Christians' Moral Blind Spot
Numerous essays have already
been written, in the never-ending war of words between Christians and atheists,
over the supposed moral supremacy of theism, particularly Christian theism.
Without belief in a God, we are admonished time and again, it is impossible
for one to develop a sound framework for moral behavior. In this essay I intend
to show that the opposite is in fact true: that there is no rational basis from
which one can develop a sound basis for morals that is rooted in the
worship of the Christian God. (I'll leave the question of whether or not you
can do it based upon the worship of any of the hundreds of thousands of other
gods humanity has created over the centuries to someone else. Life's too short.)
There is one crushing moral
dilemma facing Christians who try to argue for their God's being the source
of all that is moral in life: the Doctrine of Hell.
At the core of Christianity
is the belief that, in order to ascend to Heaven after death and enjoy a life
of eternal bliss and joy, one must be a Christian. No other creed or belief
system need apply. One must not only attend a Christian church; one must also
answer the altar call, go up before the congregation, profess belief in the
divinity of Jesus, his resurrection, and eventual (any day now, really) second
coming. I remember from my youth, when I attended a Baptist church in Houston,
the pressure to perform this little ritual was intense. Failure to do so is
punishable by an eternity of hell. Good works are immaterial. Membership in
the club matters over all.
It was not until my adulthood
that I began to realize something that I never would have even entertained as
a wisp of a thought in my churchgoing days: Christianity's entire sales-pitch
involving conversion is immoral to the point of being deeply evil. And you just
can't get morals out of an immoral, much less evil, belief system.
Fundamentally it is an act
of terrorism: turn or burn. A demand is being made upon humanity by
God. God offers you what Christians call a "choice," but which is
really an ultimatum: worship Me, accept My Son as Savior, or else suffer the
torments of hell for all eternity. What Christians can not, will not,
face is the fact that such a "choice" is no different whatsoever
from the modus operandi of the Mafia, whose "protection rackets" in
the days of tommy guns and fedoras—in which gangs of thugs would troop
into Chicago bars and offer owners the "choice" between paying the
protection money or having their businesses Molotoved—have become a part
of American folklore. The Christian God is the school bully who extorts your
lunch money as a means of being persuaded not to beat you up at recess. But
Christians can not see the connection between these behaviors. As George H.
Smith writes in his seminal work Atheism: The Case Against God, "There
is nothing the Christian will accept as evidence of his God's evil."
How, then, do Christians
customarily deal with the Doctrine of Hell and the moral dilemma it introduces?
I can only go by my experiences debating Christians in the years I've been on
The Atheist Experience TV show, but it boils down to this: If Christians
don't want to be faced with a moral dilemma involving their beliefs, they won't
be. Christians have a remarkable capacity for not being bothered by aspects
of their belief system they don't want to be bothered by. This is what I call
the Christians' moral blind spot. And it's a handy blind spot, in that—unlike
that nasty one over your right shoulder they always warn you to check in drivers'
ed—this one can be moved around at will, to shield the Christian from
anything unpleasant that they may be forced to face regarding their God and
The blind spot is what allows
Christians to demand that the Ten Commandments be mounted in granite in every
school and courthouse in the country, and yet, when you bring up the disturbing
old divine laws regarding rapists
being allowed to purchase their victims from their fathers for fifty shekels,
children, they'll wave their hands and say, "Oh, pshaw—that's
just the Old Testament!"
And the blind spot is what
allows Christians not to see that their God's ultimatum, his "choice,"
is no different than any terroristic threat of violence that anyone else might
Indeed, Christians' defense
of their God's behavior in this context will expose you to some of the most
perverse twisting of ideas you're likely to hear. Christians will tell you,
with a straight face, that the fact God is willing to offer you this choice,
that he doesn't force you to choose one way or another, that he is
in effect offering you a ticket out of hell, proves how loving he is.
Furthermore, if you make the choice not to become Christian, then God will respect
your freedom to choose, and the fact that you've just condemned yourself to
an eternity of torture is your fault!
The depth to which this
belief is utterly deranged should be readily apparent to anyone with a shred
of respect for reason or human dignity. Using the contorted reasoning this belief
employs, one could argue that a gang member who walks up to you, sticks a .45
in your eyeball, and offers you the "choice" of giving him your wallet
or getting your brains blown out is doing it because he loves you.
And if you choose not to hand over your money, well, it's just your own fault,
It never occurs to the Christian
that God's "choice" is not a choice at all, but an ultimatum. It never
occurs to them that to threaten someone with violence for not complying with
an ultimatum is de facto immoral even when God does it. Because
if it isn't wrong when God does it, who's to say it's wrong when anyone
else—Osama bin Laden, Adolf Hitler—does it? How can a God dictate
moral absolutes to humanity when he himself freely behaves in an immoral manner?
Do Christians really think that a "do as I say, not as I do" God constitutes
any sort of moral authority? How can I, or anybody, get our morals, our sense
of right and wrong, from a God who tortures people who don't worship him forever?
A moral being would not torture anyone for any reason for two seconds,
much less eternity. A moral being would not present you with a bogus
"choice" between Heaven and Hell in the first place. And a moral being
would not demand your worship! How can Christians claim their God is
the source of my morals, when every examination of Christian beliefs as regards
salvation and the Doctrine of Hell paints the picture of a deeply immoral—indeed,
The blind spot. That's how
they can do it. That handy moral blind spot is always there, protecting the
Christian from thinking thoughts he should not think, facing facts he doesn't
want to face, being troubled by anything he doesn't want to be troubled by.
The Christian God is the luckiest God anyone ever invented; he rules with absolute
authority but not a shred of responsibility, and he threatens his believers
with eternal torment if they stray from him, only to be hailed as "loving"
for it. Thanks, folks, but I've been fortunate enough to have the light of reason
shine through my blind spot...and it's that selfsame reason that I use to determine
my morals in life, not the dictates of some jealous, angry, vengeful, immoral—and
thankfully, imaginary—God.Browse all articles.