Religion

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

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I found the images of young people in “The Blasphemy Challenge” giving up their immortal souls on a dare disturbing enough to make me weep for them. I’m not rationally convinced we have immortal souls to give up but certainly the possibility exists. Imagine on judgement day that was you in the video and it was being replayed. There’s nothing to gain and everything to lose in this. Please join me in a simple prayer for the young victims of this stunt.

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

48 Replies to “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

  1. 1
    TRoutMac says:

    I couldn’t bring myself to watch any of those vids. I took an uncomfortably long look at the home page, trying desperately to convince myself that I wasn’t seeing what I was seeing. Obviously, I had to concede the truth.

    I’ll join in your prayers for them. But I’ll remind anyone who is a Christian on this board that these poor folks CAN undo this… it’s not necessarily permanent. They might, at some point in their lives, change their minds. And that’s all it takes.

    TRoutMac

  2. 2
    Matteo says:

    It’s far more likely that the kids in these videos end up coming to true faith than any number of those who are too indifferent to care either way. The thing I give credit to the militant atheists for is that it matters to them greatly whether God exists or not. I look at every person like Dawkins as a potential St. Paul, setting himself up for a Damascus moment. In the Book of Revelations, the Lord says ” I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” I’d say that indifference puts you at far greater risk than open enmity.

  3. 3
    realgm says:

    Dave, there is no mention anywhere in the Christian Bible of an immortal soul. That is a common element of many pagan religions but it has no place in Christianity. Even if they never change their minds, those kids won’t roast forever because they won’t live forever.

  4. 4
    jb says:

    Matteo: “I look at every person like Dawkins as a potential St. Paul, setting himself up for a Damascus moment.”

    I’ve had the same thought. What an event that would be! Can you imagine…..

  5. 5
    Jared White says:

    I’ve started praying for Richard Dawkins. I’m convinced that despite his bewildering beliefs, he is passionate, articulate, savvy, and truly committed to his cause, and if only God could somehow open his eyes, he’d be one of our greatest spokespersons! If only more Christians were as committed to their beliefs as Dawkins is to his….

    BTW, I don’t think saying “I deny the Holy Spirit” is the blasphemy that the Bible talks about, since these folks don’t believe in satan either — which is the alternative source of power Jesus was referring to. This is just a pathetic gimmick to shock Christians and make headlines. I have no doubt that some of those people could very well believe in God someday and be forgiven. Another thing to pray about…. 🙂

  6. 6
    Ekstasis says:

    jb,

    Well, to answer your question, since it is so close to Christmas, um, I mean holiday, time, perhaps a bit of the Christmas Carol experience. Oh yes indeed, Sir Dawkins may be visited by the the ghost of Charles Darwin. Instead of being bound in iron chains he will be wrapped in a double helix, of which was not yet discovered. And instead of restlessly roaming the earth, he will be endlessly searching for that warm scummy pond, which he was sure existed in which humanity’s first precursor got its jumpstart.

    Oh yes, old man Charles will announce the visitation of three ghosts. The ghost from the past will feature Plato and the other early ID pioneers. And they will point out such high points of Darwinian evolution such as eugenics, and the recapitulation hoax, and the many fossil frauds. Next will come the ghost of the present, featuring such events that are elevating our intellectual freedom such as the Dover decision. And finally, for the grand finale, the future will unfold. Yes, it will show that someday Darwinian evolution will go the way of the other infamous icons of the past, such as Vladimir Lenin’s once gloriously preserved and venerated body — into the ground. Darwinian evolution will be there in the history books right next to those old, dusty maps of the U.S.S.R — once not to be messed with, now only to be pitied that so many spent so much on so big a fraud.

  7. 7
    austinite says:

    I’m not rationally convinced we have immortal souls to give up but certainly the possibility exists. Imagine on judgement day that was you in the video and it was being replayed. There’s nothing to gain and everything to lose in this.

    That is a very odd mix of beliefs you have there, Dave. You’re not sure that there is even such a thing as an immortal soul, but you appear convinced enough about very specific tenets of Christianity that you worry that somehow these people are seriously endangering theirs just by quoting a specific phrase?

    Biggie Smalls, Biggie Smalls, Biggie Sm….

    There’s nothing to gain and everything to lose in this.

    Placing one’s faith in the care of Occam’s Razor is not recommended.

    As others have pointed out, most scholars will tell you that “blashpheming the Holy Spirit” is a very specific act that can only be done if you have full knowledge of what such an act entails. i.e. that you believe in the existence of a Judeo-Christian God (as defined by the Bible) and then explicitly reject God and everything He stands for with a full understanding of the consequences.

