Exceedingly extravagant posturing follows. Prepare for overlong sentences.
* * *
Even if I could hold a faith against all evidence, I still would not want to be a Christian.
I would not want to think that this world is what an all-powerful, all-loving creator would make. Such a creator shouldn’t make a world this hostile, and so stupendously overlarge, just to be a stage for the drama of mankind’s pain and indecision.
Such a creator, if all-powerful and all-good, should not want to stage this travesty of plagues, rapes, sects and sobs in the first place, either.
I would not want to think that an all-powerful, all-loving creator would convey his wishes to us by some subset of the immense snarl of Christianity’s conflicting, disagreeing sects, churches, writings and divisions.
I would not want to think that after so imperfectly transmitting us his words and commands, the said creator would lob some of us into eternal punishment for the limited evil we’ve committed while living, in part because of our ignorance or sheer necessity.
Similarly, I loathe the thought that some of us — the good ones, I’m told! — would happily live ever after in a carefully featureless Heaven, while knowing that others, fathers and sisters and daughters, were burning in a Hell.*
And finally, if one supposes we’d all be saved, gathered up to Heaven, then I would not like to sit at the feet of a creator that thought this brief life in this painful earthly existence was still somehow needful. Such a lord of images for “before” and “after” wouldn’t be worthy of worship.
I would not like to think that this life of ours is just an interlude, a worthless period of waiting between some vague conception and the endless vistas of Heaven and Hell. I would not like to see all the achievements of science and art and love as inferior things in an inferior world, to be swept away when some dreadful savior comes to burn all that he does not approve of.
I would not like to think that the creator would call us to be slaves unto him, to grovel and to eternally praise him, to worship him, unquestioning and uncritical, and that he would then tell us that after he had made us flawed and imperfect, not utterly destroying some of us because of that imperfection was an act of greatest mercy, and to be granted only if we licked his boots diligently enough.
I would not like to think that all our good deeds should be done because we were so ordered, so commanded, so told by a divine voice threatening us with endless torture if we dared to disagree with its dictates of what is good and what evil.
I would not want to think that the creator would choose to improve the lot of men by, after millennia of silence, appearing in a dusty backwater and simulating his death there, and then waiting for centuries as the slow news of his fallibly transmitted words were conveyed around the world.
Likewise, I’m convinced that an all-powerful being would not need to be nailed to a piece of wood, bleeding and crying, to save any souls. I do not appreciate the thought that it was all then just a show, just showing off for us, especially since that playacting creator knew in advance that his death wouldn’t stick, and neither would pain.
And if it was not all for show, then why? I like even less the ghost of an idea that the omnipresent creator would like watching his own simulated death, would enjoy feeling the tension in the centurion’s arm as he raised the hammer, and somehow consider feeling the nails and ripping flesh good.
If the sheer evil of a jealous, mad and all-powerful tyrant is to be exceeded, a sadomasochistic, jealous, mad and all-powerful tyrant will do nicely.
* * *
* : I do not even want to consider if anyone today believes in Aquinas’s delightful little idea: “That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell.”
An eternity with such saints and the red-handed engineer of their Heaven would be worse than any pit of fire.
* * *
Apologies for the convoluted language above; I usually cannot get passionate without getting extravagant. It’s either this or a lot of foul language.