Friday, March 6, 2009

Atheist Integrity

In his attempt to paraphrase Jesus, an atheist said - "If you love me, you'll obey me. If you don't love me, you'll go to Hell. Therefore, you'd better obey me or I'll torture you forever!" He also said that people are Christians because they’re afraid of death and/or hell. I don’t know how he could be more wrong - on both counts. I’ll deal with the last one first.

No Christian on the entire face of this earth is afraid of either death nor hell. The process of dying? Maybe, but certainly not death itself. Our last breath on this earth is just the beginning of the main event for which we were created.

Nevertheless, atheists make the claim that fear of death and hell is a terrible reason to pledge allegiance to God. And they’re right!

Almost quoting a verse from, I think 1st John, my six-year-old daughter said, just out of the blue, "Dad! I love you because you love me." Because she loves me, she tries to please me by obeying me. Jesus said, “The one who loves Me is the one who obeys Me.” Not fear, not dread, but His love for us is what should draw and does draw most people to Jesus. Although, if fear is all that's left to do the prodding, then "How is it any benefit to a person if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?"

Regardless, the atheist is saying, “The only reason that I would come on side with God is out of respect, not fear. NOT that I do respect Him! In fact I think the God that I don’t believe in is evil. BUT if I did come on side with the God that I don’t believe in, it most certainly wouldn’t be out of fear."

Well, good for you. That really is a noble sentiment. And stupid!

An atheist is like someone to whom an invitation is being given for the last place on a lifeboat as the ship is going down. The atheist waves off the invitation with, “No thanks. I’d rather die than give the impression that I’m afraid of drowning.”

Now to the attempted paraphrase. The first problem is, the word torture is never used in the Bible when describing your stay in hell. On the other hand the word torment is used. Even at that, it’s not torment in the sense of God saying, “I’m doing this to you” like an older sibling twisting your nipple or giving you a wedgey. It is torment in the sense that after they die, atheists will be saying to themselves, for eternity, “Look what I’ve done to myself. Look what I did to my children; look what I did to my friends, they believed me when I said that God isn’t real. And I can’t even go back and warn people by telling them that I was wrong.”

Sometimes resting on your supposed integrity, logic and reason isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.


Doubting Foo said...

On hell: One person might use the word torture (it is a paraphrase, remember) because of these descriptions:
Matthew 25:41, 46
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. ... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.
Matthew 25:41, 46
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. ... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.
Luke 16:22-24
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

It's easy to see how someone would use the word torture.

Doubting Foo said...

On the whole "obey me or suffer" argument, you won't kill your daughter if she says she hates you and doesn't love you. You could under old Jewish law, though:

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Exodus 21:17 He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

So, it makes sense that the same treatment would apply to us from "out Father." But only in the context of the bible.

In real life, if you kill your child you go to jail.

Have you ever asked "what does God have to gain by having people tormented forever in hell?"

Darth Rob said...

Wow, good post. I believe that God loves us, if he didnt then we would already be in a hellish place. He just wants us to respond to him with the same kind of love. I am a religion of 1, because I dont like many things that other religions teach.

Makarios said...

“Have you ever asked "what does God have to gain by having people tormented forever in hell?"

Ya, I have. It’s a tremendously important question. I’ve spend many hours wondering about it.

The conclusion that I’ve come to will probably wholly unsatisfactory for you but I'll throw it out there anyhow. As to the verses you quote, where people are being separated right and left, I see it as a bit like a traffic cop. Hell or Heaven are simply the end of a road that we’ve been traveling on for our whole lives. Because of the direction that some have chosen to go, they can’t possibly accidently wind up in heaven and because of the direction that others chosen to travel, they can’t possibly accidently wind up in hell. For what it's worth I think that the closest that the writers could get in describing the agony of being in the total absence of Love is being burned alive for eternity.

Before I get into the meat of what I want to say, I took a look at your post on being happy in heaven while knowing we have family or friends in hell. It's a pretty good question. Personally, I don’t think we’ll know or remember them, but I might be wrong.

Anyhow here is what I came up with in trying to understand this important question that you've raised. Obviously I’m not God so the non sequitur aspects are natural and should be expected.

My question, like yours was:

Why Has God Created Billions of People Who Are Destined for Eternal Separation From Him?

1. I Am God. Genesis 1:1

2. I Am before anything else. Genesis 21:33

3. I Am above and beyond anything else. Genesis 1:31; Exodus 20:3

4. I Am perfectly Pure, Holy and Righteous. There is nothing imperfect or "wrong" in Me. Psalm 19:7-9

5. Anything that is in rebellion to My perfect Purity, Holiness and Righteousness can never come into My presence. John 3:18,36

6. I Am completely and utterly just. Psalm 7:11

7. I Am slow to anger; filled with great patience. I Am merciful and filled with grace. Psalm 5:7; 9:9,10

8. I Am Love. Psalm 25:8,9

9. Just as there cannot be the perception of up without a down, in without an out, hot without cold and light without darkness, there cannot be Love without evil. This is a spiritual reality or law.

