God Has a Plan for You!

The mental gymnastics of many theists never ceases to amaze me.   In the words of Frank Zappa:

Those Jesus Freaks, well, they’re friendly but
The shit they believe has got their minds all shut
An’ they don’t even care when the church takes a cut
Ain’t it bleak when you got so much nothin’

They seem like, mostly, nice people.  They actually read and take in new information, but then it has to be pretzeled around their semi-Bronze Age worldview.  It really must hurt their brain to be twisted up in knots apologizing for a god for whom there is no excuse.  Just one brief example.  I was thinking about plantlife after the “flood.”  I found this site which compared the recovery after the flood to the recovery after the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens.  Now this is completely an apples and oranges comparison.  The eruption devastated only a tiny area (in the grand scheme of things) and plants and animals could move into the devastated area from the surrounding areas not affected.  Not rocket science.  But after all the vegetation is dead in the whole world (!) where do the plants come from to lead the recovery?   Noah planted them?  Whatever.

But what amazed me more was the video that played automatically when I logged on to the site.  Some very reasonable sounding dude going on how about  how having the creation story be true lends all kinds of meaning to my life, but if we arrived here randomly, well I am just going to end up in a hole in the ground, and my life meaningless.  Of course the whole time he was saying this (so nice and calmly and sweetly) he was making what I see as a huge logical error, in two senses of meaning.  He kept saying, “What you believe makes a difference.”

Now, in science we tend to say, “What you believe is irrelevant, only what is real counts.”  So, for example, no matter how much I “believe” in evolution, if Genesis is true, it’s true regardless of my belief.   So in that sense belief does not matter.  On the other hand, to theists, belief matters a lot and undercuts some of their favorite phrases.

“God has a plan for you,” they say.  “God created you and therefore you have value and your life meaning,” they say.   And lots of similar things.  On closer inspection, however, none of that shit rings true.  And at least partially because “What we believe does make a difference,” in their theology.

God has a plan for me alright.  Hell.  Eternal torment and punishment.  Because I don’t believe in Jesus.  I am pretty much the same guy I was when I believed in Jesus.  Same reading on the sin-o-meter, I am pretty sure.  But now, because what I believe matters, eternal damnation.  Thank you Jesus!  And what goes for me goes for billions of other people who don’t believe in Jesus (the right way), God’s plan for them is hell.  Some plan, thanks a lot.

But wait, maybe my atheism is part of God’s plan!  Maybe I was put on earth to test people’s faith, like all those fossils buried in the earth.  Probably not, more likely I am tool of the devil, and god’s plan is to send me back to hell with the devil.  FOREVER.  Or maybe the creationists are tools of the devil, like the Pharisees of the New Testament.  Maybe god has a plan for them.  Does being hell bound bring meaning to your life?

I think what astonishes me most is that deep down Christians want to make sure there is a hell.  I once read an Irish poem that said that people care less about going to heaven then seeing their neighbor in hell.  And I hate to say that it fits many Christians pretty well.

So, of course they would want to worship a god that creates the world, pronounces it “good” but just 1656 years later he is sick of it and kills damn near everything.  “It’s all part of god’s plan!”  A nice story for the kids with rainbows and unicorns.  Well, he did send the rainbow and said he’ll never kill all of us again.  Gee, thanks, god.  But he is going to send most of the humans ever created to hell.  With a god like this, who needs a devil?

Just a few years later, well about 2300 actually, Jesus comes along and dies for our sins.  Well except for all the ones he didn’t die for.  Like homosexuality.  If you are homosexual, god has a plan for you.  Hell.  Unbeliever? Hell.   Funny how the preachers want to pick and choose which sins Jesus died for.

Now if I were vindictive I would quote Jesus back at them:

Concerning Self-Deception

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ (Matthew 7)

I’ve said before, there is no way that Christian theology adds any “meaning” to life.  If some Christians are right and pretty much only Hitler, Stalin, Dick Cheney and Ken Lay are going to hell, then our earthly life is meaningless in that it was just a very brief stop on the way to heaven.  If billions are going to hell because they didn’t believe right or whatever, earthly life is meaningless, because, as Jesus himself says, we have no way of knowing who is going to hell and who isn’t.  To hear Jesus say it, lots of people (and it sounds like preachers!) are going to hell who are dead sure they are headed for heaven.  When you punish your kids do you make darn sure they know what the punishment is for?  That doesn’t seem to be in god’s “mysterious ways.”

