We are told that Hell is a place of punishment for those who do not serve God. Yet we’re also told that we are God’s children, and he wants us all to be saved. After I had spent some time as a father, I began to realize that there are some deep logical problems with the concept of Hell. First of all, punishment is a necessity when raising children. They need to learn that certain behaviors are just unacceptable. And punishment is also necessary in a society to encourage people to obey the laws of the land.
But punishment only has value when the punished has an opportunity to correct their behavior. If someone is punished continually with no opportunity to demonstrate better behavior, then it’s not really punishment; it’s torture. According to most Christians, no one today is going to get the benefit that Paul had when Christ appeared to him personally (Acts 9). In other words, God is not going to intervene in our lives to tell us if we’re doing this all wrong. Instead, we’ll go through life and only find out at the end if we managed to get it right. At that point, it’s too late to correct anything if we messed up – we’re simply left with an eternity of torture to look forward to.
If I know that parking lots are dangerous for my kids, I don’t just let them figure that out on their own. I don’t expect them to simply read a sign that warns of the danger. Instead, I talk directly to my children about those dangers, over and over again. But even then, I don’t just let go and hope they’ll remember the lessons; I hold their hands. I show them examples of how fast cars sometimes drive, or how people can’t easily see small children. I use every trip to the grocery store as an opportunity to reaffirm those teachings so that they don’t fall prey to the dangers of parking lots. And it’s only when they’ve reached a more mature age and understand many of the things I’ve told them that I let them walk across the parking lot without holding my hand. But even then, I’m still close by to grab them if something goes wrong. It takes a long time before I can let them handle that responsibility on their own.
I know that’s a very simplistic example, but I hope my point is coming through. If Hell is really waiting for the vast majority of humanity, then I don’t know why the message saving us from it is hidden amongst many other religious texts with no modern day signs to verify it. In all honesty, I don’t know why it’s not just beamed into everyone’s head so that there’s no excuse about what to do. People could still choose to do it or not – that’s up to them – but at least they would know what’s expected. It’s unthinkable to me that God’s system is set up so that many people are able to go through life convinced that the Bible is either invalid, or convinced that they’re already doing it right when they’re really not. I used to think that God’s Word would only be evident to those who are really searching for it. But that doesn’t really fly if God cares about us like a father would. My children may have no interest in parking lots, but I’m still going to make sure they are aware of the dangers.
The other aspect of Hell that I find so troubling is that I can’t really think of anyone who would deserve to go there. Even the people in our societies who tend to commit the worst offenses typically have some severe problems of their own. I don’t view that as an excuse, but it’s not like these are normal, rational people. Even considering a mass murderer, there is only so much evil he could do in a finite lifetime. Is it really justice for him to be tortured forever?
But for the sake of argument, let’s say that Hell was only reserved for the worst people (rapists, murderers, etc). That doesn’t bother our conscience too much because we all agree those people deserve punishment. But what if one of those horrible people was your child? Would you still think they should be tormented forever? Is that really the punishment that would be appropriate for them? Or would you opt for a more humane form of punishment – perhaps even one that would allow your child to rehabilitate?
We are all God’s children. He created us all. So why would he be okay with sending any of us to a place of eternal torment? If he’s okay with it, can he really be called “all-good” or “all-loving”? And if he would prefer to do something different but can’t, how can he be “all-powerful”?
But our biggest problem is that the Bible teaches that many more than just the vilest of people will go to Hell. Hell will be filled with people who gave their lives for others, people who raised loving families, people who pulled others out of burning buildings, and people who earnestly believed they were serving God. That nice cashier at the grocery store is probably going to Hell. The grade school teacher that really made an impact on you as you were growing up is probably going to Hell. Many of the children in your town will probably go to Hell. Many of the firefighters that died on 9/11 probably went to Hell. Many (maybe even most) of the people that you encounter in your life – down to the guy sitting next to you in traffic – are going to Hell.
I first started to think about this issue because of the news reports I heard about soldiers who were dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their family members and friends would talk about them – many of these soldiers had young spouses or children they had left behind. And I kept thinking about what a tragedy it was that their lives were cut so short. And the worst part was the realization that most of those soldiers were bound for Hell, if my beliefs were correct (I was a member of a very conservative group, the Church of Christ). That realization made everything seem so pointless!
I was also disheartened by the tsunami in Myanmar and the earthquake in Haiti. Hundreds of thousands of people died in those disasters. And these events happened in parts of the world that were not predominantly Christian. The people in those places lived in sickness, hunger, and poverty. To top it all off, they were killed in a horribly frightening manner, and then sent to Hell (according to my previous beliefs). Why?
Some people would say that we simply don’t understand God’s glory and the nature of sin. Sin is simply so disgusting to God that he can’t have any part of it. I’m willing to admit that we may not understand either of those things to their fullest potential. But at the same time, God must expect us to have some understanding of it; otherwise, why would he require us to search for his truth and follow it? If it’s impossible (or at least very difficult) for us to see just how bad sin really is, then why are we held accountable to it? It seems to me that it would be like building a school in the middle of a minefield, and then being angry at the kids who blew themselves up. We created the environment, and we know that it’s in children’s nature to explore, so wouldn’t we be ultimately responsible for what happens to them? And if God can’t be in the presence of sin, how was he able to save the non-Israelites before Christianity was established (Acts 17:30)? And if he was able to save them that way, why not apply that method to everyone, so more people could be saved?
