As a sign of how increasingly eccentric and silly a place to work our office has become, one of our colleagues had organised a massive easter egg hunt on Thursday. While sofa cushions were upturned and coffee jars emptied in a desperate hunt for hidden chocolate, I was reminded of two things; first, that our office is peopled exclusively with adults who turn into overgrown children with the appetites of a cluster of super-massive black holes whenever sugar-heavy goodies are made available, and, second, that none of the traditional symbols of this apparently christian festival have got anything to do with christianity. Forever dodging the questions of exactly what relevance the eggs and bunny rabbits of the pagan celebrations usurped by Team Carpenter have to easter, they will instead try to divert your attention to the one and only symbol they have got; a symbol of the boundless love that the one true god (apart from all the others) has for anyone prepared to devote themselves to his service in perpetuity – a half-naked, Palestinian torture-victim nailed to a tree.
To many millions of people, the image of the crucifixion represents the ultimate noble gesture; the physical incarnation of a supernatural deity offering himself up as a blood sacrifice in order that humanity might be saved from the mire of wretched, filthy sinfulness that it gleefully allows itself to wallow in (and from which it presumably cannot extricate itself without assistance). To me, however, it is a stupid, pointless exercise in unnecessary violence that was designed not only to guilt-trip a population into mentally enslaving itself to the tyrannical rule of an unseen celestial bogeyman, but also as a means for the self-same bogeyman to dig himself out of the massive hole that, by virtue of having created imperfect beings capable of sin, he had dug for himself and moronically fallen into in the first place (calling, if not his existence then at the very least his intelligence, into serious question). Let’s think about this for a moment …
Yahweh, the all-powerful, super-awesome, and completely invisible (yet totally real, honest) inventor of everything, fucked up pretty much right out of the gate by creating human beings who were suitably equipped with a multitude of flaws (including the capacity for committing quite monstrously evil deeds), along with having been given sufficient free will that they were able to exercise their various imperfections effectively. Despite the insurmountable logical impossibility of a perfect being ever producing anything imperfect, coupled with the fact that this being is also supposed to be all-knowing as well as all-powerful (another exquisitely entertaining paradox of logic), it still came as something of a surprise for him when the humans he’d initially manufactured out of dirt and pre-installed with a copy of “Sinners 7 Ultimate Edition” started sinning like mental all over the place. I mean, honestly, what did he expect?
Having already confiscated immortality from the first two humans (in addition to forcing half of them to work for food while the other half were to bleed monthly and eject other humans from their bodies), and for no other reason than the fact that the one who owned a pair of boobs got curious and decided to scrump apples from the landlord’s garden, god, as most of his followers commonly refer to him (they have a “personal relationship” with the master of the universe, apparently, but you shouldn’t assume that means mean they’re arrogant or anything) was forced, once again, to find some way of containing the sin epidemic that was rampaging through the fleshlings like an outbreak of syphilis (they probably had that too). The basement torture chamber he’d built to punish them when they finally carked it was proving useless as any kind of deterrent, and as a softer, gentler, deity who was now at least 43% less murderous than in Testament 1.0, he couldn’t really bring himself to genocide everyone again with another flood (that and it would just give the evolutionists twice the ammunition in future).
So, what’s a god to do when he’s already given his cherished and most highly-favoured creation death, toil, periods, babies, eternal post-death torture, and an apocalyptic, water-based bollocking of curiously biblical proportions? You have to feel sorry for the poor guy, I mean he must have felt like a frustrated, helpless parent who couldn’t get their screaming little bastard of a child to behave themselves and stop setting fire to the curtains while wiping its arse with the cat. Ignoring for a moment (as christians are forced to in all arguments) the fact that an omniscient being would know exactly what he would do long before he did it, god must have jumped for joy when the idea occurred to him that a grotesque public execution filled with meaningless symbolism might be just the thing to inspire the blasphemous, sabbath-ignoring, parent-dishonouring, murderous, adulterous, thieving, false witness-bearing, covetous humans with their other gods and graven images to mend their ways. We should probably also ignore how his omniscience would have meant he’d have known the whole idea would be an epic fail right from the start.
The plan went like this; first of all, god would incarnate himself as a human being, walk amongst us, and try to spread the word that we’re heading for an eternity of barbecued body parts and skewered rectums if we didn’t calm down and develop a sense of social morality. He didn’t want to waste time appearing as a burning bush or a voice booming from the skies because that would be far too effective and nowhere near convoluted enough – no, disseminating his message by birthing himself as his own son and telling parables to a bunch of fishermen (who famously never exaggerate) made much more sense. Phase one of the plan meant that he needed to get himself born, and that required a woman (god already had a wife, Asherah, so technically his scheme involved adultery). Mary, a randomly selected Jewish teenager with an english name was woken one night to be informed that she had been raped while she slept, but it’s okay, because the perpetrator was the almighty and she was now very much up the stick with his child (maybe this is what Rick “Santorum” Santorum was thinking of when he said rape victims should be grateful?)
