• BaldMenFighting
    15
    1. If hell exists, there would be Biblical evidence for its existence, or it exists only conceptually in the minds of human beings due to misinterpreting the Bible.
    2. Things that only exist conceptually in the minds of human beings do not actually exist.
    3. There is no Biblical evidence for the existence of hell.
    4. Therefore, hell does not actually exist.
    Francesco di Piertro

    My opinions, point by point:
    1. Bible isn't the only text dealing with it. Moreover, it's non sequitur that there must be evidence for it, it could just be. Where is the rule that says there must be evidence for it, considering it's a place nobody in this world has access to?
    2. Circular definition - you say it only exists conceptually, then conclude it doesn't actually exist.
    By the way, something can exist conceptually, and actually exist without any proof. For example, l have no proof that Ouagadougou exists, l cannot even recall which country it is meant to be the capital of, so l have no country to relate any facts about it to, so l really don't have anything on Ouagdougou other than the word and the concept in my mind that it's a place. I believe it also exists, nevertheless. This is basic stuff bro.
    3. Says you. Maybe the Bible is uncannily right about a lot of things, therefore by extension, it can be right about hell existing.
    4. And in other texts all over the world :)
  • Devans99
    524
    A counter argument for hell existing:

    1 All good thinking beings would want corrective punishment for wrong doers
    2 The creator(s) of the universe are good thinking being(s)
    3 Hell is real
  • Empedocles
    31
    I think you made a good case for free will necessitating an option for people to go somewhere other than heaven when they die. However, I have a bone to pick with your definition of hell. How can there be any place God is absent from if He's omnipresent? And what of psalm 139:8 "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there."? It seems like God has to be in hell, and your definition of hell, although nicer sounding and easier to swallow, might not be right
  • BaldMenFighting
    15
    all are relatively infinitely small zones within him. That's why l have issues with trinitarian christianity, which has God bodily entering the cosmos. Infinity enters the finite. In the form of a person. Seems like materialism.
  • Empedocles
    31
    God did not create hell because it does not actually exist at all.Francesco di Piertro
    I'm not sure your conception of hell falls into the mainstream/orthodox tradition I was looking for. It seems like most Christians believe hell exists, and I tend to think they have good reason to think that. After all, Jesus' analogy about the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 contains a pretty distinct claim that hell exists: Verse 46 says "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life".
    And what of Revelation 21:8, which says, "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”?
    Or 2 Thess 1:8, which says, "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might"?
    It doesn't seem right to me to take these and other verse and still claim that the Bible doesn't teach the existence of hell...
  • Francesco di Piertro
    7


    Hi FordFestivaPhilosophy,

    In response to your rephrasing of premise one, I don’t necessarily think it changes the overall meaning that much and could attribute some more clarity, so I appreciate the suggestion. For reasons I will touch on a bit later, I would still want to keep the inclusion of “misinterpretation” in there somewhere.

    I understand how from what I posted, it could seem that the only criterion I am considering for evidence in the Bible is it’s direct mentioning of something, in this case, hell. With my original intent being to refute the modern, western Christian conception of hell, I think showing that such an interpretation is not actually mentioned directly in the Bible is a worthy thing to consider. This also brings in the commentary from @Ben Hancock regarding the valley of Himnon. I briefly mentioned awareness of this inclusion in the Bible and perhaps did not do it enough justice. While it is likely true that the mentioning of Himnon is not to draw attention to the specific valley itself, and that it very well could be paradigmatic for something resembling hell, I still stand by the fact that I do not think the mentions of Himnon are meant to resemble hell as it is commonly viewed in modern, western Christianity.

    That being said, I also see the concerns of premise two providing implications that could be problematic for Christianity – there not being direct mentions of the trinity, omnipresence, etc. To those concerns I would offer that in premise one, I chose to include “misinterpretation” because of the fact that I feel the references that are commonly used to affirm the existence of hell are likely being interpreted incorrectly when hell is viewed as a place of eternal punishment and separation from God. While I can conceive of a world in which I feel completely separated from God, and that would likely be on par with the worst possible thing I could imagine, I do not think such a world actually exists (in reality), because I do not think there actually exists (in reality) a world in which we will be separated entirely from God. I could conceive of it, yes, but I believe it would be a false conception. I felt that “in reality” was implied, but I understand the critique of the original premise being too strong.

