Sunday, March 25, 2012


In ancient Middle Eastern cultures, thousands of years ago, people transferred their wrongdoings to goats. People then set the goats free into the wilderness to die miserable deaths of thirst and starvation. This somehow cleansed people of their responsibilities and wrongdoings, or so they thought. This notion of the escaping goat gave us the English word we know today as "scapegoat."

The idea that wrongdoings could be atoned for by the murder of innocent beings was a central theme in many ignorant, backward Middle Eastern cultures. Given all we know today, can our wrongdoings really be cleansed away by murdering innocent goats or anything else? If so, and crucially, is it moral for us to attempt to avoid personal responsibility by having innocent beings tortured and murdered on our behalves?

It does not appear possible for us to cast our responsibilities onto goats or anyone or anything else. And it is a good thing it does not appear possible. Personal responsibility forms the basis for all morality. We must be responsible for our own actions if we are to live morally. The thought that we could somehow cast our own wrongdoings onto an innocent being to be tortured and murdered is both ridiculous and horrific. I do not authorize anyone or anything to be tortured or murdered due to my misdeeds. As an able and competent adult, complaints about my behavior should be addressed to me and me alone.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Ali is a loving husband and father who lives in a small-town in India. Ali is a hard-working physician and philanthropist who gives his time and money to his family, to charities and to strangers. He has never seriously wronged anyone in his entire life. Like almost all Indians, Ali was born into a Hindu family. Ali worships Hindu gods and has several altars to Hindu gods in his family's home. Ali has heard of Christianity but has never met a Christian.

Bob is a confessed violent pedophile and child murderer. He spent his adult life preying on children before being apprehended by the police. Bob currently sits on death row in Texas. He is scheduled to die in 2015. Bob tells people he was recently "born again": he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

What if we view these 2 men in light of the Christian Bible (Hebrew Bible plus "New" Testament)? According to the Christian Bible, after death those with a belief in Christ's divinity have their sins forgiven and enjoy eternal paradise. Those without a belief in Christ's divinity burn alive in eternal hellfire. Ali burns in hell forever. Bob goes to Heaven to be with Jesus... and all the children Bob victimized.

One thing should be clear: Christianity is not concerned with moral accountability. Fortunately there is no evidence of eternal paradises, eternal hellfires or books written by invisible gods. There is only life and death, time and death being the ultimate change agents. Ali will live a long, comfortable life with his wife, children and grandchildren. Bob will suffer at his fellow inmates' hands and then die of lethal injection. And then, from everything we can tell, they will both be dead, just like everything else that has ever lived.