Fundamentalist Christianity: The Worship of an Evil God
By Derek Mathias
Fundamentalist Christians emphatically claim that God is infinitely good. They point to several claims within the Bible as their evidence. However, it is easy to show that the Christian god as they interpret it is one of the most hideously evil forces imaginable.
First, we need definitions of good and evil behavior that are as objective as possible. Some fundamentalists define good as whatever God does and whatever he defines as good, and they define evil as whatever he does not want others to do. Unfortunately, this definition is meaningless because it excuses any behavior on God’s part. Even if he were to commit an act he has deemed evil, it would be considered “good” by this definition, which creates a logical contradiction. (It’s also surprising that any fundamentalists would accept such moral relativism, when one of their claims concerning morality is that it’s absolute.)
So we need more useful, universal definitions of good and evil behavior. For the purposes of this article, I will define evil behavior as that which intentionally causes unnecessary harm, pain and suffering, as well as that which intentionally minimizes our cherished values (such as the “inherent and inalienable rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”). Good, being the opposite of evil, would be any behavior that prevents unnecessary harm, pain and suffering from occurring, as well as behavior that maximizes what we value most. Thus, evil behavior would include murder, torture, rape, theft, slavery, etc. intentionally committed for personal gain or simple callous indifference. But it would exclude harm that is caused to avoid worse harm, such as reasonable punishment to correct socially harmful behavior, or amputation of an infected limb when no other options will save the person’s life. While there are other ways to define good and evil, few civilized persons would exclude the above definitions in their own characterizations of what constitutes good vs. evil behavior.
Fundamentalists claim that everything in the Bible must be regarded as the absolute, literal truth except where the Scripture is “obviously” parable (which they change periodically as science proves that some things fundamentalists once believed were literally true turn out not to be so—such as a flat Earth, geocentrism, sickness caused by evil spirits, etc.). They also claim that God is all-knowing and all-powerful. By definition this means he knows everything that has happened or will happen, and whatever he wills to happen will happen. Thus, God knew that Lucifer and a third of his angels would rebel against his rule, as stated in the Bible. Yet he created Lucifer and the doomed-to-become-fallen angels anyway, deliberately creating evil in the form of Satan.
God also knew that Satan would convince Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and that she would convince Adam to partake as well. Yet God created Adam and Eve without changing their initial design to be better able to resist “sinning.” He did not equip them with the knowledge that defying God’s prohibition against eating the forbidden fruit was wrong (they didn’t know the difference between good and evil until after they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, after all). Nor did he do anything to stop Satan from tempting Eve. In fact, God created humanity knowing full well that they and their offspring had essentially no chance whatsoever of being able to resist sin. Indeed, God finally drowned the entire population of humanity in a flood—hundreds of millions of people—except for one man and his family. Even before creating humanity, he knew that we were fundamentally flawed, according to his standards, yet he created us “as is” anyway. And then he sent us to Earth to live in a world filled with random occurrences of extreme misery, injustice and evil. Only a slight change to our psychology would have prevented the suffering of untold billions of people born since Adam and Eve, whose only crimes were to be created incapable of resisting sin.
That’s why God sent Jesus to Earth to die for our sins, fundamentalists say, because God loves us so much that more than anything he wants us to all be saved. By accepting Jesus Christ as our savior, our sins will be forgiven and God will grant us salvation and entrance to heaven upon our deaths. But why would God find it necessary to send Jesus to Earth, much less have him “die for our sins”? If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, he knew what would happen to humanity before he even created us. Sending Jesus to Earth should never have been necessary. Indeed, viewed from this perspective, the existence of Jesus is an attempt to patch up a mistake God made thousands of years earlier.
And it’s not a very successful patch job either. According to fundamentalists, essentially all humanity was wicked prior to the arrival of Jesus. Since Jesus’ departure, only the fundamentalist Christians have been saved. Furthermore, many fundamentalist sub-sects disagree on whether some of the other fundamentalist sub-sects are saved. Thus, most fundamentalists believe that somewhere between five and ten percent of humanity is saved. Such a pathetically low rate of salvation makes little sense if God is all-knowing and all-powerful and wants humanity to be saved.
