Off Topic Religion

A Simple Request

Spread the love

After mulling over the recent blasphemy challenge brouhaha, I have a concern I’d like to express. Spiritual matters aside, I want to draw attention to the potential psychological ramifications of committing such an act as the challenge requires. As long as the person remains an atheist (or at least a non-Christian), I see no problems. However, what if he or she were to come to believe later in life that Christianity is true and that he or she had committed a sin for which no forgiveness can be attained and for which the penalty is eternity in hell?

That people’s beliefs can change as they go through life is true. That people can and have converted from atheism to Christianity is also true. And I submit that if an atheist were to come to believe that Christianity is true and that he or she had committed a necessarily damning act that this has the potential to cause traumatic psychological distress. I find it especially bad that the people who are doing this are targeting the most impressionable members of our society—our youth.

Let me make it clear right now that I do not oppose the rights of people to express their beliefs (or lack thereof) on YouTube or anywhere else. I think that even the choice of a person to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is one that he or she should be free to make. What I do oppose is a public campaign which encourages people—especially young people, whose capacities to assess their worldviews and to make informed, responsible decisions based upon them are generally not on par with those of adults—to commit an act which carries with it potentially disastrous psychological consequences. I hereby request that atheists who read this voice their displeasure that such a campaign is being conducted.

33 Replies to “A Simple Request

  1. 1
    tribune7 says:

    Good points.

    It’s also worth noting as has been done quite well on the other posts, their YouTube performance does not rise to unforgiveable blasphemy.

  2. 2
    GilDodgen says:

    Is it possible that Dawkins and his ilk are inadvertently promoting child abuse? Just a thought and a question, not an accusation.

  3. 3
    crandaddy says:

    A conversion from atheism to Christianity need not be reasonable by any stretch of the imagination (as the atheist may argue along this line) in order for the force of my argument to carry through. The challenge carries with it the irresponsible presumption that its participants have all made well-informed decisions–while targeting youth! People can passionately embrace worldviews (including atheism) for reasons that are insufficiently rational and can change them (to Christianity, for example) for like reasons. I say that youth–who are more likely to be driven by passion than by a level head–have especially volitile worldviews. There will be a few participants who will suffer emotionally from their decision.

  4. 4
    darth314 says:

    Crandaddy, does your post imply that atheists are more likely to commit a “sin for which no forgiveness can be attained”? Please fill me in on that.

  5. 5
    crandaddy says:

    Darth,

    My post does not address spiritual matters. Look at the beginning of my second sentence. My interest, insofar as this thread is concerned, is the potential emotional distress of a participant should he ever come to believe that he has committed a necessarily damning sin. Whether or not he actually has, is more likely to, or anything else along those lines is irrelevant here.

  6. 6
    dougmoran says:

    Crandaddy,

    Your points are well placed and we should all appreciate their implications. I’d like to add just a few thoughts for everyone to consider.

    In a simplistic nutshell (for our narrow minded atheistic friends), they are quoting bible passages out of context. The whole point of this particular chapter in John is that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. As it relates to the topic at hand, a person who knows in his heart and mind that the Holy Spirit exists cannot keep that faith while at the same time verbally denigrating it. It’s like thinking you could survive in a corporation if you constantly criticise the boss.

    From the “blasphemy” challenge web site, read: “Why? Because, according to Mark 3:29 in the Holy Bible, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” Jesus will forgive you for just about anything, but he won’t forgive you for denying the existence of the Holy Spirit. Ever. This is a one-way road you’re taking here. ”

    This is a wonderful example of bait & switch.

    There is a very important distinction that needs to be made: “blaspheme” of a thing is not the same as “denying the existence of” that thing. In fact, the two actions are almost completely unrelated.

    Imagine denying the existence of your boss. And imagine criticizing your boss in public. In one case, you get fired because you don’t hear a word he says. In the other, you play a two-faced game against him and eventually lose if you don’t reconcile the problem with him.

