Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cool Things This Week 04/14/14

We have a few events this week, so I figured I would post them here for anyone who isn't in the group (which you should do, by the way, let me know here if you want to be added). We are meeting up to watch a showing of God Loves Uganda, a documentary about anti-gay legislation in Uganda, at the Visual Arts Complex Auditorium Wednesday at 6:30. We have a meeting Thursday at 6PM on French film presented by our own Christian Spencer. And our regular happy hour will be Friday at 5PM at the Dark Horse.

Monday, December 9, 2013

We Need You!

Hello there you SSaSSy lot! Are you interested in getting involved in your community? Helping organize events? Meeting fantastic people? Then we need you! 
We are now accepting officer applications for the Spring 2014 semester. Applications can be found on our Facebook page, Secular Students and Skeptics society: Please turn them in to our office, UMC 330, by January 14th, or send it to our email:
We have some exciting events we will be hosting in the spring, including Darwin Day and anything else you would like to do! We are looking for talented, responsible, open-minded individuals who are interested in gaining experience in graphic design and promotions, as well as writing for a blog, or managing finances. 
The positions we need to fill are:
Vice President: This person will be assisting the President or Presidents in managing guest speakers, planning game nights, and anything else that arises.
Two Director of Promotions positions:
One person will be in charge of managing our online social forums, including our blog ( and our Facebook page (
The second officer will be in charge of making posters and promoting our events, especially our larger events.  
These tasks can be divided any which way between the two officers.
Director of Finance:
This officer will be in charge of the club’s finances, including helping us write grants, applying for student funding, and fundraising.

We are creating an environment in which creativity, open-mindedness, and skepticism are fostered in a fun and open environment. We emphasize sharing ideas and debating important and interesting topics. We hope to see the Secular Students and Skeptics Society grow with new ideas, people, and opinions. If you have any questions please email Amedee Martella or Emily Patterson at We will be available for meetings over break and/or via email. Interviews will take place the first week of the Spring 2014 semester.
It's going to be a great semester!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Carl Sagan Day 2013

                               Photograph from google images

This Wednesday, the 13th of November, we will be celebrating the life and teachings of the late, great Carl Sagan. Please join us at the Fiske Planetarium; doors open at 6:00pm and Professor Doug Duncan from the University of Colorado’s Department of Astronomy will begin his talk at 7:15, which will be followed by an episode of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.

The vast amount of scientific work, accomplishments, and awards that Carl Sagan had accumulated in his lifetime have filled several books, but more than that, these works have inspired an impressive generation of thinkers.

The American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, and author began his work lecturing at Harvard until he transferred Cornel University as a professor of astronomy, where he directed the Laboratory for Planetary Studies. Sagan’s career consisted of more than 600 published scientific papers and articles as well as being an advisor to NASA and creating the first physical message that was sent into space with Pioneer 10. In 1980 Sagan began his award winning television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote. He later published a book that accompanied the series, as well as another novel, Contact, which was later adapted into a film in 1997.

More impressive than the large and very quantifiable achievements in his field, Carl Sagan promoted strong inquisitiveness and critical thinking. Carl Sagan always advocated scientific skeptical inquiry and the scientific method, pioneered exobiology and promoted the search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. His work and philosophies have been an example of skepticism and scientific inquiry. He popularized skepticism or ‘freethinking,’ and Sagan wrote extensively on the relationship between religion and science:
"Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual."

His philosophies are skeptical about the conventional perception of God being a sapient being, but he also allows that there is not sufficient evidence to conclude the absence of a deity, but “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments and inspirations of Carl Sagan, whose ideas and work have influenced the sciences and his work with the relationship between science and religion his notions of evidence have become the standard of which to base many personal beliefs or skepticisms: “The weight of the evidence should be proportioned to the strangeness of the facts.Carl Sagan’s dedication to science has proved to be an invaluable inspiration to the new generation of thinkers, explorers, and scientists who are leading the world into the future.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Announcing the Third Annual Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner...

