Intelligent Design

50 Christmases Later

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December 19, 1971 was a Sunday, the last one before Christmas.  I was ten.  My sister was eleven.  We went with our family to the evening service at Trinity Baptist Church in Boyd, Texas.  After services my parents left us with a group that was going Christmas caroling.  We never made it to the first house.

Our church was on the highway on the western edge of town.   Our group of about 20 carolers walked along the side the highway toward the first neighborhood a few hundred yards away.  The leaders were in the front and back of the group.  My sister and I were with the kids in the middle.  My memories of what happened next are episodic.  I don’t know if this is because I was in and out of consciousness or if my mind will not let me remember.  This is what I do remember.

It is a dark night.  We are walking along the side of the road.  My friends are around me.  Two headlights.  Screeching tires.  Screams.  Darkness.

Laying in a ditch.  Where is Robin?  Grabbing hands full of weeds as I crawl in the ditch.  Why can’t I stand?  Darkness.

Laying on the side of the road.  Someone has laid a coat over me.  A crowd has gathered around a car.  Yelling.  A man is beating someone with his fists.  Darkness.

The flashing lights of ambulances.  My mother is here.  She is hysterical.  She is screaming and fighting with a man who will not let her into an ambulance.  Darkness.

In an ambulance going down the road.  My father is beside me.  He weeps silently.  Darkness.

Bright lights of a hospital.  A doctor is wrapping plaster around my leg.  I see one of my friends on the other side of the room.  Sleep.

Later I learned that a drunken 19 year-old man had swerved toward the group as a joke to frighten us.  He lost control and drove into the middle of the group among the kids.  Eight were injured, including me and my sister, and one nine year-old girl was killed when the car pinned her against a highway post.  This girl was wearing the same style coat as my sister, and my mother had fought to get into the ambulance with her, thinking it was her daughter.  My sister was in a different ambulance, and my father was weeping because the entire trip with me to the hospital in Fort Worth he thought Robin was dead. 

Robin was not dead, but she was badly injured.  She was hit so hard that her body became a projectile that struck another kid and broke his leg.  She sustained a broken nose, a broken leg, a broken arm and injuries to her spinal cord.  She had operations and lived a fairly normal life, though she always struggled with fine motor skills.  Over 40 years later, in 2014, complications from her injuries caused her to become a quadriplegic.  She lived six more years and died in 2020.  By comparison, my injuries were slight, a broken leg from which I fully recovered. 

What to make of all of this?  Terrible, senseless things happen to children as Ivan Karamazov recounted in his famous indictment of God.  How can a loving God allow this?  I have contemplated the theodicy for decades, and in that time I have learned only one thing for certain.  Ivan’s indictment cannot be refuted by logic.  If it can be countered at all, it can be countered only as Alyosha countered it, by faith in God’s love as demonstrated though Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  Robin trusted.  She forgave.  She did not allow bitterness to consume her soul.  This is our second Christmas without her, but I will see her again.  With joy in my heart, I sing the old song:

I’ll meet you in the morning
With a how do you do
And we’ll sit down by the river
And with rapture old acquaintance renew
You’ll know me in the morning
By the smile that I wear
When I meet you in the morning
In that city that is built four square

333 Replies to “50 Christmases Later

  1. 1
    Neil Rickert says:

    This was an inspiring post, even though about a horrible event.

    Best wishes for Christmas.

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    Neil, Robin was an amazing and inspirational woman. She inspires me to be a better man.

  3. 3
    vividbleau says:

    Barry
    It is obvious that many of our interlocutors think Christians have not confronted the very serious objections to our faith. Of course any thinking Christian has pondered the existence of evil, the terrible injustices we see throughout history up to the present. The objections that WJM brings up, which btw are very valid questions. Here is the answer regarding Gods love and justice, indeed it is the only answer

    “by faith in God’s love as demonstrated though Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. “

    I don’t have any other answer to give.

    Vivid

  4. 4
    asauber says:

    BA,

    Thank you for this reflection on Christmas. It is a wonderful time to do some thinking. My lovely wife will be celebrating Christmas without her father for the first time in her life. He died fairly suddenly two weeks before Thanksgiving. And while our family’s world has been shaken, this sad season still contains joyful mystery that shines through the dark.

    The reason for the season:

    “Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice.” -John 18:37

    Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Peaceful New Year.

    Andrew

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    Vivid, it is indeed curious that some atheists raise the problem of evil while assuming an attitude of “well, I bet you guys never thought of this before,” when the plain fact of the matter is that Christians have been contending with these issues since the first century. Dostoevsky especially contended with great honesty and courage. It is telling that Ivan’s indictment, perhaps the greatest conception of the problem of evil ever penned, was not written by an atheist but by a deeply committed Christian. One of my favorite Dostoevsky quotations: “It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.”

  6. 6
    Seversky says:

    That’s a shocking and tragic story and, for what it’s worth, you have my sincere condolences. The only good thing you can say about such tragedies is that, while they illustrate the criminal negligence and stupidity of some, they also bring out the best in others.

  7. 7
    Joe Schooner says:

    I know I am not going to be popular, but in addition to having sympathy for the girl who died, and your sister, and the others who were injured, I have deep sympathy for the drunk driver. This kid, because of a stupid youthful indiscretion, with horrendous consequences, did something that I am sure he deeply regrets. But he will never be able to make amends. Or, not to the extent that would appease those who suffered because of his stupidity. And probably never to the extent that would put him at peace.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, thanks, I have been by my baker friend regularly, looking out his window at butterflies visiting bright yellow flowers. They are living artwork, bless what they visit, give joy to all who look on despite their brief span of life. It has been healing to watch them. KF

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    Sev, thank you for your condolences.

    Joe, your opinion is not unpopular. I share it. I think one knows they have reached the point of complete forgiveness when they not only bear no ill will toward the other person but also feel pity for the pain they must endure. The man in question died in 2002 at the age of only 49. I do not know the circumstances of his death, but I pity him for his short and tragic life.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Merry Christmas to all,

    Isaiah 9:6
    For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
    And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    Aaron Shust – O Come, O Come Emmanuel
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-jn-EvHw_4

    O Holy night by Celtic Woman
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5MpQsLJvOw

    THE GREATEST GIFT – Yancy – music video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHGVud2Qfa4

    Little Drummer Boy – Pentatonix – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ_MGWio-vc

    Michael W. Smith – Agnus Dei
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPBmFwBSGb0

    The Nutcracker
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM-D3jnhmbQ

    Third Day – Manger Throne
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CbWXf1Gw-w

    Trans Siberian Orchestra – Christmas Eve/ Sarajevo [Timeless Version]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....38;ob=av2e

  11. 11
    doubter says:

    For me, the problem of evil and suffering requires determined analysis and development of arguments, the action of the reasoning faculty.

    The following is a paraphrasing of the short essay by Granville Sewell (https://evolutionnews.org/2017/07/the-biggest-theological-objection-to-design/). I think it is one of the best deistic rationalizations of the reality of evil I have encountered. Of course there are other rationalizations, and of course the materialist view that no valid rationalization is possible, so “suck it up”.

    A vast amount of suffering is caused by evil actions of human beings. Second, there is a vast amount of “natural evil” caused by the natural world by things like disease, floods and earthquakes. Any proposed deistic or other solution to the ancient theological problem of suffering has to explain both categories.

    The basic approach in this essay was to combine various arguments that mankind’s suffering is an inevitable accompaniment of our greatest blessings and benefits, the result of a vast number of intricate tradeoffs.

    Why pain, suffering and evil? Main points that are made:

    (1) There is the observed regularity of natural law. The basic laws of physics appear to be cleverly designed to create conditions suitable for human life and development. It can be surmised that this intricate fine-tuned design is inherently a series of tradeoffs and balances, allowing and fostering human existence but also inevitably allowing “natural evil” to regularly occur. In other words, the best solution to the overall “system requirements” (which include furnishing manifold opportunities for humans to experience and achieve) inherently includes natural effects that cause suffering to human beings.

    This points out that there may be logical and fundamental limitations to God’s creativity. Maybe even He can’t 100% satisfy all the requirements simultaneously. Maybe He doesn’t have complete control over nature, because that would interfere with the essential requirements for creative and fulfilling human life. After all, human achievement requires imperfection and adverse conditions to exist as a natural part of human life.

    (2) There is the apparent need for human free will as one of the most important “design requirements”. This inevitably leads to vast amounts of suffering caused by evil acts of humans to each other. Unfortunately, there is no way to get around that one, except to make humans “zombies” or robots, which would defeat the whole purpose of human existence.

    (3) Some suffering is necessary to enable us to experience life in its fullest and to achieve the most. Often it is through suffering that we experience the deepest love of family and friends. “The man who has never experienced any setbacks or disappointments invariably is a shallow person, while one who has suffered is usually better able to empathize with others. Some of the closest and most beautiful relationships occur between people who have suffered similar sorrows.”

    Some of the great works of literature, art and music were the products of suffering. “One whose life has led him to expect continued comfort and ease is not likely to make the sacrifices necessary to produce anything of great and lasting value.”

    It should be noted that the casual claim that all an omnipotent God needs to do is step in whenever accident, disease or evil doings ensue, and cancel out, prevent these happenings. Thus no innocent suffering. One of the most basic problems with this is that it would make the world and its underlying laws of operation purely happenstance and the result of a perhaps capricious God. There would be no regularity of natural law, and therefore there could be no mastery of the physical world by mankind through science. In fact there could be no science and the scientific method as we know them. And of course, there would be little learning from adversity and difficulty, and therefore little depth of character.

    Sewell concludes:

    “Why does God remain backstage, hidden from view, working behind the scenes while we act out our parts in the human drama? ….now perhaps we finally have an answer. If he were to walk out onto the stage, and take on a more direct and visible role, I suppose he could clean up our act, and rid the world of pain and evil — and doubt. But our human drama would be turned into a divine puppet show, and it would cost us some of our greatest blessings: the regularity of natural law which makes our achievements meaningful; the free will which makes us more interesting than robots; the love which we can receive from and give to others; and even the opportunity to grow and develop through suffering. I must confess that I still often wonder if the blessings are worth the terrible price, but God has chosen to create a world where both good and evil can flourish, rather than one where neither can exist. He has chosen to create a world of greatness and infamy, of love and hatred, and of joy and pain, rather than one of mindless robots or unfeeling puppets.”

    Of course, the brute fact is that the bottom line is there is an egregious amount of truly innocent and apparently meaningless suffering, that our instinct tells us is wrong. Is it all worth it? Yes, there may be a rationalization; overall it all may be a vast tradeoff, but some people might conclude it isn’t a good one from the human perspective. The cost is a terrible thing.

  12. 12
    William J Murray says:

    Doubter @11,
    I agree with pretty much everything in your post. I agree this world, like it is, has purpose. I agree that it is very difficult to understand the value this world provides us from the perspective of being in it. Mr. Arrington’s story is so very moving because it shows what faith and hope, and living a life of love and joy as best one can as provided by that faith and hope, even in the most tragic of circumstances, can do – not just for the person, but for everyone who knows that person. It is indeed a bright, warm and inspiring light that Robin was and still is in this world.

    As JS pointed out, it not only provides that kind of light, but provides us the opportunity for forgiveness and compassion for those that are the instruments that bring suffering and tragedy into our lives. Often, “they know not what they do,” and perhaps such events are that by which they can transform their own lives once they see and realize what they have done, what their choices have done to others.

    My rejection of the concept of the Christian God has never had anything to do with the existence of evil or the immense pain and suffering in this world. I understand the invaluable benefit those things provide in this world. Sure, I can make logical arguments, but at the end of the day I don’t reject that idea of God because of those arguments.

    To understand why I reject the concept of the Christian God, imagine this: after leading the life Robin did, demonstrating such grace, compassion, choosing love, hope and joy no matter what the world threw at her, and being a shining light for others, she dies and finds out it was not enough; she’s going to hell and is going to suffer eternal torment without any hope whatsoever.

    How is Mr. Arrington (or someone in such a situation) supposed to live with that knowledge in his eternal life in paradise? How can paradise even be called paradise in that situation? He has hope and faith now that grants him some relief of the suffering of her passing because he is confident he will see her again and they will be together again.

    This is the situation I and many, many others find ourselves in wrt the Christian concept of God and our existence. I cannot abandon my love for my wife. I cannot find joy and happiness without her. She was and is also a bright shining light of faith, love and hope in this world. Even emaciated, in pain and severe discomfort as cancer ravaged her body, she would dress up in outrageous, colorful outfits and light-up shoes to go get her chemo treatments so she could generate some happiness and joy for others there. Her grace in such a situation, her desire to make others there happy, visiting with both the patients and nurses and doctors there, cheerfully making them laugh and smile was and is an inspiring wonder. She was always considering others.

    The Christian concept of existence offers me no hope; in fact, it would extinguish all hope and joy from my life, and all it offers me is eternal suffering whether I end up in heaven or hell. At least my current beliefs allow me to live in joy, love and hope now, and for whatever time I have left here.

  13. 13
    Origenes says:

    Doubter @

    Some suffering is necessary to enable us to experience life in its fullest and to achieve the most. “The man who has never experienced any setbacks or disappointments invariably is a shallow person (…)”
    Some of the great works of literature, art and music were the products of suffering.

    Without a doubt suffering is necessary for personal growth. So, does this explain the existence of ‘evil’ in the context of Christianity? No, it does not, because Christianity is not about personal growth. Although the Bible offers many stories about people who through suffering achieve personal growth & wisdom, this is not what life on earth is about under Christianity.
    According to Christianity the one and only important thing for us is not to sin.

    Anyone feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    “According to Christianity the one and only important thing for us is not to sin.”

    Well not to be too picky, but actually Jesus said the most important thing was to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

    Mark 12:29-31
    …Jesus replied, “This is the most important: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

  15. 15
    William J Murray says:

    Origenes said:

    According to Christianity the one and only important thing for us is not to sin.

    I don’t think that’s quite right. It’s my understanding that the significant decision is to accept Jesus’ sacrifice as forgiveness of our sin. Doing our best not to sin or to do good doesn’t matter without that decision. I don’t think there is a lenient, white-collar crime wing of hell for good behavior and good intentions. But, I could be wrong. I’m not a Christian theologian.

    Interestingly, there is a Christian theologian that agrees with my perspective of life and the afterlife: Emanuel Swedenborg, who said that all that matters in the afterlife is the quality of our inner selves, regardless of whether one was a Christian or not in life. Essentially, that our inner world becomes our outer world, and our inner self becomes our outer self. I can whole-heartedly accept that version of Christianity.

  16. 16
    William J Murray says:

    “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

    There’s only one person I have that love for, and it’s not any version of God.

  17. 17
    doubter says:

    William J Murray@12
    I likewise reject the strict Christian perspective that all humans that do not accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior are condemned to eternal agony in Hell. Regardless of whether they have loved God all their lives, or that they simply have not been exposed to Christian teachings.

    Food for thought would be another additional but non-Christian rationalization of the existence of vast amounts of pain, suffering and evil in the world, supplementing Granville Sewell’s. This is the perspective of the spiritualist movement. Perhaps full acceptance does finally require faith. But this is a faith that it all is really justifiable from the perspective of the soul, and that we are in some incomprehensible way literally our soul. This is the acceptance of the Eastern conception of reincarnation and that Earth life is some sort of “school” in which souls accomplish the learning that can only be accomplished through suffering. Of course, that is not the only purpose of life on Earth, but it is the primary one. There is also the experience of various forms of deep joy that can only take place in a place of physical limitations, great physical beauty, and opportunity for great creativity. Unlike the afterlife existence essentially in which “thoughts are things”, and the Light of God is always available.

    This rationalization has the advantage of having a large body of empirical evidence to partially back it up, especially regarding the reality of reincarnation. This would primarily be the very many veridical independently verified NDE experiences and reincarnation memories of small children.

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    “the evidence (for reincarnation) is not flawless and it certainly does not compel such a belief. Even the best of it is open to alternative interpretations,”
    Ian Stevenson – (late) a leading reincarnation researcher
    http://www.skepdic.com/stevenson.html

  19. 19
    doubter says:

    From of all places Wiki, which is known for closed-minded rejection of all paranormal phenomena:

    “In an article published on the website of Scientific American in 2013, in which Stevenson’s work was reviewed favorably, Jesse Bering, a professor of science communication, wrote: “Towards the end of her own storied life, the physicist Doris Kuhlmann-Wilsdorf—whose groundbreaking theories on surface physics earned her the prestigious Heyn Medal from the German Society for Material Sciences, surmised that Stevenson’s work had established that ‘the statistical probability that reincarnation does in fact occur is so overwhelming … that cumulatively the evidence is not inferior to that for most if not all branches of science.”

    ( Bering, Jesse. “Ian Stevenson’s Case for the Afterlife: Are We ‘Skeptics’ Really Just Cynics?”. Scientific American Blog Network. Retrieved 2017-03-12. )

  20. 20
    Origenes says:

    Chris Carter:

    Reincarnation provides a rational and coherent explanation for the data from past-life memory cases. At this point, it would also appear that reincarnation provides the best explanation of the data. As with all empirical hypotheses, we cannot claim that reincarnation has been proven beyond all possible doubt; but the best cases have not been proven false. The competing explanations all have serious shortcomings, and—despite the dogmatic assertions of Edwards—they do not explain the data nearly as well.

  21. 21
    Seversky says:

    Most people have no memories of past lives and, without that, reincarnation makes no sense at all.

  22. 22
    ET says:

    seversky:

    Most people have no memories of past lives and, without that, reincarnation makes no sense at all.

    That doesn’t follow. Reincarnation makes sense, regardless of being conscious of past memories, because it is a NEW start.

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:‘ “the statistical probability that reincarnation does in fact occur is so overwhelming,,,”

    LOL, the old ploy of, “we have no actual physical evidence, but look at all these amazing statistics that we have”. 🙂

    As the old saw of ‘lies, damn lies, and statistics’ hints at, the trouble is, if you are not extremely careful in how you do your analysis, that statistics can say just about any damn thing you want them to say.

    Scientific method: Statistical errors – P values, the ‘gold standard’ of statistical validity, are not as reliable as many scientists assume. – Regina Nuzzo – 12 February 2014
    Excerpt: “P values are not doing their job, because they can’t,” says Stephen Ziliak, an economist at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Illinois, and a frequent critic of the way statistics are used.,,,
    “Change your statistical philosophy and all of a sudden different things become important,” says Steven Goodman, a physician and statistician at Stanford. “Then ‘laws’ handed down from God are no longer handed down from God. They’re actually handed down to us by ourselves, through the methodology we adopt.”,,
    One researcher suggested rechristening the methodology “statistical hypothesis inference testing”3, presumably for the acronym it would yield.,,
    The irony is that when UK statistician Ronald Fisher introduced the P value in the 1920s, he did not mean it to be a definitive test. He intended it simply as an informal way to judge whether evidence was significant in the old-fashioned sense: worthy of a second look. The idea was to run an experiment, then see if the results were consistent with what random chance might produce.,,,
    Neyman called some of Fisher’s work mathematically “worse than useless”,,,
    “The P value was never meant to be used the way it’s used today,” says Goodman.,,,
    The more implausible the hypothesis — telepathy, aliens, homeopathy — the greater the chance that an exciting finding is a false alarm, no matter what the P value is.,,,
    “It is almost impossible to drag authors away from their p-values, and the more zeroes after the decimal point, the harder people cling to them”11,,
    http://www.nature.com/news/sci.....E-20140213

    As the American Statistical Association itself stated, “By itself, a p-value does not provide a good measure of evidence regarding a model or hypothesis.”

    March 2016 – The American Statistical Association (ASA) has released a “Statement on Statistical Significance and P-Values” with six principles underlying the proper use and interpretation of the p-value,,,
    The statement’s six principles, many of which address misconceptions and misuse of the p- value, are the following:
    1. P-values can indicate how incompatible the data are with a specified statistical model.
    2. P-values do not measure the probability that the studied hypothesis is true, or the probability that the data were produced by random chance alone.
    3. Scientific conclusions and business or policy decisions should not be based only on whether a p-value passes a specific threshold.
    4. Proper inference requires full reporting and transparency.
    5. A p-value, or statistical significance, does not measure the size of an effect or the importance of a result.
    6. By itself, a p-value does not provide a good measure of evidence regarding a model or hypothesis.
    https://www.amstat.org//asa/files/pdfs/P-ValueStatement.pdf

  24. 24
    Origenes says:

    BA77 @

    LOL, the old ploy of, “we have no actual physical evidence, but look at all these amazing statistics that we have”. : )

    Look, there is that guy who so often argues for the validity of NDE testimonies, demanding “actual physical evidence” for reincarnation.

  25. 25
    chuckdarwin says:

    The problem of evil is one of those fatal, self-inflicted wounds, similar to the trinity, that pop up from time to time in Christianity. It has been chasing Christianity ever since Christianity left the starting blocks. No Christian theologist or philosopher has come close to “solving” the problem. When you try to throw together a religion piecemeal over three or four centuries you are bound to have a few unintended consequences…

  26. 26
    doubter says:

    Bornagain77@23

    This is just a small excerpt from an essay by Steve Taylor, a runner-up in the Bigelow essay contest on the afterlife, https://www.bigelowinstitute.org/contest_winners3.php . Just the tip of the iceberg of the evidence. Note that this does involve extensive physical evidence.

    “In the course of his work collecting reports of past-life memories over several decades, Dr. Stevenson had also noted – and investigated, but not published – a curiously large subset of the reincarnation cases: those in which the person reporting past-life memories was born with birthmarks or defects that matched wounds on the body of the claimed previous personality. In 1997, he published a 2268-page-long, two-volume collection detailing more than 200 of these cases, entitled Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects (along with a shorter, more accessible synopsis, Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect).

    As such cases provided corroborating physical evidence to back up the testimony of the children regarding their past-life memories, Stevenson went to great lengths to verify their details. He obtained autopsy reports, medical or police reports, and eyewitness testimony about the wounds on the past-life personality, and in his book included numerous pictures substantiating the similarities between the birthmarks/defects and the wounds. Some notable cases include a young girl with malformed fingers who remembered a previous life as a man whose fingers were chopped off; another girl with a pale, scar-like birthmark that encircled her head who remembered the life of a man who had skull surgery; and a boy with a malformed right side of his face and ear who had past-life memories of being a man who died as a result of a shotgun blast to the right side of his face.

    Furthermore, a number of the cases involved double birthmarks, and were tied to deaths of the previous personality by gunshot. In most, the size and shape of the birthmarks on the children also corresponded with the entry and exit wounds of the bullet: a small, neat mark where the bullet entered the body of the previous personality, and a larger, more irregularly shaped mark matching the location of the bullet’s exit.”

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    Doubter, perhaps you should, as your handle suggests, have just a little more ‘doubt’ about these claims for reincarnation than you do? But alas, I guess we all, (like Stevenson himself did), have our own ‘confirmation biases’ to deal with.

    But anyways, “For my part, I have to agree with Stevenson’s own assessment of his work: he’s provided evidence, but no compelling evidence for reincarnation.,,,”

    Ian Stevenson (1918-2007)
    Excerpt: Philosophically, Stevenson was a naive dualist. He believed that bodies and souls have separate evolutions and existences, and he seemed not to be concerned or aware of the philosophical problems that ensue from such claims about mind and body.
    His dualism became stronger after he experimented with mescaline and LSD.,,,
    The best evidence for reincarnation, he thought, are the number of “cases of subjects who have birthmarks or birth defects that seem to derive from previous lives. These marks and defects correspond closely in size and location to wounds (occasionally other marks) on the deceased person whose life the child later claims to remember.”*,,,
    These first impressions would have a lasting impact on Stevenson’s methodology and beliefs about reincarnation. The data collected on this trip became the basis for Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, whose publication was delayed because his publisher backed out of the project when it was discovered that Stevenson’s interpreter was accused of dishonesty. Stevenson admits the man was dishonest in some matters, but he did not think the man had deceived him. So, Stevenson did not reject the data collected with this interpreter’s help.,,,
    ,,, Finally, the most problematic issue Stevenson would have to face using his method of collecting stories would be the fact that nothing could ever count against his hypothesis. Stories that are rejected as hoaxes, frauds, questionable, unreliable, or based on experiences in this lifetime would be discarded, but they wouldn’t count against the reincarnation hypothesis. The worst case scenario for Stevenson’s method would be that his evidence does not compel belief and that even the best of it is open to alternative interpretations. Unfortunately, that is also his best case scenario. Most people are not likely to be too impressed when they realize that all Stevenson had to show for over forty years of research is that it is now false to claim that there is no evidence for reincarnation. It is still quite reasonable, however, to claim that there is no compelling evidence for reincarnation.,,,
    For my part, I have to agree with Stevenson’s own assessment of his work: he’s provided evidence, but no compelling evidence for reincarnation.,,,
    http://www.skepdic.com/stevenson.html

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    Origenes complains that, “there is that guy (me) who so often argues for the validity of NDE testimonies, demanding “actual physical evidence” for reincarnation.”

    Well actually, I do have “actual physical evidence” that Judeo-Christian Near Death Testimonies, (which are radically different from the ‘Near Death” testimonies of Far East ‘reincarnation’ cultures), are accurate, ‘physically real’, testimonies of what happens after death.

    Moreover, I can appeal to none other than special relativity itself, (one of the most powerful, and precisely tested, theories ever in the history of science), to back up my claim that Judeo-Christian Near Death Testimonies are accurately describing a ‘physically real’ event that happened to them, of going to a higher, eternal, ‘heavenly’, dimension that exists above this temporal realm.

    Specifically, special relativity is based on a single four-dimensional continuum now known as Minkowski space. In fact, the higher dimensional nature of special relativity was a discovery that was made by one of Einstein math professors in 1908 prior to Einstein’s elucidation of General Relativity in 1915. (In fact, in 1916 Einstein fully acknowledged his indebtedness to Minkowski)

    Spacetime
    Excerpt: In 1908, Hermann Minkowski—once one of the math professors of a young Einstein in Zurich—presented a geometric interpretation of special relativity that fused time and the three spatial dimensions of space into a single four-dimensional continuum now known as Minkowski space. A key feature of this interpretation is the definition of a spacetime interval that combines distance and time. Although measurements of distance and time between events differ for measurements made in different reference frames, the spacetime interval is independent of the inertial frame of reference in which they are recorded.
    Minkowski’s geometric interpretation of relativity was to prove vital to Einstein’s development of his 1915 general theory of relativity, wherein he showed that spacetime becomes curved in the presence of mass or energy.,,,
    Einstein, for his part, was initially dismissive of Minkowski’s geometric interpretation of special relativity, regarding it as überflüssige Gelehrsamkeit (superfluous learnedness). However, in order to complete his search for general relativity that started in 1907, the geometric interpretation of relativity proved to be vital, and in 1916, Einstein fully acknowledged his indebtedness to Minkowski, whose interpretation greatly facilitated the transition to general relativity.[10]:151–152 Since there are other types of spacetime, such as the curved spacetime of general relativity, the spacetime of special relativity is today known as Minkowski spacetime.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacetime

    Moreover, these four dimensional spacetimes that undergird both special relativity and general relativity are also comforting to overall Christian concerns in that they reveal two very different eternities to us. One eternity is found for a hypothetical observer who is going the speed of light, and another, (very different), eternity is found for a hypothetical observer falling to the event horizon of a black hole.

    Time dilation
    Excerpt: Time dilation: special vs. general theories of relativity:
    In Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, time dilation in these two circumstances can be summarized:
    1. –In special relativity (or, hypothetically far from all gravitational mass), clocks that are moving with respect to an inertial system of observation are measured to be running slower. (i.e. For any observer accelerating, hypothetically, to the speed of light, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop.)
    2.–In general relativity, clocks at lower potentials in a gravitational field—such as in closer proximity to a planet—are found to be running slower. (i.e. For any observer falling to the event horizon of a black-hole, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

    Specifically, in Einstein’s special relativity we find that time passes differently for different ‘observers’ depending on how fast the observers are moving through space, “with time slowing to a stop as one, (an observer), approaches the speed of light .”

    Time dilation caused by a relative velocity
    Excerpt: Special relativity indicates that, for an observer in an inertial frame of reference, a clock that is moving relative to them will be measured to tick slower than a clock that is at rest in their frame of reference. This case is sometimes called special relativistic time dilation. The faster the relative velocity, the greater the time dilation between one another, with time slowing to a stop as one approaches the speed of light (299,792,458 m/s).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation#Time_dilation_caused_by_a_relative_velocity

    To grasp the whole ‘time slowing to a stop as one, (an observer), approaches the speed of light’ concept a little more easily, imagine moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light. Would not the hands on the clock stay stationary as you moved away from the face of the clock at the speed of light? Moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light happens to be the same ‘thought experiment’ that gave Einstein his breakthrough insight into e=mc2.

    “In the spring of 1905, Einstein was riding on a bus and he looked back at the famous clock tower that dominates Bern Switzerland. And then he imagined, “What happens if that bus were racing near the speed of light?”, (narrator: “In his imagination, Einstein looks back at the clock tower and what he sees is astonishing. As he reaches the speed of light, the hands of the clock appear frozen in time”), “Einstein would later write, “A storm broke in my mind. All of the sudden everything, everything, kept gushing forward.”, (narrator: “Einstein knows that, back at the clock tower, time is passing normally, but on Einstein’s light speed bus, as he reaches the speed of light, the light from the clock can no longer catch up to him. The faster he races through space, the slower he moves through time. This insight sparks the birth of Einstein’s Special Theory of relativity, which says that space and time are deeply connected. In fact, they are one and the same. A flexible fabric called spacetime.”)
    – Michio Kaku
    Einstein: Einstein’s Miracle Year (‘Insight into Eternity’ – Thought Experiment – 6:29 minute mark) – video
    https://youtu.be/QQ35opgrhNA?t=389

    Moreover, the finding that time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop at the speed of light is very friendly to Theistic presuppositions about ‘eternity’ and/or ‘eternal life’.

    As Dr. Richard Swenson noted in his book “More Than Meets The Eye”, “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    – Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 11

    Even Einstein himself, albeit indirectly, alluded to the Theological significance of special relativity when he, upon the death of his close friend Michele Besso, stated, “For those of us who believe in physics, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

    Einstein and Michele Besso
    Upon Besso’s death in 1955, Einstein wrote a letter of condolence to the Besso family—less than a month before his own death—which contained the following quote “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That signifies nothing. For those of us who believe in physics, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
    http://quotingeinstein.blogspo.....besso.html

    That time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop at the speed of light, and yet light moves from point A to point B in our universe, and thus light is obviously not ‘frozen within time’, has some fairly profound implications for us.

    The only way it is possible for time not to pass for light, and yet for light to move from point A to point B in our universe, is if light is of a ‘higher dimensional’ value of time than the temporal time we are currently living in. Otherwise light would simply be ‘frozen within time’ from our temporal frame of reference.

    One way for us to more easily understand this higher dimensional framework for time that light must necessarily exist in is to visualize what would happen if a hypothetical observer approached the speed of light.

    In the first part of the following video clip, entitled ‘Optical Effects of Special Relativity”, a video which was made by two Australian University Physics Professors, we find that the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape as a ‘hypothetical’ observer approaches the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light.

    Optical Effects of Special Relativity – video (full relativistic effects shown at 2:40 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/JQnHTKZBTI4?t=160

    To give us a better understanding as to what it would be like to exist in a higher dimension, this following video, Dr. Quantum in Flatland, also gives us a (very) small insight as to what it would be like for us to exist in a ‘invisible’ higher dimension:

    Dr. Quantum in Flatland – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5yxZ5I-zsE

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, to further validate the Christian’s claim that the ‘higher eternal dimension’ of heaven is a real place, we don’t have to rely solely on our scientific evidence from special relativity. We can also reference the many testimonies of people, (in Judeo-Christian cultures), who have died for a short while and come back. These testimonies are commonly referred to as Near Death Experiences (NDEs).

    In the following video clip, Mickey Robinson gives his Near Death testimony of what it felt like for him to experience a ‘timeless eternity’.

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video (testimony starts at 27:45 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voak1RM-pXo

    And here are a few more quotes from people who have experienced Near Death, that speak of how their perception of time was radically altered as they were outside of their material body.

