Obviously I released a post titled “God is not real” and there was a heck of a lot of discussion!
You can find my initial argument here. However to summarise it, I don’t want any God to exist, because as a minimum, any religion being correct would result in 72% of the population having eternal suffering, for finite sins, and I don’t believe failure to believe in something is worth eternal suffering. Then there was also the idea that an all knowing and all loving God would have known all of this was going to happen, and actively allowed it to occur, following the logic that these people going to hell now are worth it for a future where vastly more people will go to heaven, I personally don’t believe that these ends justify the means. This is a major simplification, however if you want more check it out first!
Oh and all of these will come from one person who I have had a lot of conversation with, it’s been so interesting! And yeah because this is my comments section, I’m just going to use them without asking. Credit to Merlin for the discussion, find his blog here.
I feel like I may be unable to present the counter arguments fairly, so I would rather use the points made towards me as they are in context and have no influence from me, an atheist.
Though I responded differently, I think I would like to respond differently now that I have refined my arguments and opinions over so much discussion!
The “Everybody still has a chance to be saved” argument
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.
Just because we can be saved doesn’t mean that we will be. And I would also say, making the barrier to entry to heaven so high is the opposite of merciful.
As well as that, just because you could hypothetically choose Yahweh doesn’t mean that it’s moral in any way to send people to hell just because they don’t.
It’s like saying “no I’m giving you the choice to give me your money, I’ll just shoot you if you don’t. But it’s up to you, it’s your decision” – You can’t just say “oh he choose not to give his money, therefore he chose to die” it’s just unfair.
The “God warns us” argument
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.
So essentially he warns all of us away from the path of failure so we can find him and join him after we die.
My argument is, how well is this going so far? You could say that Yahweh has been insanely and ridiculously quiet for someone trying to get everyone on his side.
I was a christian for 17 years, and even after that I felt like God hadn’t even talked to me! So yeah, he’s done an awful job of communication, especially considering the millions of thoughts put in his mind through Christians, he could at the very least do the same.
These ways of communication are through the bible, and odd thoughts and feelings and kinds of whispers, so essentially things amazingly easy to placebo effect yourself with.
If any of you have had a debate with a Christian, I’m sure you can guess where it’s going from here.
The “Free Will” argument
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?
The point is that it will maximise net happiness and not let anyone suffer eternally.
This is the arguments that I hate hearing the most, because not only is it ridiculous, but it’s also contradictory.
If God were to manifest we would still have the ability to reject him or accept him. For example I may reject Yahweh if he appears for not saying anything about slavery in the bible, and waiting so long to reveal himself – I may not believe he is as good as he says.
So if we had the ultimate proof of the man in the sky, it wouldn’t go against our free will in the slightest. It would only make our choice more informed.
This is because his very appearance wouldn’t necessarily mean that we can still trust him.
Taking it from the bible this argument is completely contradicted by the fact that he reveals himself to the Israelite’s and reveals himself to many people as Jesus, at least 5,000. That’s a violation of this free will argument!
As well as that let’s take the Satan story, he was someone who knew God fully and still was able to reject him, therefore even if God did reveal himself, it wouldn’t go against free will.
The “This Life is a Test” Argument
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.
The devil’s example referring to the fact that Satan rejected Yahweh despite knowing God.
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.
If this life is just a test where the vast majority of us fail, then that is just cruel. I also question why this needs to exist?
It is doctrine in the bible that Adam and Eve were in a paradise just like heaven until they ate the apple. So this life clearly wasn’t designed as a test in the first place, and if it was, it’s a test that punishes every single one of your ancestors to be doomed to much harder, and more painful tests.
There is no real need to test us, just let us live.
As well as that, maybe I wouldn’t mind a test if this life hypothetically was one, however why do the consequences for failing have to be eternal torture? Doesn’t seem fair to me. As well as that, infinity being so much longer than what we life in now means that we won’t even be the same people in the after life, enough time would have passed that we would be radically different anyway. So it’s kind of testing us at the wrong point in our life.
The “Do you really think he expects us more of us than Jesus?” Question
Finally, you mention expectations. Just one question: do you think He expects more of us than He expected of Jesus Christ?
This is in more reference to the requirements to pass the test to get to heaven.
The answer to this question is yes and no. It’s an unfair question really. Yahweh expected way more than Jesus, but though the expectations of us are much less, they are far more difficult for us to achieve. Which makes Yahweh expect way more of us, since Yahweh is supposed to be perfect, therefore Jesus is inherently perfect too.
You know, we were born inherently in sin after all, and sin is in our human nature.
The Devil’s Story
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.
The blatantly obvious flaw in this story is that Yahweh had no good reason to test his children, and as well as that, the plan proposed by Satan would not mean that it would only benefit him. Think of all the children who would have suffered eternally, you think it wouldn’t have benefited them as well?
If Satan would gain a special priority (which I see no reason why he would) how does that make him any different from Jesus? You got to remember that Satan was a good guy before he turned on God, so having him in this position would be just like having a Jesus.
Yahweh being all powerful, doesn’t mean that Satan could challenge him anyway, so the entire thing was pointless.
The “Hell Not Existing/Is just a place without Yahweh” Argument
I could point out the depiction of flames, fire and torture, as well as the general way it’s taught, however if we ignored all that then how about I tell you what hell is a place with.
It’s a place with Satan. You know, that massively powerful angel who hates all humans, and tries to make people join him in real life along with his hoard of demons, who make up a third of what used to be God’s angels.
Not only that, but it’s the place where all the arseholes go, which means at the very least prepare for just a more fucked version of the exact same thing we have on earth already.
As for the hell not existing argument theirs two directions you could go with. The first taking the idea from Revelation where everyone just is burned in a fiery lake, which is still quite unpleasant, and the second being everyone does go to heaven of some kind.
But if everyone does go to heaven of some kind, then what about that thing said by Jesus, the guy who knows what heaven’s like. What was it again? That heaven is harder to get into than a camel going through the eye of a needle? – The eye of a needle referring to the gate which was nearly impossible for a camel to get through.
It is far from historic fact that the eye of a needle was a gate, people obviously think this was mistranslated, and the interpretation of just as difficult for a rope to pass through the eye of the needle to get into heaven is just as valid.
Anyway even if it was for a thread to pass through a needle, that would be too difficult in my opinion, have you ever done textiles? It takes literally ages to get it in right!
The Hell Should Exist Argument
This is one I heard much later having written this. The argument goes, “Would you want the person who slit your mothers throat to be in eternal happiness with you, or do they deserve to be punished? Do the people who inflicted so much suffering on holocaust victims deserve eternal happiness? Of course not they need to be punished”
This argument made me realise, that hell shouldn’t actually need to exist, because why do you need a hell to punish people? You simply don’t. It is unnecessary.
And also how is it moral for God to inflict this eternal suffering? Even if the punishment for one sin was conclusively equivalent to one million years, that’s nothing in comparison to eternity, how much more of a sin is it to be the one inflicting this eternal suffering. If I was a person who judged where people went after they die, then where do you think I would put the person who inflicts suffering on people eternally?
The punishment needs to fit the crime. You can’t say “You told a lie once, and you stole something” to justify eternal torture. These two things are not equal, and not the same.
This is by no means supposed to be a be all and end all for religious arguments and discourse. I still of course have not heard the best arguments, and would like to hear more. This to me is surface level, and there are more responses and comebacks to my arguments that would be interesting to see.
So if you have anything you think disproves this, or you have something you want to add or just discuss, please let me know! All discourse is welcome as long as its on topic and constructive.