Despite his young, and hitherto trustworthy, wife being in possession of undoubtedly the worst excuse for an unexplained pregnancy in all of history, Mary’s husband, Joseph, was remarkably understanding (I guess he didn’t want to say anything in case the father came down and smote him a new arsehole – either that or he couldn’t entirely remember whether he might have gotten wasted one night on Gallilean grape juice and slyly shoved one up his under-aged bride; “Keep schtum, Joe”, he kept telling himself for fear saying anything would ultimately out him as a paedophile). Nonetheless, given that Jeremy Kyle, DNA tests, and readily available abortions weren’t due to be available for another twenty centuries, Mary gave birth to the son of her rapist … who was also her actual rapist (Hallmark simply don’t have cards to cover situations like this). Eschewing the traditional hospital delivery, or even the fashionable home birth, she opted instead to mark the BC/AD calendar change-over in a barn stuffed with hay and spattered with cow shit (one day a celeb will have the nerve to do this, I promise).
Now that he was amongst the humans he so loved, god could start telling them what a bunch of sinful wasters they all were, and how they needed to follow and worship him or his dad will torture the shit out of them when they die. This was phase two of the plan and, for the most part, it largely consisted of making speeches along such lines; “Don’t you know who I am?”, ”I can have you killed”, and “You need to show me some respect, motherfucker”, while not actual direct quotes, certainly give the gist of what he was saying as he strutted about the middle east with his entourage promising the world to his adoring, ever-worshipful fan base, while threatening violent retribution against all “da haters” who, among other things, questioned his claim to being the king, and accused him of plagiarising his lyrics from more talented, less well-known philosophy artists. Having spent 33 years gobbing off to everyone about his sky daddy, it was time for phase three – his awesome downfall, and subsequent resurrection, before the world.
And so it was on the easter weekend of 33 AD (the date was chosen to taken advantage of the influx of pagan tourists to the area) that Jesus Joshua Lord Redeemer Messiah Saviour Gavin H. Christ was, after a large final meal with his posse, and with the invaluable assistance of Judas (who probably paid for the meal having recently come in to a bit of money), was nailed to a deconstructed Ikea wardrobe after spending hours being beaten to a mushy pulp by romans who, quite understandably, had had enough of the mouthy tosser, his “holier than thou” attitude, and his incessant boasting about who his dad was. With this one simple act of assisted suicide (the only one christians can possibly tolerate), all of the sins of man (and woman, but only if they remember who’s boss) would be wiped clean forever. Humans could escape the perpetual torment that awaited them in the afterlife so long as they pledged themselves spiritually, eternally, to the dead Jew on a stick … and if that isn’t the most absurdly stupid fucking story you’ve ever heard, I don’t know what is.
Let’s look at the facts (well, I say “facts”, but we are dealing with religion here so I of course mean “shit made up by illiterate, bronze-age desert nomads passed off as facts by ignorant present-day theists”); the prime mover, the alpha and the omega, the almighty creator of time, space, and the infinite multiverse, seems incapable of finding solutions to a problem that don’t involve murdering it to pieces. First, he created us all broken … then he blamed and condemned us for being broken, and ordered us to spend our lives fixing his mistakes. If we don’t, won’t, or even can’t, he will punish our transgressions, however finite in both number and duration they may be, with infinite torment in a terrifying underworld of his own making, rendering him without doubt the most morally bankrupt and socially malignant scumbag ever to set foot in this dimensional realm (not including Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, obviously).
Having created an arse-backwards situation so ridiculously twisted that even the creators of “Lost” rejected it as a show finale idea, this god muppet then sets about trying to change it; not by rewriting or completely scrapping the rules he established, oh no … no, apparently, the only way to resolve the issue of unfettered human sin once and for all was to have a blood sacrifice by way of a public execution. Makes sense. Or not. I mean, when a parent has run out of ideas for disciplining their unruly kid the most obvious answer is to nail the family dog to the leylandii at the bottom of the garden while telling the child that they’ll never have to spend a single moment on the naughty step just so long as they believe the recently crucified communal canine has forgiven them for filling daddy’s XBox with golden syrup. Actually, I’d kind of like to see Jo Frost pull this suggestion out of the bag during the next series of “Supernanny” – she’d have some of those obnoxious little shits starched, stiff-backed, and calling their parents “sir” and “ma’am” before the first ad break.
