Wednesday, December 29, 2010

God's Quality Control 3.22: Epilogue

Here I conclude my review of the discussion guide published by the Prestonwood Christian Academy as a companion to the Hitchens-Dembski debate on November 18, 2010. Today's honorary author will be Mr Terry Rodgers, Principal of Prestonwood's Upper School. I invite you to share this video with Mr Rodgers, on behalf of all those kids who are being deliberately misled for the sake of filling Mr Rodgers' pockets. Please join me in telling these people that their predations on children are unacceptable.

There are a couple of pages left in this section of the guide, the "Student Questions" geared toward older students, but my response to most of the material is just a repetition of what I've already said, so I'll spare you and just quickly summarize the material. There's some warped justification for Yahweh's bizarre reality, some criticisms of Oprah (as though anyone cares what Oprah says), a bit of "Oh yeah? You're not the boss of us!" some more straw-man arguments about how worship of Charles Darwin has ruined us all, and a conclusion that says, as we've heard so many times before, that asuperstitionists can never understand the holy word of Yahweh because our hearts aren't right.

There are ten pages of book advertisements at the end of the guide. It's a who's who of P.T. Barnum's intellectual offspring: Dinesh D'Souza, William Lane Craig, Ray Comfort, Ravi Zacharias, Michael Behe, Josh McDowell, Focus on The Family, Institute for Creation Research, Discovery Institute, and of course, our boy William Dembski. What a racket. There's only one remaining point made in this document that I haven't already rambled on about.

p.31 "...that some people will be sent to an eternal torment strikes many today as unjust, troubling and offensive." Well, yeah. Back in the days when I lived in constant terror of death because of what was waiting for me on the other side, I discovered a measure of sympathy in my heart for Adolf Hitler. I assumed that he'd be there in hell with me.

Come now, let us reason together. How many lives did Hitler ruin? Let's count not only those he had killed, not only those who lived in misery and then were killed, not only those who were actively tortured. Let's count the families and friends of those people as well, who endured unbearable grief knowing that their loved ones had suffered so much. What do you think? A hundred million lives horribly scarred? Is that a fair estimate?

Now, let's pretend that we're barbarians who subscribe to the hideous concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, punishment and reward. Let's give back to Hitler everything that was ever dished out in his name. Force him to re-live every last one the lives he ruined. Every day of misery in concentration camps, every gasp of asphyxiation in gas chambers, every excruciating second of torture and medical experiment, every devastating blow to a child who has lost his mother, to a mother who has lost her child. And that's just a warmup. Let's say that because we have this barbaric, even sadistic sense of justice, we decree that Hitler needs to get it back with interest. Let's force him to re-live every ruined life a hundred times over. Is that enough? Who will say that he has not received his due? After ten billion years of agony, who will say that he has not been punished enough? Who will say that ten billion years is just a tiny little sliver of what he deserves? Do you really believe your half-baked ideas of morality? Do you really think that an eternity of torture is needed, or even justified?

Now let's go back to Yahweh's actual plan of punishment by fire. There I am next to Hitler. Experiencing exactly the same punishment, for all of eternity. Why? Because I cheated on a history test when I was a kid? No. Because I spend all my spare time thinking about naked women? No. Because I lied to a friend once to save face? No. Why? Why do I have an eternity of fire to look forward to? Because when I took the most honest look I know how to take at the bible, I found that not only does it all sound like bullshit, but if it were true, it would mean that the universe is run by an absolute psychopath. And not even due to any emotional attachment to that conclusion, not even due to any lapse of judgment caused by my desire to think about naked women. I'm out here inviting criticism of my arguments. I want to know what's true. I want to do the right thing. I want to be a good person. But Yahweh doesn't care about character. All it cares about is whether I admit that it's the dictator of the universe, with the right to be a prick. Well, no. It might be in charge, but it's definitely not worthy of my respect. Or yours. In fact, it's beneath my notice; the only reason I make so much noise is that its followers are threatening to destroy us all, and I have higher hopes for us than just to disappear without ever knowing what we are. I'll be there in hell with Hitler, for eternity, because I care about truth more than I care about kissing the ass of a vile tyrant.

To Mr Rodgers, Mr Larry Taylor, and all of the Prestonwood staff who contributed to or endorsed this caricature of a debate and its sickening discussion guide, to all of you who failed to stand up for the truth, to all of you who participated either directly or indirectly in this fleecing of your flock, in this gross miscarriage of education, in this violence against the innocent minds of children, I have this to say: if there is indeed a god out there who cares about truth, it is bitterly disappointed in you.

That's 3.22, and the end of Series III. With any luck, this is by no means the end of the conversation. Let's all keep talking. I am really nervous about our prospects for surviving this century, but also really hopeful: if we can just get past our primitive fantasies, we could become something amazing. Thanks very much for watching and participating.

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