“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, so that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
I didn’t even have to look it up. I know it by memory. A lot of people do. It’s on everything from bumper stickers to Tim Tebow’s face. Even though only about 10% of Christians have read the entire Bible, I’d estimate that the overwhelming majority of Christians can identify this one verse.
It’s funny how I never bothered to think about what this verse implicates. At least, not until I started looking at the Bible for what it is: a man-made concoction of bad, poorly-thought-out ideas, with a few admirable proverbs sprinkled here and there.
Let’s take this verse apart, shall we?
“For God so loved the world…”
… that he created us with weak tooth enamel, a weak lower back, flimsy knee caps, a prostate that’s prone to swelling wrapped around the tube that expels liquid waste from the body, and a useless pouch in the large intestine that can explode and kill you, among dozens of other “amazing” and “perfectly designed” features that only a totally loving god would give us… right?!
Oh, but Marc… how dare you speculate into the intent of the designer. That’s arrogance.
Really, now. So you can talk about intent when you’re looking for so-called “specified complexity” in nature, but not when we’re talking about examples of really shitty design in nature?
Hmm… it seems we have digressed into Intelligent Design territory. I’d better get back on topic before Ben Stein starts quote-mining me.
One need look no further for examples of Yahweh’s questionable idea of “love” than the Old Testament. Then ten plagues. The flood. The massacres. The psychotic punishments demanded for breaking pointless rules. This isn’t the behavior of a loving god. If any human behaved the way god did in the Old Testament, “loving” would be the last word we’d use to describe him.
Oh, but Marc… how dare you try to compare God’s love to our love. Our love is puny in comparison to the majestic wonder that is God’s blah blah blah…
It’s time Christians abandoned this ridiculous notion that if something doesn’t make sense to us, it is because we are not fit to understand it. If you say that your god is “good,” then he should at the very least meet the human standard of the word “good,” since that is the only meaningful way that humans can judge good and evil. Likewise, if you say that your god is “loving,” then your god must pass the test of being considered loving by human standards. Otherwise, using the word “loving” to describe him is completely and hopelessly meaningless.
“…that he gave his only begotten Son…”
Soooo… he can’t get another son? An all-powerful god has only one son, and that’s it? No more? Why does god even have a son? It seems like the only reason Yahweh needed a son was to be an instrument for sacrifice. Does that seem completely twisted to anyone but me?
So let’s say you fucked up, and you created a terrible disease that infects everyone. Cancer of the face, or something like that. And let’s say that it is also easily within your power to simply create an antidote that will cure everyone and correct the mistake, without anyone having to die. But rather than do that, you impregnate a random woman, who gives birth to a son and then demand that he suffer and die painfully so you can make an antidote from his blood. And then once you have the antidote, you decide to give it only to the people that are willing to bow down and worship you for being loving enough to provide them with the antidote for the disease that you yourself created.
Sorry, Yahweh, but this deranged move doesn’t earn you my sympathy. Any human or god who does this is worthy only of my disgust.
It amazes me that biblical apologists actually expect moral, rational people to swallow this garbage. It amazes me even more that so many moral, rational people actually do buy it; and on top of that, attempt to defend the repugnant behavior of the god they have the nerve to call “infinitely good,” and the very definition of “love.”
“…so that whosoever believeth in him…”
Here’s a question even a six-year-old would be asking at this point: if God “loves” the world, then why doesn’t he just forgive the world? Punishment is not necessary for forgiveness. He could have easily just forgiven everyone and prevented any of the beings he purports to love from suffering eternally in a fiery pit (that he created).
Oh, but Marc… don’t you know that [insert weak, contrived explanation based on ad hoc premise]?
I’ve never heard a Christian respond to this dilemma in a way that doesn’t limit the omnipotence, omniscience, or omnibenevolence of Yahweh. If you say that he has to give us a choice or it’s not really love, then you admit that he is unable to think of a way to love us without involving any potential suffering (which means he isn’t “all-knowing”), and you’re admitting that there is something god cannot do (which means he isn’t “all-powerful”). If you say that god cannot be in the presence of sin, and that blood sacrifice is necessary to wash sin away, then (apart from not explaining at all why said blood sacrifice couldn’t just count for everyone whether they accept it or not) you’re ignoring that god himself made the rules that way, and could have made things different if he wanted to. Therefore, he must have willingly intended to make non-believers suffer if they didn’t accept the rules that he himself didn’t have to make, but did anyway (which means he isn’t “all-loving”).
Go ahead and try to come up with an explanation to make sense of this twisted scenario, without limiting those three qualities. You’ll find it difficult. Mostly because all of this absurdity was made up by irrational people who believed that a snake talked, a man lived in a fish, and all the animals in the world lived within walking distance of Noah’s ark.
“…shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
So what’s the reward for accepting the brutal sacrifice meant to correct a major-league fuck-up by a supposed omnipotent god?
An eternity of worship and groveling at the feet of your creator.
That’s a joke, right? You mean to tell me that our choices are (a) hell, and (b) slavery? Wow. What a great set of options. Who wouldn’t want to just leap on option (b), am I right? The chance to bow down and worship a cruel, insecure deity who’d rather see blood spilled than forgive unconditionally, and who shows his love for humanity by allowing them to choose between eternal hellfire and eternal servility… now that’s a reward. Sign me the fuck up.
Actually, no. I think, upon further review, I’m going to go with the far-more-likely option (c), simple nothingness. Naught. Zero. I’m going to live my short life as best as I can and try to make the world as good a place as I can for my offspring, and then when I’m done, it’s a big fat null set. And I’m going to deal with my problems on my own, without having to cry out to an invisible, made-up, celestial authority figure for help. And I’m not going to waste my time worrying about death, because I won’t… know… I’m dead.
How do you know this, Marc? How can you be so sure? Blah blah blah Pascal’s Wager blah blah, deceived by Satan blah blah…
I don’t know. But that was the case the last time I wasn’t alive. And since not a single claim otherwise has been supported by even a shred of evidence, I have good reason to assume that the next time I’m not alive, it’ll be the same deal. If you have evidence to the contrary, please don’t be a stranger. But be serious. I haven’t got time to waste listening to unfounded nonsense.
In the meantime, Christians, do yourselves a favor and get a new verse. This one’s severely defective.