If God wants everyone to be in Heaven with him, then why did he create the Earth? Why not just create us in Heaven? And why does our eternal destiny rely on what we do here, when we don’t fully understand God’s glory or the nature of sin? When my wife was pregnant with our first child, we had an ultrasound done very early on – within the first three months or so. Our daughter was very tiny, and when we watched her, she had plenty of room to kick and flip and spin around, and my wife and I laughed while we watched it. Now, I could have decided that since she behaved that way en utero, then she should become a gymnast. But that’s a little ridiculous. My daughter had no concept of what life was like outside of the womb. She couldn’t even imagine it. So choosing her life’s profession off of what she did in the womb would be crazy. It seems to me that we’re not much different, spiritually. None of us really knows what awaits us in the next life. And just like my daughter only spent 9 months in the womb and could spend 90 years in this life, so our eternal life (if it exists) would be much more important than the one we have now. So why should an infinite life be based on the decisions made in a brief, finite life? And why should our eternal destiny be decided by us, when we’ve got no idea what we’re dealing with? We can’t make a clear decision.
And that is evident when Christians say that people have chosen to go to Hell, rather than God choosing to send them there. This whole arrangement was supposedly God’s idea – and the rewards that await us in the end are completely by his design. Knowing what we do about Heaven and Hell, who would honestly choose the latter? No one who really knew what they were choosing. Some Christians will talk about those who “trample the Son of God underfoot” (Heb 10:26-31), but many of those heading to Hell honestly think they’re serving God. They’re merely playing the game by the wrong rules, and for the most part it’s because they can’t see what the “true” rules really are.
Some people would say that all people deserve punishment – it’s only God’s grace that allows even a few of us to avoid it. I disagree. As a whole, I think people are pretty good and try to do pretty good things. Are we perfect? Of course not. But that doesn’t make us evil or undeserving of good things. After all, even God said it was “good” when he made man, according to Genesis. I want my children to know that they have some innate self worth. It’s okay with me if no one ever goes to Hell. To some degree, we are all broken. Wouldn’t it be nice to be taken care of at the end, and not punished for our insufficiencies? Should you go to Hell for your short temper, or your “unbridled tongue,” or because you aren’t hospitable enough? Does a poor, old, illiterate man deserve to go to Hell because he can’t read the Bible for himself to see what’s required?
And if Hell is real, how can the Book of Revelation say that the end of time will be a great victory for Christ and God? The vast majority of people throughout time will go to Hell, and only a tiny fraction of them will be saved. How does that count as a victory? In fact, why did God allow Satan to have so much power over his creation if this is the end result? And how can the gospel be the “good news” if the reality is that most people remain lost?
And if Hell does exist, what are we to make of Heaven? If you go to Heaven, but your children go to Hell, how could you be happy? One of the theories is that you’ll have no memory of those who are in Hell. But is that comforting? When people have severe Alzheimer’s and can’t remember anyone, but still remain in a happy mood most of the time, are we happy for them? Do we view that as an optimal way to live? Of course not – they’ve ceased to be who they were. When we lose our memories, we are no longer the same individuals. We have become different people. So if Heaven just lets you forget all the people who went to Hell, that’s not really eternal life. You would no longer be the same person – your identity would be gone. Therefore, I’m inclined to think that if Hell exists, Heaven does not.
And if you do make it to Heaven, the Bible seems to teach that you’ll be there forever. Does that mean that you lose your free will? After all, Satan and his angels apparently had the ability to sin in Heaven. Wouldn’t we have that same ability? If we had the capacity to sin in Heaven, then surely God wouldn’t allow us to stay there; but that would violate the concept of being there forever. And if he takes away our free will, then we’re no better than robots. Does God just want robots? If he’s okay with that, why do we have free will now?
These are emotional arguments; I know that. If Hell is real, and if it operates the way we understand it to, then that’s just the way things are whether we like it or not. But bear with me as I offer this point again. The whole question up for debate is whether or not the men who wrote the Bible were inspired. If they weren’t, then we’re just reading the thoughts of a bunch of different people that lived two thousand or more years ago. Teachings like the doctrine of Hell can help us make a decision about the truth of the overall message. That’s why it’s important to look at this with some skepticism. As a side note, these reasons are why atheists and agnostics are not moved when people try to reach them using the threat of Hell. We simply don’t believe in it – it would be like warning someone about the boogeyman.
When we really face it, it is apparent that the concept of Hell has some major logical problems if God really is merciful, loving, and just. And while the New Testament definitely teaches about Heaven and Hell, it is very striking that the Old Testament is essentially silent about it (see previous post). So is Hell really part of God’s plan, or is it just part of man’s imagination?
38 thoughts on “The Problem of Hell Part 2: Logical Issues”
Whew! That was a lot to get through. A couple of questions though.
I understand your point about teaching your children the dangers of the parking lot. But if the Bible is correct, then in your hypothetical wouldn’t there be a man who spent a lot more time with your kids than you who told them that the parking lot was really OK and that the cars don’t really hurt people, or maybe even are just illusions, so they should run wherever they want and not worry about will happen, because they’ve already done enough to be safe? And because he spent so much more time with them than you, wouldn’t it be tougher for them to choose to listen to the right values you’ve tried to instill in them? But ultimately, wouldn’t it be your kids’ responsibility to choose the right path that you’ve offered?
It seems like this second piece of the puzzle explains part of your problem, because your underlying assumption is that God is the only one with responsibilities here.
