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Why God Condones Torture

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As a card-carrying atheist (the Secular Humanists, to be exact), it always amazes me to see Religionists trying to fit the round peg of their religion into the square hole of reality. The reality is, established religion - by that I mean the big approved-of religions, not the little cults that the governments of all lands continuously try to stomp out, like so many pesky forrest fires - are all in place to support whatever policies the regime promotes at the moment. Do you really think for a moment that torture, not to mention the unjust war against Iraq itself (and, increasingly, against an Afghanistan that has long rid itself of Al-Qaida) could have taken place without religous authorities' blessing? Why, Bush recieved briefings from Rumsfeld for years with actual biblical quotes on their covers, as if he really needed reminding that he was, as he put it in the early days before it was clear that the mission was unaccomplished, on a "mission from God." Many people still believe he was. Bush has not backtracked from that position, so who knows what he thinks? I never knew how he thought even when he was in office anyhow, though religious "thinking" seemed to underlie almost every major policy. The minor policies weren't worthy of God's time, I guess.

To go against the status-quo, particularly in the initial enthusiasm for the wars - and yes, if you go back and look at the polls, you'll see that the majority of Americans supported both the Afghanistan and Iraq war initially - means to give up the cushy life of the clergy, or at least to draw ire and scrutiny. What about their tax-exempt status! Bravery is not something most church leaders are known for, let alone for being Mavericks or iconoclasts - whether or not Jesus ever was such, or whether or not Jesus even existed, or is not, as most atheists believe, some cobbled together, ever-morphing myth of men (plural), and previous stories (with unbelievable miracles thrown in to keep things spicy).

Besides, torture has been part and parcel of the Christian religion since Christ was crucified. Actually, before that, since the Old Testament is full of human tortures visited upon the helpless minions of the various human races (Golden or not), by a vengeful, spiteful, twisted, spoiled, bratty, unpredictable, and all-hurtful God. Better not to bother with such a Being at all, in this atheist's opinion.

While Religionists hide behind comforting platitudes like "It's God's Will," or, it's useful corollary when the s*** hits the proverbial fan, "The Devil Made Me Do It," atheists have no such recourse. Perhaps that's why there are so few of us - though 12-18%, depending on the definition of various polls, is still larger than most religions. In any case, we atheists, when we act, due to circumstances beyond our control, or not, can only blame ourselves. The Devil/God is in us. We made us "do it." Perhaps that is the only way to take responsibility. Perhaps that is the only way to grow up, out of the sandbox of the Pew, where people play with moral principles with their religious toolset of Rosary beads to Bibles, as if they were plastic pails and shovels, and have only just as much influence over real-world affairs as a sandcastle in a sandbox. Of course, being stuck in a Pew means you are not free to get out and do some actual good work on your off-day. Hmmm, maybe the religious orthodoxy are not so dumb, after all.

But, it is easier to TALK about being good than to actually BE good, so that is the source of the "comfort" that the masses seems to jealously hoard so mightily in their churches/synagogues/mosques etc. Well, at least they feel good. We wouldn't want to disturb that! Whatever happened to suffering for your beliefs? Perhaps that is too uncomfortable in this soft age.

Of course, this hedonistic impulse is as true of the atheist as of the religionist, but at least the atheist has made a step into the light, out of the shadow of an all-knowing, all-permission-granting, torturing, God.
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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is President of Common Ground-NYC (, a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written (more...)

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As my favorite author has reminded us, many of th... by Guy Dwyer on Sunday, Aug 2, 2009 at 1:39:12 PM
Religious bigots and hypocrites will be rendered c... by Sarah Morgan on Sunday, Aug 2, 2009 at 2:13:33 PM
Good article. F. Nietzsche wrote that if one must ... by John S. Hatch on Sunday, Aug 2, 2009 at 2:18:08 PM
Thomas Jefferson was against the "corruptions" of ... by Sarah Morgan on Sunday, Aug 2, 2009 at 7:15:04 PM
Yes, the founders were heroic in so many ways we h... by Scott Baker on Monday, Aug 3, 2009 at 10:05:12 AM
Scott, you apparently didn't go to the site where ... by Sarah Morgan on Monday, Aug 3, 2009 at 10:40:22 AM
I read the article - though the author does tend t... by Scott Baker on Monday, Aug 3, 2009 at 11:54:10 AM
condone torture or did God give human beings freew... by shadow dancer on Sunday, Aug 2, 2009 at 7:48:33 PM
If there were a God do you think he would stand by... by liberalsrock on Monday, Aug 3, 2009 at 9:08:36 AM
Contemplating what God would or would not do misse... by Scott Baker on Monday, Aug 3, 2009 at 10:12:22 AM
If God were an ethereal Superman who had the capab... by Ruth on Monday, Aug 3, 2009 at 10:24:05 AM
Torture is terrorism, plain and simple.  And of c... by Roger on Tuesday, Aug 4, 2009 at 4:14:14 PM
I agree.  Unfortunately, cosmetology is practiced... by Scott Baker on Tuesday, Aug 4, 2009 at 4:20:46 PM
Torture is good.... by John Hanks on Tuesday, Aug 4, 2009 at 7:58:58 PM
Many of our leaders will tell you in private God h... by Jason Paz on Tuesday, Aug 4, 2009 at 11:36:26 PM
< Most of us are taught how to do things not wh... by kwalsh on Wednesday, Aug 5, 2009 at 3:03:46 AM