    ‘Earthly time has no meaning in the spirit realm. There is no concept of before or after. Everything – past, present, future – exists simultaneously.’
    – Kimberly Clark Sharp – Near Death Experiencer

    ‘There is no way to tell whether minutes, hours or years go by. Existence is the only reality and it is inseparable from the eternal now.’
    – John Star – NDE Experiencer

    As well, Near Death Experiencers in Judeo-Christian cultures also frequently mention going through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension:

    Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience (NDE)? – article with video
    Excerpt: “Very often as they’re moving through the tunnel, there’s a very bright mystical light … not like a light we’re used to in our earthly lives. People call this mystical light, brilliant like a million times a million suns…”
    – Jeffrey Long M.D. – has studied NDE’s extensively
    – abcnews nightline

    The Tunnel and the Near-Death Experience
    Excerpt: One of the nine elements that generally occur during NDEs is the tunnel experience. This involves being drawn into darkness through a tunnel, at an extremely high speed, until reaching a realm of radiant golden-white light.
    – near death research

    In the following video, Barbara Springer gives her testimony as to what it felt like for her to go through the tunnel to ‘heaven’:

    “I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.”
    Barbara Springer – Near Death Experience – The Tunnel – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv2jLeoAcMI

    And in the following audio clip, (Vicki Noratuk, who has been blind from birth, and besides being able to ‘miraculously’ see for the very first time during in her life during her Near Death Experience), also gives testimony of going through a tunnel to a higher heaven dimension:

    “I was in a body, and the only way that I can describe it was a body of energy, or of light. And this body had a form. It had a head, it had arms and it had legs. And it was like it was made out of light. And it was everything that was me. All of my memories, my consciousness, everything.”,,, “And then this vehicle formed itself around me. Vehicle is the only thing, or tube, or something, but it was a mode of transportation that’s for sure! And it formed around me. And there was no one in it with me. I was in it alone. But I knew there were other people ahead of me and behind me. What they were doing I don’t know, but there were people ahead of me and people behind me, but I was alone in my particular conveyance. And I could see out of it. And it went at a tremendously, horrifically, rapid rate of speed. But it wasn’t unpleasant. It was beautiful in fact.,, I was reclining in this thing, I wasn’t sitting straight up, but I wasn’t lying down either. I was sitting back. And it was just so fast. I can’t even begin to tell you where it went or whatever it was just fast!” –
    Vicki’s NDE – Blind since birth –
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e65KhcCS5-Y

    And the following people who had a NDE both testify that they firmly believed that they were in a higher dimension that exists above this temporal realm and that the primary reason that they have a very difficult time explaining exactly what their Near Death Experiences felt like is because we simply don’t currently have the words to properly describe that higher dimension:

    “Regardless, it is impossible for me to adequately describe what I saw and felt. When I try to recount my experiences now, the description feels very pale. I feel as though I’m trying to describe a three-dimensional experience while living in a two-dimensional world. The appropriate words, descriptions and concepts don’t even exist in our current language. I have subsequently read the accounts of other people’s near-death experiences and their portrayals of heaven and I able to see the same limitations in their descriptions and vocabulary that I see in my own.”
    Mary C. Neal, MD – To Heaven And Back pg. 71

    “Well, when I was taking geometry, they always told me there were only three dimensions, and I always just accepted that. But they were wrong. There are more… And that is why so hard for me to tell you this. I have to describe with words that are three-dimensional. That’s as close as I can get to it, but it’s really not adequate.”
    John Burke – Imagine Heaven pg. 51 – quoting a Near Death Experiencer

    That what we now know to be true from special relativity, (namely that it outlines a ‘timeless’, i.e. eternal, dimension that exists above this temporal dimension), would fit hand and glove with the personal testimonies of people who have had a deep heavenly NDEs is, needless to say, powerful evidence that their testimonies are, in fact, true and that they are accurately describing the ‘physical reality’ of a higher heavenly dimension, that they experienced first hand, and that they adamantly insist exists above this temporal dimension.

    I would even go so far as to say that such corroboration from ‘non-physicists’, who, in all likelihood, know nothing about these intricacies of special relativity, is a complete ‘scientific’ verification of the overall validity, and ‘physical reality’, of their personal NDE testimonies.

    Thus in conclusion although Einstein himself may not have personally believed in life after death, (nor in a personal God), but Special Relativity itself contradicts Einstein and offers stunning confirmation that Judeo Christian Near Death Testimonies are accurate ‘physical’ descriptions of what happens after death, i.e. going to a ‘higher timeless/eternal dimension’, i.e. a ‘heavenly’ dimension, that exists above this temporal realm.

    Verse:

    Matthew 6:33
    But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

  30. 30
    doubter says:

    Bornagain77

    Before citing NDEs as evidence for Christianity being the ultimate truth, the results found by researchers who have actually studied NDEs need to be examined. Numerous researchers have found that religious orientation is usually changed toward simple nonreligious spirituality rather than Bible-pounding. Here’s an example. The following is from a paper, Changes in Religious Beliefs, Attitudes, and Practices Following Near-Death Experiences: An Australian Study, by Cherie Sutherland, B.A., University of New South Wales ( https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc799043/m2/1/high_res_d/vol9-no1-21.pdf ). The direct quotes from interviews with NDEers are especially interesting.

    In recent years, interest in the aftereffects of the NDE has grown. Ring (1984), Margot Grey (1985), Charles Flynn (1986), and P.M.H. Atwater (1988) all looked at a wide range of aftereffects, each giving some consideration to the question of religiousness of NDErs. They all concluded that experiencers became more religious after their NDEs, but it must be noted that this so-called religiousness was ambiguous in its manifestations. It tended more toward inward spiritual transformation rather than toward outward demonstrations of faith such as greater involvement in organized religion.

    The data in Table 2 concerning changes in activities, experiences, and beliefs after the NDE show an established shift on all nine items away from organized religion and church attendance and towards private informal prayer, meditation, and a general quest for spiritual values. Of the 11 respondents who still attend church after the NDE, one person goes only to take her massively brain-damaged son, who enjoys the service. She stated that she can’t accept the sermons being preached:

    “They say if you’re not a Christian none of you will be able to come in through the eye of the needle, and all that sort of thing. And I think, well, I went up there and I saw it and I certainly wasn’t a Christian at the time. So how do they know? So I can’t accept it. I’ve got my own beliefs and I try to live my way.”

    Another of those 11 respondents enjoys going to church but claims she is a believer rather than a Roman Catholic and that her beliefs are not necessarily those of the Catholic Church. After describing her strong belief in reincarnation she laughed and said: “The Roman Catholic Church would be horrified if they knew what I believed.” A few others who attend church regularly, although nominally attached to a particular denomination, are happy in any church.

    One woman said:

    “I feel that church is a bit of a sham. Not God but the people. They seem to fuss over stupid little things that are really just political. But I belong to a lot of churches. I play the guitar in the Roman Catholic folk group, I’m in the musical group of the Church of Christ, and I play with the Salvation Army. I’m probably Anglican but it doesn’t worry me where I am-it’s all God inside me.”

    With regard to belief in reincarnation and in life after death, as I noted elsewhere (Sutherland, 1989) the numbers tend to obscure the actual complexity of these beliefs.

    Those 41 percent who believed in reincarnation before the NDE believed in it only “a bit,” whereas the 78 PERCENT who believed in it afterwards tended to be more convinced. Similarly, the 50 percent who said they believed in life after death before the NDE generally retained such beliefs from their childhood religious training. On the other hand, 100 percent of my respondents now believe in life after death, and base that belief on their own experience, which in many cases explicitly contradicts the views held earlier.

  31. 31
    StephenB says:

    WJM:

    To understand why I reject the concept of the Christian God, imagine this: after leading the life Robin did, demonstrating such grace, compassion, choosing love, hope and joy no matter what the world threw at her, and being a shining light for others, she dies and finds out it was not enough; she’s going to hell and is going to suffer eternal torment without any hope whatsoever.

    While I completely disagree with the possibility of such a scenario, I note, once again, that you, who question the very existence of any objective standard of justice, continue to insinuate that the Christian God is unjust.

  32. 32
    William J Murray says:

    SB@31 said:

    While I completely disagree with the possibility of such a scenario…

    Why is the scenario not possible in your view?

  33. 33
    William J Murray says:

    Doubter,

    I had this same debate with BA77 some time ago, where his position was that the evidence clearly showed that Christian NDE were better – happier, more loving, more joyous – than non-Christian NDEs. What he refused to answer was why there were non-Christian versions of NDEs at all.

  34. 34
    bornagain77 says:

    Doubter, per your quotes,

    “They all concluded that experiencers became more religious after their NDEs”,,, “It tended more toward inward spiritual transformation rather than toward outward demonstrations of faith such as greater involvement in organized religion.”,,, “well, I went up there (heaven) and I saw it and I certainly wasn’t a Christian at the time.”,,, “show an established shift on all nine items away from organized religion and church attendance and towards private informal prayer, meditation, and a general quest for spiritual values.”,,, “Those 41 percent who believed in reincarnation before the NDE believed in it only “a bit,” whereas the 78 percent who believed in it afterwards TENDED to be more convinced.”,,, “On the other hand, 100 PERCENT of my respondents now believe (wholeheartedly?) in life after death, and base that belief on their own experience, which in many cases explicitly contradicts the views held earlier.”

    So Doubter, basically you have, since they experienced life after death first hand, a dramatic increase in belief in life after death (IOO%), and only, (since they did not experience ‘reincarnation’ first hand), a increased ‘tendency’ (78%) to believe that reincarnation is possible?

    Doubter, needless to say, that is not exactly a ‘evidential slam dunk’ for your position.

    To repeat the quote I cited earlier, ““For my part, I have to agree with Stevenson’s own assessment of his work: he’s provided evidence, but no compelling evidence for reincarnation.,,,”

    Moreover, although it may shock you to know this, Jesus himself had a fairly big problem with ‘organized religion’ in his day. In fact, the religious leaders of his day were Jesus’s main enemies. (orchestrating His crucifixion among other things)

    Thus, that NDErs would become profoundly more ‘spiritual’, rather than becoming more ‘religious’, is not the least bit surprising.

    As Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, “God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

    John 4:23-24
    But a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such as these to worship Him. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

    As to the fact that people who do not particularly identify as being Christian are having ‘heavenly’ NDEs, I simply note that these people are living in the ‘fishbowl’ of Western civilization where “the water is Christianity.”

    If Western civilization is the fishbowl then the water is Christianity.”
    Atheists in Praise of Christianity? – May 19, 2020
    Excerpt: Historian Tom Holland is known primarily as a storyteller of the ancient world. Thus, his newest book Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, came as something of a surprise for several reasons. First, Tom Holland is not a Christian. Second, Holland’s book is one of the most ambitious historical defenses of Christianity in a very long time.
    Attracting Criticism
    Holland’s book-length defense of the belief system the elites love to despise has unsurprisingly attracted some criticism. He faced off with militant atheist and prominent philosopher A.C. Grayling on the question “Did Christianity give us our human values?” Grayling struggled to rebut Holland, sounding more petty than philosophical. Holland, on the other hand, became positively passionate in his defense of Christianity. If Western civilization is the fishbowl, he stated, then the water is Christianity.
    https://stream.org/atheists-in-praise-of-christianity/

    Which is to say, although people may not personally realize it, and due to widespread Christian influences on foundational Western cultural values, many people are far more Christian in their basic values, and beliefs, than they themselves may personally realize.

    Where you will find a dramatic difference in ‘types’ of NDEs that are being experienced is if you go to foreign Far Eastern ‘reincarnation’ cultures,

    All foreign, non-Judeo-Christian cultures, NDE studies that I have looked at, (including those supplied to me by WJM), have a extreme rarity of going through a tunnel to a higher, timeless, ‘heavenly’ dimension, and also an extreme rarity of encounters with ‘The Being Of Light’,

    Indeed, the NDEs of Far Eastern ‘reincarnation’ cultures are, by and large, very unpleasant NDE’s in their foundational nature and thus stand in stark contrast to the extremely pleasant, ‘heavenly’, NDE’s that are commonly reported in Western Judeo-Christian cultures.

    For instance, this study from Thailand

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt: The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near Death Experience Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

    So Doubter, all in all, there is nothing that is particularly surprising in your selected quotes that would lend more credence to reincarnation being true over and above Christianity. Moreover, the NDE testimonies from Far East ‘reincarnation’ cultures themselves have nothing to be desired over and above Judeo-Christian culture testimonies of going to a higher, ‘heavenly’, dimension, (and, I remind, this higher. ‘heavenly’, dimension is validated to be a ‘physically real’ dimension by no less than special relativity itself)

    Inspirational quote: “,,He (God) is right here with each of us right now, seeing what we see, suffering what we suffer… and hoping desperately that we will keep our hope and faith in Him. Because that hope and faith will be triumphant.”

    The Easter Question – Eben Alexander, M.D. – Harvard – March 2013
    Excerpt: More than ever since my near death experience, I consider myself a Christian -,,,
    Now, I can tell you that if someone had asked me, in the days before my NDE, what I thought of this (Easter) story, I would have said that it was lovely. But it remained just that — a story. To say that the physical body of a man who had been brutally tortured and killed could simply get up and return to the world a few days later is to contradict every fact we know about the universe. It wasn’t simply an unscientific idea. It was a downright anti-scientific one.
    But it is an idea that I now believe. Not in a lip-service way. Not in a dress-up-it’s-Easter kind of way. I believe it with all my heart, and all my soul.,,
    We are, really and truly, made in God’s image. But most of the time we are sadly unaware of this fact. We are unconscious both of our intimate kinship with God, and of His constant presence with us. On the level of our everyday consciousness, this is a world of separation — one where people and objects move about, occasionally interacting with each other, but where essentially we are always alone.
    But this cold dead world of separate objects is an illusion. It’s not the world we actually live in.,,,
    ,,He (God) is right here with each of us right now, seeing what we see, suffering what we suffer… and hoping desperately that we will keep our hope and faith in Him. Because that hope and faith will be triumphant.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....79741.html

    Verse:

    Matthew 6:33
    But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

  35. 35
    Origenes says:

    Reincarnation, unlike Christianity, can explain suffering as a necessary impetus for personal growth. Reincarnation, unlike Christianity, offers equal opportunity for each person — poor in one life, rich in the next. Reincarnation shifts the focus away from sin and opens the door for personal growth.

  36. 36
    bornagain77 says:

    ^^^^

    Hmmm? In your view of things Christianity is somehow antithetical to ‘personal growth’?

    Ed Feser has a very different take on the relationship between ‘personal growth’ and Christianity.

    This Theologian Has An Answer To Atheists’ Claims That Evil Disproves God – Jan, 2018
    Excerpt: In “The Last Superstition: A Refutation Of The New Atheism,” Feser, echoing Thomas Aquinas, notes that the first premise of the problem of evil is “simply false, or at least unjustifiable.” According to Feser, there is no reason to believe that the Christian God, being all-good and all-powerful, would prevent suffering on this earth if out of suffering he could bring about a good that is far greater than any that would have existed otherwise. If God is infinite in power, knowledge, goodness, etc., then of course he could bring about such a good.
    Feser demonstrates his reasoning with an analogy. A parent may allow his child a small amount of suffering in frustration, sacrifice of time, and minor pain when learning to play the violin, in order to bring about the good of establishing proficiency. This is not to say that such minimal suffering is in any way comparable to the horrors that have gone on in this world. But the joy of establishing proficiency with a violin is not in any way comparable to the good that God promises to bring to the world.
    In Christian theology, this good is referred to as the Beatific Vision: the ultimate, direct self-communication of God to the individual. In other words, perfect salvation or Heaven. Feser describes the Beatific Vision as a joy so great that even the most terrible horror imaginable “pales in insignificance before the beatific vision.” As Saint Paul once said, “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
    Your Argument Assumes Its Conclusion
    I can already see the disciples of the Four Horsemen readying their keyboards, opening a copy of Dawkins’ “The God Delusion,” and preparing their response. An atheist may claim that he cannot possibly imagine anything in the next life that could possibly outweigh the Holocaust, children’s suffering, or any other instance of significant suffering in this world. According to Feser, this response is precisely the reason he states that the problem of evil is “worthless” as an objection to arguments in favor of the existence of the Christian God.
    The problem is that the only way the atheist can claim that nothing could outweigh the most significant suffering on earth is if he supposes that God does not exist and therefore there is no Beatific Vision. But he cannot presume that God does not exist in the premise of an argument that aims to prove the conclusion that God does not exist. By doing so, he is begging the question, or arguing in a circle, and therefore does not prove anything at all.
    As Feser goes on to demonstrate, the atheist is essentially stating: “There is no God, because look at all this suffering that no good could possibly outweigh. How do I know there’s no good that could outweigh it? Oh, because there is no God.”
    http://thefederalist.com/2018/.....oves-gods/

  37. 37
    Origenes says:

    BA77 @

    In your view of things Christianity is somehow antithetical to ‘personal growth’?

    It is not? Then why not solve the problem of evil by pointing out that suffering is a necessary catalyst for personal growth?

  38. 38
    William J Murray says:

    BA77: Exactly how does the eternal suffering of hell aid in the personal growth of those who find themselves there?

  39. 39
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Reincarnation, unlike Christianity,

    Reincarnation dumbest concept ever that promote immorality (I will fix it in the next life) , make both the free will and the value of soul worthless. No wonder people who promote this concept have ridiculous and preposterous ideas(Origenes=WJM=Ram)

  40. 40
    William J Murray says:

    LCD: I don’t promote the idea of reincarnation. I acknowledge the evidence that indicates it occurs. I don’t find the idea of reincarnation useful, personally.

  41. 41
    Origenes says:

    LCD @
    Is “I will fix it in the next life” really a thing? I ‘ve never heard it before.
    Anyway, thx for the laugh.

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    Origenes, did you not read the article? “Feser demonstrates his reasoning with an analogy. A parent may allow his child a small amount of suffering in frustration, sacrifice of time, and minor pain when learning to play the violin, in order to bring about the good of establishing proficiency. This is not to say that such minimal suffering is in any way comparable to the horrors that have gone on in this world. But the joy of establishing proficiency with a violin is not in any way comparable to the good that God promises to bring to the world.”

    WJM, former atheist Howard Storm’s NDE, where Jesus personally rescued him from the horrors of hell, certainly aided him in his “personal growth”.

    Jesus rescued former atheist college professor Howard Storm from hell

    The Near Death Experience of Howard Storm: Parts I & II- The Chains We Forge in Life/Rescue – video (23:00 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/VsyWGPoMiMI

  43. 43
    William J Murray says:

    BA77 said:

    WJM, former atheist Howard Storm’s NDE, where Jesus personally rescued him from the horrors of hell, certainly aided him in his “personal growth”.

    I didn’t ask a question about temporary suffering, BA77. I asked how eternal suffering aids in personal growth once people find themselves in that situation – not in “not-yet” eternal suffering, but actually in the situation of eternal suffering.

    Not that I really expect you to answer that or any of the other questions I’ve raised on the subject, such as, why are there any non-Christian NDEs at all? Meaning, why do people have NDEs and not encounter Jesus or a being of light or hell, but rather often encounter supernatural beings, events and landscapes that match their own, non-Christian beliefs?

    Or, perhaps you can tell me how I (or anyone) is supposed to delight in eternal paradise knowing so many others are suffering eternally, and especially if some of those we love are suffering for eternity?

  44. 44
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Reincarnation offers equal opportunity for each person — poor in one life, rich in the next. Reincarnation shifts the focus away from sin and opens the door for personal growth.

    🙂 sooner or later everyone will reveal his real face.

  45. 45
    Origenes says:

    Do you love me with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, despite the fact that by my command all the people you ever loved are burning in hell for eternity?

  46. 46
    bornagain77 says:

    Origenes, (I’m assuming that you are not arrogantly speaking for God almighty), then it appears to me as if you personally commanded all the people that I have ever loved to burn in Hell? Hitler has nothing on you Origenes!

    God, at least the living God that saved me from my life of reckless, self-destructive, sin, (and apparently the living God that you have no inkling of His true character, i.e. God is love!), certainly did not command that all the people that I have ever loved to burn in hell.. That is a ficticious, straw man, version of the living God that you have constructed in your own imagination.

  47. 47
    bornagain77 says:

    WJM asked how hell could aid in personal growth. I gave an example with former atheist college professor Howard Storm being personally rescued from hell by Jesus. WJM did not like my example.

    WJM clarifies that he wants to know how someone who chooses to permanently reject God, and to therefore permanently remain in hell, can ‘personally grow’.

    Well WJM, someone who personally chooses to permanently reject God, then that pretty much means, since God can be the only true source of all good ‘personal growth’, that the person who chooses to permanently reject God does not really want ‘personal growth’ does it not?

    It appears that the flaw(s) in your argument are that you are presupposing everyone will want to choose ‘personal growth’ for himself/herself, and/or that God will override someone’s free will decision to permanently reject Him. Neither of those two presuppositions in your argument can be justified.

    WJM also asks, “why are there any non-Christian NDEs at all?

    You think foreign culture should not have NDEs? I certainly don’t believe that!

    WJM then goes on, “Meaning, why do people have NDEs and not encounter Jesus or a being of light or hell, but rather often encounter supernatural beings, events and landscapes that match their own, non-Christian beliefs?”

    Well WJM you are making blanket statements that simply don’t hold up. First, a few foreign ‘near death experiences’ have unexpectedly “encountered Jesus”, secondly, as the reference that I cited previously in this thread made clear, foreign cultures, quite often, do experience hellish NDEs, much more often than Judeo-Christian cultures experience hellish NDEs

    But most importantly, and via your own references that you cited to me previously, foreign NDEs display a stunning lack of going to a ‘higher, heavenly, dimension.

    And all that is consistent with what I hold to be true in my Christian beliefs.

  48. 48
    William J Murray says:

    BA77 said:

    WJM asked how hell could aid in personal growth.

    Nope. That’s not what I asked.

    gave an example with former atheist college professor Howard Storm being personally rescued from hell by Jesus. WJM did not like my example.

    It’s not that I didn’t like it. It did not answer my question.

    WJM clarifies that he wants to know how someone who chooses to permanently reject God, and to therefore permanently remain in hell, can ‘personally grow’.

    Nope. That’s not what I asked either.

    It appears that the flaw(s) in your argument are that you are presupposing everyone will want to choose ‘personal growth’ for himself/herself,

    I’m not making that argument and I’m not presupposing that. I’m asking you direct questions you seem to be intent on avoiding.

    ….and/or that God will override someone’s free will decision to permanently reject Him.

    Nope.

    What I asked is, once one finds themselves in the eternal (not temporary) suffering of hell, does that suffering aid in their personal growth? The simple answer, if you were prepared to give it instead of avoiding it, is no, it does not aid in their personal growth, because there is no more personal growth available to them. See how easy that was?

    I noticed you did not attempt to answer my other questions @43, but that’s okay. I don’t expect you – or anyone else who advocates for the Christian perspective – to do so.

  49. 49
    bornagain77 says:

    WJM, You are playing stupid word games with the term ‘personal growth’.

    Again your logic fails in that you are assuming the person who has decided to permanently reject God, and finds himself ‘eternally’ in hell as a result, will want ‘personal growth’ for himself, and/or that God will override that person’s personal choice to reject Him and to therefore reject ‘personal growth’.

    Again, neither of those two presuppositions in your argument can be justified.

    Moreover, I did answer your other questions. (albeit in the twenty minute time window that I had after posting my initial comment)

  50. 50
    doubter says:

    Bornagain77

    I think it is sad that such a talented researcher as BA77 will categorically and dogmatically reject the very large body of empirical evidence that has been accumulated by researchers like Ian Stevenson for reincarnation, on primarily doctrinaire Christian religious grounds, taking up biased and invalid materialist atheist arguments against this evidence’s validity (and for that matter against all empirical evidence for paranormal phenomena), arguments of the sort that he rejects in the case of NDEs because he interprets NDEs in a Christian context (however invalid that NDE interpretation may be). Evidence for reincarnation which is much better for survival of death by the soul than the NDE evidence which he accepts because he feels it somehow is in accordance with Christian doctrine.

    In fact, verified reincarnation memories and birthmarks/defects in small children form the best group of evidences for the survival of physical death by the soul. After all, the evidence for the paranormality of NDEs is, technically, only that a spirit continues to exist while the brain and body are dysfunctional but, crucially, still alive even if only barely.

    If he just dismisses all this empirical evidence for reincarnation, then logically he is obligated to show in detail how each and every case can be plausibly dismissed. For example, the undebunkable existence after thorough analysis of any of Stevenson’s 200 verified and documented birthmark/birth defect cases would establish the validity of the reincarnation theory with regard to the birth defect/birthmark cases. BA77 has not done that, or for that matter for the several thousand reincarnation memory cases thoroughly investigated and confirmed by Stevenson and other researchers. He doesn’t deliver on this requirement to have delved into and studied in detail and either plausibly debunked or accepted each of the 200 clearly relevant independently investigated birth defect/birthmark cases (or the reincarnation memory cases).

  51. 51
    bornagain77 says:

    Doubter displays a stunning lack of doubt when it comes to reincarnation and states, “I think it is sad that such a talented researcher as BA77 will categorically and dogmatically reject the very large body of empirical evidence that has been accumulated by researchers like Ian Stevenson for reincarnation,,,,”

    Excuse me Doubter, but what part of the quote, “For my part, I have to agree with Stevenson’s own assessment of his work: he’s provided evidence, but no compelling evidence for reincarnation.,,,”, do you not understand?

    i.e. If Stevenson himself honestly admitted that his ‘large body’ of evidence was not compelling, then who am I, a skeptic of reincarnation, to argue with his own assessment of his own work?

    Ian Stevenson (1918-2007)
    Excerpt: For my part, I have to agree with Stevenson’s own assessment of his work: he’s provided evidence, but no compelling evidence for reincarnation.,,,
    http://www.skepdic.com/stevenson.html

  52. 52
    William J Murray says:

    BA77 said:

    WJM, You are playing stupid word games with the term ‘personal growth’.

    Nope. No word games. Just correcting you when you claim I’m asking something I did not ask.

    Again your logic fails …

    What logic? I’m asking you questions. You must be imagining that I’m making an argument here.

    … in that you are assuming the person who has decided to permanently reject God, and finds himself ‘eternally’ in hell as a result, will want ‘personal growth’ for himself, and/or that God will override that person’s personal choice to reject Him and to therefore reject ‘personal growth’.

    This sounds like you’re imagining some argument I’m making and responding to that. All I did was ask questions.

    Again, neither of those two presuppositions in your argument can be justified.

    Are you talking about the presuppositions to the argument you are imagining?

    Moreover, I did answer your other questions. (albeit in the twenty minute time window that I had after posting my initial comment)

    Fair enough.

    Well WJM you are making blanket statements that simply don’t hold up. First, a few foreign ‘near death experiences’ have unexpectedly “encountered Jesus”, secondly, as the reference that I cited previously in this thread made clear, foreign cultures, quite often, do experience hellish NDEs, much more often than Judeo-Christian cultures experience hellish NDEs.

    Let’s see. Let’s go back to my full question where I explained exactly what I meant:

    Meaning, why do people have NDEs and not encounter Jesus or a being of light or hell, but rather often encounter supernatural beings, events and landscapes that match their own, non-Christian beliefs?

    BA77 then makes this strange question:

    You think foreign culture should not have NDEs? I certainly don’t believe that!

    No. My question implied that if the only available afterlife conditions were those described by Christianity, why are people in other cultures experiencing non-Christian NDEs?
    BA77 goes on to answer questions I don’t ask:

    Well WJM you are making blanket statements that simply don’t hold up. First, a few foreign ‘near death experiences’ have unexpectedly “encountered Jesus”,

    I never claimed otherwise.

    …secondly, as the reference that I cited previously in this thread made clear, foreign cultures, quite often, do experience hellish NDEs, much more often than Judeo-Christian cultures experience hellish NDEs

    Again, I never said otherwise.

    Here’s the full question again:

    why are there any non-Christian NDEs at all? Meaning, why do people have NDEs and not encounter Jesus or a being of light or hell, but rather often encounter supernatural beings, events and landscapes that match their own, non-Christian beliefs?

    Unless you are going to claim that the evidence shows that all non-Christians in non-Western societies either meet Jesus or have a hellish experience, how is it, under your Christian beliefs, that some non-Christians in non-Western countries have non-hellish NDEs that do not have any Christian themes or personalities involved? I mean, wouldn’t you expect or predict that ALL NDEs would be of the Christian variety, whether pleasant or or hellish? Is there someplace else to go when you have an NDE?

    But most importantly, and via your own references that you cited to me previously, foreign NDEs display a stunning lack of going to a ‘higher, heavenly, dimension.

    Is there someplace else to go when having an NDE? Where are these other people going?

  53. 53
    William J Murray says:

    BA77: You didn’t answer this question. Did you miss it?

    “Or, perhaps you can tell me how I (or anyone) is supposed to delight in eternal paradise knowing so many others are suffering eternally, and especially if some of those we love are suffering for eternity?”

  54. 54
    bornagain77 says:

    Whatever WJM, if you are not making a logical argument, then you’ve got nothing. I am satisfied to let my statement stand as stated.

  55. 55
    William J Murray says:

    Note: BA77 will make the arguments he is comfortable making, but still refuses to answer the questions I’ve asked. Answering my questions with an argument about something I did not ask is not “answering my questions.”

  56. 56
    bornagain77 says:

    WJM’s owns words, “What I asked is, once one finds themselves in the eternal (not temporary) suffering of hell, does that suffering aid in their personal growth?”

    Despite WJM’s denial, I did ‘logically’ answer that question.

    i.e.

    Again your logic fails in that you are assuming the person who has decided to permanently reject God, and finds himself ‘eternally’ in hell as a result, will want ‘personal growth’ for himself, and/or that God will override that person’s personal choice to reject Him and to therefore reject ‘personal growth’.

    Again, neither of those two presuppositions in your argument can be justified.

    And again, I am satisfied to let my statement stand as stated.

    I’m out of here, I’ve got better things to do today.

  57. 57
    doubter says:

    Bornagain77@51

    This is a remarkably weak rejoinder, since you use the unsubstantiated in detail blanket dismissal of the reincarnation evidence by a clearly biased closed minded materialist skeptic with the mission of debunking, using his website skepdic.com to promulgate his biased views regarding all paranormal phenomena. This individual is someone named Robert Todd Carroll, of “The Skeptic’s Dictionary, a Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions and Dangerous Delusions”.

    The worst case scenario for Stevenson’s method would be that his evidence does not compel belief and that even the best of it is open to alternative interpretations. Unfortunately, that is also his best case scenario.

    This is an expression of a biased personal opinion with little attempt to establish it as the truth. We are supposed to take this as a pronouncement of truth from on high, from a source of absolute expertise. Come on.

  58. 58
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    “Or, perhaps you can tell me how I (or anyone) is supposed to delight in eternal paradise knowing so many others are suffering eternally, and especially if some of those we love are suffering for eternity?”

    🙂 A clown can’t love more than God or be more compassionate than God.

  59. 59
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, back on theology and linked philosophy I see. Okay, let me note much of modern speculation on reincarnation is a pale shadow of a cut down version of the actual Hindu teaching, transmigration of souls, used to try to prop up a sense of survival beyond death in western minds since C19 or so. This is connected to karma as a sort of trans life reaping of what was sown, leading to some of the fatalism in face of suffering that has been noted on. Suffice to say, a goal was to ESCAPE the cycle of rebirths [which includes to other often undesirable species . . . BTW including the famous sacred cows and of course much lower creatures], to show that it was seen as curse not blessing. Oh yes, here’s Wiki:

    The concept of metempsychosis was conceived in the Yajurveda, a sacred Hindu text written between 1200 and 800 BCE by Veda Vyasa, a legendary Indian sage. The doctrine was explained in verse 35.2 stating “savit? te shridebhyah prthivy?m lokamicchatu, tasmai yujyant amustriy?h” which roughly translates to “The Sun God shall provide you with different births in different worlds with happy/unhappy setting, depending on your previous deeds.” The soul is said to be immortal and independent of the body and seeks freedom from the endless cycle of reincarnation by achieving Moksha.

    Moksha (/?mo?k??/; Sanskrit: ?????, mok?a; Tamil: v?dup?ru), also called vimoksha, vimukti and mukti,[1] is a term in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism for various forms of emancipation, enlightenment, liberation, and release.[2] It refers to freedom from dukkha and sa?s?ra, the cycle of death and rebirth,[3] by knowledge of the true self (Atman-jnana),[4] c.q. the lack of a permanent essence, and the release from craving and clinging to passions and the mundane mind.