    With that adjustment made to premise two in addition to the inclusion of “misinterpretation” in premise one, I do not think the implications are as problematic as originally thought. I would not consider, for example, the trinitarian concept of God to be a misinterpretation. While the actual concept of the trinity may not actually exist in reality in the same way that hell may not actually exist in reality, I think that the trinitarian concept is still very reflective of the character of God and could very well be the best that our minds can do to interpret the nature of God in this life. On the contrary, I would still argue that the modern, western Christian conception of hell that was originally being referenced in the post I was responding to not only fails to exist in reality, but is also a misinterpretation of the Bible.

    Finally, though I do not know if I would commit myself to the annihilist view of hell, I do think that is a more plausible consideration than eternal suffering and separation from God. However, I think I am still more attracted to the view of hell that C.S. Lewis presents in “The Great Divorce” as mentioned in my original post.

    Thanks for your objections and I look forward to anything more you have to say.
  • Ben Hancock
    14
    @Francesco di Piertro could you clarify for me then what the objection is:

    Is it that Hell is not a physical place? (So it may be spiritual?)
    Hell is not the classic 'fire-and-brimstone' place we might imagine? (Which does not conclude that Hell does not exist, merely we do not picture it correctly)
    Or that there is no such thing as Hell?

    It seems that in your second premise, even the addition of 'in reality' places you in a very strong position. The refined premise would be:
    2. Things that only exist conceptually in the minds of human beings do not actually exist in reality.Francesco di Piertro
    However, even then I would still object to this premise. There are things that exist only in the minds of human that very much so are a reality. Mental illness comes to mind as one of those examples in which it may exist only conceptually in the mind of the patient, but it certainly is a lived reality that exists.
  • princessofdarkness
    7
    " 1. If hell exists, there would be Biblical evidence for its existence, or it exists only conceptually in the minds of human beings due to misinterpreting the Bible.
    2. Things that only exist conceptually in the minds of human beings do not actually exist.
    3. There is no Biblical evidence for the existence of hell.
    4. Therefore, hell does not actually exist." @Francesco di Piertro

    I believe you are correct in your conclusion that Hell does not actually exist, but your reasoning is incorrect. I believe, that Hell does not exist as a physical place-- which it seems Ben hints as a possibility. Below is my thought process...

    1. Jesus Christ is the Savior
    2. If Jesus Christ is the Savior, He had to SAVE us from something.
    3. Humanity seems to inevitably sin.
    4. Jesus Christ was crucified to save us from our sins.

    1. Sin is evil.
    2. If humans sin, they are evil.
    3. Therefore, humans are evil.

    When God created humanity, He said “It is Good”, just as He did with everything else referenced in the Old Testament. If God created us as “good” then how are we evil as well? It seems reasonable to say that good cannot be evil. The explanation for humanity being both good and evil, even though God created us as good, is the gift of free will.

    1. If we were guaranteed to be good then people would not have free will since we would not be able to choose between good and evil.
    2. People are not guaranteed to be good and can choose between good and evil.
    3. Therefore, people have free will.

    Heaven and hell are not physical places, rather our choice to be in relationship with God or not to be.

    Regarding Premise 1: Reasons for evil and the existence of Hell are explained in the Bible. Original Sin is understood to be what broke a perfect world. When Adam disobeyed God, he chose to strain his relationship with God, choosing evil over good. Choosing not to be in a relationship with God is Hell. Heaven is being in perfect communion with God.
  • adhomienem
    15
    How can there be any place God is absent from if He's omnipresent?Empedocles

    God’s presence is not as one-dimensional as the presence of finite material beings. Biblically, there is a difference between God’s fully glorified presence and the presence that became incarnate and took on the sins of the world in Christ. This is why God told Moses that no person, due to their sinful nature, may fully see Him in His complete glory and live, and yet the New Testament instructs Christians to lay all of their sinful thoughts at the foot of Christ for Him to take captive.

