The Delusion of Good

It has often been postulated by the vapidly religious that faith carries with it an innate concern for all human beings, and that in practicing their faith with other like-minded believers, they possess an uncanny ability to affect change in millions through charity, mission trips, and kindness. There exists a level of naivety in this perspective, one that is painfully obvious to those who have studied religious history in depth. Almost embarrassingly, it eludes even the most prolific of believers. Those who have seeded out holes inside of their minds to justify their systems of belief, often under the guise of demonstrable good, a task that could only be obtained through non-secular means. Yet, it is within this context that theists delude their own motives with an arrogant perspective on how to truly help others.

Within the elasticity of religion exists a pliable dichotomy, one that asserts a version of charity which secular people do not engage in. It is the failed, and flawed, perspective that proselytizing to souls they consider to be lost is a version of assistance, when in fact it’s nothing more than callous degradation for even the most basic of human rights. It’s a presupposition that without a mechanism of salvation, those people could never be on an equal standing with their religious peers. That pedestal excludes, of course, those that are moral without faith yet could potentially include those who are immoral with faith.

Christianity, the most notable of dangerous theistic belief systems, considers actions perpetrated on humanity as infinitely forgivable, no matter the committed crime. With the exception of the one unforgivable sin, apostasy. Believers consider this to be the unmatched and unwavering mercy of the Hebrew God, even though it completely absolves human beings of responsibility. So long as one never completely relinquishes the possibility of God’s existence, their sins of immorality will be forgiven through acceptance of a separate but equal deity, representative of the Grand Patriarch of Existence.

In 2010, I set about using my spare time to volunteer at homeless shelters, dog adoption agencies, and even an online message board attempting to deter young adults from committing suicide. I cannot tell you how frequently I witnessed the absolute disregard of human life that came from theists. Many provided salvation as an answer, even if they were unaware of what their own God had done to humanity throughout history. They spoke recklessly of love and eternal forgiveness, yet offered no real solution to life’s problems.

I witnessed fools, completely convicted in their theology, persuade destitute, desperate people with their promises of an eternal afterlife for nothing more than acceptance and worship of their deity. It was abhorrently immoral, akin to seeing toothbrush salesmen peddle their wares at gas stations. Instead of attempting to alleviate others’ problems with real-world solutions, they latched onto fairy tales, empty guarantees, and an occasional revelation that they no doubt received from their pastor or invented in their own minds.

I wasn’t the only person who saw this, but I realized at the time I belonged to a statistical minority of people whose attempts at reason were drowned out by the loud-mouthed preaching of theists that considered themselves to be morally superior with a direct link to their creator. It made rationalizing situations (especially with the homeless) virtually impossible.

One evening in January, I listened to a youth minister preach to a Vietnam war veteran who had been homeless for almost twenty years. The youth minister, who couldn’t have been older than 25, asked if he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and personal savior. The vet replied, without hesitation, “I did that before they sent me to die in Saigon.” Without missing a beat, the young man replied, “Jesus was on your side!”

It was painful listening to the aged veteran tell the young boy what it was like coming up on villages where the Vietcong had murdered the men for joining with the Americans, raped the women (sometimes the children), and then set fire to their homes. I felt an immediate sense of empathy and compassion for this man who spoke with such conviction, someone that had seen the horrors of war that thankfully many of us will never have to experience in our lifetimes.

Then there was the young adult, so arrogantly convinced of his belief systems, completely oblivious to the realities of the world, offering to a man that had seen the worst of humanity some sort of salvation through child-like eyes and with an infantile understanding of life. It wasn’t humility that oozed from this youth minister – it was a maddening combination of immaturity and delusion. Someone who claimed to have the ultimate truth to a question he wasn’t yet capable of really fathoming, trying to explain to a gladiator insipid emotional characteristics of a creator that the veteran had personal evidence of which didn’t exist.

“Watch a fucking kid die in your arms, boy,” said the vet, before scoffing and walking away. I was personally inclined to talk to him, to understand his perspectives, to give him an opportunity to tell me about the atrocities he’d been through. Not so that I could offer him a frivolous contract of salvation, but because I had genuine compassion for the things he’d been through, even if I had never experienced them myself. I never got the opportunity to speak with him, but the entire exchange taught me a valuable lesson.

Hidden beneath the inclusive guise of Christianity exists the absurd notion that people are capable of understanding the depth of humanity through the eyes of faith. They engage this masturbatory exercise without the slightest comprehension of words like love, mercy, justice, and morality. I cannot think of anything more detrimental to the progress of human beings. That our understanding of reality comes from a deluded perception, one that is completely irrespective of reality and the behavior of others. Inside of this vacuum allegedly exists the answers to all of life, and yet a war veteran that had seen more atrocities than any human being should experience in such a short life span, refused to accept a supposedly ordained child of God.

If that isn’t proof for the lack of a creator, then I’m not sure what is.

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Jared Smith

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04 2012