A program of the Center for Inquiry
I have an invisible friend. However, I am not crazy or delusional, as some might expect. As a matter of fact, you, the nonbelievers in my imaginary friend, may well be the ones who are crazy.
My friend tells me to love my neighbor as myself. He also tells me to stone people to death for minor offenses such as working on the Sabbath. My friend, or at least one third of him, died on the cross for the sins of Adam and Eve, but he also tells us the child is not responsible for the sins of the father. No mixed message there.
My friend claims to be kind, merciful, and forgiving. However, he supposedly flooded Earth, causing the death of all living things except for one family and two or so of each species. Throughout the Old Testament, he killed or murdered tens of thousands of innocent men, women, children, and animals.
My friend made two powerful lights: the brighter one to rule the day and the other to rule the night. He also made the stars to help light the night sky, about three hundred sextillion of them. (That’s a three followed by twenty-one zeros, or three trillion times one hundred billion.) So evidently he is not keen on conservation of energy. Our sun is an average-size star, so picture trillions and trillions of suns lighting Earth. Creating the Moon to light the night sky might possibly have been redundant.
My friend created the mountains, rivers, oceans, and all that lives; however, more than 98 percent of all living things that have ever lived are now extinct. His grand design had a few other flaws, including human embryos producing tails, gill sacs, and a full coat of apelike hair; urinary tracts in men that run directly through the prostate gland; and obstetric fistula rupture in women—but let’s not be picayune.
The book of love, the New Testament, says that my friend lived on this planet for about thirty-three years. His more notable accomplishments during this period were walking on water, multiplying fish, turning water into wine, curing a leper or two, bringing a few dead people back to life, dying on the cross (as did thousands of others), preaching love and forgiveness, and demanding decency and charity toward the poor and disabled.
During his time on Earth, he traveled in about a three-hundred-mile radius through the Middle East, missing other populations, including in the Americas, China, Europe, India, Japan, and Africa. Camels and mules can carry even an all-powerful, all-knowing friend only so far. My friend created all animals and then made their primary diet each other; however, he knows when even a sparrow poops—or poopeths.
My friend may perhaps be a trifle on the jealous side, as he tends to become upset if you have other invisible friends—“upset” in the sense that the punishment is death by stoning, followed by spending all eternity in hellfire and brimstone. Others to be stoned to death include adulterers, homosexuals, blasphemers, and people who work on the Sabbath. He commands us to cast into exile those who eat blood, those who have skin diseases, and those who have sex with their wives when they are menstruating. These seem to be only possible minor character flaws, but who am I to judge?
My friend created Adam and Eve who immediately sinned. They begot Cain and Abel, Cain slew Abel, and shortly thereafter, 99.9999 percent of all life on Earth was drowned because of sin or something or other. Yet my friend is considered perfect. Given how his creations turned out, one might ask: Perfect in what sense?
Then there is my friend’s friend, Moses, who received the Ten (or so) Commandments directly from my friend, twice!! (The first set reportedly broke, possibly due to shoddy workmanship. The second set is missing in action, nowhere to be found.) Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and killed or had killed tens of thousands of innocent men, women, children, and animals and condoned the rape of young virgins as booty of war and plunder.
My friend instructs us on how to keep slaves, sacrifice animals, and deal with mildew. He tells us the penalties for having false gods, but he does not instruct us on how to deal with arguably more important topics, such as how to cure or eliminate cancer. Perhaps this is merely an oversight.
Nevertheless, my invisible friend gives me inner peace and comfort, answers my prayers, and gives meaning to my life. I believe without evidence because I have faith.
I have another invisible friend who helps increase the yield of crops to help feed the world’s hungry; who designs land, water, and air machines to move us quickly to any place on the planet; who warns us of approaching disasters such as tsunamis, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions; who makes medicines to cure illnesses and relieve pain; makes artificial limbs for amputees (miracles don’t work on amputees, even to help beatify a pope); performs heart and liver transplants that save many lives; makes devices to instantly communicate worldwide; increases the quality and longevity of life; designs climate-controlled buildings; and invents and makes machines for practically every use imaginable to help enhance the quality of our lives.
Without my friend, we would still be living in caves with life expectancies of thirty-five years of misery. We would still believe that Earth is flat and the center of the universe; that the Sun revolves around it; that Earth is about six thousand years old; that the elements are earth, air, fire, and water; that stars are points of light in the dome of the sky; and that the Sun is not a star. We would still have walking and riding animals as the only modes of transportation; beliefs in sun-, moon-, rain-, lightning- and on and on gods; and no books or magazines. We would still believe that bad weather is the result of mankind’s sins; that sacrificing humans or animals to the gods is acceptable and helps to obtain desired results such as rain, a successful hunt, or a good harvest; that a proper ceremony with appropriate garb (sometimes including a tall pointy hat and a staff), with official rants and gyrations and pomp and ceremony, can change a future event; that witches exist, cause such things as disease and thunder, and must be put to death—after confiscating their property and wealth, of course.
My other invisible friend does not insist that you believe in him based on faith; does not condemn you to an eternity in hell if you have other friends; has found ways to deal with mildew without employing two birds, a stick of cedar wood, a piece of red yarn, and a branch from a hyssop plant; and believes that you can be good for goodness’s sake, not because of the reward of heaven or the fear of hellfire and brimstone.
This friend is the same in all countries of the world because he represents provable and proven truths in mathematics, engineering, medicine, and in the sciences—with no room for myths, fairy tales, goblins, witches, devils, and demons—and, in most cases, no room for personal gods who tuck you into bed at night.
Dennis Erickson had a career in the chemical industry before he retired. Among other pursuits, he now enjoys creative writing—particularly satirizing religion and the Bible. He is the author of God, Man, and Moses (Amazon, 2013).