Why I Hope God Is Not Real

This doesn’t necessarily apply to all Gods, just the ones that promise an afterlife, a heaven and a hell.

My point essentially boils down to what benefits the most people. There is no single religion that has a majority, every single person in the world is a minority when it comes to their religious beliefs on a world-wide scale.

There is 7.58 Billion people in the world as I write this and let’s take this random article I found to be the popularity of each religion. This says that Christianity is the most popular religion with 2.12 billion followers, I doubt this however it still works here.

So at best 2.12/7.58 so at most 28% of people are going to be happy after they die if there is a god. No all loving god should allow the eternal suffering of 72% of people, it’s just not fair.

First of all finite punishment should never be punished infinitely, infinity is just too long! Second of all, I don’t even think not believing in something is such a bad thing! There are plenty of good people who don’t believe the same thing as you, I don’t think they should be punished at all for that.

If god is real, you will know about it the second after you die. In that one second your belief in a god will be made up. So who cares anyway after you die?

Compared to the time scale of infinity, everything on Earth seems so insignificant that it shouldn’t even be taken as a factor.

I can’t speak for other religions, but one of the Christian arguments for why Yahweh is still all loving despite this is that it’s all part of gods plan, and that we’re working towards a greater goal of heaven on earth.

That’s fine, but the point you’re arguing here is that the ends justify the means. That infinite suffering for some people who die now is justified by a future of trillions of humans all living in infinite happiness.

I just don’t like that. I think even one person in infinite suffering wouldn’t justify trillions of people’s infinite happiness because it just seems unfair on that one guy.

I’m sure it pleases nobody, especially religious people to believe that so many people will be suffering while they are in happiness.

If you were in heaven, and everyone else you knew were in hell, I wouldn’t call that heaven, because with the knowledge that your friends were suffering, how could you be happy? The only way you could be, is if you had your empathy and by extension free will taken from you, or if heaven was a society much like the one depicted in 1984.

On the subject of 1984, isn’t that exactly what having a god is like? A god who can convict you of thought crime, is always watching, and can judge you without trial immediately.

You think that God is all loving, but if that’s true, what’s hell there for?

If it’s simply a normal place, exactly like heaven, but just without God. Then I think I would enjoy hell very much. Heaven in Christianity is depicted by constant worship with nothing else, who wants that?

And if a God can allow all this suffering to occur, while claiming to be all powerful, all loving then he has enough to answer for that I likely wouldn’t want anything to do with him.

Yahweh is shown time and time again that he believes the ends justify the means. If they didn’t he wouldn’t have killed so many people in the old testament, racistly favouring the Israelite’s  just in order to give birth to the long line of people who would eventually give birth to Jesus.

So if the ends do indeed justify the means, why are people still claiming Satan and demons are still running around? They shouldn’t be, not if the ends justify the means they shouldn’t be.

Sure, you could argue that life with Satan and demons around could lead to a greater future on the whole, however if it does, I have to question whether those guys are actually that bad after all.

Simply put, this crazy plan Yahwah has come up with involves the invasion of a small group of slaves to kill many people, randomly having a son which he created himself in order to sacrifice it to himself, creating yet another God which apparently resides in all of us yet seems to do nothing, and that’s only stuff from the bible. If you look at today’s society God’s amazing and awesome plan involves allowing everyone to slowly become less religious over time, and then sending billions of people to eternal suffering, in the hope that one day perhaps there will be enough believers for this sacrifice of life to be worth it.

There is a reason why they teach this nonsense to children, and that’s because if they didn’t the religion wouldn’t exist.

Obviously that reason I just gave, isn’t the reason that religious people teach children their religion – because the adults believe it too. They don’t want their kids to go to hell, which is reasonable enough.

But theirs a good reason why I think this is unfair. There is no proof of any religion. The only way people can really judge it is if they look at it for themselves, and look at everything. This is best done through an unfiltered lens, because if your god is the all powerful person you claim him to be, the person doing the research will find the right answer anyway.

It concerns me when religious people argue against teaching children the religion, because don’t they realise that other religions exist? Surely you would hate a young child to be indoctrinated into a different religion, and doomed to an eternity of suffering?

I think in general it would be better to let people work it out for themselves, people’s religion is too much of a circumstance of their birth, instead of a product of research.

And if you think that your religion is true, then that would be a positive for you, since less people would be doomed to false religions, and be more likely to join the correct one.

Both Christianity and Islam exists, this means that either one, or both of them are wrong, since both of their claims deny the other and there is still that possibility of neither of them being true.

This means that it’s not only possible, but proven, that it is possible for the human mind to feel a close connection and a strong bond to a God that does not exist. It proves that it’s possible to feel like theirs an all powerful god, guiding your every move, who knows every single thing about you when there just isn’t. So how on earth are we going to be able to make the correct choice when there isn’t even a noticeable difference between people with a real god and a false god?

Well the simple answer is atheism.

In a very real sense, what is God? To me, a celestial dictator who invented a magic called sin, a devil that it knew was going to doom it’s creation live in constant sin, and a place for the people to suffer eternally because of the magic system he created which was forcibly inserted into human creation when a snake told a girl to eat an apple 13 billion years ago.

Who wants that God?

How about this: A god that creates you, let’s you live in eternal bliss, and then fucks off. A god that doesn’t demand any worship or money, puts you in heaven straight away, and is there for you when you need him, always helps when needed and is generally not a walking mess of contradiction. Eternal bliss is subjective, if eternal bliss to you is living like a normal person on earth then you can have that too. Oh yeah and a god that doesn’t create an evil monster who specifically tries to turn you away from him. Yeah I think I’d choose this second one thank you very much.

 

When I was young, probably five years old, I asked “how was god created” and I got the answer “he was powerful enough to create himself” – but everyone should be able to see, that makes no sense at all. The God I just proposed is just as powerful as Yahweh, why can’t that God create himself too?

You could make the argument that something can’t come from nothing – and there is something – so there must be a god. But that explanation only raises more questions.

The origin of the universe as we know it currently was a very simple event. An explosion from a most tiny point. That event is incredibly simple compared to the origin of a god.

Because the creation of a God, is absolutely bonkers.

The atheist’s response to the origin of the universe is that we don’t know. A religious persons is that God created it, and we don’t know how that god was created.

If we answer that the universe started because of a God, then we have still answered absolutely nothing because we don’t know where that God came from.

I think if we do find a natural way the universe could have begun without a God then people would say that God created that natural way, so it wouldn’t even matter anyway.

Religious people have a very bold claim, and it is always their role to convince people since they’ve come up with the idea.

So, if anyone can convince me otherwise that there is a God. I don’t know, I’ll cook you a meal every day in heaven or something – we’ll figure it out.

Also got to give credit to this darkmatter2525 for giving me a lot of the arguments I used at the start. It’s an interesting watch. Every Christian person should watch his videos in my opinion, because doubt and research and exposure to more arguments can only lead to a net gain of truth. If you can find and beat all the arguments, your religion is the truth, whereas if you can’t you’ll waste less time in your religion. Please do not fall into the sunk cost fallacy.

Anyway here’s the video

Enjoy

 

 

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60 thoughts on “Why I Hope God Is Not Real

  1. Still a great conversation!

    I’m going to restart the thread, because WordPress is flexible, but once you get past a certain level of response indents…

    “Sorry I’ve given you a lot here, I was just saying what’s on my mind. If you want to ignore anything your more than welcome to.”

    I’m not going to ignore anyone who’s being honest! That’s kinda counter productive.

    “I can’t really find very good information on what you believe. I’ve only really been able to find things on Thomism, which says theirs a god so I disagree.”

    I am an Aristotelian Thomist, which means I have embraced the intellectual tradition that sided with Aristotle instead of Plato. I trace it forward to Thomas Aquinas, who observe, among other things, that between faith and reason there is no conflict.

    “However I’m sure I’d agree with a lot of Aquinas’ statements as well, because the ones you’ve presented so far make a lot of sense to me.”

    You strike me as an Aristotelian at least. Empirical data matters; mental archetypes (like Plato’s idea that reality is as shadows viewed on a cave wall) are fine, but they’re not reality from our point of view.

    “It’s obvious to me because I’ve still never been clear on exactly what you think!”

    I’ve not tried to be obscure or unclear! I started as a realist, went through Catholic college to become a Thomist, realized that the scandals the church perpetuated had been going on since at least Constantine’s time (the Roman emperor who recognized Christianity in the 300s CE), further realized that there are still good people there, and finally realized there are good people everywhere.

    I’m trying to work with as many of them as I can. Not having the power and prestige of an official faith has its drawbacks, and instant credibility (or notoriety) is among them!

    But if you want a concrete set of ideas that would get you to 90% of what I think is true, you could call me a hierarchy-less Catholic who embraces the line of thought though Aquinas and more or less distances himself from the line of through Augustine (and back to Plato).

    Keeping in mind a “real” Catholic would say that’s impossible.

    “Morality is subjective, maybe it is moral to try and change someone’s mind as long as it’s through fair, kind and unmanipulative means in the search for greater truth.”

    That’s an interesting thought. I used to embrace it, but years of fruitless religious argument that cost me the few friends I had taught me something. The probability of convincing anyone through argument is remote.

    Maybe the lesson where you are in life is different. Please note that I don’t mean we’re at different stages of the same line of progression. Our paths might be utterly different. Our “earlier” and “later” might be inverted or completely irrelevant.

    “At the very least, I don’t think it’s immoral to give your opinion, and your arguments to just see what happens.”

    Agreed, when both parties are willing.

    “Comparing ideas, presenting arguments, and trying to make them better through discussion would likely lead to a more accurate version of the truth.”

    I used to believe that as a matter of fact! Unfortunately, I’ve encountered far too many people who are not conversing in good faith. They think they know That Which Is; they think any other position, or even any other way of saying their position, is Evil.

    That’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed this conversation. It’s clear you’re trying to understand based on fact. That’s really refreshing!

    “I didn’t want the arguments or the criticism. As a Christian I had quite a stigma to people who left the religion and I don’t want to be treated in the same way.”

    I would argue that anyone attaching stigma to someone leaving the faith is behaving in a way inconsistent with the basic tenets of Christianity. You either believe Jesus is engaged with people or not. If someone leaves the church because their conscience demands it, a Christian should support them.

    The conscience is a key way the divine interacts with us (phrased in theist way); it’s the primary way we apply the sum total of our learning and perspective on live (phrased in a non-theist way).

    “It would just feel quite bad to do it, and I can’t imagine doing it.”

    If I may be a buttinsky, I think it’s commendable that you’re trying to be considerate of their feelings.

    “Anyway back on track, it is arrogant to force a perspective, but I don’t think that’s what you would ever do. ”

    If you don’t mind, I’m going to take that as a high compliment!

    “If you consider your arguments so great that even stating them would mean a force of perspective, then they are probably good arguments I’d like to hear haha.”

    Wow. I’d love to have arguments that powerful — I think!

    “Even after making it clear that we were busy and didn’t want anything to do with them, they forced themselves in and carried on talking, it made them look horrible. That’s when it gets immoral and arrogant.”

    I could not agree more!

    “But you might call me a hypocrite when it comes to cults, because I’m of the opinion that they should have the ultimatum of reform or get banned. This is because I judge “what is a cult” not by “a small religion” but by the level of suffering, and manipulation it has on it’s members, to the point where it goes against their freedom of religion, as it forces them into the group without being able to change.”

    I don’t think it’s hypocritical to fight against anyone who’s causing objective harm. I’d argue that any religion that restricts free will or uses techniques like shunning or shaming to control people is evil, but it’s not to the point where I’d call in the power of the state to do anything about it.

    But some of these cults convince individuals to castrate themselves, to give all of their money to the cult, or to otherwise engage in activity that causes unambiguous harm.

    For cults, it’s worth the risk of invoking the power of the state.

    This continues to be a very interesting conversation!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah that’s a good idea, it always makes it weird to read for no reason.

      I think the confusion is that if I call myself “atheist” it’s very clear what I believe, if I call myself an “Aristotelian” people don’t know. In the same way that’s why I’ve not quite found it clear what you think. even still.

      The words “between faith and reason there is no conflict” aren’t that helpful either! It sounds like what a religious person may say as well.

      Don’t you think there is a conflict in faith and reason if someone’s faith goes against reason? Or is that the point, that someone’s faith shouldn’t contradict reason, even then I wouldn’t think belief in a God is unreasonable, just less reasonable considering all the things and evidence we have already.

      I remember you feeling that you couldn’t shake the idea of a God, and I perfectly get where you’re coming from. My perspective of that is that it doesn’t matter, because that God would be the one that hates the idea of people worshipping him, or a God that doesn’t even have an afterlife for us.

      Of course if that God did exist it would still matter, but we are so far away from discovering anything like that, that I feel comfortable using Occam’s razor. Maybe I shouldn’t feel comfortable, but I can’t help my belief! If I’m not worried, I can’t convince myself to be more worried very easily.

      Ok, yeah, so screw the pope basically? I have no idea how you can read the bible and think, yeah God says we need a pope. In what way do you work with Catholics?

      Also is that true that you had to realise people from other religions and lack of religions were also good people? That says a lot about Catholicism if it does!

      It’s quite hypocritical to think that only people from your religion are good people, because that in turn makes you a bad people.

      You bringing this up reminded me of a YouTube video that I watched yesterday, saying that Catholicism is a cult? It’s here if you want it, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i15NGe1U1NI, but do you think this is fair to say? The creator of the YouTube video is an Ex-Jehovah’s witness so I feel inclined to trust him when it comes to cults!

      I know what you mean about being stubborn, sometimes I’m talking to people and I’m like are you even trying? I still think that honest discussion would lead to a more accurate version of the truth though, perhaps only with people who are also trying to do the same thing.

      You’ve heard what a persecution complex is right? Sometimes even presenting arguments can make people even more reluctant to accept them, as they can feel attacked because their God is so personal and special to them, that it feels like you’re attacking them. So I understand where you’re coming from at the least.

      It’s a sad world if it’s refreshing to have a conversation like this based on facts, but I know exactly what you mean.

      When I’ve asked friends why they believe, I’m always confused as they often tell them what they believe instead e.g “Jesus saved us, and God loves us” it’s only pressing them further which is when you actually get to their arguments.

      Though I believe that they do justify their believes, so much of it is to do with them truly wanting to believe, and truly believing already.

      Part of my de-conversion was thinking “It’s been 17 years, and I have no relationship with God, how long am I going to justify this with no returns?” and I think it’s this general want to believe, and them knowing themselves so well, that makes them think God knows them so well. I don’t know, after so long in the religion the personal relationship to me just seems to have everything to do with how much you can fool yourself, instead of how much time you actually invest in the religion, because I did genuinely believe like everyone else.

      That is one thing Christians don’t believe about me, and it’s horrible. They don’t believe that I was ever exactly like they were.

      Have you found the same thing I’ve found, where if you tell someone you’re atheist, you don’t tend to talk about religion, however if you say you used to be Christian, they instantly try to convert you? It’s a trend I’ve noticed and obviously not true for everyone. Or maybe it’s just me, because I’m more open to talking about religion potentially.

      Of course I think a lot of people forget that it’s much easier to convert an atheist than someone who used to share your views exactly, because they knew them, and still were able to turn their back on them.

      That is so true about conscience.

      The sad thing is that I kind of disagree with you, or can at least empathise with evangelism. If you believe that someone is going to burn forever in hell, then you should be doing absolutely everything you can to stop it from happening.

      The issue is, that people think you’re crazy, and a 2 minute forced conversation isn’t going to help.

      I believe that evangelism would probably be more effective with the approach of “I think you’ll burn forever in hell if you don’t believe what I believe, and you think I’ll waste my entire life if I believe in the thing that I believe in. Let’s try and work this out” or even just “Hey I believe their’s more out there, I don’t want to force you but please at the very least do research considering this is eternity we’re talking about in case a claim convinces you”

      It takes away all the arrogance yet still makes people think. In my opinion it’s about balancing your morals of wanting to save people, with the morals of not being an ass-hole while doing it.

      What I’ve just become aware of is that if we are wrong, and we talk someone out of an eternity of happiness, that is quite immoral. So approaching with “who knows?” seems to be the only moral way to do it!

      Yes I think that’s a good attitude on cults to have. I suppose it’s about being careful of not having the same arrogance we accuse other people of having. Perhaps it’s only fair to interject when absolutely necessary.

      But when does it become necessary? Jehovah’s Witness’s go so far to even ask for kids ice cream money, they shun people and protect the names of over 1000 child abusers and rapists.

      So when does it become bad enough? When does the harm that a cult causes overpower the respect for people’s freedom of religion? I don’t know. There are so many factors to consider.

      Have you come out as religious yourself? What was it like if you did? I’m thinking that I will come out eventually anyway, so don’t feel like you’re trying to convince me to do so, I just want to hear what it was like.

      I know right? It’s easy to see how a priest can come up with a new topic every Sunday for his/her entire career!

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Don’t you think there is a conflict in faith and reason if someone’s faith goes against reason?”

        Very good point! I should have made it more clear what I meant, because I’ve been saying it to myself for decades and had forgotten to include the context.

        The meaning is that if a tenet of faith contradicts reason, then you’re doing something wrong. Faith is never unreasonable. It might sometimes go beyond reason, but it never contradicts reason.

        That’s one of the things that attracts me to Thomism.

        “I feel comfortable using Occam’s razor. Maybe I shouldn’t feel comfortable, but I can’t help my belief!”

        I think you can correct a belief based on evidence, but in this case, I think Occam’s razor is a good tool. We have to use the best tools we know!

        “I have no idea how you can read the bible and think, yeah God says we need a pope. In what way do you work with Catholics?”

        I actually wrote a college thesis on the primacy of the papacy… There are tons of arguments to be made on either side of that equation, but some kind of leadership is necessary. I’d argue that what the Catholic Church has come up with has failed spectacularly on a variety of topics for about two thousand years. So clearly more work needs to be done!

        “Also is that true that you had to realise people from other religions and lack of religions were also good people? ”

        There’s actually a theory in Catholic theology called Baptism by Desire. Anyone who tries to do good qualifies. So there’s no valid thought that people have to be Catholic to be “saved.”

        “It’s quite hypocritical to think that only people from your religion are good people,”

        More than hypocritical, it’s demonstrably false.

        “saying that Catholicism is a cult? ”

        I’ve seen stuff like that. On balance, it’s not. When you have the Thomistic tradition seeking open discussion and a recognition that reason is important, it’s hard to argue it’s cult-like!

        On the other hand, there are movements within the church that are clearly anti-freedom and anti-thought, like Opus Dei. I think you could make a good argument that it has enough cult-like tendencies to quality as a cult.

        “You’ve heard what a persecution complex is right? … So I understand where you’re coming from at the least.”

        Yeah, I’ve gotten to the point where I think just living as best I can is all I can reasonable do.

