Do Christians REALLY Believe?

by Luke Muehlhauser on April 8, 2011 in Christian Theology,General Atheism,Quotes

Redated from March 2009.

stanhope

I was a Christian recently enough to remember what it felt like to really believe the Creator of the universe talked to me, to really believe I would go to heaven and unbelievers would go to hell, to really believe that prayer made a difference.

It sure felt like I really believed that stuff. And other Christians tell me they really believe that stuff, too.

But something’s not quite right with that.

Supposedly, my parents really believe that I am going to hell now that I’m an atheist. They believe their son, whom they love dearly, is going to be tortured forever. Literally.

And yet, they don’t seem very upset by this. Sure, they’re upset that their son has rejected most of the values and “truths” they tried to instill in me. They’re upset that I reject their way of life as both deluded and immoral. That’s a major blow for any caring parent to take.

But they don’t seem upset that their beloved son will be tortured forever in hell. And that seems odd.

If they really believed that, wouldn’t I see some serious mourning? Some pleading? Some great distress?

But it’s not just my parents. It’s Christians in general. I had these questions even when I was a Christian.

A question for Christians

This is not a post for attacking Christian beliefs or promoting atheistic views.  This is a post about understanding. I’d like to understand Christians better. So, Christians: I have a question for you.

If you really believed some of the people you love dearly were going to spend an eternity in hell, wouldn’t that motivate you to try harder to save them?

Let’s say we all lived in Poland at the start of World War II and you got word that soon, the Nazis were going to invade the town where several of your friends and family lived. The Nazis were going take everybody off to concentration camps in chains, and possibly kill them. And let’s say this information came from a very reliable source, so that you really believed this was going to happen.

Would you just go on about your life? Would you just mention this to your friends and family in passing, and send them the occasional tract with information on the threat of the Nazis? Would you merely pray for them to see the threat and save themselves?

Or, would you do everything you could to save your friends and family? Maybe you would drive out there and try to convince them of the threat until you were blue in the face. Maybe you would refuse to leave until they came away with you. Maybe you would… I dunno what, but it would be pretty drastic. I know if I were in that situation, then I would do some pretty drastic things to save my friends and family.

But this is not what Christians do for their friends and family who they really believe are on the verge of falling into eternal torture, even though they say they really believe this, and even though they feel they really believe this.

So something weird is going on. Millions of Christians really believe this stuff, but they don’t act like it.

As best we can tell, humans always act so as to fulfill the strongest of their current desires, given their beliefs. But I very much doubt that Christians do not have a strong desire to save their spouses, their children, and their best friends from eternal agony. So there seems to be something weird about the belief end of the equation.

Do Christians really believe what they say and feel they believe? What’s going on here?

If you really believe this, you shouldn’t have to tell yourself, “You’re right, I really should try harder to evangelize.” No, if you really believed, you would already have that motivation! You wouldn’t need to try to manufacture it!

And if you really believed, you wouldn’t need to constantly repeat the doctrines of Christianity to yourself, and do everything you can to “build up your faith.” I don’t need to remind myself that the Holocaust happened or that gravity is real. I don’t need to constantly “build up my faith” in the existence of magnetism.

Something is fishy here, and I don’t get it. Any thoughts?

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{ 303 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben June 21, 2009 at 10:43 am

Um, well their beliefs aren’t just amoral propositions.  They are understood in personal terms.  So if they think God wants them to play life a certain way, they are obligated to comply.  Hence, wearing a seat belt makes sense if it is their duty in this life to take care of it until the time is right.  Otherwise, they are being disloyal and if they are disloyal, then that eternity of bliss is less certain.
Also, your parents can tell themselves that maybe you’ll come around and that your current doubts are all part of God’s master plan.  They have to accept tons of stuff like that anyway, so it’s really just one little baby step more.  Further, if they know anything about your hobbies here on your blog, many Christians it seems, whether they have kids or not tell themselves that our interest in Christianity is because we secretly want to be Christians and/or that God is compelling us back into the fold.  Since they apparently really do believe in Christianity, these things can be easily construed in that light and incidentally there are atheists who buckle and give into religions they harshly criticized before.  So they aren’t completely off there.
So there is enough uncertainty to keep them from being totally distraught even if it’s not how they’d like things to go.  Many things in life are not what they want and they didn’t hold that against God, so neither would they hold wayward children against that perspective either.
Ben

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Alex June 21, 2009 at 11:02 am

I’ve wondered similarly about pro-lifers – if they really believe that abortion is murder, why do so many of them choose to protest peacefully and non-violently? One way to deal with this may be to adopt the deontological stance of considering certain actions intrinsically evil (as in Catholicism), but in that case you can’t justify the death penalty or even basic stuff like self-defense. I don’t think there is an elegant answer to such questions, most people simply aren’t reflective enough to even attempt to find incoherencies in their views. You may find this post interesting.

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Lorkas June 21, 2009 at 11:29 am

Another simple example to Christians (you can answer these questions to yourself):
 
Would you ever masturbate if someone was watching you?
Do you believe that Jesus is always watching you?
Do you masturbate?
 
I know that when I was a Christian, my answers were no, yes, yes. Something seems inconsistent there, though. Perhaps I didn’t really believe that Jesus was always watching me. Perhaps you don’t either. :-\

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Ben June 21, 2009 at 11:32 am

I think Alex gives a better example, since if Pro-choicers really were accessories to murdering say, teenagers, there’d be no way they’d react the same way.  I wouldn’t.  How could you even stand to hold a debate with pro-choice people if that’s really what it means in moral terms?  Something is different and it’s seems as though it is different in a way they are unwilling to directly address, because it impacts the debatescape significantly.
Ben

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Ben June 21, 2009 at 11:35 am

Lorkas,
Yeah, but Jesus has to watch *everything,* including everything going on in his unlimited imagination which includes you masturbating even if you never actually did.  “Jesus just has to put up with it regardless,” should be their position.  hehe  Pervert.
Ben

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lukeprog June 21, 2009 at 11:36 am

Lorkas,

I actually remember the masturbation dilemma for myself! I really believed that Jesus could see me masturbate, but the urge was so overwhelming I just blocked Jesus out of my head and apologized later. I made several attempts throughout my teenage years to quit masturbation. I even got an ‘accountability partner’ where we both swore off masturbation and kept tabs on how long we lasted. I think I lasted something like 12 days and then gave up. That was my longest streak ever.

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Jeff H June 21, 2009 at 11:41 am

I had an experience that actually made me think of this very inconsistency. I was at church (I still go to church when I’m back at home, to avoid arguments with my parents), and after the service I was milling about in the foyer and came across my uncle talking to another fellow in the church. I forget the exact conversation topic, but my uncle said jokingly, “Hey, just make sure no burning bushes start talking to you, or people will think you’re crazy.” He said it as a joke, but it got me thinking that what he essentially said was that people today (presumably including himself) would see Moses as crazy. So why does he believe the story, then? It just kind of jumped out at me. They know it’s crazy, but they still believe it anyway.
But to get back to your point, Luke, I think what you’re pointing out is a fact of human nature itself. We could point out the same thing in atheists as well – why don’t you live every moment of your life knowing that you will die? Most of the time, we don’t think about this. But we are all going to die at some point. Our lives are going to end. So why aren’t we rushing around to get everything done, continually updating our wills, always making sure that funeral plans are arranged, etc.? I mean, it’s a struggle for most of us to even contemplate these things. We do because we feel it’s important, but in our everyday lives, it doesn’t cross our minds. We live as though we are immortal. I think it’s because death is uncomfortable to us. Same thing with Christians – beliefs about hell are uncomfortable, so they try not to think about it except when they feel compassion towards “saving” people from it. Not thinking about hell helps them live a normal life in the same way that not thinking about death helps us do the same.

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Alden June 21, 2009 at 11:52 am

Everybody is a hypocrite.   But, these are still good questions, things that Christians often ask of each other.   Many Christians do take extreme measures – and they are criticized for that, too.  However, not everyone is a fundamentalist.  Many Christians also respect other people’s rights to make their own decisions.
I take some time to visit atheist blogs – and blog myself – for precisely the reason that I believe one’s eternal destiny is important.  I’m not going to hold a gun to anyone’s head, and for that matter, I don’t think that approach does any good.  But, I will challenge bad thinking and present new information, and perhaps it may cause someone to reconsider their beliefs.  Jesus said, “no one comes to me unless the Father draws him.”   Salvation is not a matter of convincing someone about an intellectual issue; it’s about responding to the direct call of God.
And, for the record, I personally don’t believe that it is God’s decision that people are excluded from “heaven,” as it were; I think it’s the individual’s choice.
The whole concept of heaven and hell are somewhat misunderstood, I think.  Our concept of hell is due more to Dante than to what the Bible actually says.  A good book is NT Wright’s “Surprised by Hope” which has a chapter on hell that’s quite interesting.  Also, CS Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” presents a very interesting look at the question.
 
 
 

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Apollo June 21, 2009 at 11:52 am

I think the answer to the question you posed is yes, Christians really believe. So why aren’t they frantic, as they should be, if God is going to torture the vast majority of humankind forever for not loving Him? Besides the mundane answers like laziness, shyness, etc., the answer, I believe, lies in the fact that if they really meditate on the idea of hell they could not believe in a loving, just God. I spent years trying to reconcile these concepts. Prayed about it–no insights received as you might expect. Nothing but bleakness and pessimism. If God is good and hell is real then we must redefine what we mean by good as it pertains to God.

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Jeremy June 21, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Supposedly, my parents really believe that I am going to hell now that I’m an atheist. They believe their son, whom they love dearly, is going to be tortured forever. Literally.
And yet, they don’t seem very upset by this … they don’t seem upset that their beloved son will be tortured forever in hell. And that seems odd.
If they really believed that, wouldn’t I see some serious mourning? Some pleading? Some great distress?

Don’t seem upset, or aren’t upset? Seems to me there is only so much they and other Christians can do (didn’t even the Apostles shake off their sandals if their message wasn’t heard and accepted?). Should some react in a greater capacity than they have? Absolutely, with respect to this I agree with your article.
I wonder what it means to demand consistency from people who subscribe to a (supposedly) delusional and immoral set of beliefs? I mean, it’s really only begging the question.
 
 

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Haukur June 21, 2009 at 4:14 pm

“you got word that soon, the Nazis were going to invade”
Well, how soon? I think a lot depends on whether there is a specific date or whether it’s just something vaguely in the future and not expected to happen tomorrow. That’s how Luke’s death works. His parents intellectually know that he is going to die at some point but they don’t expect it to happen soon and they certainly don’t expect it to happen tomorrow. In fact, it’s an event they probably don’t expect they will experience at all. It’s a very slow-boiling frog.
“Supposedly, my parents really believe that I am going to hell now that I’m an atheist.”
Not exactly. They (I assume) believe that you will go to hell if you’re still an atheist when you die. That’s a substantial difference missing in your analogy.
Let’s plug these two modifications back into your analogy and see what we get:
“Let’s say we all lived in Poland at the start of World War II and you got word that sometime in the future (possibly soon but more likely decades from now), the Nazis were going to invade the town where several of your friends and family lived. Unless the Nazis have a change of heart first.”
Looks a lot less urgent now, doesn’t it?

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Reuben June 21, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I agree with other comments here that there are internally legitimate explanations for Christian behaviour in regards to the fact many of the people with whom they associate will burn forever. However, meditation upon the problem of hell will, I think, force the Christian to certain conclusions. Perhaps that is depression and insanity, perhaps abandonment of Christainty coupled with an external view whereby one sees through internal explanations and into the madness that is the doctrine of hell, or perahps to a reconceptualization of the fate of unbelievers (say, annihilationism, or universalism).

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Alex June 21, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Haukur: “Supposedly, my parents really believe that I am going to hell now that I’m an atheist.”
Not exactly. They (I assume) believe that you will go to hell if you’re still an atheist when you die. That’s a substantial difference missing in your analogy.

How exactly is this difference supposed to excuse Luke’s parents? Your formulation makes the situation much worse, because there is something that can be done to prevent Luke’s presumed eternal future of torture.
Your Nazi analogy is weak, because the person warned has no contact with the Nazis. If he were, say, a personal friend of Adolf Hitler, don’t you think he would have to do everything in his power to change Hitler’s mind about invading Poland? Of course he would, and the same applies to Luke’s parents (except in that case the perpetrator is also the victim, which doesn’t make a relevant difference).
There is a real problem here, which I don’t think can be dismissed quite so readily.

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Haukur June 21, 2009 at 5:55 pm

 

Alex: Your formulation makes the situation much worse, because there is something that can be done to prevent Luke’s presumed eternal future of torture.

That was always the case, both in Luke’s initial version and in my version. The thing I’ve changed is to make it so that even if you do nothing your friends might still be safe because the Nazis might change their mind. That’s the case with Luke’s parents – Luke might reconvert even with no special effort on their part to get him to do so.
 
But if you want to consider the historical analogy more closely then note that some Jews did stay in Germany when they could have left, knowing that the Nazis were doing increasingly bad things. A part of the explanation for that (and just a part, it’s a complex question) is that people put a high value on continuing to do things as normal – this might include continuing to live where they have always lived or continuing to act towards their children the way they have always acted towards them (with respect and kindness).

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Lee A. P. June 21, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I remember when my grandfather died when I was 13. I started masturbating shortly after and was afraid that he was watching me and ashamed. I guess I reasoned that the creator of the universe sees so many more appaling things, and that he would forgive me, but my grandpa…. Obviously at 12/13 my knowledge of theology was poor as I believed that relatives possibly “watched over” us.

Why do Christians ball and wail at funerals instead of celebrate. I can understand if they think there is a chance that thier loved one is going to hell but what about the loved ones whom they are sure are Christians.

If they truly believed they simply were transported to paradise would they still cry. Does this show that they lack belief or at least certanty. Some will argue that not being able to see a friend anymore for several years or decades is sad and worth being upset over but I feel if Christians truly felt they knew their relative was in the most blissfull place possible, that it would be a more joyous type of mourning. Sure they would be sad that they would not see their loved one for a good while but the fact that their loved one is in the most blissfull place imaginable would overcome the feelings of sadness to a great degree.

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Anonymous June 21, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Well, when I was a christian I always felt super guilty about not witnessing to my friends more. I felt tremendous pressure to witness to my friends, but deep down I also felt so silly, like I was trying to witness for fairies or something (I didn’t understand this until later, but that was the sillyness I felt). I was always a mixture of intense anxiety, worry (for my friends), and guilt (for not believing harder).

I’ve noticed something related to this I’d like to share also. My wife is a Christian and when I finally decided to be an atheist, we had a ‘marriage crisis’. After about 7 months of difficulty, things returned to normal and even I forget that we have different ‘religions’. I think that over time she noticed something, although she is not conscious of it yet…

@Lorkas

Hmmm, well, someone who watches hundreds of millions of teenagers masturbate daily is one sick fuck… never thought of it that way until I read your comments…

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Brandon June 21, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Lorkas and his masturbation example coincides with what I’ve been thinking about lately: that Christians don’t *actually* believe that Jesus/God really exists.  They don’t act like it.
I can’t imagine any Christian, be it William Lane Craig or anyone else, not admitting that if an actual flesh and blood Jesus hung out with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week ever since they first became a Christian, they wouldn’t have acted differently throughout their Christian life.
Sure, no one is perfect, but if Jesus, the REAL Jesus was standing next to a Christian, then they’d act differently than they do now.  So, is it fair to say that, deep down, even Christians don’t believe that Jesus/God exists?
How can they escape this dilemma unless they believe that Jesus/God is not omnipresent?

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Lorkas June 22, 2009 at 8:07 am

Brandon: the REAL Jesus

Surely this is an oxymoron. ;-)

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lukeprog June 22, 2009 at 8:34 am

Lorkas,

You write so many great comments here. Do you have your own blog?

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Anonymous June 22, 2009 at 11:00 am

Evangelism is *not* about conversion, it’s about *information*. In your case, just by reading a bit of your blog it appears you have adequate information and have chosen to reject Jesus, God, and so on — with the full knowledge if you’re wrong you’re going to end up in a place you don’t want to be.

So the Christian’s job is done. You have information, what you do with it is completely up to you. Your eternal destiny may bother people, but you can choose for yourself your own future — it’s your choice, your future, and (most importantly) your responsibility.

Are you bothered people respect your choice and accept your destiny, even if they don’t agree with it and don’t like it? Would you prefer they hound you and argue ad nauseam?

As to the Poland example, to make it closer to the Christian/atheist example you must assume you can do *nothing* to save your friends and family save warn them. You don’t have the ability to physically remove them, stop the invasion or anything else. Thus you’re left to warn them, and hope they make the correct and wise choice. You can do no more. You provide information, how they respond is their choice. They can understand the certain future and take action, or deny it exists and (presumably) regret their choice later.

Whether you then choose to stay with them and share their fate, or save yourself and leave them to their choice is then your only option — and that’s a whole other philosophical discussion.

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Lorkas June 22, 2009 at 11:00 am

lukeprog: You write so many great comments here. Do you have your own blog?

No, but I’m thinking about starting one :-)
Thanks for the encouragement. If I ever get around to starting my own, I’ll surely link it to my comments here.

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Dan June 22, 2009 at 5:48 pm

In order to be happy with people in hell, you have to either surrender your mind, or surrender your heart.  I think people in Christianity do a little of both.
What are your parents options, once it’s clear you won’t believe.  They can either be in pain their whole lives, or accept it.  Sometimes you just have to accept a horrible situation.  To them, it’s like a disabled paraplegic veteran who will never walk, write, or have sex again.  Why isn’t he upset about this tragedy?  Because there’s only so much pain you can allow yourself before your body and soul realize that being upset won’t help you, and you accept what is.
People in Christianity have accepted that their God will torture most of the entire earth for eternity, yet they feel he is good.  Once you’ve accepted a contradiction like that, the little details like your friends of family being burned fall into place as well.
Even when I was a believer, what disturbed me the most, was not the threat of hell, but the idea that humanity could be so cold to the suffereing of others in hell.
I’d say your parents are just having a natural manifestation of what happens when you accept insanity into your life.
 
–Dan

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Scooter June 22, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Well I know how my parents reconciled this particular dilemma.  My pops believes in the “once saved, always saved” doctrine.  Despite the fact that I don’t believe in any god.  And I can say with a high degree of certainty that I will never again.

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Jeff H June 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm

I think we should also remember, Luke, that your parents are likely praying for you. Since they think that talking to their ceiling will achieve results at some point down the road, this relieves them of at least some of the responsibility that they may feel. It at least feels like they’re doing something.

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Lorkas June 23, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Jeff H: It at least feels like they’re doing something.

And that’s the beauty of prayer–you can feel like you’re helping without doing anything at all.

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DC June 25, 2009 at 5:05 am

If atheists really believe there is no God, and “God” is on the same level as unicorns in fairy tails, then why do so many athiests pour their time and talents into talking about something that doesn’t exist? Isn’t it like devoting your life to studying the non-existence of unicorns?
Please share your thoughts.

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lukeprog June 25, 2009 at 6:05 am

DC,

There are not billions of people damaging the planet because of their belief in unicorns. But there are billions of people damaging the planet because of their belief in gods.

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DC June 25, 2009 at 6:45 am

lukeprog: DC,There are not billions of people damaging the planet because of their belief in unicorns. But there are billions of people damaging the planet because of their belief in gods.

I see your point. And to an extent, I agree. There are many beliefs in gods that do people more harm than good.

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nette July 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm

I believe it because your parents believe in the power of God that they have peace with your decision. They probably didn’t have someone stalking them, yelling, or crying uncontrollably that convinced them that Jesus was Lord. They receive Him without all the extras and that confirms for them that there is power in prayer as well as faith. They trust the Lord that if you raise a child in the way that he should go that if when he is old and departs he will return again to the truth. You are not fully convinced that there is no God anyways, that is why you look for confirmation from others. Even atheists believe in God they just believe that they are God. Because only a person that has been everywhere, seen everything, from one end of the universe to the other can say there is no God. Saying, because I have search everywhere and seen everything and found it to be so. This would make them know everything which then would make them God. You even have a name for your self worshipping religion “Atheism” I just say be careful they are pretty big shoes to fill. May God bless you and allow you to be this voice to the lost that you seek.

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Mark September 9, 2009 at 9:47 am

It is always interesting to me when people attack a thing because they believe that thing does not exist.

Why exhaust so much effort to prove that something does not exist when your time would be so much better spent promoting a positive. Tell the world what you believe or know to be true. Don’t spend your time trying to convince your self that the other is not true. If you believe in what ever it is that you believe in, stand on it.
“This is not a post for attacking Christian beliefs or promoting atheistic views. This is a post about understanding. I’d like to understand Christians better. So, Christians: I have a question for you.”
You attempt at establishing a premise by the statement above is very caddy and not a strong representation of a quality character. This is a message attempting to attack that which you want to rebuke. You do not want to use this message to better understand Christians; you already understand them. The only thing separating you and me is faith. I expect you know 200 times what I know about the Word.

I’m curious why you capitalized, in your post, the word Christians and not the word atheist. It can not be because the word christ is a name. You and I both know that the Messiah’s name is (now called) Jesus. Christ is another word for messiah. Christ is not the last name of Jesus the Savior. Is it possible that it is due to the respect you have for the Massiah?

I think you and many others are trying to convince GOD that HE does not exist. You are involved in a mass delusion with a hit of reality corrupting your comfort level. As long as GOD keeps peaking in, your perfect world of unaccountability can not perfectly or completely exist.

You have lost your faith because of some serious pain of the flesh or devil driven rebellion. You seem like a nice enough guy, so I hope you find your way back.

This post may make it sound like I am accusing you of being bad. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I can tell that you are not a person filled with hate. Many atheists and many Christians speak with (even in their writing) a recognizable hatred. You do not! You seem to believe to a point, with serious undertones of conflict, what you say. I expect that conflict is what is left of your Holy Spirit lead conscience.

You talk about the rituals Christian use to strengthen their beliefs. Repeating and spewing from their mouths that which they believe or know to be true. Isn’t that what you are doing here?

I hope you will come back. You seem like a smart guy and the devil does not deserve you. You surely understand love and know that it did not just appear without a divine intention.

Love,

Your waiting brother in the Christ

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kit October 6, 2009 at 2:50 pm

I wear a seatbelt because it’s the law and the one time I didn’t, I got an 80$ ticket! Just thought I’d let you know my thoughts on seat belts.

This is an excellent post you know. Not one thing you said wasn’t true. I saw this video of Penn (from Penn and Teller…and he asked the same questions).

You know, I do tell people. As much as I can or as much as they will listen. I’ve been cussed out quite a few times and then there are those folks who don’t want anything to do with me because I’m too “narrow” minded.

I guess the way I see it is that I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but it’s not me that shows people the truth. It’s the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that all that the Father draws will come to Him. Simple as that. So yes, I tell people about Him because I’m told to in the Scriptures, but the truth of the matter is that He is the one who opens eyes and changes hearts…not me.

I get really really upset when I think about those I love not being in the same place I am when eternity comes, but at the same time, I have to understand that people make their choices, and yet, at the same time God chooses His own. I don’t know how He does it or why, but He does. You can’t make anyone believe anything. And what would be the point of your parents crying around you all the time? And who knows, I don’t know your parents from Adam, but maybe they don’t believe it themselves or maybe your mom has put you in her Father’s hands. She may pray about you all day long and all night long for all you know…or maybe not. But acting sad about you all the time is not going to change your heart, it would probably annoy you more than anything…then you’d see your mom as a fanatical nag!

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to say that you have excellent points. You also describe the phenomena of churchanity very well even though you didn’t use that exact word. Fire insurance would be the way to describe it I guess. You’re absolutely right that most self-proclaimed christians don’t believe in hell…look at Mr. Billy Graham for instance. Shoot, most “christians” don’t even know what’s in the Bible…nor do they see it as the inspired Word of God.

You know that whole thing in 2 Thesalonians about the falling away…or the apostasy…I personally believe we are sitting smack dab in the middle of it right now. We go to church one day a week and live like the devil the rest of the time. Not all of us, but a good deal. If we aren’t living like the devil, we somehow think that our own righteousness can save us so we spend our time getting involved in politics and trying to fix the world for Jesus or we pick our sins and stay away from the ones that we think God doesn’t like…and rank them. Some of us don’t think God’s word is exciting enough, so we fall into the whole experiential christianity…you know, speaking in tongues and stuff like that…getting slain in the spirit and all that uh…intersting stuff.

Anyway, the point is this. Not everyone who claims Jesus as Lord really believes it. They are really just relying on themselves and have found a way to feel righteous versus the sorry sinner in need of grace that they are. Jesus said it himself.

Matthew 7:20-23

20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Anyway, I guess I was just hoping to give you some insight as to why it seems like alot of christians don’t care. It’s true faith, vs. said faith. God knows the difference and He keeps His own. They do care about those going to hell. Promise.

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Bebok October 30, 2009 at 9:04 pm

The answer may be your parents know that in Heaven they won’t miss you anyway, neither regret you being fried on eternal fire, as there are no unpleasant feelings in Heaven. But I don’ actually think it’s correct.

Once my mom (quite devout Catholic) told me she thought she would go to Hell because she had brought up an atheist. I assured her she did her Catholic best and, as far as I know, eternal damnation is not a relevant punishment for that, I even offered consulting a priest, but she wasn’t interested. On the other occasion I asked her if she believed her Protestant friends would go to Hell, and she said no. Then I asked about Jews and Muslims, and she said “not really”. I asked about Buddhists, Hindus, Neo-Pagans and finally atheists (forgot animals), and she said: “I’d say they can be saved. I guess my faith is quite weak.” I told her that therefore she couldn’t really believe she would go to Hell herself because of me, and she said she sincerely believed she would.
Maybe it’s my mom’s specific psychological construction, but I interviewed few believers and heard a number of similarly bizarre, heretic, incoherent assertions.

I suppose it’s a problem of the mysterious relation between religious belief and practice. I think that in researching religion we should earn an approach which would be more, say, functionalist, or behaviourist. Maybe religious phenomena should be examined along with similar nonreligious phenomena with no regard for the alleged inspiration from the beliefs?
As for the beliefs, I think some smart philosopher should go back to the question of meaningfulness of religious discourse, which (the question) reportedly died a quiet death together with empirical verificationism. I guess it’s mainly the matter of some kind of abuse of language; I’d say that believers literally don’t know what they are talking about not only in case of the Holy Trinity, but also in case of Heaven and Hell.

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hawke123 December 8, 2009 at 10:22 am

I think it’s first important to keep in mind that there are various views on hell, not just the eternal torment theory. The bible uses metaphor to describe hell so we do not have a clear understanding specifically of what it is like. There’s also debate over the greek word “aionios” and its translation to “eternal” in the english understanding.

Also, many Christians like myself have tried to reach out to atheists many times but each time we are spat in the face or ignored. If the atheist thinks the Christian’s beliefs are false and ridiculous then what good will the Christians pleas and arguments do to persuade him? Answer: none.

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Bebok December 11, 2009 at 12:11 pm

hawke123,

What is your view on Hell? You think the punishment is not eternal? Or maybe not so obnoxious? Or maybe more mental than physical? Do you believe in fire, chains and stuff?
There are hundreds of uncanny expressions, ambiguities and contradictions in the Bible. Some scholars take certain expressions as metaphors and some don’t. I think that atheists usually don’t believe in the biblical vision of the afterlife because there is no good evidence for it, just like there is no good evidence for the vision of the afterlife in Qur’an or in the Odyssey.
You should expect an atheist to be open-minded and ready to change his or her view under the force of the argument, but you can’t expect him or her not to think Christian beliefs are ridiculous. It is not a particular standpoint that matters, but a readiness to face the evidence.

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Azraele February 15, 2010 at 11:03 pm

You bring up very great points. Christians should be pleading with family and friends even strangers to change their ways. But we do, there are those that are subtle about it. Like speak about how gracious God is to us and show our faith by abstaining where we should. Some give friends and family books on God. There are also those extremists…the ones who stand on a street corner shouting the end is nigh, repent or be damned forever! Churches post signs about fundraisers they are having and post on their signs when services are. But we are not acting like the Nazi’s are coming and they are! God has a Schindler’s List and how does one get on that list? By knowing Schindler or someone who’s on he list saying hey I know someone let me bring them here so they can ask you for a spot on the list.

I feel as though I have been rambling, sorry, I am tired. But as I understand the bible hell isn’t this place of whips and Iron Maidens where demons get to torture you and those up in heaven get to roast marshmallows over the flames of hell. It’s just not logical. God is a loving God now could heaven REALLY be that great of a place if for all eternity you heard the cries of your loved ones and strangers pleading for mercy. To know that there was great and unending suffering going on beneath you forever? My answer is no. We won’t be stupid in heaven, the bible tells us that sin will exist no more. So if something doesn’t exist why should a punishment for it still go on? I can’t remember the verse if you email me I can try to find it but in Revelations it says something along the lines of the saved will prance upon the ashes of those burnt up. How can hellfire be a forever deal if there are ashes from those burnt up? Again I am thinking about this logically. I must be going to bed but all I can say is this. God doesn’t force us to do anything. He doesn’t want zombies for followers, he wants willing participants. How we come to God is between God and us.

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sfranger_19 February 21, 2010 at 1:00 pm

I am someone who does not follow any one religion in particular. However I do believe that the power we choose to call “god” does exist. I have chosen to eliminate the belief in heaven and hell from my system of beliefs and that by trusting the higher power known as “god” my life has had a change for the better. I have sat and thought about what I personally believe a lot and for a long time. The conclusion that I can come up with is almost always the same and that is my path to “god” as I understand him is not nor should I expect it to the same as anyone Else’s. When presented with information about heaven and hell I am opened minded enough to listen to what the person has to say but that doesn’t mean that I have to change my view on the subject. Also to the Christians who will read this in the future if you truly trusted in your higher power the guilt you experienced for not proselytizing wouldn’t be there.

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James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil February 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I understand that you are essentially saying that christians, and other theists, are lying to themselves. This doesn’t surprise me as they have no hesitation about lying to others to promote their religion. Distortion and deceit and the order of the day for religion so why should they balk at doing it to themselves?

This is another example of clear thinking and reasoning within observable facts are anathema to religion so they discourage it in others and do not permit it in their own lives. In a way, one has to admire their rigid discipline in never permitting themselves to think.

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Hessian February 21, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Jesus rose from the dead accepted fact by Christians so Jesus can die.
When he ascended into Heaven he ran out of air to breath at around 100000 feet, so he died again. So how can he be watching you do anything sinful.

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cody February 22, 2010 at 10:29 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indoctrination

“..often distinguished from education by the fact that the indoctrinated person is expected not to question or critically examine the doctrine they have learned.”

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Haysoos February 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Actually it turns me on to think of jeezuz watching me masturbate. Especially while watching ‘The Passion of the Christ’ — that’s actually the most frequently used whacking material in my porn collection.

