Saturday, May 19, 2012

If Your God is Omnipotent, You Unequivocally Worship an Asshole

Some of the things I write here fall under the category of “opinion” or “theory” or “conjecture.”  I freely admit that. No one can conclusively prove that God doesn’t exist (just as no one can conclusively prove that He does, save for the God himself). Some things that I write, however, cannot successfully be debated. The title of this post is a statement that has no valid counterpoint. If you believe in a god, he is either an asshole or he is not omnipotent (meaning that everything does NOT happen for a reason and we are NOT all part of God’s plan). There is no third option.

For reasons difficult to justify, many Christians and Jews (though not all) believe in an omnipotent god. They think He is all-powerful since he was capable of doing things like flooding the Earth and turning rivers into blood. This God allowed Moses to literally part the Red Sea so that His people could walk through it. He gave Jesus the power to perform miracles, going so far as to raise people from the dead. Hell, He created life!  If that’s not an example of omnipotence, then I don’t know what is. All these things are in the Bible, so if you trust the Bible there’s a good chance you think of God as an omnipotent being. If you worship such a god, you worship an asshole (quick aside: while everything in this post is more or less my original thoughts, it was pointed out to me that a gent by the name of Epicurus was credited for this general roughly 300 BC. It boggles my mind that this point was made 2,300 years ago, yet the majority of the world still believes in a benevolent god).

You may think that I lack moral fiber because I’m an atheist and I use words like “asshole,” but I’m proud of the fact that I don’t endlessly praise someone who is completely fine with untold multitudes of innocent people suffering and dying.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that the Judeo-Christian God exists, and let’s say that He is omnipotent. He was cool with every single war that has ever taken place in the history of this planet. He was down with people being bought, sold, beaten, tortured, raped, and worked to death (and he was down with all of this being socially acceptable rather than morally reprehensible up until a couple hundred years ago). He gave his tacit approval of more than six million of His chosen people being slaughtered. History is littered with endless examples of horrible things happening to innocent people. Ironically, a large portion of those atrocities can be directly attributed to religion (which is an entire post unto itself, so I won’t dwell on that point here). It’s not like he’s fixed everything and we’re now living in a utopia, either; a large portion of the world’s population lead what can generously be termed “crappy lives.”  While we tend to take things like food, clean water, education, and something approximating gender equality for granted in first-world countries, much of the world is struggling to attain those things. Even in America we still have problems that could be easily solved by an omnipotent god, like people being senselessly and sometimes accidentally murdered, altar boys being deliberately molested by creepy, sexually repressed old men, and women getting breast cancer.

Even if God did not actively seek to commit these atrocities, he did nothing to stop them. If he is, indeed, omnipotent (or even simply capable of affecting events on Earth), he could have done something to save countless people from suffering needlessly. Yet, God has stood by and allowed horrible things to happen time after time. Ergo, God is an asshole.

Perhaps you like to say things like “everything happens for a reason” or “when God closes a door, He opens a window” or “God has a plan.”  If that is your counterpoint, and you actually believe any of those statements, then you have already lost this argument and should probably start looking for other phrases to give you comfort when bad things happen. I humbly suggest the ever-popular “Turn that frown upside-down!” or “We’re not Detroit!” to lift your spirits in times of sorrow.

