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.: twin gods | 2008-08-11 05:14PM :.
Perhaps Christianity is a polytheistic religion. I've often thought that there seem to be two gods of which Christians speak.

The first is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who designed you and your life in every detail before you were born, down to the last hair on your head. This is the judgmental god who will decide whether to allow you into paradise, or to send you to burn and scream and cry forever in eternal agony. This is also the terrible god who, many times, ordered the slaughter of entire towns and nations, except for the women, whom He commanded to be saved for the men (does that mean raped?) instead of killed. I guess that's His idea of mercy.

The second is the kind and gentle — but slightly doddering and impotent — (grand)father figure. This god didn't create the universe, and is terribly saddened by the way things are. He loves everyone and wants nothing more than for them to be saved, and especially doesn't want anyone to go to that awful Hell place, but it's all beyond His direct control. He was even betrayed by His own angels. This is the god to whom prayers are issued, and He tries his best. He can sometimes cure a cold or arrange for somebody to find the new car they've spent months searching for, but He's never quite figured out how to regrow a missing arm or leg, or help out with a surgery.

There are two schools of thought on how these gods fit into the world.

There is the view of young-earth biblical literalism, which among modern nations is held mostly in the United States. The all-powerful god created the world and ruled it with an iron fist for thousands of years. (Curiously, in the timeline of history, He apparently created the world some time after the domestication of the banana.) Then he lost interest perhaps, and went away. Soon afterwards, the kind and gentle god stumbled upon our little universe. But some day the judgmental god will return and take a few people into paradise, throwing the rest into Hell to writhe for all eternity. That's why the kind and gentle god is trying to help us out, you see.

Then there is the view of "modern" Christians world-wide. They manage to squeeze their story into history like this: First, the all-powerful god created the universe. Then, He slept for billions of years, while life evolved. But one day, after humans had been living and dying on the Earth for 100,000 years or so, He woke up. From here, it's much like before: He ruled them with an iron fist for a few thousand years before disappearing again, to be replaced by the kind and gentle god. But He'll be back!

I separate Yahweh into two parts like this because that's what Christians always seem to do subconsciously. It's nonsense to say that God created sin, but God abhors sin, or that God created the angels in full knowledge, but somehow their rebellion threw a monkey-wrench into God's plan, or that God created and designed Adam and Eve, planning their entire lives in minute detail, and yet it was their own fault that they sinned. Or that God created Hell and will send people there for no reason at all, and yet His greatest desire is that nobody go to Hell. Christians get around these obvious contradictions by dividing God into two distinct personalities, and only thinking about one personality at a time.

Let's look at some of these.

God created the angels, but they rebelled against him. He cast out the rebels and created Hell for them. Then he took away the angels' free will so they can never rebel again.

Did God have control over whether the angels would rebel? You may say "No, because they had free will." But then you'd be making God out to be an impotent victim of circumstance — the doddering grandfather figure. Knowing everything, God surely knew the angels would rebel before He created them. And because God is all-powerful, He could have created them any way He wanted. He could have created angels without the capacity for rebellion, or angels that had free will but to whom the idea would simply never occur. But instead, God deliberately created angels that would rebel. This means the creation of Hell and demons was part of His plan. Then He cast the demons down to Earth where they'd use their powers to corrupt mankind, because, you know, God really wants everyone to get into Heaven.

God's greatest desire is that all men be saved (from Hell). He doesn't want anyone to go to Hell.

Christians say "God doesn't decide whether somebody will go to Heaven or Hell. Everyone has free will. God simply knows what they will choose." Again, God is made out to be a victim of circumstances that He doesn't like and are beyond His control. And the exact same argument from above applies. Given that God could have created the universe any way He wanted, but He chose to create a universe in which a given person will end up going to Hell, God effectively sentenced that person to Hell from the very beginning. The combination of omniscience, omnipotence, and God having created everything rules out any possibility of true free will, because God, in creating the universe, could have designed it to have any outcome He desired. The fact that a certain outcome occurs means that God chose that outcome in advance. The only way in which true free will could exist is if a person could do something that God didn't expect. But then God wouldn't be omniscient.

God abhors sin.

As though He had nothing to do with its creation! Once again, God is made out to be a victim, as though He just stumbled upon our little universe one day, and is forced to be a victim of rules beyond His control. If God created the universe, He could have created it without sin. But instead He chose to create a world absolutely full of sin. He even created Adam and Eve such that they would sin. And yet He abhors it? That's nonsense, unless you mentally bisect God, and compartmentalize the pieces. And to those who say that sin is a necessary aspect of free will, without which we would be reduced to a pathetic, slavish existence, consider heaven. Will people be sinning in heaven too? Will they be pathetic slaves, without free will? If the answer to both is "no", then that rebuts the argument that sin is necessary for free will.

Pretty much the whole of Christian ideology is an elaborate good cop, bad cop tale of two gods, and the humans who are stuck with them. Because if you combine the two gods into one, the whole edifice dissolves into nonsense.
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