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Did Jesus invent Hell?
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Lago_AM3P
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:28 pm    Post subject: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So there I was. I was reading some Mark Twain, because his writings are totally badass to the maximum. His best stuff is his religious and anti-war rants and I'm totally getting into this and going 'ho yeah' and then I get to Letters from Earth.

It goes... a little something... a'like this:

Quote:
The two Testaments are interesting, each in its own way. The Old one gives us a picture of these people's Deity as he was before he got religion, the other one gives us a picture of him as he appeared afterward. The Old Testament is interested mainly in blood and sensuality. The New one in Salvation. Salvation by fire.

The first time the Deity came down to earth, he brought life and death; when he came the second time, he brought hell.

Life was not a valuable gift, but death was. Life was a fever-dream made up of joys embittered by sorrows, pleasure poisoned by pain, a dream that was a nightmare-confusion of spasmodic and fleeting delights, ecstasies, exultations, happinesses, interspersed with long-drawn miseries, griefs, perils, horrors, disappointments, defeats, humiliations, and despairs -- the heaviest curse devisable by divine ingenuity; but death was sweet, death was gentle, death was kind; death healed the bruised spirit and the broken heart, and gave them rest and forgetfulness; death was man's best friend; when man could endure life no longer, death came and set him free.

In time, the Deity perceived that death was a mistake; a mistake, in that it was insufficient; insufficient, for the reason that while it was an admirable agent for the inflicting of misery upon the survivor, it allowed the dead person himself to escape from all further persecution in the blessed refuge of the grave. This was not satisfactory. A way must be conceived to pursue the dead beyond the tomb.

The Deity pondered this matter during four thousand years unsuccessfully, but as soon as he came down to earth and became a Christian his mind cleared and he knew what to do. He invented hell, and proclaimed it.

Now here is a curious thing. It is believed by everybody that while he was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous, and cruel; but that when he came down to earth and assumed the name Jesus Christ, he became the opposite of what he was before: that is to say, he became sweet, and gentle, merciful, forgiving, and all harshness disappeared from his nature and a deep and yearning love for his poor human children took its place. Whereas it was as Jesus Christ that he devised hell and proclaimed it!

Which is to say, that as the meek and gentle Savior he was a thousand billion times crueler than ever he was in the Old Testament -- oh, incomparably more atrocious than ever he was when he was at the very worst in those old days!


Anyone care to shed some light on this? I always thought Hell was a concept of the New Testament, like, it was always there.

(EDIT: Oh, yeah. I forgot to add a link--> http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/twain/letearth.htm)
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Satan's Hell comes from the Book of Revelations, which is a book which was written hundreds of years after the death of Christ in a Roman prison. Some Christian denominations accept the works of John the Revelator as part of the bible, and others do not.

Honestly, the Book of Revelations is a confusing read. It's a list of prophecies of dire circumstances that have already failed to come true! Like the works of Joseph Smith, it doesn't really hold up to analysis. But it does preach that the faithful have to form Voltron in order to wipe out heretics who secretly worship demons - so it's politically very useful to a lot of people.

The best description of Revelations and its contents that you're going to get is here.


-Frank
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Lago_AM3P
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yeah, the description (and goofiness) of Hell doesn't come until later, but didn't Jesus make some mention of people who are evil in the eyes of god suffering eternal torture after death? Like, when he was still alive?
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 8:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yes. According to Jesus, everyne who dies, goes to Hell. Jesus himself dies for three days and spends that period in Hell. Hell is underground, hot, and involves people being eaten forever by a worm. There is much "gnashing of teeth".

The promise of Jesus Christ is that you get to live forever, and therefore escape Hell indefinitely. None of this "soul ascending to a new plae" bullshit - you are supposedly resurrected and get to be out of Hell just like Jesus did.

Unfortunately, these prophecies already did not happen - the last of the Disciples was supposed to see the end times when the faithful rose from their graves and everyone else was cast into the sulphurous bowels of the Earth. Needless to say, this did not occur.

Also needless to say, the various Christian groups have reevaluated when the world was going to end and the faithful were going to be granted eternal life many many times. But since the original fiathful have apparently been languishing in Hell for about two thousand years, it seems like a raw deal as religions go.

-Frank
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MrWaeseL
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 10:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Actually, he was in purgatory. It's sort of a Hell-light. Souls go their as punishment for their sins in life but if the balance of their life is ultimately positive, they go to Heaven afterwards.
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Count Arioch the 28th
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 10:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I remember back when I went to church, the prayerbook had a prayer mentioning that Jesus went to hell, with a footnote saying some churches choose to omit that passage.

