In early March 1991 a major church college invited the President to address a large class of students in the 12-16 age group on the above subject. The time allotted was a mere 20 minutes of which half was given to questions and answers. This was hardly sufficient to present an alternate viewpoint and redress a lifetime of indoctrination but one can only try. The following is an expanded version of the material placed before the students.
1. Our primary reason for rejecting Christianity is that it is dependent on belief in a universe of supernatural spirits – the infinite Creator spirit, the thousands of millions of human spirits called ‘souls’, good messenger spirits called ‘angels’, bad spirits called ‘demons’ and ‘devils’ and little spirits called ‘cherubims’ and ‘seraphims’.
None of them can be defined because the moment a definition is suggested it is obvious that such an entity does not exist. Atheists do not believe in the existence of a supernatural universe of gods, fairies, bunyips, ghosts, spirits, leprechauns, etc. Christians reject 10,000 gods – atheists reject 10,001. As the extra one is the old Canaanite god Ya, Christians ought to reject that one also.
We are all born without belief in the existence of the god Yahweh so we are all born atheists but I assume that some of you would call yourselves Christian. What made you change? Were you given all the relevant information and arguments for and against belief in Christianity? I venture to suggest that it did not happen that way and even that this may be the first time you have been presented with the contrary viewpoint. If you had been born into a Jewish family, a Hindu family or a Moslem family you would now believe in the Jewish religion, the Hindu religion or the Moslem religion. In fact, you would have been indoctrinated since infancy as, in most cases, your parents and ancestors have been for many generations.
In some churches infants are even bonded to a particular denomination and some male babies are mutilated in response to religious belief. If your parents happened to be non-believers you would have been subjected to constant social, media and church pressure to become a Christian.
2. It is this constant coercion in the absence of counter-balancing information which is the second reason for rejecting Christianity. It is not a spasmodic or intermittent effort but the deliberate response to the New Testament injunction to “go out and compel men to come in”.
Christianity depends on brainwashing and compulsion. It is even worse for the British royal family who by law must be members of the Church of England.
3. Atheists reject Christianity because the foundation on which it is based is false and it is dishonest to promote it as true.
In the words of Joachim Kahl (“The Misery of Christianity’) “falsification has always played an historical part in Christianity” and “the New Testament is a hotch-potch of irreconcilable opposites”.
Even theologian Rudolph Bultmann admitted that “definite proof can never be provided for a single saying of Jesus”.
Christianity is based entirely on the Bible and on the New Testament in particular, but the Bible is a man-made book exhibiting all the errors, contradictions, falsehoods and absurdities one would expect to find in the writings of ignorant, unsophisticated people. It contains many myths and folk-tales, snippets of wisdom, a little history and some excellent poetry but it is not the infallible utterance of any supernatural being. Powerful people who believed it to be so have committed some terrible crimes.
It is wrong about the beginning and age of the universe.
It is absurd about the origin of humans.
It is immoral in the conception story.
It is contradictory in the genealogy of Jesus.
Incidentally there is no possibility that a person called Jesus Christ ever lived and there was no one called ‘God’ in the Bible.
An Aramaean peasant family would never choose the Greek name ‘Jesus’ for their child particularly as many of the unpopular rulers and authorities were from Greece.
‘Joshua’ was a very common Jewish name much in favour at that time. As the early church appears to be very much dominated by the Greek community the N.T. gospels and letters were written in Greek and ‘Jesus’ is the equivalent of Joshua.
The word ‘Christ’ is used by most Christians today as though it were a surname. In its original form it means chosen’ or ‘anointed’ for a specific office or function. The word ‘Messiah’ was the Jewish equivalent and in the 1st century the Romans executed hundreds of ‘Messiahs’ who saw it as their task to throw off the yoke of foreign rule. Many would have borne the name Joshua.
The word ‘god’ is of Norse origin and the Bible equivalent appears as ‘elim’. ‘El’ was the chief god of the Canaanites and was adopted by the Israelites along with ‘Ya’. They appear as ‘Elohim’ and ‘Yahweh’ in the Jewish scriptures and convey the meaning of ‘strong ruler’.
The word ‘Jehovah’ commonly used in the King James version of the Bible is a 12th century AD construction derived from ‘adonai’ which was the word used by the Jews when reading their scriptures. The New Jerusalem Bible has reverted to using the word ‘Yahweh’.
As the word ‘god’ is generic the Hebrew/Christian god should be identified as ‘the god Yahweh’ and never as ‘God’.
4. Atheists reject Christianity because the proposed deity and the situations given are immoral. The immorality of the deity is exposed in the stories of:
(a) Adam and Eve where those without the knowledge necessary for making a vital decision are deliberately placed in that situation. Not only were they punished but so were all future generations forever.
(b) The Flood where only a handful of people are saved while countless thousands, no less worthy, are drowned together with millions of animals, birds, insects etc. and all plant life, except the olive.
