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October 07, 2009

The Banana Man Chronicles-3: You loathsome sinners

(My latest book God vs. Darwin: The War Between Evolution and Creationism in the Classroom has just been released and is now available through the usual outlets. You can order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the publishers Rowman & Littlefield, and also through your local bookstores. For more on the book, see here.)

As we saw in the previous post, Banana Man goes to great lengths to make the case that everyone has broken all (or almost all) the ten commandments and thus we are all loathsome sinners and surely going to hell. The idea is to make people very, very scared.

In his attempt to scare the daylights out of people, Banana Man is not only fighting unbelieving evolutionists, he also has to combat the pernicious influence of liberal Christians who are undermining his spreading of fear by claiming that god is loving and merciful and won't really send people to hell for eternity because that would be cruel.

Banana Man has little patience for a god who is such a wuss. One can see why. It is essential for the strategy of evangelists like him that people be terrified of going to hell. So Banana Man moves to close that loophole of a softie god. Since god seems to be Banana Man's BFF, only he is allowed to make pronouncements on what god is really like. As he confidently says on p. 45, "[T]he God we are speaking about is nothing like the commonly accepted image. He is not a benevolent Father-figure, who is happily smiling upon sinful humanity."

He then pulls off a neat trick. He says that assigning false properties to god is the same as worshipping an idol, and thus those liberal Christians who preach the existence of a loving and merciful god are also violating the second commandment in addition to all their other sins, and thus getting into even deeper doo-doo. He says (p. 42) "That [loving and merciful] god does not exist; he’s a figment of the imagination. To create a god in your mind (your own image of God) is something the Bible calls “idolatry.” Idolaters will not enter heaven." So take that, liberal Christians! You are doomed too.

And just in case you think that you might still escape because some of your sins were really trivial or even only thoughts in your mind, or that god is too busy with more important things (you know, like wars genocide, disease) to know or care about your own petty sins, Banana Man quickly disillusions you:

Nothing is hidden from His pure and holy eyes. He is outraged by torture, terrorism, abortion, theft, lying, adultery, fornication, pedophilia, homosexuality, and blasphemy. He also sees our thought-life, and He will judge us for the hidden sins of the heart: for lust, hatred, rebellion, greed, unclean imaginations, ingratitude, selfishness, jealousy, pride, envy, deceit, etc. (p. 44)

That pretty much covers everything. I was curious how he arrived at terrorism on that list since that is a modern political concept. Also since god actually encouraged the devil to torture Job, I would have thought that he approved of torture. I don't recall anything in the Bible against pedophilia either. In fact, god urges his chosen people to capture young virgins as desirable partners for sex, and these women are even deemed by god to be suitable spoils of war, with no mention about a lower limit for age. So rape seems to be ok with god too. But maybe Banana Man has found a Biblical passage somewhere that alludes to this or is extending from the fact that he believes that all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful. Also, I noticed that he excludes incest in his list of prohibitions. Maybe that is because the Bible is full of god's people indulging in this practice (I'm looking at you, Lot) and not being punished by god.

But the main point is that he wants you to realize that you are a loathsome despicable being and are going to be punished severely for all your innumerable and repeated sins. "To say that there will be no consequences for breaking God’s Law is to say that God is unjust, that he is evil." (p. 43)

Things look pretty bleak for everyone at this point. What to do? He then goes on describe what other religions offer to solve this predicament and says that they do not provide escape from the awful penalties that await all of us.

Hinduism is a loser because all it offers is reincarnation, with one's status in the next life determined by what one does in this one. Since Banana Man has gone to great lengths to show that you are a despicable human being who has repeatedly broken almost all the commandments, this means that your next life is going to be pretty bad. In fact, following his logic that we are unavoidably sinners, you are condemned to a steady downward spiral of future lives, perhaps ending up at the bottom as Glenn Beck. So reincarnation is not worth embracing Hinduism for.

Buddhism is a loser because it does not have a god and so there is no one to offer you salvation from your sins. Banana Man can't see the point of a religion without god, let alone get his mind around that idea. Besides, though he does not seem to know this or at least think it worth mentioning, Buddhism is like Hinduism in having reincarnation too.

Islam is a loser because although it does provide for salvation, it says that salvation can be achieved by doing religious works. That does not sound so bad but Banana Man contemptuously dismisses it, saying that god will see through this as a mere bribe and it won't work so you won't be saved from eternity in hell. Remember that Banana Man is god's BFF and knows exactly what he likes and dislikes.

As I pointed out yesterday, Judaism's failings are ignored these days by evangelicals for political reasons.

This finally gets him to making the case for Christianity. Ready? Here's the pitch: None of us can avoid sin (Ok, you've already belabored that point.). The punishment for sin involves eternal suffering in hell. (Ok, you've rubbed that in too.) There is only one way to avoid this harsh punishment. Only Christianity offers hope because Jesus died for our sins and took them upon himself on the cross and thus we have salvation from hell. Hence only the Christian god is worth betting on.

Really, that is his entire argument. Not only his, but is the foundation of Christianity. Like all Christians, he does not seem to realize that this makes absolutely no sense.

Note that that the framework of his argument starts with the assumption that his own religion is correct, and he then judges all other religions according to that framework. Naturally they compare badly. He cannot see that people in other religions are also going through the same self-serving exercise, which is why they each think that their own religion is the best. None of them seem to understand (or want to acknowledge) that to meaningfully compare different groups of things, one needs criteria that transcend the particulars of each and are arrived at independently of any one of them.

Next: The problem of theodicy raises its ugly head again.

POST SCRIPT: Richard Dawkins on The Colbert Report in 2006

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Comments

Mano,

My Friend and wonderful spirit. I love your writing. I stopped by and read your post and wanted to bring to your attention that by speaking against Banana Man you are giving him your energy. You are bringing attention to something that you wish to go away. I was so enraged by someone like banana man that I started writing a similar post about this individual. Then my inner voice brought this very fact to my attention. Then it came to me. Don't write against anything only write for things. When you do this you give power to the things that you want and you create more of that. Just a thought. :-) Be blessed my friend.

Mother Teresa Quote
I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.

Posted by Troy on October 8, 2009 01:19 AM

One can envision possible exceptions, but almost all anti-war rallies are also pro-peace rallies by definition. I find the Mother Teresa quote better explained by recognizing that anti-war demonstrations typically were disapproving of her rich and powerful friends, many of whom waged or benefited from waging war.

Posted by Jared on October 8, 2009 08:43 AM

@Jared

This is why I have always argued that all war movies are anti-war movies.

Posted by dave on October 8, 2009 07:52 PM