There are a lot of reasons why I’m an atheist. The idea of worshipping a god who seems to have all the evils and psychological problems of a North Korean dictator, who would send me to an eternity of torture for thinking the wrong thing, who demands total, eternal devotion and praise from his supporters, and would then show those he had saved images of me being tortured for their delight (it’s Catholic doctrine, fact fans!) … well, what a bastard. Fuck that God. Every Earthly equivalent of ‘Heaven’ only exists in dictatorships. God’s Palace sounds just like Saddam’s – all gleaming marble and gold taps. Day to day life in Heaven sounds like a perpetual Soviet Victory Parade. None of the things I value in life seem to exist in Heaven. I like to elect my leaders, I like freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
But that doesn’t mean that god doesn’t exist.
For me, as I judge the competing truth claims of religion and atheism, the most compelling reason for me to be an atheist is that religion is consciously untrue. That, in other words, priests and believers lie.
We see it reported all the time on this blog. The first time some creationist says something crazy about junk DNA or how evolution is just a theory … well, it’s common or garden ignorance. Not their fault, we all have to learn things some time.
The second time they say it, it’s a lie. The third time, it’s a policy to lie.
The Catholic Church, to pick just one example, routinely lies. Did you know there are holes in condoms that let AIDS out? Did you know Hitler was an atheist and that the Catholic Church fought Hitler with all its might? Read the Cloyne Report and see that Bishop Magee prepared two reports about child abuse – one for the police, another for the Vatican. Oh, but the Vatican can’t be expected to know what some local priest is up to … he was the man that found Pope John Paul I’s body. He was private secretary to that Pope and to John Paul II.
Conscious, repeated lies. Not mistakes.
Another aspect of the same phenomenon is the double standard. Priests declare moral relavitism is a scourge of society, that there’s good and there is evil and nothing inbetween, that they can show you the difference and that if you even *think* bad thoughts, you’re guilty of them. Then they cover up another priest raping an eight year old, deliberately withholding evidence from the police. When they are caught, they play the ‘well … everyone’s human. It’s all trumped up by the media. Did you know that this stuff happens all the time’ card. Pick one. To me ‘is raping a child bad?’ is not a moral conundrum, it’s not a time to pick at definitions. If my best friend raped a child, I would phone the police, I would tell them everything I knew, and I would have no moral qualms about it. I don’t believe in moral absolutes. I do know that raping a child is wrong. If some smarmy theologian wants to pick as that as ‘intellectually inconsistent’, please, please let’s discuss that in comments. I double dare you.
It goes further than the Catholic child abuse scandal. Beyond the almost identical Mormon abuse scandals, or the Scientology abuse scandals, or … well, the list goes on.
If an atheist accidently credits the wrong loony idea to the wrong branch of one Christian sect, they’ll get a long, patronizing speech about how we’re woefully ignorant of theology, that the Holy Church of the Ratfucker Jesus might believe that, but the person you’re talking to is from the Sacred Chapel of Christ Ratfucker.
Then they’ll take the credit for all religion ever. ‘What has my religion done?’ a Protestant will say, ‘why … just look at the Sistine Chapel’. ‘How dare you insult the 90% of people on this planet who believe in God?’. Let’s accept that 90% of people in the world are religious for sake of argument. The majority of those people aren’t even monotheists, let alone Christians, let alone Protestants, let alone Sacred Christ Ratfuckers.
Meanwhile … talk to someone who’s been trained at a seminary. Training to be a priest is, from the accounts I’ve been told, very simply being taught how to lie. The comforting lie, the ‘things to say to the people who’ve read the Bible and spotted that it doesn’t say the things you say it does’, the lies necessary to keep the institution from external scrutiny. Priests understand that what they teach isn’t what they believe – they have ‘a more nuanced’ understanding. That there are a lot of things they have to keep vague, very simple questions they must not allow to be asked (‘who does the Bible says is going to Heaven?’, to pick one). Always, always, it’s ‘avoid a straight answer’.
Jesus said some wise things. One of them was “A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit”. Truth does not come from lies. Creationists lie. The Vatican lies. Anglican theologians explain that the bits in the Bible that are true are true, the rest are metaphors. They don’t even *understand* truth, in other words.
So, a simple question to believers: if they’re telling the truth, why do your holy men lie to you so frequently and so consistently?