Kindness Doesn’t Matter – You’re Still Going To Hell

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Don’t believe in Jesus? Then you deserve this

According to Denise I’m still going to hell, and so is anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus. That means the majority of humanity is going to a fiery pit of torment, because God couldn’t bother to let the rest of us know about Jesus or didn’t provide enough evidence to convince us He’s real, and not just another God myth like the ones that came before Him.

She says:

Good works alone do not qualify us to live with God.  Ephesians 2:8 states “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”.  So what can we take from this?  It is our faith in Jesus that serves as our ticket into heaven.  It does not matter how nice you are or how much you have helped people out, if you do not have the ticket to get in, which is your faith in Jesus, you can not make it in.

Screw nice. You don’t need niceness to buy your way into heaven. All you need is to believe in Jesus. If you were a child-raping serial killer hell bent (pun intended) on killing as many people as possible, simply accept Jesus into your heart before you die and all is good. You’ll be granted a ticket into heaven.

Will it be hand delivered by a heavenly angel or is that too much to ask?

But if you’re someone who has dedicated their lives to helping people who are less fortunate but don’t believe in Jesus…well to hell you go. You deserve eternal torment, you blasted heathen, you.

If you’re someone who practices another religion?

You guessed it. Straight to hell. Do not pass go and do not collect your pitchfork.

Nothing compared to what Jesus has in store for you...but he doesn't mean it. Seriously.

Nothing compared to what Jesus has in store for you…but he doesn’t mean it. Seriously.

If you look at the statistics, you’ll find this:

The demographic study – based on analysis of more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers – finds 2.2 billion Christians (32% of the world’s population), 1.6 billion Muslims (23%), 1 billion Hindus (15%), nearly 500 million Buddhists (7%) and 14 million Jews (0.2%) around the world as of 2010. In addition, more than 400 million people (6%) practice various folk or traditional religions, including African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions and Australian aboriginal religions. An estimated 58 million people – slightly less than 1% of the global population – belong to other religions, including the Baha’i faith, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Tenrikyo, Wicca and Zoroastrianism, to mention just a few.

Now math isn’t my strong suit, but if there are roughly 7 billion humans living on this planet right now, and only 2.2 billion of them are Christian, that means about 4.8 billion of them are on the fast track to eternal torture.

You’d think a deity that knew beforehand that the majority of humanity wouldn’t believe in Jesus, therefore cosigning them to torture for eternity, would realize His error and fix it. Because He’s all-powerful, this could be accomplished with no effort. After all, He doesn’t want billions of people to be tormented, does He? He doesn’t want to put them in the fiery torture chamber He created, right?

It is not God’s will for any of us to go to hell, however he does not and will not force his will upon us.  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, John 3:16.  Jesus wants you to accept him because you love him and need him, not because you have been programmed to follow him.  This is why he gives us a choice. “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.Joshua 24:15″

See. It’s not God who made the rules, created Hell or puts people there.

No, no, no.

It’s OUR fault for not believing. Even though you spent your life trying to do good, you still deserve torture. Don’t you see?

A friend of mine works with men who beat their spouses. He told me he always asks them why they’re there and almost every time, they reply with an excuse, such as:

  • My girlfriend made me by…
  • She made me angry…
  • If she’d only…

It’s never their fault. They aren’t there because they knocked their wife or girlfriend around. They think they’re there because of something their wife or girlfriend did to them. They had to hit them. He said he usually has to ask them several times before they finally catch on and admit that they’re there because they hit another human being.

This is the mentality this kind of religion reminds me of. I find it disgusting and reprehensible. I also find it unbelievably cruel to burden children with this sort of fear. It’s a sort of mental torture.

Child's play compared to the eternity of torture a loving god has in store for you

Child’s play compared to the eternity of torture a loving god has in store for you

So what sort of last minute advice does Denise have for us unbelievers?

If you have not given your heart to Jesus I would encourage you to search the scriptures, in them you will find that God loves you and does not want you to perish.   “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:9″  Today if you would invite him into your heart, he would accept your invitation.  He will become your God and you will become his child. We all have to leave this world one day, and it is only our faith in Jesus that will take us from this world to living with God.

Yeah…I’m still not buying what you’re selling.

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166 Comments

    • “It’s about love and knowing where that love came from.”

      Burning people for eternity is your idea of love?

      “How can I, a mere creation of His, question Him? ”

      Easily. I just did.

      “It’s about giving up self”

      Or being a slave.

      “and doing for others”

      The whole post is about it having nothing to do with doing for others. That’s the point.

      “In the end I respect your opinion and thank you for sharing.”

      Same. Thank you for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. Much appreciated.

  1. Honestly, I don’t know how you read posts like the one Denise wrote. Posts like that make my head come close to exploding. And then there’s Cam & Nilly’s comment. Did you watch the videos? What if God, the second video asks, would “never in a million years torture anyone who didn’t believe in him”? What if God was “sheer beauty and perfect goodness.” Would you then believe in him?

    The God that Denise believes in and that most Christians believe in is quite ready to torture anyone who doesn’t believe in him…two-thirds of the worlds population…by condemning them to eternal damnation in hell. The God that most Christians believe in is anything but perfect goodness, unless you consider war, famine, disease, floods, earthquakes, and all kinds of atrocities committed in that perfect goodness we call God to be sheer beauty.

    All this proves to me is that God is a fiction, made up by humans. As such, we can define this God we have created in any way we want in order to rationalize and justify our beliefs and our actions.

    GAAA!

    • LOL Doobster.

      I’m always reading. I try to read from both sides of the fence. I also think this kind of stuff has to be opposed. I think it’s harmful and needs to be questioned.

      I haven’t watched the videos yet. I see more down below.