Welcome Pastafarians to the third annual Flying Spaghetti Monster dinner! This year it will be held on October 9th at 6:00 in Hellems 199. Admission is free but any money raised will be donated to the Boulder Flood Relief in the name of his sauciness. There will also be a celebratory performance featuring Left Right Tim.

For all of you who are new to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster here are some important facts to know:
·   We believe pirates, the original Pastafarians, were peaceful explorers and it was due to Christian misinformation that they have an image of outcast criminals today
·   We are fond of beer
·   Every Friday is a Religious Holiday
·   We do not take ourselves too seriously
·   We embrace contradictions (though in that we are hardly unique)

The principles for the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are based around the belief that the scripture should not be interpreted in the literal sense. Pastafarian scripture contains various bizarre and occasionally conflicting passages. However, unlike the scripture of conventional religions, these oddities were added intentionally and obviously, members of the church are aware of this blatant satire.

Objections to the idea of Pastafarianism are rarely with its scripture itself or ideas that are suspected to be of the flippant nature. It is mostly to the integrity of the intentional and real components of the religion. However, it is because of the insistence that the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not legitimate that there was a movement to legitimize it as a religion. Like Christianity, and other ‘traditional’ religions it is based, not on hard scientific evidence, but on faith and community. For any of you who are sick and tired of being ostracized for believing and thinking rationally, Pastafarianism is for you. Many of the members don’t literally believe in the superstitions proposed in the scripture or even of the existence of the God but it fosters a community of like-minded people who love to think.  

It should be noted that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not anti-religion. This is not a sanctuary of atheists. Everyone is welcome to the church including members of other, perhaps, more predominant religions just as long as they are not adverse to free thinking.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was started in 2005 by Bobby Henderson as a response to the Kansas State Board of Education decision to allow Creationism, or intelligent design, as an alternative to Evolution in the public schools. Henderson compared the creationist ideals to his own ‘belief’ that whenever a scientist carbon dates an object, a supernatural creator that closely resembles spaghetti and meatballs is there "changing the results with His Noodly Appendage."

Though the church began as a satirical comparison to most intelligent design based religions, it has since gained legitimacy. In the beginning Henderson argued that his beliefs were “just as valid as those of intelligent design,” and he insisted that Flying Spaghetti Monsterism should have equal time as Intelligent Design in the science classroom as alternative theories to Evolution.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

To all of the Volunteers...

The recent devastating flood has been demanding on the Boulder community. But there is nothing like a tragedy to bring out the best and most compassionate members in our community. This past weekend the Secular Students an Skeptics Society volunteered through the Boulder Flood Relief to try and help those who were most effected by the flood torrents. 

We would like to thank all of you who showed up to volunteer with the Boulder Flood Relief or any other organization that helped provide aid to our fellow Boulderites. It was absolutely amazing to see all of the wonderful people spending their free time putting our great city back together again. So, thank you to each one of you who donated your weekend to moving soggy furniture and drywall. Everybody, here at the SSaSS office loved to see and meet the great people who have the same desire to make the community a better place each and every day.

The comradery that results after a disaster is the light at the end of the tunnel. So many great organizations have come out to help or raise money to give back to the community and those whose lives have been upended. Boulder Atheists have raised over $1k in relief funding. They would like to donate 50% to CU students who were affected. So if you or anyone you know needs help please stop by the flood resource table out side of the Bookstore in the UMC, which will remain there for a few more days. After that you can contact any of the resource departments here:

If anybody would like to volunteer again this weekend we would love to put another group together!

Thank you from the Secular Students and Skeptics Society

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fall 2013

Hello there fellow Internet aficionados! It is my great pleasure in welcoming you to a semester filled with SSaSS. Now, I know that there are a growing number of changes happening throughout the University, don’t fret though, we will remain to be your local organization for any and all skeptical students. This year we are working on a myriad of fantastic events including the annual Flying Spaghetti Monster Dinner, Carl Sagan Day, Darwin day and Festivus. We will also continue to have our biweekly meetings starting on September 9th at 6:00 in Helms 199. 

On top of the amazing meetings and annual events to which you have grown accustomed, we also have some great talks in the works for this semester, so keep your eye peeled for more SSaSS events and regular blog posts!

