Posted by: serrels | May 30, 2010

Heaven Must be Missing a Husband

I had this weird dream once. I woke up and everyone was gone. My family, my friends, my wife – everyone I had ever known was missing, and I was left alone.

The world was quiet. But still I went about my day normally. I clambered out of bed, I had a shower, I got on the train; I went to work.

The only sound I could hear was my own footsteps. The only voice in the universe was my own. The clouds remained still and refused to move. Time had stopped dead, but I continued to exist while everyone else had left… inexplicably. I had no idea where I was and I felt forgotten and alone.

I woke up, not terrified, but empty.

West Philadelphia: born and raised

My wife is comfortable with the fact that I will never be a Christian, but once in a while it genuinely upsets her. Because if by some miracle it turns out that I’m completely wrong – that there is a God who loves us, that Jesus did die for our sins – then there is a very good chance that I won’t go to heaven. My wife and I will be separated; I’ll be damned to some form of eternal punishment, or simply rot in a grave somewhere, while she starts a new life in eternal bliss. Without me.

But the logic of Heaven and its unique barrier of entry confounds and troubles me. John 3:36 states that “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Simply put – if you don’t believe in Jesus you don’t get to go to heaven.

And that bothers me a bit – what kind of Godly being would be so egotistical? ‘Believe in me’, he demands, ‘love me – or I’ll stomp my feet and watch you burn’. According to John 3:36, if I don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus I’m maggot bait – at best. At worst I’ll be cast into a fiery lake of sulphur to burn for all eternity. Christianity and Jesus have given me a choice here – believe in me or die.

A bit harsh wouldn’t you say?

Possibly. But the possibility of heaven, and, ultimately, the fear of death, invigorates Christians – it spurns them towards action in their community. It brings out the best in them. It inspires them to help others, to feed and clothe the poor, to donate money and time to charity, and that truly is a beautiful thing.

But according to the bible, any positive action I take doesn’t count. If I do good all my life, if I dedicate my life to feeding the poor, defending the innocent – that is not enough, because I didn’t do it in the name of Jesus. All my “righteousnesses are like filthy rags,” claims Isaiah 64 – I am infested with sin, and therefore can only be cleansed with the blood of Christ.

According to the gospels, God doesn’t care if you are good or bad. He only cares that you believe in his earthly incarnation; that you nurse his insecurities by loving him, and that isn’t the kind of God I can ever see myself believing in, let alone worshipping.

Blaise Pascal: believed in God, just for the hell of it!

I’ve had Pascal’s Wager recited to me more times than I care to remember, but it’s meaningless to me. By choosing to not believe in God I’m denying myself a shot at eternal life, but I’m fine with that. I understand that the consequences of denying God exists may be grim, but I have to be truthful to myself above all else – I don’t want to believe in God because he promised me a chocolate biscuit if I do. That’s dishonest, and the wrong thing to do – period.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not simply being stubborn. If there’s a heaven, I want to go – but I want to go for the right reasons. I want to go so I can be with my wife, not because I’m afraid of death. I want to go because I was a good person in life, not because I sucked up to an insecure cosmic checker.

And I don’t think I’ve got a strong enough poker face to get past God!

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Responses

  1. Mark, God is our creator. He created us perfect, He loaned us His breath. Yes that is right, every breath you take is on loan from God.
    Read Genesis.
    You need to understand that God wants the best for us, and in exchange for life He wants a love relationship with Him that is by choice.

    How would you feel if you created something and it rebelled against you, killed your only son, killed those who loved you, then decided to kill everyone else. My question is what would do that creation?

    Its not a case of choose me or die, its a case of recognise me as your Creator, give worship where it is due, love me as I love you. Put your selfish ambtions aside. Without God we are nothing, hence why should we live.

    Satan says exactly what you saying, God is forcing you into a descion, but you know as well as I do, no matter what descion we make, we will always serve a master. Time will continue until Satan and the evil of this world is fully exposed to the whole universe.

    No one will be punished eternally in fire. But they will be destroyed with death and sin forever. Meaning that there is no come back for any of them, they are gone for good. Do not be decived by this mis interpretation of the scriptures

    God Bless
    Sean

    • Rubbish.

  2. Interesting to hear your perspective, old bean.

    It seems you’re more agnostic than atheist though. Would you concur?

  3. Yeah, I think that’s fair – but I think most Atheists have to consider themselves Agnostic to a certain extent, if they follow logic to its end point.