And if punishment only has value if it creates the ability for repentance, why must that only be in the specific individual? A player who fouls out of a basketball game has no chance to repent and be let back in, but the punishment of sitting the rest of the game allows for others to avoid the same consequence by making the right choices not to foul.
And third, why must joy in victory only be for the majority? Why is it not a joyous victory if the minority wins? If joy in victory is only for the majority, we should be bummed that America won the Revolutionary War, because the Americans were in the minority. The Chechnyans should have been severely disappointed in their victory over the Russians. What’s your take on these?
Hey, good questions. First of all, yes, your parking lot example is probably more accurate than mine. But as a father, I would do everything in my power to stop or drownout someone who kept trying to tell my children they could run in parking lots. But I don’t see that the God of the Bible does that for us — most people don’t even think he exists. If he were actively trying to discount the lies, I just think he would be more visible/audible.
Your basketball example is good, but it’s still not the same thing as Hell. For one, the player gets to participate in the next game. He also gets several fouls (not sure how many — I’m woefully ignorant of basketball specifics) before he’s finally kicked out of the game. So he knows beyond a doubt what kind of behavior is expected and what kind is prohibited. When comparing that to religion, God doesn’t talk to us like he did Paul or Moses, so many well-meaning people get duped into following the “wrong” religion, even though they’re desperately trying to serve God.
Also, while it’s true that punishing an individual can also inspire others to do the right thing, none of us sees who goes to Hell and who doesn’t. If we could see that, or be aware of it somehow, then your point would be spot on. But since we never really know what happens to anyone when they die, we’re unable to learn any solid lessons from it.
Finally, you make an excellent point about victory. Even the Spartans at Thermopalae had a victory of sorts, even though they were all killed. So that’s a really good point. However, since God is supposed to be the most powerful being in existence, it’s still hard for me to see the current setup as a victory for him. In effect, it means that one of his creations, Satan, stole all but a small minority of souls from him. It would be a lot like the US losing 48 of its states to Zimbabwe, but still proclaiming a victory because it held on to 2. The US’s military power is so much greater than Zimbabwe’s that it would be hard to rationalize any losses to them.
I hope that clarifies my points a little better. And thanks for your comments! They really added to the conversation!
But even if you didn’t tell them anymore than those first few times you had with them, wouldn’t they still be responsible for choosing the right path?
And the Bible says that each man has God’s law written on His heart and that God has been revealed to all, so that would be akin to knowing what kind of behavior is expected, being tempted to foul, and then actually fouling anyway.
Otherwise wouldn’t you be saying that God is responsible for talking to us now, and therefore is the only capable teacher? And if so, then why do we try to learn anything from anybody else? Shouldn’t there be some onus on us to learn this stuff based on what we’re able to know?
Finally, to imply Satan “stole” all but a minority again appears that we as humans have no say in the matter. So I have to ask, is your issue with hell really because you want to absolve yourself of responsibility for learning and making a choice, and put the burden on God or the devil?
Again, good questions/points.
Each individual would definitely share responsibility in where they end up. But the main point I’m trying to get across is that many people (according to Christianity) are doing it wrong: Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Mormons, even other Christians. Yet so many of these people are sincere and dedicated to their beliefs. If they’re really wrong, despite their sincerity, then that means the message itself isn’t clear.
Since I, as a human father, would make sure that there is no confusion in my children about the dangers of parking lots, it only makes sense that a loving, heavenly father would also be very clear in his warnings to his children. Yet that doesn’t happen. Millions and millions of people are allowed to believe the “wrong” things with no interference from God. Then, they’re punished for it. It doesn’t follow that a system like that would come from the mind of a being concerned with justice and mercy.
The point about God’s law being written on each person’s heart is a good one. In fact, I’m inclined to agree with you (if God exists). So then why aren’t people just judged on their morality? Why does the Bible say that people must also go through Jesus? In fact, the Bible would in effect be saying that God’s law is written on everyone’s heart, but they’re not going to be able to follow it. So Jesus came to cover those sins. But he’s only covering the sins of those who believe in him… and not everyone will believe in him because God’s going to allow many, many people to be honestly convinced that something else is truth. I just fail to see any real logic in that.
And yes, I guess I am saying that God is the only capable teacher. He’s the only one who could unequivocally show that he exists and explain what he expects. There wouldn’t be a whole lot of need to listen to others, but I don’t see the problem with that. Moses didn’t have to listen to other teachers, and it didn’t seem to hurt him any. And I do think that people should have some responsibility, but when a message needs to be communicated, the bulk of the responsibility lies with the one communicating — not the listeners. Once the message has been clearly imparted, the results might lie with the listeners. But my whole point is that the message is not very clear.
I can see how it might seem that I think none of us should bear any personal responsibility. That’s not how I feel, though. I don’t mind taking responsibility for my actions. But I don’t think it’s fair for people to be judged on something that they never completely understood. And that’s where we are. There’s no real way around that. Too many sincere people are missing the message.
So should the measure of where you go then be how sincere you are in what you believe? Is truth determined by how sincerely one believes they are right? Is morality?
But as a human father, even if you give your kids plenty of evidence and information about parking lots, and they still choose to ignore you, does that mean you’re responsible for their actions? I would submit that we’ve been given ample evidence of the choice we have, so choosing against God is not ignorance, it’s willful disobedience.
But aren’t people judged on morality? Wouldn’t it be true that if you made the right moral choice every time you would go to heaven? I believe that to be the case. It’s because we’re judged on our morality, and we don’t measure up, that we deserve justice for our immorality, even if on the whole we seem pretty good.
