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:

"The Bible says that you must believe in Jesus to enter heaven, correct?"

"Right."

"And if you don't get into heaven, you go to hell, right?"

"Right."

"So then Gandhi is in hell?"

"Uh ... yeah, I guess so. Right."


But First, Some Asides

Of course, I'm just using Gandhi as a general example of someone who is a good person and does profoundly good deeds, but is not of the correct religion, simply because that's how people think of Gandhi. Let's set aside the fact that Gandhi may not have been such a stellar example of goodness. (Racist, misogynist, and ... pedophile?)





While we're setting stuff aside, I suppose we also have to set aside the fact that The Bible doesn't agree with itself on how you avoid hell:

Believe in Jesus, Good Deeds Be Damned
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. -- Mark 16:16
and
A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. -- Galatians 2:16
BUT

Just Kidding, Good Works are the Ticket!
I the Lord ... give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. -- Jeremiah 17:10
and
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. -- John 5:29

It Hurts Your Brain Because It's Wrong

All of this comes back to my fundamental argument against smart people believing in the BS of The Bible -- if you have to continuously make excuses for your holy book, ignore the things that make your brain hurt because they're horrible, ignore the things that make your brain hurt because they're obviously contradictory, and interpret things in ways that differ from how they were explicitly written ... can you please just admit already that you aren't really a Christian?

Of course it sucks to think that otherwise good, amazing people who are nonreligious or of the "wrong" religion are going to spend eternity in incredible torment. That fact is especially irreconcilable with a belief in a merciful, just, loving God. (Of course, you can find plenty of things in The Bible that demonstrate God is anything but merciful, just, or loving.)

Please, please just be honest with yourself. Stop practicing cognitive dissonance to believe in God simply because you want to believe in God, or because believing in God is all you know how to do. Read The Bible as a rational adult who knows what a fable is, how primitive knowledge led to creation stories, and just how ludicrous it is to believe in The Bible literally.

And if you're a moderate Christian who doesn't take The Bible literally ... your beliefs make even less sense. Read my previous blog if you want to know why being a moderate Christian doesn't make sense.

-- Atheist Apologist --

23 comments:

  1. I'm a Christian and I've just found your blog. It appears well thought out, am actually loving going through it despite the condescending tone that appears here and there. Nice work.

    I have a few points you might want to consider though, for the issues you raised (Oh, c'mon. Don't roll your eyes yet, I'll be brief).

    "The Bible doesn't agree with itself on how you avoid hell." You say.

    Look closer and you will find out that the Bible talks about two types of 'Works':-

    (1) Works that a Christian does willingly and sometimes (for want of a better term) spontaneously because of his belief in Christ (James 2:26) and

    (2) Works of the Mosaic Law which the Bible doesnt need us to do anymore since Christ died(Galatians 3:24-25). Apparently, some stubborn Christians back then were finding it a little hard to let go of these laws so they needed a bit of a telling off. (Galatians 2:16).

    So in short, the Bible tells us to stop doing Works(2) and instead, says Works(1) should show in a Christian as a sign of faith in Christ.

    "Well, obviously there isn't a hell" You say. Funny thing, the Bible agrees.
    See, "Hell" is translated from two words: Hades (Sheol in Hebrew) and Gehenna. Find what these words really mean and you'd be left wondering where the concept of a fiery place of eternal torture came from.

    Granted, there are some references to fire in the scriptures but these are easily symbolic. Um, maybe except in the minds of those who WANT people to be burnt alive...forever...by God (Repulsive idea, actually).

    AND GANDHI...I don't know, but have you ever come across Acts 24:15? It makes an allowance for the good guys who never really knew God to be given a second chance? At least it leaves some hope for my great grand-pa who never came across a Bible his entire life. Who knows, maybe Gandhi too.

    Hope you got my side clearly...and hopefully I didn't come across as some Christian bum trying to get rid of some nagging 'cognitive dissonance' while still desperately trying to hold on to the existence of God? Whichever way, thanks for the space.

    ReplyDelete
  2. SoTypMe, I'm so very sorry I didn't respond to this sooner. I'm supposed to get an e-mail notification whenever a comment is posted, and I apparently missed this one.

    First, I'd like to thank you for saying my blog is well thought out -- I appreciate the complement. Regarding the condescension, I try to avoid it as much as possible (especially since I know my blogs won't be read with an open mind with any condescension in there), but I'm a comedian at heart, so sometimes it comes out of me. =[ I truly appreciate that you continue reading, despite picking up on that here and there.

