God Is Superfluous

I was driving back from getting my haircut today, and I noticed a large billboard by the side of the road. It was an advertisement for a local church. Now, why a church needs to advertise, I don’t know, and frankly don’t care, other than that such a phenomenon merely reinforces my conviction that religion is just another business. It provides employment for many people, from the bureaucracy of the Roman Catholic Church, all the way down to the janitor who sweeps up after Sunday services. But that’s not what struck me when I looked at the ad. It was the message.

There was a picture of a cute little girl and the statement  Love God. Love People. Change the World. Down in the right hand corner was the URL for the website for the church, which I memorized, and now share with you. As you can see, it seems to be the slogan for this particular church. A catchy little phrase, meant to get passersby to associate a community of people with God. As an advertising technique, it’s not very original, but after 2000 years, it’s hard for Christianity to say something new, so I can’t fault them for that.

My thought, as I drove by, was – Why do I have to love God? Why can’t we just eliminate the first suggestion, and go with the next two. Why can’t we simply love people and thereby change the world?  What does loving God add to the equation, that would prevent the final outcome without him? I wracked my brains for…oh about 30 seconds, and couldn’t come up with anything.

It seems to me that people are perfectly capable of loving each other, of treating fellow humans with respect and dignity, of, in effect, following the Golden Rule, without any necessity for loving god, and with the same results as if they did. All we have to do, then, is Love People and we’ll change the world. Seems sort of self-evident, doesn’t it?

In fact, if we get sidetracked on this “Love God” thing, we might get distracted, and forget to love people, and then where would the anticipated result be? For instance, what if we join this church and find that in the process of loving god, we’re supposed to hate people who provide abortions, or get abortions, or believe that others should be free to choose to get abortions? Or what if they teach that homosexuality is a no-no? Isn’t that the antithesis of loving people? Should loving people, fellow humans who are just like us in every regard, be predicated on whether they too love god? And if I find that in joining this church, I have to hate not love abortionists and homosexuals, doesn’t that remove the “love people” part of the equation? So then I’m left to simply Love God. Change the World. But, I could do that at home, couldn’t I? Why would I need to join this church? I’d save a lot of money not having to tithe, and my Sundays would be free.

As I said, it only took me 30 seconds to figure that all out. I don’t know if this particular church would be as hypocritical as I surmise, but there are a lot of churches out there that would. The bottom line is that god is superfluous to any human activity. You don’t need him to be a good person, you don’t need him to love your fellow man, you don’t need him to tell you what is right and wrong. You can do all of that all by yourself, with the brain that god evolution gave you.

And you can still change the world.

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20 thoughts on “God Is Superfluous

  1. Remember, SI, if other people don’t believe exactly the same thing you are told to believe, then they really aren’t people, so it’s okay to hate them. Hating them makes the world a better place.

  2. Eat a turd, read SI’s blog, have some fun.

    There seems to be something extraneous in that sentence… what could it be?

  3. Actually no, it’s not superfluous. It’s actually quite insidious. Now the Christian will look at that and say it provides hope, that through a common acceptance to get on the Jesus bandwagon, the world will be filled with love and we can change the world. Sounds great. Two problems:
    1) It instills the idea that only through Jesus are those things possible; thus, without Jesus, it’s impossible
    2) Christians make up only a portion of the world’s population.

    Uh oh, what now? Well clearly there’s no point in fretting over the lack of love or the inability to change the world since THOSE PEOPLE (insert whichever non-Christian group you want) aren’t on the bandwagon. So you can then consider this an excuse for not loving people, not trying to change the world, forcing your beliefs on others (you know, for the good of the world), or simply eliminating those who simply refuse to get on the bandwagon. Afterall, if Jesus is the way, and they’re not going with Jesus, then they stand in the way. In fact, it must mean they can’t or won’t love others or have any desire to change the world.

    See? Insidious, not superfluous.

  4. it provides hope, that through a common acceptance to get on the Jesus bandwagon, the world will be filled with love and we can change the world.

    If the world were filled with love, what would need to be changed?

  5. Frankly, I reckon it’s still a bit of a tough call even without the requirement that one display affection for a non-existent sky-daddy. “Love people, change the world”? Where am I going to find the time to do that? I’ll settle for: “Try not to kill too many people (at least not deliberately), don’t piss in the sea.”

  6. Well, SI, as I have learned from my exchanges with various Christians in the blogosphere (and PhillyChief knows who I am talking about), in the absence of a creator that watches all we see or do, there is no compelling reason to be good. For them, god is not superfluous, but essential.

  7. …in the absence of a creator that watches all we see or do, there is no compelling reason to be good.

    Are they the ones pissing in Yunshui’s sea, then?

  8. Tommykey “…in the absence of a creator that watches all we see or do, there is no compelling reason to be good.”
    I can’t be the only person who breaks out into a cold sweat when told this. Do people really think so little of themselves?
    Are they really that psychotic, or do they only mean this about the “little people” who “need” an invisible policeman lest the proles run amok? Either of those possibilities makes me sad.