  4. “God is our creator” unsupported nonsense. How does that explain anything? anything at all? it is no different to say it is magic, oh god did it? Put any of a million different imaginary gods sounds the same.

    “Read Genesis” yep, i did, myth and nonsense. the earth had 24 hr days before the sun was made? The earth is 6000 yrs old? Look up into the skies, the heavens declare that the speed of light and inverse square law show, provably measurably that the earth / galaxy / universe is billions of years old. The word bollocks comes to mind.

  5. Pascal’s Wager has been refuted so many times, obviously the people who bring that one up know nothing of philosophy. Pascal was a great mathematician, very well known as a gambling man. The wager is mistakenly put by simple people as you have heard it. i believe in god he there i win , i not believe i lose etc .

    1 – god if he existed ( he/she/it does not ) and was omnipotent ( logically incoherent btw ) and omniscient ( implied in omnipotent for the thinkers ) god would see through the deception, oh you hedging your bet and did not really believe etc.

    2 – there have been millions of gods and even this lot are other god atheists. so the wager needs to include i must believe in Zeus or Jupiter or etc etc to the million plus imaginary sky friends. OH I am sorry FIDI MUKULU the swahili god of creation is the right god, all you yaweh, jesus, allah, etc believers got it wrong – tough !

    3 – ALL religions are minority religions, mathematically you are already in the minority and you gambling chances are pretty slim.

    4 – how about this one. God only takes the honest people and those who sincerely seek the truth so only agnostics get to heaven?

    I put the god does not exist just to let the religionists know how others feel/think/perceive when they hear such unfounded certainty.
    Sure i cannot prove god does not exist, i cannot prove fairies are not in you garden either, that is not a reason to believe. I do think there is a possibility that god (s) may exist but i estimate the chances at zero point millions of zeroes one that he does. I am reminded of the fable about the emperors new clothes, oh yes the clothes are real, we all say so. No matter how many people say something does not make it correct.
    and the dream, obviously a vision so must be true ( i am joking).
    and mark, if this alleged god was anywhere half as nice as they imagine him to be you would be 1st in line for a heavenly ” let us accept other people award” and “free entrance to all the heavenly fun park rides” and church types? you have offended all my other god friends by blaspheming against them, u get ticket to hell .

    • Keen to hear why you think an Omnipotent God is logically incoherent?

      Also, where have you sourced the claims you’re arguing against, ie:

      God only takes the honest people and those who sincerely seek the truth …

      is that in the bible somewhere?

  6. A lovely post; soundly reasoned and perfectly rational if one did not consider God omnipotent and omniscient. Otherwise, it seems the Bible characterises God as a despot who rules by spreading a culture of fear – a phenomenon that has many modern parallels.

  7. gday marky.

    love your style of writing mate (as well as your thoughts) and while im not as eloquent with the written word as you, i just hope that i am able to get my point across to everyone here.

    one thing that readers of the bible have to realise is that it is writen in a certain context for a certain audience. what makes it more confusing is that because it is written over a thousand years and therefore there are multiple contexts and audiences.

    that is why you have to be really careful when you try to interpret specific things from bible verses. in this case where you quoted john 3:36 “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on him.”, you have to understand that john was writing this primarily to the jews. the jews refused to beleive that jesus was the son of God and refused to beleive that the scriptures (basically the texts of the old testament) were all pointing to the coming of jesus. rather, they beleived that a revolutionary would come and lead them against the oppression of the time – the roman empire. they would then become a perfect kingdom. that quote was never meant to be interpreted ‘beleive in me or you will suffer eternal condemnation’. it was meant to show the jews that their salvation would come from jesus, not the physical practices which they currently performed.

    (Just to make this clear, this is my personal beleif here) this idea of ‘you beleive in God or you die’ is something which i do not agree with, even as a Seventh-day Adventist. why? because above all else, God is a God of love. he loves us all so much more then we can know or deserve. will a God that loves in this way condem everyone who doesnt beleive in this God in this way suffer eternal death? what about toddlers who simply dont have the mental cababilities to be able to understand and accept God as their saviour? will they be condemned to eternal death? what about budhist monks who dedicate themselves to a complete life of peace, striving with all their beings to not harm anything which contains life and even cherishing all that does. do they deserve death?

    i say no. they dont. God is love and love understands, even if He doesnt agree. an example of this sort of love can be found in the book of job. to set the scene here, job was a man who lived at the time when the israelites were a fledgling nation. at this point in time, the israelites were the only people of God. they were the only ones who knew him and the only ones who worshiped him.

    along came this man job. he was not an israelite. he knew nothing about the specifics of this God. yet God says this of him “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Job 1:8. this man was the most righteous man on earth? but he was not an israelite, who were the only people on the earth that God loved? how could he be the most righteous and God fearing man on earth? he knew nothing about him or what it meant to worship this God. how can this be?

    simple. God is love. He loves us regardless of the specifics.