Allow me to illustrate my point with a simple example: the Holocaust. If you believe that everything happens according to God’s plan, then you believe that God explicitly allowed the Holocaust to happen. More than six million completely innocent people were killed for no good reason. That point is not up for debate. Those people died not because they committed crimes, but because of who they were; they were not killed because of decisions that they made, but because of who their parents were. Any silver linings that you may want to take away from the Holocaust are completely overshadowed by the fact that over six million innocent people died for them. Not only were they innocent--almost all of them were Jews!  Almost all of them believed in God!  There is not a single lesson that God could have taught us through the Holocaust that required that many deaths and that much destruction and suffering throughout Europe. After all, God is supposed to be all-knowing and all-powerful, so it stands to reason that he could have found another way to get His message across (whatever the hell you may imagine that message to be). Furthermore, if He’s omnipotent and everything happens according to His plan, not only did he allow the Holocaust to happen...He planned it. This point can be extrapolated to apply to all of the atrocities in this world:  God planned the Crusades. God planned the Spanish Inquisition. God planned the era of witch-hunting. God planned the era of slavery (and didn’t bother to end it during Biblical times when He still supposedly had a habit of directly intervening in worldly affairs, preferring instead to wholeheartedly endorsing the practice). God planned every war. God planned every murder. God planned every case of cancer. God planned every case of child molestation. God planned every case of rape.

If you read that last paragraph and still think that “everything happens for a reason,” and that “reason” has to do with God’s plan, then you will have to concede that your God is a sick, nasty, deplorable dude. If you concede that point, and still choose to worship Him, then you are a terribly immoral person and a detriment to society. That also makes you a doo-doo head. It’s socially acceptable to worship God when we think that He is a loving God that cares about us. It’s not socially acceptable to worship a God who intentionally inflicts terror and suffering upon the world.

Some people prefer to explain the bad things in this world by means of “free will,” arguing that while God is omnipotent, he chooses not to affect the decisions of humans. If we accept this argument, we’re still left with all the suffering that is not caused because some person, rather than God, is an asshole. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters don’t occur because of anyone’s choices (unless, of course, you subscribe to the idea that God is punishing us for allowing gay people in our society instead of stoning them or because modern women show way too much skin. If that’s the case: congratulations!  You’re a heartless bastard who delights in the suffering of others!). If you view natural disasters as “acts of God” then you implicitly concede that He’s an asshole as no benevolent god would willingly inflict such terror and suffering on so many people.

What about all the medical issues that exist?  Surely no loving god would think of kidney stones, testicular cancer, or Down’s Syndrome as good ideas, and no one chooses to have a child with Down’s.

Perhaps you have conceded that God is not omnipotent because you do not want to worship an asshole, and we’ve established that any god that could exist falls into one of two categories: 1) omnipotent, and therefore a complete asshole as noted above or 2) not omnipotent (which would allow said god to be loving and benevolent). Unfortunately, if you’re a Christian or a Jew, you still worship an asshole. Why?  Because the Old Testament exists. And the Old Testament is the original basis for Christianity and Judaism. And the God of the Old Testament is definitely an asshole.

The world of the Old Testament was a nasty place. Slavery was commonplace. War was a constant, as almost everyone wanted to expand their borders. Society in general was pretty brutal. They did not have iPods. They did not even have Walkmen. And throughout the Old Testament, the Jews (God’s “chosen people”) were continually being oppressed for some reason. This is a point that should not be taken lightly: the Jews were constantly dealing with tyrants who treated them like shit, and they were God’s chosen people. He couldn’t even be bothered to be nice to His own people!  They were slaves. They were conquered by the Egyptians. And the Babylonians. And the Romans. God’s idea of fun seemed to be making them wander around in the desert for forty years and feeding them some kind of crappy bread-like substance every single day that they had to pick up off the ground. And yet these people were supposed to feel blessed?  No wonder they were always trying to find other gods to worship!  The God of Abraham certainly wasn’t doing them many favors, so they might as well try worshipping someone who would.

