Scapegoating - justice the Christian way.

A Christian friend re-tweeted the following quote:

“A God who could pardon without justice might one of these days condemn without reason.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

Since a self-confessed Christian wrote the quote originally and it was recently tweeted and re-tweeted by Christians I don’t think it would be unfair to assume that the quote is meant to refer to Yahweh and/or Jesus Christ. Since we’re talking about the Christian God and Christians, it is safe to assume that Christian doctrine applies to that quote.

In particular, the following Christian doctrinal statements:

  1. There is only one God – Isaiah 43:10; 44:6,8; John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:5-6; Gal. 4:8-9
  2. There are no Gods before or after God – Isaiah 43:10
  3. God knows all things – 1 John 3:20
  4. God is all-powerful – Psalm 115:3
  5. God is everywhere – Jer. 23:23,24
  6. God created all that exists – Gen. 1:1; Isaiah 44:24
  7. Jesus is God – John 1:1,14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:8
  8. Jesus was sinless – 1 Pet. 2:22
  9. Jesus is the only way to God the Father – John 14:6; Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22
  10. All people have sinned – Rom. 3:23, 5:12
  11. Jesus died for all our sins – 1 John 2:2; 2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Pet. 2:24
  12. Jesus’ sacrifice was a substitution, for us – 1 Pet. 2:24
  13. Jesus rose from the dead in His physical body – John 2:19-21
  14. Those who reject Jesus will go to Hell – Rev. 20:11-15
  15. Hell is a place of fiery punishment – Matt. 25:41; Rev. 19:20
  16. Hell is eternal – Matt. 25:46
  17. The unsaved go to hell forever – Rev. 21:8
  18. Salvation is a free gift of God – Rom. 4:5; 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9
  19. There will be a final judgment – 2 Pet. 3:7
  20. The damned will be thrown into a lake of fire – Rev. 20:15

The God referred to in the quote is Yahweh and Yahweh alone because of statements #1 and #2: “There is only one God and no other Gods’ before or after”: and the quote is about “the final judgement” (statement #19) in which Yahweh will decide on the reward and punishment of every person that ever lived.

Before something can be pardoned or condemned there must exist a set of criteria against which performance or actions can be measured or a set of rules must exist against which compliance or not compliance can be measured or judged.

Christianity is fairly clear on the requirements of their deity and the associated rewards and punishment for compliance or non-compliance.

The Requirements

It is commonly accepted by Christians that the only requirement to be ‘saved’ or to be judged worthy by the creator of the universe is to firmly believe that: (#7) Jesus Christ is God, (#11, #12) Jesus died for all other human’s sins, (#13) Jesus rose from the dead and (#9) Jesus is the only way to God. It’s neatly summarised in 1 Cor. 15:1-4:

15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The requirements that are set and that everybody who ever lived will be judged against are simple. They are that you must firmly believe all of the above: you must accept that Jesus Christ is God, that he is your personal lord and saviour, that he died for you and through dying for you saved you from eternal torture. That is it.

The Reward

From a nice Christian website:

David put it this way: “You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). John described it as a time when “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 20:4). Everyone will be fully happy. There will be no dissatisfaction of any kind. No one will be able to think of even a tiny way in which things could be better. We will have reached the purpose for which God has made us.

Isaiah described some of this joy when he predicted a nation returning to its land: “The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 35:10). We will be in the presence of God, and we will be happier than we have ever been. This is what Christianity has traditionally tried to convey by the concept of “going to heaven.”

Basically, if you meet the requirements outlined above, you will enter a state of being that is so good that nobody in that state could think of a way to make it better. The reward is eternal, never-ending.

The Punishment

If you do not meet the requirements, there are serious consequences and repercussions:

(#14) Those who reject Jesus Christ will go to (#15, #16) Hell, an eternal place of fiery punishment, for all (#17) eternity. If any person is not (#17) saved and receives ever lasting life in heaven as a reward, that person will be sent to hell and be (#20) thrown in a lake of fire to suffer for the rest of (#17) eternity.

The punishment is eternal, never-ending.

The Quote

Let’s examine the quote by C.H. Spurgeon:

“A God who could pardon without justice might one of these days condemn without reason. “

The quote says that if Yahweh were to start pardoning people without justice he could or might start condemning people without having a good reason in the future.

Here’s the problem(s): when you examine The Requirements of Christianity, you notice the following:

1. Christianity is firmly and entirely based on the principle of scapegoating – an innocent is punished for the alleged wrongs of others (or their distant forbears…)

I think you’ll find that this principle is nowhere to be found in any modern justice system. Blatantly obvious: it’s not just to punish somebody for the crimes committed by another person.

2. Christianity requires a person to believe certain things that are not physically possible and for which there is no credible evidence

The complete lack of evidence for god and the disturbing contradictions in the Bible and the utter lack of corroborating evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ aside, there exists not a single shred of evidence that any person has ever come back to life after being dead. In fact, we have a lot of evidence to the contrary. No additional evidence is provided or promised to convince one of the truth of Christianity. In fact, The Requirements must be believes without any proof what so ever.

