Alternatively titled: The New Testament does not Make things Better
One of the things that inevitably comes up when discussing the Bible with Christians is the idea that Jesus came along, abolished the somewhat harsh rules (read: Evil rules) of the Old Testament and set up a New Covenant with the people of all the Earth. No longer were Jews solely the recipients of God’s direction and love, no no no no, now the whole world had a chance to get to know the God who had previously limited himself to one small corner of the inhabited world.
The idea that now we don’t have to worry about the first 2/3rds of the Bible because Jesus said Love God and Love thy neighbor are the whole of the law is an absurd one Biblically speaking. For one thing this presumes that God has different morals for different groups of people annihilating any idea that God’s morals are absolute. God thought slavery was okay for the ancient Hebrews but not for anyone today? Okay but that’s not in the Bible. God thought it was a good idea to brutally execute homosexuals in the Old Testament but now only those without sin can cast the first stone? Okay but the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel don’t contain that story at all.
Of course this shows that God has different standards not just for different groups of humans but for himself vs humans as well. God apparently wants homosexuals killed, we know that this is his base desire because he gives the Law to Moses in Leviticus. But now God is ready to forgive all mankind through the magical Jesus Loophole Contract Clause but does that mean his fundamental opinion of homosexuals as depraved sinners deserving of death has changed? Not according to many modern Christians who still hold that, while all human beings are depraved and worthy of death, homosexuals are certainly among those God will send to Hell specifically for that act.
And this is where we get into the meat of this horseshit sandwich the Bible and Christians serve up about how the New Testament is more loving and more peaceful and erases all that bad stuff in the Old Testament. The New Testament presents us a far more wicked and unjust God than even the vengeful and spiteful Demi-Urge of the Old Testament. Why? Because the New Testament invents a brand new place for all the sinners and demons to reside after judgment day – Hell.
In the Old Testament there are two basic views of the afterlife. The first, found in books like Ecclesiastes (another underrated jewel amidst the bullshit of the Bible) is that death is the end, there is no after life awaiting anyone. The second is that there is a general land of the dead called Sheol, the grave or pit, where everyone goes, sinner and righteous man alike. The only folks to avoid this fate are those uber-righteous chosen by God, which consists of Enoch, Elijah and in some people’s opinion Moses as well (generally those taken up to Heaven without ever tasting of death).
In the New Testament the authors of the Gospels introduce a far more sinister idea of Hell, with Jesus using the reference point of a real world place called Gehenna, a trash heap that constantly smoldered with flame, to describe the opposite of Heaven. The wicked, the unrepentant, the unbelievers and the unkind would go to Hell while those who accepted Christ and forsook their former life to follow his example would go to Heaven. It’s important to note that Jesus’ message is more consistent about Hell than most of the rest of the New Testament, although not entirely consistent. Jesus says that those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and help and love others will be better received than those who merely talk a good game about religion but who are ultimately empty. There is an emphasis on sincerity, selflessness and true repentance/belief and a denouncing of the self-righteous religious establishment of Jesus’ day.
The image of Christianity we get from Jesus is far different, drastically separate, from what the Christian religion is doing today and I suspect that is part of the reason why people are abandoning organized religion in droves.
Getting back to the bullshit Jesus suggests that the fate of those told to depart from him on the day of judgment is that they will go into “EVERLASTING FIRE” and thus we get the basis for the doctrine of hell. The idea that the body and soul will be thrown into Hell to be burned for eternity where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. This terrifying picture of Hell, as a place of everlasting torture, where our flesh will be roasted for eternity without reprieve, over and over again for trillions and trillions and trillions of years with no goal or purpose save pure sadism.
(Although not in the Bible many Christians believed demons would torture people in Hell and incorporated this into artwork. According to the actual Bible the fallen angels are going to be too busy ALSO being horribly tortured to do any torturing to us)
There can be no more evil a thought than the idea of eternal hellfire for human beings especially when this is justified through the use of Original Sin as it is in the New Testament.
So death and sin are part of the human condition thanks to Adam, we’re all sinners irregardless of whether we so much as break a commandment of the Mosaic Law (of which there are over 600). This doctrine, in certain branches of Christianity (Calvinism for example) is called the doctrine of TOTAL DEPRAVITY. This obscenely anti-human doctrine holds that all human beings are born totally depraved, evil, wicked from the very start, including children and people who live good lives, at their core they are not good, they are evil by no fault of their own. Yet God would condemn people for being evil by no fault of their own.
