Every once in a while I exercise my right to post something that most people find utterly repulsive. This is one of those posts.
Most Christians believe in a God that judges people for their sins and sends them to eternal heaven or hell based on his judgment. Let me show you how it logically follows from those beliefs, that we should kill all newborns.
To the Christian I ask, do you believe that a newborn goes to heaven if he or she dies? If not, then you cannot claim your God to be a benevolent God. What did a newborn ever do to deserve eternal hellfire?
I’m going to assume that you believe newborns go to heaven if they die. Here is the problem with that belief: Since living life beyond the newborn stage increases the chance that a person sins, thereby reducing the chance that he or she will get into heaven, shouldn’t you take it upon yourself to kill all newborns to ensure their eternal happiness? Sure you would go to hell for your troubles but wouldn’t it be the right thing to do? Wouldn’t it be better for one person to go to hell for killing thousands of babies than for half of those babies to grow up as sinners and go to hell when they die?
The beliefs that; 1) God is benevolent, 2) God is more likely to send grown people to hell than babies, and 3) One shouldn’t kill babies, is not a coherent set of beliefs. At least one of these beliefs must be wrong. If you disagree, please tell me where my reasoning is faulty.
Your questions reveal the inconsistencies of what is believed as Biblical truth. Along with the question: “Since living life beyond the newborn stage increases the chance that a person sins, thereby reducing the chance that he or she will get into heaven”, one could query that “Since God does not want anyone to perish, and since sinning after salvation could send someone to hell, and since heaven is a much better place to be than here on earth, then why doesn’t God take people to heaven as soon as they accept salvation through Jesus, thus assuring that the devil can not reduce one’s chances of getting into heaven? Thus again concepts of a parochial salvation seem inconsistent with a benevolent God who doesn’t want any to perish yet sends unbelievers to an eternity of hell. Don’t these inconsistencies really express how religion is really a human invention?
Jeremiah Dahl said:
You’re operating under a false premise, Christianity orthodoxy denies that sinning after salvation could send someone to hell – in fact Christianity doesn’t even posit that people stop sinning after salvation, which actually means you have two false premises.
So anyone that accepts Jesus is guaranteed to go to heaven no matter how many crimes/sins he or she commits afterwards? What if someone becomes an atheist after being “saved”? Would such blasphemy go unpunished?
Jeremiah Dahl said:
Again, you’re operating under a false premise, and offering a loaded question. Your question presupposes that someone can become an atheist after salvation, which Christianity would deny.
I find it ironic that you say that to a Christian that has become an atheist.
By the way, not all of Christianity believes that salvation guarantees a ticket into heaven.
Jeremiah Dahl said:
Hence why I said Christianity orthodoxy, which adheres to “once saved always saved” in Arminian circles, or “perseverance of the saints” in Calvinistic ones.
Christianity would not deny that many may appear to accept the faith, and then fall away – the key word would be appear.
So years ago when I believed and accepted Jesus Christ, was I only doing it for appearances or had I deluded myself into thinking that I had accepted Christ?
Jeremiah Dahl said:
Well that depends entirely on what you believed Christianity was.
And what you have is the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy, tweaked a bit to fit your religion. If you claim that we were never christians to begin with even though many of us displayed all the ‘fruits’ of having been ‘born again’, than you need to change your pitch when you are addressing a potential convert.
What the pitch is is that one can be saved and KNOW that you have eternal life, and it be true.
I had this experience and knowledge for 20 years, and was totally convinced that I was saved and going to heaven.
I now realize that it’s all a sham, but I couldn’t have been convinced of that either back then.
And here you come saying that I was actually never saved or a christian, so your salvation pitch needs to include that the potential convert may do, feel, and believe all of the required things…but somehow God doesn’t do his part.
And you cannot tell the difference between being saved and only THINKING you are saved.
Granted I don’t think I was saved then, anymore than you are saved now. Its a mind game.
But if I wasn’t a ‘true believer’ than there is no such thing.
Jeremiah Dahl said:
What is a Christian, in your definition (so that I know I’m not equivocating)?
The fallacy mentioned doesn’t reference anything outside of the case in point, which I do, as I would reference Scripture. Granted, if you want to accuse me of begging the question with regards to Scripture, then that’s fine; you must presuppose your ultimate authority/first principle – whatever it is, reason included, otherwise it’s not ultimate/first – and with Scripture being mine, it must be presupposed.
This is precisely why it puzzles me that christians are usually rabidly anti-abortion. As I told my sister, if christianity would happen to be true I would FAR rather have been aborted at birth than grow up only to be kindling for God’s torture chamber.
Good post, and very easily points out yet another absurdity in the christian belief system.
I’ve put this to several bible thumping christians that I know and all they do is stutter and quote some obscure bible verse. (In all fairness, all bible verses are obscure to me.)
Yeah, my sis said that the end doesn’t justify the means. Which makes no sense either, when you think that a fetus goes from having virtually no self-awareness, or pain and suffering straight to a paradise of unimaginable proportions,
Vs. being born in a crazy world of pain and also joy, in all likelihood dying and spending the next few trillions eons sizzling. And that is just getting started on the grill.
Yep, if christianity is true the ends would justify any means possible to get your kid to heaven. Killing it at birth would be the kindest action a parent could do.
Fortunately its a fairy tale, and a dying one at that.
Jeremiah Dahl said:
You’re imposing a utilitarian system upon a Christian one, of course it’s going to be inconsistent. In terms of logic, you’ve committed a logical fallacy known as a complex or loaded question. That is to say, since your question presupposes utilitarianism as a proper ethic – which Christianity denies – the question is skewed from the start.
It is not a loaded question if the assumptions are justified. My assumption that it is better that one person suffers eternal hellfire than for thousands of people to suffer eternal hellfire, is a utilitarian assumption. It does not presuppose the properness of utilitarianism as a system of ethics.
Jeremiah Dahl said:
If your question does not presuppose the properness of utilitarianism, then your entire argument can be dismissed just by pointing out that utilitarianism isn’t a legitimate ethic regardless of what it’s applied to, which in this case is Christianity. Thus, Christians shouldn’t be killing babies because only a utilitarian viewpoint would argue that they should, and utilitarianism is wrong.
If you question does presuppose the properness of utilitarianism (which I would argue it does, since the only way you can ask the question you have is if you presuppose it’s properness), then your argument can be dismissed on the grounds that you’re operating on a false premise. So either way, your argument is invalid.
Please keep the comments on subject.You are arguing against a straw man. My assumption is utilitarian in nature but that doesn’t justify bringing the whole system of utilitarianism into the argument. Since you’re coming from a Christian point of view, I could ask you to prove the existence of God but I don’t. It’s just not relevant to the immediate subject at hand anymore than utilitarianism is.
Jeremiah Dahl said:
If your assumption is utilitarian in nature, and if utilitarianism as a system is wrong, then your assumption is also wrong. That’s why it’s relevant, because if the system is wrong then so is the assumption which employs it.
But still, you’re not arguing that utilitarianism is right, so we agree there. What you’re arguing is that if utilitarianism were right, and if we apply it to infant salvation, then it would follow that we should kill babies. The thrust of the argment is in the repulsion we should obviously feel at the thought of killing babies, which therefore attempts to conclude that Christianity is wrong. The problem is that it doesn’t prove Christianity wrong because it doesn’t even address Christianity, it simply uses an example from Christianity to argue against a utilitarian ethic. It doesn’t prove Christianity wrong, it proves utilitarianism wrong, which has nothing to do with Christianity.
You can argue against utilitarianism all day long and you won’t hear a peep from the Christians, because we disagree with it too.
Jeremiah Dahl said:
Or, I guess, it might just be simpler to say that your fallacy is one of ‘false premise’, where the false premise is the supposition that utilitarian ethics are legitimate.
My assumption that it is better for one person to suffer eternal hellfire than for thousands of persons to suffer eternal hellfire, might be utilitarian but what is your point? I don’t think Christians would disagree with this assumption, do you?
Jeremiah Dahl said:
The value judgement of “better” requires one to work within the utilitarian ethic, which the Christian would not view as legitimate. Therefore it’s a loaded question.
In other words… it is not better that one person sacrifices himself for the salvation of all the others. Ironic, don’t you think, given the whole Jesus on the cross for you thing?
Jeremiah Dahl said:
Again, ‘better’ – as defined by utilitarianism – doesn’t factor into it. As long as you approach the issue from that angle you’re not discussing Christianity and therefore fail to make an argument against it.
Insofar as your blog post is arguing against something, it is arguing against utilitarianism, not against Christianity. Take the utilitarianism out of your original post and you’re left with nothing to say.
X-A, To my thinking, it’s the same premise of Jehovah’s Witnesses who claim only 144,000 people are going to be allowed into heaven, yet spend much of their lives trying to get others to join their church. How does that make any sense? The more converts the better your chances, but what happens when one of your converts converts more people than you?
(Sometimes you make my brain hurt… I never do as much thinking about this stuff as when you post and people like J Dahl comment.)
Hello, xamishatheist, We have centuries of religious orthodox over-writings. The premise, God is benevolent, is contradicted by the doctrine of eternal hell. Since 1875 scholars have been studying the etymology of the word eternal and it has been proven to mean, age or aion, in the original Greek & Hebrew Bible manuscripts (as well in ancient Greek classical literature contemporary with the first New Testaments). I have been abit of an isolated person, (I do like Wifi coffee places however) who has spent 45 years reading & studying in our public libraries & university with a special library card. I spent 300 hours reading the scholars who also corrected the meanings of the hell, hades & Gehenna. In many cases hell means, “unseen state” or grave, prison. see http://www.tentmaker.org ScholarsCorner. Also http://www.hopebeyondhell.net “In Christ all shall be made alive.” 1 Cor. 15:22 You seem like an honest seeker of knowledge & I like the respectful tone of your postings…thank you. ct101
I have spent some time studying these things as well, though not to the extent that you have. I think a lot of the contradictions and nonsensical things in Christianity are the result of popular misinterpretations of the ancient texts.