Do you have some great ideas or want to get involved? We know that you do; we would also love to get to know you, so stop by our table when you see us or come stop by our office hours. Do you need more information than that? Then e-mail is also a great way to talk to any of the officers, here is some more info about all of us in the SSaSS office this fall:

We will see you soon, you SSaSSy lot!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Asher Brewing Fundraiser

We are having a fundraiser at the Asher Brewery this Saturday from 6PM to 9PM. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $20 for students, $15 for under 21 and free for Under 10 (you will, however, still need to get a ticket for children under 10). Tickets can be purchased at the SSaSS table tomorrow (Wednesday), in the UMC room 330, or online at Proceeds go to funding SSaSS, Boulder Atheists, and Camp Quest. The "About SSaSS" tab above does a good job of outlining who we are and what we do, but to sum up, SSaSS is a Secular Student Alliance affiliated group that is dedicated to creating a forum for reasonable discussion here at CU on topics ranging from religion to pseudo-science.

Boulder Atheists is a secular community group in Boulder that serves as both a social group for local atheists and a platform for activism and community service. We have attended several events with the Boulder Atheists, including the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's protest at the Airforce Academy, and they were kind enough to include us in their plans for this fundraiser.

Camp Quest is the first summer camp for children of nonreligious families. Their mission statement states that they are "dedicated to improving the human condition through rational inquiry, critical and creative thinking, scientific method, self-respect, ethics, competency, democracy, free speech, and the separation of religion and government guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States" Camp Quest also provides a secular alternative for families who want to send their child to a summer camp free of religious dogma, regardless of their own beliefs.

Asher Brewing Company is located at 4699 Nautilus Court, Suite 104, Boulder Colorado, and attending is a great way to help these three great causes.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sincere Answers to Questions About the Flying Spaghetti Monster

On October 6th, 2012, SSaSS held its second annual Flying Spaghetti Monster charity fundraiser dinner  for Kiva, a website that gives micro loans to starting businesses in 3rd world countries. Sounds like a good time right? Well, it was. We advertised by street preaching like pirates the week of, had a local reggae band, Policulture, provide music, and lots of delicious spaghetti and breadsticks from Fazzolis. We chose the Flying Spaghetti Monster as the particular deity for this because we all know in the cockles of our hearts that if any invisible, immaterial designer of the universe were to exist, surely it would be a benevolent and sentient wad of spaghetti. It just makes sense. We put up spiffy looking posters with the phrase "He boiled for your sins" on it, but one particular anonymous Christian of an unknown organization or denomination (I'll call him Stephen), took issue with this.

The posters looked shockingly like this.

He had obviously been under the impression that his demigod, Jesus of Nazareth, the main character of the best selling book "The Holy Bible", was the actual savior of the human race. Naturally, this is wrong. He had several questions for us; however, due to a prior engagement (possibly a yoga class) he did not have the time to stick around to physically ask us about his concerns. But Stephen, ever thoughtful person that he was, left a list of questions for us to answer and eventually tell him whenever he found it within the means of his busy schedule to visit one of our events again. Here is a picture. If you can't read it, don't worry, I will rewrite each question for you. As an officially ordained minister of Pastafarianism by no particular organization at all, I feel well qualified to address these concerns.

The ripped off part was found in a trash can outside the room. We didn't do that.
1) Is there any evidence that the Flying Spaghetti Monster ever existed?
Already, Steve comes out with the hard hitting questions. There's no pulling the wool over his eyes, I can see. The evidence for the FSM is all around you. Its in the blueness of the sky, a kitten's purr, the majesty of a mountain range, or even the twinkle in the eye of a homeless man. These may seem like metaphorical analogies to you, because they are. My point is that the evidence for the FSM is the world, and you being in it. More specifically, the fact that you are on it and not suffocating in the vacuum of space. You see, the FSM didn't just exist in the past, he exists now, every day. We know this because we are walking on the ground, not the abyss. He holds each of us down with his noodly appendages, keeping us solidly placed on the earth, rather than floating into space where there is no air. What you would call gravity is actually the work of the FSM, and the most visible example of his existence.

