All too often, when religious proselytizers prance about, hawk-like, waiting for any unsuspecting heathens to fall into their elaborate traps, in the hope of spreading their "good news" to the heathens, infidels and other non-religious affiliates, the subject of "Sin" inevitably crops up. Sin, in religious parlance, refers to acts of malice or ill-intention that are not in compliance with religious tenets: There is a "crime" or "sin" that is committed, which is duly dealt with and punished, at least through divine intervention. Be it Buddhism, Christianity, or other more or less "morality-based" faiths, the subject of crime and punishment seems reasonable.
After all, the Court of Law in every civilized country specifies and dispenses relevant punishments for all manner of crime: Incarceration, caning (in barbaric, pseudo-democratic nations such as Singapore), or the death sentence (again, Singapore, & I must say, some US states, still executes it's inmates), are meted out to offenders who fail to toe the line. From minor crimes, such as petty theft, to significantly more harmful ones, such as murder, every punishment that is meted out is inevitably designed to fit the crime. After all, one would not expect a judge to ascribe a death penalty to a burglar, or a week's jail for a serial killer. The punishment, if anything else, must fit the crime.
It is only rational that our sense of justice is aligned with our "ethical" compass: Our sense of right and wrong is often weighed in from a social point of view, and not delegated or bestowed upon us through a rigid code of conduct which we must all allude and seek advice when meting out punishment.
While secular law has a fairly accurate system of meting out punishment on a "pound-for-pound" basis, that cannot be said of Religion, which, if anything else, perverts and distorts the meaning of justice wholesale.
In determining what is and what isn't punishable, I would like to set up a few parameters that are central to my arguments in this post:
1. Since I am fairly well-versed with Christianity (No, folks, I am not a theologian), I shall use Christianity as my primary focus for this topic.
2. "Punishment" in this case refers to the mythological definition of hell: A cauldron of burning inferno for recalcitrant souls. I shall not deal with the punishments afflicted by the Inquisitors and other religious mad men in this post.
Proving The Existence of God
As an institution based on hearsays, superstition, fabrication and sheer subterfuge, religion has to maintain a facade of dignity and authenticity, and this can be especially tricky, when the whole institution of religion is based on a imaginary Father in the sky. Not only is the Emperor without clothes, he seems to have vanished with his clothes altogether!
If reality is based on a God-centered existence, the very mundane trait of belief would have been an all-natural and inevitable affair: For example, no one doubts the existence of George W. Bush. We see him on TV gawking and staring in our TV screens, talking gibberish like a half-evolved chimpanzee. We know him for the moron he is precisely because he is real, and that he speaks gibberish, and doesn't seem to get his act right. We need not necessarily evoke belief (Although sometimes I wish I could invoke disbelief when asked to explain why someone so stupid can be an American President) to ascertain that he exists. It just comes with the territory.
Not so for God, who, incidentally, has Bush as his biggest, dumb-assed fan. God doesn't exactly talk to us (If someone tells you God talks to him literally in his head, recommend him to the nearest psychiatrist. God may be a figment of his imagination, but Schizophrenia isn't.) like George Bush jibbers to us on TV, and no, for the love of Jebus, we can't exactly see him, although his son, Jebus, occasionally appears on pancakes and fluffy clouds as weird apparitions to beguile the masses. We can't smell God, so we don't exactly know if he has bad breath (excluding the burnt pancake with the image of Jebus on it......), and............you got the drift.
So, God seems to be quite absent from our mundane lives. None of us can talk to God as if you were talking to a friend: In order to "communicate" with this rather invisible Pink Bunny, we have to clasp our hands, bow our heads, and intone wistfully in a relevant, almost servile voice (verbally, or as always, in our minds. Doesn't that give us a clue or two that God may be no more than the products of our own depraved minds???) to invoke the aid of the Divine One. Hardly a friendly Deity! If you were a Muslim, you will need to prostrate yourself on the floor and align yourself in the direction of the Mecca (A huge problem indeed, for the Malaysian astronaut who had the opportunity and ignominy of zipping around Earth in orbit at phenomenal speeds!). Indeed, the idea of this made-shift character is an alien and distant one: He may have been omniscient, omnipotent and omni-benevolent, but try asking God to buy you a jolly good round of lager!
Since we cannot define God on a personal basis, the last ditch attempt would be Science. Some theists, in a bid to add a little credibility to the God conundrum, will use the Air Hypothesis: We can't see air, but we know it exists. But we know air exists because we can prove its existence in a laboratory! Try filling up a test-tube with hydrogen, throw in a little flame, and watch out for the fireworks. One of the most fundamental flaws here drummed up by theologians is that we can only verify a phenomenon through sight alone: Alongside our other senses, Science is a good, reliable indicator for testing a potential hypothesis, including the God Hypothesis.