    KF

    PS: Again, there is need to deal with experts on sites with proper focus for such.

  60. 60
    doubter says:

    Bornagain77

    From a devastating review of Robert Todd Carroll’s The Sceptic’s Dictionary, at https://www.skepticalaboutskeptics.org/examining-skeptics/richard-milton/richard-milton-the-skeptics-dictionary/ :

    “It is already abundantly clear that Carroll’s book is no dictionary but a private agenda, and that he himself is no skeptic but a knee-jerk reactionary to the new, the unexpected, the ambiguous and the anomalous.

    Robert Todd Carroll is a perfect example of the reason for this site’s existence ( http://www.skepticalaboutskeptics.org ). Some academic professionals who are meticulously careful of fact in their normal professional life, suddenly throw off all reasoned restraint when it comes to so-called “debunking” of what they consider to be new age nonsense and feel justified in making as many careless and inaccurate statements as they please because they mistakenly imagine they are defending science against weirdos. The reality is that their irrational reaction arises from their own inability to deal scientifically with the new and ambivalent, even when (as in the case of dermo-optical perception) there is probably a simple natural explanation, or when (as in the case of the new Congo primate) it is simply unexpected and previously unknown to science.”

  61. 61
    StephenB says:

    William J. Murray:

    Why is the scenario not possible in your view?

    From a Christian perspective, the only reason people end up in hell is because they stubbornly refuse to love. The people you describe (or allude to) seem not to be that way.

    Why do you insinuate that the Christian God is unjust if, in your view, Justice doesn’t (or may not) exist.

  62. 62
    Joe Schooner says:

    You can have a just God or a jealous God. You can’t have both. A God that punishes someone for not worshipping him is not a just God. A God who rewards good behavior regardless of whether he is worshipped is a just God.

  63. 63
    StephenB says:

    WJM

    “Or, perhaps you can tell me how I (or anyone) is supposed to delight in eternal paradise knowing so many others are suffering eternally, and especially if some of those we love are suffering for eternity?”

    .

    From a Christian perspective, the human soul is spiritual. Since it is not made of physical parts, it cannot disintegrate or die. The only question, then, is this: In what state of existence will it (or should it) spend eternity. If a soul refuses to love, as indicated earlier, that individual has made the decision to be separated from God and all those who love God. Yes, this is forever and yes, this is the definition of eternal suffering.

    In the next life, you may learn surprising things about the people you thought you knew. For those in hell, you will likely discover that they were not the persons you thought they were and realize that they disqualified themselves from living in a community of loving people. They will be in the company of others who also refused to love. Equipped with that knowledge, you will be prepared to accept the reality that God, whom they wanted no part of, simply ratified their decision to be separated from Him. If one sins against an infinitely good God, one should expect infinite repercussions.

    If, on the other hand, your lovable early companions were the persons you thought they were, or if they repented of their sins late in life, they will likely be with you (I hope) in paradise, on condition, of course, that you also repent. Meanwhile, the one thing that you should not do is ignore the God who reveals himself in nature and Scripture or fashion some strange god in your own image and likeness. If a man doesn’t conform his life to *the* moral code, he will soon find *a* moral code that conforms to his life. This is the formula for spiritual death.

  64. 64
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @61

    From a Christian perspective, the only reason people end up in hell is because they stubbornly refuse to love. The people you describe (or allude to) seem not to be that way.

    So, only a couple of stubborn fools will be send to hell, and the vast majority of people will enter the wide gate leading to heaven?

    Matthew 7:13
    “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.”
    Matthew 7:14
    “But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
    Luke 13:24
    “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.”

  65. 65
    StephenB says:

    Joe Schooner

    [A] God that punishes someone for not worshipping him is not a just God. A God who rewards good behavior regardless of whether he is worshipped is a just God.

    What standard of justice are you appealing to when you make those calculations? It is the objective standard that you disavow, or is a private standard that you just came up with.? If it is the former, then why not confess that such a standard exists? If it is the latter, then explain why I or anyone else should take is seriously.

  66. 66
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    So, only a couple of stubborn fools will be send to hell, and the vast majority of people will enter the wide gate leading to heaven?

    My guess is that the number of stubborn fools who refuse to love is quite high. Meanwhile, please read the question that I was addressing. Context matters.

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, though SB is anything but an ignoramus or an amateurish dilettante, I must highlight that UD is not a theology issues blog for many good reasons; and distractive polarising debate with those only interested to object not seek a reasonable balance is part of it. Those who are genuinely perplexed are again referred to sites where experts are able to engage at length, refer to thousands of years of resources, may have debates at high level, and can and do answer questions and difficulties at length. While I am at it, I note that every worldview will have difficulties and a key method is therefore comparative difficulties, e.g. note on wider issues tied to transmigration of souls and why the hope is to break out of that cycle as mentioned above. KF

    PS: Ironically, the Biblical Creationists do engage such subjects, try here https://creation.com/hell and follow ups https://creation.com/hell-unfair and https://creation.com/hell-questions-answered But I more have in mind people like Craig https://www.reasonablefaith.org/question-answer/P40/tag/hell note vid https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/other-videos/william-lane-craig-qa-what-is-hell-is-hell-compatible-with-a-loving-god or https://caroline-smith.com/2019/05/07/why-hell-will-be-hellish/ and others. Try here too https://christianthinktank.com/gr5part2.html etc

  68. 68
    Joe Schooner says:

    What standard of justice are you appealing to when you make those calculations?

    Very simple. Any God who penalizes you for not worshipping him, regardless of your behavior, is not a just God.

  69. 69
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Any God who penalizes you for not worshipping him

    🙂 Hahahaha! Don’t worship God who created us ,who is the source of goodness and morality ,worship me Joe Schonner an shameless anonimous on internet full of hate . Yep. You convinced me.
    PS: Tell us more .What about satan it’s ok to be worshipped? You didn’t mention about satan because God disturbs you ,right? Trully tell us :Who’s your daddy?

  70. 70
    StephenB says:

    SB: What standard of justice are you appealing to when you make those calculations?

    Joe Schooner

    Very simple. Any God who penalizes you for not worshipping him, regardless of your behavior, is not a just God.

    I don’t think you understand your own dilemma. “Aren’t you among those on this site who claim that there is no such thing as a natural moral law or any objective standard of justice? How, then, can you say that a God who insists on being worshipped is ‘unjust” when you also believe that there is no such thing as being just? If there is no such thing as being just, then there can be no such thing as being unjust.

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, perhaps, a root issue is gratitude, or the lack thereof. Do we have gratitude to parents, especially fathers? God is Father of us all. It seems evident that JS imagines that worship to God is pandering to an imagined warped divine ego rather than reasonable expression of gratitude for the gift of life and of a world in which despite parasitical evils, much good is possible and exists. Starting with the use of freedom to love, do the good and wise etc. The suggestion is, cognitive dissonance resolved by adverse projection to God and imagined hauling God into the dock on an indictment how dare you impose principles of conscience and morality etc. Meanwhile, the foolish behaviour in defiance of manifest end is ruinous. KF

  72. 72
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    From a Christian perspective, the only reason people end up in hell is because they stubbornly refuse to love. The people you describe (or allude to) seem not to be that way.

    I kinda feel like you might be being coy with your words here, so let me ask you this: are you saying that because my wife and I love each other, our family, friends and pets, we’re (hypothetically speaking, in your perspective) assured of entering the Christian heaven?

    Why do you insinuate that the Christian God is unjust if, in your view, Justice doesn’t (or may not) exist.

    I’m making no such insinuation. Whether or not it is just is not an issue for me.

    In the next life, you may learn surprising things about the people you thought you knew. For those in hell, you will likely discover that they were not the persons you thought they were and realize that they disqualified themselves from living in a community of loving people.

    What difference is that going to make to me? Do you think I’m going to stop loving my wife or my children because I find out some aspects of them I didn’t know before?

    BA77 and SB say that people willfully, knowingly choose to “reject God” and in so doing know they are casting themselves into eternal torment. First, I doubt there are more than a handful of people (if any) who actually believe they are “rejecting God.” That is a profound mischaracterization of what is going on. What people reject are concepts of God they find, for whatever reason, unbelievable. Rejecting the Christian version of God is, for them, like rejecting the Greek Gods or the Hindu Gods.

    Now, before BA77, SB and KF launch into their arguments and evidence that the Christian God is the real God, all of that is entirely irrelevant to the point: the people in question do not think they are rejecting the actual God; all they are doing is rejecting concepts of God they find unbelievable for various reasons. Those reasons may be entirely irrational; again, that does not matter to the above point.

    But, for the sake of argument, let’s just assume that everyone who rejects God knows they are rejecting the actual God and know that this decision will result in eternal suffering. When you put it that way it’s an obviously ridiculous claim to make, but let’s just agree arguendo.

    My question was: how are we supposed to enjoy eternal paradise knowing that so many people are suffering for eternity, especially if some of those we love did not make it to heaven?

    Does SB think that finding out “bad” things about them I did not know will somehow make me feel better or uncaring about their eternal torment? Does SB think that has not already happened to me – finding out “bad” things about those I love? Did any of that change my love for them? No. Not one bit. Does BA77 think that the supposed “fact” that they knowingly chose their fate will offer me any relief from the knowledge that they are suffering eternal torment? OMG, BA77, have you ever loved anyone? That doesn’t help me one bit.

    KF seems to think that some kind of theological understanding not available in depth here will help. If this theological information and argument would make me be able to put those suffering for eternity (for any reason, irrational beliefs, deliberate choice, doing bad things I don’t know about) out of mind and not care about them, then I don’t want to read those arguments. I do not wish to be separated from my love for them. I do not wish to even be able to enjoy Heaven without them. The idea of me enjoying heaven while they suffer for eternity because I was able to cast them out of my mind and heart is an unbearable thought to me. I couldn’t live with myself. I find he idea of accepting the idea of eternal, hopeless suffering for anyone, whether I even know them or not, damaging to my heart. It makes me feel sorrow just to imagine it.

    You may argue that it is necessary; that does not matter. It being necessary does not, cannot change the way I feel. You guys argue as if I should find solace in the “fact” of it being logically necessary, logically inescapable that some people will suffer without hope for eternity. There is no solace for me in that even if I accept it as true. It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t make me feel better about the situation. It doesn’t make me stop loving those I love. It’s not going to change my despair for their fate.

    Do you think that if Mr. Arrington gets to heaven and finds out his sister is not there because of “bad” things about her he didn’t know, and because it was existentially, logically necessary for her to suffer eternal torment in hell, that’s going to make any difference in the heartbreak Mr. Arrington would feel? I don’t, but perhaps Mr. Arrington can answer for himself.

    The fact that you guys think your answers to that question are relevant at all shocks me. Do you guys think that even if it I saw “bad” things I did not know about people I love, or came to understand and know that it is logically and existentially necessary, that would change how I feel? Do you think that would somehow alleviate my suffering? The idea of eternal, hopeless torment for anyone breaks my heart. I honestly don’t know how anyone who has ever actually felt love or compassion can accept that.

  73. 73
    Joe Schooner says:

    Hahahaha! Don’t worship God who created us ,who is the source of goodness and morality ,worship me Joe Schonner an shameless anonimous on internet full of hate . Yep. You convinced me.

    You are free to worship who or whatever you like. But the fact remains that an all-knowing, all-loving God wouldn’t insist on being worshipped at the risk of punishment. That behavior is indistinguishable from a petty, insecure dictator.

    PS: Tell us more .What about satan it’s ok to be worshipped?

    If it makes you happy to worship Satan, you are free to do so.

    You didn’t mention about satan because God disturbs you ,right?

    No.

    Trully tell us :Who’s your daddy?

    Armand Jack Schooner. Passed away in 1982.

  74. 74
    Joe Schooner says:

    I don’t think you understand your own dilemma. “Aren’t you among those on this site who claim that there is no such thing as a natural moral law or any objective standard of justice?

    There are no objective moral truths in the way that KF defines them.

    How, then, can you say that a God who insists on being worshipped is ‘unjust” when you also believe that there is no such thing as being just?

    Humans have defined what the word “just” means. By that definition, any being who demand to be worshipped at the risk of punishment is unjust.

    If there is no such thing as being just, then there can be no such thing as being unjust.

    By the standards that human society has agreed on.

    Here’s a question for you. Do you believe that Kim Jung Un’s tendency to punish those who do not worship him is just?

  75. 75
    Joe Schooner says:

    SB, perhaps, a root issue is gratitude, or the lack thereof. Do we have gratitude to parents, especially fathers?

    I certainly hope that nobody’s parents demand to be worshipped by their children at the threat of eternal punishment. That is child abuse.

    God is Father of us all. It seems evident that JS imagines that worship to God is pandering to an imagined warped divine ego…

    Nope.

    …rather than reasonable expression of gratitude for the gift of life and of a world in which despite parasitical evils, much good is possible and exists.

    Showing gratitude is fine. Who would object to that. Demanding gratitude (and much more) at the threat of punishment is blackmail.

    Starting with the use of freedom to love, do the good and wise etc.

    It is nice to see that you support a person’s freedom to love who they choose.

    The suggestion is, cognitive dissonance resolved by adverse projection to God and imagined hauling God into the dock on an indictment how dare you impose principles of conscience and morality etc. Meanwhile, the foolish behaviour in defiance of manifest end is ruinous. KF

    So, do you believe that a person who obeys all of God’s commands and leads a life of generosity and love towards all others should be punished for simply refusing to bend the knee and worship God? As a father (assuming that you are) is it just for you to punish your adult son for refusing to worship you?

  76. 76
    StephenB says:

    SB: I don’t think you understand your own dilemma. “Aren’t you among those on this site who claim that there is no such thing as a natural moral law or any objective standard of justice?

    Joe Schooner

    There are no objective moral truths in the way that KF defines them.

    If that is true, then there can be no such thing as an unjust God.

    Humans have defined what the word “just” means. By that definition, any being who demand to be worshipped at the risk of punishment is unjust.

    Humans define justice the same way kairosfocus defines it – objectively right and objectively fair. “Right means objectively right; fair means objectively fair.. It does not mean right *for me* or fair *for you*. It means fair and right for everyone.

    You say fairness and rightness and justice, as everyone understands those words, do not exist. Yet you also say that the Christian God is wrong, unfair, and unjust. You are contradicting yourself all over the place.

    Here’s a question for you. Do you believe that Kim Jung Un’s tendency to punish those who do not worship him is just?

    Of course not. No human deserves to be worshipped. I can say that because I accept the existence of an objective moral code as found in the Natural Moral Law and the Ten Commandments, which indicate that we should not make idols out of humans or graven images. Therefore, it is unjust for any human to demand worship.

    I have a standard for judging unjust behavior, which says that it is wrong for humans to worship other humans. You don’t have any such a standard, so you have no grounds for saying that anything is unfair, or unjust, or wrong. This is basic logic.

  77. 77
    Joe Schooner says:

    You say fairness and rightness and justice, as everyone understands those words, do not exist.

    They exist as definitions. But people differ in what they consider to be fair, right and just.

    Yet you also say that the Christian God is wrong, unfair, and unjust. You are contradicting yourself all over the place.

    No. Like everyone else, I have my own views about what is just. I feel that it is not just for anyone to demand to be worshipped on threat of punishment. Why should I feel differently about any God that demands worshipping on threat of punishment.

    Of course not. No human deserves to be worshipped. I can say that because I accept the existence of an objective moral code as found in the Natural Moral Law and the Ten Commandments, which indicate that we should not make idols out of humans or graven images. Therefore, it is unjust for any human to demand worship.

    You are free to believe this. But that doesn’t mean that anyone has to share your belief.

  78. 78
    StephenB says:

    WJM:

    I kinda feel like you might be being coy with your words here, so let me ask you this: are you saying that because my wife and I love each other, our family, friends and pets, we’re (hypothetically speaking, in your perspective) assured of entering the Christian heaven?

    No. I don’t think that salvation can be won by loving your family more than God/ Based on what I read, you appear to not even like God, except insofar as you can remake Him into someone who will support your world view. What I mean to say is that God does not consign someone to hell on a tricky technicality. The kind of love I refer to would express itself as gratitude to God for the gift of a loving family and a strong desire to work for their spiritual welfare.

    SB: Why do you insinuate that the Christian God is unjust if, in your view, Justice doesn’t (or may not) exist.

    I’m making no such insinuation. Whether or not it is just is not an issue for me.

    All I can say is that you appear not to realize how you are coming across. Everything you say about the Christian God screams “unfair, unjust, cruel, unreasonable.”

    Do you think I’m going to stop loving my wife or my children because I find out some aspects of them I didn’t know before? [If they are in hell and I am in heaven].

    No. But you would accept the fact that heaven, and the constant company of the God they rejected, would be an even greater hell for them. I should add, though, that your notion of love as a warm fuzzy feeling is not very realistic. True love, as indicated earlier, attends to the spiritual welfare of the beloved.

    If you really care about your wife, then pray for her soul because God can take the prayers you say today and apply them backwards in time (retroactive prayer) so that someone who is (was) at the point of death received the grace of final repentance, even though the prayer that produced that happy result would be said years later, So you still have something to say about the matter. Why not do this most loving thing? Have a little faith. Let God be God.

  79. 79
    Origenes says:

    SB @

    If you really care about your wife, then pray for her soul …

    What exactly is the intent behind praying for someone’s soul? Is it asking God to spare someone’s soul? IOWs is it an attempt to influence God’s judgement of someone?

  80. 80
    StephenB says:

    Joe Schooner:

    You are free to believe this. But that doesn’t mean that anyone has to share your belief.

    The point is that I have a rational standard for believing what I believe. You do not.

  81. 81
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    What exactly is the intent behind praying for someone’s soul? Is it asking God to spare someone’s soul? IOWs is it an attempt to influence God’s judgement of someone?

    Its about asking God to give someone a special power or wisdom (grace) to do something that would not otherwise be possible..

  82. 82
    Joe Schooner says:

    The point is that I have a rational standard for believing what I believe. You do not.

    If believing this makes your life easier, by all means continue to believe this.

  83. 83
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Armand Jack Schooner. Passed away in 1982.

    …to discover God first thing is to forgive your father no matter what he did to you(beatings or other things that can’t be said publicly).

  84. 84
    Joe Schooner says:

    LCD, I have nothing to forgive him for.

  85. 85
    Origenes says:

    SB @

    SB: If you really care about your wife, then pray for her soul …

    O: What exactly is the intent behind praying for someone’s soul? Is it asking God to spare someone’s soul? IOWs is it an attempt to influence God’s judgment of someone?

    SB: Its about asking God to give someone a special power or wisdom (grace) to do something that would not otherwise be possible..

    And by this someone doing something that would “not otherwise be possible”, it may be accomplished that God spares this someone’s soul?
    So, in effect, trying to get God to spare someone’s soul is the intent behind praying for someone’s soul?

  86. 86
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Hate for God is a re(su)pressed hate against your father.

  87. 87
    StephenB says:

    SB: The point is that I have a rational standard for believing what I believe. You do not.

    If believing this makes your life easier, by all means continue to believe this.

    If I am wrong in saying that you have no moral standard of right and wrong (other than your own personal preferences), please feel free to reveal that standard.

  88. 88
    Joe Schooner says:

    Hate for God is a re(su)pressed hate against your father.

    Where do you get this nonsense? There is no hatred towards God.

  89. 89
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    And by this someone doing something that would “not otherwise be possible”, it may be accomplished that God spares this someone’s soul? So, in effect, trying to get God to spare someone’s soul is the intent behind praying for someone’s soul?

    The purpose of the prayer is to change the circumstances so that the soul doesn’t need to be spared. Ultimately, the final outcome is determined by the soul, not God. As it says in Scripture, God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2-4).

  90. 90
  91. 91
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    All I can say is that you appear not to realize how you are coming across. Everything you say about the Christian God screams “unfair, unjust, cruel, unreasonable.”

    I can’t help how you react to me expressing my feelings about the concept of eternal suffering. I don’t know if eternal suffering is any of those things; I don’t care if it’s any of those things.

    SB said:

    … your notion of love as a warm fuzzy feeling is not very realistic.

    Are you mind-reading again? Where did I say anything like that?

    True love, as indicated earlier, attends to the spiritual welfare of the beloved..

    That’s your concept of “true love” in light of your concept of “spiritual welfare.” I have a different concept of true love and “spiritual” matters.

    I take these answers you have offered to mean that you will be enjoying your eternal heaven even while knowing that many people are suffering for eternity, even if someone you love ends up in that situation for whatever reason. Because, in your mind, the result is just and you love your Christian God above all else, above all other relationships.

    Fair enough.

  92. 92
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    you will be enjoying your eternal heaven even while knowing that many people are suffering for eternity,

    Nope. Somebody in heaven will remember earth’s life as much as a fetus about his/her intrauterine life after being born. 🙂 It’s another life focused on God , the soul growing and developing limitless from a direct interaction with God.

  93. 93
    bornagain77 says:

    WJM states to SB: “That’s your concept of “true love” in light of your concept of “spiritual welfare.” I have a different concept of true love and “spiritual” matters.”

    Might I be so bold as to suggest that WJM, and even all the rest of us in this temporal realm, might just have a very distorted concept of ‘true love’ and of ‘spiritual matters’ when it comes to the ‘true love’ and ‘spiritual matters’ of God almighty?

    “I feel as if there are no words in our limited vocabulary to describe what I experienced.,,,
    The only human emotion I could feel was pure, unrelenting, unconditional love. Take the unconditional love a mother has for a child and amplify it a thousand fold, then multiply exponentially. The result of your equation would be as a grain of sand is to all the beaches in the world. So, too, is the comparison between the love we experience on earth to what I felt during my experience. This love is so strong, that words like “love” make the description seem obscene. It was the most powerful and compelling feeling. But, it was so much more. I felt the presence of angels. I felt the presence of joyous souls, and they described to me a hundred lifetimes worth of knowledge about our divinity. Simultaneous to the deliverance of this knowledge, I knew I was in the presence of God. I never wanted to leave, never.”
    Judeo-Christian Near Death Experience Testimony
    http://iands.org/experiences/n.....sence.html

    In regards to WJM’s suggestion that we will not be able to enjoy heaven because of “knowing that many people are suffering for eternity,”

    Well, the Bible states that God Himself, (in His infinite ‘true love’), “shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
    Verse:

    Revelation 21:4-5
    And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
    And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

  94. 94
    Origenes says:

    SB @

    SB: If you really care about your wife, then pray for her soul …

    O: What exactly is the intent behind praying for someone’s soul? Is it asking God to spare someone’s soul? IOWs is it an attempt to influence God’s judgment of someone?

    SB: Its about asking God to give someone a special power or wisdom (grace) to do something that would not otherwise be possible..

    O: (…) So, in effect, trying to get God to spare someone’s soul is the intent behind praying for someone’s soul?

    SB: The purpose of the prayer is to change the circumstances so that the soul doesn’t need to be spared. Ultimately, the final outcome is determined by the soul, not God. As it says in Scripture, God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2-4).

    So, one is asking God to change the circumstances, so that the soul gets the opportunity to save herself from hell?

  95. 95
    ram says:

    BA77: Well, the Bible states that God Himself, (in His infinite ‘true love’), “shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

    While the damned are roasting in torture forever?

    Is this what you believe?

    Fair enough.

    –RAM

  96. 96
    ram says:

    LCD: Somebody in heaven will remember earth’s life as much as a fetus about his/her intrauterine life after being born. ? It’s another life focused on God , the soul growing and developing limitless from a direct interaction with God.

    What you’re saying is that you believe the “saved” are spared from the knowledge of the fact that the “damned” are being tortured forever whiles the “saved” frolic in a blissful wonderland.

    Fair enough.

    –Ram

  97. 97
    ram says:

    WJM: I take these answers you have offered to mean that you will be enjoying your eternal heaven even while knowing that many people are suffering for eternity, even if someone you love ends up in that situation for whatever reason. Because, in your mind, the result is just and you love your Christian God above all else, above all other relationships.

    That’s a pretty good take. But let me boil it down a bit, if I may:

    From this thread we learn that:

    1. Some people here believe a concept of the Creator where he tortures people forever for not measuring up in their mortal earth life; And…

    2. The same people who believe this concept of the Creator are apparently a-okay with this concept.

    AND

    1. Some people in this thread reject the concept of the Creator where he tortures people forever for not measuring up in their mortal earth life; And…

    2. Some of these people think it repugnant and beneath the dignity of the Creator that some people believe such a revolting concept with regard to the Creator.

    Is there anything else to clarify about this?

    Happy New Year

    –Ram

  98. 98
    William J Murray says:

    LCD @92:

    Nope. Somebody in heaven will remember earth’s life as much as a fetus about his/her intrauterine life after being born. ? It’s another life focused on God , the soul growing and developing limitless from a direct interaction with God.

    That’s something I can’t accept. It hurts me too much.

  99. 99
    William J Murray says:

    RAM @97,

    To be fair to Christians, in their view God isn’t torturing people forever; it’s their choice to suffer for eternity and God has provided for that choice. I try to take what other people say as they have said it and go from there. Let’s say it is just; let’s say it is out of love; let’s say that they end up in that situation by their own choice. None of that changes how I feel about it; I cannot accept it. If, as LCD says, I won’t remember any of it, I cannot accept that either.

    It’s heartbreaking to me to think that’s the way things are. It’s not heartbreaking to others here; it’s not only acceptable, it’s glorious and represents the best possible overall situation. We can argue the logic and the evidence all day long, but at the end of the day, it’s just unacceptable to me. If that’s my own ego or pride or damaged conscience or due to some mental defect, that doesn’t change anything. I just can’t live with those scenarios being true in my mind.

  100. 100
    William J Murray says:

    BA77 @93 said:

    Might I be so bold as to suggest that WJM, and even all the rest of us in this temporal realm, might just have a very distorted concept of ‘true love’ and of ‘spiritual matters’ when it comes to the ‘true love’ and ‘spiritual matters’ of God almighty?

    That may be true, BA77, but it doesn’t change anything for me. I don’t want to be the guy where I see this as “not heartbreaking.” That is not an indictment about people who see it as not heartbreaking. I also don’t want to be the guy who loves to work on his own car. That’s not an indictment about those who do love to do that; I just don’t want to be them. I don’t want to be the guy who loves God more than his wife. That obviously works for some here; it doesn’t work for me, and I don’t want to figure out how to make that work for me because I don’t want to be that guy.

    Well, the Bible states that God Himself, (in His infinite ‘true love’), “shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

    I can’t live with that. God would have to erase who I am if He’s going to make that situation enjoyable for me. That’s not paradise for me. Pain and sorrow are extremely valuable commodities that allow me to realize the value of those whom I love and that which I enjoy, and keeps me mindful to not take any of that for granted and carefully continue cultivating and maintaining my appreciation for those people and things. I don’t ever want to lose thought of and access to capacity to experience pain and suffering because, for me, that would hollow out the depth and full appreciation for that which I love.

  101. 101
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    What you’re saying is that you believe the “saved” are spared from the knowledge of the fact that the “damned” are being tortured forever whiles the “saved” frolic in a blissful wonderland.

    🙂 Yep.

    PS: Why should be punished “the saved” for the free choice of “the damned”? This is your idea of justice? I thought your are more just and loving than God.

    That’s something I can’t accept. It hurts me too much.

    Are you attached(emotionally dependent) to a limited ,weak, imperfect person more than to an infinite and perfect Creator of that person?

  102. 102
    bornagain77 says:

    “That may be true, BA77, but it doesn’t change anything for me.”

    So your foundational definition of ‘true love’ being wrong is not enough for change things for you?

    But since you don’t let the ‘true nature’ of God’s ‘infinite true love’ have at least some effect on the distorted view of ‘true love’ that you presently have, well then, you might as well, for all the difference it makes, just be a Darwinian Atheist who ignores any and all empirical evidence that contradicts the way he personally ‘wants’ the universe to be.

    “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”
    (”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)”

    .

  103. 103
    Origenes says:

    When you are in heaven, singing praise to the Lord, do you expect to hear, from next door, the outcries of pain, the wailing and gnashing of teeth by your loved ones due to their forever ongoing torture? And when indeed the raw screams of your earthly family members penetrate your songs of praise, would you, at that moment, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength?
    Or do you expect there to be a sound barrier?

  104. 104
    bornagain77 says:

    Hell is ‘next door’ to heaven?

    Luke 16:26
    And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

    Of supplemental ‘scientific’ note:

    Moreover, these four dimensional spacetimes that undergird both special relativity and general relativity are also comforting to overall Christian concerns in that they reveal two very different eternities to us. One eternity is found for a hypothetical observer who is going the speed of light, and another (very different) eternity is found for a hypothetical observer falling to the event horizon of a black hole.

    Time dilation
    Excerpt: Time dilation: special vs. general theories of relativity:
    In Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, time dilation in these two circumstances can be summarized:
    1. –In special relativity (or, hypothetically far from all gravitational mass), clocks that are moving with respect to an inertial system of observation are measured to be running slower. (i.e. For any observer accelerating, hypothetically, to the speed of light, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop.)
    2.–In general relativity, clocks at lower potentials in a gravitational field—such as in closer proximity to a planet—are found to be running slower. (i.e. For any observer falling to the event horizon of a black-hole, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

    June 2021 – And thus, since the entropy associated with special relativity is extremely orderly, i.e. 1 in 10^10^123, and yet the entropy associated with General Relativity, via black holes, is found to be ‘infinitely destructive’, then I hold that those two profoundly different qualities of entropy to be a fairly obvious theoretical reason, (besides the ‘infinite mathematical divide that exists between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics), for why Quantum Electrodynamics, (i.e Quantum Mechanics and Special Relativity), will never be successfully unified with General Relativity into a purely mathematical theory of everything.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/surprise-surprise-the-aging-process-is-irreversible/#comment-733455

  105. 105
    William J Murray says:

    BA77

    So your foundational definition of ‘true love’ being wrong is not enough for change things for you?

    The idea that it might be wrong doesn’t change anything for me, no.

    But since you don’t let the ‘true nature’ of God’s ‘infinite true love’ have at least some effect on the distorted view of ‘true love’ that you presently have, well then, you might as well, for all the difference it makes, just be a Darwinian Atheist

    There are many theistic concepts about what “true love” is. So, I’m not rejecting true love; I’m rejecting concepts about what “true love is” that I cannot live with. I have found the concept of God, existence and True Love that allows me to live in love, appreciation, and joy not only for my wife, but for family and friends and, really, everyone.

    …who ignores any and all empirical evidence that contradicts his worldview and the nihilistic, purposeless, way he personally ‘wants’ the universe to be.

    I’ve come to realize that, for myself, there are certain things I have to believe, and things I have to not believe, in order for me to live a life of love, joy, appreciation and to have been able to regain my compassion for other people beyond just those I love; to be able to allow more people into my heart and love them as well. Whether or not the things I must believe, and must not believe, to live that life with love, appreciation, joy, enthusiasm, wonder, and kindness, are logically and evidentially supportable is irrelevant to that fact about me.

    If you see that as purposeless nihilism, fair enough. Perhaps it is in some technical sense, but that’s not what it feels like to me. It feels wonderful and fulfilling and makes me feel whole, content, at peace, enthusiastic, etc. So no, no logic or evidence can pry me from this, and I’m perfectly willing to admit it. I will not allow logic and/or evidence to diminish all this I feel in my heart, mind and soul one bit.

  106. 106
    bornagain77 says:

    “no logic or evidence can pry me from this,”

    Yeah I ‘get it’ WJM, just as I ‘get it’ with Darwinists,,,, you are refusing to let reality intrude on how you personally prefer the world to be.

    Get back to me when logic and evidence can have some, any, effect on the imaginary reality that you have constructed for yourself.

  107. 107
    Origenes says:

    BA77 @

    Luke 16:26
    And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

    So, no unpleasant noises, just as I thought.
    Fair enough.

  108. 108
    William J Murray says:

    LCD:

    Are you attached(emotionally dependent) to a limited ,weak, imperfect person more than to an infinite and perfect Creator of that person?

    Yep. Such a creator is just a theoretical concept to me. I can’t love a theoretical concept of a being. Apparently, you and many others can – or, somehow that God is more than a theoretical concept to you. I respect that, and have no desire to try and pry you from that which you love.

