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Can an all-good/all-powerful God allow evil/suffering?

Discuss religion and spirituality topics.

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Postby Think Different » Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:15 pm

I think the atheists and agnostics on here need to take a step back and learn to be a little more respectful towards Christians, especially in light of the fact that it's Holy Week right now. I don't give a crap if other people don't believe the same thing I do or they believe themselves to be little gods unto themselves. I notice no once criticizing Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. Do you attack Christians because you think we're easy targets, or because you're not intelligent and empathetic enough to care about someone else's beliefs? An inability to bite your tongue and respect others different than you is a MASSIVE problem of immaturity and will make you no friends in other countries. How do you expect to go overseas and seek that elusive "happiness abroad", when you don't even have the capacity to respect those of differing beliefs in your own country? Think about it for a minute.

I notice no Christians on here beating anyone over the head about what they should or shouldn't believe. I only see Winston and some others concocting tiresome and well-worn out diatribes and weak arguments, when all those answers are to be found on thousands of websites or going to a church and actually speaking with a priest/pastor/Christian believer. But its easier to mouth off on here and seek a sympathetic (but equally ignorant) audience. All threads like this one of Winston are doing are seeking to poke Christians in the eye and win points with fellow non-believers/doubters. I for one, as a devout believer will NEVER get into debates with such people, because for them, it's not about debate; it's only about argument for argument's sake. Show you God?: NO!

Learn to search for yourself and learn to pray. And to my fellow Christians: see Matthew 7:6.
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Postby The_Hero_of_Men » Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:11 pm

RedDog wrote:I think the atheists and agnostics on here need to take a step back and learn to be a little more respectful towards Christians, especially in light of the fact that it's Holy Week right now. I don't give a crap if other people don't believe the same thing I do or they believe themselves to be little gods unto themselves. I notice no once criticizing Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. Do you attack Christians because you think we're easy targets, or because you're not intelligent and empathetic enough to care about someone else's beliefs? An inability to bite your tongue and respect others different than you is a MASSIVE problem of immaturity and will make you no friends in other countries. How do you expect to go overseas and seek that elusive "happiness abroad", when you don't even have the capacity to respect those of differing beliefs in your own country? Think about it for a minute.

I notice no Christians on here beating anyone over the head about what they should or shouldn't believe. I only see Winston and some others concocting tiresome and well-worn out diatribes and weak arguments, when all those answers are to be found on thousands of websites or going to a church and actually speaking with a priest/pastor/Christian believer. But its easier to mouth off on here and seek a sympathetic (but equally ignorant) audience. All threads like this one of Winston are doing are seeking to poke Christians in the eye and win points with fellow non-believers/doubters. I for one, as a devout believer will NEVER get into debates with such people, because for them, it's not about debate; it's only about argument for argument's sake. Show you God?: NO!

Learn to search for yourself and learn to pray. And to my fellow Christians: see Matthew 7:6.



I understand why you say something like that. While I won't deny that I have mo own problems with God and Christianity, I, in no way, was trying to attack anyone. I was just posting what was on my mind, after thinking long and hard about it all and coming to an honest conclusion. RedDog, when you have the time, I would like to PM you and tell you what problems I am referring to.
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Postby Think Different » Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:56 pm

Hero, I know you weren't attacking anyone. I was responding to the general ongoing antagonistic tenor of some people on this forum towards Christianity. If someone has genuine concerns and questions about Christian faith or what they perceive as incongruities, then a little humility and respect would be nice. I'm not a Jewish or Islamic scholar, so I would NEVER approach a Jew or Muslim by attacking their beliefs as "stupid", "rubbish", "fabrication", etc. Does any doubter honestly believe that their idea is so unique that no one in 2000 years of Christianity has ever thought that up? I'm no theologian and I may not be able to answer your questions, but faith is a matter of the heart, not a matter of empirical evidence following the man-made "scientific method". You're right: personally, if I can intellectually outwit God and put him in a box of my creation, then that god is not worth my time. I prefer to believe in a God who surpasses all human understanding.
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Postby Winston » Sun Apr 24, 2011 1:18 am

BellaRuth wrote:I'm not going to get into this one, but I will say you have a narrow view of Christianity, probably based on Bible Belt Americans.