        “It’s a sad world if it’s refreshing to have a conversation like this based on facts, but I know exactly what you mean.”

        Well, at least we have these conversations, right? That’s a plus!

        “Have you found the same thing I’ve found, where if you tell someone you’re atheist, you don’t tend to talk about religion, however if you say you used to be Christian, they instantly try to convert you?”

        I have a similar experience if it comes up that I used to be a practicing Catholic (usually because the college I attended, Ohio Dominican, gives it away!). I find it pretty disrespectful!

        “The sad thing is that I kind of disagree with you, or can at least empathise with evangelism. If you believe that someone is going to burn forever in hell, then you should be doing absolutely everything you can to stop it from happening.”

        You know, that’s an excellent point. I should be more forgiving of them, shouldn’t I?

        I still say that if they really trust God, they should know that there’re times when even some of the people in Scripture didn’t believe. Job comes to mind, and there are others. Yet, Job was still following God’s plan.

        “I believe that evangelism would probably be more effective…”

        I suspect what is most effective is when a church provides material aid to flood victims, or comfort to people after they lose their home in a fire. Preaching in someone’s face, as you said, isn’t effective. Showing that your faith helps you behave in compassionate ways is way more effective.

        “So approaching with “who knows?” seems to be the only moral way to do it!”

        I can see that. I’ve gotten to the point where my position is that I think I know where I am, so let’s compare notes. If I understand where you are, we might be able to communicate, and one or the other or both of our positions might be helpful.

        “I suppose it’s about being careful of not having the same arrogance we accuse other people of having. ”

        I think that’s a commendable goal!

        “Have you come out as religious yourself?”

        I was raised Catholic, so when I stopped going, there was some local controversy. Trying to have a conversation about it was impossible, because around the time I decided to stop attending, someone else in my family became a new convert. New converts tend to be pretty enthusiastic! They were pretty comfortable condemning me, too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ok faith is fine even if it goes beyond reason? I’m unsure, if Occam’s razor is reasonable, then does that mean belief in God is not accounted for?

          It just seems very subjective what it could mean for each different person.

          Yeah but don’t you think Catholics take it too far? Why are there all these palaces and all these horrible things the church has done in the past. You can’t justify these things as a product of the time, as they should be ahead of the time morally, and be guided by God to know about these things! Though I know you said all this stuff about the Church already.

          I watched a debate yesterday about the catholic church, and yeah, it sounded bad! By the end of it they did a vote and only 260 people still thought the Catholic church was a force for good! Though many of the people who changed was of the opinion “It’s bad, so we should move to make it better”

          Ah ok, baptism by desire sounds promising at least, all religions have some cult like properties, it’s just in very minor ways it doesn’t effect people too much, but the more places it uses cult like techniques the more severe it becomes.

          That’s why the guy rated cults on a Fibonacci sequence, because the more a religion uses a certain technique in the BITE model the more extreme an effect it has on the member.

          Have you seen the BITE model? I recommend looking at that to see what I’m talking about when I say destructive cult!

          I think it’s disrespectful as well, but I guess I’m also to blame by continuing the conversation. I don’t know about you, but if I use the “everyone going to hell argument” I always go through the same free will, life is a test, everyone has a chance to be saved, God warns everyone kind of thing. With the best argument (and often the last) being that hell doesn’t exist anyway.

          It’s annoying because it’s so difficult to see how this is good enough for people! Like you think if suddenly I became God, and you could talk to me, and your kid was dying and I did nothing, you wouldn’t have something to say about it?

          Though none of us can see a greater picture, don’t you think any normal good person would be able to do a better job? And they wouldn’t have to be all loving either, they would just need a conscious. I say this because a truly enlightened being like a human suddenly knowing everything would be above such petty concerns as revenge and spite, since they would know the full responsibility of their power.

          But maybe it’s wrong to play God, but I just can’t help but feel like a human would do a better job.

          I remember saying that if I was God to Christians, that I would morally be unable to let a dying child die. And nearly started to cry as they tried to justify the death of innocent children from preventable illnesses. They just didn’t realise how much like arseholes they sounded, they didn’t even use the only argument that makes at least a little sense “they’d be happier in heaven” that, I could have accepted.

          Yeah those are both great points about evangelism. I disagree with the last one, not in principle, but based on what’s happened already. Though I’m sure they convert the people that they help through disasters quite well, when atheists hear about Christians helping others, they tend to either be more cynical or say that of course they would help, they have too.

          Ah that’s a real shame to hear, do you still get on with your family well? I am most worried about my parents, and how they will react. I hate the idea of them being terrified for what will happen to me. And I also don’t want them to treat me worse because of it.

          I like these travel notes ideas, it’s genuinely interesting. Though it’s good to have disagreement, it’s also good to have these discussions with people you mostly agree with because it’s interesting to get to the very edges of the places where you disagree and explore those topics as well.

          Liked by 1 person

          • “Ok faith is fine even if it goes beyond reason? I’m unsure, if Occam’s razor is reasonable, then does that mean belief in God is not accounted for?”

            Beyond, yes.

            In contradiction? No.

            Occam’s razor is hard to apply to belief in divinity, because the question is too imprecise. But the razor is still a wildly useful tool!

            “Yeah but don’t you think Catholics take it too far? Why are there all these palaces and all these horrible things the church has done in the past. You can’t justify these things as a product of the time, as they should be ahead of the time morally, and be guided by God to know about these things! Though I know you said all this stuff about the Church already.”

            The palaces are morally neutral, for the most part. Most folks don’t mind contributing to art that lasts for generations. However, there is no time that the hierarchy’s horrible decisions are morally justified. There is no such thing as “product of their time.” The church was supposed to proclaim the Gospels. There’s no room in that message for hatred or self aggrandizement. That’s why the Church hierarchy and I stand apart.

            Though I don’t intent my position to be so, you could say that I stand in judgement of the church. Not by choice; but by responsibility.

            “Have you seen the BITE model? ”

            I’m by no means an expert, but it looks like a useful tool.

            “Like you think if suddenly I became God, and you could talk to me, and your kid was dying and I did nothing, you wouldn’t have something to say about it?”

            My wife and I have talked about this a lot. Our son is disabled, and the first words out of my mouth once I die and meet God will be…

            And please forgive my language, because I don’t usually speak in public this way…

            Will be “What the fuck were you thinking.”

            No question. It’ll be a statement. And if God formed my conscience correctly, he should not only anticipate the question, he should condemn me if I don’t ask it.

            “I say this because a truly enlightened being like a human suddenly knowing everything would be above such petty concerns as revenge and spite, since they would know the full responsibility of their power.”

            Yep.

            I think that’s why in the New Testament, Jesus never speaks of the Father in terms of jealousy or spite or revenge.

            Those are clearly not divine sentiments.

            “But maybe it’s wrong to play God, but I just can’t help but feel like a human would do a better job.”

            We’re human, right? Then we think about these things. If you’re a parent (like I am), then you ask yourself if you’d treat your own children that way. Sure, you left them make their own mistakes. But if you can protect them from harm, you do. It’s not a question. It’s an imperative. I help my kids develop their free will, and I let them experience the consequence of their decisions, but if things get too harmful, I step in.

            Any parent would.

            “And nearly started to cry as they tried to justify the death of innocent children from preventable illnesses.”

            As someone who has a degree in Roman Catholic theology, let me state clear: Your position is the only correct one.

            Any answer other than you protect your child is, in the ancient words of the church, anathema.

            And when I die, if God takes me to task for taking that position, I’ll return the favor. That’s another way of saying that I think he’s actually trying to get us to do the right thing; only human stupidity is getting in the way.

            “Ah that’s a real shame to hear, do you still get on with your family well? ”

            Not really, but it’s not because of that. I view the world through a lens of logic and reason. Conservative politics in the US spurns both.

            So, I’m not really in well with my family. Put another way: I’m perfectly comfortable not endorsing something insane.

            “I hate the idea of them being terrified for what will happen to me. ”

            I think that’s both kind and humane. I’ve lived more than half a century trying to figure a way around that; trying to figure out an alternative. So far, no go.

            “Though it’s good to have disagreement, it’s also good to have these discussions with people you mostly agree with because it’s interesting to get to the very edges of the places where you disagree and explore those topics as well.”

            You know, I no longer think in terms of agreement and disagreement. I just want to hear folks honestly tell me what they think. I’ve lived long enough that I can recognize the opinions of folks on the path I’ve already trodden; those on paths I’ve never seen; and those on paths I want to avoid. The honest discussion itself is the thing, and I think this discussion here is a rare thing, and I’m getting a lot out of it.

            I hope you are, too!

            Liked by 1 person

            • We are all said to be God’s children, but what kind of father treats their children in this way?

              As in wouldn’t you have something to say if your father started trying to make you worship him? When it’s applied to humans then you see just how crazy it is!

              What kind of other person tries to be friends with you by telling you to read their book, and then doing nothing else except be in people’s head -which can easily be thought to be imagination.

              I’m guessing that you were like me and thought you had a relationship with God? It just seemed so obviously myself in my head once I actually considered atheism.

              I know God is supposed to be the moral authority, but that’s exactly why we don’t believe. Our subjective morality is better than Gods, there is something we see as wrong about the way he treats people.

              What kind of father punishes his son, and then his son’t son’s and every decedent forever? Well even if you don’t take the apple as that punishment, when the 10 commandments are revealed he says he’ll punish people’s descendants for not following them Deuteronomy 5.9 and Exodus 20.5

              For a person who is all loving, their love is unconditional, yet it doesn’t seem that way.

              People say that loving God is a free choice, but with the promise of heaven and hell how can that be? It’s like saying give me all your money, or I’ll shoot you, but the choice is yours, it’s up to you.

              I don’t think you’re wrong, God should be wanting those questions, and it’s my opinion he’s got an insanely ridiculous amount of them to answer.

              Yeah I’ve heard God’s “love” to be described as a celestial 1984 or North Korea where you cannot even escape in death. God’s society is one where you can be sent to hell over a thought crime, over a disbelief, it’s so messed up!

              That sucks, sorry to hear that. I think it’s different in the UK slightly, I don’t even know my parents stance on politics for example, and they don’t want to tell me.

              I did actually think of an alternative to the people worrying about you thing but it’s not very good.

              It came from listening to someone try and say that the burden of proof is with atheists. I disagreed of course however it made me think, it’s my opinion that religious people are wasting their lives, so though we don’t have a burden of proof, is it our responsibility, or something we should do morally to try and stop people believing these ideas in a fair reasonable way?

              We should never want people to worry about us, but is our worry for them, and wanting to help them worth it?

              That’s true, we’ve never really been in much debate honestly, but finding out more things is what’s interesting.

              Of course it’s interesting! So interesting I’ve decided I have to talk about this more in the future, I already have one about my testimony (from becoming a Christian and then becoming an atheist) and another one about responses to the main arguments we started with, and somehow ended up here haha. It’s a subject that’s just interesting.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. First, let me say that I haven’t seen a discussion this open and deep about the topic of divinity for years. That’s cool. It’s been awhile since I could talk about something like this!

    On to the topic at hand.

    The difficulty became clear to me as I re-read The Silmarillion for the umpteenth time.

    The woes of the Noldor came down to this: That Eru Ilúvatar fashioned the song of creation in such a way that Melkor — one of Eru Ilúvatar’s creations — could mar it.

    Strife, pride, evil — it all came from that decision.

    Suffering is necessary for salvation, therefore we should embrace suffering?

    Okay — then the question becomes why was this continuum created that way?

    Because God is wise and beyond our comprehension?

    Okay — then why fashion the world in such a way that the only way out is to send the Second Person of the Trinity to suffer and die at our hands? Why not bake that into creation?

    The answer is that we simply can’t understand?

    Okay — then why design us so we ask?

    Because our free will is necessary to aspire to grace.

    Okay — why. Why make the world that way?

    As long as I’ve thought about it, I keep coming back to Epicurus (or whoever said it):

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

    We can argue that because language is imprecise, then it’s impossible for us to understand that those questions are simply inadequate.

    Fine. Then we’re done. The conversation’s over.

    But…

    It’s not, is it?

    Until we get past those four points, the conversation is just a fraction that’s not yet reduced. And from the human perspective, across the entirety of human thought, this is as far as we’ve been able to take it.

    We’ve gotten 6/8 to 3/4, but we’re struck.

    Granted, this is from the perspective of empirical science — in this case, philosophy.

    Want to move this to the purview of theology?

    Then buckle up, because that topic is even worse. Thinks easy because we can just use the New Testament? According to whom? Council of Trent? In the 1500s? Bit late, don’t you think?

    Second Council of Trullan? I’d buy into that — but it was in 692 CE! Over half a century after the last of the books were written!

    The Council of Rome in 382 was earlier, and it was substantially close to what the Catholic Church holds as canon today, but it was still 200 years — the age of the USA! — after the writings!

    Want to exclude the Gospel of Mary? On what grounds?

    And if you want to reject Catholic teaching, then you have to jump to the mid 1500s to get to the King James version. And if you embrace that, you really should study why its editors decided to remove some of the books.

    The reasons didn’t strike me as pious.

    It might be best we keep the conversation to philosophy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes people claiming that Jesus saved us forget that we wouldn’t need saving in the first place if God didn’t design it that way. You’re also right to question why it was designed in a way we couldn’t understand, it’s always helpful if you want someone to believe you to make it so they can’t understand it!

      I have never had a discussion this open as well since going to church, however of course that would have been Christian talk only. I recommend reading the comment discussion with Merlin, that goes really far!

      I don’t think we’re there quite yet on the furthest points of discussion we can go to. We went from “At least God provides a way we can be saved” to “God points us in the right direction” to “free will” (though those last two points contradict anyway) to “this life is a test” to put it simply and then “Hell’s not real anyway”. But I think there are better arguments out there that would be interesting to discuss about.

      I mean all of this is confusing to me, how about 2019 when we can pretty much solidly say we can discount all of it? Haha

      How the bible was chosen is an interesting subject I know absolutely nothing about.

      We can extend it if you want, but the conversation might be quite quiet on my end!

      I would also not be very surprised at all if the bible was changed for only political reasons.

      What are your thoughts on the resurrection? To me it’s the thing that keeps Christianity around, and the counter arguments are not that great.

      Christians can say “I’m right because the resurrection happened, meaning that everything else follows”

      Translations from Paul claim that Jesus resurrecting was spiritual and not physical, meaning theirs no way to verify it. Is the best one I’ve heard against the resurrection. Though you could just point to the suffering that’s happening today and say that’s why the resurrection didn’t happen.

      The other argument I’ve heard that would disprove the resurrection is mythicism, but of course I don’t find it easy to believe that Jesus never existed.

      I think I might have said this already, but it was interesting to look into regardless, because it at the very least showed how little we could actually verify about Jesus, whether he existed or not.

      How do you explain the resurrection? It’s probably one of the most important things to get out of the way if we concretely want to say Yahweh is flawed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “How do you explain the resurrection? It’s probably one of the most important things to get out of the way if we concretely want to say Yahweh is flawed.”

        For me, the challenge is that I think the resurrection happened.

        The questions you’ve raised here are important. They are fundamental to what it is to be human. If you read early texts (like the Gospel of Mary), if you read the early church “doctors” (like Origen), you read the words of humans struggling with these questions. You read of humans reaching for an understanding of the divine.

        Then you hit Constantine the Great (not the character that Keanu Reeves played — check out that movie if you have a chance). He took this community of people striving to make sense of the life and death of Jesus the Christ and turned it into a tool of the state.

        He inflicted a terrible wound on Christianity that day. We see it in the present, with people getting practically orgasmic over images of an American flag, military hardware, and the cross.

        Not _exactly_ what Jesus meant when he talked about loving one another as he had loved us…

        But I digress.

        To me as a science fiction reader and writer, the resurrection makes perfect sense. As the Second Person of the Trinity, at least according to Aquinas’ trinitarian theology, Jesus had a fully human and a fully divine nature; he “had” a divine Person. The distinction between person and nature is something I don’t understand and so can’t describe; but as a science fiction writer, this distinction screams “visitor!” Such a being as Jesus could not persist in this continuum.

        So his return (aka resurrection) is only sensible.

        What it is supposed to mean to us is that we can follow his example.

        But once again, we hit the question: Why?

        Why is this existence designed so that only through agony and death can we know the creator?

        Why is it only by forsaking that which we are to take on another form — even if we use terms like heavenly form — can we know the unknowable?

        Even after 1/2 a century of thinking about this stuff, the closest I can get is that it has something to do with free will. There’s something about a human approaching the divine in spite of obstacles that is praiseworthy or important.

        Yet, even then, I can’t escape the question of why.

        It’s almost like I’ve seen the structure of the runtime; it’s almost like I perceive the mind of the developer; and as an NPC, I have to ask: “What the hell were you thinking?”

        I’m more than willing to admit I might not have a comprehensive understanding of this existence.

        Let me put it another way.

        I have no idea what’s going on.

        But I want to know why we are how we are. I want to know why this reality is the way it is. And I want to know why it’s so much freaking easier to harm one another than it is to support one another.

        I feel like we’ve gotten 6/8 to 3/4, but we’re struck. I want to change the conversation from fraction reduction to something else, but all of the vocabulary I have is for three dimensions, and I’ve been asked to describe eighty-four dimensions.

        I look upon what I think I understand; I compare it to what I think is the scope of the problem; and I just want to check the refrigerator to see how much beer I have left.

        Liked by 1 person

        • haha, it’s hard to tell exactly what you believe. I’ve thought you were an atheist, deist, agnostic and anti-theist, but I guess you believe what you believe without the labels. Maybe I’ve given up on trying to classify you haha.

          I can understand why you struggle, because if you believe Jesus rose from the dead, then how do you explain all these problems?

          To me, I don’t believe it happened because this world makes no sense if Yahweh is real, things would be very different, the gospels are not even remotely historically accurate, most of the stories point to them being allegorical. We also know practically nothing about Jesus for definite except that he was there, but even that is now coming into doubt generally. But it’s clearly apparent that the resurrection is Christianity’s strongest, and potentially only good point in it’s favour.

          I know what you mean, I saw this thing where we are double as unhappy to lose things as we are to gain them. It’s crazy.

          We have no idea what’s going on outside of what we know. But in my opinion, Occam’s razor says theirs nothing.

          That’s true for the start of the universe as well. You could argue that something can’t come from nothing, but that only pushes the steps back one more. A god can’t come from nothing either, and the explanation for why theirs a God is far more difficult, and far more complicated than the origin of the universe could be.

          All we really know about the start of the universe is that it had to be simple, using the 2nd law of thermodynamics, from much order you do not get disorder.

          Sure even when we apply Occam’s razor to it, it doesn’t prove anything, since it’s just an idea. But it makes the idea of a God seem entirely unlikely.

          I also don’t think it’s fair to assume that theirs something out there when there is so much evidence lacking.

