Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is The Threat of Hell Necessary?

The comments on the last article I've written has gotten me to thinking about The Threat of Hell.

When I was a christian (please, just assume that I was for argument), I heard it preached from the pulpit that everybody in the world deserves to go to Hell. It was pounded into my head from the day I was born. I've read tons of literature that threatened the sinner with eternal punishment for minor things (like looking at a passing woman's butt). I've seen men and women in tears as they walked up to the altar out of fear of going to Hell.

My question to my Chriatian readers is simple. Is this threat necessary? Does it take the possibility of a horrible afterlife to keep a person on the straight and narrow? If a person repents and lives a holy life only out of fear of Hell, was that person a good person in the first place? Also, if God won't save a soul because that person did good just to avoid Hell, why use the threat at all?

I leave you with Jeff Dee's take on this. I think Dee is a little harsh with his caller. But, the way it looks now, I kind of agree with him.

93 comments:

Lorena said...

Let's pretend that I am a fundamentalist Christian, for the sake of argument. So, I'll give your question a try.

God knows our hearts. He knows who really loves Him and who follows Him simply out of fear, with pride in their hearts.

Remember what Jesus said about the most important commandment:

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. Mathew 22:36-38

As for telling non-Christians that there is a hell, we must tell them because it wouldn't be right for us to know of it and do not warn others. We believe it is our responsibility to make them aware that ignoring God has consequences.

But good works can only be the consequence of love, not of fear. Jesus stated this in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command."

-----

I thought it would be fun to pull an answer off my sleeve, like I did when I was a Christian.

The Rambling Taoist said...

The threat of hell is not just necessary but MANDATORY if your belief system is all about controlling people. If you don't want the minions mucking up all the good things going for you (i.e., the religious elite), then you need to develop a mechanism that will keep them out of your hair and cringing in their beds under the covers every night.

Grace said...

Robert, I tried to listen to the video, but wasn't able to get a very good hearing of it on my computer. So, I might have missed some of the commentary.

But, what I heard was that the interviewer thinks that the Christians believe people are in Hell, separated from God, because of honest differences of opinion, simple disagreement. Am I right?

I really could not hear what the Christian being interviewed was saying at all.

I certainly think the "good news," is more than a fire escape. I know when I came to faith as a young person, it was not from fear, but from an honest desire for truth, and to know God.

But, let me ask this question. What about people who truly want nothing to do with the God who is really there? Would it be loving, and just for God to force them into His presence for all eternity?

And, if part of what it means to "be in Christ," is to be changed to be like Him, radically loving, more human..Then what about people who want none of this?? Could they, all of us, without being changed, make a kind of Hell out of Heaven..?

Do you see what I"m saying? In many ways we truly are broken, and fallen. I can hurt the people I love the most without even trying..We're divided from each other..

A huge part of the "good news," is not about just being forgiven, and reconciled with God, but it's also how we are reconciled with each other, too.

Robert Madewell said...

Grace said, "I certainly think the "good news," is more than a fire escape. I know when I came to faith as a young person, it was not from fear, but from an honest desire for truth, and to know God."

Fine! I think you're getting where I'm coming from. If it didn't take the fear of Hell to save you, why would use it to prosyletize?

Grace said, "But, let me ask this question. What about people who truly want nothing to do with the God who is really there?"

First we'd have to assume that God is really there. I'm done assuming that. I don't know of any atheist that thinks that God exists and just doesn't want anything to do with him. If there's a person like that he's technically not an atheist.

Grace said, "Would it be loving, and just for God to force them into His presence for all eternity?"

I think that would be better than torturing them forever with no chance of rehabilitaion or reprieve. Of course there's other options for God. He is omnipotent, right? So why couldn't he just annihilate the poor lost souls (like SDA and JW believe)? Why does he have to mercilessly torture them?

I know that not all Christians believe in Hell and eternal torture, but this post is directed at those who do. Grace, I think you're of more of the Billy Graham separated from God Hell belief than the eternal torture belief. I still fail to understand the distinction.

Anonymous said...

Robert,
Billy Graham believes in Hell. That is where those "separated from God" go. The second death is both.

And you are correct about one thing. TRUE ATHEISTS(tm) don't exist. I doubt there is any atheist, including PZ or Dawkins, who, if hanging from a cliff by a fingernail, where you know no human could hear you, wouldn't cry out to God.

Taoist,
You do realize that your idea of this "religious right" who only are out to maintain some earthly power over those they scare with Hell, is as bad of a stereotype as the "evil athiest." I have no power over anyone. Part of being a Christian is having the spirit of a servant, and humbling yourself to everyone else (as long as it's not making you do something blasphemous.)

Robert Madewell said...

"And you are correct about one thing. TRUE ATHEISTS(tm) don't exist."

When did I say that?

I think I need to reword my statement.

A person that thinks that God exists, but doesn't want anything to do with him is not an atheist. Because? He still believes in the existance of God.

An Atheist, like myself, does not believe that God exists. IOW, I'm not an atheist because I don't want anything to do with God. I'm an atheist because I believe that God is not real.

Just like you don't believe that Odin is real (I assume), I don't believe that your God is real. Is that so hard to comprehend?

Grace said...

Well guys, one thing seems certain. We are not going to resolve this difference of conviction here right now.

Regardless of our perception, death comes to all of us, without exception, though. At some point, we're all going to find out for certain.

Robert, I don't know that annhiliation seems very satisfactory, either. God created us for eternity. Is it loving for Him to snuff His creature out forever, and not rather allow them the choice, and consequence of their chosen path?

I really do think that the essence of Hell is seperation from the love of God, His goodness, everything that means..

Have you ever read the book by that Anglican philosopher/scholar, C.S. Lewis, "The Great Divorce." He addresses this whole issue by the use of allegory. I read his book years ago, and it gave me alot of food for thought.

For myself, I've seen God's love in the face of Christ, and have become persuaded that I can trust Him with my life.

I think Christians should be about loving, and accepting people where they're at, sharing the "good news," with those able, and willing to hear.

I'm content to leave in the end who will eventually be saved, or lost to the mercy, and justice of the Lord.

To paraphrase the Scripture, "Will not the judge of all the earth do right," Robert.

The Rambling Taoist said...

I've seen God's love in the face of Christ...

You've actually SEEN Jesus? When? Where? What does he look like? Can you send me a picture?

Robert Madewell said...

"Robert, I don't know that annhiliation seems very satisfactory, either. God created us for eternity. Is it loving for Him to snuff His creature out forever, and not rather allow them the choice, and consequence of their chosen path?"

I still think it would be better than burning them forever in a lake of fire with no chance of reprieve, being tortured for trillions upon trillions of years with no end. Maybe, you don't hold to this view of hell, but most fundamentalists do. That's the issue I want to address.

Doesn't that view of Hell seem a little excessive? It does to me.

"I really do think that the essence of Hell is seperation from the love of God, His goodness, everything that means.."

I'm familiar with this view of Hell. I really don't have as big a problem with it as I do with the Lake of Fire view. Except, that no one's been able to give me a scripture reference supporting it, yet. That really doesn't matter either because, as you all know, I don't consider the bible authorative. All that this vision of hell tells me is that some christians are as disgusted as I am with the fire and brimstone hell, so they've created a kinder and gentler hell.