Of course, if every decision I make decides whether it is hell or heaven, then my earthly existence is a knife’s edge of anxiety never knowing what the sum total of my actions have been and where I will spend eternity.

None of those three options bring any “meaning” to life.  If someone devotes their life to helping the poor, but is homosexual and ends up in hell for that, what “meaning” does that bring to life?   Or what if there is a horrible person who recants on his death bed and accepts Jesus with his dying breath?  If he goes to heaven, how does that make life meaningful?

There is no way in which eternal life adds meaning to life.  It can only take it away.

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7 thoughts on “God Has a Plan for You!

  1. vonleonhardt2 says:

    As for myself, I can only say that arguments that rest on people being special and on people being meaningless both boil down something as intellectually dishonest as “everyone is special.” Children won’t balk to counter “if everyone is special, no-one is special.”

    And hell is misused/ caricatured, but it’s also hard in the 1st world to see how someone in the 3rd world would see it as “justice finally winning.”

    I guess my question to you is:
    Why would truth be anthropocentric enough that “meaning” rest within us either way? The finitude or continuation of a human life is not a self-contained thing in any way as we depend on an environment supporting us to even breath. Also, many theologies reject that humans decide their destiny… “Men of action believe in fate, men of thought believe in providence” as the saying goes.

    Additionally, I mean this in the nicest way but you seem very attached to a Morally rendered reading of the issue. Meaning is sometimes amoral and there are issues of morality/culture you need to ponder past. Salvation in Christianity in particular is not very morally concerned save catholicism/ baptist flavors, I think many others have some neutrality too.

    So I won’t push back that you’re right or wrong, I’ll just push you onward. It goes a lot deeper before you hit the bottom.

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    • Hi VonLeon and thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate thoughtful comments.

      I personally don’t feel that “truth” with a capital T lies within us. Or really outside of us either. I don’t believe there is a Capital T “truth.” Truth seems to be a moving target. As Thomas Paine himself said, the wisdom of ages past now seem silly. Even theology and religion are constantly moving. The beliefs of Catholics today are vastly different than 1000 years ago as is the behavior of the church itself. They try to pretend that the faith is not evolving and changing, that everything goes back unchanged to the founders, but we know that is not true in the least. When it comes to truth I take sort of a scientific attitude. Today’s knowledge may be the best we have, but tomorrow’s will almost certainly replace it.

      And as for “meaning,” honestly I don’t really even know what it means (pardon the pun). But I do know this, raising my children has been important and from that I can take something that can be called meaning. When I teach my students I feel something most people would call “meaning.” Now, that most of that ends when I die has no impact on its “meaning” to me now. And while it is certainly nice when someone tells me, “You’re a good dad,” that is not what drives me as a parent. And some god opening some pearly gates after I die and saying “You were a good dad, c’mon in,” doesn’t add any more meaning to what I did either.

      I feel a drive to leave the world a better place and for me that means spreading the “gospel” of such things critical thinking, freedom of speech, the methods of science and humanist ethics. I suppose that could be said to have some kind of “meaning.” But then again maybe it is pure ego. Maybe it is a delusion.

      But then again maybe those who spread that other gospel (which admittedly they feel gives them meaning) are making the world a better place. Or maybe for them it is purely ego. Or a delusion.

      It is true that “faith alone” salvation in Christianity is not “morally” based, but I also will argue that such “salvation” also removes the meaning from my earthly existence. What difference did spending .00000000001% (actually much less, but you get the picture) of my entire life on earth mean? It begs the question as to why god bothers to put us here at all if we spend the rest of eternity with him. Why not just let our souls loose in heaven from the start?

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      • vonleonhardt2 says:

        I don’t tend to go for all truth is subjective because that would be an objective truth itself. I just think it’s really hard to be objective.

