A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: Why I’m a good Christian.
The title of this one is a little misleading, or at least cryptic. I am of course not a good Christian in the sense that I believe that Jesus was half man, half God, but I do believe I am a good Christian compared to a lot of Christians.
It’s not that I don’t believe that the teachings of Jesus wouldn’t make this a better world if they were followed. It’s just that they are rarely followed.
Gandhi summed it up really. He said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
I have always felt this way, even when I believed in God, and in a weird way I feel I am still a pretty good “Christian” who doesn’t believe in God.
So many Christians think that because they believe in the right God, they are automatically good and have a one-way ticket to everlasting life. Dare I say it but I suspect this is their main reason for believing. I’ve heard so many “believers” say, “Well, since there is no way of being sure whether there is a God or not, it’s better to believe in God than not, because that way, if you’re wrong it doesn’t matter and if you’re right you get everlasting life.” Win:win.
This is of course Pascal’s Wager, which assumes that God if he exists would reward blind faith above logic and living a good life as an atheist.
To the Christians’ God by the way, it’s just as bad to believe in the wrong God as no God at all. The idea of other Gods is of course ridiculous to Christians. Supernatural poppycock. As if there was ever a Zeus; stupid, ancient, unenlightened superstition. And even if there are other Gods (which of course there aren’t) then the Christians’ God is the best. Hardest, smartest… just better. He would laugh at Zeus and call him a Greek bender. (I doubt that God is racist and homophobic but the Bible isn’t clear. Some bits go on about love and equality and others say you shouldn’t trust certain types and that laying down with a man as you would with a woman is punishable by death and is a bit sick and evil.)
So remember. If you are gay you are “Bumming for Satan” basically. (That would make quite a good T-shirt.)
Jesus was a man. (And if you forget all that rubbish about being half God, and believe the non-supernatural acts accredited to him, he was a man whose wise words many other men would still follow.) His message was usually one of forgiveness and kindness. These are wonderful virtues but I have seen them discarded by many so-called God-fearers when it suits them. They cherry pick from their “rulebook” basically. I have seen such cruelty and prejudice performed in the name of Christianity (and many other religions for that matter) that it makes me wonder if there has been a bit too much selective reading and reinterpretation of the doctrines.
God or not, if I could change one thing for a better world, it would be for all mankind to adhere to this little gem: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I assure you, no more stones would ever be thrown.
So maybe we should go back to basics to find out where it all got confused.
The Ten Commandments
The 10 Commandments are found in the Bible’s Old Testament; Exodus, Chapter 20.
“And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the LORD your God.'”
So let’s take the test.
‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’I definitely do not. Excellent. I get one point.
‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.’This basically means don’t make or worship a religious statue or bow to it thinking that it’s holy. Tick. Another point to me.
‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.’I never do. But let me explain something. Most people think that The Third Commandment means that they shouldn’t use his name as a swear word, e.g. shouting, “Oh God!” when they stub their toe instead of, “Oh Fuck!”
This is not the case (although I love the idea that God would rather them shout “Fuck” than “God”. That makes him cool in my book. But no.)
The commandment could equally be, You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in “vanity” e.g. when your enemy is hurt or defeated saying, “that’s God’s wrath,” or when you win an award saying, “thank God.” This is using his name in vanity. It’s suggesting that you KNOW that God helped you win that award because you deserved it more, or because he was on your side. It’s always tickled me that God would have a favourite actor at The Golden Globes.
Anyway I get another point. I think most non-atheists will lose a point here.
‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’Before we score this we need to discover what it really means when God commands us to keep the Sabbath day holy. In understanding our answer, and the true intent of God’s word, it doesn’t matter what day of the week we celebrate the Sabbath. There were no calendars when God created the heavens and the earth so we don’t know what day he stated and ended. Don’t let the ‘day’ become more important than the ‘intent’.
If we look at the portion of The Ten Commandments which refers to this, Exodus 20:8-11, it seems to be very specific;
According to the Bible, God commanded us to keep it holy. But what does that really mean? Work is basically referring to that which we do to earn a living, or in working around the house, or any labour we participate in daily. So, if we never worked at all would that mean every day was holy? No. This absolutely is not being holy. In various places in the Bible we are told of our need to work, for in our work we honor God. So… basically you have to work for the equivalent of six days a week with a day off.
I do this. I get another point.
‘Honour your father and your mother.’I think I get a point if anyone does with this one.
‘You shall not murder.’Nope. Tick.
‘You shall not commit adultery.’Nope. Tick.
‘You shall not steal.’Nope. Tick.
‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.’Nope. Tick.
‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.’Nope. Tick. Another point for me.
Not bad for an atheist.
I make that 10 out of 10.
How did you do?
Even if this doesn’t prove I am a good Christian it does prove that the Bible is a bit inconsistent, open to interpretation, and a little intolerant.
This is not peculiar to Christianity to be fair. And I like to be fair. Because unlike ALL religions, as an atheist, I treat ALL religions equally.