A Moral Conundrum – What if God exist?
By: Anthony Conwright
On occasion, during conversations about religion, I am asked about the origins of my morality and disbelief. During one conversation, I was asked, “What if you are wrong and God does exist?” The first time I was asked the question, I answered with a question of my own: “Well, what if you’re wrong?” It was ill form to answer a challenging question with a question. Because of my inarticulateness in my first attempt to answer, I intend to answer the question, “What if God does exist?”
My twelve-year journey of becoming an antitheist is rooted in belief. Before I was an antitheist, I was a Baptist Christian. Every Sunday, on the way to church, I read my bible in an attempt to be one step ahead of the congregation. I wanted to know as much about the Bible as the Pastor, or at the very least, I wanted to be able to predict where the sermon was going. My eagerness to learn as much as I could about the Bible earned myself the nickname, “Bishop.” As I grew in Christ, I came across a problem. The more questions I had about the Bible, the more I realized in order to interpret the Bible I had to pretend to know what God was thinking. Without trying to, in some way, read the mind and intentions of the Creator, how could I answer a question like, “Why would God allow slavery and suffering?”
As my faith dissipated, I identified as agnostic. I had to ask myself, “Do I really believe in Adam and Eve?” and “Do I really believe that the dead will rise?” After deeply thinking about these questions, I found it very hard to say “Yes.” For me, it was more probable that there is not a god but it would be great if there were one. Perhaps, you could say I was a deist or at the very least “spiritual.” God, to me, was not the God of Abraham, but a loving creator. I conjured, without evidence, a God that was positive energy that connected all of humanity. As I look back, I can see how cowardly I was being. I wanted there to be a God, so I could go to heaven in case he exist. Soon, scientific evidence would be the tipping point to lead me to identify as an atheist. Somberly, I left the covenant that I built with God in the past.
My first steps as antitheist, someone that does not want there to be god, stems from reading God’s actions. As described in scripture, God is jealous (Exodus 20:5) and will commit massive genocide against his creations due to corruption and thought crimes (Genesis 6: 5-8). Along with the indecisiveness of an “all knowing being,” There are issues with the morality of such a being. How moral is it to mandate a moral code that requires death for adulterers, improper sexual relations and mediums (Leviticus 20: 10-17)? God also calls for the murder of women, children and infants as punishment for the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:2-4). Let’s imagine a country ruled by the morality as determined by God. What would we say of a totalitarian, volatile, genocidal, murderer of women and children? How many people would want to follow such a dictator? How about as a Father? What would we say of a man that watches his children during suffering, sex, and masturbation?
After discussing the nightmare of the Old Testament with Christians in a park, I was accused of “cherry picking” the bad things in the Old Testament, which made feel obliged to discuss the oppression of humanity in the New Testament.
God does have a change of heart in the New Testament. Instead of asking a person to sacrifice his own child to seal a new covenant with humanity, he decides to sacrifice his own son. In a grand scheme to save man, God has his own son beaten, tortured, crucified and stabbed. Before the brutal torture and murder of Jesus, he preached love. Jesus also tells us in Matthew 10: 32-33 that if we deny him before men, he will deny us before his father in heaven. While I do not mind Jesus denying me in front of his father, I do have an issue with the requirement that I love him more than my own mother and father (Matthew 10: 35-39).
In terms of women, if God exist, he makes sure they know their place: “Women should remain silent in churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” (1 Corinthians 14: 34-36). The same anti women’s rights are echoed in 1 Timothy 2: 11-15: “11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” This answers the question of why I never saw on female preacher in any of the churches that I attended as a child.
As a way to establish God’s goodness, in a debate with Christopher Hitchens, William Dembski said, “God is the source of all being and purpose. Given God’s existence, what sense does it make to deny God’s goodness? None. Indeed, denying God’s goodness is logically and rationally incoherent. It’s absurd. To see this, consider what it would mean to assert that God is not good. Presumably, this would mean God violated some moral standard… To say that God is not good must therefore mean that God has violated an objective moral standard, but sense God is the source of all being and purpose any such objective moral standard cannot reside outside God. Such a standard must therefore derive from God himself. But in that case, how can God violate it? God himself is the standard then.” If God is the moral standard, it is standard that, morally, I cannot follow.