During a recent forum exchange a participant suggested that a True ™ Christian would argue that perfect self- esteem is available to all who believe in the omniscient Christian God. If you truly understand God’s view of you, you then have the best esteem of yourself possible.

This is an insidiously evil viewpoint. It leaves the responsibility for fathoming the will and nature of god entirely up to the hapless Believer. The divinity is absolved of all responsibility for clarifying things or teaching these things in universally effective ways. The Believer must possess the inhuman quality of infallibility in order to get this right. That makes for a very childish and irresponsible divinity.

Every True ™ Christian believes that they have been given a dose of this personal infallibility by their version of god. They sincerely, and ridiculously, believe that this leads to a perfect bull’s-eye when it comes to determining the nature of god, the interpretation of holy writings, what writings are divinely inspired, and what aspects of the beliefs held by other sincere believers are similarly divinely inspired or can be attributed to “the work of the devil”. It never occurs to them to wonder why what their god believes is always consistent with their personality, cognitive flexibility, educational background, intellectual prowess, stage of moral developmental and general view on life. They simply believe that their view is correct and that every other Believer or Non-Believer is wrong. It’s an extraordinary arrogant stance to take but it provides a wonderful sense of self-justified superiority and self-esteem. This applies to all Believers, especially those who prefer their own personal mix of religious beliefs in preference to those offered by what they choose to define as “organized” religion. “Disorganized religion” has no more claim to truth than any other brand.

The problem with the logic of this self-glorifying stance is that it makes this version of god out to be an obnoxious and powerless idiot whose favorite person is whichever Believer we are talking to and who detestably keeps the others in various levels of ignorance. The only logical explanation is that these people are having “personal relationships” with their alter egos, not some external being.

That leads to a whole lot of other uncomfortable observations and questions. What evidence do we have, other than the conviction of a sub-set of Christian Believers, that the Christian god is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, all-loving, optimally moral and personally interested in the lives of every human being who ever lived on earth? There is an abundance of evidence that this particular collection of Believer-Derived Attributes is logically impossible.

The best known expose of this is known as the problem of evil. This was summed up by some Greek chap who asked how evil could exist in the world if there also exists a perfectly good, all-knowing and all powerful god. He then asks why we would wish to worship a god without these properties.

This expands into questions of why the god described in the Christian Old Testament created evil, why it is less powerful than the evil it created or why it chooses not to restrain this evil. The text book answers are incredibly weak because they require random suffering of innocents with no protection offered by god belief. The aim of this randomly applied suffering is supposedly to benefit god believers who were not so unlucky. Grossly unfair and certainly unworthy of worship or emulation!

If you believe in a Creator-god then the problem continues in such questions as why an all-powerful and all-knowledgeable divinity would create beings and environments which are stupidly designed and frequently ensure needless and pointless pain and suffering. Why design meat-eating animals that have to kill and cause pain to other animals in order to survive? Why design an earth which is subject to earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, hurricanes and tsunamis? And so on.

We continue into asking why an all knowledgeable and all-powerful god seems to be so ignorant of the basics of behavioral science as discovered over the last century, why his demonstrations of “moral” behavior as so crude and under-developed and why this divinity makes the salvation of mankind dependent on hearing the details explained in your language by people who have interpreted it from copies of lost manuscripts written in languages which are not spoken any more and which were never dominant world languages anyway. Stupid.

Why did the Jesus-god never write anything down himself? Why did he choose illiterate disciples who also failed to write down the details? Stupid, again.

Why are the messages which did get written down so contradictory? Why are they so vague and unclear that there are just about as many contradictory interpretations of them as there are people in the world? Stupid.

And so it goes on.

All the evidence points to a very flawed and imperfect “god”, in which case why would you want to worship it? Or else the “god” has been imbued with divine characteristics at the whim of humans, and these characteristics have then been accepted uncritically by the bulk of humanity. Most people do not have the time or the capacity to evaluate them.

Logically, there can be neither a perfect divinity nor infallible interpreters of this divinity. That puts many devout True ™ Christian Believers in the category of a deluded demi-god, along with Bin Laden and the current Pedophile Protector Pope. The True ™ Believer has lots of company, but most of the others in the group have been led by the spirit of the same fickle (or fictitious) god to disagree with him or her. It seems that Believers have been divinely designed to disagree about the nature of the god which is supposedly guiding them "into all truth".