Believe what you want I guess.

ethinethin said...

At some point, we're all going to find out for certain.

Or not.

I sometimes wish other religions were real so that stupid christians would realize it in horror as they burn in hell. It'd be so worth it.

The sad fact is that you'll never realize how wrong you were and how much of your precious little time you wasted praying, engaging in apologetics, and trying to stifle human achievement with bronze age mythology.

ethinethin said...

I don't consider the bible authorative.

Don't worry, Robert. Neither do christians. Even the hardcore fundamentalists are cafeteria christans (though they will never admit it).

Robert Madewell said...

Ethinethin said, "Even the hardcore fundamentalists are cafeteria christans (though they will never admit it)."

ROFL! I think I've heard that somewhere before! Truer words have never been spoken!

ethinethin said...

Almost word for word :)

Anonymous said...

"An Atheist, like myself, does not believe that God exists. IOW, I'm not an atheist because I don't want anything to do with God. I'm an atheist because I believe that God is not real.

Just like you don't believe that Odin is real (I assume), I don't believe that your God is real. Is that so hard to comprehend?"

You're right. I don't believe in Odin. That's why I don't devote my time to making a blog about why I don't believe in Odin. I don't waste time talking to people who believe in Odin. A real atheist doesn't care about God or if I believe in Him. Again, you, like all other atheists, are all talk. Given a life or death situation, you will call upon the name of the Lord. It may be here, or it may be at the white throne judgment, but it will happen.

oh, and ethinethin said, "I sometimes wish other religions were real so that stupid christians would realize it in horror as they burn in hell. It'd be so worth it."

Yeah, Robert. Atheists are such upstanding moral folks. I don't wish Hell on you ethin, and am here specifically to shine the light to show the way out of that happening. You are acting as a hateful monster. Be careful hardening your heart so much. At some point, He stops knocking. It might sound great now, but be careful what you wish for.

Robert Madewell said...

"That's why I don't devote my time to making a blog about why I don't believe in Odin. I don't waste time talking to people who believe in Odin. A real atheist doesn't care about God or if I believe in Him. Again, you, like all other atheists, are all talk."

For one thing. Believers in Odin aren't trying to force their sensibilities on everyone else. The reason I speak out is because I'm tired of being silent. The religious in my area spout all this holy than thou crap. They slander those that have different beliefs (more than just criticize). I've been told that I am a devil worshiper. I almost was banned from seeing my extended family. All because I am an atheist.

I am tired of the crap. That's why I am publicly questioning the dogma and doctrines. Especially, the ones that I feel are doing harm. Like, The Doctrine of Hell.

Also, when I was growing up, I was not given a choice. I was punished a few times for questioning our beliefs. In my opinion, any belief system that has to resort to violence and punishment to keep a child from honest inquiry is evil.

Robert Madewell said...

Anon,
Ethinethin is just expressing his frustration. I allow anyone to do that on my blog, whether or not I agree. Honestly, that comment was pretty mild. I've heard much worse.

Anonymous said...

The Doctrine of Hell is doing harm? How so? Don't blame God or Christianity because your parents were overzealous. I gather from your previous posts that they defended their actions by bringing up the scripture about a rebellious child. They completely misrepresented the scripture, and acted on their own. They threw out the scripture about not provoking your child to wrath. But don't take out their faults on the rest of the world.

ethinethin said...

What I said was pretty mild compared to what some christians have said to me in public.

They have no problem stopping me and lecturing me about how my disbelief in their ridiculous superstitions is going to land me in a lake of fire where I will writhe in agony and horror, while they look on happily from heaven.

I was raised with those beliefs. I am lucky I escaped it (the cycle of self-loathing, outward hatred, and smug arrogance), despite being subjected to it for nearly two decades.

There is no "devil on my shoulder". I don't need to be "saved by the blood of the lamb". Maybe you'll realize it, too, someday. Maybe you'll realize how you've been lied to your whole life by your parents, congregation, and minister.

I truly hope you do, so you can start living your life for yourself rather than for (the fictional) jesus, and stop trying to scare people into your bronze age mythology by threatening them with eternal suffering.

But your own "heart" is "too hardened" to the same repeated lies you've heard all your life. It may be too late for you to learn a discipline like logic or attempt to question fundamental contradictions and inhumanities of the bible.

Anonymous said...

"while they look on happily from heaven."

I seriously doubt any Christian ever said that to you.

And even if you don't want to accept Him as your Savior, Jesus was in no way fictional. Most secular historians would argue that point with you.

ethinethin said...

I've even had Anonymous christians on these blogs say that to me, so whether you doubt it or not (or whether it was you or not, since for some reason you're too afraid to use a name to identify yourself), it has happened and is part of your religious doctrine.

Unless you can somehow mourn the damnation of fallen family members while in heaven, but that wouldn't exactly be eternal bliss, would it?

ethinethin said...

And I would still contend that the jesus of the bible is fictional. It may, in part, be based on a real person, but so would the characters of the Iliad or even Gilgamesh.

Anonymous said...

Once you are out of the cess pool of christian make believe it is impossible to believe you ever did believe it. The never ending rhetoric of hell and damnation, eternal gods, gods that neverwere, this mythic list is endless. Everything they believe in breaks every know law of physics needing miracles, a bible written by man
when gods could have and would have done it. Eternal gods, intolerant with the minds of man to punish and terrorize with the impatience of children. When one can witness the purity and indeferance of nature that evolves over time with preferance to no entity, outside interferance. A make believe world is no chioce but blind faith that religion requires. The apologist and cafeteria christians with their bronze age rhetoric are stuck in their unmovable logic and have to resort to innuendoes that coincide to how they see it. They fester because some people believe different, never accepting it.
ibex

Rick Lannoye said...

You're asking some great questions.

On some level, even a lot of Christians sense there's a problem with the idea of God threatening to torture billions of people for an eternity, but they've been so indoctrinated and made to feel so much fear for questioning, they have trouble seeing Hell for what it is--a lie.

I've actually written an entire book on this topic--"Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There's No Such Place As Hell," (for anyone interested, you can get a free Ecopy of my book at my website: www.ricklannoye.com), but allow me to add one comment from it.

Indeed, if the idea of the threat of Hell is to get people to convert, then what a sorry bunch of converts they would be! Heaven would be populated, not by people who actually loved God, but a bunch of lackies. They only converted for the fear of what sort of pain would be inflicted upon them if they didn't.

Take away Hell, and they would no longer believe.

Anonymous said...

That's not actually true. I got saved because I feared Hell. It was only afterward that I grew to love the Lord.

Anonymous said...

Robert,

Christians don't all agree of course. But, I think the images relating to fire are figurative because human words can't express the sorrow, and despair of the absence of God, just like we can't fully comprehend the joy, and beauty of His presence in Heaven, so we speak of streets of gold..

Robert, I would never punish my kids, or grandchildren for honest doubts, or questioning relating to the faith. To me, that shows they are seeking truth, and have healthy, inquiring minds.