2) Is there any evidence that the Flying Spaghetti Monster was boiled?
This is quite obvious. Through his wisdom, he has allowed us to see the process of his boiling whenever we make a batch of spaghetti, his chosen food. It stands to reason that even an eternal ageless being was at one point a child. As a young Flying Spaghetti Monsterette, he was obviously very rigid and stiff. We know this because spaghetti that comes out of the package is also rigid and stiff. Yet, when we boil that spaghetti, it becomes all loosey-goosey. Obviously, it would be very difficult to create a universe with rigid noodles. Try keeping your body perfectly straight and doing your day to day activities. It will be hard, if not impossible. The same goes for the FSM. Once he boiled himself, and became able to move his appendages freely and easily, he was able to make the universe by placing each and every subatomic particle in its proper place.

3) If he boiled for our sins, did he define "sins"? Are "sins" the same as "mistakes?" Or are sins so heinous that it would be necessary that he die for my sins?
Pastafarians don't believe in Original Sin. Instead, we understand the nature of the human condition, and that we make mistakes and do bad things, or to use the technical definition: dick moves. He did not make them up, just noticed that certain things we do hurt others, or at the least annoy them. He created the 8 I'd Really Rather You Didn'ts to advise us against doing these things. We find them reasonable, and there's no need for anyone to die. Why would he die? That seems silly.

4) Why was he boiled for our sins?
See 2 and 3

5) Was it voluntary on his part to be boiled?

6) After he was boiled, did he rise from the dead?
The FSM never died. Spaghetti doesn't die when it's boiled, it just becomes floppy. He was, however, put through a strainer to get all the excess water off.

7) If he rose from the dead, did the SSaSS officers witness his resurrection? Are they willing to die for claiming that the Flying Spaghetti Monster rose from the dead?
Whoa, Esteban, what's with this obsession with dying? The SSaSS officers did not witness this, though again, as I responded in 2, we have good evidence that this happened. We'd really rather they not die for this.

8) Can he raise me from the dead?
Why would you want that? You know what zombies look like, right? When you die, if the FSM religion is true rather than any of the millions of religions that have existed over the course of all human history, each having claim to their own version of an afterlife which varies from culture to culture and reflects the ideals of what was really good depending on that society's time, or the possibility that this is your one life and you should live it to the fullest and die happy knowing that it was well lived, you will be rewarded with a beer volcano and stripper factory. That's a pretty sweet deal to me.

9) Will he judge Hitler/me?
Well Stefan, I certainly hope you're not comparing yourself to Hitler. He was a pretty bad guy, and you? You're okay in my book. Remember that one time we did that one thing somewhere with the Brazilian circus troupe? Good times. But he does judge us, based on how much of a dick we were in life. If you were a dick, like Hitler, you will go to FSM hell, where the beer is stale, and the strippers are ugly and full of venereal diseases, much like Reno, Nevada. If you were an okay guy, you get to go to heaven.

10) Is he personal? Does he love me?
Well duh. He is taking time out of his precious eternity to keep you solidly placed on earth. I mean, if you made a cake, put all that time into making the dough, waiting for the oven to heat up, watching "The Wire" while it bakes, then putting all that delicious frosting on it, would you then take it and throw it on the ground? No. That'd be stupid. Almost as stupid as creating a perfect world then leaving one easily accessible thing that could screw it all up within the reach of a creature that has no concept of consequences! But no deity would be that vapid, especially not the FSM.

11) Has he spoken to us? If so, how? What might motivate me to believe his revelation?
Why yes he has! In the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, available at fine bookstores everywhere, he has bestowed on us all his wisdom. A critical eye might observe that this could have easily been written by one or more people in an attempt to spread their own ideologies and biases into the world, but we don't. Instead, we read and accept its word based on no other outside evidence to support its claims. We ask that you do the same.

12) Is it true that humans are not made in the image of the Spaghetti Monster?
Yes.  Duh.