    To blaspheme a thing, according to common dictionaries, is to curse, to revile, to speak in an irreverent, impious mannor of that thing. It is implied in the definition that one is blaspheming a thing that is known to exist, or at least that one believes exists.

    But the post of question specifically talks about “denying the existence of” the Holy Spirit.

    I don’t mean to be as trivial about this as the athiestic morons are, but “denying the existence of” a Holy Spirit one claims doesn’t exist is a far cry from “blaspheming” a Holy Spirit one knows exists. One is a forgone conclusion in the mind of the athiest, while the other is a spiritual struggle in the heart and mind of a person who knows the Holy Spirit is real.

    So to translate that into practice, I would conclude that a person as childish as Mr. Dawkins could deny the existence of the Holy Spirit to his dying day and still claim forgiveness at his last breath by suddenly realizing Truth and accepting it. But a lifelong Christian who already knows the Truth and curses it in his last breath has a lot more explaining to do – as the original translation puts it, he is never fogiven and “is in danger of eternal damnation”, meaning it isn’t a forgone conclusion that all is lost, but it is certain there will be questions and consequences.

  7. 7
    tribune7 says:

    If I ever have cause to believe that God is real, and further if he turns out to be as petty and vindictive as to banish me to hell for disrespecting him as a cultural figment . . .

    That seems to be the thesis of the ones behind the “blasphemy challenge”. The ones here have been pointing out how pathetically wrong they got scripture.

    There is no objective moral law,

    Now thinking THAT, is what might lead you to Hell.

  8. 8
    Larry Moran says:

    I’m very concerned about Christian youth, especially if they recite the Apostles’ Creed or believe in the first few commandments. What if they convert to Hinduism when they become adults. (gasp!)

    Won’t this have “potential psychological ramifications?” Maybe we should be careful about forcing young people to say things in church that they might regret later on?

    Nah, such concerns don’t bother religious people. For them, logic and consistency isn’t such a big deal.

    No wonder we call you IDiots.

    I let this through in case anyone was wondering why Moron got banned. -DaveScot

  9. 9
    Radix2 says:

    My understanding (and I am an atheist BTW) is that the Christian doctrine says that you can repent and accept Jesus as the savior and God as the Lord. As long as you accept the Holy spirit into your heart you have salvation and are assured heaven.

    This means that people can do all of the above on their death-beds, regardless of what they have done in their lifetime. A video produced when that person is young will not be the worst “sin” that they will commit through their lifetime.

    I just don’t see what the big deal is about this..?

  10. 10
    tribune7 says:

    My understanding (and I am an atheist BTW) is that the Christian doctrine says that you can repent and accept Jesus as the savior and God as the Lord.

    Oh boy. Now you are really trying open a can of worms 🙂

  11. 11
    Radix2 says:

    @12. Tribune7: I’ll restore the full quote: “My understanding (and I am an atheist BTW) is that the Christian doctrine says that you can repent and accept Jesus as the savior and God as the Lord. As long as you accept the Holy spirit into your heart you have salvation and are assured heaven.”

    Is that wrong?

  12. 12
    Ekstasis says:

    Radix2,

    A genuine deathbed, or at death’s door conversion is possible, as demonstrated by the thief on the cross next to Christ. But it may not be the best strategy for several reasons. First, I might die by accident or natural causes in the next 5 minutes without warning. Second, if I decide to live any way I want, and then sign the insurance paper 60 seconds from death, I am in for a rude awakening, since my level of commitment is close to zero.

    Finally, the concept of “accept the Holy spirit into your heart you have salvation and are assured heaven” is way misused. Check out this verse: “6No one who lives in him [Christ] keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. “1 John 3 It is not just a matter of simple mental assent, but requires an entire life change from the inside out.

    Sorry to get back to the spiritual component.

  13. 13
    kvwells says:

    10. Radix2, good post.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11

    I take the view of C.S. Lewis et al. One of these videos may be representative of a continuum of choices which will in the end amount to “*bleep* God, I want to be in charge!”