Not content with forgiving humanity for the wrongs it had committed against “him-with-a-capital-H” personally (mostly seeing other gods or not giving him a few hand jobs every sunday), the ineffably insecure one also sought to absolve everyone of crimes they had perpetrated against one another by accepting the punishment and paying the price bodily on their behalf. It’s the apparent absence of a single theist willing to question the highly dubious morality of an invisible being engaging in this kind of vicarious, third-party forgiveness that makes the whole thing possible; if they’d thought about it for even an instant they would surely be protesting that, while the man upstairs can say he holds no grudge against Reg for putting an axe through the roof of Terry’s Vauxhall Corsa and that the slate has been wiped clean, Terry is still mightily pissed that he’s got an improvised convertible he didn’t ask for and that Jehovah did three months for criminal damage when it should have been Reg instead.
To summarise … christianity is built around a god who knocked up a teenage girl against her will, rendering himself physical in order that he can make a blood sacrifice, of himself, to himself, thereby creating a stupidly unnecessary loophole in rules that he drew up. As a result of this, we can sidestep the fundamentally unjust system of infinite infernal punishment that he had invented (ostensibly for the sole purpose of being the ultimate penalty for our failure to live up to the impossible standards he set down in the first place), with the added bonus that our crimes against others are null and void, irrespective of whether those others forgive us and whether or not it is actually moral for someone else to serve a sentence on our behalf. Oh, and don’t forget, faith in, and devotion, to this god and his Wile E. Coyote approach to planning is a pre-requisite for being a moral being. Can someone tell me again how it is that we atheists, with our context-sensitive moral relativism, are the bad guys in all this?
And, while we’re at it, can someone tell me exactly where the sacrifice is here? To describe an immortal, omnipotent being voluntarily (it was his idea, after all) having to endure a few hours brutal torture before spending three days (christians suck at maths) as a physiologically-challenged daisy-pusher, as being any kind of a “sacrifice” is both woefully dishonest and hugely overstating the case. It was, at best, a trivial inconvenience (and that’s if we’re being generous with words). When your existence is measured in units of time so vast it makes the universe feel like a mayfly in comparison, an entire weekend without a pulse is no more a lifelong handicap to a deity than a boil on the arse is to the average human. If you want an actual sacrifice, what about Judas? He was quintessential to the whole scheme, and yet he is destined to spend an eternity in hell, and all for being an vital, and unwitting, cog in the machinery of the divine plan. What a nice way to treat those who help you out, Yahweh, you prick!
Putting aside all this facetious, yet hilarious (if it wasn’t you wouldn’t be reading this far), fannying about, the simple truth is that religions have used notions of torture and suffering in their texts, images, and symbols since the beginning, and they do so to instil fear and guilt in their followers so that they might shut up and do as they’re told. The première christian symbol, that of a murdered insurgent mounted upon a first century roman implement of capital punishment, is an image designed specifically to drill into people the idea that they should quit complaining about their lot in life and accept what god has given them because, well, it could be worse. So what if you’re a slave whose life’s meaning is to be owned by someone who will put you through decades of back-breaking servitude and physical abuse that will only be brought to an end by your premature death? Christ had nails rammed through his hands for you, you ungrateful fucking peasant! Now, show some respect and get on all fours – I need a footstool.
For a religious person to complain about their lowly position in the grand scheme of things is to be a thankless wretch before god. It was, after all, his will that you receive a daily bum-raping from the rich and powerful who keep you in the gutter and make it impossible for you to better your situation – how dare you cast that back in the face of the almighty? “Stop your bitching! Your suffering is nothing compared to that of the lord!” All of this is part and parcel of the lie propagated by almost every religion that everything will be so much better once you die; even relatively fluffy Buddhism teaches the poor to accept their miserable existences by promoting the idea that suffering is somehow a virtue. You’ve got to admit, it is a truly brilliant piece of psychological manipulation by the ruling classes that has ensured the continuation of their lifestyles at the expense of ours – I guess it’s one of the reasons why they hate atheists so much; their bullshit guilt-trip hypnosis routine doesn’t work on us any more.
When “The Passion Of The Christ” came out in cinemas in 2004, I actually went to see it, and for no other reason than to see what the fuss was about, and whether Mel Gibson was pointing the finger of blame for the crucifixion squarely at the Jews, as had been claimed (I’m still not entirely convinced one way or the other, although he does certainly lean his head and direct his eyes as if to say, “look over there”). The film was exactly as I expected it to be; two hours of hardcore torture porn (with Gibson clearly getting a massive rock on for it) that had been skilfully constructed to enthral a death cult of indoctrinates who will watch it and feel guilty for having the audacity to be human. In that respect, it’s just like pretty much any other facet of their miserable religion; a grotesque and sick-making exercise in wringing every last drop of what it means to be human out of anyone with a closed mind and an open wallet.
Around the world this weekend there will have been countless public recreations of this abhorrent bible story, watched by thousands of children whose parents are eager for them to believe that they are somehow celebrating a truly inspiring moment, commemorating the greatest of all sacrifices with due reverence, respect, and gratitude … instead of, if they’re being honest, going totally fucking ga-ga over a dead Jew on a stick.
But, remember, kids, it’s the giant chocolate eggs for breakfast that are bad for you …