13) If I eat/internalize him will he motivate me to not lust after other women/men?
Steven, the FSM is not a prude, and does not expect you to be. C'mon dude, live a little! He's okay with you pursuing your sexual desires, be they heterosexual, homosexual, or other, as long as it is with a (or more, you sly dog) consenting adult, and does not harm another person (unless that's what they're into). Also, children and animals are no-no's.

14) Can I wash his tentacles, so that I can obligate him to be my friend? Or can I be his friend by his sheer grace alone?
I mean, you can... I guess... if that's what you're into. I know some people have tentacle fetishes. I don't personally, but if that's what you're into, I mean, have at it? Pretty sure he'll be your friend without that though. I'm not sure you should be trying to "obligate" people to be your friend anyway. You know, you guys could go play paintball or see a movie or something. Man, Stevie, you're a character all right.

15) Is the Flying Spaghetti Monster worthy of my worship?
Oh, you know, whatever. As long as you're a decent human being he's okay with not being worshiped. He's not vain or anything, just likes having us around. If you want to worship him you can, but he'd rather you spend your time in other ways, like writing a book, or building a bridge, or writing a book about a bridge. Just live your life and don't be a dick.

I recently read on a t-shirt "Is that all you've got?" i.e. Is the Flying Spaghetti Monster the best the "Secular Students and Skeptics Society" has to offer?
Well, no. In fact, SSaSS doesn't advocate for the belief in any deity, made up or also made up. If there is one philosophical view that we as a group hold dear, it's that this world is amazing. Carl Sagan said it best in his Pale Blue Dot. We are a speck in the universe that sees itself as important. Yet this rock could vanish and the universe would remain intact, floating around about its business. But we are here, and we are special, as possibly (but unlikely) the only form of life in the cosmos. This life is precious, and every day we live it should not be for the glory of something that has no empirical basis whatsoever, but for us and our loved ones. When we take care of each other, we take care of ourselves too. It's not selfish or vain, it's just reality. So no, Stephen, the FSM isn't the best we have to offer. The best we can offer you is you, your life, and the hope that you'll live it out every day and not look back to say it was wasted.

[Cut Off] Jesus is infinitely better than the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Richard Dawkins - The Magic Of Reality

All the information is out now, so I can tell you.  Hooray!

The talk will be at 
7:30 p.m. on Monday, October 15 at
Macky Auditorium

Evolutionary biology icon Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) has spent his career elucidating the wonders of science for adult readers. Now, he brings his message to a younger audience. In The Magic of Reality, richly illustrated by Dave McKean, Dawkins navigates between mythology and evidence-based understanding of the natural world to answer such questions as, “What is reality?” “Why do bad things happen?” “How and why did everything begin?” “Are we alone?” As Dawkins says, “In an age of wizards and vampires, children need to rediscover the wonder of the real world.”

R. Elisabeth Cornwell and Sean Faircloth will also be speaking. Book signings will follow the talks and books can be purchased at the event.

Here's a video of Dawkins talking about the book:

And here's the link to buy tickets.  If you're a CU Boulder student, you can buy tickets from the Secular Students and Skeptics Society table for $5 until we run out, at which point the remaining tickets will be $6 for students and $12 for the public.  Military personnel can get tickets at no cost, courtesy of the Richard Dawkins Foundation, while supplies last.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Christianity Isn't Immoral, It's Amoral

Part of what makes the creation story of the Bible unique is that God created everything.  He set the boundary conditions for every situation, and everything was made as he intended.  That’s why Gen 1:31 says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”  Additionally, God is omniscient, so he must have known every possible permutation of future events that could have occurred following his creation of all things.  We can therefore trace responsibility for everything that has ever happened back to the conditions that God originally created.

Including this.
Now of course, among the things he created was humankind, and he gave us free will.  The generally accepted thought seems to be that he gave us free will so that we could choose to believe or not, but I’ll get to that later.  The point is that using our free will, we disobeyed God, and thereby sinned, for the first time in Genesis 3:6.  To quote the King James Bible, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”  We were ejected from the garden and forced to live apart from God.  All future humans are regarded as inherently sinful from birth.