    I believe better for many of the kids, however. This will simply be the act of youthful stupidity which, when reflected upon, will give an unexplained feeling of discomfort and regret. This will lead to other, at first unwelcome, considerations.

  14. 14
    tribune7 says:

    Is that wrong?

    There are different doctrines. Some churches demand full-immersion baptism for instance, which can lead to unpleasantness with those who have been merely sprinkled, not to mention with those who have just simply made a profession.

    And then of course, if the dogma of a particular church doesn’t mesh perfectly, some churches will say tough toenails you are going down regardless of whatever ritual which one partakes.

    My view is that Jesus is the most wonderful being to ever grace this planet, we should follow Him to our utmost, seek the truth with all our heart and trust in a merciful God.

    Now, see if I get flamed.

  15. 15
    Radix2 says:

    14. Ekstasis

    “A genuine deathbed, or at death’s door conversion is possible, as demonstrated by the thief on the cross next to Christ. But it may not be the best strategy for several reasons. First, I might die by accident or natural causes in the next 5 minutes without warning.”

    Yes – It is not a good strategy at all. Far better to live your life for the betterment of others. I agree with this.

    “Second, if I decide to live any way I want, and then sign the insurance paper 60 seconds from death, I am in for a rude awakening, since my level of commitment is close to zero.”

    I understand this and agree. I wish more people would think about their beliefs (regardless of foundation) and live by them

    “Finally, the concept of “accept the Holy spirit into your heart you have salvation and are assured heaven” is way misused. Check out this verse: “6No one who lives in him [Christ] keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. “1 John 3 It is not just a matter of simple mental assent, but requires an entire life change from the inside out.”

    There is much verse that is misused. I revel in the fact that we can talk about this without either you or I being branded as heretics.

    “Sorry to get back to the spiritual component. ”

    No – I appreciate your time taken to respond. 🙂

  16. 16
    Joseph says:

    When I was a Christian I remember being told about repentance and forgiveness.

    However that was many Moons ago- have things changed?

    Does anyone really think that all all loving and all knowing “God” would punish a human for all eternity for a moment of indiscression?

    I never bought into that.

  17. 17
    Radix2 says:

    15. tribune7…

    “My view is that Jesus is the most wonderful being to ever grace this planet, we should follow Him to our utmost, seek the truth with all our heart and trust in a merciful God.”

    With Jesus as an ideal, I think we could do far worse. The sayings and anecdotes attributed to Jesus serve as a guide to most rational people (a few medieval scribes got carried away at times though).

    Here, in the the southern hemisphere, I must go to bed now.. I wish all here a great and safe Christmas. Take care all.

  18. 18
    JGuy says:

    That is a very good point. I think it could cause some serious psychological grief. And at the age that some of the challenge takers are, they could probably will have a strong case. It seems it would be no less an intrusion into the household of the youths than a sexual deviant – whereby cases are easily made against the perpetrator.

    If it happens, I’d like to see it happen sooner rathre than later… much sooner!

  19. 19
    jerry says:

    I was taught as a Christian that there is only one unpardonable sin and that is final impenitence.

    I don’t know where all the theology espoused here comes from.

  20. 20
    shaner74 says:

    I think the point raised in the OP about “what if” some of these atheists convert to Christianity is right on. Go to Richard Dawkins site and read some of the comments there. Most of the atheists there simply don’t have a clue about what their own atheism means. For example, one poster commented that we don’t murder because a God said, “thou shalt not kill”, but because murder takes away a person’s “right” to life. Now I wonder, in the absence of God, who among us has a “right” to live? It’s all about spreading our selfish genes, and if I can spread mine by killing you, I am justified. Oh wait, there is no “I” – I am mindless matter. For many of these kids, a conversion to religious faith is inevitable as soon as they actually start thinking about what their atheism means. If (when) these kids convert, they’ll be a heck of a lot better off than they are now.