    Regarding your points, I appreciate that you took the time to write all of that. I want to give myself proper time to look into the points that you made and your references -- time which I don't have at this exact moment -- so I'll respond to your comment more fully soon. I just didn't want you to think that you were being ignored =]

    ReplyDelete
  3. Atheist Apologist, I'm not agreeing with this post by any means but I respect your opinion and I feel the urge to educate you on the matter of Rob Bell. Rob Bell is nothing but a mega-church preacher which in the Christian World means that you're unfaithful because of the majority of mega churches just preach pretty much what can be see on Huffington Post's Spirit Blog. You get what I'm saying here? It's a "happy" church that preaches "happy" things and that's it. He preaches what people want him to preach because of the money. He doesn't know his Bible by any means but he does know business which doesn't equal to Christianity.

    The concept of Hell is all over the Old Testament, Atheist Apologist, you need to know that just because something doesn't directly say it doesn't mean it didn't say it. Hell in the Hebrew Bible is called Gehenna, tell that to a Jew, well a RELIGIOUS Jew. Moreover, if you want to know more about what Christianity is and read a view point from a Centrist/Moderate then visit my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I will say one thing to answer all of your rhetorical questions. The Bible says many things that aren't literal. Like 52 weeks does not mean literal 52 Earth weeks. Like the Constitution, the Bible is kind of like a living book. It all depends on how you interpret it. But there are things that are literal that no matter how hard you try to say it has a different meaning, it does not.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, and one more thing. When the Bible says that you will be rewarded by your good deeds, it means in heaven if , IF you believe in him. Your reward all depends on how well you resist Satan's attempts on you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I want to thank you for expressing so articulately my own questions about my previously held beliefs. The organized church rallied around "hell" to control people. In spite of charlatans and liars claiming to have been there and back with eye popping descriptions and lurid details, to believe in this is the lynchpin of the whole deal. I note that Christians inevitably assume that whiff of piety tone Salinger describes so well in Franny and Zooey when Zooey goes after his sister for diving in mysticism. And self righteousness and all that I have done and said and thought in the past when I tried to defend a teetering paradigm. It isn't easy moving away from what was once the center of my life. Every reader of the Bible manages to defend it because that's what they have to do to deal with the cognitive dissonance. I will tune in again from time to time. Best regards to you!

    ReplyDelete
  7. 20151010xiaodaige
    ray ban sunglasses outlet, http://www.raybansunglass.us.com/
    air jordan shoes for sale, http://www.airjordanshoes.us.org/
    nike shoes, http://www.cheap-nikeshoes.cc/
    indianapolis colts jerseys, http://www.indianapoliscoltsjersey.us/
    chelsea jersey, http://www.chelseajerseystore.com/
    oakley sunglasses wholesale, http://www.oakleysunglasseswholesale.in.net/
    discount oakley sunglasses, http://www.oakleysunglassesdiscount.us.com/
    the north face outlet, http://www.thenorthfacejacket.us.com/
    rolex watches for sale, http://www.rolexwatches.in.net/
    mont blanc pens, http://www.montblanc-pens.com.co/
    nhl jerseys, http://www.nhljerseys.us.com/
    mbt shoes outlet, http://www.mbtshoesoutlet.us.com/
    ugg boots, http://www.uggoutlet.in.net/
    lebron shoes, http://www.lebronjames.us.com/
    cheap jordan shoes, http://www.cheapjordanshoes.in.net/
    ralph lauren outlet, http://www.ralphlaurenoutletuk.org.uk/
    new york giants jerseys, http://www.newyorkgiants.us/
    tods shoes, http://www.todsshoes.us.com/
    supra shoes, http://www.suprashoes.us.com/
    lululemon outlet, http://www.yogapants.us.com/
    louis vuitton bags cheap, http://www.louisvuittonbag.us.com/
    michael kors outlet online, http://www.michaelkors-outlets.us.com/
    true religion jeans, http://www.truereligionoutletstore.us.com/
    vans sneakers, http://www.vans-shoes.cc/
    ray-ban sunglasses, http://www.ray-bansunglassess.in.net/

    ReplyDelete
  8. This blog is so nice to me. I will continue to come here again and again. Visit my link as well. Good luck
    obat aborsi
    cara menggugurkan kandungan

    ReplyDelete

Atheist Apologist T-shirts from Zazzle.com