I couldn't quote an actual source for that though, I'm scared of even touching a bible lately for fear of becoming one of them.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 11:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

MrWaeseL wrote:
Actually, he was in purgatory. It's sort of a Hell-light. Souls go their as punishment for their sins in life but if the balance of their life is ultimately positive, they go to Heaven afterwards.


There is no mention of Purgatory in the New Testament or the Old. Many Christian factions do not believe in its existence for that reason. According to the Bible, Jesus spent 3 days and 3 nights in Hell (or 3 days and 2 nights, depending upon which passage you read).

-Frank
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SirWayne
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 1:03 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
I'm scared of even touching a bible lately for fear of becoming one of them.


Because that would be so terrible, wouldn't it? Rolling Eyes

Arguing with Frank doesn't get anyone anywhere (although it can be hilarious at times), so I'll focus on Lago's post. Which, by the way; I appreciate you linking to, I'd never read that before. It's almost completely wrong, but it's interesting.

Quote:
The first time the Deity came down to earth, he brought life and death; when he came the second time, he brought hell.


It's no surprise most of it's wrong, because Twain completely missed the point from the outset. God didn't "bring" death at all-- Adam was originally going to live forever, and not die unless he disobeyed God (Genesis 2:17). Death is the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23); until he sinned he was perfect. Immortality is, after all, scientifically possible; all it requires a being with the adequate genetic structure [whatever that might be] and an absence of external causes of degeneration (like radiation). I mean, a major cause of illness is stress, brought upon by guilt, improper living, etc. You could certainly make a case that sin kills-- it's just not commonly phrased in those terms.

Anyway, death wasn't originally in the plan. Interestingly, though, Hell was, according to Jesus Himself (Matthew 25:41). And Hell does feature in both Testaments, although translated differently. Aramaic didn't have a word for "hell," so they used sheol (or "the grave," sort of like how some New Testament verses use "Tartarus" in Greek, which is its closest approximation to Hell, even though it technically refers to the underworld, or "the grave," too). It's pretty obvious what they meant, though-- check out Isaiah 66:24 and Deuteronomy 32:22, and note the references to fire and torment, often thought of as exclusively New Testament ideas.

Quote:
Life was not a valuable gift, but death was.


Some people in their old age acquire a morbid (heh >_>) fascination with death; my grandfather is the same way now, and wasn't as early as... five or so years ago. Regardless, I don't agree with it, and I'd be surprised if any of you folks do either. "Life sucks, but death is awesome?" Why not go die, and be happy? Like right now?

...

Yeah, that's what I thought. :| That entire paragraph makes absolutely no sense to me. I haven't played so much D&D I start to believe some of its whacked-out philosophies (re: Cult of Nerull and the Dustmen).

Quote:
It is believed by everybody that while he was in heaven he was stern, hard, resentful, jealous, and cruel;


This isn't true either. God was harsh with the Hebrews because the Hebrews were morons. I mean, OK, we rant at people who can't figure out ballots and who play Soulknives, but we can probably guess that if those people were led by a fiery column of light from God Himself for 40 years, that they wouldn't rebel from Him every time He turned His back to huddle with Moses. But you would be wrong. The entire book of Judges is a sad testament as to how God's command to "Wipe out everybody who doesn't surrender because they will corrupt you" wasn't followed, and-- surprise!-- the Hebrews were corrupted because they didn't wipe everybody out.

Beyond smiting the wicked (and sometimes not, the waning days of Israel showed God giving them one chance after another), God was a pretty cool guy-- chilling with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8), helping David, calling blessings on Abraham and his descendants, giving Solomon the gift of wisdom he wanted, and so on; and interestingly the command to "love thy neighbor as thyself" is from the Old Testament, not the New.

In fact, there's basically no difference between the "Old Testament God" condemning those who reject Him and the Law and the "New Testament Jesus" condemning people who reject salvation. The only difference is that God went a lot farther to get us on board the second time-- a gift to die for, as it were-- than in the old days. And that because God was merciful enough toward us to give us a chance, a better way; because His people couldn't handle the old doctrine of repentance and sacrifice.

Quote:
Which is to say, that as the meek and gentle Savior he was a thousand billion times crueler than ever he was in the Old Testament -- oh, incomparably more atrocious than ever he was when he was at the very worst in those old days!