      I agree in it being man made. That’s why it holds onto the undesirable traits we humans tend to put on display far too often.

    • I can’t speak for American Christians, but I believe most Christians here wold disagree with Denise. Most would (but not all) would say something along the lines that belief in the teachings of Jesus is sufficient. In other words it’s the values Jesus subscribes to, not specific rules. What is considered “good” in how we relate to each other is common in nearly every society, regardless of one’s faith or lack of faith. If one is being “good” one will go to heaven. The number who believe in eternal damnation for not “believing in” Jesus would be quite small. According to Denise’s definition, I’m destined to hell along with you. I believe she is mistaken.

  2. The thing is you know deep within yourself there is something going on in this life and you can’t explain it. You can’t even control your own thoughts and impulses. Being a slave? What about being a slave to yourself and your own evil desires? Only through Christ will we be free from such things. The more we grow with Christ the more we want to do the right thing and can break from sinning.

    So you don’t believe in God video

    True Love

    • “The thing is you know deep within yourself there is something going on in this life and you can’t explain it.”

      Can you be any more vague?

      What is this something you’re talking about?

      “You can’t even control your own thoughts and impulses. ”

      Pretty sure I can.

      “Being a slave? What about being a slave to yourself and your own evil desires? ”

      What evil desires are you saying I indulge?

      “Only through Christ will we be free from such things. The more we grow with Christ the more we want to do the right thing and can break from sinning.”

      Don’t buy it. I don’t need ancient mythology to grow as a person or to strive to be a better person. I also think Christianity often teaches things that are contrary to ‘the right thing’. I think this post highlights that, with the reprehensible teaching of hell.

    • “The thing is you know deep within yourself there is something going on in this life and you can’t explain it. You can’t even control your own thoughts and impulses.”

      I love it when Christians assert these sorts of things. In psychology they call that “projection”.

      Certainly there are things we can’t explain–yet. That’s no reason to go filling in the gaps in our knowledge with some lame non-explanation like “God did it.”

      Unable to control my thoughts and impulses? Please clarify: what thoughts and impulses are you saying I can’t control? If you mean the impulse to breathe, well then I’d have to give you that one.

  3. Religion was, is and always has been used as tactic to scare us in to good behaviour. People so desperately want to believe they’re not going to rot in a box and turn to dust when they die. They need a “death destination”.
    I have only met one strictly religious person in my life who wasn’t a complete and utter hypocrite. That’s what really hammers me about Religion. The sanctimonious hypocrisy. Do unto others unless of course they don’t share your beliefs– then lecture and belittle them.
    I love this post. There should be a “love” button.

    • Thank you for the kind comment.

      I agree for some people it’s fear talking. I’ve been told that at the end, I’ll beg for God, but I hope that’s not the case. I hope I don’t cash out my intellectual honesty for belief in something because I’m frightened. I’d like to think I have a bit more backbone than that, but I guess I won’t know till I get there.

  4. In the Lutheran church, Denise’s view is the predominant view that is espoused. When I was a younger Sirius Bizinus, I asked some of the rhetorical questions you asked in Sunday School. There are two beliefs that are used (generally) to get around the idea that God punishes good people and will let bad people get away with it. The first is that the person must accept Christ in their heart (whatever that means) honestly. Since they’re a lifelong sinner, there is subjective doubt that the sinner really, really means it.

    The second belief is that by accepting Christ, people will change for the better because Christ will “transform them” (once again, whatever that means). Of course saying all this out loud sounds silly now, but if you’ve accepted the reality of Hell and some guy walking on water then it’s not that far of a stretch after that.

    Personally I think it’s great to see these ideas get opposed. I sure do wish there was someone around when I was younger to tell me, “No, you’re not crazy for thinking this sounds stupid.”

    • I remember a Christian minister (I don’t recall the denomination) saying something along the lines of “convert a bigoted zealous atheist, and you’ll get a bigoted zealous Christian”. I think what he was saying is that faith doesn’t change a person’s nature, it changes what one does with that nature. You can see some evidence of this in Paul’s conversation on the road to Damascus. Here was a man who changed from actively persecuting early Christians to being all-powerful, all-knowing God of its most active and zealous supporters. If Christians had been into persecuting nonbelievers at that time (they weren’t – that came later) I’m sure Paul would have been one of the most active persecutors.

      Change comes from the effect of observing and becoming part of a group which includes taking on their beliefs and/or values. Christian groups can effect a change, but then so can many other types of groups. Those changes can be for the better or worse. It depends on the group.

      • You hit the nail on the head with why I thought the second concept was silly (and, consequently that I’d left it out of my comment – shame on me!). I agree that faith does not always have an effect on the person converted. My thought on this came from the fact that I’d met plenty of Christians who demanded people be nice while they did mean-spirited things to others.

          • “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. It’s a basic tenet of many religions and philosophies. If they are not doing that, then they are not following their faith.

            The problem with this in the ”hands” of the religious fanatic/fundamentalist is he/she would often quite willingly allow you to blow him to smithereens as it would mean he got to ”heaven” quicker and might hasten the second coming or the end of the world or whatever dingbat belief he had been indoctrinated with.

            And because he/she does not worry if you send him to ”paradise” ( albeit in small pieces ) he has no qualms about doing you the same favour.

            An issue many people don’t think through because ”normal” people aren’t fanatical about religion.

            Funny thing though, the fanatic’s invisible god, and the word of his god is the same as the ‘normal’ religious person’s.

                    • I think there is a degree of purposeful obfuscation going on here, Barry. 🙂
                      You either are or are not a Christian, with the basic belief that Yeshua ( the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth) is/was divine, god, son of the god, Yahweh or combination of.
                      A simple, straight forward answer would suffice.You are voicing an opinion on an atheist blog in an open forum so one should expect some sort of dialogue, not so?