So if God is the only capable teacher, then why do we teach anything? Why are things handed down from generation to generation? And why do we believe anything other than what God Himself is teaching? If God is the only capable teaching, shouldn’t we be focusing on what He HAS communicated and shirking the rest? To me, that would mean that everyone would have a clear picture of what is required.
If I came across too strong in terms of my last paragraph previously, I apologize. It just seems like the tone of your post is that God needs to make the message 100% clear or it’s His fault that people go to hell. But you made an excellent point yourself when you said that once a message has been communicated, the results lie with the listeners. Perhaps if we would focus on the message and tune out all of the fuzz that the world gives us, it would be better understood. But too many people would rather listen to the fuzz than the message, and the responsibility of missing the message is on them alone, not on God.
I think we’re maybe bogging down a little too much in the details — that’s probably my fault.
The main question I’m trying to raise is whether or not the Bible is actually from God. I don’t believe it is. And I think the problems I listed above are evidence of that. So for instance, your last paragraph makes a point that I would be inclined to agree with IF the Bible was God’s word. But I think there are many reasons for thinking it’s not.
When I was a Christian, I focused solely on the Bible. Hell bothered me some then, but I didn’t let that consume me because I viewed it as a fact of reality. But I finally realized that I had never personally received a revelation from God and the things I had taken as revelation (the teachings in the Bible) were just things that people were claiming were from God. Maybe they were right, but God had never actually told me anything. I was simply reading the claims of other people.
That realization made start to examine the Bible to verify its claims. I’ve already written about the prophecies and inconsistencies that I think show it wasn’t inspired. But the doctrine of Hell is another clue that I think points to the human origin of the Bible and Christianity.
Here’s my point: I’m aware that the Bible teaches about Hell. But I view the teachings to be illogical and completely inconsistent with a being who is supposed to be the epitome of love, mercy, and justice. So I don’t look at these things as fact just because the Bible teaches them. I find them to be evidence that should make us skeptical of the Bible’s claims.
If Hell were real, then your points would be 100% correct. But I don’t believe Hell is real.
I hope that helps iron out my perspective a little better. And I didn’t think you came off too strong in your earlier points. I hope I haven’t come across that way either. I’m just struggling a bit in trying to explain what I’m trying to say… Here’s one more attempt:
I think Hell is another reason to think that the Bible is not from God and that the Christian God is just a myth. The last two posts were my attempts to explain why I think that.
Here’s some questions for Nate to consider.
1. have you ever hated someone(even for a brief time) that you would have been happy if they just disappeared? Maybe you even wanted to strangle someone to death yourself? I know i have.
MY POINT: You! being evil…..could want to kill someone……….how much more would God want to kill someone after all the good things he’s done for us? …….like created us and EVERTHING!
2. You’ve posed some valid questions. However, given the choices we have available, Jesus is the only reasonable choice so that’s reason enough to follow him and love him.
3. Okay, so here’s the final point. I’m guessing you’re answer to question 1 was that NO you wouldn’t kill anyone right? well……….hummmm have you ever killed an ant? doesn’t that ant have a right to live? did you not know killing that ant was wrong? You judge God for being “unfair” and yet who are you to judge him? you’ve killed an ant! and you didn’t even create it! you killed someone else’s creation!
CONCLUSION: God created you, and if you are to be in his presence than at the very least you have to accept him ok? not asking much is he? For the millions that are going to hell than so be it! I won’t miss them! i won’t care that they’re being tortured for eternity! They chose to reject God and so they must suffer. God gives everyone a fair chance, it’s humans that reject him. leave the “what if” scenarios to God, stop trying to “be God” by scrutinizing his plan and trying to find fault…………shhhhhh don’t talk! just listen please…………This is where faith is so important. If you know God than you will trust him that he has given everyone a fair chance.
I hope this has helped you. I’m not trying to be mean. I’ve also stumbled in my faith with similar questions you’ve posed but I thank God that he’s made faith available to me and you. My earthly father died a few months ago and i’m not sure if he went to heaven or hell but it doesn’t matter anymore and it doesn’t bother me because he’s dead! there’s nothing i can do to help him. If he’s in hell than so be it. I put my faith in Jesus thank you.
I think you’re an idiot… or at least you’re not trying to think.
your point number 1: I probably have wanted to kill several different people before (but havent), and I know that I’ve killed animals and insects, but never have I wanted anything to be tortured for eternity. When I kill roaches, i don’t do it as slowly as possible, that would just be sadistic and cruel.
Your point number 2: How is Jesus the most reasonable choice? And most reasonable choice for what?
Your point number 3: I think you’re missing the point. How do you know that the bible is from God? because it claims to be? because your mommy and daddy told it was when you little? because that’s the particular holy book that was available in your country of origin? Why do you take the bible’s author’s word for it?
Conclusion: many things within the bible make sense, rational sense. Many, and arguably all, of the moral teachings within it are good and stand to reason – yes, even human reason. But when many good intentioned people, to whom morals make rational sense, read a book written by men who claim that God wanted entire nations slaughtered (genocide), and read where God will punish those who do not do his will even if they believe in him and his son, or those who do his will but find it hard to believe in him or his son, for eternity in a place of unspeakable torture. these things do not make rational sense. these things are contrary to what we know to be good, loving and merciful – and therefore make some of us question as to whether they are truly from God as the bible claims.
Your faith is in men’s claims, because God has told you nothing himself.
The above points don’t even go into the internal issues within the bible, such as contradictions and errors. To get a better idea of those, please see the rest of this blog.