Do you think it possible your parents may have had emotional problems outside of their faith? Please don't judge all Christians by this sad experience.

Were you reared in the church also, Ethinethin? You have so pretty strong, harsh opinions.

Grace

GCT said...

Grace asked, "Is it loving for Him to snuff His creature out forever, and not rather allow them the choice, and consequence of their chosen path?"

Apart from the false dichotomy, why would it be considered better to torture someone for eternity instead of simply not having them live for eternity? god could still give us a choice, the choice between heaven and non-existence, without having to have eternal souls suffering in hell.

But, the reason I chimed in was to ask a counter-question. Does anyone think we could live for eternity, even in heaven, and not get bored, sad, frustrated, angry, etc.? I would think that an eternity of heaven would probably get old after a while.

I also have to ask if the Xians here who are bound for heaven can be truly happy knowing that other people will be burning in hell for eternity, and how do you square away the contradiction of heaven being paradise if you are haunted by the spectre of people suffering?

jerry said...

Robert Madewell said...


For one thing. Believers in Odin aren't trying to force their sensibilities on everyone else.

Why do atheists always see a Christian who expresses their faith or simply discuss their views with someone as FORCING their sensibilities on someone? I share my faith with you, you take it or leave it. Why do you expend so much energy and effort trying to disprove a God you dont believe in? Strange that you feel the need to FORCE your view on me.

Robert Madewell said...

"Why do atheists always see a Christian who expresses their faith or simply discuss their views with someone as FORCING their sensibilities on someone?"

No! That's not what I mean. I mean like trying to get laws passed to force gay people to be straight or to force religious beleifs to be taught in public schools or to ban certain books from public libraries because certain religious groups don't agree with what's in the books.

As far as I'm concerned you can state your beliefs all you want. I have no problem with that. Did you know that I am not allowed to run for public office in my own town because of my non-beliefs? I'd call that forcing sensibilites on me.

GCT said...

"Why do atheists always see a Christian who expresses their faith or simply discuss their views with someone as FORCING their sensibilities on someone?"

Because, that's exactly what it is, although to different degrees. We live in a culture that is saturated with religion. We have it on our coins, in our pledge of allegiance, it's scandalous if a politician is not a Xian, it's in all of our popular media, people feel like they have to appease Xians in this country in order to survive in the marketplace, etc. These are all examples (of varying extent) of people forcing their religious sensibilities on us, and I didn't even mention the obvious ones of laws that sprang from Xians trying to enact their morality on others (prohibitions against suicide for instance) or obvious acts of bigotry and discrimination which do happen (see what is happening with Hemant Mehta right now for example).

We also have people using their Xianity to start wars in our name (Bush going into Iraq, for instance) and outlawing women's rights, gay rights, etc.

"I share my faith with you, you take it or leave it."

And, if that's as far as it goes, that would be a significant improvement.

"Why do you expend so much energy and effort trying to disprove a God you dont believe in?"

Because of the measurable negative effects that we get from irrational thinking in terms of public policy (wars, abstinence only, etc) and how it affects all our lives. If theists weren't out there trying to run our lives, it wouldn't be necessary to point out how irrational, illogical, and silly the Xian superstition really is.

"Strange that you feel the need to FORCE your view on me."

By use of logic, reason, and debate? Sure, if that is forcing on you, then I'll concede that you've got me. When you take your Xian symbology off of our money and out of our pledge, then we can talk about forcing things on people.

Anonymous said...

America is a Christian nation. If you don't care for it, move on.

"people feel like they have to appease Xians in this country in order to survive in the marketplace, "

Really? That must be while all the million dollar Hollywood movies are Bible stories, and Christian fiction. Or why sex is used to sell every product from jeans to jock straps.

Robert Madewell said...

"America is a Christian nation. If you don't care for it, move on."

I am an american. I was born in this country and I am a legal citizen of The United States of America. I love my country. How dare you tell me to leave, Anon. I am offended. What would you propose to do? Line up all the american atheists and deport them? I can't stand being told to leave my country.

GCT said...

"America is a Christian nation. If you don't care for it, move on."

This is simply bigoted and untrue. The US is a nation populated by a majority Xian populace, but the laws of the country and the rights given to the citizens are supposed to make it a secular nation. This is why I (and others) speak up, because people like you seek to trample my first amendment rights, and if I don't speak it, it will happen.

"Really? That must be while all the million dollar Hollywood movies are Bible stories, and Christian fiction. Or why sex is used to sell every product from jeans to jock straps."

Yeah, it's why people never have abortions on popular tv shows (they mis-carry instead when the writers need to get rid of a baby). That's why Passion was such a big hit. It's why we have violence in movies instead of sex (because Xians apparently don't mind heads being blown off, but get their panties in a twist when a boob is shown or a penis).

Anonymous said...

"I am an american. I was born in this country and I am a legal citizen of The United States of America."

I'm sure you can trot out old Thomas Jefferson quotes in an attempt to show a secular founding father, however this country was founded as a Christian nation, the Constitution written to go alongside, not replace, the Bible as the law man should follow. It is by the grace of God alone that our country has seen the successes it has over the years. Pay attention. The more perverse the people of this nation become, and the more folks there are like you who deny God, the more he has removed his protective hand. You Robert Madewell are personally contributing to the downfall of the very nation you claim as your home.

GCT, do you really think we see more violence because of Christians? You are sadly mistaken. The violence is just as bad. The rampant adulter is just as bad. The language is just as bad. The violence is just easier for them to sneak past the censors.

If they were attempting to please the Christians, you wouldn't see so few G and PG movies anymore, and the tremendous number of PG-13 and R films.

If you think that this world is catering to Christians, you need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Do you not realize that this world is a playground for the wicked? Satan is the prince of this world. You should not be whining so much, and rather enjoying the only time you've got left until Jesus comes back and rids the world of all unrighteousness. Unless you get right with God, this is the closest thing to Heaven you'll ever see. You better "eat, drink, and be merry" while you still can.

Robert Madewell said...

"I'm sure you can trot out old Thomas Jefferson quotes in an attempt to show a secular founding father, however this country was founded as a Christian nation, the Constitution written to go alongside, not replace, the Bible as the law man should follow."

I honestly could care less about the US being founded as a christian nation. The point I wish to make is that I am an american with the right to the same freedoms you have. The same freedoms that allow you to be a christian allows me to be an atheist. If we mess with those freedoms, everybody hurts.

Would you like to see fellow Americans being denied freedoms because they are not theists/ christians? Well that is happening. I can not legally hold a public office in the state of Arkansas. I can not legally testify in court as well. Is this good? Am I less free because I'm an atheist?

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The Rambling Taoist said...

Anon,
You are crazier than a loon! All religion -- Christianity included -- was developed by humans as one method of explaining the unexplainable. It is yet another classic example of mistaking the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself.

If believing in a God or the Bible or the majestic sea slug makes you feel more alive and secure, more power to ya. But P-L-E-A-S-E, you can't prove it's real because it isn't. Plain and simple.

(I'm not going to burn in hell for writing the above because hell only exists in the minds of silly people like you.)