                    • I thought I was being as open and honest as I can. I apologise if my comments are somewhat imprecise. However I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to know exactly what I believe in to have a reasonable discussion. If I see a comment that I believe is inaccurate, or worthy of following up, or I would like clarification on, then with the site owner’s permission I will add my two cents worth. My beliefs aren’t set in concrete and have been in developing for over sixty years. I see no reason to stop developing yet.

                    • However I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to know exactly what I believe in to have a reasonable discussion.

                      If one expects true open dialogue any ‘hidden baggage’ especially in the realm of religion , will often cause difficulties as the discussion continues. Rather be straight and completely up front from the word go.

                    • Without me writing a thousand word summary of my beliefs, google “liberal Friends”. That’s a very close approximation of my beliefs. Ask if there is something you want clarified.

                      The reason I prefer to avoid specific affiliations is that too many people have false presumptions about the affiliated group and the discussion gets diverted into a discussion over those errors.

                    • Thanks Barry. Turns out, the ca. 1774 brick meetinghouse down the block, less than a mile away (it’s the oldest in Massachusetts) has a meeting every Sunday at 9. I’ll probably never make it because 9 am is too early for me and crack of dawn for the husband … but I’m charmed that they are using the old meetinghouse again. It was only used on Thanksgiving for many years (they do have a great Thanksgiving meeting).

                      I hope they’ve installed some central heat. It can be a very chilly place in the middle of a New England winter! I like the Quakers (mostly) almost as much as I like Buddhists (mostly) 🙂

  5. I’ve always admired the christian salvation thing. Live a life of depravity and dissolution but pull off the old death-beard conversion and you’re sweet.
    This means of course that heaven will be filled with people whose only notable quality is a good sense of timing. Makes you wonder why they’re all so keen to get there.

    • I think there is a degree of purposeful obfuscation going on here, Barry. 🙂
      You either are or are not a Christian, with the basic belief that Yeshua ( the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth) is/was divine, god, son of the god, Yahweh or combination of.
      A simple, straight forward answer would suffice.You are voicing an opinion on an atheist blog in an open forum so one should expect some sort of dialogue, not so?

  6. I have been having a ding dong with a real d***head – who claims he is atheist. I stated that the basic foundational tenets of religion are unfalsifiable and thus to be indoctrinated into children is immoral, ergo, religion is bad.
    He seems to think I must be some sort of evangelical atheist, but after reading your post and some of the comments I feel completely vindicated!
    I care zip for all the ‘good’ religion may do , any god-system/religion that harbours such heinous, disgusting dogma and promotes it, especially to kids, should (somehow) be legislated against.

    Good post. Once again.

  7. Hello and Thank you for visiting my site today. Before I submitted my post today I prayed to God that he would use it in the atheist community. The fact that you came to my site proves God hears and answers prayers. God chose you to help spread the word about my blog. through your link you have already sent many people to my blog, and the thing that is so good about this is even if they don’t agree with me they are still hearing the word of God. Thank you! please continue with the good work. God bless!
    http://iwrite4him.com/2014/08/03/why-are-athiest-so-angry-with-god-and-christians/

    • “Hello and Thank you for visiting my site today.”

      You’re welcome and thanks for visiting mine.

      “Before I submitted my post today I prayed to God that he would use it in the atheist community. ”

      That’s nice. Do you believe God bent my free will and answered your prayers and made me talk about your deity?

      If you’re prayers are so powerful, I hope you’ll consider putting them to better use and pray for some food for starving children. Currently, thousands are dying per day.

      “The fact that you came to my site proves God hears and answers prayers.”

      Actually, it doesn’t prove anything. It shows that I chose to write about your blog post. Nothing more.

      “God chose you to help spread the word about my blog.”

      I’m not that special.

      “the thing that is so good about this is even if they don’t agree with me they are still hearing the word of God.”

      I suppose if you think exposure of reprehensible beliefs that are used to mentally torture small children is positive exposure, then you’re welcome.

      I would have much preferred you actually address what I wrote.

      Then again, I don’t think there is much that you could say that would make this sort of belief system any more palatable.

    • @ Denise.
      I am always impressed by African Americans and every other person who loves to praise the deity, Yahweh, that gave his Seal of Approval to slavery thus allowing certain other human tribes to seal the fate of millions, and never once question that perhaps if this god was so great he should of maybe had a few words with those misguided souls ( sic) who wrote that stupid rag, the Bible, and said something about human bondage.
      You know, like , “Oi, stop it!”

      I guess your god was too busy worrying about circumcision and such really important stuff, right?

      Sigh….

      • Slavery was considered part of the “natural order” for millennium in many societies. There’s nothing specifically biblical about it. The bible doesn’t take a stand on the right or wrong of slavery, the writers simply accepted the status quo.

        One could just as easily blame capitalism for the exploiting of a cheap source of labour. Many American slave owners justified slavery on economic grounds and feared economic ruin if slavery was prohibited. Greed was just as much a factor

        • “Slavery was considered part of the “natural order” for millennium in many societies.”

          Here it was largely because of the Catholic Church and you can find the bulls that okay’d it. The bible is what was used to justify slavery and the bible gives clear instructions on how to own slaves properly.

          “The bible doesn’t take a stand on the right or wrong of slavery, the writers simply accepted the status quo.”

          Funny how God didn’t know better.

          • The Torah disapproves of slavery. You are required to free slaves — indentured servants — after seven years. Technically, there were no slaves — only indentured servants. There were/are very strict laws about their treatment.