Sigh. If there's one thing I've heard more than anything else, it's "Why does God send people to Hell?! That means he's evil!" And it's a bloody frustrating point to argue, because the answer to that question takes a freakin' book, and when books battle with soundbites, the books lose (proof can be found in any American election since 1996). I'll give it a shot, though.

Sigh.

First off, in terms of "cruelty," how cruel is this statement?

If you jump out off a skyscraper, you will die. You will splatter on the ground and your existence as you know it will end, so for the love of Geese Howard, don't do it.

Is that an exceptionally evil thing to say, giving a warning like that? I wouldn't think so-- if somebody isn't aware of the law of gravity and the principles of applied force combined with basic anatomy, you just did them a major service-- possibly saving someone's life.

Now, here's this statement. Please hold off on the apoplexy until I'm done :] :

If you sin-- and trust me, you have-- you will die. You will be found not worthy to enter into God's sight, and will be sent to the only place left-- Hell-- forever. But if you accept this complementary Jesus jacket and bumper sticker, we'll let you in-- as long as you promise to behave [forever].

Now, if you accept the law of sin as well as the law of gravity (given that neither can be scientifically explained but both can have their effects witnessed), that warning is in no way crueler than the other one.

There's no getting around it: you're with God, or you're on your own, and if you say no and decide you'd rather be on your own... God is willing to give you exactly what you want. The thing about Hell is that it doesn't matter if it's in the center of the earth or in the Lower Planes or if there's real fire and worms there or not-- the point about Hell is that God isn't there. There is nothing good, nothing beautiful, nothing nice about Hell. It's a dark, lonely, twisted nightmare-- because the order and perfection God made in Earth is completely gone. Hell is like that because that's what Satan chose when he rebelled-- and that's what we choose if we choose to say no to Jesus or the Law.

I think what scares people about that is that the doctrine of sin and salvation is the fairest one. There's no "karmic wheel" where you have to reincarnate until you "get it right." You don't have to perform five sacred duties and kill infidels. You don't have to donate to L. Ron Hubbard. With Christ you have no excuses; you're in or you're not. And that's what frustrates me when I hear people talking about making it to Heaven by "being good enough," or whatever-- no! If Frank Trollman couldn't figure out a "system" where you got -100 points for assault except you get a 25% reduction because you came from a bad neighborhood and you got 10 points for telling the truth when that cop pulled you over and asked how fast you were going but lost 15 for smoking and making that little girl sick-- and you don't know how many points you need to "win," because it keeps changing based on your circumstances-- then what makes you think God would put anyone through that? Contrary to popular (?) opinion God does not want to torment you; he wants to help you out and make it easy to know where you stand... whichever side you're on.

"Then why doesn't He just tell us?" I hear that one a lot too, and the answer should be obvious-- He did, why back in 30 AD.

"But I don't remember that!" No? OK... so let's say God comes back tonight and tells us to sign up with Jesus in bright white letters written across the sky.

...you all know where this is going. 100 years later, somebody on some forum is going to say:

"But that photo was probably just PhotoShopped. There's no proof God did that, so I won't believe unless He comes back now!"

Well, it won't be entirely like that because it'll be in Spanish, but same idea. The only way for God to "prove it" would be to be here all the time, up there in the Heavens with a clipboard waiting for people to sign up. And there's no meaning in that. There's no free will; you have to believe or God will have to smite you (because if you look God right in the face and say "no," what else is He going to do with you? We're already doing this exercise to avoid sending people to Hell!). There's no faith, no love, no people bettering themselves because they want to and thus be the kind of sons God wants to adopt-- only people standing in a line longer than the one for PS3s because there's no other choice.

I would hate that world more than I do the one where we have to go on ancient history for evidence and the faith that God chose the best time in the world to show up. I have a feeling God does too.

---

Ugh, sorry, that was extremely long. I apologize; it's been a long time since I've been able to talk theology [of a sort] and it was all kind of bottled up. *chuckles*
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Catharz
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:21 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SirWayne wrote:


Quote:
Life was not a valuable gift, but death was.


Some people in their old age acquire a morbid (heh >_>) fascination with death; my grandfather is the same way now, and wasn't as early as... five or so years ago. Regardless, I don't agree with it, and I'd be surprised if any of you folks do either. "Life sucks, but death is awesome?" Why not go die, and be happy? Like right now?

...

Yeah, that's what I thought. :| That entire paragraph makes absolutely no sense to me. I haven't played so much D&D I start to believe some of its whacked-out philosophies (re: Cult of Nerull and the Dustmen).


Death is a gift because when you die, you don't go to hell. You don't go anywhere. You're just dead.