  109. 109
    bornagain77 says:

    William J Murray,

    “Such a creator is just a theoretical concept to me. I can’t love a theoretical concept of a being. Apparently, you and many others can – or, somehow that God is more than a theoretical concept to you.,,”

    But what about WJM’s own worldview? Is it not also just a ‘theoretical concept’ in WJM’s mind?

    “Theoretical”,, “concept”,,, “abstract”,,

    Theoretical
    A theoretical study or explanation is based on or uses the ideas and abstract principles that relate to a particular subject, rather than the practical aspects or uses of it.

    Concept:
    A concept is an idea or abstract principle.

    abstract
    existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.

    The ‘logical’ trouble for WJM, (in his worldview that he honestly admitted he can’t be pried away from with logic), is that if God does not really exist but is just an abstract, ‘theoretical’, idea, then nothing, not even abstract, ‘theoretical’, concepts could even exist in the first place.

    As Dr. Michael Egnor pointed out In his debate with Matt Dillahunty, “Every abstract concept proves His existence.”

    The Divine Hiddenness Argument Against God’s Existence = Nonsense – Michael Egnor – Oct. 4, 2021
    Excerpt: Every change in nature proves His existence. Every cause in nature proves His existence. Everything that exists in nature proves His existence. Every degree of perfection in nature proves His existence. Every manifestation of natural design proves His existence. Every realization of possibility in nature proves His existence. Every manifestation of organization in nature proves His existence. Every abstract concept proves His existence. Every reason for anything in nature proves His existence. And every twinge of human conscience proves His existence.,,,
    https://mindmatters.ai/2021/10/the-divine-hiddenness-argument-against-gods-existence-nonsense/

  110. 110
    doubter says:

    BA77@ 27 and 51

    It’s interesting that you haven’t resumed responding on the issue of the actual empirical evidence for reincarnation, especially in light of the total loss of credibility of your main quoted source for the invalidity of Stevenson’s researches, that hopelessly biased pseudo-skeptic named Robert Todd Carrol. As outlined in my posts 57 and 60.

    Of course there is your quote of Stevenson on his evidence. Naturally, Stevenson didn’t actually furnish in detail any actual plausible alternate explanations for his solved cases, and it should be noted that he had to be very careful of his academic standing in an academic environment extremely hostile to such areas.

    This data still stands, and it continues to be supplemented today by researchers such as Jim Tucker, also of the University of Virginia.

    And also of course, the outcome here on this issue is in light of your failure to furnish actual plausible alternate explanations for any of the more than 200 solved birthmark/birth defect cases and more than 2000 solved past life memory cases documented in detail by Stevenson and other researchers. I guess I can conclude that you really don’t have much along those lines other than quoting various sources including Biblical, all irrelevant to the issue of the actual data.

  111. 111
    bornagain77 says:

    Doubter, you consider the ad hominem attack on my source as a validation of the, IMHO, flimsy evidence for reincarnation. I do not. In my history of debating Darwinists, I have realized that when the evidence is extremely weak for a position, as it is with reincarnation and Darwinian evolution, that the holders of the position will often resort to ad hominem, as if that makes up for their evidential weakness for their position. To be clear, it does not.

    The veracity of the birthmark evidence, your oft repeated ‘strongest’ piece of evidence, and as pointed out earlier, is questionable.

    As well, I have a ‘scientific’ qualm with the entire concept of reincarnation as well. In Christian Theism it is held that an individual’s ‘permanence of form’ is dictated by their soul, which is created by God. i.e. Your ‘permanent soul’ is the reason why you look basically the same as you did when you were a young child even though the atoms of your body have been changed many times over since you were a child.

    Yet, in reincarnation, the soul is held to be extremely malleable. With some forms of reincarnation holding, like Darwinian evolution does, that one ‘form of species’ can become another ‘form of species’. Thus the ‘permanence of form’ that the soul provided is, basically, completely lost in reincarnation, (just as it is completely lost in Darwinian evolution). This, and other concerns, renders reincarnation scientifically, and philosophically, untenable for me.

    of semi-related note on ‘permanence of form”

    Darwin, Design & Thomas Aquinas
    The Mythical Conflict Between Thomism & Intelligent Design by Logan Paul Gage
    Excerpt:,,, In Aristotelian and Thomistic thought, each particular organism belongs to a certain universal class of things. Each individual shares a particular nature—or essence—and acts according to its nature. Squirrels act squirrelly and cats catty. We know with certainty that a squirrel is a squirrel because a crucial feature of human reason is its ability to abstract the universal nature from our sense experience of particular organisms.
    Denial of True Species
    Enter Darwinism. Recall that Darwin sought to explain the origin of “species.” Yet as he pondered his theory, he realized that it destroyed species as a reality altogether. For Darwinism suggests that any matter can potentially morph into any other arrangement of matter without the aid of an organizing principle. He thought cells were like simple blobs of Jell-O, easily re-arrangeable. For Darwin, there is no immaterial, immutable form. In The Origin of Species he writes:
    “I look at the term species as one arbitrarily given, for the sake of convenience, to a set of individuals closely resembling each other, and that it does not essentially differ from the term variety, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms. The term variety, again, in comparison with mere individual differences, is also applied arbitrarily, for convenience’s sake.”
    Statements like this should make card-carrying Thomists shudder.,,,
    The first conflict between Darwinism and Thomism, then, is the denial of true species or essences. For the Thomist, this denial is a grave error, because the essence of the individual (the species in the Aristotelian sense) is the true object of our knowledge. As philosopher Benjamin Wiker observes in Moral Darwinism, Darwin reduced species to “mere epiphenomena of matter in motion.” What we call a “dog,” in other words, is really just an arbitrary snapshot of the way things look at present. If we take the Darwinian view, Wiker suggests, there is no species “dog” but only a collection of individuals, connected in a long chain of changing shapes, which happen to resemble each other today but will not tomorrow.
    What About Man?
    Now we see Chesterton’s point. Man, the universal, does not really exist. According to the late Stanley Jaki, Chesterton detested Darwinism because “it abolishes forms and all that goes with them, including that deepest kind of ontological form which is the immortal human soul.” And if one does not believe in universals, there can be, by extension, no human nature—only a collection of somewhat similar individuals.,,,
    https://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=23-06-037-f

    Also of semi-related note: It is also interesting to note that reincarnation and evolution have long history together as being ‘philosophical bedfellows’

    The (pagan, reincarnation) Roots of Evolution – Paul James-Griffith – video lecture
    https://vimeo.com/378992

  112. 112
    Origenes says:

    BA77 @111

    In Christian Theism it is held that an individual’s ‘permanence of form’ is dictated by their soul, which is created by God. i.e. Your ‘permanent soul’ is the reason why you look basically the same as you did when you were a young child even though the atoms of your body have been changed many times over since you were a child.

    Interestingly the idea that the soul and the body are somehow one thing may very well be a typical Christian idea. Bornagain77 doesn’t reject NDEs, but other Christians do. When I asked StephenB

    Can you imagine having a NDE, which includes experiencing yourself in another spiritual body? That is, experiencing your good old “I” in another body?

    his answer was:

    No. For me, the “I” is a way of identifying a particular individual, who is a composite of body and soul. Both components belong to me, exclusively.

  113. 113
    bornagain77 says:

    Well not to quibble with StephenB on theological matters, (just like I would never get into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson 🙂 ), but in Christianity it is widely held by the vast majority of Christians that the ‘eternal’ soul is capable of living beyond the death of the ‘temporal’, material, body. If StephenB disagrees with that ‘vast majority’ position he can clarify exactly why he holds his position that it is impossible for the immortal, eternal, soul to live beyond the death of the material, temporal, body.

    Of related interest, in Jesus’ day the religious sect of the Sadducees denied the immortality of the soul, bodily resurrection after death, and,, the existence of angelic spirits.

    Sadducee
    Excerpt: The Sadducees,,, denied the immortality of the soul, bodily resurrection after death, and—according to the Acts of the Apostles (23:8), the fifth book of the New Testament—the existence of angelic spirits.
    https://www.britannica.com/topic/Sadducee

    And here is what Jesus said directly to the Sadducees, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

    Mark 12:18-27
    Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children.The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third.In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
    Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

  114. 114
    StephenB says:

    Born Again 77

    Well not to quibble with StephenB on theological matters, (just like I would never get into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson ? ), but in Christianity it is widely held by the vast majority of Christians that the ‘eternal’ soul is capable of living beyond the death of the ‘temporal’, material, body. If StephenB disagrees with that ‘vast majority’ position he can clarify exactly why he holds his position that it is impossible for the immortal soul to live beyond the death of the material body.

    Born again, I can’t imagine where this comes from. Of course, the immortal soul can (and must) live beyond the death of the material body. As I have pointed out countless times, the spiritual soul, unlike the body, does not have parts and cannot, therefore, disintegrate and die. It lives forever because of what it is, an immortal soul. Please tell me why you think I thought otherwise.

  115. 115
    bornagain77 says:

    Sorry StephenB, I didn’t think you held that position, I originally thought Doubter had confused what you actually meant in what you wrote, but in laziness, I was just going off of what Doubter ‘thought’ your position was instead of digging up a contrary reference from you to the contrary of what Doubter thought you meant..

    Thanks for clearing it up.

    Sorry again.

  116. 116
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @114

    Of course, the immortal soul can (and must) live beyond the death of the material body.

    But, according to you, this immortal soul is not to be mistaken with the “I”, right? Your immortal soul lives on beyond the death of your material body, but you do not. Right?
    I am asking, because you stated earlier that the “I” is “a composite of body and soul.” (see #112)

  117. 117
    StephenB says:

    Born Again,
    No worries. Thanks for getting back to me in a timely way.

  118. 118
    Origenes says:

    BA77 @

    Sorry StephenB, I didn’t think you held that position, I originally thought Doubter had confused what you actually meant in what you wrote, but in laziness, I was just going off of what Doubter ‘thought’ your position was instead of digging up a contrary reference from you to the contrary of what Doubter thought you meant..

    It was not Doubter, but me. In post @112 I have accurately quoted StephenB unambiguously answering my question about NDE. Here is the link to StephenB’s post, so you can check it yourself.

  119. 119
    StephenB says:

    SB: Of course, the immortal soul can (and must) live beyond the death of the material body.

    Origenes:

    But, according to you, this immortal soul is not to be mistaken with the “I”, right?

    Right. In its natural state, a human being is composed of a body *and* an immortal soul.

    Your immortal soul lives on beyond the death of your material body, but you do not. Right?

    No. After death, I live on temporarily in an unnatural state (as a soul without a body). At the last judgment, my soul will be re-united with my resurrected body and I will live on in that state – forever..

  120. 120
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    It was not Doubter, but me. In post @112 I have accurately quoted StephenB unambiguously answering my question about

    The take home point in my answer about NDEs was this: My individual “I” cannot be united with another individual’s soul.

  121. 121
    William J Murray says:

    BA77 said:

    “But what about WJM’s own worldview? Is it not also just a ‘theoretical concept’ in WJM’s mind?

    Yes, it is. I don’t “love” my worldview. I don’t “love” any worldview.

    The ‘logical’ trouble for WJM, (in his worldview that he honestly admitted he can’t be pried away from with logic), is that if God does not really exist but is just an abstract, ‘theoretical’, idea, then nothing, not even abstract, ‘theoretical’, concepts could even exist in the first place.

    In my worldview God does exist, so no, that doesn’t represent “logical trouble” for me. I guess you forgot I am still a theist, not an atheist. My theoretical construct of God is just different than yours, but it supplies the same existential necessity for existence as ground of being.

  122. 122
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @

    Perhaps you misunderstood me. The take home point in my answer about NDEs was this: My “I” cannot be united with someone else’s soul.

    Thank you for the clarification. However, I did not ask can your “I” be united with someone else’s soul , instead my question was:

    Can you imagine having a NDE, which includes experiencing yourself in another spiritual body? That is, experiencing your good old “I” in another body?

  123. 123
    bornagain77 says:

    Well sorry Origenes. At least I did not call you Seversky. 🙂

  124. 124
    bornagain77 says:

    WJM, you are no theist in any sense that I recognize. As someone else, (perhaps StephenB), observed of your ‘theology’, you have basically remade god into your own image instead of letting God transform you into His image.

  125. 125
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    my question was:

    Can you imagine having a NDE, which includes experiencing yourself in another spiritual body? That is, experiencing your good old “I” in another body?

    What do you mean by “spiritual body?” (Do you mean a non material thing containing matter?) What do you mean by “I”? (Do you mean a material body and non material spirit?) What do you mean by your second use of the word “body” (Do you mean all matter and no spirit?)

  126. 126
    ram says:

    LCD:Why should [he punish] “the saved” for the free choice of “the damned”?

    How does torturing the damned forever, instead of annihilating them, benefit the saved?

    –Ram

  127. 127
    doubter says:

    BA77@111

    I notice that you still have not actually engaged with the nitty gritty details of the evidence of even one of Stevenson’s (or his colleagues’) solved cases. As they say, the Devil is in the details. It’s only been vague arguments by assertion like “flimsy” and “questionable veracity”. Could that possibly be because you can’t really back up these assertions? I’m waiting.

    Sorry, but the bottom line is that the actual data always trumps theory .

    “Yet, in reincarnation, the soul is held to be extremely malleable. With some forms of reincarnation holding, like Darwinian evolution does, that one ‘form of species’ can become another ‘form of species’. Thus the ‘permanence of form’ that the soul provided is, basically, completely lost in reincarnation, (just as it is completely lost in Darwinian evolution). This, and other concerns, renders reincarnation scientifically, and philosophically, untenable for me.”

    The most common conception of reincarnation in non-Christian Western circles is that the Soul is in fact unique and permanent, eternal, but being continually supplemented and expanded by new experiences in the Earthly world of limitation and suffering. Limitation and suffering which bring upon a process of growth of depth of character and true spirituality – hard learning. In this conception there is an eternal Soul identity, that continues over a very long period to supplement itself and deepen itself with new experiences and achievements. After physical death the human personality gradually realizes itself to be just a tiny part of this much greater Entity. The human experiences this transition after physical death as a gradual expansion and unfolding into an amazing and rich ” bigness” of consciousness, until in fact he/she realizes themself as the Soul. Therefore, there is both permanence of form and also Soul growth.

  128. 128
    bornagain77 says:

    Well Doubter, (aside from the fact that all your evidence is circumstantial, not physical, evidence), your claim that you want to get into “nitty gritty details of the evidence” would have carried a lot more weight if you had not immediately veered off into the fuzzy netherworld of reincarnation metaphysics, where you try to have your cake and eat it to. i.e. The soul is permanent, but alas, it is also endlessly malleable,,,

    IMHO, your worldview sounds like so much Shirley MacLaine ‘New Age’ mumbo jumbo to me. i.e. “SHE BELIEVES firmly in reincarnation and that her dog was once an Egyptian god ”

    The many eccentric lives of Shirley MacLaine – 2014
    SHE BELIEVES firmly in reincarnation and that her dog was once an Egyptian god
    https://www.express.co.uk/celebrity-news/488096/The-many-lives-of-Shirley-MacLaine

  129. 129
    Origenes says:

    Suppose God had the choice: reincarnation or not. For what reason would he not choose reincarnation? For one thing, would it not be a good thing to be able to give a second chance to those who lost their lives at a very early age? If it were possible, why would God reject that?
    And would it not serve the idea of equal opportunities if it were possible to lead multiple lives with varying degrees of wealth and hardship?

  130. 130
    bornagain77 says:

    “would it not serve the idea of equal opportunities if it were possible to lead multiple lives with varying degrees of wealth and hardship?”

    Shirley MacLaine’s dog might disagree. Once an Egyptian god and now a dog,, and Shirley MacLaine’s dog at that 🙂
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/imageserver/image/%2Fmethode%2Fsundaytimes%2Fprod%2Fweb%2Fbin%2Fdef9d3c8-67b7-11e7-8ef4-9d945f972597.jpg?crop=1300%2C1625%2C0%2C0

  131. 131
    ram says:

    BA77: WJM: you are no theist in any sense that I recognize.

    Thankfully, you’re not the judge.

    As someone else, (perhaps StephenB), observed of your ‘theology’, you have basically remade god into your own image instead of letting God transform you into His image.

    He says, without the slightest hint that he perceives the irony.

    –RAM

  132. 132
    ram says:

    BA77: Shirley MacLaine’s dog might disagree.

    Such theological sophistication on parade. 😀

    –RAM

  133. 133
    tjguy says:

    ” Ivan’s indictment cannot be refuted by logic. If it can be countered at all, it can be countered only as Alyosha countered it, by faith in God’s love as demonstrated though Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Robin trusted. She forgave. She did not allow bitterness to consume her soul. This is our second Christmas without her, but I will see her again.”

    Well said. I agree that it cannot be countered by logic. There are some things that can be said, but in the end, it comes down to faith in God and who He is. Yes, God’s love is demonstrated in an amazing way at the cross, but I think it is also wonderfully demonstrated by the Christmas story as well. God sent His Son. Jesus left heaven, humbled himself, and became an actual human being subject to the restrictions of humanity. He entered our world, lived and suffered with us, and met us on our turf in spite of the sacrifice that meant for Him. Jesus’ willingness to humble himself – the Creator becoming a part of His creation – and take on the form of a lowly servant and live in this world among men who hated him is simply beyond our comprehension. And then on top of that, there was the cross. The patience and love of God displayed on the cross is also far beyond the comprehension of sinful humans.

    The horrible effects of sin brought into this world by our sin is also beyond our comprehension. This sin filled world is just normal to us, but it was not always so. The struggles and pain of every day life are a result of our sin. We often blame God for these things, but in the end, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

    But still, we struggle to understand. We struggle to feel God’s love when we face trials, pain, and suffering. I think it will always be that way until we get to heaven and can see things from God’s perspective.

  134. 134
    bornagain77 says:

    Ram, “Thankfully, you’re not the judge.”

    And thank God I am not ‘the judge’. Jesus, who is infinitely more compassionate and wise than I am, is entrusted by God the Father to be ‘the judge’ of all humanity.

    John 5:22
    Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son

    Ram, “He says, without the slightest hint that he perceives the irony.”

    Well actually, I am not the one refusing to let God be God and wanting God to be just some morally inert, and non-judgemental, abstract concept of ‘infinite potential’. WJM is the one trying to do that. i.e. trying to ‘tame God’ into ‘something’ that he can personally feel comfortable with.

    But as the subtitle of the following book says, “You Can’t Tame God so Stop Trying”

    “My last resistance to the idea of God’s wrath was a casualty of the war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. According to some estimates, 200,000 people were killed and 3,000,000 displaced. My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry.
    Though I used to complain about the indecency of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.”
    – Miroslav Volf – Croatian theologian – quoted from “Yawning at Tigers; You Can’t Tame God so Stop Trying” – pg. 59
    https://books.google.com/books?id=BkwnAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA59

    Ram, “Such theological sophistication on parade.”

    Well Ram, that ‘reincarnation metaphysics’ allows such ‘theological sophistication’, and/or ‘theological insanity’, as to allow that Shirley MacLaine’s dog was once an Egyptian god is part and parcel with the insanity that is inherent in ‘reincarnation metaphysics’. It is not something that I, or Shirley Maclaine, am just willy-nilly adding on to it in order to make it look preposterous. i.e. ‘Reincarnation metaphysics’, as Shirley Maclaine clearly illustrates, is preposterously insane from the get go.

    “What you have is that the person dies and the soul leaves the person and ends up in another life form. It could go up and become another lighter skin human being or it could go down in animal form. Depending on Karma, on whether the person has done good deeds or bad deeds and so on. That is very much written into Hindu religious understanding”
    – Paul James-Griffith – 16:40 minute mark quote
    – The (pagan, reincarnation) Roots of Evolution – Paul James-Griffith – video lecture
    https://vimeo.com/378992

    Like I said before, reincarnation and evolution have long history together as being ‘philosophical bedfellows’.

    And as should be needless to say, that deep philosophical ‘friendliness’ that reincarnation and evolution share with each other should make, not only Christians, but any ID advocate deeply skeptical of reincarnation.

    Hebrews 9:27
    And just as it is appointed for people to die once–and after this, judgment.

  135. 135
    William J Murray says:

    BA77 said:

    WJM, you are no theist in any sense that I recognize. As someone else, (perhaps StephenB), observed of your ‘theology’, you have basically remade god into your own image instead of letting God transform you into His image.

    So, you don’t recognize definitions of theism found in any dictionary? Perhaps a Christian theologian will do. Paul Tillich was a German-American Christian philosopher and a Lutheran Protestant theologian. was critical of the perspective that God is a type of being or presence. He argued, much like I do, that if God were a being, God could not then properly be called the source of all being. He also understood God as “ground of being” and not a personal being, because those, according to him, are two intractably different kinds of things. The “ground of being” is necessarily different than “a being.” He called the ground-of-being God the “God above God.”

    The idea of God as “ground of being” is hardly something I invented, so I don’t see how it can be said that I’ve “made God in my own image.” I’m certainly not the ground of being.

    Perhaps what you meant is that I’ve made reality into my own image because, as I said, my beliefs about existence, how it works, life and the afterlife are not dictated by facts, logic or evidence; hey are dictated by my own psychological needs. However, just because my personal beliefs are not dictated by those things, does not mean there is no evidence or logic, and no facts, that support my views. There is. I’ve presented those arguments, evidence and facts over the course of the past year or two.

    I didn’t invent idealism and it’s not like I’m the only person on the planet making the case for Mental Reality Theory. As far as my perspective on the afterlife, it’s hardly an isolated perspective by any means. Not that I need it, but there is plenty of evidence that supports my view on the afterlife.

    Another Christian Theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg, said much the same about the afterlife as I do, and as I believe the bulk of the evidence indicates. He said there is no such place as an eternal disposition of hopeless suffering, and that your religion and religious beliefs do not matter so much; what matters is the content of your heart, because where you find yourself when you die perfectly matches that content. If your heart is full of conflict, anger, and hate, you will find yourself in what many would call “hell,” but there is still hope, because such people can still be helped and they can still change and leave those afterlife worlds for more loving and kind areas.

    Also, according to Swedenborg, the ultimate expression of Divine love is that of spiritual marriage, not between a human and some abstract notion of God, but with their soul mate partner. In his view, finding and developing that love with your soul-mate partner is the very purpose of our existence. Swedenborg would say that my love and devotion and adoration of my wife is fulfilling the ultimate purpose of all of creation – not to “worship God,” but to fulfill our loving union with our spiritual wife or husband.

    So, it’s not like I’ve invented something new or unique to believe. It’s not like my theism and metaphysical worldview are nothing more than my own personal fantasies that nobody else has heard of, believe or have believed in the past. it’s not like there’s no evidence that supports my views or logical argument that can be made for it, even though my beliefs don’t depend on those things.

  136. 136
    bornagain77 says:

    As to Paul Tillich, to say Tillich’s supposedly ‘Christian” views are heretical to Christianity is an understatement, “For Tillich, Jesus is not God;”

    THE CHRISTOLOGY OF PAUL TILLICH: A CRITIQUE
    By Fr. Gerald L. Orbanek
    Concluding paragraph: In his entire Christology Tillich tried to explain the great paradox of the Incarnation: “how he who transcends the universe appears in it and under its conditions.” (30) For him this appearance is not in the single person of the Logos who unites in himself a divine and a human nature which nevertheless remain distinct, unchanged and undivided, but rather is to be found in the fulness of the manhood of Jesus as the Christ, and in this fulness, the totality of a community between God and a personal life. For Tillich, Jesus is not God; Tillich cannot use this terminology. The life of Jesus is the life through which God shines and where God is to be found, where eternal God-manhood appears, but Jesus is not God. For in the way Tillich understands God—and Jesus—to say so is tantamount to blasphemy.
    https://media.christendom.edu/1975/09/the-christology-of-paul-tillich-a-critique-2/

    As to you making God in your own image instead of letting God remake you into his image, I was referring to what StephenB said in post 63 in response to your present ‘theology’ (a ‘theology” that has the moral standard of, if I remember correctly, your own ‘personal pleasure’ as the ultimate arbiter of your moral code):

    “Meanwhile, the one thing that you should not do is ignore the God who reveals himself in nature and Scripture or fashion some strange god in your own image and likeness. If a man doesn’t conform his life to *the* moral code, he will soon find *a* moral code that conforms to his life. This is the formula for spiritual death.”
    – StephenB
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/50-christmases-later/#comment-743402

    I have no problem with idealism. I have a problem with your rejection of any empirical evidence and/or logic that might, (as you honestly admitted on this very thread), pry you away from your self-constructed worldview.

    As to your view on the afterlife, I remind you that the NDE studies that you yourself provided to me from foreign cultures had a profound lack of going through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension of unparalleled beauty, and/or of encounters with ‘a Being of Light” i.e. with God, who knew every intimate detail of the person’s life. and of etc.. etc..

    As I noted at the time, you trying to pass off your foreign NDE’s as being on the same level of quality as Judeo-Christian NDEs is very much like someone trying to say there is no difference in quality between a Yugo and a Bugatti.

    The comparison in qualities of experience of these NDEs is not even close.

    In you falsely holding that foreign NDEs are of the same quality as Judeo-Christian NDEs, I very much believe that you, like Esau, have traded your priceless inheritance for a mere bowl of soup.

    Have You Ever Sold Your Birthright for a Bowl of Soup? – March 7, 2017
    https://lovemylittlecottage.com/sold-birthright-bowl-soup/

    You also refer to ‘Christian theologian” Emanuel Swedenborg to try to claim that you are a ‘theist’ in a traditional sense.

    Yet, as the following headline makes clear, “Emanuel Swedenborg – The Favorite Seer of the Occult Revival”,,,

    Emanuel Swedenborg – The Favorite Seer of the Occult Revival
    https://www.theoldcraft.com/2018/03/28/emanuel-swedenborg-favorite-seer-occult-revival/

    ,,, as that headline itself makes clear, It is definitely a stretch to hold Swedenborg as anything more than a very eccentric figure on the very outer fringes of Christianity, (if he can even be included within Christianity in the first place).

    Thus, you trying to pass yourself off as a mainline ‘theist’ simply does not pass the smell test. So again, you are no theist in any sense that I recognize.

    2 Timothy 3:4-5
    ,,, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Turn away from such as these!

  137. 137
    doubter says:

    BA77

    It’s too bad that some people, when badly losing a debate on points, resort to contentless ridicule and ranting. Kind of childish.

  138. 138
    William J Murray says:

    BA77 Said:

    As to you making God in your own image instead of letting God remake you into his image, I was referring to what StephenB said in post 63 in response to your present ‘theology’ (a ‘theology” that has the moral standard of, if I remember correctly, your own ‘personal pleasure’ as the ultimate arbiter of your moral code

    I have no ability to “let God remake me” in terms of a moral code. As far as I can tell or figure, nobody does, not even Christians, because the way you state that perspective begs the question: how do I know that it is THE God that I am “allowing” to “remake” my moral perspective? One can adopt a perspective of God through various means and then do their best to arrange their moral perspective and behaviors according to the moral rules set forth as being the moral rules of that God, but what precedes that is selecting one’s idea of God. IMO, the only inescapable definition of God is as ground of being, but that eliminates God from being a being with personal characteristics and motivations. You don’t get to have your cake and eat it, too.

    I have no problem with idealism. I have a problem with your rejection of any empirical evidence and/or logic that might, (as you honestly admitted on this very thread), pry you away from your self-constructed worldview.

    The thing is, because my views are not decided by the evidence or argument, I’m perfectly willing to admit it when others make their case through evidence and/or logic, like I did with you some time back about the geocentric universe. I’ve also admitted you’ve made a sound, compelling case for the uniqueness of the Christian death and afterlife experience wrt the science around the shroud of Turin. It’s no skin off my nose to admit it when someone makes a sound case and/or provides compelling evidence.

    As to your view on the afterlife, I remind you that the NDE studies that you yourself provided to me from foreign cultures had a profound lack of going through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension of unparalleled beauty, and/or of encounters with ‘a Being of Light” i.e. with God, who knew every intimate detail of the person’s life. and of etc.. etc..

    You can remind me of that all you want, but all that is irrelevant to the point I was arguing: that many people have entirely non-Christian NDEs.

    NDEs are only one source of evidence about the afterlife, though. There are many others.

    As I noted at the time, you trying to pass off your foreign NDE’s as being on the same level of quality as Judeo-Christian NDEs is very much like someone trying to say there is no difference in quality between a Yugo and a Bugatti.

    My point was, and still is, that according to Christianity, there should only be Bugattis (either the heaven or hell versions) because Yugos are not supposed to exist.

    You also refer to ‘Christian theologian” Emanuel Swedenborg to try to claim that you are a ‘theist’ in a traditional sense.

    I never claimed to be a theist in a traditional sense.

    Thus, you trying to pass yourself off as a mainline ‘theist’ simply does not pass the smell test. So again, you are no theist in any sense that I recognize.

    I’ve never said or implied that I was a “mainline” theist, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I said that I am by definition a theist because I believe in some form of a God, and I demonstrated that my beliefs in God and the nature of the afterlife are not new or idiosyncratic.

  139. 139
    bornagain77 says:

    I rest my case with both Doubter and WJM.

  140. 140
    William J Murray says:

    I think the important thing here is that it’s a weird perspective to say that people deliberately “reject God” and “choose eternal suffering.” That’s not what is going on. People are rejecting concepts of God, and they certainly are not deliberately or knowingly choosing eternal torment.

    I’ve tried to figure out why SB, KF, BA77 and others say some things the way they do; it’s as if they are certain they know the thoughts and motivations of those they argue with. They often appeal to those things as if they know what they are, and even when corrected insist their own mistaken inferences are true. It seems like their worldview depends on certain assumptions that require non-believers to have certain thoughts, knowledge or motivations for their decisions.

    Nobody deliberately, knowingly chooses to suffer eternal torment. NOBODY. Nobody is “rejecting” THE actual God, whatever that may be; they’re rejecting concepts of God they find unbelievable.

    If your religious beliefs depend on non-believers actually, knowingly, deliberately rejecting the real God knowing they will suffer eternal torment for that choice, you’re deceiving yourself because NOBODY is making any such choice.

  141. 141
    Origenes says:

    BA77 @

    I rest my case with both Doubter and WJM

    To say that this was not your best performance, would be an understatement.

  142. 142
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @

    SB: If you really care about your wife, then pray for her soul …

    O: What exactly is the intent behind praying for someone’s soul? Is it asking God to spare someone’s soul? IOWs is it an attempt to influence God’s judgment of someone?

    SB: Its about asking God to give someone a special power or wisdom (grace) to do something that would not otherwise be possible..

    O: (…) So, in effect, trying to get God to spare someone’s soul is the intent behind praying for someone’s soul?

    SB: The purpose of the prayer is to change the circumstances so that the soul doesn’t need to be spared. Ultimately, the final outcome is determined by the soul, not God. As it says in Scripture, God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2-4).

    O: So, one is asking God to change the circumstances, so that the soul gets the opportunity to save herself from hell?

    SB: ….

    I think that SB doesn’t want to answer my question affirmatively, because he anticipates a follow-up question which he dislikes very much.

  143. 143
    bornagain77 says:

    Origenes “To say that this was not your best performance, would be an understatement.”

    Well, given the fact that I was following the great actress Shirley MacLaine thinking that her dog was once an Egyptian god, who would not have bombed in their ‘performance’ following that? 🙂

  144. 144
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    So, one is asking God to change the circumstances, so that the soul gets the opportunity to save herself from hell?

    : I think that SB doesn’t want to answer my question affirmatively, because he anticipates a follow-up question which he dislikes very much.

    Origenes is mistaken. I don’t dodge questions. He should know that by now. The answer to his question is no. The purpose of the prayer for the dying soul is not to give her the *opportunity* to save herself from hell. It is to provide her with a last minute boost of Godly wisdom so that she will finally take advantage of that opportunity, which has always been there.

  145. 145
    StephenB says:

    WJM:

    Nobody deliberately, knowingly chooses to suffer eternal torment. NOBODY. Nobody is “rejecting” THE actual God, whatever that may be; they’re rejecting concepts of God they find unbelievable.

    The God that you claim is unbelievable is the only God that was preannounced a thousand years before He arrived, the only person who verified his own Divinity by performing countless miracles in the presence of his enemies, the only one who suffered a horrible death to save billions of humans from hell (a point you always ignore), and the one who rose from the dead after promising that He would do just that. He wasn’t a concept; he was a living being who existed in time space history. It is your unverifiable, impersonal, blob god that exists only as a mental concept.