Robert Madewell said...

"The more perverse the people of this nation become, and the more folks there are like you who deny God, the more he has removed his protective hand."

Ok. Since you know me so well, what perverse things have I done? Going to work every day and coming home to my wife and cooking dinner and writing a few rants to clear some steam is about all I do. How perverse is that? Really, I live an awfully boring life.

My wife even goes to church and I wouldn't think of keeping her away from it. Doesn't look like I'm forcing anyone to be an atheist except for maybe myself. It's a personal thing.

Anonymous said...

Ah, how innocuous you believe you are Robert. You preach atheism through this blog. You know it as well as I do. It's pretty obvious. Let alone the fact that you go to Eric Hovind's site and do the same thing. And I'm sure you never throw a question your wife's way in an attempt to deride something her pastor may have said, right?

If it were up to me, you could run for whatever office you want. Obviously you wouldn't get my vote, but you could run. But it's time you stop blaming all of Christianity on the actions of any individual Christian. That's why you think we all spout the "not a true Christian" argument constantly. It's because you will take some small subset and attribute their thoughts and arguments to all of Christianity. If you did the same on the basis of skin color, we'd call it racism.

If you want to be seen as a moral atheist and not "one of the godless heathen" then it's time you start judging Christians on a case by case basis as well.

GCT said...

"I'm sure you can trot out old Thomas Jefferson quotes in an attempt to show a secular founding father, however this country was founded as a Christian nation, the Constitution written to go alongside, not replace, the Bible as the law man should follow."

This is just plain ignorant and ill-informed. Some of the founding fathers did want to make Xianity the religion of the US, and they lost the debate. The first amendment as well as Sec. 6 (I believe - which forbids religious oaths of those who would serve the US) declare that this is a secular state. The treaty of Tripoli does it as well as the writings of the framers of the actual Constitution. In fact, the Constitution was largely derided by the religious of the time as being an atheist document. Your attempts at revisionist history won't work here.

"It is by the grace of God alone that our country has seen the successes it has over the years."

Evidence please.

"The more perverse the people of this nation become, and the more folks there are like you who deny God, the more he has removed his protective hand."

Which is why infant mortality rates have gone down and life expectancy has gone up, right? Give me a break.

"You Robert Madewell are personally contributing to the downfall of the very nation you claim as your home."

By speaking up for what is right, he's making this nation better.

"GCT, do you really think we see more violence because of Christians?"

No, I think we see more violence than sex because most Xians don't seem to have a problem with it. You may be an exception.

"The violence is just easier for them to sneak past the censors."

This is just an inane comment.

"If they were attempting to please the Christians, you wouldn't see so few G and PG movies anymore, and the tremendous number of PG-13 and R films."

Actually, the ratings reflect the puritanical nature of the rating board.

"If you think that this world is catering to Christians, you need to wake up and smell the coffee."

If you think there isn't a perverse bias towards Xians in this country, then you are simply deluded.

"You should not be whining so much..."

Ah yes, standing up for my rights and debating in a logical fashion with facts and reason is "whining." When you can't win with facts, simply try to demonize your opponent, right?

"Unless you get right with God, this is the closest thing to Heaven you'll ever see. You better "eat, drink, and be merry" while you still can."

And, don't forget to proselytize and threaten when you can't back up your arguments.

"But it's time you stop blaming all of Christianity on the actions of any individual Christian. That's why you think we all spout the "not a true Christian" argument constantly."

You really don't get it do you? No one here is saying all Xians are bad because so-and-so Xian did some bad thing. What we are reacting to is your arguments that no Xians are bad. When you claim that Xianity is all about love or some-such, we bring up counter examples. When you dismiss those counter examples in a post hoc fashion as not being "real Xians" that's when we call you out on it. Do you understand now why you get called on it? Do you understand what we are saying? I'm sure that you'll simply continue to flog away at your strawmen, but I tried at least.

Grace said...

Hi, GCT,

Hey, I'll share my opinion, again. I want to qualify this by saying it is my opinion. Not all Christians agree.

You know, I think there's a problem with all this focus on just, well, Heaven.

Eternal life begins in the here, and now. It's a quality of life, participating with God in His kingdom. And, I can't think sharing in the life of God, the creator of the universe, could ever be boring.

I don't know that I can answer the other question, "How could I be happy with God knowing people were apart from Him?"

I do think that anyone who wants to be found in Him, will be GCT, in this life, or the next. Is it possible some folks might be more miserable in God's presence, what we call Heaven..??

I mean if someone wants nothing to do with God in this life, why should this change in the next?

Grace said...

Guys, is it possible the truth lies somewhere in the middle??

I have to agree that America was not founded specifically as a Christian nation. But, was it founded as a completely secular state, either? I can't see it.

I mean the Declaration of Independence specifically speaks of how we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights...

And, the original constitutions of every single state specifically reference God.

I could go on from here, but you can see what I'm sayin.

Definitely think that we need to uphold the seperation of church, and state, and forbid discrimination based in religion, but can't see this all interpreted to mean that there can be no mention at all of God in the public sphere.

This doesn't at all square with our culture, or history.

Robert Madewell said...

"It's pretty obvious. Let alone the fact that you go to Eric Hovind's site and do the same thing."

I posted once in the last month on Hovind's blog. He isn't posting articles enough to interest me, anymore.

GCT said...

Grace,
"You know, I think there's a problem with all this focus on just, well, Heaven."

Actually, it's better for you that we speak of heaven than of hell, which is much harder to reconcile with an omni-benevolent entity.

"Eternal life begins in the here, and now. It's a quality of life, participating with God in His kingdom."

Yet, we don't see any appreciable difference between Xians, other believers, and non-believers.

"And, I can't think sharing in the life of God, the creator of the universe, could ever be boring."

For eternity? An eternity of anything would be too much for any human.

"I don't know that I can answer the other question, "How could I be happy with God knowing people were apart from Him?""

Would it not cause you stress and anxiety if not sadness? Isn't that anti-thetical to heaven?

"I do think that anyone who wants to be found in Him, will be GCT, in this life, or the next."

And, we have to decide that based on zero evidence and old mythologies written down by people thousands of years ago that paint a horrible picture of this deity that we're supposed to choose to be with? Finally, we "choose" by whether we correctly discern factual matters in regards to its existence instead of being based on an actual choice and/or our moral sense. This makes no sense.

"Is it possible some folks might be more miserable in God's presence, what we call Heaven..??"

Not according to the definition of heaven.

"I mean if someone wants nothing to do with God in this life, why should this change in the next?"

Why must there be a next life? If someone really doesn't want eternity with god, why is the only other "choice" to be tortured for eternity, with no hope of redemption or change?

"I mean the Declaration of Independence specifically speaks of how we are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights..."

1) The Declaration is not a legally binding document of this country.
2) The "Creator" in this sense was the deistic god.
3) Jefferson's original draft did not even include that part - it was added later.

"And, the original constitutions of every single state specifically reference God."

That much is correct, but the law of the land comes from the Constitution which was derided as an atheist document and has specific protections written into it to protect secularism. Also, once again "god" in that sense may have meant a deistic god. It's not a good assumption to think that any mention of a deity is necessarily support for Xianity.