    • Awesome post Diaz, nice to see it from your perspective – very much enjoyed reading.

  8. Mark as always love reading the post.
    It made me sad reading it but none the less still wonderful reading.

    It was said before, but it needs to be said again. Hell (in the sense of burning in fire) will not last forever.

    Here is another thing that i think needs to be pointed out. When you do something for Heizy, like the dishes or you cook or give her a present or whatever, do you do it because you think she will love you more or do you do it because your scared shes going to leave you? No, you do it because you LOVE her and WANT to do those things for her. If you had ulterior motives Heizy would be able to see that.

    Christians who do good things for others out of fear or because they want to go to heaven are doing it for the wrong reasons. In 1 Samuel 16:7 it says that God looks at a persons heart, God sees peoples motives for doing what they do.

    Plus there really isn’t anything you can do to get to heaven. There does not exist a check list of things. Heaven is part of the greater gift of a second chance at living forever.

    Heaven is going to be amazing. But the main reason for wanting to go to heaven is the fact that I will be able to meet Jesus face to face and be reconciled to God. If you don’t believe in Jesus or don’t want to know Him then why go to Heaven?

    • Great post – I have this discussion with Heizy quite regularly and this is very similar to the argument she has.

      She always says that you have to RSVP if you want to go to the party – and RSVPing means accepting Jesus as your saviour. If you don’t believe in the party, why would you RSVP? I think this is a pretty strong argument, but what about those that never receive the invitation?

      And I didn’t mean to come off harsh, I don’t think Christians do good things out of fear – it feels great to help people and to make a difference, that’s the real reward of any charity work – but my issue is that the barrier of entry to heaven is simply a choice – do you believe in Jesus or not? I find it difficult to swallow that paedophiles, rapists, murderers, even the thief who confessed to Jesus on the cross, gets to go to Heaven while perfectly good people who made a real difference on earth do not. That goes against everything I’ve ever been taught about morality. And probably everything the Bible teaches about morality.

      According to some Christian faiths (I know SDA Christians don’t believe this) those good people who never accept Jesus are heading to some form of eternal punishment – I find this hard to reconcile with the idea of a loving God.

      Imagine you have two children. One believes in Santa Claus and the other doesn’t. The one who believes in Santa Claus has been behaving terribly the entire year, while the other one has been behaving impeccably. If you were to lavish the boy that behaves badly with an endless amount of gifts, while denying the well behaved boy any presents at all, that would be considered cruel and wrong.

      But imagine you went one step further – instead of not giving the child a present, you actually punished the boy for the entire Christmas holidays for no other reason than he didn’t believe in Santa Claus – that would be inhumane. That would be terrible.

      • I agree with you Mark, its hard to believe that murderers can ask for forgiveness, accept Jesus and make it to heaven.

        Lets say for arguments sake. God does exist, heaven is real. God created everything and Jesus did die for my sins and is coming again to take m3 to heaven. Then whats fair about Jesus dying on the cross? didn’t do anything wrong, came and only did good things but he died a harsh cruel death.
        God sets up a perfect world, Adam and Eve stuff it up and He comes and cleans up the mess. Thats not fair. Now whether you believe or not, if we’re talking about making it to heaven this is the background story.

        I have been asked this question. And maybe it’s a question that all Christians should ask themselves.

        If there was no heaven would I still be a Christian?

      • if i may, id like to go on a slight tangent here.

        you mentioned that the barrier of entry to heaven is a belief in jesus and id just like to explain how it is that you are saved. i dont want to sound long winded so ill try keep it short this time :D.

        firstly, humans are sinful beings. as much as i dont like it i know i am a sinful being. Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death”. which makes sense really, because if you want to get rid of evil (sin), you have to destroy it.