Fran Shultis said:
First of all, since you’re not going to post your name I’m going to give you one so I feel like I’m writing to a human being. Let’s see, how about Luke?
Luke, you love to debate. And you are a seeker. Wonderful traits to have so long as it’s not taken to the point of annoyance.
I read most of the comments and banter. I found it boring, much like, “Let’s see who can be the wittiest.” I wonder if your remarks/questions are sincere or if you just want to one-up someone. If you are sincere I would like to have an e-mail “conversation” with you. I think you are.
Argumentation is a process whereby knowledge is gained and/or exchanged through reasoning and reasoned debate. I am sorry that you mistook it for boring banter and attempts at wittiness. My email address is xamishatheistATgmailDOTcom if you wish to email me.
Greetings X! It’s been a while since I last checked in, and seeing the upcoming season of Breaking Amish promos reminded me of you so I decided to pop by to see if anything new and interesting had been posted. My brain has been getting a little fuzzy without the stimulating debates among your posters. Unfortunately, all I found was (IMHO) a rather rude comment left by Fran Shultis proclaiming all of us boring. How dare she! I am one of the least boring people I know. The burning question is… did she send you an e-mail or was she merely blowing smoke up your skirt to get a response? And why wouldn’t she engage here so we could all join in? I have suspicions about anyone who doesn’t like a little witty repartee served with their discourse.
Hope you’re doing well.
Heidi Waple said:
Dear, xamish. I would like to answer your question. You have a good arguement, but please let me explain what I have learner through my relationship with God. From the moment we are born, we are born sinners. In fact that is exactly why Jesus payed the price for our sins. This is what I have come to know as provenient “Grace” kind of like a gift that you receive. A gift of everlasting life. This is a gift we ALL have received. Jesus died to give us eternal life. In order for us to be with God forever (heaven) all we truly have to do is except this gift. I excepted Jesus as my savor when I was 11 years old and could understand. As a baby we aren’t able to except or understand his gift. We are innocent. As far as sin…if you truly except Jesus’s gift of everlasting life, and how he suffered for you, he will “live inside” you. In your heart. You will want to do what is right. You will automatically try not to sin. Not because someone tells you not to, not because you are afraid of going to hell, not because you want to look good around other people. Because you a Love Him. As he Loves You ❤
There is only One unforgivable sin, not excepting his gift.
If you want more information, or would like to speak with me about this more feel free to contact me. Please don't give up on God because of things you have gone through in the past. He loves you, and I would love to help you experience a "relationship" with him. A LOVING one. Heidi W Middletown Pa
Hi Heidi and thanks for your comment! There are several things I want to respond to.
1) I didn’t become an atheist because of anything I have “gone through in the past”. I became an atheist because I thought long and hard about the existence of God.
2) In my heart, I also want to do what is right. I do not need God, Jesus, or religion to be a moral person.
3) You say that we are born sinners but later you say babies are innocent. Which is it? It seems like a contradiction to me.
Heidi Waple said:
Hello xamish, babies are innocent, as are anyone unable to understand, or unaware of the gift that they have received. You see Jesus already saved us….we cannot ‘save’ ourselves or get other people “saved” they already have been given that gift they just need to except it. Look at it kind of like this. If I give you a gift, you can throw it away, not open it, not experience all it has to offer. Some may decide not to except it because they have had bad experiences with other gifts and maybe were disappointed, others may hate the person giving it to them, others may open it use it for their pleasure and throw it to the side when they get tired of it. Others may think its fake, and decide they dont want it. Others may not even realize they got a gift, and would even be able to open it. Babies,the very young, and other folks who are unable to understand (mentally disabled), the gift they have received are innocent. How can someone who has no understanding of receiving a gift be guilty of not opening it? Your question was how can we be born sinners, but yet babies are innocent? The answer is simple Sins are NOT what makes us guilty of going to heaven or Hell. Again that’s why Jesus paid the price for us. If that was the case No one would be going to heaven because we could never be free of sin. What keeps us from”heaven” (with) God, and sends us to “Hell” (without) God (seperated from him) is not excepting the gift of eternal life with him. I even dare to push this arguement in saying that even someone who is 30 years old who hasn’t heard about Jesus and their gift is also innocent like a baby. I on the other hand…If I turn from this truth knowing what has been given to me and I throw it away and don’t use it, then I will be in Hell here on earth and when I die because I will be without God. I know you feel God does not exist, but he exists in me. 🙂
Heidi, you have once again painted yourself into yet another dilemma. If those ‘unable to understand’ or a 30 year old who hasn’t heard are ‘innocent like a baby’ then actually TELLING them the ‘good news’ would be a horrible injustice, since they then would be able to be sent to hell. Missionaries would be doing a criminal act.
Being born mentally deficient would be far better than being born healthy minded, with hell to pay for not believing what is absurd on it’s face.
Face it, logic is not on your side.
Heidi Waple said:
Good point Matt, I see how that makes sense “logically” why would I tell someone about God, and possibility help send them to hell? Personally I want for them to experience the love I have experienced, if they choose to not except it that’s their choice. If you give someone a knife they can use it for cutting themselves loose from ties or they can stab themselves with it and bleed to death. Did you commit a “criminal act” because you gave them the knife to set them free of their ties, and They choose to stab theirselves instead? And if we really want to speak logically look up the defenition of the word “exist”. God “exist”. Please don’t find my option disrespectful. I do see your logic and respect your beliefs. In fact I grow up much like you in a “fundamental” church who basically made me feel like I could do nothing right and God was right there ready to lash me! Everything from your hair length to your dress length was judged. It was such a radical way of looking at God and the Bible. A way that Only benefited the people making the rules. But I can truly tell you that when you “truely” meet God you will want others to meet him too.
“Personally I want for them to experience the love I have experienced”
A very strange love this is. Accept it or go to the special torture chamber reserved for those who DON’T accept the ‘love’.
No thanks, Heidi. I love my kids completely. Never would I even begin to entertain the thought of inflicting gruesome pain on them for not returning the favor . Love such as this is tyrannical , vindictive and diabolical. I want no part or parcel of it and neither should you.
You are serving a monster of epic proportions. Thankfully he exists only in your mind.
Heidi Waple said:
Wow, Matt I’m so sorry you haven’t experienced the unconditional love I have felt. Sounds like you are already in that torture chamber. We all have free will to choose who we serve. I respect your position. The God I know isn’t a monster, unfortunately, your experiences in life lead you to believe different. I hope someday you will experience what I have.
” I’m so sorry you haven’t experienced the unconditional love I have felt. ”
I HAVE experienced unconditional love…from my kids, my wife , and my family, and many friends. I’m completely content and happy.
The difference is that if for some reason my family would not love me, or would for whatever reason even DISOWN me, I wouldn’t dream of punishing them in any way for that. Moral people with a conscience don’t do that. Evil dictators do.
Your God would, and even designed a place specifically for that purpose(according to your religion) . That doesn’t even begin to qualify as love, and isn’t even on the same dictionary page as unconditional love.
On another note, a kid dies of starvation every 3 seconds around the world. This doesn’t even mention the millions who are being beaten, molested and tortured RIGHT NOW!
If I could stop it…I would. That’s another difference between me and your God.
So at the moment I have two major things that I am light years better than your God , so I’m not inclined to stoop so low as to revere your deity.
He sucks. Really really bad. Fortunately he’s imaginary.
Matt, it seems to me that another support of your point of human unconditional love is that unconditional love is not limited to Christian practice. Other religions also can express unconditional love in their traditions. Even atheist can express unconditional love, which your comments are an example of it. Thus one does not need a concept of deity to practice agape love, altruism, unconditional love. Some animals have even demonstrated loyalty and love, even unconditional love; and of course do so without a ‘concept of’ or ‘belief in’ a deity. The common denominator in all religions and expressions of love could be our dopamine neurotransmitters in our brain as suggested by Fred Previc, a neuroscientist, along with others. Dopamine is the “feel good” drug which is naturally in human bodies and some animal bodies and everyone wants to feel good. Dopamine is involved in romance, love, altruism, religious experiences, enjoyable foods, sexuality, substance abuse, and really all kinds of addictions, (that is a very simplistic description of dopamine and scientifically it is much more involved than just those areas). Thus those spiritual experiences and spiritual mountain-top emotions perhaps are really just our dopamine activators, a dopamine high (a religious addiction) and humans have termed those visions, voices, out-of-body experiences, trances, and near death experiences and guardian angel experiences as ‘spirituality’, ‘God contacts’, or the ‘Holy Spirit of God’.
Matt, I don’t think you understand what Heidi was saying. And you seem angry. And your not being nice. Everyone else is a having a calm, and thoughtful conversation. Please stop being so… arrogant and think before you post. No one else is being rude. Thanks.
Elizabeth, the only thing I’m angry about is how religion manages to twist good people’s minds into accepting that inflicting eternal torment for any possible reason, much less for simply not believing a supernatural claim, is not a bad thing.
Once a premise like this is accepted, any other absurdity concocted is swallowed whole, and critical thinking is suspended as long as the first idea goes unchallenged.
I wasn’t being mean, you just disagree with my assessment of your deity, and since you have a god made in your mind it feels like any negative comments in regard to him, is a personal attack on you.
Your emotions immediately label me as mean as a way of dismissing my points.
