minimal expectations from eternal benevolence

So, I just passed a bearded old man with a HUGE sign sticking up over his head reading, “1 man, 1 woman, 1 marriage, God’s way”. Doing so in a generally liberal university area, he is clearly looking for attention. And I’m sure the old dear will be satisfied that, as promised in the Bible, he is ‘hated’ for doing the Christian god God’s ‘work’.

But his sign got me thinking. What are the minimal expectations human beings can have of a benevolent creator?

I would think that given the complexity of our lives, of situations, and of butterfly effects, guidance could only be restricted to encouraging us to live our lives avoiding harm to sentient earthly beings, including ourselves.

However, Christians seem more than happy to reconcile their belief in a benevolent creator god with any and all random rules, the breaking of which has often been punishable by earthly torment and/or death, followed by eternal torment. Would this be a fitting destiny for most of a created sentient group of beings, on behalf of eternal benevolence? I shouldn’t think so.

Let’s look at a few of these random rules:

A couple of thousand years ago, the god, God, was disgusted by the idea of people eating pigs. Now he’s more than happy for humans to feast on the flesh of these highly intelligent creatures, farming them in appalling conditions to do so. That’s random.

A couple of thousand years ago, the god, God, was disgusted by people who had sex outside of one perfect marriage, to the extent that raped women were forced to marry their rapist (after a suitable fine was paid). Now his followers happily divorce and remarry as often as their mood suits them. That’s random too.

A couple of thousand years ago, the god, God, was disgusted by people who didn’t obey him. He routinely ordered his followers to indiscriminately slaughter vast groups of people, with specific references to brutally killing pregnant women and children. Now his followers want us to believe he respects human life to such an extent that he would want to force women at any stage of pregnancy to give birth, regardless of their situation. That’s really random.

A couple of thousand years ago, the son of this god, God, (who is the god God) came to live as a man on our planet urging people not to judge one another, to pay taxes, to help the poor and to heal the sick. Now he’s happy for his followers to judge other people’s relationships and who they choose to marry (with no biblical references), and he’s concerned that taxes be kept as low as possible so that poor people can’t routinely access community aid or receive medical care.

My minimal expectations for eternal benevolence aren’t reached when it comes to the Christian religion, both in terms of the words in the Bible and in terms of the actions of its followers. As for the old bearded man and his odd obsession with other people’s relationships, I’m sorry that’s what his life is about. I’m sorry that he, and others like him, don’t allow themselves to have higher expectations of eternal benevolence.

And I’m not back, just ranting …