Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven
where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Atheists, Logic and Hell (1)

In this post, I want to talk about how some people look at the pain in their lives or the lives of others and decide that:
a) God isn’t a God of love
b) God doesn’t have the power to stop bad things from happening
c) God doesn’t exist.

Tomorrow I’ll return to the issue of hell and punishment etc.

Had we not already experienced the reality of God’s love, my wife and I could have looked at the death of our only biological child and say that a God of love does not exist.

. We could look at our brain damaged adopted children and say that God isn’t capable of preventing such problems.

. I could look back on my 50 years of crippling arthritis and say that God may in fact be a sadist.

. I could look at my childhood sexual abuse and wonder how God could just sit back and watch it happen.

. We could suffer along with our youngest adopted son who is in the bottom 5th percentile intellectually and say if there was a God who started things, He’s long since left the building.

Yes, if Wendy and I hadn't ALSO experienced the palpable presence of a loving God day in and day out, if we had only experienced all the other sorrows and difficulties that come with this existence then there is a good chance that we might say that based on the life that we’ve been dealt, God is not a God of love. As many, many people have done, we could conclude that any God that would condemn people to an eternity of unparalleled agony is in no way a God of love. We could say that. It isn’t true, but for some people there is enough evidence to allow them to turn their backs on God.

For the sake of argument, I'm going to propose that God does exist. He is the Creator. He is the First Cause. He is a monster and a savage, sadistic Creator who allows sorrow and evil to spread like gangrene. Everything that Chris Hitchens and Dennet and Dawkins and others have said about Him is true. Creator God is cold - heartless - manipulative. He’s the ‘God of the gottcha’ as some describe Him. Yes, He’s all these things and more - but

- He is God

- He is real

- He exists.

Not only does He exist, it’s also true that things are turning out just like the Bible has said. History is winding down. World events, from naming Cyrus the Great by name, by the prophet Isaiah, 160 years before Cyrus came on the scene, to the prophesied combination of widespread denial of God’s existence in concert with widespread acceptance and promotion of the sexually disoriented, and finally to the world-wide persecution of the Christian Church that is well on its way, all are playing out as only a real God could predict and bring about.

God is real and you don’t like Him one bit. So be it. But there is a problem isn’t there? There’s a dilemma to confront. Something important needs to be dealt with. If God is real, and there’s a great deal of evidence that points to His existence, then that means that Hell is real too. Like it or not, in fact hate it all you want, our Creator God says emphatically that we either get on side with Him or we’re gonna pay - big time.

Get on side? You mean there is a chance to escape this kind of punishment / torment?

That’s what the Bible says. That, in fact is what God said when He came to earth in the form of Jesus. The Bible says that

“God was in Jesus Christ reconciling the people of the world to Himself.”

God seems to have created not only Hell. He has created a way to escape going to Hell. He has said that if we place our trust in Jesus, if we obey Jesus then He, God, will take us to paradise. He describes Heaven as a place that has no more pain or sorrow, no more fear or guilt or despair.

In fact Heaven is exactly the type of place that atheists say a loving God would have made for us now - if He actually existed.

But if Jesus is God and if God is a monster and if I’m to obey this monster, don’t I have to compromise my own set of values to come on side with Him? Well, no actually. While hell is nothing more than a means for justice to be served (and atheists are HUGE fans of justice - at least in regard to it being done to other people), there seems to be a side of God that we cannot in any way describe as monstrous.

In fact, this Jesus, who is God, seems to actually be a person of Love.

So here we are:

. Pain and evil do not negate God’s existence. The existence of pain and evil actually confirms the Bible’s diagnosis of our nature.

. God allows pain and evil to exist for a short time. As it turns out, He uses it for our eternal good.

. God is a God of love who is willing to rescue us, at His own expense, from an eternity of torment.

. Because He is a God of Love, it is logical to assume that the horrific punishment that unforgiven sinners will one day incur upon themselves is only difficult for us to understand now, because we don’t comprehend the monstrosity of sin. In fact we accept sin. In many cases we don’t just tolerate sin, we celebrate and nurture sin, even as it destroys us and our relationships.

. Because He is a God of Love, there is a reasonable and logical explanation for the presence of pain and evil in our world now. We don't understand pain, even though we (both religious and non religious) can in hindsight see the good that it has brought about in our own lives. We don’t understand pain, but Jesus explains how it is only through suffering that the believer is changed from a self-obsessed, self-loving horror show to someone who is able to love others with an intentional, deliberate, willed, volitional Christ-like love.

Like Him or hate Him, God is real. God is a force that needs to be acknowledged and reckoned with. Just because you don’t like a certain reality doesn’t mean that you can make it go away by pretending that it doesn’t exist.

This might be your last day to decide which side that you’re going to be on. I can tell you from experience, as can almost two billion other believers, that the word Love hardly describes how wonderfully God treats those who have turned their allegiance to Him.

Blessing upon blessing fills my days.
Mercy upon mercy envelopes me as I live in a hostile and angry world.