Of course, like a good pimp or abusive boyfriend, God would occasionally throw them a bone to keep them coming back. He would deliver them from their captors after a while, or give them manna to keep them from starving to death. He would promise to judge those that were not living according to His will and punish them with eternal damnation. He gave them some life advice through the Ten Commandments (and half of them even made sense). None of this changes the fact that God was an asshole. The whole act of deliverance is great and all, but He still allowed them to suffer every time before He freed them. Knowing that your enemies are going to Hell when they die and you’re going to Heaven instead would provide some mental comfort...but it doesn’t change the fact that the Jews were treated like shit while they were on Earth. Here’s a nifty note (I would call it a “fun fact” but I don’t want to be misleading) that rarely gets mentioned: the reason the Israelites spent 40 years wandering around after the exodus was because God wanted to ensure that all the adults He freed from Egypt died before reaching their destination. Seriously, it’s in the book of Numbers. How can you construe that as anything other than a dick move?  “You’re mad about the fact that you have been a slave for your entire life. I’ll free you from that life that you hate...but I’ll also make sure you spend the remainder of your life wandering around in the fucking desert eating dirt bread. Na na na na boo boo.”

Of course, the Old Testament wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Jews--sometimes they got to inflict the doom on others!  If you want an example of just how kind a ruler God can be, look no further than the book of Joshua. First, God directed the Israelites to take the city of Jericho. By “take the city,” of course, I mean kill every living thing inside of it (Joshua 6:21: “They completely destroyed everything in it--men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, donkeys--everything.”). Some dude named Achan kept some of the gold and silver for himself instead of offering it up to God, so naturally he and his entire family were stoned to death and burned (Joshua 7:25). Then God directed the Israelites to “take the city” of Ai: “When the Israelite army finished killing all the men outside the city, they went back and finished off everyone inside. So the entire population of Ai was wiped out that day--twelve thousand in all.” (Joshua 8:24-25)

This would become a habit: “Joshua completely destroyed the city of Makkedah, killing everyone in it, including the king. Not one person in the city was left alive. he killed the king of Makkedah as he had killed the king of Jericho. Then Joshua and the Israelites went to Libnah and attacked it. There, too, the Lord gave them the city and its king. They slaughtered everyone in the city and left no survivors...” (Joshua 10:28-30)  This goes on. And on. And on. They slaughtered every living being in 31 cities. The city of Gibeon made a truce and was spared, but every other city was destroyed and “not a single person was spared.”  Why did none of the other 31 cities make nice?  “The Lord hardened their hearts and caused them to fight the Israelites instead of asking for peace. So they were completely and mercilessly destroyed, as the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Joshua 11:20)  Oh. That’s why: because God is an asshole. What great sin did all these people commit?  Their parents weren’t Israelites. That was literally the only way any of these people could have been spared--if they had had different parents. They couldn’t even surrender or beg for mercy as God intentionally “hardened their hearts.”  Think about that for a minute. God decided these people all deserved to die because of something that they had absolutely no control over whatsoever. Seriously. That was the mindset of the “benevolent” Judeo-Christian God.

That’s the Old Testament in a nutshell: God demands not only unrequited love, but demands that you put up with suffering on Earth in order to find eternal salvation. Any Jews who didn’t worship God for their entire lives (regardless of how miserable those lives may have been) were sentenced to eternal damnation. And, as far as God was concerned, anyone who wasn’t born into a Jewish family could die and go to Hell (maybe Hitler decided to inflict suffering on people based solely on their bloodline as a reverse homage to God). This is the behavior of a benevolent God?  If God truly was benevolent, he wouldn’t bother with forcing such terrible lives upon His chosen ones in the first place, not to mention sending the vast majority of the world to Hell just because of who their parents were.

If you still do not think God is an asshole, then I don’t know what to tell you. Even if you think He’s no longer omnipotent for some reason, He certainly was in the Old Testament, and He wasn’t shy about flexing His power then. You can’t just pretend that the Old Testament doesn’t exist--that was the basis of Jesus’ religion, and it seems sacrilegious to simply ignore the “Word of God” doesn’t it?  The New Testament itself is full of references to the Old Testament, whether talking about “the God of Abraham” or “the descendents of David” or “the Law of Moses” or “the prophecy of Isaiah” or simply the myriad references to “the Scriptures.”  Jesus Himself said “the Scriptures cannot be altered” (John 10:35) and Paul said “all Scripture is inspired by God.” (2 Timothy 3:16)  It’s all in the same physical book for a reason. You can’t just decide you like some of the things Jesus said and ignore everything else.