Not sure why you are putting so much effort into debunking Christianity, either.

If you're bothered about the notion of Hell, Universalism is pretty well-argued.

http://www.tentmaker.org/
http://www.savior-of-all.com/
http://tgulcm.tripod.com/cu/save-all.html

Basically, God allows suffering because people have free will. In Christianity, after Jesus died, the Holy Spirit was sent to live in all those who would accept it. Basically God is on earth in us, working through us. People are meant to be the new body of Jesus. If they'd rather rape and murder then we will end up in a mess. But that's choice. If you want to be a bastard you can be a bastard. If you were forbidden to be a bastard you'd be an automaton. You need to choose your way.

Also, why does Lucifer/Satan wanting a little freedom when he was an angel of God make him 100 percent evil?


He wanted a little freedom? Not heard that before. He wanted to be worshipped instead of God. A little pride can go a long way.

If God is 100% good, as in the Christian view, then being 'other' from God means you have to not be good- i.e. 'evil'. Otherwise there'd be no rebellion.


Of course my view of Christianity and my experiences with it is based on the American version. However, Darryl Sloan, an intellectual YouTuber in Ireland, describes Christian doctrine the same way that I do. Ireland is right next to you Bella, so it's not just an "American thing". According to him, Christians in Ireland also believe that you will go to hell if you die without accepting Christ.

http://www.youtube.com/darrylsloan

Interestingly enough, the Hungarian couple that I hosted also said that they never heard of Christians saying that all nonbelievers go to hell. He said he read the Bible and talked to many Christians, and none of them said that except me. I made a bet with him, pulled up my laptop and showed him Bible verses in the NT that said that unbelievers go to hell. It is what Christians believe, regardless of what the Bible says. So I showed him many Christian websites that said that nonbelievers go to hell. Finally, he gave in and said that it must be only American Christians who believe that. Strange.

I already addressed the "free choice" explanation and said that it was a copout. Why do you believe it? Who told you so? What do you base it on? The fact that someone told you so? Is that a good reason to believe, because someone told you so, and someone told them too, etc? Think about it.

Serious Questions for Bella and RedDog:

- Do you believe that the whole Bible is true and infallible? If so, can you give one good rock solid reason for believing so? If not, how do you know which parts and true and which aren't? What is your criteria?

- What is the basis of what you wrote above regarding Christianity, God, and Satan? What makes any of it true? Just cause text in a book say so? Just cause Christian people tell you so? That is not evidence or proof. Can you give some evidence or logical reason to believe in any of the theology you speak of?

These are the core issues, and none of what you wrote above addresses them. You only quote excuses that Christians give that have no basis. So let's address the core issues.

RedDog, one more thing. Just because someone realizes the obvious flaws of Christianity and lack of foundational basis does not make one an Atheist. Seeing the obvious facts does not make one an Atheist. You are using typical "Christian logic" in making your assertions.
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Postby E_Irizarry » Sun Apr 24, 2011 1:57 am

f**k this Jesus-Smeshus malarky. The only B.I.B.L.E. (basic instructions before I leave Earth) I read is common sense and basic common courtesy and self-worth and self-drive. Wepa marica. jajaja lmao!!!
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Postby ErikHeaven » Sun Apr 24, 2011 1:58 am

100 years from now they will be talking about how stupid people were to believe in Bible God and Bible Jesus and all the other fairy tailed religions.
I wish i were born in the StarTrek times. These times are full of religious wingnuts and rightwing crackpots who believe that Modern Israel are GOD's people and all of that nonsense. I long for the day when this all comes to an end.
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Postby Winston » Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:15 am

Here are my thesis points in my new essay about Christian beliefs.

