Posted: Sep 06, 2017 9:06 am
by pelfdaddy
Zadocfish,

That's a reasonable response, so I will return the favor.

Apologists for faith often make the mistake of getting so close to the text that they can no longer see it in a broad sense. Those who have studied it extensively, upon backing away and gaining valuable perspective, often discover its crude ugliness from a distance; meanwhile apologists, ignoring this bigger picture even as they examine the details, claim that the rest of us "would not be so critical if only you understood it better".

You asked if it would help for us to have a more correct view of hell--not as a place of eternal flames, but of a less lurid form of annihilation. Would we give God a little more breathing room as a moral being, you seem to be asking. I am attempting to demonstrate why atheists see the text, not as evidence for a wicked bastard of a god, but as highly indicative of mere human authorship.

Losing control of the human race to such an extent that you feel it necessary to wipe them from a specific region, replacing them with a tribe that you have arbitrarily chosen as your arm of retribution, whom you have instructed to atone for their own evil deeds through ritual blood sacrifice, sending them forth to expunge the soil of all memory of the wicked ones, inflicting mass genocide while sexually enslaving the young girls, might be what you would call a smart plan IF you were a primitive tribal barbarian attempting to gain access to land, sources of food and water, and a huge supply of unsullied poontang.

But apologists, when faced with the prospect that an omnipotent creator has devised such a thoroughly, altogether human, Quentin Tarantino-esque psycho drama, can only shrug and make excuses like, "Well, you gotta realize, God did the best he could, you know...but those people!"

Zadocfish, I have no doubt that you could come up with something better yourself. But you are excusing God's weirdly lurid sense of retributive justice merely because "Gee, look at the world at that time...pretty bad stuff going on there...wouldn't want the job of fixing it...too bad God got stuck with it." Can you see what I am getting at? I know you do, and I also understand that you are mostly just saying that there is another way of looking at it. But some things, once seen, cannot be unseen.

Anyhow, theologians spanning the centuries have had to interpret the teachings of Jesus with respect to the nature of eternal damnation based on what they know of God's character. This is why they found it easy--still do--to take it very literally. Therefore, when Jesus expounds upon the afterlife of Lazarus the beggar, describing the rich man as being in an unending state of conscious torment, there is no reason to interpret his words as merely symbolic. If so--symbolic of what exactly? Does this story seek to inform us that the afterlife of the unrighteous bears no resemblance at all to an unending state of conscious torment?

Can you understand why non-believers scoff and say, "Oh sure, one more instance where God says to himself, 'I just can't come up with anything better--I would if I could, but I just can't' "? What we are really suggesting is simpler still: maybe this was just written by some guy.