Furthermore, regardless of which religion you subscribe to, chances are you’re going to Hell just like the majority of the people on this planet. The most widespread religion in the world is Christianity, the religion of choice for something over 2 billion people. There are over 7 billion people in the world. Therefore, if a requirement for getting into Heaven is worshipping the correct God and following the correct set of religious beliefs, a minimum of 5 billion people currently alive will go to Hell because they were born to the wrong set of parents. That number only covers the people who are currently alive; just think of the untold billions upon billions of poor souls who were sentenced to an eternity of torture and damnation for reasons that were entirely out of their control!  That alone proves, unequivocally and indisputably, that God is an asshole.

In case you would like to make the counterpoint that anyone can become a Christian (or convert to whatever the “correct” religion would happen to be) and therefore everyone has the opportunity to go to Heaven even if they were born into, say, a Muslim family: that’s a preposterous statement that you cannot honestly believe. You have no better chance of converting a Muslim to Christianity than a Muslim would have of converting you to Islam. Nearly everyone who has ever lived has died with the religion of their parents because no religion can be proven to be more correct than any other because any religion that still exists does so because it cannot be proven or disproven. The people who do change religions do so because they realize how ridiculous their religion is and search for something that seems somehow more plausible while still allowing them to go to Heaven when they die. Also, if God did exist, he could quite easily prove His existence, end the debate, and spare everyone from eternal damnation for praying the wrong way.

To his credit, Jesus seemed like a pretty nice guy. But God is an asshole.


  1. Love reading your blog. I agree with alot of the things you point out as being ridiculous and stupid.(some even made me literally LOL, which I sometimes think is a little odd if a person is alone when they they do that. I mean really, the little voice (or voices) inside my head hear me whether I verbalize or not). However, I think some of the conclusions you draw from these 'proofs' are just as ridiculous if they are subjected to the same scrutiny. I will write volumes on this later, but I thought I would address the first paragraph of this fanatical rant (my opinion ) since it is so easy to successfully debate. I am not saying this is my belief system, I am saying the first paragraph is total bullshit and can be completely refuted in a couple sentences.
    I guess I would heartily agree with with the first statement since most of what I have read so far are some very valid facts,points raised, questions asked, etc., from which there are some very illogical conclusions drawn. That makes it your 'opinion' not fact since alot does not pass even a cursory Logic 101 test. More on that later.
    Just for the sake of arguement I would say I think I can make definitions for Big G/ little g that would make that statement false. But I get the gist of it.
    The rest of the paragraph is just silly (er, bullshit,whatever). I'm thinking that omnipotent means ' all powerful', therefore the words in parentheses have no bearing on the subject of omnipotentcy. They do have meaning on whether Your particular deity is a' personal' or 'impersonal' God/god. I think most people consider the Christian God a personal God. I might have a hard time justifying a personal God as omnipotent in a few sentences, but but I'm sure I could do it in a volume or two. However, I would lean towards an omnipotent God/god as being 'impersonal' (short def- he don't give a shit 'bout me cause I don't even make a mote in his eye, he's just a bad ass all powerful). I think we both may have similar defs of 'asshole' and yes bad asses may or may not be assholes. But mostly if they are impersonal they just don't care. It doesn't even register on their radar.
    1. successfully debated.
    2. valid counterpoint
    3. provided third option
    4. check. your move
    5. good luck on YOUR FAITH JOURNEY

    1. I appreciate the feedback, but I'm going to have to heartily disagree that you provided a *valid* counterpoint/third option. I wrote "If you believe in a god, he is either an asshole or he is not omnipotent (meaning that everything does NOT happen for a reason and we are NOT all part of God’s plan). There is no third option." First, allow me to rephrase so there's no confusion about what I meant in the parenthetical: "If you believe in a god, he is either an asshole or he is not omnipotent. If he is not omnipotent, then everything does NOT happen according to his plan, so stop using platitudes like 'God has a reason for everything'."