I and other Christians are not promised, nor do we experience freedom from the sorrows of the world. The reason that we no longer interpret those struggles as coming from a “monster” God, is that we, as adopted members of God’s family, are now immersed in His loving presence. We’re given His guidance and counsel and freedom from guilt. We have been set free from the power of sin to destroy us.

Believe what you want about God. Boldly claim, if you wish, that you would never worship a God who allows such pain in the world or who would cause such a great punishment for the "intellectual" position you now hold. You are free to do that, but you will also experience the consequences of that decision. Or, if you are wise, you are free to accept God as Lord of your life and experience the consequences of that decision. Good luck on your journey.

“One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”


  1. PART 1

    Eskimo: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"
    Priest: "No, not if you did not know."
    Eskimo: "Then why did you tell me?"

    - Anne Dillard

    I'll tell you the thought that got me questioning Christianity, when I was a child...

    "What of the native Americans who never heard of Jesus?"

    I thought, "are they going to hell?"

    well... you WONT usually get Christians to tell you that they WILL go to hell. They'll say something along the lines of..

    "Since they did not know any better, God will make an exception, given they are good people."

    Okay. Fair enough I suppose, but if we can make an exception for this, are there other exceptions?

    So what about my in-laws, who are saturated in the "reality" of Islam? My wife comes from a strict Muslim family, and though she's abandoned her faith, her family believes this religion as if it WERE REAL. Just like the STRONGEST BELIEVERS OF CHRISTIANITY. How can they abandon what they KNOW TO BE TRUE, and follow an entirely different religion, right out of the blue? We need to be dangerously honest right now. HAVING THE MOST POTENT VISCERAL FEELING THAT SOMETHING IS TRUE, DOESN'T QUALIFY IT AS SUCH, ON THE FEELING ALONE. Because to my in-laws, Islam is SO REAL that if they were to abandon it, they would feel as thought they WERE GOING TO BURN FOR ETERNITY. In fact, we all know how much RADICAL Islam believes in their faith. Enough to kill and die for, obviously. Its truly naive to think that someone who honestly believes in Islam, is any more willing to give up their religion, than true believers of Christianity. TO THEM, ALLAH IS GOD. to question this, is risking eternal hell fire.
    SO...... Is god willing to make an exception for Muslims who will not accept Jesus because they truly believe Islam is the real truth, with all their heart?

    What other exceptions will God allow?

    I DO NOT DESERVE ETERNAL HELLFIRE. It's as simple as that. Have I sinned, as defined in the bible? Sure. But I've never devastated lives. I've never hurt anyone past the results of trivial argument. I don't beat my wife, rip anybody off, or even lie on my taxes. I take care of the developmentally disabled and helped my wife heal from a past of an abusive husband who took too seriously the RIGHT to strike your wife, as allowed in the quran. I volunteer and donate. I'm an ear to vent into, and advise when capable.

  2. PART 2

    I'm not turning my back on Jesus Christ, I SIMPLY DON'T BELIEVE CHRISTIAN DOGMA. There are no bells and whistles. I'm not in denial, no smoke and mirrors. This isn't an optical illusion, or some parlor trick. The world is a MULTI-VARIABLE, NON-LINEAR, GEOMETRIC FRACTAL OF COMPLEXITY, and when you look for patterns of ANYTHING, you'll find it. If your looking for Jesus' face on some burnt piece of toast, YOU'LL FIND IT. If your looking for a hospital miracle, despite the bulk tragedy that occurs on location, YOU'LL FIND IT. If you're looking for a messiah to provide light during the darker times in your life, YOU'LL FIND IT. If you're looking for angels, devils, or biblical verses by which to shape your life, YOU'LL FIND IT.

    HOWEVER... If you're looking for the grace of Allah, YOU'LL FIND IT. If you're looking for mind expansion through psychedelic drugs, YOU'LL FIND IT. If you're looking for much needed solidarity from a gang-banger lifestyle, YOU'LL FIND IT. If you're looking for Buddha, Vishnu, Elvis, Ghosts, or alien abductions, LEAVE IT TO THE WEAK HUMAN PARADIGM TO FILTER IT IN FOR YOU... YES, YOU'LL FIND IT.

    There is no massive conspiracy from scientists to cover up the "evidence" for Christian theism. Any so-called evidence that may exist for Christianity doesn't satisfy the criteria by which all other scientific claims are made. Mass conspiracies don't work, anything too intricate fails because too many variables must fall into place. Conspiracy nuts always tickled me, talking about the "NEW WORLD ORDER" and "PRESIDENT BUSH HAS SECRET MEETING WITH THE GHOST OF HITLER!" LOL, Bill Clinton couldn't even keep it a secret that he got a blowie from a government clerk... But I digress... and stray from the point.

    I truly believe that YOU BELIEVE with 100% certainty, your Christian worldview. And I even think your a good person, who means the very best. But your religion makes you somewhat of a bigot towards atheists. In no way do you understand atheism. I liked the debate we had yesterday, it was honest and didn't resort to calling each other retarded. If we are to get anywhere, we have to find a point of agreement. We, in a way, did that yesterday. So lets work from there. My goal is not to change your mind about christianity, that would be unrealistic, given the threshold of faith you've achieved. My goal is simply, to show you that atheists are not dull of mind and slow of thought. I'm not sure that I can, but it's at least possible.