    We see more evidence that God’s glorified presence cannot coexist in the presence of sin through the ritual of the Holy of Holies in Jewish tradition. In this practice, just in case a priest entered the Holy of Holies with unconfessed (and therefore unforgiven) sin, he had a rope tied around his ankle so other priests would be able to draw him out of the glorified presence of God if he were struck dead in his sinful state. 

This example is consistent with what we know from the definition of God as the Maximal Being. Maximal Moral Goodness—the complete absence of sin—could not, by definition, be tainted with any sin, no matter how small. Therefore, God does not present Himself in His full glory in the presence of sin because to do so would be to remove any capacity for free will. If His omni- attributes (omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence) manifested themselves in all dimensions, as it would require to have God’s fully glorified presence be “omni,” then no human would possess the capacity to choose to act outside of God’s own will. We would be robots, incapable of choosing to love God, and thus negating the purpose of our very creation.

    There must, therefore, be a difference between God’s fully glorified presence, and the presence that is everywhere—even in Sheol, as David penned in the Psalms. In Hell, there is, at the very least, the removal of God’s fully glorified presence, because it cannot coexist with sin.

    We can further debate the interpretation of David’s psalm—perhaps he claimed that God would follow him even to Sheol because God knows that David loves Him—to help determine whether it aligns Biblically to believe in annihilationism, and to therefore believe that hell includes the removal from all dimensions of God’s presence. But, at this point, I think it is safe to conclude that, at the very least, “hell” is absence of God’s glorified presence.
  • andrewk
    1.6k
    Hell Does Not Actually Exist

    A recent response I made in this forum has caused me to think a lot about the existence of hell. The response I made against the fact that God created hell resulted in me coming to the conclusion that hell does not actually exist. My response can be found here: https://thephilosophyforum.com/profile/comments/2793/francesco-di-piertro

    I wanted to hopefully generate some more discussion on this topic and consider objections to this view. So, I decided to synthesize and lay out my argument in an outline form to make it a bit clearer. It is worth noting that my objection is targeted at the popular, modern Christian conception of hell, with hell being a satanic realm that serves as the eternal home of the unrighteous as opposed to an eternity in heaven with God.

    My argument against Christians who adopt this belief in the existence of hell hinges on the assumption that Christians believe the Bible to be true. By saying, “believe the Bible to be true”, I do not mean to imply that I think Christians have to believe every nuance and story in the Bible to be verbatim truths about reality. What I want to communicate is that I believe Christians have to commit themselves to the fact that what is contained in the Bible is true insofar as it is inspired by God, reveals truths about God’s character, and informs us of how He interacts with His creation. From this understanding, my argument against Christian belief in hell is as follows:

    1. If hell exists, there would be Biblical evidence for its existence, or it exists only conceptually in the minds of human beings due to misinterpreting the Bible.
    2. Things that only exist conceptually in the minds of human beings do not actually exist.
    3. There is no Biblical evidence for the existence of hell.
    4. Therefore, hell does not actually exist.

    As previously mentioned, my rational for this argument can be found in another response I made recently on this forum that is linked above. Thanks for considering this argument and I look forward to reading objections.
    Francesco di Piertro
  • tenderfoot
    7


    I think your train of thought makes a lot of sense! :) It seems that free will is necessary for true love of God and indeed humans must have an alternative (to choose not-God). I would like to challenge your premise on free choice. You wrote
    “Forced love is not love.
    So, God cannot force humankind to love him.
    Humankind must, therefore, be capable of freely choosing to love God.
    To have the capacity of free choice is to possess free will.
    Therefore, humankind must possess free will.”

    I think it is important to distinguish what this free choice means. Does it mean that an essential aspect of humanity is the ability to choose to love God (regardless of whether they get the chance to do so on Earth), or that all humans do in fact have the ability to choose God on Earth? What I mean by this is that human free will in certain regards by the conditions that one is born into. For example, one might technically have the ability to choose to love God if they were aware that such a choice existed.
    There are some people (infants, those living in remote areas, and the severely mentally disabled might be good examples) who do not get the chance to hear the gospel of about the existence of a God before they die. Christian doctrine more specifically requires belief in Jesus as a savior for salvation, and certainly no every human being has knowledge of Jesus during their lifetime. Thus if salvation requires belief and love of God, then these people who are never exposed to God will go to Hell (unless there some chance to choose to love God after death.) I would like to argue that those who are unexposed to information or knowledge about choosing God, in essence do not have a choice.