          I would like to recommend to you a video, because I think it really applies to what we’re talking about. It’s about when a Muslim, an atheist and a christian meet God https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttevamkS6gw

          Essentially talking about how if there is a God, he would be more annoyed at believers than atheists, for believing that he wants constant worship, and tortures people infinitely for not believing in him. It’s interesting.

          I don’t know, I just find it impossible to believe that I have anything to worry about. Let me know your thoughts on this, this feels slightly messy because I started writing this and came back to finish it later so sorry.

          Liked by 1 person

          • There was a Dominican Sister who taught my college-level theology classes. If it weren’t for her honesty and spirituality, I would have rejected the patriarchal nightmare of Catholic hierarchy as a blight against God and men.

            But here’s the thing:

            “Essentially talking about how if there is a God, he would be more annoyed at believers than atheists, for believing that he wants constant worship, and tortures people infinitely for not believing in him. It’s interesting.”

            In my considered professional opinion as someone who hold a degree in Roman Catholic theology with concentrations in Moral Systematic Theology, Eschatology, and Christology, I can confirm, with all of my understanding and thought, that your statement is correct.

            The first Person of the Trinity does, in fact, based on everything I understand, reject the idea that atheists are going to hell for not constantly worshipping a false God.

            Here’s the thing: There’s a concept called Baptism by Desire. It’s an official doctrine that’s not really referenced, because it suffers from three terrible traits:

            1. It does not advance the influence of anyone currently in power
            2. It takes the power away from a hierarchy that’s supposed to be focused on stewardship, not authority
            3. It reveals a simple fact that’s not popular: To the extend you try to do what you think is right, you are acceptable in the eyes of the Lord

            So if you’re an atheist because you reject the self-serving and false conceits of a God who wants you to donate money to $evangelist, then guess what?

            You’re right.

            You have tried to follow That Which Is. You have rejected falsehood.

            You are, in effect, taking the route of the Apostles over the route of the Pharisees.

            The Pharisees are never particularly happy when someone calls them on their BS.

            Silly Pharisees.

            I thought I mentioned it in these comments, but that Dominican Sister I mentioned suggested a different interpretation of our moment of death.

            Instead of the the interpretation favored by the people who want to profit from your fear, which is a vengeful God listing everything you did wrong (you touched yourself inappropriately at age 11 — it’s hell for you!), she suggested there was a different experience awaiting us.

            When we die, God says, “Thanks for doing what you could. Welcome home.”

            Now, because such a position doesn’t generate profit, you don’t hear much about it.

            But it’s the only position that makes sense in light of the Resurrection. Either Jesus died for us (in which case we get welcomed home), or he didn’t (in which case this discussion needs to take a different road).

            “I don’t know, I just find it impossible to believe that I have anything to worry about.”

            Are you honestly trying to wrestle with these ideas?

            Are you honestly trying to understand just what the eff is going on? And what your response should be?

            You’re already way more than half way home.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I mean currently I can’t believe that I have anything to worry about, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be convinced.

              I think what it is, is that I’m landing on the side of simplicity. Occam’s razor, and the universe starting simply and that kind of thing.

              The way I view it is that right now, we’re on our own, and got to figure this out on our own, the only God out there being that one mentioned earlier who would be more mad at people believing he would send people to hell.

              Thinking anything else, is just difficult to me, because it just seems on the same level as God, but just with even less people believing in it.

              Perhaps where we differ is that I think the missing 6/8th’s can be filled in through scientific advancements, whereas you are unsure. But maybe that’s a completely wrong interpretation I got from you.

              I like the “we’re all saved” interpretation. And your right, it doesn’t sell very well. The religions that die out are more to do with the skills that the group can maintain belief than the actual God itself, but that only really works if you don’t believe in any God.

              But let’s take the “welcome home” thing, I still don’t have anything to worry about if that argument is true then do I?

              What gives me reassurance is that if there is an all loving and all powerful God out there, he would save me, if he didn’t both of those traits of the God would be wrong. And if I wasn’t saved it would be in a “hell is just a place without God, and for all other purposes it’s the exact same” kind of thing.

              Hope that clears things up. It’s unfair to say I believe this for certain, it is true, and nothing to change my mind, but it is fair to say that this is what I simply believe. If you want to take this further, you’re more than welcome too.

              Liked by 1 person

              • “But maybe that’s a completely wrong interpretation I got from you.”

                When I have to describe myself, I say I’m an Aristotelian Thomist. That means I really like statements like Aquinas made in the 1200s, which was something to the effect that between faith and reason there is no conflict.

                “Perhaps where we differ is that I think the missing 6/8th’s can be filled in through scientific advancements, ”

                Actually, we’re on the same page there. For me, data’s source doesn’t mean much. Everything comes down to the question: Is it factual?

                If the answer’s yes, then I need to take it into account.

                Have you ever seen Isaac Asimov’s quote, “Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today — but the core of science fiction, its essence, the concept around which it revolves, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.”

                Substitute “the study of sciences” for “science fiction,” and it still works.

                And to be clear: I am _not_ trying to change your mind. We’re all trying to figure this out, and I think it’d be immoral to force my perspective on you. That perspective is based on the path I’ve taken and where I am in the labyrinth. It’s not likely we’re in the same place, so trying to force my perspective on you would be arrogant in the extreme.

                It’s more like we’ve met in a tavern on the frontier, and we’re comparing our travel notes.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Ah that’s an amazing analogy! I like that so much.

                  I think you may be overestimating how much I know, all these quotes and people you mention I haven’t researched or looked at.

                  Most of my opinions are just a result of personal experience and watching debates, without anything really academic there.

                  I can’t really find very good information on what you believe. I’ve only really been able to find things on Thomism, which says theirs a god so I disagree.

                  However I’m sure I’d agree with a lot of Aquinas’ statements as well, because the ones you’ve presented so far make a lot of sense to me.

                  Yes you’re obviously not trying to change my mind. It’s obvious to me because I’ve still never been clear on exactly what you think!

                  Morality is subjective, maybe it is moral to try and change someone’s mind as long as it’s through fair, kind and unmanipulative means in the search for greater truth.

                  At the very least, I don’t think it’s immoral to give your opinion, and your arguments to just see what happens.

                  Comparing ideas, presenting arguments, and trying to make them better through discussion would likely lead to a more accurate version of the truth.

                  But if you still don’t want too, I don’t mind. I understand what you mean, because I’m like that too.

                  To this day I still pretend to my parents and my friends from my hometown that I’m Christian, with only a couple of them knowing the truth. I converted like a year before uni, I still enjoyed going to church, so I figured I’d just stay like that until I left.

                  I didn’t want the arguments or the criticism. As a Christian I had quite a stigma to people who left the religion and I don’t want to be treated in the same way.

                  It also feels wrong convincing them otherwise, even though most of them themselves are indoctrinated, which is far more immoral.

                  I know my friends and family would still accept me, especially because they accept atheists already. It would just feel quite bad to do it, and I can’t imagine doing it.

                  Anyway back on track, it is arrogant to force a perspective, but I don’t think that’s what you would ever do. If you consider your arguments so great that even stating them would mean a force of perspective, then they are probably good arguments I’d like to hear haha.

                  The other time it’s wrong to force a perspective is when it’s not welcome. I can’t help but remember a time when me and my friend were studying, and we were evangelised too. Even after making it clear that we were busy and didn’t want anything to do with them, they forced themselves in and carried on talking, it made them look horrible. That’s when it gets immoral and arrogant.

                  But you might call me a hypocrite when it comes to cults, because I’m of the opinion that they should have the ultimatum of reform or get banned. This is because I judge “what is a cult” not by “a small religion” but by the level of suffering, and manipulation it has on it’s members, to the point where it goes against their freedom of religion, as it forces them into the group without being able to change.

                  To me if a cult were to encourage shunning for example, then that already is enough to say it goes against the idea of an all loving God, and should be given the ultimatum.

                  But that’s never been a good way to convert people, just a way to prevent more members from existing. So I don’t know.

                  Sorry I’ve given you a lot here, I was just saying what’s on my mind. If you want to ignore anything your more than welcome to.

                  Liked by 1 person

  3. You ask good questions and make good points. Rather than answer all of them (as that would take some time I do not have at the moment) I would like to offer a little of my own perspective on eternity.

    My religion is, I believe, unique in how it preaches that all mankind… literally ALL of us, every single one of us, without exception… can be saved. True, we are judged for what we do and why we do it, but our actions are also judged in accordance with the knowledge we posses of good and evil. Even more, it is possible for those who have gone before, and never known the truth of God while in mortal life, to be redeemed. They can accept the gospel, if they choose to do so, and we can perform the holy ordinances they need, like baptism and such, by standing in their place, a proxy. That is the justice and mercy of God, where he has prepared a way for every one of his willing children to be saved, regardless of their circumstances. This life, after all, is not fair, so He has made certain that eternity will be fair. And there is much more to look forward to than straight up Heaven or Hell, as most people understand them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thank you for the comment! I am glad to have a religious person’t opinion on this! If you could answer/talk about my other questions you didn’t have time for I would love to have those discussions as well – however I understand that you might not want too and are also busy.

      If I believed god were real I would certainty like that to be correct.

      Where I disagree is with the whole justice and mercy thing. Sure if God had prepared us a way for us all to be saved then that would be fine, but it’s not like that at all.

      The way of getting into heaven is far from easy, it’s described as being as hard as a camel going through the eye of a needle, and even if you take it as a gate in Jerusalem it’s still too high of a barrier to entry.

      I think everybody is willing to be saved, the issue is that accepting is too high a demand.

      Nobody is really rejecting God, just failing to believe. They are not the same.

      Disbelief is not rejection, because I have never known a God to reject. The only thing people have rejected is the idea of a God that some people have told them.

      It’s like me telling you about this girl who wants to date you that you’ve never met before. If you believe that this girl is too good to be true, and doesn’t actually exist, I wouldn’t say that you have actually rejected anyone here.

      You can not say that the current system God has in place is ok. “Worship me for your whole life, follow what I tell you to do, and read this book everyday or you’ll face eternal suffering”

      Those are not good choices, and they certainly aren’t all loving ones.

      God is too difficult to believe that this should be the barrier to entry. It’s so easy to empathise with the atheist perspective.

      It would be one thing if he told us that he was real, but he never has.

      He wants a relationship with all of us right? So how come that doesn’t come across to anyone except Christians?

      For 17 years of my life he was completely dead to me. A relationship by reading words from a page is no real relationship.

      In my life I have put thousands of words and thoughts of prayer into God’s head. The least I could hope for is that he returns the favour.

      He knows without a doubt that I exist, yet I have to take it on faith. It shouldn’t have to be this way.

      Anyway those are my thoughts. I may have straw-manned a little because I wanted to get a rant off my chest but I feel like nothing was too far from what you meant.

      Also you’ve phrased you comments in an “I believe…” sort of way – which I also should have also done. Obviously these are my opinions.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I will be happy to discuss! 🙂 Probably in a bite-size format, for the most part, but still! 😉

        For the moment, you’ve mentioned things like sin, punishment, and how we are supposed to obey, that sort of thing.

        If you’ll forgive a little comparison as I explain my perspective, picture this:

        “Son, be careful. Don’t put your hand on the oven, it’s hot, you’ll burn yourself, and it will hurt. …no, I said don’t-! OH! Quickly, come! Put your hand under this cold water! I know, it hurts, but it will be all right! Daddy’s here! I’m here! See, and the damage isn’t too bad. I know, it hurts, but it will heal. We’re just going to disinfect it, this will sting… and bandage like so… it’ll hurt, feel like it’s still burning for awhile, but you’ll be fine. It might scar for a little while, but we’ll check it every day, keep it clean, make sure it doesn’t get worse, and eventually it’ll get all better. …now, don’t ever do that again! I don’t want you hurting like that!”

        It’s a bit like that.

        It is my belief that God warns us away from sin because He cares, and He knows how much it hurts us. Yet, we are all free to make our choices, and we invariably hurt for it. So He also provides a way where we can be healed, and learn from our mistakes.

        Liked by 1 person

        • If I were give my version of the example it would be like this:

          “The dad gives birth to the son, and then leaves him an instruction book. The son reads it, but puts his hand on the oven anyway, calls his dad, but the dad leaves the phone ringing. The son then learns about the dad in the book, what to do and how to treat it”

          It’s my opinion that God’s done nothing to help warn us from sin except give us the bible and give us Jesus.

          Let’s say there are two groups of people who are trying to escape a burning building. There are two doors, the left leads to death, the right leads to survival – but they can only open one and they don’t know which one is correct.

          These groups argue with each other telling each other that their door is the correct one.

          You however can see that the right door is correct, because you work in the building making announcements on speakers from a room.

          Now you have two options. The first is to tell the people that advocate the right door that their door is correct through an air vent. The second is to tell all of them which is the correct door through the speaker system.

          Obviously you’d choose the latter, but strangely God chooses the former. I wouldn’t call that warning us away from sin.

          I don’t necessarily think that every sin mentioned in the bible hurts us. There are many described sins that many religious people don’t even follow because of how outdated they are.

          Your right that Yahweh on paper does provide a way to be saved. It’s just not a good way in my opinion.

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          • That actually leads into several points I want to talk about. The first being that, yes, you are absolutely correct: just reading words written down thousands of years ago does not qualify as a real relationship. ..that is why He doesn’t leave it at that.

            Now, when I say that, and this next part, I want to make something clear first:

            I do not really know you, or your life experiences. I don’t know what pains you’ve endured or what prayers you’ve uttered. I don’t know your life, and I am aware of this. So, I do not, at all, mean to discount any of your personal experiences. I can only surmise it must have been very difficult.

            That said… if God were to make Himself manifest for everything, to keep us from ever hurting at all, to coerce our every decision by his mere presence… then what become of our freedom to choose? That is the crux of the issue: we must, absolutely *must,* choose, entirely of our own free will, whether we will listen to Him or not. We must be free to touch the oven, or not come over to the cold water our parent guides us to, or not allow Him to heal us, because if we are not free to choose, then what is the point of it all?

            That’s another point I want to discuss some other time: I know the answers to the big questions. “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where did I come from?” “Where am I going?” “What is the point of it all?”

            But, setting that aside for the moment, back to the subject of our relationship with Him.

            I could tell you *what* I know/believe about God until I’m blue in the face (or suffering from carpal tunnel). But it’s just as important to say *how* I came to it.

            It is perfectly understandable to believe that God is silent. Many intelligent, respected, experienced people have thought the same. But silent is one thing He is not. He is always there, hearing us, and answering, though not usually in the way we might expect, or want. Not only does He still speak to us collectively, but individually, in the way He knows best. But to hear Him is not always easy.

            (side-note: yes, it’s not “easy” getting into Heaven. I never said it was easy. Only that it was “possible” for everyone to do it. 😉 )

            Getting to the point: God does not simply tell us everything, but lets us learn for ourselves; He does not give us everything we want, but everything we need; and He does not manifest himself in all glory for everything, but whispers to our hearts and souls, and often answers us through one another.

            I know that He has answered prayers of mins. For instance, I have lately been praying for the opportunity to share what I know of Him with others, because I want others to know the happiness which I know. And voila! Here you are! Maybe you are an answer to my prayers.

            Maybe I am an answer to one of yours. (not to be presumptuous or anything, I dunno)

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            • I wouldn’t say that my life has been difficult at all, my atheism came from a product of research instead of a reaction to a bad event in my life.

              Personal experience is one of the least reliable things to justify truth. As a christian I had many prayers answered, my friends healed, and felt filled with the holy spirit.

              But the issue is just as many people from other religions also have these experiences, and many of these phenomenon’s have been replicated without religion to show it’s possible without a god being there.

              Prayer’s are as likely to happen as coincidences. Though you have been praying for this it is a complete coincidence.

              I released this post out of my free will, and you found it because you followed me when I was still an anime blogger. I don’t see where God has come into this, the answers to prayer’s are often people taking opportunities when they see them.

              Personal experiences aren’t reliable enough to prove anything.

              The idea of God not revealing himself because we have to choose him is something I’ve heard before and I really hate the idea. Not just because it doesn’t make sense, but because it’s like an excuse for why an all-powerful and all-loving God does nothing to stop suffering.

              In the new testament God revealed himself to many people, taking their free-will away. And then he also choose 12 people, instead of the other way around. That is definitely breaking free will.

              Then there are many Christians who claim that God has revealed himself to them, breaking their free will also. I also wouldn’t call a child being taught religion from a young age and then becoming a christian free will either. It’s simply indoctrination.

              With the Israelite’s, God revealed himself to them outright and he actively spoke to Job and Paul.

              Yahweh has shown he doesn’t mind breaking free will to reveal himself.

              What defeats both points is that if Yahweh appeared to everyone, we would still have the free will to accept or reject him. The only difference would be that the choice would be more informed – which honestly sounds better to me.

              You said something like, what’s the point if we can’t choose? The point is not suffering for eternity, and being in eternal happiness with the guy who created you.

              I don’t know if it’s possible for everyone to get into heaven. Indoctrination runs stronger than you think for every religion, and oppressive cults and religions, as well as the banning of Christianity in some countries just make it an impossibility. You said earlier that these people will be given a chance at salvation anyway – so you don’t need to explain that.

              Our disagreement comes down to me thinking that the atheist arguments are so compelling that if there is a God he’s expecting too much.

              With your main point, God obviously doesn’t give you everything you need – so many people die from things that are preventable. And answering us through each other and other people sort of breaks free will, since he’s either forcing them to answer them, or putting in subtle hints and clues to subconsciously influence people which is hard to believe. Why does he do that instead of giving people clean drinking water?

              I tried to be brief but failed a lot – sorry.

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              • No worries! 🙂

                A few things to say this time.

                1) Coincidence is God’s way of staying anonymous. I mean, really? I *happen* to start a blog five years ago, and you *happen* to also start a blog which *happens* to interest me, AND you *happen* to post this exactly when I *happen* to be praying for a chance to talk about this sort of thing? That’s a lot of *happening,* it seems to me. 😉

                But, moving on, next point.

                What do you mean about experience not being reliable? As I see it, all we know and conceive of is through experience. They actions come from words, and words come from thoughts, but where do thoughts come from? Experience. All the observations made in science are experience. Math is learned by experience. Technology is developed through experience. Every story we craft and every song we sing is fueled by experience. There is nothing which we know which did not come to us by way of experience.

                And that is the point.

                If the point of this life were to test only our minds, our rational thinking, then, yes, we would be better served if there was nothing between us and God. But that’s not the case. The point of this life is to gain experience, and grow from it. It’s a test of our souls, not our minds. Heck, we already see that we could know everything perfectly well and still choose the wrong way, as proven by the Devil’s example.

                (all of that goes into a fairly lengthy story that shall have to wait a day or two for me to share, fyi)

                Or, more mundane examples, when the Israelites were miraculously brought out of Egypt… and immediately started complaining and going after other gods.

                On which note: yes, you are correct, Christianity does not get a monopoly on the spirit of God, or the love of God, or even His influence in their lives. He works throughout the world.