You can have faith in Jesus despite the evidence, I will doubt the bible because of the evidence.
Thanks for the comment. And I’m very sorry to hear about your father.
1) Yes, I’ve probably been angry enough with someone to wish harm upon them. If nothing else, I can imagine scenarios that would make me angry enough to wish harm or death upon them. However, I’m not an all-loving, all-merciful God. I would expect God to have more control over such petty emotions than I. Also, I can’t imagine being angry enough with one of my children to wish such awful things upon them, and we’re all God’s children. I also agree with William’s point about the difference between annihilation and suffering.
2) I also agree with William that this seems like sort of a meaningless statement. It even presupposes that we need what Jesus offers — and here, I assume you are referring to salvation. But why do we need salvation? I wasn’t born with an innate sense of self-disgust. That had to be taught to me by religion. When I take away religion, I see that being human is nothing to be “forgiven” of. If I wrong someone, then I can ask them to forgive me for that. But I don’t need to be forgiven for my own nature. Paul even spoke about this in Romans 7 when he said that he didn’t know what sin was until the law came. Therefore, if our law is faulty (as the Bible seems to be) then sin doesn’t exist.
3) I’ve killed an ant before, but not because it wasn’t worshiping me. And if ants aren’t attacking me or my children, I tend to leave them alone.
To your conclusion, William is right. You’ve accepted the Bible as true, whether it has holes in it or not. Is it okay for Muslims to do that with the Koran? Will God save them because of their strong faith? And if we’re okay, even happy, about the fate of the lost, what does that say about the morality we’ve gained from our religion? In effect, we’ve become Nazis who don’t question what the supreme leader says. “You want us to torture them, boss? Fine by me!” We can look back on things like the Holocaust and wonder how people could actually carry out such brutal acts, but in our next breath we talk about the wonderful love and justice of a God who will eternally barbecue many, if not most, of the world’s population.
Look, it’s very difficult to approach religion objectively. Overcoming a lifetime of what is in effect brainwashing, is immensely difficult. But we should certainly be trying to do that. Hanging onto a faith no matter what is not a virtue, it’s fundamentalism. It’s what lets people strap bombs to their chests and walk into a public square.
Thank you again for your comment. I appreciate your interest in matters like these, but I hope you’ll try to really consider some of these points. If it’s possible for billions of people on this world to be wrong about their religion, then it’s possible for you and I to be wrong too. Let’s reach for objectivity as much as we can.
If god words holds true those that have mercy on others will also have mercy and those that forgive others of their wrong doings will also have their wrong doings forgiven so i think this may take a part in gods decission to let things go and which we deserve punishment for… For example lets say that as a kid like myself i stole a lot and cursed and swore at my mother and told her i hated her and this was during the ages of 5-17 years old and now im 33 and with a women who abuses me worse then i did my mother and she steals as well . I feel now i am being punished cause of my passed sin and am being tested now cause of my current state in sin im living in and at the same time tested on weather or not i can and will fogive this women which i am having a problem with and god knows i want too, So basically I feel if i dont forgive her and treat her good despite the way she is treating me then gods mercy may not reach me if i cannot forgive her which doesnt mean i have to stay with her but its not as easy leaving her as some may think as there is a soul bond between us and its very difficult to funtion without her. I just know if we live in sin we are going to be tempted more and tried more and it will be harder and harder to get out of it as your heart begins to harden and being a man who has always wanted to serve god yet struggled in many areas seems doomed unless he can forgive so the lord god may also forgive him. I do hope though in the end god has mercy on us all even the worst of us including the devil if he would only regent and stop his acts of treason against the high god and if not maybe he just can just live on some romote planet in another diminsion called hell were it doesnt have to be so hot and painful .. maybe just boring as we all know how being bored is as bad as i ever want it too be lol.. well anyways .. i hope and pray we all can love and forgive one other so god may also forgive us … may none of us have to serve in torment …. god bless u all . bye
Thank you Nate and William for your responses.
I’m going to try and keep this very simple. Like it or not, being in the presence of the one and true God Jesus requires that you are a spiritual person that recognizes honor and glory should be given to the one and true God Jesus that created all things. Honor and Glory. Please think about it for just a second, if you were God and you created something and it doesn’t even want to acknowledge you created it, just let it live it’s life out and pay the consequences: eternal punishment because God is eternal and the punishment must be eternal. God gives people a chance to repent, he’s intimately involved in everyone’s life and they will have no excuse in the end. God is so loving that if there is a loop hole i haven’t noticed to get into heaven than God will make exceptions but that’s extremely dangerous to even think about: remember when Noah and his family survived and EVERYONE else died? God doesn’t bluff. Another point of mine was that we’re all sinners and for anyone to judge God(which is sinless) is plain foolish, how can an evil creature judge God? Where did you get morality? Didn’t God give it to you? now you choose to use it against him? foolish my “friends”. Why do you boast of morality when God gave it to you?
Ok, did God give it to you? Consider this: about the universe: is it easier to believe that we came from nothing? or that God created us and wrote us a book with all the answers we need? it’s much more reasonable to believe God created us and gave us everthing. About God’s law: if it weren’t for the law we wouldn’t know right from wrong. About China: I saw a video clip on CNN ‘house churches in fear’ something like that………God is moving into China, nothing can stop him not even the threats of the government. Jesus is the only way to salvation. Go to Gotquestions.org for answers. thank you for your time. by the way….God saved me 4 years ago, i wasn’t raised christian and either are all those people in China………..and we’re not threatening people with violence like the Muslims. I love the muslim people, i just think they’re foolish dead people.
let’s try to take a step back for a moment.