            However — pretty much every culture had a slave class. No matter what priests or religion had to say on the subject, slaves were a fact of life. Roman, Greek, Moorish, European, American. Slaves were and are profitable. Slave owners don’t need religion for justification, just a bottom line.

            Most evil is born in the twisted, rotten souls of human beings. They may use religion as an excuse, but they aren’t religious. Merely greedy and corrupt.

              • Yes, but part of what makes slavery so evil is that you are born into it and cannot escape. Ever. That is a BIG difference. Huge. If there is an end, it is imprisonment, but not a life/death sentence.

                If the laws of humane treatment of other people and animals in the Torah were actually FOLLOWED by the world, it would be a better place. Unfortunately — religion and reality have never had much to do with each other. People do what they do using religion as an excuse or a reason. It has nothing to do with the intent of whoever wrote the original texts … or what they really mean.

                We do what we do for our own reasons, then wave a banner telling the world we’re doing it for God, Jesus, patriotism, to save the world from communism, fascism, or some other ‘ism.’ If we didn’t have those excuses, we’d find another.

                We are good at hating. Bad at kindness. Big on greed, weak on sharing. We are incredibly cruel and destructive. Blaming God is facetious. It’s people who destroy and slaughter, not God. If there IS a God, he’s not marching with bayonets fixed. WE are. Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, God didn’t tell anyone to start a crusade or build a death camp. We came up with that all by ourselves.

                If I were God, I’d eliminate humans as vermin. Save the earth from us and let some other species do a better job.

                Blaming God for the evil men do is a cheap way for people to weasel out of responsibility for their own misdeeds.

  8. When my brother died — five years ago, or was it longer? — I had been flirting with Christianity. I wanted to believe. I really did. I was looking for reasons.

    But that whole Christian thing that if you reject Christ, regardless of any other thing you’ve done in your life, you are doomed to hell, stuck in my throat. Worse, it enraged me. “You mean,” I said, “My mother and my brother are going to your hell because they didn’t convert to your religion? Any God so petty and cruel is not worthy of worship.” A lot of back-pedaling followed, but I was done with Christianity and churches. Oddly, I’m peculiarly fond of many clergyman on an individual basis — those who think, who question, who don’t automatically accept dogma, who are always seeking to know the answers.

    As for me, I was done with dogma, God, gods, churches, and faith. I’ve had too many encounters with Something to take the other leap and say “there is no god” because I don’t know it is true.

    But that there is no benign deity who cares about us? Of that I am absolutely sure.

    • I’ve been thinking about your brush with Christianity after your brother died. I’m sure that if I had been told that eternal damnation was the prospect for non believers, I would have been out of there in a flash. I too have family who held atheist or agnostic views, but no such claim was made when I was seeking a religious home. Perhaps some people need an all encompassing theology, but my feeling is that the more dogma and rules that are applied, then greater the risk of harm.

              • Care?
                Hmmm.
                Providing the religion of choice is not one that proselytizes and indoctrinate kids or insists that one must cut a bit off of a man’s willie, or cut a woman’s clitoris or obliges women to dress up like the Lone Ranger in drag and prevents them from driving a car to the off licence to get my beer or has some of its more vocal proponents applying for a one time only pilot’s licence, or teaches kids that dinosaurs coexisted with humans, or Jesus was nailed to a tree because ”you…yes you , you little es aitch one T “ are a rotten sinner and this is why Arsenal can’t win the Premier League, or a religion that purposefully puts civilians in harm’s way and promises them when they go to ‘heaven’ there will be tea and biscuits and frantic bonking every day ( although what a young female child suicide bomber will do with 925 ( or number of choice) nubile ( female of course) virgins is a mystery).

                Have I missed anything? Probably. You can add your stuff, if you like?
                Isn’t there something about wearing funny hats, too?
                Apart from all these types of religion, I am sure it is just super duper hunky dory.

              • Couldn’t you find similar values at the local Table Tennis club?
                Aren’t there nice people there too? Or was it necessary to find an outfit that genuflects to an invisible sky daddy that says in some crappy book that he loves all and sundry yet drowned all ‘his kids’ except one incestuous family?
                That’s a god with serious issues!
                Your choice , of course. No problem with that. Live and let live and all that.
                Please don’t ‘infect’ the kids though, okay?

                • Table tennis doesn’t interest me, even though I’m sure there are very nice people there.

                  The “outfit” does not genuflect, nor require belief in a sky daddy or a crappy book. And I agree that a god that wipes out an entire population is genocidal.

                  Yes, it is my choice, and sorry, I did all I could to pass on the values I believe done and to my children, and now to my grandchildren. If you prefer that I don’t pass on tolerance, compassion, and an awe of the world we inhabit, what would you suggest? Jumping to conclusions too early? Intolerance? Belligerence?

                    • The religious group I associate with are recognised as Christian by many Christians, and as a heretical and/or dangerous sect by many others. It has a Christian tradition, but has never placed any special authority on the bible. As to whether I’m a Christian, it depends on the definition of “Christian”.

                    • The nature of the character Jesus of Nazareth/Go is not irrelevant when it comes to passing on beliefs .
                      Nor irrelevant in the least.
                      As you seem reluctant to ‘come clean’ as it were I am going to take a leap of ‘faith’ and conclude that you a) believe that the character Jesus of Nazareth was divine and is in some way part of Yahweh.
                      Based on this, and a cursory glance at your blog, then I will just say:
                      Such beliefs are unfalsifiable and should not be indoctrinated into children or those who are unable to defend against such nonsense.
                      Such tripe, especially when accompanied by threats of violence and the crap of sin should be deemed child abuse.

                    • I was replying to your specific question about what the religious group believes. As it has no creeds or dogma how can the nature of Jesus be anything other than irrelevant? Would it have been better if I used the word “nonessential” instead of “irrelevant”? If you are asking for my own beliefs, then I think I can safely say that my belief in the divinity of Jesus is similar to your belief in the existence of God.