                This life is about whether or not we will listen to His voice. When we see someone in need, do we help unselfishly, or do we look after ourselves? He answers prayers through each other by teaching us the correct principles, and then letting us choose for ourselves what we will do. He also answers, yes, by whispering to us, not to subconsciously influence or control us, but to encourage us. And he answers, yes, through those chosen servants, called prophets and apostles, whom he prepares and develops to the point that seeing miracles is a confirmation, not the bedrock, of their faith.

                Finally, you mention expectations. Just one question: do you think He expects more of us than He expected of Jesus Christ?

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                • Yeah that’s what a coincidence is! It’s very easy for us to give meaning to stuff like this when it just is not there. Coincidences are massively common.

                  What I mean is about using personal experience as evidence for scientific claims. You wouldn’t say “After using this essential oil I’m now healed” and expect other people to suddenly replace it with medicine. Just in the same way you wouldn’t say “This guy I found online is an answer to my prayers” and expect everyone to believe that prayers work.

                  You need scientific evidence in an experiment that was repeatable and valid.

                  Scientific information is never found by personal experiences. It’s found with many personal experiences all doing controlled and technical experiments with precise equipment. They do this because they know one person’s experience or one experiment is not reliable enough.

                  I don’t know/remember what the devils story is but I look forward to the story!

                  That’s a good christian perspective to have, and I think the atheist outlook on life should be very similar except with humanist reasons instead of religious ones.

                  You have been repeating the idea of god whispering to you and others a lot. But what exactly is this? Is it an actual voice, gut feeling or something different? Maybe more examples of this would make me understand you better because it’s hard to see where you’re coming from here.

                  The answer to your last question is yes and no. It’s sort of an unfair question. Of course he expected way more of Jesus because he would be the sacrifice for all – but at the same time Jesus was God, with the same powers and abilities.

                  So God expected on paper expected more of Jesus, but though the expectations of us are much less, they are far harder for us to achieve.

                  Which makes me think Yahweh technically expects more of us than he did of Jesus.

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                  • Quick question:

                    I don’t want to turn *your* post, on *your* blog, into *my* forum for preaching or anything like that, but… I have no idea how else to share material from, say, my church’s YouTube channel, except by copy and pasting. Not knowing how appropriate that might be, I figure it’s best to ask… would you mind it if I did?

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                    • Yes of course you can post stuff, as long as it’s relevant, and you talk about why you want to share it. It can only open up more interesting discussion. Heck I wouldn’t even mind if you did it in a new comment chain if you wanted people to see it more! As long as it’s not just the clip, and you provide some insight as well I’m happy with it!

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                  • I’d like to talk about the points you raise and the questions you ask, but, while I’ve got a moment… story time!

                    (clears throat theatrically…)

                    Once upon a time… with a very relative definition “time,” that is… 😉

                    There lived a being of magnificent glory, power, knowledge, and love. He lived together with his family, including multitudes upon multitudes of his children. They all lived and laughed and learned together, the father teaching his children everything he knew which they would listen to. Like all good fathers, he wanted to prepare his children for the future, and he wanted to see all of them become greater than they were, even as great as he himself. This was the desire of his children, too: to become like him.

                    To that end, he presented a plan to his children.

                    It was a plan both simple and intricate in its design, crafted solely for the purpose of helping the next generation of heavenly beings become like him. It was, however, not an easy plan. It came with certain risks… and inevitable losses. By the end of it, his children’s eternal fates would be decided, for each would know for themselves the sort of person they were, and whether they were worthy to be entrusted with the omnipotent powers of their father.

                    The plan was, basically, for the children to leave, gain experience as mortal beings, and try to find their way back home to their father. Success would not be easy, and test itself had to necessarily involve veiling the memory of each child as they went forth, for the test of the soul could not be one of the mind. Still, their father would do everything he could to help without invalidating the entire exercise, including enlisting the aid of his foremost children to help their siblings. One, for instance, would remain without a mortal form for a very long time, in order to be their father’s messenger to each and every one of their siblings, speaking to their souls. Several others, very advanced in their development to this point, would be selected to act as mouthpieces, prepared for the task and the burden of being special witnesses for the rest of their siblings in mortality. Yet, to make it possible at all, one of his children would have to take on the greatest and heaviest burden of all. In order to build a way by which all the other children would, without exception, have their opportunity to return, the greatest of them would have to endure, as a mortal, an agony that would make even a god tremble and groan and weep.

                    Who would do this?

                    This had likely been discussed earlier, or maybe not, but either way, one stepped forward: the firstborn of the father, the eldest of all the children. He stood and swore to do his father’s will, and make the way for his little siblings that they might succeed. The plan would proceed with the consent of all involved.

                    But then there was another voice. Another of the children, not the eldest, but certainly among the foremost and greatest and most beloved, stood forth and presented an alternate plan. He was clever indeed, this other brother, and he put forth that the risk of losing any of the children was too great, for certainly not all of them would make it back in complete success. But he could, and would, make it so. He would guarantee everyone’s safe return, and so, he argued, he would be the one deserving of his father’s throne and glory.

                    A choice was thus laid before all the children. One path, authored by the father, risked terrible failure, but promised an infinite reward. The other promised little to no risk at all, but the only one to reap any real reward would be the one that thought to dethrone his father.

                    A terrible conflict broke out then, as some children supported their father and eldest brother, and others supported the other brother. The shape of that conflict may well escape mortal comprehension, but the outcome became plain enough: the rebellious child and those who followed him lost. They did not want to take part in the plan, so they were barred from it. They rebelled against their father, and so they were cast out of his kingdom. And they tried to take everything by force, and so everything they had was taken from them. They were cast out of the place of happiness, and so became miserable beyond words. In their wrath, they swore, under the rebellious brother’s leadership, that they would continue to fight against their obedient siblings throughout the entirety of the test, right up until the moment of its completion, to the very last second, as long as they had any power at all.

                    The pain that the father and his obedient children bore at all of this was immeasurable. Nevertheless, the plan moved forward. The eldest brother, who would come to be known as Yahweh, or Jehovah, or Jesus, among other names, led his siblings in the creation of worlds uncounted for them to become mortals on, guiding humanity in accordance with the Father’s will, and he eventually took his turn in mortality, walking by the same faith required of other siblings, and bearing the ultimate agony for his family. The child who has thus far foregone mortality has been a faithful messenger known as the Holy Spirit. Other children have been called as prophets and apostles, many of them seeing and witnessing for themselves, and joining their voices together with the Father’s, to call his children home. Speaking of, all those children who were faithful, at least when they had a perfect, rational knowledge of things, have been the mortals which make up the ranks of humanity, learning everything about ourselves as we go along.

                    And, of course, the rebellious brother has been called Lucifer, or Satan, or the Devil. He and his, they had, and still have, a perfect knowledge of God, our Heavenly Father. They rebelled against him anyway, and lost. Theirs is the frantic struggle of those who know they are doomed, quite soon, and have only one thing left: taking as many with them as possible.

                    It is even more galling for them, I suspect, since their perfect knowledge informs them how few will be so miserable as they are. Perhaps that is why they work so hard to convince us that almost no one can go back to Heaven, and that the only option to that is Hell.

                    …this story, being not yet ended, does not have a “The End” yet. 😉

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                    • I get that this is a story, but you have derailed all of the points we were talking about from last time. It’s fine if you want to do that, it’s ok (because I can’t exactly remember what those points were) but it just doesn’t really make your position look great if you skip past things.

                      The story is basically how Satan came about and how everything happened. What surprises me about your story, is that exempting one key point, it really paints Yahweh to be an idiot.

                      The part of your story that is wrong is the nature of the person (who became Satan) who opposed Yahweh’s plan. Not only did satans plan here make the most sense, but Yahweh had nothing to lose by employing it, because he didn’t need to give Satan a privileged position just because he suggested the idea.

                      Even if we assume that God letting us live with him in heaven straight away in happiness would mean putting Satan in a position of privilege (and I don’t know why it would) why would that be such a bad thing?

                      Net happiness would be maximised, and Satan would just be like another Jesus, which is literally favouritism since he chose to make one of his sons a God, yet the rest of us mortal.

                      You have to remember that Satan was an angel, and he was good until he disagreed with God, and personally, though I don’t condone his actions, I understand massively why he might fall out with God.

                      Your story depicts both characters as villains. One person who sends all his children away simply to test them, and doom the ones that fail to eternal suffering. Then the other, who disagrees with this idea, but as a consequence of punishment turns against the rest of the children. They are both villains, however at least here Satan, at the very least is a relatable villain, whereas there is no reason for God to test us, and doom people to eternal torture.

                      “A choice was thus laid before all the children. One path, authored by the father, risked terrible failure, but promised an infinite reward. The other promised little to no risk at all, but the only one to reap any real reward would be the one that thought to dethrone his father.”

                      Are you kidding me? Heaven is a reward for everyone, especially in contrast to potential hell. It’s not worth doing all this just to stop one guy from trying to usurp God, if anything, keep his plan and send him to hell.

                      God is supposed to be all powerful. The devil holds no risk against him at all, so the lower risked option is always better here.

                      Another interesting thing I’ve just thought about is, why didn’t he make us equals? It might be easier to have a relationship if we had the same powers as him, and then we could treat each other as equals. It’s just a thought.

                      I feel like I was really harsh this time, instead of just phrasing why I disagreed. So sorry if it came across like that.

                      The story was just so, like just wrong to me. Even though it tried to frame Yahweh positively, to me, that didn’t come across.

                      Yahweh has a master plan, you know this, but that means that we have to accept, is that everything happening in today’s word is all part of this plan in one way or another, and since he is all knowledgeable, he knew exactly what we would do. If so, why test us in the first place?

                      If you know every action that a person will do, then why create them to send them to hell in the first place? Not existing would be better than hell.

                      Also if God knows your every action before you even think it, is that really free will? Potentially not, as it means that you will always do what God knows what you will do, and have no freedom to do anything else other than that. This is not a good argument, and it’s more of a philosophical passing thought that wouldn’t really disprove God regardless of the answer.

                      Thank you for the comment! Because you hadn’t commented for a long time I was worried I wouldn’t hear from you again! Thank you! This discussion is interesting to me, even if for you, it might feel like trying to talk to someone who refuses to budge. I do consider your comments carefully (and if I don’t I tell you when I haven’t) and I am prepared to budge, instead of argue just for the sake of it. This comment chain is to better understand each other as well.

                      I had heavy indoctrination from a baby until I was 17, so to become an atheist after that, means that theirs so many Christian points I’ve heard already, that I have got answers too. I have quote “seen the truth” and found the opposite side more compelling, which I understand makes what your trying to do very difficult!

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                    • Eh, no worries! I have obstinate friends (and I am stubborn myself), and I have seen loved ones leave the faith we’ve shared (but never stopped loving them), and I have gotten into arguments with friends and strangers alike (and I have often been ashamed of how I have behaved in such arguments), so, trust me, I am not inclined to stop a nice, reasonable conversation. If nothing else, I obviously could use the practice! 😉

                      For instance: I clearly failed to emphasize a few points. For one, though God may know what we would do, the fact is that *we* did not know what we would do, and in order for us to progress eternally, we absolutely must have this very certain knowledge of ourselves.

                      For another, the point of the plan is *our* progression. Lucifer, who became the Devil, wanted to take all of it for himself, to be the only one to progress, and leave the rest of us stagnant, having gone through mortality deprived of choices and gaining little to nothing at all for it.

                      For another… well, we *are* all equals in God’s eyes. Some of us may be further along the path than others, but as long as we’re going in the right direction, it doesn’t really matter who’s “first” or “last.” Yahweh, for all his glory, only leads the pack… or, rather, he breaks the trail for the rest of us to follow. There’s a wall in the way that can’t be scaled, he breaks it down. There’s a pit there’s no way out of, he makes a ladder. There’s a maze to pass through, he marks the path. That sort of thing. To follow him, and respect him, and obey him, is not the same as being less than him, if that makes any sense. After all, he is working to save us, not the other way around. And he gets his power from the same source as any other of our father’s agents, namely… our father. He was uniquely gifted for the purpose of suffering, dying, and returning himself from the grave, but, ultimately, we are to be joint-heirs with him, equals of the greatest of us.

                      As for the idea of Hell and such, that actually goes into the first video I wanted to share. It’s a brief video which presents my religion’s view of the afterlife, and what salvation actually means in our lexicon. You won’t find much mention of Hell in it. 😉

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                    • I don’t think progressing eternally actually needs this test of humanity though. I think we’d grow better spiritually in heaven already with God.

                      Though I get what your trying to say about Satan, I still stress that he gains nothing by doing this. I don’t remember in the bible him even suggesting this idea about humanity in the first place. His first appearance is the thing that sets humanity’s fate for all time, the apple with adam and eve. He was already evil Satan before humans were even created! So he had nothing to gain about this plan!

                      Also who can blame anyone for wanting to become God, and steal his place? It’s fair enough. Who wants to live in a celestial north Korea or 1984? Where one dictator is the true authority, and you can be sent to eternal suffering for thought crime, and you can’t even escape the society through death?

                      Christians say that God is objective morality, but I would much rather have morality that was thought out and reasoned by humans. 1/10th of God’s orders was “do not work on the sabbath” – this is a sin? Really? How can this be the shining pinnacle of objective morality?

                      If we are equals to God, then why do we have to worship him? Why do we have to send him prayers instead of the other way around? Why do we have to be separate from him? Why can he decide what happens to us after we die and not us? Why do we have to do what he tells us? Why does he have to test us, you wouldn’t test an equal. Equals no way. No way. He is the boss, and he acts and behaves like it.

                      Are you a Mormon? Also hyperlinks are just fine, don’t worry about editing them out, I allow links and stuff on my blog.

                      Interesting video, but ultimately disagreeing it would cover too much ground that I’ve already argued with you about. You can probably guess my responses to everything in the video.

                      One last point is that the ideal God scenario I’m talking about, is sort of similar to the garden of Eden though not exactly. He had everything set up like Satan had in that plan you detailed yourself!

                      There was just one issue, what kind of all-knowing God puts a tree there, knowing full well somebody would eat it’s fruit and doom the rest of humanity? The second issue is: why should I suffer for the sins of another man, and not have my Garden of Eden life because of it? I tell you, and I swear, I don’t remember eating no apple!

                      What kind of all loving God punishes every single son and daughter that that person ever has? If you want to talk about God’s perfect plan, then the garden of Eden without the tree of good and evil is it! It’s much simpler, and once more, and it doesn’t involve the mass deconversion (and potential re-conversion) of all of humanity.

                      One thing you have to admit, is that right now, God is not throwing any punches. What I mean by that, is that he’s the quiet God, and all his punches to prove his existence are so quiet that, if they are real, can be explained quite easily from an atheist viewpoint.

                      Ok perhaps that’s too many arguments in one comment. Sometimes it just flows, and you keep on thinking of new stuff. Anyway look forward to the reply!

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                    • Technically, there’s a greater emphasis recently to call ourselves as member of our church by its full name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but Mormon is probably going stick around as a nickname for awhile.

                      Heh, I am reminded of a scene from a movie. It has these two soldiers who have been talking about their respective beliefs. One is a Christian (it’s intimated that he belongs to a particular faith, but never outright stated), and the other argues against God and religion at almost every turn. At one point, the Christian laughs, and the atheist asks what’s so funny. If I recall right, the Christian offers an explanation of a particular question, to which the atheist responds, “That’s rather *convenient* to your view.” And the Christian replies, “That’s exactly what I think about your explanations. …funny, isn’t it?” 😉

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                    • Yeah it might take a while to change, especially since that name is so long! LDS is ok right? Like the shortening of it?

                      This is very interesting! I’ve never talked to anyone from LDS before!

                      Am I right in thinking that the book of mormon is an extra book found much later by Joseph Smith, which is an extra book added to the rest of the bible? I think I may be wrong about that though.

                      Have you been on that two years of missionary thing?

                      I think I remember a few things about it from a YouTube channel called “Three mormons” – though they may have changed their name because of the LDS thing – but it’s hard to remember, it was a while ago!

                      While you are free to say “it’s all so convenient” – I don’t personally think that about Christianity. I don’t think of it in that way, if my best argument was “It’s all so convinient” then I’d probably have to become a Christian, and vice versa for you.

                      Your free to ignore my questions and criticisms, but I think if we want to progress and learn from this, we can do so much better than “It’s all so convenient”

                      Anyway, what’s that film called? Might be worth a watch.

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                    • I may have done the scene a little disservice in my description. 😉 The movie is “Saints and Soldiers.” 🙂

                      And LDS is fine! 🙂

                      Yes, I served a mission. Mine was in San Jose, California. I was raised in the church but, well, I wasn’t going to serve a mission. I knew the gospel well enough, understood it well enough in my head, but I wasn’t really committed to it, ya know? Then, when I was 17, a number of things happened, and I had to make a choice. It is from that time in my life that I began to develop my own, personal relationship with God, and once that was in motion, I could not ignore the importance of serving a mission.

                      Which goes into what I’ve said (and you asked about) previously about the spirit whispering to our souls. I know that can sound a bit strange on the face of it, and… well, describing it can be a bit like trying to describe the color red to a bling person. It’s one of those things that you can’t entirely *know* without experiencing it for yourself. Still, we can describe it somewhat.

                      Scriptures describe it as a still, small voice of peace and love in one’s heart. The exact sensation which accompanies it can vary, but when it makes itself plain, it is undeniably something we could not conjure up ourselves. It’s a powerful spiritual experience… but that’s not the only way it talks to us. Certain things may come to mind when we need to remember them. Or we may have what seems like a passing thought, like, “ought to do this little thing for this person.” Or sometimes it retreats, informing us that something we are doing is not right. Or it may be this undeniable feeling that something is very, very wrong, sometimes like an instinct and sometimes much, much stronger. It doesn’t *usually* speak like a voice in your head, more like ideas, impressions, memories, connections made, etc. But whether it’s in your head or your heart… hearing it takes practice. If spirits were radios, then we would need to tune them to the appropriate frequency in order to hear the holy spirit better, and that often takes time and patience and experience.

                      And to answer your question about the Book of Mormon, you have it sort of right. Our doctrine holds that Joseph Smith Jr. was called as a prophet from a young age, that he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and that he was guided by an angel to an ancient record of people in the Americas. He was prepared for the responsibility and, when he was ready, he was given temporary custody of the record, long enough to dictate the translation of it, which was entitled, “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” It works in tandem with the Bible, clearing up misunderstandings, correcting false doctrine and mistranslations, and filling in some gaps, restoring things which were taken from the early scriptures by wicked men who wanted to corrupt the truth in pursuit of their own power.

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                    • Hmm interesting, well at least we agree that the bible is not correct in places and needs fixing or changing. Whether or not this book is the answer to the problems, I don’t know because I’ve not read it.

