Antichrist gonna getcha

This morning I was listening to Christian radio. (Yeah, I still do that. I’m not going to apologize for it, he said defensively.)

Thanks to my long commute, when I’m bored of the available audiobooks and podcasts, I occasionally switch to NPR or Christian talk for a few seconds to check if they say something interesting. In this case I caught a brief mention of Doubting Thomas, which was enough to hold me there for a while.

Christians love the Doubting Thomas myth, because (1) they get to claim that Jesus once provided incontrovertible evidence of his divinity, and (2) they get to chastise you for looking for any REAL evidence outside of the story. (“Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”) Thus, the whole thing is an exercise in encouraging gullibility. In this particular case, the preacher was stating that it is not only a mistake to seek evidence, but it is also dangerous.

In particular, he repeatedly used the phrase “signs and miracles” to denote stuff that you should definitely not be looking for. Why? Because the antichrist’s a-comin’, and he’s going to have all the same outward superpowers as Jesus. And he’ll fool you.

I heard him refer to the antichrist as “the devil’s Superman” and say something like, “He’ll convince you that black is white, up is down, evil is good.” Then he spun a scenario: You pray to god asking for a sign that you are in accordance with his will. Then a really awesome miracle occurs, fire across the sky or something, and you think you’re covered.

But you die, and you never pledged your soul to Jesus. Oh noes! You go to hell, screaming all the way that you thought God gave you a sign. Ho ho, the devil chortles. You fool, that was ME!

Now this story provides some interesting insight, because I am often asked “What would it take to convince you that God was real?” And I usually say that if God knows me well, a fairly impressive personalized miracle (i.e., stars spontaneously rearranging to form words, with multiple witnesses verifying that I am not crazy) or even a personal visit from someone who appears to be demonstrably omniscient would probably go most of the way toward changing my mind. And I still say that.

But here’s the problem… Satan can fool you by performing the same tricks. Which would certainly put me in an awkward position, of course, but it seems that the Christians are just as bad off. Because if Satan is such a perfect deceiver that anyone can be fooled, who’s to say that he didn’t write the Bible?

The Greatest Sin

On last Sunday’s Atheist Experience, Matt and I were talking about “end times” theology as an example of one of the negative impacts of the Bible. I have had a difficult time putting into words my feelings on the subject. I’ve been trying to capture the deliciously sadistic glee that Christians must fantasize about when they think about being swept up to Heaven prior to watching the destruction of the rest of humanity–especially of those who were not as wise as they were to believe in Jesus.

One can be sure there is no empathy in Heaven. That would involve some amount of personal discomfort that a human being would feel when observing the pain of another. Instead, the believer will be in complete bliss while watching the spectacle unfold (as well as those being tortured in Hell).

The happiness of the elect will consist in part of witnessing the torments of the damned in hell, among whom may be their own children, parents, husbands, wives and friends; … but instead of taking the part of their miserable being, they will say ‘Amen!’, ‘Hallelujah!’, ‘Praise the Lord!’.” (Rev. Nathaniel Emmons / 1745-1840)

Twentieth-century apologist C. S. Lewis likened the experience of Heaven to “transsex.” He made the analogy of an adult understanding the pleasures of heaven as like explaining the pleasures of sex to a child. The greatest pleasure the child knows is his love for chocolate, but he simply can’t imagine the pleasure of sex. By analogy, if sex is the greatest pleasure an adult knows, heaven would have something so great as to make sex seem like the passing taste of a chocolate bar. Surely, C. S. Lewis’s concept of heaven would make the would-be Muslim suicide bomber yearning for his 72 regenerating virgins seem rather quaint. (See Atheist Experience episode #413 for more.)

So imagine watching the destruction of all humanity while having a “transsex” orgy simultaneously with all the dead people who ever believed in Jesus. Even without the sex angle, the thought of this being a person’s ultimate desire takes sociopathology to the extreme.

I’ve been at a serious loss for words to describe how I feel about this. I had previously use the term “Christian snuff porn” to describe my disgust, but on Sunday’s show, I likened this rapturous desire to jacking off at a car wreck.

I expect there will be some fallout for that comment. I find it interesting that one of our producers decided to censor the comment on the version of the show that is to air here in Austin. (I do admit that I didn’t take the opportunity to explain why I made it and it may have seemed out of place.) This two second silence got me thinking though: What does it say about our society that we are so shocked by an admittedly twisted sexual analogy, but that millions of Americans yearning for complete human destruction fails to even raise an eyebrow? Why do we give tax breaks to “charities” that promote these ideas, while the atheists who point out the treason to humanity are the least trusted group in the United States? Why is everyone so concerned about Ted Haggard’s sexual proclivities, but the fact that he may have had a hand in influencing Bush to go to war in the Middle East is not newsworthy? Haggard, who was then head of the National Evangelical Association, was meeting with the White House weekly on Bible Prophecies related to the end times. Bush apparently was concerned enough about Gog and Magog to try to get then France’s Prime Minister Chirac involved. Why is this not shocking to everyone? Why aren’t we locking Bush and all of his fellow sociopaths up in padded cell? Keep them where they can’t hurt themselves or anyone else.

I suspect we’re all still too influenced by this sick little religion of Christianity, its torture device logo, glorification of suffering, and its wide path of inhuman destruction. I make no apologies for my comment, however. It’s time our silence stops.

This weekend on the show: End times theology for kids!

This Sunday afternoon, tune in to “The Atheist Experience,” where Tracie and I will be joined by a guest. Charity is an 18 year old ex-believer who will be discussing the series “Left Behind: the Kids” and other wacky end times beliefs.

Update: Since I leaned heavily on the Slacktivist blog to get us through the horrid technical errors that left us phone-less, I’d be remiss if I didn’t link him so you all could enjoy what I was reading.

- Slacktivist main page
- Posts on “Left Behind”