And even if I was a mean person, it would have no impact on the fact that the Yahweh in your book is a monster. Blaming my tone is only a way of deflecting the obvious.
John Irvine said:
Western religions got off on the wrong start by claiming their books to be true – the east is less concerned about literal truth – As an older gent who has spent a great deal of time studying religion, I can categorically say and prove that all the books of the west are not true, literally or historically. For us who believe in the non material basis of the universe et al, we have the universal mind theory – or all is mind – this is the most credible, because due to Quantum Science we know that the manifest universe is not real. Most scientists say it is all energy, but mind shapes quantum reality so mind is pre-eminent, and most probably primal.
We really need amish people though as we are facing resource scarcity right now, and we need the amish to help scale up animal traction in agriculture – this is real, I’m not trying to be funny!!
I like this:
For religion to survive, at all, I think they will all have to become more like the eastern “religions”. They need to move away from the omnipotent punisher hiding in the sky and focus on themselves.
you’ve really been making me think…
At first I was all like “Ya, why ARNT we killing babies?” but then I realized why. as a Christian, I believe that the whole reason that God created Lucifer was so that he would become evil, be cast out of heaven, and settle here on earth until the great battle. The whole point of God doing that was so that Satan could tempt us; gave us the choice of good and bad. Babies are innocent. they don’t know good or bad. so yes, I believe that a baby will got to heaven if it dies, but if you kill it, that is unfair on two accounts. First of all, I believe that you would go to Hell, and secondly, it would be unfair to that baby because they did not have to opportunity to choose. Catch my drift?
Why is it important for a baby or anyone to have the opportunity to “choose” if going to heaven is the most important outcome? I have been told in the past that “God created humans so that he could have people “choose” to love and worship him compared to angels who have no choice. Yet it seems to me that “Lucifer” supposedly created by God, did have such a choice as well as the numerous angels that rebelled with him that were cast out of heaven! If that is correct, then angels did have a choice and there would be no value of God creating humanity to possibly spend an eternity worshiping him since he already had such with the angels. He could have created more angels if he needed more. Secondly, why didn’t Yahweh destroy Satan as soon as he rebelled against god like god did with numerous others in the Bible: i.e human wickedness and Nephilim ‘giants’ destroyed by the flood in Gen 6, Lot’s wife turned to a pillar of salt for looking back at the city in Gen. 19:26, Nadab and Abihu used unauthorized fire in a sacrifice in Lev. 10:1-2, Achan and his family in Jos 7:24, Korah and accomplices who rose up against Moses in Nu 16:1-3 & 30-35, Uzzah in 2 Sam 6:6 who died instantly when trying to steady a falling ark, Onan in Gen 38:8-10, Ananias and Sopphira in Ac 5:1-10, etc. It seems god could have prevented much suffering and bloodshed by destroying a satan. And third, if Yahweh can make every knee bow in the end, and if the first covenant was faulty according to Paul, why didn’t god provide for a second covenant and his salvific person of Jesus much earlier in human history and make every knee bow back in Noah’s time, or at the tower of Babel time or with Melchizedek, and initiate a new heaven and earth and eternity then? Again much suffering, sinful living, rebellion could have been prevented. People could have still reproduced in the new earth (1000 year reign or even make it longer, like 6000 years or eternity).
I don’t believe that Lucifer had a choice. I believe that God created him knowing and with the intention of betraying him. He did not immediately damn him to Hell because Satan is his tool. he uses Satan to give us a choice. What we want, or Him? Good or evil? I also think think that the reason he decided to give us choices is because, well, can you even imagine having a bunch of angels loving you forever no exception?
(Im sorry Lord if this is wrong) But I would assume unconditional love could get pretty boring. If that’s wrong, I also believe that he is a kind and loving God. I don’t image it would be kind to have slaves of love. (That’s the angels job)
yes he could have stopped suffering, but that’s not the point. suffering is a test to see whether the person being tested REALLY loves God and can hold on to his or her faith. Think of all the people who get mad at God whenever something bad happens to them. If you were God, would you want people like that in Heaven?
Interesting perspective, Elizabeth; though I see it differently. Choice or no choice, I think Mutual Altruism would be very desirable and god could easily have related that way with the angels and they with god, just like god supposedly had that kind of relationship with Adam initially and Eve when she was created, according to the Gen. account. Thus it would not be a boring, slave, forced “worshiping”. Your thoughts sound nice to have people want to be with another, I agree; I like to know people want to be with me, relate, care for me because they value it rather than because they think I want it or they have to “tolerate”, indulge me, etc. But the other side of that choice issue is it also can make the deity somewhat of a Bully, Either worship me as I want you to or else life will be very miserable and eternity will be even worse. That doesn’t really sound like to me to be a “real, loving choice” for someone. Furthermore if the deity really is all loving, universal for all people, and doesn’t want anyone to perish, it seems that the deity would make the conditions very clear on how to achieve that “positive relationship”. Instead there are over 40,000 differing Christian denominations today with many suggesting they are the only way and others will still end up in Hell. There has always been, even from the first century, much disagreement on how to really serve Jesus; and prior to that the Jews also had various groups also saying how Yahweh wanted true worshipers and other groups were totally wrong to the point that they killed each other over the issues. So, again, if god wanted relationship, why didn’t he make a Messiah savior available early in human history? A couple of books you may find interesting are: 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian by Guy Harrison; How Jesus Became Christian by Barrie Wilson (which has an excellent background and history of Judaism and Christianity), The Evolution of God by Robert Wright (which gives a good historical view of the origin of religion in general and the Abrahamic religions). Your view, perspective of a Lucifer’s origin and function may be correct, Elizabeth, and I may be wrong; then again, it could be the other way around. There are over 7 billion people in the world with just over 2 billion who claim to be under the Christian umbrella but yet who also reject many others of the 2 billion as not being authentic Christians. (Many of those two million possible Christians may have yet alternative views of our discussion). This also means there are 5-6 billion or more people that are going to a hell (not even counting the people already deceased since the beginning of time whenever that was) if all other religions are wrong and Jesus is the only way, provided one finds the “proper, authentic” only way. That just doesn’t seem very loving from a deity that claims universal love, who loves people even while they are yet “sinners”, who has made the conditions for salvation so ambiguous from so many differing views. Again that seems more like a bully harassing playground school kids to sort of guess what it takes to get on her/his good side and hope one doesn’t accidentally anger the bully, thus again being victimized.
Abraham was a person who followed “all of Yahweh’s precepts, laws, and commandments. Does that mean that Abraham believed just like modern Christians today, assuming we have identified the correct way? Or does that mean that Abraham kept all the ten commandments and 613 Levitical laws even before they were given since Yahweh is the noted as being the same yesterday, today, and forever? Would Abraham be allowed to be a member of your local church? There were only about 5 commands that had been given up to Abraham’s time, perhaps ye only had to obey those to get the positive rating from Yahweh? Yet Abraham sort of prostituted his wife twice to save his own skin as well as other weaknesses and he was polygamous and possibly not as monotheistic as we have thought. David also was a man after gods own heart, yet his behavior would get him kicked out of most Christian churches today, even kicked out of American politics. Many other Biblical patriarchs also have numerous weaknesses, yet god affirms them and uses them to lead his chosen people. Yes this could be an example of a loving, forgiving deity; or it could be an example of an inconsistent deity that even Jews prior to Jesus era debated about.
Good point. in fact, I hardly know what to say, and I’m not even being sarcastic.
If you think about it…. well, do you have children? If you found out that your son was doing drugs you would still love him, right? you would warn him about what will happen if he continues to use drugs. you might punish him to drive the point home. If you catch him doing it again, and again, and again, will you still love him? I should hope that your answer was yes. Even though you have to punish him or even send him away, you still love him and you didn’t WANT to send him away. I think its like that with God. We are the sinning children. He doesn’t want to send us to Hell if we don’t accept him, but he will. Does that make sense?
I do understand that there are several groups of ‘Christians’ out in the world, but as you say, we wont know until we die. Until then, we can only believe what we want. I am Baptist. xamishatheist is an atheist. Who is right and who is wrong? Who’s to say either of us are right; we both may be wrong. However, it is what we choose to believe.
Also, maybe all of the ‘Christians’ of the world are right. Yes, the different groups have different opinions, but they all believe that there is only one God, and that Jesus died to save us, yes? Is that not the point of Christianity? the bible is specific about some things, and foggy about others. does it matter?
Abraham was human. He was also punished. Are you familiar with one of Jesus’s disciples Peter? Peter sinned again and again and again. Yet Jesus still loved him. Peter disowned Jesus three times in one day: the same day that Jesus was crucified. Yet Peter, I believe, was Jesus’s favorite disciple. Why? Because Peter was the kind of man that Jesus was sent to save. Peter -and yes Abraham- were the reason that Jesus died on the cross.
I don’t go to church. I know how crazy this makes me sound, but I just haven’t found a church yet that I agree with. I feel like they always twist the scripture to something that I don’t like or agree with, or the preachers sound fake. so, sorry that I cant answer that question. I can say, however, probably not. However, something’s that were acceptable then are not now.