There are people who would rather be dead than suffer as they are suffering. The reason they don't take the 'easy way out' is because they believe that if they do, they'll suffer worse. For ever.

So who not go die and be happy, right now? Because death means eternal torment. I don't know enough about the bible to say whether it was God as Jesus or God as YHWY who came up with Hell, but the point of hell is this: In our eternal war, you can't be neutral. You can never find the peace of non-existance. You're either on our side, or you'll be suffering a 'fate worse than death' forever.
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Count Arioch the 28th
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:31 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SirWayne wrote:

Because that would be so terrible, wouldn't it? Rolling Eyes



Yes, it would in fact be terrible. So terrible that burning for eternity in some sort of hell would be preferable than to blame everything that's wrong with this country on homosexuals, to equate women wanting the same pay for the same work as men with infanticide, and to slavishly beleive what some dude in front of a pulpit says just because he's wearing a fancy vestment.



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SirWayne
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:38 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Catharz--

Quote:
There are people who would rather be dead than suffer as they are suffering. The reason they don't take the 'easy way out' is because they believe that if they do, they'll suffer worse. For ever.


That's not really a logical position to take, though, since you're going to die eventually anyway. And if at any point you accept the concept of eternity ("for ever"), then you are obligated to make a choice one way or the other, because eternity is going to last a lot longer than a tortured life on a deathbed-- infinitely longer.

In any event, Twain's point had nothing to do with that; it was about normal life (the "fevered dream of joys and sorrows") contrasted with "sweet and gentle" death. So the question arises: right now, which is better, living or dying? If it's better to die, and you don't believe in eternity; then why not die now and get it done with, like I said? If you don't, then it logically follows that living is the better choice... which was the only point I was making there.

Quote:
Yes, it would in fact be terrible.


Why?

Heh, I see the edit now. >_> OK:

First of all, I'm pretty certain you don't believe that. It's much easier to ignore these people and make snide remarks about them on the Internet than it is to seriously accept being tormented forever.

Two, I'm astonished by the quality of the strawman you managed to build here. I mean,

Quote:
blame everything that's wrong with this country on homosexuals


I have never actually heard this statement, and I'm willing to bet I talk to more religious people than you do. >_> In any event, the Christian belief is that homosexuals are no worse than other adulterers, thieves, murderers, etc.; all are equally depraved and all can be equally forgiven.

Quote:
to equate women wanting the same pay for the same work as men with infanticide


That doesn't even logically follow. Do you mean comparing feminism with abortion? If so, well... duh, the feminist movement has been at the forefront of "abortion rights" (to the point that "killing children" is legally subservient to a "woman's right to choose") from the beginning, even if [as I've heard; not sure if it's true or not] more men than women support it.

And in any event, what does this have to do with Christians? We might think it's better for a mother to "stay at home" with her kids-- which is best for them and has the best odds of leading them to becoming productive members of society rather than criminals (else why do so many come from single-parent homes?)-- but this accusation, like the previous one; is a new one to me.

Quote:
and to slavishly beleive what some dude in front of a pulpit says just because he's wearing a fancy vestment.


Do you "slavishly" believe what a guy in a nice suit on the news tells you?

Typical Christians give their pastor about as much credence as typical Americans give a news anchor-- a trusted source of information to be sure, but if his opinions aren't reasonable or factual, people tend to move on (and churches close and expand at roughly the same rate people switch to and from Fox News, heh).

Christians are just like anyone else-- as a group they have certain beliefs they like to have affirmed, can be skeptical or suspicious toward opposing ideas, and have a certain element of mob psychology and "peer pressure"-- which is both good and bad. The difference is that we tend to eat more fried chicken and are more likely to help people out with food donations and offerings and stuff.

Honestly, your apparent hatred for Christianity based on a handful of extremist opinions that I have frankly never heard is something akin to panning everybody in RPGs because their first experience was with FATAL. It's not an accurate nor a helpful perspective on reality, so why be so adamant in maintaining it?
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Count Arioch the 28th
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:43 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I was editing the post to be more descriptive when you were posting that, you probably didn't see it.
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SirWayne
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:55 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Heh, yeah, I was posting that while you were editing it. I edited in a reply to your edit up there too.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:14 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Count_Arioch_the_28th wrote:
SirWayne wrote:

Because that would be so terrible, wouldn't it? Rolling Eyes



Yes, it would in fact be terrible. So terrible that burning for eternity in some sort of hell would be preferable than to blame everything that's wrong with this country on homosexuals, to equate women wanting the same pay for the same work as men with infanticide, and to slavishly beleive what some dude in front of a pulpit says just because he's wearing a fancy vestment.