Did God tell you that the Bible was his word? If not, then I am assuming that someone else did, probably a mortal man. Yet you are fine with men telling that the bible is from God, but think it is absurd if someone doesnt believe what those guys claimed?
You see, that is the question. Is the Bible God’s word, and how do we know? If you say “because the bible says so,” then why doesnt that work for any other “holy book?” If you say “because all of the moral teachings make sense” then what about the parts that dont make sense? What about the other “holy books” that have rational moral teachings?
I dont what to judge God, but he hasnt told me anything, at least directly. The Bible was written by men, who said that God inspired them (do all the books in the bible make this claim?). The Bible was assembled by men and there is no outline within the bible itself that says which books should or should not be included. How do you know they got it right? Maybe God told them. But if God talking directly to people made his intentions clearer, why would he not still be doing that? Why not tell each of his creations what he wants them to do directly? Is it too much work? Too tiresome?
I dont want to judge God. If God wanted to write his plan and directions down in a book like the bible, then that’s fine with me. I just have a hard time buying off on an idea that a God would write a book, that had apparent errors and contradictions in it (at least apparent to some), when they could have been reconciled so easily, and offer miracles that confirmed Jesus and his apostles, but is unwilling to allow them today to confirm his book.
You think Muslims are foolish dead people, well I imagine that they would chastise you for speaking evil of Allah’s people. How arrogant and foolish.
Wow, you’ve brought up several big topics. It would be tough to cover each of them in detail in just one comment, but I’ll at least try to offer a couple of points that might be helpful.
You said that we get morality directly from God, but how do you know this? You were saved 4 years ago — did you know what morality was before you were saved? If it weren’t for God’s teachings, would you spend all your time raping and killing? I think most people have a pretty consistent understanding of morality, whether they’re religious or not. So you might argue that God instilled a sense of morality in all of us — basically made it part of our instincts. But this again brings us to the main question. If a sense of morality comes naturally to humans, how do you know it was put there by God? Why couldn’t it be a product of natural selection? After all, it’s been shown that many animals treat members of their own species morally too. And it’s easy to see that it’s in our own best interests to behave morally. Furthermore, when you really examine the morality in the Bible (especially the Old Testament), it attributes several immoral acts (like genocide) directly to God. So the moral argument doesn’t really get us anywhere.
You also ask if it’s more reasonable to believe that life just spontaneously began or if God created us. Let’s look at that for a second. If God created us, where did God come from? The typical answer is that God is eternal — he never needed to be created at all. Some scientists have postulated that the basic elements of the Universe could also have been eternal. Does it make more sense to think that some basic elements have always existed, or that an all-wise, all-knowledgeable, all-powerful, all-loving being has always existed, and that he has the power to create things simply by speaking, and that he’s concerned with what we do and say, and that he sent his son, who is also himself, to die for us, but then brought him/himself back to life and brought him/himself to a magical place called “heaven” where we can also go if we do some specific things and believe that he did all of this? Ultimately, I don’t know how we got here or why. But I’ve never witnessed anything supernatural, so it’s hard for me to say that the most reasonable explanation for our existence is supernatural.
You make the point that since God did everything for us, it’s awful for us to deny him. And therefore, we deserve punishment, and it must be eternal, since God is eternal. First of all, just because God’s eternal doesn’t mean we would deserve eternal punishment for what we do — we are temporal. For instance, if a mentally handicapped person hurt me in some way because he didn’t understand what he was doing, should we punish him as though he does understand, since I understand what he did? No. Rational people take into account that his intention was not to hurt me. Secondly, I don’t know of many people who deny God just out of belligerence. Most people who feel the way I do genuinely don’t believe in the god of the Bible. In other words, if the Bible didn’t have contradictions, I could find it more believable. Or if God simply spoke directly to me, or something like that, then I would have no problem believing in him. The reason I don’t believe has nothing to do with stubbornness; I simply think the evidence indicates that the Christian claims are false.
I have 3 children. If I had decided to disappear right after they were born, and I never had any contact with them, could I fault them for not knowing me? Could I fault them for any conclusions they made about me? Could I fault them for not spending all their time trying to track me down and learn all about me? Of course not. If I didn’t care enough to be present and have an actual relationship with them, any bad feelings they have toward me is my fault, not theirs. God is not intimately involved in everyone’s lives. Otherwise, no one would be able to question whether or not he even exists.
But the main thing is what William mentioned. All of our ideas about Christianity come from the Bible. And how can we trust it when it has failed prophecies and contradictions and when the process of its coming together was so human?
Thank you Nate and William for your responses.
I know it takes time to write these responses and I appreciate your efforts. Truth is though, i’m lazy! I don’t have the patience to prepare a sermon for you guys, so i apologize for not finding scriptures to back up what i say. Most of what i say is based on the scriptures but the word of God speaks for itself if you read it. There are more qualified people to answer your questions like preachers and of course the bible the word of God. Just a heads up guys, i won’t be able to argue much longer with you because I believe the bible warns against “wasting time” trying to convince people. So please don’t be offended when i stop responding, i try to be obedient to Jesus the one true God of All people.
