Wednesday, May 06, 2009

An atheist goes to heaven

I saw this video on Youtube this morning:

My first reaction was to accuse the author of making strawman arguments. It's an absurd parody based on gross misrepresentation. I see these kinds of misrepresentations on the internet all the time, and it can be frustrating.

But then I got to thinking it's probably not entirely the fault of non-believers. I think it's probably the fault of Christians. Christians aren't articulating the gospel clearly, which results in these distortions. And to an extent, I think this is probably due to Biblical illiteracy and an aversion to theology that a lot of Christians seem to have.


At 5/07/2009 12:08 PM , Blogger DagoodS said...

You know Poe’s law, right? What you call “absurd parody,” unfortunately others call “sound doctrine.”

Curious as to how “strawish” these statements were, I took quotes from the video, and plugged in a Google search:

1. “You are here to be judged before me.”
Google Search: [without quotes] “Judged before God” 695,000 hits
Top Three Hits 2. “No evidence? Did you ever hear of a thing called ‘the Holy Bible.’”
Google Search: “Holy Bible Evidence for God” 458,000 hits
Second Hit

3. “The only way to Salvation is through my son, Jesus Christ.”
Google Search: “Only way salvation Jesus” 2,480,000 hits (I tried to link the top hits, but it wouldn’t take. Sorry.)

Curiously, from Witherington to Borg in just three hits!

4. “I created the universe. You should have worshiped and praised me.”
Google Search: “God create universe praise worship” 560,000 hits. (You can look up the top hits yourself. Say what you would expect.)

5. “My universe; my rules”
Google Search: “God makes rules universe” 7,630,000 hits. Again, look up the hits, if you want.

6. “Once I make someone die, and they see me, they can’t change their mind.”
Google Search: “Once die change mind God” 1,360,000 hits, although it was not clear whether people were questioning the concept or claiming the concept.

7. “I only want people who praised me and worshipped me and thanked me when good things happen to them. Preferably on National Television.”
Google Search: “God only wants people praise worship” Only 282,000 hits, but I found this concept readily in the first page of hits.

8. “You might as well have been a baby raper. Your fate would have been the same.”
Google Search: “Non-Christian fate same ‘baby rapist’” [quotes in search] Only 29 hits. Most being atheists responding in similar manner, asking if they deserve punishment the same as baby rapist.

It would seem there are quite a few Christians who do say these things! If you see this as a problem—what do you propose as a solution?

At 5/07/2009 3:58 PM , Blogger Sam said...

The solution is education.

If this was meant to be a parody of some of the things Christians say, I would not have called it an "absurd parody" or accused its author of strawman arguments. I grant that a lot of Christians say these things. But since it had an atheist going before God to be judged, I took it as a parody of Christianity, not merely what some Christians say.

I called it an aburd parody because I don't think it accurately represents Christianity or Biblical theology. I'll give you a few examples.

Atheist: I was a good person.
God: It doesn't matter.

Of course it matters. What God should've said was that "No one is good but God alone" (Mark 10:18), or "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). The atheist is implying here that he deserves to go to heaven, and God doesn't dispute it.

God: You should've worshipped and praised me.
Atheist: Isn't that petty?
God: My universe; my rules.

Again, God doesn't dispute that the command to worship him is petty. Instead, he makes a remark that amounts to "So what? As arbitrary as it might be, I can do that." But worship of God is only appropriate because of who and what God is--the greatest possible being--our creator. It is no more arbitrary and petty than it would be for a parent to demand respect from their children.

God: What do you think heaven would be like if I let in every good person?
Atheist: Umm.

This, again, assumes that atheists are good people, which is inconsistent with the Christian worldview. In the Christian worldview, nobody is really good.

Atheist: Why do you allow bad things to happen, even to people who love you?
God: I don't have time for this nonsense.

This one reminded me of when Jay Leno goes out on the streets, finds the stupidest people he can, and asks them questions they can't answer. Surely you would agree that if somebody made a parody to demonstrate the stupidity of Americans, and they only used Jay Leno moments in their parody, you would agree that some misrepresentation was going on.

Sure, a lot of Christians don't know how to deal with the problem of evil, so they dismiss it or ignore it. But there is enough good material out there on the problem of evil that this video does not give an accurate representation of Christianity as a whole.

Also, this response from God implies that God has no good purpose in the bad things that happen to people. According to the Bible, God has a purpose in everything.

God: I'm sending you to hell to burn in excruciating pain for eternity.
Atheist: Why? I'm not a bad person at all.
God: You failed to believe what I wrote about myself in my best selling book.