Thanks for your openness to dialogue even though we may see things differently. I have spent the last 4 years researching the Origin of Religions and it has been fascinating. It seems to me that humans needed explanations for why good and bad things happened that didn’t seem to be from any specific cause. Thus deity and religion evolved to explain natural causes, storms, drought, illness, or a needed rain, lots of hunting success, etc. Deity and religion were means of explaining what we now use science to explain. Mental illness, for example, used to be seen as an issue of sin or demon possession; but today science can treat it with medicine and therapy. Thus Assyrians, Egyptians, Hebrew, Greeks, Native Americans, all came up with explanations of the origin of their perceived deity. Thus all religious texts are human invented. Christianity is somewhat based on Judaism, yet what Jesus taught and what Paul taught are quite different. Paul never met Jesus, and his message is all derived from a vision. So is Mormonism derived from a vision that Joseph Smith had. We have assumed, due to 2000 years of church history, that Christianity is the valid, correct one and all others are mythological. Yet Jews differed very significantly centuries before Christ as to how they should be worshiping Yahweh. The Old Testament texts are also based on visions, voices that they thought the heard. There are numerous disagreeing texts in the Old and new Testaments and an all loving Yahweh who is omniscient and all powerful wouldn’t inspire contradicting stories of events.
I grew up in the church and have spent my life working in the church, but finally came to a point of being more honest with myself, recognizing that I have had many questions about it even as a late teenager, but never felt I could express those questions because I would be shot down and that I was probably wrong. Yet the evidence points otherwise for me. Yes if I had a child, could be daughter, that chose to do drugs, I would discipline. But your analogy relates to humans, and our discussion originates with a deity, Thus if I were a deity and had a daughter like Eve that I loved and created, I would not create the dangers for her. In the creation story, every plant was good, thus there were no bad plants. Yet Yahweh created a tree whose fruit would teach good and evil. Why? Why make evil available? nOw we are back to our earlier question, and I just don’t think Yahweh or any deity created a SAtan to do bad things to test people. Those are the imaginations of humans to explain the existential aspects of human and natural life. I can no longer premise my life and decisions on a faith based world view, and have moved to a scientific based humanitarian world view. Religion is the only area of human life that is based on faith, regardless and in the absence of evidence. All other areas of life are based on evidence. So why do we continue to “live by faith” in religion but not in other areas? I just had surgery, the doctors did wonderful. Friends prayed that I would be healed and that the Dr. would get all the cancer. So was that an answer to prayer based on their faith? Would the Dr. have been able to do just as well even if friends hadn’t prayed? Did their prayers give the Dr. more knowledge to do the surgery than what they knew prior to my particular case? If I really functioned by faith, I wouldn’t have gone to the Dr. at all, just believed by faith that God would heal me, and if he didn’t then it was his will for me to die. I could believe the same about Santa, or Zeus, or Appolo, or Diana or Isis. I just pray earnestly and with sincere faith to them to be healed, but if they don’t, I accept that it is their desire that I die. If I was healed, would that prove that whichever non-Christian god I prayed to must be real? I went to the Dr. not because I had faith in them nor because I had faith in a deity that may have blessed them with intellectual skills, but I went to the Dr. because there is good evidence that there would be good results. If praying had the same rate of success as medical knowledge yields, most people would depend on that and save the medical costs. There certainly are many others in the comments above whose world view is similar to mine, and there are those who would take a more literal faith orientation as you have. So again, who is right? You are correct in your point that it is what people choose to believe, and this is where I am at in my journey right now.
First of all, I just want to say that I am really enjoying this conversation. Thank you for YOUR openness and honesty about these topics!!
Taking this in another direction…. what are your views about how the earth was created? Do you really believe that everything just… happened? That two huge rocks collided and created the earth? Just happened to be close enough to the sun that we don’t freeze, and just far enough away that we don’t burn? Do you believe that somehow space dust became bacteria became plant and animal and people? Look around you. Tell me that our world is not amazing enough to be made from more than dust. Besides… if things evolved (Which they do, I just don’t believe the way atheists claim) fine, but I want to know HOW. HOW did they evolve and why? wouldn’t everything just stay the same? What allowed the bacteria to evolve? What did the bacteria evolve from? And if we humans evolved from apes and monkeys… why are there still apes and monkeys? Why didn’t they evolve? Why are there different skin colors? I believe that once the world was mixed until the tower of Babylon happened. What do you believe? Yes, chimps share about 98% of our DNA, but guess what? Bananas share about 60% of our DNA. How do you explain that? Did we evolve from bananas too?
I understand that you cant possibly have all the answers because your not a scientist.. but surly you know something? I know what I think. Why does it have to be complicated? When people ask me how I think the world happened… I say “God.”
And I likewise am enjoying this dialogue. This is a very good question and numerous books have been written from both perspectives to “prove” their perspective. To begin with, perhaps you are assuming I am not a scientist, what makes you make that assumption? Well you are sort of correct, I am not a scholarly scientist with degrees, though I am a retired teacher that has studied and taught some science. But of course that by no means equates or qualifies me to speak definitively about scientific knowledge. But it does give me some background. Secondly, I simply admit that I don’t know how the world was created and maintain that no one else knows definitively either. We were NOT there to witness it! Therefore humanity has tried to figure it out from clues, evidence, etc. we have available to us. Today humanity uses science to explain our life, while earlier eras used deity and religion to explain the unknown. Storms, illness, blessings, etc. were assumed to be generated by a deity or deities to punish or reward humans. Even wars were viewed as being won or lost based on a deity’s purpose, not on the strength of the warriors, (and this can be shown with Biblical and non-biblical writings.) Mental illness was due to sin or demonic possession (and some still believe that) while most even “Conservative Christians” who have had relatives with mental illness are recognizing today that medical knowledge has learned the biology of mental illness and can successfully treat it. There are very few insane asylums anymore, certainly mental hospitals, but even those are fewer because we don’t just put people away, we treat them. Epilepsy was considered both a demonic (by some) and spiritual experience (by others) in ancient times, while today medicine is available to allow these people to have very normal lives. I can no longer view the Genesis account of creation as absolute fact, inerrant inspired words of a deity named Yahweh. There are just too many disagreements in the Biblical texts for it to be absolute from a deity. Chapters 1 and 2 in Genesis disagree. Sure some, like Ken Ham at the Creation Museum have explanations to explain the differences, but if one uses such explanations, then one is no longer taking the Bible accounts as literal, which is their claim. In Gen. 1 humans were created on the 6th day, but in Gen 2 Adam alone was created at the beginning with Eve being the last thing created and the order of things created in the two accounts are different also. The flood also has two accounts. Those two only begin to scratch the surface of disagreeing texts. Google it and you can find numerous info. I have compiled a lists of over 120 examples of Biblical disagreements and incongruous texts before I found the googled lists.
I agree that biological life seems so complicated and awesome that it just couldn’t happen by chance, and I agree that there are scientific knowledge and historical artifacts, dinosaur bones and others, fossils, petrified items, civilization ruins, etc. that don’t fit into traditionally assumed Biblical datings of a 6000 year old earth. The facts don’t correlate for me. So I simply don’t know, but there seems to be more physical evidence to support evolution theory than what I call Biblical theory, (since Biblical accounts are also theory based on faith that it is true because the Bible says it is true). As you note, things have evolved, mutated, etc., but just how it all would have happened, well I don’t know. It doesn’t seem logical for all to evolve, develop from one original cell, there is so much diversification in biological life. Yet there may be a potential explanation. When a seed germinates, it has to have just the right combination of moisture and temperature to begin the sprouting. As it grows, the seed differentiates into different kinds of cells for the plant to function. If cells only reproduce themselves like a one celled amoeba, how can the cells in a seed differentiate? Also human sperm and egg have to come together in the womb with just the right combinations to begin growing. The sperm cell and the egg combine and begin to reproduce itself, yet the new cells soon begin differentiating into very different kinds of cells, skin, bone, organs, eye lens that is transparent, hair, etc. Since this happens repeatedly, why couldn’t a cell develop and over time slowly mutate into various differing kinds of life forms? I don’t know, but it is as probable to me as a blind faith that a deity created everything out of nothing, which incidentally is the evolution theory that it began with a blast of energy from nothing. The fact that I can’t fully explain it nor can anyone else, does not “prove” to me that a deity must exist and must have done it. That is what early humanity also concluded for all of life, yet we have numerous things we now explain with science that was once thought to be Biblical fact from a deity. Thus another list I have compiled are things that once were believed as absolute fact from a God, Yahweh, are now not believed to be absolute. The flat earth theory is such an example and people were persecuted, punished, killed for believing the earth was round. The Bible said there were 4 corners on the earth, therefore it is flat. I have compiled yet another list of 68 things that were once considered to be Biblical absolutes from scripture that are no longer believed today. Also there are over 25 New Testament commands that conservative, fundamentalists no longer obey even though they say they take the Bible literally and follow all of gods commands. So no I can’t explain the origin of the earth, but my inability to explain it does not prove there must be a deity; rather it seems to prove that “I and others simply don’t know”. To note that earth is at just the right distance from the sun, neither too hot nor too cold for life to exist seems like a good point to “prove” the existence of an omniscient deity. Yet there are life forms in Antarctica that are very different and could not exist in the tropics or on mountain tops, thus have developed very differently on the same earth. Originally it was believed that God made the earth and then everything around it with the sun rotating around the earth. Again science has countered that, and that now we know there are billions of stars (suns) in the solar system. I am willing to conjecture that it is quite possible that there are other “earths” out there that could also have a form of life that has developed within the environment of that particular planet just like various life forms have developed here to fit the Antarctica environment verses the tropical environment. The nearest star is 4 light years away, too far for us to get to in our life time. I am impressed how fundamentalist, literalistic Christians authenticate science, our ability to calculate distance of planets, send space ships, people, and return them accurately or how electronic microscopes tell us the parts in a cell, yet when science “discovers” something that seems to counter Biblical knowledge believed by faith, then they say science must be wrong. Thus I have moved from a faith based world view to a science based humanitarian world view because it makes more sense, it explains more things even though I don’t know for sure.