    So if they “know not what they do” then there is no chance they are really committing an unpardonable sin.

  8. 8
    Inquisitive Brain says:

    Dave,

    There is frequent mention in the Christian Bible of an immortal soul. Immortality is a common element of the Jewish and Christian traditions. If you or realgm would like, I could provide a laundry list of citations from the Christian Bible that conclusively demonstrate this.

  9. 9
    Bob OH says:

    austinite –

    This isn’t Occam’s razor (that could cut both ways). Rather, it’s Pascal’s wager.

    Bob

  10. 10
    Ekstasis says:

    austinite,

    Dave is consistent in that he acknowledges the possibility of something, even if mentally he is not sure about it. This is called honesty and sincerity, and sure beats dogmatism and cockiness resting on a foundation of marshmallows.

    Besides, we all do it every day. Do we know for certain how the equity or bond markets will behave in the future? No, but I bet just about everyone reading this is invested in a 401(k) or some equivalent. Students, do you know for certain that your college degree will pay off for you? No, but some of you study hard anyway.

    So in the end, it is far more important how we live and believe and make decisions based on limited knowledge than filing away some set of dogmatic beliefs in our mental database, to be retrieved only when getting into a debate.

  11. 11
    Erasmus says:

    Where are the atheist ID supporters I keep hearing about? Seems like some of them should be represented on the Blasphemy Challenge.

    And the Hindu. And Jew. and all the other big tent members. Something’s fishy.

  12. 12
    GilDodgen says:

    On the subject of blasphemy: One interpretation of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is that this represents a heart that has become so hardened that one no longer has an interest in seeking God. In this case, when the desire to seek Him is irrevocably atrophied, one is irrevocably lost. Thus, a simple statement like “I deny the Holy Spirit” would not constitute blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and would certainly not be irrevocable. In this interpretation, the “unforgivable” part is thus an intentionally self-inflicted wound that is invited and comes about through a process. I was an atheist for 43 years and still recovered from it, however, I believe that the older one gets the more likely it is that a state of irrevocability will be reached.

    On the subject of immortal souls: I found a book by Michael Sabom very interesting: Recollections of Death, A Medical Investigation. This is not the typical near-death experience anecdotal case history collection. Sabom did a carefully controlled medical investigation and came to some surprising conclusions. I don’t draw any specific theological conclusions from NDEs, but explaining them away in purely materialistic terms requires an awful lot of fancy footwork.

  13. 13
    Inquisitive Brain says:

    Erasmus,

    As is plain to anyone with eyes, those young people responding to the Blasphemy Challenge are deluded and parrot verbatim the atheistic tripe as a simple act of juvenile rebellion.

    Most people who don’t believe in the Holy Spirit have better things to do than to make silly videos that propagandize to the benefit of nobody.

    The Blasphemy Challenge is cud for the stupid and ignorant of modern society that look hopefully to our “atheistic future,” when the current 90% of human population that are religionists will repent of their evil ways and blindly follow a senseless proposition that logically leads to meaninglessness, and inevitably to nihilism.

  14. 14
    TerryL says:

    The athiest ID supporters are hanging out with the Loyal Opposition. They’re… somewhere. I’m sure of it.

    As one who has made the journey from believer to unbeliever back to believer, I can only say I seriously doubt there’s a sin God won’t forgive. God, who understands all things, understands all too well that we often don’t know what we do. Make that “ever.”

  15. 15
    dacook says:

    It’s BECAUSE they know not what they do that they will not really be damned forever.
    You have to have undeniable experience of the Holy Spirit and then deny it to be unforgiven.

    Regarding the comment about the bible not mentioning an immortal soul; here is only one of a pretty long list of references:

    Matt 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
    (Would that be Richard Dawkins?;))

    This isn’t the place to get into it but the bible does support the concept of existence before and after this life.

  16. 16
    DaveScot says:

    Austinite

    There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain in saying a little prayer for someone else. If God isn’t listening nothing is lost. If God is listening there’s much to be gained. Try it and see.

  17. 17
    jb says:

    TerryL: “As one who has made the journey from believer to unbeliever back to believer”

    Wow! That’s interesting. I’d be curious to hear your story.

  18. 18
    DaveScot says:

    Bob OH

    re Pascal’s Wager. Good comparison. If I’d ever read about before it was 30 years ago in Philosophy 101. After reading this I’d have to say I’m essentially in agreement with Pascal.

  19. 19
    Collin says:

    DaveScot
    I like the phrase “try it and see.” There is an experiment that can be done that yields real results, but that is not empirically measurable.
    John 7:17

    dacook, I’d like to know what denomination you belong to if any.