"I could go on from here, but you can see what I'm sayin."

I could go on as well. Those that wanted to make this a Xian nation sure argued for it...and they lost the debate. The laws of this country were shaped and written by deists that wanted to protect Enlightenment values of secularism.

"Definitely think that we need to uphold the seperation of church, and state, and forbid discrimination based in religion, but can't see this all interpreted to mean that there can be no mention at all of God in the public sphere."

No one is saying that private citizens can not mention god in public. No one. The first amendment protects your rights to worship as you see fit, including in public. This is a strawman argument whipped up by the religious right to scare people - "Oh, they want to take away god completely! Oh noes!" It's simply not true.

What I'm arguing against is state sponsored religion, whether it's sponsored on our coins or by our politicians writing it into law or making it part of public policy or speech. When speaking for the US, public figures acting on behalf of the US must remain completely neutral, meaning no mention of religion. When speaking privately and not representing the country, they may speak or worship as they like. It's part of the job description.

Grace said...

But, anon, shouldn't we give Robert, GCT, all the folks that post here the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe they really don't know, and have had only pretty much negative experiences in the church, and with Christians. They think everyone is the same.

Often on these blogs, I see presented what seems to me a caricature of the Christian faith, and yet everyone seems to think this is what the whole church believes, and teaches.

Years ago I worked at this prison in a very rural setting. It seemed to me that all of the guards were extremely racist, and I had a hard time wrapping my head around this. I mean everyone was racist!!

Then it dawned on me that we all lived in this area where there were literally no African-American people living at all. The only personal experience these guards had with people of color were the African-American inmates who for the most part hated white people, too.

They were caught up in this vicious cycle together.

Robert, I do have a question for you. If it's too personal, please don't feel that you need to answer.

How is your wife feeling about all this? I could handle my husband being an atheist, although it would grieve me. He is more theologically liberal than I, so we do have these intersting, rousing discussions together.

But, I think if my husband thought everything I believed was nonsense, and all Christians, well, superstitious fools, realistically, I think I would feel so hurt, and disrespected at the core, I can't imagine how I would be feeling if he seemed only to want to attack my faith.

And, yet it seems on many of these "deconversion," type blogs, the writers are married to people of faith. Can't help but think this must cause tremendous conflicts in the relationship.

I mean our faith impacts values and priorities, how we want to rear our children, even our friendships. How are people able to handle this together?

I'm thinking it must take a tremendous amount of love, and patience on both sides.

Robert Madewell said...

"How is your wife feeling about all this? I could handle my husband being an atheist, although it would grieve me. He is more theologically liberal than I, so we do have these intersting, rousing discussions together."

Maybe, I can get her to answer that for you. She sometimes comments on my blog.

"But, I think if my husband thought everything I believed was nonsense, and all Christians, well, superstitious fools, realistically, I think I would feel so hurt, and disrespected at the core, I can't imagine how I would be feeling if he seemed only to want to attack my faith."

I'd have a problem with that as well. See, that's not my position at all. Not everything that christians believe is nonsense. I've never said that. There's very few christians that I'd call superstitious fools. Attack is a harsh word that suggests violence. I prefer criticize.

Besides, I try to concentrate on doctrine more than "faith" (whatever that is). Many doctrine is superstition and that's what I would like to concentrate on. I really don't want to emphasize believe (or not) in God. However, I always seem to get get into side conversation about it.

That's why I post about Hell and thought crimes. Though, I might from time to time delve into the kalam cosmological argument because it's my favorite. It's the doctrines that worry me the most, not faith (beleif in God).

GCT said...

Grace,
"Maybe they really don't know, and have had only pretty much negative experiences in the church, and with Christians. They think everyone is the same."

What? First off, why assume that we've "had only pretty much negative experience in the church, and with Christians?" Because only if we have negative experiences could we turn away from Xianity? It couldn't possibly be the complete and utter lack of evidence for the Xian position or the lack of coherence in the mythology?

Secondly, no one here is saying that all Xians are the same. The argument is generally that Xians claim that all Xians believe or do X. It is pointed out that this is not the case, and then I generally go forward and ask how the Xian knows that X is the correct Xian belief, which can't be answered.

"Often on these blogs, I see presented what seems to me a caricature of the Christian faith..."

For instance?

Anonymous said...

'
"Often on these blogs, I see presented what seems to me a caricature of the Christian faith..."

For instance?'

Coming from the guy who starts his every blog post with an anti-Christian comic, that's rich.

ethinethin said...

Coming from the guy who starts his every blog post with an anti-Christian comic, that's rich.

That's not even in context of the conversation. That's not even close to what Grace was referring to.

It's kind of sad that the "bible literalists" show such poor reading comprehension like this**. It certainly casts doubt on their ability to properly read their own holy book.

** This was the sort of caricature Grace was probably referring to, but note that it's an accurate judgement based on the person I'm replying to.

GCT said...

Perhaps anonymous has trouble understanding 4 syllable words?

Anonymous said...

The comics present the typical Christian caricature she's speaking of. That's the point. Down boy, down.

GCT said...

O RLY?

Which ones?

And, do you understand the point of humor?

Anonymous said...

So you deny there are any, or they were meant to be humor. Which is your argument?

BTW, a black joke is still racist whether it was meant as humor or not.

GCT said...

"So you deny there are any, or they were meant to be humor. Which is your argument?"

No, I'm saying that I don't see what you are talking about AND you are humorless.

"BTW, a black joke is still racist whether it was meant as humor or not."

Good thing I'm not into racist jokes then, huh? Oh, are you trying to imply that race and religion are the same in that regard? Last I checked, one is born of a certain skin color while you seem to argue that one can't be born a Xian...it has to be a choice. So, why can't I mock your choice? Hoist by your own petard...again.

Anonymous said...

You can mock anyone you want. It's immoral to do so, but I expect that from an atheist.

Robert Madewell said...

Yeah, anon!
Afiests R sew um oral! Day like 2 sin sew much. I hates dem afiesteses!

Do you mean mocking like that?

Grace said...

Thanks Robert for your response.

I would be very interested to hear from your wife.

GCT, I could be wrong, but I'm feeling that there has to be a deeper reason for people to so strongly oppose the Christian faith beyond just a difference of opinion rooted in intellectual disagreement.

Over the years, I've had friends, and relatives who were atheist or agnostic. But, they would not feel so strongly to debate Christians, or have blogs specifically dedicated to the purpose of debunking Christianity.

It seems to me that many people have been deeply hurt, and wounded by the church, or disillusioned in some way, and this has contributed to unbelief.

They don't want to be identified with Christians, and are pretty much closed to faith.

But, I'm interested to hear your opinions. Do you think I'm totally off base, or is there some truth in what I'm sharing?

jerry said...

Do you folks posting, who consider yourselves athiest, make your decision to be an athiest, or your criticisms of Christianity by reading the Bible or by your observation of people who claim to be Christians? Another question I have, do you believe one can know truth, or even believe truth exists?

GCT said...