Atheists are not out to prove that the Bible is wrong, they don’t really care. They are atheists because they don’t believe there is a Yahweh god or any other deity. Early Christians were not persecuted because they believed in God and Jesus, they were persecuted because they didn’t believe in the Roman gods, (Romans were polytheistic and believed in many gods) and therefore the Romans called them atheists also because Christians said “only” their god was real. Most of the 7 billion people today don’t believe in Apollo, or Marduke, or Zeus, or Diana, or Isis, or the Muslim god Allah, or etc.? The simply don’t believe those gods exist, and that they are mythical, human ideas. Thus one can call them also an atheist in relationship to those deity. So I see the Bible as also mythological, Judaic and Christian stories to explain origins of humanity, life, sin, and a heavenly eternity if one does things exactly right. And that seems to me to be no different than other cultures even preceding Biblical accounts. Assyrians, Egyptians, Mesopotamian,and Ugarite texts from Canaan have written records older than Biblical records that are quiet similar to some Biblical records, which raises the question if Biblical beliefs and stories were borrowed from them. Writing was invented about 3000 BC but Biblical records were begun at best about 1450 BC and many Biblical scholars suggest that Genesis etc was not begun in written form until about 1000 BC, David’s time frame. If Yahweh God is a universal, all loving, omnipotent, omniscient deity as we have been told, why didn’t he have his people writing text much sooner? Now I am back to my point earlier that god could have had a savior messiah person so much sooner in history.
Sorry this is perhaps too long, but it says what I believe. I have been accused that when I answer questions, my “teacher” role jumps into gear. So forgive me if I am getting too wordy.
NO! It’s good! I’m eating this stuff up. I really do wonder what others think and you are explaining it wonderfully:)
Elizbeth, I did not really address your questions about whether humans came from monkeys. No I don’t think humans derived from monkeys as we know them today. I do think that there may be a common ancestor and that different lines slowly developed, some more monkey like, some more ape like, some more chimp like, etc. and some more human like and now we have various distinct species. I am not a biologist, nor a geneticist so I don’t know if this is a good example or not. We do have humans that are born with an unusual DNA structure known as Down’s Syndrome. Humanity has tended to discourage Downs Syndrome people to reproduce. But if they would have been encouraged to do so and if they became a more isolated exclusive group in a given geographic area, we could have a civilization like that. And if a strong leader of Downs would develop a value system preferring Downs infants over other (what we call “normal”) infants, Downs could be seen as the dominate superior specie over thousands of years. I do not mean to be disrespectful for Downs people (they have wonderful characteristics that other’s like myself don’t have), rather I use it as an example of how differences could possibly develop over time. I question the authenticity and historicity of the Tower of Babel story. Even that involves a disagreeing text aspect. Gen 10:5, 20, 31-2, tells how Noah’s descendants spread or migrated around the earth with each having their own language while Gen 11:1 & 8-9 notes that God spread the people after the Tower of Babel because there was only one language over the whole earth. It is perhaps possible that Gen. 10 was written and then Gen 11 was a literary flashback to explain further, thus they are out of order and Gen 11 really happened first with Gen 10 explaining how they got scattered by God. But Gen 10 does not seem to imply that, in that they simply migrated after the flood to different areas. Also other scholars suggest these are two different accounts again, with Gen 11 being the original J (Yahweh) account and Gen. 10 being a later P (Priestly) account and at some point of the Judah/Israel states the two accounts got combined into what we call Genesis possibly right after Israel (northern kingdom) was captured by Assyria. In this theory there is also an E (Elohist) account and a D (Deuteronomist) account added into texts after the Babylonian exile. So how did it all happen? I don’t know, but I do see the Bible as being a library of books, rewritten at times to fit the known “facts” and religious needs of the time, therefore there are disagreements, and therefore it is not a book inspired and inerrant from a all powerful deity.
going back a little bit im sure that most atheists are not out to prove the bible wrong (Like you?) but some are. Bill Nye the Science Guy? He is trying to use science to prove that God does not exist.
Anyway, some of the things that you say make sense, but some things don’t. “biological life seems so complicated and awesome that it just couldn’t happen by chance” then HOW DID IT HAPPEN? you said you don’t know, I know, but then… I mean really?
Me: God happened
You: I don’t know
im sorry but that just isn’t enough for me.
Could have had a messiah sooner; yes. but did he? No. And think about when each group of ancient people started writing. perhaps that why the records don’t show up until they did.
I have something else to ask but have to go now.
I have been waiting a bit, hoping to hear from you about your other question, so I am open to hearing it when you are ready. In the mean time, I will respond to your above comments.
I understand your concern that “I don’t know”, (even though n honest response), is an inadequate position, especially when you are “absolutely” sure (I’m assuming you take that position); and I agree, I wish I had a better answer also. I would also like to “know”. But to say God is the answer of creation, since we have no other definitive answer, is also inadequate for me. Which god? Early church groups didn’t agree. Gnostic Christians said there were two gods, a Demiuge, -lesser Old Testament Jewish god that created the world and its imperfections, and the ultimate loving god that Jesus represented who was superior to the Jewish Demiurge. Other early Christians said there were 3 separate gods rather than a trinity within one god, and yet other Christians said there were 365 gods. How do you know creation was done by the Yahweh God rather than the Allah God, or the Marduke God or Inana or Isis goddesses? What makes all other religions wrong but not the Christian religion that I happened to grow up in? Muslims certainly say my Christian origins are wrong. Hindu’s also have creation stories and would say likewise. So how do you or anyone else know “for sure” that Yahweh God created the world and all the complexities that are so mind boggling? Bill Nye, I think, only desires to show that religion gets in the way of scientific knowledge especially when “faith believers” refuse to accept science info that counters faith positions or Biblical positions. Thus why not believe that the world is flat and believe it by faith, which used to be a Christian position just a 1000 years ago and is supported by the Bible? Why not believe by faith that the prayer and anointing by the elders will heal the sick and not bother with a Dr.? Bill Nye wants to show that science is more reliable than religious faith which has very little evidence. I thought Bill Nye did a good job in responding to Ken Ham (Creation Museum founder) in the debate back in Feb. . For the flood to rain 40 days (960 hours) and cover the highest Mt. Everest (32,000 ft,) it would have to accumulate at the rate of over 30 ft./hr. Just 5 inches of rain per hour generates tremendous land/mud slides today. As Bill Nye noted in the debate, there is no fossil or geological evidence of such a deluge of water. What makes the Biblical accounts any more valid than another religion’s scripture that claims creation happened differently? So my follow-up question is how do you know God did it or any god did it? What is your evidence? I am very open to hearing convincing evidence. I would like to know and so would Bill Nye, that was his challenge to Ken Ham. Show evidence to support the claim. Ken’s answer was “Bill, there is a book!” That seemed to me (and to Bill and many others) to be an inadequate answer, not enough, because how does one know the book is valid especially when it is full of contradictions? And especially when there were other Jewish and Christian beliefs that were not accepted as “inspired” by those who put the canonical Bible together. Paul’s writings were considered heretical by some early Christian groups (the Jesus movement, Judaisers, Ebionites) while the Gospel of Peter was circulated and used in early churches, but when the Catholic church developed the canon in the 4th century, they accepted Paul’s writings and rejected the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Phillip, the Gospel of the Ebionites, and many others. So which was really inspired by God? Marcion in the second century was the first to try to develop a canon of scriptures and only included Luke, Acts, and Paul’s writings and did not accept the Old Testament as valid scripture. The OT refers to “other books” that have information but aren’t included (weren’t they inspired? Yet they were quoted in the Bible). The Jewish Bible has several books like the Maccabees and others that are not included in the Protestant Bible as well as the Catholic Bible has books not included in the Protestant Bible. Are those books also inspired? Martin Luther did not want to include the Book of Revelation in his Lutheran Bible because he didn’t consider it authentic. I could even suggest that there “Is a book” called the Hippocratic Corpus and the Hippocratic Oath from 350 BC which was established medical knowledge at the time of Christ. We don’t validate and believe by faith or rely on that info as “god inspired” even though it was thought to be at the time. Who gets to decide what is valid and what isn’t? Jesus and Paul’s teachings do not agree, Jesus supported the “law” as a means for salvation, and Paul rejected the law, said it was of no avail for salvation. Which is inspired by Yahweh? So that is my struggle, what is “turth”, and how can one “know” for sure? Which of the 40,000 Christian denominations is the accurate one to assure me that I will get to Heaven. Perhaps you, Elizabeth, know the right way for sure and I should trust, follow, emulate your beliefs, and I say that sincerely. We utilize modern medical scientific knowledge and scientific knowledge in every area of our modern life unless it happens to counter a Biblical faith belief that we are not ready to give up. Then fundamentalists claim the science is wrong, undermining God and maintain that religious faith is more valid than scientific knowledge.
I’m sorry that I was gone so long! I had my babies! (Twins)
I regret that I have forgotten my question.
Yes, I understand that your ‘I don’t know’ is an honest response, and yes, I am certain that it was all Gods doing. What do you mean ‘Which God’, though? There is only one God. My God, Your God, everyone’s God. Why does it matter what he is called? We say blue, but the Spanish people say azule. I say God, Jews say Yahweh. Blue and azule are the same thing, just as God and Yahweh are one. Any person calling himself a Christian that does not believe in the one true God is not really a Christian. To my understanding about the Holy trinity, The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three different beings. Just as a prince is not king, Jesus is not (exactly) King. God is King. The Holy Ghost is almost the messenger or errand boy for the Lord ( actually that doesn’t quite sound right. He is… holy)
I say my view is right, you say your view is right, the Muslims, Jews, Islam’s, etc. all think that they are right. Here on earth I believe it is one of these numbers: “One mans trash is another mans treasures.” True of women and, it seems, religion. We don’t know for sure who is right and who is wrong until it is all over (we die). it is what we choose to believe and how we lead our lives that makes us who we are. I feel that being Christian has made me a better person. I feel that I am kinder and more confident in two ways. I can now love myself because I know that someone (The Lord) loves me no matter what. I am also confident that I will go to Heaven. (Actually I cant believe that I just said that. usually I am very uncomfortable when people say ‘im going to Heaven’ or ‘You’re going to Hell” because I have been taught that it is up to God to decide and it is totally none of our business) What has being a nonbeliever done for you? ( Ok that sounded way off. I didn’t mean it like how it sounds. I honestly want to know)
I’m sorry that I still am not happy with Bill Nye. I disagree.
