Ten Claims of Religion That Are Mutually Exclusive

mutually_exclusive_eventsTheists have a script.  No, seriously.  They must.  How else could it be that the very first response of every single theist ever to every single atheist ever is that we are ignorant about their scriptures and their religion?  We haven’t read the whole thing, they complain, or we are taking it out of context, or we are cherry-picking the worst parts, or we are mis-translating, or yada yada yada. So let me put this caveat out there right up front: Every single one of the following statements can be found at any of countless online Christian ministries.  The sentiments represented are ubiquitous not only in the Christian meme-o-sphere, but in discussions with Christians themselves.  There has been no cherry-picking; there is no context to these outside of the standalone images and “whisper quotes” circulating on the Internet; nothing has been translated from ancient Hebrew into English by Google.  This is their theology, in their own words, in all its contradictory and self-refuting glory.

1. “Nothing can stop God’s plan!” → “Pray because prayer changes things!”

Say what now?  If nothing can stop god’s plan, doesn’t that include prayer?  And if it does, then why pray?  And if it doesn’t, why are they lying and claiming that nothing can stop it when something actually can stop it?

2. “God never gives you more than you can handle!” → “God WILL give you more than you can handle!”

So, is god making you suffer because he knows you can take it – or is he trying to break you so that you feel you have no choice but to run to him?  (This claim is everywhere in online Christian circles – which, as an aside, is kind of a dick move on god’s part.) He either does or he doesn’t.  Which is it?

3. “Every person in your life was sent by God for a reason!” → “God will never send you another woman’s husband!”

So let me get this straight: If a married man comes into my life he was sent by god, but because he is married he wasn’t sent by god? Or, he was sent by god, but not so I could fall in love with him? So if I fall in love with him, that wasn’t the plan?  But then, how does that square with item 1A above about everything happening being part of god’s plan? Does anyone else’s head hurt?

4. “God gives us what we need, not what we want!” → “Sometimes God gives you what you want so you can see it’s not what you need!”

Geez Louise, god, can you stop being a dick for like five minutes?

5. “Everything that happens is part of God’s plan!” → “Don’t blame God for the bad things that happen to you, blame your own bad choices / people’s free will!”

In my unscientific observations, the “everything according to god’s plan” line usually comes up in the context of first world problems – unemployment, relationship woes, financial troubles, and similar personal challenges.  Those are the times when it’s convenient to say god is working in your favor even if you can’t understand how.  The moment you bring up hunger, or rape, or child abuse, or famine, all of a sudden god is no longer responsible, because whoa, man, you can’t blame god for that shit when it’s people who are bad!  This leaves theists with the uncomfortable dilemma of having a god who intervenes in the easy stuff, like finding you a job, but can’t be bothered with the big things, like making sure babies don’t get raped; or of claiming two things that cannot simultaneously be true.

6. “God is directing all of your steps!” → “People have free will!”

If god is directing all of my steps, I don’t have free will.  If I have free will, god is not directing my steps.  Ironically, if theists would simply choose one of these it would be logically defensible (though it would still be false).  As it stands, these claims are incompatible.

7. “God is all-powerful!” → “Satan exists!”

There is no reason for an all-powerful, all-loving god to allow a character like Satan to run wild tempting and destroying people unless he (a) is not all-powerful and is incapable of defeating Satan, or (b) he is not all-loving and Satan just makes a good scapegoat or good entertainment (or both).  If Satan is real, then your god is either impotent or incompetent.

8. “God is all-forgiving!” → “Hell exists!”

“There’s nothing I won’t forgive you for!  Except for this list of things that I won’t forgive you for!”

9. “God is all-loving!” → “God will punish the wicked!”

“You can freely choose whether or not to love me! And if you choose not to, you will burn in a lake of fire for all eternity!  And yeah, genocide and war and child rape and disease and famine and natural disasters, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you coz I do! For realz! Even those idolaters and fornicators and blasphemers and apostates and unbelievers that I am condemning to hell!  Love ya, mean it!”

10. “God is always in control / has a plan / answers prayers / will make a way / has put you where he wants you / is the reason for everything you have / bestows blessings / heals / creates miracles!” → “God can’t stop people from raping children / committing murder / starting wars / perpetrating genocide / torturing / lying / stealing / hurting each other because that would take away their free will!”

And finally we get to the crux of why religion does not hold water: Because Christian theology claims perpetual, continuous, incessant intervention by god in the most minute details of your life while simultaneously claiming god cannot intervene to stop suffering because that would take away free will.  If intervention impedes free will, then god should never intervene in any human affairs for any reason.  If he intervenes to, say, send the right people into your life, or send you the storm to make you see he is the only shelter, or answer your prayers, or direct your steps, how is that any less an infringement upon free will than saving children from rape and starvation? Or stopping the Holocaust? Or teaching humans to be kind to each other?  Never mind, I’ll answer that for you: It isn’t.  It’s just that it’s easy to give god credit for being The Best Thing Ever when the stakes are low, but when the stakes are high god miraculously no longer plays by the same rules and must be held to a different (read: lower) standard than his flawed, sinful creations.