3. The Requirements were set at a point in time in a specific place.

Before the point in time and outside the immediate area of the place, knowledge of The Requirements did not exist. It could have, had the omnipotent deity in question willed it so but it did not, for reasons that can’t be explained. People before the alleged birth of Jesus Christ did not know of The Requirements and people outside the immediate area surrounding the places where Jesus Christ preached did not know of the requirements. It is safe to say for a good one and a half thousand years, if a person was unlucky enough to have lived in China, Southern Africa, North and South America, Australia or the Arctic it was impossible to know of The Requirements.

There are just as many problems with The Reward and The Punishment:

1. Infinite punishment for finite transgressions

No finite transgression can ever be severe enough to warrant infinite, eternal, never-ending punishment. At best, the punishment – and even the concept of punishment has severe problems – should fit the crime. Not believing something for which there is no evidence is not even a crime in any sense of the word yet the punishment for this non-crime is eternal torture. It’s so much of a non-crime that in every other aspect of life it is a virtue, even to Christians.

No modern person considers torture a valid punishment, for any transgression. No modern society uses torture or even condones torture, not even Christian societies.

2. Infinite reward for finite actions

No finite action can ever be good enough to warrant infinite and never-ending reward. The action of believing things for which there is no evidence or good reason at all to believe certainly does not qualify as something for which a person should receive a reward, at all.

3. The Requirements reward bad people and punish good people

Judgement passed using The Requirements as the criteria will allow bad people to be rewarded and good people to be punished. If a serial rapist, child abuser and murderer accepts Jesus Christ as his personal lord and saviour moments before he dies, he will be rewarded eternally. If an atheist, who dedicates her entire life to helping and counselling the rape victims, children and families of the murder victims of the aforementioned murderer and does not one single bad deed for her entire life, dies without accepting Jesus Christ as her lord and saviour she will be punished, tortured for eternity.

Punishing good people and rewarding bad people, eternal or not, is not justice. Condemning good people to eternal torture is not reasonable. There is no reason what so ever involved in any process that condemns good people to eternal torture.

4. Eternal happiness and eternal damnation cannot simultaneously co-exist unless people are fundamentally changed

How can anybody be happy knowing that billions of other people are being horribly tortured night and day – many of them family members and loved ones – without being fundamentally changed? Can anybody with a straight face say they will be exquisitely happy despite knowing their child is constantly being horribly tortured, forever? To be eternally happy then, a person must be edited to either not care that people are being tortured or to not know that people are being tortured. Clearly, if you are changed, edited, redacted in some way, it’s not really you who receives the eternal reward, merely a shadow of your former self, assuming there’s anything left of you at all. The remaining part being that which doesn’t care or doesn’t know about horror that makes the holocaust seem like a gentle stroll at the beach…

5. God could have made things differently if it chose to

God is, by definition, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. God can by definition not make any mistakes and God knows, by definition, everything before it happens. God, by definition, made everything exactly the way it is. Then by definition, God could have made it differently but chose not to. God must have had every intention of creating billions of people for the sole purpose of having them tortured for eternity. He knows before hand exactly how everybody is going to behave, exactly what the outcome is going to be so how can the outcome be any different than what God knew? He knows before hand who is going to be tortured, creates them anyway and then goes on to torture them.

It is therefore argued that the God of Mr. Spurgeon and of Christianity already pardons without justice and condemns without reason. Thankfully, there is no reason to suspect that this God, or any other, actually exists.

Christianity and its implications

An omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent being designs and creates everything and knows all occurrences beforehand. This perfect being, unable to make any mistake, designs and creates human beings. It designs and creates human beings in such a way that their actions, thoughts, words and deeds are entirely the product of the structure of the meat (their brain) in their heads. It designs people so that the meat’s structure is determined by a ridiculous number of factors external to a human being, that are outside the control of a human being. Things like a humans’ s body, environmental chemical levels, hormone levels, altitude, brain and nervous system electrical signals, external visual and auditory stimuli, country, culture, family, surroundings, education, the type of food and drink a person consumes, gasses a person breathes, the things a person reads, hears, watches, the parasites a person carries, the diseases a person’s had, the injuries a person has received and all of this and much more over the span of a person’s entire life.

Sam Harris makes an argument that ‘free will’ does not exist, that it is essentially an illusion. Without getting into a protracted explanation or argument, consider that your brain makes decisions based on a billion things you have no control over at all. Since a decision is the product of your brain which is the product of the environment it’s in, decisions are the product, indirectly, of the environment of the brain. Unless you can find an additional, and as yet undetected and wholly unnecessary, source of input to the brain, it does not seem that ‘free will’ really exists or needs to exist. Is a person able to make a decision differently from the decision they have made? (Then why don’t they?)

There is empirical evidence that a change in brain structure can change a person’s behaviour, decisions and even belief in a god or that a change in brain structure can create a belief in god where there was none before.

Yet Christianity balances eternal torture and eternal reward purely and only on the belief that a person holds.

How is that justice or reasonable? How is that right? How can anybody claim to believe that?