    On account of this, I would also like to clarify what you mean by saying:
    “If God is all-loving, then he wants what is best for every person.
    What is best for other people is not hell.
    Therefore, God does not want people to go to hell.”
    If God does not want people to go to Hell and you are arguing that God has granted humans free will to choose to love God (not go to Hell), wouldn’t it be necessary for the choice to be real, rather than theoretical and contingent on one’s specific circumstances at birth?

    If indeed the physical word is the only chance to gain salvation, these people are virtually in the same boat as the souls damned under a predestination argument. The mental capacity, origin of birth, or time of death dictated their access to God. Such thing are nearly entirely out of an individual’s control and thus such factors have predetermined their fate. This is similar to the predicament of a predestination argument which results in predetermined souls who go to Hell instead of given the mercy of Heaven, irrespective of their life choices. If this is an analogous argument, the salvation dynamic and existence of Hell are still is incompatible with a maximally good God.

    I also tried to formulate this into my own argument on this post: https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/4199/salvation-after-death/p1
    I would love to hear your thoughts!
  • flight747
    15
    Hi everyone, I first want to say that I do agree that if God is all-loving, then why would he have created hell. I do, however, have some arguments contesting this belief, that even I wrestle with. As first point I would like to adress questions brought by the point that “God is love. But there’s also hell, and I think God being loving and creating hell are at odds with each other.” It is often stated that just like a parent can be all-loving towards a child, the parent can still exhibit disciplinary actions towards that child. That argument could go like this.

    1. If God is all-loving (and wants the best for us like a parent), then he would discipline us when we misbehave.
    2. God is all-loving.
    3. Then like a parent he would disciple when we misbehave. (1,2 MP)

    However, I have a problem with this counterargument in that I only see a parent foreseeably disciplining their child for a period of time. According to many Christians, God will punish those that do not obey him for eternity… err… what parent would do such a thing to their child.
    But still, many Christians argue that those that do not obey God, are not God’s children. I guess this approach eases the way Christians see God punishing humans that aren’t his own. This argument could go a little like this:

    1. If you are not God’s child, then you will be punished for eternity.
    2. You are not God’s child.
    3. Then you will be punished for eternity. (1,2 MP)

    However, once more, I ask to people that believe this at what point does not belong and is considered God’s child and at what point does one stop being one? It seems to me arbitrary from the people that espouse this view to say that this is when they believe an individual starts and stops being a child of God. In view of this, my thing is not to judge, in cases where people have lived morally good lives and yet were not believers. Let others be and God will decide if they get to go to this inferno or not. I’d love to know what y’all think.
  • Devans99
    524
    If you put yourself in God's shoes for a moment, what would be the ideal design for the universe? Having here plus heaven plus hell is not very Occam's razor. Why have three places to existence when one would suffice. However, it might be God decides the ideal design is not the most simple design so includes heaven and hell too. I can only imagine hell would be for correction rather than punishment with miscreants released to heaven after being cleaned up for a period in hell.
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k
    1. If God is all-loving (and wants the best for us like a parent), then he would discipline us when we misbehave.flight747

    If there were certain ways that God really didn't want us to behave then he probably shouldn't have made that behavior an option.
  • Devans99
    524
    If there were certain ways that God really didn't want us to behave then he probably shouldn't have made that behavior an optionTerrapin Station

    You could argue that we need at least the illusion of free will for happiness. We'd feel like slaves if we had behavioural inhibitors fitted. Free will seems to require hell of some form?

    I think hell would be for correctional purposes only. I have this vision I hope is not true. Hell is structured as an upside down pyramid. The worst people are at the pointy end (bottom), the best at the wide end (top). The sewage runs downwards in such a way that the worst person in hell experiences 100% of everyone else's waste products, the 2nd worst 50%, the 4th 25% and so on.
  • One here
    7
    I think, the God created hell also. Hell is a place, where there is no God.
    Humam soul is the whole universe and nature and planet. You are just a piece of your soul.
    So you find everything you need in your soul. You don't even need to think to much!

