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Is Religion a Hospital for Sinners?

If religion gives solutions to sinfulness and the human weaknesses that harm people that are not God’s solutions then the religion is abetting sin and taking advantage of sinners. It thrives on sin.  In a sense sinners are vulnerable and need special attention simply because their works produce so much direct and indirect harm - for example, thieves give old people many a sleepless night without even realising it.


A religion that produces people, even some, that do harm in the name of the faith or lead people astray, can claim to be a hospital for sinners.  Regardless of how much harm the followers do the religion can claim to be a hospital for sinners and blame the failure of the "treatment" on the non-co-operation of the patients.  It makes as much sense as running a cancer clinic in which nobody gets better and the patients are said to be not responding to treatment for they secretly don't want to get better.


Religious wisdom says that if you go to God as if he were a shopkeeper there will be no overnight transformation.  “God does not sell you the fruit of love and compassion but the seeds.”  This is what any religion, scam or otherwise, would say. But it means by the time you have tested it may be too late – you may now be corrupted or a fanatical terrorist.  Religion gives you the doctrines as if it wants you to feel, “I will believe God works in this religion if he does this and that.” That is you dictating to God.  If religion did not give desperate people the illusion that it works well enough it would not have any followers.  Just because God is not regular with the help does not mean the believers are not dictating to him for they say a little is enough. A dictator does not necessarily ask for a lot.  Part of the dictation is expecting God to sometimes act.


Everybody knows that no religion will be saved from being evil or feeding evil by its faith or its good principles.  Some people seem to talk as if recognising and having good principles is enough to start the inevitable process of improving if gains are modest like a sort of ethical or supernatural placebo.  Principles make people think of them as placeboes though they are anything but.  Is it confidence that a human being we are taking about or confidence that a religious human person can change?  If it is the latter then what we have is plainly sectarian.  How could sectarianism help form a hospital? 


The "we are the way to treat sinners and heal them" is can be an excuse for the religion refusing to take any responsibility for the harm done. It can be an excuse for treating the guilty as if their bad behaviour does not matter. It can be a smoke-screen to cover up the fact that the religion does not fix human nature. Religion says we are all sinners but though they do not intend this to mean it has no power to cure sinners it could be taken as saying exactly that! If the religion is man-made then it sounds ridiculous for it to claim to be a hospital for the immoral. It needs to say it channels a higher power that overcomes evil. "We are here to be nice to sinners for we can treat them with our prayers or sacraments or rites" is exactly what a bad or man-made religion with no supernatural power to help people would say. That is why the claim needs investigation. A religion and its people would generally need to be very special before it can say its a hospital! And the religions all say the change from evil person to good person is gradual and a life's work. It is what you tell people to keep them dangling on over false hope. The gradual progression excuse serves to disguise the fact that religion's treatments do not really work. What would you think of a maths teacher who says his teenage students don't know their tables but that this is fine for they have all their lives to learn them? A real hospital cures many people fast. A real hospital does not blame the patient for lack of co-operation all the time when a treatment doesn't work.

Hospital     For the sick


Religion       For the sinner and the saint


Hospital     Naturalistic - does not use magical or supernatural treatments


Religion       Uses supernatural treatments - because such treatments are based on arguments from ignorance (I don't know how this worked therefore it uses supernatural power) every religion contradicts the others on how to treat.


Hospital      Not judgemental


Religion       Says that if you suffer everlasting torment in Hell, or fail to receive and enjoy God's blessings it is your own fault.  Nobody has the right to accuse people of misusing their responsibility unless there is proof that God really cares or that Hell exists.  These teachings function like threats.


Hospital     Has a cautious self-correcting system for diagnosing the illness


Religion       Invents sins, exaggerates sins and makes people feel they have offended God when those people should spend all their energy worrying about the people they have hurt.  Does not care if it slanders people by saying they have offended God - that is slander if there is no God. 


Hospital     Provides treatments that have been tested and continually tries to learn from mistakes and make improvements


Religion       Gives dubious remedies such as prayer and sacraments.  Makes no effort to see if they actually help - some people thinking they help them does not mean they help - and ignores the fact that these treatments for sin fail miserably in most circumstances.

Hospital     Is there to help you


Religion       Is there to help you but not for you but for God.  You are a means to an end.  Jesus said we must love God with every fibre of our being.  He did not say we are to love anybody else like that - only God alone.


Hospital     Has a code of ethics - ethics cares only about people


Religion       Has a moral code supposedly revealed by a God who has done all the thinking so if we question him we stupidly think we are smarter than him!  Cares about religious morality more than people.