To be fair, a lot of Christians believe a lot of crazy things, and being a Christian does not require you to believe all of that.

Christianity (or Islam, or any of the others) at its core contains a logical contradiction. Actually, it contains lots of contradictions, but the point is that you have to believe in things that don't make any sense to believe. You have to believe in A and NOT A at the same time.

You have to believe that there's an all-knowing, all powerful GOD, and you have to believe that you personally have free will at the same time. Heck, you have to believe in a being that has powers unlimited by anything (even its own powers, whatever that means). That doesn't make sense. If you ran into that in a philosophical or legal argument it would invalidate the entire line of inquiry. If you ran into that in science or math, you'd be forced to conclude that one or more premises were false.

---

But the point is, if you can believe A and ~A simultaneously, you can believe anything. And real Christians actually do. There's nothing stopping you from simultaneously believing any of a number of pro-social things simultaneously. You could still trust science, believe in the equality and betterment of humanity, whatever.

Literally whatever, since of course once you accept a contradiction as true you can prove the validiy of any statement using the simplest of logic.

So no, being a Christian doesn't preclude you from holding all of your own opinions and values just as you do now.

It just requires you to have faith in something that precludes logical analysis. Which means that the one thing you can't have with Jesus is reasonable scientific surety. You can have total certainty of course - but that's not the same thing.

I wouldn't do it for all the virgins and harps in the world, but you don't have to do any specific stupid thing you see Christians or Muslims doing on the TV.

-Frank
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Catharz
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:46 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SirWayne wrote:
Catharz--

Quote:
There are people who would rather be dead than suffer as they are suffering. The reason they don't take the 'easy way out' is because they believe that if they do, they'll suffer worse. For ever.


That's not really a logical position to take, though, since you're going to die eventually anyway. And if at any point you accept the concept of eternity ("for ever"), then you are obligated to make a choice one way or the other, because eternity is going to last a lot longer than a tortured life on a deathbed-- infinitely longer.


I must be dense, but I'm not understanding how the quote above doesn't represent a logical position, assuming it represents a position at all.

Let me say what I already said, again, but in more words:

1) There are people who believe in Christianity, and are suffering greatly. These people suffer so greatly they pray for death. I can't come up with any examples, take it as a matter of faith or search for them yourself. If I were a good Christian, I would pray for death every day because Heaven is just that good.

2) However, because they are Christian, they don't kill themselves. They know that if God is merciful and kills them, they go to Heaven, and that if they kill themselves, they go to Hell. And so they suffer.

SirWayne wrote:
In any event, Twain's point had nothing to do with that; it was about normal life (the "fevered dream of joys and sorrows") contrasted with "sweet and gentle" death. So the question arises: right now, which is better, living or dying? If it's better to die, and you don't believe in eternity; then why not die now and get it done with, like I said? If you don't, then it logically follows that living is the better choice... which was the only point I was making there.


I'm not a religious zealot, I like my life and I think the world, in general, is getting better. I also am not suffering from terminal bone cancer, I'm not paralyzed from the nose down, and I have friends and loved ones who would be hurt greatly by my death. So do I want to die? Hell no.

But remember that according to Christianity, "living" is no more a choice than "dying." The choice is follow God and get eternal Paradise, or don't follow God and be tortured forever.

Ever since Eve commited the Orginal Sin, living hasn't been a choice.
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MrWaeseL
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:47 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Your arguments loses any merit for lumping catholics and protestants on a big heap.

Also, I take it you are not religious?
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SirWayne
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 4:45 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Frank (...darn it >_>):

I've heard that argument ("You can't believe in an omni-God and still have free will") at least a hundred times, literally, and I'm really starting to get tired of it, because it's not true.

I'll start with a parallel. Most of us have probably heard that old "God can't create a rock that's too big for Him to lift, and thus isn't omnipotent" line. Which is similar, but has a much easier refutation: no amount of "power" can create something that cannot logically exist, and an infinitely massive rock cannot exist given that infinity is a contentless mathematical concept; ergo the question is invalid-- but you're free a posit a rock of any given size, and I could then answer the question ("Yes").

This one's a lot thornier, so my reply might get long (and this will probably be my last one for awhile-- I have writing to do tonight for another project, and our Christmas vacation starts tomorrow evening and I won't be back until Thursday); I apologize.

Quote:
Heck, you have to believe in a being that has powers unlimited by anything (even its own powers, whatever that means). That doesn't make sense.