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Sara Karnos February 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

My husband thinks I’m going to hell, but he’s not losing any sleep over it. I hadn’t thought about that until now. Great comments from everyone.

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Aeiluindae February 22, 2010 at 10:38 pm

I’m not sure where I personally stand on hell/eternal torment, etc. However, the point of view that I take (and others have said this as well) is that there is not always a great deal you can do. It is basically impossible, and most definitely immoral to MAKE someone believe something, so your options are limited.

You try to practice what you preach, to demonstrate that being a Christian is a better way to live (pretty much impossible to do well, Jesus set a ridiculous standard, but at least some of us do try), you give them information, you answer questions if they have them, you don’t make an ass out of yourself, etc. The rest is up to God, as the saying goes. And that’s why people don’t often get too broken up (at least that’s my logic). If you’ve tried your best, why waste time crying over something that’s out of your hands?
On a separate note, funerals are odd. People cry when loved ones go away on long trips. The same emotion applies here, I think, for Christians. Funerals are kind of backwards, anyway, for me. They focus on the wrong thing, most of the time, mourning the death, rather than celebrating the life.
For me, death is the inevitable consequence of an organic body, so relatively neutral as events go, but conscious life and experience is truly special. And if that life doesn’t have to end at death, that’s even more awesome.

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Jannah February 23, 2010 at 2:20 am

I agree with you on these questions. Do supposed Christians really believe that they can pray their way through a problem or get someone saved just by praying? People have to take initiative and action if they want things to get done. I believe that everyone makes their own paths in life and that consequences or rewards in life are results of the choices that we made. Also, I believe Christianity is just a way of dealing with the concept of death. It is easier for others to believe that ‘we will see our loved ones again someday’ rather than just accepting the fact that they are gone forever. It kills me at funerals when people say, “Oh at least they are in Heaven now and are not hurting anymore. I will get to see them again one day soon.” It’s not just that statement, it’s the fact that this is said about people who didn’t live “Christian” lifestyles. Hypocrisy is the main thing that turned me away from religion/spirituality/Christianity. Personally, by being hypocrites, Christians are doing more harm than good. They are pushing people AWAY from God rather than bringing in followers for Him.
Anyway. I’m done with my little rant now; just had to get it out. But I agree with you 100%.

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THE TRUTH February 23, 2010 at 2:53 am

Christians believe that there is this mystical being that has control over everything and they prey and hope that he will save them and those they pray for from “damnation”. if we look at history during WWII im sure thousands if not millions of people “prayed” that God would save them. but nothing supernatural happened. what ended the Nazi’s reign was action, action from people that knew that if they didn’t try and stop him then no one would. and what most Christians believe is that faith is something you build or something you hope for. but its not. true faith is something you KNOW. you know because you take action therefore faith takes action. what Christ KNEW (faith) was that if he didn’t do something to stop peoples ignorance then no one would, talking about it and hoping was not enough so he took action. he did this without fear because he knew that in the end things would be okay and if something didn’t work out it just didn’t, so he moved on. its inevitable, (Christians call this “God’s will”). “people hear but they don’t listen” this is something he said himself. the truth is that there is a god that created us and what Christians don’t seem to know is that if you really believe this to be a fact than you wouldn’t need to hope for anything, you would just do things and people would follow you because of your inevitable success in anything you do. and you will have that success because you know this to be true. you know that things are what they are. you cant change them. you can only do what you know will make you happy. if something doesn’t work out you move on, why? because you cant help it otherwise. and so they hope and they pray that someone will change things when IN REALITY if they really want something changed they WOULD do it themselves. using this logic, we shouldn’t try to convince anyone that they are going to hell because ultimately its not up to them, that is gods judgment. so by this any TRUE christian would worry about themselves only, their truth. they would worry about showing the world through their actions that they KNOW this to be true. “notice i did not say believe”. i know this sounds like i am an atheist but i assure you i am not. like the original poster i know what its like to feel like you believe. and i know what its like to doubt. all im merely explaining is that Christians and the world today have a distorted view of what the bible says, and that is just because of misunderstanding. the bible has gone through many translations and has lost a lot of the deeper meaning that people seem to take as literal today. that’s why their (Christians) logic seems flawed, and that’s why atheists know that something is wrong, they can feel it and sadly they disbelieve the basic message of the bible thanks to this mysticism that has been applied because of misunderstanding. because of this no one sees the truth. it feels like we’re missing something in ourselves, this hole, this lack of knowledge that only realizing this truth can fill. its the blind leading the blind in search of basic knowledge that is misunderstood because of different clouded perspectives. in other words, faith shouldn’t require you to believe.

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THE TRUTH February 23, 2010 at 2:58 am

PS; i don’t have to call myself a christian and i don’t want to because of the name that people have associated with it. but i want to because Christ had the right idea.

call it common sense Christianity.

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Diner February 23, 2010 at 4:40 am

Well, I seem to have had the misfortune of running into several Christians who seem to fervently want to save me. They put inordinate amounts of energy into trying to convert me. I tell them their efforts are futile, but they persist.

I know that they actually are worried about my salvation, but I can’t relieve their anxiety.

Even worse are the Christians who are worried that I don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, so I am apparently rudderless and doomed to suffer in this life.

What I don’t get is that they don’t understand that I have tried to believe. I just can’t. It would be great to believe there was a kindly sky-daddy to watch over me and make things better. I’m just not wired that way. They act like I have a choice. I don’t

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KRA February 23, 2010 at 6:53 am

“Let’s say we all lived in Poland at the start of World War II and you got word that sometime in the future (possibly soon but more likely decades from now), the Nazis were going to invade the town where several of your friends and family lived. Unless the Nazis have a change of heart first.”
Looks a lot less urgent now, doesn’t it?  

I don’t know about you, but if I believed that at some point my family would be taken from their homes and killed, even if the odds of it happening soon are pretty slim, I would get my family out of that situation as soon as fucking possible. What kind of person would think, “Well as things are now, Nazi’s are going to come and kill my family sometime within the next few decades. I’ll wait around and see what happens.”

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KRA February 23, 2010 at 7:01 am

Mark: It is always interesting to me when people attack a thing because they believe that thing does not exist.

Atheists don’t simply attack Christianity because they disbelieve in their faith. Many people, myself included, view certain religious beliefs as harmful influences to a person and community. So it is in the same interest that Christians try to convert atheists that atheists try to convert Christians. Atheist attacks on Christianity are often legitimate as well, so it seems to me that a member of a worldwide organization of vast power and significance should respond to these criticisms.

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Heather M February 23, 2010 at 7:48 am

One thing that I feel has been possibly overlooked is what it means for a Christian to fight and plead for someone in terms of escaping Hell. I agree with the comment about it being God who draws man to Him and that it has nothing to do with our powers of persuasion and cunning arguments. A Christian also believes in the effectiveness of prayer. Christians believe that prayer literally moves the hand of God, because he responds to His people.

I have a feeling you have no idea what’s going on in private between your parents and God. If your parents are Christians I’m willing to bet your parents spend countless hours on their knees asking for and even demanding for your salvation and your deliverance from Hell. This is where the true anguish and mourning happens. As a Christian, this form of battle is far more effective than throwing themselves at a non-believers feet and merely pleading with them to turn to God.

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Anon February 23, 2010 at 9:04 am

How could one truly be in “heaven” unless all of your loved ones were present.

Do you think you would consider it heaven if when your child passes on and he is sentenced to an infinite amount of punishment for a finite crime and you just sit back and relax at club med in the sky?

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KRA February 23, 2010 at 9:06 am

Heather M: One thing that I feel has been possibly overlooked is what it means for a Christian to fight and plead for someone in terms of escaping Hell. I agree with the comment about it being God who draws man to Him and that it has nothing to do with our powers of persuasion and cunning arguments.

It seems to me to be a logical fallacy to believe God draws man to him. What of all the atheists young and old who say they’ve never felt his draw? Either there was never any drawing from God or they missed some kind of abstact sign, both of which make it unjust to condemn that person to hell because it was no fault or choice of their own that missed God’s calling. Or what if someone recognizes the call of God but is drawn to a religion completely different than your own? How can the just God you believe in send them to hell? Either hell cannot exist in Christian belief, or God is not just or merciful.

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lukeprog February 23, 2010 at 9:14 am

“Either hell cannot exist in Christian belief, or God is not just or merciful.”

Yup.

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KRA February 23, 2010 at 9:24 am

Anon: How could one truly be in “heaven” unless all of your loved ones were present.
Do you think you would consider it heaven if when your child passes on and he is sentenced to an infinite amount of punishment for a finite crime and you just sit back and relax at club med in the sky?  

I don’t remember anywhere in the Bible saying that Heaven is perfect in relation to every soul. One soul’s idea of a utopia is different than another, but Heaven as depicted in the Bible is a univeral experience, so Heaven therefor cannot be perfect for every soul unless our mindset in Heaven is different than on Earth.

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Rai February 23, 2010 at 11:13 am

You make a valid point. Many people may not believe what they say they do. But many do and just don’t think about it, which seems contradictory but isn’t really.
I think it has a lot to do with the death aspect. The heaven/hell stuff doesn’t come into play until after death, and as a culture, we don’t normally think about death or that it could come at any moment. Even when we realize that, we then have to battle what society bombards us with every day in addition to our own raising.
“But God’s supposed to be all-powerful, right? So why can’t he make all that go away?”
He can. He just doesn’t. It’s a lesson in reliance on Him.
Also, don’t say, “If you really believed it, you would already have that motivation.” Since you were once saved, you’re surely familiar with the term “Revival.” It’s extremely difficult to keep in a high emotional state for a prolonged period. Which is, again, a lesson in reliance on God.

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Ferahtsu February 23, 2010 at 11:39 am

What good are beliefs when they’re based on no factual evidence?

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lukeprog February 23, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Ferahtsu,

They can still feel like they’re true, which is what we really care about, anyway.

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Aeoleous February 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm

I think the veracity of Christian’s (or any number of other religions with confusing dogma) professed beliefs have much more to answer for than that. You’ll see many Christians railing against marriage rights for homosexuals based on it’s inclusion in the Bible as one of many abominations while they would be hard pressed to condone executing people that work on Saturdays (yes, it is Saturday and not Sunday that we’re supposed to be keeping “holy”).

If evolution really is some kind of heretical idea that flies in the face of an all powerful God that created all species on the planet in their current forms, then there should be no acceptance amongst the devout for use of myriad pharmaceutical products. The creation of many of which would not have been possible without the understanding of modern biology that evolution brought to bear.

I wonder the same things as you concerning a wide range of things that Christians fight for, or against in modern times while completely ignoring others that appear right along side the issues they sight as being of importance because of their place in “The Good Book”.

I wonder to myself all the time (and sometimes to their faces); If you really do believe that gays shouldn’t be able to have state sanctioned marriages because of what’s said in the Bible then why don’t you advocate for capturing slaves from amongst the population of Mexico, or stoning to death disobedient children?

All of that stuff is in the Bible in no uncertain terms too you know.

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Flyyn February 23, 2010 at 10:04 pm

I’m a Christian, and I don’t put up with that kind of hooey either. I don’t care what happens when you die. I mean, I’ll be dead. I believe that all mankind was saved by Christ’s sacrifice. The sole moral imperative left to us by Him in return was to love everyone. To do this, we must struggle to understand our neighbor, and accept them. This means that we cannot condemn any action as sin, not one. Everybody has a reason for doing what they do. We all make make decisions by interpreting the information we have at the time, influenced by our wants and needs. We must then accept the consequences of our actions, but that is a matter of humans judging humans, and not the Lord.

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Jason February 24, 2010 at 4:50 am

I would like to compare your Nazi analogy to something that is very true in American society today. Smoking and tobacco use! Every single person in this country KNOWS that if you smoke, you are put at a much higher risk of cancer, heart and lung disease and many other things. Yet, millions and millions of people still smoke. “Why?” you might ask yourself. Why would people continue such behavior even when they KNOW that it will bring about their death?

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Jack February 24, 2010 at 10:09 am

Some of them actually do… they just don’t want to be a nuisance. I know several Christians that know how annoying it is to be preached upon, so they DON’T preach upon.

… And besides, do you really want your Christian parents to be mortally and irreversibly depressed, believing that their child will burn forever in endless Hell?

I get the point of the article, and it’s one I agree with, but you have to ask yourself: do you actually WANT people to act like that, or in the above case of the pro-lifers, to protest violently with huge riots?

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Veronica February 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

lukeprog: Lorkas,I actually remember the masturbation dilemma for myself! I really believed that Jesus could see me masturbate, but the urge was so overwhelming I just blocked Jesus out of my head and apologized later. I made several attempts throughout my teenage years to quit masturbation. I even got an ‘accountability partner’ where we both swore off masturbation and kept tabs on how long we lasted. I think I lasted something like 12 days and then gave up. That was my longest streak ever.  

I had the exact same thing! I used to masturbate allllll the time and I would feel so guilty when I was younger. I would try to stop, but since I’ve been masturbating pretty much every day since I was 6, it only lasts a couple days and then I got to touch it all up again. In school they told us we would go to hell even if we thought about sex and I’d try but I had to keep touching… then after a while I liked to think “Hey Jesus, I bet you’re getting off watching this baby!” But I didn’t really believe in Jesus by then.

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Veronica February 24, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Mark: It is always interesting to me when people attack a thing because they believe that thing does not exist.Why exhaust so much effort to prove that something does not exist when your time would be so much better spent promoting a positive. Tell the world what you believe or know to be true. Don’t spend your time trying to convince your self that the other is not true. If you believe in what ever it is that you believe in, stand on it.
“This is not a post for attacking Christian beliefs or promoting atheistic views.This is a post about understanding. I’d like to understand Christians better. So, Christians: I have a question for you.”
You attempt at establishing a premise by the statement above is very caddy and not a strong representation of a quality character. This is a message attempting to attack that which you want to rebuke. You do not want to use this message to better understand Christians; you already understand them. The only thing separating you and me is faith. I expect you know 200 times what I know about the Word.I’m curious why you capitalized, in your post, the word Christians and not the word atheist. It can not be because the word christ is a name. You and I both know that the Messiah’s name is (now called) Jesus. Christ is another word for messiah. Christ is not the last name of Jesus the Savior. Is it possible that it is due to the respect you have for the Massiah?I think you and many others are trying to convince GOD that HE does not exist. You are involved in a mass delusion with a hit of reality corrupting your comfort level. As long as GOD keeps peaking in, your perfect world of unaccountability can not perfectly or completely exist.You have lost your faith because of some serious pain of the flesh or devil driven rebellion. You seem like a nice enough guy, so I hope you find your way back.This post may make it sound like I am accusing you of being bad. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I can tell that you are not a person filled with hate. Many atheists and many Christians speak with (even in their writing) a recognizable hatred. You do not! You seem to believe to a point, with serious undertones of conflict, what you say. I expect that conflict is what is left of your Holy Spirit lead conscience.You talk about the rituals Christian use to strengthen their beliefs. Repeating and spewing from their mouths that which they believe or know to be true. Isn’t that what you are doing here?I hope you will come back. You seem like a smart guy and the devil does not deserve you. You surely understand love and know that it did not just appear without a divine intention.Love,Your waiting brother in the Christ  

I want to suck the Jesus right out of your cock. Love doesn’t exist, it’s all in your head.

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Kwik February 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm

heh, you know, its funny someone mentioned that an athiest must know as much as god to not believe in him… because it seems the smarter someone is and the more they learn in this world, the farther they get from god. The more facts you have (and facts being a principle or action that can be proven repeatedly without fail provoking some bodily sense to perceive it)the harder it is to believe in things that cant be proven.
Observation aside, you can only live in the moment of time you occupy, there may be a hell, there may be a heaven.. I dont believe either myself… but if there is, ill deal with it when i get there. But right now, on this planet, I have to deal with wars, obscure laws based on conjecture from a book that was written a few thousand years ago by people that by todays standards would have a 3rd grade education if they had one at all, and moral ambiguities obtaining to the living of ones life as they see fit even when it does not affect the person next to them.
So you ask why athiests are so quick to put out thier opinions? Because we tried making the world work with god and it has failed so miserably were on the brink of destroying ourselves through nuclear warfare or plague. Maybe its time for new management.
Now not to sound militaristic, dont get me wrong, every person that follows the teachings of jesus is one less person trying to steal my wallet out of my pocket, and yay for that. But acts of good faith do not make for logical presumptions, in fact quite the opposite.
So my humble advice, roll yourself a doob, or grab a beer, or pop a pill, or grab an Iced tea, whatever your cinch is… and sit out in a chair in your backyard, look up at the sky and thank your creator for the day you get to see right now, whether you believe that creator is god, or buddha, or general Zod from superman.. because the name doesnt matter and tomorrow may not be there :)

peace \/,,

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lukeprog February 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Veronica,

Jesus has his eye on you, babe.

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TrevorBrumwell February 24, 2010 at 3:34 pm

If you look at 1 Peter 3:1, it explains the questions very well. Atheists always say why crhistians this, why Christians that, but the truth is you likely have had some guy preach to you like this, and you likely thought him a nut case…such is our world, the more you care the more you are treated badly, I find atheists often try to make Christians God by requiring more than they could ever deliver, just so they can “feel” sound in their beliefs of nothing due to the Christian falling to their standards.

I thankfully have thrown my all in to my family, friends coworkers and seen this result in many and seen many saved… for the truth is God did say many will die and go to hell despite any preaching to them, he said he would call those who are his and so Christians know that those who God has determined to live will be worked out by him, given free will failures of Christians and free will sabotages of unbelievers will both cause people to lose out on living the truth here, although I believe that those robbed of the truth will be given greater mercy by God, but such is for God to decide.

The reason I spoke of 1 Peter is because in there it talks about the kind of society we have, 1 Peter 3:1 was written within within the lifetime of Peter that Apostle, and he wrote in that time of our society today, in this verse he stated

“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.

By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

Ask yourself if you have christian people in your life, do they not love you, will then not take your beating in peace or with gentle correction, will they not love you and do kindness to you, this is the evangelism our God talks of for by keeping us accountable to Him, he teaches us to be patient with others in love, to not always need to be first.

but such will be the fate of those who do not care, they will have none of Gods favor in His day and will burn, if you care for you sould look into Jesus and why he loved you enough to die for your sins to be completely destroyed by God who can destroy right to the soul that you may have redemption.

for the science minded see Polonium Halos http://www.halos.com, Noah ark on a mountain in Turkey and the very mountain God stood upon in Saudi Arabia, you can google Noah’s ark.

but then again you will likely call me a mad man for preaching to you, your souls are now between you and God :)

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Andrew February 24, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Good post and excellent questions for most Christians.

People that actually practice what they preach are way scarier though. My highschool girlfriend’s parents were hardcore christians that actually did flip shit when they found out my girlfriend was an atheist. They pretty much forced her to go to a bunch of “classes” and took away all her freedom. They treated her like less than a human because she refused to change back, and although they legitimately loved her and cared for her, it was hard to see through their extreme strictness. Luckily when she turned 18 she moved out of her parents house and hasn’t spoken to them since as much as I know.

In conclusion, if christians actually practiced what they preached, it might show their real concern and their real belief, but it’s not worth it for most christians to endanger their relationships with their family etc. As in her parent’s case, they ultimately lost their daughter because they were too extreme.

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Kwik February 24, 2010 at 9:52 pm

“But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.”

lol it also says he created light before he created the stars… and since humans had not invented the light bulb yet… and the sun IS the earths primary source of light…then theres a little problem with the order of things.. unless it was perhaps written by a society that also believed the earth was flat and the sun rotated around the earth… which it was >.>

But more to the point, not a one of you realizes your typing on a PC that costs 2000 bucks when you could sell it and feed the poor as your instructed to do… or maybe partaking of goods you yourself did not sow, seeing as how you most likely bought it from a store at the expense of someone elses hard work… This also includes the computer your typing on to type these messages…
your either going to believe every word in the book is right, or every word is wrong, but you cant pick and choose. So if your really trying to get to heaven, and you reeeallly believe in the bible, turn off your pc, start sewing clothes for the homeless, get rid of anything that is lavish or deemed as an unnecessary object not related to your survival or worship of god, and dont forget to stone your disobediant chidren to death (yeah thats in there too)and dont forget to pluck your eye from the socket for reading the meanderings of the non christians on this page.
It is not only hypocritical to only follow certain parts of the bible that suit you, but nonsensical and prideful at the same time to believe you are mighty enough to choose what is right or wrong IN the book.
So i propose to you the concept that you cannot preach about religion while typing on your fancy 2000 dollar pc, maybe sitting in your $60 pants and for the younger ones, possibly your car out in the driveway that mommy and daddy bought you… it dosent work like that. God’s word is either law, or its open to interpretation, and therefore no evil can exist inside the boundries of human behavior. so choose one. I am not unhappy without god, i have a good job, kid, and wife. Im sure with the lack of moral obstruction of a mythical brow beating, ive been able to witness and experience a lot more in the world. To say atheist must be hurt by life or other suggestions, is just not how it is. I think those that run for the shelter of their minds or talking to the air with their hopes and dreams and expecting them to come true without personal action are in fact the ones unhappy with life.
And lets be honest, you cant having infinite love and still condemn anyone to a horrible fate such as hell or any other torture… He tormented and destroyed a mans life over a bet… with a being he created in the first place. How can Satan be bad if god created him? Isnt everything God creates glorious and perfect? And if God dislikes Satan so much, whats stopping God from erasing him from existance? and let us remember, God killed more people in the bible than Satan did. So the bottom line is, real or not, is that the type of leader you want to follow?, A Narcissist with a meglomania complex and apparent self esteem issues with needing the constant worship to feel he is loved, as well as a bi-polar disorder that incites murderous aggressiveness to those he cares for when frustrated with their efforts? I believe the last person on earth that fit that bill was Pol-Pot from Cambodia. :p

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T-roll February 24, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Now why the hell would you write something like this? Are you utterly insane? Christians badgering me to convert is bad enough, but the last thing I’d want before I go to hell is for christians earnestly mourn for me to the extent that you’re suggesting.

It’s bad enough they give their faux condolences for my lack of faith. You’re evil man… why would you even consider encouraging what you’re encouraging.

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Mr.Crow February 25, 2010 at 3:03 pm

You are correct to point this out but you miss something obvious. I’m going to assume that you are aware of the dangers of talking on the phone while driving. You know, with certainty, that this is not only extremely dangerous personally, but it puts those in the car with you and people in other cars in danger. Do you do it? If not, do you stop others from doing it? If not, then you’ve answered your own question. Everybody knows it is dangerous, that by doing it and allowing others to do it they are putting everyone at risk. And yet they do. We’re people, and for some reason, deep down, we just don’t give a shit. It really is that simple, the threat isn’t tangible enough, isn’t immediate enough for us to act. I don’t get, it doesn’t make any sense at all, but it is what we are. Ask a christian directly, they probably won’t be able to provide a satisfactory answer either. The concept of hell is so foreign, so abstract and otherworldy that in real terms, it represents very little threat to christians. It’s the same reason that christians so often do things that, if they are right, would get them sent to hell. Things they know will get them sent to hell. Your parents aren’t die hard true believers, they believe because it makes them feel better. If they were die hards, they would be trying to save you, they also wouldn’t touch when you’re mother was having her period or eat shellfish. They are christians whose level of belief in an aspect of christianity is tied to how much they like it. 99 percent of christians are like this.

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Brandin February 25, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Short comment…just wanted to say that it feels as though you wrote this about my life from my point of view. I feel exactly the same way as you do. The family thing is exactly what I feel. Thanks for the words. Found this via stumbleupon.

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TrevorBrumwell February 25, 2010 at 8:30 pm

To Kwik:

Actually your wrong, the people of the bible did not believe it was flat because it was spoken by God, examples:

Science at the time of Abrahams time thought there were only 1200 stars in the sky as that was the best they could count with the technology of their time AND “God Spoke to Abraham and affirmed that the number of stars are beyond number that they cannot be counted by man”

Man said the world was flat: God’s word refers to God ruling over the world and refers to the world as spherical

Man said that the flood could not have happened due to the amount of water in the ocean: in the retelling of Noah God said he burst open the fountains of the deep… in the last 50 years we found out that there is MORE water under it than in it.

These are just some examples, the bible also speaks of different natural forces which are beyond it’s time like describing gravity and air currents.

As for what you said about light, that is where God made the space for all creation, God is outside of time, and had to define time for creation. Scientists have discovered that by the very nature of light, it is outside of time, and if it is greater than time then it must define the lesser.

You will likely mock me, and profane God for this, but like my earlier post said, God predicted that through Peter a couple thousand years ago, so why would I be put back by what God has already told me will happen.

It also said Jesus loves you, and died for you, but you won’t look past your own opinions…

Let me ask you something about your opinion of God, being a megalomaniac with self esteem issues, if a man can claim to be the greatest thing that walks the planet when he dies in a 100 years, hardly knows less than what could fill a single book, and spends all his time on himself… why then would God be wrong in claiming He is the Almighty when He does not die, he knows everything and acts perfectly according to His (not your) definition of perfect and just action, and brought into as well as sustains all things… do you not have air to breath and food to eat, be grateful for God has given everything that you have come to enjoy in this world.

the problem it seems most people have is they do not understand that God is God, you can try to define him or throw him out and like Ben stein said He will let you, he isn’t going to die, he isn’t going to be forlorn or defeated by how you treat your fellow brothers and sisters to get ahead, but the truth is all men are accountable to God, all men are accountable for their actions and All men sin, so to keep Christians on a super level only reachable to God is hypocrisy, for have you not said “how dare you judge me”, yet you judge everything about them.

Jesus has provided the means that man can live his life in peace with God, and with repentance comes redemption. He died, having done nothing wrong, a most horrible death so that men could tell you of His love for you, that you might not perish with Satan. For it won’t be like it is portrayed a huge party with Satan in a toga, it will be eternal damnation, the utter knowledge of what you could have had in God, and to burn for all eternity.

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lukeprog February 25, 2010 at 8:39 pm

The choice of posts by the StumbleUpon community is so surprising! Love it.

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Parker February 26, 2010 at 8:16 am

My question to you… Would any of the tactics you mentioned convince you that Christianity is the right path? I think I can answer for you… No, actually they would turn you even more away. Haven’t you heard the scorn for “fire and brimstone” preachers. The reason everyone hates those guys is because having someone scream in your face, trying to scare you into a religion, is obnoxious. The truth is that if Christians are to “convince” people that their way is right, they have to use love.

It’s funny when atheists speak of morality. If you believe in no higher power, whence comes your definition of morality? Whatever your answer, I can use your own arguments against you… :)

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Rodger February 26, 2010 at 10:08 am

In my experience in life you can not control others. As soon as my son turned 13 I began to see my self in his bad behavior. All you can do is try to be the best, most virtuous person you can be. If you have beliefs that may lead to religion. Having a bad day may lead to intoxication. But it is you and you alone that make decisions and your parents letting you make your own means they love you. When someone forces anything on you, you will not love it. Especially religion. I am well read and I reject the ancient superstitions, but some people are only listeners. Read the book.

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Nando February 26, 2010 at 10:53 am

@Parker

When you define morality as ‘basing your actions on what God has determined to be right and wrong’ (we won’t yet discuss how man can reliably know God’s will) then, you are correct; by that definition, an atheist will never have morality. You might be surprised, however, that the values of any atheist who practices common decency, and they are as common, per capita, as ‘moral’ theists…you might be surprised that the atheist’s values are nearly 100% in line with what Jesus teaches, save for the arbitrary dogmatic rules like go to church or only worship one God.

Atheism is not defined by lacking morality. It’s defined by lacking belief in a higher power. The argument you make is merely highlighting the semantical difference in how you define morality. The dictionary makes no mention of a higher power. Your morality may imply a belief in God, but the concept of common decency is synonymous in terms of application and requires no such prerequisite. Do you base your actions solely on what you think God wants you to do? Or do you base your actions on previous experiences and education, on consequences both emotional, societal, and legal? Regardless of what you say, the common perception of morality does not require God. Theists don’t get to have a monopoly on morality.

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Kwik February 26, 2010 at 11:53 am

to Brumwell

Well, last i checked christians threw copernicus into the madhouse for suggesting the world was round, a good 1000 years after jesus died, so no they didnt know the earth was round.
Second
Brumwell: “Let me ask you something about your opinion of God, being a megalomaniac with self esteem issues, if a man can claim to be the greatest thing that walks the planet when he dies in a 100 years, hardly knows less than what could fill a single book, and spends all his time on himself… why then would God be wrong in claiming He is the Almighty when He does not die, he knows everything and acts perfectly according to His (not your) definition of perfect and just action, and brought into as well as sustains all things… do you not have air to breath and food to eat, be grateful for God has given everything that you have come to enjoy in this world.”

The amazing thing is that you say that without any doubts right after listing the some horrible things hes done to mankind…and still avoid the issue of a good christian on his expensive pc with his lavish belongings that do not equate to his survival or worship of god. Or the fact that god technically created all the evil in this world by creating Satan and then allowing satan to continue to exist.. So apparently god wants evil in this world.. and though it is very easy to disregard opinionated views such as those, and the whole psychological introspective thing was more of a joke. (Though to any psychologist, these would obvious signs) it still doesnt change the underlying morality issue it brings up :p.

but through all of it as most people with belief do, you avoid the subject of how god can allow pain. Epicurus said it best.

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

What he is perfect at, is being chaotic and random. Your so fast to attribute air and water to god, when man himself can create these things… and more that god never did. What happens when we find life on another planet?.. are we no longer the chosen species for his love? Yes i have air, because volcanic rock gushed into the atmosphere blocking the sun and cooling the planet, causing moisture which when evaporated caused an o2 planet. And where does it refer to the world being spherical? And no there is NOT more water under the earth than on it, 350 million trillion gallons of water on the planet, heres the specs on the planet.

total: 510.072 million sq km
land: 148.94 million sq km
water: 361.132 million sq km
note: 70.8% of the world’s surface is water, 29.2% is land

now if 70% of the planet is surface water, even if you cut that 29% that is land in 1/2 and replace it with water, there is still not enough, so that my friend is mathematically impossible.

and light is NOT outside of time, we measure it just fine, we even have a defined speed for it ( 299,792,458 m/s) you cant measure the time it takes something to travel if it is outside of times perception, so no, that too is not correct my friend. In fact, the LHC (large Hedron collider) can not only track particles but also their paths of light and particles that create light. So that for a fact means that light does not exist anywhere outside of time.
And you mention that jesus died so i might not have to perish with satan. I mean he sent his only son to die horribly to protect the humans from a being he himself created and can destroy at any time? Wouldnt that have been easier and more humane? To just get rid of satan instead of torturing his son? And how did he die for me? he died for the sins already commited, if god was omnipotent he would have forseen this future and either done it earlier or never created satan. As i said before, there can be no satan without gods approval, and with his “infinite” love, how can there be one. How can a perfect being with control over everything let the ones he loves so much suffer, when small simple acts would relieve the burden of all mankind. If jesus or god showed themselves, one or the other, and gave proof of themselves, id be the first person bowing in the street, and im sure thats the general consensus. So maybe we can add agoraphobia to his list too ;)… Why does a good christian woman get kidnapped and sold into white slavery to live out her life in horror and degrading agony, while the guy who kidnapped her and sold her is driving around in a Benz? Whats stopping that from happening to you?.. Sure isnt god apparently.
So in conclusion, truth will always trump fiction, the faithful like to spew unresearched facts that they were told by someone who has no background to be explaining these issues to you in the first place. All the facts to explain the science of the bible do not add up or are just plain not facts. All of my arguments can be looked up and verified at multiple locations. And since my facts are inarguably true (since they can be observed and recreated over and over.. thusly a “fact”)then your facts must be wrong. The difference between fact and faith is that Fact can be proven, faith cannot. Who would you expect most people to believe? Guess god isnt exactly perfect at PR either huh? :)

P.S. it is exactly those reasons that those who do not believe get upset. Too many people with false facts that they themselves have never taken the time to verify for themselves, but still believe unwaiveringly . Belief is fine, but gullibility ruins societies.