(c) The near murder of Isaac by his father Abraham.
(d) The plagues of Egypt which are visited not on the pharaoh but upon all the Egyptians who are innocent and powerless.
(e) The slaughter of women and infants by Joshua under specific instruction from Yahweh.
(f) The twin brothers Jacob and Esau and the profiting from deceit. The examples could go on and on.
Christians see them as factual. Fortunately atheists see them as myths and folklore.
Vengeance is immoral irrespective of the person responsible.
Morality requires justice but never vengeance.
The idea of everlasting punishment is disgustingly immoral and is rejected by atheists but the Jesus of the gospels believed in it and used it as a threat to secure acceptance of his teachings.
5. Atheists reject Christianity because its basic doctrines are immoral. The cross is the sadistic glorification of pain.
The Atonement is a disgusting extension of the bloody scapegoat idea where the blame and punishment for wrongdoing is not placed with the guilty party but borne by an innocent substitute. It is a bloodthirsty practice common to many primitive tribal cultures.
Everyone must recognise that they are responsible for their own actions and the blame and punishment cannot be transferred to someone else. To do so is criminal.
An innocent person may sometimes be punished instead of the guilty or may choose to take the place of the guilty but can never be guilty. Guilt cannot be transferred or expunged by confession. It can be negated by restitution and reparation.
The Christian concept of ‘sin’ does grave psychological damage.
The Bible condones and approves of slavery and the Christian Church practised slavery for 1500 years.
The gospel Jesus threatens people with hell-fire if they reject his sayings. In other words a person is not permitted to decide on the evidence. This is the stamp of the dictator. ‘Fear’ is a basic tool of Christianity.
The Christian is required to forfeit reason, self-regard, dignity and individual decision-making in favour of the perceived dictates of an immaterial, undefined, super natural being. These dictates are interpreted and enforced by the ruling religious clique. Religion is essentially a system of people control, of ruler and ruled of dictator and slave.
The myth of the incarnation is immoral as are many of the parables and stories about Jesus. The commandment to love is basically wrong. Love cannot be the result of a command.
The idea of personal salvation is intrinsically selfish and Paul admits that the reason for loving is for personal gain. I Cor. 13:3.
The basic political philosophy of Christianity is that of ‘ruler and subjects’. There is no hint of democracy and the most powerful arm of Christianity has always acted and still acts as a dictatorship.
Under Christianity the question of birth control is a matter of controlling the personal decisions of the woman.
Under Christianity women have always been regarded as second-rate and the Church today is being dragged screaming to wards granting equal rights.
Under Christianity homosexuals are considered punishable by death.
6. Atheists reject Christianity because it degrades the intellectual capacity of human beings.
‘Faith’ is given higher status than ‘Reason’ even though ‘faith’ is defined as firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Decisions ought to be made on the available evidence.
All the progress of civilisation has been the result of the exercise of reason – from the invention of the wheel to the latest computer our understanding of the laws of nature in all its aspects is the result of human reason.
Christians believe in the actual suspension and reversal of natural law. Reason acknowledges four basic forces. Christianity declares that it has access to forces unknown to science.
Creationism denies children access to many professions. Astronomy, biology, geology, palaeontology and many more witness to the falsity of Creationism, so entry to these professions is denied to the believers in fundamental Christianity. Convictions cannot replace logical argument.
The Darkest Age for Europe coincided with the greatest supremacy of the Christian Church. Basic education for the people was never seen as a worthy goal.
The world does not need dogma but an attitude of scientific enquiry. As Albert Ellis states “Religiosity is a form of mental sickness”. We expect people to act reasonably on all matters except religion. Bertrand Russell declared that there is something a little bit contemptible about a person who cannot face the perils of life without the help of a comfortable myth.
7. Atheists reject Christianity because of its historical record including the Crusades, Inquisition, heresy – death, New World butchery, European massacres, Witch hunts, Slavery, Apartheid, Hitler, Mussolini, Condemnation and Persecution of Jews.
The last witch was drowned in 1836 in accordance with the Biblical command and the last castrati was in 1920 ending the New Testament injunction that women must keep silent in church, for women may now sing the soprano parts.
It is somewhat incongruous that a religion declared to be started by one who advocated extreme poverty and warned against wealth should now be one of the wealthiest institutions in the world.
Cardinal Spellman defended the war in Vietnam as a war for the Christian faith.
Anyone wanting to learn about Christianity should read the Sermon on the Mount and the history of the death sentence.
8. ATHEISTS REJECT ALL GOD-BASED RELIGIONS because they are all divisive and our global village has to be united. We cannot speak out against the stupidity and immorality of other religions while we endorse the stupidity and immorality of Christianity. We cannot expect to solve world problems while reason plays second fiddle to religion and we cannot achieve an acceptable standard of social behaviour while our ethics are determined by religion.
By Keith S Cornish