Christianity's Irresolvable Problems, Circular Reasoning and Lack of Foundational Basis

Thesis points:

1. The existence of enormous amounts of suffering, evil and injustice in the world and throughout history renders the Christian concept of an all-powerful and all-good God logically impossible, for such a being would not permit such suffering, injustices and tragedies upon the innocent in a seemingly Godless world. No Christian theologian or apologist in history has ever been able to explain this away. All their attempts have been cheap copouts that make no sense at all.
2. Besides #1, there are many other irresolvable problems with Christianity that even the best Christian apologists and theologians are unable to truly resolve. Plus there is no logical or valid reason for believing that Christianity is true in the first place, or that it is absolute infallible literal divine truth.
3. Christian beliefs are based on 100 percent circular reasoning which lacks even a valid initial basis or foundation for, which Christians do not see due to their brainwashing and mind-control.


Here now is the rest of my essay, or the second half of it rather. (BellaRuth and RedDog, take note of the list below of things that Christians never realize but are right under their noses.)

-------------------------------------------------------

Here are some simple key facts that devout mind-controlled Christians fail to realize, even though they are right under their noses:

- There is NO FOUNDATIONAL BASIS or logical reason for their belief that "The Bible is the infallible word of God and absolute literal truth. All men are sinners and the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. All who believe in Christ go to Heaven, while all who don't go to Hell". There is no good reason to believe such extreme things. And no basis for it at all. They were simply TOLD this "Gospel message", and somehow, it gave them a sense of purpose or brought meaning into their empty chaotic lives, or it was what they needed to hear at that time, or it was what they were taught by their Christian families. So they accepted it, and once they did, it became absolute authority in their minds, above all questioning and skeptical inquiry, thus forming a complete circular loop in their train of thought which filtered their sense of reality so that all incoming data that fit with it was accepted, while all data that didn't was rejected. Once this circular loop formed in their minds, they forget that there was NO REAL initial basis for their extreme beliefs in the first place!

- Once the Christian believes that the Bible is infallible truth and authority, his/her mind becomes HIJACKED in that such a belief will place Christian teaching at the TOP of the hierarchy in their mind, with Truth becoming subservient to it. In other words, Truth must serve the Bible, not the other way around, so that all facts and data MUST conform to the Bible or be rejected. What this means it that the Bible and their beliefs can NEVER be questioned, even if it's false, because it has occupied the highest seat of power in their minds. However, if Christians were to place Truth at the top, above the Bible, then they could question and analyze the Bible and see the obvious errors, contradictions and irresolvable problems with it. But instead, they place Christianity above Truth, so that their beliefs can never be questioned no matter how absurd, thus creating a completely closed and circular loop. This is the epitome of "brainwashing". Thus, in a sense, the Gospel is like a "trojan horse" that offers the newly converted everything, at the expense of hijacking and imprisoning their own mind.

- Just because an ancient set of books written by ancient unknown authors says something does NOT mean that it must be true, any more than a random book I pull out from the library must be true. Text in ancient books is not proof of absolute inerrant truth, especially when it contains so many contradictions, errors and far-fetched legends. Besides, there are many ancient books from all throughout history, so why do you not believe that all of them are infallible divine truth too?

- Just because someone, a believer himself, tells you that Christian teaching is absolute truth does NOT make it so, any more than any other belief system must be true because someone says so, or any more than the email spam and scams you receive everyday must be true because it says so.

- Think about this: If I pulled out a random book in the library and said "This is absolute infallible truth and cannot be questioned because God wrote it", does that make it true? Or suppose I were to write this in a book: "The Gobblygook Monster created us. He is perfect, righteous and infallible, while we are all condemned sinners. He says that the only way to him is through his son, the Gobblygook Son, who died for your sins and rose from the dead. His disciples witnessed his resurrection and were willing to die for it, so it must be true. Your eternal destiny lies upon whether you accept this or not." Would that make it true?! Think man!

