The ruling dictator of a county cooks people in an oven for a relatively short amount of time and people call him a monster. The purported ruling dictator of the Universe cooks people in an oven forever – and people call for his praise and adoration, demanding that he be worshiped. It’s interesting how ramping torture up to a cosmic level suddenly makes it virtuous.
Posts Tagged ‘Hell’
Posted in Christianity, Church and State, Islam, Mormonism, Politics, Religion, Science, Video, tagged atheism, atheist, Bible, Christian, Christianity, creationism, evolution, God, Heaven, Hell, intelligent design, irrationality, Jesus, morality, Old Testament, Physics, politics, reason, religion, Science, Skeptic, skeptical, theology, Universe, Video on July 1, 2012 | 1 Comment »
As promised, I’m following up on my previous blog post where I revealed the first video I’ve produced here at TheSkepticalMagician.com – “Genesis Creation Visualized – Scientifically.” I put a considerable amount of thought and energy into creating this video, and I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look into the reasons why I made it the way I did.
Why re-write Genesis?
A common response one gets when talking to Christians about the origins of the Universe and the lack of specificity and accuracy of the Genesis account — is that the complex laws of physics would have been lost on bronze age peoples, so God had to dumb it down so humans could comprehend all that he had done. In other words, the divine creator had to be vague, and not quite as accurate because the concepts were not there to explain it fully. This seems to make a lot of intuitive sense to believers, and it is something that enables them to continue believing what they want to believe, so they don’t take that next crucial step that everyone should take when determining whether or not something they believe is true… They don’t try to prove themselves wrong! And just like a scientist who submits something for peer review without first trying to disprove their ideas, if they don’t do it — someone else will. By re-writing the Genesis account as I did (and I could have been far more detailed were it not for my time limits), I was able to show that one could give a scientifically accurate portrayal of the evolution of the Cosmos that a bronze age human could understand, while still maintaining certain poetic liberties. Had the first 18 verses of Genesis been something similar to what I created, we in present day would have to stop and ask, “How in the heck did these bronze age illiterates know about things like fusion and the forging of the elements within stars?” “How did they know the Earth orbits the Sun, and how did they know it rolls upon the fabric of space like it does?” Instead of having to answer difficult questions like these, we’re left with undeniable evidence that the Genesis account of creation is just one more in a long line of creation myths.
Now, I fully admit that the Genesis account as currently written could have happened just like the Bible says, and I say as much in the video. There is no way for me to disprove this, though I don’t think most Christians would be comfortable with what this would tell us about the creator. If the Genesis account of the Bible is a literal, historical account of the creation of the Universe, then the creator is a deceiver. He’s a trickster. He’s a hoaxer. In order for the Genesis account to be true, it would mean that creator would have had to intentionally alter time and space itself to make it look like things had occurred completely different than they actually had. In essence, that God is one who not only tricks people, but tricks people into not believing in him, or in his written text, which plainly goes against the idea in 2 Peter 3:9 that God is “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.“
A track that many liberal Christians take is that the Genesis account is not a literal history of creation, but that it’s a symbolic or metaphoric account of man’s relationship with his creator etc, etc, etc. Again, I can’t disprove that either, though I don’t think people who follow that line of thinking consider the greater negative theological implications for the Christian faith later on down the line. Without a literal Genesis, or a literal Adam and Eve – there is no basis or necessity for a literal 2nd Adam (i.e. Jesus) to undo what they did in Genesis. For these types, much of the Bible is looked at as metaphorical or symbolic, and these issues aren’t of any great concern to them, and they are happy to believe just the same. Again, trying to disprove their perspective is a bit like trying to nail jello to a wall, and there are so many ad hoc fallacies, and so much special pleading injected into the conversation that one can find themselves quickly frustrated. In general, these types of believers aren’t usually trying to get Biblical creation crammed into science classrooms, and are often times just as against their fundamentalist brethren in that regard as secularists are. So while I don’t agree with their conclusions, and can no more disprove their claims than I can disprove Russell’s teapot, I can at least respect their ability to accept the clear evidence of origins instead of dogmatically clinging to ideas that are either false (my position), or the product of an omnipotent trickster. (more…)
My hats off to Seth over at TheThinkingAtheist for yet again putting together an excellent video. This one is an edit of several popular atheists on youtube giving their thoughts on the concept of an afterlife. It’s a little longer than some of his other videos, but it is beautifully done. Enjoy…
Brian introduces us to his new best friend — and his hobby.
