Photo © Jim Kuhn

Photo © Jim Kuhn

I suppose I’m a bit of an atheist cliché. I have expressed on numerous occasions my distaste for the Judeo-Christian god as depicted in the Bible. (check out why God’s justice is anti-American and God is immoral). But if we don’t speak up about the inconsistencies we observe, they might go un-recognized by those who seek the truth. So in the name of critical thinking, I’ll continue to challenge the Get Out of Jail Free card often handed to God even when our own reasoning indicates he’s in violation of the most basic standards of morality.

So, what about torture? This topic has been the focus of a steady buzz in past months, but only recently have I had much personal interaction with the topic.

A devout acquaintance of mine lauded the “just” and “righteous” judgments of Yahweh. She spoke to me of how comforting it is to her that even if we can’t have perfect justice in this world, there is a perfect judgment that awaits sinners. I realize that she was speaking of the worst of people: rapists, murderers, and the dregs of society. But I know in the back of her mind, she realizes and accepts that even the most kind, generous, and loving of people will be treated the same as these if they are not “saved”.

Is she not bothered by this? Why do many Christians (including my past self) not quake and protest against the discontinuity we see in God’s justice?

But Yahweh does not turn the other cheek. Instead he sends people he supposedly loves unconditionally to a place of eternal pain and despair if they violate any of his rules.

But Yahweh has been and will be torturing billions of people: eternally, without end, forever, mercilessly, with no hope of freedom or release, again and again, in terrible and horrific ways we cannot possibly fathom in a lovely little vacation spot called Hell. And the only way to get out of this torture is to admit what he wants you to admit under duress.

How is this admirable? How is temporary torture by humans a nauseating, unloving crime, and eternal torture by a deity “good” and “just” and “deserved”?

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6 thoughts on “God + torture = love?”

Buffy · July 23, 2009 at 12:13 am

Too many Christians are of the mindset: "I got mine (I'm saved) so screw you. After all if you kowtowed to god just right then you'd be saved too–like me. It's your own fault that you're going to burn in hell forever so why should I feel sorry for you. "

My lovely summed it up best. If you had a child who made a mistake, even many mistakes, would you sentence him/her to eternal torture? If not, why do you accept a god that would do so to his "children", and even relish the idea of such a fate occurring to others?

Nobody should accept such a sadistic brute as their god. Nor should they demand others do so.

gregorylawrence · July 23, 2009 at 6:39 am

It's a lot like the conflict between science and faith that goes on in many heads — the one that usually gets resolved through a kind of compartmentalization. People do the same thing with ethics. They define God as "Good," and his actions as "Good," so everything they see has to be interpreted somehow in that light. No matter how desperately they have to strain to do it, they do it, and push it all into the little God Box in their brain and mostly don't think about it.

    godlessgirl · July 23, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    I did that exact thing! I'm honestly trying to figure out how I made the switch from defending this "good no matter how bad" God to being more objective….hmmm

Philip Gilbert · December 30, 2010 at 8:50 am

The randomness of ‘being’ is too much for many to comprehend. People seem to have trouble accepting that sometimes bad people aren’t punished or good people rewarded in this life or that stuff happens for no particular reason. That is why the ‘god’ concept is so successful. It gives people somewhere to exchange their fears and insecurities for ‘meaning’ and ‘purpose’.

They then have to willingly suspend disbelief and learn ways of avoiding reality, but it’s not too difficult. I know people that will manage it until the day they die, because the construct is so important to them. Without the meaning and purpose their faith gives them, they fear their lives would unravel.

I have seen what happens when people begin to understand that a core value or belief is false or damaging, the initial denial and fear that, if they got that wrong, what else did they get wrong? It really does shake people to the very core of their existence and requires much courage to move forward.

Many will choose to stay where they are. And perhaps the more vocal they become and the more faith they proclaim and the more they attack we atheists, the easier it will be for them to live with their need.

John · May 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

There is not discontinuity in God’s justice; there is only a discontinuity in how we perceive it. We don’t view sins equally. We wouldn’t view telling a “white lie” as eqaul to murdering someone. However, God does, and that’s not a bad thing. Every time we sin we’re rebelling against God. This is where God’s justice AND love come into play. If we repent and submit our lives to Him then we’re saved from eternal damnation, (However, we don’t follow Him to escape Hell; we follow Him because we love Him.) but, if we don’t repent and submit our lives to Him, obviously, we fall under His just wrath.

The wrath of God is just and loving. Buffy used the example of having children, so I’ll do the same thing: If you have a child that you love very much, but he/she rebels against you constantly, disobeying every law and command you make, taking every opportunity to spit in your face, and refusing to accept every offer of forgiveness you give him/her, how is it loving to “turn the other cheek” in that situation? Is that how you teach a child to become a good person? Is that loving? No, it’s not, and it never will be. The child needs to be disciplined, and even punished. That’s why Hell is just. Because we spit in God’s face almost constantly. We rebel against Him at every turn. It’s extremely merciful that God would even give us the opportunity to be forgiven, and we still have the audacity to keep spitting in His face and mock Him.

Buffy also mentioned that too many Christians don’t care about others salvation because they “got theirs.” Lots of “Christians” are like that. There are a lot of hypocrites who do a lot of damage to the church and to God’s reputation. But I care, and the fellow believers I know care, and we spend a lot of time trying to help people understand God better, to teach people about God’s love, and mercy, and justice, and wrath, and everything that makes God good, because we don’t try to put everything into a little “God Box” (gregorylawrence). That’s part of the reason why I’m on here, because I do care. I also care about how God is portrayed, and I stand up for His name because I love Him.

I’m sorry so many “believers” have hurt you all. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t thought about leaving the church because of all the hypocrisy; however, God is good, and He continues to show that to me every day, especially through the most gruesome times. God loves you all; He exists; He’s not some distant being that doesn’t play any role in your lives; He is right next to you waiting to embrace you if you would let Him.

It’s God’s Right! | Godless Girl · August 22, 2009 at 12:46 pm

[…] all those posts about God being a douchebag? I’ve been discussing God with a friend of mine who […]

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