Hospital     Is pro-science


Religion       Is pro-science except where science challenges religion.  It likes to say that you must take a wait and see attitude and science will be proven wrong.  That is a fundamentally anti-science view and denies that it is up to science not religion to decide when a wait and see is appropriate.  A religion that cherry picks science has no regard for science at all.  It feigns its reverence for science. 

Religion likes to make out that if it does evil, that it is not to blame and individual members are. It takes no responsibility. The only excuse it can come up for to bolster its alleged innocence is that it is a hospital for sinners. A non-judgemental person would prefer to blame the religious system of doctrine rather than the person only.


If religion were a purely moral system, it could perhaps be excused if members do evil. Religion is easily mistaken for a purely moral system but it is not. It is a mixture of religious practices, theology and morality.


When a religion is being created, it first has to look at the people it wants to target. The religion must be devised after looking at human nature. Religion looks at the people and sees that they give birth and marry and work and die. It sees that nobody is totally good. It sees how people try to be really good and work hard at it during their lifetime with perhaps only moderate improvement. And everybody backslides. Life alone is the hospital for "bad" people.


We are all in the same boat. Thus religion has no business claiming that it is a hospital for sinners for not only is it untrue but it is condescending. A religion that does not really help and lies that it does help is to blame if its members go astray. Lies enable people to develop the courage to be bad.


A real hospital for sinners starts with the evidence that it cures people of antisocial and evil and godless traits. Instead of that, religion argues, "Human nature is contradictory and not all good and therefore we can say we can help." This is really saying that people are sinners anyway so the religion can claim to be a hospital and people stay sinful that is because they are human. It is not logical. Religion tries to slot in with how people are while pretending to be able to change them when it knows fine well it is not. Suppose all people have the flu all the time. You can't create a hospital for the flu for there is no point! Your calling it a hospital is pretending it is what it is not.


An ad hominem argument is against the person whose arguments you dislike or want to discredit. It is an attack on the person making the argument not the argument. An ad hominem is not ad hominem when it is religion we are talking about. The true religion will not be merely correct in what it says and convincing. It will show its power in the lives of believers. If Christianity is extremely persuasive but nobody shows signs that God is supernaturally helping them to become better human beings and children of God then the religion is decisively refuted. It is a case where something seems to be almost proven and then the case collapses. The badness in Christians refutes Christianity. The more bad Christians there are the stronger the refutation becomes. The more a religion claims the power to raise people above human weakness and wickedness the worse it is if the people are no better than normal. If they are worse then there is no more to be said.

Any religion or group can claim to be therapy for badness. Because of that claim, a religion refuses to take responsibility when a member does something that is very bad even according to the religion's books. The religion should if it is merely man-made. Man's religious system has no intrinsic power to help another person become good which will mean that the religion does not help or it hinders. You may as well not have it at all.
Man is not intrinsically good and has a nasty side that is intrinsic though it differs from person to person. A man-made religion then has an intrinsic violent streak. Religion claims to be divine not human so that it may cover it up and blind people to it.
The bigger the claims made by the religion and the more demands it makes the crueller it is. It is not for the truth though it says it is, so it is against it. If the man-made religion claims to administer the will of God then we have man controlling people in the name of God and leading them astray. If God is merely man's idea and not revealed from Heaven then nobody who says that God punishes people and uses suffering to make people more virtuous should be left unchallenged and should be sternly corrected. They are being deplorable - only a real God giving a real revelation would have the right to say such a thing and delegate that right to people clearly and undeniably. Even if there is a God, that will not stop people inventing a God who could be very like the real one but it is still invented. If you don't know Anna personally you can invent her. If religion is of man then in reality, man's word is honoured as God's word. Man's authority is mistaken for God's authority. That would be horrendous considering nothing man-made should be considered immune from leading to violence or harm. It often does lead to harm. If there is a God the counterfeit religion of God objectively insults him and mocks him.
A religion that wants to hide the fact that it has no special power to heal human corruption and malice will still claim to be a hospital for sinners. This puts the blame on the bad person in the religion and not the religion. In fact if this blaming does not make the bad person worse, then that is down to luck. The person has avoided decline in spite of the religion.
Blaming the sinful patient could mean the person is being accused of not responding to the care given by the people in the religion.
This could mean the person is being accused of not responding to the care given by God's power and grace through the religion.
It will mean one or both of them.
The religion then is harmful. It accuses falsely.


Christianity is said to have done some good. In the light that we should always take the most charitable interpretation of a person, we must believe that the goodness of a Christian is coming from her as a person and not from her as a Christian. That way we give glory to her human nature. As she is human, we can be like her for we are human too. It is not only fair to say her goodness is hers and not from religion but also inspiring and helpful.