It’s not a convincing scenario for someone who has learned to objectively evaluate ideas. In order to believe this you need to possess the ability to protect your religious beliefs from critical evaluation and objective exploration. That requires a personality that can construct cognitive compartments which remain uncontaminated by information stored in other compartments. This is a mild version of that which is seen in extreme in those who suffer from multiple personality disorder and those who have two distinct brains in their head because of an inborn failure of the hemispheres to grow connecting cables or because these cables have been surgically severed to contain otherwise intractably severe epileptic seizures.

Interestingly, people with these disorders have two or more distinct individuals housed in one body that, in many cases, have differing religious beliefs, including some personalities which have none at all. There are several documented instances where one of the personalities is an atheist and the others are not. Think about that. Consider the scenario where one personality is a devout Catholic, one is a Born-Again Charismatic Babbler, one is a Buddhist and one is a confirmed Atheist. If there were such a thing as a “soul” which is judged after death, what happens to these people? Are the separated individuals really separate aspects of the one personality which would have been united in normal life? If so, is the separation realistic? Should the atheism or Buddhism or Charismatic beliefs of parts of the personality be used to condemn the True Catholic beliefs of another part, or vice versa? Which one gets the body? Is it divinely duplicated? Where do they go with it?

This scenario degenerates into further absurdity when it is considered that the “pains of hell” would be impossible to experience without a functioning body. In any case, what kind of inhumane monster would be happy in heaven while knowing that other humans are being eternally tortured elsewhere? Would you want to be closely and eternally associated with such a compartmentalized personality?

Finally, one of the Biblical writers suggests that we should judge people by their “fruits”. That scrubs out the Yahweh god described in the Old Testament who was a bloody tyrant by today’s more enlightened and civilized standards of morality. It also scrubs out a whole heap of self-congratulating Christians who believe that their version of god encourages or commands them to hate those who do not believe or practice life as they do. It is a recipe to hate homosexuals who practice their “god-given” sexual bias and doctors who abort unaware cell clumps that have little potential for living a normal life if left to develop, or that will cause extreme hardship to others if left to develop. Worst of all, it glorifes those who promote falsehoods about the usefulness of condom use in preventing AIDS and an inevitable lingering death from starvation in countries where condom use could prevent millions of tragedies from occurring. Fail!!

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Comment by david hartley on June 24, 2010 at 9:09am
To pick up on your assertion of the 'fragility of God derived self esteem' Rosemary, do you feel this can create an even more fragile self esteem and certain identity problems for the female of the species considering the all pervasive maleness of God. Even to the level of 'God' having givien 'birth' to us in an abstract sense. Which as far as self identity goes smacks of maternal envy in a mysoginistic series of beliefs and priesthoods.
Comment by Jaume on June 24, 2010 at 8:01am
I define self-esteem as having confidence and positive perspective of one's abilities

Well, that's your definition, and a rather restrictive one. There's a lot of pathological attention whores who can't find self-esteem in themselves, instead they find it in others' appreciation and approval of themselves. I can see how highly religious persons could delude themselves into believing they're one of God's 'Chosen' or something, and derive self-esteem from that feeling. Some equate self-esteem with the amount of wealth or real estate they own, etc. Did you hear of this German magnate who committed suicide after he lost a few of his many billions in the wake of the 2008 crisis?
Comment by Tom Thompson on June 24, 2010 at 6:28am
"perfect self- esteem is available to all who believe in the omniscient Christian God"

This seems like an illogical conclusion to me. I define self-esteem as having confidence and positive perspective of one's abilities so perfect self-esteem would imply having perfect confidence which would imply perfect ability? However you define it belief in the Christian god requires submission to his authority and subjugation of one's own ideas where they conflict with the bible. You cannot have self-esteem if your mind is oppressed and you believe that your desires and inclinations must be suppressed.
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on June 23, 2010 at 2:43pm
Thanks, Jim.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on June 23, 2010 at 2:02pm
Excellent post Rosemary. I have always been amused by how similar a believer is to their vision god and, when necessary, find new attributes of the sky guy to "emulate". But then, as I have never been a believer I can't comprehend how any, even marginally intelligent, person can buy into the god delusion. To me it just seems weird.

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