Christian apologists, if you’re out there, you’re going to want to attack me for misunderstanding or misrepresenting your religion.  However, you might want to consider redirecting that energy to the myriad Christian ministers and self-appointed spokespeople who are out there selling a version of your faith with which you disagree and making so many claims that cannot simultaneously be true.  After all, it’s not actually my responsibility to correct your theology.  That’s supposed to be your job.

Can’t We All Just Get Along? (Spoiler: No, We Can’t)

Photo: AP

A couple of days ago I shared an article on my Facebook page excerpted from Dabiq, the publication of ISIS, which outlines the reason they hate non-Muslims.  It is written by ISIS; it is not the assessment of white westerners seeing their actions through the lens of enlightenment values, but the words of the Islamists themselves.  Their reasons for hating and killing us will come as a shock; no one could have predicted or anticipated their astonishing revelation.  They do what they do – are you ready for it?  Are you sitting down? – for Islam.

“The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam.”

One might think that when the terrorists themselves come right out and say point blank that they do what they do for religion and for no other reason, and that they will continue doing it until the world succumbs to their religion, that would be the end of the debate.

You would be wrong.

Because no one but no one is going to tell the Regressive Left that Islamism has anything to do with Islam, least of all the Islamists themselves.  Those terrorists are not true Muslims, you see, and if you suggest that they are then you are saying by default that all Muslims are terrorists, and that makes you a racist bigot.  Period, end of discussion.

But Godless Mama, surely you are exaggerating, you say.  Acknowledging the “Islam” in “Islamism” isn’t racist, you say. Islam isn’t even a race, you say.  You must be misunderstanding them, you say.

Oh how I wish this were true.  It does seem so absurd as to be unbelievable. And admittedly, sometimes the accusations and knee-jerk Regressive responses really are absurd.  Occasionally, however, they cross the line from absurd to downright sinister.  Witness this breathless defense of ISIS posted to my page just today:

 “ISIS is a terrorist organisation that means to cause harm to ALL kinds of people… fellow Muslims included.  If their true cause was to promote Islam, then how does killing fellow Muslims achieve that?  How do beheadings, bombings, abductions and other atrocities make Islam more attractive to those that they are looking to convert?
. . .

consider the following…
When one is looking to hunt down witches, it is extremely important to define the following:
1. What exactly is a witch?
2. How is a witch confirmed as one before the fire around her is lit?
3. Is a witch’s way of life illegal in itself or are her specific actions to be defined as legal or illegal?
4. If the latter holds true in 3, then how is a witch different from anyone else?
5. If the former holds true in 3, then who is it that decides what constitutes a legal way of life and an illegal one.
. . .

If our goal is to stir up ‘counter hatred’ then how different are we from those who stir up hatred?
Instead of looking to make every Muslim in the world feel guilty for their choice of belief, we should rather look at those so-called ‘forces for good’ that keep releasing ISIS leaders from captivity.
The very same ‘forces for good’ that were allied to the very same ISIS leaders when the enemy was someone else. Those ‘forces for good’ who seem to be the only ones who benefit when ISIS go crazy. Hollywood needs villains just as badly as heroes… the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality is pure Hollywood.
Why wasn’t Islam an issue when we had communists to bash around?
Before communists we had black people.
Before black people we had Native Americans.
Before Native Americans we had someone else.
Before someone else, some other people.
There will always be a ‘them’ as a counter to ‘us’, until the time that humanity finally settles on ‘we’.”

Yes, that’s right, folks: ISIS is nothing more than a Hollywood invention designed to keep us distracted and focused on an arbitrary, artificial enemy based on the whims and desires of those in power.  They can’t possibly be actual Muslims because their barbarity is such bad PR that it would turn people off from voluntarily converting to Islam, and as you know voluntary conversion has been a cornerstone of ISIS action and propaganda – no coercion here!  If you oppose ISIS and the ideology they claim as their mandate (Islam), then not only are you playing into the hands of your government and corporate masters (sheeple!), you are just as guilty as ISIS for perpetuating an “us and them” mentality.  The real solution is to seek common ground with terrorists – to not view ISIS as “them,” but focus on our common humanity that makes us a “we.” And if you can’t do that, you are no better than the terrorists.

The problem with this advice is that the folks who comprise ISIS do not appear to actually have any humanity.  These are the folks who keep young girls and women as sex slaves; who burn children alive; who dissolve people in caustic acid, drown them, and force young boys to saw their heads off with knives.  They throw homosexuals from rooftops and stone women to death in the public square for adultery.  They have no regard for civil or secular law, for the principle of free expression, for the freedom to choose a different religion or no religion at all, or for any of the enlightenment values that we in the West take for granted – except to the extent that they can exploit that openness for their own ends.

For my part, if ever there was going to be a “them” to my “us,” the savages who make up ISIS – people who are wholly untethered from any sense of morality, decency, empathy, or humanity – fit that bill.  I do not want to seek common ground with people who unapologetically perpetrate evil, especially in the name of preposterous iron-age superstitions.  It’s one thing to vilify a group of people with arbitrary characteristics for imagined slights or inferiority; it’s quite another to seek justice against those who gleefully commit atrocities without hesitation or conscience.

If your response to my condemnation of fascists, child rapists, torturers, and serial killers is to call me a bigot and make excuses for the suffering they cause and the destroyed lives they leave behind, you need to take a long, hard look at where you’ve parked your high horse – because it sure as hell isn’t on the moral high ground.