  20. 20
    dacook says:

    Collin: “dacook, I’d like to know what denomination you belong to if any. ”

    I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Commonly known as “Mormon.”

  21. 21
    kvwells says:

    3. realgm

    Strange claim. Trolling, are we?

  22. 22
    faithandshadow says:

    Inquisitive Brain says, “There is frequent mention in the Christian Bible of an immortal soul.”

    I disagree. In fact, the Bible teaches the exact opposite … that “only God hath immortality. ”
    (Somewhere in Timothy, I think.)

    Still, it would still be interesting to see what Bible passages you have in support of your view. I’m quite certain supposed support for an immortal soul is simply being read the wrong way, but I always like to get everything in. Additionally, people don’t have souls, they are souls. (And man became a living soul. See Genesis.)

  23. 23
    faithandshadow says:

    It’s ironic because you have to actually believe in the Holy Spirit to Blaspheme the Holy Spirit in the passage from which they quote Jesus. Isn’t it irrational and illogical to use such a false premise as the basis of their offer? So much for “Rational Response.”

    God will be more than willing to forgive any of these people who do this YouTube thing to get a video. Christ is talking to people who actually believe in the Holy Spirit, not about people who deny one exists. That’s a big difference, because how could atheists ever convert having denied that a Holy Spirit exists. Jesus here is angry with the Pharisees who have witnessed Christ’s divinity through His miracle and is telling that applying the devil to the power of the Holy Spirit is blasphemy. You would have hoped that the RRS would have looked into it like rational human beings might do before making these kinds of claims!

  24. 24
    tribune7 says:

    But I’ll remind anyone who is a Christian on this board that these poor folks CAN undo this

    Worth repeating. Prayers for the kids.

  25. 25
    Fross says:

    yea, i felt a little embarrassed by this. Personaly I put God and Jesus in the same category as the Easter Bunny and Santa, and I’d feel just as silly if I saw a bunch of youtube videos of kids saying they don’t believe in Santa. I guarantee that most of those kids grew up in a fundy family and while their beliefs have changed, the way they act on professing their beliefs or lack of beliefs has remained the same.

  26. 26
    faithandshadow says:

    Comparing God to the easter bunny and Santa shows the same level of maturity as these kids making these videos.

  27. 27
    Inquisitive Brain says:

    faithandshadow and realgm,

    The first helpful distinction in this dialog about the nature of the soul is the difference between immortal and eternal. In Christian theological traditions I am familiar with, immortal means ‘having no end’, whereas eternal means ‘having no beginning and no end’. God is eternal, while angels, and the souls of men, are immortal.

    If using the Christian Bible as an authority, one would acknowledge that man is a united material and spiritual being. With these distinctions in mind, below are a few verses. I have made an earnest attempt at concisely summarizing the salient passages, but please excuse the length and allow me to indulge:

    Soul created by God — Gen 2:7; Eccl 12:7; Is 57:16; Zech 12:1
    Made in God’s image — Gen 1:26-27; 1 Cor 11:7; Col 3:10
    Distinct from body — Mt 10:28; Acts 2:27; 1 Thes 5:23; Heb 4:12
    Soul subject to temptation — 1 Pet. 2:11; 2 Pet. 2:14
    The body is just a tent, or tabernacle, that does not last — 2 Cor. 5:1-4; 2 Pet. 1:13
    Soul departs body at death — Gen 35:18; Eccl 12:7; Matt. 25:41, 46; Lk 12:20
    Soul survives death of body — Gen 35:18; 1 Sam 28:19; Is. 14:9-17, 1 Kings 17:22; Mt 10:28; Lk 8:55; 16:19-31
    Committed to God’s care at death — Ps 31:5; Acts 7:59; 1 Pet 4:19; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; Rev.14:11,13
    Souls of just in heaven — Wis 3:1; Rev. 5:8; 6:9-11; 8:3; 14:13; 20:4
    Jesus “preached to the spirits in prison” — 1 Pet. 3:19
    Nothing compensates for loss of soul — Mt 16:26; Mk 8:36
    Saving our souls — Jms 1:21; 5:20; 1 Pet. 1:9

  28. 28
    faithandshadow says:

    “God is eternal, while angels, and the souls of men, are immortal.” But what about Timothy who says God alone has immortality? Surely “alone” excludes both angels and souls?

    Gen 2:7: Man became a living soul (nephesh, same word for other animals.) (He wasn’t given a soul, but became one.) RSV says, “Man became a living being.”
    Eccl 12:7 is speaking about the spirit-a different hebrew word (the breath of life)– and not a soul. A soul is what we are; The breath of God is the spirit or energy that animated all life.
    Gen 1:26-27;1 Cor 11:7; Col 3:10: We may reason and create like God; but God alone hath immortality.
    Mt 10:28–the word translated as soul here is Psuche, which can mean a number of different things, from life, appetite, emotion, etc. It does not denote some kind of immortality, which is given to the saints in the end.