                      I think LDS is very recent right? So this I guess to you, is supposed to be more aimed at the people of today, whereas the old testaments were intended for the people of the time.

                      If God wanted to reveal to the people new doctrine, and save more lifes, then I suppose doing something like this may not be such a bad idea.

                      Yeah so where I think I was wrong, is that for some reason I thought Joseph Smith found the book like deep in an ocean, and the entire book was written on gold tablets.

                      The nature of the book of Mormon to me, seems unlike others in the bible, this news was told to one man and one man only. So why do you trust him? It is simply a good book?

                      Essentially what I’m asking is for you to imagine that I was LDS, and that I came up to you with another book that I claimed an angel had lead me too. What is the difference between believing me and believing that Joseph Smith did the same thing?

                      I’m sure you can guess this already, but a lot of the feelings you feel Yahweh is giving you happens to me as well. Of course I can feel if something is wrong, or if someone needs help, or if I need to do something.

                      The issue is, that I used to be Christian, and what you describe, I felt too, about those feelings in my life. I know exactly what your describing, but to me, they’re simply natural.

                      I wasn’t a so called “bad christian” – I would pray everyday, read the bible, go to church, and I believed deeply. It’s not true that there has to be something wrong with your religious nature for you to leave it.

                      So my version of describing red to a blind person, is like the entire population being blind, creating a concept of the colour red, thinking it has magical properties, and thinking it has special powers, and attributing many things to the colour, when in fact these things are just an ordinary part of everyday life with no special value.

                      But back to the book of Mormon, if someone could prove that it was wrong, what would that mean to you? Would you switch to another group of Christianity, or is the book of Mormon so fundamental to LDS that you would deconvert entirely? Just trying to judge it’s significance.

                      Wait you make it look like you did this missionary when you were 17! That’s so young! How long were you away for when you did it?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • To answer your last question first, and clarify, the experiences that led to me serving a mission happened when I was 17. My mission actually *began* shortly after I turned 19, and I served the full two years, so I was 21 when I finished. 🙂 I believe they decreased the age slightly since then, now one can begin at age 18.

                      The LDS church is relatively “new” in a certain sense, compared to the rest of Christianity. It was officially founded in 1830, after a good decade or so of work to get things off the ground. Much of that involved obtaining, translating, and guarding what we call the gold plates. That was the source material for the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith worked with them the most, but there were a dozen or so other witnesses to the plates’ existence. Interestingly, though some of these other witnesses left the church (and some left and came back) absolutely none, at any point, renounced their testimony. And there were enough efforts by nefarious people to try and steal the plates that they certainly believed he had *something* made of gold.

                      So, it’s not like Joseph Smith just popped up one day saying, “I have seen God and I have a book of scripture and no one else can back up my claims.” There’s a bit more to the book’s publication than that.

                      As for it’s significance, that cannot be understated. If the book is true, then so is the Bible (as far as it is translated correctly), and so is Jesus Christ, and all the true prophets ancient and modern, and our Church today, which claims, in all seriousness, that Joseph Smith received proper authority from heavenly messengers, including Christ and ancient prophets and apostles, to act and speak in the name of God, with His power and authority.

                      If the book is not true, then all of that collapses completely.

                      As for proving or disproving the truth of the Book of Mormon, well, people have been trying to do both of those even before it was actually published. There is a great (and continually increasing) amount of evidence, both physical and circumstantial to verify things which Joseph Smith could not possibly have known, but, well… it doesn’t actually “prove” anything, does it? There has also been an unending stream of claims aimed at disproving it, but those can be dismissed every bit as easily by someone who *wants* to believe it, ya know? The real proof is something else entirely.

                      At one point in the Bible, Jesus asks his apostles who they believe he is. Peter answers that he is the Christ, the Son of God. And Jesus answers that Peter knows this not because flesh and blood (physical evidence) have told him so, but the Holy Spirit. And that is the rock upon which He shall build His church. Many have misinterpreted that (sometimes deliberately) to mean he was referring to Peter, whose name means “man of rock.” What he was referring to was what we call personal revelation.

                      The Book of Mormon comes with a promise. It mentions this more than once, but its final chapter makes it clear, in no uncertain terms: if we read the book, and then pray with faith, sincerity, and honest intention, we can ask God if the book is true, and the truth will be made known unto us. There is no outside interference, no influence from any other mortal or power or anything. To a member of our church, knowing that the book is true, and that the church is true hinges entirely on one’s own personal relationship with God. Each one of us, millions of people, is encouraged to do this, and further encouraged to keep asking questions and finding answers, and each one of us has our own experience. I had mine, though that is a very personal story, and others have had theirs.

                      Millions of times, this has worked exactly as the book promises.

                      And yes, you are correct. The Old and New Testaments were meant explicitly for those people, though the lessons they teach are still useful for us today. The Book of Mormon was written originally for the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, and compiled with us, in our day, in mind. More revelations have since followed, meant entirely for us. Some, given to Joseph Smith in relation to how the church was to be set up, were compiled into a book we call the Doctrine and Covenants. Most especially, my church has what we call General Conference. Every six months, the people we sustain as living prophets get up and speak to us, sharing revelation we need here and now.

                      So… as important as the Bible is, there’s *lots* more scriptures to work with now! 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • From 19-21? For two whole years you were away? That is ridiculous, why on earth would you want to do that? Those years are very formative and also when most people tend to go to university!

                      I don’t doubt your sincerity, because I’m sure you strongly believed when you went on this missionary. But it seems to me like indoctrination for adults.

                      Though of course you were sincere and doing a lot of work, to me it seems like an experience that would set your religion for life.

                      There was something about changing religion that was the sunk cost fallacy. When I changed I had to come to terms with spending 17 years believing something different, but in my opinion, if you were to change it would take so much more, and be so much more difficult and harder for you, and it’s because of this two years experience.

                      Ah ok, so the book has more going for it than just this one guy’s claim. It seems important, though you didn’t answer it specifically, it seems like your belief is contingent on this book.

                      I don’t know enough about it, I will try to research it later. I’m sure you’ve probably heard most things I could ever say about it though.

                      One thought I may be slightly concerned about is that this extra book has not been as well received as the rest of the testaments. So why, even after 200 years has it not received the same status as the rest of the bible? Or has it, and is it like the apocrypha?

                      When God sent the book, he would have known exactly what would happen to it, meaning all this is part of his plan, so why is it all happening so slowly?

                      Yeah true, but that doesn’t mean I think you should forget the bible!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Going somewhat in order here:

                      Yes, two years was awhile. And it was not easy. It was a sacrifice to go, and to serve the full two years. I was not paid, but rather paid my own way. I did not go to the movies, or date at all, or anything like that. Not to say we didn’t relax or have fun at all, but serving a mission involves stepping slightly apart from the world, to focus on proclaiming the gospel.

                      As for why I did it, well, there were three primary reasons: 1) the Lord asks us to; 2) the gospel is true and good and worth sacrificing to share it, to improve other people’s lives; 3) my mother and one of my sisters left the church, and if I was going to pray to God to help the people I love, then I ought to help the people He loves, ya know?

                      As for “setting my religion for life,” I see it a little differently. Not only is it always possible to leave the church (a number of people do, no matter their previous experiences, including serving missions), but a mission is supposed to be the result of one’s conversion, not the other way around. We sometimes misunderstand that, even within LDS culture.

                      Ah, yes. The book is absolutely essential to my faith. 🙂

                      As for its reception, well… as you say, changing religions is a difficult thing. It has been well-received by tens of millions of people around the world, but it’s also exclusive to our church. It is central to the truth of our church, which makes the very serious claim that we, and we alone, have the proper authority needed to speak in the name of God. By definition, that means that all the other Christian denominations, including the Catholic Church, are invalidated. They do *have* truth, or pieces of it, and there is *much* good to be found among them, and we certainly do not mean to judge all of the good, honest, selfless people who follow them. But for the *whole* truth, and for the word of God straight from Him to us through his appointed servants, ours is the one true church. I am sure you can see why other churches, however friendly our members and leaders can be to each other as we work together, might not be in a rush to recognize the validity of a book which would undermine their own claims, ya know?

                      As for how fast or slow it’s going… well, that depends a great deal on us. Meaning, it depends on members to share the gospel, and it depends on missionaries to teach it, and it depends on everyone else to listen to it. You can say something true all day until you’re blue in the face, but people need to actually listen to it. We can’t (and God won’t) *make* people listen to, accept, and obey. That was Lucifer’s plan, to rob us of our will.

                      And let me emphasize: we do not forget the Bible. The Book of Mormon (and all the other scriptures) would be practically useless without the Bible. It’s kind of like a marriage that way: it doesn’t really work without both parties involved. 😉

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yeah but that’s quite a big decision to make at 19. Is this something available to all church members quite easily or is it quite difficult to do?

                      While those reasons are valid, I’m still thinking – but it’s so long!

                      Sure the missionary is a result of conversion, however it’s constant, non-stop, never ending affirmation for two years without being given much of a chance to see other people’s views, arguments or perspectives. And you’re completely separate from the rest of society while you do this, it essentially solidifies your world view, not through information and learning, but purely through sunk cost – which is not an ideal way to do it!

                      To me, as a person on the outside, it simply makes it look like a technique to make less people leave.

                      Is it particularly challenging to be in LDS? Do you have to spend a lot of time doing things?

                      Has your mother and sisters lack of religion affected your relationship with them?

                      Does this mean normal christian believers are getting into heaven then? Because if they aren’t, that’s an insanely and ridiculously small number of people getting into heaven.

                      You replied quite quickly so I’ve not been able to look up anything about the book today, and it’s maybe unlikely that I will for a while. But when I can I will.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Well, we’re encouraged to serve missions, but one is supposed to meet certain basic standards beforehand. No criminal records, be physically and psychologically healthy, be fairly well behaved and in line with the commandments, that sort of thing.

                      Heh, and having served a mission, I can promise you that we are not separated from differing perspectives. On the contrary, we’re a target for people who want to bash us or our views or anything else. Heck, there are so many perspectives even among the missionaries that we have to consider each others’ views, and we have to do the same for the people we teach. We *must* consider other people’s views, or we will never be able to talk with them properly.

                      Our eyes must be opened, not closed, in order to be good missionaries.

                      Is it difficult being LDS? Hm. Well, it’s not always easy. There are a number of things we give, sometimes big things, mostly small things. We also give up certain things, like, say, alcohol, smoking, or other unhealthy, addictive entertainments. Sometimes we’re mocked for our standards, and sometimes we lose a great deal if people refuse to accept us as part of the community. Mostly, though, we just give of our time, effort, and means to help each other and our communities.

                      I would say that my familial relationships have not been affected by our various religious choices, but by our own behavior. My dad has always tried to do right by his family, but he was a bit domineering and fervent, and it’s easy to push us all away when he does that, much to his regret. Then again, my sister was always rebellious and starting fights with the rest of us, and she needed very little in the way of pushing before she basically alienated herself (for the most part) from everyone except our mother, and to this day she refuses to get in contact again with our father. My mother left the church at the same time she divorced my dad, yet she taught me about the importance of the spirit of the law, and she always supports her children, so long as we don’t hurt ourselves or others. My other sister is very devout and is doing admirably well with her husband and their children, despite difficult circumstances. She’s got the best of both of our parents. And me… I just try my best. We love each other, and look out for each other, whatever our disputes. 🙂

                      Now, as for who gets into heaven, remember that video? For us, the afterlife is a bit more intricate than a simple heaven or hell kind of thing. It is a pivotal point of our doctrine that everyone *will* absolutely have a fair chance, either in this life or the next, to know the truth in its entirety and either accept or reject it for oneself. After we die, our spirits are in the spirit world and, depending on what we did here, we find ourselves in either a better or worse condition. Then comes the resurrection, when everyone who accepted the plan of our father will have immortal spirits and immortal, perfected bodies reunited forever. A little more time passes after that, and then comes what we call the final judgment, where each one of us, in turn, accounts of ourselves to God himself. Based on our behavior, we are assigned to one of three primary heavenly kingdoms. We are aiming for the highest degree of the highest kingdom, but wherever we end up, it will be fair and just and more than a little merciful, and, most of all, we will be happy and free. Only a very select few will be condemned to suffer, and that much only because they are guilty of exactly the same sin as Lucifer, namely: knowing the truth perfectly well, with no room for doubt, and still choosing to fight against it.

                      I suppose one could say that the LDS version of Hell is actually quite difficult to get into.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • If that’s true why did Jesus say it was difficult to get into heaven though? He was wrong I guess.

                      I don’t have many problems with LDS hell being hard to get into, it’s my view that nobody should be sent to heaven morally since a finite sin should never be punished infinitely. You should always have a chance of redemption, because infinity can be trillions multiplied by trillions longer than any human life, so effectively you are always being judged for 0.0(infinity)1 percent of your life, which round down to absolutely nothing.

                      The same may be true for heaven and eternal happiness, though of course I don’t oppose this because it’s quite nice. But what if someone’s a real bad person the entire time in heaven, but were perfect as a human. Do they really deserve eternal happiness for the same length of time, when even one day of their bad deeds in heaven would get them into hell?

                      I’ve never thought about it the other way around, but it seems interesting, as heaven obviously can’t take your free will away, so you think you could transition between heaven and hell depending on how you do?

                      Though you obviously get a lot of counter arguments on missionary’s, not a lot of them are going to be particularly amazing because they’re just off the cuff talking to someone they just met. If you want to be challenged online debates are a much better place for that.

                      As well as that, as the evangelist, it’s always your job to refute these things immediately. I’ve never had a meaningful discussion with an evangelist because they’re all in their own head stubbornly refusing to think. Because of that I tend to really dislike them, as they attempt to justify the unjustifiable in my opinion, as I believe God has much to answer for if he is real.

                      If God is unable to prevent evil, then he is not all-powerful.
                      If God is not willing to prevent evil, then he is not all-good.
                      If God is both willing and able to prevent evil, then why does evil exist?

                      As well as that, being in an environment with many people of your same religion, and approaching your entire missionary with “we have the truth, and we need to tell other people, and every criticism against us has an answer” isn’t a particularly fair way to judge the validity of a religion.

                      How much time do you have to give up in LDS? Also giving up alcohol and smoking are pretty harsh, sure they’re bad for you, but I feel like having the freedom to do it if you want is a good thing.

                      Glad to hear it hasn’t affected your relationship too badly, you hear of stories where people aren’t allowed to talk to people who have left the religion and it seems just sad to me honestly. It’s definitely a sign that you’re religion is harmful if leaving it means losing all your friends and family.

                      I have recapped revelation recently and found it quite interesting because of how dumb some of it is. Apparently the sun going black will turn the moon red, even though it doesn’t emit light, and people will still survive normally with a black sun, oh yeah, and all the stars in the galaxy will fall to earth like “figs” – yeah stars are definitely the same size of figs.

                      So yeah, not entirely convinced by revelation I’m afraid. Remember this is just supposed to be what this one guy dreamed about though, so it’s not like this disproves the bible, maybe just proves he was on acid while writing it!

                      Where is the evidence for these three sections for heaven? I’ve never heard about that at all.

                      Is knowing the truth and walking away from it even possible or punishable? The reason why you call it faith is that you can never know the truth for certain. So if you can never for certain know the truth about religion, how can you be punished for walking away from it?

                      But assuming Christianity is the truth, would this make me a person who goes to hell since I technically did turn my back on it?

                      Or is it only people who know the whole truth (i.e you, in your opinion) and turn their back?

                      Because to be honest, if that’s the way it is,that seems like a nasty manipulation tactic if I ever saw one.

                      When I left the religion I was exposed to a lot of it, but because I could recognise it for what it was, it only made me want to leave the religion faster. It’s quite nasty how some of those things work.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Going fairly in order:
                      With how easy or difficult it is, remember, in LDS culture, we believe that everyone who is born already chose to follow God’s plan, and did so fully knowing the possibility of failure. So, on the one hand, one may sin terribly, and refuse to repent, and refuse the truth, so they are not entitled to have everything they might. But, on the other hand, they already chose to support God’s plan, so how fair would it be for them to get nothing at all, like Lucifer and his followers will?

                      So, when Jesus said it wasn’t easy, he didn’t mean simply getting into one of the heavenly kingdoms, he meant really getting everything God has in store for us. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man, ie a man who sets his heart on the things of the world like money and power, to “inherit” the kingdom of God. There’s more to our concern with the afterlife than just avoiding Hell.

                      That’s a good question, about how one is as a human vs how one is in Heaven. I think I’ve only heard it put the other way around, why can’t one be a better person in heaven than on Earth. It has the same answer, I think. I mean, we might not remember our pre-mortal life (as we call it in LDS doctrine), but we are still the same people we were back then. Similarly, if we do bad thing here… no, wait… if we are bad people here, we are not going to magically transform into better people. By same token, we’re not going to magically become worse later on. Still, looking at how Lucifer behaved, I must admit that it may be possible. I don’t entirely know.

                      You mention the nature of God’s relationship to evil. I am reminded of a video depicting what may or may not be an apocryphal story about a young Albert Einstein refuting his teacher’s argument that God is evil. He asks if cold exists, and the teacher answers yes, but Einstein says that cold does not exist, it is just the absence of heat, ie, thermal energy. Then he asks if darkness exists, and the teacher answers yes, but Einstein says that darkness does not exists, it is just the absence of light, ie, photonic energy. His argument is that evil does not exist, it is merely the absence (or rejection, I would say) of the love of God and our fellow beings within the hearts of men.

                      God has the capability to prevent evil, but that is not the point of this life. He is deeply saddened when we do evil, hurting ourselves and those around us, but he must maintain our ability to choose good or evil entirely for ourselves, or the plan becomes null and void. And evil “exists” because people turn away from Him and His spirit.

                      Regarding criticisms having an answer… I must admit, sometimes they don’t. Or, rather, *we* don’t always have the answers. That’s part of why we encourage questions, I think. Heh, I remember this one guy shared his story of converting to our faith, and he had a ton of questions, and it made an impact on him when the person he was talking to said, “I don’t have an answer to that one, but I’m willing to help you find it.”

                      How much time do I give up as a member of my church? Hmmm… well, we have a two-hour meeting block every Sunday (it used to be three hours, but that was changed at the beginning of this year). Outside that, it can be pretty fluid, depending on exactly how we’re serving.

                      Technically, one is free to smoke and drink and whatever (among other things), just not while calling ourselves obedient LDS members. See, when we join the church, we are making a promise to keep the commandments which we have been given, all of them. That includes things like no gambling, no alcohol, no smoking or other drugs, no coffee or tea (herbal tea is fine). It also includes chastity before marriage, fidelity within marriage, being honest (outside extenuating circumstances like “No, Mr. SS officer, I am not hiding any Jews in my basement”), respecting our parents and leaders, obeying the law of the land, giving a portion of our income to fund the church’s humanitarian efforts as well as all the chapels, temples, printed materials, published videos, etc.

