What qualities would you say make a god worthy of worship? To what extent does your god embody those qualities, and how? I will ask for examples here, and I am likely to point out contradictions if I am familiar enough with your religion to do so.
One of the things I’ve always found odd about believers (and in the US, where I live, they’re mostly Christians, so I’m going to address Christianity here) is that the primary attributes they claim for their God are “loving” and “just.” Now, when one reads the Christian Bible, it’s unclear how anyone could arrive at the conclusion that the God of Abraham is a just or loving character.
The Christian bible is simply full of stories that illustrate the character of God as an unreasonable, self-contradictory, cruel, jealous, and spiteful.
Beginning with the account of Adam and Eve in Genesis, we see that this god sets humanity up for failure and then punishes them. Later, we see God destroy the whole of creation in a fit of pique when it fails to live up to his expectations. Still further along, we find God ordering Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as some twisted test of that father’s faith. There is also the story of Job, in which God bets against the devil that Job would remain faithful in spite of any horror that could be inflicted upon him. Even the story of Jesus is bizarre, starting as it does with the forcible impregnation of a young girl–putting her at risk of being killed as an adulteress–and ending with the human blood and flesh sacrifice of Jesus as a grown man.
I could fill volumes with criticism of the vile acts that we see God commit (or order his chosen people to commit) in the Bible, and that is without even touching on the absurd system of laws, rules, and punishments we find within its pages. The God of the Bible, you see, is quite the legalist, with rules covering everything from clothes (no blended fabrics), foods (no shrimp), and how to spend one’s day off to and who gets to teach in church (not women). We can find out how to deal with menstruating women (unclean!), how to handle back-talking kids (stoning!), and how to punish un-God-sanctioned rapists (make them marry their victims!).
To top it all off, the ultimate punishment for the only unpardonable sin (i.e. rejection of God through atheism, apostasy, or just failure to accept the so-called gift of salvation) is an eternity of torment in Hell, which is variously described–often with words like “fire” and “brimstone”–as some combination of all the worst of all imaginable places and conditions.
When I first read the Bible and started actually thinking about religion as a teenager, the thing that first led me to atheism was the realization that there was nothing about the biblical god that made me think he was worthy of worship. If god is supposed to be good, I couldn’t bring myself to believe in one that so clearly wasn’t. Now having revisited the god question after so many years, I have many other reasons for being an atheist–chiefly that there is no evidence for any god whatsoever–but I think that the obvious evilness of the Christian god still works as a pretty good reason to reject him.
Now, of course, I’ve heard and read many believers who insist that we poor humans cannot understand the mind of God, that as sinners ourselves we cannot judge the actions of God, or sometimes just that even when God appears (to us) to be doing evil it must be for some “greater good.”
Nonsense, I say. If the word “good” has any meaning at all, then it must retain that meaning when applied to a supreme being. Ditto for “love” and “justice” and any other positive quality one might ascribe to a deity. If God (or any god) is supposed to be the highest and best “good” in the world, that means nothing if we are to accept that God’s “goodness” is of a kind that is necessarily incomprehensible to us. If we judge a god to be “good” it’s of the utmost importance that we critically examine exactly what it is we mean by that.
It seems to me that most believers essentially suffer from some peculiar combination of Stockholm Syndrome and battered person syndrome, as if no matter what their God does (or doesn’t do) they insist that it’s all a big misunderstanding, that they deserve it, that he’s really a good guy, and so on.
I really can’t help but be concerned that billions of people seem to be engaged in an abusive relationship.