Someone left a comment on an article I wrote a few days ago observing that certain brands of Christianity really get on my nerves. And boy howdy, ain’t that the truth! Certain brands, hell! Christianity, period, gets on my nerves.
But why? I’m not an advocate for any religion, so why should Christianity bear the brunt of my scorn, mockery, sophomoric teasing, etc.?
Well, it’s the tradition I was raised in, for one. It’s the religion I’m the most familiar with, since nearly every religious person I have ever known has identified him- or herself with this or that sect of Christianity. Familiarity has most definitely bred contempt; not of the people, but of the belief system that forces otherwise good, sensible, moral people to accept as fact things that are verifiably untrue, and to do and say preposterous (and sometimes despicable) things.
That last bit, that’s the main reason for my special animus against Christianity.
Unlike other faiths with which I am familiar, Christianity requires its adherents to enter into an immoral bargain. That this is a meaningless bargain made with an imaginary person is fortunate, but irrelevant to this discussion. The point is, to be a Christian of any stripe, you must accept that something that is blatantly immoral in several ways is the greatest thing that ever happened. This acceptance is the price of admission, both to the Christian brotherhood and, more importantly to a believer, Heaven itself.
It goes like this: To be a Christian, and to be saved from eternal damnation, you must accept that an innocent person was executed for your benefit, so that you could escape such a punishment yourself, a punishment to which you are condemned from birth, thanks to events that occurred shortly after the creation of the universe, over which you had no control and which you have no power to change.
To be a Christian, you must not only accept that this event took place, and that such a substitution of guilt is a) possible and b) just; you must also affirm that this substitutionary sacrifice was meant for you specifically. In order to claim your salvation from Hell, you must accept (or “admit,” as it is often phrased in Christian conversion prayers) that “Jesus died for you.”
Set aside for the moment the fact that guilt is non-transferable. Set aside also the fact that you cannot be guilty of the crime of which you are accused (the crime of being “fallen,” which dates back to a minor rule infraction committed thousands of years before you were born, in a fictional place, by people who never actually existed). In no way is this moral. Even if it were possible for someone to assume your guilt for a crime you committed, how is it just to allow them to do so? Certainly, it’s a nice thing to do, a selfless and compassionate act, but who but a fiend could accept such a gift?
And, the fact is, it isn’t possible for someone else to assume your guilt. Even if such a transaction were sanctioned by law (which it isn’t, and couldn’t be in any system of justice worth the paper its laws are written on), the transference of guilt from the truly guilty to the innocent would be purely ceremonial, imaginary. You have done what you have done. Your crimes are your crimes. Your choices are your choices. Nothing will ever change that. Nothing, not even God himself, could ever change that.
Christianity not only compels you to pretend otherwise, but to feel good about it. Christians are to rejoice in the loving sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The Christian doctrine of salvation is a vulgarity. There is no better word for it.
There’s a hoary old argument by Christian apologists, long since reduced to a bumper sticker, that goes something like this: “If I’m wrong and you’re right,” says the Christian to the atheist, “I’ve lost nothing. But if I’m right and you’re wrong, you’ve lost everything.”
I’m amazed this is still thought of as a compelling argument by some people. For a start, it seems to ignore the rather important fact that the atheist being addressed doesn’t think he’s wrong. He thinks the Christian is wrong, so the consequences of the Christian being right are of little interest. But more importantly, even if the Christian were right, the price of salvation should still be too high for any honest, moral person. This is a lot of big talk from someone who considers Christian myth to be just another fairy tale, but even if I knew it were true, I’d still reject Christianity.
I want no part of any system that requires people to accept something as right which they know to be wrong, imaginary consequences be damned.