        But God does not want us to die. he wants us to live. So he sent his son jesus to earth to live a life as a man and to take our place in death. he sacrificed his own life so that we may have the chance save our own.

        i say the chance because we are given a choice. God has always allowed us to choose our own fate and he does it again here. the choice this time is ‘will you allow jesus to take your place in death?’ given that it was his choice to do so.

        if you say yes, then you accept his offer to take your place in death for your sins. the extension to this is that he has the power to do so because he is the Son of God, therefore there is a God. that is how you are saved.

  9. What a sorry waste of time and mental effort. Even if my wife cut me off from sex, I’m wouldn’t waste hours, days, years of my life trying to rationalize the absurd myths of Christianity.

  10. “If there was no heaven would I still be a Christian?”

    This is an argument that I have seen postulated many a time in counter to Serrels’ argument by theists.

    But that is precisely the point. Why would God make it necessary for people to become Christians? Why couldn’t he make people and allow them to do whatever they wanted, or create them without the desire to sin?

    If God cannot sin, then he can surely create people than cannot sin that are still able to love, since God is still able to love. Otherwise, he is not omnipotent.

    End of story.

    • I don’t think God necessitates anyone be a christian. It’s nowhere in the bible, and Jesus never taught it.

      The bible tells us that God created humans and did allow them to do whatever they wanted. He still told Adam and Eve what the cost would be if they chose to disobey and eat from the tree, he told them what was best for them as their creator, but he didn’t fly in to prevent them from disobeying – they had their free will.

      Saying God created us with a desire to sin is also incoherent if we’re discussing Christian belief here; Adam and Eve were sinless until the fall, they couldn’t really desire sin as they didn’t know what it was, Satan tempted them into disobedience and then they knew what it was to be disconnected from God (ref).

      Your last statement starts with “If God cannot sin”: Sin is ‘estrangement from God’, so for God to be estranged from himself is a logical fallacy. I can’t see any issue with omnipotence here.

      Your story is not quite at an end methinks!

  11. Some excellent posts on both sides. Here’s a small addition.
    it’s not what you do that matters, but it’s who you know.. because who you know, makes a difference about what you do.
    Example: My desire to be faithful to my wife is because I love her, not because I have been told to.. otherwise it’s damn hard work. Try being faithful when love is gone!
    So, as a Christian, it’s not what you do or don’t doas that really matters.. it’s who you know ( God). Because who you know, will make all the difference as to what you do.. and the rest.

  12. Not too sure about this:

    Christianity and Jesus have given me a choice here – believe in me or die.

    A bit harsh wouldn’t you say?

    You could probably simplify many choices in life to sound harsh like that. If we’re examining Christian belief, why omit the details? One might put it a little differently, perhaps:

    We screwed up and sinned so God out of his epic love sent his blameless Son to pay the cost, so that we could accept his payment for our failure and not die.

    A bit harsh wouldn’t you say?

    Though the ‘harsh’ here is pretty awesome for us in this case.

    Here’s another perspective (at the risk of cringe-worthy literary repetition): imagine then rejecting the offer of bail on a death sentence someone paid for you with the life of their innocent son.

    A bit harsh wouldn’t you say?

    • Good point, you and Heizy think very similarly – which means that I have all my retorts all ready to go!

      – God is omnipotent and omniscient. He transcends space and time – therefore he already knew, from the very second that he put that tree in the garden, that Adam and Eve would eat from it. Would you leave your toddler alone in a room with an electric heater? No, because you know its nature, you know that child will injure himself. If God is what the bible says he is, there is no such thing as free will, sin is a direct result of circumstances God himself created.

      – Why would God create a plan for salvation that was so convoluted? Couldn’t he think of something that made a little more sense? I’ve asked so many people to explain to me why God had to send his only child down to pay for the sins of man, and why his being crucified on the cross has any bearing on my life. Why do I have to pay for the sins of Adam and Eve.

      – About your other perspective: I can’t see any judge in any country setting a criminal free because someone sent their son to die, in what morality system would that make any sense? People should be punished for the crimes they commit, that’s what’s fair. If everyone acted like God, we’d all be dying/going to prison/paying fines for our children.

      But anyway – I really liked your post, was well thought out and as logically argued as I’ve heard that kind of argument put. And I think you’re right, the way I put the “believe in me or die” part was a bit unfair, and just shoddy rhetoric to be honest!

      • “God is omnipotent and omniscient. He transcends space and time – therefore he already knew, from the very second that he put that tree in the garden, that Adam and Eve would eat from it …..”