Fast forward a few dozen generations and we come to the life of Moses. The example set by the Ten Commandments and continued throughout the rest of the Old Testament is a law-based system.   Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments,” and that tradition — the idea that all you have to do is follow the 613 specific rules laid out in the Pentateuch to be in God’s good graces — remains for the rest of the Old Testament.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, "BEHOLD!  In the future,
people will think there are only ten of these, for no apparent reason."
The upshot of the Old Testament’s commandment-based system is that malfeasances have immediate, real-world consequences.  Leviticus and Deuteronomy are riddled with references to cutting individuals off from their people, putting people to death, stonings, burnings, purging the evil from Israel, and so on.  Exodus and Deuteronomy have an elaborate system of fines instated for when a crime doesn’t quite deserve death. These provide tangible and immediate disincentives for breaking the law in the first place.  I’m not saying that the system laid out in the Pentateuch is a good system, but it does deal with the interactions between human beings on this world and in this life.

Then we come to the arrival of Jesus, and suddenly obedience to the law isn’t enough.  Suddenly you need faith in Jesus as God.  Galatians 2:16 says, “A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.”  Galatians 3:11-12 says, “The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith.”  And perhaps most concise is John 14:6, in which Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  That didn’t sit well with a lot of people, it must be admitted.  Faith in the New Testament isn’t just an addendum; it is the make or break issue.  Jesus himself says in Matthew 12:31-32, “And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

I want to go back to the idea of choosing to believe.  Belief — true belief — is not a choice.  Obviously you can choose what you profess to believe, but do you think you could choose to believe in Santa Claus again?  No.  You know it’s not true, and not because you suddenly decided to stop believing.  It’s because you were convinced, and you eventually found that the Santa Claus myth was no longer plausible.  It’s the same with religious faith; we can’t decide what to believe, we have to be convinced with evidence.

I don't really see the problem.  Just think this instead.
An idea that’s often trotted out when atheists ask for concrete evidence of God’s existence is that if he gave us concrete proof, we wouldn’t be able to make an independent decision.  Such an explanation is preposterous.  Imagine an earthly analog: a lawyer who has evidence that will conclusively vindicate his client, but won’t show it to the jury because that would unfairly sway their verdict.  Giving people a reason to believe something does not diminish the strength or validity of that belief.  If anything, it enhances it.  We could fake it and say that we believe whatever is asked of us to believe, but God’s omniscient, remember?  Faking it obviously won’t work on him.

So let’s return to the “only faith matters” idea.  If murder, genocide, and slavery can be wiped clean by genuine penitence and regret for what you’ve done, reopening the door to heaven — and they can, clearly — the law is no longer relevant.  In fact, Jesus himself broke the law when he refused to punish an adulteress (or her strangely absent partner-in-crime) in the gospel of John, chapter 8.  The law is unequivocal: adulterers must be stoned.  God said so.  But Jesus violated that mandate.  Furthermore, the phrase “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” implies that only the sinless can punish the sinful, and no human being can be sinless.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  Couple that with Jesus’ charge in Matt 5:38, “Do not resist one who is evil,” and you have a framework for removing human law altogether.  We’re no longer allowed to tell other people what’s right and wrong, and if they do wrong, we’re not allowed to stop them.  We as humans have been effectively forbidden from exacting justice on our fellow human beings in any form.

Furthermore, there is nothing at all you can do — or fail to do — to hurt your chances of getting into heaven.  Deathbed baptisms were eagerly performed by the Church throughout the Middle Ages, sending thousands of sinners into the company of God.  And any person who lives a superficially perfect life, helping the poor and sick and hungry, but still doesn’t believe?  They’re doomed.

Morality is probably the most contentious point over which believers and non-believers argue.  Believers generally argue that without God, moral laws cannot be enforced because they are the arbitrary creation of the species trying to enforce them.  Non-believers argue that morality can and does exist without God, whether by some form of culturally tuned sense of evolutionary altruism or by intrinsic neurological structures.  Non-believers will often point out that there are hundreds of examples in the Bible of acts that most humans find repulsive now — slavery, rape, child abuse, infanticide, genocide, incest, and so on — and that Christianity’s holy book has therefore set a terrible example for moral behavior and should be disregarded.