    Well, I’ve run out of time. Yikes. But if I ever get back, I’ll answer more of those. I have a response to every one of these versus. It takes some study, but the idea of an ethereal soul and man’s immortality are pagan-influenced tradition.

  29. 29
    Michaels7 says:

    Dave,

    Be careful…. you’re walking toward the heart of Yeshua Ha Moshiach, Christ Annointed. A good direction, because he forgave a thief and those who killed him up until the last moment.

    It is one of the hardest paths to follow. Few of us merit such distinctions in this life and we’re not the ones to know who, when or how one turns to redemption and cries out, “Father, Father…”

    In this vein, I agree at times with Operdeck. But I also recognize the Peters of this world, and John the Baptist thru to John the Beloved.

    We are called to pray for Dawkins, as well as the sheep he steers blindly away.

    For Dawkins and his crew, we have done the unpardonable sin in his estimation. Many here question either all or some of his own religion – Evolution, and his false Messiah, Darwin.

    Thus at first he tries to use logic, being a materialistic scientist, then he tries publicity, still trying to be mature, but eventually the basic instincts of him emerges, immature, and childish. He lashes out with venom like any child who does not get their way. His behavior is no better than others afterall. In fact, it is worse. It is one thing to make a joke, to deadpan, or add sarcasm to show how silly things are that people take so serious and themselves so serious at times…, at times.

    We can even laught at ourselves.

    But in this case, Dawkins is goes over the edge like so many before him. Having seen his god attacked, he attacks back. But many of us never realized he even had a god. We all thought he was a serious scientist based upon all the bravado. And yet, in his stone heart lives a god and a prophet.

    So, seeing his false prophet, Darwin attacked, and his religion, atheistic evolution attacked, he knee-jerks into attack mode himself. He fights back with his last weapon. Smearing his opponents, name calling, putdowns and the like, an all out effort to eliminate the enemy of his own god.

    Little does he know our God, his enemy. Our Lord does ask us to do exactly what you’re instructing, pray for them. Reach out with love in fact.

    Within his simplistic reactions, you attack my god, I’ll attack your God. Tit for Tat. He’s not looking for truth, just reactionary vindictive slurs.

    I myself get caught up in the gunslinging.

    Your post helps to bring it all back into perspective.

    Yes, we should all pray for him and the children. Salvation being available for all people is the ultimate message of Christ. Neither science, nor law, nor works can grant it.

  30. 30
    GilDodgen says:

    Michaels7,

    That was a great essay, and I’m not easily impressed. DaveScot is a Christian. He just doesn’t realize it yet.

    Gil

  31. 31
    j says:

    realmgm: “Dave, there is no mention anywhere in the Christian Bible of an immortal soul.”

    Look at Revelation 21:

    …I saw the the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God… Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, ‘Look, here God lives among human beings. He will make his home among them; they will be his people, and he will be their God, God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain. The world of the past has gone. …I will give water from the well of life free to anybody who is thirsty… But the legacy for cowards, for those who break their word, or worship obscenities, for murderers and the sexually immoral, and for sorcerers, worshippers of false gods or any other sort of liars, is the second death in the burning lake of sulphur.

    faithandshadow: “But what about Timothy who says God alone has immortality? Surely ‘alone’ excludes both angels and souls?”

    I think you’re reading too much into it. While 1 Timothy 6:15 says:

    …God…the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who alone is immortal…

    This seems simply to be derived from Psalm 136:3:

    Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his faithful love endures forever.

  32. 32
    Inquisitive Brain says:

    faithandshadow,

    Thanks for the reply. The verse you speak of “God alone has immortality,” is 1 Timothy 6:16. But that is simply one verse among many that deal with immortality. There are also many that identify a “spirit, soul, and body.” Therefore, a Biblically-based view must take into account all of the applicable verses. Your apologia does not take all of them into account.

    But, looking at your logic with 1 Tim. 6:16, there are still problems. If “God alone has immortality,” then how is it “given to the saints in the end.”

    And if it is “given to the saints in the end” then it would not be the case that “God alone has immortality,” and as I understand it, you are taking the meaning out of context.

  33. 33
    dodgingcars says:

    Immortal soul?
    Well there are dozens of references to humans gaining “eternal life”.. the most famous of these being John 3:16

    John 3:16
    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

  34. 34
    mike1962 says:

    Jesus was talking about the solders putting nails into his hands, who were mere underlings of the Roman power. Gimme a break, please.