        So Mark I know you probably had these conversations over and over again but this is only something that I have come to understand recently.

        So God claims to give everyone free choice. How would it be free choice if there were no other option? If all Adam and Eve could do was love God and not have an option to do other wise would that be free choice? The tree became that option. They had a choice: obey God or disobey God and deal with the consequences.

        We get upset because God forces us love Him or we can’t go to heaven (as it has been said) and then we blame God because He gave us the option to love Him or not?

      • I haven’t had this conversation in ages – and I’m totally happy to do it, because I always learn something new, even if I have to look stupid to learn it!

        My point is that free will under an omniscient God is a paradox – God knows every choice you’ll make, he knows how you’ll react. He exists in the past, future, and present simultaneously. According to the bible God created the Garden of Eden, God created Adam and Eve, he created their nature, their impulses, their needs, their consciousness – he created the entire set of circumstances, so is there really free will?

        To be honest, it’s one of those huge philosophical problems that’s probably out of my depth. I had this idea in my head and I spoke to Heizy, later on I googled it and found that it was this crazy debate that had been going on for centuries. Entire books have been written about it. Google Theological Fatalism and read some of the stuff that’s been written about God and omniscience – it gives me a frickin’ headache!

      • Pretty freaken daunting to try contend with something that ‘has been a central issue since the beginning of philosophical thought‘ (ref).

        It seems that the Argument from free will has a problem with Modal Fallacy, but even if you can get your head around all the logical criticisms you’re just left in a sea of further Compatibilist/Incompatibilist philosophical meanderings to tackle.

        Zagzebski wanders in a different direction and basically suggests that;

        the dilemma of theological fatalism is broader than a problem about free will.

        Regardless of what one thinks of the argument for theological fatalism, there is a more general problem in the logic of time and causation that needs to be addressed.

        aka, don’t bother trying to bake the cake, we’re still at ‘how do I turn the oven on?‘.

        It seems that short of becoming Philosophers, we’re doomed to arrive, regardless of our view, hand in hand at a vast wall of incomprehensibility on this one.

  13. What I find fascinating, offensive and patronising all at once is the attitude that “God is not forcing us to choose between faith an eternal suffering because it doesn’t really say that anywhere in the Bible; that’s not what Jesus teaches”.

    Because that is certainly not what organised religion teaches; and faiths such as Catholicism will brook no level of flexibility on that interpretation.

    So for those of you who take a softer view, where are the lines drawn between the doctrine of organised religion and the substitution of one’s own sense of morality?

    Would it be wrong of me to extend my belief that men and women are equal to say “I won’t encourage my daughter to become part of an organisation that won’t let her lead”?

    • Hey Mr Ewok

      I really like your point actually, I believe what you’re addressing to a large extent is religious dogma.

      It seems (to my limited knowledge) that many of the reformist Christian movements began for similar reasons – started by people that found the religious dogma of their time to be offensive and patronising being spurred into action.

      I may be completely wrong here, but I’m assuming that as Mark is married to a Seventh-day Adventist Christian and attending a Sevvie church, the majority of the Christian presence here will be Adventist, and while perhaps not perfectly unanimous in their understanding individually (like any organisation religious or not), most will likely share a large subset of the same understanding influencing what they write and agree with on this blog.

      So to address your question directly with the above assumption, yeah, you’re probably right, it would be hugely offending and patronising, we’re these responses from a blog full of Catholic Christians. But I think they’re not.

      I’d expect you to see Adventists citing references and belief based primarily on biblical teachings (I think this might be what you’re seeing as the ‘softer view’ here?), especially as they have it as the first point on their list of fundamental beliefs, and as such they have much that clashes with many of the official doctrines of the primal church, perhaps being those that are best known to most people as ‘what organised religion teaches‘, as you put it.

  14. lovin’ all the responses, great thoughts. great questions. Can’t add anymore to what Caryn and Sean have said. But i have one question. Have you read the bible, from cover to cover? (Maybe that should have been on the book club list!)
    Maybe just read for an hour a day, front to back if you like, and then make a judgement. That way you get to know this God/Jesus person, and see if it is someone you would like to go to heaven to get to know more.

    • I can’t say I’ve read it cover to cover. I have read some of the books here and there: Job, Revelations, Genesis, Proverbs some of the Gospels.