The notion of religion being a hospital insults the good people. It is nonsense for goodness is human not divine.


What if we see nothing special about religious people in a religion? The religion will say, "You may not see the benefits for God may be working mysteriously in the flock. The flock must try to avoid displaying its holiness too much". This teaching prevents religion's claims to heal vice from being put to the test. If religion is lying it has to protect its lies from exposure. It prevents anybody looking for evidence that the religion or God helps people more than anything else can. There is no point if God has mysterious ways! Religion likes to say that if things are not perfect they would be worse without its spiritual input and influence! But that is only a judgemental guess! It cannot know that. And all religions say the same thing despite having huge ethical and spiritual disagreement! Religion is like a con artist that sells you an intangible and invisible washing machine. It protects its lies from refutation. But doing that does not make it convincing so any spiritual benefits that seem to arise from it easily evaporate.
You would need to be very sure that the religion is true and believable and sensible before you can teach ideas that cannot be tested. It is only fair to the people and to society. You cannot take away the reality check from people lightly. Man doing this would be terrible and vile. Only a God could have the right to do it. Religion is not a hospital for rational heads so how can it heal sinful hearts?
Religion often says that God's grace enables and empowers our capacity to think and love and work. Thus it claims to be rational though supplemented by faith for reason cannot tell you everything and mostly only good for spotting contradictions. Nobody has the right however to claim to be rational. What they do is spell out what they think or believe or know and the case in its favour and answer the case against it. Rationality is not an adjective but a verb. Actions speak. You live out your rationality rather than proclaim it.
People say, "My religion is a hospital for sinners. I am in this religion for it encourages me to do better and forgives my sins." If you are like everybody else and commit the same wrongs over and over again and have a pattern created where you do harm and repent and do it again and repent ad infinitum then you are not in a very good hospital.
We are told we must not judge a person to be bad or doing bad if there is a chance they could be well-meaning. If we see nothing special about the lives of Catholics for example despite the Church's claim to be a hospital for sinners then should we judge Catholics or the Jesus who is supposedly transforming them into goodness itself? The Church lies that it is a hospital for it has no regime for helping sinners and does not care to check if any of its sacraments or prayers really have an effect that cannot be explained by purely natural processes. The Church does not like to encourage you to judge for then you will see exactly how useless its solutions for the problem of human malice and duplicity are.
A hospital that claims supernatural support but which proves no different from anything else based around mundane therapy and healing has no supernatural support at all. It is a con not a hospital. In fact it is a wonder the "hospital" which is based on lies and fabricated cures isn't making people worse. Who knows? When it is crafty it could be good at hiding that it does make people more sneaky.
Blaming the bad people who do evil in the name of God, religion or faith is wrong. It is stupid to say that religion is never to blame. To say of a bad religion, "The x religion is accused of sectarian violence and child abuse and pious fraud and many things. The religion or religious system is not to blame for these terrible deeds. It is the people in the religion that must be condemned, not the religion." That is really to say that religion or a particular religion is good regardless of what damage belief in it does or leads to or how ineffective it is at being a hospital for sinners. It is to say that this religion if not all religion is good no matter what it does or says. It is to say that you will not look to see if the religion itself is the problem or a problem. That makes you part of the problem!


Every religion at least implicitly has to claim to be supportive of or a hospital or therapy for making people live better lives. A man-made religion is not guaranteed success if it claims to be a hospital for sinners. It is just boasting that it can change people when it cannot. People have to change themselves. If religion helps make you good, the better person is the one who becomes good without it. Moreover, religion will refuse to take any blame if members become extremists. It says its job is to help people to become good not bad. That is no excuse and the religion is a disgrace for making that excuse.


When a religion claims to have magical or sacramental powers when it actually does not have them it can and indeed should lead to trouble. It is not helping at best and at worst it is doing harm. It needs to be kept in line and great caution exercised. Children should not be indoctrinated into it. They should not be encouraged to join or remain in it. People seem to think it is okay for their children to be "harmlessly" manipulated by religion if the religion is simply man-made and deluded about its divinely inspired provenance.


Any religion can make the hospital excuse. We know some religions that purport to be hospitals are more harmful than others. And a real hospital uses hard facts to show that its treatments work. It prefers to give the case against its effectiveness than the case for its effectiveness because that makes it become a transparent, honest, scientific and truly caring hospital. It is through facing up to errors that it improves. Religion does none of this.


