Children of a Vengeful God
Regular readers of my blog will know that when confronted with the question of God I often take an agnostic stance, albeit I have made it my business to ridicule religion at any opportunity I get. Whilst this goes down quite well with my unbelieving readership, I admittedly have a harder time connecting with godly folks since we seem to begin on different premises and go out on different tangents altogether. To the atheist most of my arguments will seem coherent enough, but from the premise that God exists everything I say is negligible as blasphemy. So I thought in order to remedy this broken matrimony I’d meet you halfway and grant you the premise that God (in particular Yahweh) exists. I know you’d still disagree with me as I lead you by the hand down this road, but at least I can say that I’ve tried.
Let it be stated that following the premise that God exists no wayward pathway could lead one to atheism, except to a state of rejection or a refusal to submit to said deity. From the Christian point of view this entails a refusal to consider oneself as being owned by any higher being, in this instance Yahweh. The concept that because God created us therefore he owns us is first to be challenged. If scientists recreated life in the lab, do they by sole virtue of creation “own” that living being as to be allowed to do anything they like with it, or do we have certain ethical standards to direct us to the conclusion that ownership of any living object does not entail full authority over its well-being? The question of ownership is not a simple one and there are fundamental issues as to what it even means to “own” or “possess” something. A pet-owner who abuses his pet is not worthy of said ownership, and can have his ownership revoked. But since there is presumably no authority over God it is not likely that any desire to countermand his ownership of us can be brought to fruition. However, this does not negate the fact that any particular being can be unworthy by our standards to assume a role of ownership or authority. The importance of allowing ourselves the integrity to make moral judgments is not always appreciated by members of a religious order. The unquestionable primacy assigned to god-given moral codes such as the Ten Commandments is evidence in this regard. However, it is provable that even the most pious of men constantly impose their own moral judgments in their interpretation of holy texts. Taking the same kinds of liberty as exhibited in those cherry-picking from the Bible into the construct of our own sagacity of judgment, the idea of questioning even God’s own moral compass becomes hardly far-fetched. Following this line of argument, the premise that God is all-perfect or that everything he does is in reflection of this perfection falls quickly into doubt. Our god-given ability to hold our own opinions allows us the benefit of this doubt. That the Creator is all-perfect becomes rather a conclusion derived from that primary theistic premise than it is part of the premise itself.
Thus the antagonistic theist must wrestle with what God thinks is good and what he himself knows is good. Even presupposing the assumption that God exists, I hope that I have demonstrated that the issue of morality is still not a given. If there is an objective morality under which we are told to operate, our free will grants us the right to oppose it. Whatever we proceed to concoct in the negligence of God’s orders is product of the exercise of our own free will, and as we know the consequence of which could further dictate the exact realm in which we will be spending the afterlife. But this is to point out that to accept that the Christian God exists due to whatever wealth of evidence there is in his favour does not imply that we must surrender any kind of moral bearing which is central to all human relations. The idea that there is an objective moral code does not imply that the code is morally coherent by our human standards. That we assume “God works in mysterious ways” is testament to the fact that we are sometimes unable to justify God’s methods in the light of our own. This incompatibility is crucial in Christian theology as it accommodates a metaphorical leap of faith, that is to say, a person must suspend his humanistic reasoning in pursuit of a higher ideal which is morally questionable even granted the fact that it were objectively true.
The occupation of being a Christian is not one of merely an acceptance of the existence of God but rather an affiliation to the ethical codes which constitute a Christian way of life. The idea of allowing Jesus to enter through the threshold of your heart is dissimilar from that of just acknowledging that he existed and was/is the son of God, and leaving it simply at that. Given that there is overwhelming evidence with which to verify the credibility of the story of Christ or even the existence of a prime mover of the universe, the idea that one should thus convert to a Christian way of life seems logical, but it isn’t. Logic is a human construct and if we are to adhere to our logical side we may as well go the extra mile and follow our own subjective codes of morality, which were also founded upon the very same processes of rational thinking.
A German soldier’s realisation that Hitler exists and has risen to a position of seemingly unquestionable authority does not imply that he must abandon his humanity and subscribe forthwith to Nazi values. These are separate facets requiring different lines of reasoning, and one need not logically necessitate the other. If you are a Christian for the fact that you think there is overwhelming evidence in favour of the doctrine, you are by no means exempt from having to question the moral implications of worshipping a god whom history recalls as violent, jealous and hateful. Your free will exists to be utilised, and it does not end at the moment you have decided beyond any reasonable doubt that God is real. To claim your position as having been logically confronted and then to suspend your criticality when it comes to the question of god-inspired morality, saying that “God works in ways not foreseeable by man”, is to be intellectually dishonest, if not a hypocrite. Those who call themselves Christians and yet still doubt the Creator on these moral grounds are simply exercising their own god-given free will, and “true” Christians who prefer dishonesty ought not despair nor accuse their comrades of bringing a spirit of healthy scepticism into a doctrine which callously breeds and feeds on the lack thereof.