      I’d actually like to read more. I was thinking about maybe choosing one of the books from the Bible for a future book club – any suggestions?

      • i’m reading from cover to cover (just cos i don’t like to miss anything!)…i read in conjunction with other books to clarify things i don’t understand. The important thing, i think is to just start reading, then you have the info to help decide.
        The whole thing about God, as exactly that he doesn’t force you to do anything. Loving something can never be forced or coerced, it wouldn’t be love. …and you wouldn’t want to go to heaven if it was just filled with the same people on earth, you want to be with people who think like you do, not people who want to hurt, or beat you up, or steal from you.
        I don’t think we can begin to make a judgement on who will make it to heaven, but unless you like the life of following God, and being with people like that, then maybe you would not like being in heaven.

  15. Hey Man,

    Just started reading your blog and the responses. It’s really refreshing to hear level-headed people discuss such an intense topic compared to the rubbish you read in the paper lately.

    I really respect your view point and completely relate to you when it comes to not wanting to commit to something without jeopardizing your moral integrity. I fight with this issue everyday and know that if I end up folding, in my heart, only I will know that I didn’t do it for the right reasons, and that will make all the difference. However I am not sure I follow you when you wrote
    “I want to go because I was a good person in life, not because I sucked up to an insecure cosmic checker.”
    Because in all honesty dude, if that was the case for a ticket to heaven, I would respectfully decline as well. But more to the point, I honestly don’t think God would want you there for the reasons you stated either unless that is what he really wanted out of you. simply for you to suck up to him?…but was that truly his desire? Follow me if you will and let me explain why I am asking (and excuse my length of msg, I am new to this blog stuff)…

    If you read in 1 Corinthians 13:3-7
    “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

    It simply states that if the intention of a deed that you do is not out of love, then it means nothing.
    If that is the word of God, I highly doubt he would contradict his own teachings for the benefit of his own shear selfishness. And he proved that. He walked the walk and showed his pure unselfish love in what he did for us (John 3:16)
    and I ultimately believe that from the example he showed, was the true lesson he wanted us all to learn. Apologies for the long winded post, I only hope that maybe you could see that it might never have been God’s intention for us to suck up to him to get a seat in the clouds.

    Luv your work dude.

    Peace!

    B’z.

    And Mario – Don’t even think of posting TLTR lol.

    • Thanks old bean – thanks for reading, and thanks for posting! I think you’re right, at some points I’ve gotten it a little twisted just to argue my point – I don’t think God demands our love selfishly, but at times the Bible really does make it seem like that!

  16. You make some excellent points to show just how ludicrous it is to think that God intends to torture billions of people for eternity.

    And how equally ludicrous are the many things people say to justify such a heinous idea, some of which are in these comments.

    Thankfully, Jesus himself believed in no such place, and if all those who believe in Hell would but take his words seriously they would ditch the idea immediately.

    I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters in my book at http://www.thereisnohell.com), but if I may, let me share just one of the many points I make in it to explain why.

    If one is willing to look, there’s substantial evidence contained in the gospels to show that Jesus opposed the idea of Hell. For example, in Luke 9:51-56, is a story about his great disappointment with his disciples when they actually suggested imploring God to rain FIRE on a village just because they had rejected him. His response: “You don’t know what spirit is inspiring this kind of talk!” Presumably, it was NOT the Holy Spirit. He went on, trying to explain how he had come to save, heal and relieve suffering, not be the CAUSE of it.

    So it only stands to reason that this same Jesus, who was appalled at the very idea of burning a few people, for a few horrific minutes until they were dead, could never, ever burn BILLIONS of people for an ETERNITY!

  17. So what if I believe that Jesus existed and that He performed miracles and did incredible things and suffered terribly before his death but also believe that the bible was not faxed to us by God but written by Man?

  18. Lulu, if u believed both you get to experience the joy and wonder of cognitive dissonance.
    If the bible written by man – then how can you be so sure of the miracle / incredible things stories?
    as for comments about reading the babble cover to cover, been there – read that.
    it is the bits in the bible that most people dont read that alarms me ..
    psalm 137 – rivers of babylon story – nice anti-slavery sentiment but read thw whole chapter , end with the joys of smashing babies brains out on the rocks , yes i suggest do read the bible, and then see what you think. I am for the cherry pickers, there is some great stuff there, if you dont want your brains mashed then perhaps read the evil bits as ” lessons in what not to do”

  19. Regarding the omnipotent fallacy;
    Omnipotence, sometimes known as being all-powerful, refers to God’s ability to do absolutely anything God wants. This characteristic is usually treated as implied from God’s characteristic as absolute creator. If God is capable of creating all of existence (whether ex nihilo or ex deo), it is felt that it would be nonsensical to then assert that there are things beyond God’s abilities. Any being capable of creating existence itself must therefore be capable of anything at all — right?