All the hospitals for sinners get sinners to testify about what is good in them and they attribute this to the religion. Nobody cares that some drug addicts sometimes just stop taking drugs when some former addict comes along and says, "I was a drug addict until Jesus changed me and healed me." Stopping drugs after turning to Jesus does not prove that Jesus had anything to do with it. A coin is tossed and comes up heads. Thinking the coin will be heads does not mean you have caused it to become heads. The hospitals never mention the people who prayed for healing and never got it. Those who speak of the power of the hospital to heal their hearts do not mention the bad things they still do. The religion hospital uses manipulation to look effective.


An evil person is hardly in the same league as a sick person. Evil only resembles a sickness in some ways but it is not a sickness. We don't call it evil for nothing. Religion insults the victims of evil people by treating those monsters as patients.


A man-made religion cannot expect people to consider it to be a hospital for sinners. It is only as good or as bad as the ideas it has and the methods it uses. Priests like to think that they are doing the ultimate good works by providing sacraments, with their alleged power to change black hearts, to the people. The Church explicitly teaches that you need God more than bread so it is better if there is a choice to send for a priest for a dying person rather than an ambulance. Hypocrites like to feel they are good people - the ultimate hypocrite performs superstitious rituals in order to convince herself or himself that she does the greatest work of all. It is their substitute for doing real good.


A huge part of the "treatment" religion gives is based on the notion that it gives you answers to, "Life! What's it all about?" This is nearly always answered in a narcissistic way - "It is about God's plan to make me happy." When a believer won't change her mind when proven wrong in her doctrines clearly she has some kind of obsessive compulsion in which narcissism plays a role. Religion if it is a hospital gives a cure that is worse than or as bad as the disease. Or it gives a cure that has a price down the line.


Ask what matters. Is it being happy? Or is it being good? It is self-evident that it is being good. A person who is tormented by the devil for being good and who is good despite being totally unhappy is the ultimate good person. So the purpose of life is being good even if it feels like your life is worthless. The meaning of life is not about your feelings. The treatment religion gives is based on lies and hypocrisy and denigration of good. Religious people do not love good as it is but as they want it to be. Religion is not a hospital any more than an outfit that claims to cure cancer with ice cream would be a hospital.
The fact that being good matters and happiness does not if there is a contest between the two and only one can win out, is a horrific doctrine. It is no answer to say there is no problem because there is no contest. But that does not get you away from the principle. You have to have the attitude that if there is a contest you have to choose good. And your sincerity and devotion to the principle can only be shown if you choose to help people in a way that demands terrible pain and sacrifice from you. Nobody likes the doctrine so I would be very sceptical about those people who claim to be servants of good and even more sceptical about those who purport to be servants of God. They are not as disinterested in their happiness as they say. It is easier though to be a servant of good and not care about your happiness than it is to be a servant of God and not care. Why? Because God is more demanding. Putting good first is not enough - he wants to be put first.


Good for the religious person is not about helping others but helping them as a way of showing love for one being: God. God alone matters according to religion. The religious person is to value God even if it means abandoning all happiness and health forever for the sake of doing the divine will. So if what matters is being good and not how you feel about life that is not as tough as saying that what matters is being holy (holy is when you dedicated your good to God alone). God is the biggest imaginable opponent of any attempt to try to base religion on how you feel your life has meaning.


Wow I wrote elsewhere that we need to feel our lives have meaning. Am I contradicting myself? No - I am saying that abandoning belief in God makes me my own God and gives my life meaning. We make our own good by letting ourselves feel our lives have meaning. We have to be good without God for God threatens that good. If this good is sin then so be it!


If a huge number of people are murderers, that makes you feel better about being a killer. Being in a religion that generally judges everybody as a sinner makes you feel part of a community of sinners. You feel better about your sin. Some don't but most do or feel less bad than they would if they were not in the religion. A religion of sinners encourages your sin when it makes you feel better about it. It does not have much respect for those whom you hurt though it will fake it! A religion of sinners encourages the sins that are socially acceptable. For example, Christians don't seem to worry if you have sex outside marriage as long as you don't do it during rush hour on the pavement in the town. To worry not about sin but about some forms of sin is a sin itself.
If you are in a religion and some members do great evil, eg rape children and tell them it is God's will, murder people of other religions in terrorist attacks, you will tell yourself, "It does not indicate my religion and my faith in it is bad. I am not those people. They are not me." But if it is down to luck that you are not like them then it follows that faith can be dangerous. You are encouraging faith and that puts people at risk.