  9. I think that anytime you have an organization, you’re going to have abuses — it doesn’t matter if it’s a church, a business or a government. Don’t confuse our failings as people with the messages that Jesus communicated. A huge part of loving God is loving others, you can’t really separate the two. Keep in mind that the only people who Jesus verbally trashed were the religious teachers of the day, the holier than thou members of the establishment who appeared more concerned about appearances than those in need. Don’t confuse modern day examples of this with the kind of faith that Jesus taught. And the Christian church doesn’t claim have exclusive rights to loving others. How about we focus on things on which we agree (AIDS, homelessness, hunger. etc… suck), partner with each other and do some good for the world?

  10. Dashmahn “I think that anytime you have an organization, you’re going to have abuses — it doesn’t matter if it’s a church, a business or a government.”
    Yes, but you can’t vote out or fire the Pope.

    “A huge part of loving God is loving others, you can’t really separate the two.”
    Does not follow. You need the former with the latter, but not the latter with the former.

    “Keep in mind that the only people who Jesus verbally trashed were the religious teachers of the day, the holier than thou members of the establishment who appeared more concerned about appearances than those in need.”
    And just look how well it turned out for Him!

    “How about we focus on things on which we agree (AIDS, homelessness, hunger. etc… suck), partner with each other and do some good for the world?”
    Having recently wasted a couple weeks of my life debating a True Christian (who turned out to be a far-right YEC), I now know that condoms and sex-ed that mentions sex are bad, and government programs that help deal with homelessness/hunger should be dismantled (and replaced with faith-based” personal charity) so that we can give tax cuts to the rich…so we manage to even disagree on the things that we agree with.


    If I sound cranky, it’s not you. From this cursory exchange, you sound like one of the good ones. Also, I am cranky. More than that, really. I am a crank. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to shoo some kids off my lawn.

  11. Yes but Jesus didn’t exhibit love for ALL others, or else he would have spoken out about slavery. Now perhaps he did and his chroniclers didn’t feel that made for good reading, or hell, maybe the writer(s) who created the character of Jesus didn’t feel that made for good storytelling. We’ll never know.

    As far as working together to help fight problems of the world, once again, gods are superfluous. Tell me what a god has to do with getting people clean water and food, with bringing education, technology and healthcare? Now I can tell you what a god has to do with NOT bringing people such things. There are plenty of examples of that

  12. “Yes, but you can’t vote out or fire the Pope.”
    Thanks for making my point for me. 😉

    Does not follow. “You need the former with the latter, but not the latter with the former.”
    Again, I’m not referring to how many choose to live out Biblical instruction, I’m referring to the words that Jesus said, and words that people such as Paul wrote. Biblically, you can’t really support loving God and ignoring the needs of others, it’s like trying to say that the sun provides light to the earth, but not warmth.

    “And just look how well it turned out for Him!”
    Sometimes, when people speak out against those who have the desire and capacity to do harm, they can look forward to having some pretty rough days — it’s happening all over the world as we write.

    “Having recently wasted a couple weeks of my life debating a True Christian (who turned out to be a far-right YEC), I now know that condoms and sex-ed that mentions sex are bad, and government programs that help deal with homelessness/hunger should be dismantled (and replaced with faith-based” personal charity) so that we can give tax cuts to the rich…so we manage to even disagree on the things that we agree with.”
    We can have political discussions all day long, and I can put up Christians who are fanatics on both sides of the US political spectrum. Regardless of who’s making the rules though, we’re still accountable for our own individual actions and inactions. The church that I attend just shut its doors on a Sunday to encourage participation in a local AIDs Walk. I think that we all want to see a cure for AIDs and treatment for those who have it. So, we raised quite a bit of money for that cause. We also sponsor food collection for the homeless and are actively involved in our community doing things like yard cleanup for the elderly, providing school supplies to elementary school teachers and working on cars for single moms. I think this is the kind of lifestyle that Jesus commanded us to live. Politics aside, there are a heck of a lot of needs out there, let’s get our hands dirty together and make a difference in some lives. Isn’t that what loving people is all about?

    Being grumpy is ok. You know those things that automatically turn on high powered sprinklers when deer wander on to a lawn? They work on kids too. :p

  13. Dashmahn “Thanks for making my point for me.”
    How so? If government does bad, you vote them out. People who disagree with the Pope, what, schism? Sure, that works if you’re Protestant. There’s a whole schism industry for them.

    “The church that I attend just shut its doors on a Sunday to encourage participation in a local AIDs Walk.”
    I believe that I said you seem to be one of the good ones. There are a bunch of you, actually.

    “You know those things that automatically turn on high powered sprinklers when deer wander on to a lawn? They work on kids too. :p”
    Yes, but that’s automatic. How is that going to support my own sense of accomplishment?

  14. “How so? If government does bad, you vote them out. People who disagree with the Pope, what, schism? Sure, that works if you’re Protestant. There’s a whole schism industry for them.”