                      However, even if I did believe Jesus was divine, that doesn’t make it a fact. Faith doesn’t need to be based on facts, as you have just shown. I have tried to be as honest with my comments as I can. Simple yes/no answers aren’t possible when it comes to beliefs, and to explain them fully would be inappropriate here.

                      If you are referring to my post ” The day God spoke to me”, then if you read it fully, you will see in the comments “I’m sure what I saw was of my own creation conjured up from my understanding of God at that time”. Remember I was only seven years old at the time.

                      In comments here and elsewhere, I have clearly stated my position about the bible, and I would have thought my views on violence, no matter who instigates it, was well known. But if I need to restate them here, the bible is a book with no more authority than any other book. Violence or the threat of violence does more harm than good. If you want to know where I stand on a specific belief,you will need to ask. I don’t have a book I can point to that says ” This is what Barry believes “.

  9. It’s hard to believe in a holy Blob. I still believe, but I try not to push my Blob on people who either have their own Blob or choose to be Blob-less. I admire people such as yourself AND Denise who write columns that are going to be so unpopular with the opposition. I tend to just rant about periods and how my family is pissing me off.

    Either way, I don’t think that you can really change another person’s deep core beliefs, so I have given up trying. To each his/her/blob own.

  10. I got started late on my professional career and fear I squandered too much of my youth on playing in rock band, so it’s hard to make a lot of progress post 40. Therefore, I am actually looking forward to an eternity in hell. Think of all that time to work work my way up the ladder! No one forces you to retire early in Hell. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to appear on Hell-1 Television and say, “Hi. I’m Satan. Believe it or not, I started out as a tormented heathen just like you. But thanks to my dedication, hard work, and entrepreneurial spirit, it took me only 930 years to become Chief Operating Officer. If you’ve always thought you’d make a great demon or even an arse-dwelling minion, send us your resume today!”

  11. People destroy religions by adding what they think without saying “In my opinion” …I’m not Christian myself and I know pretty Much that Jesus isn’t son of God and I know,I’d be called an atheist just for saying that,without knowing my views..people always tend to judge without listening cuz all they want to hear is what they WANT to hear..other than that *close your ears* ..I just hope if this world had more understanding tbh

  12. This post totally reminded me of a particular Halloween when I was younger. My best childhood friend and his family were hardcore Christians. There were times that I would go over to his house and ask his mom if he could come out to play. Occasionally I would be told “he cannot come outside and play today – he’s ‘kneeling’.” I never did find out what kneeling meant. Anyways, I thought it’d be funny one Hallows eve to show up at his doorstep dressed like the devil. My friend thought it was kind of funny, but my memory of his mother’s horrified expression is still quite fresh to me, but I digress.
    Perhaps my favorite line from her post is “It is not God’s will for any of us to go to hell, however he does not and will not force his will upon us.” He won’t force his will upon us – no no. Psychological and emotional extortion are much more creative. It’s a neat way to circumvent the whole free will thing. “You reserve the right to not believe in my son, and I reserve the right to make you into bacon.” Not exactly the behavior we would expect from a perfect and loving being.
    This is why I don’t answer my door on Sunday mornings. Perhaps I ought to.
    Thanks for your post!

    • Great story and observation!

      Imagine if we used that defense in a court of law. Imagine a murderer pleading not guilty because he gave the guy he gunned down a choice to give him his money or get a bullet in the head. It’s classic victim blaming.

      As for the kneeling, I had a friend and his parents were religious. When he did something wrong, they made him kneel on the heat vent and pray for forgiveness. I hope that’s not something your friend had to endure.

  13. When I was about 12 years old, I realized that Jesus had probably just been a man. A light bulb went off in my mind, and I realized that the concept of his divinity was created to make him more important and powerful. The whole “believe and you’ll get into heaven” thing has been part of the selling point of Christianity from day one. The divine birth thing was the part that made me start doubting though. It was tough to come clean with my beliefs recently because I was raised Christian and my parents go to church. I had to be honest with them though.

      • They were disappointed but I don’t think that they were very surprised after all my years of indifference. I was tired last night and I forgot to compliment you on such a great post. It floors me when religious people – especially educated adults – argue vehemently with atheist or agnostic people, usually with a condescending or how-dare-you tone. Some of them say that we’re “angry with God and with Christians.” I’d describe myself and most other “non-believers” as being more frustrated than angry though. I had a conversation with an atheist who made a very good point, and it pretty much describes why I get so frustrated. He said that we have freedom of religion in the U.S. as long as we HAVE a religion! Exactly! Tell someone you’re anything but atheist or agnostic and you get a “well, okay” reaction. But say you don’t believe and many people react with disdain. Even if they don’t say anything, the non-verbal cues are quite clear. This lack of open-mindedness frustrates me to no end. It’s actually sort of childish.

  14. I think I can safely say that my belief in the divinity of Jesus is similar to your belief in the existence of God.

    Therefore you consider him solely a man, yes?
    Yet you are not a deist in the normal recognised sense. Or at least it doesn’t sound like it?

    I was not referring to any specific post, but noted your Quaker association.
    And yes I did glance at your ”God talking to me” post, but did not read it all.

    Simple yes/no answers aren’t possible when it comes to beliefs, and to explain them fully would be inappropriate here.

    Why not possible? I am an atheist. Period. That was not difficult to state.
    I doubt GC would mind if you explained at all.
    He’s all for dialogue as most atheists are.

    If you are a Christian then purely for interest sake I would be fascinated to hear your version. Truly.

    Why not give it a shot, Barry?