- God did not physically appear in God-like form (i.e. as a pillar of fire to Moses) to you and tell you that the Bible and Christianity are the whole literal and complete truth. PEOPLE told you that, and FALLIBLE people at that. No one is perfect. So why do you believe that imperfect humans who are no more perfect than you, wrote something that was perfect and infallible and never to be questioned?! Simply because someone told you so?! Are you that gullible and naive?!

- The Bible shows every indication of being written by fallible and imperfect human beings. There are thousands of contradictions between its 66 books, many unfulfilled prophecies, mistakes, misunderstandings by its authors as they referenced other books (i.e. New Testament interpretations of Old Testament books), different teachings (e.g. regarding salvation and theology in the Old and New Testaments), etc. The Bible is far from a set of unified beliefs of agreement in all its books. In fact, the Old Testament and New Testament teach different things regarding theology, salvation, morality, the messiah, the devil, hell, the afterlife, etc. (I have described many examples in my Debunking Christian Fundamentalism treatise here) Sure the Bible contains some wisdom, great teachings and eloquent stories, but so do many other ancient books as well. But there is no logical reason to believe that every word in it is absolutely infallible, true and unquestionable, just because believers tell you so. Even if the Bible itself says so, it does not make it true, as explained earlier. (In fact, the Bible itself does really not claim to be infallible, only its followers do. I've elaborated on this here.)

- The arguments used by Christian Apologists (e.g. Josh McDowell, C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel) such as the Fulfilled Prophecies argument, the Resurrection argument, the Trilemma argument, etc. all collapse under simple casual scrutiny. They are no more sensible than the loaded agenda-driven arguments used by advertisers in commercials. In fact, I have debunked all of them in my treatise here.

- To the Christians who say "I believe the Bible not for logical or rational reasons, but because I feel its truth deep inside of me. God spoke to my heart through the Holy Spirit. That is how I know it is true." let me ask you this: I can find sincere believers of EVERY RELIGIOUS FAITH who say the same thing about why they believe too. For example, I have met many sincere Muslims, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses that have said that too. So why should I believe you and not them? They are just as sincere are you. What makes your belief right and theirs wrong? They have a right to "feel the truth of their religion in their hearts" too. So what's the difference between you and them? What makes them wrong? Simply because they don't share your beliefs, which are based on ancient books written by unknown people you never met?

- To Christians I ask: How do you know God is all-good, all-righteous and perfect without blemish, fault or sin? How do you know whether God is good or whether Satan is evil? How do you know that the Bible is true and Satan is the Father of lies? Aren't you taking the Bible's word for it? What if it's not true? What if the Bible has deceived you? How do you really know?! YOU DON'T! You are taking it all on one-sided faith without a valid basis. Sheesh. No one and nothing is perfect. In fact, the Old Testament stories depicted God as angry, vengeful, jealous, etc. possessing all the traits that humans did, and making mistakes and regretting them as well. In fact, he was not always just, fair or even reasonable. In Exodus, he made the Israelites wander the desert aimlessly for 40 years under harsh conditions while expecting them to never complain about it. And numerous times, he killed innocent children to punish the sins of their fathers. (See list of verses here) No one can justify such things as "fair" or "just". Get real. Words in a book are NOT a valid basis to form an infallible belief on. Your reasoning process is completely foolish, no better than those who fall prey to obvious scams artists and hand over all their money to them.

- The Atheist has a valid argument and reason for his/her disbelief. (Not that I'm an Atheist) If God never physically shows himself to them, then one has a perfect right to doubt or disbelieve his existence, no matter what any book or person tells him about it. Moreover, their argument that an all-powerful, all-good God is logically incompatible with all the suffering and evil in the world, is a VALID argument for sure, and one which Christians have never been able to resolve logically, except with copout excuses like "God wants us to have free will otherwise we'd be robots".

