- Religion and Philosophy
The Following is, more or less, a response to the following Hub, or at least it was inspired by this hub:
When I was a Christian an idea that was constantly reinforced was the concept that Jesus came to set us free, that Jesus was here to save us. At the time I didn't question this all that much. I believed in Jesus, I believed that Jesus loved me and if the God of the entire Universe wanted to save me than there had to be something to be saved from. But now that I'm an atheist this same idea, the idea that Jesus offers salvation bothers me and it raises a fundamental question that never fully occurred to me when I was a Christian. What is Jesus offering salvation FROM? In this post I'm going to tackle some of the possible answers I've been given by Christians to what Jesus is saving us from and explain why I think they just don't make sense. Let's get started shall we...
Salvation from Hell?
I consider this to be the biggest answer to the question. After all Hell is, according to literal interpretations, an eternal prison sentence spent in a horrible lake of fire where you will be in agony FOREVER. It doesn't matter which interpretation of Hell you latch onto either way Salvation from Hell simply doesn't make sense.
How is one man's death going to stop you yourself from going to Hell? Does Jesus absolve you from making your own decisions? Does your Christian Salvation truly save you from ending up in Hell? Isn't it ultimately God's decision who goes to Hell and who doesn't it? A Christian still has a chance of going to Hell right? Why can't God simply change the criteria that gets someone sent to Hell to allow more people into Heaven?
This, of course, makes no mention of the fact that Hell has no immediate effect on you. Hell is a form of AFTER-LIFE, it does absolutely nothing to you now. The idea that something bad might happen to you AFTER you die really should have no sway on the rational minded, hence why many Christians who are logical compassionate people reject the literalist interpretations of Hell and many reject the idea of Hell entirely.
The fire and brimstone preacher only holds sway over those superstitious enough to subscribe to the idea that a loving God is willing to torture you forever with no goal other than to do harm (since Hell lasts forever it can't teach you a lesson or rehabilitate you, so the goal is just for you to be harmed).
Another question that comes to mind is: Why are we in danger of Hell in the first place? Blaming it on Original Sin doesn't work because God is still in charge of issuing judgment. We had no control over the fact we were born into sin, but God, who is all powerful, possesses all control over all circumstances...
So Salvation from Hell has some holes to say the least. One of the biggest problems is that this reason makes Jesus' salvation save you only from God's own wrath, so in a sense God is saving you from his own injustice and vengeful wrath. One would think it would just be easier to reform the souls of the "damned" or lessen the punishment rather than employing an ancient blood sacrifice.
Salvation from Sin?
This one is pretty easy to pick apart but you'd be surprised how often I've heard Christians use this one. So Jesus came to save us from our sins, eh? Can a Christian still commit a sin? If I decide to accept Christ into my heart I don't magically become a better person do I? No, I am still capable of sinning. I may eventually lose my desire to commit certain acts deemed sinful by Christian doctrine but does this mean Jesus' sacrifice is supernaturally saving me from sin? NO! It means I've made an active decision to live my life by a moral code that I believe will make me a better person (and possibly get me out of Hell).
Does one need Jesus to die on a cross for the sins of the world in order to strive to be a better person and stop sinning? NO! People of all types, faiths and creeds have the ability to behave more morally without Jesus 'in their hearts'. And of course people who are Christians are more than capable of horrific acts in the name of the God they love so much.
Jesus isn't saving anyone from sin. I've seen plenty of sinful Christians who do things the Bible deems worthy of death without a second thought and I've known moral people of different religions and plenty of moral decent atheists. Does Jesus stop pedophile priests? NO! What's more Jesus' teachings, though some of them are wise, have led to death and oppression and the opulence and evil power of the Catholic Church. So obviously Jesus is not the key to preventing yourself from sinning.
Now many people who make this argument are actually tying it into the Hell argument. The idea is that the wages of sin is death, so if you sin than according to God you deserve to die. Now when I was a Christian I was ALSO taught that all people are sinners no matter what. What does this mean when you put two and two together - according to God we all deserve to die. Not only death but, of course, Hell as well since all people are sinners and sinners go to Hell.
So in a world of perfect judgment we're born and the moment we reach the 'Age of Accountability' and commit our first sin God immediately kills us and sends us straight to Hell and according to the version of Christianity I was fed as a child - THAT'S WHAT WE DESERVE.
But God doesn't want us all in Hell, even if we do deserve it for some reason, so he offers a sacrifice - Jesus. Never mind the barbaric nature of requiring bloodshed to appease God - why does God need atonement in order to forgive? Do I require my friends to slaughter a pig in order to gain my favor back when they piss me off? If someone stabs me in the back do I really need them to grovel to me and tell me how wonderful I am? Or do I want a SINCERE APOLOGY and than I follow that up with empathy and forgiveness depending on how bad the offense is? Why does God find sin so repulsive? He spends most of his time in the Bible sinning, if he has no problem doing it than why does he hate it so much? Why can't God forgive without having his only son beaten to a bloody pulp?
