In no particular order:
The Authority of the Bible – Where does it come from? Every time I ask a Christian this question they embark on an infinite regression designed to show me that as long as the Bible has been around, people have thought it was authoritative. What this boils down to, of course, is the exact same rationale behind fiat money—it has value because people say it does. But it’s actually real simple. The Catholic Church proclaimed the Bible the Word of God in the 4th century and it has been the “Word of God” ever since. So much so that Christians who hold the Catholic Church in complete contempt still swear on, well, the Bible, that the book that was declared the Word of God by the church they hate is exactly what they say it is. Even though they’ve plucked out the books that they didn’t like, and thus basically created their own Word of God. So the question remains—why exactly is the Bible the Word of God? It was, after all, written by men. Like me. Who I’m free to disagree with if they say stupid shit like…
Women Should Shut Up in Church Because Eve Sinned First – The Christian attitude toward women is reprehensible. Read I Timothy 2: “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” That’s the Bible, people. If you’re a Christian, you have to accept it. But I’d rather not accept it, because I believe in human dignity.
Back to the Bible’s Authority Real Fast – Actually, the argument that “the church has believed this for thousands of years” is very common as a defense of Christian practices and beliefs. It’s also a fallacy. People believed that slavery was right for thousands of years, but that doesn’t make it right. More on that later. It doesn’t matter how long any number of people have believed anything; they might still be wrong. This is such basic logic that it’s impossible that Christians don’t grasp it; it’s more likely that they’re simply ignoring it. Speaking of ignoring basic logic…
Calvinism – It doesn’t matter whether Calvinism is scriptural or not; the fact that tons of people can read the Bible and get Calvinism out of it still scares the hell outta me. It boggles my mind how people can believe Calvinism—it’s both completely illogical and extremely depressing. Talk about redefining morality. I don’t know how they can sleep at night knowing, as they must, that every time they praise God for choosing them to go to heaven, they are actually praising him for sending someone else to hell. Some people think if Calvinism is scriptural they have to become Calvinists. I take the opposite view. If Calvinism is scriptural, scripture can go to hell.
The Christian Sexual Ethic – “Just wait until marriage” is a junior-high level sexual ethic. It’s really simplistic and creates just as many problems as it solves. According to Christian standards, I would have to accept that a married couple with 19 biological children is exhibiting sexual responsibility, while a man who has protected sex with a girlfriend he loves and cares for is not. And that’s bullshit. The morality of sex is defined by numerous factors, including affection, trust, consent, and provision for consequences, not by a magic ceremony that suddenly flips the tables of right and wrong. On this one, people always tell me I’m just reacting to fundamentalism. I would invite those people to go read “On Marriage and Concupiscence” by Augustine, a document that outlines his belief that any sex act undertaken for any purpose other than reproduction is a sin—any sex act, even within marriage. An attitude that I still see shadows of everywhere I look in Christianity. And Augustine was definitely not a fundamentalist.
Joshua Was Not a Hero – If you’re a Christian, you pretty much have to consider Joshua a hero of the faith. It occurred to me the other day: he was actually a genocidal mass murderer. He also killed a man’s entire family for something that only the man (Achan) had done. “But God told him to do it!” Suuuuuuure. You would sure as hell not accept that excuse if somebody used it today, so why do you accept it when used 3,000 years ago? Oh right, because the church has always believed it. My bad.
Slavery was Protected in the Mosaic Law – Joshua’s example notwithstanding, I understand the concept that not everything done in the Old Testament was done with God’s explicit sanction, but that the characters were real people who made mistakes and sometimes did reprehensible shit. However, the Mosaic law, according to the Bible, was spoken directly from the mouth of God. And if you dig into that shit it gets ugly. Try this on for size: “And if a man beats his male or female servant with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. Notwithstanding, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his property” (Exodus 21:20-21). Perhaps the Mosaic law was an improvement over other ancient legal codes. Perhaps it was even the best ancient legal code. But to say it came straight from the mouth of God? It didn’t. God doesn’t think people are property, so he wouldn’t say that they are. Slavery is one of the most evil things that humankind has ever done to itself, and there’s no way that a God who had any shred of justice would tolerate it among his “chosen” people.