Again, God doesn't dispute the atheist's claim of not being a bad person at all. Instead God seems to dismiss the atheists deeds as irrelevant and, instead, says he's sending the atheist to hell simply because he failed to believe in him. But, according to the Bible, people go to hell for their sins. Faith in Jesus Christ saves people from the wrath of God, but God's wrath is poured out because of unrighteousness.

God's comments also make it look as if the same punishment is meted out for everybody who doesn't believe, regardless of how they lived their lives. But according to the Bible, the severity of God's judgment depends on the severity of the crimes (e.g. Matthew 10:15).

God: Everybody must learn about me through one of the questionably translated and edited versions of my 2,000 year old collection of desert scribblings, and nothing more.

This is a misrepresentation of the reliability of our modern translations and the textual evidence they are based on. A good easy-to-read book on this subject is The King James Only Controversy by James White.

God: Besides, your scull was crushed. It's medically impossible to bring you back. There are some things I can't do.

I'm not sure what the implication is here. Surely the author didn't really intend to say that God isn't capable of miracles. I'm guessing it was a joke meant to imply that if there really was a God, then he would perform miracles in this case. This same sort of scenario was addressed by Jesus in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, but there is no indication that the reason God didn't allow the rich man to go back and warn his family was because it was medically impossible.

God: Hell is what you get for being born into a culture with the wrong religion and failing to find a path to Jesus Christ instead.

God doesn't punish people in hell for being born in the wrong culture. Neither does he send people to hell for failing to find a path to Jesus Christ. This is a gross misrepresentation of Christianity. People can't be blamed for what they didn't know (John 9:41, John 15:22). But everybody knows right from wrong, which makes them accountable for their sins. If a person is born in an unChristian culture and never hears about Jesus, they can't be blamed for rejecting Jesus, but they can be blamed for their sins.

At 5/08/2009 10:57 AM , Blogger DagoodS said...

Heh. Heh. Heh.

Christians cannot agree amongst themselves regarding their own doctrines. They cannot agree on inerrancy, inspiration, literalism, sola scriptura or transubstantiation. They cannot agree on what is inspired writing and what is not. What is the correct translation and what is not. They cannot agree on freewill, predestination, the existence of hell, what mandates from the Tanakh and New Testament apply and which do not. They cannot agree on universalism. They cannot agree on whether the Earth is 6,000 years old of 4.5 billion. Whether God uses evolution or not; the deity of Christ. They cannot agree on the role of the Holy Spirit, on homosexuality, on divorce and remarriage.

Christians argue, debate, contend and completely disagree with each other as to even the minimal question of who can be called Christian!

Yet we non-believers are commissioned with the responsibility of only portraying “accurate Christianity” or “Biblical Theology” in our parodies? That IS the parody!

The reason I posted those hits (if one wanted to look at them) is not only make the point Christians say those things; Christians believe those things. And other Christians would claim what you state is “accurate” is completely “inaccurate” and vice versa.

Your original point is dead-on. Much (if not all) of the problem is that Christians don’t inform each other what is “accurate Christianity.” That is partly because they disagree!

Sam: The solution is education.A lovely, cryptic, politician answer. How do you prose to educate Christians? You already have sermons, Sunday Schools, seminars, small groups and seminaries. Books, and tapes and CD’s and DVD’s and flannel graphs and Amazon forest’s worth of Church material.

Are you saying all that is not working? Can you flesh out “the solution is education” a little more?

At 5/08/2009 1:01 PM , Blogger Sam said...

Clearly, if this is a parody of Christians, it's a parody of the lowest common denominator. If I were teaching in church, I might very well have come up with the same parody in order to motivate the class to study theology.

In spite of all the Sunday school classes, seminars, CD's, study Bibles, etc., most Christians remain Biblically illiterate. I think Sunday schools should be taught like college classes. I've been to enough of them to understand how somebody could spend their whole lives in church and never receive an education.

Jehovah's Witnesses do a much better job of educating their people than mainstream churches. If they can do it, we should be able to.

I think apathy may be the biggest obstacle for Christians. If you were teaching a Sunday school class, and you gave a reading assignment, saying, "Be prepared to discuss this next Sunday," few people would do it.

I don't know how to deal with apathy, but I suspect that if Christians were challenged more, it would become interesting to them. And once they took an interest in it, they would be motivated to study for themselves.

At 10/21/2011 11:56 PM , Blogger Richard W 4Christ said...