        I think the heaven issue comes from people thinking there is one that we could go to. Bible says eternal life is on the new Earth, and shows the “wealth” of the nation’s (I don’t think it’s money, but relationships etc. ) being brought into the new Jerusalem in Rev. 24; the point of this life is it is co-creative of the new Earth. It would this be a shame to skip it. Just as life seems frustrated by death so does what we do… But the Gospel is that the creative forces of nature, imagination, etc. are ultimately NOT frustrated but fulfilled. The whole of life is eternalized; it has to do with relativity and no absolute time. It’s that while was, and is, and is to come aspect of the religion. Also, sanctification is relating to the infinite God so it’s not done that side of things either, only the pain in the butt of sin and futility is.

        So I think the meaning for Christians lay on that far more than playing harps lol.

        Thanks for the insightful feedback.

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      • I am not really meaning “all truth is subjective.” For example, Newton’s laws were certainly “objective” truth. When Einstein came along it was realized that they were not the whole truth and we already realize that about Einstein, although we have not replaced that “truth” yet.

        I have to be honest and say that I have no idea what you are talking about in your second paragraph. For example, what is absolute time? And how do we lose it? If there is no time, then nothing changes, nothing happens. How does this fulfill anything?

        I still see no sense in which some kind of afterlife, especially one where most of humanity (But as for the cowardly, the faithless,[e] the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”) winds up in the lake of fire.

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      • vonleonhardt2 says:

        Absolute time imagines that time exist outside the universe as a constant. When they saw space time bend on the transit of mercury, Einstein theory that it is a component of the universe and can be acted on became a scientific fact. Causality on the macro scale is monistic needing a 1,2,3 pattern, but quantum interactions are priority pluralistic 1 and 2 and 3 all at once. It’s why we can’t combine the theories yet. I personally think we only have information from within the universe and thinking without time is a natural limitation but a bypassable one with abstraction. And it’s where science is going.
        Sorry I love that type of thing.

        The list of exclusion isn’t so much saying who doesn’t get in (came to save sinners… Aka all those folks) but what doesn’t get in. And there is no indication perfection on the part of humans is attainable. Jesus doesn’t normally demand confessions, changes, etc. but focuses far more on following him from where ever one begins with a sin no more attitude.

        But “hell” is such a cultural construct, it is difficult to seriously discuss without decaying into talk that bats around non biblical superstitions. It’s like Lucifer or Satan, very few people have a clue as to what is actually said and most people smash together quran and other things to get their views.

        My question is why do you focus on that particular aspect? It’s not used in scripture as a crugel and only loosely couched… It’s honestly an interesting fascination that’s where you focus. I’d like to know why.

        As refers to fulfillment I’d have to ask if any evil ever could, most items on that list are universally considered bad… There’s a reason for that I think. And none of those things is victimless. Idolatry like greed leads to someone suffering, objectifies people with slavery, and many other things. Adultery destroys a spouse. Fornication objectifies people, etc. If we say we are against such things we shouldn’t tolerate or practice the causes.

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      • Once again, I have to honestly say I don’t understand most of what you are saying. The first paragraph is completely over my head.

        There is only one thing I think I understand in your comment and that is hell being a cultural construct. As an atheist, if I hear what you are saying, that hell is not real but a projection of the darkest part of the human psyche, then I agree with you. That is exactly how I see it.

        But it is not how most Christians see it. The Catholic church and many other churches all along the spectrum of believers insist that hell is a real place, and that people will really be sent there to suffer for eternity.

        I come back to this from time to time because I agree with Darwin that hell is a “damnable doctrine” and makes a mockery of the idea that “god is love” or that he has a wonderful plan for us. I write about it because hell is a doctrine that tells me that religion is man made, that no all powerful, all loving deity would have created such a place.

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      • vonleonhardt2 says:

        Well, I’d say hell describes something real, maybe not an eternal place. The issue with “God is love” is people think love is unconditional. That’s not really love. That’s a force of cosmic niceness that is impersonal and doesn’t require anything. If you told your wife you’d never get jealous you’d have trouble. So hell comes from the fact God requires things and is free to love on a personal level and to react. He’s alive. Notice unconditional love people never do anything. That’s a dead end doctrine.

        Lol. Dawin didn’t do well in seminary so as a theologian I’d really impeach him. As a scientist he got a big picture but the inner workings etc. he missed. His science paper was in barnacles!

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