Anon,
"You can mock anyone you want. It's immoral to do so, but I expect that from an atheist."

Mocking beliefs is different from mocking people. It's a common misconception that many theists have.

GCT said...

Grace,
"GCT, I could be wrong, but I'm feeling that there has to be a deeper reason for people to so strongly oppose the Christian faith beyond just a difference of opinion rooted in intellectual disagreement."

What you are seeing is simply due to the fact that you happen to live in a society that is highly Xianized. It seems that you are simply assuming that one is either a Xian or in rebellion from Xianity, which is simply not the case. In other cultures, atheists focus attention on other faiths. I suggest you check out Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

"Over the years, I've had friends, and relatives who were atheist or agnostic. But, they would not feel so strongly to debate Christians, or have blogs specifically dedicated to the purpose of debunking Christianity."

Over the years it has also become more acceptable to do such things. In some circles, being an atheist has (over the years and still today) been a death knell in terms of social standing and rights. Look at Robert's struggles with his family. One could not come out and talk about being an atheist or arguing for it.

"It seems to me that many people have been deeply hurt, and wounded by the church, or disillusioned in some way, and this has contributed to unbelief."

I won't deny that there are some people who probably do lose their faith due to some event (like being raped by a priest) that sets them off. It would be fallacious, however, to assume that all atheists were similarly affected. I have no stories involving abuse from some church member or anything else. I simply don't believe, and it has nothing to do with me having been "deeply hurt, and wounded by the church, or disillusioned in some way."

GCT said...

Jerry,
"Do you folks posting, who consider yourselves athiest, make your decision to be an athiest, or your criticisms of Christianity by reading the Bible or by your observation of people who claim to be Christians?"

All of the above and more. Reading the Bible critically is a good start. Logic and science also make for good primers. And, noticing that the personal claims of some Xians are simply not true is another indicator that Xianity is not true. (For instance, some Xians claim that Xians are more moral because they have the holy spirit guiding them, which is simply not true. The Xians who claim this invariably have to rely on fallacious arguments (no true scotsman and special pleading) in order to continue to try and prop up this bad argument.)

"Another question I have, do you believe one can know truth, or even believe truth exists?"

That depends on what you mean by "know" and "truth."

If by "know" you mean have 100% certainty of something, then no. We can not have absolute certainty of anything. If we relax the definition of "know" somewhat, however, I think we can know things to a certain enough extent to justify using that term. The theory of evolution is one example of something we know to be "true."

Which takes us to the definition of "truth." What is true is that which lines up best with physical reality. So, when one asks if "truth" exists, of course it does, because "truth" is just the word that we use to talk about the most precise and accurate representation of the universe. If by "truth" you mean some nebulous concept that actually exists as an entity in itself, then I would disagree with that.

Robert Madewell said...

"Do you folks posting, who consider yourselves athiest, make your decision to be an athiest, or your criticisms of Christianity by reading the Bible or by your observation of people who claim to be Christians?"

Finally, a real question!

I can only speak for myself. Atheists all have varying beliefs. The only thing that I can say for certain that I have in common with any other atheist is that I do not believe that a god exists.

As far as a decision? I really can't point to one moment in my past where I decided to just not believe anymore. I think there may have been a moment that I realized that I didn't believe all along, but as far as deciding to be an atheist, I feel like I didn't have a choice. Belief is not a switch that I can flick and magically believe again then flick it off and go back to not believing.

I've got more thoughts on that, but I'll have to comment on them later when I'm not so busy at work.

ethinethin said...

Over the years, I've had friends, and relatives who were atheist or agnostic.

Why is my first instinct to doubt this statement, as when the racists say "My best friend is black"?

But, they would not feel so strongly to debate Christians, or have blogs specifically dedicated to the purpose of debunking Christianity.

Perhaps they valued your friendship and did not want to engage you in debates.

Or maybe they just didn't believe in god and didn't recognize the extent of the damage in the world the religious people are causing.

That's the thing about atheists that is so unfamiliar to christians: there is no doctrine or dogma. There may be atheist groups and gatherings, but there is no dictated belief system.

Similarly, your observation smacks of one Anonymous made on GCT's blog (I think, it may have been here, it may have even been this thread).

"I know atheists and they don't dedicate their lives to trying to eliminate religion." which then led to "GCT secretly believes in god, knows he's going to hell, but still wants to live his wicked life of sin."

Go on Grace, follow your argument to its natural conclusion. All blogging atheists secretly believe in god and are tools of satan for leading people away from god.

I find it hard to believe, though, that the atheists you know (who were most likely raised in a church environment since you're so churchy) weren't damaged by the church or your almost certain constant proselytizing to them.

Psalm 14:1 my brethren amirite dawwwwwwwwgg

Grace said...

Ethinethin,

I think it's true that religion can certainly become toxic, and abusive.

But, faith can also be very positive in a person's life, and there are tons of good things all the churches are doing as well.

How has religion harmed you personally, though, Ethinethin, if you don't mind me asking?

Stephen said...

Ethinethin - Why do you have such a level of hatred for Christians? The majority of Christians don't proselytize or do anything aside from going to church once a week. Maybe if Christians were doing a better job at being Christians I'd see the firefight being necessary, but you're really shadowboxing here.

jerry said...

Robert Madewell said...
"
Finally, a real question!

I can only speak for myself. Atheists all have varying beliefs.

I literaly chuckled out loud when I read this comment, certainly not AT you Robert but because that is exactly how I feel about my Christianity, while we are on opposite poles concerning Christianity and Atheism we have this in common. I am not sure why I see humor in this but I do. While I do believe in a personal God I marvel at the many varying beliefs we come up with. I guess I am amused at how some Atheist and some Christians can agree on something.

As far as a decision? I really can't point to one moment in my past where I decided to just not believe anymore.

I did not know exactly how to pose my question here but I really appreciate the way you expressed your answer. I realize you were busy when you answered, but would appreciate if when you have time you would complete your thoughts you mentioned in the post. GCT mentioned one of his irritations with Christians was the holier than thou attitude many of them seem to have. As a one Christian I have never felt I was holier or more moral than the next guy. After 49 years of marriage trying to live up to the expectations of a wife and my view of sin, I recognize how immoral I can be so I would hesitate to compare my morality or lack of it with anyone. Each man has to answer that issue him or herself. Now that I have expressed how special I am (I hope you see the tongue in my cheek) I JUDGE that Robert is not quite as angry as GCT. I would rather say observe, but whats the difference, I reckon you can paint a black dog white but still have a black dog.
GCT please dont take offense, since I do not know either of you I am probably way off on my (observation) maybe its just pure passion on your part GCT rather than anger. Anyway I enjoy the civil exchange.

GCT said...

Grace,
"But, faith can also be very positive in a person's life..."

I'm not so sure that this is true. Sure, believing in X and acting on that belief, which brings about good outcome Y is potentially a good thing, but this is an argument that depends on whether the ends justify the means.

"..and there are tons of good things all the churches are doing as well."

And, we should ask what bad things they are doing, like spreading irrationality for just one example. Guilting people into taking their money and then using it for more irrationality is another example. If those people gave to a charitable organization that focused on helping the poor instead of focusing on spreading bronze aged myths, more good would be done.