Fundamentalists claim that God’s setting Adam and Eve up for a fall was necessary, so that humanity would be able to choose righteous behavior over sin, an exercise of “free will” that fundamentalists believe is required for humans to be able to truly love God. There is little logic behind this claim, however, since people who are highly restricted from committing sin (such as those who are incarcerated and under constant monitoring and supervision) are still quite capable of feeling love. The ability to love is a biological condition of the human form, not some sort of logical consequence of being able to choose between good and evil. Besides, even evil people are quite capable of feeling love toward others.
But even if we accept that the ability to choose evil is somehow necessary to be able to love God, is the suffering of billions of people for millennia, plus an eternity of utter misery in hell for the vast majority of humanity, a worthwhile price to pay for God to have his handful of worshippers? Even if we ignore the inherent pettiness of wanting worshippers, if worshippers are what he wants, couldn’t he have just created them from the outset? For God to be all-powerful, he would by definition have to be able to do this. And for God to be all-good he would have to do this to avoid causing such suffering.
Not only that, but to love God you must first believe he exists. For evidence of his existence, fundamentalists point to the Bible and encourage one to pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to search in one’s heart to “know” the truth, etc. Unfortunately for them, most other religions use exactly the same “evidence” to support their beliefs. They have their own holy texts and they “know” the truth of their religion with just as much certainty as do fundamentalist Christians. So are all those other religions also true (which poses logical impossibilities, since fundamentalism is mutually exclusive with other religions)? Or is one of them true but there is absolutely no way to know for certain which one? Or is it more logical to conclude that religious certainty has more in common with self-deception than any real knowledge of the truth? In any event, since the above fundamentalist list of “evidence” also works for pretty much every other religion, it doesn’t help distinguish one religion from another and is thus useless as evidence.
So fundamentalists will usually then point to biblical prophesies as proof of the Bible’s accuracy. Unfortunately, they seem to be unaware that other religions have their own prophesies that appear to be no less accurate than the biblical prophesies. Virtually all prophesies—including biblical prophesies, Nostradamus’ prophesies, etc.—are deliberately vague, enough so that anything that can’t be pinned to known historical events can simply be passed off as just not having occurred yet. Some biblical prophesies were even written after the events occurred, a deceptive practice which automatically invalidates them as prophesies. Note that none of the pre-event prophesies—biblical or otherwise—connect any event with specific names and dates, something that would actually provide some means to validate or falsify them with some sense of certainty. If you don’t understand how such vagueness renders prophesy meaningless, see http://pw1.netcom.com/~jrhowell/rel/prophecy.htm and http://users.rcn.com/rostmd/winace/napoleon_messiah.htm.
Furthermore, even if the prophesies were precise enough to validate the Bible, there are so many Christian sects and cults to choose from, many of which are mutually exclusive. They all consider the Bible one of their holy texts, but they all interpret Scripture differently. Most believe that the Bible is a human work inspired by belief in God, not the direct word of God himself. They can point to the Bible’s internally contradictory accounts (such as the vastly differing eyewitness accounts to Christ’s supposed resurrection; see http://www.ffrf.org/lfif/stone.html), as well as the many contradictions between what the Bible says and what science has observed (such as heliocentricity, the Earth being a sphere, the Earth moving, germ theory, cosmological and biological evolution, etc.). To them, the Bible is mostly allegory and parable, which simultaneously explains the contradictions and renders them unimportant. Most non-fundamentalists would recognize that even if some prophesies turned out to be true, it would not by any means stand as proof that the rest of the Bible was the literal word of God. Their take on this issue is just as valid as the fundamentalist perspective.
Thus, belief in the fundamentalist interpretation of God boils down to little more than blind faith. Blind faith by definition bypasses reason, rational thought and logic. Blind faith even requires no substantial supportive evidence, for otherwise belief wouldn’t be contingent on faith. Without a requirement for evidence, there is no basis for comparing the validity of one claim over another. This makes blind faith the lowest possible standard for belief, which in turn makes claims based on it as meaningless as any claim can possibly be. Thus, belief based on blind faith is the ultimate in gullibility.
