The Moral Compass Ceded; or, Argument By Snape


A comment from my previous post:

Criticizing God for not doing anything about suffering and evil right now is like reading half a novel and criticizing the author for not resolving the plot. God will bring accountability at the right time.

Besides, he HAS done something already, His name is Jesus – no greater suffering and death has the world witnessed as that God himself had to bear on the cross for our sake. He knows what pain is…, so I trust him on this.

The book is only halfway read;
The final page turn’d in Heaven,
When Hitler’s good is finally shown
Like Severus Snape in book seven.

The commenter, Andrew, effectively summarizes the senior pastor and best-selling author’s argument in two brief paragraphs. For that, I congratulate him. It shows how much of the SP&BSA’s argument is padding.

But.

The comment, as I said in the comments there, is self-contradicting. If life’s book is only half-read so far, you don’t and can’t know that Jesus is the good guy. Halfway through Harry Potter, Snape was evil and Dumbledore was immaculate. By the end, though… By your argument, when we get to heaven, we could see Hitler sitting at the right hand of God, and Jesus a figure of shame.

Additionally, your comment cedes Christianity’s claim to an absolute moral compass. If we cannot know what God’s ultimate good and bad are until the last page, then there is no earthly way for you to be certain your compass points north.

The better analogy is not of a half-read book. It is of a glass of wine, which we have sipped and found to be vinegar, and which believers continue to drink, assuring us that the bit near the bottom will be sweet as nectar.

Comments

  1. Upright Ape says

    Accountability at the right time? I guess that means the afterlife. Genghis Khan, Joseph Stalin, Francisco Franco and Josef Mengele all escaped justice in this world. But of course there is no reason to believe in that ultimate justice unless you believeI in God in the first place. But if there is no ultimate justice that makes the existence of a just God impossible.
    In simple terms you believe in A because you believe B and you believe B because you believe A.
    Classic circular logic fallacy.

  2. Nepenthe says

    no greater suffering and death has the world witnessed as that God himself had to bear on the cross for our sake.

    I’m glad I wasn’t drinking when I read this. Jesus bore the suffering of a standard method of execution–two others were being crucified on the same hill on the same day. Was their suffering so much less?

    Also, re the death thing: I thought that Jesus only stayed dead for a few days. The thief who died next to him is, as far as I know, still dead.

  3. Alverant says

    “It is of a glass of wine, which we have sipped and found to be vinegar, and which believers continue to drink, assuring us that the bit near the bottom will be sweet as nectar.”

    This was the subject of a Jesus & Mo comic. Mo insisted you had to read all the Koran to appreciate it and not stop after reading a few bad passages. Then he says the keg needs replacing since the first sip of his beer tasted off.

  4. Alverant says

    Oh ETA, I don’t know or care if you or J&M did it first. It still applies wonderfully.

  5. mcbender says

    I am so terribly sick of this idea that Jesus’ suffering was the worst thing ever; it’s quite simply not true. Take even a glancing look at the things Christians did to people in the Inquisition, for instance, or at Mengele, or people dying slowly of disease and/or starvation… the list goes on, I need not continue. Crucifixion is by no means pleasant, of course, it’s a terrible way to die – but to elevate it the way these Christians do is to trivialise the very real suffering experienced by countless others. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find that incredibly offensive.

  6. carpenterman says

    “…like reading half a novel and criticizing the author for not resolving the plot.”

    The problem isn’t that the book’s half-read; it’s that it’s only half-written. Even if god had written the book, giving him credit for something unfinished is like giving Sarah Palin credit for being govorner of Alaska. You don’t get paid if you don’t finish the job.

  7. says

    The argument that jesus suffered so incredibly much on the cross drives me nuts. There is absolutely zero of the terror a mortal human would experience knowing that this was it, no more existence. Fuck, we all understand that it would hurt physically, which itself is mitigated by the fact that he is allowing it and could stop it if He wanted to, but that is not, by far, the worst part of dieing, not even close.

    I am sick of the awe and reverence these freaks pay to such a sick event. So many of the gospel they sing here (and made me participate in) absolutely fawns over the spilled blood and revels in this gory ‘sacrifice’ as if millions of real people haven’t suffered much worse.