You're right, it doesn't make sense. Which is why I [and most Christian apologists] don't seriously believe it. We believe that God is bound by logic, the same as anything else; and theories about Him can be found logical or not just like anything else. So let me get this one on the table: neither the Bible nor myself teaches that God's powers defy logic. He has "all power," but can't do things force cannot do (like make a "squared triangle," another "gotcha!" I've heard before). He is all knowing, but not in the way we might think (I'll get to this next, it's the bulk of the reply, after all). He can perform miracles of circumvention of natural law, but he can't perform "nonsense" in violation of the law of noncontradiction.

With that out of the way, on to important things.

Quote:
You have to believe that there's an all-knowing, all powerful GOD, and you have to believe that you personally have free will at the same time.


OK. You didn't state it, but I've heard this argument enough times that I'm pretty sure what your point is-- If God has all knowledge, then he knows what you're going to do before you do it, and thus you never truly had the free will to do anything else (and if that's wrong, please correct me).

Now-- and this is for everyone else, because I know you already know this, Frank-- the Law of Noncontradiction is the fundamental law of logic, and it basically states that "Something cannot be both itself and something else at the same time and in the same relationship" (or A != not-A). As an example, the statement "I am a Paladin and a Sorcerer" would be contradictory in AD&D, unless you were referring to different timeframes (such as losing your Paladinship and becoming a Fighter, and then dual-classing) or different relationships (you converted your character to 3E where such a build is legal).

The reason why I point that out is because Frank's statement makes a logical assumption that's not correct-- that God's omniscience comes before the decision-making process. On the contrary, God is timeless ("I Am yesterday, today, and forever," Hebrews 13:8)-- a logical state of being for the guy who created the universe (and thus the existence of space-time), and in no way logically impossible, just unproven; which is entirely a different question.

So think about it this way: God knows everything that happens because to Him it has happened and is happening and will happen all at the same "time." To God, existence is kind of like a movie reel-- everything's there, and he can see it; but until He pushes the Play button it hasn't "happened." And we, who are in the movie; can't see anything but the present.

I think God really was surprised when Satan rebelled, and when Adam listened to him instead of God Himself. I believe he really didn't know if Abraham was going to sacrifice his son to God or not until he was ready to do so-- and it was then that God provided a sacrifice, like he had been planning all along. Similarly, I believe when God makes a prophecy that he's not so much making a statement of fact (after all, I don't think it would be very special to prophesy "The Muslims will attack us!" on 9/12/2001) but a promise-- something that he promises to bring about through various circumstances. For example, I also believe that Jesus was born when he was because it was the best time in all history that also fulfilled all those prophecies from Daniel and Isaiah... and it happened because Caesar Augustus wanted more taxes.

"Omniscience" as a concept obviously doesn't appear in the Bible. But when God says he knows "all things" and that "nothing is hidden from him," that in no way requires foreknowledge-- just knowledge, period.

So yes, you do have free will (of a sort-- the human nature is a fallen one, and many people literally don't have the free will to make certain decisions due to disease or weakness (and of course none of us have the "free will" to decide to live forever, heh)). When you write an angry post right here on this forum, God knows... but he knows because you've written it, not before you did. He could have stopped you, sure, just like other factors that God knows in the same way might have (like a power outage), but he didn't, and your free will... er, willed it.

I do have to admit that I don't understand exactly how a timeless being interacts with our world and its continuity, but I do know that it's 1) possible and 2) the best explanation I have, so I continue to believe it. I mean, if I couldn't believe in things I didn't understand; I wouldn't believe in quantum physics or George Bush.

---

I don't know how relevant to the conversation this might be, but it might be interesting, so here you go. I was raised in a Christian household that went to church every Sunday (and sometimes Wednesdays, ech :\), but like many teenagers I was a "doubter" and drifted away for awhile. Early in high school I decided [quite unlike most teenagers, heh] to look into philosophy and theology, and after studying some things [as best I could, heh, it's a bit tough to jump from the Bible to Nietzsche to Critique of Pure Reason when you're 15] I ended up going back to Christianity.

It's pretty simple-- if you accept a truly materialistic worldview, you end up having to take a lot of things on faith, too, and in exchange you get... nothing. If you're right, life sucks and then you die; if you're wrong... well, life sucks when you die. So that coupled with plenty of evidence to suggest intelligent design (even to this day, I haven't heard of a good rebuttal to Behe that didn't involve plenty of uses of the word "assume") led me to look for which God... and once you get there, the Christian one is the best choice.