      Secondly, and correct me if I'm wrong, but your argument seems to be that God can still be omnipotent without being an asshole; He's just indifferent.

      The problem with this argument is that if God is omnipotent then He could have prevented any number of atrocities throughout history...but He simply chose not to. This is akin to me walking by someone getting raped in broad daylight, looking down at a fully charged taser in my hand, looking back at the woman having the worst experience of her life, and saying "nah, I'm sure she'll be fine." I'm pretty sure that behavior would qualify me as an asshole. To quote Spider-Man's uncle Ben: "With great power comes great responsibility."

      Beyond the ability to prevent suffering on Earth, an omnipotent god would also have the ability to prove his existence to us mere mortals and end all the fighting and debating about which culture's archaic belief systems are right or wrong and what determines whether one goes to Heaven or Hell (if those realms even exist at all). Any god who sets up a reward/punishment system (whether it be Heaven and Hell, reincarnation, or simply rewards and punishments while we're on Earth) without establishing the criteria for that system is an asshole by default. Such a god could say the following on the Day of Judgment: "You led a pretty good life, but you killed some caterpillars without repenting, and I really like butterflies, to Hell with you." We have absolutely no way of knowing whether or not killing caterpillars is going to get us sent to Hell (and we can't even use the Bible/Torah/Koran/Vedas/Book of Mormon/whatever-the-hell-Scientologists-use as a guide because we have no way of knowing which one is right).

      If you want to take the impersonal/indifferent idea even farther and say that God doesn't have any reward/punishment system whatsoever...why even bother to posit a god at all? If there are no divine consequences, then all religion becomes entirely irrelevant. Saying that there is a god in an attempt to answer the question "Where does life come from?" does nothing but make the question *more* complex, not less. If the universe was created by a god, who created that god? Where did he come from? Now you're left with a question that is even harder to answer.

      The great Albert Einstein sums up my thoughts quite nicely: "I see only with deep regret that God punishes so many of His children for their numerous stupidities, for which only He Himself can be held responsible; in my opinion, only His nonexistence could excuse Him."

  2. Unfortunately, as you have briefly mentioned, I don't think ANYONE has (or ever will have) the complete right picture. You are wrong, I am wrong, Dawkins is wrong, Graham is wrong...etc. None of us will know the real truth until we die and see what happens. I personally believe I will die, meet God (whatever you want to take that to mean), and be in complete awe of how wrong I had been on most of my beliefs about how things came to be and what to expect.

    Einstein also sums up some of my thoughts on trying to rationalize the existence of God/a god:
    "The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations."

    Now, i realize that this quote implies there is some AUTHOR of those books, but the way I see it, since you can't understand the words or ordering to begin with, it could be pure chance/evolution that they are in the order they are. Some people will start to understand more of the patterns and meanings behind the books in this library. Some will start to attribute them to being written by an intelligent being, while others may see patterns that they feel are completely natural and explainable without an author. Both sides have valid points, and both sides start to dive into specific examples and counter examples trying to disprove the other. Since you can't understand the language to begin do you prove one over the other? As we (humans) continue to "evolve", we will continue to try to explain more and more, and we will continue to try to find the explanation for everything...but in the end, we will all find out one way or another.

    1. I agree that we certainly won't have the entire picture filled in during our lifetime, and it's probable that we never will--turns out it's hard to figure out what happened billions of years ago.

      However, I'm of the opinion that we should figure out as much as possible about the universe, even if we can't figure out everything. When Einstein spoke of God and religion, it was in reference to the orderly laws of the universe, which he found awe-inspiring and recognized as something greater than man (but completely separate from the idea of a personal god):
      "The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties--this knowledge, this feeling...that is the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men. The idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I am unable to take seriously."