Those who do not possess blind faith cannot believe in the fundamentalist God. Yet fundamentalists frequently claim that we are free to choose to believe in God or not. However, the reality is that belief is not a matter of choice. None of us has the power to actually choose to believe in anything (even though in casual conversation we claim to choose what we believe). Belief is actually contingent upon our receiving sufficient evidence to meet our standards for belief, not on our desire to believe. There is a simple test for those who don’t believe this: try as hard as you can to believe in Santa Claus. Unless you possess the gullibility of a child, you won’t succeed…because you require more evidence than mere intent to meet your standards for belief.
Fundamentalists claim that people who do not love and worship God are condemned to an eternity in hell. But of course you can’t love and worship God unless you believe in him, and as I’ve shown such belief requires blind faith. So what happens if you are bright enough that you can’t just believe in something without at least some hard evidence to support it? Are you doomed to end up in hell? Well, if salvation is based on belief, love and worship of God, then the answer is yes.
The same is true for those who by mere accident of being born in non-Christian countries are never exposed to Christianity. Throughout all of history, billions of people have learned little to nothing about the Christian religion (much the same way most Westerners learn little to nothing about Islam). According to fundamentalists, these people are automatically sent to hell for their beliefs, despite their beliefs being based on precisely the same levels of evidence as Christianity.
One must die and face the fundamentalist God to finally have certain confirmation of his existence. But by then it’s too late to have a change of heart and mind, according to fundamentalists. Even those who might be willing to love and worship the fundamentalist God upon confirmation of his existence, and who would have done so beforehand if only they’d had this confirmation during life, they have no second chance. According to fundamentalists, there is no second chance. Hell is the only option for those who simply did not have enough evidence to believe.
It doesn’t matter how well a person behaved in life. Fundamentalists insist that salvation cannot be achieved through good works. All it takes is belief in God, loving and worshipping him, and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as our savior. This means that a person who is kind and generous, who works his whole life to reduce suffering and improve conditions for his fellow man, would be sent to hell to suffer for all eternity simply for not believing in God. Worse, a person who is cruel and malicious, who tortures and kills people with glee, but who believes in God and accepts Jesus as his savior—that person would go to heaven. Thus, hell is occupied by those whom most people would call good, and heaven is occupied by those whom most people would call evil. Would you be happy to have Hitler as your next door neighbor, if it turned out that just before his death he accepted Christ? Do you think it’s just that Ghandi rots in hell?
Fundamentalists say that hell was originally the place God created to put fallen angels, and then he turned it into a place to send human souls who didn’t get into heaven. They claim that hell is an absence of God. Some say it is a literal lake of fire, or that you fall forever in darkness, or both. Regardless, fundamentalists agree that hell is the ultimate in excruciating torment that lasts for all eternity.
Why would a loving God create such a place? When this question is put to them, fundamentalists will say that God doesn’t want to send anyone to hell, but that divine punishment for rejecting God must be absolute. Fundamentalists actually believe that it is perfectly reasonable, rational and even good for God to torture someone forever for simply failing to believe in him. They claim that simply destroying fallen souls or at least putting them in a place without pain is insufficient; they must suffer the most excruciating pain for all eternity with no hope of redemption or even relief, no matter how kind and good those people were in life.
Even if that made sense, what point could there possibly be for causing the suffering of billions of “misguided” souls? If hell is just a place to put people who don’t qualify for heaven, why have the fire, the falling and all the torment? There must be some ultimately good reason for the punishment, for punishment without purpose is nothing more than cruel, gratuitous evil. The only good that can come from punishment is the teaching of a lesson that changes bad behavior. However, a lesson learned is utterly useless if it can never be put into practice. If hell is eternal with no hope of redemption, how can anyone put into practice any lessons learned? Without providing some form of redemption, the creation of a pit of eternal torment can only be an act of purest evil.
So what do we have in our analysis of the fundamentalist God? We have a god who created evil by intentionally creating Satan and unleashing him upon humanity. We have a god creating humans incapable of not sinning, and then condemning them for sinning—not only by slaughtering them in a giant flood, but then sending their souls to hell. We have a god who made hell a lake of fire in which to torture souls for all eternity—even the souls of people whom we would consider kind and good. We have a god who requires people to believe in him, love him and worship him as a condition for salvation, but he provides no firm evidence of his existence—indeed, he doesn’t even provide any method for differentiating the validity of fundamentalist Christianity from any other religion. And we have a god who has made humanity live in a world filled with misery and suffering without any apparent purpose.
