The Reason-Driven Life

Some great quotes from The Reason-Driven Life: What Am I Here on Earth For? by Robert M. Price. Great minds think alike, because he makes some of the same arguments I've made, even phrases some of it similar to the ways I have in arguing with supporters of eternal suffering. (All the italics and bold below are from the original, emphasis is not mine.)

"Those who call on scripture to provide a full range of infallible answers turn out to be in no better position than the rest of us who make no such claims, for the simple reason that life always casts up new issues and shades of moral nuance never covered in the ancient books. How does the Bible give the biblicist any advantage at all when it comes to the maddening question of surrogate motherhood? Artificial insemination? White lies? Even abortion is never explicitly mentioned there. Christian ethicists have to debate these issues pretty much the same way their secular counterparts do. The claim to have a revelation is dangerous, though, since it can so easily function as an excuse for Reverend Bigmouth to claim that you don't need to evaluate his opinions as opinions, just accept them by faith."
- page 19

"I'd love to hear Larry King suddenly snap out of it and ask [Fundamentalist Pastor Rick] Warren, '...tell us, what on earth gives you the right to condemn the human race to eternal torture--all because they don't have the cozy love affair with Jesus that you do?'

"Well, you know what he'd say. It's what they all say: 'Larry, I can't help it! I don't want all those folks to fricassee in hell. But it's not my idea. I just have to go by what the Bible says. I can't change the word of God.' ... But can't you see you are evading responsibility for your beliefs? You are like Nazi soldiers who invoked the terrible defense, 'I was only following orders!' Like it or not, you are responsible for rejecting any hateful screed that damns billions of people because they don't practice your latecomer version of Protestantism. You are responsible to take a sober look at this detestable doctrine and recognize that no such belief can be the word of God, any more than the Aztecs could have really been obeying God's orders by slicing the hearts out of their sacrificial victims from another tribe. No more than it could have been the voice of God that told Saul to butcher every last Amalekite. No more than it could have been the revealed will of God that sent Mohammed Atta flying an airliner into the World Trade Center. If there is no ethical test for alleged revelations, then it is just dumb luck keeping us out of the arms of Jim Jones and Charlie Manson."
- pages 157-158

"Point to Ponder: Any God who could torment hapless mortals for failing to believe in a savior for whom there is no proof, for not belonging to a sect of whose superiority there is no evidence, is no better than the devil.

"Question to Consider: You wouldn't be a member of a club that banned Jews from membership. Is it any better belonging to a religion that bars nonfundamentalists from eternal life?" - page 159

"Then there is the 'I can't help it' defense: 'Look, I'm not happy people are going to hell! In fact, it's because I don't want you to end up there that I'm witnessing to you!' It's as if the born-again Christian agrees with you that hell is unjust, so don't blame him. But there it is, so what are you going to do about it? This is in effect the old 'good cop, bad cop' strategy. One interrogator warns the suspect to come clean now, before he has no choice but to turn him over to his out-of-control partner.

"But why is the divine 'bad cop' such a hard case? What forces him to send anybody to hell? Is he subject, like the Greek gods, to the dictates of Fate? Hasn't he satisfied his own justice on the cross? What's the matter: didn't it work? Why does he still plan on sending people to hell? Look, if he's going to force them into some post-mortem destiny they never saw coming and, despite the dodge, didn't choose, then why the heck doesn't he subject them to an involuntary, postmortem process of sanctification? Suppose Hitler and Stalin (not to mention Gandhi and all the other folks fundamentalists have booked into hell) instead woke up in heaven, surprised to be there, but awakened from the nightmare of wickedness. Who's the loser in this scenario? What's the problem? Is God a forgiving God or not? Are his followers really forgiving either?

"... Once you realize that fundamentalism, despite all its talk of love, love, love, enshrines as its ultimate paragon of morality an entity whose 'goodness' is compatible with torturing billions of people for eternity, you begin to understand those bigots holding their picket signs that say GOD HATES FAGS. They aren't exactly hypocrites. Their inconsistency, though gross, occurs on a deeper level than that. They are holding together two diametrically opposed convictions about God: he is loving and he is the Lord of Damnation. It is an unstable, schizophrenic mix. No wonder it can tip now to one side, now to the other. Once again we see the fundamentalist God of Reverend Warren and his pals as the prototype of the abusive father, he who professes his love and demonstrates it with his fists."
- pages 165-166


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