Evangelism, Gospel, and Atheism

The Gospels purport to be the "Good News" that you don't have to die, because Jesus died for you. Just believe this and when you die you can go live in Heaven — forever!

An Evangelist is, I understand, a person who goes around distributing this Good News.


But, suppose that this news is false? Then it wouldn't be good news after all.
Let's take a look at the underpinning logic.

The Book of Genesis says that Adam, at the behest of his woman Eve, who'd been chatting to a snake, disobeyed God's ultimate command, that they should not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
In the language of the KJV, after they'd eaten that Fruit, Adam _knew_ Eve, i.e. they had sexual intercourse. God punished them, for disobedience (or for copulating?) by decreeing that they and all their descendants would die.
Strictly speaking the fact that copulation can cause procreation clearly implies that in a finite Garden, or planet, someone must die.

Jesus, by getting himself judicially murdered, became the sacrifice necessary to atone for Adam and Eve's naughtiness.

Seriously, is this a probable story?
Suppose we throw it out.


If it's untrue, then when we die we're dead, and we'd better make the best we can of life. That was the view of both the Stoics and the Epicureans, who should not be supposed to have been interested only in luxury.
We have no right to comfort ourselves, when innocent children are murdered, with the belief that they've gone to Heaven. We are left with the responsibility to see to it ourselves that such things should not happen again.
If there is no afterlife, and this life ceases to be tolerable on account of pain, there is no reasonable argument against suicide.
Indeed, the laws that forbid it are cruel and therefore wicked.
There is no need to carry it to the extreme of the Japanese code of bushido, which held that suicide was preferable to living in dishonor.

But more than that, the good news is that the existence of the monstrous God, of the Hebrew Scriptures and of the Book of Revelation, is very improbable.
Better still, the existence of disease and pain are not attributable to any conscious cruelty.

There is some remarkable wisdom (the second commandment) in the Book of Exodus, which warns the Hebrews NOT to worship fixed Images of God. This is equivalent to the deep advice given by a few scientists, e.g.

J.B.S. Haldane: "The Universe is not only queerer than we think, it may be queerer than we can think."
Richard Feynman: "If you think you understand Quantum Mechanics, you don't understand Quantum Mechanics"
Or the Zen Buddhist koan
If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.
which is not as extreme as it sounds.

Nowadays, with electronic means, we have images that are electronic, but let us not forget that the word "imagery", properly used, refers to pictures created in the mind by cunning use of language, poetry especially.
Texts such as "God made Man in His own image" tell us that God resembles ourselves. This is manifestly absurd, because if God is the Intelligent Designer of the Universe, he is quite clearly as far beyond us as we are beyond the crabs that scuttle along the seashore — and the use of the masculine pronoun is silly too. So the images that the Holy Scriptures of olden days provide us, are hopelessly inadequate if there is a God, and irrelevant and immaterial if there is none.

The next seven commandments are obvious, when translated into modern democratic socialism. But the penalties later prescribed, especially for adultery, are excessive.
The tenth commandment, for which no penalties are prescribed, is also quite original, and good advice. Covetousness can be either risky or expensive, or both.


My Good News is the news of how your future can be better. It includes the news that ideas which have caused great strife in the past are simply false, and the strife should cease.
So I consider myself an atheist evangelist.
Perhaps the fact that you'll have to think for yourself seems Bad News, but it's worth the effort.