That's not to say that it doesn't take faith, and that I don't have doubts or regrets-- far from it. But despite years of searching, and debating with people all across the belief spectrum (and with typically more of an open mind than I'd usually get in return, heh :\); that hasn't changed.

---

Catharz--

Quote:
1) There are people who believe in Christianity, and are suffering greatly. These people suffer so greatly they pray for death.


OK, I see now. If it helps, my first response was to Lago's post quoting Mark Twain, who obviously didn't have the Christian perspective on life and death, so I didn't assume one. I also see we've been talking about two different things here... again, just assume my previous posts were talking purely about "temporal life"-- here on earth-- and not assuming an afterlife. Sorry if that was confusing.

As for this line of discussion, though, I think you're a bit off the mark. I mean,

Quote:
Ever since Eve commited the Orginal Sin, living hasn't been a choice.


This isn't true. "Living," as opposed to dying, is a choice that anyone can make as long as they have access to the tools to commit suicide. I mean, let's not overthink this one; my point really was that obvious. *laughs*

Now, I do know people that have prayed for death, but again; that wasn't what Twain was talking about. The Christian belief these days tends to be "acceptance"-- if someone dies, then God wanted to call them "home"; if they made it through, then obviously God still had work for them to do. A bit simplistic, sure, but it reassures the people still alive.

Quote:
If I were a good Christian, I would pray for death every day because Heaven is just that good.


This reminds me of another guy I argued with years back, who went on an absurdist rant about how if Christianity is true children who die before the "age of accountability" to sin go to Heaven, then why not kill them all and not risk them growing up and making the wrong choice?

Of course, the problem with the "Captain Infanticide" approach is that it assumes that all lives are in a vaccuum and affect no one else. If you killed Billy Graham at childbirth-- one man who saved millions-- then you are giving up the chances to win other people while simultaneously ending human existence (which God has a problem with).

Anyway, I said all that to say this (and no, I'm not accusing you of saying anything like the above, heh): Heaven is that good, but it's supposed to be a reward-- something to look forward to to get us through the hard parts of life. Wanting to die instead of living for God as long as you have a choice is wrong (among other things, it's totally against the spirit of the Great Commission).

Quote:
2) However, because they are Christian, they don't kill themselves. They know that if God is merciful and kills them, they go to Heaven, and that if they kill themselves, they go to Hell. And so they suffer.


Like Waesel pointed out, the notion that suicide is a one-way ticket to Hell is a Catholic belief, and not found in the Bible (like most Catholic beliefs, but that's another rant :] ). I do agree that euthanasia isn't a Christian option because it takes away the possibility of God's intervention (I've heard enough stories of "miracle recoveries" against all medical odds to seriously believe that), but if someone is 95 years old and doesn't want to be put on life support to wait for an inevitable decline... I wouldn't begrudge them that choice. But:

Quote:
But remember that according to Christianity, "living" is no more a choice than "dying." The choice is follow God and get eternal Paradise, or don't follow God and be tortured forever.


The question about choosing to follow God or not is only about your afterlife, which will eventually come about no matter what you do (the death rate is 100%, after all). And yes, you basically choose whether to accept Christ's offer of redemption, or not.

I'm starting to lose track of where you were going with this one, Catharz, so let me just wrap it up with a quip I've been using for awhile and see if that helps (probably not, but oh well >_>)-- "The difference between Islam and Christianity is that, while both believe the unsaved are doomed to hell; Christians aren't obsessed with sending you there."

Your eternal destination is between you and God; but for the time being we all have lives on earth to live, which are just as important... just infinitely shorter.
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power_word_wedgie
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:10 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

This is exactly the reason why I worship fbmf. By doing so, I can identify drinks as a free action plus I get a +4 circumstance bonus when hitting on women in bars ...
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RandomCasualty
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:21 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SirWayne wrote:

It's pretty simple-- if you accept a truly materialistic worldview, you end up having to take a lot of things on faith, too, and in exchange you get... nothing. If you're right, life sucks and then you die; if you're wrong... well, life sucks when you die.

Well if you're wrong about christianity you could be pissing off another god by worshipping a false god, and at the very least may be giving up opportunities to enjoy yourself (like premarital sex) simply because the bible says you can't do that and you're striving to get into the imaginary construct of heaven.

Quote:

So that coupled with plenty of evidence to suggest intelligent design (even to this day, I haven't heard of a good rebuttal to Behe that didn't involve plenty of uses of the word "assume") led me to look for which God... and once you get there, the Christian one is the best choice.


