Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Love Is Not Like That

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, October 6, 2019

(Previously titled: Thoughts on Religious “Free Will”)

Recently, in conversation with friends over the evening meal (supper) at a nearby restaurant, a comment was made observing something to the effect of recent global events, specifically, Iraqi uprisings in that nation, which in turn quickly segued into a remark by that same one, which was something to the effect of “the LORD is doing wonderful things in that nation,” or very similar.

About two days later, in conversation with another different friend, I shared that experience, and the remarks, and commented that, “You know, it’s as if the people who say things like that are proud of their god, as it like they trained it. ‘Attaboy, god! You go! You’re doing such a good job! We’re proud of you!’ It’s as if they’re praising a child for doing something good, proper, or right.”

Additional remarks might be something like, ‘There you go, god! You’re doing a good job! Keep up the good work! You’re doing SO MUCH BETTER! Earlier, you weren’t worth a shit… but NOW!?! You’re doing FANTASTIC work!’

You see how absurd that is?

If a person has a god which is an omniscient, omnipotent being, why would that one need praise? It’s wholly, entirely, and totally absurd. People only praise those whom are doing things they approve of, and who have some semblance of commonality – who share an often-unifying common bond – either by sharing national origin, or some other similar factor.

Praise the astronauts who were the volunteer human subjects who sat atop rockets destined (hopefully) for outer space, for their heroic actions, and intestinal fortitude. But, they were mere men, as well. It’s the same thing for firefighters, who, instead of running out of a burning building, rush headlong INTO it.

It’s totally contrary to what our natural instincts (the preservation of life) are.

And yet, some even died in those processes – of space exploration, and saving others’ lives and property.

And if they survive, all of them age, and eventually later die.

And by golly, if a god is all that and a bag of chips, what’s the point?

Seriously.

Heaping praise for an omniscient, omnipotent being from those who are utterly the epitome of stupidity?

C’mon…

If that’s not a case of putting the cart before the horse, I don’t know what is.

It’d be like having a child heaping praise upon Albert Einstein (1879-1955) for developing the Theory of Relativity, or praising Robert Boyle (1627-1691) for discovering Boyle’s Law, or congratulating Italian scientist Amedeo Avogadro (1776-1856) for discovering Avogadro’s number/constant.

It’s utterly inconsistent with the idea of praise for congratulations, adulation, or adoration to come from below. Properly, praise comes from above. Your boss, or supervisor praises you. Or, even a colleague praises you. But hardly ever does an inferior praise a superior. While it does, and has happened, it’s certainly not the norm.

But again, I digress.

The point I had hoped to express was about the idea of “free will” as often expressed by Baptists, and other right-wing extremist Christian faith traditions.

Over supper, I expressed my thoughts to the friend, that I didn’t “believe” in a literal Hell, a place of perdition and eternal torment which is especially reserved for the “unbelievers,” or as they’re sometimes called “infidels,” where they will literally be punished forever, without reprieve. And there’s no 10-minute coffee breaks between punishment periods, either!

It’s purely absurd.

If a god who is a purely, expressly, and explicitly 100% pure love, and only pure love, it makes utterly no sense that such a one would ever commit such an act as condemning anyone to some mythological eternal torment, or fire which burneth forever and ever.

By the way, neither that “verse” (the clause “fire which burneth forever and ever”) nor any semblance to it appears in the Scripture, either in the Old Testament, or New Testament. Revelations 21:8b states “…shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” And that’s the only verse which remotely resembles that oft-used fictitious phrase which is NOT found in the Bible. It’s just another highly popularized myth, just like all the other stories in the Bible.

And yet again, I digress.

In response to my comment that I didn’t believe in some mythological place of eternal perdition often called “Hell,” the remark was made that, “yeah but, you have free will – you have a choice.”

While at the time, I didn’t have the remarks I will now share with you hereinafter, I did share them with a longtime JW (Jehovah’s Witness) friend of mine, and they are, in essence, as follows:

The god oft portrayed in the Bible is frequently referred to as a Heavenly Father, and portrayed as a perfect parent/father, and one whom should be emulated in every possible way, and in every regard. For Christians, everything their god does is perfect, immutable, and without mistake, spot, or blemish. Their god is infallible, literally perfect in every imaginable way… and then some.

Yeah.

All that, AND a bag of chips.

So, let’s put this “infallible” or “perfect” being’s actions into human terms.

Let’s “humanize” this god.

After all, what’s good for the goose, is good for the gander… right?

Of course it is!