It is not good enough for theists to simply reject Science as a means of testing God through NOMA (Non-Overlapping Magisteria), which states that Science cannot interfere in matters of theology and its related dogmas. While scientists are quite willing to bend its back to accommodate this quaint little idea, note how fast theists would react, if Science were to truly find the first remnants of a reliable piece of evidence pertaining to Noah's flood. Scientists may be willing to play the ball, but don't expect theists to play fair. Religion, after all, is a dirty player, and that fact alone has been found indelible in centuries of sectarian strife.
On this count, Science has turned up a pretty blank patch: There is not a single scientific hypothesis, theory or experimentation that can triumphantly prove the existence of God.
In sum, since we cannot, in any sensible, reliable method, define God within a logical parameter, the God hypothesis has little common ground to play with.
ENFORCING BELIEF IN THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE
As we sieve through the layers of subterfuge, hearsays and myths from the Christian fabric of lies, we realize that, hey, presto, God really isn't there in the first place! Try as theists may to explain the metaphysical, spiritual and whatever essence of an imagined deity, there is no denying the fact that God is either reluctant to acknowledge our pathetic existence, or simply doesn't exist.
With this uncomfortable butt plug in the ass of Religion, belief becomes an unnatural anal-retentive stress reliever: Not only must believers be constantly reminded of the perils of apostasy, Religion ups the ante by defining the disbelief of God as a crime punishable by death i.e eternal damnation in the form of an imaginary barbecue pit, Hell, to prevent a mass exodus of the religious flocks of dull-witted sheep.
Forgiving the "Blood Debt": Infidels & Blasphemers Need Not Apply
As depicted in the Gospels, one could be forgiven, and even pardoned, for all manner of crimes: Apparently, Jesus is quite the gracious host in welcoming all manner of sinners to the proverbial kingdom of heaven:
"If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found. In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away! (NLT, Luke 15:3-7)
That said, Heaven, it seems, has no place for the unbelieving soul:
“There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
&, not to forget, those that commit blasphemy against the Holy Ghost:
"Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men." (Matthew 12:31)
CRIME & PUNISHMENT
Clearly, such litanies of religious diatribes seem ridiculous to the point of absurdity: When punishment is meted, punishment is delegated based entirely on the elegance of one's creed, instead of the arcane or, on the other extreme end, law-abiding actions of a person. Another remarkably sinister and similar trait is the atrociously malicious nature of the God dilemma: Like a cruel tyrant and despot, God has little tolerance for anyone who smears or violate his "good" name (In this case, God seems to have a dubious fixation with Holy Ghosts). Isn't this enough evidence for the average human brain to sound the alarm bell, that this very caricature of the despotic tyrant in heaven is no more than a figment of a nobleman's desire to enslave the slavish masses through sheer vehement threats of violence?
RECANTING BEFORE DEATH: A GREAT COP-OUT?
As if this is not enough to befuddle the most logical of minds, consider this: If a mass murderer, half a step away from the noose that is about to snap his neck at a snap of the throttle, decides to recant: His "sins", or should I say his evil deeds, are automatically wiped clean. He gets a clean slate, a clean bill of health for his otherwise wretched soul and presto! Off he goes to join the merry bands of hairy angels in heaven!
Conversely, imagine the man who, throughout his life, slogs slavishly in the fields to feed his children, finds time and effort to do great deeds of charity, but hell, he dies without believing in the right deity. When he meets God, he quivers in his knees, begs God to give him a chance on account of his good deeds........but no........hell, fuck no. He didn't pay the right allegiance. Off to hell he goes, with the rest of the scumbugs, infidels and Hitleristic characters who had consigned themselves to an eternity of punishment not as a result of their deeds, but on account of their wrong or absent allegiance to the right deity.
THE SHEER LUDICROUSNESS OF RELIGIOUS JUSTICE
I wouldn't know about my readers, but I have a sense of outrage that amounts almost to the feeling of blasphemy to even refer to religious biasness of this form as "religious justice".
While murderers who had recanted on their deathbeds may really have "repented" of their guilt, the appalling idea that the likes of terrorists, murderers and other hideous monsters may somehow lurk in the realms of heaven strumming a guitar and having sex with 72 virgins sounds like a gross miscarriage of justice, to say the least.
Let us just hope that the likes of Jerry Falwell are being embuggered by legions of crotch-sniffing, cock-loving angels who can't get enough of his homophobic ethics. Now that is what I call JUSTICE!