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Nov 24 2009

The Jesus people’s love affair with Hitler

(My latest book God vs. Darwin: The War Between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom has just been released and is now available through the usual outlets. You can order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the publishers Rowman & Littlefield, and also through your local bookstores. For more on the book, see here. You can also listen to the podcast of the interview on WCPN 90.3 about the book.)

Continuing from yesterday’s post, in trying to convince me of the existence of the afterlife, the woman who stopped me on the street outside my office suddenly brought up Hitler. Religious people love Hitler because they think he is a winning argument for them. They argue that he was an unbeliever and he did evil things hence unbelief leads to evil. Even if the two premises are true, the conclusion does not logically follow. But even the first premise is false since Hitler was born a Catholic, never renounced it, and even spoke many times in favor of god. In a speech delivered just a year before his death, Hitler says, “I may not be a light of the church, a pulpiteer, but deep down I am a pious man, and believe that whoever fights bravely in defense of the natural laws framed by God and never capitulates will never be deserted by the Lawgiver, but will, in the end, receive the blessings of Providence.”

Some Catholic apologists like Dinesh D’Souza argue that Hitler was secretly an unbeliever who was cynically using religion just to gain support for his appalling policies. But all that shows is that believing Catholics and Lutherans were the ones who supported the Nazi program, hardly a recommendation for religion. Also, when you start appealing to secret motives, you are heading into dangerous ground. After all, using that kind of reasoning, I could argue that D’Souza is secretly an atheist who is deliberately using idiotic arguments as a subtle way of discrediting religion.

Anyway, back to my encounter with the Jesus woman, I was surprised by this development because Hitler, although he almost inevitably makes a cameo appearance in these discussions, is usually religious people’s Hail Mary, the big gun, brought out at the very end when all else has failed. This seemed a little early in the game for him to make his dramatic entry. Also, haven’t these people heard of the decision rule arising from Godwin’s Law?

So I asked, what about Hitler? She said that if there were no afterlife, then he would not get the punishment he deserved and surely that was wrong. I said that she was not making a case for the afterlife but was merely indulging in wishful thinking, hoping that there is an afterlife so that scores could be settled. But her introducing Hitler enabled me to ask her some questions.

Isn’t a god who would condemn people to eternal torment doing something that was even worse than what Hitler did? God wasn’t sending people to hell, they were going there because they had been given the gift of free will and they were choosing to reject god.

But doesn’t god have the power to not send people to hell? Yes.

Then if they end up in hell, that must be because he wants them to go to hell, right? No.

How come? It is Satan who puts them there.

So is Satan more powerful than god? No.

Then why can’t god overrule him? Because he is just. People go to hell because they have abused the gift of free will and rejected god.

But if he has given us the ‘gift’ of free will, why is he punishing us for using that gift in a way that he disapproves? Because he is just.

Doesn’t seem like much of a ‘gift’, does it? What’s the point in giving people free will and then threatening them with eternal damnation if they use that will to make decisions he doesn’t like? Doesn’t that destroy the purpose of giving free will? If we choose to do wrong, it is our own fault if we go to hell.

I decided to move on.

I asked the Jesus woman whether she believed that Noah’s flood occurred. Yes.

In that flood, god deliberately murdered all but the eight people in Noah’s family, including tiny infants. Wasn’t that worse than anything Hitler had done? Didn’t that make god the worst genocidal maniac in history? No.

Why not? Because all those people died because of their sins.

What about the infants? Doesn’t it bother you that god murdered vast numbers of tiny newborn infants by drowning them? What had they done to deserve that awful fate?

At this point, she started making stuff up, the way that religious people do when they have no answer. They think they can get away with this because they assume that the person they are talking to does not know the Bible. The doctrine of original sin that says that even newborn babies are also sinners has always been a tough sell, even for the most ardent believers, and she did not even try to pull that one on me. She instead said that god had immediately gathered up in his arms all the babies who had died in the flood. It is a nice cozy image but irrelevant. A murderer who cuddles his victim immediately afterward is still a murderer, and even creepy to boot. It is also totally fictitious. I told her that the Bible said no such thing. As far as the Bible was concerned, in drowning babies god was carrying out his plan exactly as envisaged and I challenged her to show me where in the Bible it said that god had scooped up the drowned babies.

She was stumped and asked me to wait and went off to get reinforcements from the rest of her group and came back with a middle-aged guy and a younger man. But not only could they not back up her assertion of god’s act by providing me with biblical verses (which I knew they couldn’t) they had no better responses to the questions.

Is murdering a baby an evil act? Yes.

Is drowning huge numbers of babies evil? Yes.

Wouldn’t a huge number of babies have drowned in the flood? Yes.

So why were they worshipping an evil, infant-murdering god? No, because if god does something, it cannot be evil.

This answer was so laughable that I let it go and decided to move on to another topic, which I will describe tomorrow.

POST SCRIPT: Some Grey Bloke tries to understand god’s love and hell

8 comments

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  1. 1
    Ray Foulkes

    Hi Mano, I just love this post! and thanks for adopting ‘some grey bloke”!

