Thursday, February 7, 2013

Theology and Anti-Theology

Christopher hitchensLots of talk about Atheists, Christians and bigotry on the web this week. I have no idea what week that was, this post sat in draft form for a LONG time.

Christopher Hitchens over on Slate discusses what he finds lacking in Rick Warren's theology, and finds it bigotry that there might actually be entrance requirements to the Christian heaven, requirements that include, oh, before you die, agreeing to go there.
However, if the speaker says that heaven is a real place but that you will not get there if you are Jewish, or that Mormonism is a cult and a false religion but that other churches and faiths are the genuine article, then you know that the bigot has spoken.

The basic problem with this is that it starts off with the assumption that all religions are equally right or wrong. This is not a given, if there exists a God, Allah or JHVH.
Heather MacDonald over on Secular Right replies to Hitchens that there is another possibility rather than his idea that Christians are evil bigots.
Either believers live with an extraordinary degree of cognitive dissonance between the inclusive values of their society and the dictates of their religion, or they unconsciously mitigate those bloody-minded dictates as atavistic vestiges from a more primitive time.

Here's my reply:
There is something my pastor once said, that sticks with me when dealing with massively sad things like natural disasters, and applies equally well to the question of who will or will not go to Hell.
“I’m not the Christ.”
I don’t have to bear the sorrows of the entire world on my own shoulders. I don’t have to be responsible for everyone making the right decisions and everything coming out all right. I don’t have to bear that cross.
That’s God’s place.
This knowledge is not incompatible with free will and an existing Hell where all those who do not accept the supremacy of God will go. And, while I can do my best to help illuminate the darkness, I am not the light, and if someone chooses to live in the dark, I can be sad for them without being responsible.
Mr Hitchens and Ms MacDonald both should understand that.

Elsewhere, Tony Woodleif on the Wall Street Journal refutes uber-atheist Richard Dawkins' belief that letting a child believe in Santa Claus or other magic is harmful.