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Sybil February 26, 2010 at 10:04 pm

thank you…. complete stranger for making me cry…
im crying for YOU because somewhere deep down you MAY doubt your parents love and concern for your soul….
im crying for your parents because they should be DOING something according to you that they arent doing….
im crying because these discussions never go well….
im crying because i have failed so many times at making it clear how much i love and care for certain people and its as though they dont hear me….. they dont hear my words they dont hear my actions and they dont hear my prayers for them….
we all make choices, dear stranger.
i challenge you…. for one week…. do not look at the choices of anyone around you but yourself.
no critiquing of ANYONE but you.
no finger pointing.
no guessing at motives.
no bitter thoughts against the choices of self proclaimed christians….
you just look at you.
analyze your thoughts.
your choices.
your motives.
and dont discuss these things with anyone.
i challenge you to this for a week.
in silence face yourself.
maybe after a week of this you will have learned something new?
a person in “unrest” inside themselves, spends their time noting what everyone else “isnt doing right”……..

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Shelly February 26, 2010 at 10:24 pm

I always felt like God was watching me, I still do. But I don’t think he cares if I touch myself or not, I’m more concerned with my dead relatives watching me and shaking their heads in disapproval. Doesn’t stop me btw.

lukeprog: Lorkas,I actually remember the masturbation dilemma for myself! I really believed that Jesus could see me masturbate, but the urge was so overwhelming I just blocked Jesus out of my head and apologized later. I made several attempts throughout my teenage years to quit masturbation. I even got an ‘accountability partner’ where we both swore off masturbation and kept tabs on how long we lasted. I think I lasted something like 12 days and then gave up. That was my longest streak ever.  

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Rosita February 27, 2010 at 2:01 am

THE TRUTH: Christians and the world today have a distorted view of what the bible says, and that is just because of misunderstanding. the bible has gone through many translations and has lost a lot of the deeper meaning that people seem to take as literal today. that’s why their (Christians) logic seems flawed, and that’s why atheists know that something is wrong, they can feel it and sadly they disbelieve the basic message of the bible thanks to this mysticism that has been applied because of misunderstanding. because of this no one sees the truth. e.  

The problem with this logic is that the Bible, read in its entirety, has so many passages that are inconsistent with this generation’s belief in a loving father-style “god” that mere “translation error” cannot explain it away.

The overall picture of the father-god is of a terrible (that is, provokes terror, not love) and emotionally immature tyrant who created evil, hell and the devil before he/it created imperfect humans. The imperfect humans were then put in a position where they could only fail (entrapment) because they had no concept of the difference between good and evil. They were left alone (neglected) by this (omnipresent?) being who was aware (omniscient?) that he was failing to act like a responsible loving parent. That makes this being into a criminal no matter how you translate the stories. This criminal god then proposes that he punish his imperfect creations for eternity after they have lived a relatively torture-free life on earth. He promises to look after them if they agree to regularly slaughter and burn animals for this pleasure. He thinks nothing of psychologically torturing the son of one of his prophets by having his father truss him up and prepare him to be sacrificed to this blood-thirsty being who says he is fond of the smell of burning flesh. He the breaks his promise in regards to Job, one of his most loyal subjects by consorting with the devil (in spite of the fact that he is in agony in hell) and inviting him to torture Job to see if he will break. How do you properly “translate” that monstrous behaviour?
Finally, he rapes an unmarried Jewish virgin and gets her pregnant with part of himself. After this part human (Mary’s genes?)grows up he has him tortured and killed as a substitute for the screaming burning animals he liked so much. He abandons himself (huh?) while on the cross but apparently reenters himself after his (own?) death. How do you “translate” this?

He offers “salvation” from his prescribed eternal torture for all humans whom he chooses to help believe that his evil actions are really “good” and that he really means what his son’s disciples say that he said. (And forget his history of failing to protect Job.) Of course, if he “hardens the heart”, you don’t have a hope. How do you “translate” that?

If those who continue to believe in this nonsense were sincere in their beliefs, then they would be praying to their god to change his evil ways, get rid of the eternal torture chamber he invented, use his strength to permanently remove evil and his part-time play mate, the devil god, and provide all their loved ones with experiences which will cause them to believe whatever is necessary to prevent them from falling foul of this god’s socio-pathic anger and undeserved self-righteousness.

Instead, Christians blame the victims, not the torturer. It is so insane that you have to be indoctrinated to believe it.

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raymears February 27, 2010 at 4:14 am

You sir are retarded!

Firstly, I am a devout atheist and would bet everything precious to me that their isn’t a god. But this whole article is stupid and make atheists look stupid. This is hardly profound, do you not think these delusional religious idiots have already considered this.

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Carrington Jones February 27, 2010 at 5:40 am

have u searched something bout islam ???
u should search
as everybody knows choice’s for themselves
i’m muslim
i had lots of questions bout religions
but i think again if there’s god or not i’m gonna die
this’s inevitable this is fated
yeah i’m waiting for ur anserwsss

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jp February 27, 2010 at 6:28 am

I have more of a problem with the select percentile of Christians that don’t fall into your generality… That believe the Bible, and my own firey future, are completely and literally true, and so they spend all of their time, scolding and pitying and tract-bombing this poor lost soul.

I think the general population of Christians is afraid of being persecuted for being “that guy,” and so they have the common decency to not push. That, and many of them believe that if you are destined to be saved, you will be, regardless of their own efforts.

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lukeprog February 27, 2010 at 6:53 am

Carrington Jones,

I’ve written only a few posts about Islam so far. See my category ‘Islam’.

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TrevorBrumwell February 27, 2010 at 7:17 pm

To Kwik:

God allows bad things to happen because he wants people who can think, and choose to worship him freely, not puppets, that pain happens is because men get desires for things, which are then heightened by the fact that one day they will die, and therefore seek out in whichever way is deemed appropriate for that own persons moral beliefs, the fact that people get kidnapped is due to lust for one of a number of things.

As for the water subject, in the last fifty years they foudn out that there are fountains which cover the oceans floor, and that under these fountains there is twice as much water as there is in the ocean.

As for light (http://books.google.ca/books?id=8RBRAVBw3_AC&pg=PA81&lpg=PA81&dq=light+outside+the+bounds+of+time&source=bl&ots=By1ZiVB9zj&sig=bbPZwKtfUzXv_HqdL47be782Cus&hl=en&ei=BNyJS_vdEZCXtgfj4bS1Dw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CA0Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=light%20outside%20the%20bounds%20of%20time&f=false)
(http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-chaotic-life/200905/essay-time)
These sites describe in both that there are limits to time and you are right I misquoted the phenomenon but only partly as they say that light moves so fast as to basically show us the boundaries of space and time… which would be a spatialy reality… which is what I said.

I find it kind of funny that people when asked if people are good, will immediately say “yeah ofcourse” but you just contributed all of mans sins on God, without Jesus, which God is neither responsible for nor did he sanction, he allows it as he wants all those who will accept him to be born before he comes again.

As for the the earth being round well it was there 2500 years before man found it for himself, and you say just because the Christians who feared it was flat acted that way then, then the bible must not be right, well the truth is alot of people use the bible to gain influence so that they can fulfill the desires I mentioned earlier, which is wrong but happens, and well there are lots of people that don’t read there bible, today presently 60% of all christians read there bible regularly and with the differing doctrines we have and the ability for each person to put verses into the context they choose likely not many know much about the word… but due to the findings of transcripts from a number of sources we know the bible is accurate, as for the most reliable of these was the dead sea scrolls which confirmed that from 50 to 150 years before Jesus was born that the bible as we know it today (and by today I mean the accepted versions such as the KJV, NKJV, NIV, Greek and Hebrew… and maybe a few others) are accurate…and if you cared to look at the links in my first posting you would have found some VERY interesting physical truth information.

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TrevorBrumwell February 27, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I also meant to tag this on there so you can see a source, and even look up the verses if you want to. http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/ScientificBible.htm

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Kwik February 28, 2010 at 1:42 am

lol Brumwell, that theory would be great to explain it, except time has 11 dimensions (aka superstring theory)…but differing opinions of theoretical quantum theory aside…did you actually read it? ..Like seriously read it?… it treats time as a 2 dimensional creation, time and perception. Though our perception of time may vary in different instances, time itself does not change around the universe due to that. It was like reading a version of the Kevin Bacon game that applied to physics.
Also saying light has a limit on its travel because space is too big? cmon..And light is not conical, its linear..and a temporal limit would elude to time having a limit or ending… so lets take the rapture out of physics and then this makes no sense whatsoever… its a far fetched diatribe made by someone stretching the expectations of matter. Plus nowhere does it say light is outside of time, it says theres a limit to its travel due to time restraints on the universe..so really its saying that it could NEVER exist out of time due to constraints of its travel and the size of the universe. THEN it says folding light can reverse time…hell of a waffle there… Yeah its just as silly as it sounds lol
Now im not tryin to start a physics debate, but maybe you should try more than one source for your info, not just the one by the guy who happens to share your religious view… which is my whole point anyways.
Your so sure that your faith is more correct than say the muslim or sumerian faith, though their religions are older than yours.. as well as about 200 other religions, something we know for a fact, yet you still believe yours was first..which it must be, because your god created everything, including religion… right?
you dont need physics or even science to disprove god though, so thats all moot… basic logic..and i mean real basic, is more than enough.

http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Godless/Summary.htm

and i did look at your links, once again, i already gave you accurate specs of the earth, obviously if theres more water under the earth than on it, than the land mass of earth would have to reduce by 1/2 and the earth would have to increase in size by about 40%.

http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/2497

http://www.kidsnewsroom.org/elmer/infocentral/frameset/factbook/print/xx.html

http://siakhenn.tripod.com/area.html

needs more links? I would hope not…crunch the numbers yourself, i did, with a calculator…so unless its malfunctioning, that theory is impossible..and do you have a link for it? because i cant find ANYTHING about this extra water under the planet theory of yours…and the occurance of “polonium halos” in your link is the direct result of a massive amount of magma cooling at varying temperatures. Believe it or not, since the earth has always been the same distance from the sun since it was formed, there were still warm and cold seasons based on its varying distance from the sun in its rotation. If you cut into a volcano you find the same thing… and not all the volcanoes were here when the earth was formed, weve carbon dated the rocks, we KNOW they werent.
See, we dont need to theorize or guess about these things, we already HAVE the answers, but “christians” and other religions like to say its wrong, no matter how much proof is provided. To offer me verses for scientific explanations is direct proof of this fact. Also you say “due to the findings of transcripts from a number of sources we know the bible is accurate”… Well in what way does that prove it? How about the fact that the original new testament was written approximately 30-60 years after Jesus died? Pretty amazing seeing as how the books were written by his disciples under divine influence… but that would make the disciples between 70-100 years old when they were written… pretty amazing for a time when lifespan average was 30 to begin with, 60 for those that were well taken care of (reserved usually for Kings and princes). So what does the accuracy of a fallacy mean? I can tell the perfectly accurate story of Peter Pan, it doesnt make it anymore real. Now if you take a passage from the bible and relate to a standpoint of physics not written by a person of bias to one side of an arguement (You can say scientists are biased against god, but that still leaves about a billion avenues for them to go to. Someone who is biased with god, only has one choice to explain with.) But if you do that, i would be more inclined to believed it. So far though, youve provided a lot of conjecture to already proven facts, but not bit of solid evidence. So ill Just leave this conversation for good with this… Good luck to the author, dont worry about your parents, im sure they still love you, and theyll die loving you most likely. Catch up on things youve missed out on due to moral restraints from a invisible being. And give your parents a hug… whether you believe in god or not, if your a good person, then your doing right in this world ;)… for the rest, if you have an answer for these that doesnt involve god working in mysterious ways, please be my guest =)

Scenario 1

Either God can create a stone that he cannot lift, or he cannot create a stone that he cannot lift.

If God can create a stone that he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent.

If God cannot create a stone that he cannot lift, then he is not omnipotent.

Therefore god is not omnipotent. Thusly he is not a god.

Scenario 2

If God exists, then he is transcendent (i.e., outside space and time).

If God exists, he is omnipresent.

To be transcendent, a being cannot exist anywhere in space.

To be omnipresent, a being must exist everywhere in space.

Hence it is impossible for a transcendent being to be omnipresence.

Therefore it is impossible for God to exist.

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Shoku February 28, 2010 at 6:49 am

I thought most of the time children were shocked when they first heard about the variety of things their belief means.

But what eventually happens is that instead of evaluating their entire life in light of it they come to the realization that they weren’t harmed by it up to this point so life is exactly the same except that the wording has changed.

And it doesn’t take religion to do this. About 75% of the 10 year olds I knew were shocked to learn that yogurt was loaded with bacteria and that everything they ate or touched had some bacteria on it. Not one of them tried to clean things or successfully swore off yogurt.

Now for general habits that you’ve already done it’s understandable to bypass the sense of urgency but damnation and murder are the places that are most inappropriate to allow yourself to do that. If this is the difference between belief and knowledge…

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Smo February 28, 2010 at 10:02 am

Some good questions, mate; I’m really not sure how to answer them.

I think that as a Christian myself, I probably should be more ‘desperate’ to see those around me saved (though I’m not sure I believe in ‘eternal punishment in hell’ – doesn’t seem quite right to me – I’m undecided about that at the moment), it’s hard to remain desperate for many reasons. Sure, I’ve pondered and felt down about the whole thing of hell and made attempts to talk to my friends but Christians are subjects of society just like everyone else and, while it might not be a good thing, society forces complacency on all of us. In Western Society, things are generally considered to be ‘all right’, which, even though we may have a strong belief, still have an impact our minds and attitudes.

Also, time itself can wear us down and make us complacent – a lot of people feel this ‘desperation’ to save people when they first believe… but when this desire bears no fruit, it’s easy to become dejected.

Like I say, while none of these are particularly good… it happens.

Sometimes, I’m impressed with atheists’ adamant desire to stop Christians ‘wasting their lives’!

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Shoku March 1, 2010 at 7:36 am

I haven’t met many atheists so caught up in “helping” Christians. What I see the most of is the adamant desire to not have Christians interrupt our lives. Maybe a little preaching effort to convert us or such would be alright but the alienation and often direct hostility are pretty nasty, though even those pale in comparison to those nasty little cases where religious groups manage to mandate aspects of their faith into law.

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KRA March 1, 2010 at 8:04 am

Shoku: I haven’t met many atheists so caught up in “helping” Christians. What I see the most of is the adamant desire to not have Christians interrupt our lives. Maybe a little preaching effort to convert us or such would be alright but the alienation and often direct hostility are pretty nasty, though even those pale in comparison to those nasty little cases where religious groups manage to mandate aspects of their faith into law.  

Are you kidding me? Religion throughout history has been a major proponent of extreme cases of alienation such as racism and sexism. Not to mention the completely alienating notion of “everyone who believes differently than me is going to be tortured for eternity while I live in a paradise.”

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Shoku March 1, 2010 at 10:56 am

I don’t see how you got that. I’ll rephrase what I said in shorter sentences:
I would be ok with people trying to convert me a little bit.
It is the alienation part I don’t like. The vandalism and danger of going into dark alleys is worse. Worst of all is when they make laws saying I have to do things that are part of their faith.

*Not showing images of Muhammad is really not something I should be held to legally but I can do it out of courtesy. Not being allowed to own sex toys or go shopping on Sunday is more invasive but still not all that bad. Being taxed or deprived of resources according to what they approve of is getting very bad but at least this is about the furthest I ever expect to actually suffer through. I’m sure you could imagine a dystopian future where they made very extreme laws mandating their faith just fine on your own.

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KRA March 1, 2010 at 11:28 am

Shoku: I don’t see how you got that. I’ll rephrase what I said in shorter sentences:
I would be ok with people trying to convert me a little bit.
It is the alienation part I don’t like. The vandalism and danger of going into dark alleys is worse. Worst of all is when they make laws saying I have to do things that are part of their faith.*Not showing images of Muhammad is really not something I should be held to legally but I can do it out of courtesy. Not being allowed to own sex toys or go shopping on Sunday is more invasive but still not all that bad. Being taxed or deprived of resources according to what they approve of is getting very bad but at least this is about the furthest I ever expect to actually suffer through. I’m sure you could imagine a dystopian future where they made very extreme laws mandating their faith just fine on your own.  

I’m sorry I saw your post this morning when I woke up and completely misunderstood it.

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Alex March 3, 2010 at 6:18 am

I really liked your post. My boyfriend believes in God, but not the church. I am not a believer and am interested in knowing why and how they believe. I’m very factual. But, my boyfriend has claimed that I will go to hell and that I should repent. He’s not a very religious person but he has told me this… Its so weird. Sort of the same with your parents I guess. Its very strange. But I just wanted to let you know I liked your post

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Harkonium March 3, 2010 at 6:28 am

Back to the whole masturbation thing… I clearly remember NEVER TRULY believing in the whole religion thing despite my best efforts and even more so by my parents (who are extreme right wing christian fundamentalists, and are damn proud of it – I come from the same town as Rush Limbaugh and his family, some of which attended our church). What REALLY sparked my brain into understanding that I could not accept any of this as fact despite taking my own steps to actually try to indoctrinate myself with this idea of “Truth in Christianity” nonsense was this…

Morning wood…everyone gets it, and I got it every Sunday, several times between 10:30 AM and 12 PM which happened to be the service time. Let me explain, when I am bored to tears, I either tap my hands and feet fervently or automatically go to sleep. I would doze off so frequently in church that whenever I would wake up, I would have morning wood in the middle of church; I mean this was a half a dozen per service ordeal for me, and I NEVER felt guilty about it. All I could do was simply put my hand in my pocket and attempt to inconspicuously adjust it so it wasn’t so apparent and try not to laugh. The more it happened the more I realized as a teen was that this is nonsense and nature is actually the ruler of our surroundings, nature was much more powerful than my attempts to believe the lies drilled in my head, and I came to really appreciate the awesome power of nature, natural selection, and ingrained instinct as opposed to some “Love me without question or burn in hell forever” type of father figure.

I never told this to my parents of course, but over time they did accept that I think religion is B.S. and we simply don’t talk about it and we have a perfectly healthy relationship despite it. I wonder how many others who drifted off to sleep during the church service had the same issue…? I’d bet more than a few.

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lukeprog March 3, 2010 at 7:24 am

Thanks, Alex.

Don’t worry. Neither you or anybody else is going to Flamey Land.

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stefan March 3, 2010 at 7:31 am

Well, the value (or not) of religion aside, it could be explained like cholesterol: we *know* that that burger is bad for us, we *know* we increase our risk of heart disease and early death. We know there are serious consequences. Yet we continue to munch that burger – with extra fries and a milkshake too.

Unless the fires of Hell were coiling around the sinner, unless the danger were concrete and immediate, it’s like cholesterol: just an abstraction, something bad in theory, with all kinds of escape clauses (I’ll go running tomorrow. Thursday I’ll confess my sins. Maybe Charlie will be Saved again next week. I hear vegetarians live longer – maybe I’ll get a book about it for xmass).

Bottom line, I don’t think that tendency says much about faith or belief, but about human nature…

In reality of course, we DO see people die of heart disease. But we have never seen someone drop through a crack in the earth into hell. So if that’s not a “problem” for faith, it does make it even more abstract than dietary suggestions.

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Dan March 3, 2010 at 12:22 pm

As a former Catholic, who knows a lot of Catholics, I really don’t think I know of anybody who every really thought that people would be sent to hell for not believing. The less insane Catholics generally think that even if you don’t believe in their god, if you’re a good person, you’ll still go to heaven.

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Chris March 3, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Dan’s got it right. The baseline of all these religions is to pull back our past animalistic nature and give us a path of goodwill…. I believe all the different religions in the world come from the same source, they are all just different translations. I don’t think God is as concerned about *what* or *who* you believe in as much as he is *what* you do to *who* *with* those beliefs.

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David March 3, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Being a deist, I can see were this is coming from. But Christians are active, missionary work is the largest example. The difference between missionary work and what your talking about is prosthelytizing, which Christians take umbrage to and atheists are all too ready to accuse them of. Its a matter of a “lamb straying from the flock” and the lamb returns (in their mind).

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M4JC March 4, 2010 at 12:08 am

without going too much in depth it is the same question as why do smokers smoke. It is bad for you. FDA and a whole lot of other organizations agree. But smokers still smoke. The problem you present is not a problem with just Christians. It is a global problem. we are stuck in the ways we know and when there is a change needed we don’t want to do it because it would be hard. This change and the entire concept of eternal suffering is hard for many Christians especially young Christians to grasp.
One of our church’s missionaries came back and told us that the church they started in Africa with less than 50 members sent their men out to spread the word to the neighboring tribes. Before the missionaries got back about 5 years later there were 6 neighboring villages with churches in them as well all started with the one.

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Joe March 4, 2010 at 3:39 pm

It is a very good point you are making, and from the surface it does seem fishy and suspicious as to why Xtians would not have more ‘concern’ regarding death and it’s consequences. However, what most people don’t know, including Xtians, is that the process of conversion is a lifelong endeavor. It is the longest endurance race ever to have been devised by any mind. What has always struck me as odd is that Xtians give utmost importance to the event of baptism…as if converting was the end all be all of Xtianity. I think this is unsound dogma. The time that should be most important is the TOD. I also find it odd that Christmas is more celebrated than the Crucifiction and Resurrection. My point is this: It is God who changes you. You are not pure and sinless at the time of conversion. It does and should take a lifetime to rid oneself of the ‘self’. The point of God and Jesus and faith is that: God does want everyone to be saved so that they could be with him for eternity. Jesus is always there to provide encouragement and example on how to live like him. (it was never a Mandate to all of a sudden become like Christ…it is a process of sin, repentance, repeat…) It is mandated, however, to allow yourself to be renewed in mind and heart everyday. Feeling guilty for things that you have already been forgiven for just serves as a detriment to personal growth. If you look at all the NT Xtians, there seemed to be a lot of death going on in that circle…why is that? The answer is: God wants to transform believers into beings who no longer fear DEATH. This is a true sign of a mature faith, when dying no longer grips one’s heart with fear…that it is a process in which one must go through if he/she wishes to go to the other side. As a human being, there are many fears to occupy oneself with. The fear of Death is the very last one that needs to be conquered if one really is a believer of Christ, who, himself, conquered the very same thing…Death.

This is why there isn’t as much concern going on…most Xtians can’t even think about their own personal fear of death on an ordinary day…this would be the reason why ‘going to hell’ becomes an intellectual concept, and not something that needs to be resolved in a hurry.

Take a look at your parents and Xtians in general from the flipside…’only a few will be saved’. Who really is to know if your parents or any other Xtian would be willing to stick it out for an entire lifetime…did you stick it out that long?

Here’s the bottom line. No one knows what heaven is like, nor hell. There is a God, (not a pastor, a church, a congregation) who is willing to help you along until the bitter end, and will always stay faithful to you. There is a Jesus, who has done more than just take your place in your judgement and condemnation, who is willing to stick by you through thick and thin, in faith and in lack of faith, through every conflict and resolution of your entire life…and they both do so out of love, never for the sake of justice.

So, please do, ask your questions. Those who can answer will have to look deeper into their hearts to truly understand your questions. Those who can’t will have to look deeper into their minds and understand that you are right to question.

Even the apostle Paul left the ‘church’ soon after conversion.

All of the twelve were prophesied to have fallen away when Jesus was killed. (Peter denied being his follower three times).

I do have a question for you: Why did you believe in the first place? Was it because you UNDERSTOOD what Jesus did for you on that cross or was it something that you did to please your parents? You could ask your parents the same thing…

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Joe March 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Another question for everyone: Why would Jesus go through all that pain and suffering if there was no real consequence to how one lived? Having said that, he did suffer for our sake…so we wouldn’t have to…why won’t any sane person see this as a win win situation? Are ex-Xtians really rebelling against God, or are they rebelling against Xtian a@@holes who want to oppress and control other people?

If you boil it down to its basic elements, people have no right to be angry at God…people should be angry at a@@holes who misrepresent God…hell, even God is mad about that.

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Joe March 4, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Having said all that, I have come to the conclusion that your post is almost irrelevant due to the ‘audience’ of your questions. I mean, hey, we all have questions and grudges and some reserved expletives toward God, but the main problem is that we never ever ever address Him directly. I guess that makes your problem a paradox. You don’t believe in God, anymore, so you address your dissatisfaction to His followers…who are all willing to justify their belief systems any time of day…but you never bring anything to God’s table. There comes a time in life when you should just man-up and go to God and tell him: “What the FUUUUUCK!??” Trust me, He will answer…that is, if you are honest enough to tell him to His face about the ‘what the fuck’s'…

Therefore, your post, and people’s comments, including mine, are pointless…futile…a chasing after the wind type thing.

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Kwik March 4, 2010 at 9:43 pm

lol ok i said i was out of this, but…

” Joe: “Another question for everyone: Why would Jesus go through all that pain and suffering if there was no real consequence to how one lived? Having said that, he did suffer for our sake…so we wouldn’t have to…why won’t any sane person see this as a win win situation?”

….uhh…. perhaps the guy (jesus) hearing voices in thin air telling him that he is the son of god AND the lord god (delusions of grandeur leading to personal identification with a deity are considered signs of advanced schizophrenia btw ) and starting his own Heavens Gate style cult just might not have been “sane” perhaps? So to expect sane people who DONT hear disembodied voices or dont have ego complexes to believe that, is a bit far fetched >.>… If the local bum stands up and starts yelling that he’s the son of god because god told him so… would you invite him in your home just in case he’s not lying? Or would you consider him to be deranged and possibly dangerous?…Asking why “sane” people cant see this when your preaching about invisible beings and intangible realities is kind of self defeating isnt it? If we went by gods logic, as long as we kill one criminal in the most horrible fashion we can think of, then all of the rest should be absolved of their crimes. Does that make sense? How can one person morally pay for something that another person has done, much less an entire species? It defeats the point of personal morality and responsibility for their own actions if the punishment can just be shifted onto another person. If i killed someone and you went to jail for it in my place, am I no longer a murderer? Wheres the motivation for me not to do it again?
But you are right about one thing, we dont ever address god directly about these issues we have… so if you wouldnt mind giving me his phone number or place of business where i can reach him, i would be happy to relay these thoughts directly. ;)

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lukeprog March 5, 2010 at 12:04 am

I deleted a YouTube-quality comment from ‘Blake’ at 24.85.87.186 from this thread.

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Shoku March 5, 2010 at 5:20 am

This isn’t about being lazy and stuck in our ways though. Their friends and family are the ones stuck so why aren’t they pushing them all to get unstuck?

My sister is a better example of actually believing things. She’s easily swayed by activist groups and so she takes some time to try and convince everyone of whatever stance. If we’re not convinced after awhile she shuts up to keep from annoying us but it’s evident that she’s uncomfortable if we use this or that product around her.

Psychologically this is much more effective because she makes sure we know why she is uncomfortable and then if we do nothing about it we have gnawing guilt for having made her uncomfortable but she’s already shut up about it so we don’t get mad at her.

Now this is obviously not the religious model because traditionally convincing people has been a matter of battling faiths. For seeding ideas into an effectively agnostic group the last thing you want to do is fight people, at least not unless you can convert most of them quickly before anyone starts to hold a grudge.

There’s a lot that could be accomlished by picking up better methods but the Bible doesn’t really praise thought or tell people to find a better way.

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aeracura March 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Well this is a pointless argument… when ever you decide to argue with someone whom is religious it is compleatly pointless because they cannot prove their point without using logical falacies. Someone arguing religion has zero solid evidence of God’s existance…
If you believe in God because it is a popular belief.. that is an appeal to popularity..
If you believe in God because your family does… that is appeal to tradition..
If you believe in God because you Just KNOW he exists.. you are begging the question.. essentialy always using a circle for an argument…. You should do what God says and never question him.. why? because he will punish you. what if he doesnt exist? He must because you cannot question him, and he can punish you….

No logic there… at all… period.

Basicaly : Religious people can believe in ANYTHING THEY FEEL LIKE.. because they constantly use logical falacies and contradict their own opinions.. then learn to ignore of justify those opinions… The End.

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the_man_with_the_plan March 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Outstanding. Simply Outstanding. Here’s one for you–God kills babies, read Samuel 15:3. And God is Love??

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rose March 6, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Why on earth do you atheists have to go from one extreme to another. I mean really you are only doing the same thing in reverse. Aren’t you now. I am not going to start sending you to websites. You can do it your self, but there is so much neuroscience and physics now showing that we are living in a holographic universe. Ok so religions and isms start wars and divide people, but why don’t you try and think about what holds us together, really now. If you look from that point,there is another story.

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Emily March 9, 2010 at 10:52 am

Two things:

1. The point of faith is that it isn’t like a belief in gravity, or magnetism, that you can see and touch and interact with and understand; it *is* something that needs to be built up all the time.

2. It’s really hard to constantly proselytize in the face of people who aren’t interested. I bet you aren’t too responsive to your parents when they *do* try to tell you that you’re going to hell.

What you’re describing is the perfect Christian. Unfortunately, Christians aren’t perfect. Neither is anyone else, actually, but the point is that we aren’t perfect. They are fallible and they make mistakes and they sometimes don’t have the kind of faith they should, and it’s hard to remember that hell is waiting for their sons and daughters when they see them living their lives and they love them. It’s easier not to, in fact. And that is, I’m sure, one of the daily struggles of a Christian life.

I, by the way, am not a Christian, but I do think that if we can have compassion and understanding for them we’ve gone a long way towards healing the terrible rift that has built up between Christians and atheists/agnostics. It’s a real tragedy, I think, that a religion supposedly based on compassion, and atheism, which is equally interested in morality and the well-being of one’s fellow man, just without a deity-based compass, should be so at each others’ throats. There have got to be better things to do with our time than this.