    If you don’t like a religion, don’t attend its functions and don’t financially support it — I think it’s that simple. If enough people do that, the negative impacts of religion go away. Religion puts a lot of rules and burdens on people and I’m not sure that the Bible can be used to effectively and correctly support a practice such as that. And, although the original intent of most religions are probably pretty good, it often becomes watered down by religion’s need to sustain itself. Besides, somehow I don’t think that Jesus would really care how much holy water has been layered on someone’s head, he’s much more concerned with what’s going on inside the heart.

  15. Dashmahn “If you don’t like a religion, don’t attend its functions and don’t financially support it — I think it’s that simple.”
    But even if you don’t financially support it, you do financially support it. Tax-exempt means that everybody else is paying for its roads and emergency services. “Faith-based” programs mean that everybody is paying for it.

    “If enough people do that, the negative impacts of religion go away.”
    Which is much harder to do in places where it’s “it” (politically or socially). The Pope’s words (and power) still go far in many areas of the third world. Look at the countries with the nuttiest abortion laws (up to and including “none ever, for any reason”), and the RC’s are behind them. Those “negative effects” won’t be going away any time soon. Protestant areas are a little easier since, if you disagree with one pastor, you can just run down the street and pick another on (or start your own church).

    “Religion puts a lot of rules and burdens on people…”
    Including Original Sin (from an original sinner and his identical twin sister who never existed)?
    Including “Believe this and get the good ending?”

    “…and I’m not sure that the Bible can be used to effectively and correctly support a practice such as that.”
    It can (and has…and will) be used to support (or deny) just about everything. For example, it used to be for slavery. Now, apparently, it’s against it.

    “And, although the original intent of most religions are probably pretty good…”

    “…it often becomes watered down by religion’s need to sustain itself.”
    Mammon does that to just about everything. The Holy Spirit’s power pales beside the “need” for “donations” to buy the church a new everything.

    “Besides, somehow I don’t think that Jesus would really care how much holy water has been layered on someone’s head, he’s much more concerned with what’s going on inside the heart.”
    I hope that the “real” Jesus (if there is one) bares no resemblance whatsoever to most of the visions of Him that people have. Revelations Jesus, in particular. Republican Jesus, too. Don’t forget the Jesus who was for Prop 8, the one that’s for sex-free sex-ed classes, the one that “abandoned” Dover for “turning away” from Him, and the one that hit New Orleans for being New Orleans. Paul’s Jesus had issues of His own (although how much of that was Paul and how much was Jesus…).

  16. “But even if you don’t financially support it, you do financially support it. Tax-exempt means that everybody else is paying for its roads and emergency services. “Faith-based” programs mean that everybody is paying for it.”
    Keep in mind that faith based religions aren’t don’t hold exclusive rights to what you’re describing. There are non-profits for just about anything you can imagine, including pushing for public funding for mushroom education.

    “It can (and has…and will) be used to support (or deny) just about everything. For example, it used to be for slavery. Now, apparently, it’s against it.”
    One of my qualifiers was “correctly”. 😉

    “Mammon does that to just about everything. The Holy Spirit’s power pales beside the “need” for “donations” to buy the church a new everything.”Yep.

    “I hope that the “real” Jesus (if there is one) bares no resemblance whatsoever to most of the visions of Him that people have. Revelations Jesus, in particular. Republican Jesus, too. Don’t forget the Jesus who was for Prop 8, the one that’s for sex-free sex-ed classes, the one that “abandoned” Dover for “turning away” from Him, and the one that hit New Orleans for being New Orleans. Paul’s Jesus had issues of His own (although how much of that was Paul and how much was Jesus…).”
    You left out the Jesus that, according to Fred Phelps, hates America, Sweden, etc… It’s my belief that the New Testament is the best source that we have for figuring out what kind of guy Jesus was. And again, IMO, the NT Jesus cared less about politics and more about the individual. I tend not to have a whole lot of patience for people who use the idea of Jesus to support their own personal agendas. And, as much as I have my own personal views on things, I think that you need to be pretty careful with how you throw Jesus’s name around.

  17. Dashmahn “There are non-profits for just about anything you can imagine, including pushing for public funding for mushroom education.”
    Mushrooms have schools? Now, I’ve heard everything!

    “One of my qualifiers was “correctly”.”
    Ah, but whose correctly is the correct correctly?

    “You left out the Jesus that, according to Fred Phelps, hates America, Sweden, etc…”
    But Jesus does hate Sweden! It’s right there in the Parable of the broken Volvo!

    “It’s my belief that the New Testament is the best source that we have for figuring out what kind of guy Jesus was.”
    By “best”, you mean “only”, right?

    “And, as much as I have my own personal views on things, I think that you need to be pretty careful with how you throw Jesus’s name around.”
    The problem, in part, is that He had the habit of speaking in parables, rather than actuables, which is a word that I just made up. The other part is that His spokesmen are invariably self-appointed. The other, other part is that He never tells any of them to shut the hell up. You’d think that He’d at least take some time out from sitting at His own right hand to come down here and tip over some tables at the megachurch.

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