Jesus talks more about Hell than anyone in the entire Bible and so when Christians bring up the love and forgiveness of Christ I bring up Hell and the quite apparent fact that according to the scriptures most human beings will be victims not of God’s divine and irrevocable mercy but of God’s wrath, poured out in a place of smoke and burning flesh where the torment shall not cease, ever, under any circumstances. At the point of damnation God refuses to ever attempt to rehabilitate or show any mercy to the person he damns. This is both monstrously (and obviously) evil and incredibly arbitrary.
The whole thing, of course, wreaks of salesmanship. An apocalyptic prophet named Jesus can threaten you not merely with punishments in the physical here and now but with supernatural punishments after you’re dead. Of course for Jesus the end of the world was right around the corner, he even told his followers that some of them would still be alive when he returned to judge the Earth. He was, by all accounts, an apocalyptic first century Jewish prophet.
By the time Jesus had his ministry there was an apocalyptic belief gaining popularity that at the end of time all men would be resurrected and judged and Christianity uses this heavily in its promotion of the perversely evil doctrine of Hell. But what is so evil about judging human beings and rewarding the good while punishing the wicked. Well on the surface this seems like a rather normal thing to do but human beings have a pretty good grasp on the concept of justice. One thing that the concept of justice tells us is that not all crimes require equal sentences.
Murder and littering do not both carry the same penalty but both are legally and, arguably, morally wrong. So why does something like lying earn an eternity in Hell as well as something like murder? Why are Hitler, child molesters and peaceful Buddhist monks all going to an eternity of horrific torture from which there is no escape. Now some Christians will say “well the punishment varies” but of course this is misleading nonsense that is not to be found in the Bible. It’s called the LAKE OF FIRE for a reason and implying that some people are only going to have their flesh melted off slowly while others will be mercifully thrust into the flames in rapid less painful bursts of agony makes it no less evil. Neither does implying that Hell is somehow mere annihilation in flame make it particularly merciful. Some Christians hold the view that while the flame does not die in Hell the people do eventually burn up and die and then they simply cease to exist. I fail to see how burning someone alive is merciful, though it is less monstrous then placing them in an indestructible body to be burned for eternity it is still one of the most evil things you can do to a person.
The problem with the idea that Jesus’ peace and love philosophy can redeem not just mankind but also the horrors of the Old Testament is that Jesus doesn’t have any sort of enlightened or rational beliefs to build off of. The Bible is filled with theology, fables, laws and tales of blood and guts but there isn’t much philosophy going on in its pages. Jesus isn’t Socrates or Hume, he’s Jesus, a Jewish “Rabbi” teaching to a smattering of followers in Roman occupied Palestine. All he can do is build off of earlier ideas and add his own spin to them, which yes involves the Golden Rule and Love Thy Neighbor but also involves fearing God for God can throw “body and soul” into Hell. Not to mention the immoral set up of vicarious redemption, that Jesus is a scapegoat which the most vile, murderers, rapists, molesters, can cling and be forgiven provided their belief and repentance are sincere but that a selfless monk of some Eastern faith is deserving of condemnation because he did not profess with his mouth or believe with his heart that Jesus was Lord.
Of course Jesus’ teachings are in doubt ALSO because we don’t know which of them, if any, belonged to the actual historical figure of Jesus. In fact we don’t know with any real certainty whether or not Jesus ever existed as a real historical person. Of course it is not a shocking thing to think that there was a cult-leader named Jesus at that time in that place.
So the problems for Christians are many. They must explain why they think Gospels written 30-100 years after the events in question are reliable sources for what Jesus said. They must explain why Jesus would promote such an immoral teaching as Hell if God is actually good. And they must explain how such evil teachings in any way shape or form make Jesus and the New Testament BETTER morally speaking than the Old Testament. Well really they don’t have to explain any of this, they can believe whatever horseshit they want and rationalize it how they see fit…
But rest assured that those of us with a functioning concept of what is right and wrong, what is just and unjust, who are willing to apply that without reservation or fear to the Bible see right through your mental gymnastics and apologetic tomfoolery.
So Fuck the Bible, and Fuck the New Testament especially, for inventing Hell and informing us that God doesn’t just want SOME sinners stoned to death in certain circumstances, he thinks ALL sinners deserve to be burned forever for eternity just for being born with Adam’s Original Sin nature. Immoral bullshit.
I will restate here that the threat of hell, for any intellectually free person, carries no more weight than the threat of any other supernatural consequence for which there is no evidence and no rational basis for believing in. It’s a boogey-man style consequence, watch what you say, watch what you think, you are in danger of blasphemy, of calling down wrath. Frightening to those who believe but much like threatening a child who no longer believes in Santa that Santa will reward unbelievers with coal. Such transparent thuggery may douse the doubts of the faithful who dare to question but have no sway over unbelievers and those who approach the material with a neutral position.