  15. Many people consider Quakers to be Christian. Its tradition is Christian. By that measure I qualify. But if I was to be more specific, I guess I could say that the teachings of Jesus are used to model the way I live.

    • I can understand this, yet some of his most profound ( claimed) utterances involve the ‘Father’ such as noone gets to god other than via him ( Jesus)
      Then there is all the rejecting you mum and dad and family etc and giving everything to the poor.
      A lot of what he babbled on about was quite frankly, nonsense.
      Do you cherry pick his ‘teachings’ from the Gospels?
      Also, if you generally eschew the Bible, how do you judge what was ‘real’ and what was made up?
      Lastly, why model anything on a smelly, unoriginal,itinerant 1st century prophet of dubious origin from a book that is largely fallacious and spurious when just hanging with decent secular humanists can and does achieve all the same goals without the ‘religious’ baggage?

      • The short answer is it suits my temperament. It obviously doesn’t suit you, and that is fine by me.

        For myself the bible is the collective writings of a people who had a profound belief in God. It was “real” for them. It’s about their beliefs, not mine. There is no need to determine what is real and what is made up.

        Lastly I undoubtedly hang with secular humanist in working to achieve numerous goals. How many, I don’t know. Personal beliefs take second place to the goals.

        • Vagueness is all too often a hallmark of the so called laissez faire religious who are often quite willing to stand by and let the extreme elements ‘do their thing’ ( which at some point is all based on the same falsifiable claims – god belief – and all that entails – but seem at a loss to come clean with simple straight forward answers – though you may consider you have done so –

          So be it….

          • “Vagueness is all too often a hallmark of the so called laissez faire religious who are often quite willing to stand by and let the extreme elements ‘do their thing’ .”

            If “doing their thing” causes harm then I will stand against it. Currently I see more harm done in the name of nationalism, political and economic “purity”, and hurt inflicted on minorities and the disadvantaged than I see harm in Christianity. I do not stand by or ignore any harmful practice. Nor do I ignore bigotry, no matter what form it takes.

            If I appear vague, then I apologise. It’s more a reflection on my ability to express abstract ideas than it is on what I believe.

  16. Personally I find nothing vague about it. Being religious does not require one to live by a set of rigid inflexible rules. It’s the spirit in which one lives that is important. Surely it’s the values one holds that is more important than the theology behind it.

    I will reiterate what I originally said: most Christians I know do not believe that you are destined for an eternity in hell if you don’t believe in Christ. I’ll concede your experience might be different, but that does not invalidate mine. I suspect we live in different parts of the world.

    • most Christians I know do not believe that you are destined for an eternity in hell if you don’t believe in Christ.

      At one point in the not too distant past it was a given that one would and they even had internecine wars over it, and also wars over other ‘infidels’.
      Doctrinal disagreements have been going on since before the church could say ”Arius and Marcion” so your statement is somewhat pithy as this particular doctrine it is still taught by fundamentalists and indoctrinated into kids. Think ACE schools.

      On the plus side, of course, is that every change, no matter how small or how minor is a step closer to the eventual eradication of religion and god belief.

      I’ll concede your experience might be different, but that does not invalidate mine. I suspect we live in different parts of the world.

      I have never had an ‘experience’ in this regard, merely a very laissez faire C of E ( Anglican) upbringing that led to the eventual realization it was all crap after doing in depth research for a novel I was writing.

      It is always worth considering that there are a great many people who are also utterly convinced of the veracity of the bible and a god experience: that their god spoke to them.
      Some of these have gone to war or decimated their neighbours and or family.

      Should we consider your version of god belief more valid than theirs?
      And why? Because the god you commune with is supposedly a god of peace?
      More believable than George W who claimed he communed with ‘god’.

      As for validation or invalidation.
      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts.

      • I will address your last statement first.

        “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts”.

        I agree entirely. An example: I believe that the model for funding our universities in the 1960s and 70s is better than the current system. Others believe the current system is better. The facts are that we have a higher percentage of university graduates than ever before. It’s also a fact that there is a lower percentage of the poor who graduate. I could argue that the current model reinforces the poverty trap, and is therefore morally wrong. Others could argue that it improves the level of education overall, and ultimately better for the country as a whole. I have witnessed an argument over these “facts” where the protagonists would have come to blows if it wasn’t for the intervention of others. So which is opinion more “right”?

        Or how about a large country imposing economic sanctions on a small country, because the small country imprisoned two soldiers from the large country for killing a photographer? In the small country the soldiers are considered terrorists. In the large country, they are considered national heroes. The “facts” were not in dispute. It was the interpretation of the facts that were in dispute. Wars have been fought over less.

        In the first example, both protagonists were nominally Christian but from different denominations. In the second example one country is predominantly Roman Catholic and the other predominantly secular and Protestant. But to argue that either conflict was over religion requires a large stretch of the imagination.

        It’s when opinions and beliefs are mistaken for “unalienable truths” that conflict begins. Religion isn’t a requirement.

        “Should we consider your version of god belief more valid than theirs?”

        Of course not. If I did, how would I be different from the protagonists cited above? My beliefs are valid for myself only. But if I find like minded people, it’s natural that I would feel more comfortable in their company than with others who hold opposing views.

        I hold my religious beliefs because of my world view, not the other way round. I believe that anyone who holds a religious belief contrary to their reason or world view is harming themselves as much as they harm others.

        I believe in freedom of thought. But I will oppose any practice that does harm, be it religious, political, economic or otherwise.

  17. I believe in freedom of thought. But I will oppose any practice that does harm, be it religious, political, economic or otherwise.

