christianity - I just don't get it

On a message board I frequent, there was a recent question, "What is your main beef with Christianity?" I thought about all the problems I have with Christianity (which is not to say Christians, btw). The attitudes about sex and gender. Strings-attached missionary work. Celebration of ignorance and irrationality. And probably several dozen more.

But the main problem I have is that, at its heart, Christianity makes no sense. God is infinite, omnipotent, and omniscient. Moreover, He is good. And He knowingly (by definition) created the world, and people, in such a way that people would be "sinful" and "deserve" to go to hell. Then after a few thousand years (if we're taking it literally) He decided to make part of Himself into his own son, send the son to Earth, and torture the son to death in a kind of goat sacrifice writ large, in order to pay the penalty for everyone's sins (or at least everyone who came after that time, it's not clear). But maybe not everyone's sins. Apart from the Universalists, most sects seem to think people need to say some magic words, or do proper rituals, or even do good works and be a good person (I can hear the Evangelicals gasping), in order to take advantage of this limited time offer.

Frankly, that is nonsensical. If God were omnipotent and good, He would have just made the world properly in the first place. And what could possibly be constraining God so that a blood sacrifice would be required for forgiveness? Even the beloved C.S. Lewis had to resort to a "deep, old magic" that had power over Aslan and required his sacrifice.

This story makes perfect sense from an anthropological point of view, as a permutation of traditions and beliefs of a nomadic people who originally believed that their god required sacrifices of everything from grain to fatted calves to innocent children ("Woops, just kidding!"). As a description of the actual reality of the universe, it fails right out of the gate at internal consistency and logic, without ever getting to pesky issues of evidence.

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