    I recall another Jesus & Mo where Jesus mentions that he died, and Mo says, “for about 40 hours.”

    It’s an insult to our human experience, that’s where the degradation lies. There’s none of the terror of finality, the real constituent of permanence which is death. What a fucking insult to our sensibilities.

  8. kagekiri says

    I think the argument of “Jesus experienced ultimate suffering” is supposed to be because he was spiritually being punished for everyone’s sins throughout all time (possibly visiting hell?), or the sheer “injustice” of “perfect, sinless” God dying for mankind.

    Basically, God was in turmoil because he was punishing himself for our sins and it hurt a lot (because God really, really wanted to kill and torture us over and over again forever for deigning to exist imperfectly), or feeling like life was super unfair because he experienced suffering when he didn’t deserve it (aka what he did to Job for the sake of a bet with Satan).

    It’s kinda like a serial killer stabbing himself, then saying “this is what I was going to have to do to you, you should be grateful that I spared you”.

    Or maybe, to go with a closer analogy, it’s a toy-maker making defective toys knowingly, then punishing them for being defective and threatening to throw them away to be incinerated. After throwing some into the trashcan with little explanation of the rules or how they can stop being defective, he jumps into the trashcan and steps out, saying “I suffered for your defectiveness”. The crappy toy maker expects the toys to be grateful, even though he was the one who threatened the punishment and created the defects and was never in danger of being destroyed like the toys he threw in the trash.

    Hell, Jesus himself paints the picture similarly with the parable of the seeds and the soil. God/Jesus sows terribly, throwing seeds into places he knows will cause them to die and fail to grow. And somehow, it’s the SEED’s responsibility to get to good soil or be good soil, even though seeds are just growing where they were sown, and the sower is the one who also created the field, path, thorns, and birds that cause the stumbling. God is so amazingly irresponsible and has pretty much infinitely unfair standards in the Bible, and I hate that it took so long for me to realize what was wrong with those stories.

    The cross is just a giant guilt trip used to beat people’s self-esteem into dust and make them hate themselves and their “imperfection”, which amps up their feelings of gratitude to the murderous sky-monster.

  9. chaos-engineer says

    Criticizing God for not doing anything about suffering and evil right now is like reading half a novel and criticizing the author for not resolving the plot

    But people who complain about suffering and evil aren’t criticizing the plot; they’re criticizing the genre!

    If you’re writing an action-adventure novel, then, yes, the forces of evil are going to be winning for most of the book, and they’ll be defeated in the last couple of chapters. But who among us volunteered to be in this kind of grim science-fiction dystopia? There’s too much violence and swearing, and large sections of it are completely inappropriate for children.

    I’m on record as wanting the universe to be a wacky romantic comedy, where there are no villains, and where all the conflict is due to simple miscommunication and gets resolved over the course of a half-hour interval. (Or I suppose I could stand it if we went to 60-minute episodes, but I’ve got a low tolerance for discomfort and really there are plenty of good stories you can tell in 30 minutes.)

  10. coragyps says

    Chaos-engineer:
    I’m with you on that concept. Can we get Oscar Wilde back to do the scripts?

  11. Cuttlefish says

    Hmmph, coragyps and chaos-engineer– On this site, wacky romantic comedies are the bailiwick of Gilbert and Sullivan, not Oscar Wilde. And half an hour is a bit brief for G&S.

    But general agreement that God needs a re-write, an editor, and a quick exit.

  12. carlie says

    I think the argument of “Jesus experienced ultimate suffering” is supposed to be because he was spiritually being punished for everyone’s sins throughout all time (possibly visiting hell?), or the sheer “injustice” of “perfect, sinless” God dying for mankind.

    This is basically what I was taught. In fact, I can’t remember if it was stated explicitly, but it was heavily implied that every time you sin, you’re retroactively (in a Time-lord like fashion, I guess) causing Jesus to have suffered MORE because you’re piling on another sin to the bunch he was already suffering for.

  13. Cuttlefish says

    Ah, so it’s magic suffering. Which makes the magic being’s bad weekend worse than the combined suffering of millions, trust him on this.

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