    But you should live, like hell doesnt exist.
    You just say, that Father is good and live like plants, who don't care.
    If you are affraid, you can't even love and holy spirit doesn't come to you.
    So don't be affraid and keep on moving.
  • flight747
    15


    Hi Terrapin Station, I believe your argument goes a little like this:

    1. If God is a loving God and wants the best for us, then he would not make certain behaviors an option.
    2. God is a loving God and wants the best for us.
    3. Thus, he would not make certain behaviors an option. (MP 1,2)

    Although I see where you're coming from, I believe that God made a world that allowed for such behaviors, in order to give humans complete free will. In other words, the fact that He allowed all behaviors, including the ones that are wrong, is so that we could choose between committing those acts or not. Had God forbid certain behaviors, it would have curtailed total free will, and I don't think he would have wanted that because having robots or people that do exactly as He dictates without ever erring as worshipers would be boring and meaningless. The fact that a human can choose not to kill, steal, or rape etc. shows rational and themselves abiding by a higher moral ground, at least in my opinion. So that is why I challenge premise one. I'd love to hear what you think.
  • Terrapin Station
    5.2k


    You don't have anything like "total free will." You don't have the ability to behave in ways that are physically impossible, for example. You also don't have the ability to behave in ways that are practically impossible for many contingent reasons. A god could easily set up a world where ways that he doesn't want people to behave are physically or practically impossible. That would no more disable free will than it is in the actual world at hand.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    47
    It seems that most Christians do not think that bad people go to Hell but rather that non-believers go to Hell. That is because, supposedly, Jesus Christ paid the price of everyone's sins and so any believer can go to Heaven, no matter how many bad actions they committed. On the other hand, if you do not accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior, then you will go to Hell for eternity regardless of how little you sinned or how virtuous you were. I once asked a Christian to justify how a supposedly just and benevolent God would think this is a fair system. I was told that God doesn't send people to Hell but rather they choose to go to Hell by refusing God. Of course, my immediate question was exactly how I could be refusing God if I don't recall any deities offering to me any kind of salvation. If God popped out of the sky and offered me salvation instead of going to Hell, I would certainly accept his salvation and do whatever he asks of me. But I don't understand how some Christians can think that atheists simply are choosing to reject God when there's no empirical evidence for there being a God that offers us salvation and warns us about Hell. If you have empirical knowledge that such a God exists, then you probably should cut down on the shrooms bro
  • BrianW
    481
    There's this idea, especially prevalent in esoteric spiritualism and in teachings of the likes of Emanuel Swedenborg, where the typical notion of hell is said to be misunderstood by most adherents of the judeo-christian-islam religions.
    The typical understanding is that,
    sinners must suffer in hell for all eternity.
    This makes hell an eternal circumstance. That is, once in hell, there's no way out.

    However, the proposed correct way of understanding it should be,
    sinners must, eternally, suffer in hell.
    This latter rendition, to have the meaning that, for as long as there are sinners, they, the sinners, must endure suffering in hell. It then further explains that, hell is a 'place' of restitution and is also transitory. That is, it provides the opportunity to expiate one's sins and, having accomplished said expiation, one is no longer a sinner and therefore progresses out of hell and into further, more suitable and beneficial, territories of the spiritual realms.


    From my perspective, the second version is more aligned with a loving God. However, how many people are willing to accept the possibility of a misinterpretation regardless of how intelligent the latter seems?