GCT said...

Jerry,
"I literaly chuckled out loud when I read this comment, certainly not AT you Robert but because that is exactly how I feel about my Christianity, while we are on opposite poles concerning Christianity and Atheism we have this in common."

Actually, there's a huge difference there. Atheists all agree on their conception of god. No theists agree on that. And that's part of the underlying problem with theology, in that there's no way to tell who is right and who is wrong.

"GCT mentioned one of his irritations with Christians was the holier than thou attitude many of them seem to have."

No, what I said was that some Xians make the claim that Xians are inherently more moral and that this is simply not true. It's just one thing that someone can notice about Xianity and figure out that it's nonsense.

"Now that I have expressed how special I am (I hope you see the tongue in my cheek) I JUDGE that Robert is not quite as angry as GCT."

Angry? What, because you are projecting your stereotypical biases into what I say, I must be angry, huh? Do you know how bigoted that is?

"GCT please dont take offense, since I do not know either of you I am probably way off on my (observation) maybe its just pure passion on your part GCT rather than anger. Anyway I enjoy the civil exchange."

Civil exchange...but I'm angry? Huh? You might want to work on that not contradicting yourself in the space of 2 sentences bit.

Yes, I'm passionate about my rights, so sue me. Whatever anger you sense is from your biases - it's your problem to work through, not mine.

Stephen said...

GCT - You do come across as an angry individual. Maybe it's just because we can't hear your tone of voice, or see your facial expressions as you speak on these things, but you definitely come across as angy or bitter.

GCT said...

"GCT - You do come across as an angry individual. Maybe it's just because we can't hear your tone of voice, or see your facial expressions as you speak on these things, but you definitely come across as angy or bitter."

As I'm sure you find all atheists that are concise, don't take no crap, and passionate. Like I said, your problem, not mine.

Stephen said...

GCT - "Like I said, your problem, not mine."

Yes, it must be my own bias. You couldn't possibly just be mean-spirited. Especially after a comment like that.

You poor persecuted atheist, you.

GCT said...

"Yes, it must be my own bias. You couldn't possibly just be mean-spirited. Especially after a comment like that."

Proving my point, proving my point.

"You poor persecuted atheist, you."

I've not said I was persecuted, although my rights are in jeopardy. There is a difference.

Leo said...

How exactly is that proving your point? You are a bit deluded. Egomania is ugly.

ethinethin said...

Because GCT's comment wasn't mean spirited but Stephen implied that it was.

It showed that he automatically reads everything GCT (and probably other atheists) write in a hostile tone.

Which shows that it is his problem.

Atheists get this treatment from religious people all the time. We are automatically demonized. We're fundamentalist atheists, right? Lumped in with 9/11 hijackers and doctor murderers, just for expressing and discussing our reasons for non-belief.

It's just so ingrained into the culture of religion not to question the bible (etc) that our questions and comments are automatically read as hostile by the theists.

Well, that is their problem and they need to get over it!

Stephen said...

There is no 'nice' way to say, "Your problem, not mine." The nature of the comment is mean-spirited coming from an atheist, a christian, whoever.

You are simply being obtuse here. It's not a terrible thing to say, "I'm frustrated with this argument, so yes I'm a bit mean-spirited about it." But don't lie to us and yourself by saying it's just our interpretation.

Leo said...

"Get over it!" is not something you'll ever hear from a caring individual's mouth. Believing the bible or not, your problems are mine, and mine yours. It is only when we grasp this that we start understanding one another.

Robert Madewell said...

"Get over it!" is not something you'll ever hear from a caring individual's mouth.

I disagree. Sometimes 'get over it' is good advice. I've had to learn that myself.

For example: When I was in my early twenties, I was offended by interacial dating. I was told by a very good friend of mine to search for my reasons for being offended. My reason was basically that I had very little exposure to other races up to that point and I was experiencing culture shock. I told my friend this and she told me that that was actually understandable, but if I was going to be a non-prejudiced individual, I'd have to "Get over it." I did. I now realize that my thoughts about interacial dating at that time was a mild racism that I was saddled with, by me being raised in isolation to the real world.

"Get over it" was the best advice I've ever been given.

Stephen said...

I disagree. "search for my reasons for being offended" was the best advice. You couldn't get over it till you did so. In this case, nothing helpful like that is being offered, and rather just "get over it."

jerry said...

Robert, I wish I could put up with GCT's argumentative obnoxious attitude, I would like to visit more with you. He has some argument with whatever is stated, reminds me of my older son. He will argue that black is white today and take the opposite stand tomorrow. Robert I think I could be your neighbor and have a friendship, but GCT has real problems and not because he is and atheist. Any take care all. GCT you wont have to bother arguing with something in this post, I wont be back to read it..

Stephen said...

God bless, jerry. Definitely understandable.

Robert Madewell said...

Sorry Jerry, but I believe that everyone has the right to voice their opinions and I put it into practise on my blog as well. The only comments I have ever deleted were duplicate posts, spam, and my own comments that I didn't like the tone of.

Actually, that's why I started blogging. Really, I just wanted an outlet for my rants instead of driving my wife nuts.

Do you know how rare it is to find christian bloggers that allow open comments? I know of only a handful. I really respect the ones that do and I'll add them to my blogroll. If they stop allowing comments they are gone from the blogroll.

Email me. My address is in my profile.

Stephen said...

"Sorry Jerry, but I believe that everyone has the right to voice their opinions"

Opinions are fine. Opinions are necessary. Hatefulness is not. GCT is hurting his own argument, and yours by responding in the manner he does.

Robert Madewell said...

Guys, GCT is welcome to comment here all he wants, as you are. If you don't like what he says, don't read his comments. I only delete spam, duplicate posts, pr0n and pr0n links, and my own comments that don't sound like I think they should. Even hate speech is tolerated so that the commenters and myself can respond to it.This is my blog and that's how I moderate the comments.

Besides, I haven't seen him post anything that's that extreme for an outspoken atheist. Either take him to task with rebuttals or ignore him. You can post here all you want and you can say pretty much anything you want, though I prefer you to keep it civil and clean, unless you want to be taken to task.

Leo said...

More evidence the morals come from God. One "atheist" acts immoral, and another condones it. I tried to comment on GCT's blog and was called "an ignorant twat." Ethinethin is completely rude. Seems to me it's not necessarily just a stereotype. Good day, "gentlemen."

Grace said...

Good for you, Robert. If I had a blog, I would be inclusive, too.

The more voices in the discussion, the better, I say.

Speaking from a Christian's perspective..Who would Jesus "throw away?"

ethinethin said...

Leo,

on GCT's blog you made the claim that the term "secular values" is an oxymoron. Indeed, you did not even state it in a sentence, but a crude mathematical equality. It was a rude, baseless assertion with no evidence to back it up.

It was met in kind with an appropriately rude response.

We have a long record of dealing with people who make rude, baseless assertions and never back it up. Sorry if you were expecting more debate from your rude, baseless assertion.

Perhaps, if you'd like to debate it, you could provide evidence rather than simply make the assertion.