And so, the point is, if you had a child (and, some of you reading this do), and you often told your child that “some day, I’m going to present to you two doors – Door Number One, and Door Number Two. And, you’ll be given the free will opportunity to make a decision to choose either door – one door only.

“And behind those doors there will be two things: Instant torture and certain death, and ice cream and cake behind the other. Door Number One will have instant torture and certain death, and Door Number Two will have ice cream and cake.”

So for very nearly 20 years you frequently tell and remind your child(ren), and seemingly constantly remind them of the free will choices that they have, and of the rewards/penalties associated with each. You frequently and explicitly tell them, “DO NOT CHOOSE DOOR NUMBER ONE, because INSTANT TORTURE AND CERTAIN DEATH ARE BEHIND IT, and; CAKE AND ICE CREAM ARE BEHIND DOOR NUMBER TWO. CHOOSE DOOR NUMBER TWO!”

And then, the big day comes, and you lead them to the two doors where they’ll make a free will decision, and once again remind them that, “DO NOT CHOOSE DOOR NUMBER ONE, because INSTANT TORTURE AND CERTAIN DEATH ARE BEHIND IT, and; CAKE AND ICE CREAM ARE BEHIND DOOR NUMBER TWO. CHOOSE DOOR NUMBER TWO!”

And then… to your everlasting dismay, they choose Door Number One.

Poof!

They’re instantly tortured and die.

Then, you simply walk off and mutter to yourself, “I told you so! You were warned almost daily for nearly 20 years… what a dumbass! I told you so!”

And so, you just shake the dust off your hands, walk away, and chalk it all up to stupidity – pure, inexplicable stupidity. But, after all – you did give them “free will” and offered them an opportunity, and they exercised their independent free will… to your great dismay.

What a great parent you are, eh?

You gave them free will and offered them a choice between cake and ice cream, and instant torture, and certain death – and they chose instant torture, and certain death.

Your kid died, you essentially did nothing to prevent it (a “Catch-22” quandary is not any type of prevention effort), and yet, you walk away (in your opinion) smelling like a rose, because it’s (their decision) is not your fault. After all, they were extensively warned, and thoroughly educated about what to do.

Que sera, sera, eh?

Tough luck, eh?

Better luck next time.

Right?

NO!

Do you see how preposterously absurd that entire scenario is!?!

And yet, that’s the choice that many Christians offer – particularly and especially Protestants – turn, or burn.

Sure, it’s simplistic, and it expresses the idea perfectly. You were given an option, aka “free will,” and you were warned of the consequences of an improper, bad, or wrong choice. You were told how to vote, and you didn’t vote that way. So, you suffer the results. Tough love.

If you were to do that, you’d be just like your god.

But you know what?

Your god isn’t like that, not in any way at all… because LOVE IS NOT LIKE THAT.

NOT IN ANY WAY AT ALL!!!

Now, in further defense of my argument, I present to you the sermon of a renown Englishman and Baptist preacher – Charles Spurgeon – who in a sermon (Number 52) entitled “Free-Will –– A Slave” delivered on December 2, 1855, said in part, “It has already been proved beyond all controversy that free-will is nonsense. Freedom cannot belong to will any more than ponderability can belong to electricity. They are altogether different things. Free agency we may believe in, but free-will is simply ridiculous. The will is well known by all to be directed by the understanding, to be moved by motives, to be guided by other parts of the soul, and to be a secondary thing. Philosophy and religion both discard at once the very thought of free-will; and I will go as far as Martin Luther, in that strong assertion of his, where he says, “If any man doth ascribe aught of salvation, even the very least, to the free-will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.” It may seem a harsh sentiment; but he who in his soul believes that man does of his own free-will turn to God, cannot have been taught of God, for that is one of the first principles taught us when God begins with us, that we have neither will nor power, but that he gives both; that he is “Alpha and Omega” in the salvation of men.”

By quoting Spurgeon, I do not mean to wholly nor fully endorse his theology, or everything he ever said, but rather, mean to illustrate the the truth of what he said in that phrase.

For those who subscribe to the ideas and practices ensconced in grace, mercy, and peace, there is significant merit to the often-contradictory ideas popularly and carelessly thrown about in the modern Christian vernacular, and its myriad, often divergent, and contradictory theologies.

There is greater power in forgiveness and mercy than there is in judgment and punishment, and if an almighty being who is nothing but 100% pure love did not exercise forgiveness and mercy, then that being could not be 100% pure love, and would not be any kind of god at all, much less a benificent one.

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