    The problem with this is, that while you consider yourself a Christian the premise of that belief, no matter how you view your own interpretation is based on unfalsifiable evidence and a doctrine founded upon superstition.
    Its history is largely bloody and you have the luxury of the Freedom of Thought you cherish because your forebears fled from those who interpreted the belief differently.
    Even within your own cult/denomination to merely label yourself Christian is a misnomer, entrenched in some rather heinous practices; again based on superstitious nonsense and unfalsifiable claims.

    Creationism uses the same material as you,but interprets it differently so why must you be given the benefit off the doubt regarding your claim of being a Christian when you would not likely give the time of day to one punting Young Earth Creationism?

    The values you claim you cherish are embedded within secular humanism.

    Religion, by its very nature ( like many systems,ideologies) is divisive – if you are not one of us, you one of them, and noone wants to be one of them.

    No one ‘needs’ religious superstition to establish a world view and it should not be taught to children.

  18. Why am I not able to judge harm any less well than you? Do you believe that only the nonreligious are capable of rational thought? That seems to be what you are implying.

    I agree that religion has been guilty of atrocities, it is also often twisted to justify atrocities that would have happened anyway.

    I use the term “Christian” as I haven’t found a better term, and the fact that many Christians and non Christians identity me as one. If you prefer to give me a different label, feel free to do so. Labels are not very important anyway.

    May I ask what

  19. Sorry I accidentally hit Post Comment too soon.

    May I ask what heinous practices you are referring to? What superstitions and unfalsifiable claims?

    What material do I and creationists share but interpret differently? I am not aware of any.

    I agree that the values I hold dear are also found outside religion. But why is that relevant to the discussion?

    I’m sorry, but I have never understood the “them and us” attitude. Wasn’t it George W Bush who said “if you aren’t with us, you’re against us”? Now that is divisive.

    I agree no one “needs” religion to form a world view. In my case, I found a religion that suited mine. I am at a loss as to why you believe what I teach my children is harmful. Can you give an example please.

  20. Why am I not able to judge harm any less well than you? Do you believe that only the nonreligious are capable of rational thought? That seems to be what you are implying.

    When applied to supernatural belief ) god belief) , no, the religious are not capable of rational thought until they can fully understand the extent of the indoctrination they have been subject to. Ask a deconvertee.

    I agree that religion has been guilty of atrocities, it is also often twisted to justify atrocities that would have happened anyway.

    Really? And you know this for a fact do you? Naughty , Barry.

    I use the term “Christian” as I haven’t found a better term, and the fact that many Christians and non Christians identity me as one. If you prefer to give me a different label, feel free to do so. Labels are not very important anyway.

    May I ask what

    If one follows Manchester United, no matter how loosely and calls oneself a Manchester United supporter then one can not turn around and say, “But I just like football why are you calling me a United supporter”

    If you cannot see the difference then you are either genuinely ignorant/ misguided or obfuscating on purpose.

    May I ask what heinous practices you are referring to? What superstitions and unfalsifiable claims?

    Heinous practices? Ah…maybe they taught a different history of religion at your school?
    You could look up the siege of Carcasonne if you like. Or the history of the Cathars. That would be an interesting start. There are still some extant records as well I believe.
    I am beginning to think you are being obtuse on purpose.
    All forms of god belief are based on unfalsifiable claims.

    What material do I and creationists share but interpret differently? I am not aware of any.

    The god you believe in is based on the Christian god, which is based on the Abrahamic god found in the Pentateuch.
    Without this origin you would not even be able to call yourself Christian. And the Pentateuch is considered fiction.

    I found a religion that suited mine. I am at a loss as to why you believe what I teach my children is harmful. Can you give an example please.

    Religion.

  21. As a Quaker I do not believe in Hell. I wonder how many Christians do? An Anglican vicar said to me once “I have to believe in Hell, but not that anyone actually goes there”. The Jehovah’s Witness doctrine is that the Lake of Fire in Revelation means extinction rather than eternal torment. Many Christians do believe in Hell, certainly on the evidence of the blogosphere and American rantings.

    How do you define Christian? If you say, for example, accepting the Nicene Creed and the Council of Chalcedon, you would exclude the Coptic Christians of Egypt, who are generally called Christian and have an ancient Christian heritage, and the Mormons, Unitarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who consider themselves Christian. The only definition which works is follower of Jesus, and for that there is no need to believe in Hell.

  22. GC, excellent post. I often hear/read that most people don’t believe in hell. I assume they are talking about adults. Well, the two largest Christian denominations in the U.S. do believe in and teach the doctrine of hell — the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention. They indoctrinate children about hell, which is child abuse.

      • Indeed they do, and it disgusts me, as well. As a child, I suffered night terrors often between the ages of 4 and 10 after learning about hell, Satan and demons.

        Perhaps you are aware of (regular commenter on WP now) Gary M. — a physician who has recently deconverted from Christianity, but he was gripped with the fear of hell for most of his life. Only a psychopath would create a place like that, and yet so many believers see this from the perspective of a God’s love for humanity. Most likely those with Stockholm syndrome see it this way.

        Quote from a recent article: I Was Traumatized by Christian Dogma: I Won’t Do the Same to My Child .

        Note: He mentions evangelical Christianity (2nd largest Christian denomination) — but the RCC (Larges denomination) is equally guilty of this dogma.

        “Stockholm Syndrome frequently manifests when a captor strips the victim of all forms of independence, self-worth and dignity, alternately terrorizing and offering kindness to the victim. The victim embraces the kindness and views the captor as giving life simply by not taking it.

        “Evangelical Christianity employs the Stockholm Syndrome to full effect. God gains obedience and worship by reminding humans of their utter unworthiness, dangling them over hell, and then ‘saving’ them, in exchange for submission, from the very torments he threatens.”