If this was an experimental study of yours to gather data on atheists in an attempt to show that atheists, in general, are less moral than christians, perhaps you forgot the control group of atheists being treated politely. Remember, if you want a data from an experiment to be reliable, you have to control as many of the variables as you can!

Leo said...

I disagree that my statement was rude, but even if you want to say it was, where was I rude to you that gave you the right to act in a similar way?

Robert Madewell said...

You know, commentors have been rude and crass and abusive to me since I started this blog. I've just learned not to be too sensitive about it. So what if someone calls me a rapist? Does not mean that I am one and the commentor looks stupid without me doing a thing.

Stephen said...

I guess I'm just suprised these folks don't censor themselves more for the sake of being a decent human being.

GCT said...

Stephen,
"There is no 'nice' way to say, "Your problem, not mine." The nature of the comment is mean-spirited coming from an atheist, a christian, whoever.

You are simply being obtuse here. It's not a terrible thing to say, "I'm frustrated with this argument, so yes I'm a bit mean-spirited about it." But don't lie to us and yourself by saying it's just our interpretation."

This is just an exercise in blaming the victim. I'm at fault for not indulging in your stereotypical views of atheists. I have to admit that I'm mean spirited which would mean that I am, or if I don't, then I'm mean-spirited anyway, and it's all my fault that you can't interpret words without imparting some emotional aspect onto them. I write concisely and tersely. I make no apologies for that. I try to answer the questions and points raised by others (which is respectful IMO) and as such, I don't have a lot of time to mince words. I also don't see the point of flowery language or other things like that. I get down to business. If you want to whine and complain about your treatment becuase I'm actually dealing with your arguments, then I'm left in a position of thinking that you have no arguments, since this is nothing more than ad hominem on your part.

"Hatefulness is not. GCT is hurting his own argument, and yours by responding in the manner he does."

No, it's not. So, what do you think of the hate-inspired stereotypes that you seem to want to impart on atheists? Why do you not feel that it hurts your argument? Is it because of special pleading perhaps?

"I guess I'm just suprised these folks don't censor themselves more for the sake of being a decent human being."

What should I censor? Have I attacked your person? Have I called you names? Have I used foul language? Have I don't any of these things? No. What I have done is address your arguments, and for that (for challenging your preciously held beliefs) I've been called mean-spirited, hateful, etc. Like I said, it's blaming the victim and a clear indication that your arguments can not be sustained.

Jerry,
What I've said to Stephen above equally well applies to you.

"He has some argument with whatever is stated, reminds me of my older son. He will argue that black is white today and take the opposite stand tomorrow."

Tell me where I've reversed a position simply to argue. You can't. Your arguments are weak and can not be sustained, so instead you look for an opening to complain about unfair treatment so that you can retreat without having to face the music. I have not attacked you personally, I have only attacked your assertions with cogent rebuttals. Your inability to deal with those rebuttals is plain for all to see.

GCT said...

Leo,
""Get over it!" is not something you'll ever hear from a caring individual's mouth."

It is a fact that it is his issue and not mine. How do I know this? Because I know that I'm not being mean-spirited, yet no matter what I write, he claims that I am. What else am I to do? It is indeed his problem to deal with.

"Believing the bible or not, your problems are mine, and mine yours. It is only when we grasp this that we start understanding one another."

I wouldn't have a problem with your belief in the Bible if it didn't affect me. If you were to keep it to yourself, then that would be fine. The minute you start making public pronouncements or assertions (i.e. calling me immoral, which BTW, is an attack and could be considered much more mean-spirited than anything I've written) then I shall answer them. The minute that Xians start to curtail my rights, then I shall answer.

"More evidence the morals come from God."

Um, no it isn't. If you disagree, I suggest you try and support your concept of morality, why it must come from god, what this god is, and provide evidence that this god actually exists. I suggest that you also point out why secular moral structures don't exist (even though they do) why we see moral behavior in animals, etc. (Although this asking for evidence might be seen as mean-spirited...oh noes!)*

"Ethinethin is completely rude. Seems to me it's not necessarily just a stereotype. Good day, "gentlemen.""

Ah yes, the old 'I'm going to cling to my stereotypes and find some way of justifying them so that I can demonize others with a "clear" conscience' routine.

*Hmmm, making fun might be a *little* mean-spirited I suppose, but this has gotten to the point of absurd.

Stephen said...

I can't say anything to you then GCT or you're going to say it's "blaming the victim" because you have a complex that you are ALWAYS a victim. Poor GCT, the Christians are trying to conform him. I have not persecuted you in any way, so quit whining like I have. It's like a black man hating all white men because one white man made a racist comment. It's called generalization, and for some reason, it comes up time and again. Just because "bad" Christians are the loudest, does not mean they are the majority. Believe you me, I try to make my voice heard more and more to fight the modern day Pharisees who hurt Christianity more than help it. You and I would probably agree on many of the problems with evangelicals.

GCT said...

Stephen,
"I can't say anything to you then GCT or you're going to say it's "blaming the victim" because you have a complex that you are ALWAYS a victim."

Rubbish. You're the one who is playing off of stereotypes and then blaming me for it.

"Poor GCT, the Christians are trying to conform him. I have not persecuted you in any way, so quit whining like I have."

This is more bias on your part. Nowhere have I said that you are persecuting me.

"It's like a black man hating all white men because one white man made a racist comment. It's called generalization, and for some reason, it comes up time and again."

Please tell me how I am generalizing you. You made the biased comments that I'm angry and mean spirited, when you had nothing to go on except that you didn't like my comments. When corrected, you tried to blame me for it. And, I'm the one who is generalizing? You're in denial and projecting.

"Just because "bad" Christians are the loudest, does not mean they are the majority."

Didn't say they were. And simply because people have demonized atheists as angry and mean-spirited doesn't mean it is so, or that you can paint with a broad brush. Or, am I whining here too by pointing out that you are being bigoted?

"Believe you me, I try to make my voice heard more and more to fight the modern day Pharisees who hurt Christianity more than help it."

Honestly, I don't believe you. How come I don't hear you speaking out against having god plastered all over our coinage? In our pledge of allegiance? Etc.

"You and I would probably agree on many of the problems with evangelicals."

That may be true, although I doubt that you can back up many of your criticisms of them, and I don't think the ends justify the means. I also highly doubt that you are as effective as you think. There is not a loud outcry from liberal Xians against the abuses of the religious right - instead we are treated to you attacking me with stereotypical vitriol. It's not a ringing endorsement of you.

Robert Madewell said...

"Just because "bad" Christians are the loudest, does not mean they are the majority. Believe you me, I try to make my voice heard more and more to fight the modern day Pharisees who hurt Christianity more than help it. You and I would probably agree on many of the problems with evangelicals."

That's a good point. They are the self-appointed voices for modern christianity. If I were you, I wouldn't let them speak for you.

Stephen, why don't you blog? I think it's a darn good way to get your voice heard.

Stephen said...

I would love to, but it's hard just for me to keep up with comments on here. I am very involved with my church, and trying to make a difference locally. I pray others are doing the same.