Posted in Christianity, Islam, Philosophy, Religion, tagged Brian McClaren, Erasing Hell, eternal punishment, Francis Chan, Grand Rapids, Heaven, Hell, Love Wins, Mars Hill, Rob Bell, Universalism on February 26, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Let me start off by saying that while I appreciate the willingness of people like Rob Bell or Brian McClaren to re-evaluate some of Christianity’s most despicable traditional positions on things like eternal punishment, they are far from orthodox, and I don’t think their positions hold up to interpretive scrutiny. I was discussing Rob Bell’s book Love Wins recently with some nice chaps who happen to be believers, and that discussion prompted me to write a little on the issue of a “2nd chance” after death for belief, which is one of the main ideas Bell puts forward in the book.
The whole idea of a 2nd chance goes like this… You’re someone who has not accepted Jesus for whatever reason in this life and you die. Once you die, you’re face to face with Jesus who says, “Guess what — you were wrong, but you can accept and believe in me now, and I’ll welcome you into heaven.” Faced with Jesus after death, Bell supposes everyone who did not accept him in life will get the glorious opportunity of accepting him in death once they’re faced with the truth. That’s what a merciful god would do right? There’s only one problem with this idea, and it’s not something a Christian is likely to see unless the story is changed a little bit…
Let’s say you’re a Christian (if you happen to be one then you won’t have to pretend as hard), and as happens to everyone — you eventually die. You take a trip down the tunnel with the light, and at the end you are faced with the throne of the Almighty. This supreme and magnificent being looks down upon you and says, “In life you blasphemed Allah by claiming his servant Jesus was his son, and indeed a god himself. There is no god, but me, Allah, and Mohammad is my true prophet. I am merciful, however, and all you have to do is reject this Jesus as your king and god, and I will usher you into eternal paradise.” Would you do it? Would you reject what you had lived your whole life as a lie to embrace the real truth, or would you think this was perhaps one last test to get into heaven? I’m pretty sure the Muslim would think it was a test or deception if the roles were reversed, just like you would likely do in this situation.
While the idea of a 2nd chance after death may seem good on the surface, ultimately it just does not work, at least not for the “true believers” of the varied religious traditions. So, as much as Rob Bell would like to say that ultimately Love Wins in this way, when explored just a bit further, it’s easy to see why love (as described by Bell) actually…loses.
Posted in Christianity, Religion, tagged afterlife, atheist, Belief, book of life, death, Eternity, Heaven, Hell, Jesus, judgement, pearly gates, St. Peter, What do atheists believe? on December 5, 2011 | 2 Comments »
Last week marked the first death I’ve had to deal with since becoming an atheist — the death of my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family. He finally succumbed to pneumonia as a complication caused by a rare degenerative neurological disease. He was 78, lived a good life, and I’m glad he’s no longer suffering. So, is dealing with death harder now that I’m an atheist you ask? Actually, dealing with death as an atheist is easier than it ever was as a believer.
We just passed the 3 year anniversary of the death of a friend and co-worker who was shot and killed by a jealous ex-boyfriend of the girl he was seeing at the time. To conceal the evidence, his body was doused in gas, covered with a mattress, and then lit on fire. Steve was a great guy, who loved life, and loved to have a good time, but he wasn’t exactly a Christian. Because of that, not only did Steve meet a fiery end, but according to popular Christian doctrine, immediately following that he met a fiery start in eternity. As a believer at the time, I felt a tremendous amount of responsibility for not doing all I could to get Steve “saved” before he died. It bothered me so much that I didn’t make the trip up north to his funeral. How does one celebrate the life of a friend, when eternity, which is what really matters in Christianity, has swallowed that person up in torment forever?
My wife posted something really nice about my grandfather’s death on her Facebook wall: “Eric’s Grandpa passed away last night. He was a wonderful man, whom I know left an amazing legacy to all he encountered. He left us having lived a full, happy, and adventurous life….and he will be greatly missed & greatly remembered.” Among the various comments that followed were these two here:
“Did he love Jesus?!”