    Also, none of this has anything to do with atheism. If one doesn't believe in a God, why bother with anything He supposedly does.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    47


    "Also, none of this has anything to do with atheism. If one doesn't believe in a God, why bother with anything He supposedly does"

    I believe that it is relevant for atheists to try to empathize with how Christians might feel about their atheism. This is why this topic is something I wish to understand. There are people in my life who are concerned about my atheism because they believe I will go to hell if I don't repent. I find your view on this subject to be beneficial and interesting to some extent since it could perhaps alleviate the concerns of my loved ones. I'm often stuck in conversation trying to convince my Christian friends that they shouldn't be so concerned about me going to hell forever since it's inconceivable how a loving God would punish someone for an unlimited amount of time for reasonable skepticism about his existence. I would love to know if there's any way I could convince my loved ones to accept annilationism or at least the view that Hell does not last indefinitely and that we can escape from it like you have described. It seems like the Bible does suggest eternal torture for non believers though and I don't blame Christians for thinking that this is what the Christian God requires. Although, as an atheist, I don't think there's any centralized view that the Bible holds about Hell. That is because I think the Bible is written by a collection of people with different opinions and philosophies rather than based on the actual unified philosophical position of God who does not exist and therefore had no role to be play in advising the authors of the Bible.
  • BrianW
    481


    The idea that hell is a 'place' of restitution is a feature of esoteric teachings, spiritualism, spiritism, some factions of hinduism, etc. It is also more in line with a God whose love is as expressed in 1Corinthians 13:4-8 (love is patient and kind... it forgives all things, does not keep a record of wrongs,... ).

    There are arguments that the eternity of hell for sinners is often misinterpreted owing to the deficient translations from the original hebrew or aramaic. The supposedly correct way of understanding it is that, 'hell is constant for sinners'. Unfortunately, the word 'constant' can be replaced with synonyms such as continuous, eternal, infinite, etc, which may, outside of the original context, give different interpretations. I don't know what the original statements in the Bible are, but I prefer the version where hell is a place of restitution. It is the more intelligent version, for me.

    I think, ultimately, it depends on what a person wants from a religion. Personally I abstain from them. I do study religious teachings but only because there's great wisdom in them. But, I can't reconcile an absolute God with the idea of picking a side in any of the religions. I much prefer the idea of a person deciding one's own fate.

    Buddha
    Salvation can only come through one's own efforts. Buddhas only point the way.

    Krishna
    In whatever way people come to Me, in the same way I receive them. For the paths by
    which people come to Me from all sides are My paths.
  • Athena
    106
    It was the Greeks who wrote the first Christian bible and Greeks held a concept of Hades. Psychologically, Hades is a place we must all go for meaning. Never going to Hades results in a person being frivolous and immature. However, we should never go to Hades without the help of the gods because it is so easy to be lost in Hades. The gods are concepts that help us deal with life. Being lost in Hades is being depressed or even psychotic and unable to find our way out of Hades.

    When we go to Hades we can talk to the dead by digging a hole and then cutting the throat of a lamb and letting its blood fill the hole so the dead can drink it and speak with us. You know, as Jesus is the lamb who had to be sacrificed, and the blood of the lamb painted on our door can protect us.

    I think to understand the bible we need to know how people thought back in the day.
  • Athena
    106


    I very much agree with you and like the quotes you used. Christianity had a terrible time when it as translated from Greek to Roman thought. Latin words had to be invented to because there were no Latin words for some Greek concepts. The problem with Romans not having Greek concepts lead to Christians killing Christians because of seeing God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost as three gods or one god. Romans didn't explore concepts as the Greeks did and didn't have the necessary vocabulary. Image making something believable by inventing a word.
  • BrianW
    481
    I think to understand the bible we need to know how people thought back in the day.Athena

    I'm a big advocate for this. I've always thought that if psychology was a part of our considerations in reviewing religious teachings then perhaps most of the present misunderstandings could be alleviated because we would have a better context of what the predominant thought was back then and how to relate to it through the passage of time to the present.

    I think it also takes an open-minded person to accept that religious teachings are not as indisputable as most people think and that perhaps a constant search for better interpretations is always worth the trouble to improve our understanding.

    Thanks. It's always good to meet another investigative mind especially with respect to religions.
  • Athena
    106


    I appreciate your approval of investigating religious truth. I have loved the investigation since I was 8 years old, that age when our brains mature enough to demand we make such judgments. I asked a Sunday school teacher why Protestants and Catholics were different and her answer was not satisfactory. I decided none had God's truth, because if they did they would have an agreement. That set me a quest for God's truth and for me, that meant investigating all beliefs. My family encouraged this and because it is such a pleasure to learn I am very thankful I had a family that encouraged it.