Nathan Phelps in the book Christianity is Not Great makes the excellent point that "individuals can easily dismiss the harm others have committed in the name of a God because it wasn't them and they don't condone it." I would like to explore this implications of this statement. If belief in God leads some to do harm, then you need to change the belief in order to stop that harm. Most believers being good is no excuse for holding a belief that may lead some people to do harm. If you fix the belief and harm still happens at least the belief will be completely innocent. If your religion's claimed divine revelation consists of violent scriptures and is soft on sins like child sex abuse then it is your duty to leave it. No excuses.


Why must you not stay in a lying or corrupt religion? If atheists are no better or worse than religious people, "it's no argument to say that evil will exist anyway, therefore we should let an existing justification for it continue." Phelps means religious organisation by justification. Atheists are individuals not a religious institution so if atheism does harm and is imperfect that is not a reason to refuse to consider supporting atheism. It is true that evil will happen anyway. However we can make it worse by being in something that can be done without. Nobody dies from having no religion.


In fact, if a religion is not improving people's morals and their knowledge of morals and has official teachings that teach moral error then you should not be in it. It is something extra for people to quarrel and cause division over. It is a threat to truth and knowledge. A religion with excellent teaching that makes little difference in its people compared to non-believers should be walked away from. One that has official teaching that is wrong should be ran away from.
Phelps says that believers may keep their own hands clean but they protect the hands of those who dirty them and give "tacit approval" to nasty doctrines and Bibles. "If you proclaim allegiance to the Bible, you claim responsibility for its content and the injustice it perpetuates in society."


He says, "It is faith that not so much causes, but allows evil to flourish." It certainly does both. And allowing evil to flourish is trying to cause it even if nothing happens. If you think your local Church does good works, think about the evil it enables. That should balance your view. Don't let their goodness butter you up to the religion.


No judge will be impressed if you stand up in court and say, "I don't normally murder people. I deserve to get away with killing that girl in cold blood for I am not a killer. Killing once does not mean I am just a killer. There is more to me than just that! There is more to me than the mistakes or wrongs I have done." In fact saying that will land you a heavier sentence. Yet the Church endorses that kind of attitude by urging you to love sinners including yourself and hate the sins. It is no wonder that Christianity's record in making people holy shows nothing remarkable. The goodness and badness is just what you would expect from something that wasn't really getting any grace from God. And we must remember that though it is true that an organisation cannot be blamed for everything its members do, it can if it offers grace to help when there is no grace.


Believers often complain that they cannot love some sinners and hate the sins. They are told to work on it with the help of faith in the religion, prayers and sacraments. But if these things do not have any magical power to heal then the religion is to blame if the believers start to hate some sinners so much that they murder them. To have people depending on ineffective treatments is cruel and irresponsible.


Religion's pretence that it is concerned about educating sinners and healing them is easily exposed as fraud. It does its healing in the light of the doctrine that, "We are all sinners and thus nobody can criticise anybody for sinning for they do it themselves." The doctrine can be phrased as, "We are all sinners. The only difference between you and me is the sins we choose to commit." Religion cannot know if all people are sinners specifically when many people could be weak rather than sinful. So religion is being judgemental and hypocritical. Also, the "we are all sinners" doctrine anaesthetises believers. It stops them seeing or caring that their religion has no special power to make especially good people. People like to think that if they do bad then they are not the only ones.


Even if the religion is from God, it is irresponsible and insulting to make the "We are a hospital for sinners" claim without proving it. A religion showing its power to heal has to be an actions job not a words job. Actions speak and words do not in this case.


The goodness and badness in Christianity is just what you would expect from something that wasn't really getting any grace from God. And we must remember that though it is true that an organisation cannot be blamed for everything its members do, it can if it offers grace to help when there is no grace. The harm done by members raises the question if the organisations existence is justified. The organisation claims its existence is justified despite the harm because it is a hospital for evildoers.

If a religion claims to be God's only authorised hospital for sinners and the people are no better or wiser than heathens, or if they are worse, then there is no justification for it continuing to exist - meaning members must leave it.

There is no justification for the continued existence of Christianity.




Treatment is all about trial and error.  If religion is a hospital for sinners and treats sin and sinfulness (the latter is the love of sin and in a sense is worse than sin for it alone paves the way for it) then the failures not the successes speak loudest. [And especially if moral evil is a bigger evil than sickness and when moral evil is behind a lot of sickness - eg how the rich don't do much for the poor.]  Medicine has to care more about failures too. If you get medicine that is not very good it is only because medicine has no choice but to use it. But religion is a choice or should be and if it is not then you should get out. What if you had to pick one of the following: “Concentrate on religion as a hospital but only in regard to failed treatments” or“concentrate on it as a hospital but only in regard to successful treatment”?  The first is the one to choose for it is the best test.  Failed treatments are more telling than successes for it is more important that you get no worse than that you get better.