People are horrible nowadays. In the face of nearly unsolvable problems of our own creation, it's only getting worse. Looking from one vantage point, religion, one can reasonably come to only one of two possible conclusions: There is no god; or, if there is/are, he/she/they/it is/are some combination of cruel and incompetent. Either way it's past time to hit the reset button on how people think about it. It's one thing to hide behind "belief is the opposite of reason," and I get that; but there's just too much to explain away in this world, even for believers in belief, in clinging to the idea that there's one god and he's all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful. Let alone perfect. It matters.
Take the argument recently made to me by a door-knocking J. Witness: everything was
perfect until "the fall." Okay, maybe it was. But what does that say about your god? What would you call a parent who punishes his/her child forever and ever because he/she did something you'd forbidden? Something as horrifying, say, as seeking knowledge? And what if that parent brought that punishment down on every subsequent generation, his/her grandkids, great grandkids. The kids of siblings, neighborhood kids, ones who had nothing to do with the original, let's call it, sin? There are many things you might think about that person: Mentally ill, comes to mind. Psychopathic. No one, not even a believer in god, would call that person good or worthy of honor. At minimum, they'd call CPS. Or the cops.
So "good and loving" is simply an untenable characterization; like that despicable theoretical parent, such a god is capricious, vindictive and impossibly cruel. Requires living by a set of rules designed for transgression, created knowing they're impossible to follow by the fallible beings he made that way (our faults can't be a mistake, can they?)
It well may be so. After all, there's plenty of evidence for that sort of god; and damn little for the other kind. Believers should acknowledge they're fine with it, don't mind the contradictions, are okay with the misery he brings down on others, as long as he's nice to them.
If fixing the sorry state of humanity is beyond god's abilities, or if he could but chooses not to, either he's far less than powerful or as far from loving and fair as he could be. Murder, rape, robbery, death of countless children; a political party working on ending charity while lying about their intent; genocide; slavery, trafficking in children. People, in the face of dire problems, and while destroying their gift of a planet, turning to ignorance and magical thinking to excuse inaction. Can't god see how his design is failing? He's a bright guy, right, so surely he can; in which case he's deliberately not redesigning and correcting his errors in making mankind. But oh, some say, how he grieves for us, loves us still. Yeah.
No, he's staying out of it, letting it run its course, that much is clear, and we're left to wonder why. (Let's hope so; otherwise we must conclude he's causing all the mayhem.) Among the answers can NOT be that he loves us. If he "has a plan" for us all, "knows us before we're born," sees our lives play out before we do ourselves, then it HAS to be that he gets some sort of perverse pleasure from watching us fail. Sitting by while countless innocents die painful slow deaths from diseases he cooked up; and from starvation because his perfect creation, humans, made in his image, are (capable of but) unwilling to deal with it. Costs money, after all.
He's looking forward to watching billions boil in brimstone. He's seeing the hate, the ignorance, the destructiveness, and liking it, getting off
on it. How else to understand it, if he has the power to change it? We're celestial YouPorn. A snuff film. At least it would make sense. Explain a lot.
Obviously, I'm behind choice #1. It's the only reality that makes sense based on what I see; and it gives me no pleasure, other than that which comes from accepting life as it is. I'm sure I'd enjoy living in blissful denial. Sadly, those that choose the other option are, increasingly, in charge of our country at all levels. That's why I'm writing this. They're killing us by insisting on what clearly is not. They've taken religion far beyond its "intent," for lack of a better word. Rather than a touchstone for their own lives, they insist on forcing it on others as well. To gain favor with a corrupt (or non-existent) god. Or to prevent themselves from dealing with the discomfort of knowing there are others who live differently, lest it cause cracks in their own walls. Or both.
For those who insist on, need, prefer, belief in a higher power, I say, fine. I understand. But, for all of our sakes, I wish they'd accept what's undeniable in that belief: If we're under some sort of higher power, that entity is either not a powerful one or not good one. We got the bad teacher, the bad cop, even if, far as you can tell, he's being nice to you, playing favorites as such bullies often do.
Maybe in some other universe things are different. Maybe in this one this god's parents are about to tell him his science project is failing and make him fix it; point out his terrarium is getting moldy and he needs to take it outside. But for now we're stuck with the one we got. So it's up to everyone to recognize it, and instead of waiting for some sort of paradise in the next life (teacher likes me more than you!), realize we're effectively on our own. If he's "up" there, he checked out of the deity game way long ago.
That, or tell yourself what is, to everyone else looking at it, undeniably true:
"I accept that my claims about god make no sense, but it works for me and allows me to be happy. Therefore, I'll keep my religion to myself and stop trying to validate my beliefs by forcing them on everyone else, and our schools, and our government, and our scientists. I will no longer let the different beliefs or disbeliefs of others threaten my own. What I see through my religion-colored glasses works well enough for me that it doesn't matter if others believe it or not. In fact, I hope they don't: my survival and that of future generations depends on reality-based people who'll keep looking for solutions while I ignore that which causes me fear and discordance."
Wouldn't it be nice?