The foundation for organized religion is faith, but does “God” really value that virtue? Why would a “God” need people to have faith in him? And why is it more important for people to have faith now than those who lived in the time of Jesus and Moses, who were afforded miracles as evidence?
So what is the intrinsic benefit of faith? I can think of no benefit that a “God” would receive from belief in his/her existence. “God” certainly does not derive his power or prestige from that belief. We are talking about an all powerful “God” who created the world in 7 days and has no equal. Is it possible that having people believe in a “God” based on no verifiable evidence would make him feel better about himself? I don’t think anyone would believe that “God” could be that vain. That is if a “God” would really need people to worship him at all. Who would want to be in a heaven with a “God” who is so petty that he needs one day a week to be worshipped? If a successful person were to tell the people that he was better than to worship him, the rest of the world would frown upon him and probably call him an egotistical wretch.
It is also hard to believe that a “God” would be offended by a human taking his name in vain. These characteristics do not sound very “Godly” to me. Humility is a biblically taught trait that is almost universally admired; it would be sad if the greatest being who ever lived lacked such a simple characteristic. If any of these biblical misconceptions were the case though, “God” would surely give human beings undeniable proof oh his existence to ensure the maximum amount of adulation.
Perhaps “God’s” benevolent plan was to make our lives more fulfilling by allowing us the opportunity to have faith in something. So we must then ask ourselves: would our lives be more fulfilling with faith, or with hard evidence of his existence? The beneficial aspect of faith in a “God” is two fold: first, people feel more secure with an omnipotent figure watching out for them, and second, people are comforted with the thought of a higher plane of existence after they die. The only difference between a “God” that provides his followers with certainty of his existence and a “God” who left it to uncertainty is that the “God” who gave his people certainty would have given his people a much more fulfilling life because they could be confident in those two beliefs, whereas the person who is solely reliant on faith must question the validity of those two beliefs, thereby making him less secure and therefore less fulfilled. So we can be rest assured that “God” does not rely on faith to give humans a fulfilling life because there is a better alternative that he could easily provide.
In reality though, a true “God” would frown upon people who rely solely on faith because it is an assault on reason, which is a virtue that “God” gave only to man. Besides disposable thumbs, reason is one of the few things that “God” endowed humans with which distinguishes us from other animals. If the bible is in fact false, which scientific and historical evidence would lead us to believe, I would have to think that a “God,” would be offended by people so readily abandoning the gift of reason in order to create fairy tales which make us feel better about the world, but eventually lead to misery and divisiveness.
Timing and Preferential Treatment
The investigation of illogical religious beliefs bring us to another question: Why did “God” pick the time that he did to make his presence felt? There were civilized societies well before Jesus and Moses showed up. Why weren’t those people granted the opportunity of faith and worship? Are we to believe that after thousands of years of human existence “God” suddenly needed to be worshipped? Or was it because “God” believed that people were not behaving properly? If that were the case then we would expect an all powerful “God” to make a change that would have dramatically improved human behavior. Instead, as historians can show, people did not change their behavior whatsoever. If anything, human behavior digressed when organized religion gave people a whole new ideal to fight over and persecute people for. Shouldn’t an all knowing “God” have been able to foresee that outcome, or at least rectify it once it began to happen?
If the people who lived prior to Jesus and Moses’s arrival knew of no divine law, were they held accountable for their sins? If so, it would seem fairly inequitable to hold someone accountable for something they had no knowledge of. And if not, it would be inequitable to allow them to sin and then ascend to heaven when the rest of us are held to certain standards. I also find it hard to believe that “God” allowed them to worship false “God’s” for thousands of years before stepping in, when the Bible makes it painfully obvious that it bothers him. He supposedly said, “You shall have no other Gods before me.” But how can he expect people to know which “God” to worship before he shows up? And if he really cares whether people are worshipping him as opposed to false gods then why not send messengers all over the world instead of only to Jerusalem and Egypt? Keep in mind that there were North American Indians and Asians who had no contact with the people in those Egypt or Palestine for centuries after the arrival of Jesus.
Did Jesus want his word to be heard by all humans, or just those in that spot at that time? If Jesus wanted everyone to believe, then why not author a Bible in multiple languages and distribute it to all people? Or for that matter, why not just snap his fingers and create a book of his father’s word? Why was it necessary for him to speak only to a few followers, and then let people mistranslate it, change, and manipulate it for hundreds of years until it was hand-written? And surely this all powerful “God” could see the future, so I suppose he wanted there to be several different versions of his word which people could not possibly have any clue as to the validity of any particular one. And I also suppose “God” is quite pleased with people fighting over him. I suppose it does fit the pattern; anyone that would value being worshipped would also value the attention of being fought over.
Evidence, Faith, and Preferential Treatment
Did Moses and Jesus need to perform miracles to secure the respect and faith from their followers? Couldn’t Jesus have just shown up and relied on his follower’s faith to know he was the one true son of “God”? Why do people today have to rely on faith, when “God” accepted the fact that many others needed evidence to convince them? Are people held to a higher standard today than people who are considered saints by the Catholic Church? And why did “God” give some people direct evidence and not others? Why didn’t he show up in every city/country so everyone would have the equal opportunity to behold this evidence? Why doesn’t “God” show up every few generations so people don’t have to rely on an obviously fictitious work?
If having faith and adhering to religious laws gets one into heaven, and ignoring those laws earns a person eternal damnation, then it’s a huge advantage to have direct evidence of a “God.” It’s far easier to follow a divine code if you know for a fact it is a true code. Given that some were given this huge advantage while most were not, we must believe that “God” loves some of us more than others based on the time and place of our birth. For instance, why did “God” use his power during two particular generations and then withhold it forevermore? It doesn’t make sense for a “God” to give special powers to Moses to free the Jewish people from Egyptian “bondage,” (Some historians claim that the Jews living in Egypt were subject to the same pyramid duty as every other Egyptian, rather than slavery like the Bible proclaims) but then not help them during the Roman occupation, in which they fought many bloody wars for independence, or when the Nazis were massacring them by the millions? Why step up during a minor period of suffering, when so many greater catastrophes have befallen the Jews, and many others?