10. Because I Am Love, there is evil rebellion against My love.

11. This evil has been allowed to exist first in the presence of rebellious angels.
1st Timothy 5:21

12. I Am One and I Am plural with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

13. In My Spirit, I love My Son. Mark 1:11

14. Love is the greatest entity to ever exist. 1st Corinthians 13:1-13. As a gift and a blessing, I want something special for My Son to love and I want that special something to love My Son.

15. That something, like the angels, must be created by Me. Genesis 1:26

16. It is My right to declare and uphold the terms and conditions of My creation. Job 41:11; Exodus 4:11,12; 33:19; 1st Samuel 2:30

17. The special part of My creation will be human beings. They will be made in My image, possessing portions and degrees of My attributes and My characteristics. Genesis 1:27

18. I will make My justice and mercy known in and through human beings.

19. I want humans to love (Obey) My Son because in doing so, humans will enjoy their highest state of being. Joshua 1:8; 1st Kings 11:38; 2nd Chronicles 15:2, 15:9; Psalm 1:1-3, 4:8

20. I want to reward that love with eternity in paradise, ie. eternity in My presence.
John 3:16; Psalm 18:25-27

21. For their love to be real, I know that humans must have the choice to not love My Son. Genesis 2:16

22. For their love to be real, I must allow humans to rebel against My love. Romans 11:32

23. If the first humans that I create love and obey Me, that love will be passed on to their offspring. That love will be inherited. It will not be a choice. ‘love’ will be robotic.

24. If the first humans that I create, rebel against My love by disobeying Me, then that spirit of rebellion will be passed on to their offspring.

25. In order for any humans to find fulfilment in truly loving Me, I must accept that all humans must first refuse to love Me. Genesis 3:7

26. No one will be able to love My Son without the help of My grace and mercy. John 6:44
. I will provide those of my choosing with an opportunity to love Me and to obey Me.
Romans 8:30, 9:16, 11:32

27. Through this plan I will demonstrate that I Am Love AND that I Am Just.

28. Because of who I Am, I cannot create in humans a spirit of Love and then draw them to evil to create real choice. I can only allow rebellion / evil to enter the human race in order to create real choice, and then save those who wish to be delivered from evil.

29. I will draw back my hand of protection and allow this course of history to unfold. Genesis 3:23 Deuteronomy 28:20-67

30. It is My right to declare and uphold the terms and conditions of My creation.

31. Love causes growth. Evil and rebellion cause death and destruction. Exodus 19:5; Leviticus 26:3-6, 16-24; Deuteronomy 6:6, 30:15-20

32. Because I love humans, I hate the rebellion that causes their destruction. Psalm 5:4
. Those who continue in a spirit of rebellion will be objects of My anger. Genesis 7:4;
Psalm 14:3

33. Objects of My anger cannot and will not be tolerated in My presence. Psalm 5:4

34. For the very survival of the gift to My Son, My justice, mercy, grace, love and patience, MUST be clearly displayed to humans (a) So they will know that they should repent of their rebellion and (b) To show them that they have a place to turn to for rescue from their rebellion.
- Humans will know My Justice because they know in their hearts that rebellion against Me is wrong. Those who continue in their rebellion will die spiritually and eternally.

- Because all will be born into a state of rebellion, it is only My Grace that will ensure that some humans get what they don’t deserve (life in eternal paradise) while My Mercy will ensure that those same humans don’t get what they do deserve (eternal separation from Me).

- They will know My Patience because I will persist in blessing those who continue in evil, until all those who are going to receive My merciful salvation have turned from their rebellion. Romans 9:22,23

- They will know My Love in that I, in the form of My Son, will forgive evil by taking my own punishment and suffering my own wrath for the horrible act of continued rebellion against a Creator God who is perfectly pure, holy, righteous, just, merciful, slow to anger, filled with great patience, filled with grace and abounding in Love.

35. I will rescue those who are not looking for Me, love those who hate Me, and make peace with those who are My enemies. 2nd Samuel 7:18Isaiah 65:1; Romans 10:20

36. The rebellious cannot complain because they are in fact guilty of rebellion. Genesis 3:22; Psalm 14:3
37. The saved cannot boast because they have done nothing to deserve salvation. Romans 3:27,28

38. It is My right to declare and uphold the terms and conditions of My creation.

The real question then is not, "Why did God create billions of people who are destined to be eternally separated from Him?" The real question to be asked is:

Why Did God Create and Then Save For Eternity in Paradise,
Billions of People Who Should Have Been Eternally Separated From Him.

Like I say, this might sound pathetic to you but it's how I understand it.