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Shoku March 10, 2010 at 10:35 am

rose: Why on earth do you atheists have to go from one extreme to another. I mean really you are only doing the same thing in reverse.Aren’t you now.I am not going to start sending you to websites.You can do it your self, but there is so much neuroscience and physics now showing that we are living in a holographic universe.Ok so religions and isms start wars and divide people, but why don’t you try and think about what holds us together, really now.If you look from that point,there is another story.  

When people come along and refer to me via “you atheists” I kind of think the extreme opposite of whatever they do is probably a step forward. Christians do it the most often but I run into a lot of… whatever you are, that come in with your new age supernatural stuff.

I’m too tired to tear down the poorly weaved web of “evidence” there is for what you’ve brought up and quite frankly I’ve run into too many people who cannot follow the basic logic I use to do that to care about it.

*I am probably much too much aware that calling it “logic” doesn’t mean the same thing to you as it does to me. If you really want to learn about it drop me a line but you’ve done enough to establish that you don’t want to that I don’t expect to be talking to you again.

Emily: Two things:1. The point of faith is that it isn’t like a belief in gravity, or magnetism, that you can see and touch and interact with and understand; it *is* something that needs to be built up all the time.2. It’s really hard to constantly proselytize in the face of people who aren’t interested.I bet you aren’t too responsive to your parents when they *do* try to tell you that you’re going to hell.What you’re describing is the perfect Christian.Unfortunately, Christians aren’t perfect.Neither is anyone else, actually, but the point is that we aren’t perfect.They are fallible and they make mistakes and they sometimes don’t have the kind of faith they should, and it’s hard to remember that hell is waiting for their sons and daughters when they see them living their lives and they love them.It’s easier not to, in fact.And that is, I’m sure, one of the daily struggles of a Christian life.I, by the way, am not a Christian, but I do think that if we can have compassion and understanding for them we’ve gone a long way towards healing the terrible rift that has built up between Christians and atheists/agnostics.It’s a real tragedy, I think, that a religion supposedly based on compassion, and atheism, which is equally interested in morality and the well-being of one’s fellow man, just without a deity-based compass, should be so at each others’ throats.There have got to be better things to do with our time than this.  

That’s not a perfect Christian at all. It’s an evangelist. It’s somebody that is addicted to proselytizing.

What we can see from what the belief says is that if you believe THAT you shouldn’t be able to stop yourself from proselytizing.
On the other hand if you just write it as what you believe but don’t really feel it we can gather that you don’t really believe.

Disturbingly enough this is probably the same logic evangelists use to get where they go. If we assume that they are crazy (and that is hard to do without an appeal to the majority so I’m going to leave a little gap here, I could fill it but it’s a long argument you’re probably not interested in, please excuse this) then we have practically arrived at atheism. There’s just this one tiny yet difficult to take step left.

This isn’t the best explanation ever but anyone interested should get some use out of it.

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Zeria March 12, 2010 at 10:00 am

Atheist or not, if you actually read the bible you would be more appalled at god than pleased with him.

http://thethinkingatheist.com/bible_atrocities.html

God is the biggest mass murderer in human history, and real or not, has been the center of the cause of all these atrocities. Seriously, stop just reading the parts of the bible that make you happy, read it all, and comprehend what your reading. It isn’t rocket science, quite the opposite actually. So understand your following a mass murderer who highly endorses child murder and virginal rape. Whose morals seem a little tighter now? .. The morals of a murdering rapist? Or the morals of those who do not endorse murder and rape?

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Kate March 12, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Nietzche “It’s not their (Christians) love for us that keeps them from burning us at the stake; it’s the impotence of their love.”

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W.E.R. March 13, 2010 at 9:43 am

aeracura: Well this is a pointless argument… when ever you decide to argue with someone whom is religious it is compleatly pointless because they cannot prove their point without using logical falacies. Someone arguing religion has zero solid evidence of God’s existance…
If you believe in God because it is a popular belief.. that is an appeal to popularity..
If you believe in God because your family does… that is appeal to tradition..
If you believe in God because you Just KNOW he exists.. you are begging the question.. essentialy always using a circle for an argument…. You should do what God says and never question him.. why? because he will punish you. what if he doesnt exist? He must because you cannot question him, and he can punish you….
No logic there… at all… period.
Basicaly : Religious people can believe in ANYTHING THEY FEEL LIKE.. because they constantly use logical falacies and contradict their own opinions.. then learn to ignore of justify those opinions… The End.  

If we want to play the “Christians are illogical” card, let’s do it. Could you please show me the evidence that there is no God, since your argument is that Christians have no evidence? Please point me to your evidence, because you obviously have something that no one else in the world has. Let me see you prove your point that God does not exist without using logical fallacies. I’m excited to see your “leaps of faith” to make your point.

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Shay March 13, 2010 at 11:56 am

Ben: I think Alex gives a better example, since if Pro-choicers really were accessories to murdering say, teenagers, there’d be no way they’d react the same way.  I wouldn’t.  How could you even stand to hold a debate with pro-choice people if that’s really what it means in moral terms?  Something is different and it’s seems as though it is different in a way they are unwilling to directly address, because it impacts the debatescape significantly.
Ben  

If this is a dilemma for pro-lifers, then what is the excuse for the entire human race sitting by and allowing genocide, electric chairs, hangings of homosexuals in Iran, blowing up children in Iraq, etc. This is demonstrated in many ways in humanity. What do you expect people to do? What are you doing about it?

lukeprog made a good point about a son but if it is a random chick sucking her baby out of her body, what is anyone supposed to do about it?

Just saying…

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Auntie Hosebag March 14, 2010 at 9:58 am

It’s a very simple equation, actually. Religion was invented to counteract the human fear of death. All the rest is window dressing. Eventually, a handful of miscreants discovered that religion was also a very effective instrument of crowd control, and they set about making themselves the controllers. Humans have been busy separating and distancing themselves from the real, natural world around them for millennia, and they tend to leave themselves very little time for rumination on the things they believe and why. They’d rather spend the energy on hoarding material objects. So religion became nothing more than a string of corporations, all vying for a share of the market that is human belief. And people began to practice brand loyalty, though some occasionally switch from one to another. Televangelism is just the advertising department. Point here is, people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the details of their shoes once they’ve bought them, so why would they do any different with religion?

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Kaylee March 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm

As a 17 year old Christian, i’ve been in situations when i’ve desperately tried to convince my friends and family that the Lord loves them and they need to accept Christ and live for Him. But don’t you realize how condescending that sounds?
The more I willed them to please please give God a chance, the more it drove them away. I just seem aggressive and arrogant. On a worldly and social plane, there’s really nothing Christians can do to convince non believers.
I truly believe that God will show Himself to them plently of times, and hopefully their heart is strong enough to one day believe.

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Ben March 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Athiests and Christians both know there is a God. The only difference between the two is that athiests want TO BE God. They can’t stand the fact that there is someone greater than themselves, so they deny Him all together.

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mohawk1guy March 15, 2010 at 8:25 am

Oh please, I beg of you, don’t encourage them to try and convert me any more! It’s bad enough as is!

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Adam March 15, 2010 at 9:04 am

Interesting perspective. As you wrote: “Something is fishy here”.

Ben: Athiests and Christians both know there is a God.The only difference between the two is that athiests want TO BE God. They can’t stand the fact that there is someone greater than themselves, so they deny Him all together.  

@Ben: Speak for yourself, I surely don’t want to be god, and neither do I believe that there is a god.

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Kwik March 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm

W.E.R. ” If we want to play the “Christians are illogical” card, let’s do it. Could you please show me the evidence that there is no God, since your argument is that Christians have no evidence? Please point me to your evidence, because you obviously have something that no one else in the world has. Let me see you prove your point that God does not exist without using logical fallacies. I’m excited to see your “leaps of faith” to make your point.”

Well, someone didnt bother reading through the comments did they WER?… Ive alone posted at least two rants with plenty of convincing evidence contrary to the impossible. And there is no such thing as a “logical fallacy”. Logic is a predetermined answer based on assimilated data that is already available… meaning the information is already there, meaning it can in no way shape or form by definition be a fallacy. A fallacy is something that is implied without reasonable data to back up its existence, such as the tooth fairy or santa clause, who would be considered fallacies. Making an idea or hypothesis from nonexistent data is called an “assumption”. As in, theres not one thing you can prove for sure, 100% without a doubt from the bible, theres no imperical or physical data to back it up, therefore any revelation you derive from it, is by definition, an assumption. Whereas if you pick up a science book, you can infer that everything in there can be reproduced, measured, witnessed, and is by definition, a fact.

I have already presented impossible scenarios for god to accomplish, I have presented contradictions in the bible (which if one part is wrong, how can you prove that any other part is right?),and scientific data to back up the claims.

Now let me ask you, which of these sounds more “illogical”?

1.The atom is a basic unit of matter consisting of a dense, central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons (except in the case of hydrogen-1, which is the only stable nuclide with no neutron). The electrons of an atom are bound to the nucleus by the electromagnetic force.

or

2. God makes shiny things and its none of our business how he does it.

This is why the argument to prove anything to you or anyone else with belief is moot. I alone, not counting the other 50 people on here who have presented fantastic evidence or debate to the contrary, have given you more than enough in just a few paragraphs to give you reason to doubt. Yet after giving you a 100 explanations to our side, you still ask for more “proof”… when your side has presented nothing even close to proof, yet you demand more from us without giving anything back… how about this, infinite energy cannot exist without drawing the rest of the universe to it… how about this, a transcendent being cannot live in a physical world, otherwise he is not transcendent, or how about we’ve actually witnessed evolution and have forced it to happen, in fact, all your cats and dogs who have bred into the breeds you see today…ARE evolution, thats not how god made them, we forced thier evolution to fit our needs, same with cows, chickens and any other domesticated animal.. everytime two people make a baby and it doesnt share 100% genetic structure with either of the parents.. its a new genetic being with a different genetic structure, the definition of evolution…so lets see… weve covered energy matters of god, weve covered the fact that you dont actually understand the word fallacy, weve covered inconsistency in the bible (and if one part is wrong, then you cant know which parts are right, if any)…if you read back some i do cover the mental problems of a perfect diety with human flaws such as jealousy and the NEED to be loved (extremely contradictory dont you think?). And even without “proof” of no god, i can tell you killing children, raping women and burning down villages doesnt sound like the type of person i would want to follow even if he WAS real

NUMBERS 31:17-18 – God commanded Moses to kill all of the male Midianite children and “kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” The virgins are presumably raped. (NOTE: How could the soldiers know which women were virgins?)

JOSHUA 8:22-25 – God helped Joshua battle and slaughter 12,000 men and women in the city of Ai. None escaped.

2 KINGS 2:23-24 – 42 children made fun of Elisha on the roadside because he was bald. Elisha cursed them. Two bears came out of the woods and mauled them to death.

MATTHEW 5:17 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Jesus endorses the mass murder, rape, slavery, torture and incest written about in the Old Testament.

is that enough?… thats just a drop in the hat, I would like to thank Zeria for posting that site, was a good read. Nothing we didnt know, but nice to see it compiled. And if you say that we cant be sure all those were god, then we cant be sure that anything else written in the bible was god either, its either ALL correct, or none of it can be 100% trusted…. heres a little more

http://godisimaginary.com/i11.htm
http://machineslikeus.com/scientific-proof-of-gods-non-existence
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-dawkins/why-there-almost-certainl_b_32164.html

so in conclusion, I could write a 40 page thesis for you, but i already did that in college, but theres a start for your proof, my suggestion is you pick up a book that doesnt start with the word god or christian. You might learn there are more than just a couple thousand pages of information in the world. Please feel free to ask any question, and ill be happy to explain it properly without a big question mark at the end. So go ahead and read the evidence i have presented for you that you so graciously requested without contributing any of your own to the debate,(general rule of thumb is to have some evidence of your own before asking someone else to present theirs) and having done all this at your request, where is your proof that he DOES exist?… And when we’re done, lets put them side by side and see who has more factual and conceivable information at the end to draw the most stable hypothesis on…and remember, no fallacies… No “god did it so we cant know”, or “Its just gods will” … or “He moved his hand and the mountains were created”… I want to know what about him moving his hand made the mountains move and what he created them with. So if you can give a response that doesnt sound like it came out of a disney movie with magical flying things and unexplainable magic, that would be fantastic… I mean its only fair, i give you indisputable facts that can be measured and proven, I only expect the same in return, if i want stories about magic and flying things, ill go watch Alladin. So let me see you prove your god without “fallacy”, maybe actually throw some logic in there. Im excited to see your “Leaps of faith” to make your point :p

((see, aeracura wasnt using a “leap of faith” he was using implied logic from information taken in from the world around him/her… a leap of faith is when you KNOW how something works, lets say an atom or an electron, but you choose to believe the things that contradict that implicit knowledge of its function in the first place, thusly why its a leap of “FAITH”, and not a leap of fact. Your lack of ability to differentiate between the two when your preaching about invisible beings controlling your destiny just begs the question of how you define “faith” ;))

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Brandon March 15, 2010 at 6:17 pm

As an atheist I am fine with this line of reasoning being spoken of in backrooms and amongst friends or small social circles. But by making comments like these public all you are doing is promoting extremism. What if you actually inspire a person to do the things that you say they should if they are a “true believer”. The only outcome from your line of reasoning to a person with strong faith is they either choose to ignore your argument or take more extreme action to prove your faith.

Why would you do that?

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Shoku March 16, 2010 at 10:14 am

W.E.R.:
If we want to play the “Christians are illogical” card, let’s do it. Could you please show me the evidence that there is no God, since your argument is that Christians have no evidence? Please point me to your evidence, because you obviously have something that no one else in the world has. Let me see you prove your point that God does not exist without using logical fallacies. I’m excited to see your “leaps of faith” to make your point.  

If you’re Christian you are a nice example of the illogical so far. Ok, I’ll explain:
“Group A doesn’t have any evidence”
“Where is your proof that they are wrong?”
Requesting that doesn’t make sense. It would be like if I said you don’t have a dog and you asked me to prove that dogs don’t exist.

For me the atheist thing is a bit of a leap from agnosticism. Well really there is one sense in which I am Christian: the whole “there is only one God and it is this one” business simplified things for me quite a bit as I only had to reject that one.

I didn’t go quite that far at first opting instead to just change what I thought god should mean but after awhile I stepped back and took a good look at the ways I had changed god to keep gods possible and being an honest person I had to admit it was crap.

Seeing as topics like these grab my attention I had heard the vast majority of what anybody in classic thought or on the internet had to say about the matter and it was clear that there weren’t any ideas vastly superior to the ugly mess I had crafted.

The actual details are long and boring but hopefully the summary wasn’t either of those.

Kaylee: As a 17 year old Christian, i’ve been in situations when i’ve desperately tried to convince my friends and family that the Lord loves them and they need to accept Christ and live for Him. But don’t you realize how condescending that sounds?
The more I willed them to please please give God a chance, the more it drove them away. I just seem aggressive and arrogant. On a worldly and social plane, there’s really nothing Christians can do to convince non believers.
I truly believe that God will show Himself to them plently of times, and hopefully their heart is strong enough to one day believe.  

That’s not a very believer-ly attitude. It’s your duty to spread the word and I don’t recall there being any “Take a break if you don’t feel like you are getting anywhere” clauses.

Ben: Athiests and Christians both know there is a God.The only difference between the two is that athiests want TO BE God. They can’t stand the fact that there is someone greater than themselves, so they deny Him all together.  

What a lazy view. I doubt you could hold something like that if you ever listened to how people reply to it but I’ll say this anyway: there are a lot of human beings that are better people than me. I’m lazy, don’t respect many of my elders, talk like a sailor when I’m not in mixed company, don’t feel guilty when I accidentally steal things (walking past the register somehow,) and the general management of my desires has shown me that I don’t have all that much willpower. There are lots of people out there that are doing a better job of this life thing than me and on some very distant worlds there are probably other entities that are even more virtuous.

If I had to sum up the reason I am an atheist without any details it would be because as lousy as I am I can see that God is worse than me. I spent years making excuses for God but I piled them so high that the foundation collapsed.

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Andreas March 16, 2010 at 10:35 am

Thank you for this blog post. You raise important questions in a polite manner, unlike many Atheists who often behave adolescent at best.

That being said, I’ll take the most arrogant Atheist over some Christian fanatic any time of the day. I was a true Atheist not too long ago.

I’d like to propose a new model of how faith and Atheism naturally complement each other. I hope it addresses some of the questions you raised.

You start out as a toddler. You believe in god because you think you can manipulate him into granting you access to some kind of heaven after death by being a nice boy. Also, there is a big, old book that says god is real, and your daddy says it too. And it gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling in your tummy to think about angels while you fall asleep.

(Many people stay in this stage.)

Then you learn that the bible was written by some guys who thought the earth was flat, that some people blow themselves up in the middle of a crowd in god’s name, and that your priest molested a five-year-old or two. Or fifty. If you have any common sense, you will renounce god.

You become an Atheist. You tell yourself things like: “Religion is for weak people. I am not weak. I can live with the truth. And the truth is that in the end, nothing matters. I will die and so will all my friends, and mankind will vanish and the universe won’t give a s**t. I don’t know how the big bang came about, but I have the strength to do exactly that: to say ‘I don’t know.’”
(Many people stay in this stage.)

If you sincerely follow the Atheist path, at some point you hit rock bottom. And you realize that you were right. Yes, god is for the weak. And you are weak. You then stop pretending to be strong and find your place in the world. That’s how it happened for me, at least.

Then, and only then, will you naturally take the leap. It is a counter-intuitive leap that defies logic, and it is not a leap back to “faith”, but forward into faith.

I’m not much one for public self-exposure, so let me just say that after that, truly, truly marvelous things happened in my life.

“Believer” -> Atheist -> Believer. By the way, this trilogy paradox has always been a staple of art. (Think “The Matrix” I, II and III: A prophecy is made. The prophecy is proven to be bulls**t. The prophecy is fulfilled.)

Now, consider how hard it is for you to reason with a first-stage “believer”. He probably drives you crazy saying “evolution is just a theory” and “I just KNOW, man”. You just can’t get through to him.

The same thing happens when a mature believer is talking to an Atheist.

I know how condescending that sounds. I don’t mean to insult you. What I mean is that if my best friend is an Atheist, then I would never try to evangelize, because an Atheist is exactly what he needs to be right now. He should be an Atheist with all his heart. Who am I to judge him?

As a mature believer, I understand that to judge him would be to commit the original sin, which is to claim the knowledge of good and evil for myself. Which would mean to go to hell. Hell does not exist after death, but it is an option right now.

If you don’t like the terms “original sin” and “hell” because they remind you of some less-than-enlightened interpretations of the bible, just think of it as a Buddhist non-dualism thing.

In this spiritual path, I believe the rule is to never seek to deny your opponent’s points, but to incorporate and transcend them. This should be the model of how religious people and Atheists interact. Which is the spirit in which your blog post was written. Which is why I’m writing my first blog comment ever.

Most arguments of Atheists do not trouble me anymore, because they are aimed at first-stage “believers”.

I have to admit that there are still some questions that do trouble me. My faith is still young.

These things are hard to put into words if you’re not a native speaker. BTW, I stopped capitalizing the word “god” when I realized I never got a pat on the head for doing it, so that was on purpose.

So that’s my model of spiritual development and true faith. Fellow blog readers, please do question it.

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Zeria March 16, 2010 at 11:56 pm

hmm I think you missed the point completely, and most likely were never atheist, just in a stage of questioning your faith.

Andreas..“Believer” -> Atheist -> Believer. By the way, this trilogy paradox has always been a staple of art.”

This is not a paradox, this is a waffle or flip flop and in no way reflects anything that has anything to do with prophecies or prophecies coming true. That is the progression of doubting and falling back.
If you had been Atheist, there is really no going back, once you accept the facts around you and realize the actual truth, you cant go back to believing about skyboy and his magic fingers. The facts being science has dis-proven enough in religion to make the entire thing questionable. What you described was you beginning to question, then calling yourself weak and therefore deciding your too weak to live life without a wetnurse in the sky, and then going back to your wet nurses nipple for some sweet milk of Mary Magdalena when times got a little tough for you. I see this in my profession at least once a month, though not always about religion. I on the other hand have a job, a husband, 2 children, a pretty nice house, and a happy life, all without god. So what reason would I have to go back to him?
I think your mistaking one or two cases where someone doubts their belief and calls themselves an atheist when its only “minor doubt”, and then goes back to god, as being the “norm”. It definitely is not the norm. Its hard to gain faith in something that has already been proven wrong, whether or not the religious community wants to see the facts presented to them is another matter all together. I would offer some of my own, but it seems plenty of people here have already presented more then enough. So Shoku is right, where does it say you get a break from bringing people to the lord? I went to Sunday school for 7 years, so its not for lack of knowing the material in my case. I also have a Masters in Psychology, so I don’t think its for lack of intelligence either. So if I have no plan of going back to god, then christians shouldn’t give up on trying just because I’m difficult to turn. Its in your religion, that your following, right now, to never give up on convincing me, or your not following it at all. It can only be one way or the other. You either believe its all true and therefore you try to fit every part of the word of god for fear of damnation in hell, or your not doing it right. Your not allowed to just pick and choose the parts you like or fit you best and not do the rest. It’s ALL god’s word, so follow it all, or none at all. This includes killing insolent children, beating your wife if she speaks out of turn without your permission or tries to explain something to you, and killing women who’s face shows or dares to glance at a man. Enjoy that lol, Ill just stick with my bad atheist husband who DOESN’T beat me.

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Andreas March 17, 2010 at 7:39 am

Zeria, I’m not much one for killing children, but I do enjoy spanking my girl. She likes it, too :)

On a more serious note, you said something interesting:

“It’s ALL god’s word”

What is “god’s word”? The bible? Come on. If it was written by god, there would be more jokes in it.

The bible is the distillation of the wisdom of literally billions of lives over thousands of years, written by humans, rewritten by yet other humans. (Men, to be more exact.) It does not contain the word of god.

It does, however, point to god if you know how to read it.

It is a joke of cosmic proportions that one of the greatest books of all time should be so hard to read. Most people don’t know how to read it. The conclusions you drew from reading it suggest that you don’t, either.

And that’s how all that religion stuff came about: People need middlemen to interpret the bible. Too bad so many of them turned out to be cretins.

PS: Your comment about your degree suggests that you feel I questioned your intelligence. I certainly didn’t mean to. Lack of intelligence is very rare among Atheists.

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Zeria March 17, 2010 at 8:49 am

I didnt think you questioned my intelligence in any way sweetie, I was just pointing out that I’ve had the opportunity to see this from both sides, both religious and scientific. And outside of the paradox thing the rest wasn’t directed at you personally either, I promise lol. But I will tell you, I did read the bible right, the words are clear as day and as specific as could be on those particular subjects. But whens the last time those were brought up in your church? If you check the link I posted a few comments back, the scriptures are actually in there. Though if your actually making the point that god is just an idea and the ideals of peace, love, and being kind to your fellow humans is really the important bottom line, then that’s very respectable :)

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Andreas March 17, 2010 at 11:46 am

Thank you Zeria, I’ll check out the link soon and see if I have anything intelligent to say about it.

To say that god is an idea is very tempting as it appeases both believers and non-believers. But to go with the smallest common denominator is to chicken out. Faith is not about compromise, and neither is Atheism.

If we say god is an idea, we dismiss the very core of what spirituality has to offer. God is not an idea of ours. We’re one of his. (Disclaimer: This is just what I believe.)

About me “most likely never having been an Atheist”… Well, we’re just exchanging bits and bytes here. But anyone who knows me would tell you that I have always had an unusual determination to show consistency in thoughts and action. I have a habit of seeing things through to the bitter end. I doubt that many can claim they have been as deeply an Atheist as I was. But of course, there’s no way of knowing.

As for the trilogy paradox, I think you’re right about the terminology being wrong. Let me try a different angle:

Ken Wilber writes about what he has coined the “pre/trans fallacy”. You may be interested in reading this in Wilber’s own words. But in short, here’s an example of a pre/trans fallacy I came up with. I find it very clever.

1 – When Picasso was a kid, he most likely drew stick figures with their heads on their legs or both eyes on one side of the skull.

2 – He went on to study painting and learned about perspective and composition and all that. He learned how to draw very real-looking paintings.

3 – When he invented cubism, his figures often had both eyes on one side of the skull again. Yet cubism made him the world’s greatest painter.

Now here’s the point: To someone who doesn’t know anything about art, 1 and 3 look pretty much the same. This is what is called the pre/trans fallacy.

The pre/trans fallacy is what every Atheist should watch out for. Could it be that there is a faith that does not reject Atheism, but fully incorporates and transcends it?

It appears to me that many Atheists, in their righteous anger at the people who made them believe in fairy tales, close their hearts to the possibility of such a faith. After all, it feels safer to think in black and white.

But if all you have to say is “I can draw more realistically to you” then at some point a Picasso is going to come and rock your world. So keep your eyes open.

I believe Jesus was one of these Picassos. Let’s not forget that this was the man who claimed to be the son of god and then went right on to break the sabbath… And when the elders got angry because of that, he made fun of them.

Hm. I never really know if I get my point across. These things are pretty clear in my head, but language is a messy thing… Whatever. I don’t want to convince you guys to believe in god. I want to convince you to be Atheists, but never to make the same mistake like the ones you are accusing, which is to believe that it is “us” versus “them” and the other side has nothing to offer you.

Atheists display this incredible virtue of being skeptical. And all of a sudden, they stop being skeptical. We never see the water we’re swimming in. And we end up like the guy above who generously offered:

“Please feel free to ask any question, and ill be happy to explain it properly without a big question mark at the end.”

This person has the answers to the questions that have been pondered by billions. That must be a heavy load. I hope he can lay it down some time.

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Zeb March 17, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Andreas, I know exactly what you are talking about from my own experience. You are describing it as well as I can imagine possible, but but still I can’t imagine how anyone in the first phase of religion or in a skeptical stage could understand what you are really talking about. At least I know that I would have thought you were a wishy-washy heretic when I was in my earlier religiousness, and a bullshitter when I was in my skepticism. I don’t think any argument is a good reason to believe in God, but I have hoped that good arguments might be good reason to seek if direct experience of God is possible. But as you say, first a person’s resistance of direct experience and nonrational truth has to be eroded by life itself, not by argument.

But maybe in the process of exploring these debates I find an atheist argument that dispels my God delusion. We’ll see.

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Andreas March 17, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Zeb,

Very well put. And that was a nice touch to bring the importance of direct experience into play. It is indeed futile to even try to put this into words. However, my intention is not for an Atheist to read this and think: “That’s true! Praise the lord! Let’s kill some children!” I hope that someone reads this and thinks: “Maybe not all believers are as stupid and narrow-minded as I thought.”

Because that’s how it starts. That’s how it started for me: With a good religious role model that I respected. It drove me crazy to think that this guy was like five times smarter than me and yet believed in god.

Maybe we have more of those role models over here in Europe. When I read all these Atheist discussions on the net, I can’t help but think that America is full of religious nutcases and, consequently, angry Atheists. Since Atheists make up like 95% of the population over here (regardless of official religious affiliation), maybe we’re a bit more relaxed about these things.

Your final comment displays the exact virtue I’m talking about: You are still open to dispel your god delusion. (Watch out, here comes the geek.) I think it’s highly likely that you will reject god one last time. I will, too. Let me elaborate:

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, he cried out: “God, why have you left me?” When I was an Atheist, I took this as further proof that the bible didn’t make any goddamn sense. I mean, if god sent his son to Earth, he sure told him: “Listen, you go down there now, but don’t worry, I give you superpowers so you can heal cripples and impress chicks. And by the way, no matter how much you f**k this up, I’ll take you back.” And now that guy lost his faith?

It makes a lot of sense to me now. Because in the end, we have to give up not only the Self, but god as well. That is to say, we have to let all our ideas of god die.

Whether Jesus really was the son of god is of no importance at this point. What counts is that he was human and had a human brain and used human language to convey god – but in the process put him in a box.

This last step is the obliteration of stages. I’m gonna contradict myself right away and call it the fourth stage just to make a point: Just like many first stagers think they’re third stagers, many second stagers think they’re fourth stagers. That’s why you got a lot of Atheists first talking about the merits of not knowing and then handing out The Truth like they’re friggin’ Buddha.

So yes, we will one final time need to let go of our faith. And yes, our faith is delusional, but in a more complex and infinitely more disturbing way than many Atheists can understand.

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Zeria March 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Well as far as it goes, I don’t think any person can be more atheist than the next person, you either believe in god or your don’t. Its a yes or no question, if you say no then there’s no maybes. if you have a maybe it means that you still have a small belief in it and therefore have belief. Whether you have a grain or sand or a beach full of sand, either way you still have some sand.You cant say something as silly as “I don’t believe in god more than you.” There’s no level or variety to disbelief. Its a flat principle as opposed to having a belief which can vary based on your tenacity to reach those standards you have directed at yourself.
One of the biggest issues I see in my work day to day is lack of self esteem. The belief that they themselves are not capable of achieving their goal without direct assistance from an outside source. Now sadly this isn’t always god. Abused wives (I do a lot of couples counseling) dependent on their abusers, junkies that are dependent on chemicals, and yes, I even have people that are dependent on church. I ask why they think they can’t accomplish these things without without their proverbial crutch, and the answer I receive at least 7 out of 10 times is “Ive never tried before, I don’t think I’d know how”. Now its not always verbatim, but its always the same concept. Church has this effect on people as well, making them dependent on those that run their lives and and structure their beliefs, making them believe that they need it, as opposed to choosing it.
Now the point of this story is that ((Ill say “most” to avoid conflict)) atheists don’t care what you believe, what we want is for christian beliefs to not be the center foundation for laws and punishment. We don’t want your beliefs dictating our lives and how we’re viewed without a better reason than god or jesus said so. Religion often contradicts science, law, and logic based on just that. For instance, I want stem cell research in case one of my kids gets paralyzed or needs a new kidney. And most people I talk to would agree with me, not all, but more than not. But the churches demonized it making it sound like scientists were ripping 6 month old babies out of the womb and chopping their heads off. sucking the juice out, and leaving them in a dumpster. When the specimens were actually donated by the mothers of still borns ((which I still cant see how anyone can justify gods will for that, especially if you’ve ever had to counsel a mother after-wards. As a mother I can sympathize, but I could never imagine their pain)), or varying other complications, for the purpose of hoping it helps another mother not have to go through that same horror. Most of it actually comes from the umbilical cord attached to the placenta, not from the child itself. Its issues like these where religion holds back a humane science that could help and save trillions of people in the future, based on personal belief and vicious propagated rumors that isn’t even the majority belief. I live in a democratic country, which usually means the majority has the rule, yet the rules bend for the way of religion. So you see, you can believe in god all you want and that doesn’t bother me even the slightest, but when it affects the way of life for the majority, then it is an illogical course and not natural. Though I do respect religion and was once a follower of god myself from a very devout family, whether I believe in it or not, if it hurts more than it helps, then it either needs to be discarded, rethought, or contained. This is what you usually do with dangerous things. Especially ones that can threaten a whole societies future well being and comfort. Wouldn’t god just be happy if we weren’t fighting and killing and picketing and were just nice to each other? Though I know its a pipe dream, I’m pretty sure without religion at least 70% of the wars throughout the history of human kind probably would have been avoided, as far as humans warring over territory, well that’s just something the human race has to work out without gods help, because its apparent its not going to happen WITH it.

