“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”
― Yuval Noah Harari,
A few years ago, before I got in touch with reality, also known as becoming an Atheist, Hemant Mehta, The Friendly Atheist, put forth the idea for a book called God is an Abusive Boyfriend. Despite the truth of his proposition, the book never became a reality because there was a massive outcry from abused women’s groups all of which claimed that women are helped by religion when they leave their abuser.
I think about this a lot as women, and a few men, share with me the abuse they have suffered, yet they all, to a one, cling to their ‘god’ who allowed it in the first place. Of course, they all have their excuses. No one does cognitive dissonance quite as creatively as the highly religious. I know, I used to be.
The truth, however, is that belief in any sort of deity creates innumerable problems. How, for example, do you explain evil? In the face of the teaching that the Christian god is always good, Christians make up a devil and free will and other things that, apparently, their all powerful god has no power over. This, instead of solving a problem, though it definitely solves it for people who believe (see aforementioned belief for my qualifications in making this statement), creates a dualism. So now we have a good god and an evil one. The evil one, aka Satan, is pretty damned powerful, at least if the news and history are anything to go by.
Over and over people are assured that no ‘god’ gives people evil…though some people are sick enough to qualify this with “if the person doesn’t deserve it.” I’m serious. I grew up in a family that taught that Sharon Tate deserved exactly what she got. Chew on that for a while.
In Sapiens, Yuval Harari lays out the hard truth in four sentences:
“So, monotheism explains order, but is mystified by evil. Dualism explains evil, but is puzzled by order. There is one logical way of solving the riddle: to argue that there is a single omnipotent God who created the entire universe – and He’s evil. But nobody in history has had the stomach for such a belief.”
All people I speak with explain their god in terms that make it obvious to anyone observing them that they have created a deity in their own image. It’s no surprise that nasty people have a nasty god and that kind people have a kind god. That’s the nature of gods. They are made by man so they reflect the man (and it’s always been a man who has invented the gods) who made them.
People don’t simply church hop until they aren’t offended by the preaching, all people seek until they find something that reflects what they already believe. People, like me, who have known nothing but cruelty all their lives, end up in Fundamentalist and Conservative churches. The nastiness in these churches reflects what we know of life and that makes us think it is right.
(Do not ask how the hell I figured out different, I have tried and tried to find the thing that tipped me off and the only thing I can come up with is I wanted to save my kids from the hell I knew and it wasn’t happening in the evil Reformed churches I was attending. Otherwise, it’s just inexplicable.)
The truth, however, is that any belief in any god creates far too many problems that are completely and entirely unanswerable. God is either at fault for the evil, causes the evil, or doesn’t give a damn that there is evil.
Yet people continue to believe that if they just do more, just are better, just are more devoted, just pray more, etc, etc, then their god will give them what they ask. If it doesn’t, there is an excuse for that as well. The god has its reasons for not saving the child from a brutal murder, the woman from rape, or the man from a slow, painful death to cancer.
The commands and the excuses are mirror images of what it’s like to be in an abusive relationship. Nothing you ever do will be good enough and you will always have to come up with excuses as to why god is not at fault. Yep, that’s Abusive Relationship 101. I learned it from my earliest days with my parents and got a fucking PhD during more than 20 years of marriage.
It’s too bad Hemant didn’t get to write his book. I would love to see more women released not just from their human abuser, but from the mental abuse of religion.