Posted: Sep 05, 2017 4:09 am
by pelfdaddy
zadocfish,

While the approach you suggest is certainly more reasonable in tone than the hellfire with which most of us are disenchanted, you must surely realize that the phrase "a proper reading of the Bible" is a flag flown by theologians of every generation to promote with unearned authority that which is either personal opinion or the latest in apologetic fashion. It is easy to forget how such fashions can fluctuate. If I were to address the terms in which you have framed the idea of eternal damnation, I would have to do so by first gaining some historical perspective.

When preachers who lived from the era of Chrisostom all the way into the Renaissance Age were faced with the decision, "How do I best understand and elucidate what Jesus says about Hell?" they had plenty of source material from which to derive the basic rules of interpretation. There is this thing called the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. This is essentially God's autobiography. Call it...What I Think by Elohim Yeshua Yahweh.

The first chapter, which we commonly call the Book of Genesis, could be entitled, How I Did It. There is frankly nothing useful in this entire chapter, since it turns out not to be true when analyzed historically, archaeologically, or anthropologically. Therefore, the only way to make use of it is to assume that it is almost entirely metaphorical, which demands the question, "What then does it mean?" The answer to this question is a subjective one based entirely on the preferences of the reader.

Chapter two could be called Whom Do I Hate? Don't Get Me Started. Chapter three is Blood Sacrifice for Dummies. And the final two chapters might just as well be put down as Whom to Kill and Why parts I & II. I think you get my drift; that this blood-soaked documentary is directed, edited and produced by none other than the leading actor, God himself, who is not bashful about his intentions, and does not seem to mind that the words he has personally penned look just like something that a flawed, human representative of a primitive and barbaric tribal community would write. It includes everything such literature should include: devotion [our God], favoritism [who loves us], exclusivity [and hates you], and purpose [wants us to kill every motherfucker that gets in our way]. And that character is the primary reason why theologians for centuries were comfortable taking the words of Jesus literally, and have been preaching about a literal Lake of Fire.

Very ancient peoples were constantly engaged in tribal warfare. They fought for land, water, and pussy. Around these conflicts there often arose a triumphant literature describing the exploits of the local god by whose benefaction the tribe was attempting to prosper. Hebraism is just one more of these sectarian national divisions. When Greco-Roman civilization was in the ascendancy, it was necessary to find some means by which to preserve national and religious identity. That is why the gospel contains all the necessary elements to achieve this. It includes devotion [our God], inclusion [loves everybody], encouragement [so convert to our faith], and an ultimatum [or He will abso-fucking-lutely fry your ass].

Today, the Church has lost its ability to strike fear into the hearts of the populace, it has surrendered its moral authority, and it no longer has anything on its side that resembles truth or wisdom. It is reduced to a pathetic appeal from a position of weakness, resorting to apologetics in the absence of evidence, and passing out candy to children in the absence of compelling force. They even have reasonable people like yourself saying things like, "Well, if you read it correctly, he's not talking about actual flames or anything..." Glad to know we atheists have nothing to fear from God.

But lest there be a misunderstanding, let me just point out that we are not complaining about God and his cackling glee over the chance to fling us into the fire. We are simply saying that the likelihood such a being exists at all is slim to none, and that the character portrayed in the book itself makes this all the more clear. Thanks for your forbearance, and for your contributions, but God is just a dumb idea. Flames or no flames, it is too silly to take seriously.