Since it was Christmas recently, it seems as if a lot of talk about believing in God occurred in my life.
The BIG question was this: "Well, if you don't believe in God, or that the Bible is the Word of God, what keeps you from going out and raping, and stealing, and killing? If God doesn't exist, doesn't that mean that everything is permitted? You can't have morality with that as your basis." I have heard this question more than a few times! I didn't mind hearing it once again; in part, because the person who asked me that seemed sincere about it.
In replying, I turned the tables on the person and asked them almost the same question, but in a slightly different way.
I asked this person this question: "If you don't believe (as you just said you didn't) that the Earth on which we live is all that matters, because Jesus is going to come back and take all true believers with him to a better place, and that God is going to destroy the heavens and the Earth and create a "new" heaven, and a "new" Earth, you're the one with no real basis to care at all about such things as social injustice, pollution, global warming, suppression of human rights, disease, education, literacy in third-world countries, hunger, or better forms of energy use. For you, and your world-view, none of that matters. It's all going to be swept away. Better things are on the way.
The whole Rapture thing is a cop-out. You don't have do anything, because 'Jesus is coming!' In fact, if you take your beliefs seriously, then all that stuff about caring about the poor, and global warming, and injustice, and racism, and sexism, and economic inequality are just distractions. The real business is about 'saving souls,' and nothing else. Who really cares about the body because Christians believe they are going to get NEW bodies. Heavenly bodies!
Wow! Put like that, Christians who do care about this world and it's many troubles are wasting their time and energies on bogus concerns. So, the way I see it, it's only people who DON'T believe in God, or Heaven, or an afterlife, that have the best reason of all to care about the worlds problems.
Why? Because I believe that this life IS all there is! By not believing in God, I care about the suffering of others in a way that is cheapened by religious talk about the hereafter. I don't believe in "by and by Lord, by and by," for the simple fact that we need to think about here, and now, not some imaginary future world with God and the angels. Right here, and right now IS all we have; and to spend our time on Earth waiting for "something better" is, well--- damned close to evil."
It was quite a rant, I confess. I probably shouldn't have gotten so worked up. I didn't raise my voice in anger at the person (though I was pretty excited as I spoke). I doubt that I did any thing to change their point of view, either. Still, that whole tired question of "If you don't believe in God, what keeps you moral?" pissed me off a little. Moral is what people are, for the most part. It's The Golden Rule. If you want to live in peace, then fucking with your neighbor is not going to help you get it. It's that simple, really.
Before my conversation was over, I had to ask this person one last question: "Did it really take 40 years of wandering in the desert for God to finally reveal to the Jews that it was NOT alright to murder, or steal, or lie? Really? You mean people hadn't already figured that all out before? Come on. Believing that the Bible is the only basis for morality is asking to get hit with a lot of uncomfortable questions about the patently immoral commands God gave to his people. Slavery. Women were property. Rape was okay. Taking other peoples lands and goods were fine. That sort of thing. Be careful. The Bible is no basis for morality."
That was the end of the conversation. I hope not the friendship. Time will only tell.
Have a great New Year everybody