        “I pondered these dogmas with the newly acquired insight and sensitivity of a father. As a vulnerable child, these dogmas had repeatedly attacked, and ultimately destroyed, my self-image and sense of intrinsic value. As early as my pre-teen years, I struggled with low self-image, depression and suicidal ideation. Now it was unmistakably clear: my religious upbringing was the cause.”

        “For the first time in my life, I understood how abusive, degrading and destructive those dogmas had been.”

          • Barry, what bothers me the most, and GC points this out in his OP, is that the crux regarding hell is that it doesn’t matter how “moral”, empathic, compassionate, ethical you are towards others. If you don’t surrender to Jesus you are doomed (condemned).

            “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:18

            Keep in mind that the bible says the demons believe, so it’s not a matter of just believing. It’s about surrender to Jesus and his father Yahweh — an Iron/Bronze Age God.

            • I guess that means that I’m destined to hell as well.

              I have a number of relatives belonging to a range of mainstream churches and a few somewhat fundamentalist sects. All but one interpret “follow” as following his teachings. It’s not necessary to know of his existence or believe in the person of Jesus. This gives me a less than 5% chance of being condemned. They are odds I can live with. I am sorry the situation is different in America.

                  • “its message is essentially “love thy neighbour”. Anything more is man made theology.”

                    So you are of the opinion that “love they neighbor” is of divine origin and not something we evolved for the sake — survival of our species? Other species express cooperation, empathy, compassion, altruistic behavior with their own species and other species.

                    • Who am I to disagree? However “Light” is easier to say than “neuroplasticity and motivational reward neurotransmitters”, not to mention easier to spell. Besides “Light” sits better to my temperament. What I have been trying to say all along is one does not require dogma to be religious. I find it helpful to express my beliefs in traditionally Christian terms. That gives more meaning to me. As I have stated from the beginning, atheism is a valid belief (or non belief), it just doesn’t suit me.

                      Finally, as nature hasn’t given me a kind deal as far as those neurotransmitters are concerned, I find it helpful to believe that there is more to life than than what I can explain by pure reason. This helps me cope in a way that no medicine can. Why should I be denied that privilege?

                    • “I find it helpful to believe that there is more to life than than what I can explain by pure reason. This helps me cope in a way that no medicine can.Why should I be denied that privilege?”

                      You shouldn’t. I experienced just the opposite when I let go of religious belief. The unexpected bonus was that I gained a wonderment of life and a greater connection with humanity, other species and the planet. Christianity teaches that we are shameful, sinful creatures in need of salvation requiring a bloody sacrifice.

                      But I do understand where you are coming from. Even though there is no cure (yet) for ASD, I’m sure you are grateful to be living in this day and age with the knowledge we’ve gained about the human brain and gene expression. One day, there will be a cure, I feel certain, and it will be science that brings us that cure.

                    • “I was fully with the narrator of the video right up until the point where he said that his perception of the wonders of the universe did more for him than Christianity ever did to him.

                      What the narrator said was “When I compare what scientific knowledge has done for me and what religion tried to do to me I sometimes shiver.

                      I can completely relate to what he’s saying. I simply don’t think you can because, apparently, you’ve only been exposed to the positive aspects of religion. I think we’d be more advanced as a species had it not been for religion, e.g., the early Middle Ages. However, from an evolutionary standpoint, I understand that religious belief played and continues to play a role in helping people cope with the harsh realities of life. A placebo effect.

                      So I’m not saying there isn’t some value to religion if it helps people get through tough times and/or curtails death anxiety. But not everyone needs religion to cope with reality.

                    • I wasn’t referring to ASD. I was referring to chronic migraine. ASD is part of who I am. It doesn’t need “curing”. On the other hand I’d cut off my arm if it was a proven cure for migraine. I was once told by a counselor that if she was in my situation she would end her life. Friends and family have often agreed with her. I still see the world as a wonderful place and I’m in no hurry to leave it. In fact it’s my desire to improve it if I am able. If I didn’t have a belief that there was “something more” to life, I too might think like that counselor. And that would be a waste of a life.

                    • Those studies were on episodic migraineurs, not chronic migraineurs. I’ll keep an open mind.

                      I’m rarely completely pain free, and migraine symptoms that cause some level of impairment occur approximately 20 days of the month. These can include prolonged aura, hemiparesis, fever, impaired consciousness, ataxia, photophobia, phonophobia and aphasia. I’ve had migraines since my early teens, but they have been getting worse over the last 20 -25 years at an ever increasing rate.

  23. Sorry, I thought you were referring to atrocities that were related to what I believe in, or those related to the faith I associate with.

    Would the atrocitiesities you mentioned be any worse than the carpet bombing of Dresden or the atomic bombing of Japan or the mass murder of Cambodians during the Pot Pol regime? I don’t believe religion was involved in those?

    It wasn’t all that long ago when doctors believed letting blood would cure many ailments. Does that mean I should believe doctors practice quackery? The understanding of medicine has moved on from there. Christian understanding has moved on also. Evolution happens in religion just as it does in nature.

    When have I made a claim that I teach religion to my children? If you reread my comments you will see I specifically avoid saying that. I wrote that I teach them my values, not my religion.

  24. Arkenaten, I’ve been giving my statement “I wrote that I teach them my values, not my religion” some thought, and it’s not entirely accurate. While it’s true that I teach them my values, I explain why I hold those values, and that invariably includes some religious aspects.

    I also use use stories from both religious and secular writings to illustrate my point.So strictly speaking, I can’t say that I don’t teach religion. As they have grandparents with Christian, Buddhist, Shintoist and atheist backgrounds, I also believe it proper that they understand their history.

    I also teach that all religions are man made creations, and like anything man made, in itself, it is neither good nor bad. It’s what one does with it that can lead to good or harm.

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