                      As you say, not easy. But worth it, to do some good, to live a happy life, and to have the promises of eternity. 🙂

                      Ah, about revelation… firstly, I was referring to personal revelation, not the Book of Revelations, but, still. Much of the book is written symbolically, partially because that’s how they understood things back then, and partially to keep the truth as untouched by nefarious hands as possible. In regards to exactly how some of the more literal things play out, that is a matter for someone of greater understanding than myself to address.

                      In regards to the three kingdoms of heaven, there is some passing reference left unclear in the Bible, but where we really get most of what we know about it is in modern revelation, to our prophets. So, being unfamiliar with LDS doctrine, small wonder you haven’t heard of it before. 😉

                      I should clarify what I mean about knowing the truth. I mean, like, Jesus level of knowing, and prophet level of knowing, and Lucifer level of knowing. That last certainly proves that it’s possible, and punishable because it is a truly willful act of rebellion against God and his Holy Spirit after having gained as much knowledge of Him as you and I have of the sun shining in the sky. Exactly why one does that, I cannot truly say, except that it is the result of pride.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yeah it’s confusing trying to go in order haha.

                      You believe everyone who is born already chose gods plan. As in when I was still a fetus I chose Gods plan? Or before even that? Well you know what I think, I wouldn’t say Lucifer deserves hell, well not eternal hell anyway.

                      I disagree, to me the after life is all that really matters, after all it’s infinite, and nothing can be bigger or longer than that! I’d argue that the afterlife being infinite makes this life relatively negligible. But that doesn’t mean I can immediately believe just in the hope of infinite life.

                      I think you’re absolutely and completely wrong about the nature of people in heaven. Good people and bad people can switch very quickly, as demonstrated in this life. You mean to say after an infinite time span nobody’s really going to change so radically into bad people? To me it seems inevitable that at some point people will break and stop being good, because of the timescale of infinity. Hypothetically what would happen to these people?

                      Here’s why your point doesn’t work.

                      If God is unable to prevent the absence of good, then he is not all-powerful.
                      If God is not willing to prevent the absence of good, then he is not all-good.
                      If God is both willing and able to prevent the absence of good, then why is there an absence of good?

                      See the point still works. And evil is real anyway, the absence of good is not evil, it’s just neutral. Even in bible terms, evil can be defined as a sinful act, which means it is real. When you take good away, are you left with sin? Not necessarily, therefore evil must be something. You could also argue that good doesn’t exist based on that logic, “good isn’t real, it’s just the absence of evil”, this is just meaningless, the reason why these terms exist is to differentiate different things in the English language. If evil isn’t real, then why does sin exist?

                      Sin is just a word for the absence of good? Then why did Jesus have to die for absolutely nothing then, if sin doesn’t actually exist.

                      I was going to ask, what do you do when you have doubts? You said you think about it right? That’s a great thing, but in what way do you do that? Do you always approach it with the thought that an answer does exist?

                      I feel like I still don’t know how much time you dedicate to your church? Could you give a weekly average for example? You make it look like you could be spending any time between 2 and 60 hours at your church! Oh also, what about how long you do private studying, prayer and bible reading too? Hey if it’s a lot, no judgements, it’s everyone’s choice what to do. I used to watch anime all day, so it’s not like I can talk haha.

                      Ah ok, is this differential between obedient and disobedient LDSman quite a big thing? Like if your LDS friend turned out to be disobedient what would you think of him/would anything happen to him?

                      I would say that nobody of greater understanding could fully understand what revelation means, so perhaps you don’t need to worry about that 😉

                      Yeah of course, that makes sense. It’s in the book of Mormon right? Because if not, I am still really concerned as to why you trust these profits! It’s quite difficult to verify who you can trust and who God chooses.

                      As you can guess, I can fully sympathise with people who know God and know the truth. I’m not an atheist out of hate for a god, but morally, if I had the power to prevent illness and death, I don’t think it would be possible for me to refuse people who asked me. And I’m not even all-loving. If I personally would be overjoyed to be able to cure all these people, and stop all the suffering, how much more should an all loving God be able to do than that?

                      Do you see what I mean, if you were God would you really not get rid of illness and stop people from dying? I personally couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t help.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Addressing your last point first, because you bring up something I really want to talk about:

                      God is good, and loving, and powerful… and he is also wise.

                      Remember, you and I are looking at suffering and death from a limited, mortal perspective. He sees it more objectively. Eternity is a very long time, so all the ills that befall us here are basically there and gone in the blink of an eye by comparison. Our pain may be significant, but it has an end.

                      Secondly, there is no pain that we suffer, in any form, which He does not understand every bit as keenly as we do. He knows it. All of it. That is how He is able to support us in our pain, a blessing which he pours freely upon us even and perhaps most especially when we don’t realize it.

                      On which note, He *does* help. He doesn’t sit back and do nothing. He supports us every day, in ways we often don’t see at the time. And there is one way we *do* see: He directs us to help each other, and assists us in so doing. Charity, compassion, kindness, whatever you call it, it is essential to the gospel, and it is a huge part of the purpose of this life. To that end, my church promotes helping each other with our needs, and it has its own welfare program, and disaster relief organization, and other humanitarian relief efforts like digging wells and giving anti-malaria shots to kids in Africa, in addition to funding education, that people might improve themselves and their communities and advance our society in every way. And that’s just my church, there are countless others which do similar things.

                      So, to answer your question, if I were God, would I make it so nobody in this life felt pain or died? No. I wouldn’t. I would not trade even my own pains for what I have learned from them, especially the charity they ignite deep in my heart. So as much as I hate to see others suffer, I would not simply take it from them, much as I might want to.

                      I recall a couple quotes. One is from Star Trek, when Captain Kirk has the opportunity to be freed from his inner pain, and he refuses. “I need my pain” he says. And then he faces a false god who delights in causing pain to the little creatures before him, having all the power but none of the compassion. (and since we are to become like God after this life, compassion, sharpened through an understanding of pain, is crucial)

                      For another, I recall a moment in the Dresden Files novels, where a fairy queen was about to do something that would hurt a lot of people, but she did it in the name of ending their pain. When she is defeated and dying, she gasps that she just wanted to end the suffering. The reply being, “Only the dead don’t suffer.”

                      Everybody suffers. The question is what we do about it.

                      Now, moving on to the rest of your points. 🙂

                      About choosing God’s plan before we were born, yes, we did that. Our spirits existed for a very long time before our bodies. We are spirits within our bodies. We enter that body sometime between conception and birth, and we leave it when we die, and we will be reunited with it (in perfected, immortal form) when we are resurrected.

                      The afterlife may be bigger than this life, by quite a lot. But a door is much bigger than the hinge it pivots around. That doesn’t exactly make the hinge negligible, does it?

                      As for people in Heaven changing… well, we are who we are, even up there. If we are pointed in the right direction here, and we are pointed forever in the right direction there, then we are not going to simply turn around and head in the wrong direction, ya know? That seems entirely illogical to me.

                      Speaking of, when you say, “Why does not-good exist if good exists,” it sounds a bit like, “Why does not-light exist of light exists? Why does not-the-sun exist if the sun exists? Why does not-love exist if love exists?” You see what I mean?

                      When I look at people who are evil, they are always evil because of something they lack. Decency, loyalty, caring… whatever it is. The absence of it is like a black hole, consuming everything within them and ready to devour anything that gets too close. Of course, the comparison with a black hole is imperfect, as a black hole is still something. Within evil men, the absence is so pronounced that there is… well, “nothing” there.

                      That is what evil “not” existing means. It’s not the presence of something, but the lack of something crucial to humanity, which makes evil… “evil.”

                      And certainly sin exists. Sin is simply behaving in a way out of accordance with God’s will. There are large sins, and small sins, and sins of omission, etc. Jesus suffered not just to take away our sins, but to make a path whereby we can have change, through the power of hope, by making forgiveness a possibility.

                      You ask about what I do when I have doubts. Do I approach it, always, with the attitude that there *is* an answer?

                      Basically, yes.

                      Going through life, I understand that I do not know everything. So, I try to know as much as I can, in my own way. When I find that there is something I do not know about some issue, I try to find out the truth, and, in the meantime, I trust who I trust. It is an approach that has yet to fail me.

                      I do similarly with God. I know that He always has a reason – indeed, He usually has *several* reasons – and while things may not always make sense at the moment, they will, in due time. Gaining that understanding, however, takes time and effort. So, we ask questions, and we discuss them together, and we read the scriptures, and we look for answers in the world all around us (I have a certain proclivity for finding life lessons in stories), we pray, and we listen for when the Holy Spirit speaks.

                      Hm, how much time do we dedicate to our church? Well, I suppose I never really thought of it as dedicating time “to the church.” We go to church, yes. We serve in church callings, fulfilling necessary functions within the organization, yes, and some of those are more time-consuming than others. But we also live our religion, for every moment of every day, everywhere we are, and we look after each other, which can be practically without limit in time consumed, not to mention all the fun activities we do together. So… I’m honestly not trying to evade the question or be unclear. It’s just kind of a nebulous concept to me.

                      The church isn’t there for us to dedicate time to it, it’s there as a framework for us to dedicate time to God and to each other.

                      If I had to throw out a bare-minimum number, though, for weekly church activity, across the board, I’d say… two hours for going to church on Sunday.

                      As for how long we study… well, that, too, can be nebulous! 😛 It’s a personal choice, but we are advised to read and pray every day. It could be for ten minutes, or reading a chapter, or reading a couple verse that inspire a question that we then get caught up looking for the answer to… it varies. The point is to do something, and align our spirits with His Spirit as we expand our understanding.

                      As for obedience vs disobedience, I’ve had experience witnessing, and doing, both of those. The “official” consequence depends a great deal on the offense, and on their behavior about it. For instance, we often make small mistakes, but we can correct those on our own, between us and God. Other, more serious offenses require speaking with our bishop (that’s the appointed leader of a local congregation), and working to make things right however we might. It’s not an easy thing, and very personal, so we try not to pry. If, on the other hand, they do something particularly bad, and especially if they refuse to go through the steps of repentance, then the matter is taken up by a collection of appointed leaders, and they could be disfellowshipped or excommunicated.

                      On a more personal level, however, that is none of my business. Meaning, my friend is my friend, and I do not forfeit my friendships easily. As long as they do not sever the bond between us, then neither will I. Whatever sin they commit, it is not my place to judge. I will simply stand, and wait, with a hand extended to welcome them back to the church if they ever return. In the meantime, so long as circumstance permits, I see no reason why we can’t hang out. 😉

                      Heh, I was referring to people of a more scholarly bent than I when said “people of greater understanding.” There’s a lot to understand in Revelations, but much of it requires context.

                      As for your last… or second-to-last point, I trust the prophets of my religion because I have prayed and received answers. That’s really what it boils down to. This includes how the authority of my church’s leaders is established in the truth of the Book of Mormon, so, knowing for myself that the book is true, it follows that their authority is genuine, so I trust them. 🙂

                      You are correct, though. One must be careful with trust, and it can be difficult knowing who to give that trust to. That’s why we start with trusting God. Which includes trusting Him enough to ask serious questions. Some people might think that questioning Him means a lack of faith, but I’d say refusing to ask demonstrates a lack of trust as well, ya know?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Thank you for the comment, it had been so long I was worried this conversation wouldn’t continue! I understand we can’t keep on talking about this forever, so if you want to stop this at any point let me know, however I’m more than happy to continue, and would be kind of sad if this discussion ended.

                      Some suffering is good? Ok, so let’s assume that the difficulties of suffering are made ok by the help that they give the person who is suffering. I.e the ends justify the means. It still doesn’t justify the suffering that sends people down the wrong track in life and makes them worse. It still doesn’t justify death as you learn no lessons from your suffering after you die, it doesn’t justify infant mortality because their life won’t be long enough to learn from any suffering.

                      The help that Yahweh gives to suffering is purely psychological, and therefore entirely unverifiable. There is also no blessing which “pours freely upon us”, if Yahweh is real, he looked over Auschwitz every day and thought “I’m just going to watch this happen” he poured no blessings on those people.

                      At some point God has to do something himself, you can’t just point to normal things that normal people can choose to do and say “yep, that’s God” – when in fact he’s so much more powerful than we are that we should expect him to do way more than we can by himself.

                      You being a spirit before you were born is ridiculous. First of all, where is the doctrine for this? Secondly, why on earth would it be this way? Thirdly, these spirits would be so different that there would be no point calling them “us” – I made no choice to be here, I was born into it.

                      It’s funny to me how the world I want to see is the world God created before Adam and Eve ate that apple, even in doctrine God wanted the world to be the way I want it to be, but God for some reason let It turn to suffering, funny.

                      As an admin I can edit my comments, so I’m adding a point here after I sent it because I forgot to reply to something you said here. The timescale of heaven is infinite and people have free will, therefore it’s inevitable that people will change. You don’t seem to know how long infinity is!

                      There are many reasons why someone might want to rebel against God, for example heaven is depicted as constant worship – I’d completely understand if someone who has worshipped god for a trillion years would want to stop and do something else, and protest having to worship him, and therefore become sinful. See that’s just one example. People will go bad in heaven because free will exists, even in revelation people who know God rebel against him. If angels can protest him, for goodness sake humans can too. Answer what happens to these people who turn bad in heaven.

                      I feel like my comment from last time is still good enough to refute your points about evil and I don’t want to repeat myself. The point of the evil thing was that God has to answer for not preventing suffering. He has the power, and the willingness yet doesn’t, that’s the more important argument than fighting over logistics.

                      Ok so I notice a problem with your attitude towards doubt, and that issue is obviously your massive confirmation bias.

                      There is nothing to lose by not approaching doubt with the attitude that you could be wrong, as it will only strengthen your position. If you seriously consider the alternative, an all-powerful God will bring you back to him, and if not, though you will be without a God, at least you will have the truth in your opinion.

                      Well you should know what I mean by “dedicate time to the church”, so 2 hours is ok? If you go for two hours only that’s fine, nobody would mind if you didn’t do the other things?

                      The fact that you can’t really answer the question worries me, making people do activities for the group is a commonly used way to induce loyalty, belief, and reduce time to doubt, and make people judge the group as higher value. It is essentially a way of making your beliefs much, much stronger, purely through sunk cost and without logical argument.

                      I’m not saying that this is you, but I’m worried that it is, since you name so many activities that you could be doing. Just an average amount of time spend doing “church stuff/events” would make me much less worried about you.

                      Ok, and they don’t force you or test if you have studied right?

                      I’m glad that you’d stick with your friend regardless, I assumed you would because your talking to me right now haha. Disfellowshipped, and excommunicated, the church can do this why? What authority do they have to do this? Also, what is this exactly, it sounds horrible to be excommunicated, do most people tend to not talk to people who used to be LDS?

                      Also confession seems like an absolutely disgusting practice, doctrine says God can forgive all your sins, you don’t need to confess to any human, that’s why God judges us and not humans. I can’t blame anyone for not wanting to do it, and therefore refusing to go through the steps of repentance. Why do you need any steps of repentance other than a prayer? Anything else the law will get you on.

                      Refusing to ask God the hard questions is absolutely a lack of trust, but it’s also bad in general, and I guess disrespectful to your God. If you don’t believe that your God can’t withstand critical thought and doubt, why would you believe in him?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Ah, life! It gets busy! 😉

                      As I think about it, we may want to draw this to a close sometime before we’ve written an entire novel in the comment section, LOL.

                      Also as I’ve thought about this… well, obviously, we’re not going to simply convince each other that the other one is right within a single conversation. So, I hope I haven’t come across like I was trying to do that. Just presenting my views and those of my faith, ya know?

                      You bring up good, important points, and good questions. Going more or less in order…

                      It is not simply a matter of ends vs means. There is a point to this life, and to all the suffering, and there is provision made for everyone. Death can be perfectly “justified” in the simple fact that no one is above it, and all the worldly things which we sin to get are ultimately worthless. Therefore, we must prioritize the things that truly matter in the long run: love, family, joy, etc. That sort of thing.

                      You mention infant mortality, and that is something rather personal to me, due to my family’s experience with such. The prophet Joseph Smith (the one who was guided to and translated the Book of Mormon) had plenty of experience with losing his children, too. I hope it’s not too presumptuous of me to share a link here, regarding my church’s views on death, especially the death of children.
                      https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/chapter-14?lang=eng

                      I can also say, firmly, that God’s help is not purely psychological, any more than it’s purely physical, or even purely spiritual. He is at work in many ways, some more pronounced and physical than others.

                      He does not “turn a blind eye” to anything. Not to Auschwitz, or to all the robbing, rape, and murder endured by the people of my own religion, or to slavery, or to one single violation of a person’s rights, or even to a sprained ankle. Time and time again, we have had cause to look up and cry, “Where are you?” Even Jesus Christ said, “Why have you forsaken me?”

                      What would be required to keep men from doing evil? And what would be lost if He did that? What would we learn about anything at all if it were all easy and smooth sailing? How good could we ever become if we were not fully allowed to be evil? Indeed, I would argue that for our capacity for good to be limitless, then so, too, must our capacity for evil be limitless.

                      That is not comforting, I know, for those who are on the receiving end of such evil. There is something else entirely made to comfort them: truth. The power of evil men has an end. They prove themselves evil by their actions, and they shall reap the eternal consequence of such, with no excuse to hide behind when they stand before God and cannot evade the truth. As for the righteous, the innocent, their suffering shall pass. Those who survive such atrocities can find peace in His spirit, and those who do not, they are taken to Him, forever safe from any further evil.

                      You’ve said that the next life, being infinite and eternal, is probably more important than this one. How does that not apply here?

                      Not to mention… well, who are *you* to say that he did nothing for the people in Auschwitz? Have you read the accounts of the survivors? There *were* survivors, after all, who testify of His support of them. And how did they survive? Because we won the war. Why did we win the war? Because we committed to it with everything we had. And why did we do that? Because of a teeny, tiny delay in a communication from Japan to DC via their diplomats, wherein their official termination of diplomatic relations arrived just a little bit later than expected, *after* the attack on Pearl Harbor had begun. Before that, there was dissent in the USA about going to war. That dissent evaporated instantly, and we went to war united, and we didn’t even know we were going to rescue so many Jews from extermination in Europe.

                      But I’ve digressed on that particular point.

                      Moving on, skipping ahead a bit to the point of timescale and heaven and endless worship… addressing the last bit first: yes, we are often told that we will sing the praises of God and Jesus Christ forever. …but does it ever say that is *all* we will ever do? 😉

                      I believe it says in… Romans? I absolutely suck at finding specific scriptures, but there’s something about being joint-heirs with Christ, inheriting everything the Father (God) has. That includes being like Him, and wielding all the powers of creation. That’s a lot of power, no? We ought to be certain that whoever wields it will do right by it, yes? Thus, the test of this life, which we all chose to undergo. Us. Ourselves. The angels of the Bible? that’s us. Our spirits and even our relationships are not so different in this world as they were before. Indeed, it explains the various talents and skills we seem to already have, or those which come more easily to us, and even prodigies. But, then again, that’s a bit more of extrapolation on my part than doctrine.