  35. 35
    dodgingcars says:

    mike1962,

    Who are you responding to?

  36. 36
    dodgingcars says:

    Nevermind, I see you’re responding to the original author.

  37. 37
    avocationist says:

    What I think you folks who are defending eternal life do not realize, is that faithand shadow is not denying eternal life. Rather, he does not believe that a human soul posseses immortality on its own. He thinks eternal life is given or upheld forever by the power or will of God. And if you look carefully back over the many quotes that have been given in defense of our immortality with that understanding in mind, I think you will see his point.

    For example, the one about fearing the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. If the soul and body are destroyed, it could mean that they cease to exist. Also, none of the quotes about how God gave life or created us in his image really show that the soul posseses immortality on its own, as an irremovable property.

    I’m not saying I believe that, but it is a position that I have seen well defended, scripturally.

  38. 38
    tribune7 says:

    If the soul and body are destroyed, it could mean that they cease to exist.

    The soul of the rich man who ignored Lazarus was in Hell in Luke 16.

  39. 39
    DaveScot says:

    Mike1962

    Jesus was talking about the solders putting nails into his hands, who were mere underlings of the Roman power. Gimme a break, please.

    Given he suffered that and much more so these children could have eternal life I wonder if being shunned hurts any less?

  40. 40
    TerryL says:

    Reply to #17 jb:

    I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian household, but once I left college I began to harbor my doubts that God was real.

    Without getting into too many details–it was shortly after questioning my beliefs that I suffered a number of setbacks and hardships. At the risk of glossing over too much, I’ll just say that evil people did some evil things to me, for which I suffered immensely, and for which they were punished not at all.

    It was the usual route towards agnosticism: if there’s a God in Heaven who cares about us, why do human beings often suffer as they do? So I started telling myself that religion was just a bunch of hoopla for simpletons and fools.

    Sometime later, I came across Dr. Hugh Ross’s The Creator and the Cosmos, which I found intriguing. It was not much later that I started reading Dr. Dembski’s work in ID.

    After that, I realized that there simply is NO plausible explanation for an ordered universe other than to say that some sort of guiding intelligence behind it all. I finally came to understand what the Psalmist wrote when he said, “The fool says in his heart there is no God.”

  41. 41
    realgm says:

    This thread is not the best place to debate the “immortal” soul but I would be willing to continue the discussion with interested parties via email at gfmiller(at)CBmove(dot)com.

  42. 42
    Inquisitive Brain says:

    avocationist,

    He thinks eternal life is given or upheld forever by the power or will of God. And if you look carefully back over the many quotes that have been given in defense of our immortality with that understanding in mind, I think you will see his point.
    // Dec 21st 2006 at 2:18 am

    Thank you for offering this helpful distinction. I definitely agree with that position. Scripture frequently states that immortality and eternal life is a gift from God. There is no disagreement about that.

    I think our pivot of discussion is where faithandshadow says that,

    “people don’t have souls, they are souls.”

    Perhaps I am reading too much into what faithandshadow is saying here. I take him to mean that the distinction between what Paul calls, “spirit, soul, and body,” in fact, does not exist.

    I see a failure to distinguish between the material and spiritual dimensions of humanity as abandoning Scriptural authority. Further, I claim that the material aspect of humanity is mortal, but that the spiritual aspect is the unique part given immortality.

    Am I reading you correctly, faithandshadow? And, are my claims unambiguously stated?

  43. 43
    Inquisitive Brain says:

    realgm,

    I think I was posting my comment when you offered to email. Thank you for the opportunity to correspond on this topic. I’ll email you later today.

  44. 44
    avocationist says:

    Hello Inquisitive, Realgm, and faithandshadow

    It’s too bad, this could be interesting, but the email discussion won’t be in a visible format for interested parties.

  45. 45
    Inquisitive Brain says:

    avocationist,

    This could be arranged, we’ll see if each and every party is agreeable at the end.

  46. 46
    Virginia says:

    Consider adding your comments to the New York Times discussion of this matter:

    screens.blogs.nytimes.com

    Are these YouTubers damned? Can they be redeemed?
    And what is the status, for those who debate doctrine, of the Sin Against the Holy Ghost?

    Virginia Heffernan, The New York Times

  47. 47
    kvwells says:

    @ 3. realgm concerning 21. kvwells

    I apologize realgm. An unthoughtful non-response on my part.

  48. 48
    realgm says:

    re: 47. kvwells

    No offense taken, kvwells, perhaps because I did not understand what you meant by “Trolling, are we?”.

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