Atheists say that science proves that God does not exist, but what about the proof that says he DOES exist? If you compare bible script and a lot of ancient findings, you will find that the pieces of the puzzle FIT. Plus, who says that that the book ISN”T valid? How do we know? Once again, the answer is WE DON”T. Not until we die will we find the real answers.
I’m sorry. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. I am not a preacher. (Don’t become to happy with my frustration though, since you don’t know either ;P). Maybe I need more time to think. Babies are Hard Work. Especially when you have two of them. I’ll try to get on again later this week.
First, congratulations on your twins, that will be a lot of care giving. And you have your priorities right in that your twins come before this dialogue. So if you need to slow down this dialogue, I will understand, though I am enjoying it very much.
I like your comparison that various names for a deity is like various names for a color in different languages. This implies your potential acknowledgment that all concepts of deity are really the same deity, thus claiming there is really only one deity. So if your comparison is correct, it seems to me that your follow up comment: “Any person calling himself a Christian that does not believe in the one true God is not really a Christian”; would have corollary statements like, “Any Buddhist that doesn’t believe in the ONE TRUE GOD isn’t really a Buddhist”, in which the term ONE TRUE GOD would mean ‘the only deity’ just by different names—and of course any religion could be inserted. Thus you seem to acknowledge that humanity all believes in the same deity but simply uses different names, yet you seem to say then the Christian deity is the honest real one and others just use different names for the Christian deity. My point in my last response is then addressing that point, why do we “privilege” the Christian deity over any other named deity name? That would be like saying the color “blue” can have many names and that is OK but the real “real” valid name is the English word “blue” over other languages names. It is commendable that you feel you can be a better person by affirming the Christian beliefs and ethics, yet other religious people claim the same thing in adhering to their religious premises while also often claiming that Christianity is NOT the real way. And some would claim that the Christian concept of a trinity is really polytheism, and when one puts in also a Satan figure, it adds yet an evil deity, thus similar to many old religions that were polytheistic. You have been taught that “one can’t really know if one goes to Heaven or Hell until one dies (which is often an Amish belief), yet most other Christian faiths would counter that and say one CAN KNOW NOW, that one is saved. So is your earlier teaching correct or are the other faiths really correct, or is there really no deity at all, only that humans seek to find ways to live more lovingly together, be a better person, and thus have “created” religious ideas and systems to achieve that as well as provide for a blissful eternity in a future life?
Yes, I am curious of what “proof” there is to prove any deity. Can one prove or disprove that the deity Marduke, or Zeus, or Allah exist? Nor is there any proof that Yahweh exists. There is only “FAITH” to support a religious belief, and faith is not proof. Heb. 1:1 “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Substance is what something is made of, – a cookie is made of specific items one can see, but Heb 1:1 suggests to me that the substance of religion is simply faith, belief that it exists. Furthermore the evidence for a deity is one’s faith in the deity. So if one has faith in Allah, prays to Allah, and the prayer is answered, then one can KNOW that Allah is real, or any other deity or even Santa. Biblical text and ancient findings do not seem to fit together like a puzzle in my mind. There is archaeological evidence that does support the Bible, but there also are ancient findings that predate the Biblical texts, and ancient findings that counter the Bible and an ancient finding that says “Yahweh and His Asherah (goddess), (Mark Smith, The Origins of Biblical Monotheism, p 145. Smith also notes Yahweh’s cohort on p 155, “Furthermore, most scholars believe that inscriptional evidence of ‘Yahweh and his asherah’ and Baal at Kuntillet ‘Ajrud has provided extra-biblical evidence for polythiesm within Judaism…Even if we did not know of the biblical references to other deities, this extra-biblical evidence alone suggests a polytheistic situation”.) Actually there are numerous findings that put the Biblical text in question. Again I suggest you read the book 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian by Guy Harrison.
What has being a nonbeliever done for me? That is a good question. It frees me up for seeing life and history from a different perspective. Religion often makes things “absolute” without providing evidence for it, just faith to believe it because it has been believed for centuries and if we don’t understand it, we will “understand it by and by” or when we get to Heaven. Thus I am only a nonbeliever in relationship to a lack of evidence. I am a believer in evidence. Thus many behaviors that religion or the church or even the Bible seem to limit, may not be really “wrong” after all. A deity may not be “commanding edicts” of right and wrong. Rather something is right or wrong because it doesn’t benefit me or others. As we live together and care for each other, we find that life is better than if I live just selfishly for myself, taking advantage of others, etc. If I live that way, others will also take advantage of me. Some still do, but sharing life with others via mutual caring, usually yields better benefits. Much of religion has also promoted positive behaviors, but religion also prohibits things unnecessarily. What does it mean to “come out from among them and be ye separate”? Various religions have made “rules” of how to do that “properly” and have put people into false guilt, fear, so as to control the behaviors. I refrain from stealing not because of a deity’s command, but because I really don’t want others to steal from me, it is not of mutual benefit. If I hurt someone, it often can result in them hurting me also, very seldom does it result in a positive feedback. But if I do something beneficial for another, it also usually results in a pleasant feedback, (though not always, but usually). You are lovingly caring for helpless, vulnerable twins. You do good things for them, Why? Does an atheist parent love and care for their offspring any less than you care for yours, or a Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim? Does your religious beliefs “cause” you to give better care than others from another belief system? Many animals also care and protect their offspring without a deity concept since animals don’t believe in gods -at least we are not aware of it. (True there are some animals that don’t provide such parental care, yet many animals do provide some levels of care, even teaching and disciplining their offspring.) Thus being a “believer in a deity” may not necessarily promote better care and love for others. Guy Harrison discusses this in the book “50 Simple Questions for every Christian”. You can borrow it from public libraries, even if they don’t have it they can get it on loan from other libraries or you can buy it on line as a used book from Amazon or Betterworldbooks or Alibris as used books much cheaper than a new one. Happy parenting with those twins.
Thank you!! Also, I am afraid to tell you that next week I am moving for the summer out of the country. I will have limited access to the internet, so I might not be able to chat again until about mid August. Sorry! It has been a great pleasure having this conversation with you and I will definitely look into that book for you.
No, I don’t believe that all of the ‘Gods’ of the world are the same as my God. However, some may be the same, just with different… requirements. Just as Baptist Christians don’t quite believe the same things as Catholics or Jews. They all have the same God, they just don’t practice their religion the same way.
Unfortunately, I disagree. I did not mean what this means: “That would be like saying the color “blue” can have many names and that is OK but the real “real” valid name is the English word “blue” over other languages names.”. I am sorry for that misunderstanding. You have it backwards. I call him God. Jews call him Yahweh. More people refer to him as God, I think, perhaps because there are more Christians? Perhaps because the is just.. simply how more people were raised? Again, I apologize for that misunderstanding. I am not saying that.. calling him God is ‘right’ or better than calling him Yahweh. It is just what I was raised to call him.
A small correction. I was not raised to believe that “one can’t really know if one goes to Heaven or Hell until one dies”, It is a personal belief. My mother believes that she is saved, as does my father and most of my family. It’s just me. I guess I’m just afraid that I’m NOT, you know? I don’t know. It just almost seems… presumptuous and almost… arrogant. Anyway, personal belief.
Satan is not a God, therefor you cannot “Add a deity” to make it “Similar to many old religions that were polytheistic”.
I understand that you are a person who needs proof. Actually, I am too. I just believe that the Bible is proof enough.
I am glad that being a nonbeliever has made you so… carefree and happy. I’m not going to preach to you, but imagine how much happier you would be if you found eternal, and unconditional love. Speaking of which; how do explain the people who have been touched? That have found his love? The people who are so happy, their face glows? How do you explain that? And no, I’m not talking about the crazy, over eccentric Pentecost’s. I mean the people who have REALLY CHANGED after finding God. Explain that, please.
You do realized that you just gave me another point, right? Christians try to be good for God. You just said that you try to be good because you don’t want to be affected negatively. Do you realize how bad that makes you sound? (I’m not saying you are. In fact, you sound like quite a gentleman.) but that made you kind of sound like a selfish jerk. Sorry; that was almost uncalled for, but I’m trying to make a point.
I think that many nonbelieving mothers do a wonderful job, but think about this: have you ever heard of a [real] Christian mother abusing her children? Of a [real] Christian man raping his daughter? I didn’t think so.
Thank you again for this wonderful conversation. I wont be completely out of touch, but it will be difficult. If you would like, you can email me sometime at lizzieperry13@Yahoo.com. Thank you again!!
Yes, this has been a good dialogue and I would look forward to further chats if it works out in the future. I wish you safe traveling and a good time where ever you go out of the country.