  21. 21
    Brian22 says:

    Gildogen:

    reread http://www.uncommondescent.com.....4#comments

    Dawkins didn’t know about this blasphmey challenge until Dembski told him about it. Then, he didn’t care all that much. Sure, he agreed with the statements of disbelief — no surprise there — but he doesn’t promote it or feel very strongly one way or the other.

    Brian

  22. 22
    dopderbeck says:

    I see that commenter Larry Moran got banned. That’s too bad, in a way. Though his tone was foolish, the substance of his comment, I think, was fair. An appeal to atheists to refrain from spreading their religious beliefs (make no mistake, atheism is a religion) on the grounds that an atheist youth might later want to convert to Christianity, and thereby suffer psychological tension, is really not much different than a similar appeal by atheists or other religionists to Christians whose children conceivably might consider converting to another religion one day.

    The “psychological damage” argument only works if we put it in a specifically Christian context. As Christians, we affirm that Jesus really is Lord, and that blasphemy has real spiritual consequences. Scripture often speaks of how God allows the hearts of those who blaspheme to be hardened. We grieve over this “blasphemy challenge” because the kids involved in it are in the process of destroying themselves spiritually. We shouldn’t expect that the fools who are perpetrating this will listen to appeals concerning the pyschological health of kids who might later want to convert to Christianity. The people behind this are motivated by deeper and darker things (see Eph. 6:12).

    Moreover, the argument is based on a mistake about what it means to “blaspheme” the Holy Spirit. Anyone who confesses Jesus and calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:9-11), and thus no one who turns to Christ can have committed an unpardonable sin.

    We should name this for what it is: a spiritual attack on the Christian faith and on those kids who might be drawn into it, and we should respond to it with rebuke and prayer, without expecting the people behind it to listen to appeals to compassion or generosity.

  23. 23
    tribune7 says:

    Joseph –Does anyone really think that all all loving and all knowing “God” would punish a human for all eternity for a moment of indiscression?

    Yes, the atheists behind Blasphemy Challenged.

  24. 24
    SChen24 says:

    I think it is worth noting that blaspheme of the Holy Spirit is a much debated topic in the Christian church today. Nobody is really sure exactly what that means. Some have held that denying a work of the Holy Spirit is from the Holy Spirit constitutes blaspheme and others say that that blaspheme of the Holy Spirit is not believing in God.

    That being said, this post raises a very good point about being careful concerning what we say and do.

  25. 25
    thechristiancynic says:

    Re: dopderbeck’s comment (#22) – There is a substantive difference between Moran’s examples and the Blasphemy Challenge. If Chris Shun recites the Apostles’ Creed and decides to convert to Buddhism later in life, there is no fear of psychological repercussion because the beliefs of Buddhism do not entail that former belief in the Apostles Creed will adversely affect one’s ability to reach enlightenment. Conversely (by the logic used in the challenge), Jo Anne Atheist’s act of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit will adversely affect her mindset if she decides to convert later to Christianity because she will have quite a difficult time dealing with the fact that she might have lost her own salvation by her act of blasphemy. I agree with the oft-repeated comment that the challenge isn’t actually promoting blasphemy because they’re a bit lost on the subject (maybe they should try Hare Krishna), but that’s besides the point – if they can convince these youths to make videos of themselves committing “blasphemy”, then who’s to say that these youths won’t be convinced that what they did was really an unforgivable sin?

    My point exactly. Thank you.–Crandaddy

  26. 26
    crandaddy says:

    Dopderbeck,

    Just as is the case with Larry, my point sailed right over your head. Can a changing of fundamental worldviews of any sort–especially if it is against one’s cultural gradient–cause psychological tension? You bet it can! I neither said nor implied otherwise. But we’re not talking about a simple changing of worldviews here, nor are we talking about a simple public expression of that change. We’re talking about a public campaign needlessly asking children to cross a line of no return. I’ll say it one more time: Whether or not they actually have is NOT RELEVANT HERE. Whether or not they should ever come to believe that they have is a significant psychological health concern.