Seems like Jesus is just God's attempt to bully people into loving him by declaring them all damned by default and then offering a loophole.
Jesus can't save us from our own desire to sin, nothing can, we're going to want to do things that aren't the epitome of moral behavior from time to time. Last I checked we're also the ones in control of our actions, not Christ. You may be able to model your morality around Christ's teachings but if that's the extent of Christ's salvation from sin I am not impressed.
None of this religion makes a lick of sense when you get down to it. Moving on to the next argument.
Miranda Kerr is awfully tempting
Salvation from Death?
Jesus is saving you from death eh? Than why do I see tombstones with verses of scripture engraved on them? What a crock of... you know. There are verses in the Gospels that talk about eternal life but it is generally held that they're talking about heaven. No Christian truly means Jesus is saving them from Death which makes me wonder even more why they make this argument. Obviously Christians die by the thousand every single day, Jesus is not helping people actually live forever, he isn't Dracula (although there is that blood drinking thing with Communion).
So this, more or less, collapses into the argument for Salvation from Hell, in this case Hell would be more the annihilationist view where if you accept Jesus you get eternal after-life but if you don't you just DIE for real. So Jesus is saving your soul from being annihilated so you can go to some sort of paradise. How is this a good thing exactly?
What are you planning to do with eternity? Seriously though contemplate it for just a few moments - what are you planning to do if this Jesus guy turns out right and you survive death in a non-physical form to go to Heaven? Oh sure maybe being a supernatural being for a while will be fun, maybe even for the first 10 Million years... but after that? And after the first 10 Trillion years how will your mental stability be holding up? If it doesn't end altogether won't it simply end in madness, the anguish of being unable to die? For a thinking feeling being isn't eternal life more of a curse? Oh sure you can argue that Heaven is eternal bliss no matter what... but wouldn't that still get old?
So Jesus saving you from physical death is obviously a joke but even him saving you from the "second death" could be a curse rather than a blessing.
Salvation From Satan?
This is a fairly rare argument, I've only heard it a handful of times and its usually only seen from the hardcore fundamentalist conspiracy theory types who think that Kanye West and the band KISS are in league with dark forces and bow down to baphomet. This is the argument that Jesus came to save the world from Satan and him trying to tempt us away from God.
When you get down to it though what can Satan actually do to you? What does Satan threaten you with? Seriously though if you're a Christian (or not) and you're reading this ask yourself what real threat does Satan pose to you? What's he going to go? I mean if you're a Christian there is literally nothing Satan can do other than tempt you and temptation is everywhere regardless of any invisible boogeyman leading you to it.
Are you going to blame Satan when a really hot woman walks in front of you and tempts you with her incredible aft end? Did Satan make that woman wear those tight jeans that caused you to have inappropriate thoughts? Temptation is everywhere, no boogeyman required, all it takes is a wandering imagination to get your head into some weird places.
Satan, even if you read the Bible, has no plans to torture you, no plans to torment you, no plans to bother you. If the worst he can do is get you to sin than he's no better than a magazine rack at the grocery store showing too much skin for your puritanical mind to handle. And if you think Satan is going to lead you away from Jesus just ask yourself - why is it bad to go away from Jesus? Why is it bad to stop believing in Jesus? Chances are you're answer will be one of the three preceding this one.
Salvation from Sin continued...
I'll take a brief moment here to talk about the Salvation from addiction phenomenon. I've witnessed this first hand. I've mentioned before how my Father used to be an alcoholic but than he found Jesus and turned his life around. He now gives credit to Christ for saving him from his addictions to cigarettes and alcohol. But why?
What did Jesus actually do? I was alive the whole time he was fighting to break those addictions and I watched him ween himself off of drugs and alcohol until they were no longer a part of his life. I also watched him relapse a few times and hit some low points. Was Jesus there for all that? He would claim so. He would claim that whenever he was doing good Jesus was the one who should get the glory but if he was doing bad, if he relapsed, it was HIS fault, not Christ's fault.
God gets all the credit for the good and never any of the blame for the bad, seems a bit off for an omnipotent being.
There are a lot of people who delude themselves this way. It could be said they use the delusion to break their addiction but to me they're replacing one drug for another drug. My Dad may not be addicted to alcohol anymore but he is addicted to religion. He's devout and last I checked he spends several hours a day babbling in tongues. I can recall remarking to him at one point how ironic it was that God had saved him from being a drunk in order for him to spend several hours a day babbling incoherently LIKE a drunk being useless to himself and others.
So it seems to be that Jesus' death by ritual blood-magic didn't actually perform any of the tasks it is claimed to have. At best it created a loophole in some messed and and downright evil rules that God himself put into place and didn't feel like changing.
I've gone over the basic arguments that I've come across here but obviously I may have missed some. If you've heard any arguments, or if you're a Christian and you've got one, that I didn't go over leave a comment and I'll get back to you. Also if you have more rebuttals to these arguments to add that I didn't go over please add them. Thanks for reading.