You said “A small correction. I was not raised to believe that “one can’t really know if one goes to Heaven or Hell until one dies”, It is a personal belief.”; but in a prior message you said –
“I have been taught that it is up to God to decide and it is totally none of our business.” so I assumed you had been taught that and therefore it was more than just a personal belief. Thus I made the comment that Amish have often taught that one can’t know if they are saved for sure. And yes I do know of “Christians” who have been abusive, rape, etc. Now one can say then they were not “true Christians”, but they would have claimed there are. I don’t know if you are acquainted with Bill Gothard who has had ministry to youth for many years and just this spring was made known that he was sexually abusive with various women. There is a lot of physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc. in many denominations and in the catholic denomination and Amish groups etc. as noted in the news about catholic priests. If atheists are less happy, more crime oriented, bad people then prisons would have a high population of atheists, and that is not the case. The least religious states and countries have the higher happy life experiences and the states and countries that are the most religious often have the higher crime rates and prison incarceration. Some atheists do have very happy lives and some miserable lives just like Christian populations. Atheists also can have life changing experiences that make them very happy. Anyway, this has been a very good discussion and I wish you well until we may happen to reconnect.
Thank you! The trip has actually been canceled, though. Disappointing, but probably for the best.
I know, it was my mistake writing “I have been taught” . I apologize again for that. And you are correct when you assume that I would not believe a ‘Christian’ who abuses someone else (whether that be sexually, emotionally, physically, or emotionally) is not really a Christian. Even though they say they are, they ARE NOT Christians if they do those things. They just aren’t.
I noticed that you didn’t really answer my question about changed people. I mean, come on. Someone has to really change INSIDE to GLOW. Do you think that they simply trick themselves into happiness? I wish.
also, I always forget to ask: How do you know the scriptures so well? Do you look them up or have you actually read the Bible?
I am sorry to hear your trip has been canceled, that may have been a wonderful experience. On the other hand, I will enjoy our continued dialogues.
I would like to be able to agree with you that a “Christian” would not do hurtful things to any one else. But who determines who a true Christian is? The crusades in the middle ages were done in the name of Jesus, yet many innocent people were killed. Catholics tortured and killed many people they said were heretics in the inquisition years and in the reformation years, yet those killed also called themselves the “true Christians”. The USA considers itself a Christian nation, yet kills Muslims because they are considered “enemies”, while Jesus said to love one’s enemies. In the Old Testament, there are numerous cases where God supposedly commanded that enemies should be killed, children dashed against stones, parents stoning their own children or burning their own children due to the child’s inappropriate behavior, or ripping pregnant women open, all in the name of God. You have identified behaviors that you feel would disavow anyone from claiming to be a Christian, but are there other behaviors that can disavow one’s Christian claim, like being in the army, lying, stealing, hating, gluttony, wealth, underpaying an employee, owning a slave, (which is actually not prohibited in the Bible) etc. There is an extensive list of commands that Jesus gave that most Christians, even conservative fundamentalist, don’t adhere to. Thus I have difficulty agreeing with you that a Christian wouldn’t mistreat a child; Christians do make mistakes, Christians do punish a child inappropriately at times (consider the book I Fired God by Jocelyn Zichterman), and Christians do murder, rape, abuse, etc. David in the Bible was a man “after God’s own heart” yet he had an affair with Bathsheba and subsequently murdered her husband. So how does one really determine who is or who isn’t a Christian, saved, etc.?
I think people can change their behavior, be happy, have an inner glow independent of Christianity. Gandhi, Hindu’s, etc, other religions and even atheists can have life changing experiences independent of faith in Jesus. I think this comes from a psychological change in them, a decision to live differently. Some people with mental illness can have behaviors changed and controlled with medication and be very different person when on meds compared to when they are off their meds and then are very dangerous people. Religion is not the only means of changing behaviors. We may differ on that but that is how I would answer that question of how people can become glowing personalities.
I know the scriptures because I have read and studied the Bible quite extensively from childhood, but no, I have never read the Bible cover to cover. Yes I do look up scriptures but only because I remember from earlier readings that the verse or thought is somewhere in the Bible. There definitely are good teachings and morals in the Bible that one can apply to one’s life. Yet there are numerous examples and commands in the Bible that simply don’t seem to be from a loving deity. For example Numbers 31:17 (but also read the whole chapter) and Deutronomy 21:10-14 has God allowing Jewish soldiers to keep a virgin captive as a “spoils of war”. How could a loving God, Yahweh command such a thing? And there are many other examples of God allowing things that would be unheard of today, even by non-Christians.
One point I wanted to make earlier is to say that I do desire to believe in Yahweh and have faith in the Bible, but on the other hand, if the bible is not true, if there is no deity, then I also want to know that so that I am not believing a false religion, just as I have always thought other religions are false. At this point of my journey, I can no longer accept the Bible as true due to the many inconsistencies and contradictions, the changing “absolutes” even in the Bible, the examples like I noted in the preceding paragraph, and the scientific and archaeological evidence that counters the Biblical information. I like the loving things in the Bible, but I can’t accept the patriarchal mistreatment of women throughout the Bible. Gen. 12; 19:5-8; 20; 26; Ex. 22:16&19; Judges 11; John 8:1-11 (in which the woman was caught in adultery but where was the man and why weren’t they wanting to stone him also- fortunately the account has Jesus handling it well) are only a few of the examples in the Bible of how women are mistreated. A menstruating woman was considered unclean and the purification rites for giving birth to a girl were twice as long as if she gave birth to a boy. An angry vengeful god in the Old testament does not seem consistent with the loving god of the new testament.
terry Buddrow said:
You X have the right to believe whatever you want and to come to any conclusion you want. That is called free will. Killing babies serves no purpose. Babies are not held accountable for being born into sin. Everyone is born into sin, they are tainted by sin. God has an age of accountability, appears to be 20 years old and under. There is no eternal torment. The wages of sin is death. NOT endless torture in some eternal fire! Jesus paid the price for your sins. If you don’t accept that gift then YOU have to pay your price for sin. Yes you will be thrown into the lake of fire. After you pay for your sins, rebellion again God, YOU DIE the second death, never to be resurrected again. Eternal death. Could not be more plain. We don’t set the rules, God does, and he does not care if we think they are right or wrong. We were never promised heaven as a place to live, we were promise earth. The meek shall inherit the earth not heaven, fact is when all is said and done, God is going to vacate heaven and come abide with us on earth in the New Jerusalem. You are right also in that most people misinterpret what the scriptures say, mainly because they listen to their preacherman instead of checking it out for themselves, or they just keep believing what their parents taught them. In any case it is not God’s fault if you don’t get it right. It is there plain as day. Let me give you some advise, if you don’t mind. Don’t listen or believe anyone. If Satan can appear as an angel of light, and there will be wolves in sheep clothing, false prophets, decievers, why in the world would you want to listen to anyone? Who can you really believe or trust? NO ONE!!! Just you and the scriptures. That is all you need. Quit listening to people and be quiet and listen to God. He will reveal himself to you if you seek him. Sure he is not going to come down and whack you upside the head if you don’t get everything right at first, and he is not going to come sit with you and audibly teach you. He expects you to study diligently, research, be like the Bereans. Search the scriptures and see if what people tell you or what you hear or see on TV stacks up with what the scriptures actually say. Don’t forget the scriptures plainly say that because people will not have the love of the truth, God will send them a strong delusion that they will believe a lie. What that is saying is if you don’t love God, nor the truth he is going to let you believe whatever you want. My first thought and wish for you is to get away from “Christians” they are the most screwed up people when it comes to knowing the scripture. How can people die and be thrown into eternal punishment when they have not even been judged yet? We don’t even do that to our own criminals! You think God would? Or we impose the death penalty on our worse offenders, we don’t torture them for the rest of their lives, you think God would? There is no eternal torment, the wages of sin is death. NOT eternal torment. When you die you sleep until the resurrection, you don’t go to heaven or hell. You don’t have an immortal soul, only God has immortality and now his Son. The scriptures plain state that YOU, the living, breathing, thinking human being is a soul. You don’t have a soul you ARE a soul. All this and more is plainly stated in the scriptures as plain as day if you take the time to study and connect the dots. What can I say, believe what you want, but be sure you have thoroughly investigated and are coming to the right conclusion based on that investigation not your preconceived notions.I know it is hard to empty your mind of all you’ve been taught and learned and experienced, but it is necessary to start fresh without coming to the scriptures with excess baggage that skews your reasoning. I wish you well on your journey.
I think going from Amish to atheist is pretty much the pinnacle of starting fresh. Over the years I have considered the evidence not just for the Christian God, but for all possible gods, and unless extraordinary evidence arises that I have yet to encounter, I am justified in my position of strong agnosticism/weak atheism.
You seem to question the wisdom of other people, and that’s good. It’s good to think critically. However, you should apply that critical reasoning to everything–especially the Bible and your deepest assumptions about the nature of the universe.
I’m a physical fitness nut. I study exercise physiology. After researching just how cells work, muscles function, etc., I came to the conclusion there is no freaking way that just happened over time evolving. It is too complicated, too well designed to just be random happenings. I’ve had too many “miraculous” experiences in my life to stop me from just chucking the whole thought there is no God. Yes, there are things in the scriptures that make me scratch my head and wonder. But hey, if I knew everything, then he would not be God now would he? The only thing he promised me is if I keep seeking him he will keep revealing more and more to me. I have not figured it all out, probably won’t either. One thing I do know is if the majority is believing it it ain’t right. Trinity, hell, soul that departs from body, going to heaven when you die as a “christian”, etc the scriptures don’t support any of those concepts yet “Christians” believe that crap, not only do they believe it, if you are a member of their church and you don’t believe it they kick you out! What’s with that! That’s why I refuse to listen to anyone, and it is not my job to convert anyone. I’ll listen to what anyone has to say, yet if I don’t believe what they believe; oh well. I’ll tell them my opinion, other then that we part friends and that is that as they say. For the most part the scriptures make sense to me, I just am having difficultly in wondering why you chucked it all. There had to be a defining moment. Something that seemed so out of whack that you came to the conclusion it was all a bunch of hooey. Ya, ya I read your philosophy, logic, critical thinking. But come on. Get down to brass tacks with me if you don’t mind. What was the defining factor? Did you ask God for something and not get it, did a “christian” stab you in the back? Did you not understand the meaning behind your ordnung? What? I am really curious. I guess I am really wondering why God kept me interested and appears to have released you. Or maybe he has not, you just don’t realize it yet. A lot can happen yet before you get your dirt blanket.