    At the moment I am listening to college lectures about western civilization and do you know a distinct divide between Egypt and Mesopotamia was the difference in the environment? In Egypt, the Nile floods regularly, with very little difference from year to year and the Egyptians who were obsessed with order, thought that the Pharoah was a god with the power to keep things in order.

    In Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers, flooding was much more unpredictable and difficult to control. Here the head person was a human who had the favor of the gods. If bad things happened, it was assumed this person no longer had the favor of the gods and they got rid of him.

    Now ponder the fight over if Jesus is God or a human? The gods did have children with humans and their children were mortals with unusual powers. Jesus is not the only one with an unusual birth following the visits of angels. So was he born human? If so when did he become a god? For some, it was unthinkable that a god could be born from a woman. Some Jews were revolted by this idea. What people believed really depended on where they lived and their previous mythology and Christians killed each other over this issue.

    Surely we have a father in heaven because Romans were adamant about the importance of fathers and his responsibility for his family. It would not be much of a shift from being ruled by a king with the favor of the gods, to worshiping a Father in heaven. What do you think?
  • BrianW
    481


    I was raised by a protestant mother and a catholic father, so you could imagine the drama. Anyway, they weren't strict about religion so I somehow managed to acquire a liberal view.

    My idea of gods and such has changed quite a lot in the past 10 yrs or so. I still appreciate other people's perspectives but I'm more inclined to refer to what I call universal laws. For now, this just means I believe in vibrations and that our lives here on this little blue planet is a field of interaction between these vibrations, some higher, some lower, with respect to each other. For example, there are consciousnesses or intelligences whose nature is much higher than mine; there are those whose nature is much lower than mine; and there are those whose nature is closer to mine to negate any adverse confluences that may naturally occur. So, part of living, for me, means being able to recognise the nature of these vibrations and reacting accordingly.

    As to whether there are gods or not, I think just as humans are awe-inspiring to animals, it is probable that there are beings whose nature is just as awe-inspiring to humans. I don't think their names matter as long as we understand what we're referring to.
    Do I believe in an absolute being? No, because the very idea of being means a kind of limitation or relativity. However, I believe in an absolute unity, harmony and freedom - which is the nature of reality as a whole. For beings like us, absolutes are targets we aim for through progressive states of development. I can grow to experience more unity, harmony and freedom but there doesn't seem to be an ending to such growth.

    I don't know much about Jesus, or any other person, being a god, but I know what to expect when such an intelligent person finds themselves greatly outnumbered by lesser intelligent people. Unfortunately, we still live in conditions where we expect some person we designate as 'leader' to determine the fortunes of our lives. So, inevitably, there will be a lot of chaos or conflicts in our associations. How we are affected, I think, is determined by how we position ourselves through all these interactions.

    Usually, I don't know whether I'm spiritual or not but the pendulum has been known to swing both sides. Please share your thoughts... ?
  • TWI
    134
    Many people have gone through a near death experience, they have been considered to be clinically dead and been resuscitated, they tell of a black void with a light in the distance giving the effect of 'light at the end of the tunnel', some talk of seeing what appears to be tortured souls in this void pleading for help (a friend of mine went through that very experience)

    I believe this void is the absence of God, nothing more nothing less and if you refuse to accept the reality of the existence of God and that in fact you are that God then there is nowhere for you to go except to stay in the void, a self inflicted existence where no one hurts you except yourself. I think this void is what is referred to as Hell, exaggerated and embroidered until it becomes a fiery furnace with devil's prodding you with forks. You can come out of the void if you choose but stubbornness is one 'hell' of a power!
  • Rank Amateur
    560
    I'm often stuck in conversation trying to convince my Christian friends that they shouldn't be so concerned about me going to hell forever since it's inconceivable how a loving God would punish someone for an unlimited amount of time for reasonable skepticism about his existence.TheHedoMinimalist

    That is a very theist position for an atheist to state. It would seem to me there is only one Atheist argument you could make to your friends, that there is no god - so don't worry. Looks like somewhere down deep you are hedging your bets here - Kind of like - there is no god, but if there is, He will be benevolent. Does not seem a very consistent position to me.
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