    You say that no one deliberately and knowingly rejects the real God and chooses to live in eternal torment. How odd it is that you, who often complain that others on this site presume to know your deepest motives, have taken it upon yourself to judge the deepest motives of every human being that ever lived. Remarkable!

    What matters is this: The act of remaining willfully ignorant is, in itself, a choice for spiritual death. The act of dismissing a warning is, in the same way, a choice for spiritual death. The Pharisees in Jesus” time had every opportunity to escape hell, but apparently, most of them chose not to do that, even as they were being warned that this is where they were headed. To choose not to escape eternal suffering is to choose eternal suffering. So it is with anyone in any age who will not take that same warning seriously.

    Personally, I hate the idea of eternal suffering, and I wish that it was not a necessary consequence of immortal souls receiving the gift of free will. Would it be better if there were no heaven or hell? I will leave that to God. My position is that the souls in hell would be even unhappier than they are right now if they were suddenly forced against their will to live with God in heaven. When you choose death, directly, indirectly, or by default, no other state of existence is available to you. When people choose to harden their heart against the real God, they usually don’t come back – but some do. Nobody goes to heaven or hell alone because cultural trends always play a role. It is easy to be good with the good. It is easy to be bad with the bad. It is hard to be good with the bad.

  146. 146
    StephenB says:

    At @112 Origenes asks,

    Can you imagine having a NDE, which includes experiencing yourself in another spiritual body? That is, experiencing your good old “I” in another body?

    @125 I responded by asking for a badly needed clarification:

    —“What do you mean by “spiritual body?” (Do you mean a non material thing containing matter?) What do you mean by “I”? (Do you mean a material body and non material spirit?) What do you mean by your second use of the word “body” (Do you mean all matter and no spirit?)”

    So far, I have not received that clarification,, so I cannot provide the answer until he reframes his question and makes it comprehensible.

  147. 147
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    The God that you claim is unbelievable…

    It once again doesn’t seem like you conceptually understand what I said. I didn’t say the Christian God Is unbelievable; I said many people find that concept unbelievable. That’s what’s going on here; I, Origenes, Ram, and several others find that concept of God unbelievable. I’m not just “claiming” it; that’s what we’re all telling you. We, personally, for various reasons, find that concept unbelievable. It’s weird that you and others don’t seem to understand this.

    How odd it is that you, who often complain that others on this site presume to know your deepest motives, have taken it upon yourself to judge the deepest motives of every human being that ever lived. Remarkable!

    I’m making this argument now because that’s the coin of the argument you and others like you here are arguing with. Do you think people reject the Christian Concept of God because they find it believable? I don’t need to know their “deepest motives” Ask anyone, if they had a choice, would they choose eternal torment or eternal paradise. Your belief that they would knowingly chose the former is patently absurd, if we’re going to allow mind-reading and jmotive assumption as the currency through which this argument is to be made. You’re deceiving yourself if you think anyone is going to deliberately, knowingly choose eternal torment. Nobody arguing with you believes such a thing exists. How can we possibly be choosing something that we don’t even believe exists?

    What matters is this: The act of remaining willfully ignorant is, in itself, a choice for spiritual death.

    And here you are completely validating what I said; you have to believe that you know why other people are making the choices they make because the only way you yourself can rationalize and personally accept anyone’s “eternal torment” is if they knowingly, deliberately choose it. You yourself would consider it unjust and unfair and unloving unless somehow, some way, they deliberately, knowingly made that choice themselves. You admit this when you say, “Personally, I hate the idea of eternal suffering,….’ Of course you hate it; no sane person doesn’t hate that idea.

    And, even so, you have to believe that somehow God will do something to relieve us of our own knowledge of those suffering in hell, such as what LCD says – our memories of them and this world will be wiped out. Or, somehow God just removes our compassion and love for those people so that there will be no more tears or sorrow or compassionate suffering for them. It isn’t enough even under the ridiculous notion that somehow, some way, they “chose” that; what difference does that make to any compassionate person? Do you think it makes a difference to me in my suffering if my wife or child deliberately choose to do something that causes their own suffering? No, you and others here must also believe that somehow, some way, God will do something to us that removes that knowledge or the capacity to suffer compassionately for all of those doomed, despairing, suffering people.

    Now, look at you falling back to a secondary “choice” to justify people ending up in eternal torment; the “choice” of willful ignorance. Willful ignorance of what? As long as we’re arguing from mind reading, I’ll tell you what people are “choosing” to be “willfully ignorant” of: any argument and/or evidence that attempts to justify or rationalize eternal, hopeless, despairing torment. That’s all they need to know about Christianity to reject it. I say that from the position of personally knowing that is why hundreds of people rejected Christianity; it wasn’t so that they could do evil or immoral things, it was because in their hearts there’s no possible justification for that and, even if there was, they don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to be “okay” with that. They find people who are okay with that idea to be reprehensible, immoral, even crazy.

    All I needed to know about NXIVM was that they branded people and you had to give them incriminating evidence on yourself to reject it. All I need to know about Christianity is that you have to accept the idea of eternal, hopeless torment to reject it and decide to be “willfully ignorant” of any argument, evidence or justification. To accept such a thing, there has to be something wrong with you.

    People here are flat-out telling you why they reject that concept of a Christian god and eternal torment; they reject it because they find it either morally abhorrent, unjustifiable, or in my case, too heartbreaking to bear. So, you’re saying that because people find it so unbelievable and repulsive or heartbreaking that they “choose to remain willfully ignorant” of any possible justifications for such a thing, that is why they end up in eternal torment? I’m sorry, SB, but that’s insane.

    When people choose to harden their heart against the real God, they usually don’t come back

    They don’t know that’s the “real God;” they reject a concept of God because they find that God unbelievable, even reprehensible, because of the “eternal torment” aspect of that belief system. People here have directly told you this here. My heart and the hearts of others here (since we’re arguing from the assumption we can know such things) are not hardened against “the real God;” they are hardened against any belief system that embraces something like “eternal, hopeless torment” as being “just” or “loving” or “moral.”

    I don’t ever want to be the guy that is okay with that; nor do I want to be the guy that while, like you, I hate that idea in my heart, I would be willing to accept it as long as it buys me entrance into paradise where my love for those people, my compassion for them, and my heartbreak for them, or my knowledge of them is somehow magically removed and transformed into joy. To me, that is sick.

  148. 148
    William J Murray says:

    So, as long as were arguing under the assumption that we can speak for what is in the minds and hearts of others, let me say this: everyone here, including BA77, SB, KF, Jerry, LCD, etc., know in their hearts that eternal, hopeless torment is wrong. The only way to accept it as “not wrong” intellectually is to let your heart and mind be corrupted by fear of that fate and the promise of eternal paradise. IOW, you’re 100%a intellectually denying what your know in your own heart and soul to be true: there is no possible justification for eternal, hopeless torment. There’s no way to derive that from love, kindness, mercy, morality, or even justice.

  149. 149
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    any argument and/or evidence that attempts to justify or rationalize eternal, hopeless, despairing torment.

    The most despicable moral act that can be made by a human is to call good as bad, and bad as good.

    Notice how some people spin the truth telling a big lie that God punish with eternal torment and not people choose freely an eternal torment.

    1.So they move the fault to the perfect God instead of the imperfect sinful people. 🙂 It’s like moving the guilt and punishment from a criminal to the victim and being very pround of that.

    2.Also in the same time they keep quiet about Jesus dying on the Cross to escape all people from eternal torment. Why they keep quiet about that fundamental action ? Because would cancel their statement that God is ” evil.”

    They talk about “The Christian God” but in the same time they need to ignore all the facts about Christian God that would invalidate their stupid idea so they do that without remorse . They are very trusthworthy persons. Hahahaha 🙂

  150. 150
    William J Murray says:

    Look at how the corrupted mind of LCD works as he attempts to justify what he knows is wrong; he has to shift the blame from the victim to the victimizer.

    Under the proposed belief system of Christianity, Joe Smith did not create the system. Joe Smith did not create hell. Joe Smith did not create the opportunity for his own eternal torment. Joe Smith did not create himself into that situation. Joe Smith did not agree to be put in that system.

    God, on the other hand, knew even before he created Joe that Joe would end up suffering for eternity, but God forced Joe into that fate by choosing to create him anyway, knowing full well in advance what Joe’s free will choices would lead him to.

    IOW, the Christian God forced someone into a situation knowing that the free will choices they will make will result in their eternal torture. Poor hapless Joe is just making the best decisions he can, never realizing he is already doomed. God is the clear victimizer here because Joe didn’t agree to any of this and God deliberately put Joe into an eternity of torment.

    The fact that, from Joe’s perspective, he had free will doesn’t not change the fact that Joe is the victim and the concept of God in question is the victimizer in that scenario. LCD is blaming Joe when it is God that deliberately put Joe into eternal suffering. God was the only one who could have stopped that from happening by not creating Joe in the first place.

    Now, let’s talk about this from a “love” perspective; let’s say someone you love is standing at the edge of the pit of eternal, hopeless suffering. You’re standing next to him. Do you content yourself with talking to the person and trying to convince them to not throw themselves into that pit? Do you think, “well, it’s their own free will. If they jump there’s nothing I can do about it.”

    Or, do you grab them,, pull them away, restrain them, and drag them off to some institution, commit them and force them into some kind of therapy and/or medical treatment? If someone you love is about to make that choice, you don’t worry about their free will choices. You don’t care if they hate you and reject you. You don’t even care if they are spitting at you and cursing you; you restrain them and drag them off anyway – because you love them and you know what’s in store for them and there’s no coming back from it or escaping it. Then you go back and cover that pit and make sure nobody else can possibly jump in even if they wanted to.

    “Free will” is being used here as a justification for “God” to allow something well know is wrong to allow.

  151. 151
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @ 146
    Can you imagine experiencing an NDE like this:

    After that breath I went black, everything was dark. I don’t know how much time had lapsed when I was out of my body. I didn’t feel or remember leaving my body but it was like I was just there, I was standing over my body with my spirit/soul feet and ankles in my dead bodies head, I was looking down at myself but didn’t remember being hurt, I had no idea I was dead or injured. I was now a translucent shadow with hands, feet, a whole body but it was made of energy, power, and strength. I looked at my right arm and made a fist. I looked at my left arm and made a fist. I felt so strong and powerful I was energy. – Paul G

  152. 152
    Origenes says:

    WJM @150

    Or, do you grab them,, pull them away, restrain them, and drag them off to some institution, commit them and force them into some kind of therapy and/or medical treatment?

    IOWs even if someone freely chooses eternal torment, that choice should not be granted or even be seriously considered. An important point.
    You do not even consider smashing someone’s brain in, even if that person makes it perfectly clear that his request to do so follows from his own free decision.

  153. 153
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Joe Smith did not create the system.

    Because is too dumb to create the system. If Joe Smith could create the system he would have created until now. 🙂 Usually if we observe our human organisation in a position of power and decision is placed a capable person that proved something before . I know a cleaner could think that he can run a company better than the General Director. It’s a big difference between speaking on a forum and creating a universe. Better stay in your lane. :)))

    God, on the other hand, knew even before he created Joe

    God knowledge is irellevant here because WJM knows the method how to avoid hell. God gave WJM free will and the knowledge how to avoid hell and be happy for eternity. WJM don’t want to play in this system because he thinks is better than God. Well…

  154. 154
    doubter says:

    William J Murray

    True believers in Scripture and religious doctrine are totally closed minded with such issues as this since they deeply believe that their teachings are directly from on high, from the all-knowing and all-powerful Deity, despite ever-repeated and elaborated conclusive arguments. So it is pointless and futile to argue using logic and reason and even evidence. I guess the utility of this here might be as a method of honing one’s debating skills.

  155. 155
    William J Murray says:

    LCD said:

    Because is too dumb to create the system.

    First, what difference does that make? 2nd: Who made Joe too dumb to create the system? More victim-blaming.

    I know a cleaner could think that he can run a company better than the General Director. It’s a big difference between speaking on a forum and creating a universe. Better stay in your lane.

    Look at how you’re trying to justify something you clearly know is wrong; if it wasn’t wrong, you wouldn’t have to try and justify it by saying, “well, we’re just not smart enough to know why eternal suffering is a just, loving, kind, merciful outcome.” That’s like someone trying to justify another person torturing a child by saying, “well, we don’t know what all the circumstances are. Who am I to judge?” You’re making excuses for turning a blind eye to something you know in your heart is wrong.

    God knowledge is irellevant here because WJM knows the method how to avoid hell. God gave WJM free will and the knowledge how to avoid hell and be happy for eternity. WJM don’t want to play in this system because he thinks is better than God. Well…

    No, WJM doesn’t know the method. All WJM has is information that may or may not be true. WJM doesn’t “not want to play” because “he thinks he is better than God,” WJM knows he can come up with a better game than the hypothetical Christian one being offered because he can come up with one where nobody is suffering eternal torment.

    If “eternal torment” is the only way you can create a world, you don’t create it because it is wrong. You create some other world where nobody has to endure eternal torment. There is no faith, no logic, no argument that turns any instance of eternal, hopeless suffering into something that is right, acceptable, just, or the product of love.

    All you’re doing is making excuses for something you know is wrong. You’re a coward because you’re allowing what you know to be true in your heart to be corrupted out of fear and bribery. You’re perfectly willing to let some being wipe your mind of all memory and knowledge of countless eternally suffering people, perhaps some you love, so you can enjoy your paradise You’re a cheap, morally bankrupt coward abandoning anyone and everyone necessary just so you can get your payoff.

  156. 156
    William J Murray says:

    Doubter,
    I’m just enjoying throwing their own mind-reading arguments back in their faces.

    Only a moron or someone in deep, self-deceiving denial thinks anyone is deliberately, knowingly choosing to suffer eternal torment; or believe that it would be just, loving, kind, merciful and moral to allow it even if that is what they are choosing to do. Or that it is anything other than cowardly and selfish to be willing to abandon our memory, empathy, care, love or concern for them as long as we get paid off by “God.”

  157. 157
    asauber says:

    “Only a moron or someone in deep, self-deceiving denial”

    WJM,

    Ooooh. Name Calling. You win, I guess.

    Andrew

  158. 158
    Origenes says:

    Stephen B@

    SB: If you really care about your wife, then pray for her soul …

    O: What exactly is the intent behind praying for someone’s soul? Is it asking God to spare someone’s soul? IOWs is it an attempt to influence God’s judgment of someone?

    (…)

    SB: No. The purpose of the prayer (…) is to provide her with a last minute boost of Godly wisdom so that she will finally take advantage of that opportunity, which has always been there.

    Ok. Now the logical follow-up question:
    how can it possibly be the case that God did not already create the most ideal circumstances (including a last boost of Godly wisdom) for her soul to take advantage of an opportunity to enter Heaven? Why ask God to do something while He knows better than you?
    Isn’t your suggestion to WJM, to pray for the soul of his wife, completely irrational?

  159. 159
    ram says:

    Asauber: Ooooh. Name Calling. You win, I guess.

    You’re ripping it out of context. What he said was, “Only a moron or someone in deep, self-deceiving denial thinks anyone is deliberately, knowingly choosing to suffer eternal torment;

    Do you actually disagree with his statement? If not, can you explain why you don’t?

    –Ram

  160. 160
    asauber says:

    “You’re ripping it out of context.”

    Ram,

    Name calling is name calling, you dweeb. 😉

    Andrew

  161. 161
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Look at how you’re trying to justify something you clearly know is wrong;

    As I said a cleaner cannot judge a decision of a CEO of a company because doesn’t have enough information and competences to judge There are confidential info that CEO consider while smart cleaner is ignorant about. This is the exact situation. You are incompetent to make such a judgment.

    On the other side we have the fact that certify that God loves us (He died for us to save all people from hell) .

    So knowing that :
    1.God loves us.
    2. hell do exist.
    3.Forced love is rape.
    Obviously :
    4. Hell is a free choice of people.

    When you reject God you chose hell. Pretty simple.

  162. 162
    William J Murray says:

    LCD

    As I said a cleaner cannot judge a decision of a CEO of a company because doesn’t have enough information and competences to judge

    If I am incompetent to judge what is right and wrong, then God cannot hold me accountable for anything I make an error about.

    So knowing that :..

    You know that eternal suffering is wrong. That’s why you have to find some way to excuse it, like blaming the victim.

  163. 163
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    If I am incompetent to judge what is right and wrong, then God cannot hold me accountable for anything I make an error about.

    There is the level of competence of a CEO and the level of competence of a cleaner. Stick with your level of competence . God will held you accountable with what you’ve done with your life acording your level of competence .

    You know that eternal suffering is wrong.

    You know you are incompetent to make such a judgement. Stick with your level of competence .

  164. 164
    StephenB says:

    WJM:

    I, Origenes, Ram, and several others find that concept of God unbelievable. I’m not just “claiming” it; that’s what we’re all telling you. We, personally, for various reasons, find that concept unbelievable. It’s weird that you and others don’t seem to understand this.

    I do understand the claim, but I find the claim itself to be unbelievable. Even in this world, the punishment for a crime is related to the perceived worthiness of the one who is offended. Step on a bug and no one cares. Kill a dog, and you will likely be fined and may even spend a few days in jail Murder a human being and you may as well write off the remainder of your earthly life. So take it to the next level. If you offend an infinite God, expect infinite repercussions. I suspect that you and others find the concept unbelievable because you underestimate the seriousness of the crime. You can’t believe that an infinite God could be so good, so worthy, and so lovable, that rejecting Him would be an infinite offense worthy of infinite punishment. For my part, I find the lack of gratitude towards the Savior of the world to be exceedingly unbelievable.

    It is interesting that everyone on this site who is so scandalized by the so-called injustice of eternal punishment is on record of denying the existence of any such thing as justice. For them, God violated some sacred standard that, nevertheless, doesn’t exist. Sorry, but I am not going to let that kind of nonsense pass without notice.

    I’m making this argument now (judging motives) because that’s the coin of the argument you and others like you here are arguing with.

    So now you are saying that, if sufficiently aroused, you will, like me, sometimes draw inferences about your adversary’s deeper motives when the stated motive seems – unbelievable.. Welcome to the club.

    Do you think people reject the Christian Concept of God because they find it believable?

    In many cases, I would say yes. I think people often reject the Christian God because they want to be a god (and a law) unto themselves. That would explain why they obsess over the fact of hell and, at the same time, ignore Christ’s saving action to prevent people from going there. To leave out that last part out is to seriously distort the Christian faith. Why do they (and you) feel the need do that? For that matter, why do they (and you) reject any objective moral code that is understood to be morally binding for everyone? Most if this expressed outrage over hell, is, in my judgment, a smokescreen.

    SB: What matters is this: The act of remaining willfully ignorant is, in itself, a choice for spiritual death.

    And here you are completely validating what I said; you have to believe that you know why other people are making the choices they make because the only way you yourself can rationalize and personally accept anyone’s “eternal torment” is if they knowingly, deliberately choose it.

    When I say that remaining willfully ignorant is, itself, a choice, I am not saying that I can detect when such a choice is being made or when such a motive is driving it. I am simply saying that willful ignorance is often used as a strategy for avoiding an inconvenient truth. I would add something else. Some choices are binary. By rejecting God and refusing heaven, for example, one chooses hell by default. Does this count as a deliberate choice to experience eternal suffering? Because willful ignorance can play a role here, I think it could more accurately be described as a deliberate choice to *risk* eternal punishment.

    Of course you hate it; (the idea of hell) no sane person doesn’t hate that idea..

    Right. No sane person likes the idea of hell. Also, no sane person would fail to take steps to avoid it once it has been put on the table by a credible person, such as Jesus Christ. It is not rational to dismiss such a danger on the presumptuous grounds that it is “unbelievable.” Whistling past the graveyard is not a productive strategy for living one’s life or preparing for the future..

    And, even so, you have to believe that somehow God will do something to relieve us of our own knowledge of those suffering in hell.

    My guess is that when people in heaven realize that their loved ones in hell stubbornly refused to love a lovable God for selfish reasons, their perspective will change. When they learn that their loved ones would, even now, prefer to remain in hell rather than be in heaven with the God they always despised, they will resign themselves to that reality and carry on without regret.

    Also, I have to say that your concept of compassion is a little different from mine. For me, compassion consists, for the most part, in helping people to avoid disaster rather than waiting until it is too late to do anything about it. Jesus Christ was being compassionate when He warned the Pharisees that they were on their way to hell. He didn’t wait until they were screaming in pain to show His love for them. In like fashion, I try to be compassionate when I suggest that you say a retroactive prayer for your wife while you still have the opportunity. .

    All I need to know about Christianity is that you have to accept the idea of eternal, hopeless torment to reject it and decide to be “willfully ignorant” of any argument, evidence or justification. To accept such a thing, there has to be something wrong with you.

    No, that isn’t all you need to know. Among other things, you also need to know why the possibility of eternal punishment is the necessary condition for immortal souls that have received the gift of free will. From your response, I gather that you think there is something “wrong” with all Christians. Would this be a good time to remind you that, until now, you didn’t believe there was any such thing as right and wrong?

  165. 165
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    how can it possibly be the case that God did not already create the most ideal circumstances (including a last boost of Godly wisdom) for her soul to take advantage of an opportunity to enter Heaven? Why ask God to do something while He knows better than you

    Because God sometimes grants blessings on the condition that we ask for them in prayer.

    Isn’t your suggestion to WJM, to pray for the soul of his wife, completely irrational?

    No. Why would it be?

  166. 166
    ram says:

    Am I mistaken, but is it true that SB believes that it’s OK to kill children if his god commands it?

    –Ram

  167. 167
    kairosfocus says:

    Ram, you know that UD is not a blog for debating theological disputes requiring a panel of well informed experts to resolve, and you know there are places where such may readily be found. Further, we have often had occasion to refer people to such places. I suggest, persistence in the sort of rhetorical stunt you pulled is a mark of willful disruptiveness and toxic attitude not responsible contribution. I suggest, you should refrain yourself. If you genuinely are perplexed, go to places where matters such as you suggest are addressed at responsible length by relevant experts. Here might be a start point, but that is not an excuse to drag this and every UD thread off track: https://www.thepoachedegg.net/2012/11/is-god-a-moral-monster-an-interview-with-dr-paul-copan.html KF

  168. 168
    ram says:

    KF: Ram, you know that UD is not a blog for debating theological disputes

    Yeah, you play that card when you start to sweat.

    In the end, Everything is theology.

    Don’t be difficult.

    Happy New Year!

    –Ram

  169. 169
    ram says:

    I’ve given up on KF.

    I wonder if SB will answer the simple question:

    Is it always wrong to kill a healthy child?

    –Ram

  170. 170
    ram says:

    WJM: If I am incompetent to judge what is right and wrong, then God cannot hold me accountable for anything I make an error about.

    Kind of a damned if you don’t thing.

    Calvinists are whacky peoples. You’re damned because God made you damnable and you can’t help it.

    Enjoy the eternal flames of torture because you couldn’t help it.

    –Ram

  171. 171
    kairosfocus says:

    Ram, you know or should know that in other contexts I have taken up a range of such issues, your now serial ad hominem fails, and of course you are referred to the UD weak argument correctives. The point is, needless toxic distractions are endless and are too often sustained in the teeth of any and all cogent correction, as well as opening up further accusations that have occasionally misled even ill advised Courts. UD has a proper focus as a blog and it would be advisable for you and others, as guests on responsible behaviour, to respect that. KF

    PS, I find that the rot starts with first duties of reason, that is why I have taken time out in midst of a life crisis to address it. If there is unwillingness simply to acknowledge branch on which we all sit first duties then no further progress is possible. That is because the deliberately irrational are unwilling to be responsive to reason and evidence. Our civilisation is in deeper trouble than it realises.

  172. 172
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Ram
    In the end, Everything is theology.

    True. This is the first true thing you said. Impressive. Unfortunately(for yourself) you have chosen the theology of darkness.
    One example:

    Ram
    Am I mistaken, but is it true that SB believes that it’s OK to kill children if his god commands it

    Hehe for your level of understanding the command from God is “You shall not kill” .And yes if your god(satan) commands you to kill you shouldn’t do it because your god doesn’t have the power to resurect unlike the real God. 😉

    Happy New Year!

  173. 173
  174. 174
  175. 175
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @165

    O: … how can it possibly be the case that God did not already create the most ideal circumstances (including a last boost of Godly wisdom) for her soul to take advantage of an opportunity to enter Heaven? Why ask God to do something while He knows better than you.

    Because God sometimes grants blessings on the condition that we ask for them in prayer.

    So, you are saying that sometimes God does not by himself create the optimal conditions for a person to avoid hell and instead must be asked to do so in prayer. How can that be, given that he is all-powerful all-loving and wants to save as many of us as possible?

  176. 176
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Origenes
    So, you are saying that sometimes God does not by himself create the optimal conditions for a person to avoid hell and instead must be asked to do so in prayer. How can that be, given that he is all-powerful all-loving and wants to save as many of us as possible?

    :)))) Well…you really think that you are smart?

  177. 177
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    It is interesting that everyone on this site who is so scandalized by the so-called injustice of eternal punishment is on record of denying the existence of any such thing as justice.

    I’m not scandalized. I know the concept of justice and what it’s supposed to mean, so I know that “eternal suffering” under any circumstances is not a just penalty for any crime. We all know this; this is why you and others have to find some means of justifying it.

    You see, if you said people have to suffer in equal measure for the suffering they caused on Earth, you wouldn’t be having to justify or rationalize it by these appeals to special considerations, or our lack of understanding, etc. People would immediately recognize such a penalty as roughly just.

    If you offend an infinite God, expect infinite repercussions.

    Depends on what kind of infinite God; if it is a God with an infinite amount of time, love and mercy, I would expect infinite opportunity to make my way into heaven.

    I suspect that you and others find the concept unbelievable because you underestimate the seriousness of the crime. That ‘s because under any normal concept of a “crime,” not loving someone is not a crime.

    But, whether or not it is a “just” is just one problem that Christians face when it comes to eternal torment; it also violates any reasonable understanding of love, kindness, mercy and compassion. You know it, we all know it; and that’s why, once again, Christians have to appeal to all sorts of special circumstances and pleadings to try and reconcile “eternal torment” with a just, loving, kind, merciful and compassionate God.

    For my part, I find the lack of gratitude towards the Savior of the world to be exceedingly unbelievable.

    Which again goes to some kind of inability on your part to understand that other people truly and honestly do not believe Jesus did any such thing. They find the whole concept of sin and forgiveness and Jesus paying our penalty a completely unbelievable idea. It makes no sense to us. We have a very difficult time understanding how anyone can possibly believe such a thing outside of some kind of mind-control cult. You are so deeply enmeshed in your beliefs that you think it’s actually possible that someone – anyone – would deliberately choose eternal suffering over eternal paradise. That’s a nonsensical idea on the face of it, but it is something you and others like you must believe to give you some sense of that outcome as “just.”

    You must believe that, in our hearts, we somehow “know” that Christianity is true. That’s why you and others argue the way you do and use the phrases you do, as if we believe in that God and those ideas even while we inform you we do not. You must deny that any such people actually exist; you must say that we are in denial or corrupt or angry or hateful or something that, once again, allows you to hold the beliefs you hold. If you could accept that there are those trying to be as good as they can be, to be compassionate, helpful, loving, kind, etc., are intelligent and have good intentions, who also find the whole Christian construct nonsensical, unkind, unloving, unjust and unmerciful, the idea that those people will wind up in Hell becomes far less palatable. You might even find it outrageous and a despicable notion.

    So now you are saying that, if sufficiently aroused, you will, like me, sometimes draw inferences about your adversary’s deeper motives when the stated motive seems – unbelievable.. Welcome to the club.

    As I’ve said before, I can argue from virtually any perspective and according to style and “rules” being utilized. It has nothing to do with “being aroused” sufficiently. See how you’re doing it again? You do this all the time; you imagine my motivations, reasons, emotions and thoughts. As long as we’re operating by that rulebook: you do this so easily and so often because your beliefs completely depend on seeing non-Christians here a certain way. Your entire self-worth, your beliefs in God and the nature of reality and existence, everything about you depends on a single lynchpin: that it is somehow, some way, just, loving, kind, compassionate and merciful to allow people to experience eternal, hopeless, despairing torment. IMO, there could not be a more clear and unambiguous claim that not-A = A. You might as well be telling us that it’s possible for a square circle to exist.

    You seem to think that all you have to do is try and define some special circumstances to acquire how eternal torment as a “just” outcome; that’s just the beginning of the problem. You also have to come up with a whole bunch of special circumstances to even begin to reconcile “eternal torment” with love, compassion, mercy and kindness.

    In many cases, I would say yes. I think people often reject the Christian God because they want to be a god (and a law) unto themselves.

    Again, another example of things you have to believe about the motivations of other people to keep your beliefs intact. On my part, this is one of the most inane things I’ve ever read. To me, this reads like an NXIVM statement on why people left their cult or refused to join; it condemns those people as having personal issues and “not being ready” for the personal growth their system offered; that they were chained to their own personal insecurities. These are the kind of weird things you have to believe about others in order for your worldview to not come crumbling down.

    That would explain why they obsess over the fact of hell and, at the same time, ignore Christ’s saving action to prevent people from going there. To leave out that last part out is to seriously distort the Christian faith.

    Look at how you word this: “obsess over the fact of hell ..” Nobody here is arguing about the “fact” of hell; they’re arguing about a proposed concept. Nobody is “ignoring” the proposed remedy against that proposed potential outcome (Jesus.)

    The reason I started making this “argument” with “eternal torment” as its lynchpin is because, IMO, it is the obvious fatal flaw in the whole belief system.

    Now, let’s look at what is going on with the remedy you are proposing; that the person who threw me into this ultimately dire and dangerous situation is saying to me, “if you bring yourself to love me with all your heart, I will save you from the horrifying situation I put you in.”

    If you don’t see what’s wrong with that, then your mind and heart and soul has become corrupted by fear and the promise of relief, like Stockholm Syndrome on steroids. If you don’t see how that is a clear-cut, definitive case of using fear to establish a mind-control and emotionally distorted situation, then I don’t know what else to say.

    For that matter, why do they (and you) reject any objective moral code that is understood to be morally binding for everyone?

    Understood by whom? I’ve argued both for and against “objective” morality here. I spent months trying to understand the concept of “First Duties” that KF has presented here. I don’t think I ever said that objective morality does not exist; I’ve said, I think, that I don’t understand how a rational case can be made for it without that case being dependent on very particular ontological assumptions. I’ve recently made some headway on that idea by exchanging “duty to” for “inescapable pursuit of” what others call “natural law” goals from the inescapable condition of finding and making truth statements about something.

    But, the concept of moral law or duty is sophistry unless there are consequences for “being” immoral. Such consequences must ontologically exist. The moral law and consequences for immorality under Christian doctrine fail on the lynchpin of “eternal torment,” and other less obvious aspects of Christian doctrine (such as I described above wrt to God “saving” us from the very situation he himself forced us into, and what we must do to “earn” our relief.)

    You can argue that without the concept of objective morality, I have no room to make moral claims about the Christian system; that without objective standards of love, mercy, kindness, justice, and compassion, I cannot do more than subjectively access my own personal feelings about those things, which provide no weight upon others whatsoever.

    That’s where you would be wrong. I do have just such a concept of “objective morality,” inescapably binding with inescapable consequences, for all sentient beings. It doesn’t require the concept of God as a personality or “a being,” but rather just as the ground of being.

    The common rejoinder against this is some form of “So, you think you’re smarter than God and can create a better system?” That’s a nonsensical rejoinder because it assumes that which is in question: that the hypothetical God described by Christian doctrine is in fact “the” God. All we can do, logically and through our heart, is compare hypothetical models that are presented by people.

    My hypothetical model is better than yours. It makes more sense; it is far more loving, compassionate, merciful and kind, and it is most obviously more just, by any reasonable understanding of those things.

    Most if this expressed outrage over hell, is, in my judgment, a smokescreen.

    Yes, that is something you must believe to keep your belief system intact.

    SB: What matters is this: The act of remaining willfully ignorant is, in itself, a choice for spiritual death.

    In your hypothetical model, not in mine or in that of many others. In mine, there is no such thing as “spiritual death,” only infinite opportunity to guide your experience where you choose.

