What's so good about "Good Friday"?
One of the most incoherent of Christian doctrines, and the competition is very steep, is the concept of the atonement.
In a nutshell this is it: man has sinned; his sins separate him from god and damn him to eternal hell; the penalty for his sins have to be paid for; god is such a nice guy that he decides to pay the price himself; he does this by sending his son (who is also god) to earth; in the form of a man the son of god is tortured to death; this torture was necessary for sins to be forgiven.
Now all of this begs a very big question: why? Check the premises here. Why was it necessary to torture someone to death in order to forgive sins?
What exactly was it that bound god to this deal? Nothing. He is supposedly all powerful. His will is supposedly supreme. As for this “debt” for sin to whom was it due?
The Christians I know say the debt is owed to god. They wax eloguently about god pulling out his great ledger book---see the supreme being of the universe is just a glorified accountant---and marking “your debt” paid in full. Why is it paid? Because he had Jesus tortured to death in a most gruesome way.
But when a debt is owed the person to whom it is owed has the perogative to forgive that debt with out requiring anyone to pay for it. All one need do is mark it “forgiven”. The entire crucifixion was unnecessary. Consider the very concept of the sovereignty of god. If a god is sovereign then this deity can choose to do anything he wants. He can forgive sins without killing.
The Bible says that without the sheeding of blood there is no forgiveness for sin. But who laid down this law if not god? If god laid down this law he did so simply because it pleased him. There can be no law higher than the highest. There can be nothing that dictates to god what he may or may not wish. And that which he wishes he does. There can be no conflict there.
The only conclusion I can come to is this: god was offended that men had sinned. He decided that he wanted men to suffer in hell for doing so. After all if he didn’t create hell then men couldn’t suffer there so this was his choice as well. It then pleased him to send his son to earth as a man and have him tortured to death. The entire crucifixion can only take place if a sovereign god is pleased by it. He must find some satisfaction in this torture otherwise he would not demand it. This sadistic streak is deep and disturbing.
It was god that choose to create hell. It was god who decided that was going to send humans there. It was god who chose to have his son tortured to death. And it was all unnecessary. He could have accomplished all this in a more civilized way. He could simply say: “Hey you humans. I am offended by your sin. But I forgive you.” It is as simple as that.
Humans are sinful and evil, we are told. Yet they can say: “I forgive you.” And they can do it without torturing anyone. Yet supposedly the all-powerful, sovereign creator of the universe is incapable of forgiving sin with the same ease. Humans have moe ability to forgive than does god.
If god can’t simply forgive sin then he is not sovereign. There would have to be some force superior to him that restrains him and restricts his choices. But if he is sovereign then the only reason that Jesus was tortured to death was because this god enjoyed it. It pleased him in some manner more befitting a commandant in the gulag or a kapo at Auschwitz.
Imagine coming across a man beating a small child to death. You are horrified at the cruelty of what you see. You implore him to stop and beg him to explain what awful thing this child could have done to deserve this torture. He turns to you and says: “This is my son. He has done nothing wrong. In fact he is perfect.”
“They why do you torture him so?” you asked baffled by the cruelty of this man toward his own child. “Because the boy down the street broke a window yesterday. Somebody has to pay the price and I decided it should be my son.”
How much easier and how much more humane for this man to simply say to the neighbor boy: “Son, I know you broke the window. I forgive you.” Surely it is within the power of this man to make that choice. Surely it is within the power of a supreme being to make the same choice. What kind of being would prefer torture to simple forgivemess?
Forgiveness, without torture, without murder, is possible to man. It surely must be possible to the surpreme being of the universe. If it were not possible then god is not sovereign. If it were possible then god is not kind. No being that finds pleasure in torture can be considered loving.
But then this story of murder and execution is a tale from a barbaric people reflecting their values. It says nothing about god but much about the people who invented these stories. To put it mildly: they were not nice people. They were barbarians and they invented a god that reflected their own traits and thus was a barbarian as well.
If the cruxifixion story reflected the true nature of god we would have much to worry about. Such a being then would clearly be sick and sadistic. Then the deity would be one that enjoys pain and suffereing and took some sort of delight in the torture of his own son. He acted as he did because he wanted to do so. No more, no less.
But if god were such a sadistic being who takes pleasure in the pain of others, then why would he necessarily honor the arrangement to forgive sins after having his son tortured? Couldn’t such a sadist just as easily decide that those who put their faith in his son will burn in hell anyway? Who would be dumb enough to trust a sadist?