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Zeb March 18, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Andreas, I’d be interested to hear your story if you are inclined to share. zebbart at yahoo dot com or here if you like.

Zeria, why do you think the great majority of wars would have been avoided by atheism? My knowledge is very American/Eurocentric, but I cannot think of any wars that were not primarily about land or other resources, and the crusades are the only ones I can think of where the main unifying factor was religion rather than tribe, race, or nationality. I’ve heard it well argued that Christianization reduced the frequency of war in Europe because religion helped unify peoples that had previously been divided by tribe/ethnicity, and because Cristianity put some checks on the whys and hows of war. Do you really think religion causes a lot of wars, or just that it is often used as rhetorical justification for war?

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Andreas March 18, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Zeb, I’m right with you on the “religion causes war” thing. Correlation does not imply causation. Man, I am so looking forward to the discovery of cold fusion. Give people infinite resources and tell them god wants them to go to war… They’ll laugh in your face…

Zeria, I totally agree with what you say about Stem Cell Research. The Swiss people voted on Stem Cell Research in November 2004, and naturally, I voted for it. This is an issue of faith vs. religion, let’s never confuse the two.

Thank you for your insightful comments. I’d love to discuss this further, but I’m in a hurry as we’re leaving for vacation and I’m not allowed to bring my laptop… I’ll try to smuggle it in my bag, but from experience I can say that my girl knows all my tricks :)

All the best, Andreas

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MattSeven March 26, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Rationalizing atheism via christianity is like rationalizing homosexuality via Barbara Bush. We can cherry pick the easy contrasts, but it is disingenuous to imagine the scope of the discussion can be so easily resolved.

In short, the US is full of anti-christians hiding in atheist clothing. The strongest arguments for and against the existence of a “spiritual world” do not concern themselves with the pedantic claims of particular religions. They instead speak to the significance of experience, an ocean with many rocky shores and only one’s intellectual integrity for a lighthouse.

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qed March 26, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Christians do not behave consistent with their beliefs for two reasons.

(1) Belief is not logical. A thought pattern not based in logic is difficult to enact coherently.

(2) More fundamentally, religion is NOT about guiding moral code. Religion is all about comfort, peace of mind and a world explanation.

Theists fundamentally know that their ‘god’ does not exist, but they continue to believe because belief gives them comfort. Internalised logics of reality, of inherently inconsistent and illogical, cannot be implemented logically.

Because theists can live comfortably with the glaring inconsistencies of their belief system, they can surely accommodate the inconsistency of not behaving as they believe.

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srsly? March 28, 2010 at 2:52 am

Jesus, does someone here think they’re gunna solve a question they’ve been asking for, what? Like 4000 years? How about this, I hope you all die, along with the babies, and the animals and Jesus again for good measure, and god is so loving I’m sure he would die with his son, because he would just look bad if he wasn’t there for a second time, along everyone and everything else, and I hope you all go absolutely nowhere!

See this solves everything for you people and me too. The religious will get their rapture, so while your all fleeing in terror, the religious get to gloat about how right they were about it. And once your all dead and have nowhere to go, the atheists get to gloat about how right they were that there’s nowhere to go. Then you can both agree that your all stupid for being right about dieing horribly and having no place to be. Then I get a ferrari and all the free parking I want. Its a win/win/win situation. So until you can build your own spaceship and get the hell off this planet so you really have a place to go and aren’t as useless as tits to the rest of the universe just like the rest of us, why don’t we all just get high and love each other. =D

As for the author, your parents love you even if they aren’t happy with you. Hell my parents weren’t happy with me from ages 8-20 lol. But they still loved me no matter how much trouble I got into, so grab a beer, tag some tang, stab a nun in the eye, none of it matters if your truly sorry about it and ask for forgiveness if you change your mind, right? ;-D

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jeff April 6, 2010 at 4:18 am

Another simple example to Christians (you can answer these questions to yourself):
 
Would you ever masturbate if someone was watching you?
Do you believe that Jesus is always watching you?
Do you masturbate?
 
I know that when I was a Christian, my answers were no, yes, yes. Something seems inconsistent there, though. Perhaps I didn’t really believe that Jesus was always watching me. Perhaps you don’t either. :-\  

Of course. It’s even more fun when someone’s watching sometimes, but the premise misunderstands grace and criminalizes masturbation; two things that cause God, who gave us both His grace and our sex drive, great concern.

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jeff April 6, 2010 at 8:43 am

Sorry,
Just realized the thread was basically dead.

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lukeprog April 6, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Nah, people are still commenting here!

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lauren April 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm

I’m not a christian and didn’t read all of this but even I know that it would be irrational to not wear your seatbelt for lack of fear of death, or strong belief in a following eternal bliss because once you die your soul is in an almost limbo till the rapture. I know someone who believe in 2012 as the end of ends, she is a christian and says were lucky that our souls wont be stuck till the rapture since its coming so soon. According to christians, God already knows what path you’ll take, so maybe some christians accept that and don’t try ridiculously hard to get you to take some different one than you are. I dunno

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curious April 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm

i didn’t read all of the comments so this may have already been said, but the author said this was a questions to christians so i’m answering.

first of all i think we (christians) should all try harder to spread the message, but preferably through action rather than words. what we believe should be apparent in how we live.

i think the reason we aren’t begging on the doorsteps of our athiest neighbors to repent and be saved from a fiery hell is because that is not a very effective means of communication. if some stranger came banging on my door claiming that my neighborhood would soon be invaded and i would be captured and killed and i needed to leave immediately…i would probably just shut the door and consider them crazy.

why i am a christian is hard to convey…athiests and agnostics are always citing the lack of evidence for proof of god. true, i can’t produce any physical proof now and never will be able to. it’s a state of mind and a feeling…nonbelievers may believe in this “state of mind” and “feelings” but don’t see how they are connected to some mysterious man in the sky watching over us.

i can only tell you what i believe and try my best to explain my beliefs, although even as a christian i have uncertainties and am still curious. but i never doubt that there is a god.

also, about the pro-life issue, i am sickened by the thought of abortion because to me, to put it bluntly, it’s killing innocent babies. but even “if Pro-choicers really were accessories to murdering say, teenagers,” i couldn’t really attack them in the street. all criminals get their trial. i don’t want to beat my logic into anyone, anyway. i don’t just care about the well-being of teeny, tiny, babies, but rather for all humans, so me being pro-life definitely doesn’t translate into violence against those who commit or support abortion. i just think viewing life from conception is a very difficult and inconvenient belief to have, and so some people choose not to believe it.

well, i probably didn’t change anyone’s opinion, but you asked for mine, so there it is :)

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Brian May 8, 2010 at 8:27 am

I have only one question for you, how easy is it to make someone believe? People in general when forced into or pressured into believing something push back harder and erect a wall. I have many friends who aren’t Christians it is sad and what I do about it is I try to show them through my actions and my faith because the only way for someone to truly have faith is to find something they believe in, not something they are told they have to believe in.Prayer is my tool for doing the impossible, to find my way around the skeptics and the people who build up walls because they feel scared or they don’t want to believe. I am saved and I know it,and I truly hope you find happiness not just human happiness but spiritual also.

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lukeprog May 8, 2010 at 9:56 am

Brian,

Or perhaps some skeptics tried really, really hard to believe but just couldn’t do it because there’s no good evidence for God. That’s my story.

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Singh May 9, 2010 at 12:51 am

My mother is a devout religious nut and she knows i don’t want belong to any group(not even Atheists,but thats a different story)and thats what twist her knickers..we all want to belong so that we can hate on other groups..my mom says she has abandoned all ego to be one with God but isn’t it the biggest ego to look down on your son as crazy guy with crazy ideas and BTW she wants me to go to hell so that doG may teach me a lesson..there bitterness and ego even transcends the very evil they are afraid of…Sometimes..I USE “REASON”..and she runs away.

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Peter May 9, 2010 at 5:59 am

There is more to it. Religion is merely a set of dogma. While religion has historically and unfortunately been used to control the masses, it was invented as a means to practice and explain the need for spirituality, or, as Buddhists would say, eliminate suffering which is created by self – self being motives and instincts gone awry resulting in us acting selfishly. You know, Charity (Islam), Do Unto Others (Christian), Ten Commadments (Jewish)… instead, as I said, it [religion] became a way to control the masses and even became their opiate and justification for land control and male dominance – the truly selfish justifying through idioms and semantics the purely selfish actions regarding sex and natural (and manmade) resources.

As most humans are (whether it be due to psychological issues developed during childhood or by biological wiring in the brain) in need of comfort and the belief in a god or gods helps fulfill that void. The brain even “lights up” when we speak of such matters – be they atheist, agnostic, dualist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Satanic, etc…

I find it counterproductive, however, for anyone to try and dispel anyone’s personal beliefs – being a Christian vs. Other or an Atheist vs. Christian. If the real message of any religion is observed, then it serves no purpose to debate them or their origin. Rather, it serves the people better to find the commonality of these dogma and celebrate it.

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Court May 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I know from my own thoughts the fears that I had before knowing that my brother came to recieve Christ in his heart. I mourned, i cried, i prayed. i had all those feelings. My mother, a devout christian is the same way. and my father. her deepest prayers are that her children come to know God, the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

I appreciate your questions, they are a reminder to me that hell is real. Nazi forces were real and visible. The devil and demons are not as clear in the world we live in but their threat is greater than any soldier or terrorist.

I pray that you will find comfort in God’s arms. That you know he still holds you in his heart. And that your mother loves you. Her prayers and her heart mourns for you to know you are loved and to share that love with the world.

I pray you focus on the God above and not on things of this world.

I wear my seatbelt not because I doubt God’s promises, but because His plan for me on this world is not finished. I have to still protect myself so one day i can have children and teach them God’s word and pray they, too, understand His word and his promises.

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Chucky June 2, 2010 at 7:08 pm

> If you really believed some of the people you love dearly were going to spend an eternity in hell, wouldn’t that motivate you to try harder to save them?

I, as a Christian, agree with you. We should try harder.

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Arielle June 2, 2010 at 9:38 pm

all christians are sinners . And we can admit we sin , no one on earth is perfect. No one is perfect in there religion, and God understands this fact. He forgives us for the sins we admit to , I know for a fact there are amazing christians in this world who will give there life to save someone elses life . I was an atheist myself, through prayers from my family ,I am now able to see God’s love everywhere and in anything. I pray for all of the non- believers in this world.

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tagnostic June 3, 2010 at 2:26 am

wouldn’t it all be simpler
to mind your own business
and let people figure it
out for themselves?

Church of Google

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Olivia June 3, 2010 at 7:21 pm

someone might have already said this -
I’m a Christian, and someone very close to me isn’t. I don’t “try hard” to save him because, to be honest, I know that getting in his face about it is only going to repel him further. I’d rather lead him to my faith through my actions, which isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly more appealing to him.

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Mathew June 3, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Hello fellow humans,

I would like, if I may, to remind everyone that everything we do, and have done in our entire history has been done from the perspective of conciousness which is limited only to our biological senses. Whether that includes a sixth sense is yet unproven (please dont try to debate this).

So lets say the world is only around 6000 years old (ahem)… and lets say Jesus walked the earth and performed miracles (ahem)… and he was the son of god and we all owe him a massive debt of gratitude for dying for our sins. What I would like to figure out is… anthropologically, if we could go back in time and witness the things which were actually occuring back then how would our 21st century point of view understand what was happening? Many of the truths we hold close to us depend greatly on our personal point of view.

I had a great childhood full of morality and wholesome activities. I went to Sunday school, and church with my friends, played sports, loved my parents and was loved by them and received a fansitic public school education. But never, at any point during this time, did my parents enforce their belief system on me. Never once did I hear my father say what was truth. He had a Church of England upbringing. My mother is Agnostic. Never once did my Mother speak a bad word about devoutly religious people. Her mother was also a Christian who beleived. So… having two open minded parents, being sent to study religious doctrines and teachings I was cast out into the world with a blank slate, armed only with my ability to reason. I was just a child. So happy to be.

Through years and years of religious study in school, years of sunday school, church, after church talks, and being surrounded by the word of god, how is it now, that as an intelligent, reasonable and happy, well rounded human being, have I accepted Atheism? By all reasoning given the consequences of NOT beleiving (and we all know what they are)… why did I NEVER ONCE feel the need or want for God or Jesus to enter my heart. My heart is so full of happiness and joy right now with my family and friends, dogs, cats, birds, home, work, books, sports, leisure activites, and all the wonders that our miraculous modern world offers me on a platter. All without the will of God. Which is not to say I’ve never experienced sorrow.

To be honest I’ve hit rock bottom with drugs, unexpected death, abuse, feelings of being lost and alone (depression), unrequited love, being homeless and jobless. But not once, ever, did I look up into the sky, or at my surroundings and ask “Why me lord?”.

In all of our searching, in all of our loneliness and our want… OUR NEED for meaning… did anyone stop to think that the question we’ve been asking might have been the wrong question all along? Did anyone of you all reading this forum stop and think to yourself that applying god and jesus to all the wonders of the universe you see around you is less virtuous, more selfish, and infinitely more limiting than accepting it for what it truly is?

What I beleive is that people wrap themselves in religion because they’re too afraid to face the world alone. Their sense of self, their individuality is not strong enough without the infinite power of God at their side. That they’re are weak of will and weak of spirit. Their sense of adventure was not nutured as children and they do not have the sense or sensibility to acknowledge the beauty, nor have the humility to understand their place in this our elegant universe. False virtue is no virtue. In other words if you say that you are virtuous you are not.

The only religion ever developed on this planet which comes CLOSE to scientific understandings of the universe is Hinduism. Which is not to say that I practice it. I’ve just studied it. People speak fondly of Buddhism as a religion but it’s actually more of a philosophy. Buddha is essensially “One who has awoken”. Buddhism is essentially Hinduism packaged for export to other cultures stipped of a lot of dogma.

Sigh… dont you all get tired of this sometimes? I task you. Sit down one night in the middle of your bed. Face the bed head (it’ll help you open your mind). Sit on your knees, or cross your legs. Doesn’t matter. Turn out the lights. Make sure there is NO light in the room. Now thinks to yourself… without light… this is what the world looks like. Everything you know and everything you feel is still there. It’s only dark. There is nothing wrong with the dark… it’s just uncomfortable because you’ve become so used to light. Everything is still there and this is the REALITY of what everything REALLY looks like. Without light.

Now imagine light… is your religion.

Thank you for reading.

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Steven June 5, 2010 at 12:54 am

Is Christianity the only religion there is? Just because you pick that religion apart doesn’t mean that atheism is true. I think religion has ridiculous parts, but at the same time I it has got a lot of great parts to it. I am not a particular religion and don’t feel i need to label myself but i still believe in God. It sounds a lot better than thinking God does not exist. Just because Christianity is “wrong” from your point of view doesn’t mean that atheism is true. There’s no proof for atheism, there no proof for ANYTHING! So look up PASCALS WAGER…and wager your life with a believe in God with good morals.

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WPM June 5, 2010 at 3:59 pm

This just give evidence to a theory I’ve always had: more christians HOPE christian teachings are true than actually BELIEVE they’re true.

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Rachelle June 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm

This article missed the whole point: It’s not our jobs as Christians to save anyone… that is what Jesus did. Our job is to present the gospel of Christ. What happens afterward is up to you…

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Stephen June 10, 2010 at 1:15 pm

My relationship with my parents is very similar, although I’ve only given up on religion in the last 3 years.

I suspect my mom has been suffering from depression and doubt as a result of my siblings and I choosing against religion. Bear in mind we had an incredibly strong upbringing in Christianity, with no room for questions which did anything other then show how totally awesome god actually was.

It depresses me that my parents (who I love to bits, and who sacrificed a lot to give me an education and so much more) spend significant amounts of time worrying about me. They know how easy it is to get your ass wiped off this planet.

I just feel like going to my mom and telling her to stop worrying, that for what its worth, I don’t think hell is a real place, that its just in her head. I also know, however, that she will just burst into tears because the bible (may it burn forever) has *forewarned* her that people like me will mock her god and her faith. I sometimes want to find the sick sod(s) who have refined and compiled the bible over the years – first I will shake their hands and congratulate them on creating the ultimate tool for mind-control, then I’m going to let a lifetime of guilt and fear work its way around their faces.

Or not.

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PaulW June 11, 2010 at 9:11 am

I think you underestimate the religious. There has been more than one mass suicide of Jewish people when they were confronted with the option of conversion or death. Lots of people do believe, even if you don’t.

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Aztig June 11, 2010 at 9:47 am

Umm… maybe you are adopted and they don’t really love you?

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Whoaman June 11, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Dude. this site feels all edgy. It’s cool to be atheist. God is dead.

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Nikos Raptis June 13, 2010 at 9:04 pm

For an answer to the question: do people believe or “believe”?

You can read the article: “Religion and ‘Believers” “, Democracy and Nature,Vol. 4, No.2/3, p. 117 to 148

Also, you can read the article: “The ‘Quasi-religious’” of Jube 13, 2007, at the “ZNet” site, under Nikos Raptis.

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lukeprog June 13, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Thanks, Nikos!

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crazysquid June 14, 2010 at 11:41 am

As for the seat belt thing, I believe one of the passages in the bible reads “Obey the laws of man”. I am pretty sure that it is against the law not to wear seat belts in all 50 states of the U.S. is it not? So, therefore the Christians would be going against the words of scriptures failing to obey the seat belt law. They are just doing what God told them to, and seeing as how there is a separation os Church and State, the laws are meant for everyone. SOOOO!’ If you are a Christian and are not wearing your seat belt YOU ARE SINNING! If you are Catholic, and did,nt wear your seat belt in the U.S. you better confess to a Priest before you die. If you are killed in a crash and are not wearing your seat belt you Christians and Catholics will have died in sin. Look it up. Thats how heaven keeps it’s population under control from idiots I guess by not making this very well known.

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Glenn June 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I never did believe in Hell, even as a child. How could God in all his/her infinite power and might create such a place to torment souls forever, if in their tiny lifetimes they do not obey? Also, what is an atheist? A person that no longer buys into the belief system created by the church (which ever one) – can still believe in an all encompassing greater source whatever name you give it.
Religion is buying into dogma that someone else created. Spirituality is relying on your own inner visions and experiences, that do not have to be validated by an outside source.
Namaste to all who read this.

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quarky2 June 15, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I was reared in the Calvinist tradition, and even graduated from Calvin College. I abandoned my inherited beliefs when it dawned on me that if there was a supremely good god who created everything, then the god must be responsible for evil as well. My teachers used to say that the possibility of evil arises when there is free will to choose our actions; but is seems a bit harsh to administer eternal torture for actions committed by beings who evolved from imperfect lower life forms. If there is a heaven it seems safe to predict that free will won’t a feature, or heaven would eventually be depopulated; and if there is a hell it will take a continuous miracle to prevent the acts of divine torture from destroying the unfortunates.

The longer I live the more obvious it appears god created man in his own image to return the favor. The whole christian saga of a god demanding sacrifices to placate his anger, to point of killing himself to satisfy his demands, seems something that could only be invented by a primitive society with minimal knowledge of the universe. The whole idea of heaven was a responsive to lessen the pain of certain death; the whole idea of hell was to scare folks straight into submitting to the demands of religion. And many christians of my acquaintance take great satisfaction that hell awaits to avenge the wrongs committed by their enemies, rather than sympathy for their eternal suffering. The creeds emphasize that god created heaven and earth, but they neglect to credit his creating hell. Eternal torture, it appears, is next to godliness.

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nate chapman June 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Yes,

I would say that the reason you don’t see Christians acting the way they should is that Christians are unable to act the way they should. That’s what the doctrine of the depravity of man outlines and that’s why God sent Jesus.

Look at this movie called “The Evangelist” it’s about a religious fanatic who behaves with the ferver you are expecting from Christians.

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Steven June 17, 2010 at 8:31 am

Simple: I don’t believe all non-believers are going to Hell.

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Haley July 6, 2010 at 6:25 am

Ben: Athiests and Christians both know there is a God.The only difference between the two is that athiests want TO BE God. They can’t stand the fact that there is someone greater than themselves, so they deny Him all together.

Do you even know what “atheist” means?

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Casey July 7, 2010 at 8:25 pm

“I like your Christ, I don’t like your Christians.”

That’s a quote I am fond of, and I believe it is completely correct. Just thought this would be a good Quote to share.

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Taylor July 11, 2010 at 2:48 pm

You shouldn’t generalize not ALL Christians think that if you don’t believe in god and Jesus then you’ll go to hell.

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Bob July 19, 2010 at 2:59 pm

God does not condemn people to Hell. People condemn themselves. Think about it, Heaven would be Hell for those who do not wish to spend all eternity with God. God does not condemn people, he just gives them the freedom to act as they would like. He is not necessarily responsible for evil, then, he just allows it to happen because it is a possible consequence of the free will he gave us.

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quarky2 July 19, 2010 at 3:16 pm

@Bob

Think about it. Man didn’t create hell. Who created hell? What purpose does it serve? According to christian doctrine, the saved are already in heaven. Neither they nor the tortured victims derive any benefit from it. So why does your loving god keep them alive to endure suffering? It just doesn’t make any sense at all.

God is not responsible for evil? Before creation: no evil. Aferward: evil in spades. So where did it come from and why did god allow it? If free will (the classical answer), then free will can’t be an attribute of eternal existence in heaven, right? Or will god disallow it in heaven when he did not on earth? Again, it simply makes no sense at all. Heaven and hell are fables — inventions of mankind’s fabulous imagination, useful for controlling the populace through hope and fear, but having no intersection with reality.

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CMON August 10, 2010 at 8:46 am

Let me break it down like a fraction for all of you… Atoms, molecules, protein strands, these make up life and the universe. Not magic and reality bending super beings that live in intangible and ethereal dimensions while somehow being tangible and omnipresent at the same time. Know how I know this? Because man invented the magnifying lens about 2000 years ago, these things are common knowledge. One could spend hours, even days pointing out scientific, metaphorical, and moral inconsistencies of religion… but who needs to when the answer is simply something you can see with your own eyes.

However if god does exist, then your chances of having found the right religion are literally less than 1%, there’s easily over a 100 religions in this world, all with exceptionally varying belief on what pleases god, varying enough that one cannot be as correct as the other as they both offer opposing solutions and paths to the desired afterlife. The chances that you have the right one are slim, and if god is there, your probably just angering him by being wrong anyways =P

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JohnMark August 21, 2010 at 11:57 pm

You got us…we HOPE when we’re supposed to believe. I guess that makes us all Atheists, doesn’t it? But if you’re looking for absolute proof that Christians don’t really believe, then you know you’re never going to be sure if you’ve really found it. Atheists should be used to that concept by now.

The world is a complicated place. So many things to think about…so many things to discover. We have it in our mind that, in our search for “Truth” we will be able to understand it. But what makes any of us think that WE are capable to understand? Do we need a PHD in the meaning of life to wrap our heads around this issue?

We are all the same. We are searching. Some people change their beliefs over time. A lot of atheists who have commented on this site have once been Christians…some quite recently. We are still searching.

And none of us are perfect. But what I see in this post, through the main article and even more in the comments is that some of us have convinced ourselves that what we believe won’t change. I’m 30 and, like some of you, I have gone back and forth. So having seen both sides, I have concluded that all of us HOPE instead of BELIEVE.

This is not merely a Christian matter. The truth seems to be that we all are created with a desire to believe in something…We all have doubts about it from time to time because we want to be RIGHT. We want to be BETTER than we used to be. And We don’t want to be on the wrong team when it’s all said and done. (Atheists believe that most Christians are on the wrong team because they are ignorant and choose not to question. Christians believe that Atheists are on the wrong team because they question.)

Both sides make these generalizations to support what they HOPE is true. It’s hard for most of us to be comfortable with our own beliefs. But most of us can agree that there are good and bad Atheists just as there are good and bad Christians.

I am a believer in Jesus Christ, son of God and I HOPE that His word in the bible is a physical guide as well as the Holy Spirit is a spiritual guide…I don’t like the word “Christian” because I recognize all the indefensible thoughts, words, and actions made by people claiming to believe. And I QUESTION…I RESEARCH…I POKE…I PROD…and I PRAY FOR UNDERSTANDING just as I pray for those who are just as lost, and confused as myself.

The conclusions that I come to time and again is this: Who chooses to believe in GOD is not my business. I celebrate with those who have and pray for those who haven’t to a GOD who knows who will. But He accepts them into the afterlife when they die if they chose to believe. If I am upset at their funerals it is because the earthly connection that I had with them is lost, not because I wasn’t sure if there was an afterlife.

However, I urge you to think about your parents. You think that they aren’t worried? Trust me, they are in a panic when you aren’t around. Caring parents always feel responsible for their child’s choices. Since you went the opposite direction from your parents, they are probably not too sure what to do anymore. That’s why it seems like they don’t care…they don’t know WHAT to do make you believe what they believe. They are searching for answers from GOD…and HOPING that you will choose to believe.

We are all on a Journey toward the truth. We’re all still searching. We are all the same. And all of us HOPE…at least I HOPE we do.

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Micah September 10, 2010 at 3:11 pm

This is really just beautiful. I don’t have anything further to add to the discussion – it’s like sitting in a room full of (mostly) intelligent folks, and just listening to humans be humans, and talking about the things that are closest to our hearts, and farthest from our heads. I’m not an atheist. I’m not really a Christian. But this whole plethoric mass of dialogue made me remember why I’m still searching for something that makes sense.

Thanks, Mr. Stanhope.

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Gabo Gardea September 10, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Im no christian! But i think your question can be simply answered like this… some people value their lives! Thats what i think, but thats just me!

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Michael September 17, 2010 at 11:37 am

I’m not against atheism but I have no idea what is the point of the wave of recent atheistic prosthelytizing. I mean, does it really hurt you to let these people believe what that want? What is the end goal? I just don’t get it. I’m more agnostic, but I wouldn’t see a point in challenging people who are very happy in their beliefs. I have plenty of friends whose beliefs I find completely wacky, but their happy so why should I care?

It seems to me to be just as likely that all this effort to convince people to abandon their faith is, like their similar efforts, is to convince yourself that you are right.

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linda November 9, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Hi everyone, can I just say, I really struggle with believing in a God but I have to tell you all this….I had the Mormons come visiting me on a few occasions and this one time they started talking about baptism. I was dead against this and told them so, but all of a sudden an overwhelming feeling of love, which was completely head to toe, (an amazing feeling) came over me. I was embarrassed by this and walked away from them. I can never never deny that sensation, it was something unbelievable and I know that no way you can make this happen. It was so sudden and unpredictable yet even though I still struggle with my beliefs, I can honestly say, without a doubt, this was something incredible and is always there when I think, No! there can’t be anything else other than this life. I wish I could have bottled the feeling for others.

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Aimee November 17, 2010 at 5:07 am

If I really believed that my friends or family were going to burn for eternity, then yes, I would do everything in my power to prevent it. Luckily, unlike most Christians, I don’t actually believe that unbelievers will be tormented. I use to when I was young, but have since changed my belief because it doesn’t seem right to me that a loving God would do that to His children. I agree totally with you, if they really believed this, wouldn’t they act on it? Although I call myself a Christian, I have many unanswered questions about things which they blindly believe and follow. I believe in some things that normal Christians don’t and if they were to become known, these people I call my brothers and sisters would deny my Christianity and immediately label me as new-age or flat out deny me entry to their church. I hate that these people have spouted nothing of love or acceptance, but instead have spread hate, ignorance and intolerance. We believe in a loving God, yet they show nothing of that to other peoples. I get the feeling that they really don’t read the Bible, because if they did they would see that Jesus accepted all sorts of people and loved them despite their “sins” or whatever. They really believe that protesting gay people or abortion clinics is the right thing. But would Jesus have ever done that? No, he wouldn’t.

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Crono November 22, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Good quote man. Your so clever and witty. Maybe because not wearing your seat belt and getting into a car crash doesnt necessarily mean you will die. Maybe you will lose an arm, or a leg, or become paralyzed?

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Emma November 22, 2010 at 9:29 pm

While I think that this is a good question, I think you’re generalizing Christians. Maybe in your experiences, Christians aren’t seen to be “doing everything they can” to convert the non-believers they know, but in my experience some of them really are.

And, no. I don’t think that’s a good thing.

When a stranger comes up to you on the train and tells you that God has just told them that you need to be told about the Love of Jesus Christ, when crazy ladies stand outside Planned Parenthood and scream about baby murder, when your best friend won’t shut the hell up about “getting you saved” — these are all times when Christians are doing their best to save you. And they’re doing it wrong. And it is annoying.

So, yes, I think a lot of Christians really believe what they say they believe. They believe you are going to hell and you are going to burn and writhe in torture and pain forever. As for the rest of them (the Christians who don’t “witness” and who don’t shove their evangelism down your throat), they know deep down what the truth is. They know deep down that their religion is ridiculous. They know that their religion started as one of a thousand cults and that some Roman emperor’s mother converted and started a trend. They know that when they die, NOTHING WILL HAPPEN. And I think that terrifies them into wanting to believe the lies of their religion more.

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Gerald November 22, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Easy enough- I don’t believe in hell. If there is a hell it’s a separation from God, and being with God is a more abstract concept than simply going to heaven when you die.

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A seat belt wearing Christian November 23, 2010 at 9:22 pm

I’m not sure why wearing or not wearing a seat belt has anything to do with religion , but here is a slap in the face for morons with access to the internet, what if you believe in God, and Christ and don’t wear a seat belt (from an extreme point of view this could be viewed as suicide, and if your a certain type of Christian you have committed one of the seven deadly sins and you would go straight to hell.) you get into an accident but you don’t die and you become horribly disfigured, or you become a vegetable living your life on life support, eating through a tube and crapping into a bag, until your family runs out of money and can no longer support you and they are forced to pull the plug of after many hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of pain and suffering. Yes you will make it heaven but your children wont be able to pay for college because your wife’s credit is ruined because she had to mortgage the house,(which she defaulted on) max out the credit card, (which she defaulted on) and had get a second job working nights to pay for you to slowly whither and eventually starve to death. And while she’s working nights your children grow up in a $500 a month apartment in the “bad” part of town and are watched by the seemingly sweet old woman in apartment 2a who has secretly molested your children night after night while your wife was away. Your children grow up without a father, and when they do visit you they tell you about all the horrible things that have happened in your life while you are forced to listen to their horrible stories and you have no way of communicating to them your pain of having to know that your children are suffering. You kids grow-up and become alcoholics and your daughter marries a man who beats her because her self esteem and self worth is ruined by years of neglect and abuse. You wife has developed a drinking problem and once the kids are out of the house and your dead and buried decides she doesn’t has a place in the world because she has failed as a mother and failed as a wife puts a gun barrel in her mouth and joins you in death. So at the end of the day, you wife commits suicide your children are abused alcoholics and you died in a bed unable to scratch your own ass, all because you didn’t want to wear a seat belt.