    Unfortunately, the most absolute sense of omnipotent has been found to be incoherent. If God were truly omnipotent in an absolute and unlimited sense, then God could be capable of both existing and not existing at the same time, meaning that every form of theism and every form of atheism would be equally justified at all times simultaneously. Such a God could be capable of informing humans of certain requirements for attaining heaven and avoiding hell but actually holding to entirely different requirements without ever actually lying.

    Clearly, then, any coherent understanding of God and God’s nature requires theologians to place limits of some sort upon God’s alleged omnipotence. The first and most basic limit, designed to avoid problems like those described above, is that of logic: God’s omnipotence means that God can do anything that is logically possible to do. Thus, God cannot make 2 + 2 equal 5, God cannot both simultaneously exist and not exist, and God cannot lie and tell the truth at the same time.

    If omnipotence were God’s only attribute, the logical limitations might be sufficient; however, other limitations have been found to be necessary because of the many other attributes which people tend to assume that God has. Without these limitations, their definition of God would be logically contradictory and it would be reasonable to conclude that God, as defined, cannot exist.

    For example, can God sit down? Although some conceptions of gods in the past allowed for them to be able to sit down, classic philosophical theism has always postulated a non-material, disembodied divinity. Thus, it simply would not be possible for God to sit down — an apparent contradiction to omnipotence, especially since I am capable of sitting down all I want.

    To consider another example, is God capable of committing evil? Or, to use a Christian context, can God sin? Once again, some theistic systems have imagined gods capable of all manner of horrible things; philosophical theism, however, has always imagined a perfectly good God. It is inconceivable to believers in such a god that it would ever sin or do evil — even though humans are obviously quite capable of it.

    etc etc

    • St Augustine’s definition of omnipotence, i.e. that God can do and does everything that God wishes, resolves all possible paradoxes, because God, being perfectly rational, never wishes to do something that is paradoxical.

      etc etc

  20. Thanks for your thoughts Mark (and everyone else). I love that this blog is facilitating open and honest discussion between people who genuinely want to understand each others’ points of view. And I’m glad the Record is getting on board.

    I’m a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, just to put that out there. I like my life right now; I look forward to my life with Jesus in eternity. And I have two things to add to the discussion:

    1. Frankly, I don’t believe God is holding out a chocolate biscuit for those who believe. I think he wants people in Heaven who want to be with him. The whole point of eternal life is that we get to spend it with Jesus, so if that’s not a turn-on for you, you’d be better off consigning yourself and your intellectual honesty to eternal oblivion. Not because you aren’t good enough, but because you wouldn’t enjoy it anyway.

    You say if you go to Heaven, you want to go for the right reasons. Good on you, but the Bible makes it clear that the only good reason to go is because you love Jesus, not because you feel you need to suck up to him.

    I don’t think he’s a God with endless insecurities. He is God, and as such, he’s the only being who deserves our devotion and worship. If any one of us required that kind of singlemindedness, we would rightly be considered to be out of our minds. But because he’s God, and is Love, that is the least we can give.

    2. The ‘omnipotent God’ debate is an interesting one. I am still making up my mind about this – there’s a new (well, newly re-developed) view of God called ‘open theism’ which suggests that God may actually be more interactive with us than traditional theology would allow. It suggests that he limits his power in such a way that he may not in fact know exactly what all the detailed outcomes are, and that he is affected by our choices and our requests. The big picture is decided, we know God triumphs over evil, but he allows for a pretty cosmic view on free will…

  21. I think doing good just so one can reap a reward (“heaven”) is selfish, and though many Christians portray it as moral it’s just the opposite. If you’re going to do good you should do so out of a genuine desire to help others, and/or because it’s the right thing to do. And any god who demands you slave and jump through hoops to get stuff isn’t worth worshiping in the first place.

  22. It’s all a crock of $#!+ mate!

    there is very little logical sense in christianity.

    full of circular reasoning to “prove itself”

    live well and milk life for all its worth.


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