                      What our doctrine states is that this life is a continuation of our lives before we were born, just as the afterlife, and all of eternity, is a continuation of our lives after mortality.

                      That is why Lucifer is the villain. When we all had the chance to become like our Heavenly Father, he thought only of himself. He promised zero losses, but zero gains for all of us as well, with sole exception to him, as he wanted to ascend upwards and leave the rest of us exactly where we were forever. He turned against our Father and against all of us long before any of us turned against him.

                      And that is why God and Jesus Christ are the heroes, one paying a price of deep sorrow when we do evil, especially to each other, and the other paying a price of supreme pain in order to make a way for us to succeed.

                      Let’s see… next point: doubt.

                      You are correct, one must approach doubt with the assumption that one might be wrong. Otherwise, one isn’t really questioning anything, right? However, there is a distinction to be made between asking questions in order to find answers and asking questions in order to undo the answers we already have. When one is solving a crime, one constantly asks questions, but works according to the answers one has, the things which have already been proven to be true. The questions ought to be meant to clarify the truth, put them into context, and fill in the gaps of what one is missing. That is how I approach my doubts.

                      As for just going to church… well, you’d probably get a lot of invitations to our parties, and maybe asked to help with people moving in or out of the area, but I don’t think anyone would actually mind it if you just stuck with the two hours at church.

                      And I have completely forgotten what preceded the question about forcing or testing if you’ve studied, but I’m going to go with “no.” We are not big on forcing anything. 😉

                      You ask about disfellowshipping and excommunication. Well, the authority of it comes from the fact that one’s standing in the church is a church matter, ya know? When we join the church, we promise to keep some basic rules, so if one is actively engaged in breaking those rules, especially to a severe degree, then one’s standing must be questioned. We don’t allow people to *say* they’re one of us without walking the walk, ya know? We don’t want or need active criminals or unrepentant home-wreckers on our roster.

                      Yet, at the same moment, we also want to keep our hand extended towards these people, to help them however we may. They may be disfellowshipped or excommunicated, but unless their presence itself is somehow detrimental, then we don’t want to sever the connection of our friendships with them. They may come back into church membership, in time, if they reform their behavior. It happens all the time.

                      Which goes into what you ask about confession and repentance. The answer is simple. Remember that analogy way back about burning one’s hand? Sins are injuries to oneself, that’s why they’re designated as sins in the first place. Some injuries require medical attention, some more so than others. Repentance is the healing process, and it’s much more than saying a prayer as easily as kissing a boo-boo all better. Real repentance, like physical healing, require that one stop hurting oneself first. It often requires professional help, in the form of the local religious authority. And while the extent of one’s injuries, and the treatment thereof, is entirely confidential, it does no good to keep it secret. A sin kept secret is an injury untreated. It’s only a matter of time before it gets infected, and Lord knows how bad that can get.

                      The Lord’s house is not a house of secret sins, both for our own good and for the good of those around us.

                      Now… in the interest of wrapping this up, any final questions you have for me? 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yeah it’s got to end at some point, I would still like to answer and reply to things however I understand that you’ve spent so much time doing this (and thank you so much!) so if you don’t want to reply to any of it I understand.

                      Can I use a lot of the things we’ve talked about, and maybe use your comments in my future blog posts? It would be a waste to leave them here and not talk about them further in my opinion!

                      Looking into revalation it’s hard to imagine that there is an ends, due to the way it depicts the murder and torture of athiests and people who believed in different religions. It doesn’t sound like there is an end goal that people will achieve!

                      I think if only heaven exists death is justified, but I still question why they put us here if only heaven exists.

                      Have you seen anything other than psychological ways God has worked?

                      Who am I to say that God just watched Auschwitz? 17 million dead people says he did. Sure we won in the end, but who was it that freed the victims? It was us, and not him.

                      If someone is injured badly is it a sin to not call an ambulance? In my opinion it is at the very least immoral not too. However God has the power to not just call an ambulance, but so much more, yet he doesn’t.

                      I mean it pretty much says that, unless the 72 virgins idea is to be believed.

                      Satan could easily be phrased as the hero. Imagine a religion saying that there was an evil God who instead of wanting to accept people in paradise he wanted to brutally test them first, and send the ones that failed into eternal suffering. Then there was one person who objected to this, who thought we should all be saved and tried to save us, however instead it backfired and he was sent to hell. And the only way to paradise is through bowing down to the needs of this ruthless and punishing God.

                      Even if we say that Satan had something to gain, which I still don’t see how he did, didn’t he have to much more to lose? Even though he knew it was a risk to say this plan to God, he still tried to save all of us humans instantly even though it would doom him to eternal hell. Don’t you think that’s quite commendable? It doesn’t justify his change in attitude towards humans, however can’t you see that what he tried to do was ultimately good?

                      That is not an incorrect way to approach doubt, in an investigation you work towards where the clues point, but if they contradict, you stop, and explore another route or theory. That’s all I ask.

                      One thing that people accuse religious people of is mental gymnastics. I’m not accusing you of that, but if you find yourself going at great and complex lengths to justify things, perhaps there might be a simpler explanation out there?

                      As a christian, I was always making excuses and leaping out from point to point in order to answer difficult questions. Surprisingly as an athiest, I’ve found that that stops.

                      So you need to walk the walk, interesting. I think needing to demonstrate your faith is quite nasty, nobody should be forced to say a prayer if they’re nervous, and nobody should go on missionary if they don’t want too. What has helped me immensely is that I can still pretend to my parents to be Christian, though I don’t go to church anymore, they have to believe that I’m Christian until I tell them otherwise. It makes leaving the religion so much nicer and easier as there are many other factors I don’t even need to worry about!

                      There is something that I object to about confession being to a person of high status within the church. Telling a person who can keep track of all confessions for the church, and dis-fellowship you for such a bad confession doesn’t sound like a positive thing to me. Can’t you just tell a friend and then trust that friend not to snitch?

                      Though I understand that, I don’t think it’s healthy to have your sins become public knowledge or be knowledge to authorities. If you are struggling with sin, you always ask your friend, because they know and love you and have your best interests in mind. When you tell everyone, who knows what might happen?

                      I don’t think I should ask more questions in addition to the ones I’ve said already. Maybe short answers or “agree to disagree” kind of things is the best way to close this down quickly if there are some things you don’t want to answer.

                      If nothing else please let me know about whether I can use this comment thread in other posts! Thanks!

                      My attitude towards this has been, my goal is truth, and we both think we have is, so let’s compare travel notes of what we think is going on. Since we have treated this in this kind of way, I think the discussion has been quite useful.

                      I want to leave you with an interesting thing that I found from a debate about whether or not the catholic church was a force for good, by the end they voted and many, many people changed their mind. But it didn’t go against their religion. They took the experience as positive, and thought, yeah there are some real problems here, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon it, we should improve and change it so that in the end, it is a force for good. So if you do have any objections, they don’t have to go against your religion, they can be used as a jumping off point to make things better.

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                    • Of course you may refer back to this. I am not about to turn down a chance for more peaceful discussion. 🙂

                      To answer your question about non-psychological help first, I will simply say: Yes. I have experienced them, witnessed them firsthand, heard of them second-hand, and learned from more prominent examples. God’s help is very much a real thing. 🙂

                      Taking the rest of them mostly in order, I’m not certain what you are referring to about revelation and the death and torture and such. Are you talking about something in the Book of Revelations?

                      You have expressed doubts about how pain and death and such could be justified, and that is a very old question. I could point to an answer or two, especially in how hardships help us to become stronger, wiser, more humble, and especially more compassionate through our hardships. Unfortunately, even when answers are spelled out in every rational way, we tend not to learn them the easy way. Heck, we tend to learn little to nothing at all when everything is easy. Not a logical thing, perhaps, but we humans are made of more than logic. The deepest lessons we ever learn are learned the hard way.

                      Small correction in regards to the Holocaust, there were six million Jews murdered all across German-occupied Europe, Auschwitz being the primary example. And that number pales when compared to the hundred million corpses produced by socialist regimes all over the world, over the course of a century. Mankind has been most brutal and horrific to itself. It always has been, and it has lately worsened in many ways, as it turns further and further away from God’s teachings of unselfish love.

                      You believe that God is/would be immoral for allowing us to harm each other, yes? But how moral would it be for Him to come down and force us to obey Him? If he forced us to do good, to never hurt anyone, to never do wrong, would He not be the very tyrant you accuse Him of being? If you have a problem with someone being made to say a prayer, how much more ought you to have to a complete and utter control of every single thing we ever do? *That* was the Devil’s plan, to enslave us in mortality and rob us eternally.

                      So, no, the Devil is not the hero. 😉 He did not try to save us. He “promised” that no one would be lost, but if you think mortal tyrants are terrible for making empty promises, they got nothing on the Devil.

                      Mind you, *if* the story was that God “wanted” to brutally test us, and “wanted” to damn us to burn forever, and “wanted” to make us all bow to Him forever, by force, then, yes, you would be correct. God would be the villain, and the Devil would be the hero. But, that is not the story. It’s not the true story, or the story I told you, and it’s certainly not my church’s doctrine. The doctrine is, quite simply, that God, our Heavenly Father, wants us to have everything He has, and we wanted that, too. He does not want us to suffer, but He understands why it must be. Everything He does, and doesn’t do, is all geared towards our salvation. That is His purpose: our eternal happiness.

                      People talk about “playing God” whenever they see someone who abuses their power and steps on other people’s lives, or toys with the powers of life and death. But, unlike corrupt mortals, God does not play with our lives. He does not do whatever he likes just because he wants to. He does what He must, and He does everything He can for us.

                      Heh, and I love what you said about simplicity. Have you noticed how we humans tend to complicate things to ridiculous degrees? Not just with religion, but politics, philosophy, relationships, and pretty much everything else. Heh, it is amusing sometimes. I may go on for a bit, but I always look for simplicity. 🙂

                      Not that I’ll ever have a right to be offended if I’m accused of mental acrobatics. I mean, just take a look at my blog! That’s pretty much all I do! 😉

                      Oh, about walking the walk? No, no, we don’t force people to say some specific prayer or serve missions or whatnot. Walking the walk means simply keeping the commandments, the do’s and don’ts of basic behavior as we are taught them. Honesty, integrity, fidelity, etc. It’s not “demonstrating” our faith in front of everyone. It’s simply living it. And if one truly believes what the gospel teaches, what Jesus teaches, why wouldn’t one do that much, eh?

                      In regards to confessing, it’s perfectly natural to feel a bit uncomfortable about it. But there are problems, sins among others, which can’t simply be circled around, they must be confronted. Going back to the analogy comparing sin to physical injury, would you rather have a random friend sewing up an injury for you, or a professional medic? Not to say that this medic might not be a trusted friend, though! Indeed, our congregational leaders (we call them bishops) are just members of our congregation who are entrusted with the responsibility of looking after us for a few years, and then they get released, most of them becoming once more the same as the rest of us.

                      That goes into a subject we haven’t talked about yet, where our clergy members are all volunteers, unpaid, and mostly temporary. Our view of “priesthood” is that it is a tool, the power and authority of God given to man specifically for the purpose of serving, not ruling, one another. Part of that service includes helping individuals who are wrestling with serious sins, helping them through the process of repentance.

                      I do agree that this discussion has been one of the better ones I’ve ever had, because of how we’ve treated it. And I am grateful for it. The pursuit of truth can take some unexpected turns, but it’s a good deal more productive when we can speak civilly with those of other perspectives. 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yeah you’re not wrong there, nobody’s ever convinced everyone by turning it into a shouting match. It’s too hostile and only makes both of the people more adamant of their own view.

                      I can empathise a lot with the idea of God doing things in the world, because for me that’s exactly what it felt like when I was a Christian. Though I myself had experienced miracles, the most notable being friends being healed and throwing their crutches aside, but I found better explanations for these things than God, as I felt he was too quiet in my life, and after all this time a relationship with him simply didn’t feel there.

                      If you want to look into these kinds of occurrences I recommend the Derren Brown documentaries on YouTube. They are not meant to deconvert, they just inform you on psychology better. I recommend especially watching “Messiah”, “Miracles for sale”, and “Fear and Faith” start with Miracles for sale if you do decide to watch these, then you will understand what I mean by not trying to deconvert.

                      Yeah I meant the stuff in revelation, where they blow 6 trumpets and they summon evil beings to punish and torture the atheists that are left on earth.

                      I’m not saying that suffering doesn’t always produce a positive outcome. I just question how someone who loves you and doesn’t want you to suffer still watches you suffer.

                      Turns out we are both wrong about the holocaust. I thought it was 11 million people, 6 million of these people being jews. However 17 million people died, and it’s the total death toll of the Jews and the 11 million other groups put together.

                      Mankind has historically been most brutal to itself in the name of religion. Nobody declares wars in the name of atheism, and the holocaust was committed in the name of Catholicism. Statistics say that the societies which are the most secular are also the most peaceful.

                      Religion makes good people justify bad things. If the horrific war crimes of the old testament were in any other holy book you would condemn them, however because they’re in yours you look to them as moral.

                      God revealing himself is not equivalent to forcing people to obey. Satan knew God very personally and still rejected him, humans can do the same.

                      How was Satan not the good guy here? In your own story he literally wanted everyone to be put in heaven and nobody to be sent to hell!

                      Your wrong, God is against our salvation. The default position for humans is condemned to hell, you have to choose God and follow his teachings to get salvation. If God wanted salvation for us all why didn’t he move the goal posts? Why has he only decided to save the 1/7th of people who believe in him yet condemn the majority. But this is recycling through the initial conversation we had in the first place.

                      If you value simplicity, have you heard of Occam’s razor, if so why don’t you use it? The simplest answer is that these are all things that are taking place in your head, and the more you learn about psychology the more you will realise that, it’s far more insanely complicated and out there to believe that there is this all powerful being that has a relationship with 1/7th of a planet which negligible in size in contrast to the size of the universe.

                      God doesn’t play with our lives? Um Job… Abraham… the pharaoh, just to name a few off the top of my head.

                      The reason why I maybe rudely called it mental acrobatics is only because looking back at myself when I was Christian, I did this. There is a concept of 1984 called Double thought which is when you can believe two contradictory things yet not notice the problems between them. Looking back I am definitely guilty of doing this.

                      I don’t think it’s fair to say that in this situation the priest is the medic and the friend is the amateur. It’s the other way around. When it comes to overcoming sin the friend is the medic. You and your friend know each other so well, you don’t judge each other, you perfectly trust each other, you understand each other, and you’ve been through the same things, understand these things and therefore can use it to help each other. Whereas a person of authority is difficult to open up and talk too, likely of an age difference that they don’t understand your problem and has seen and heard so much confession that they’ve become numb to hearing it and don’t treat it in the same way. We’d both go to the medic, but you have to know who your medic is.

                      I’m sorry for opening up more things when we’re trying to close this. It’s just when you say something I have a problem with I can’t let myself keep it quiet. In order to end this we will of course have to agree to disagree in some places. I have heard your arguments for some of these positions before, so unless you’ve changed or want to address them again I am happy for us to ignore them.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I suppose this might as well be my closing part of this, then! 🙂 I have very much enjoyed our chat, and look forward to more in the future. 😉

                      This being the end of this thread, I shall skip most of it, because, as you say, we’d just be retreading the same ground. There’s just a couple important things I want to say.

                      First, but not the most important, is pointing out something you said which I don’t believe is true. People haven’t been at their most brutal in the name of religion. They’ve been at their most brutal in the name of power, by whatever means they can conjure to get it. The atheist regimes of the USSR, China, North Korea, and others, which slaughtered tens of millions of their own people, ought to be proof enough of that.

                      Secondly, in regards to the events foretold in the Book of Revelations, at a cursory look, I believe you may be misinterpreting it a bit. It talks a great deal about the fates of the wicked, but unless all atheists are wicked, which I doubt, then I don’t think that’s what it means.

                      Finally, what I most want to say.

                      Any parent or teacher knows that sometimes the children in their care need to be left to struggle through a problem on their own, and face the consequences of their actions. Any coach, trainer, and especially drill sergeants know that sometimes you have to inflict some suffering and break someone down in order to build them back up again, better than before in some way. Any doctor, surgeon, or other medic knows that sometimes you have to do some damage in order to heal an injury. Any farmer or gardener knows that sometimes the plants need to be pruned in order to yield a greater harvest. Blacksmiths know that the materials they work with need to be refined in fires, tradesmen know that risks and losses need to be taken in order to profit, and generals know that they need to send into danger and death the very same soldiers who look to them for protection. On and on it goes.

                      In simplest terms, I believe the phrase is, “No pain, no gain.” And there is much gain, of vital, eternal importance, to be found in the pains of this life.

                      I’m not sure exactly where I made it seem like Lucifer actually cared what happened to us. His promises of a life without pain, of zero losses in exchange for zero gains, was just a means to an end, like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.

                      God, on the other hand, truly loves us, and wants us to be happy both in this life and eternally. What he does, and does not do, is entirely geared towards that end.

                      He does not leave us damned by default, but, like any other parent, He can’t do everything for us. I doubt I need to point out how badly things turn out when people try that sort of thing here on Earth, so multiply that by infinity and take to the depths of eternity, and can you imagine how badly that would turn out? Think of a spoiled child who never learnt to control their temper, or anything else about themselves, with the power of a truly cosmic deity. It does not make for a pretty image!

                      Hmm… I think I’ll end my part with a little poem I heard in an anime. It illustrates, to me, how we can have differing perspectives, no matter our similarities, and thus the importance of sharing them honestly with each other.

                      “Two men in prison look out the same bars.
                      One sees the ground, the other sees stars.”

                      …so, which way are you looking, and why? 😉

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • You’re right that power does that. Because power encompasses the power of the many people who have declared wars in the name of religion. Nobody declares all of these war and suffering in the name of power. Even in secular regimes.

                      Whether you disagree with religion being “the most brutal” or not, you can get that religion has done a lot of harm through many wars and flawed teachings.

                      I think even for the wicked it’s too much of a bad thing. It sounds horrible.

                      No pain no gain sure, but it’s not as simple as that. Suffering is a bad thing, most people don’t gain anything at all from suffering, yet Yahweh is still content to let that happen as well.

                      “I’m not sure exactly where I made it seem like Lucifer actually cared what happened to us. His promises of a life without pain, of zero losses in exchange for zero gains, was just a means to an end, like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.”

                      This is complete nonsense. What do you mean zero losses and zero gains? It was zero losses and everything to gain! Heaven’s supposed to be a nice place you know. If one person goes to eternal suffering that’s one too many in my opinion. If one person wants to set a test and punish the people who fail it eternally, and the other person want’s to get rid of that and give everyone happiness, Lucifer is the good guy here, without even a shadow of a doubt. This is nothing even remotely close to Stalin, Hitler, Lenin and Mao. If God knew what would happen before even setting the test, he’s the one to compare to these dictators, as he was knowingly sending people to eternal suffering. That is vastly, vastly worse than anything Satan ever proposed.

