Monday, April 18, 2011

The Problem with Hell

The most-recent issue of Time Magazine featured the cover story "What if There's No Hell?"

Well, obviously there isn't a hell, so presenting the query as a "What if?" makes it an impossible question to answer.

But I tried to suspend my disbelief and pretend to be a Christian; how would I respond to the question in that case? Well, I was still a bit incapable of answering the question. From a Christian perspective, there 100% is a hell -- there is no debate. It is mentioned numerous times in the New Testament (although not in the Old Testament, as Jews don't believe in hell). So, the question becomes: "What if Christianity is False?," and that just brings me back full-circle to, "Well, duh."

The Time article is all about Evangelical Pastor Rob Bell's crazy idea that everyone goes to some form of heaven, and that there is no hell. The idea is entirely unfounded, biblically, and because it's coming from the pastor of a 7,000-member megachurch, it's causing a bunch of controversy.

The reason Bell randomly decided hell didn't exist is kinda funny, because it's one of the (many) reasons I eventually deconverted to atheism. His church was hosting an art exhibit, and there was a Gandhi quote involved in some piece. Someone pointed out that Gandhi is in hell because he didn't believe in Jesus, and Bell was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa. Gandhi can't be in hell. Gandhi is the epitome of peace and love! But you're right, if there's a hell, he's technically supposed to be in it. Well, that can mean only one thing: There is no hell."

Erm, or how about Christianity is bullshit, Sherlock?

Bell's revelation really is very funny to me, because I've used that exact argument as a "Gotcha!" when debating Christians for quite some time:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do Christians Really Believe? Part 2

I've previously written that I don't think the majority of Christians truly believe in Christianity. If they did, they'd be deliriously happy when loved ones died, and tragedies around the world would elicit a collective "meh," because who cares? It was God's will, and they're all wherever they're supposed to be now, anyway. If Christianity were true then -- sadly -- psychopaths like Pat Robertson and those at the Westboro Baptist Church would be entirely right. People like that see a tragedy and interpret it as a good thing, regardless of the innocent lives lost -- even those of children. (By the way, a good friend recently pointed me to a BBC documentary about the Westboro Baptist Church. You'll find the YouTube videos that comprise the documentary at the end of this post.)

Don' t Waste Your LifeSo, why approach this topic again? Well, while I was shopping for some new reading for my Kindle, I came across a few particularly interesting books. First, I saw the cover of a book titled Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. On its cover was a sort of distorted silhouette of Jesus hanging on the cross. Looking at that title and cover, I got excited. "Haha, awesome, how blatantly disrespectful. Don't waste your life praying to an imaginary friend and going to church to worship something that doesn't exist. I love the premise!"

Well, then I read the synopsis:

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Good Book -- A Bible for Atheists?

Do atheists really need a go-to book? An Atheists Bible, so to speak? I believe Christopher Hitchens tends to think so, judging by his book The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever. There's also a book actually called The Atheist's Bible, although it's just a collection of anti-religious quotes and musings. There's also the Jefferson Bible, actually titled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, in which Jefferson took the Bible and stripped it of all miracles, supernatural BS, and claims of divinity.

Of course, there are the prominent books by the so-called "New Atheists" that many people consider atheistic Bibles of sorts: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, The End of Faith by Sam Harris, and Breaking the Spell by Daniel C. Dennett, among other books that were essentially rallying cries for atheists.

The Good Book: A Humanist BibleAccording to A.C. Grayling, however, none of the above quite fits the bill of a Bible for atheists. While I enjoyed all of the above books, I tend to agree with him. I also think the idea of a compendium of secular, humanistic ideals for non-theists to live by is a great step toward de-demonizing atheists, and giving people non-religious inspiration to lead good lives is always a great idea.

So, Grayling came up with his book, a compendium ideals and philosophies from prominent secular authors and thinkers. He calls it The Good Book: A Humanist Bible. He even went so far as to format it like the Christian Bible, with chapters, verses, and books. He really does want it to be the sort of thing that people memorize and quote from, and I don't think that's a bad thing.

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