In a recent comment on another post, Twelve asked me to explain my statement that “the Christian god had been debunked in my mind”. As it required quite a lengthy reply, I decided to answer his question in the form of a new post.
In the process of leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I developed the ability to critically examine my beliefs for the first time. Following my deconversion from Mormonism, I found that I was better able to look at every aspect of belief, including God, more objectively.
I had always been taught that God was kind, loving and good. However, the Bible does not bear this out. In the Old Testament especially, God is portrayed as a jealous, paranoid, murdering bully. God demands that humans worship no-one but him. He is wrathful and brings all kinds of horrible plagues upon people. He orders the slaughter of innocent men, women, children and babies. He drowns every single human being and animal that he ever created and saves only one family and a male and female sample of each creature. He devises cruel tests, such as commanding a man to kill his own son to prove his loyalty. He condones lying, deceit and slavery. In the story of Lot, he saves a man who willingly offered to provide his two virgin daughters to be raped by an angry mob.
The New Testament God, in the person of Jesus, tells everyone that they should hate their parents (contradicting one of the 10 commandments which demands that parents should be honoured). He treats his own mother disrespectfully. He apparently thinks that it’s okay to consign people to a fiery pit to be tortured forever, just for not believing in him, because he repeats it over and over again. He is verbally abusive to his disciples and to the religious leaders of his day.
It amazes me now that I had never picked up on these ugly aspects of the loving, sympathetic, gentle God that I had been taught to believe in.
When I looked around at what was happening in the world today, I wondered where was the deity who intervened so regularly in the affairs of his people several thousand years ago? The God who led his people out of captivity in Egypt left them to die in their millions in the gas chambers of Nazi Germany. The God who claimed that not even a sparrow fell to the earth unnoticed seemed to be unaware of the Rwandan genocide. The Bible tells of Jesus raising a child from the dead in answer to the pleadings of her mother, yet countless children have died of starvation and disease in Africa with no kindly God to either ease their suffering or return them fit and well to their grieving families. But then, maybe that is perfectly in keeping with the Biblical God – the God who commands the murder of innocent babes, punishes viciously for perceived slights or offences and turns his own mother away when she tries to see him.
The more I looked at the reality of God’s behaviour, his clear disinterest in the affairs of the weakest and most helpless of his creations, the confusion surrounding competing Christian religions all claiming him as their deity which he does nothing to clarify, and the appalling cruelty that has taken place in his name throughout the centuries which he has refused, or perhaps been unable, to curtail, I decided that I could not in all good conscience bow the knee to such a being. I was sure that, if God was all knowing, all powerful and all good, then the circumstances that I have outlined would not have taken place. I read the excuses that believers made for God’s decisions and actions, but none of them were at all credible. I realised that most ordinary people, myself included, were simply more moral than God. We would not countenance the kinds of behaviour that God apparently endorses. We would act where God stands aloof. We would seek to comfort in situations from which God has withdrawn.
Finally, the only conclusion I could draw was that the Christian God just does not exist. If he did, he would behave very differently from the way that is documented so graphically in the Bible and in the lives of millions of unfortunate people living on the earth today. I’m thankful that such an imposter does not exist and grateful for the mere human beings – both believers and non-believers – who are real examples of bravery, selflessness, kindness and compassion in this world. I believe in people, not God.