So you see, there is no real basis to the Christian's beliefs or version of reality. They make no sense, are without foundation, and follow a completely circular reasoning loop - "It's true because God said so --> because the Bible says so --> because it's true..." ad nauseum. Furthermore, there was no INITIAL BASIS for their extreme beliefs in the first place, which they fail to realize once their reasoning became completely circular.

Now, devout Christians will usually respond to such arguments and facts that they can't explain away, with something like this:

"You can think whatever you want. But God makes the rules. You either follow them or reap the consequences. Be careful what you choose to believe in. Your eternal fate may hang on it."

But again, we come back to the obvious points and facts outlined above. How do they know what "God's rules" are? Because of what the Bible says? Again, just because people create a religion around their interpretation of an ancient set of books does NOT mean it constitutes "God's rules", nor does it represent unquestionable divine truth. Get real. I could say that the book of Koran are "God's rules" too, but would that make it so? Wouldn't you be a heretic for not accepting the word of the Koran too? Again, just because someone tells you something doesn't mean it's true. And just because an ancient book says something doesn't mean it's true either. I'm sure you've gotten spam emails that make big promises or offer to wire you millions of dollars, if you just send a release fee of a few hundred dollars first... but does that mean it's true?

To Christian readers: You see, your reasoning is completely circular but you don't realize it. Such is the effect of mind control. Your reason is completely subdued due to an "infallible truth" placed at the top of your mind. To you, "your beliefs are the truth because they are the truth" and that's that...

But I can tell you this though: Within such a nonthinking loop (which you don't even see) your mind can never be truly free and clear. Your mind is completely imprisoned, but you don't even realize it. That's why it's so effective. (until you break free of it that is, for only then do you realize what it was all along)

Many Christians will often utter this one as well:

"Who are you to question God? He created the universe and you too. You have no right to question him or his word. He has every right to do whatever he wants with his creation. You ought to be thankful that he sent Jesus to die for you, so you could be saved and go to heaven. He could have chosen to not send a savior to us, let us all go to hell, and he'd be just as perfect and righteous. None of us deserve his mercy. Yet he chose to be merciful to us and offer us a way out of sin and damnation. You ought to appreciate that and accept his free gift of salvation through Christ, and stop rebelling against him."

To them I say this: Again, see the above points and links, which your mind has probably filtered out with cognitive dissonance. Your basic fallacy here is that you assume that all these extreme religious beliefs you hold are true, when in fact there is no logical reason, or even any "good reason", to believe that they are. You believe that your Christian beliefs are true simply because "they are true because God said it in the Bible" and that's that. It's a given to you, without any foundational basis. Thus, your mind is in a complete circular loop, and you don't even realize it. I know what that's like because I used to believe as you do, so I know what it's like to be inside such a closed circular loop that you don't even see.

When you are in such a closed black and white circular belief system, your reality and incoming data are COMPLETELY EDITED - All incoming data that agrees with your extreme (but baseless) beliefs is accepted, while all data that doesn't is rejected. It's a form of cognitive dissonance that filters your reality, based on your absolute belief that "The Bible is true because God says so in the Bible, so it's true..." ad nauseum, to the point where you don't even see the closed loop itself (which clear-thinking people outside your loop can easily see).

Plus, to believe in a God or love him simply out of fear of the consequences of not doing so, is not a genuine or pure motive. It is nothing less than coercion. Doing something out of fear brings you in tune with a lower vibration. Why would an all-wise God want to bring people down to such a low weak vibration?

Also, why am I automatically a guilty sinner with no worth just by being born on Earth? It's like I'm assigned automatic guilt for no reason, just like that, simply cause Adam and Eve ate the wrong fruit off the wrong tree?! Gimme a break...

So you see, these unexplainable questions and irresolvable problems with Christianity are endless and unresolvable. Plus there are too many valid arguments and reasons to doubt the claims of Christianity too. If you are a devout Christian and have gotten this far, then you are one of the few, since most Christians would have stopped reading this near the beginning. So I commend you for your open mindedness.