I have a theory as to why you guys reject God. satan has hurt you and decieved you when you were emotionally ignorant and now you have this desire to find perfection. You’re tired of the lies and destruction that is so evident in this world(satan has the keys to earth for now) You want to find something truthful and loving. You have this desire to create utopia because you’ve experienced deception and you want to show the whole world how good it could be if only we would love each other and stop lying and live with integrity and common sense. Then you read the bible and it seemed harsh to you, it seemed unfair and not the way you would create utopia because it excludes people from eternal life. Please consider that your idea of goodness is actually meaningless when you think about it. Everyone is good? everyone deserves eternal life? everyone is free to do whatever they want? God’s way is stupid? ….guys, these are childish thoughts. Are you seriously going to tell God how things SHOULD be? When you were a child you thought like a child, now it’s time to think like a spiritually mature adult. Unfortunately the politically correct movement(satan) has corrupted many peoples minds. God is intimately involved because he will make sure you have time to repent of your sins. He will bring you opportunities to understand and love God. Have you ever sincerely prayed to God? have you ever given him a chance to speak with you? Please look at the universe, it’s so abundantly clear that this was not a fluke. We didn’t evolve from eternal peices of dust. We were created by eternal God. William, i think i’m reasoning with you without using the bible scriptures so i pray you will listen to the truth that is abundantly clear to you. It must be the way God has planned things, otherwise you have a bunch of robots or a bunch of selfish people going into glories presence. For us to be in the presence of glory we ought to have faith. Nate, if it were your way, God would stay on earth and do miracles for every generation to witness with their own eyes. But even then people would still reject him as the jews and many others.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. When i was growing up i was under the impression that people wanted goodness, but then i realized that people are evil, they lie, steal, and generally don’t care about anyone but themselves. if there was a world famine and your friend had a hamburger, you’d probably kill your friend for that hamburger. God gives us hope for eternal life, we don’t need that hamburger, we have food to eat that you know nothing of. Having said that, even christians stumble and maybe we would kill you for that hamburger but probably not eh. Heaven is not an co-ed volleyball team where everyone gets to play. It’s a place for men and women warriors that believed in what was true and fought their enemies with prayer, and love. To be in the presence of God you must have faith in the truth the way and the life, Jesus the Christ. About other religions: Muslims borrowed from the old testament and the rest is based on satans lies. The jews rejected the messiah. All other religions aren’t even worth talking about. I don’t “pick” on any one group…..i only see followers of Jesus or followers of satan. Thank you for your time.
Thanks again for your comments, Steven. I understand if you feel you can’t “cast your pearls before swine” much longer. 🙂
I appreciate what you’re saying, but I think it’s much simpler than you’re making it. The Bible says that God wants all men to come to repentance (Acts 17:30 and 2 Pet 3:9), and that all scripture is inspired by God and is given in order to teach and convince people (2 Tim 3:16-17 and 2 Pet 1:19-21). We’re also told that God doesn’t lie (Heb 6:18). Therefore, it stands to reason that if the Bible is God’s word, it would be perfect.
I don’t come to that conclusion because I’m sickened by the present state of the world and am looking for perfection. I know the world isn’t perfect. But neither do I think it’s as bad as you make it sound. I think there’s a lot of good in the world, and I think there can be more if people will concentrate on making it a better place. To be perfectly honest, I think religion does get in the way of that sometimes. It makes people think that the world isn’t worth working for. Why should we worry about the environment if eternal life is the real goal? Why should we worry about helping the less fortunate when God will take care of them in Heaven? Whereas, if we focus more on the here and now, we might be able to accomplish some good things.
But that’s a tangent. The main point is this: if the Bible is true, it must be perfect. But it’s not. I’ve written several different posts about the various problems. If they can be answered, great. But I haven’t seen good answers for those issues yet.
Why must the Bible be perfect? For the same reasons that you use to discount all other religions. As you said:
Don’t you realize that other religions probably view your beliefs the same way? Why should they take time investigating the claims of Christianity when they already have the “truth”? You seem to be happy in your own beliefs — that’s great. But if you really want to spend time trying to teach people why your beliefs are the true ones, you should probably work on trying to put yourself in other people’s shoes a little bit and try to understand why they believe the things they do.
Beyond that, I appreciate your interest and the kind tone of your comments. I’ll understand if you don’t reply further.
Thanks and take care.
God can heal your relationship, Don’t give up. Pray continuously and read the bible with your girlfriend. Jesus didn’t come to bring peace to earth but to pay for our sins. Let God handle things, read his word, the bible. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. You will be a new creation in Christ(if not already). Your sins are paid for by Jesus, just love him and love your enemies and you will be blessed with eternal life. We all make mistakes, don’t live in guilt. Jesus paid for your sins in past present and future.
following Jesus may lead to a better life here, but it may not lead you anywhere else. Be good, as Steven says, whether by following the bible or by following good sense. Just dont try to kill all the Amelekites.
I’ve enjoyed arguing with you and William and i might check in once in a while. But what i won’t do is get into a drawn out battle over details. For every list of contradictions there’s a list of explanations. You choose to believe the contradictions and I choose to believe the word of God. I haven’t looked into the lists of contradictions to closely yet but i’ll give it some study for the sake of due diligence. If you’d like to help me study, perhaps you can post your top 3 apparent contradictions. Ultimately though, it won’t matter even if i don’t have answers to your post because I will never believe that i evolved from an eternal piece of dust. Neither will i believe that there’s a God we don’t know about, that wouldn’t make sense because there would be no instructions to live life by and no glory to the creator. By the way, it seems odd that you would imply that christians aren’t helping the poor all over the world??? that’s obviously not true.
