Benevolent Tyranny

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

Hell is a bothersome concept. It is not only disagreeable merely because yours truly does not wish to spend an eternity there. Well, it is, but then it isn't. The most disturbing thing about the proposed place that is Hell is the effect that it has on other people. A gentle person who threatens no one and has the well-being of his fellow clan of humans in mind wishes that harm to them be minimized. Yet this ghastly, sociopathic, and disgusting concept somehow can be accepted by otherwise gentle people.

When you are told as a child not to bully others, you may listen or you may disregard the parental advice. Eventually, as kids mature, bullying tends to wane. Sure it may take other forms of "abuse", although be it not necessarily in the form of physical abuse. At any rate, the physical violence is eventually minimized as the maturity of an individual increases. You learn that violence rarely achieves your objectives and is rarely worth the bother other than when your well-being or the well-being of loved ones is pushed to the brink. It is generally deemed, by most human societies, that the only time violence is called for is if it is reactionary towards coercion.

It appears however that a double-standard is in play. What sense does it make to a thoughtful human being that you can have a benevolent father figure in the sky while at the same time he punishes most of humanity? Is this not violence in its ugliest form? Make no mistake--Hell is violence manifest. The CS Lewis quote in this context is relevant considering the idea that theists believe that having this celestial authority is for humanity's own good. In the height of irony, Lewis is arguing against a form of political authoritarianism, yet is perfectly at home with his version of religious authoritarianism because he assumes it is all-moral. Ask any totalitarian despot and they may share Lewis' opinion, only in regards to themselves. Lewis is claiming that utterly destroying one's soul in a lake of Hellfire is appropriate for not accepting Jesus because one either committed "murder" in their heart (disregarding healthy avenues to express anger), masturbated, or killed another man in a bout of rage (for which even eternal burning is an insane attempt at justice).

Not only does this glorify violence in its nastiest way possible, it legitimizes the concept of human ownership. It may sound as if it is a cliche of the New Atheist movement, but it is no hyperbole when the majority of theists assume that God, as the author of human life, has the right to take it away at his whim. We are at his mercy at all times. We're not dealing with normal "property" here; we are dealing with conscious creatures that experience worth, love, and most of all, freedom.

The fundamental question that a human being has to face is: Are we beings to be owned or are we autonomous?


Anonymous said...






the end of atheism - only the blind and deaf can deny it...

an example and warning of the fate of those who try to divide people....


At least we're on the same page...

Serves Em Right, eh, Randi....


piet on December 15, 2011 at 2:49 PM said...

Dear blogger from atheist altar

To promote skepticism/critical thinking I wrote some questions for the Christian believer. Mefiante from South African Skeptics made a good translation. She is now working at the last part. The most sophisticated questions. Are you able to put the link to these questions at your blog.

Thank you very much,

Piet - Rotterdam - Netherlands.

The original questions

The translation
The first one who did this, was Jonathan. This is a good example.

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