Christianity Redefines Morality – I blogged about this before. There’s a difference between ethics and piety. Ethics is basically the golden rule. “That’s Christian!” you exclaim. Not so fast. Pretty much every culture on earth has independently arrived at the golden rule as the foundation of their ethics. And yes, Jesus affirmed the golden rule. Most, if not all religions have something to say about ethics, and Christianity is no different. However, no religion, including Christianity, is primarily concerned with ethical systems. They are primarily concerned with explaining where those ethical systems come from. And their pronouncements regarding right and wrong usually revolve around some form of veneration of a deity.
This is actually a subtle rejection of ethics. Religion takes ethics, which is the use of reason to discover what is right and wrong, and substitutes piety in its place. Piety is fidelity to one’s religion. And it has nothing to do with ethics. Piety cannot be discovered by reason; it must be conveyed directly from the Divine by someone authorized to speak on His behalf. Sometimes serving God means honoring your parents, being faithful to your wife, and giving to the poor. Sometimes it means sacrificing your children to a bronze statue. It all depends on which religion you choose. But even one of the best and most ethical religions—Christianity—ultimately falls short. I’ve already given examples of how Christians accept certain instances of historical slavery and genocide because it’s the pious thing to do. There’s more.
Ever wonder why so many pastors get away with murder, adultery, fraud, embezzlement, rape, tax evasion, etc? It’s because the pastor’s followers have rejected ethics and substituted piety. The pastor preaches from the pulpit exactly what I said at the beginning of this section: “Christianity—Jesus—redefines morality.” And everybody oohs and ahhs and begins to think something that I’ve heard evangelicals say multiple times: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a good person or a bad person, because we’re all sinners. What matters is whether you love Jesus.” If you can’t hear the rejection of ethics in that statement, it’s because you don’t want to. The truth is that it does matter whether you are a good person or a bad person. It will make all the difference in your life. And there are very bad people who believe in Jesus, and very good people who don’t. But once your morality has been redefined, you can no longer see this. All you see is that Muslims and Hindus and gays and lesbians and Democrats and people who are richer than you and people who are poorer than you are BAD PEOPLE, and your pastor is a good person. Even if he’s paying for sex and spending your tithe check on cocaine. And when the story finally breaks and the truth comes out, Christians just stand there racking their brains, trying to figure out why this happens over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
I Can Explain Away 99% of What Happens When People Pray – Seriously? God gave you a wife because you prayed for one? Here’s what happened, dude. When you prayed for God to give you a wife, for the first time in your life, you relaxed and you had confidence. Which are pretty much the two most consistent traits of single people the day before they meet The One.
This is just one example. Bottom line, you see what you want to see.
Christianity Tends Toward Fundamentalism – True, not all Christians are fundamentalists. But Christianity has shown a propensity to slide into fundamentalism time and time and time again (which is no different from many other religions). Funny thing: a lot of Christians, even my priest, will defend Christians by saying that they’re normal people and the people who turned me off to Christianity were all weird fundamentalists. And then he’ll get up behind the pulpit and say that if we look and act just like the world, we’re bad Christians. So basically normal people aren’t real Christians. Which raises the question, who is? I’ve found that whenever somebody begins a statement by saying “If we really loved Jesus we would…” the best thing to do is RUN. RUN VERY FAST. The trick is finding a church where people don’t say this all the damn time. Really, the only Christians who aren’t in danger of sliding into fundamentalism are those who already have, and have now recovered. They are pretty much the only kind of Christians I like. Oh that reminds me…
I Don’t Like Christians – Christians, by and large, are shitty people. As mentioned above, they don’t care whether or not you’re a good person, they only care whether or not you love Jesus. And aren’t sleeping with your girlfriend. And aren’t gay. And look like them. And don’t cuss. And…
Christianity Doesn’t Make Me Happy – Here it is. When my life sucks, I take no comfort from the idea that Somebody is actively up there doing this shit to me. I’d rather just believe that shit happens and the only question is how I’ll respond to it. If Somebody is doing it to me, that introduces guilt and resentment because now I have to answer the question of why he would do that to me. And finally…
All the Christians Who Read This Whole Thing will Ignore Almost Everything I Said and Just Start a Massive Debate About Calvinism.