“Sorry to hear of your loss. Was he a Christian? I hope so…”
For those who may be rusty on their Christianese, allow me to translate: “Is Eric’s grandpa burning in hell right now? Is he roasting for all eternity, or did he escape the clutches of perpetual damnation?” Would it even matter at that point? Even if Christianity were true, what good would it do to ask the question? It’s too late at that point, so why even bring it up?
So, what were my grandfather’s religious beliefs? I don’t know. Being I never heard him speak of a god, or any type of religious belief, and the poem on his memorial card was completely secular and gave no hint or mention of an afterlife, I would tend to think he was an unbeliever. Of course, I could be wrong, and it doesn’t matter anyway. The views he held were his own, and whether he believed in a god, or he didn’t, the impact he made in the lives of his family and his friends is all that really matters, and he lives on in the hearts and memories of those who loved him.
As for me, what do I think happens after we die? I think it is just like before we were born — non-existence. I don’t fear the year 1732, so there’s really no reason to fear the year 2232. Some may think it’s a tragedy that we don’t go on forever, but that’s what makes life that much sweeter, and truly worth living. And just like the 100+ billion people who died before me, one day I too will cease to exist, and I find it far more comforting that my memory will live on in my children and I not continue, than for a fraction of those billions to enjoy eternal bliss, while the overwhelming majority suffer forever.
“I would not for my life destroy one star of human hope, but I want it so that when a poor woman rocks the cradle and sings a lullaby to the dimpled darling, she will not be compelled to believe that ninety-nine chances in a hundred she is raising kindling wood for hell.”
Posted in Christianity, Religion, Video, tagged Africa, afterlife, Bible, burning witches, eternal torment, God, Heaven, Hell, Jesus, Kenya, lake of fire, Scripture, Superstition, witch burning in Kenya on October 14, 2011 | 6 Comments »
I will warn you right now that the video below is extremely disturbing. I could only watch about 30 seconds of it myself.
Exodus 22:18 says, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” And the people in the video below certainly don’t have a problem taking God at his word. This is one of the dangers of pentecostalism to highly superstitious people in places like Kenya and other third-world areas, and I think it’s one of the greatest proofs that the Holy Spirit does not exist. Christianity in the Western developed world has been tempered by enlightenment thinking, however, the same cannot be said for various regions in Africa. If you leave people in the developing world with nothing but a Bible and the Holy Spirit to guide them – you get things like this:
The purpose for this post however is not to say, “Look at the evils of Christianity.” While I agree with Steven Weinberg that ”With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion,” I would like to make a larger point here by using the video above as an illustration and metaphor of sorts.
If you watched the video above, you no doubt found it as reprehensible as I did whether you’re an atheist or a believer, but I would like you to view things a bit differently for a moment. Essentially what we have is a weak group of people who are at the mercy of a larger unified force that they are powerless against. They cry for mercy in the flames, and they receive none. This serves as a perfect illustration of what is to come according to the segments of Christianity that believe in a fiery hell. An omnipotent force, far more powerful than the group in the video, looks on as people burn in agony. The difference however is that the burning on this Earth is temporary, while the supposed burning in the afterlife is forever. How is it that a believer can watch a video like the one above and be utterly disgusted by the injustice doled out by the limited temporal force, and yet call “just” that which is doled out by the omnipotent eternal force upon a being so powerless and inferior?
…the possibility that everything you treat as truth, is complete and utter bunk? Or maybe that your point of view is the one that is flawed? I don’t think you have, though of course I could be wrong.
I originally posted the Horrific Tale in response to Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins. The response was to say that Rob Bell wasn’t questioning far enough. Why stop at hell? I think the line of questioning should go far deeper. Having read Love Wins however, I don’t think Bell does a very good job of arguing for a change in perspective on the concept of hell, at least not as far as the Bible is concerned. I’m not going to go into a detailed review of the book, but I think his approach can be summed up as such: Focus on the scriptures that seem to point in the direction of your premise, and ignore every single scripture that contradicts it.
Having watched the video above, I hereby offer an invitation to Mr. Francis Chan. I will be more than happy to read your book and respond to it, if you take the time to read this one post, and give a thoughtful response to it. I’d say we could have an interesting if not fruitful dialogue… are you up for it?