    If evangelical atheists want to go about proclaiming the evil of religion and the gospel of godlessness, that’s their business. If they want to conduct a campaign which encourages impressionable children to commit an act which could come back to haunt them in a major way, it becomes mine.

  27. 27
    thechristiancynic says:

    crandaddy,
    You’re quite welcome.

  28. 28
    dopderbeck says:

    Crandaddy,

    Believe me, I’m not condoning anything these people are doing. It’s awful. I just don’t see the angle you want to use going anywhere.

  29. 29
    littlejon says:

    “Whether or not they actually have is NOT RELEVANT HERE. Whether or not they should ever come to believe that they have is a significant psychological health concern”

    Well that’s an easy one to avoid. No sect of any religion should teach that they have “crossed a line” or the punishment is “an eternity in hell”. Just say “you’ll be forgiven”. Trala! No psychological damage.

  30. 30
    crandaddy says:

    Believe me, I’m not condoning anything these people are doing. It’s awful. I just don’t see the angle you want to use going anywhere.

    If you think I ever considered for one moment that the people who are promoting this would look at my post and think, “Oh no! What are we doing?”, then you take me for being the absolute paragon of naivete. I have merely proposed a secular reason for why this activity should be discouraged–one which I think even a reasonable atheist might accept.

  31. 31
    DaveScot says:

    bdk

    If I am an atheist, this means I do not believe in the existence of a Holy Spirit. Does this mean I cannot be saved? Of course not. Just these words on videos aren’t unforgivable sins.

    Privately denying God is hardly the same as a public proclamation. Once you go public it becomes a matter of record. You’ve driven a stake in the gr0und, so to speak. Whether it’s an unforgiveable sin or not is beside the point. The salient point is what’s to be gained from publically denying God? There’s no upside to it. There might not be any downside to it but why risk it? It’s a stupid thing to do.

  32. 32
    sajones97 says:

    1st post. 2nd attempt. Hoping this isn’t a duplicate.

    I’m a lurker who has briefly come out of the shadows to make an observation.

    (I’m not much of a debater, so I’ll slink back shortly. . .)

    I’m just having trouble getting my mind around what this means. It seems to me, with the release of the book _The God Who Wasn’t There_, by Richard Dawkins, as well as the debut of blasphemychallenge.com, that this could mean a paradigm shift in the “origins” debate (and obliterate the false pretense that the Darwinazis are only interested in science).

    Atheism is a theological statement about God in the negative. Atheistic belief (faith) is in no way testable, reproducible, or falsifiable, and as such it is a faith system making faith claims about God, or the lack thereof.

    Consider: if the atheistic Darwinists are consistent in their faith, then we should have expected this. We should have expected that they begin proselytizing, literally, preaching their faith doctrines and amassing the troops to fight back against the “heresy” of Theism. However, until now they have maintained that they have no interest in supernatural, theological, or metaphysical discussion. My point is, again, we should not be surprised by it. In fact, I propose the alternate view: we should WELCOME this development!

    Think of it: if they drop the false pretense of being ONLY concerned with “objective” science, if we’ve upset them enough to the point where they feel they have no choice but to let it all hang out, to completely reveal their hand, then the world begins to see them for what they are: completely devoid of any moral compass, armed with absolutely NOTHING, because nothing is all they believe in. Randomness and purposelessness. A universe devoid of God and meaning!

    In my opinion (fully recognizing better minds than mine reside here, and there are consequences I’ve not considered), if we’ve pushed them to this, then we’ve already won. In attempting to influence the impressionable past a possible psychological/spiritual point of no return, they themselves have crossed an intellectual threshold from which they cannot return. They can no longer hide behind a false mask of “reason” and “scientific inquiry”. They have shown themselves for what they truly are, and what their real intent is.

    The first step to recovery is admission.

    Indeed. The truth will set you free.

    (Back into the shadows. . . )

  33. 33
    tribune7 says:

    Good post, sajones97.

Leave a Reply