Sam and Dagood, both of you present great points about the misrepresentation of Christianity and placing a blame on the Christians as to their educational negligence. For example, I'm a Christian, but I don't believe one burning in hell forever because it honestly goes against the supreme commandments of God concerning love, loving your enemies, forgiveness and mercy. I do however believe in the punishment of the wicked and chastisement for carnal sins, but I believe, as like any other punishment, the punished person is given time to learn from his mistake and that God has mercy on him after all his sins are burned out in the lake of fire and brimstone. We must remember that Revelation is spiritual book of symbols, and even though there was a literal, physical outpouring of fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah,the spiritual use of fire and brimstone presents a picture of all carnality being burned out from the inside instead of physically on the outside. Sin is not conceived on the outside. It starts on the inside. Brimstone in a spiritual sense would be a purifying agent.You ask any Greek what brimestone's primary use is, and they will tell you. Even the Greek Lexicon shows that. But this is just to say that we as Christians are at great fault for allowing people to have false impression of God. I think honestly that a lot of people make parody of many things concerning God because we as Christians tend to present to them through wreckless living and in much displayed condemnation of unbelievers. I've seen this parody many times. Honestly,even though it's low and callous of the author,it exposes many things that we as Christians are heavily to be blamed. I had to give the "hell forever" example because in all honesty, this view of God being pleasured by people burning, screaming in extreme pain begging for mercy,buuurrrrning, even though by a certain time that they will learn;buurrrning forever begging God to please give them a chance, but God says,"No. You rejected My Son. You were in another religion. You sinned too much..." It presents the same ignorant, merciless,cold God that this parody is presenting. Think of it....God teaches us to love and forgive our enemies of wrongdoing. He teaches us to be merciful, and then turns His back on His own commandments by taking pleasure in watching Christ-rejecters roast without an ounce of mercy forever. AEONS OF THE AEONS translated into the English of the KJVB does not mean FOREVER AND EVER yet that's how it's translated for us to see. AEONS is speaking of ages. I honestly don't know how we see the logic of FOREVER AND EVER. I think FOREVER is all we need to understand the duration of anything of that sort, but my point is,like both of you have so rightly pointed out, that we as Christians need to get our act together, get educated, and most importantly, gain a true relationship with God Himself;know Him for ourselves. Dagood and Sam, you guys are right on point. I didn't like the parody at all either,but I ain't getting my blood pressure up either because we as Christians are at fault for giving those lowdown authors a reason to present such garbage.

At 10/22/2011 10:20 AM , Blogger Sam said...

Richard, if it turned out that God did send people to hell for eternity (not necessarily a literal burning pit of fire, but eternal banishment from the kingdom and some sort of punishment that never ends) and if you became convinced that this is what the Bible taught, would you stop worshipping God?

At 10/26/2011 1:09 AM , Blogger Richard W 4Christ said...

Sam, God does not change nor does He teach something and then goes against His laws. Man lies and tries to change, divide, or compromise God's laws. It's not a matter of "would I still worship Him if I become conviced he would send people to hell eternally" because I know God intimately and personally for myself not to ever be convinced that he would send people to hell to roast for ETERNITY. His Spirit has revealed it to me through thorough,prayerful study of His Word. I know I'm suppose to love my enemies. I know I'm suppose to bless those that curse me. I know I'm suppose to forgive SEVENTY TIMES SEVENTY. So instead of trying to do it myself, the SPIRIT of God guides me through understanding, obeying and following the laws. I can longer look at people suffering in agony for a very lengthy time when I know that I can help or that they are willing to repent and get a chance to learn righteousness. It's that COMPASSIONATE SPIRIT in me that softens my heart. Is there a time when God is going to be void of the compassion that he to gives us through His Spirit? It's Romans 2:4 that says that it is the goodness of God that leads one to repentance, and Isaiah 26:9 which says "when God's JUDGMENTS are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness". A natural unforgiving person would love to see wicked people suffer in agony with no chance of "parole" nor repentance. A natural merciless, cold-hearted person can sit there and watch his enemies screaming in pain, begging for mercy without an ounce of compassion for how long? Some people can even last five minutes into watching someone else screaming in pain before they turn their face to look away, or before they relent and beg for that person to be free from all that suffering. Is God going to tell us to look away from the wicked burning "forever" after we've spent a lifetime learning how to love, be merciful to our ENEMIES and forgive them? How can a person be happy in heaven and take pleasure in people suffering in agony "forever"? That's cold and callous. The Jesus that I know would leave the 99 to find that one lost sheep no matter what. He came to SAVE the lost. He did not come to CONDEMN the world but that the world through HIM MUST BE SAVED. Sin and wickedness is punished. Yeah, I understand that,but you learn from your mistakes. Chastisement is always a process that involves breaking bad habits to learn how to do right. God has always relayed the spiritual message in His Word that FIRE COMSUMES SIN-It burns out, it changes the form-The sinful person is purified as gold which was tried by the fire. Many have not looked into what the FIRE of the Spirit really is; nor even what the LAKE OF FIRE really is, and also why BRIMSTONE is added to the FIRE. Sorry,I can't be convinced otherwise,Sam. If I were to have an "if", it would perhaps be "if" Christ is the Saviour, then He saves and He continues to save. He's not looking for people to save themselves. He does the saving. He saves! He is saving!"I came not to be served but TO SERVE," He said. "NO ONE CAN COME TO ME UNLESS THE SPIRIT OF MY FATHER DRAWS HIM". Christ IS SAVIOUR!HE IS Who He is! So I don't have any "ifs" nor any reason to propose an "if" when it comes to Christ or God. Poeple have a hard time getting to know the deep things of the Spirit because their own way of thinking is contrary to the higher ways of God and His spiritual truths. To be honest,as much as most people claim to believe that Christ is Saviour,the same will say He won't be able to SAVE everybody. With people roasting in this man-made ETERNAL hell, when does Christ CEASE to be Saviour?