On second thought, there’s no need to post your top 3 contradictions for me. I’m sure i couldn’t answer them right away. There’s much more qualified people to do that but i’m sure you’d explain away your contradictions to them also. This is obvious that you are antichrist and I am a follower of Jesus. Studying the bible takes a long time especially if it’s not your way to make a living(which is my case) I will eventually
get to a point where i can argue with antichrists on their demanding position for evidence. I’ve been reading an apologetic’s list of explanations to contradictions and i find the explanations perfectly valid. I used to play soccer in high school and i had great skills but i lacked composure. That’s the way i see you, you have knowledge of scriptures but you lack wisdom(composure). Here’s a mathematical formula that i just invented: a or b = c. a= the bible is true, b= we evolved from an eternal piece of dust, c must equal a because b = insanity. Oh my, now you’re going to accuse me of giving b 2 different values? your way of thinking is rudimentary. I hope I’ve helped you in some way, I will continue to pray for you. I will continue to study the word of God and put myself in other peoples shoes so i can help them.
always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. That sounds like you, how did God know you before you were born? he’s God that’s why. This is a spiritual war, you’re pretty good at what you do but the word of God stands perfect. You thought you could win me over with flattery and lies but i’m not unwise to the sheme’s of satan. Thanks to God the truth is in me and i cannot be plucked from God’s hand. You’ve been a test of faith indeed. Thank you Jesus.
IN CHRIST ALONE lyrics: Sorry Nate but i think my brothers and Sisters in Christ need to be encouraged here.
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
Well, I’m not sure how to respond to any of that. In fact, the difference between your latest posts is so marked, I almost wonder if medication is involved…
I guess in some ways, it’s fair to say I’m an “antichrist” since I am not a Christian. But I hope you know there’s nothing “magical” about that — it just means I’m not a Christian.
I’m not sure what standard you used to come to your present beliefs. At times, it seems that there may have been no standard at all. If you believe the Bible needs to be perfect, then possible contradictions should concern you. But maybe you don’t believe that. I really can’t tell. If, for instance, you think that faith just comes from a feeling inside you and can’t be hampered by things like “evidence,” then what makes your faith any better than the faith of a Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist? More importantly, if your faith in Christianity is simply based on wishful thinking rather than knowledge and evidence, why would God view you any differently than he would a Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist?
When you set about as though you’re going to test your beliefs (which the Bible says we should do: Acts 17:11; 1 Thess 5:20-21), but you place huge caveats on them like:
then you’re not really testing your beliefs. You’re setting up a scenario in which you’ve already selected the end result. If you’re going to do that, then there’s really no point in examining your beliefs at all.
If you want to keep posting comments here, that’s fine. But I would appreciate it if you would limit them to things that actually have a bearing on the current discussion thread or post. Posting things like song lyrics don’t really do anything, unless they contain some specific point that relates to the topic at hand. If you are looking for an outlet to post songs and other ramblings, then you can create your own blog for free at wordpress.com
If God is Love… If God is Life…
People who choose to forget or to hate Him…
People who choose not to love Him…
If they do not have God…
They do not have love. They do not have life.
And that is Hell.
If there were modern day signs… Would you believe?
depends on what the signs point to…
If there were modern day miracles, or if God spoke to each of us directly, then certainly I would believe. In other words, I ask for no more evidence than what Moses, Noah, Gideon, Paul, Peter, etc received. In Isaiah 7, King Ahaz wouldn’t even ask for a sign, but he received one anyway. I would just like the same courtesy.
When I was a Christian, I believed that my “sign” was the infallibility of the Bible. But after examining it in more detail, I see that it’s not infallible at all. So that no longer counts as a sign; therefore, I have no more reason to believe.
As to your previous points, I disagree. I haven’t “chosen” to not love God anymore than I’ve “chosen” to not love Santa Claus. I just don’t happen to believe in either one of them. That’s not based on malice or rebellion — it’s simply a conclusion based on my understanding of the evidence. And as it happens, I still have love and life — despite my unbelief. Also, I wouldn’t consider any aspect of my life to be “Hell.” So I haven’t found your statement to be true.
But thanks for the comment, and feel free to stop by anytime.
Hello Nate, ^_^
…I want to see a miracle too…
The most I have witnessed of miracles is second-hand…
Through books and through the stories of the people I know from church.
About my church~ The Holy Spirit is with them…
And so they speak in tongues and heal the sick.
I’ve heard of legs growing out… Back problems being healed… And prophesy…
And I’ve seen their passion! They really have the passion for God… 🙂
The Holy Spirit acting… is my “sign.” It’s the primary reason I believe…
…Have you seen the Holy Spirit in action before?
The overwhelming feeling… during worship… when someone is praying over you… when the preacher speaks…
About to fall over… About to cry… About to laugh… (A feeling like that…)
But I really do long to see a miracle for myself…
Or better yet…
To do miracles like Jesus did for myself. 🙂
I’m longing for God to use me… Like He does for the other people I know…
And it makes me a little frustrated… Like…
Why can’t I get the Holy Spirit now?
The biggest reason people are atheist… I think…
Is because they have lack of evidence… Maybe?
If miracles were more well known…
If there were more Christians doing miracles~
Wouldn’t it be so wonderful?
As to my previously stated previous statements… They were conditional… So if you didn’t think that God is love or God is life and such~ Then, of course, the statements wouldn’t be true to you. But, I am glad that you have love and life~ Is your life like Heaven? 🙂
Thank you for reading and responding… 🙂 You’re a nice person! I feel free~