Now I'm not saying that Christianity has no value. I acknowledge that it has changed lives, produced miracles, answered prayers, etc. and that believers can and do have supernatural experiences. However, this is true of every religion. I have met Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Buddhists and Muslims who have had supernatural experiences, life changes, and seen miracles happen. But that doesn't mean that the "holy book" of their religion is all literally true, infallible and above questioning. Moreover, people with no religion have had supernatural experiences as well. You don't even need a religion to experience such things, or even to have spiritual experiences. What this means is that there are many ways that man can tap into a "higher power" or come into contact with extra-dimensional forces. Religion is just one way. There are many others. The nature of such experiences is a subject of debate and not completely understood by logic or science. However, the point is that just cause they happen to believers of a certain religions does NOT make everything about that religion and its "holy scriptures" completely true and infallible.

On the other hand, in the theist's favor, I will say that believers in God have valid reasons for their belief as well. The argument that all of creation and the seeming design in it (aka "The Design Argument" implies a "Creator" is a VALID argument (despite what Atheists "religiously" claim against it and despite that it could lead to a "Who created the Creator then?" counter-argument as well). Add the fact that 1) there are numerous irresolvable problems with the Darwinian Evolution Theory, and that 2) studies show that human belief in God is innate rather than based on culture, learning or upbringing, and 3) the fact that some have met God during Near Death Experiences, and you do have some valid reasons for believing in God as well.

However, NONE of these valid reasons for believing in God or a Creator prove the "Christian God" of the Bible, nor do they support the belief that the Bible is God's word or that is it infallible inerrant divine literal truth either. These reasons DO NOT provide a basis for that at all. That is what Christians miss due to their mind-controlled absolutist beliefs.

Anyway, I do not claim to have all the answers here. Christians, Atheists, Buddhists and New Agers do not have all the answers either. You see, life is not about having answers to all the big questions handed to you. Truth is a continual lifetime search process of asking questions and questioning everything. To be a truth seeking, one has to learn to be happy to simply say, "I don't know" and embrace the uncertainty that comes with it.

One can choose between two paths: That of a truth-seeker who seeks to become more and more "aware" everyday, or that of a follower of a herd mentality who lives a "happy slave" life of ignorance and doesn't like to think too much. Some are happy being conformists and followers, while others aren't. You will have to decide which one you are.

All I know for sure is that reality is far more complex and vast than the confines of any one religion and its doctrines, whether it be Christianity or another faith. Thus, a truth seeker must venture beyond the rigid belief system of orthodox religions in order to learn more, understand more, expand his/her reality, and evolve.

The most important thing I'd advise for the truth-seeker is this quote by my friend Darryl Sloan from his book Reality Check, which says it all:

"The most productive mindset you can have is simply this: always, always, always have a belief system that doesn’t resist change. Go wherever the information leads you, without fear, because surely the truth is never something to dread." - Darryl Sloan, Reality Check
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Postby Winston » Sun Apr 24, 2011 3:24 am

Check out this video about how "religion is fast food theology". It's over the top, but funny.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzGPWQt2rDQ[/youtube]
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Postby BellaRuth » Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:33 am

Winston wrote:Of course my view of Christianity and my experiences with it is based on the American version. However, Darryl Sloan, an intellectual YouTuber in Ireland, describes Christian doctrine the same way that I do. Ireland is right next to you Bella, so it's not just an "American thing". According to him, Christians in Ireland also believe that you will go to hell if you die without accepting Christ.


I didn't say that you'll never find any non-American conservative Christians that believe in hell.

Just don't get caught up on it- many Christians have differing views on hell.

Your viewpoints overall are strange to me. You seem to also take the Garden of Eden as literal/historical when I've never encountered it referred to in that way.

I'm just saying- when you talk about Christianity, it's not limited to a certain pool of opinions.