    Because willful ignorance can play a role here, I think it could more accurately be described as a deliberate choice to *risk* eternal punishment.

    From that logic, people are “deliberately choosing” to risk the possible afterlife outcomes described by countless belief systems they also dismiss as unbelievable.

    Also, no sane person would fail to take steps to avoid it once it has been put on the table by a credible person, such as Jesus Christ. It is not rational to dismiss such a danger on the presumptuous grounds that it is “unbelievable.” Whistling past the graveyard is not a productive strategy for living one’s life or preparing for the future..

    It is astonishing to me that you don’t see the perverse nature of this reasoning. First, you think that the fear of a single, possible, hypothetical outcome that “might” occur after my death should override all other considerations during my life; second, you think that, under that hypothetical situation, even if it were true, I can make the choice to love, with all my heart, the very being that forced me into that fearful, horrifying situation to begin with.

    This is why I say that your heart and mind have been corrupted by fear of hell and the promise of paradise. You have been threatened and bribed into accepting something that is obviously, patently wrong to save your own skin. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

    More to follow.

  178. 178
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    My guess is that when people in heaven realize that their loved ones in hell stubbornly refused to love a lovable God for selfish reasons, their perspective will change. When they learn that their loved ones would, even now, prefer to remain in hell rather than be in heaven with the God they always despised, they will resign themselves to that reality and carry on without regret.

    You’re just exposing more of how you have to, in your own mind, fill in the thoughts and motivations of others, even after they end up in hell, to find the concept of hell more palatable.

    “Love me above all else or go to hell and suffer for eternity” is not an expression of love, nor an enactment of love. It’s the sick and twisted expression/enactment of abuse.. This is blatantly obvious to everyone who is not under the distorted influence and control of that abuse, where you mind and heart have been corrupted by the abuse of fearful threat and bribed reward. It’s a CLASSIC example of how people respond to ongoing abuse, especially if they feel they have no hope of escape. Which you clearly do.

    Also, I have to say that your concept of compassion is a little different from mine.

    My experience of compassion is different from yours. Unlike yours, mine does not end just because they keep choosing to be in suffering conditions; what changes is what I’m willing to do for them to try to help them. I am always available to them to offer comfort and advice, and my heart will always ache for the situation he/she has put himself/herself in, and I do not wish to alleviate myself of that heartache, because to do so I would have to stop loving him/her. Loving people is worth the heartache it delivers, all the time, every time. Yet, your paradise, and your way of looking at things, and your God would deprive me of that rich and meaningful experience.

    You’re just trying to intellectually justify your willingness to abandon, in your heart, those you love (and everyone else) to their eternal suffering to purchase your eternal paradise. If that is the cost and nature of paradise, it is too high a price, and it’s nature without any significant value or meaning.

    No, that isn’t all you need to know.

    Yes, it’s all you need to know, because there is not anything that can salvage that from being wrong.

    Would this be a good time to remind you that, until now, you didn’t believe there was any such thing as right and wrong?

    I assume you mean in the “objective morality” sense of right and wrong. What I’m referring to when I say we all know it’s wrong is that it is wrong by any reasonable concept of morality, love, compassion, mercy, kindness and justice that has not been twisted by the psychological abuse of mortal fear and and promised reward. This is why you have to resort to imagining what’s going on in the minds and hearts of others to justify the outcome of “eternal suffering” because you know that without such imaginings, there’s no way to accept it as not wrong.

  179. 179
    Joe Schooner says:

    As a parent I hope that my kids love and respect me when they are adults but I would much prefer that they lead good and generous lives.

  180. 180
    ram says:

    WJM: that has not been twisted by the psychological abuse of mortal fear and and promised reward.

    It’s almost as if they have Stockholm Syndrome

    –Ram

  181. 181
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    So, you are saying that sometimes God does not by himself create the optimal conditions for a person to avoid hell and instead must be asked to do so in prayer.

    That would be an oversimplification. Humans must cooperate with God in some way to be saved or to contribute to the salvation of others. That does not mean it always happens in fashion that I described. Don’t confuse the example with the principle. The point is that God usually works through people to accomplish his mission.

    How can that be, given that he is all-powerful all-loving and wants to save as many of us as possible?

    Even an all powerful God cannot save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. That would violate a person’s free will.

  182. 182
    StephenB says:

    Ram:

    I wonder if SB will answer the simple question:

    Of course.

    Is it always wrong to kill a healthy child?

    No. One healthy child could kill another healthy child in self defense.

  183. 183
    ram says:

    SB: No. One healthy child could kill another healthy child in self defense.

    Thanks for a forthright answer.

    Is it always wrong to kill a healthy child for purposes other than self-defense?

    –Ram

  184. 184
    William J Murray says:

    There are millions, tens of millions, perhaps much, much more, regular everyday people trying to be good people according to their culture and beliefs; trying to provide for their children, make an honest living, trying to make the best sense they can out of what can be a very confusing and challenging existence here. Homemakers, fathers, mothers, helping neighbors out, being a shoulder to cry on, trying to carry on with a smile and with love. I know many, many people like this. Just normal people from all walks of life who don’t give a lot of thought to religious or spiritual matters. Their focus is on their families, or school, friends, jobs, etc.

    SB imagines that these people “want to be their own God” and are willfully, knowingly choosing to suffer eternally. He imagines they hate God. He imagines that once they find themselves in eternal suffering, that’s where they would prefer to be over eternal paradise.

    Why does SB imagine these things? Because the idea that just some regular person, doing the best they can to be a good, decent person to their family and in their community, who just doesn’t happen to believe in Jesus or “love God with all their heart,” could wind up in hell suffering for eternity is unpalatable. So, SB has to concoct all these fairy tales about their thoughts and motivations and inner world, because if just regular, every-day good, decent folk end up in eternal torment, it’s not right. If that was okay with SB, he wouldn’t need to appeal to what he imagines people are thinking, and would be thinking even once they are in hell, to justify it.

    SB said he hates the idea of hell. Why? Isn’t hell just? Kind? Loving? Compassionate? Merciful? What is there to hate about it, SB?

    KF often hauls out the “torturing children” example for some that is objectively wrong. You don’t need to hear anything more about the situation than that to know it’s wrong. You don’t need to hear anything else about the situation, or the logic of the person doing the torturing. The justifications are irrelevant. No argument can make it not wrong.

    You don’t need to know anything more than “eternal torment” to know it is wrong. It doesn’t matter who is being eternally tormented or for what reason. It doesn’t matter what the argument or logic is. Like torturing a child, nothing can make it not wrong.

    When, to sustain your religious beliefs, you have to imagine that all of those regular, every-day people trying to be good, decent, loving folk would rather be in hell than paradise, you’re deranged.

    Any person who thinks the dictum “love me or suffer the consequences” is an actual expression of love is deranged. Anyone that thinks real love can be acquired or given in that circumstance is deranged.

  185. 185
    StephenB says:

    WJM

    I know the concept of justice and what it’s supposed to mean, so I know that “eternal suffering” under any circumstances is not a just penalty for any crime. We all know this; this is why you and others have to find some means of justifying it.

    Assuming that you are being sincere, I am pleased that you finally accept the existence of an objective moral law. This is progress

    You see, if you said people have to suffer in equal measure for the suffering they caused on Earth, you wouldn’t be having to justify or rationalize it by these appeals to special considerations, or our lack of understanding, etc. People would immediately recognize such a penalty as roughly just.

    You are confirming your earlier point. By means of our apprehending an objective code of justice, we can recognize hierarchies (A is more just than B), (Natural law is more basic than [and should inform] civil law) etc. This is important.

    Depends on what kind of infinite God; if it is a God with an infinite amount of time, love and mercy, I would expect infinite opportunity to make my way into heaven.

    Justice should be tempered with mercy, but that doesn’t mean that mercy displaces justice.

    SB: I suspect that you and others find the concept [eternal punishment] unbelievable because you underestimate the seriousness of the crime (Offending an infinitely just and loving God).

    …under any normal concept of a “crime,” not loving someone is not a crime.

    Refusing to be grateful for a cosmic changing act of mercy initiated by a God-man is a crime.

    But, whether or not it is a “just” is just one problem that Christians face when it comes to eternal torment; it also violates any reasonable understanding of love, kindness, mercy and compassion.

    It is a matter of cause and effect. Sin is the cause, spiritual death is the effect. God has already addressed the sin part, by sending His son to save us. His death and resurrection was the cause, our salvation, if we want it, is the effect. Asking for mercy it the cause, receiving it is the effect.

    SB: For my part, I find the lack of gratitude towards the Savior of the world to be exceedingly unbelievable.

    Which again goes to some kind of inability on your part to understand that other people truly and honestly do not believe Jesus did any such thing.

    Again, this claim exposes the weakness of your argument. You are reduced to denying a simple fact of history. Christ’s actions were not just recorded in Scripture, the Jewish and Roman historians also wrote about him. Even the calendar recognizes these facts by using terms like BC, BCE, and AD.

    They (anti-Christians on this site) find the whole concept of sin and forgiveness and Jesus paying our penalty a completely unbelievable idea. It makes no sense to us

    No. They find the idea unacceptable. There is nothing incomprehensible about it. Even children can grasp the concept. We are now at the point where we always are: You don’t believe me and I don’t believe you. Rather than address my arguments, you simply claim that they are unbelievable. It doesn’t require much intellectual exertion to do that.

    We have a very difficult time understanding how anyone can possibly believe such a thing outside of some kind of mind-control cult.

    Do you mean mind-control cultists like Augustine, Aquinas, Newton, Heisenberg, and Mendel?

    You must believe that, in our hearts, we somehow “know” that Christianity is true

    No, I don’t believe that at all. It is clear, based on the way they write, that don’t know enough about the subject to have an informed opinion on the matter.

    That’s why you and others argue the way you do and use the phrases you do, as if we believe in that God and those ideas even while we inform you we do not.

    Your confusion is reaching epic proportions. We don’t say that they believe in Christianity in spite of their protests to the contrary.. We say that they believe in objective morality in spite of their protests to the contrary. They know there is right and wrong, good and bad, and just and unjust in spite of their protests to the contrary. So do you. Please try to get it right next time. Your strawmen are taking up too much time and space.

    You must deny that any such people actually exist; you must say that we are in denial or corrupt or angry or hateful or something that, once again, allows you to hold the beliefs you hold.

    Total nonsense. This must be the product of desperation.

    If you could accept that there are those trying to be as good as they can be, to be compassionate, helpful, loving, kind, etc., are intelligent and have good intentions, who also find the whole Christian construct nonsensical, unkind, unloving, unjust and unmerciful, the idea that those people will wind up in Hell becomes far less palatable. You might even find it outrageous and a despicable notion.

    That is precisely the problem. In one breath they say that there is no such thing as the natural law or any objective moral yardstick by which we can evaluate what is good and moral.. In the next, they say that they are as good and moral as anyone else.

    As I’ve said before, I can argue from virtually any perspective and according to style and “rules” being utilized.

    Yes, your worldview is a moving target and can change from one day to the next. If an answer from Tuesday’s world view doesn’t work, you can simply appeal to the Wednesday world view and continue on as sleek as ever. And then when I question your sincerity, you say that I am judging your motives. Some of us find that approach to be a little – well, let’s be charitable here – unorthodox.

    Now, let’s look at what is going on with the remedy you are proposing; that the person who threw me into this ultimately dire and dangerous situation is saying to me, “if you bring yourself to love me with all your heart, I will save you from the horrifying situation I put you in.”

    If you abused your gift of free will by sinning against God and man, then you put yourself in that position, God did not put you there. If you refuse to avail yourself of the remedy, Jesus Christ, then you are responsible for the consequences. God is not doing the driving, you are.

  186. 186
    StephenB says:

    Ram

    Is it always wrong to kill a healthy child for purposes other than self-defense?

    No.

  187. 187
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    Even an all powerful God cannot save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. That would violate a person’s free will.

    Bull. Christianity being premised here as true, God knew what I’d think before he even created me. He knew I didn’t want any part of the system he created but he forced me into it anyway against my future will (future from my perspective, not God’s.)

    Secondly, are humans able to do something God can’t? We violate each other’s free will all the time. God “can’t?” Why not? Or do you actually mean, God won’t? This sounds like a convenient rule to let God off the hook for allowing any of His creations to endure eternal suffering because we know THAT would be wrong.

  188. 188
    vividbleau says:

    SB
    “Yes, your worldview is a moving target and can change from one day to the next. If an answer from Tuesday’s world view doesn’t work, you can simply appeal to the Wednesday world view and continue on as sleek as ever. And then when I question your sincerity, you say that I am judging your motives. Some of us find that approach to be a little – well, let’s be charitable here – unorthodox.”

    Nailed it.!! WJM is not trust worthy and I have learned the hard way not to trust anything he writes.

    Vivid

  189. 189
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    Refusing to be grateful for a cosmic changing act of mercy initiated by a God-man is a crime.

    Making “refusing to be grateful” a crime is the hallmark of a seriously despotic regime or a very abusive relationship. There is no reason to be grateful to a being that is offering to save you from the situation that being put you in in the first place. Expecting gratitude from people for getting them out of the situation you put them in yourself is shameful; making it a crime to not be grateful for that is insane.

    We don’t say that they believe in Christianity in spite of their protests to the contrary.

    I didn’t say you said that. We’re arguing via the rules of mind reading and motive-mongering.

    God did not put you there.

    Of course he did. He put me there the moment he created me.

    God is not doing the driving, you are.

    Nope. I am already in hell from God’s perspective. I was in hell the moment he created me, from His perspective. He knew I’d end up in hell before he even created me. The only possible way my being in hell at the end could have been avoided was for God to not create me.

    I only have free will from my perspective. Even though I have free will, there’s absolutely nothing I can do to change the fate I already exist in from God’s perspective.

  190. 190
    William J Murray says:

    “Love me or suffer” is not an expression of love; it is not a situation of love.

    “Be grateful to me or suffer” is not an expression of love, nor can it engender actual gratefulness. It can only induce a reaction based on fear of suffering or cause psychological damage due to this kind of emotional abuse where one thinks “gratefulness” is an appropriate response towards the abuser for the relief of the abuse.

    Offering to save someone from the very situation you created and forced them into is not an act or expression of mercy.

    Your thinking is deranged. It bears all of the classic hallmarks of the damaged psychology of victims of abuse, where they think they deserve the abuse, try to please the abuser, and are grateful for relief from abuse, even though it is the abuser that created the situation and forced them into it in the first place.

  191. 191
    StephenB says:

    WJM

    Because the idea that just some regular person, doing the best they can to be a good, decent person to their family and in their community, who just doesn’t happen to believe in Jesus or “love God with all their heart,” could wind up in hell suffering for eternity is unpalatable.

    Of course its unpalatable, which is why I didn’t say it, nor do I believe it. One should be careful about serial misrepresentations since they destroy one’s credibility.

  192. 192
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    Of course its unpalatable, which is why I didn’t say it, nor do I believe it.

    Which, as I said, is why you have to imagine their thoughts and motivations and character to be that which makes it technically acceptable to you that they end up in hell, eternally suffering.

    But, it’s okay. I’ve found a lot more compassion for you and others like you, now that I understand you are the victims of severe emotional and psychological abuse – and I mean that sincerely. I once suffered under that same abuse. It took me years to understand it and see it for what it was because my fear of hell was so overwhelming.

  193. 193
    StephenB says:

    WJM

    Your thinking is deranged. It bears all of the classic hallmarks of the damaged psychology of victims of abuse, where they think they deserve the abuse, try to please the abuser, and are grateful for relief from abuse, even though it is the abuser that created the situation and forced them into it in the first place.

    Me thinketh you protest too much. What’s really bothering you on the inside.

  194. 194
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    Me thinketh you protest too much. What’s really bothering you on the inside.

    Why ask me? Just make it up. That’s what you do.

    Try to understand, SB. “Love me or suffer” is not love; it is abuse. Being grateful to a person for offering relief of the abuse it engineered and forced you into is not appropriate. It is not merciful to offer you a way out of that which they put you into; demanding your love and obedience and gratefulness as a prerequisite for getting you out of the situation they created and forced you into is sick and twisted on their part.

    I don’t say any of this because I believe your hypothetical God exists or to hurt your feelings; I say it because IMHO you’ve fallen victim to psychologically and emotionally abusive concepts and ideas that prey on your fear of a proposed eternal hell and seduce you with promises of relief and eternal paradise. If there is a being that authored such ideas and concepts, the attempt is clearly and unambiguously one of attempted mind-control, very similar to what is regularly used in various cults to convince people to go along with, justify and even advocate things that are clearly wrong.

  195. 195
    William J Murray says:

    BTW, just so you don’t jump to the wrong idea, the “objective moral law” I believe in is usually called “The Law of Attraction” and is an intrinsic aspect of MRT. I’ve actually explained it before, but not as an “objective moral law.” I just realized recently it can be seen as a perfectly just, kind, loving, compassionate and merciful objective moral law, inescapable and with inescapable consequences.

  196. 196
    ram says:

    SB: No.

    When is it appropriate to kill a healthy child for purposes other than self-defense?

    –Ram

  197. 197
    ram says:

    SB: Even an all powerful God cannot save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. That would violate a person’s free will.

    This necessarily includes an all powerful God eternally torturing the lost? If so, why?

    (Sidebar: I’m quite sure that eternally torturing a person forever is definitely going to violate that person’s free will. Your god seems to not live the Golden Rule that he expects everyone else to live.)

    –Ram

  198. 198
    Origenes says:

    StephenB:

    If one sins against an infinitely good God, one should expect infinite repercussions.

    Infinite repercussions are only proportional when the sinner can be taken infinitely seriously. Stephen, how offended are you, if at all, when a three year old calls you ‘stupid’ or whatever?

  199. 199
    ram says:

    WJM: Expecting gratitude from people for getting them out of the situation you put them in yourself is shameful; making it a crime to not be grateful for that is insane.

    It’s like throwing someone down a well and then expecting him to be “grateful” if you decide to throw a rope down.

    –Ram

  200. 200
    ram says:

    SB: If one sins against an infinitely good God, one should expect infinite repercussions.

    Annihilation would do just fine. Or infinitely more chances at life, if your god is really “infinitely good.” Eternal torture gains nothing and shows your “infinitely good” god to have a very dark and evil side. It sounds more like satan. This is objectively true for anyone who hasn’t been psychologically damaged.

    For those interested, the Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”) contains none of this eternal torture business. Jews don’t believe in eternal torture. That nonsense was imported from Babylon during the captivity and took hold among certain minor sects (which influenced Christian writers) and has never been part of mainstream Israelite/Jewish religion.

    –Ram

  201. 201
    Joe Schooner says:

    If God is infinitely good and infinitely loving, why did he reserve four of the Ten Commandments to demanding that he be worshipped? Sounds more like an insecure God than a benevolent God.

  202. 202
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Infinite repercussions are only proportional when the sinner can be taken infinitely seriously. Stephen, how offended are you, if at all, when a three year old calls you ‘stupid’ or whatever?

    🙂 Looks like you Ram and WJM(that could be the same person or go to the same “astral travel agency” :))) ) keep calling God stupid or whatever after you know that He died for you not to end up in hell. Looks like an infinite ingratitude or infinite stupidity that can be cured only with infinite hell acommodation.

  203. 203
    Origenes says:

    Suppose the devil does not exist, would God be compelled to create him in order to make eternal torment possible? Who else can do the job?

  204. 204
    StephenB says:

    Ram:

    When is it appropriate to kill a healthy child for purposes other than self-defense?

    In the process of saving the mother’s life, a doctor may kill her unborn child if there is no other way to save her life. However, it cannot be done for the purpose of killing the child, otherwise it would be an abortion, which is always immoral. The killing must be an unwanted side effect from the medical procedure being used and every attempt must be made to save both lives. Under those circumstances, the killing would be moral..

  205. 205
    Origenes says:

    SB: If you really care about your wife, then pray for her soul (…)

    (…)

    O: So, you are saying that sometimes God does not by himself create the optimal conditions for a person to avoid hell and instead must be asked to do so in prayer.

    SB: That would be an oversimplification. Humans must cooperate with God in some way (…) to contribute to the salvation of others.

    So, God needs the cooperation from certain people on earth, to contribute to the salvation of a deceased person who stands before him in the hereafter, because without this cooperation of third parties the all-powerful God is simply incapable of performing a special something? And the outcome heaven or hell can depend on whether or not that cooperation is accomplished? Really? Wow, what a concept!

  206. 206
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Wow, what a concept!

    Yep, seems puzzling for you (and few others)that an unloving God to ask humans to love each other. Hahahaha! Must be a mistake!

    Suppose the devil does not exist,

    I suppose you have no clue why people were created.

  207. 207
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    So, God needs the cooperation from certain people on earth, to contribute to the salvation of a deceased person who stands before him in the hereafter, because without this cooperation of third parties the all-powerful God is simply incapable of performing a special something? And the outcome heaven or hell can depend on whether or not that cooperation is accomplished? Really? Wow, what a concept!

    Well, no, you are not there yet. Humans must cooperate with God in order to be saved. Other humans can help with their prayers. Insofar as God often chooses to work through people, he needs them in that qualified sense, but He can and does dispense with that method whenever it suits him. So He doesn’t really need them in any absolute sense. But thank you for playing..

  208. 208
    William J Murray says:

    I’ve noticed that this is about the 3rd time I’ve made a certain comment in this forum, and no Christian has challenged it or said it is wrong. I said:

    I am already in hell from God’s perspective. I was in hell the moment he created me, from His perspective. He knew I’d end up in hell before he even created me. The only possible way my being in hell at the end could have been avoided was for God to not create me, or to create a different universe, or to create a different me.

    All of this talk about free will, our choices, accepting God’s gift, using prayer to help, our fate being deliberate choice is a convoluted psychological diversion that avoids the simple fact that no one who is going to hell can avoid it regardless of what they do, because from God’s perspective those people are already there, and God knew that would be their fate before He created them.

    We just don’t know it yet because of our limited, time-linear perspective. Our free will is utterly meaningless because of this fact of Christian theology (if Christianity is true.) God picked the creation where I (and everyone) make all of the particular free-will choices we make in the creation He deliberately decided to create, God already being in the beginning and end of that creation, alpha and omega. Everyone who ends up in hell (from their perspective) were there the whole time, from God’s perspective.

    From God’s perspective, you’ve already made all your choices. Absolutely nothing can be done about it now.

  209. 209
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    no one who is going to hell can avoid it regardless of what they do

    🙂 Wrong. Someone doesn’t know what God’s knows. Try again.

  210. 210
    chuckdarwin says:

    William J Murray @208
    You have described what I have noted, in a few of my comments, is part of the deep pathology that is Christianity. The idea that an all-loving God would create a world where the vast majority of his creatures are doomed ab initio to eternal damnation is not just gratuitously punitive and cruel, it is completely irrational.

  211. 211
    Joe Schooner says:

    Suppose the devil does not exist, would God be compelled to create him in order to make eternal torment possible? Who else can do the job?

    You might be missing the point. If the devil exists, God DID create him.

  212. 212
    Joe Schooner says:

    In the process of saving the mother’s life, a doctor may kill her unborn child if there is no other way to save her life.

    But what if the doctor could save only one of them, but to do so the other must die, which one does he save?

  213. 213
    Origenes says:

    WJM, ChuckDarwin @ 208, 210

    I am already in hell from God’s perspective. I was in hell the moment he created me, from His perspective. He knew I’d end up in hell before he even created me. The only possible way my being in hell at the end could have been avoided was for God to not create me, or to create a different universe, or to create a different me.

    I agree, a timeless infinite all-knowing God would be able to apprehend the consequences of any creation plan in all its details; the free choices of the prospective creatures included. The claim that God knows beforehand whether or not a specific person ends up in hell goes a step further than ChuckDarwin’s claim, which I can also agree with.

    The idea that an all-loving God would create a world where the vast majority of his creatures are doomed ab initio to eternal damnation is not just gratuitously punitive and cruel, it is completely irrational.

    Here all that is required for God is to envision a rough outline of the consequences of his creation plan. The take-home message seems to be: if you have a plan that results in horrible eternal suffering of billions of free creatures, don’t do it.

  214. 214
    Viola Lee says:

    Comment for WJM: I thought you might be interested in this. I’m working my way through my Dylan collection, and just read the Wikipedia article about the dark, beautiful song “Not Dark Yet.” Under cultural references I read this:

    The line “I was born here and I’ll die here against my will” is a paraphrase of a Talmudic passage from the Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), Chapter 4, verse 22: “Let not your heart convince you that the grave is your escape; for against your will you are formed, against your will you are born, against your will you live, against your will you die, and against your will you are destined to give a judgement and accounting before the king, king of all kings, the Holy One, blessed be He”.[14]

  215. 215
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Chuckdarwin
    William J Murray @208
    You have described what I have noted, in a few of my comments, is part of the deep pathology that is Christianity.

    So if life appeared by chance how do you know what pathology is? You seem to admit that humans
    are created by an Intelligence with a certain function and purpose and the deviation from them means pathology. 🙂

    The idea that an all-loving God would create a world where the vast majority of his creatures are doomed ab initio to eternal damnation is not just gratuitously punitive and cruel, it is completely irrational.

    If reason appeared by chance there is no such a thing like irrational unless you admit reason was created with a purpose. 🙂 Maybe you should try again?

    I agree, a timeless infinite all-knowing God would be able to apprehend the consequences of any creation plan in all its details;

    :)) You are not original. Adam did it first and he was much smarter than you. This idea is stolen from Bible because after sin Adam said exactly what you say. Nothing new under the sun same stupid ideas (“it’s somebody else fault” ) repeated over and over.

  216. 216
    Origenes says:

    Joe Schooner @211

    O: Suppose the devil does not exist, would God be compelled to create him in order to make eternal torment possible? Who else can do the job?

    You might be missing the point. If the devil exists, God DID create him.

    My point is that God needs the devil as his hangman. It would be immoral for God to order punishment which effectuation would traumatize the executioner. And only the devil is not traumatized by the act of torturing people eternally …

  217. 217
    William J Murray says:

    LCD said:

    So if life appeared by chance how do you know what pathology is?

    For my part, I never said life appeared by chance. You seem to think the only theoretical options available are (1) Christian God, or (2) atheism/materialism. There are an infinite number of options besides those two, many of which embrace intelligent design and don’t include “eternal torment.”

  218. 218
    zweston says:

    Those of the Christian faith, As it has been noted by himself, WJM is emotionally completely “boxed off” from holding to Christianity. He has said that even if it were true, he couldn’t hold to it. That’s literally unreasonable.

    It will do us no good to dialogue with him, but would be good to pray for him. And, since the Bible is spiritually discerned, and he obviously doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, Biblically speaking… it shouldn’t make much sense to him.

    God is not a person. We are not like him. Our knowledge is so far inferior like that of an ant to a human, but far wider of a gap. That being the case, I’m confident we can trust in God’s character revealed to us in Christ.

    There is plenty I don’t fully understand or even close to understand, but that doesn’t mean Christ didn’t raise from the dead, fulfilling 100’s? of prophecies and bestowing supernatural power to his church to reconcile the world to himself and the father.

  219. 219
    William J Murray says:

    LCD said:

    Nothing new under the sun same stupid ideas (“it’s somebody else fault” ) repeated over and over.

    Under Christianity, God is the one blaming other people for that which he created.

    In my life and under my view, I don't "blame" anyone for anything I experience, because God is not my creator. God didn't create anything. It has all always existed, and I'm actually 100% free to experience anything I set my mind on, as long as it is a logical possibility.

  220. 220
    William J Murray says:

    VL @214: Thanks. I do, in fact, find that very interesting.

  221. 221
    William J Murray says:

    Zweston said:

    He has said that even if it were true, he couldn’t hold to it. That’s literally unreasonable.

    There’s nothing unreasonable about it. Reasoning begins with facts. The fact is, I can’t love a being that forced me into a dire situation then offers to save me from that situation only if I genuinely love him and accept his “forgiveness” for being that which he created me as.

    So, even if Christianity is true, I can’t do what I’m supposed to do to get myself out of hell. I might as well believe – now -whatever gives me the most joy and comfort, and that which allows me to live a life of love and kindness now and happiness now. After all, under Christianity, this is my only chance to be happy before I’m tossed into the pit of eternal torment. No sense in my worrying about that now.

    It’s a perfectly reasonable choice. Under Christianity, I’m doomed to spend eternity in hell after I die; I can’t make it worse by choosing beliefs that make me happy and joyful now.

  222. 222
    chuckdarwin says:

    VL @214
    Great lyric from a great song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZgBhyU4IvQ
    You may already know this–Dylan (aka Robert Zimmerman) was raised in a tight knit Jewish community in Minnesota, so his familiarity with the Talmud isn’t surprising. His paternal grandparents fled the Ukraine in the early 1900’s to avoid the pogroms.

  223. 223
    doubter says:

    ChuckDarwin@210

    I never thought it would happen, but you have actually made a coherent statement that I can heartily agree with.

    In contrast to the narrow fundamentalist Christian doctrine being closed-mindedly promulgated here by several posters I prefer to believe that souls were created where one of their fundamental elemental characteristics is true free will – in other words, paradoxically, an all-powerful Deity can and did create beings that can make choices even He cannot predict (and therefore must inherently control). Otherwise, no real free will on the part of humans. Another fundamental element of conscious beings is that no such being can be eternally lost in a hellish environment of suffering – there always is the possibility of rising above misery and suffering into higher levels of existence.

    Otherwise, this Deity is not really all-loving and all-just.

    Of course, ChuckDarwin apparently doesn’t believe either in souls or a Deity but so much the loss to him.

  224. 224
    Yarrgonaut says:

    Chuck @210, there are many Christians in the past, and the present who agree with you. It seems you and WJM are acting like there’s only one line of thought within Christianity.

  225. 225
    Viola Lee says:

    Thanks, Chuck. I just watched that video, and read all the lyrics. Very powerful. I think Dylan actually being got some training as a Jewish cantor when he was young.

  226. 226
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Yarrgonaut
    Chuck @210, there are many Christians in the past, and the present who agree with you. It seems you and WJM are acting like there’s only one line of thought within Christianity.

    🙂 Wow, I think that you are not a Christian for 2 reasons : 1.There is only one line of thought within Christianity (the others are heresies.) 2. You can’t consider Chuck a person worthy of respect. (It’s true s/he knows to write 🙂 and to turn on the computer )

  227. 227
    Origenes says:

    Some questions about Beelzebub..

    Revelation 20:10 KJV
    10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
    – – –
    Matthew 25:41 shows the Lake of Fire was prepared for both Satan and fallen angels: “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’”

    When at the Last Judgement the devil and his cohorts are sentenced to hell for eternity, who will be doing their eternal tormenting? And who will fill the then vacant role of eternal tormentor of billions sentenced human souls?

  228. 228
    Yarrgonaut says:

    LCD@226, there was no consensus by the church fathers on a doctrine of Hell, and within the Orthodox tradition, there’s no doctrine about it to which the faithful are bound. Christianity is much bigger than American Evangelicalism, and the latter has developed some pretty wonky ideas I might add.

  229. 229
    StephenB says:

    WJM:

    I’ve noticed that this is about the 3rd time I’ve made a certain comment in this forum, and no Christian has challenged it or said it is wrong.

    Perhaps you missed the many times that I addressed your claims.

    I am already in hell from God’s perspective

    Obviously, your statement is false. You are not now in that place [or state of existence]. Being in time, you cannot also be in a state of existence where there is no time. [Law of Non-contradiction]. Your perception of God’s perspective is irrelevant to the reality of the situation..

    I was in hell the moment he created me, from His perspective. He knew I’d end up in hell before he even created me.

    There is much bad logic here. What God knows has absolutely no bearing on what you do. God knew that you were going to write countless posts attacking Christianity. That doesn’t mean that he was responsible for writing them. God knows who is going to win the college football championship next week. That doesn’t mean the game has been fixed. God knows if and when the stock market will crash, that doesn’t mean that He caused it to happen.

    The only possible way my being in hell at the end could have been avoided was for God to not create me, or to create a different universe, or to create a different me.

    “Yes, your honor, I did rape that woman, stab her mother to death, and throw both bodies into the river – but it wasn’t my fault. It’s all on God. He knew I was going to do that when He made me. If God had not given me life, I would not have taken life. So you have no right to punish me. Remember, that God could have prevented all this by simply not creating me, or by creating a different universe or creating a different me.

