- Religion and Philosophy
God Given Gifts?
This hub is sort of a sequel to my earlier hub called: Giving Credit to God. In that hub I dissected the tendency for people to give credit to God for just about anything remotely positive in their lives. I explained that this was hypocritical since most people don't also hold God accountable when something bad happens. This makes sense however as most people who do blame God for bad things, such as those blaming the recent Earthquake on God's wrath, come off as insensitive, insane, or both. This is a double-standard of course since most don't even bat an eye when someone thanks God for winning a Grammy or creating a beautiful rainbow or some other such nonsense.
In this hub however I hope to discuss the idea of God given gifts and how it immediately cheapens human endeavors to think of things in this way.
Real World Example
I recently attended my little sister's middle school play. She did a very good job of memorizing lines and acting them out and was even awarded by all the kids and the people who produced the play with the best performance award. This play has been being rehearsed for months with her putting in long after school hours working to get this right. Pretty much everyone in the family who attended the play to support her also applauded her performance and congratulated her and said they were proud of her. Not my Father.
While he did say that he enjoyed the play he also qualified that statement by saying that my sister had a "gift" and that that "gift" was "FROM GOD". I try not to get embroiled into religious instructions with my Father anymore but I almost crossed that line in this instance. Here is why this sort of thing really grinds my gears - it cheapens the hours of effort and hard work that culminated in an excellent performance. What is my sister to conclude from this absurd idea? That none of what she is or does is ever due to her own effort? The idea that God instilled some sort of supernatural ability for acting is stupid.
It is true that some people might be genetically predisposed to certain physiological traits (ie athletes) acting is something which has no correlation to anything that happens before you were born. It's more about the environment you're raised in and your own personally acquired ability. In this case it was also about spending hours painstakingly memorizing lines and getting comedic timing just right.
What about the Bad?
So this got me to thinking - what about bad characteristics. What about people who are really good at being bad? Are professional criminals and serial killers who pull off dozens of crimes without being caught given a gift from God? So someone can spend hours working really hard on something good and God gets the credit but what about someone who spends hour premeditating the perfect murder? Will we just claim that's Satan's work? When did Satan get the idea to give this person the gift of being evil and what gives him permission? Can Satan or God just sprinkle some fairy dust and VOILA you now have a gift for poetry or robbing banks.
When someone gives to charity, gets a raise at their job or saves someone from a burning building there is absolutely no cause to cheapen that by giving credit to some man in the sky.
Why is God such a Glory Hound?
I touched on this in: Does God Drive a Red Sports Car? How much worship does this guy really need? Or is it that some Christians are afraid that if they don't thank him with every waking breath he'll forsake them and revoke mercy? And the thing is that I've talked to Christians and most of them cannot name one damn thing that God has ever done for them OTHER than send his son to save them. Of course followers of my hubs will know that Jesus' death doesn't save anyone from anything, at least not as far as I can tell. So what is it that all these thank you's and amens has done for Christians?
Than of course there's the fact that the Christian God isn't worthy of any praise since he's both incompetent and evil. His desire to be praised is only outweighed by the fact that he deserves none.
Finding your Calling
As a further show of arrogance from God some Christians believe that God has a divine purpose for your life. What they usually mean is that you have a calling, something that God ordained for you to do apparently before you were born. Even as a Christian I rejected this idea as it shatters free will. How can I choose how to live my life if God has already chosen for me? And can I get into Heaven without following my calling or will God be angry with me?
Why can't I just do what I want with my life? Of course this idea is seen as selfish by some Christians... even though according to some of those same Christians God didn't want robots and that's why he gave us free will. Anybody else's head hurt? So I guess you have to set aside any personal endeavors or aspirations... sorry deepest dreams and desires but God has a mission for me and it usually involves telling everyone I know how fucking wonderful he is.
Gifts of the Spirit
Along with supposed callings there are Gifts of the Spirit which read almost like stats from Dungeons and Dragons. There's Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Courage, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. Now I'd like to know why being afraid of God is so very important because its an idea that is reinforced a great many times in both the Old and New Testaments. Why would be afraid of something that loves us unconditionally? Especially when God is meant to be our Father. I could see respecting a parental figure but FEAR, not sure that unconditional love creates fear. Hell according to Yoda Fear leads to the Dark Side, go figure.
Now I'm not sure why you would need to be indwelled by a spirit to have any of these seven gifts, none of them are particularly magical in nature. This is a common theme in Christianity, co-opting normal traits of human beings to make them out to be solely Christian. The idea of GOOD and CHRISTIAN being connected pervades our culture. Supposedly Christians are virtuous good people and in my experience many of them are but then again so are many non-Christians I'm acquainted with. Just another example of Christianity and God getting credit for things they shouldn't.
You don't need to believe in God or have some God granted gift to be a good and talented individual. Christianity sure sends an awful lot of mixed messages of just this sort. On the one hand it's said you will rewarded for righteous deeds in numerous places in the Bible while others emphasize only faith. The idea of God given gifts is just one more example of how people give credit to God for stuff that he has NO connection to. While it's not a great idea to be overly prideful or arrogant feel free to take some credit for yourself rather than give it to an invisible supernatural entity for which you have no evidence who is clearly not connected to what you're giving him thanks for. Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other hubs!