                      If God wanted us to all be happy in the end, then I’m sorry to say that Satans plan was much better. No test means nobody fails it.

                      You’re right but humans are good enough to teach each other ourselves, we wouldn’t end up spoiled like that because we’d grow out of it. It’s in our nature.

                      Of course I’m looking both ways, because finding the truth is ideal. But if a God was as obvious as the stars existence then I wouldn’t need to be looking.

                      If this is where you want to end it I don’t think this is a bad place. It’s made me think and hopefully made you think as well!

                      I’ll also leave you with a question. Are you prepared to leave all prior investments at the door and jump ship when/if yours is sinking?

                      I myself did that, and know I’d do the same again. So would you?

                      I myself read and watch things only for the side of Christianity. Because how else are you going to get a better accurate version of the truth if you don’t!

                      So I recommend reading the LDS CES letter. I think you’re smart enough to tell if it’s all wrong and all lies, and I also think you’re smart enough to tell if you’re kidding yourself after reading it. So why not do this?

                      Also you have just the same rights to this comment chain as I have, if you want to make posts about all of it, or release a blog post of the entire comment chain your more than welcome to.

                      Liked by 2 people

      • “Where I disagree is with the whole justice and mercy thing. Sure if God had prepared us a way for us all to be saved then that would be fine, but it’s not like that at all.”

        I like the Dominican order. I suspect they’re more subversive than they let on.

        I’ve always found the concept of eternal damnation to be, on one hand, diametrically opposed to the very concept of divine and omnipotent goodness, and on the other, an affront to the very concept of mercy.

        “But some sins are so great that…” blah blah blah.

        Yeah, we can progressively list terrible things that humans have done, but all humans are capable of equal levels of evil given the wrong opportunity. Just look at 1930s Germany.

        Of 2018 and 2019 Americans celebrating the destruction of families at the border and the attempts to justify concentration camps.

        Why do I like the Dominicans? Because one of my favorite college instructors shocked the class by saying quietly, “You know, theologically, I can demonstrate that hell doesn’t exist.”

        Of course, 2/3 of the class freaked completely out. But her point was valid. I see no actual evidence that hell exists. Jesus’ discussions about being cast into the flames could easily be interpreted as literary.

        Just look at how hell’s used. Does it entice people to be more kind to one another? In my experience, the people who scream the loudest about hell are the most cruel, the most intent on separating you from your cash, or both.

        That same Dominican dropped another bomb on some students who said something along the lines of “But when we die, we’re judged! Book of Life and all that!”

        That professor gave the answer that might be responsible for my subversive views.

        She said, “Instead of saying ‘ha ha, on such and such a date you masturbated!’ It’s hell for you! No, he said ‘Thanks for doing what you could. I know it was touch; I was there. Well done. Come on home.”

        In my comment below, I laid out why I don’t follow any organized religions now. In this comment, I just told you why I can’t shake the possibility that God exists.

        Because the Dominican Sister positively glowed when she spoke.

        Not literally, of course. But she had experienced something. She _knew_ something I didn’t. She opened a door as far as she could. I couldn’t see what was inside, but there’s something going on that’s beyond me.

        If only we humans didn’t spend so much energy trying to bone ourselves, we might be able to figure out what.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah your previous comment makes more sense to me now. I have shaken the possibility that god exists in my mind, well none of the ones that exist in today’s world.

          There could have been something before the big bang, but it just seems so crazy to me. I’ve heard the argument that whatever happens before the big bang must be incredibly simple, since adding complexity only brings more questions.

          I know that hell is mentioned, but I’m sure that it is used in the bible, and it says people go there right? If not, then I’m surprised by how many people know about it and understand it to be eternal suffering.

          I will look it up and rethink that – but if hell doesn’t exist – what does God do with all the people who don’t get into heaven, considering he said that some people can’t get into heaven?

          I don’t know, will have to look it up.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. “I’m sure it pleases nobody, especially religious people to believe that so many people will be suffering while they are in happiness.””

    I’d argue that taking such pleasure in the pain of others would disqualify someone from calling themselves “good!” Present American politics aside…

    “If you were in heaven, and everyone else you knew were in hell, I wouldn’t call that heaven, because with the knowledge that your friends were suffering, how could you be happy?”

    Have you ever read C.S. Lewis? His non-fiction writing included some thoughts on this. One book showed someone in heaven (Mary, maybe?) who tried to interact with someone who then went to hell. He tried to show that she was unmoved (not upset), because being in heaven meant being happy and fulfilled; but like you, I find that answer utterly unconvincing. Well, more precisely, I find it untrue.

    “Yahweh is shown time and time again that he believes the ends justify the means.”

    I would put it a little differently. I’d say that the humans who wrote scripture had their own agenda and pushed that idea. If you get to the New Testament, everything boils down to “Love one another as I have loved you.” That’s quite a different perspective!

    “If they didn’t he wouldn’t have killed so many people in the old testament, racistly favouring the Israelite’s just in order to give birth to the long line of people who would eventually give birth to Jesus.”

    I think that’s a valid interpretation, but I see it a _little_ differently. I see it as the story of a single people coming to know something of Yahweh and trying to follow him despite their messed up-ness. Of course their writers would cast it as their race was best. They weren’t best; they were just first. Again, contrast that with the more universal appeal in the New Testament.

    “If you look at today’s society God’s amazing and awesome plan involves allowing everyone to slowly become less religious over time, and then sending billions of people to eternal suffering, in the hope that one day perhaps there will be enough believers for this sacrifice of life to be worth it.”

    Again, I think your interpretation is valid, but I see it a little differently: Because of how people whose power and monetary income depend on people misunderstanding scripture, they paint the picture you described (maximum condemnation and glorification of the few). Of course reasonable people would reject that idea! But are people becoming less religious? Or less accepting of self-serving interpretations of religion? If people drift away from organized religions that preach nonsense but still try to be good to one another, I’d argue that’s become more of what “religious” should mean. Though its meaning is too often something very different, as you’ve pointed out.

    “This is best done through an unfiltered lens, because if your god is the all powerful person you claim him to be, the person doing the research will find the right answer anyway.”

    What’s funny is that is exactly the approach the Dominican order (well, the smart people in that order) advocate! It’s the reason that even though I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I still think some of the ideas are true.

    “Both Christianity and Islam exists, this means that either one, or both of them are wrong, since both of their claims deny the other and there is still that possibility of neither of them being true.”

    In the expression of the particulars of their scriptures, yes. There are absolutely differences. But at the core? That’s a little harder to take a hard stance on.

    “Who wants that God?”

    No one should want that God. No one who values treating other humans well would accept that. Only people who want to exploit it for their own ends (money, power, etc.).

    “You could make the argument that something can’t come from nothing – and there is something – so there must be a god. But that explanation only raises more questions.”

    I’m sure you’re well aware that the scientific theory of the Big Bang kinda explains it. Time only “started” post Big Bang; the rules of casualty that we understand only apply within this universe. So from a scientific perspective, we have at least tentative answers to this.

    There’s a quote attributed to Epicurus, but it might have been Carneades. Search Wikipedia for “Trilemma”. It goes like this:

    If God is unable to prevent evil, then he is not all-powerful.
    If God is not willing to prevent evil, then he is not all-good.
    If God is both willing and able to prevent evil, then why does evil exist?

    I think your post is asking a lot of the same questions!

    It’s too big a topic for a comment, and apologies this is as long as it is! But I’d argue that the Old Testament was the story of a people coming to know God; the New Testament was the story of that revelation spreading to the whole world; and that now, each of us — yourself included — are trying to figure out how to thrive (even to the point of defining what “thrive” means). I’d argue that trying to halt slavery, trying to establish merciful laws, and trying to curb the human lust for power are all parts of what started in the Old Testament.

    Same thing with trying to advocate for the rights of anyone that those in power want to suppress. The current administration and a related political party in the US want to extend their power by crush the rights of several target groups.

    That’s what I’d call Satanic.

    The lines aren’t easy to see all the time. Did you see the news of a Jesuit school fighting their arch bishop? The arch bishop was upset that they wouldn’t fire a teacher who was gay. The arch bishop pulled their “license” to call themselves Catholic — despite theologians in the church saying, “Dude, chill. You’re not interpreting that right…” Check out Twitter for the hashtag #BeBrave. I find it very hopeful! It means there are people of goodwill everything.

    We should work together where we can.

    You might notice that I’m not really talking about the existence of God. I think we need to restart the conversation on that topic, because the very concept has been destroyed. How can someone speak of a merciful God in one breath and exalt separating families at the US border in another? Those ideas don’t go together, yet they’re in vogue in certain Christian circles in the US. Any rational human would look at that and reject that idea of God out of hand.

    So yeah, you’re asking some good questions, and you’re drawing what I could say are reasonable conclusions. I wanted to introduce you to Epicurus (or Carneades!) so you could see you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in pretty good company!

    Thanks for an interesting post. It’s not often I see someone honestly wrestling with these ideas, and whichever side you come down on, it’s important to work the equations!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah without a doubt, considering the consequences could be infinite, though I doubt that.

      Thanks a lot for the comment!

      That is a good way of looking at the old testament, and honestly the most favourable way to look at it. It is a good way to explain the contrasts between the new and old testaments.

      The differences between the old and new testament are major, and to be honest this is the best argument I’ve heard to explain the differences.

      Of course I don’t think it justifies the actions that they did, but it’s just a good explanation.

      The “people becoming less religious” thing is in reference to the idea that in England everyone used to be a christian, but now it’s a rare thing that you need to tell people or they would never know.

      I don’t think this is what you meant, but it’s what I got. You seemed to say “Drifting away from religion but still being good is what “religious” should mean” – I don’t really think being religious should have any association at all with the nature of a person, only what they believe.

      That thing about the Dominician order is good, I’m glad to hear that.

      Yeah I know what you mean about Islam and Christianity. Maybe it’s a bad example and I should update it to a different one.

      Yeah that’s true, it’s a strange concept but time is a property of the universe, and not outside of it. It’s honestly so confusing, but it is some kind of an answer, obviously, we’d all like to find out more though.

      Yes I’ve heard that saying, it’s a good point.

      I have to disagree with you about slavery. The bible specifically has passages about specifically how to treat and care for a slave – fully endorsing it. The fact that Jesus didn’t take a hard stance on slavery is tragic to me, since people used the bible for and against slavery for many years before we made the correct choice.

      The fact that the bible spends so much time condemning homosexuality yet says so little about slavery concerns me.

      People sometimes justify this by saying that it was a product of the time and for catering to that specific audience.

      But why would a god do that? Wouldn’t it be better to write a message that would last, and stay updated for the 7 billion people who are alive today?

      What if the bible had taken a firm stance on scientific truth, explaining many concepts we would later find out to be perfectly accurate, then we would know without fail that God was true. He was on earth, but he missed his chance.

      Scientific discoveries change, and we have been wrong for many years. Perhaps that’s what God wanted to avoid, it may not be a good point.

      Yeah that’s messed up, but compared to some of the horrific stuff the catholic church has done, that’s insanely minor in contrast. Yeah we got to stop stuff like like that.

      Yeah I think your right. If there is a God he’s got a lot of explaining to do.

      Thanks for the amazing comment!

      Liked by 2 people

      • “The fact that the bible spends so much time condemning homosexuality yet says so little about slavery concerns me.”

        I’d more say that the writers of the time were homophobic and, since they were the ones writing it, they inflicted Scripture with their perspective. One thing you don’t see in the New Testament is Jesus condemning it. What _do_ you see him condemning?

        The community’s leadership.

        They imposed impossible burdens and didn’t lift a finger to help. Sound familiar?

        I’d assert that if you take seriously the order to “Love one another as I have loved you,” slavery is off the table. So is homophobia. So is… the list goes on and on.

        It’s not “tolerate one another.”

        It’s “love one another.”

        Of course, some people calling themselves religious twist that to say that “Well, I’ll use tough love to correct these sinners!”

        Those folks forget a teeny tiny detail. When Jesus said, “…as I have loved you,” what did he mean? Did he mean to beat each other to death, perhaps using the thick book of scripture as a hammer?

        Nah. He mean be willing to die for one another. That’s exactly 180 degrees from what the words have been twisted to me.

        “What if the bible had taken a firm stance on scientific truth, explaining many concepts we would later find out to be perfectly accurate, then we would know without fail that God was true. He was on earth, but he missed his chance.”

        Of every argument against the existence of God, this is the one I cannot solve. The shallow answer is “Oh, that just means that God wants us to have faith! That’s how we’re saved — through his grace!”

        Okay, fine, but if the goal is solely a relationship with the divine…

        And if the divine had complete control of our design and implementation…

        Then why not design the universe (remember, we’re talking omniscience here!) so that we’re born ready for that relationship?

        Every answer I can come up with — like we need to struggle to grow stronger even within ourselves — can be countered with “Yeah, but, that’s just because how we’re designed. If you’re the designer, why do it differently?”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah you don’t see Jesus condemning it, but it concerns me that the rest of the bible does. For a lot of people, especially historically, the fact that Jesus didn’t mention it didn’t seem to matter.

          Sure Jesus declared it as bad technically, but he didn’t call it out specifically – which would have helped so many people’s lives be better.

          Tbh Jesus is the bibles saving grace, but that doesn’t mean we should so easily forget the rest of the terrible things that are in there.

          Yeah, an answer I’ve heard is the devil, why doesn’t he get rid of him though if he screwed it all up?

          We’re also forgetting that God’s original plan from genesis was to live with humans from the start, but then he was like “screw this” as soon as Adam and Eve ate the apple. Then he decided to punish all of humanity for it, why? I don’t remember eating no apple!

          Liked by 1 person

          • “For a lot of people, especially historically, the fact that Jesus didn’t mention it didn’t seem to matter.”

            This is one of the reasons I get so impatient with people who call themselves Christian yet don’t pay attention to the things Jesus said to — and ignore the things he ignored. Is a role model or not?

            “Sure Jesus declared it as bad technically, but he didn’t call it out specifically – which would have helped so many people’s lives be better.”

            The leadership nailed him to a cross because he challenged them. If he had said very much more — like something challenging the Roman government (which allowed slavery), they would have killed him earlier.

            Humans are kinda brutal, so he had to play it just right.

            I mean seriously, it’s a simple equation! Put yourself in the mind of a slave owner in 30 CE. You receive instructions to love everyone — slaves included — as Jesus loved everyone (remember, that means be ready to die for one another). You have to treat your slaves like loved ones.

            Kinda negates the whole idea of slavery, doesn’t it?

            It’s not that Jesus didn’t say to stop slavery. With one statement — love one another as I have loved you — he invalidated any institution or human tendency that didn’t result from love.

            Bit of a challenge, isn’t it?

            And yet…

            Every question you’ve asked is still valid.

            I just said that Jesus had to play for time before the humans killed him. If he is actually God, why’d he have to do that?

            Let’s say we grant the idea that once a divine being enters the space/time continuum, he/she becomes subject to its laws. Let’s say we accept, then, that even if he has a divine nature, Jesus was subject the space/time.

            That doesn’t answer the question, “Okay, then why design it that way?”

            What is so important that whoever’s in the time stream is not allowed to have empirical data on the divine?

            What’s so important that even sending your son into space/time results in his tortured death?

            And we’re right back to the trilemma:

            If God is unable to prevent evil, then he is not all-powerful.
            If God is not willing to prevent evil, then he is not all-good.
            If God is both willing and able to prevent evil, then why does evil exist?

            Liked by 1 person

            • It is really quite interesting to debate over the fine details of something we agree so much on.

              Of course Jesus was pushed for time, and any message like that which would have caused such controversy could easily be explained by having it removed when the disciples wrote it all down 30-100 years later to make it more widespread.

              Regardless of that I’ve heard that the stories of the gospels are purely metaphorical – in order to tell a message instead of the story.

              Have you looked into mythicism? I wouldn’t say I agree with it, but it makes you realise just how little we know about Jesus.

              What you said about killing him earlier, he could have said it when he was about to die. But I see a good reason why the disciples would have got rid of it.

              There is something you said that I find quite horrible. Jesus saying love your slave does not negate slavery in the slightest. I’m sure you meant it in a “they would free the slave if they loved him” kind of way, but there is nothing moral about slavery in the slightest, even if you’re nice to the slave. I’m sure you meant that already, but I just want to be clear.

              You make good arguments for Jesus, but then invalidate them with better arguments. Thanks! I can use these if I ever need to explain myself better.

              The God that we have been taught about is not the same God that we see. Any God that is like the religions today is far more human-like in nature than most people think. And if there is a God, it’s very likely that he’s a dick

              Liked by 1 person

              • “I’m sure you meant it in a “they would free the slave if they loved him” kind of way, but there is nothing moral about slavery in the slightest, even if you’re nice to the slave. I’m sure you meant that already, but I just want to be clear.”

                Thanks for helping me be more clear! Yes, I mean precisely that the way Jesus worded it, the presupposition is that slavery is inherently evil; that once you love your “slave,” you realize that very concept is flawed, and you must admit that they are free. Your action does not free them; the imposition of slavery itself was the illusion.

                English is hard.

                “Any God that is like the religions today is far more human-like in nature than most people think. And if there is a God, it’s very likely that he’s a dick”

                Another opportunity for clarity!

                If there is a God that is as the religious “right” describes him, then as a human, I have only one response: Utter rejection.

                No other response is rational.

                If if the God that the Dominican Sister I describes seems to know exists…

                Or if the Jesus who was subtle enough to give us a command that reset the entirety of creation (i.e., Love One Another = Be Utterly Responsible for One Another) really exists…

                The the question becomes, how do we sweep away the layers of humans who have decided their own profit comes first (i.e., the modern Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes)?

                Especially when they’re the ones who seem adroit at seizing power?

                Bottom line: Continuing to ask the questions; continuing to push your understanding; those are the ways forward. Dogma is dead and even worse — it kills.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Yeah I wouldn’t want much to do with him either. I’d be like “Please leave my immortal soul in happiness, and fuck off”

                  Heaven is depicted in the bible as constant worship of God, but why on earth would anyone want that? Even in church I remembered my legs going tired after just a couple of songs!

                  You know how I do some book writing? I was thinking after the current one I’m working on (which no chapters have been released on this blog yet) it would be one about heaven, showing how fucked the concept actually is.

                  I don’t quite follow your logic but I know that people have exploited religion for their own gains so much. The worst examples in my opinion being faith healers, such as Benny Hinn, who knew they were fakes but exploited people’s beliefs that they would be healed once more.

                  Yes you’re right, everything should be questioned, even the stuff that is mostly ok from the new testament. Do you really expect that the disciples got everything right when they wrote it down 30-100 years later?

                  Liked by 1 person

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