- Religion and Philosophy
God Versus Satan
Christians often claim that Satan is responsible for leading people astray, for possessing people with evil spirits and for temptation. Some will even go so far as to lay famine or war or natural disaster at the feet of Satan. In the end though the Christian world view leaves only one being responsible for everything – God. God can choose to alter the course of anything or anyone and the free will defense typically used by Christians actually leaves Christianity very little wiggle room.
In this hub I want to look again at the idea of free will and look at the idea that God is moral, just and heroic especially in his ultimate defeat of Satan that Christians deem a praise-worthy triumph.
So why does the existence of free will leave Christianity with very little wiggle room? It has to do with the fact that, according to Christians, God is perfect, all knowing, all powerful and all loving. Before the creation of life God is presumed to be alone, a perfect being all by himself in a perfect emptiness, or perhaps he's already created his Heavenly realm and simply has no one to share it with.
God begins to create living beings, beings which are, again, presumably perfect just as God is, though less powerful than God to be sure. One might argue that having less power than God, or less knowledge, is itself an imperfection, since God is the standard of perfection to begin with. I won't even go that far, I'll skip to the creation of Lucifer and the other angels.
Whether or not angels possess free will is not answered in the Bible outright though from Lucifer's actions it appears they did. It would appear that God created angels with the ability to disobey him. In the Christian context free will seems to refer to the power to defy God's will or simply as having a choice between whether to serve God or not. So the angels God created appear to have free will.
Given that they HAVE the ability to disobey God it is inevitable that they will. To some readers this may seem like a re-tread of earlier content but believe it or not I am still getting comments and hearing arguments from theists that involve the idea that human beings were created perfect and simply chose to disobey God.
Apparently it is lost on some that free will itself is an imperfection. I have been consistently told by Christians that God didn't want to create robots, or simply make copies of himself, but that he wanted beings that would love and worship him by their own choice. The problem with this is that, according to these same Christians, God is permitted to punish people for not wanting to love him. So God wants you to have the freedom to choose NOT to love him BUT exercising that freedom is strictly forbidden.
If you walked onto a sales lot and were told that if you didn't buy a car your knees would be broken that wouldn't exactly be a free choice now would it? Yet this is exactly how the God of the Bible operates and how the vast majority of Christian doctrine continues to portray the situation. You will choose to love God or else you will be punished for exercising your ability to choose differently.
If this version of God truly had any UNCONDITIONAL love whatsoever than those who disobeyed or disbelieved would not be punished, they would be rewarded along with the rest. After all why bother creating beings capable of holding their own opinions, forming their own moral codes or having their own goals if in the end you will punish them for conforming to their own individuality? If you are going to allow them to all have their own thoughts than why are you demanding that all their thoughts be clones of your own? To the astute observer it would seem the God of Christianity DID want robots and accidentally created beings capable of thinking for themselves.
Ignore for Santans
Lucifer is the first sinner to ever exist, the first being in which free will back-fired for God. According to many Christian's Satan's rebellion from God, his pride, was the first true evil, the first sin. Lucifer was second in power and authority only to God himself but that's sort of an arbitrary distinction as God is all-powerful. No matter how much majesty and power God bestowed upon his favorite angel Lucifer would still be immensely weaker than God. So why is it that Christians seem to think that God is going to win some VICTORY over Satan?
Many millions of Christians believe that there will be a final battle, a final fight between the dragon Lucifer, or Satan, and their God. God, they believe, will ultimately prevail and go on to judge the living and the dead afterward while Lucifer and his cohorts are cast into a Lake of Fire. Yet God's victory seems like a forgone conclusion that anyone could predict. An all-powerful being cannot lose and cannot fail.
Satan is supposedly out tempting the faithful, possessing folks with his evil spirits and setting the stage for the Beast. So Satan has not yet been defeated only because God has chosen not to defeat him. This is another act of needless negligence, and arguably evil, from the Biblical God. Satan is, according to many, doing untold damage. Not only is Satan leading people astray and putting their souls in danger of eternal hellfire but many see the clawed hands of Satan causing war, famine, death and pestilence.
Super Heroes and God
Imagine that Superman is tracking down a mass murderer. The murderer isn't a supervillain with any powers, but a fairly ordinary man who just happens to be doing some very evil things. Superman manages to find the murderer but decides to let him kill some more, allowing the killer to grow more notorious and wrack up a bigger body count will make it so that when Superman finally does make the arrest he gets far more accolades from the public. Indeed the longer Superman waits to catch the guy, and the more effort it looks like superman is putting into the endeavor, the more dramatic and victorious it will all seem when at last the man is brought to justice.
