No damnation without representation!

August 16, 2006 | By | 5 Replies More

One of the main causes of America’s Revolutionary War against Britain was the fact that British Parliament was passing tax laws against the Colonies, but was also denying the Colonists the right to be represented in Parliament to protest those taxes.  “No taxation without representation” was the rallying cry that swept through the New world and solidified opposition to Britain’s dictatorial rule.

This rallying cry came thundering back into my head this week as I was reading the Bible — specifically, Daniel, chapter 9.  Nearly the entire chapter is devoted to Daniel begging for God’s forgiveness, because of Israel’s failure to obey God’s laws.  I suddenly realized that of the 600+ laws that God handed down to the Isrealites (the Ten Commandments were only a brief summary), *not one* was enacted with the consent, or even the counsel, of the Israelites.  As I read through the chapter, I suddenly realized how absurd Daniel’s begging sounded.  God did not give Daniel, or any other Israelite, any role whatsoever in making the laws that God handed down, so why should the Israelites take the entire blame for not following them?  Just as the American Colonists did in the Revolutionary War, shouldn’t Daniel have objected to dictatorial law-making as fundamentally unfair, instead of begging forgiveness for not adhering to it?

Let me anticipate the Christian objection:  unlike British Parliament, God is righteous and perfectly fair; therefore, his laws are, too.  Really?  If God is so perfect and fair, then why didn’t his elaborate system of laws work:  why did he need to send Jesus to create a new covenant (a new covenant that, by the way, has also failed because of the massive confusion it creates) to replace the failed covenant of the Old Testament?  Here is my answer:  if the God of the Bible exists, then he has subjected humanity to damnation without representation, and this is neither righteous nor fair.  Indeed, if taxation without representation is so reprehensible that it merits secession, then eternal damnation without representation is far worse.  Therefore, just as the American Colonists did with the British tax system, we humans should rightfully condemn a spiritual system that denies us any meaningful representation and that threatens us with eternal damnation for failing to follow it.

Let me again anticipate the Christian objection:  God created the laws of the OT and sent Jesus not for the purpose of damning humans without representation; he did these things so humans would have some hope of avoiding damnation, because, absent God’s divine intervention, humans are all eternally damned because of Adam’s Original Sin.  In other words, humans can condemn God’s law all we want, but we are all still eternally damned to hell unless we follow it.  In a burning building, we can complain all we want about having to use the stairs to escape, but we’re still going to burn to death if we don’t use them.

Point taken.  However, God is all powerful, so he is also the ultimate firefighter:  he could simply extinguish the flames (and sweep the arsonist out of existence), so that nobody would burn to death for failing to take the stairs.  Likewise, God could easily save everyone from eternal damnation or, at least, make the Bible a whole lot easier for us to understand, so more people would have a better shot at getting into heaven.  What is just and fair about making spiritual laws that can be interpreted in tens of thousands of different ways, so that we wind up with tens of thousands of different religions, virtually all claiming to be the One True Religion?

Let me anticipate a final, and very important, Christian objection:  God doesn’t damn us without representation, because God listens to our prayers and this gives us representation.  Really?  There is no evidence that God either listens to your prayers or changes his plans for your life in response to them.  To the contrary, the Bible says that God has a plan for each of us and woe be to us if we don’t follow it.  Prayer isn’t about God listening to and satisfying your wishes; prayer is about begging God to tell you more about his wishes.  That isn’t representation; that is, again, dictatorship.  And it’s a mighty cruel dictatorship:  God has the power to satisfy your dreams but, instead of doing that, he waves his omnipotence under your nose and makes you beg him to tell you his dreams.  God says, “Welcome to your life.  I realize you would like to be a successful pro golfer, but I’m not going to let you do that.  I’m going to give that plum job to Tiger Woods, and I’m going to make you a private in the military…under the command of a stupid, warmongering president who is going to send you to Iraq for no good reason…and then I’m going to have an equally stupid, warmongering Iraqi put an IED under your Humvee and blow your legs off.  Go ahead:  pray all you want.  Every dead and maimed American who has returned from Iraq prayed to me, too, and look what good it did them.  In fact, every dead and maimed Iraqi prayed to me, too, and look what good it did them.”

Damnation without representation is fundamentally wrong — wrong enough to justify secession.  If you find this idea unpalatable, then at least you are now aware of the issue and can discuss it with God the next time you see him.  Please let us know what he tells you.

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Category: Good and Evil, Politics, Religion

About the Author ()

Grumpypilgrim is a writer and management consultant living in Madison, WI. He has several scientific degrees, including a recent master’s degree from MIT. He has also held several professional career positions, none of which has been in a field in which he ever took a university course. Grumps is an avid cyclist and, for many years now, has traveled more annual miles by bicycle than by car…and he wishes more people (for the health of both themselves and our planet) would do the same. Grumps is an enthusiastic advocate of life-long learning, healthy living and political awareness. He is single, and provides a loving home for abused and abandoned bicycles. Grumpy’s email: grumpypilgrim(AT)@gmail(DOT).com [Erich’s note: Grumpy asked that his email be encrypted this way to deter spam. If you want to write to him, drop out the parentheticals in the above address].

Comments (5)

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  1. highandmighty says:

    Hail! Oh Sarcastic One! Who is like unto thee, oh Erich! Mind if I pray to thee, for thou art surely God! Just a little early morning vacuuous humor

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    highandmighty: Whoa, there! This post is not mine. You owe your vaccuous prayer-humor to Grumpypilgrim, who receives and answers prayers only through the Internet, never ethereal methods.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    In response to highandmighty's humor: yes, you can pray to me, but only if you follow two rules: (1) you must fervently believe that I can answer your prayers, so that I can gain the placebo effect that God enjoys; and (2) you must ignore all instances when I fail to answer your prayers and credit me (and only me) whenever I appear to answer them, so that I can gain the marvelous selection bias that God enjoys. If you do these two things, you will be unable to distinguish my prayer-answering ability from God's. Naturally, I will also expect you to tithe 10% of your annual income to me, and to come to my house once a week to praise me and eagerly "Amen" at whatever nonsense comes out of the mouth of my earthly representative…who, by the way, is infallible. LOL!

  4. Erika Price says:

    Nice. But this makes me wonder: how can the Religious Right claim to spread democracy around the world, seeing it as their divine calling and purpose as Americans, when God didn't rule them democratically at all? The "city upon a hill" way of thinking just doesn't gell with God's divine plan.

  5. Jason Rayl says:

    You must be careful about which meaning of "democracy" is being used. The religious right has joined with the far right libertarian stance that democracy means–ONLY–free markets. As long as there are free markets, we can have an emperor (or a fuerher) and have…ahem… democracy.

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