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Connie November 23, 2010 at 9:52 pm

In order to be a Christian, you need to believe in the unbelievable, illogical and chaotic book written three languages ago and edited by a soldier’s appointed council under threat of death. Most of the beliefs in the book derive from a desire to demolish an earlier culture, replacing it with their misogynistic world view. This belief system and a surprising number of other “religions traditions” allow petty people to believe themselves superior to others and justify the most heinous of behaviors towards both family and stranger.
God or the Great Goddess, on the other hand, is E=mc2 – the energy and mass of the sub-atomic particles of which we and everything else in the Universe, living or not, is composed. An Atheist who feels, contemplates , or conceptualizes themselves as part of this whole is closer to achieving what a Christian is trying to accomplish by their dogged insistence on dogma.
The twisted logic necessary for “belief” enables believers to become “as sheep” and any power crazy liar to become their “shepherd”. Note the condition of the earth.

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Greg November 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Congrats on breaking free from the imaginary bonds of some intangible sky daddy. However, this is a vague argument, and unfortunatley Ben seems to carve it up a little. I hate to give props to a weak argument but kudos Ben.
This isn’t a moot point, but with the whole world of anti-theistic arguments at your disposal. I would hope you concentrate on the others a bit more. Don’t be afraid to be harsh. It’s entirely ridiculous to have a belief system based on a work of fiction that has been edited countlessly throughout the years and is believed to be the word of a supernatural being. That alone sounds insane. But this “god’s word” also happens to be intolerant, genocidal, vindictive, homophobic, megalomaniacal, sado-masochistic, misogynistic, and generally just bananas. Complete batshit.

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Abby November 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Don’t be so pretentious. Unless you’ve been to the beginning of time(as we perceive it), which I highly doubt, then keep your opinions to yourself. Because let me tell you something: You ticking away at a keyboard scrutinizing something that is never going change, isn’t going to get you anywhere. Nobody really cares what you have to say. I’m just kind of tired of all these not only Christian rants, but moody, I’m-so-intellectual-because-I-think-of-hypothetical-situations-where-a-religion-contradicts-themselves atheist rants. Get a new hobby.

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Luke Muehlhauser November 24, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Abby,

Not going to change? You’re not paying attention. The percentage of Americans who are non-believers has roughly doubled in the last 20 years alone.

It’s also false to claim that nobody cares what I have to say, as the size of my readership attests. I’ve even gotten emails from people saying I was part of what caused them to change their mind about the reality of magic and deities.

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Connie November 25, 2010 at 5:34 am

Abby has expressed an opinion that people shouldn’t express opinions. My opinion is that his/her opinion expressed on an opinion site is a direct contradiction of her/his opinion. Unless he/she thinks she/he has a right to her/his own opinion, but that the rest of us don’t have that right. My opinion is that he/she is wrong and I choose to disregard the rest of her/his rant by not reading it.

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Stephen McCleskey November 25, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Let me ask this question, in response to your post. (Sorry other commenters, I’m not reading a huge page of comments to get caught up; I’m only interested with the point at present.)

Do you think that those who don’t evangelize to the level you want them to are really Christians? The question isn’t of belief. The Bible says that even demons believe in God. The question is in action. Can one be a Christian and not act like one? My answer is no, but then I read your blog and I think of my own life. No, I don’t do all that I can to save my friends. Why don’t I? I thought about this and I thought about this. “Why don’t I do more?”

My answer; most people I am in contact with aren’t open to the thought of God or the Bible. They’ve been turned off by former experiences, intellectual “enlightenment”, or just plain apathy. There’s a special sect of Saturday drinkers and Sunday bowers I know too. Are they Christian? I wager, not truly.

So, again, why don’t I evangelize? I don’t have a good answer, except for I do. Not on my soap box or by thumping Biblical texts at people; that is ineffective and goes back to why people, including me at a point of my life, leave church. No, I evangelize through my actions. I’m always trying to live that example Christ has set for me. Actions speak louder than words, we all know that. But your issue isn’t that. Your issue is why people don’t specifically come to nonbelievers and witness to them.

You’re incorrect in this respect. There are people who do that. They’re called missionaries. They go to all reaches of the planet to tell people about Christ and his work on the cross. They’re detained and killed daily. Does that sound like Christian apathy?

And by asking why Christians don’t walk around converting people, you betray an ignorance of Christian faith. If I’m not mistaken in my doctrine, we are called to live as Christ did. It’s in the religion’s name. Christ- Christian. So, taking this approach, we can conclude this: Christ did not look for specific people to talk to. He spoke to masses, thousands at a time. He loved people, performed healing miracles, and lived a perfect life. However, no one was ever sought by Him, except for God. They sought Him.

Yes, the people who didn’t believe sought after Him, not the other way around. Show me one example of one who He came specifically to preach to.

Look at it like this. An Atheist will not be open to the idea of Christianity because he has already discounted it. It would be useless to speak to an Atheist about Christianity. So why bother, exactly? Very bluntly, I ask, “Why bother?” If you prefer coffee, and are abhorrently opposed to tea, why would I keep offering you tea? No one gains ground and I only look like an ass. We are supposed to seek him, because then we aren’t opposed to the idea of Christianity and He can work with us. We seek Him, because otherwise it’s only a waste of time.

The best illustration I can think of is the Prodigal’s Son. You probably already know it, but I’ll give a synopsis. This is a parable of Jesus.

A wealthy landowner had two sons. The younger (the skeptic in this story) and more wicked of the two wanted to take his inheritance and leave home. And so the father (the God figure in this story) gave him his share of the inheritance and let him leave. The keyword here is “let”. So, the young son spends all his wealth on whore and drink and is sooner penniless. He ends up working in a pigsty and even eats what the pigs are. Finally, he comes to realization that his father’s servants live better than this and decides to come back as a servant. As he is on the way home, his father looks out to see him. And he runs to him and his son run to his father. They run to eat other and embrace. Dad’s crying. Son’s crying. Then, the father gives his son his cloak and his ring. and throws a party for him. The elder son asks why and the father replies, “My son was dead and now he lives.” The end.

The story illustrates why you’re not getting any wooah with your leaving faith from your parents, or other Christians. We don’t seek you; you’re supposed to seek God.

Trust me; your parents love you and are crushed – just like the father in the parable. They, or anyone else for that matter, wants you to do to hell. Just because no one actively tries to evangelizes you is not an indication of that. It’s an indication of understanding that you’re no longer open to faith. Okay, we get it. We’ll find someone who is and try to save them. If you’re really wanting someone to talk to you about God, start the conversation. Seek Him. He’ll find you, because he’s watching the road.

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Matthew December 3, 2010 at 8:28 am

I was raised by a Christian family, and I decided that I didn’t believe around 13 years of age. I can totally relate to this entire post because my family believes that I am going to hell for not being Christian, and yet, as you say here, they don’t really act like it. At the most they will tell me stories that they think prove the existence of God, like they will tell me about “miracles” that have happened, or prayers that have come true, as if I’m going to hear that, and believe that it proves that Christianity is the one true religion.

Belief in eternal hell for non-believers was the key reason I started questioning Christianity, and ultimately why I stopped believing.

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Darcy Wood December 3, 2010 at 9:46 am

Automatic thinking….No more, no less. No one asks why do I really believe this, why do I really think this, why do I really take this action. It plays a part in everything from gender roles to education and career choices as well as religion. I as a woman have seen so many other women get married, have children (Nothing wrong with these actions if you really want them) and ask themselves at the age of forty why they are not happy. (I call it the rescue theory or the white picket fence illusion. Most people believe because their family believed the same set of beliefs, and they become weekend warriors for the religion they assume from their parents. we are all far to guilty of automatic thinking and it leads us to unhappy and oftentimes unhealthy choices. I am guilty of it also, so I point fingers at no one. I only point out that a little time slowing down and asking oneself “why am I taking this action?” could make the difference of true fulfillment in ones life instead of expecting it from other people or other gods.

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josiah December 3, 2010 at 6:14 pm

you know alot of people belive gog so all of them praying makes alot if they truly belife that a prayer can change the worid there stupied THE WORLD IS GOING 2 SHIT PRAYERS ARENT HELLPING IT

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Andrew December 18, 2010 at 7:17 pm

You are definitely right, many Christians don’t believe in their hearts, so to speak, what they subscribe to intellectually. I’m one of those Christians, my actions don’t line up with my words, but I’m struggling to have the penny drop, that is, to move my beliefs from my head to my heart.

This is common to the human condition, it isn’t limited to theological beliefs. Often the things we believe up front in our minds isn’t what we believe deeper down. That sounds all very wispy and whimsical but I’ll give you an example.

The idea of being in a romantic relationship meant a great deal to me. I would spend a disproportionate amount of my energy and time when I fell head over heals for someone. I know, that sounds typical, but it was costing me in virtually every other area of my life that I valued. A little while ago I was thinking, and I realized that I was terrified of being alone. I thought deep down that if I didn’t find someone that I would be alone and sad forever.

Now obviously this is absurd, especially for a Christian whose highest joy in life is a relationship with a God who never leaves you alone, and I was the first one to say so to myself. I didn’t believe that ridiculous idea “up top” but on a more fundamental level I really did.

Christians struggle to take ideas and concepts that are so paradoxical to the way we ordinarily live: The way to happiness is to surrender everything, To live as your true self you must die to yourself, To die is gain, God is the only one who can truly satisfy you, God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him. etc. It’s difficult to change who you are.

This makes us chronic hypocrites, I know. But I admit I am imperfect and broken, and that is why I need the gospel: I could never be the man these beliefs make me alone.

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A Christian January 2, 2011 at 2:28 am

Because If I Tried Converting You Every Second Of The Day,
All I’d Accomplish Is Making You HATE Christianity
And As Far Not Killing Myself Goes,
That’d Be Extremely Selfish And (I THINK) God Rathers I Spread His Word That Way This World Still Has Christians And Isnt Pure Atheist/Idolatry

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hrh January 12, 2011 at 4:20 pm

If you really believed some of the people you love dearly were going to spend an eternity in hell, wouldn’t that motivate you to try harder to save them?

Wow Dan, I think that something must have really happened for you to doubt God. Yes, you are right. I Love my children with all of my heart, and if there was something, anything that I could do other than pray for them, I would. You forget that Jesus said that “I am the way, the truth and the light”. No one can be saved without accepting God…No ONE!!! The choice is ours and ours only. If you don’t want to follow God, then no amount of begging from your parents will cause you to get into heaven, that choice is yours only. We cannot save each other, only God can save you. We plant the seed and God will give the increase. It all comes down to choice Dan. God Loves you more than you could ever know, even now. He died for you so that you could have a chance for eternal life, but He is a gentleman, and will not force you to choose Him, that is up to you. I am sure that your mother prays for you every single day, and it breaks her heart to know that you have decided to deny Christ,but she has not given up on you Dan. Hell is for the devil and his angels, but if you choose not to believe and deny God, then you choose to go to hell, you are going because that is where you want to go. There will be no one in heaven that doesn’t want to be there either. I pray that God will show you The real Love He has for you. No One can save you but Jesus!! He is coming soon, If you do not want to go to hell then I can suggest you give your life back over to God.

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Anonymous January 20, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Another question for everyone:Why would Jesus go through all that pain and suffering if there was no real consequence to how one lived?Having said that, he did suffer for our sake…so we wouldn’t have to…why won’t any sane person see this as a win win situation?Are ex-Xtians really rebelling against God, or are they rebelling against Xtian a@@holes who want to oppress and control other people?If you boil it down to its basic elements, people have no right to be angry at God…people should be angry at a@@holes who misrepresent God…hell, even God is mad about that.  

You are way off the mark here. The problem is not that people misuse religion. The problem is: people misuse religion, AND there is no proof to back up religion’s history, AND religious people constantly push out all evidence against their beliefs. Religious people constantly do terrible things, using religion as their excuse.

But that’s not why I’m atheist. I am an atheist because I really don’t believe the whole Christian shtick. Sure, accepting that Jesus died for me is a win-win situation. But that doesn’t make the story any more true. I’m not going to pretend to believe it, just because I think it’s a nice story. I’d much rather believe what I can perceive as being closest to the truth. So far, science is kicking religion’s ass as far as the believability factor is concerned.

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deb January 24, 2011 at 1:56 am

Hi, Have you actually seen what many of you atheists are doing? your not sure of what YOU believe aren’t you? why do christians not try and save their friends in a vigorous manner why because we have freedom of choice, I love my friends and tell them about god at every opportunity I can but its not always the right time. but I hit it back to you If you are really sure that people are fooling themselves isnt it your responsibility then to tell people every minute of every day, because those people are in danger of damaging their life in your eyes? do you do this? No you dont.

Right Back at cha Buddy- god bless you

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Some-body January 25, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Why do think I’m a Deist?
- God does NOT answer your prayers
-God does not do ANYTHING to us in this world
-The bible has A LOT of questionable things in it.

THe more I learn about science, the more I believe in God. The chance just for the first life forms to come into existence on earth are so astronomical, that it is more likely that all the devout Jews on earth will come out and say Hitler is their idle and the best man who has ever lived.

Deism is the logical side of Christianity.

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sputnik February 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I’m agnostic and I don’t wear a seat belt. So where does that leave me?

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Baykun February 10, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Wow, everyone here sitting on their expensive luxurious PCs in their heat controlled house with their expendable food slapping around opinions about a force they couldnt comprehend, much less explain to any degree with no humility for their words…. Let me let you in on a little secret, if youve ever read the bible, then youd know god is already pissed at you for all your excess and gluttonous needs and properties… so any christians posting here, youve already failed in your arguments, you dont learn law from a criminal and you dont learn religion from a sinner, If anything, god would be less pissed at the Athiest, he is at least ignorant of his ways, the Christian knows of his way yet still cant adhere…the entire argument here is moot. And for the guy who wrote this article, take up smoking pot, youll understand why any moral has 3 sides to it and none of this tripe matters… all seeds are here for humans use and consumption, and its god made, cant lose either way can you? :)

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Jeff February 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Well Baykun yours is certainly one way to go about trying to revive a dying thread. No thinking Christian that I am aware of tries to come to any conclusions about God absent His own revelations of Himself to us. Your reading of the Bible notwithstanding it does not represent a pissed off God so much as a righteous One who loves us so much He made a way for us in spite of our wayward, stubborn and obstinate disobedience. In fact a primary reason for the incarnation of Christ was that all of us are failures (Theists and Atheists) at keeping His sacred commandments.

To suggests that, therefore, all Christians posting here have already failed in their arguments (as you have done) merely demonstrates your own inability to grasp fundamental Christian theology to begin with. When you caricature our arguments and then argue against your own (mis) characterization you have made the philosophical error of arguing against a “straw man.”

As to whether any of this “tripe” (about God’s existence, not smoking pot) matters, I would rather accept God’s well reasoned and rational assertion that it most certainly does, to your far out but not well thought out opinion that it does not.

“From everlasting to everlasting Thou art God.”

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bent February 14, 2011 at 3:24 am

wow You make a great point, I’ve wondered this for myself as well. I just feel that in their religious narcissism they believe that it’s up to you to find God after they instill the fear within you or like you said they have their own questions of the now more prominent futility religion is but are too scared to completely unshackle themselves from their dogmatic believes.

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Jeff February 14, 2011 at 3:52 am

bent,

What on earth does this mess of a run on sentence mean?

“I just feel that in their religious narcissism they believe that it’s up to you to find God after they instill the fear within you or like you said they have their own questions of the now more prominent futility religion is but are too scared to completely unshackle themselves from their dogmatic believes.”

I can respond to the first part in the negative. I cannot think of a Christian who believes our job is to instill fear in anyone, nor to leave it up to that person to somehow find God as a result of that fear.

But the second part of your sentence is a hot grammatical mess. Like all of us I’m sure you just got in a hurry. Please clarify it for the edification of the two other people who appear to still be reading this thread.

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bent February 14, 2011 at 4:17 am

bent,What on earth does this mess of a run on sentence mean?“I just feel that in their religious narcissism they believe that it’s up to you to find God after they instill the fear within you or like you said they have their own questions of the now more prominent futility religion is but are too scared to completely unshackle themselves from their dogmatic believes.”I can respond to the first part in the negative. I cannot think of a Christian who believes our job is to instill fear in anyone, nor to leave it up to that person to somehow find God as a result of that fear.But the second part of your sentence is a hot grammatical mess. Like all of us I’m sure you just got in a hurry. Please clarify it for the edification of the two other people who appear to still be reading this thread.  

Let me clear things up.

Religion pry on people’s fear i.e. death, the bigger questions, eternity, our place in the universe, etc. I don’t fear any of those things but the average “christian” will. So religion is in a sense a subconscious trap, once you’re in it the fear keeps you in it, you want to stop believing but you can’t since you fear of losing your reward. (It took me 2 years to go from catholic to atheist, I had no faith but I couldn’t let go of my label because of my fears)

This leads me into the 2nd part of my run on sentence.

I meant to convey the sense of how quickly religion is becoming inadequate since the advent of science and the answering of some of the deeper questions. Organized religions have to vehemently defend their position since contradictions are not good for their business but the more we explore and learn the more apparent the contradictions become.

Essentially what happens is they haven’t overcome their fears to drop their label but deep down they know how silly their believes are.

I hope this makes more sense.

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Jeff February 14, 2011 at 6:21 am

bent,

Yep that clears it up. I can tell that English is not your native language, but you do a very credible job of communicating with it. I think you’re probably right about fear and it’s ability to keep us within the bounds of faith. The Scriptures teach that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and I certainly concur that this is true. Of course whether or not I concur, the Scriptures are always correct.

I couldn’t disagree more, however, with your opinion that the more we know of science the “more apparent the contradictions become.” As both a scientist and a Christian I find the opposite to be true. The more I know of science the better I understand God and Scripture. Science is catching up with religion, not the other way around. This is my humble opinion, but one that is shared by a great many scientists, from many disciplines, throughout the world.

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bent February 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Jeff,

You surely don’t believe the world was created in 7 days 5,00 years ago. I hope you belief that evolution is part of how we got here. I think the heliocentric model at least feels right and the earth being round is a fact.

Now tell me how long the church fought and casted out people who didn’t accept their facts throughout it’s 2,00 years of existence? You can be a scientist and believe in God but you can never be a christian and believe in science. That’s my main problem with it. God like you said can be felt at times of great vulnerability but you’re really feeling the Earth and its energy. There are things bigger than us in the universe but we choose to worship ourselves instead of what is around us.

Scientists are now looking for the God particle so religion is an integral part of our culture however I can’t help but to think that he was really a creation of human ingenuity. Science casts doubt in some of our millennium long perceptions and is controversial because the truth is often shrouded in mysticism. I don’t think religion will have part in society in another 50 years when people become more educated and more of life puzzles are tackled and answered for.

Now we stand at an interesting crossroads, we know about DNA and we can modify it to a certain degree, a more developed civilization could easily have come and messed with the genes of the Australopithecus or even an earlier version until we became the way we are. Humanity has the potential of becoming creators ourselves, God as an idea is simply no longer necessary since we have raised above the realm of men into the realm of creators.

When I was 8 years old I stopped sleeping with my teddy bear since I was no longer afraid of the dark. When I was 17 I stopped praying before sleep because I was no longer afraid into believing. God is great as a comforter but terrible as a fact generator.

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Rick March 4, 2011 at 9:38 am

I was at breakfast this morning and asked the waitress the same question that you asked because I knew she was a Christian. She said; “I believe that if Christians really believed what they say they believe their lives would be radically different.” I believe that is a pretty accurate quote. That was my thinking exactly when I asked her the question to begin with.

I started a discipleship class powerpoint presentation recently because a thought came to my mind as I was studying the scriptures and praying. The thought was succinct and to the point; “One more soul entered Hell today!” It spurred the idea in my mind and heart to disciple people and call them to uncompromising loyalty to Christ and to the lifestyle he called Christians to. That lifestyle includes Loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. That began a string of thoughts such as: Do we really know God or just know about him? If we truly loved our fellow man and knew they were in danger of eternal damnation and we believe with all our heart that it is true, would we allow that person we say we love to go to Hell without warning them? Why are the Christians of this generation so shallow and weak in their faith when God has promised us overcoming power and victory through Jesus Christ? What do we really understand about the concepts of man and sin? What is holding us back from absolute, uncompromising, surrender to the cause of Christ and the salvation of souls? I felt compelled by these and other questions to believe it was time that someone begin to disciple people in this generation to a commitment to Christ that many speak about but few ever adhere to. Hence the class.

I have created an 87 page web site prior to even thinking about this class. It includes my family, scripture teaching, videos, multiple links, free site building images, my first published book and samples of what it contains, and my first foray into political things which began when I saw what the current president and his associates were doing to destroy our nation from within while slandering and marginalizing those who oppose them with the glad assistance of the mainstream media.

I have asked the Lord that he would take from me every excuse and hindrance in my life that would not serve his purposes, and that I might live for him without reservation from now on. I fully expect him to do that and to anoint me with the power and the authority to accomplish whatever it is he wants me to do wherever he would choose to send me to do it.

I am open to hear from anyone through my email or my site which has a visitor response page as well as an email link on the front page. There are a few things there that are available for purchase, however, they are just there. I don’t have a store with a backup supply. They are just things that I have in my house that I feel are unnecessary to my existence and perhaps would be appreciated by someone else, and of course my book which I don’t spend time promoting except on occasions such as this one and very little at that. My desire in life is not to promote myself but Christ alone who has given me hope and a new life after many years of living a wicked and self-centered life.

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Jeff March 4, 2011 at 12:34 pm

bent,

No I certainly do not. Even those who mistake the first eleven chapters of Genesis for a history book don’t believe that. For example, He rested on the seventh day, so that wasn’t a day of creation. The 5500 years ago estimate is off by probably several hundred million years, but what you apparently assume the Bible teaches is not actually taught therein.

Check out the theories of Hugh Ross, the astronomer, for a better understanding of what most thinking scientists who are also Christians believe. Of course we don’t all walk in lock step, but his model is as good as any, and has the advantage (at least to me) of also comporting with Scripture.

I am one of those “nuts” who puts God before man-made theories and I trust His unfailing, unchanging word above our latest stab at solving the universes most vexing conundrums.

As to what we are “feeling” regarding God, that does not make near as much difference to me as where the evidence regarding God has led me. I too would have long since abandoned a God based upon whim or feelings. He would have been tossed, if not with the teddy bear, at least with my stack of Archie and Richie Rich comic books.

As I grew older I also grew more knowledgeable, and that knowledge leads me inexorably to more faith in the God of the Hebrew Bible. The evidence for his existence, and preeminence becomes more noticeable and more undeniable with each passing year.

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Jeff Warner March 27, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I don’t agree with you that there is no God, I am a passionate believer and follower of Jesus Christ…that being said, your absolutely right, Christians should take their faith serious and we should care enough to share our faith with people who don’t believe.

I love your direct question: “If you really believed some of the people you love dearly were going to spend an eternity in hell, wouldn’t that motivate you to try harder to save them?”

It does motivate me, it motivates me to live openly as a Christan and share my testimony with people, to share with them who I was before I gave my life to Jesus, and who I am today. That being said, I’m not angry with your post in anyway…actually I’m inspired by it. Thank you for further convicting me of my faith, thank you for reminding me and other believers just how precious life is and how we should FULLY dedicate our lives to sharing our faith so that our friends and family will be able to spend eternity with the Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

One thing that bothers me is your assumption that because people aren’t running around frantically trying to save the world that they must not truly believe. Your observation is correct, Christians are severely lacking when it comes to sharing their faith…but your assumption as to why is way off base. I take a different look at it, and that is not that they don’t believe but rather they (and sometimes me) get lazy, selfish and comfortable.

Christians like to share Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.”

That’s an excellent verse and I agree with it 100%…but what does verse 10 say? It says: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Like it says, we are saved by Grace through our faith in Jesus. Good works will not save us, but God did create them for us to complete. You see, while we take comfort in the Grace we have been given, it can often become to easy for us to get comfortable and forget what verse 10 says.

Another problem is the amount of people that claim to be Christian because they attend church. There are lots and lots of people like that and they are not reading their Bible. For those people, your assumption probably is correct. If they are not reading their Bible, they don’t know what’s in it…if they don’t know what’s in it they can’t grow and develop a personal relationship with the Lord and therefore they can’t fully believe…it’s obvious in all areas of life that you don’t know what you don’t know, and if you don’t try to learn you won’t learn. If you don’t spend time in God’s word and time really trying to get to know the Lord it is flat out impossible to truly believe.

Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. God Bless you. I do care about you and your eternal destination and I would enjoy talking with you about your faith, or lack of faith sometime. Feel free to email me anytime, or better yet…get my number off my website and give me a call, I’d love to chat.

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Brian March 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I think your questions are excellent ones. I also think that we need to realize that people grow in God, not into. When someone is converted they begin a walk towards Jesus, and that walk determines who they are and who they will be. Jesus changes us to be more like Him and for some it’s a rapid, over night kind of change for others it takes decades. However, I think you are correct that we should be grieved by this. I am. I am grieved everytime I read that someone has rejected Christ, and is instead walking away from Him.

Charles Spurgeon said, “If sinners be dammed, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one GO there UNWARNED and UNPRAYED for.” This is how we should be! We shouldn’t be complacent and simply dejected, but fervent and begging! We should put our pride aside and beg people to come back to Christ! I feel that each of us should be praying and fasting, and mourning and ripping our clothes just as the Jews did in the prophets of old! Covering our head with ash and dejected that our children, friends and family have chosen a bad path. I beg you my friend, even though I do not know you, to reconsider Christ.

We should indeed be sending letters, emails, and supplications to those we know and posting blogs of our own encouraging others! People should look at us and not see us, but see the light of Christ reflected in every action. From obvious ones to the quaint daily goings of peoples. People should see our work ethics and our lunch time prayers, not from piety but from love of Christ. Our children should know what we believe and why! If my children reject Christ it will not be a simple, oh you’re going to Hell, but many a conversation about why? Why do you reject Christ? We know that he doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell, but for everyone to have immortal life. It should grieve our soul, more especially when a child of our own has decided to turn from God.

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Hermes April 8, 2011 at 4:52 am

Since a few people in this discussion have focused on or highlighted morality — not just belief — I’ll throw my two cents in;

* Morals are personally and socially derived and are not transcendently intuited or inspired by some set of deities.

* Theist beliefs about what gods are have more to do with the individual than they do any actual set of deities.

Beyond the Euthopro dilemma, there are other reasons why this is the case;

—————

Believers’ estimates of God’s beliefs are more egocentric than estimates of other people’s beliefs

Abstract: People often reason egocentrically about others’ beliefs, using their own beliefs as an inductive guide. Correlational, experimental, and neuroimaging evidence suggests that people may be even more egocentric when reasoning about a religious agent’s beliefs (e.g., God). In both nationally representative and more local samples, people’s own beliefs on important social and ethical issues were consistently correlated more strongly with estimates of God’s beliefs than with estimates of other people’s beliefs (Studies 1–4). Manipulating people’s beliefs similarly influenced estimates of God’s beliefs but did not as consistently influence estimates of other people’s beliefs (Studies 5 and 6). A final neuroimaging study demonstrated a clear convergence in neural activity when reasoning about one’s own beliefs and God’s beliefs, but clear divergences when reasoning about another person’s beliefs (Study 7). In particular, reasoning about God’s beliefs activated areas associated with self-referential thinking more so than did reasoning about another person’s beliefs. Believers commonly use inferences about God’s beliefs as a moral compass, but that compass appears especially dependent on one’s own existing beliefs.

Source (full paper plus references): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2787468

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salbannach April 8, 2011 at 6:51 am

For all the comments, I think Ben’s comment at the top was closest to the truth. My mother, for example, thinks that everyone gets a last chance to embrace Jesus before they die. I assume the argument in her head is something like this:

1. An all-loving God would surely give everyone a chance to avoid Hell
2. God is all-loving
3. Ergo, everyone gets a last chance to embrace Jesus.

Now one could argue with that. I have. But it doesn’t seem to be a belief far out of line with the system of Christian belief. As Ben said, it’s a small step.

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PDH April 8, 2011 at 7:18 am

salbannach wrote,

For all the comments, I think Ben’s comment at the top was closest to the truth. My mother, for example, thinks that everyone gets a last chance to embrace Jesus before they die. I assume the argument in her head is something like this:

1. An all-loving God would surely give everyone a chance to avoid Hell
2. God is all-loving
3. Ergo, everyone gets a last chance to embrace Jesus.

Now one could argue with that. I have. But it doesn’t seem to be a belief far out of line with the system of Christian belief. As Ben said, it’s a small step.

But don’t you think it’s morally problematic in and of itself to worship a being who is going to torture the majority of the human race?

For example, I have lost people close to me who did not believe. According to many interpretations of Christianity those people are being tortured right now (or will be in the end) and yet religious people are going into church every Sunday and praising the torturer.

Imagine if someone you cared about was abducted and tortured to death by a maniac and you found out that people were getting down on their knees and exalting the person who just tortured your loved one.

I don’t see how any amount of last chances significantly improves this situation. Do they really believe that eternal torment is in keeping with the actions of a morally perfect, omni-benevolent, all-loving being?

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David Rogers April 8, 2011 at 7:41 am

Just a comment and questions on format and methodology of commenting.

Your post asks legitimate questions. Might there be a way (maybe, maybe not) where Chrisitians could give responses in one comment listing and atheists give their comments in another. That way you could get a collection of Christian responses categorized by format. The current method creates a long column of responses that mixes Christian responses to your query, mixed with additional atheist comments, all intermingled occasionally with other comments, some non-serious.

Also, the re-dating is perfectly legitimate, but would it encourage or discourage new commenting if the previous earlier comments were somewhow archived and the new ones then allowed to begin a new series of interactions?

There may not be a way to do this. I was just wondering.

Thanks.

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salbannach April 8, 2011 at 9:15 am

PDH,

“But don’t you think it’s morally problematic in and of itself to worship a being who is going to torture the majority of the human race?”

I’m not sure. If justice demands that the majority of the human race be so damned, and God is just — which is what believers believe — then no, I don’t think it’s problematic.

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Felipe Ramos April 8, 2011 at 10:35 am

Hello Luke,
That why I come to you at Mini Cafe Last December. You get my attention because of your integrity. I do care about your soul. I share few things (miracles) to you. Although, you make the defensive with good reasonable and also you make few excellent point. You believe, in future, science will discover what cause the miracle and supernatural. Bottom point, You choose intellectual over faith. Me choose faith over intellectual.
If I was agressive, keep up discuss, and stubborn because I do not want you to go to hell until I got blue in my head, you would think I was crazy and force. You would not friend with me for sure. I do think common chirsitian tend to share the gospel to everyone without pushy! It is like example Jesus do that even Apostle do that.