What both sides fail to see is that both arguments are irrelevant.  The fact is that Christianity cannot impart moral lessons.  Let me reiterate: the problem with Christianity is not that its moral rules are wrong or outdated.  The problem with Christianity is that it provides no incentive whatsoever for following its own moral rules.

Yes, fine, whatever.  Go away.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that the teachings of Jesus contained a directive never to raise a hand in anger against a child.  They don’t — as a matter of fact, there is no instruction in the entire Bible to be kind to children — but imagine that such were the case.  You, in a moment of weakness or just because you’re a terrible person, hit a child.  What’s your punishment?  Nothing at all.  You may be evil, but we’re not supposed to punish “one who is evil,” so we can’t punish you here on earth during your terrestrial life.  And as long as you are genuinely penitent for what you’ve done and genuinely faithful to Jesus, you’ll be eternally rewarded after your death despite hitting that child.

Let’s take the hypothetical the other direction and imagine that Jesus is evil and, being evil, gives you a set of appalling instructions.  Rape any woman who won’t sleep with you voluntarily.  Kill anyone who disagrees with you.  Hit children who disobey you.  Steal what others won’t give you.  Kick puppies.  Let’s imagine that you, as a rational person, find those instructions horrifying and repulsive.  You disobey all those laws.  You treat women with kindness, you respect differences of opinion, and you scratch puppies behind the ears.  You’ve behaved in a way that most modern people would find commendable, but in doing so have spit in the face of Evil Jesus and his reprehensible commandments.

For which the puppy thanks you.
It still doesn’t matter.  As long as, before you die, you pray to Evil Jesus and say that you’re sorry for not raping and killing, that you do truly believe in Evil Jesus and his commandments, that in your heart of hearts you regret every moment you spent disobeying him, you’ll still get into heaven.

Do you see what I’m saying?  I’ve belabored the point because it needs belaboring, but it is in reality quite simple.  Christianity contains a set of moral rules and laws, some set by example and some explicitly stated.  But it also contains a condition that no matter whether you follow the rules or not, your faith in Jesus is all that matters.  It is literally and unconditionally the ONLY criterion by which your entry to heaven will be accepted or denied by God.  And since that’s the ultimate goal — not the legacy you leave on earth or the way you treat other people or the accomplishments you have in your own life, because those things are fleeting and eternity is eternal — God’s criteria are the only relevant ones.  Or, to distill the last 1700 words into a mere 15:

It doesn’t matter what the rules are 
because you don’t have to follow the rules.

So this is the situation in which we find ourselves.  God created us, in his image, with the ability to ruin everything.  We did, almost immediately.  He punished us for doing what he knew we would do from the beginning.  Then he sent his only son to tell us to "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect," (Matthew 5:48) knowing full well that we could not.  Since we cannot be perfect, we must have faith in the grace of Jesus, and hope for the sake of our eternal souls that he will allow us into heaven despite our flaws, flaws that he as God gave us.  We are created sick and commanded to be well.  We are created with an irreparable flaw and told that we must repair it, or face eternal torment as penalty for the shortcomings that we have no choice but to possess.  We are given a set of criteria, created by the same entity that rendered us fundamentally incapable of meeting them, and told that we must meet them nevertheless.

This may seem cruel and unfair, but then we’re given a loophole.  We don’t actually have to meet them because as long as we believe in Jesus’ divinity, we'll be fine.  Simple, right?  Except we can’t just “choose” to believe in something we don’t actually believe in, we have to be persuaded by tangible reasons.  God himself made our minds work like that.  Of course, God won’t give us any tangible reason to believe because that would be too easy, so a lot of us are stuck making the only mistake that we’re really not allowed to make, and it doesn’t matter what else we do.  We’re not allowed to fake believing either, because God would pick up on that.

All the while, we are given free rein to behave as horribly as we want to our fellow inhabitants of this Earth, providing we remember to beg forgiveness after we do so.

It's a hell of a system.