Ultimately the murderer doesn't stand a chance in a fight with Superman. The last son of Krypton would tear apart the murderer in a fight and could easily tear the man limb from limb. Yet when at last he does confront the man Superman feigns being hurt as the criminal slashes at superman with an obviously useless weapon. Like a wrestling performer pretending to be hurt in the ring to play up the drama Superman lets the fight drag on for a long time before finally crushing the pathetic man with a single punch that nearly kills him.
To make matters worse it is discovered that Superman knew the man for years and in fact knew that the killer was dangerous and was planning on committing murder even before the first victim was killed. Superman could have stopped the man before anyone was hurt and decided not to.
Does superman deserve the credit for bringing the man to justice? Maybe, but he also deserves some of the blame for the misdeeds of the killer. Superman has also shown himself to be a giant asshole. Not only did he allow the killer's body count to grow but he pretended that there was a snowball's chance in hell that the murderer would win in a fight. He made himself look good by winning a fight that he could have ended non-violently.
This is exactly what God is doing in the Bible, biding his time before Satan's ultimate defeat. Christians seem to eat this all up, singing God's praises and looking forward to the day when they are all in Heaven and Satan is at last defeated. Or perhaps, as some say, Satan is already defeated and is now just awaiting judgment. The point is that there isn't some grandiose fight being fought here, no arch-rivalry. Satan is not the Yang to God's Yin. The fight couldn't be more one-sided. The victory is petty at best as an all-powerful being that could undo the Universe with a single command pretends he's hot shit because he can defeat a weakling villain that he helped create.
Indeed that is the ultimate irony of offering any praises to God at all or the ludicrous idea that an all-powerful being would DEMAND praises or require them to begin with. Why are you celebrating the victory of a God who cannot lose or praising the power of a God who did nothing meritorious to earn his power and does nothing meritorious with his power? Children starve to death and die of disease, wars and violence ravage the world and natural disasters strike even the most vulnerable and innocent amongst us.
Does Superman let criminals and villains run amok hiding behind the childish idea that their “free will” prevents him from intervening? Do even ordinary policemen give up their attempts to bring people to justice on the same basis? If fictional comic book heroes and ordinary men and women in the world today are doing more heroic things than God why all the worship?
Jesus Effing Christ
What's my point here? My point is that God has done nothing worthy of praise. Even if we count the creation of life and the Universe God appears to have mucked that up by adding free will and therefore guaranteeing the existence of sin. Plus God damned his own creation after the Fall, so he immediately ruined everything he worked so hard to create. Many Christians will say that God sent Jesus to save them and that's why he deserves praise.
But what is Jesus saving you from? Remember the car salesman analogy? Jesus is saving you from a punishment that God is threatening you with for the act of not accepting his “free gift” of salvation. Not only does this make Salvation a false choice but it also means that God is saving you from himself. Calling Salvation a free gift is also absurd, since you must serve God in order to be saved. Permanent submission to the will of another being is not freedom, it's the exact opposite.
Or perhaps Christians will argue that God only dishes out justice after we are dead. Of course no one with a decent amount of empathy could argue that eternal hellfire is ever a JUST punishment anymore than it would be just for Superman to decapitate common criminals with his heat vision. This idea violates numerous Biblical stories in which God intervenes on people's behalves. God's revenge against Pharaoh may have taken generations and generations of enslavement but when it hit it was horrific and brutal and Pharaoh was still alive and well. Furthermore if God is not willing to do heroic deeds or give doses of justice until the hereafter than what is the point of prayer for healing or assistance of any kind?
The deeds of a God Without Limits
So if the best thing God ever did is to save you from his own wrath what does that say about God? Actions speak louder than words and if we're going to judge the Biblical God by his actions than what conclusions can we draw? We're talking about a God that Christians claim is all-powerful and all-knowing, a God who can do no wrong either morally or through simple failure. So, if God is so perfect, how can there be anything wrong AT ALL?
Christians will claim that the defect is in us, in human beings, but there can be no defect present in us by accident. The only way human beings can be defective in the Christian world-view is by DESIGN. And how can a God punish people he designed to be flawed when those flaws realize themselves? If we are designed to be imperfect than we cannot be expected to be perfect. Christianity, in any of its forms, is logically broken, bereft of any evidence and morally bankrupt.
The Bible certainly doesn't describe what Christians claim to believe in, it's God isn't even consistent with what they believe about him and that speaks volumes. Ultimately it isn't Satan that God - or rather God's followers - have to worry about, it's reason, logic, empathy and intelligence. For if we ever became like God, gaining such forbidden knowledge, we'd realize he doesn't exist.