  3. Mak said..."For the sake of argument, I'm going to propose that God does exist. He is the Creator. He is the First Cause. He is a monster and a savage, sadistic Creator who allows sorrow and evil to spread like gangrene"

    Ok Mak for sake of argument ill agree, say we do run with that.How does that then flow on to the next step your faith suggests.

    Mak said..."If God is real, then that means that (Hell is real too). Like it or not, in fact hate it all you want, our Creator God says emphatically that we either get on side with Him or we’re gonna pay - big time. "

    Its not about us ageeing to your faith asserting one thing, its actually allowing your faith to go asserting two things.Both with no real objective way we can double check.

    And you also state..."Cyrus the Great by name, by the prophet Isaiah, 160 years before Cyrus came on the scene"

    Yet the bible wasnt even written until years after the death of Jesus.And then certain folks of faith got their hands on it and translated it and wrote what we now see.

    If i was to go and write a book (now) complete with a suggested prophecy of the terrorists September 11 attacks, that all my follower simply suggested maybe i prophesied years ago ,would it be so very easy for you also to simply AGREE i was some kind of guru?.Would it be fair for you to also considder that maybe i could just as easily assert that i had actually known these things previous to the sept 11 attacks.And it could maybe be simple fibs.

    Im merely human just as those who wrote the bible were .Why should people really be EXPECTED to have good enough reason to put anymore "complete faith" in those that retold and retold and then much later recorded and then much later again in the end finally ended up cannonizing and actually writing the bible etc,than i would honestly ever really EXPECT people to ever be expected to put their total faith in a book i got around to writing years after the actual happenings?.

    Mak i realize it seems to many folks of faith that all disbelievers must simply just enjoy sinning and so then wish god-/s to simply not exist.But for many there honestly is much more
    to it than that.

    We often see and some of us even experience faith frauds even today.Its not so wrong that we do take this into account.Life has taught me some scepticism isnt always a bad thing .Infact life has even taught me the hard way !, it can be a real extra bad thing! to be brought up having far to much faith!!, and so then be without enough scepticism.You all to often end up paying for it.

    Specially also this faith scepticism is very very important when we DO see right down throughout history, all the harm thats been dealt out by faiths often due to humans unquestioning faith,thats been terribly lacking in enough scepticism.Its not like im just baseing my opinion ive learned, only on the experiences of today...The information that to much trust can be very dangerous is there for all to see!, displayed and recorded !, right throughout human history.Its blatant to be seen....Unlike real evidence of proof for God-/s

    Not knocking your unshakable faith Mak, not at all ,infact when you explain how its made life better for you personally.Im even very happy for you and your wife and family etc.Please do try to understand that aspect.

    Just trying to explain why (not all of us) see these things quite the same thats all.Not trying to offend.

  4. "Yet the bible wasnt even written until years after the death of Jesus."

    You're joking - right?

    Scholars agree that all of the Old Testament Scripture was completed 450 years before Jesus the Christ was born. However even the most sceptical must admit the date of 250 B.C. since that is when the Old Testament was translated into Greek. Isaiah was written 690BC

  5. My bad.Didnt explain that very well.Sorry i was talking about the complete bible Mak.With the old testament even though we have the dead sea scrolls the problem still remains of knowing whats honestly prophecy or not.One of the most debated issues of Isaiah is the proposition of whether it may have been the work of more than one single author.Some people suggest there is infact three authors, others suggest it even looks like maybe there might have been a number of authors.

    Modern man has learned technologies that now understand certain type of abnormalitys and we can pick up on them,like for instance why is Isaiahs name not used from chapter 40-66?.And how does one account for the change of style in theology being presented?.

    These same type of technologies are also used by people like the police.And even if you were worried about people using fraud such as in signing your signiture on bank cheques im sure you would agree these technologies are not just rubbish.These same technologies do catch many people out these days.

    I imagine you sitting there thinking ohh these people just dont want to be faithful.I understand it might seem that way.But its not just about that at all.Its about the importance of matters that if one is going to have faith in something as important as this,then its only rightous it should be able to stand every bit of scrutiny thrown at it, so then its known for sure its not about any blind faith its about the truth.You agree too faith should be built on truth, otherwise there should be know good reason you dont worship god of Islam or Hinduism or any other faith either.Im sure your advice for people thinking about worshipping those faiths would be,dont use any blind faith...Make very sure its about truth.

    Think about it Mak like ive already said history is riddled with all sorts of train wrecks of people led up the gum tree with regards to faith.Still happens today too! a whole lot.I myself have been kicked in the teeth many times, for putting trust in folks of faith.I should learn from this experience.

    So surely its not foolish to carry these doubts.We have no other way but to atleast be prepared to use caution first.

    Sorry about not explaining myself very well before.