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Posts Tagged ‘Heaven’

A few weeks back my wife and I received a letter from someone in the mail who we don’t know personally, but who knows someone else we know. Apparently this individual became aware that my wife and I were “not saved” and felt compelled to send us a letter. She asked that we read it to the end (which we did), and that if we got nothing from it we should wad it up and throw it away. I’ll say this – we certainly got something from the letter – but I’m sure it wasn’t what she was hoping we would get. What follows is the letter, though I’ve made an effort to conceal the identity of the person by changing names, places, jobs, etc. I’ve included the letter in its entirety to show that my comments that follow after it are not mischaracterizing or misconstruing what she had written.

You don’t know me but I know Mark and Carol. My name is Margaret Smith and I am sending this letter to share a little of my story with you for no other reason. All I ask is that you read it to the end… after that wad it up and throw it away if you get nothing from it.

My husband and I raised our children as most couples do. We tried very hard to teach children respect for themselves and others and to take pride in working hard and being honest. Our kids were in 4-H and, as parents, John and I were very involved. We served on the 4-H council, we were administrative leaders for our club and I was a co-superintendent for the pig project at the county fair. Our kids also played hockey and we spent many weekends in hotels and on the road to games and tournaments. We had a small flock of goats and raised a few lamas, pigs, and chickens. The kids worked hard taking care of them, and we have some wonderful memories. Our lives were pretty much centered on raising our children to become responsible productive adults and we thought we did a pretty good job.

Both John and I worked 40+ hours per week and we were able to provide for our family fairly well. Time went by and our children graduated from high school and proceeded on to college. For reasons that you will understand later I’m going to concentrate mostly on Tommy [their son] from this point on.

Tommy attended the lawful citizen academy before he graduated from high school and followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming an auxiliary EMS and a member of the Army National Guard. He worked with a small township ambulance company for around 4 years. He attended college and received his associates degree  before transferring to a large university. He graduated with honors in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. When he returned home he became a full-time police officer with the city department. Tommy had a heart of gold and never met a stranger. He worked very hard and had his whole life ahead of him. He was engaged to his high school sweetheart and they were set to be married in August of 2002.

All of his plans changed on May 15, 2001. The spring of 2001 had been very warm. One of his friends from the police department decided to put their dock in early and Tommy and a few others took the day to help him. They had spent the majority of that day working on the dock and drinking. Tommy fell asleep at the wheel on the way home that night and crossed over the center line. He hit another car head on and he and the 2 teenagers in the other care were killed instantly. Our life fell apart. As hard as it was to go on without Tommy, there was one thing that was even harder. You see, Tommy had never been baptized and I did not know whether or not he had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior. When they came to our door that night to tell us that Tommy would never be coming home again the first thing that I thought was, “is he going to go to heaven?” We thought we had done a wonderful job raising our children but we had neglected to do the ONE thing that would make the most difference in their lives. Although we had sporadically attended a church here and there, and I had talked to them a little about God, we had not properly introduced them to our Savior Jesus Christ and taught them HIS word. And for Tommy, it was too late! It has been 12 years and for those 12 years I have been filled with regret. There is nothing I can do to change it now.

Local Community Church and all of my wonderful brothers and sisters in Chist have helped me understand that God loves me and I am forgiven through the blood that Jesus Christ shed for me on the cross, but what about Tommy? All I can do is pray that God will not hold my mistake against my son and that somewhere along the road he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior and asked for forgiveness for his sins.

I just wanted to share this with you. I pray that you never suffer the loss of a child, but more importantly, I pray that if you do you will never have to struggle with regret about whether or not they were saved. God put it on my heart that I send this to you. You may throw it away and never think of it again or do whatever you wish with it. I just felt the need to share my story with you. May God bless ou and your family.

Love in Christ, Margaret Smith

Poison.

Christianity is a poison to this woman and she calls it a medicine, and encourages my wife and I to drink it down too. Not only that, but she wants me to feed it to my children. Now, I’ve been accused of being an emotionless scientific robot before, but I’m going to have a bit of an emotional response here… I would have to be completely out of my fricking mind to teach my children to embrace a system of belief that has lead to this woman being filled with that sort of regret for the last 12 years of her life!!!

Why in the heck would I indoctrinate my kids to believe something that brings about a constant state of emotional and mental turmoil for this woman??? She raises her children to to be honest, respectful, hard-working individuals – and by her account her son was this – and the god she said she loves and serves is going to toss him into a burning lake of fire because he didn’t believe the right thing, or say the right magical prayer of repentance before he died??? What’s the harm in Christianity???? It’s right here!!!! It’s bad enough this poor woman loses her son, but now she gets to spend the rest of her life tormented by the thought of her son burning in hell forever, and if she’s right – watching him burn in hell forever!!!! Jesus – “the god who loves you so much that he made hell just in case you don’t love him back!”

I pity this woman more than you can know. I feel so terribly bad for her – both for losing her son – and for having to endure the constant feelings of guilt because she didn’t teach him to love the cosmic Hitler that she believes has tossed him into an oven that never stops burning. I’m glad that all of the evidence points to that god as not existing, but if he did, he’d be one more monstrous dictator worth standing up to and fighting against.

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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.

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DarkMatter2525 has outdone himself yet again with this absolutely hilarious video. Are you prepared to meet your maker?

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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…)

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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…

 

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Brian introduces us to his new best friend — and his hobby. 

 

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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.

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