    As a biologist (well at least by qualification if not by profession) I love the logic (or lack of it) of the resurrection and the afterlife. The need for a sewage system in heaven is a real killer. Sewage systems and the whole functioning of our body depends on gravity too don’t forget. If our bodies and what goes in and out of them in heaven is made of atoms, without gravity we are in real trouble, just as astronauts who spend a long time in space, their bones and muscles waste away and they have real difficulty drinking water which forms into globules. The growth of fruit also depends of gravity too, plants need to know which way up they are and this is done with plant hormones (auxins) which respond to gravity. So where does the gravity come from in heaven? is heaven on another planet?

    the ‘raputre’ as the Christian lady called it involves our bodies coming up out of the grave, what sort of condition are they going to be in? or does god simply gather up all the molecules and re-assemble them? If he does, at what point in our life does he choose, I mean the atoms in our bodies change all the time so will we be resurrected in our prime or in the state in which we died? and what about those deformed people or infants that died, will they have bodies resurrected to resemble their deformity or their infantile state? or will they be given lovely 20 something bodies?

    Then what about the fact that atoms in my body now have probably been in some more ancient person’s body in the past? who gets the conflicting atoms or does god sim ply make new ones?

    And do our bodies continue to shed skin cells and body hair in heaven? and who clears it up? and who does the washing up? and what will happen if we continue to sin in heaven, I mean what we committed adultery or injured someone – which sounds quite possible if we have a flesh and blood body.

    And if there is fruit, are there insects to pollinate the flowers? and fungi bacteria do create the compost that the plants need to grow? If so will the insects still annoy us or even sting us?

    And how will we be happy there if some of our loved ones are being tortured in hell, without knowledge as we eat fruit and chill out for eternity. What will heaven be like if my son goes there but my daughter goes to hell?

    Lastly, when Jesus ascended to Heaven on easter Sunday, the bible says that he rose up on a cloud or something, so well…

    It gets pretty cold up there, then oxygen gets thin and we eventually end up in space with no atmosphere and a whole lot of lethal radiation and zero pressure. how can anyone accept this as a true story? If they switch it to saying it was only a spiritual body not a real one, that just destroys the whole story where Jesus body went missing and he ate fish. It just beggars belief that any person (rational or not) can accept such things.

  2. 2
    Ray Foulkes

    Hi Mano, thought followers of your blog would enjoy this story, it just highlights the ridiculousness of irrational belief.

    A married couple are out enjoying a round of golf.

    The husband hits a real slicing shot and the ball sails away over the trees and a shattering of glass is heard in the distance.

    They follow the trajectory of the ball and see a house with a broken upstairs window, the door is ajar but no one comes when they knock on the door.

    Cautiously they proceed inside and hear a voice inviting them upstairs. They find an old man with a white beard dressed in robes sitting on the edge of the bed staring down as a broken lamp with a golf ball amid the pieces.

    So, so sorry claim the couple, genuinely remorseful at the damage that they have caused.

    “No no!” says the old man. “I am a genie, and I have been trapped in that lamp for thousands of years” you have set me free! and now I can grant three wishes!,

    The wife goes first…

    “Well I would like a beautiful house with a lovely garden..”

    “Granted!” says the genie.

    The husband goes next..

    ” I would like to have enough money so I never have to work again”he says,

    “Granted!” says the genie.

    They look at each other, not knowing what to do with the third wish.

    The genie solves their dilemma “I can only give three wishes, he says, you both now have everything you have dreamed of, I have been imprisoned in that lamp for 3,000 years, may I have the last wish for myself?”

    “Of course” say the couple, knowing that they already have everything that they ever wanted.

    “Well, says the genie, my wish is to make love to you wife, every which way, you can’t imagine how frustrating it can be, being incarcerated for so long”

    A flicker of doubt passes over the faces of the couple and they look at each other “Well we have everything that we want for the rest of our lives and he did give it to us”, says the wife and “well I guess it will be only the once” says the husband, already counting his riches in his minds eye.

    So the genie takes the wife, every way that you could imagine… after an hour or more of lustful love making, the genie lies exhausted on the bed.

    “How old are you two?”, he asks in a weak voice.

    “Well my wife is 32 and I am 36″ say’s the man.

    “Amazing!” exclaims the genie “Absolutely amazing!”

    “How come?” says the man, “what’s so amazing about that?”

    “In your thirties and you still believe in genies!, that’s amazing!” says the old man and rolls back on the bed laughing uncontrollably

    Be careful what you believe in!

  3. 3
    Beth

    Hi Mano – this is the Jesus woman that you spoke to on Wednesday. Someone just told me that you were blogging about me.

    I am fascinated that you left out all of the things that I spoke of that you could NOT refute in our conversation. Why is that? Well, I guess if this is your blog you can do what you want, BUT have some integrity. I know that it is tough when your heart is “desperately wicked,” but a little attempt would be nice.

  4. 4
    Coin Circle

    Certainly an interesting article and of which you raised many more questions for us all, but again it’s the aged old question, what exists after death….maybe one day we will find out :)

  5. 5
    Mano

    Beth,

    Thanks for the message.

    I am recording what I recalled of our conversation. I am perfectly willing to give you space to put forward your views and say what it was that I could not respond to. So please feel free to express your views fully and I will respond.

  6. 6
    Jared

    A friend of mine works in retail and gets into discussions similar to the one described in the last few posts with costumers surprisingly frequently. This one always cracks me up:

    I also like that one because I think he did a good job of knowing when to let it go in polite conversation.

    Just thought I would throw that out there in case of any of the others readers are interested.

    Jared

  7. 7
    Mano

    Jared,

    That was funny. These conversations provide textbook examples of non sequiturs.

  8. 8
    Registry Cleaner REviews

    Thanks for this post – I am really intruiged by Hitler and his life. It’s amazing how he grew from relatively humble beginnings to become such an impact on the entire World.

    He is great but in many different ways, including evil ones.

    Personally, I think he has been used as a scapegoat because he lost and he is gone. Little do people know that Stalin was responsible for a lot more deaths than Hitler was. Just saying

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