  230. 230
    William J Murray says:

    Yarrgonaut @224,

    I’m aware that there are many different versions of Christianity, but the thing is we’re talking with people here who are representing a certain Christian perspective. For instance, the Christian theologian Emanuel Swedenborg had beliefs (@350 years ago) that closely mirror my own, such as there being no such thing as torment you can’t escape, and the idea that what we experience after death reflects the character of our heart or our deep psychology, regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs.

  231. 231
    Querius says:

    StephenB @229,

    Perhaps you missed the many times that I addressed your claims.

    Likewise. And many others as well, yet the same rants appear repeatedly.

    And after 200+ posts, you offer to ask them a series of simple questions that will help them. Their response? They evade answering the questions, emit clouds of confusion, definitions, impatience, and vituperation to avoid answering them, and then disappear only to reappear several days later repeating the same flawed arguments from the beginning in a new post. Rinse and repeat.

    The conclusion is that they don’t WANT an answer. Their objections to God are their treasured possessions.

    -Q

  232. 232
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    That doesn’t mean that he was responsible for writing them.

    If I can see into the future, and I know that if I build a bridge a certain way it will collapse on a specific date and time killing 500 people, am I not responsible for those deaths? If God looked into the future and saw that I was going to do X if he created me, then yes, God is responsible for me doing X. He is in fact the only one who could have stopped X from occurring.

    It doesn’t matter what that I have free will under your particular Christian perspective; what I was going to do was set in stone the moment God created me, and so God is the only one who could have prevented it. Free will under Christianity is a worthless commodity other than to conveniently blame God’s victims.

  233. 233
    Origenes says:

    WJM, StephenB @ 229, 232

    WJM: what I was going to do was set in stone the moment God created me …

    I was expecting Stephen to argue against this claim, but he didn’t. On the contrary, by stating “God knew that you were going to write countless posts attacking Christianity”, he confirms your claim.

    WJM:

    I am already in hell from God’s perspective

    Stephen responds by saying that this statement is ‘obviously’ false. I don’t understand his quibble. If a timeless God can see WJM writing posts attacking Christianity, he can also see WJM in hell.

  234. 234
    doubter says:

    William J Murray@232

    “Free will under Christianity is a worthless commodity other than to conveniently blame God’s victims.”

    I think your logic is impeccable, except that this applies only to certain sects of Christianity that have thoroughly lost their way.

  235. 235
    StephenB says:

    WJM:

    If I can see into the future, and I know that if I build a bridge a certain way it will collapse on a specific date and time killing 500 people, am I not responsible for those deaths?

    Of course. But your analogy doesn’t work. Building materials do not have free will. They lack to volitional power to accept or reject your construction plans, so they bear no responsibility for the final outcome. It’s all on you.

    You, on the other had, do have free will. Unlike building materials that are powerless to accept or reject your construction design,, you can accept or reject God’s designs for your life, which means that you are responsible for the moral choices that you make. The building materials cannot say no to you, but you can say no to God.

    Everything else that you write has already been refuted.

  236. 236
    Querius says:

    StephenB,

    Everything else that you write has already been refuted.

    Yes, but that happened in previous threads, which apparently no longer count.

    -Q

  237. 237
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @ 235

    … your analogy doesn’t work. Building materials do not have free will. (…)
    You, on the other had, do have free will. Unlike building materials that are powerless to accept or reject your construction design,, you can accept or reject God’s designs for your life, (…). The building materials cannot say no to you, but you can say no to God.

    So, you are saying that the architect, who uses building materials. is in control, and God, who has to deal with free persons, is not in control.

  238. 238
    zweston says:

    Nothing new under the sun. We want to be God and to be in charge and do life on our terms. Jesus tells us we must repent, deny ourselves, and follow Him.

  239. 239
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    So, you are saying that the architect, who uses building materials. is in control, and God, who has to deal with free persons, is not in control

    No. I said what I said, not what you say I said..

  240. 240
    StephenB says:

    Querius

    Yes, but that happened in previous threads, which apparently no longer count.

    WJM keeps repeating the same errors and is impervious to correction.

  241. 241
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    I was expecting Stephen to argue against this claim (WJM’s behavior was “set in stone)”, but he didn’t.

    Yes, I did. You just missed it. God’s knowledge of what will happen has absolutely nothing to do with WJM’s moral choices. God’s knowledge has no causal effect on WJMs fate. Those things are determined by WJM’s own volitional powers.

  242. 242
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Yarrgonaut
    no consensus by the church fathers on a doctrine of Hell,

    🙂 Which Church Fathers are against the doctrine of Hell?

  243. 243
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @ 239, 241,

    Are the following statements in line with your reasoning?

    (1.) There is a moment in heavenly time, where God makes the decision whether or not to create William J Murray.
    (2.) At this moment of decision, God knows that, once created, WJM will freely decide to end up in hell.
    (3.) At this moment God can decide to create WJM, which results in WJM ending up in hell.
    (4.) At this moment God can decide not to create WJM, which results in WJM not ending up in hell (or anywhere else).

  244. 244
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    God’s knowledge has no causal effect on WJMs fate.

    I never said it did. But, here’s the problem: in my example of building a bridge I know will collapse on a certain date, my knowledge of the future that the bridge I build will eventually collapse is also not the cause.

    I did not say I caused the bridge to collapse by building it a “certain way.” In fact, I didn’t say what actually caused the bridge to collapse. Yet you did not hesitate to assign me the responsibility for the bridge collapsing and the death of those 500 people. Why is that? Because the fact of my foreknowledge that it would occur means I have the responsibility to build he bridge a different way so that the collapse does not occur, regardless of what actually causes it to fall and result in the death of those people.

    To illustrate this more; if I am aware a tragic accident is about to occur, let’s say a couple who are so involved in each other as they cross a street that they don’t realize a bus is barreling down at them despite several people shouting at them; if I have the capacity without risk to myself to stop that accident from occurring by physically yanking them out of the way, against their own free will volition and despite their own careless disregard for the situation around them, is it my responsibility to act? Or, is it perfectly moral for me to let them get run over by the bus and suffer (along with their friends and family) the rest of their lives for that because of the fact that they chose to not pay attention to what was going on around them? Are you saying I have no responsibility whatsoever to act? I mean, my knowledge that the accident is about to occur is not causing the accident, right?

    Further, let’s say I have knowledge that a horrendous crime is about to be committed and I’m the only person that can stop it – again, with no personal risk whatsoever. To stop the crime I must physically restrain the person against their own free will, which would be easy for me. Is it not my responsibility to do this in order to prevent the crime? My knowledge of the crime is not causing the crime, right?

    SB seems to think that because knowledge that a thing is about to occur is not causing that thing to occur, or because the people involved have free will,; those facts somehow relieve me of my moral responsibility to act to prevent those things from happening. When, in fact, it is precisely my knowledge of those things, and my capacity to prevent them regardless of the “free will” choices of others, that not only puts the responsibility on me to act, it gives me the moral authority to violate their free will and act.

  245. 245
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    Everything else that you write has already been refuted.

    Refutation by appeals to mind-reading are not actually refutations. Such as:

    Querius said:

    And after 200+ posts, you offer to ask them a series of simple questions that will help them. Their response? They evade answering the questions, emit clouds of confusion, definitions, impatience, and vituperation to avoid answering them, and then disappear only to reappear several days later repeating the same flawed arguments from the beginning in a new post. Rinse and repeat.

    I answered your questions honestly. I was not attempting to cloud the issue. I can’t help it if you don’t consider “I don’t know” an acceptable answer.

  246. 246
    William J Murray says:

    To continue from #244:

    We can easily see from these examples that simply because free will is involved, and simply because knowledge is not the cause, that makes no difference that it is the person who knows, and who has the capacity to act to prevent the crime or the accident, who has the responsibility to act.

    However, in the Christian God’s case, it is even worse than merely “not acting” in prevention of these things; God is deliberately putting people in harm’s way whenever he creates a person into the situation where they can end up in hell, even if they could avoid it through some act of their own volition. Deliberately putting people in harm’s way is both a crime and is immoral by any reasonable standard. Deliberately putting a person in harm’s way makes you culpable for their eventual harm regardless of whether or not they “could have” prevented themselves from suffering that harm.

  247. 247
    StephenB says:

    WJM

    We can easily see from these examples that simply because free will is involved, and simply because knowledge is not the cause, that makes no difference that it is the person who knows, and who has the capacity to act to prevent the crime or the accident, who has the responsibility to act.

    First, let’s begin with intentions. God’s desire was that all mean would be saved, as it says in Scripture. This desire was so strong that He backed it up with action, sending His son to take on human flesh and present Himself as a living sacrifice in order to save us from Hell. It was not a cost free initiative: it involved a heavy measure of suffering for the God man.

    WJM’s argument is that it doesn’t matter what God did after the fact to remedy a problem that man created; as the Creator, He was also morally obliged to remedy the problem before the fact by refusing to create anyone who would, in the end, misuse his gift of free will and lose his soul in the process. In other words, God should permit man to dictate whom, when, and under what circumstances He may create someone.

    So WJM, who insists that He has no moral duty to anyone or anything, says, nevertheless, that God has a moral duty to observe WJM’s arbitrary rules for a Creator. At every turn, he give himself the benefit of the doubt, but at no time does he give God the benefit of the doubt.

    So what about WJM’s claim that free will and causation are not the critical factors in this discussion? I say that they are. That raises the question: Who is responsible for the loss of a human soul. It seems evident that the person who should be held accountable is the one who refuses to heed the warning of dangers that lie ahead. In other words, it is the decision maker who is the cause of His ultimate fate. That person has misused the gift of free will by turning against the will of God on the grounds that he will have it so.

    There is, after all, a cause effect relationship between sin, suffering; and death. Sin is the cause; Spiritual death is the effect. WJM seems to want a God that would create another kind of universe, one where causes cannot produce unwanted effects, – a universe in which nothing can go seriously wrong. Ultimately, the refusal to love is the primary cause of spiritual death. It isn’t God

    I reject WJM’s argument that God must stop any spiritual disaster by not allowing it to play out. This, in itself, is a violation of free will. If a man chooses Hell, he has every right to go there, I strongly disagree with his decision, but it is not my decision to make. My question to WJM is this; If not Hell, where should these God haters spend their eternity. Is it in heaven with the same God they have rejected their whole life?

  248. 248
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    So WJM, who insists that He has no moral duty to anyone or anything, says, nevertheless, that God has a moral duty to observe WJM’s arbitrary rules for a Creator.

    Completely false. I’m pointing out the nature of the Christian concept of God by their own doctrine, the logical ramifications of that nature and that hypothetical God’s actions, and leaving it to the reader to decide if that concept of God is behaving morally by their own standards.

    So what about WJM’s claim that free will and causation are not the critical factors in this discussion? I say that they are.

    Under Christianity, the Christian God is the one who put all of humanity in harm’s way in the first place; it is the Christian God that continues to force billions of souls into harm’s way by continuing to create them here; it is the Christian God that, even though He is the one that put us in peril in the first place, then continued to force us into it, now demands our love and gratitude before He will “save” us from the horrible fate he threw us into in the first place. It is the Christian God that stands by and allows us to cast ourselves into eternal torment with the lame excuse, “well, it was their free will choice.” This is an immoral, horrible excuse, as my illustrations in #244 clearly demonstrate. The “free will choices” of others do not matter when it is clearly your responsibility to act to prevent a tragedy or a crime with eternal consequences.

    My question to WJM is this; If not Hell, where should these God haters spend their eternity. Is it in heaven with the same God they have rejected their whole life?

    SB thinks the people arguing with him are “God-haters,” but they are not. They may hate the Christian concept of God, but why is that? As they have expressed here and in many other places, the reason they “hate” that concept is the same reason SB hates the idea of hell, even though he won’t admit it: it’s an unjust, unloving, unkind, unmerciful concept of a being without any compassion or honor, who demands our love, worship and gratitude for being saved from the horrible situation that being threw us into in the first place. The only way not to hate that kind being is to make excuses for it like some kind of emotionally, psychologically damaged child trying to win their abusive father’s favor.

    Only an abusive, evil maniac would cast their own child (or allow that child to cast itself) into eternal torment regardless of that child “rejecting” them. You have to be psychologically, emotionally damaged to not see this.

    SB has to imagine his counterparts here as “hating God” instead of what is actually going on; his counterparts hate the unjust and unloving characteristics of that concept of God – as they should. SB asks, where should they end up?

    To answer that, we first must hypothesize a God that is not a vain, heartless psychopath who blames His own victims for the outcome of the perilous system he forces them into. So, let’s imagine a system under the Christian’s own concept of God (loving, merciful, just, etc,) but before he instantiated this world; can we think of a better system?

    OMG, so, so easily. We don’t even need to “imagine” a new concept, there are many such concepts already in existence, and have been for hundreds of years. We can use theologian Emanuel Swedenborg’s view of God, life and the afterlife as one example.

    In his perspective (which he claims he came to by actually, repeatedly visiting afterlife worlds via a process we call astral projection today,) he said that when people die here, they are sorted out to many different afterlife worlds that reflected the content of their heart, deep beliefs and psychology. Regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs, if they were loving, kind, compassionate and joyful people, they would be sorted into an afterlife world that reflected that nature; if they were malicious, hateful, angry people, they were sorted into that kind of afterlife domain, but this is not a permanent or eternal fate; there is always a way out by changing your heart from “dark” to “light,” so to speak. There is always hope for them, and for those who compassionately love them to help them move beyond that kind of world. Yes, via their free will, they can choose to remain that kind of person and thus stay in that world, but their free will could also gain their passage to a better world.

    In that kind of afterlife with “many mansions,” yes, one can move closer to God by cultivating more of those good qualities, in more depth and purity, but it is not a demand put on anyone. It is always a choice, and if we desire, we can remain wherever we find ourselves when we die as long as we want.

    For any reasonable person, and by any reasonable definition of the terms, this is clearly a more loving, kind, merciful, just and compassionate system than the one offered by our main Christian counterparts here. I suggest that there might be far fewer atheists in the world, and far more Christians, if this was the system Christians offered, and this was the kind of God they claimed.

  249. 249
    Origenes says:

    The punishment should fit the crime.

    One of the most important things is to make sure appropriate sentences are given for each offence – in other words, the punishment should fit the crime. – [source]

    Under Christianity there seems to be one punishment that fits all crimes. Why is that?

    StephenB @164: If you offend an infinite God, expect infinite repercussions.

    So, eternal torment always fits the crime, because God is equally ‘infinitely offended’ by an adulterer who worships Zeus, as he is by Ted Bundy. Really?

    StephenB @247: If not Hell, where should these God haters spend their eternity. Is it in heaven with the same God they have rejected their whole life?

    Why is there only one alternative to heaven to begin with? Why just one place for the billions of people who are unfit for heaven? What is the logic here?
    Why not create at least one ‘neutral’ world, without the benefits of heaven, but also without sadistic torturers?

  250. 250
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    StephenB
    So WJM, who insists that he has no moral duty to anyone or anything, says, nevertheless, that God has a moral duty to observe WJM’s arbitrary rules for a Creator.

    That was so sharp you cut through bone. Poor WJM .
    I guess the debate between WJM and KF over duty… is over.

    WJM
    Only an abusive, evil maniac would cast their own child (or allow that child to cast itself) into eternal torment regardless of that child “rejecting” them. You have to be psychologically, emotionally damaged to not see this.

    Yep. Somebody have to be psychologically, emotionally damaged to see this distorted image of a loving God that dies for all people not to go to hell and some people double down with their hate and spit God in the face and reject Him .

  251. 251
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @

    WJM’s argument is that it doesn’t matter what God did after the fact to remedy a problem that man created; as the Creator, He was also morally obliged to remedy the problem before the fact by refusing to create anyone who would, in the end, misuse his gift of free will and lose his soul in the process.

    StephenB is completely ignoring the premise that God knew about these problems before he initiated his creation of man. StephenB confirmed God’s foreknowledge when he wrote in @229:

    God knew that you were going to write countless posts attacking Christianity.

    StephenB would you be so kind to respond to my question to you in @343?

    In other words, God should permit man to dictate whom, when, and under what circumstances He may create someone.

    If God knows before he creates someone that this person will end up in hell, and He has the choice to either create him or not, does He not bear responsibility for this outcome?

  252. 252
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    If God knows before he creates someone that this person will end up in hell, and He has the choice to either create him or not, does He not bear responsibility for this outcome?

    Nope! The responsability is yours . But there is another solution that God restrict every thought /act of you that would send you to hell. Agree ? 😉

  253. 253
    zweston says:

    It’s so interesting that the people who want free will and are skeptics appeal to God to sovereignly change history and take over… God can’t win. When you put God on trial, all kinds of nonsense ensues.

  254. 254
    William J Murray says:

    Zweston said:

    It’s so interesting that the people who want free will and are skeptics appeal to God ..

    Nobody’s doing that. I’m pointing out how the Christian theory of God and existence is, by any reasonable standard, not just, loving, merciful, kind or compassionate. And, that there theories of God and existence that are actually kind, loving, just, merciful and compassionate – at least far more so than the Christian theory.

    LCD said:

    Nope! The responsability is yours .

    “Love me or suffer torment” is 100% psychological/emotional abuse.

    That was so sharp you cut through bone. Poor WJM .

    I’m not the one claiming to be moral while worshipping a concept of God that demands our love or else! Do you really not see how perverse that is?

  255. 255
    Yarrgonaut says:

    LCD@242, Clement, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, the entire Alexandrian school.

  256. 256
    Yarrgonaut says:

    WJM@230
    I’m glad you’re aware of the diversity of ideas that exist within the Christian realm, nevertheless, @254, you seem to treat “the Christian theory” as monolithic once again. I would imagine, it’s easier in the context of your conversation, but it makes me want to jump in with the same reminder.

  257. 257
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Yarrgonaut
    LCD@242, Clement, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, the entire Alexandrian school.

    🙂 Well Clement was a teacher of Origen that was anathematized by 5th Ecumenical Council(553-Constantinople) regarding to heresy of apocatastasis. As for St. Gregory of Nyssa he wrote about Judas :

    namely, that when we think of such men, that which never existed is to be preferred to that which has existed in such sin. For, as to the latter, on account of the depth of the ingrained evil, the chastisement in the way of purgation will be extended into infinity…” ( On Infants’ Early Deaths ).

  258. 258
    Querius says:

    Lieutenant Commander Data @250,

    Yep. Somebody have to be psychologically, emotionally damaged to see this distorted image of a loving God that dies for all people not to go to hell and some people double down with their hate and spit God in the face and reject Him .

    Nicely stated.

    And God is all powerful, but is somehow not powerful enough to ensure that we have free will and that everyone will receive either perfect JUSTICE or infinite MERCY?

    -Q

  259. 259
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Are the following statements in line with your reasoning?

    (1.) There is a moment in heavenly time, where God makes the decision whether or not to create William J Murray.
    (2.) At this moment of decision, God knows that, once created, WJM will freely decide to end up in hell.
    (3.) At this moment God can decide to create WJM, which results in WJM ending up in hell.
    (4.) At this moment God can decide not to create WJM, which results in WJM not ending up in hell (or anywhere else).

    No. I don’t presume to know (or guess) about how God operates at the intersection of time and timelessness,

  260. 260
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @

    Origenes: Are the following statements in line with your reasoning?
    (1.) There is a moment in heavenly time, when God makes the decision whether or not to create William J Murray.
    (2.) At this moment of decision, God knows that, once created, WJM will freely decide to end up in hell.

    No. I don’t presume to know (or guess) about how God operates at the intersection of time and timelessness

    So, you don’t presume to know that an all-powerful all-knowing timeless God has foreknowledge about WJM’s fate before he creates him.

    In this context, you may want to clarify the following statements made by you at #229:

    StephenB: God knew that you were going to write countless posts attacking Christianity (…) God knows who is going to win the college football championship next week. (…) God knows if and when the stock market will crash (…)

  261. 261
    Querius says:

    Origenes,

    So, you don’t presume to know that an all-powerful all-knowing timeless God has foreknowledge about WJM’s fate before he creates him.

    Many presume that an all-powerful, all-knowing, timeless God is indeed capable of creating humans with perfectly free will and is perfectly capable to judge with God-like perfection and JUSTICE those who demand justice, and MERCY to those who repent rather than try to justify their selfish attitudes, motives, and actions.

    Foreknowledge simply means that God is not trapped in time as we are. God can see our free-will choices in the past, present, and future. Your inability to visualize God’s abilities does not limit them.

    How does watching a video of a football game, remove the free will of the players during the actual event?

    -Q

  262. 262
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    So, you don’t presume to know that an all-powerful all-knowing timeless God has foreknowledge about WJM’s fate before he creates him.

    Strictly speaking, God just knows. However, we use the term “foreknowledge” to capture the notion the God knows the future. In any case, Yes, I hold that, using the imprecise language that we are stuck with, God “knew” that WJM would write anti-Christian posts.

    My main problem with your formulation is this:

    (3.) At this moment God can decide to create WJM, which results in WJM ending up in hell.
    (4.) At this moment God can decide not to create WJM, which results in WJM not ending up in hell (or anywhere else).

    No. Those two outcomes were not the “result” of God’s decision to create or not create.. They were the result of WJM’s decision to respond or not respond to God’s saving initiative.

  263. 263
    Yarrgonaut says:

    LCD@257, in what you cited, St. Gregory of Nyssa was arguing that if God in his foreknowledge were to find that the children would have had to undergo eternal correction to purify the evil in their heart, that God would take their life in infancy to prevent it. You’re actually making my argument for me here.

    And technically Origen wasn’t anathematized by the council, or at least not directly.
    https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2020/05/31/did-the-fifth-ecumenical-council-condemn-universal-salvation/

    Anyway, I would think the Origen vs Celsus debate went a lot better for Christianity than most contemporary debates about the ethics of Hell. :/

  264. 264
    StephenB says:

    WJM

    Under Christianity, the Christian God is the one who put all of humanity in harm’s way in the first place; it is the Christian God that continues to force billions of souls into harm’s way by continuing to create them here; it is the Christian God that, even though He is the one that put us in peril in the first place, then continued to force us into it, now demands our love and gratitude before

    This is what is known as passing the buck. It’s like the man who murdered a woman and dumped her body in the river, saying to the judge, “if God didn’t want me to kill her, then he should not have made me in the first place, God is to blame.” It is one of the cheapest cop outs that I can imagine – blaming God for the way we behave.

    OMG, so, so easily. We don’t even need to “imagine” a new concept, (A God WJM can relate to). there are many such concepts already in existence, and have been for hundreds of years. We can use theologian Emanuel Swedenborg’s view of God, life and the afterlife as one example.

    Yes, WJM does, indeed, have a wild imagination.

    In his {Swedenborg’s] perspective (which he claims he came to by actually, repeatedly visiting afterlife worlds via a process we call astral projection today,) he said that when people die here, they are sorted out to many different afterlife worlds that reflected the content of their heart, deep beliefs and psychology. Regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs, if they were loving, kind, compassionate and joyful people, they would be sorted into an afterlife world that reflected that nature; if they were malicious, hateful, angry people, they were sorted into that kind of afterlife domain, but this is not a permanent or eternal fate; there is always a way out by changing your heart from “dark” to “light,” so to speak. There is always hope for them, and for those who compassionately love them to help them move beyond that kind of world. Yes, via their free will, they can choose to remain that kind of person and thus stay in that world, but their free will could also gain their passage to a better world.

    That is a little one sided I should think. It’s all very well to characterize goodness as being kind, loving, and compassionate, but whatever happened to the hard virtues, such as persistence, determination, courage, valor, longsuffering, loyalty, trustworthiness, and steadfastness, Does WJM not value the traits of a strong man? Or does he appreciate only the soft qualities of a nurturing woman? WJM never refers to tough love. His references about love are always soft, cushy, and cuddly, as if the only thing that mattered in a loving person was the quality of being “nice.” Maybe that is one reason why he cannot love a Savior who was human enough to express righteous anger and tough enough to endure the worst kind of persecution without complaining. Notice also that, for WJM, being angry is placed in the same category as being malicious or being hateful, as if anger could never be righteous. I have to wonder. Was Jesus Christ too manly for WJM’s taste?

    There is always hope for them, and for those who compassionately love them to help them move beyond that kind of world. Yes, via their free will, they can choose to remain that kind of person and thus stay in that world, but their free will could also gain their passage to a better world.

    More whistling past the graveyard. The human personality tends to get more locked in with age. They call it Geriatric rigidity. I would argue that our attitudes and traits get locked in and stay that way in the next life – we get once chance to determine our destiny. That is why it is too late to repent after death.

  265. 265
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Yarrgonaut
    LCD@257, in what you cited, St. Gregory of Nyssa was arguing that if God in his foreknowledge were

    🙂 Where are Judas and infinity of punishment in your explanation of what I cited? I asked you about a certain citation and you tell me about something else.

    Anyway the apocatastasis was anathematized and (even was mentioned only Origen by the 5th Council) fall over all writtings that promote this heresy. Origen was one of the most remarkable writers, but he dared to swim too far from shore and drowned in the ocean of divine knowledge.

    Church didn’t throw Origen’s works that is very valuable but only the part where he make the mistake. That’s why he was not called St. Origen but only Origen.

    StephenB

    Origenes:

    Are the following statements in line with your reasoning?

    (1.) There is a moment in heavenly time, where God makes the decision whether or not to create William J Murray.
    (2.) At this moment of decision, God knows that, once created, WJM will freely decide to end up in hell.
    (3.) At this moment God can decide to create WJM, which results in WJM ending up in hell.
    (4.) At this moment God can decide not to create WJM, which results in WJM not ending up in hell (or anywhere else).

    No. I don’t presume to know (or guess) about how God operates at the intersection of time and timelessness,

    🙂 To be in line with “morality” of some people I guess God would have to do evil actions by restricting the free will of parents/ancestors of WJM or somehow to kill WJM or to provoke an “spontaneous” abortion of WJM ,etc.

  266. 266
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    That is a little one sided I should think. It’s all very well to characterize goodness as being kind, loving, and compassionate, but whatever happened to the hard virtues, such as persistence, determination, courage, valor, longsuffering, loyalty, trustworthiness, and steadfastness, Does WJM not value the traits of a strong man?

    Says the “man” willing to abandon even those he loves to eternal torment as long as God wipes the tears from his eyes and magically make his heart whole and happy again. Wow, did you ever just step in a big pile of dog excrement.

    You’re the one quaking in your boots and being all subservient just because some being is more powerful than you and threatens you with “eternal suffering” and demands your loyalty, worship and love or else. I’m the guy remaining loyal, “risking” eternal suffering (how’s that for “longsuffering” and courage?) and being steadfast to those I love. You’re not manly, SB, as if those are just “manly” traits. You’re a coward that can be bought off with a threat and a bribe.

    WJM never refers to tough love.

    It hasn’t come up. You’re talking to someone who has thrown his own children out of his house, his own son into juvenile detention and let him sit there for a weekend. Abandoning them to eternal suffering is not “tough love;” it is callous psychopathy and has nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of love, “tough” or “manly” or not.

    I have to wonder. Was Jesus Christ too manly for WJM’s taste?

    I never met the guy. But, if God/Jesus has these “manly” qualities, then he would respect and honor my loyalty and faithfulness to those I love, my courage and steadfastness against threat of hell and promise of heaven, and the righteous anger some here have expressed against the unjust nature of “eternal suffering,” even if those are expressed due to a misconception about the nature of those things. Also, that kind of God would respect and honor that my love, loyalty and commitment cannot be bought on command or through fear and promise of reward.

    You see, even if I am conceptually wrong about God being the one that deliberately threw me into a perilous situation, a manly God would respect, honor and love me for the fact that I will not, cannot give such a being my gratitude, love or respect for then offering to get me out of that situation. God would honor and respect and love me for doing the best I can to live my life like a man instead of some obsequious weasel who “loves” God because he is commanded to. A “manly” God wouldn’t require or demand our worship and devotion and gratitude in the first place.

    Like a man, I have respected, loved and admired my children, family and friends when they have the courage to stand up to me when they think I’m in the wrong. Nothing has made me more proud of them than that, to hold to the courage of their convictions, even if they are convictions I do not share.

    The God you describe isn’t manly; He is a vain, jealous, abusive psychopath that set up a creation for His own glory, for the purpose of having inferior beings worship and love him and be grateful to him for all eternity, his system resulting in a fate of eternal torture for those who will not or cannot. That is not love of either the masculine or feminine quality, if that’s how you wish to categorize things. That is not a “man” that deserves respect or admiration.

  267. 267
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    They call it Geriatric rigidity.

    I guess when you need it to justify your God, you’re willing to dismiss our free will capacity to change by citing some psychological tendency, while otherwise insisting and relying on our capacity to use free will to overcome all other psychological tendencies that may be affecting our judgement in our lives.

  268. 268
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    No. Those two outcomes were not the “result” of God’s decision to create or not create..

    Would the outcome have occurred if God instead chose to not create? Would we get the same outcome if God chose to create a different kind of world, like the one Swedenborg describes? Yes, the outcome is in fact the result of God’s decision.

    If I dig a giant pit in the road in front of my house, are people and cars falling into the pit not the result of my having dug it? Even if I put warning signs all around the pit, if I have foreknowledge that people and cars are still going to fall into it, I know what the result of my digging the pit is going to be, and I know that the only way to prevent it from happening is to not dig the pit in the first place.

    The free will of the people that will fall into the pit anyway, deliberately or not, is entirely irrelevant in the matter of my own culpability for not preventing something I 100% knew would happen if I dug the pit. I knew the only way to prevent people from using their free will to jump in the pit was to not dig the pit. If I cared about and loved those people, then I certainly do not dig that pit and then afterwards blame them for doing exactly what I knew they would do.

    If God actually doesn’t want any of us to fall in the pit, all He has to do is not dig the pit. Why is God digging the pit in the first place if he doesn’t want anyone to fall or jump into it? It is not required for meaningful free will to exist, as Swedenborg’s alternative world demonstrates. Yes, you allow people to make decisions that may result in temporary suffering in order to learn and grow and yes, that is a form of love – “tough love.” Swedenborg’s worldview allows people to stay in suffering as long as they choose or refuse to learn or change; but it is never hopeless. There is nothing to be gained by setting up a world where there is the possibility of eternal suffering without any hope of getting out of it.

    There’s no good reason to dig that kind of pit in the first place – unless you’re just a sadistic monster. God doesn’t provide us the free will capacity to do a lot of things; we have limited free will (rather, limited free choice.) If you’re going to put limitations on free will, and you’re a good person, the one thing you make sure you limit is our capacity to make any choice that will result in eternal torment. If any free will option should be a priority to prohibit by limiting our free will capacities, nothing else even comes close.

  269. 269
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    If God actually doesn’t want any of us to fall in the pit, all He has to do is not dig the pit.

    Me: “As far as we see you dig your own pit and blame God ?”
    WJM: “Even if I dig my own pit why God created me with hands ?
    Me:” Your hands are under your control ,your brain control your hand.
    WJM:”Yes but if God knew that I will dig my own pit He shouldn’t have created me with a brain , it’s His fault that I have brain “
    Me:

  270. 270
    Origenes says:

    Tough love.

    StephenB @247: If not Hell, where should these God haters spend their eternity. Is it in heaven with the same God they have rejected their whole life?

    I have encountered this question several times before. The underlying sentiment here is that justice has to be served, that not all can be just forgiven and ignored, which may indeed very well be right. But, as I have argued in #249, why is it that there is but one punishment that fits all crimes?

    Origenes: Why is there only one alternative to heaven to begin with? Why just one place for the billions of people who are unfit for heaven? What is the logic here?
    Why not create at least one ‘neutral’ world, without the benefits of heaven, but also without sadistic torturers?

    I think that in #264 answered my question: one punishment for all is a ‘manly’ thing, a matter of ‘righteous anger’, ‘tough love’ and ‘hard virtues’.

    StephenB: That is a little one sided I should think. It’s all very well to characterize goodness as being kind, loving, and compassionate, but whatever happened to the hard virtues, such as persistence, determination, courage, valor, longsuffering, loyalty, trustworthiness, and steadfastness, Does WJM not value the traits of a strong man? Or does he appreciate only the soft qualities of a nurturing woman? WJM never refers to tough love. His references about love are always soft, cushy, and cuddly, as if the only thing that mattered in a loving person was the quality of being “nice.” Maybe that is one reason why he cannot love a Savior who was human enough to express righteous anger and tough enough to endure the worst kind of persecution without complaining. Notice also that, for WJM, being angry is placed in the same category as being malicious or being hateful, as if anger could never be righteous. I have to wonder. Was Jesus Christ too manly for WJM’s taste?