I already addressed the "free choice" explanation and said that it was a copout. Why do you believe it? Who told you so? What do you base it on? The fact that someone told you so? Is that a good reason to believe, because someone told you so, and someone told them too, etc? Think about it.


Because you think I'm a Christian you assume I have no brain and have swallowed whatever I have been told, that that is the only explanation. Yeah, right Winston. Thank you for opening my eyes. I can't believe I never questioned this before at all! I've been so easily led! Now I'm off to find all the quotes by Dawkins and Russell I can get my hands on.

I look forward to your posts around Ramadan talking with the same zeal- and writing a 'thesis' on- your problems with Islam. How about your topics on Judaism, and Hinduism? When can I expect these? Are you going to include religions such as Paganism too, or just the major groups? Surely you won't focus all your attention on just Christianity?

Serious Questions for Bella and RedDog:


I'm not going to be a performing monkey. If you want to write essays on Christianity you go for it. If you honestly want to know the answers to these questions you can find them pretty easily. You seem to spend a lot of time searching for Youtube vids on people who agree with you, I'm sure you can branch out to find the answers to your questions if you put the same effort in. For now, you can just sit there happy as a clam thinking Christians are all simple-minded yokels who accept whatever they're told (but are strangely resistant to non-Christian views, not entirely sure how that could work).
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Postby Winston » Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:54 am

Bella,
I have asked Christians, including the most well read and devout, those questions. They had no answer except the typical "The Bible is true cause it's God's word. The Bible is God's word cause it says so. I've been born again by accepting Christ so I know it's true." It was completely circular. They had no real answer or rock solid evidence or logical reason. This has happened with a ton of Christians. So who else do you want me to ask?

Unfortunately, you've done the same by avoiding the questions put forth to you. Why? Why is it so hard to answer them? They are serious crucial questions.

Ok sure, if it makes you happy, I'll do the same with Islam. Here it goes:

"There is no logical basis for the belief that the Koran is the infallible word of God or that Islam is absolute truth and above questioning."

Is that better?

Btw, if you are a Christian who does not believe in a literal hell, that's fine. I am not attacking your version of Christianity, but the fundamentalist version that I was taught and that pervades America. Why do you have a problem with that?
Last edited by Winston on Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby MrPeabody » Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:55 am

When looked at metaphorically, Christianity contains deep spiritual truth. For example, I find numerous parallels between Christianity and Buddhism. The central theme of Buddhism is suffering, whereas the central motif of Christianity is a "cross", an instrument of suffering. It's like both religions are addressing the same truth through different angles. They both identify suffering and offer a solution to suffering. The Bible is complex and contradictory, as any deep philosophy must be. If you want a consistent philosophy, you can read a self help book. It will be consistent but also trite.

My observation of growing up in a Christian community, is that the people who literally believe it's true derive the greatest benefit of the religion, and can undergo dramatic transformation. The liberals have always struck me as weaker, they loose the power by giving up the literal faith. That's why liberal churches are shrinking in membership, whereas the evangelicals grow. Religion is really pragmatic and is designed to do something, i.e. transform people's lives, bind communities, and just reading it as an intellectual doesn't do anything.

I have seriously considered the arguments of the nerdy materialists, and have concluded that they are as shallow as the average uneducated fundamentalist Christian. I think there are many things to criticize about Christianity, but claiming it is just mind control or superstition isn't even addressing the subject seriously. It's a serious philosophy that has been developed over two thousand years by some of the best minds that ever lived. To dismiss it doesn't address the issue.

Another way to look at it, is that the major religions are an attempt to get back the lost innocence of man created by civilization. The primitive "unfallen" pre-civilization people lived in a state of oneness with nature and themselves. Civilization destroyed that unity and made us all separate and alone individuals. Thus, unlike the primitives, we fear death, and the mass religions are an attempt to recover some of that unity, and alleviate the fear of being a lone individual.