First of all, I must argue that you misunderstand evolution by natural selection, because that’s neither designed nor random. If you study it, and look for the simplest explanation, you realize that, given enough time, amazingly complex behavior can result from very simple rules. Plus, this idea of simple rules leading to complexity seems to exist everywhere, at every scale of the universe–not just in living organisms. For example, study a few simple rules of quantum mechanics, and you see that they inevitably lead to atoms and molecules. Study a few simple rules of biology, and you see that molecules, given the right circumstances and enough time, will inevitably turn into complex life forms. Study, the simple rule that mass is attracted to mass (i.e. gravity), and you see that on a grand scale, omnipresent hydrogen condenses into a cosmic web of galaxies of stars and solar systems and planets. Study all these little rules at once and you realize that a handful of scientific principles has the potential to explain everything. There’s no need for the willful ignorance that “God did it.” Everything makes so much more sense after you look for, find, and understand the simple rules which seem to underlie all complex behavior. It is this endeavor that is “science.”
Going from Amish to atheist was not an instantaneous event. It took me around ten years from the time I had my first serious questions to the point where I realized that I no longer believed in God. I’ve been stabbed in the back, but I’ve never attributed it to the stabber’s faith. Some prayers got answered, some didn’t… nothing significant one way or the other. If there was a defining moment it must have been the time when my faith was shook to its core (by some logic that I no longer remember), and I set out to prove once and for all that God exists, and to show those atheists once and for all that they’re all wrong. Well, as you know, quite the opposite happened. When I stopped relying on blind faith and decided to logically prove the existence of God, I reached the conclusion that it’s all an accidental sham created by natural human insecurities.
Xamish, that also has been my experience, no defining moment, just a gradual realization that I can no longer premise my life on a faith based world view, but rather I premise my life on a scientific humanistic world view. There is no other area of one’s life, other than religion, that one uses faith, all other functions of life are based on science. I don’t sit in a chair by faith nor breath oxygen by faith that I can’t see or smell; I utilize these things by scientific basis. Otherwise sit in a vacuum or breath in a plastic bag for an extended time and breath and live by faith. So I agree, science gives many answers to life that ancient people attributed to the deity. Storms have scientific basis and are not caused by an angry deity. Mental illness has curable medical aspects rather than demon possession.
Terry Budrow, thanks for sharing your comments. I do have several questions. You say “Don’t believe anyone.” So does that include you, Terry? You say to search the scriptures, but what if I don’t conclude the same answers as you, does that mean I haven’t searched properly or with enough faith? If that is the case, then doesn’t that imply that I must believe “you” or else I haven’t searched properly? And finally, How do you know the scriptures are accurate? Are the Jewish scriptures accurate even though they include books not in the protestant or Catholic Bible? Is the Catholic Bible accurate even though it includes books not in the Protestant Bible? Or perhaps the Protestant Bible is not as fully accurate since it doesn’t have enough books in it? How was the Bible even compiled, who made the decisions for which books to include? You might find Bart Ehrman’s book “Misquoting Jesus” helpful and Friedman’s book “Who Wrote the Bibel” of value.
it has been a long time since I have had time to myself to check on this site! Yes, The trip to Africa would have been wonderful, but even though my babies (Evelyn and Rueben) are tiring, they are worth it:)
As to your questioning of what a “true Christian” is, this is my definition:
A true Christian does make mistakes. We all do because humans are born into sin. We make mistakes, but what defines us “true Christians” is that we repent and ask God and the Messiah, Jesus for forgiveness. We don’t feel that we have to earn his love, because his love and grace is a gift to us. We follow the Ten because God has instructed us to do. we just….
Maybe i’m not explaining this right. I’ll give you two examples:
A supposed “Christian man” gets angry at his neighbor and kills him. he dies after a lifetime in prison and when he meets God he says “Oh; I made a mistake. It was just that one though, and I’ve followed you in everything else. Please don’t send me to Hell.”
Another man gets angry at his neighbor and kills him. In jail, he finds the Lord and asks for forgiveness. When he dies after a lifetime in prison, he says “Forgive me Lord, for I know that I have sinned. I have gone against what you, The one true King has commanded, and I know that I am not worthy of your love and Grace. Forgive me, Lord, for I recognize you and love you.”
Who do you think is going to find favor in the Lords eyes? yes, Christians make mistakes, but there is a line. True Christians don’t kill. If they do (They shouldn’t, they know better and God will judge them accordingly) they ask for forgiveness. If God wasn’t ever going to forgive His children, the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, would be a waste.
First of all, I am glad that you have read some of the Bible, even though you have read It from a different perspective than I. Perhaps its even good that you have, so that if you ever (im not preaching) are touched by God and decide to reread the Bible, you will be able to reflect.
If you WANT to believe, why don’t you? If God doesn’t exist (spoiler alert: He does), then what would you have to lose by trying to love and be faithful to Him? Nothing. Really, you would gain a friend who would never abandon you and who would love and forgive you unconditionally, even if he was only in your head. You have nothing to lose if He isn’t real and you DO believe, and everything to lose if He IS real, and you DONT believe. Catch my drift? You just have to want to.
Hopefully next time I will have longer to write in more detail, but at the moment I can hear screams form the other side of the house. I hope I made sense (Its been nothing but rush rush rush)
I hope to be able to write again soon!
Good to hear from you again, Elizabeth; and yes it sounds like you are very busy taking care of those twins. I agree, people who claim to be spiritually alive and a “true” Christian do also make mistakes, even mistakes of killing. You seem to acknowledge this yet also say a “true” Christian doesn’t kill. You seem to be saying there is a line to differentiate “true Christians” from perhaps marginal Christians and that line is “killing” another human. So true Christians can make mistakes, but not the mistake of killing someone, yet you suggest they can be forgiven of this “mistake” if they repent and ask for forgiveness, (which is a second line of demarcation you seem to make) . Again I refer to military actions that also kill people and also kill innocent children and women and civilians who are not in the war. Your lines of demarcation seems to me to suggest that a “true” christian could not be in the military. Yet many in the military would believe they are following a deity’s will to kill and again the crusades and heretic killings would be examples as I noted earlier and King David in the Bible, yet God validated David. A truly loving and forgiving deity would not ask someone to “worship them” but if they don’t they will be “punished, tortured, etc.” That doesn’t sound merciful to me. Rather it sounds a bit like a bully, or a mafia threat. Your suggestion that repentance will exemplify a “true” Christian suggests that Hitler, who claimed to be a christian, would go to heaven if he repented on his death bed; yet the numerous innocent Jews whom he killed, would go to a hell since they didn’t repent of not accepting a Jesus Messiah figure. Yet some Christians would also believe that the Jews are still Yahweh’s chosen people and He will bring them back to Israel, the promised land. So why would such a loving deity allow his chosen people to be killed when he also wants to bring them back to the promised land to help usher in His end time kingdom in which the whole world will bow before him?
Also I wonder if Yahweh God is monotheistic, is the only God that exists, then why would a chritian who has made a mistake need to seek forgiveness from both God and a Messianic Jesus? Isn’t that sort of polytheistic? Some early first century Jewish Christians also raised that question. They did not believe that Jesus was divine, rather they believed that Jesus was fully human and whom taught others how to be truly Jewish in following Jesus. Were they true christians? They certainly thought they were and considered Paul a heretic, though Paul considered them heretical and should be accursed. The question of a “true” christian has been around for nearly 2000 years.
I have often heard your example that one should believe in Yahweh God just in case that deity exists, since if there isn’t one, it doesn’t make a difference but if there is, then one is safe. That seems like a selfish and insincere and certainly not authentic form of worship and belief. It seems to me that an omniscient and omnipotent deity would see through such a motive and not accept that as authentic repentance and worship, and might easily say “I never Knew you” as Jesus supposedly reported. Yes, the idea of an eternal heaven is wonderful, but I don’t think it is true. Perhaps one should believe there is a real Santa and all they have to do is really “want” to believe, just in case it is true and one’s faith and belief would truly be rewarded on Dec. 25. Or perhaps one should believe in the Islamic Allah just in case he is real, or the Egyptian goddess Isis just in case she is real. There certainly are people who do believe such because they DO believe these deity are real and they truly “want” to believe. Does such a faith validate these deity’s existence? I don’t think it does authenticate their existence neither do most Christians validate the deities just because someone else believes in them. Rather most christians would say they are being “deceived”. Thus I also believe people are fabricating faith about Jesus and God and are deceiving themselves. A book that addresses this also is Fabricating Faith: How Christianity Became a Religion Jesus Would Have Rejected by Richard Hagenston. The Ebionites in the second and third centuries certainly also believed that the so called “Christian faith” was not what they believed the human Jesus had taught. Neither did they believe that Jesus was trying or even wanting to start a new religion, rather they believed Jesus was trying to bring people back to “true Judaism” and of how to be authentic Jews and followers of Yahweh and they considered themselves the true followers of Jesus and his teachings. The early christians did not agree as to what was “true” about Jesus then and accused others of fabricating information about him. Thus I believe that one can be loving, kind, just, peaceful even without a deity concept or without having to be motivated by a deity or belief in a deity.