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PDH April 8, 2011 at 11:32 am

salbannach,

PDH,

“But don’t you think it’s morally problematic in and of itself to worship a being who is going to torture the majority of the human race?”

I’m not sure. If justice demands that the majority of the human race be so damned, and God is just — which is what believers believe — then no, I don’t think it’s problematic.

I suppose it depends on if you think that ‘justice’ is something worth having. If we’re using a definition of justice under which eternal torment for the ‘crime’ of not believing a very silly thing is considered to be just then I’m not sure I’d want to be just.

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salbannach April 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm

PDH,

I imagine our feelings are very similar here. But I’m trying to give the answer from the believer’s perspective, which was the topic of the post. The believer does not think their belief is a “very silly thing.” Quite the contrary.

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DaVead April 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm

You run into these problems when you interpret and try to understand religious belief as propositional assent. This may be the kind of belief of some Christians, like the ones that try and justify their beliefs with philosophical and scientific arguments. Most religious belief has to do with communal participation and adherence to sets of values. Belief in heaven and hell isn’t a propositional attitude for most people, and it ought not be. It’s not coming from a belief-forming faculty aimed at achieving some kind of apodictic truth. Rather, it’s submission to a system of symbols of meaning.

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PDH April 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm

salbannach,

PDH,

I imagine our feelings are very similar here. But I’m trying to give the answer from the believer’s perspective, which was the topic of the post. The believer does not think their belief is a “very silly thing.” Quite the contrary.

OK. But my point is that even if it’s not a very silly thing, it’s still wrong to torture people forever for not believing in it.

It’s very hard to come up with a set of circumstances in which it would be OK to torture most of the human species for eternity. Luke’s argument can be extended to show that the behaviour of believers is not consistent, even beyond their seemingly minimal efforts to save people. It’s strange that they praise God at all given what they claim to believe about him. I have a hard time believing that they really think that a being who could do such a thing is worthy of worship.

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cl April 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Just wanted to point out a strawman:

…my point is that even if it’s not a very silly thing, it’s still wrong to torture people forever for not believing in it.

Hell is not recompense for disbelief. It is recompense for unrepentant sin. Even demons believe.

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Lorkas April 8, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Hell is not recompense for disbelief. It is recompense for unrepentant sin. Even demons believe.

That’s a weak distinction since I’d have to believe in your concept of God before I accept your idea of “sin” exists. If I actually believed that stuff, then sure, I’d be repentant for my “sins”, but I don’t, so how could I be? It’s absurd for God to think that I’m being rebellious against his demands for repentance if I don’t even think he exists.

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cl April 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Lorkas,

I commented only to dispense with the faulty notion that hell is recompense for disbelief, as opposed to sin.

It’s absurd for God to think that I’m being rebellious against his demands for repentance if I don’t even think he exists.

That sentence is absurd. Think about it.

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Keith April 8, 2011 at 3:01 pm

There is an additional facet of Christian behavior that suggests an absence of real belief: how they behave when they’re alone.

It is my impression that if Christians really believed that God was with them at all times, they would never act as if they were alone. As a result, they would never display some of the behaviors, like giving into temptation, that we are more prone to take part in when alone than in company.

I call this the Privacy Test of Religious Belief (for more see my blog post at http://kpharri.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/the-privacy-test-for-religious-belief/).

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Ryan M April 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Cl said,

Just wanted to point out a strawman:

Hell is not recompense for disbelief. It is recompense for unrepentant sin. Even demons believe.

I find the straw man charge a little hasty for a few reasons:

1. The strawman fallacy according to my logic books is committed when argument P distorts position Q. I don’t see how that comment meets this criteria since there are at least some Christians who do advocate the position that non belief does lead people to hell (I think people who use radios, TVs, the internet should find this self evident).

2. If we accept that the statement you quoted is a strawman due to it not considering the position of other Christian sects or Christian individuals, then one can commit the srawman with every argument P against position Q when argument P does not reflect the position of Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4… etc.

Overall, I think that unless I missed the quoted statement being made against a statement similar to yours, then the arguer does not commit the strawman and you ought to be a little less hasty in claiming people commit fallacies. I think a more thoughtful response from you would be ‘Not my theology’.

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Mike April 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm

cl,

I’m not sure why I waste my time, but disbelief is a sin. If it was unrelated, or perhaps a virtue, then your comment might be relevant, and your incessant “strawman” accusations wouldn’t be cries of “wolf”.

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cl April 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Ryan M,

The strawman fallacy according to my logic books is committed when argument P distorts position Q.

Exactly. PDH’s argument distorts biblical position “the wages of sin is death.” If belief / disbelief were all that matters–and not that I’m saying PDH said exactly that–demons would be going to heaven [cf. James 2:19].

If we accept that the statement you quoted is a strawman due to it not considering the position of other Christian sects or Christian individuals, then one can commit the srawman with every argument P against position Q when argument P does not reflect the position of Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4… etc.

This is why I advocate judging the Bible whenever possible, as opposed to people’s interpretations of it. Very often, people’s interpretations don’t line up with what the Bible actually says.

Mike,

…your incessant “strawman” accusations wouldn’t be cries of “wolf”.

Get real. I haven’t used the word “strawman” on this blog in quite some time, such that your adjective of “incessant” might hold weight.

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Jeff April 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm

The Atheists on this blog are perfect examples of why Christians don’t cry and beg you non believers to put their faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s face it, how would you respond if your friend, relative or co-worker cried and begged you to put your faith in Jesus? You would think they were a nut job and probably avoid them or start up an argument on how evil God is.

There are answers to all your questions, but having a hardened heart and being un-willing to follow the evidence defeats the purpose of any kind of discussion. If you don’t want to believe, then don’t. But if you have genuine questions that you want to discuss with someone there are plenty of people willing to answer your questions without arguing or being rude.

Instead of ranting and raving about how evil God is and whatever else, why don’t spend some time with people who use to think like you but have since put their faith in Jesus Christ. What do you have to loose?

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Jeff April 8, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Another question that needs to be asked, how can a perfect and Holy God allow an unrepentant sinner into a perfect and Holy place? Also, why should he let an unbeliever into Heaven? If you live your life apart from Him, as if you don’t need him, what do you expect Him to do? Save you at the last minute?

The fact is, you have a choice and you are free to accept or deny Jesus, that’s up to you. You just need to understand that there are consequences to that choice.

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Chris April 8, 2011 at 6:17 pm

It’s very simple. As many of the comments above demostrate, Christians think non-christians chose to not believe in God. That is, on some deep level they know God exists and are voluntarily and culpably suppressing the evidence or resisting the tug of the Holy Spirit or whatever. There are no real atheists in their world. They love sin so much, or hate God so much, that they’d rather go to hell. Billions of non-christians chose to deceive themselves.

A very strange belief. Who would fry for a lie?

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Felipe Ramos April 8, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Hey Luke,
it is for you, my Deaf friend, Mike R Gonzalez, in my facebook friend post it: “I was sitting in subway on way home. I saw man was preaching with large signal said ‘Jesus tell you to repent for end of age is coming!’ The man was preaching furiously and passing tracts..what’s u think? I’m asking Christian and NonChristian’s perspective…I’m curious “. So, do you think that guy is good enough or should do harder like being forceful? Wink and :P

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Samuel Bell April 8, 2011 at 10:43 pm

There’s long been a disconnection between the “official” Christianity of formal church doctrine and apologetics and the popular Christianity of the people at large. Missionaries in developing countries have traditionally had difficulty getting the local population to drop all their traditional religious beliefs, and in practice many people combine their old folk religion with the new ideas introduced by Christianity. The same thing is common in the U.S. today. Many individual evangelicals and fundamentalists are willing to go off on speculative tangents that make the orthodox apologists cringe. Evangelical literature is filled with hectoring about how poorly the average churchgoer really understands his faith.

In its most extreme form, the popular unorthodoxy can be seen in the sympathetic reading that many people gave to “The Da Vinci Code”- I met a number of people who really seemed to take its ideas and claims seriously, as if they were real possibilities. More commonly, typical Christians on the street tend to hesitate in the face of doctrines like strict Christian exclusivity for salvation and the reality of a fiery hell of eternal physical torment. They simply fudge the issue, which I think shows something about people’s innate moral sense, wherever it may have come from. (I think it also undermines the moral arguments for the existence of God advocated by people like William Lane Craig, since it makes it difficult to simultaneously argue that people have an innate moral sense created by God and that the slaughter of the Canaanites was morally just and Gandhi went to hell).

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cl April 8, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Jeff,

Instead of ranting and raving about how evil God is and whatever else, why don’t spend some time with people who use to think like you but have since put their faith in Jesus Christ. What do you have to loose?

Well, while I wouldn’t assume this to be the case for ALL atheists on this thread, I have to say, you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s far easier and more gratifying to one’s ego to simply hurl insults. I mean, take a look at this thread for another classic example. 120+ comments of atheists calling theists “bitch” and “idiot,” yet, when it comes down to the arguments themselves, not a peep, and that DIRECTLY AFTER asking for the arguments! I mean, come on! Where’s the substance?

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cl April 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I realize many of you tire of me, but the truth is at stake, and here’s another example of how evaluating Scripture on the whole can answer some of these questions. Luke writes:

Would you just go on about your life? Would you just mention this to your friends and family in passing, and send them the occasional tract with information on the threat of the Nazis? Would you merely pray for them to see the threat and save themselves?

I think it’s safe to say that a Christian who really believes the Bible has no choice but to put prayer at the top of their arsenal. After all, John 6:65 states that nobody can come to Jesus unless the Father enables them. 2 Corinthians 4:4 states the devil blinds the minds of unbelievers. I could go on, but I think these verses capture the gist of what I’m saying.

That a person who “merely prays” doesn’t “really believe” is not a valid inference.

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Samuel Bell April 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm

In his Q&A question #41 (“A Struggling Son”), William Lane Craig makes this rather cryptic comment when advising a woman whose son is struggling with his faith:

“Those of us who have been parents know the agony you can go through with your children, especially when it comes to their spiritual development (or lack thereof). We so want them to find all the joy that knowing Christ affords, and yet so often it seems that our children just don’t act in their own best self-interest… As for what you can do, as our son once told us, it’s too late for you to do anything.”

He doesn’t provide any details about the situation he’s referring to with his son, but from the context it makes me wonder if Craig is referring to struggles with doubt within his own family. Craig, of course, explicitly denies the possibility of honestly doubting the truth of Christianity, since unbelievers are “without excuse” and “Their unbelief is culpable because it is maintained in the face of the evidence and in defiance of the Holy Spirit” (Question 91, “Is Unbelief Culpable?”). Given the harshness and certainty with which Craig consigns unbelievers to hell, I’m sure he’s rather troubled if someone within his family has admitted doubt.

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Somebody April 9, 2011 at 2:54 pm

(Any questions, e-mail me at eragonfan1011@hotmail.com or skype me at theend9833, before you post here calling me a lier or misinformed)

Religion has killed (and does) but Christianity has NEVER killed anyone.

The Spanish inquisition, the Crusades were done by Catholics (Which they are NOT true Christians)

That southern baptist guy, he’s not a true christian

JIm Jones (you know that nut job that killed some people then did the mass suicide), the Oklahoma city bomber and others like them, they are not true Christians.

All these mental cases that say “They are doing God’s work” haven’t read the bible, or misinterpreting certain books of the bible.

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Furcas April 9, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Why don’t most Christians do anything much to save non-Christians from eternal suffering?

Luke thinks it’s because they don’t really believe Christianity is true, on some level.

I think the truth is much uglier: It’s because Christians _don’t give a shit_ if billions of people will get tortured forever. They’re evil to the core, that’s all.

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cd April 10, 2011 at 11:10 am

I think Modern Era Christians look at their religion and realize that it’s essentially a self-help teaching. Which some fanatics misinterpreted and overextended into a totalist outlook in the late days of the Roman Empire.

Charles Taylor admits in “A Secular Age” that totalist Christianity manifested itself and failed in the late Middle Ages- at a minimum its theory of Nature was wrong. Its theory of human nature as profoundly and irremediably defective but magically transformable was viable during the Agrarian Age. But not so much since.

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somebody April 10, 2011 at 11:59 am

why do you think I’m a deist (like mentioned WAY up there?) God does not do ANYTHING (in our universe). God does not answer prays, cure diseases, or anything of the sort. MY endeavor into science has helped me with my faith. It’s not MY fault you have no faith, and it’s not MY job to “convert” you. You need to find God on your own (like I did). And all I am saying is this

“The truth is out there, all you need to do is take the blind-fold off”

If God was REALLY THAT picky, I would be burning in hell. Only 9% of the world would go to haven if GOd was really that anal. I believe God is more forgiving. if your an agnostic (IE; You don;t REJECT God) and you were a good person in life, you will get into heaven.

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unkleE April 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm

“If you really believed some of the people you love dearly were going to spend an eternity in hell, wouldn’t that motivate you to try harder to save them?”

Luke, I came across this late, and I haven’t read all the comments, but since you really wanted an answer from christians, I will oblige.

1. If I believed “some of the people I love dearly were going to spend an eternity in hell”, I’m sure that would worry me, it might even destroy me. But I don’t know how much harder I would try to save them, because I can’t save them, and harassing them with constant appeals would only drive them further away. I hope I would pray harder for them, but even then there is only so much one can do. But your point would be true, I would probably not live in keeping with that awful reality.

2. But I don’t believe that because I don’t believe that is what Jesus taught. Jesus spoke in Aramaic, and we don’t have his words in that language, but in Greek translation. But the Greek word for “hell” is based on the word for a rubbish tip where things that have finished their lives are destroyed. The word translated “eternal” doesn’t mean everlasting, but “in or of the age to come”, so hell isn’t everlasting but in the age to come. And Jesus said we should fear him who could “destroy” body and soul in hell, where the word translated “destroy” means exactly what it says.

So Jesus’ teaching, correctly understood, means, I believe, that those who turn away from God will get pretty much what they expect – an end to their lives and oblivion – still traumatic for some, but comfortable for others. Of course there is still whatever “judgment” means.

So I still feel upset that this is what will happen to people I love, but that is their choice, I try to tell them if I have the opportunity and live in a way that shows an alternative. What else can I do? Whether they have another chance after they die is beyond my knowing.

So the dilemma isn’t, for me, nearly as bad as the one you pose, but still not easy. Of course if you wanted to ease my pain, you know what to do! : )

Best wishes.

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Matt April 12, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Luke,

What would your Christian family have to do to prove they really believed you were going to hell? Should they kidnap you and try to brainwash you? I don’t have strong soteriological views like I used to, but when I did I really agonized over my friends who were “unsaved”, it kept me up at night but whenever I brought it up we would just get into an argument and it would go nowhere. It’s ridiculous to be accused of either not believing or not loving my friends because I won’t nag them to death. Eventually I decided the best thing to do was to just be a loving example to them and be ready to answer any questions they had and pray for the opportunity to reach them, otherwise I think we would have stopped talking. While I don’t know your family I know the type of thing they are going through, so don’t sell their faith short if their not constantly nagging you. You must have had friends who lost their faith while you were still a believer (and you claim to have been a very serious one). What did you do with them?

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jeff April 17, 2011 at 9:53 am

IMIRIh 41 BRING forth your IDOLS did they PREACH to you see they can’t speak they can’t DO ANYTHING all they do is cause confusion. spalms 115 and spalms 135 thier IDOLS are FALSE cant speak can’t hear cant smell and those that make them shall become like them. Jeremiah 10 they nail their IDOL down like a scarecrow it can’t move can’……t speak can’t move must be carried these are nothing but the WORK of CON men.john 10 jesus christ sais his sheep hear his voice and another voice thy will not follow and if another person tries to preach to them they WILL FLEE from him. jeremiah 5 the priests bear rule on their own authority what will you do when your judged my word is not inside them. Now here is the kicker john 5 son of man voice goes back in time mathew 16 jesus christ claims to be the son of man.‎1 cor2 mind of CHRIST preached internally and john 16 sais the spirit of truth comes in the future. Ezekiel 13 lying prophets of ISRAEL my word is not inside them saying god sais god sais god sais wrote hoping mankind would CONFIRM their WORDS. all of this is EASILY verifiable

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joben April 30, 2011 at 2:54 pm

This may not be a direct response to a question but rather a few thoughts from someone who calls himself a Christian… try not to have any presuppositions about me until I’ve finished as it is easy to group people along with their self-proclaimed title…

I consider myself a thinker.. my mom is a Methodist pastor so I was definitely raised assuming certain things about a God that I was taught by my parents and other adults in the church that I was raised in in a small town in southeast Tennessee… If you now have assumed that I am a conservative Christian Republican who thinks liberals are hippies and baby killers than you did not do as i asked in the beginning to not presuppose things about me. :) anyway… I’m now 22 and about to graduate from college with a degree in religion and will be attending graduate school (seminary) to live a life of foolishness believing in a divine being that is defined by his (don’t literally think it’s a male just using him/his/he as a generic pronoun) love for his creation and his desire for his creation, specifically humans, to love him back by treating all his creation with love and respect. I’m not sure what my occupation will be at this point… I’d love to work with underprivileged youth (maybe in a church/maybe not)… I really don’t know… but I’d like to touch on my beliefs about God… I do believe that there was a divine creator that created because he is defined by love and love needs something to love so he created giving his creation the free choice to love him back or not love him… the point of the book of Genesis ch.1 to me is not that God created in seven days and that the first man and first woman ate fruit. I say that because the Bible was written by humans who had flaws like we all do so I don’t hold everything in the Bible to be end all and be all… rather one of the more important ways to get a glimpse of the nature and character of the divine. I’m not well-read, studied or smart at all for that matter when it comes to science but I have zero problem agreeing with the evolution of things. I do believe it started with a creator but after that I am willing to accept anything science-related. Still assuming that the nature of God is love, the rest of the story that the Bible tells is God’s attempt to redeem the situation in which human’s have continually chose not to love back by not loving the creation. the story of Jesus is God sending himself in human form (I know that sounds like blind unintelligent believing and it is but I can’t help but truly feel and believe that that is true) to show what true love really is. I don’t know what I believe about heaven and hell but I think lots of people experience hell right here and now and need someone or something to help them. I have lots more thoughts so if you’re interested in talking while I listen or vice versa please email me. The book of James says that true religion is helping the orphan and the widow (I think that’s paraphrased because I am too lazy to look it up. I think it’s ch. 1 or 2. of course by the orphan and the widow it can be assumed that it’s meaning that true religion is helping those that can’t help themselves. the book of James also says that it is no use to pray for someone if you aren’t clothing them or feeding them (another paraphrase from ch.1 or 2) and by this it’s just meaning that religious people should be meeting the physical needs of others.

I hope that I have come across as someone who, although I don’t know much about science or maybe even near as much about the Bible that people do on here, is willing to talk and listen and recognizes the problems with religious people who are dumb and just don’t understand anything. Just try n0t to always generalize as Ghandi said that he loves Christ but not the Christians. Don’t judge the divine being, if there is one, and Jesus by those who claim they believe in them. Thanks for listening.

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Jen May 9, 2011 at 1:06 pm

definitely good points, but from the initial blog post, I’m glad my Christian loved ones don’t actually believe I’m going to go to hell.. “If you really believed some of the people you love dearly were going to spend an eternity in hell, wouldn’t that motivate you to try harder to save them?” Wouldn’t that be annoying? I don’t know about any of you, but trying harder to save me might make eternity in hell seem like a piece of heaven.

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jeff May 29, 2011 at 3:11 am

IMIRIh 41 BRING forth your IDOLS did they PREACH to you see they can’t speak they can’t DO ANYTHING all they do is cause confusion. spalms 115 and spalms 135 thier IDOLS are FALSE cant speak can’t hear cant smell and those that make them shall become like them. Jeremiah 10 they nail their IDOL down like a scarecrow it can’t move can’…t speak can’t move must be carried these are nothing but the WORK of CON men.john 10 jesus christ sais his sheep hear his voice and another voice thy will not follow and if another person tries to preach to them they WILL FLEE from him. jeremiah 5 the priests bear rule on their own authority what will you do when your judged my word is not inside them. Now here is the kicker john 5 son of man voice goes back in time mathew 16 jesus christ claims to be the son of man.‎1 cor2 mind of CHRIST preached internally and john 16 sais the spirit of truth comes in the future. Ezekiel 13 lying prophets of ISRAEL my word is not inside them saying god sais god sais god sais wrote hoping mankind would CONFIRM their WORDS. all of this is EASILY verifiable.

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John Barbour May 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I just stumbled upon your post and know that you may not even read this. But I’ll try anyway. 1st, That’s a really good question. “If they really believed that, wouldn’t I see some serious mourning? Some pleading? Some great distress?”

My question, how do you know there isn’t distress that you don’t see? Maybe they are crying themselves to sleep- pleading in prayer. Do you know for sure that they aren’t? Also, maybe they don’t know what to say anymore. My daughter continues to drink and smoke etc. – I’m concerned but what else can I say? She has made her choices. I’m grieved and she knows it but she must decide. Alcoholism isn’t good for atheists or Christians.

“But it’s not just my parents. It’s Christians in general. I had these questions even when I was a Christian.”

This is even a better question. I feel the same way sometimes. I think that it may come from a latent Calvinism that has deep roots in our American culture. There is almost a resignation or fatalistic view that comes about at times. Some of it is personalities- people deal with life’s stresses in different ways. But it resigns itself to the fact that God knows who will be saved and all will work out in the end.

This is so different from the Christianity that is seen overseas among people that do not grow up with deterministic philosophies. The problem with your atheism is that it too is has deterministic tendencies. It usually takes the form of biological or genetic determinism or economic determinism (Marxism). I don’t pretend to have the answers but I know that denying God solves nothing. It will lead to its own despair.

BTW: Hell is not a place where you get tortured. Jesus is using graphic language that points to something that is happening internally (it’s a parable). There is weeping – great sorrow and grief. This results simply from the fact that all the good times in life are over and there is no way of going back. Just like I can’t become 20 again and have a 20 year old type sexcapade. It’s over. I’m old now. In Hell you are forever old. And there is gnashing of teeth. This is anger -at yourself for being so stupid. There are no demons torturing you. You do it to yourself just like in this life sometimes witnessed in mental institutions.

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Ferahtsu July 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Ferahtsu,

They can still feel like they’re true, which is what we really care about, anyway.

Non emotional “feelings” aside, what good are beliefs to an individual when there’s a complete lack of supporting evidence to them?

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the chronic July 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm

what can i say? i guess they aren’t very “christian”.

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glenn September 26, 2011 at 7:16 pm

If you really want “understanding” then stop wasting time on this blog and go and ask them (your parents).

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chris September 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm

My mom and dad where both raised in religious family!!! They had me make my own descion! turns out they both dont believe either

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John Barbour September 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm

That’s the problem. You are JUST WASTING PEOPLE’S TIME THEN.

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Joao October 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

I was going to enter the fray on the still-believer side, but I think you guys can out-think and out-talk me. But the conversation here is good and mostly non-snarky (a rarity on athiest sites re: believers and believers sites about atheists!). I wonder to what extent we become our own PR people to ourselves, retro-fitting fine sounding explanations to our “conclusions”. There’s a lot going on when someone moves to or fro- faith. I’d really like to hear a reasonable, respectful conversation between two thoughtful people moving in opposite directions. We just pass each other on our way to a new affinity group. So…..God bless all (can I say that). You might enjoy C.S. Lewis “The Great Divorce” on the hell question.

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Mel October 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm

I don’t happen to belong to a faith that believes atheists will go to hell, but I find your question interesting.

The thing is, if I did worry for your immortal soul, my reaction would not be express judgement or panic directly to your face, because it seems counterproductive. It would make you uncomfortable with faith, which would make you less likely to rejoin it. Everyone hears about really zealous Christians who are constantly talking about hellfire, and no one wants to sit and listen to someone like that long enough to be convinced. Everyone hears about parents who manipulate or threaten their children to try to keep them in the faith, and the story usually ends with, “And then we never talked again.” If anything, it cuts off a family relationship that they may think could lead you back to God. Of course, I don’t know your family, so I can’t really speak for them specifically.

I think the Christian world is growing less zealous, not because we think our beliefs are unworthy of zeal, but because it just doesn’t accomplish anything, and makes a lot of people unhappy along the way.

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Nathan October 26, 2011 at 6:59 pm

This is such a great post, really it is. And that’s coming from a christian (sort of). I’ve adopted my own beliefs on Christianity, that actually oppose the beliefs of other Christians. Its sort of like my own denomination, but instead of nondenominational, i just like to call it non-conventional. I actually don’t believe everything that’s written in the bible. There are parts of the bible that i do believe, such as Jesus being the messiah and dying on the cross, but there are plenty of things i don’t believe as well. For instance, i don’t think anyone goes to hell. I also don’t believe God instigated wars, which apparently happened a lot in the old testament. I worship a God that embodies love, not wrath. That’s what i think god is; love. This is one verse that i wholeheartedly believe in. 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Believing in God is faith, which isn’t nearly as important as love, so i really don’t think faith would determine whether you go to heaven or not. I love what you said about saving your friends and family from eternal suffering, because it just shows how much love is in your heart for people. I think you’re going to heaven for that. I think anyone who has any love for anyone goes to heaven. And for those select few people who don’t love anyone, i believe God would accept them into heaven as well, just because he loves them. I also believe in a heaven on earth, and that we experience heaven when we experience love. You’re probably asking “So why do you believe Jesus died on the cross if everyone goes to heaven?” Though i don’t believe people go to hell, i do believe everyone experiences it. I think hell is just any kind of suffering. I found out a while back the meaning of the word compassion. The prefix com means together, and passion actually means to suffer. So compassion means to suffer together. I think Jesus died on the cross to suffer together with us, and express compassion. I have a friend who was recently sentenced twelve years in prison. She’s a minor. She was hanging out with the wrong people, at the wrong place, and at the wrong time, and got involved in a very gruesome murder. I firmly believe that she’s going to heaven. Whenever i hear of a christian condemning someone, i think of her, and how pissed off id be if they condemned her. Your parents make me think of her, and i apologize for how they’ve treated you upon finding out that you’re Atheist. You deserve love just like anyone else. You said this post wasn’t to attack christian’s, but just to understand. I hope that you can understand that not all Christians are the same, and some believe in different god’s from others. I just believe in a God of love, and whether you believe in a god or not, i think you’re awesome just for loving people.

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Jeff October 26, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Nathan,

I hope it’s alright with you if I do love everyone, including you, but still think you’re as dumb as a stump. This “pick and choose” form of “Christianity” that you think you practice might as well be atheism. You obviously have no objective criteria by which you decide which parts of the Bible are inspired and authoritative other than whether they match your own notions about God. So, in essence, you’ve made up a God who does not match the God Whom the Bible describes, as He has attributes which you find objectionable so you just mentally excise them from your book.

How is this different from worshiping Adolph Hitler, but just refusing to believe the parts about him that you disagree with? I’m sure he had some good qualities you could embrace and affirm, such as kindness to his dog, or something. In truth it’s even worse than that, because most Christians are wise enough to at least realize your position is inherently flawed and inconsistent so they at least try to demonstrate how the God that Scripture does declare is consistently loving, but misunderstood absent a fuller context and scholarly understanding.
Only a few of us successfully make that defense, as there is admittedly a great deal of Biblical material with which to easily form a flawed understanding of God, but at least we’re not stuck with the wholly untenable and intellectually barren position of making up a new “god” using only certain Scriptures and discarding others based on no scholarly criteria whatsoever. Come on Nathan, get a grip! That’s pathetic. Please stop calling yourself any sort of “Christian.” You do a disservice to the rest of them.

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Nathan October 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Jeff,

I get what you’re saying, and I’ve had this explained to me several times. You are absolutely right, I am not consistent whatsoever. That’s purposeful. I’m young, only 16 years old, and in my youth I want to remain as a blank canvas that can still be painted with any color. When you make the decision to be consistent in a belief, you close your mind to any others, and I’m too young to do that. I think every belief deserves to be pondered and explored, as long as they are not harmful to others. As for my criteria of how I choose what to believe in the bible, its really simple, I just base it on however it resonates in my heart. And yes, I know that sounds really vague and cliche, but regardless, that’s how I process it. I never knew the authors of the bible personally, but i do know that they were human. And I think everyone pretty much agrees that humans are imperfect, so who’s to say that their writings are perfect? What criteria did the authors of the old testament have for their beliefs? God’s word? I can say the same, but the thing is, you could never logically prove who would be right. I can’t logically prove that my beliefs are right, so I don’t base them on logic. If they were in any sense logical they would be either facts or testable theories, not beliefs. And since they are based on opinion and preference, and not logic, they are open to change and evolve. Also, because I’m so open to other beliefs, I’m able to be more communal with a diversity of people, and diversity and community are two things that I value dearly. I apologize if I’ve offended you and your beliefs by calling myself a Christian, I didn’t realize the term was so exclusive. Atheist, Christian, Agnostic, Buddhist, regardless of what you’d call me, labels don’t define beliefs. They just give them a name.

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Andy October 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Nathan and Jeff,
You both have made points that are very valid and sincere. However, I must side with Jeff in that the pick and choose idea of religion sort of defeats the purpose of devoting yourself to it. People always want the best scenario for themselves and others and by limiting what to believe to certain parts is just hearing what you want to hear regardless of where the truth may actually lie. Nathan, you are still fairly young and I greatly (I cannot express how greatly) admire your openness to new ideas. It is a privilege many don’t get before they close their minds off. No one can truly know what’s right but instead they have to feel it and convincing yourself should be effortless. You have over two years worth of posts to embrace on just this one page alone. Even I have gone through only so many, but it is rich with many viewpoints and insightful comments that are sometimes difficult to find on this topic on the internet. Thanks for the great comments you two, and everyone else who has posted.

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Nathan October 27, 2011 at 12:05 am

I actually hadn’t thought of that. It sort of is just listening to what i want to hear, and that certainly gives me a lot to think about. Jeff, I’m pretty sure that’s the same point you were trying to make, and i apologize for not recognizing that from the beginning.
Andy,
I really appreciate your input, and your encouragement means more than you know. You may just be an internet stranger, but your words will probably stick with me for a very long time.

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unkleE October 27, 2011 at 12:57 am

Interesting discussion.

I’ve read several scientists who have said that they often have an “intuition” about an area of science they are researching before they can actually prove it, and only later does the data and hypothesis come together to provide the proof.

I don’t see why it can’t be the same here. Nathan has an intuition about God and he’s open to changing it or to having it confirmed. At 16, that sounds pretty reasonable to me. I, on the other hand, am 66, with half a century more of life under my belt. I agree with a lot that Nathan says, but I reckon I can support that belief with plenty of evidence. The intuitions can be shown to be more reasonable (in my opinion) than other views.