    I am sitting here wondering if I read what I just read. God created only heaven and hell, and refrained from creating a neutral world, because he wanted to make a manly statement? Eternal torment for uncle Bob and daugher Suzie because ‘manly love’? Really?

  271. 271
    William J Murray says:

    LCD apparently thinks I’m God because he thinks I created hell.

  272. 272
    doubter says:

    WJM@244

    Further, let’s say I have knowledge that a horrendous crime is about to be committed and I’m the only person that can stop it – again, with no personal risk whatsoever. To stop the crime I must physically restrain the person against their own free will, which would be easy for me. Is it not my responsibility to do this in order to prevent the crime? My knowledge of the crime is not causing the crime, right?

    I know it is an unwarranted stepping in to a seemingly endless and obstruse theological argument with closed-minded fundamentalists, but I can’t resist. I think you forget that God also has the responsibility to maintain the regularity of natural law, for a lot of reasons including that the viability of science and the scientific method needs to be maintained . If He intervened in every instance of impending accident or bad choices on the part of human beings, that regularity would be disrupted repeatedly and often. By far the better solution to the moral dilemma would be that the tradeoffs accomplished in allowing the unfortunate consequences of bad choices and accidental disasters to exist, never be permanent and eternal and forever unforgiven – that humans always eventually after enough suffering can grow in wisdom and come around to a different character and that anyway suffering always will be temporary. Of course, this sort of solution is anathema, heresy, to some sects of Christianity. I think there is a sort of perverse relishing of the notion of eternal torment as the punishment for certain sins.

  273. 273
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @145

    Personally, I hate the idea of eternal suffering …

    I have to wonder. Is God too manly for StephenB’s taste?

    … and I wish that it was not a necessary consequence of immortal souls receiving the gift of free will.

    I have good news for you: it is not a necessary consequence at all. God could create a neutral world, without the benefits of heaven, but also without being subjected to sadistic torturers.

    Would it be better if there were no heaven or hell? I will leave that to God.

    Let’s ask instead: Would it be better if there were more options than just heaven & hell? In the context of the self-evident truth that punishment should fit the crime, the answer is an unequivocal “Yes.”

    My position is that the souls in hell would be even unhappier than they are right now if they were suddenly forced against their will to live with God in heaven.

    According to you, uncle Bob and daughter Suzie would both prefer eternal torment to being in heaven? Ok. Got it.

  274. 274
    William J Murray says:

    Doubter @272,

    I am a theist. I don’t believe in an intervening God; I believe in God as ground of being and existence. I do realize, like I said, that there are better Christian metaphysical perspectives than those commonly on display by KF, BA77, SB, LCD and some others here. I’m related to a couple of such Christians. I don’t have a problem with people believing whatever they want. But, if they want a debate, I do enjoy a good debate 🙂

  275. 275
    Joe Schooner says:

    274 comments in and you guys are still arguing over whether forcing someone to suffer eternal torture for not worshipping someone else is cruel and evil?

  276. 276
    StephenB says:

    SB: My position is that the souls in hell would be even unhappier than they are right now if they were suddenly forced against their will to live with God in heaven.

    Origenes:

    According to you, uncle Bob and daughter Suzie would both prefer eternal torment to being in heaven? Ok. Got it.

    Yes, I think you do. The temptation to be a God (and a law) unto one’s self is the main impetus for much evil in this world and the next. It’s all about p-r-i-d-e. From a psychological perspective, pride is similar to a prisoner’s chains, and, as in the case with any bad habit, it requires a great deal of moral exertion and a measure of Divine help to break the chain. Recovering alcoholics learn this truth the hard way.

    I suspect that Hell is full of misguided and prideful souls who cannot admit that they were responsible for their fate. It was someone else’s fault (maybe even God’s fault).for allowing their chains to make slaves of them. During their earthly life, while they still had the opportunity to break those chains, they chose to curse God (or invent another god) rather than ask for his help. Now, in Hell, they would, if they had the chance, prefer to suffer rather than humble themselves, repent of their sins, and loosen their chains. It’s the same choice that they have always made. The stakes are higher, but the idea remains the same; being with the God they hate would be a greater Hell than the one they are now in.

    Subjecivists do not recognize the existence of chains because they don’t understand the role that objective morality plays in breaking them. Even in the natural order, “good” moral habits can,, in a few weeks, displace “bad” moral habits, but if the former is not recognized for what it is, all hope is lost. Subjective morality, which ignores the difference between a good or bad habit, cannot break chains.

  277. 277
    ram says:

    [duplicate]

  278. 278
    ram says:

    Origenes: I am sitting here wondering if I read what I just read. God created only heaven and hell, and refrained from creating a neutral world, because he wanted to make a manly statement? Eternal torment for uncle Bob and daugher [sic] Suzie because ‘manly love’? Really?

    SB cognitive dissonance about God meting out eternal torture is causing him to go from the silly to the sublimely ridiculous. It’s been amusing to watch from the sidelines. He actually thinks it’s “manly” to torture someone forever. This is where such bizarre philosophies end up. Mercy.

    –Ram

  279. 279
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    I am sitting here wondering if I read what I just read. God created only heaven and hell, and refrained from creating a neutral world, because he wanted to make a manly statement? Eternal torment for uncle Bob and daugher [sic] Suzie because ‘manly love’? Really?

    No, not really. It was a simple statement about virtue, which isn’t legitimate unless it involves masculine traits as well as feminine traits. It has nothing to do with eternal punishment.

  280. 280
    StephenB says:

    Ram

    He [SB] actually thinks it’s “manly” to torture someone forever.

    No. But it is manly to tell the truth. Ram should try it sometime.

  281. 281
    Querius says:

    Ram @278,

    SB cognitive dissonance about God meting out eternal torture is causing him to go from the silly to the sublimely ridiculous. It’s been amusing to watch from the sidelines. He actually thinks it’s “manly” to torture someone forever. This is where such bizarre philosophies end up. Mercy.

    Note that “eternal torture” is not necessarily “infinite torture.” If you were honest enough to answer my questions in a previous thread, I would demonstrate how this is possible.

    But you weren’t and so I didn’t.

    -Q

  282. 282
    EDTA says:

    WJM,

    But, if God/Jesus has these “manly” qualities, then he would respect and honor my loyalty and faithfulness to those I love, my courage and steadfastness against threat of hell and promise of heaven,…that kind of God would respect and honor that my love, loyalty and commitment cannot be bought on command…

    …a manly God would respect, honor and love me for the fact that I will not, cannot give such a being my gratitude, love or respect for then offering to get me out of that situation. God would honor and respect and love me for doing the best I can to live my life like a man instead of some obsequious weasel…That is not a “man” that deserves respect or admiration.

    Judging God from man’s perspective? Really? I know SB led the discussion into the manliness angle, but I didn’t think you would be fooled into heaving such invective from that perspective. (You must have gotten in touch with Dawkins and borrowed some of his hatred; the language is similar anyway.) Has anyone ever suggested that you might be arrogant or self-righteous?

    …to hold to the courage of their convictions, even if they are convictions I do not share.

    I presume that means you respect SB then.

    You’re [SB] a coward that can be bought off with a threat and a bribe.

    If, at the end of my earthly life, I find out that you were more correct, then I’m all good, right? No penalties. If on the other hand, the traditional Christian God turns out to have been the official game in town, then I’m good–bribed coward or otherwise. I clearly did not create myself, and the one who did will get the last word, regardless of his personality as seen from my–or your–earthly perspective.

  283. 283
    ram says:

    Querius,

    I read what you had to say and it wasn’t worth responding to. Speculative nonsense about black holes and how that relates to eternal torture. Give me a break. Moreover, the Bible doesn’t say anything about infinite torture, but rather endless torture.

    The Christian Bible speaks of a “lake of fire” where people are thrown into and will be “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:10,14,15), and “being thrown into the fire prepared (by whom?) for the devil and his angels” (Mat 25:41) where there will be “weep and wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 25:30). (Some Christians reject the Book of Revelations, but that’s probably a minority position around here.)

    Your cognitive dissonance about the monstrous concept of never-ending torture is apparently making you grasp at straws.

    –Ram

  284. 284
    ram says:

    SB, Ram should try [telling the truth] sometime.

    What have I lied about?

    –Ram

  285. 285
    ram says:

    EDTA: the traditional Christian God turns out to have been the official game in town, then I’m good–bribed coward or otherwise.

    If the Muslim God turns out to have been the official game in town then you’ve got serious problems, if you worship Jesus and/or believe that he is God. That Pascal’s Wager gambit is not without it’s risks. You could find yourself boiling in excrement for eternity.

    At any, whoever or whatever turns out to be the Real Creator, is beside the point, which is the psychological acceptance of the monstrous incoherent theology that asserts that the Creator tortures people forever.

    –Ram

  286. 286
    StephenB says:

    Ram

    What have I lied about?

    You lied when you said this:

    He [SB] actually thinks it’s “manly” to torture someone forever.

  287. 287
    Querius says:

    Ram @283,

    Your cognitive dissonance about the monstrous concept of never-ending torture is apparently making you grasp at straws.

    How would you even know? You’d decided your conclusion before you even were willing to answer my previous questions. Instead, you labeled them as worthless without the courage to answer them. Thus, your vituperative ad hominem attacks such as above are empty of content and pointless noise.

    And you’re still unwilling to to answer the questions that I posed, right?

    -Q

  288. 288
    ram says:

    Querius: And you’re still unwilling to to answer the questions that I posed, right?

    I’m fine with with answering questions on this thread. As I understand it, KF doesn’t have to authority the quash the conversation on this thread if it moves into his theological discomfort zone.

    –Ram

  289. 289
    ram says:

    SB: You lied when you said this: ‘He [SB] actually thinks it’s “manly” to torture someone forever.’

    You criticized WJM on the basis that he is not viewing God in “manly” enough terms. You attacked WJM with regards to the lack of his “manly” approach to God as he rejected your belief in a god who eternally tortures people. The clear implication is that your view of God is correct because the “manly” view of God, and thus the proper view of God “himself” as “manly”, is that “he” eternally tortures people.

    “Does WJM not value the traits of a strong man? Or does he appreciate only the soft qualities of a nurturing woman? WJM never refers to tough love. His references about love are always soft, cushy, and cuddly, as if the only thing that mattered in a loving person was the quality of being “nice.”

    What on earth does any of this have to do with a Transcendent God, who exists in bliss, who can do anything, choosing to eternally torture some tiny little human forever. Monstrous theology you have there.

    At any rate, WJM defendent himself splendidly as always. Your monstrous view of God is bankrupt.

    –Ram

  290. 290
    StephenB says:

    Ram

    You criticized WJM on the basis that he is not viewing God in “manly” enough terms.

    No. I criticized WJM for characterizing love and virtue solely in feminine-like terms. I will cite my own words (the entire paragraph, not just the second half of that you cited [was that because you didn’t want readers to understand the opening context?]

    That is a little one sided I should think. It’s all very well to characterize goodness as being kind, loving, and compassionate, but whatever happened to the hard virtues, such as persistence, determination, courage, valor, longsuffering, loyalty, trustworthiness, and steadfastness, Does WJM not value the traits of a strong man? Or does he appreciate only the soft qualities of a nurturing woman? WJM never refers to tough love. His references about love are always soft, cushy, and cuddly, as if the only thing that mattered in a loving person was the quality of being “nice.” Maybe that is one reason why he cannot love a Savior who was human enough to express righteous anger and tough enough to endure the worst kind of persecution without complaining. Notice also that, for WJM, being angry is placed in the same category as being malicious or being hateful, as if anger could never be righteous [referring to Christ’s act of running money changers out of the temple – nothing there about eternal punishment] I have to wonder. Was Jesus Christ too manly for WJM’s taste?

    What I wrote had absolutely nothing to do with the perverse idea of torture as a manly activity. It was a reference to Jesus Christ with respect to his human nature and his admirable masculinity. You will not find anything anywhere in the entire paragraph about eternal punishment.

    This is nothing new with you. You did the same thing a while back when you said that I have a “low opinion”” of God because I pointed out that not even a all-powerful Creator can make a true statement false or create a contradictory being since it would violate the law of non-contradiction . You are far too reckless with your words. Try to be more responsible.

  291. 291
    William J Murray says:

    EDTA said:

    Judging God from man’s perspective? Really?

    No, it’s called judging concepts of God that men present to each other, which is all any of us here can do.

    I presume that means you respect SB then.

    Yes. I also think he’s probably a good person doing the best he can with a highly troublesome belief system under threat of eternal torment, which is clearly a psychologically abusive concept.

    If, at the end of my earthly life, I find out that you were more correct, then I’m all good, right? /blockquote>I guess that depends on what you mean by “all good.”

    Not every afterlife situation one may find themselves in after they die is pleasant. Not at all. They’re just not permanent. There’s always hope. That is what 100+ years of actual evidence about what we call “the afterlife” tells us, anyway.

  292. 292
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @290

    In #248 WJM argued that there is no valid reason for heaven & hell to be the only options, that better systems were easy to conceive of and he went on to summarize Swedenborg’s concept of the afterlife involving multiple non-permanent domains. In #264 you quote him on that, and in the next breath you start your talk about manly love, that love doesn’t always have to be “soft, cushy, and cuddly.”
    Like Ram, I took that as a defense for the ‘manly’ ‘clear as a bell’ indelicate split between heaven & hell. I also took it as an answer to my question as to why there is but one punishment (hell) for all crimes, why there is no ‘neutral world’ in the hereafter. Questions in #249 and #270, which you have not addressed specifically.
    If your response has nothing to do with hell & eternal torment, then what is your response to Swedenborg’s concept of the afterlife? I would like to know. Do you agree that multiple non-permanent domains would have been a better idea, or do you still prefer the one eternal disposition of hopeless suffering approach?

  293. 293
    William J Murray says:

    SB said:

    No. I criticized WJM for characterizing love and virtue solely in feminine-like terms.

    Anyone who thinks love, kindness, compassion, mercy, and being just are primarily feminine traits has psychological issues, IMO. They are some of the traits of good people, regardless of gender. (This argument from the general concept of what it means to be “good.”) Just because I don’t talk about traits that are not generally brought up here for debate doesn’t mean I don’t find other traits virtuous, or worthy of admiration and aspiration.

    Maybe that is one reason why he cannot love a Savior who was human enough to express righteous anger…

    I cannot imagine being angry at people for doing exactly what I knew they were going to do. I’ve never found anger to ever be a positive trait of any sort. It clouds reason with irrational urges and thoughts.

    …and tough enough to endure the worst kind of persecution without complaining.

    ROFL … you think Jesus went through “the worst kind of persecution?” Not even close.
    But, I do admire a person that endures pain and suffering without complaint.

    Notice also that, for WJM, being angry is placed in the same category as being malicious or being hateful, as if anger could never be righteous.

    You’re correct in that I don’t find anger to be a virtue. What I find virtuous, in the sense that I admire and aspire to a character trait, is the ability to be calm and rational in any situation. I’ve found in my life that when hard things need to be done, anger only serves to complicate matters unnecessarily. I think a sense of “righteousness” in one’s anger only serves to embed that anger as the “correct” emotional response to a given situation, and I’ve honestly never seen what that kind of thing well serving any individual involved in any situation.

    I mean, what’s the point of being angry about anything? I don’t see that it serves any necessary use or function, unless one just enjoys the feeling or cannot motivate themselves to do hard things unless they get angry about it. IME, anger is usually just a way of dealing with being hurt emotionally.

  294. 294
    William J Murray says:

    Joe Schooner @275:

    LOL! It is mind boggling.

  295. 295
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    @StephenB :
    Why in the world you give the benefit of the doubt to a satanist?

  296. 296
    EDTA says:

    Ram @ 285,
    “If the Muslim God turns out to have been the official game in town then you’ve got serious problems…”

    Yep, I’m screwed then! 😎

  297. 297
    Querius says:

    Ram @288,

    I’m fine with with answering questions on this thread. As I understand it, KF doesn’t have to authority the quash the conversation on this thread if it moves into his theological discomfort zone.

    Ok, how familiar are you with statistics or with Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity?
    (A passing knowledge about the normal curve or gravitational effects on space-time is just fine.)

    -Q

  298. 298
    ram says:

    Querius,

    Very. Are you going to try an make a case why stats and GR somehow diminish the monstrous concept of never-ending torture? While you’re taking about that, you can answer this question: is the torture your concept of God metes out never-ending or not from the perspective of the tortured?

    –Ram

  299. 299
    StephenB says:

    SB: ” I criticized WJM for characterizing love and virtue solely in feminine-like terms.”

    WJM

    Anyone who thinks love, kindness, compassion, mercy, and being just are primarily feminine traits has psychological issues, IMO.

    No one I know thinks that way. I certainly don’t. The key word in my statement above is “solely.” It is the absence of the masculine virtues that causes problems, not the presence of the feminine virtues. A compete human being is capable of practicing both kinds of virtue – spirited fighting and gentle nurturing. The problem is that most people tend to fall into one camp or the other, albeit in greater or lesser degrees. It is bad to be a barbarian, but it is also bad to be a sissy. That is the point.

    I cannot imagine being angry at people for doing exactly what I knew they were going to do. I’ve never found anger to ever be a positive trait of any sort. It clouds reason with irrational urges and thoughts.

    To be angry for the wrong reason is a vice, but to be angry for the right reason is a virtue. Anyone who doesn’t get angry when someone molests his child has a psychological problem. Anyone who does get angry simply because someone disagrees with him also has a psychological problem. Righteous anger is often the foundation for positive changes.

    Aristotle put it best:

    “ANYBODY can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power, that is not easy.”

    WJM

    I mean, what’s the point of being angry about anything?

    The purpose is to use it as emotional fuel for righting a wrong. Or, as someone once put it, “To march into Hell for a heavenly cause.

  300. 300
    Joe Schooner says:

    The purpose is to use it [anger]as emotional fuel for righting a wrong. Or, as someone once put it, “To march into Hell for a heavenly cause.

    Can’t you right a wrong without anger?

  301. 301
    Querius says:

    Ram @298,
    Please don’t draw any conclusions before I make them. They’re not what you think.

    1. Imagine a normal curve centered at the origin. What’s the area under the positive half of the normal curve?

    2. As you know, the presence of gravity affects the passage of time. So let’s say someone falls into a black hole, which in this case lasts only a few seconds before they’re “spaghettified.” How does this event appear from an observer at a safe distance?

    -Q

  302. 302
    ram says:

    Querius,

    Let’s save us some time. Answer my simple question in the service of avoiding futility:

    Is the eternal torture your concept of God metes out never-ending or not from the perspective of the tortured?

    This is the whole point of my interest. That’s a simple yes or no question. If you answer no, then we have nothing to discuss, since I am not (necessarily) averse to the idea of time-limited punishment from the perspective of the tortured. If yes, nothing about black holes is going to matter. Never-ending is never-ending from the perspective of the tortured, and that’s what matters.

    –Ram

  303. 303
    Querius says:

    Ram @302,

    So you’re not willing to answer my two questions after all. No, you’re not successful in anticipating where I’m going with this. I asked you not to try.

    One more time . . .

    1. Imagine a normal curve centered at the origin. What’s the area under the positive half of the normal curve?

    2. As you know, the presence of gravity affects the passage of time. So let’s say someone falls into a black hole, which in this case lasts only a few seconds before they’re “spaghettified.” How does this event appear from an observer at a safe distance?

    -Q

  304. 304
    ram says:

    Querius,

    Will you answer my simple yes/no question right after I answer your two questions?

    –Ram

  305. 305
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Ram
    Querius,
    Will you answer my simple yes/no question right after I answer your two questions?
    –Ram

    🙂 Your question is a farce. I guess it’s criminal to shift the guilt of humans freely choosing to do evil things to God justice.(Judge is guilty because criminal killed) Any punishment that is “less” than eternal would render the moral law as useless because sooner or latter no matter what Hitler or a saint did they will finish the same

  306. 306
    StephenB says:

    Joe Schooner

    Can’t you right a wrong without anger?

    S

  307. 307
    kairosfocus says:

    Ram, this thread amply illustrates my point that UD is not a blog about theological disputes and internet atheist rhetorical stunts for cause. It is not about comfort zones, but about wasteful, toxic distractions that have little prospect of coming to reasonable resolution and which are likely to turn into animosity among the ill informed with naive people trying to help out being enmeshed in quarrels rather than producing responsible discussion. This then feeds the false theses about intelligent design creationism and the like, poisoning the atmosphere for discussion of the design inference. I have noted, several times, that there are other fora with expert panels that address such themes or would, e.g. Reasonable Faith. If one is genuinely perplexed go there, for many of these issues a typical parson would be a layman too. I note on the above much of it is variants on the dead issue, deductive form problem of evil, go to Plantinga’s free will defence and recognise he showed that the theistic set is coherent. The basic onward point is that creatures capable of love and virtue must be free, genuinely free, thus capable of going elsewhere; but that is the opening up of a qualitative leap in possibilities for good. Beyond, given ongoing life crisis, I have little time or energy. I have engaged elsewhere as recognising our morally governed rationality is pivotal to resolving design inference and related civilisational challenges. We have lost much of our ability to collectively think straight; the consequences are not going to be pleasant. KF

  308. 308
    William J Murray says:

    KF,
    I don’t think anyone here is trying to make an argument that the existence of evil disproves the concept of a good God. I think everyone here agrees that meaningful free will necessary includes the capacity to do evil. IMO, what people generally call “evil” is a necessary comparative value for many reasons. What is good has no value without the counterpart of evil.

    This is an argument solely about the concept of eternal, hopeless suffering as a proper consequence for any act or choice regardless of its “evil” quality. If you have the time and desire to make your case for eternal suffering here, then do so. If not, do not. If you have a link to some argument that attempts to justify the concept of eternal suffering, then provide it.

    Repeatedly saying you have other pressing matters and that the argument has been made elsewhere, or repeating that “this is not a theology blog,” isn’t helping the case for eternal suffering nor is it going to deter theological arguments from continuing here. The only thing that’s going to stop that is if someone with editorial power tells us to stop under penalty of having comments deleted. Otherwise, your protestations just come across as someone incessantly whining about what people in a forum choose to discuss when the official management of that forum allows such topics and even occasionally participates in them.

  309. 309
    zweston says:

    I’m kind of wondering what difference it makes whether you like eternal punishment or not as to the validity of it being true?

  310. 310
    William J Murray says:

    Zweston said:

    I’m kind of wondering what difference it makes whether you like eternal punishment or not as to the validity of it being true?

    It doesn’t make any difference. That line of discussion came up when SB said that his perspective is that people who end up in hell (1) deliberately chose to go there, and (2) would prefer to remain there even if given the opportunity to leave and go to heaven.

  311. 311
    StephenB says:

    Joe Schooner

    Can’t you right a wrong without anger.

    Sometimes you can. So what?

  312. 312
    Querius says:

    Ram @304,

    Will you answer my simple yes/no question right after I answer your two questions?

    That was my intent. In fact, I will do even better than that.

    -Q

  313. 313
    Joe Schooner says:

    Sometimes you can. So what?

    Anger is definitely something that everyone experiences. But the link to providing the fuel for righting the wrong is tentative at best. The adage about never acting out of anger is a good one. Acting out of anger, although easy to understand, often causes more harm than good.

  314. 314
    Joe Schooner says:

    Any punishment that is “less” than eternal would render the moral law as useless…

    But what if the moral law, like the law to worship another being, is useless?

  315. 315
    ram says:

    Querius:

    1. 1/2
    2. Object would slow down then disappear.

    Your turn: Is the eternal torture your concept of God metes out never-ending or not from the perspective of the tortured?

    –Ram

  316. 316
    ram says:

    LCD: because sooner or latter no matter what Hitler or a saint did they will finish the same

    I didn’t say anything about saints and Hilter “finish[ing] the same.” Your black and white thinking has led you to hallucinating something I didn’t write and then criticizing it. All kinds of outcomes are conceiveable without saints and Hilters ending up the same. Monstrous eternal torture is only one.

    –Ram

  317. 317
    Querius says:

    Ram @315,
    1. Correct. Notice that the curve is INFINITE but the total area under the curve is finite. This same curve might be the absolutely precisely Just punishment for someone based on what their deeds deserve, either massive for some people or small of other people. There are several indications in scripture that punishments will vary to satisfy Justice–they not all alike. However, this doesn’t mean that the scriptures state that the punishment itself is eternal, only that the non-existence after judgment is permanent. As evidence, I would refer to Revelation, where it states that both death and hell are also cast into the lake of fire. Surely it’s obvious that this statement doesn’t suggest that death and hell are “tortured” forever–only that they cease to exist.

    2. Also correct, except that before disappearing, someone falling into a black hole will seem frozen in time to an external observer at a safe distance. From the perspective of the person falling in, it’s over in a few seconds. Both the seemingly forever and a few seconds are true. From any perspective, it can be termed eternal and irreversible.

    Your turn: Is the eternal torture your concept of God metes out never-ending or not from the perspective of the tortured?

    The shortest, but inadequate answer is no. So let me qualify my assertion by saying that words are important: “torture” isn’t justice and God is able to provide perfect Justice to those who demand it or perfect Mercy to those who’ve truly repented of their ignoble acts and asked for God’s Mercy. I’ve done so and continue to do so.

    The people described as sobbing at the time of Judgment, are doing so because they see how loving their Creator has been in attempting to save as many people as possible of his dying creation by means of Himself being tortured to death, limiting himself only to preserving the free will of the precious people that he created in His image. Jesus termed their demise as “the second death,” which sadly includes their spirit.

    As Einstein noted in his General Theory of Relativity, the perspective of the observer is key, and in a way this is also true in this context. I hope this helps.

    -Q

  318. 318
    StephenB says:

    Joe Schooner:

    Anger is definitely something that everyone experiences. But the link to providing the fuel for righting the wrong is tentative at best.

    John Walsh, whose son was kidnapped, murdered and mutilated in 1981, became an advocate for victims of violent crimes and was the host of the television program America’s Most Wanted. According to his family, he “channeled his anger” to get numerous laws passed.

    The adage about never acting out of anger is a good one. Acting out of anger, although easy to understand, often causes more harm than good.

    Acting out of anger is often or even usually a bad idea. But your adage that one should *never* act out of anger is obviously false.. Reread Aristotle’s quote. I put it there for a reason.

  319. 319
    Joe Schooner says:

    According to his family, he “channeled his anger” to get numerous laws passed.

    For “channeled” read “reigned in”, “tempered”, etc. In short, he set his anger aside for more productive means of seeking justice. Anger results in vigilantes, not justice. Reason, logic and incentive leads to justice. The only role that anger may play is incentive. But only after you set the anger aside.

    After WWII, anger would dictate that the allies exact vengeance on Germany and Japan. An eye for an eye. But anger was set aside and the result has been an unprecedented peace that has lasted for over half a century. There was still justice, but it was directed at individuals, not the countries as a whole.

  320. 320
    StephenB says:

    Joe Schooner:

    For “channeled” read “reigned in”, “tempered”, etc. In short, he set his anger aside for more productive means of seeking justice.

    No. John Walsh did not “put his anger aside.” You are just making that up. He directed his anger toward a noble objective, which was to obtain a measure of justice. His own story and his own testimony confirm the point. He was finally able to cope with his anger *after* he realized his goal.

    Anger results in vigilantes, not justice.

    Sometimes yes, sometimes no. What is it about the word “sometimes” that you do not understand. You should learn to qualify your statements.

    Also, you have not yet addressed the wisdom found in Aristotle’s quote:“ Since you have been ignoring it, I will present it again:

    “ANYBODY can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power, that is not easy.”

    What do you think he is trying to say here? Let me give you a hint. Pay special attention to the word “right” as it is being used in this passage.

  321. 321
    ram says:

    1. Correct.
    2. Also correct

    Thanks.

    –Ram

  322. 322
    ram says:

    Querius: The … answer is no.

    Thanks, for finally answering my question.

    Jeez. Hehe.

    I feel sorry for your dentist. 😀

    –Ram

  323. 323
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Ram
    I didn’t say anything about saints and Hilter “finish[ing] the same.”

    Yes you said it. You seem such “a lover” of moral law (more moral than God) except a temporary punishment would make moral law useless . 🙂 Wouldn’t matter whatever you’ve done in your life. Are you hitler,etc killed millions of people? Don’t worry. At the end will be ok for you because finally you will sit at the same table with a jew that you killed and you will think at an smarter opportunity to kill him again .

    Hmmm….I don’t know what to think when you actualy use the moral law to promote the cancellation of moral law.
    You should make your mind about moral law:
    1.If deserves to be considered why you ignore it?
    2.If deserves to be cancelled why you use it against God?

  324. 324
    ram says:

    I feel sorry for you LCD, that you were dropped on your head as a baby

    –Ram

  325. 325
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Ram
    I feel sorry for you LCD, that you were dropped on your head as a baby

    –Ram

    🙂 It’s ok at least you admitted that you love the criminals: murderers, rapists, terrorists, pedophiles, blood sacrifices, cannibals etc. etc. and you want theirs actions to be ignored …because you are such a “loving ” and ” affectionate “person. Hahahaha! Question is why? Are you one of them?

    PS: which one of them do you love more?

  326. 326
    Querius says:

    Lieutenant Commander Data @325,

    For inexplicable reasons, Ram also feels sorry for my dentist (?) after I explained to him how a Just God could ensure perfect Justice for those who demand Justice and Mercy to those who sincerely repent and ask for Mercy.

    -Q

  327. 327
    Joe Schooner says:

    It’s ok at least you admitted that you love the criminals: murderers, rapists, terrorists, pedophiles, blood sacrifices, cannibals etc.…

    Just as Jesus did.

  328. 328
    Querius says:

    And Jesus said that prostitutes and tax collectors would get into heaven before the self-righteous, who in his times were the ultra-legalistic pharisees.

    But then we read in Revelation 21:6-8 . . .

    He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

    -Q

  329. 329
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Joe Schooner

    It’s ok at least you admitted that you love the criminals: murderers, rapists, terrorists, pedophiles, blood sacrifices, cannibals etc.…

    Just as Jesus did.

    Nope. Jesus came to save the criminals , while Ram justifies criminal behaviour .

    Querius
    But then we read in Revelation 21:6-8 .

    So true. What is the difference between a criminal and a saint?
    Answer: both are criminals except that one of them has repented.

  330. 330
    Querius says:

    Lieutenant Commander Data @329,

    So true. What is the difference between a criminal and a saint?
    Answer: both are criminals except that one of them has repented.

    Exactly! Just like you and me, one of the criminals on the cross next to Christ, and many others.

    And we have nothing to brag about. We’re forgiven, not “holier than thou,” and we’re quick to forgive others, and we consider ourselves servants, not masters.

    -Q

  331. 331
    Querius says:

    Lieutenant Commander Data @329,

    Ram: I feel sorry for you LCD, that you were dropped on your head as a baby

    You know you’ve won the argument, of course, when your opponent has to resort to a vacuous ad hominem attack before fleeing.

    And when I answered his question, he did the same with a nonsensical response:

    Ram: Thanks, for finally answering my question. Jeez. Hehe.

    Note the “finally” after evading my initial questions to him. And then after I destroyed Ram’s argument Ram tells me about feeling sorry for my dentist???

    This sounds like what’s produced by a cheap trollbot.

    -Q

  332. 332
    ram says:

    Querius,

    If you want to defend an idiot who would say this…

    “It’s ok at least you [Ram] admitted that you love the criminals: murderers, rapists, terrorists, pedophiles, blood sacrifices, cannibals etc. etc. and you want theirs actions to be ignored …because you are such a “loving ” and ” affectionate “person. Hahahaha! Question is why? Are you one of them?”

    And…

    “Ram justifies criminal behaviour .”

    Well, you’re just as much as an idiot as he is.

    Feel proud.

    –Ram

  333. 333
    Querius says:

    Ram @332,

    So you’re saying that if I disapprove of your vacuous ad hominems and continual evasions then I’m advocating that you justify criminal behavior and I’ve become an idiot??

    Wow, you get the pretzel prize(tm) for that logic. LOL

    -Q

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