At 10/26/2011 4:03 AM , Blogger Richard W 4Christ said...

Sam, Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit and FIRE. This FIRE is a SPIRITUAL FIRE menat to burn out sin, carnal weakness and wickedness of all kinds. This FIRE is an UNQUENCHABLE FIRE. This signifies and ultimately means that this FIRE will not be quenched until it has finished the work that it has set out to do. Jesus said,"I am come to send FIRE on the earth, and what will I,if it be already kindled. But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" To elaborate on this point, let's look at somthing: More than 2500 years ago, God warned the wicked people of Jerusalem that He would kindle a fire at Jerusalem's gates which would devour the palaces and would NOT BE QUENCHED(Jeremiah 17:27). Notice,God said this fire would not be quenched,right? This prophecy was fulfilled and the fire did come a few years later and it did destroy all the houses of Jerusalem(Jeremiah 52:13). Since God said that no person nor thing would QUENCH this fire,did that mean that it would burn FOREVER? NO. Since the fire accomplished the work that it was sent to do,it went out by itself after accomplishing its purpose. That fire is not burning today in Jerusalem, is it? NO! You see, unquenchable FIRE IS NOT "eternal" fire. It's a FIRE that cannot be put out until it has consumed or changed everything that it is to change. Then,when there's nothing more to burn,the FIRE goes out. The use of this FIRE is the same throughout the Scriptures, Christ's ministry and right through to the book of Revelation,whether it's in the form of a CONSUMING FIRE or a LAKE OF FIRE or a FIRE in which we are thoroughly tried and processed through,changed and purified FROM SIN. It's the same. Of course it will ultimately be a very painful process to those who are stubborn and unwilling to let go of their sinful practices as the process will last until the person comes out as pure as gold,and even though the end result is good, the thorough process by SPIRITUAL FIRE is not and will not be something to laugh about at all! Scripture tells us that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God(Hebrews 10:31). When you have time ,read the following scriptures: Lamentations 1:13,I Kings 18:37-39,Psalm 66:10-12,Psalm 104:4,Proverbs 17:3,Jeremiah 23:29,Isaiah 43:1,2, Job 23:10,Daniel 3:16,Zephaniah 3:8,Malachi 3:2-3,Matthew 3:11,12, Mark 9:49,Luke 16:24,Luke 15:4-31, Romans 12:20,
I Corinthians 3:13-15,James 3:6,
I Peter 1:5-7,I Peter 4:12, Hebrews 12:29,Revelation 14:10-11, Rev.19:20,Rev.20:9,10,13-15 and Rev.21:8. Why is brimstone added to the FIRE. Check the Greek translation or the Greek Lexicon. "THEION" is the Greek word that is translated "brimstone". Wouldn't you know, "THEION" means "divine". Greek word "THEIOO" which means "hallow" is a verb which comes out of "THEION". Brimstone a.k.a. sulphur was sacred to the deity among ancient Greeks, and it was used to fumicate, to PURIFY, and TO CLEANSE, and to CONSECRATE to the deity. And because of this,they burned it in their incense. So, what is known to us as a "lake of fire and brimstone",is known to any Greek, or anyone trained in Greek language,as the "lake of divine purification". Death and Hell(Sheol) are also cast into this lake of FIRE too. Hmm,doesn't that explain the END of death,hell, and sin. God shall abolish death, burn up hell(sheol)and shall consume all sin and rebellion in the lake of FIRE OF DIVINE PURIFICATION. there sahll be no more sin, nor death,nor tears,no sorrows(Rev.21:4,
I Corinthian 15:22-28). It's not people that are destroyed in this spiritual lake of FIRE(I Corin 3:13-15). It's the sins,death and Sheol that will be rendered completely powerless. None of these will have it's sting to kill anymore. There's no "ifs" and "buts" about it for me. I know that my SAVIOUR Jesus Christ will not fail TO SAVE.


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