So I encourage you too, Nathan, to stay open-minded, trust your intuitions without being dogmatic, and don’t allow people to talk you out of them too quickly. If you do that (and ask God to show you the truth), I reckon you’ll find it OK.

Best wishes.

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Jeff October 27, 2011 at 4:16 am

Nathan and all,

I understand more now that I read you are 16, but I also want to suggest that you know absolutely nothing about the God of the Bible outside of what you learned in the Bible. It doesn’t make logical sense to arbitrarily decide, based on “what resonates” with you just Who that God is, any more than you can decide who anyone is or is not. It’s not up to you. If God is real at all He simply is Who He is, and what you do or do not think about Him has no bearing on it whatsoever.
Perhaps a better approach is to read what the best minds on both sides of the issue of Biblical inspiration have to say regarding the issue. There are brilliant people, with cogent and comprehensive arguments that may help you decide whether you believe the Scriptures are true.

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unkleE October 27, 2011 at 4:20 am

Jeff said: “you know absolutely nothing about the God of the Bible outside of what you learned in the Bible”

This seems to be an over-strong statement to me. If the God of the Bible exists, then he is personal and communicative. It is entirely possible that he could communicate to people in all sorts of ways – not least through our intuitions and thoughts. There are many documented examples of him apparently doing just that, and much more. The Bible isn’t the only way to know God!

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Jeff October 27, 2011 at 4:34 am

unkleE,

Good word. The point should have been stated like this: The Bible provides an objective source, outside of our gut feelings, which can vary from person to person, to verify, or corroborate that what you are feeling is not overly influenced by your philosophical influences and environment. I thought, however, that I was making my point to a 16 year old who had already stipulated that he was making irrational decisions. Since his “truth” seemed to be entirely subjective, yet somehow (by his own admission) based on the Bible, what I said applied correctly to his situation so far as I can tell.

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Mel October 27, 2011 at 6:40 am

In my experience, the bible seems to be meant for subjective interpretation. It is full of apparent contradictions, and you can use it prove anything if you twist it around enough. A purely intellectual examination of it would leave one aware of infinite interpretations and unsure which to believe. I think there is an art to balancing the objective and subjective. One has to choose an interpretation to the best one’s ability to know what is morally right in the moment. Intuition really helps with that part. On the other hand, it’s good to keep studying the bible, stay open-minded, and hold the alternatives and contradictions in one’s mind and be ready to learn from them when the opportunity comes. I certainly believe there is absolute truth in the bible, but I don’t think any of us know it.

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Jeff October 27, 2011 at 11:40 am

Mel,

We’re certainly not completely privy to the entire mystery of the mind of God, but to hold that the Bible does not express a fairly clear picture, or teaching of Who God is is just not accurate. The few seemingly contradictory portions have nothing at all to do with such a teaching and, it can be argued, do not even clearly and certainly violate the philosophical laws of non-contradiction. i.e. there are plenty of solid scholars who make strong cases for an inerrant book, at least so far as doctrine goes. Now that doctrine may or may not be completely bogus, but it is settled and agreed upon at the core of the fundamentals by a widespread majority of Christendom.

That’s not the same as writing that I (personally) agree with it, but again, my case is against someone who is writing that they do believe the Bible, but feel they should get to choose which parts are accurate or not based on gut feelings and not on any other evidentiary criteria.

The problem is that the Bible purports to present a person in history. I decide that I believe that it does, but then also decide I am going to ferret out truth from falsehood regarding that person sans any sound reasoning criteria, or sound research of the evidence.

It’s like saying I believe in George Washington, but I don’t believe he was the president, or that he crossed the Delaware. Why? That just doesn’t “feel” right to me. I should have to marshal and present some rather compelling data if I am going to reject the historical Washington in favor of my imaginary one. It shouldn’t be enough to say I learned about George in a history book which I find trustworthy when reporting facts I like, but wholly unsatisfactory in reporting the facts I disagree with. Why is the text accurate in some places and not in others?

Even Christians should have to practice internal consistency.

Nathan’s scholarship is in question, not his heart. I’m simply trying to help him be a better student.

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Jeff October 27, 2011 at 11:47 am

Nathan,
That being said (or rather written) I also don’t believe for a second that there is an accurate understanding of Scripture that would condemn your friend to hell for being, as you put it, “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Even if she participated in the murder you wrote about she is not beyond the grace, forgiveness and love of God, if He is exactly as portrayed by Scripture. You don’t have to ignore parts of the Bible, so much as understand that they weave a cohesive and complete picture of Who He is. it is a biblical distortion to think that a God of judgement is not a God of love. They are not mutually exclusive attributes.

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matt October 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm

none of this applies since religious people are not capable of logic. otherwise they wouldn’t be religious

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Jeff October 27, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Matt,

Your statement is not supported by any facts in evidence. Do you offer it as somehow exempt from needing supportive data? Many of the best philosophers at leading universities and institutions throughout the world are “religious.” Maybe you should take another stab at whatever it is you are trying to convey. Someone’s belief may, in fact, be ultimately proven wrong, but that does not mean it was illogical. In fact cohesive systems of thought may be ultimately proven wrong without violating any of the laws of logic.

Educated atheists usually do not go so far as to suggest those they disagree with are all illogical. Are you even roughly familiar with the laws and principles of logic? I only ask because I have debated many of the top atheistic thinkers and have never had one of them baldly make such an ignorant and audacious statement.

It’s patently absurd even if one only allows for the natural growth of religious thought in response to intense opposition over hundreds of years. In other words even if there was not a god of any sort religion and theology could still be coherent, non-contradictory, and logical. I suspect in fact that most thinking Christians have a system of thought that comports with the laws and principles of logical thought.

Citing which rules they violate can you give concrete examples where they do not?

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Chris October 28, 2011 at 2:54 am

I’ve always thought that those who evangelize, do so in order to convince themselves more than anyone they are trying to convert. Those that truly believe don’t need to convince other people. They are at peace with themselves, as I believe most atheists are.

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Jeff October 28, 2011 at 5:25 am

Chris,
Of course another, perhaps more reasonable view, is that “those who evangelize” have a true concern for other people who (in their view) are lost and without hope in the world, and doomed in the world to come.
I do have to agree with you that many of them are “not at peace with themselves.” I’m not sure there’s any empirical evidence to prove which group is MORE at peace, etc., but I will grant you that there is some angst and sorrow involved in “knowing” that many people you know, and countless others you do not, have rejected the One you “know” is their only hope. That makes common sense, but while I agree with you based on that I’m not sure the polls and data support our conclusion.
I’m assuming that (like me) you’re just going with your gut felling, or anecdotal “evidence” on such a statement. It’s always amusing to me how many atheists, who often consider themselves scientific, are very willing to suspend scientific methods when it comes to blanket statements about Christians. Just an observation – not a criticism.

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Jeff October 28, 2011 at 5:57 am

Please allow me to correct my typo. I wrote:

I’m assuming that (like me) you’re just going with your gut felling,

Of course I actually meant “feeling,” not “felling.” Yes I’m a tad bit OCD.

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Joao November 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Chris….re: “I’ve always thought that those who evangelize, do so in order to convince themselves (etc.) ” I agree that there are many such. But I’ve also known some who evangelize because they love God and care about the well being of others. These may be in the minority….but I hope you can meet one. ( and I wish I were that kind of Christian, alas). it’s really something to know such a person who seems truly to have your best interests at heart. I could try to describe it….but I think it’s got to be experienced in a real human connection.

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The Massiah November 6, 2011 at 7:10 am

They were seatbelts……..because its the law! (well it is here in the UK anyway)
Question for atheists: If there is nothing after life, why waste your time mocking theists and trying to prove your point, you should make the most of every moment, its all over for you soon if your right.

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unkleE November 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm

You are surely right. The original question was shallow, and your tongue-in-cheek question in response matches it. But couldn’t we ask a more serious question?

If there is no God, and human beings are the result of unguided natural selection, then people are religious because it gives them some survival advantage, as evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson says. Perhaps religion helps unite societies, to everyone’s benefit, or perhaps it gives individuals a sense of purpose and peace.

So, atheists, if they believe they are right, choose to try to take away something that is of great benefit to other people, something that has been built in to us by evolution. How can they justify this? Isn’t it one of the nastiest things they could do to someone short of actually killing them? Do they ever think about this?

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like i would tell you November 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Wow. I am a strong christian, and I’m only in high school! Truthfully- you are right. Why don’t we? Thank you for sharing this. We need to grow bold with our faith. Christians have become too comfortable with being comfortable.

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mark November 14, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Most ‘Christians’ are just like you were before you gave up on your ‘faith.’ They are not real Christians and they don’t really believe. The difference between you and them is that they are not out of the closet yet. Those who really do believe, and rightly, understand that nothing and nobody can get a soul to dodge hell except God himself. And so these real Christians who care about loved ones on the way to hell can use means that God might use to save a soul, like prayer and evangelism. But they can do little else. They must live lives too, and so they go on doing the works that God wants them to accomplish. They put on their seatbelts and get on with it.

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Anon Atheist November 16, 2011 at 3:09 am

Reply to unklE: (Sorry if I have misinterpreted part of/all of what you have said, but I can’t see any other way of interpreting it)

‘people are religious because it gives them some survival advantage[...] “Perhaps religion helps unite societies, to everyone’s benefit, or perhaps it gives individuals a sense of purpose and peace.”

I understand that religion helps people through difficult times and praying for people and all that stuff can help people (mentally, obviously not physically) and gives them a sense of purpose and peace, but the ‘evolutionary biologist’ you quoted is rather odd: Yes, religion helps unite certain people – but it also helps cause wars between societies and countries, most lasting hundreds or even thousands of years. All because the religion they believe in is different to someone else’s. So clearly this is not ‘to everyone’s benefit’.

Furthermore, you said:
‘So, atheists, if they believe they are right, choose to try to take away something that is of great benefit to other people, something that has been built in to us by evolution.’

What do you mean when you say ‘evolution’ here, because I don’t think religion can be passed on or built into us trough evolution.

Moreover:

‘How can they justify this? [taking away a religion and/or belief that is of great benefit to other people] Isn’t it one of the nastiest things they could do to someone short of actually killing them? Do they ever think about this?’

Well I did think about this. And my initial thoughts were: ‘Yes. Yes you are right, I think that is a nasty thing to do (maybe not the nastiest, I think the nastiest would be to ignore/prejudge/insult/hate/abuse/torture/rape/sacrifice someone in the name of god, but that’s another story). But then I thought: is this not the exact same thing that many ‘good’ Christians do to Athiests? When they preach the ‘word of god’ to an Atheist, or tell them ‘I will pray for you’, or when they tell them that their belief is wrong, and there really is a god. Is that not trying to take away the Atheist’s belief that there is no god?

And finally, that brought me back to the original question:

‘If you really believed some of the people you love dearly were going to spend an eternity in hell, wouldn’t that motivate you to try harder to save them?’

So the answer must be because the Christians don’t want to ‘try to take away something that is of great benefit to other people’, which is in this case the Atheist’s belief in no god and no heaven or hell.

NOT!

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unkleE November 16, 2011 at 4:18 am

Reply to unklE: (Sorry if I have misinterpreted part of/all of what you have said, but I can’t see any other way of interpreting it)

G’day Anon. Thanks for the message, I’m not sure if you misunderstood, but I appreciate the concern.

I understand that religion helps people through difficult times and praying for people and all that stuff can help people (mentally, obviously not physically)

Interesting, but there is evidence that it may help them physically as well – see Healing miracles and God.

but the ‘evolutionary biologist’ you quoted is rather odd

I’m not sure why you think this, for it is standard natural selection – if a characteristic has survived, then it must have enabled those with that characteristic to survive better. Religion is prevalent, so it seems likely it must have helped people.

Yes, religion helps unite certain people – but it also helps cause wars between societies and countries, most lasting hundreds or even thousands of years. All because the religion they believe in is different to someone else’s. So clearly this is not ‘to everyone’s benefit’.

This also is interesting. You say this so confidently (I guess you have heard it said, and believed the people who said it), but the evidence is quite contrary. A number of studies and a number of experts have found that only a small percentages of wars are caused by religion – see Does religion cause wars. Yes, religion can help wars to occur, but so can many other things, and religion is way down on the list. And it can also help prevent wars.

What do you mean when you say ‘evolution’ here, because I don’t think religion can be passed on or built into us trough evolution.

A particular religion can’t, but the propensity to believe can, perhaps.But this wasn’t what I was saying. I was simply saying that religious belief seems to have helped people and societies to survive.

is this not the exact same thing that many ‘good’ Christians do to Athiests? When they preach the ‘word of god’ to an Atheist, or tell them ‘I will pray for you’, or when they tell them that their belief is wrong, and there really is a god. Is that not trying to take away the Atheist’s belief that there is no god?

The difference is that I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that atheism has survival value in an evolutionary sense. I’m sorry if the behaviour of some christians has hurt you in some way. But christians are trying to offer atheists something that will benefit them, whereas atheism does not seem to offer many benefits to the christian.

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peacerenity November 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm

I must admit that I’ve never understood the particular atheist argument of “People do bad things in the name of God, therefore Christianity is bad/false.”

True, people have done bad things in the name of God: the Crusades, the Inquisition, jihad, etc. However, it seems that the 20th century hasn’t been a good century for atheists in this regard, either. Abuses of Darwinism lead to the Holocaust (the Jews were “an inferior race”, etc.) as well as systematic sterilization of many minorities here in the US. The USSR and China (nations of state-mandated atheism) killed and oppressed millions.

I’m not suggesting that atheism or Darwinism lead to genocide. I’m saying that abuses and misunderstandings of them can lead to great evil, just like Christianity or any other religion. People have also done great evil in the name of workers’ rights, freedom, the Constitution, etc. Anything that people believe strongly in can be twisted to bad ends.

On the particular issue of the post above, I think the lack of fervency in many Christians displays a lack of true conviction, but a lot of times it just reflects an inability to face the implications of their beliefs on a daily basis, something that atheists are also guilty of.

For instance, Richard Dawkins has said “there is at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” If he truly believes that there is no such thing as good and evil, then why has he made it his life’s goal to preach against religious indoctrination of children, the immorality of certain Christian teachings, etc.? Do you think that he’s actually thinking “Well, I don’t believe that it’s REALLY wrong, I just prefer that they not be indoctrinated, kind of like I prefer vanilla over chocolate”? Seems kind of a stretch.

The implications that nothing is good, evil, or has any meaning and that we’re all consigned to oblivion no matter what we do are just as frightening as the fundamentalist conception of Hell. True, there are some atheists who do believe in objective morality (Sam Harris, for instance), but they haven’t given any satisfactory explanation as to why “whatever achieves maximum human flourishing” is any more objectively right or valuable than “whatever achieves maximum cow flourishing”. It honestly seems like an atheist version of trying to escape the consequences of their beliefs.

So I think it’s a bit rich to act like this sort of sticking our heads in the sand is entirely one-sided.

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peacerenity November 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I should also note that Dawkins has a book called “Religion: Root of All Evil.” Seems sort of contradictory with his “there is no evil” assertion, don’t you think?

Man’s capacity for self-delusion is endless, and that also applies to atheists.

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John Barbour November 17, 2011 at 5:42 pm

peacerenity,
I can’t help noticing how well you expressed things in your last comment. You truly have a gift. You are clear and succinct and purposeful – all good qualities. I want to encourage you in this.

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peacerenity November 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Thank you, John Barbour. I appreciate it. I see from your blog that you’re a Ron Paul fan. I am as well.

If any atheists on this site still check this column, I have a question that I was hoping you could answer. The atheists on this site seem to be more thoughtful and less aggressive than most internet atheists, so I’d like to take advantage of the opportunity.

It has to do with atheist morality. So far as I can tell, there seem to be two main atheist morality camps, which I’ll call atheist nihilism and atheist humanism. They are defined, for our purposes, by their rejection of objective morality or their affirmation of it.

Atheist nihilism can be epitomized by the Richard Dawkins quote I previously provided. It was also adopted by Bertrand Russell. It says essentially that the universe is a meaningless, heartless place, and that human morality is an illusion that we evolved as a species because it helped further our existence through increased social cohesion. That good and evil are illusions.

This to me seems to be the more consistent of the two camps, but atheists who believe in it can’t seem to face the harsh reality day in and day out, and so fall back into traditional language of good and evil. It’s almost like the philosophers who say that we are really just brains in vats, or that a dog is worth more than a child with Downs syndrome. One wonders if, when it comes down to it, they really believe it or are just trying to make an academic point.

The second camp is atheist humanism. As far as I understand it, it actually celebrates the absence of God because now mankind and human experience can be celebrated for its own sake. Kindness, peace, and love are good things in and of themselves, and war, bigotry, and hatred are bad things in and of themselves, without the need for any “Man in the Sky” to lay down the rules. Sam Harris, Richard Carrier, and most atheists seem to adopt this point of view.

However, the critique both atheist nihilists and theists would make of atheist humanists is that without any God to set a universal standard, you can’t have a true right and wrong. Morality can be an evolutionary advantage (under naturalistic evolution) or a social convention (under anthropological conceptions of society) that has persisted because it is useful, but it is ultimately an illusion that has only persisted because humans/societies without it haven’t been as successful as those with it.

True, love and peace may contribute to “maximum human flourishing”, but who is to say that human flourishing is any more objectively valuable than cow flourishing, or even that flourishing is objectively preferable to extinction? It may be preferable for us as human beings (obviously humans care more about human flourishing than they do cow flourishing), but objective morality has never been defined by its convenience.

So my question is this: which camp do you subscribe to? And am I missing something?

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John Barbour November 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I think Bertrand Russell would have thought himself as a humanist. Even Richard Dawkins sees himself as a good humanist person. This goes along with what the Proverbs say,” Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (20:6) and “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD ponders the hearts.” (21:2)

The philosophy that best matches your second camp is Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism”. Most atheists on the web either subscribe to her ideas or have been heavily influenced by them. It’s very strong among computer geeks. I think Jimmy Wales is one and many Ron Paul supporters are.

You are very right, as humans we are loathe to think about the implications of our positions. Atheists are especially this way because as you point out the implications are unthinkable. RC Sproul wrote a good book years ago entitled “If there is a God, why are there Atheists?” I recommend it. In the book, he uses Freud’s insight regarding trauma and repression. The idea of a Holy God – omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent can be a very traumatic thought. Because of this men suppress this truth about God and create their own deities.

Atheists are very sophisticated people so the “gods” they create are often couched in scientific language like “humanism” or “natural law’ or “evolution” or “objectivism” or “reality” or “deep time” or “big history” or “the cosmos is all there is” etc. The issue has always been idolatry. This was also Paul’s Divine insight in Romans 1.

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John Barbour November 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm

What about these good sounding deities? “Democracy” and “Freedom”.

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peacerenity November 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Bertrand Russell had this to say about Man: “…his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms, that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins — all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand.”

It sounds a lot like Richard Dawkins: “there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”

In these quotes, they both affirm that life is ultimately pointless, that the accomplishments of man are only temporary, and that his loves and beliefs (I guess evil and good would fall under beliefs) are essentially just chemical cocktail illusions. We love truth and justice much like we love ice cream.

But then they go right back to preaching against the evils of war, the goodness of knowledge, etc. It’s as if they’ve looked into the abyss and can’t bear to face it. They’d rather continue to use words that they know have no ultimate meaning. This doesn’t automatically mean that they’re wrong, by any means, but it does go to show that the implications are pretty staggering.

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peacerenity November 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

To me, one of the biggest mistakes that a lot of Christians and atheists make is making the conversation one of “religion vs. science.” I don’t blame atheists for making this argument as much as I do Christians. Too many Christians take the view of “evolution and Christianity can’t both be right, so I need to disprove evolution” or “the theory of a multiverse and Christianity can’t both be right, so I need to disprove the theory of a multiverse.” I don’t agree with this viewpoint, and I’ll try to explain why.

For instance, let us suppose that Stephen Hawking is right, and that M-theory is totally true, and that our universe created itself out of the vacuum energy of a larger multiverse, just like virtual particles do in our own universe (I’m ignoring the fact that there is currently very little evidence for his theory). Hawking explains the extreme fine-tuning of our universe for life with the Anthropic Principle. Essentially, the multiverse spawned many different universes until it created one that created human life, which is the one we observe, since we wouldn’t exist in a non-life-permitting universe. Hawking then goes out on a limb and says that this eliminates the need for God.

But I disagree, even if his theory is true. Where, then, did the multiverse come from? Did it itself have a beginning? Then we’re right back to where we started–we’ve just moved the starting line of “the universe.”

Some say that the multiverse is infinitely old, or that it was itself spawned from another multiverse, which came from another multiverse, and so on endlessly. But there seem to be a few big problems with this idea. First, the growth of entropy implies an absolute beginning–this was the downfall of the “oscillating universe” theory that had our universe continually expanding and contracting in an endless cycle.

Second, statistically a life-permitting universe would not be nearly this large. It’s statistically much more likely that a life-permitting universe would be the size of a solar system, since there’s more room for error with smaller things. Taken to its natural conclusion, a multiverse theory makes the most likely possibility that we are essentially “brains in vats”: brains that came together through the random collisions of molecules with only an illusion of an external universe. As unlikely as this seems, it’s actually statistically much more likely than the apparent fine-tuning of our current universe, which is calculated at 10^10(500)–10 to 10 to the 500th power.

Third, the Hilbert’s Hotel thought experiment shows that it’s impossible that an infinitely old multiverse created our finitely old universe that’s about 14 billion years old. Think of it this way: let’s say the multiverse created our universe at a certain point in time. At that point, the multiverse is infinitely old. A trillion years before it created our universe, the multiverse was also already infinitely old, and thus statistically it would have already created our universe, based on probabilities. Same goes for a kajillion years before. Basically, no matter when an infinitely old multiverse creates our universe, statistically it should have already created our universe. It’s like trying to count to infinity, only backwards.

In short, I believe in God because believing in an atheist conception of the ultimate beginning in the universe requires you to believe in logical impossibilities. Either you have to believe that something can create itself out of pure nothingness, or you have to believe that something infinitely old can create something finitely old.

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unkleE November 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm

“But then they go right back to preaching against the evils of war”

Bertrand Russell knew his own views were inconsistent, but didn’t know how to escape the dilemma. In his collected letters he writes:

“I do not myself think very well of what I have said on ethics. I have suffered a violent conflict between what I felt and what I found myself compelled to believe …. I could not bring myself to think that Auschwitz was wicked only because Hitler was defeated ….”

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peacerenity November 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I agree with you–I didn’t mean to make it sound like I didn’t, sorry. It’s like the philosophers that argue that reality isn’t real and that life is just a dream, or like the people who say that we’re just brains in vats, or that free will is just an illusion. The theories could be right or they could be wrong, but people who hold them can’t face the implications on a daily basis. I just meant to make the point that burying our heads in the sand isn’t a phenomenon peculiar to religious people.

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Loincloth November 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Can we take the debate outside of Christianity? I believe in a giraffe god. But the god isn’t actually a giraffe, it just looks like a giraffe, because I like giraffes. Lets just say this god’s name is Hogarth, because I like that name. Now Hogarth is pretty awesome, he exists outside of time, morals (he can do whatever the hell he wants, he doesn’t even care if you complain about it), logic and reason, and also physical and mental perception. And when I say he exists outside of, what i mean is that he is not affected by, but he himself can affect everything. Also, there is no heaven or hell, there’s only Hogarth. When you die, your being becomes a spot on Hogarth’s godly fur. There are no prerequisites to becoming a spot, there’s only Hogarth’s desire for more spots. Now of course I cannot prove that Hogarth is real, however, (and this is a friendly challenge) who can prove that he isn’t?

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peacerenity November 29, 2011 at 7:49 pm

@Loincloth

Hardly original. That’s the same train of thought as the whole “flying spaghetti monster” thing. The short response to that argument is that matter and time came into existence with the universe, and so anything that created the universe would have to, by definition, be formless/immaterial and timeless. And a formless/immaterial being wouldn’t look anything like a flying spaghetti monster, a giraffe, an egg-laying tortoise, etc. because you can’t look like those things and still be formless/immaterial.

And of course, an immaterial, timeless, universe-creating cosmic giraffe named Hogarth sounds a lot like God by another name.

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Loincloth November 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm

The flying spaghetti monster is a spoof of Christianity. Hogarth is entirely different. Hogarth didn’t create the universe, I never said that. But rather, Hogarth IS the universe. Though, there is speculation that Hogarth could have created other universes, or even given birth to baby giraffe-universes. Hogarth is outside of time, he did not have a form before or after matter and time came into existence, he just had a form. And outside of his form is his form, because Hogarth is infinite.

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unkleE November 29, 2011 at 10:21 pm

“Now of course I cannot prove that Hogarth is real, however, (and this is a friendly challenge) who can prove that he isn’t?”

Who would want to? You don’t take him seriously and neither do I.

But if you want to start a new religion, even as a hypothetical, you might heed the advice of Voltaire or an old Archbishop (I think I’ve heard both stories): first get Hogarth to come to earth as a human, then first get himself crucified, then rise on the third day. Then we can talk! : )

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Loincloth November 30, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Sir, you can’t crucify a giraffe.

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unkleE November 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Lol!! But is that an evidence-based statement?

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Loincloth November 30, 2011 at 4:55 pm

God no! What kind of sick twisted person would have evidence of that?! You’d have to try and crucify a giraffe to have evidence that it wouldn’t work!

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unkleE November 30, 2011 at 5:57 pm

That was why I asked. Are you telling me you aren’t, after all, a ” sick twisted person “? I am so glad to hear it! : )

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Taz December 15, 2011 at 10:02 pm

You present great points, Luke. It’s great that we can have forum like this to have some open dialogue.

Speaking as a Christian, most of my family does not walk with Christ. Yes there is a degree of grief but what keeps me from despair is hope. I’ve seen God turn the most unlikely, impossible-looking people around so I know not to judge. I can’t look at you and tell you for sure you’re going to burn for eternity. That’s not my place because I don’t know that. I am not threatened by your atheist label because you are just a person like me with the same needs.

All I know is bashing people over the head with Jesus is not going to convince anyone of anything. I know it wouldn’t have worked on me. God is love and since love cannot be forced, he’d rather meet with you and have your relationship with him bloom in due time like that parable about seed falling on different soil (good, rocky, weedy, bird path, etc).

No one can talk you into believing, if they could, someone else can talk you right out of it. But if it’s something God did, no one can take that away.

I didn’t grow up in a Christian home but I came to faith 7 years ago. It wasn’t because anyone talked me into it and it wasn’t because of fluffy feelings. I was given info on the Gospel yes, but what brought it to life was the powerful experience with God. By His Spirit I was grieved for the wrong things I’ve done and he finally helped me understand what he did for me. It just keeps getting more amazing as I get to know him better. I was even physically healed of chronic asthma, prayed for a couple OTHER people and they got healed too. Even saw/felt a couple spiritual entities including God’s presence so it’s more than just mind-matters for me. The world is such an amazing place now.

God taught me to see people with the dignity and respect he created them with because you are made in God’s image and deserve to be loved and honored as such. At the same time, he also taught me not to see people as they are but how they CAN be. If your parents love you and love Christ and his Way, they probably have hope and pray for you. How do you know you’ll still be where you are 5, 10, 20 years from now? I have an uncle that used to molest children, drink, do drugs, and curse God. Now the man is so in love with God and he is such a different person now.

Peace!

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Taz December 15, 2011 at 10:08 pm

PS. God doesn’t send people to eternal torment for the hell of it (no pun intended). We go there because we break his laws and sin separates us from him. You tell God to bugger off and he’s going to take all his light, life, and reality right along with him. You’re practically asking for the rug to be pulled out from under you. People have no idea how much we depend of him for existence like the Earth needs the Sun.

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Lisa December 16, 2011 at 9:00 am

Wow! A lot of comments here. And to think, this was written about two years ago. I like that you proposed this question respectfully. I understand you are really trying to figure out life and all of its mystery. I know Jesus is the answer, and I had a direct encounter with the divine about a year ago and it changed my whole life. However, now I have more questions than ever before. I was raised in a Christian home, but the Bible didn’t really speak to me. I understood the philosophies and, sure, I believed in a God but it took a while until God revealed “itself” to me. See, when we try and figure this out with our minds we get confused. You have to be in the spirit to really know. I’m not sure if this makes much sense right now, and I’m not one to be very pushy to explain. I respect others beliefs, but I am very strong in my faith that the true God will pull through for anyone. Everyone’s heart and mind are different and only God knows the heart. My parents stopped trying to be pushy about church a long time ago, and it was the best thing they ever did. They let God do the work.

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Taz December 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Hi Lisa,

Thanks! Though why do you call God “it”?

Shoot, Bible never made any sense to me until I knew him for myself. Then it erupted into an awesome goldmine.

No freedom without repentance.

No victory without purity.

Can’t be done without him. Peace!

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Lisa December 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I say “it” because I don’t see God as masculine or feminine but as both, and even more so…as everything. I guess it’s the feminist in me that doesn’t want anything to be gender specific – whatever :p

But I hope to see those who truly know God live with the vitality and strength that has been promised to us. That’s was the struggle for me at first. I met this great God with an unshakeable love and power and there were so many people in the churches who live in such a way that deny this great power.

You’re right though: ” No freedom without repentance.”

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Taz December 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Hi Lis!

Heheh, just a few years ago the feminist in me felt the same way. But he actually wants us to call him Father, in fact Jesus called him that. There’s nothing affronting to his female aspects to call him”Abba” “Daddy.” “It” sounds kind of like an object, that’s why I raised a brow XD

There is actually something in the Queen’s English language (I’m Caribbean) called the male neutral pronoun. “He” can be used to include male and female so that’s probably why it doesn’t bug me.

I agree, many churches (in the US at least) have became so rationally bloated in the mind that the spirit has atrophied. If we don’t go forth with the power of God like our ancestors did in the past, people will just think the whole thing is just a social club. We just don’t give him much room to work and that is sad. I’ve faced such frustrations with this recently. We’re just . . . going through the motions and I came very close to hating going to church.

Thank for your patience with my post to an insanely old topic but it was a good topic regardless and really made me think.

Merry Christmas when it comes, m’dear!

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how long will skyrim take to complete December 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm

You actually make it appear so easy along with your presentation but I to find this matter to be really one thing which I feel I might never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward on your subsequent publish, I’ll try to get the cling of it!

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Taz January 2, 2012 at 10:21 am

Happy New Year!

Who me? Make what easy?

Sorry a little confuzzled.

Taz

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Lily Jones January 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm

I think I believe. I would try to help them, but once they know what i beleive, the rest of the journey is theirs.

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Taz January 28, 2012 at 7:07 am

I think I believe. I would try to help them, but once they know what i beleive, the rest of the journey is theirs.

I agree 100%. I don’t want another clone of me. I want people to experience for themselves.

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Study the Word. There is no power without that knowledge.

Peace!
Taz

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