Thursday, October 30, 2008

Carlton Pearson leaves rigid doctrine behind

I am a late comer to this news. I did not realize that Bishop Pearson had formally left the fold. He still believes in God, but not hell. And even his idea of God is pliable and humanity affirming.
At the end of the article are comments from the fold; one has to revisit the religious nutjob universe every now and then to remember the insanity. One Bea K. writes, "I’d... be quite upset, more than you realize, if I’d have done everything possible to help mankind (my creation, if I was God that is), and they turned on me by literally spitting in my face and choosing another ‘religion’ over mine. In other words, “I’ve given you everything you could have ever wanted, but I really don’t need you God”. How humiliating is that?"
My response to Bea:

I am so glad to see Carlton Pearson make this journey. He was always such a jovial person, it is nice to have him as company. As one who was brought up steeped in the illusions of the Christian religion, I am heartened to see others freed from its false fears and lies.To all of you who are still in your religious cocoon, this is why someone like Carlton Pearson, or me, would leave. Bishop Pearson could not reconcile the idea of eternal hellfire for the great majority of mankind simply because they did not embrace one, particular conception of faith, millions of whom had never even heard of it. To any one who thinks clearly about it, it just is not fair. In fact, it goes to the central question of suffering that is the singular failure of the Christian religion (and most others, for that matter.)

I left the idea of a just and loving God behind because it did not square with the world I saw as I traveled through more than sixty countries. I saw the teeming millions in India, China, and Africa. Millions born into misery, living miserable, painful lives, and dying miserably, never knowing hope or cheer. It is the sad reality of most humans who are born today. They are born with no hope. For those in the rich west this is a hard concept to grasp.Bea K., you have it exactly wrong. In what sense did God “do everything possible to help mankind?” That contention would be a great surprise to more than 3/4 of the world’s population, who are born into lives of misery with no clue about where they came from or for what purpose they are here. They are simply cast adrift into a tooth and claw creation, with little to guide them on their way. In fact, the opposite of what you say is true. There is such pain and suffering, in so many lives, not even to mention your horrific idea of eternal damnation, that it is God himself who stands accused. How could he have created such a vicious, merciless world?

I have been to two wars and several disaster operations and have witnessed the most wrenching and ferocious mutilations of the bodies of men, women, and children. If there were a God responsible for setting a world in motion that resulted in such unending sorrow, he would, infact, deserve to be hammered to a cross every single day it spins its rounds through the cold expanse of this universe. So, now we come to the brass tax. I suggest to you, Bea, that your only real concern is your own safety, because you fear hell. The likelihood is that you are in fact a coward, too afraid to face the all too apparent conclusion, that there is no God to indict. I think that most Christians are only Christians because they fear the logic of Pascal’s wager - that one has nothing to lose by believing, but risks hell by not believing. But this is the logic of cowardice. The best response to Pascal is Thomas Jefferson’s advice to his nephew as he searched for a religion, “Fix reason firmly upon her seat. Bring to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question boldly even the existence of God, for if there be one, he surely must more approve the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”


Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Have you read the novel "The Shack?" It's really good and the author tries to deal with some of the questions you raise. If you read it, I'd be interested to know what you think. The book helped me see some things more clearly. The author has great insight and compassion. Please read it!

PatricktheRogue said...

If I remember right your two recommendations to me so far were Morrison's Paradise and Ba's So Long A Letter. With that kind of track record I will, of course, take your advice to heart and read it. I hope the new year has been treating you and yours well my dear.