A little perspective on Easter (which is today).
Yesterday, PZ reported on the “debate” between Christopher Hitchens and radio host Todd Friel – a labored exercise in Pascal’s Wager. Freil basically says, if we assume the Christian story is true, don’t you agree that atheists will go to hell? It goes on for over ten minutes, but there really isn’t much more to it than that. Hitchens does an excellent job of demolishing the idiot. (Click the link above – PZ has the full interview embedded.)
There was one area where I felt I had something to add to Hitchens’ rebuttal. It was with Freil’s suggestion that Jesus’s death on the cross was an act of generosity. As best I can recall, this is what Freil said:
If Jesus took the punishment that you deserve… wouldn’t that be the single greatest act of kindness in the history of the world?
Hitchens replied no, because he (Hitchens) hadn’t been born then and hadn’t been consulted. Which is true, but I could think of additional reasons why this wasn’t an act of kindness.
I wanted to ask, who made this rule? Who decided that Jesus had to die a horrible death before my sins could be forgiven? Surely this rule was made up by god? But why does he have to follow it? He’s god. He could forgive any sins he wanted. What possible difference could it make that Jesus did or did not die on the cross? And then it struck me – god is just playing victim. (“Oh boo hoo, I died on the cross for you, the least you could do is love me and praise me your whole life.”) Jesus's dying on the cross wasn’t an act of generosity. On the contrary, it was totally self serving – nothing but a piece of passive aggressive manipulative bullying. God had simply set himself up so he could play victim for the rest of eternity. What a wimp.
And it’s actually worse than that. The reward god has for us if we believe in him and praise him our whole lives, is that he won’t send us to burn in the hell that he created for us. We’re supposed to be grateful that Jesus died so that god could give himself permission not to torture us for eternity. That would be like me setting up a torture chamber in my basement and expecting people to think I was generous for agreeing not to lock them up there and torture them for the rest of their lives (as long as they worship me). That wouldn’t be considered an act of kindness. I would rightly be considered a psychopath for even setting up the torture chamber in the first place.
So to recap on god’s generosity at Easter: to save us from an eternity of torture in hell that he (god) created and had decided to send us to, based on rules he (god) made up all by himself, he (god) suffered torture (that he planned) on the cross, so that now as long as you worship him, he won’t send you to the hell that he can freely choose not to send you to anyway. And this, we are expected to believe, is act of kindness.
What a moron.