I am currently reading a paradigm shifting book "The Fall" by Steve Taylor (it's on Eckhart Tolle's recommend list). He presents the thesis that prehistoric humanity was peaceful and egalitarian, and at some point man developed an ego, which led to civilization, and subsequently centralized control, inequality and wars. It's similar to Rousseau's idea of the noble savage, but he goes much further and provides extensive references to archeological discoveries, some very recent, to support his thesis. Thus, evidence is presented that before "the fall" man did live in a state of unity, which a post-civilization religion may refer to as God.
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Postby Winston » Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:27 am

MrPeabody,
I agree that the Bible contains metaphorical truth. But the fundamentalist version of Christianity does contain mind control and brainwashing. I know cause I used to be a Christian Fundamentalist. Only when I broke free did I realize the level of mind control used on me.

You are taught so many absolutist beliefs and doctrines and told that they are true cause the Bible says so and is infallible and is the word of God, and cannot be questioned.

Yes, religion does transform people's lives. But that's true of other religions too, not just Christianity. I made that point in my essay. Did you read it?

Therefore, just because people have transforming lives or spiritual experiences in Christianity does not mean that Christian doctrines are all literally true and that the Bible is infallible and that all other religions are the work of Satan, as fundamentalists claim.

That's my point. Do you understand?
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Postby MrPeabody » Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:41 am

Winston wrote:MrPeabody,
I agree that the Bible contains metaphorical truth. But the fundamentalist version of Christianity does contain mind control and brainwashing. I know cause I used to be a Christian Fundamentalist. Only when I broke free did I realize the level of mind control used on me.

You are taught so many absolutist beliefs and doctrines and told that they are true cause the Bible says so and is infallible and is the word of God, and cannot be questioned.

Yes, religion does transform people's lives. But that's true of other religions too, not just Christianity. I made that point in my essay. Did you read it?

Therefore, just because people have transforming lives or spiritual experiences in Christianity does not mean that Christian doctrines are all literally true and that the Bible is infallible and that all other religions are the work of Satan, as fundamentalists claim.

That's my point. Do you understand?


Yes, I understand. I wasn't referring directly about your essay, but to a collection of arguments I have heard, including the attitudes in some of the videos presented here. Some of these guys just have a cock sure attitude that they are scientific and rational and the religionists are all nuts (similar to the cock sure attitude of the fundamentalist). I am not saying that of you.
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Postby Winston » Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:39 pm

I asked Darryl Sloan why many Europeans such as BellaRuth and my Hungarian guests have never heard of the hell doctrine. Here is his response:

Hi, Winston.

This is similar to my upbringing. My mother took me to a Methodist church for a time in my youth. The doctrine of hell was never preached, nor did I ever hear it clearly through RE classes in school.

This is more due to Christianity being watered down and becoming wishy-washy than it is to do with the abandonment of the idea of hell. It was only aged 17 that I was confronted with the doctine of hell fully. Nevertheless, the doctine is firmly in place in all Protestant sects and in Catholicism. Only fringe groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses have no hell (and maybe the Seventh Day Adventists, not sure).

These girls on your forum are possibly not aware of the real Christian teachings on hell through a lack of emphasis on it publicly.

I have read many Evangelical writers, both American and British, and there is almost complete agreement about the idea that non-believers go to hell.

Darryl
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Postby The_Adventurer » Sun Apr 24, 2011 1:43 pm

I can attest that 7th Day Adventists have no hell. Unbelievers die, return to the dust and are simply gone. Another way to say it is that hell is eternal separation from god.

The old testament has no hell either. For that matter, neither does the new testament in Aramaic or Greek. Words like Hades, Gehena, The Pit, all different words in the original languages are translated to one word, "hell" in the new testament. Thus a doctrine is built on that concept. The only thing even approaching the hell doctrine in the book is in one of Jesus' parables, which was never meant to represent reality, unless people in hell can easily communicate with people in the real world, or in heaven anytime they please.
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