Judging the Judge

86543000-325x222From Smalley’s “Top Ten Reasons Why I’m an Athiest”:

10. Only for the sake of argument, if I were to astonishingly find myself face to face with a supreme being, I would expect to be judged on my life as a humanist, and how I treated others, (just as most Christians plan to be judged on character, not on the actual Ten Commandments). If my positive actions were ignored, and I was instead judged on using my intelligence to doubt religious doctrines created by human sinners, I would rather be eternally punished than bow to such an unfair tyrant who made things seemingly impossible for humans to succeed at this horrific game.

Right away, it should be noted that this argument comes down to “I don’t want Christianity to be true”, not “here’s a reason to think that it isn’t true”. Much less is it a reason to reject all forms of theism.

But I’ll agree with Smalley that an unfair form of judgment would be a problem for Christianity. This, therefore, would seem a comfort to the atheist: Either one will be judged on one’s character, or one can claim the moral right in the situation.

Or, rather, it would be a comfort if it were true.

None of us can claim moral perfection. None of us can claim the right to enter heaven. Even if God said “I’m only going to judge you based on what you, in your life, have told people about how they ought to live”, none of us can rightly claim to live up to that standard. Much less can we live up to any standard befitting a perfect being like God.

Really, what Smalley appears to be saying is that he deserves to go to heaven, and that the only question here is whether or not God realizes this.

But this is, like most of the items on his list, born out of a deep misunderstanding of what Christianity actually teaches. No one is going to be judged by their professed beliefs. People will be judged by our hearts and minds–how good we really are.

Those of us who realize that we aren’t nearly so good as we know we should be start to get nervous at this point, and the idea of forgiveness starts to look very interesting. But Smalley is saying that he doesn’t need forgiveness. It’s no wonder that he isn’t interested in learning about Christianity; he insists that its main concept is of no use to him.

Yes, that is obviously false. And this means that anyone who takes this approach has no right to say that it is intelligence, rather than ignorance, which is the basis of his rejection of Christianity.

Christianity teaches that we can all enter God’s presence, so long as we’re honest enough with ourselves to admit that we are moral failures and seek God’s forgiveness. It is self-righteousness, not intellectual questioning, that is the path to hell.

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6 responses to “Judging the Judge

  • Arkenaten

    ”Christianity teaches that we can all enter God’s presence, so long as we’re honest enough with ourselves to admit that we are moral failures and seek God’s forgiveness. It is self-righteousness, not intellectual questioning, that is the path to hell.”

    And this is why Christians are such hypocrites.
    Smalley states that if he is to be judged it should be on his conduct as a human being.
    You are implying he is trying to play both ends of the field, that if he is ten times better that any christian he still would not get in to ;’heaven’ and nothing he can do will make a difference.
    Then you go on to state that no matter how hard we try to be good we are moral failures.
    On what evidence?
    Honestly,what you write is beyond belief.

    You have to first demonstrate that there is a god, your god, before anything.

    • Debilis

      I completely agree that Christians are hypocrites. Some of them more so, some less. Personally, I’d say that all humans are hypocrites, and I don’t see why Christians should be an exception.

      Personally, I try to avoid hypocrisy in myself as much as possible, and I’m definitely less so since becoming a Christian.

      But I am implying that Smalley is as imperfect as the rest of us. I don’t know him, but I think it’s safe to assume this. You seem to think that an imperfect person deserves perfection (which doesn’t seem to make sense).

      So, yes, I think that we are moral failures. This is the idea. The best people I know tell me that they aren’t nearly as good as they should be. And the worst people I know are convinced that they’re plenty good enough. I have no idea how anyone could look at that and say that humans are good enough to deserve perfection.

      But Smalley was granting the hypothetical existence of God for the sake of this argument. I don’t have to demonstrate the truth of that claim to answer him. That makes no sense.

  • Logan Rees

    “Really, what Smalley appears to be saying is that he deserves to go to heaven, and that the only question here is whether or not God realizes this.”

    That actually made me lol. I can’t understand the mindset of people, theist or atheist, who believe that they’ve figured out morality to the point that they believe they are always acting morally throughout their day-to-day lives. Reducing it to a simple principle, like ‘don’t hurt others,’ doesn’t magically make it easier to be a moral person. The problem is we don’t realize most of the ways in which we hurt people, or ourselves. The point of morality is to always be on the lookout for these ways. Even if we had the best intentions, if we hurt someone, we still acted immorally.

    The big misunderstanding here is that people think that ‘original sin’ or the inherent sinful nature of humans is Christianity’s way of guilt tripping everyone into believing. It is meant to be a simple admission that we don’t know the moral way to live, all we can do is try our best, and beg forgiveness when we screw up.

    • Debilis

      Yes, that is actually one of the things that I like about the teaching of my favorite pastor. He points out that, though people often distort it, Christianity is supposed to avoid making you feel superior because salvation isn’t based on being more moral than others.

      In any case, I find myself asking for forgiveness every day (that seems a constant in marriage). I’m glad for it.

  • Keith Pinster

    “But this is, like most of the items on his list, born out of a deep misunderstanding of what Christianity actually teaches. No one is going to be judged by their professed beliefs. People will be judged by our hearts and minds–how good we really are.”

    Yet another reason to reject xianity. Debilis also seems to have a “deep misunderstanding” of xianity. Or at least, what many xians calim to be xianity. It’s funny that people like Debilis seem to think that they alone hold the “correct” understanding of xianity, whereas, apparently, all other xians are too stupid to truly understand their religion.

    Next, it’s funny that Debilis so conceitedly asserts that Smalley is wrong about heaven being nothing more than a fable, but then goes on to make assertions about god’s rules of heaven. Once again, with absolutely no evidence to support any of these assertions.

    So, although I agree that Smalley’s argument isn’t really a reason to believe that theism is false, it certainly is a reason to not buy into *most* theists delusional superstitions.

    • Debilis

      I don’t think it is terribly important whether or not there are other Christians who disagree with me.
      Rather, what is significant is whether or not a good reason can be given why my understanding is wrong. If there is a clear passage in the Bible that teaches that people will be judged based on their stated beliefs, I missed it.

      Nor have I met any Christians who claim this. But, if any do, I’m not accusing them of stupidity. I’m simply disagreeing.

      Though I have offered evidence elsewhere, that wasn’t the point of this topic. It was accepted as a hypothetical. As such, I saw no reason to argue for it here as I have elsewhere.

      So, whether or not most theists believe a particular thing, the point is whether or not this is a reason to reject every form of theism.

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