These are not the acts of a good and loving god. They are the acts of a god who delights in causing evil and suffering on a truly massive scale—made even more horrible by the hypocrisy of evil masquerading as good. Yet this should come as no surprise, however, since the Bible is full of claims that God creates evil (see Isaiah 45:7; Jeremiah 11:11, 16:10-11, 19:3, 23:12, 26:3,13,19, 32:42, 35:17, 36:3, 36:31, 40:2, 42:10, 44:2, 45:5, 49:37, 51:64; 2 Samuel 12:11; 2 Kings 21:12; 2 Chronicles 34:24; Ezekiel 6:10; just to name a few references).
And if the fundamentalist God is so fundamentally evil, it should also come as no surprise that fundamentalists themselves are an extension of that behavior, sharing the hypocrisy of evil masquerading as good. Some examples:
- Fundamentalist Christians believe that morals are absolute, yet consider God exempt from these rules.
- They believe it is just for God to kill and torture billions of people for so minor an infraction as not believing in God, yet they consider him infinitely good and merciful for allowing some paltry few to escape such a fate—it is the schoolyard bully writ large.
- They believe that God is all-just (getting exactly the punishment deserved) and all-merciful (getting less punishment than deserved), even though the two concepts are mutually exclusive.
- They claim they believe in freedom of religion, but only as long as Christianity has more influence over government and society than any other religion.
- They claim to believe in “The Golden Rule,” expecting others to treat Christianity with respect (no blasphemy), yet they they show some of the most profoundly intolerant disrespect and hate toward other belief systems.
- They claim to believe in trying to understand “God’s creations,” but ignore or severely distort any scientific evidence that contradicts their interpretation of the Bible (their attacks on cosmological and biological evolution are infamous; see http://home.earthlink.net/~misaak/guide/list.html and http://www.vuletic.com/hume/cefec/index.html for extensive listings of fundamentalist claims and the refutations against them. See http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/about/faith.asp and http://www.creationresearch.org/belief_wndw.htm for creationist statements of faith requiring them to ignore evidence that contradicts their beliefs).
- They claim they are moral, yet they are willing to tell outright lies in order to discredit any opposition to their beliefs (see http://www.stardestroyer.net/Creationism/Arguments/Lies.shtml, http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Thebes/7755/moonrecession.html and http://atheism.about.com/cs/creationismanddi/ for numerous examples).
- They focus on the parts of the Bible that encourage hate and intolerance towards others, using the phrase “love the sinner but hate the sin” to justify persecution and hatred of individuals for their beliefs (their hatred and treatment of homosexuals is cruelly pathological).
- They profess to condemn terrorism, yet often tacitly or even explicitly support acts of terror, using the Bible as their justification (the difference between Christian fundamentalists murdering abortion doctors and Muslim fundamentalists blowing up the World Trade Center is only a matter of degree).
- They even use the Bible to support opposition to concepts not even vaguely condemned in the Bible (such as abortion; see http://elroy.net/ehr/abortion.html), while selectively opposing concepts that are clearly accepted in Scripture (such as slavery).
Ironically, fundamentalists are the very enemy they claim to fight against, and the saddest part is that they don’t even realize it.
Additional related information:
- Why Doesn’t God Prevent Evil?: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/bruce_russell/intervene.html
- Argument Against God from Evil: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/james_still/evil.html
- Theodicy: A Heterodox Alternative: http://www.frontiernet.net/~kenc/theodicy2.htm
- Brainwashing: http://www.jcnot4me.com/Items/Misc%20Topics/brainwashing.htm
- Is God Merciful?: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/merciful.html
- The Tale of Twelve Officers: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/five.html
- A Call to Heresy: http://www.box2321.com/wtb/heresy.html#acthcontra
- Holy Horrors: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/james_haught/holy.html
©2002 Derek Mathias