Just the other day I was again chastised and excoriated by a group of my peers for my unbelief in miracles, also called "magic," and all of the re-packaged superstition-based organizations now called "religious denominations." That in a world of technological marvels and meteoric new and exciting daily inventions that make Noah and his Ark a near-Neanderthal accidental fumble, people in this day and age, presumably enlightened, keep holding on to beliefs that are no different to Santa Claus and such is truly alarming. Indeed, the conversation quickly degenerated into people loudly and with alcohol-induced piety, shouting and thumping their chests proclaiming "I am a Christian!" While I did not say "Amen to that," the 5 against 1 discussion-cum-Christian-bar-revival, was hilarious for the self-induced, hypocrisy of the moment.
So, let me be blunt: Christianity sucks. Period. Full stop. And, I'm going to prove it. For unlike those who recite pages from some Holy Book as "proof" of both divine wisdom, and religious fact, I prefer the light, pardon the pun, of pure reason, science and, well, common sense.
For starters, Christian apologists (especially after "a few" at the bar) knowing that they do not do very well in the areas of argument and evidence, try instead to beat the unbeliever (read atheist) by arguing that Christianity makes people happier and that Christian hope and faith is a strong argument for Christianity. Nope. It's not. Christianity imagines that consoling "the flock," is a good thing. However, this only encourages believers to not see things clearly; it promotes and encourages complacency and relies on magical thinking and provokes anxiety when promises and reality don't synchronize. Ah, Karl Marx you said it right: Religion is truly the opium of the people!
And the other negative fallout from such thinking is the automatic practice of moralistic grandstanding. Christian apologists who practice this come over as worse than merely annoying. In Christianity this behavior leads people to adopt extreme and implausible claims, and it devalues logical public moral discussion. But lest you think that I'm saying that Christianity has no redeeming graces. Think again. Let's start with its positive traits. The church, and by extension Christianity, can create a positive community for its members, and it can harness their good works and charitable deeds. As such, it is an important social institution.
While this natural part of the church is a positive, the supernatural side doesn't hold up too well. For one thing, heaven is a great idea, but is intricately and intrinsically linked to Hell - it is a package deal. You can't take the moral and religious high road to heaven if there was no hell to be the evil. To instill unreasonable fear in people about a place of torture, fire and damnation and the milk-and-honey (Ugh! What a bad combination!) and streets of gold, harps and violins and humans with wings called angels that heaven is cracked up to be, even though nobody can say for absolute sure.
And, forgive me for being blunt again, laying your many and varied problems at the feet of Jesus might be comforting to Christians, every Sunday. But these problems are usually still there (and more pronounced) when they get home after the many loud Hallelujahs! Amens! Yes, Lords! and prognostications about "accepting a Lord and Savior." And sundry readings from a book with over 80,000 versions (opinions) and just as many denominations all professing to be the "one true one."
So, tell me this: Why are prayers answered at a rate no better than a game of chance? The lottery, or bingo, for example? The Christian answer is all you need is faith. But with so many interpretations of presumably correct beliefs within Christianity, how do you know the Jesus you have faith in is the right one? You may be just headed for hell if you guess wrong.
And to my Christian brethren I say this: What is God's goal when he allows bad things to happen to peoplehurricanes or cyclones that kill hundreds of thousands or innocent little children with cancers, for example? As an omnipotent being, he could achieve anything without causing such suffering to many of those who went to their deaths fervently praying to and believing in him and asking him to save their families and friends.
How long have people been praying for things that never, ever materialize? And ever notice that the big, bold demonstrative miracles of the Bible have all been replaced with some very cheesy modern-day ones? Praying for a job, a boyfriend, someone to get well, a promotion etc. Are these the ONLY modern, 21st century miracles that Christians expect of God?
"Not so!" Shouted a bar fly. "You can't know God's plan. He made this world and when he's ready he'll end it! And besides, the Devil is controlling this world. Jesus said he was going to come to put things right and take the righteous up to Heaven with him!" See what I mean about rum-shop sermonizing? In one short paragraph this guy summed up the illogic of the whole Christian/Religious thing.
So, imagine a world without God. This would be a world where praying for something anything and everything- doesn't increase the likelihood that you'll get it. It's a futile and silly exercise that makes the Christian feel good; where faith is necessary to mask the fact that God's existence is not so apparent; where no all-loving deity walks beside you in adversity; where natural disasters kill people constantly and indiscriminately; where far too many children live short and painful lives because of malnutrition, abuse, injury, disease, or birth defects; and where there is only wishful thinking behind the ideas of heaven and hell. It's the world we're living in NOW.
"There are consequences. What if we're right and you are wrong," one man said. Ok. If the atheist is right, then the Christian will have missed seeing his or her life for what it truly isnot a test to see if you correctly dance to the tune of Bronze Age traditions; not a shell of a life, with real life waiting for you in the hereafter; not drudgery to be endured or penance paid while you bide your time for your reward; but rather the one chance you have at reality.
We can argue whether heaven or hell exists; if there is a God or no god. But one thing we do know: our one life is here on earth. Yes, a too-short life, no matter how long you live, that you can spend wisely or foolishly. A life where you can embrace thinking and learning and not trapped by myopic, retarded Bronze Age dogma. Where you can laugh and do good things and "help your brother on the way" and do a little kindness. Where you can play with children, and teach someone, and, yes, love.
Fact is I won't be able to visit any new places after I die. I won't be able to learn German or Greek, or comfort a friend, or apologize, or forgive, or simply stop and admire all those beautiful women walking by. If all that is important to me, I'd better do it in the one life I know I have. Life is sweeter when that's all you've got.
That said, to my bar Christians prone and given to grandiloquent grandstanding I say this: Grandstanders want others to regard them as being morally respectable, or even morally remarkable, and the contributions they make to religious discourse are intended to satisfy that desire. To grandstand, then, is to use Christian talk for self-promotion. I grant you this: A Christian grandstander's claim might also be true, or supported by reasons or evidence. But whatever the incidental features of grandstanding, the grandstander's primary concern is projecting an image of his or herself as someone who is on the side of the heavenly angels. They profess to know God inside and out.
And again, Christianity sucks. Christian Grandstanding takes many forms depending on the social circumstances. In a quest to impress less informed peers or like-minded ones, Christian grandstanders trump up moral charges, pile on in an effort to elicit public shaming of dissenters, announce that anyone who disagrees with them is obviously wrong, and engage in exaggerated subjective emotional displays to impress the gullible and uninformed.