Intelligent design is a load of crap. Seriously there's a lot of stuff that just doesn't make sense. If the universe was designed by some superbeing, then why have pointless planets like Pluto or Uranus with nothing on them? Did god simply get bored and create a lifeless, airless wasteland for the hell of it. Why wouldn't there be life on all planets? After all, it was intelligently designed, so why the empty balls of rock or gas?

Why have some people born with mental defects making them sociopaths? Doesn't sound exactly like something an all powerful benevolent god would want to happen.

Intelligent design might make sense if you believed the intelligence behind it was malevolent, as there is plenty of stuff that exists solely to create suffering. Animals eat each other for food, people die of horrible sicknesses and so on. The world is perpetuated by death and pain, seriously, that's not something a benevolent god would create in my eyes.

And why after all would a benevolent god care if you worshipped him or not to the point where he's goign to send you to hell if you dont? Seriously, the guy is all powerful and expects people to worship him with no evidence that he even exists, what sense is that? Yet God is willing to condemn people to eternal suffering because he's unwilling to provide any concrete evidence to people to make an informed decision to worship or not worhsip him. He won't even let us know if he exists and forces people to make a guessing game with thier immortal souls. And yet he calls himself benevolent. Yeah, right.

What's to make the Christian god any more believable than Zeus, Thor or Ra? You can't disprove any of those gods anymore than you can disprove the Christian god, so how do you choose?
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:59 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

But the Book of Revealations is the easiest book of either testament for the non-faithful to accept as literally true.

While the rest of the bible makes a number of claims about history and morality, all that Revealations claims is:

This guy named Paul had a dream and in that dream he saw
Quote:

a great dragon, 4 creatures, trumpets, the whore of babylon, 7 diadems, locusts, the end of the world, an Ingar Bergman film, etc, etc.


Really, that much is pretty easy to accept. Sick
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power_word_wedgie
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:19 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Wow! You're right! Reading it again, it says here that Moses is going to end up president of the NRA.
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SirWayne
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:26 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Looks like this'll be the last one for awhile, so I want to thank you guys for being so civil about it (most religion threads tend to get... inflammatory, heh, most boards I've been to).

Quote:
Seriously there's a lot of stuff that just doesn't make sense. If the universe was designed by some superbeing, then why have pointless planets like Pluto or Uranus with nothing on them?


Assuming that there was a superentity out there with effective omniscience [albeit some bizarre personality quirks], would you say that you were smarter than he is? Or even that there was a possibility that you could be?

The fact is, we as humans are extremely insignificant when compared to the vast universe that we still don't know much about. There could very well be a singular purpose to everything, and it might even be "42," but we will probably never know. And to say that we know better than a theoretical omniscience what's "best" or "most desirable" for the universe is the very height of hubris.

If all of us here were polled about what we'd like to have in our own universe, we'd probably have some radically different opinions [beyond the fundamentals, of course]-- some people prefer everything nice and ordered and their universe would be a cosmic crossword puzzle; others would just make stuff up as they went along and it'd be more like a jigsaw puzzle... if the "pieces" even fit together at all. So making a judgment about this theoretical intelligence's thoughts on design doesn't really say anything at all, because anyone could just as easily counter that as an argument for design... because maybe their ideal universe was one people on one world looking up at a vast-- and empty-- sea of stars. Who knows? Definitely not you or me.

Now, I bring up the subject of God's possible personality quirks for a reason. One thing [among others] really stands out to me in the book of Genesis: it states that God created man out of the dust, not being born as a baby. Assuming that that's true, that means that Adam was created with the appearance but not reality of age. And if that is true, why not create the universe the same way-- with the appearance but not reality of age? And if that's true, it makes sense that there's only life on this one planet-- because that's all God wanted-- and that there would still be "creation" out there, to intrigue people and make them consider the heavens, and from that, God (Psalms 19:1).

Quote:
Intelligent design might make sense if you believed the intelligence behind it was malevolent, as there is plenty of stuff that exists solely to create suffering.


Ahh, the "problem of pain," I was wondering when this one would show up.

OK, first, I want to make sure we can agree on something-- that there are some problems caused by nature, and some problems caused by man. Sort of like the joke [of a sort] of a young Jew and a rabbi talking to each other on the road to a concentration camp; the boy looking at the Nazi savages and asking "How can you believe in God?" and the rabbi answering "How can you believe in man?" Those are two very different kinds of "suffering."

As far as "evil" in nature goes-- animals killing each other and humans being born with disease and so on-- that has to be accepted as a fundamental and logical consequence of God's decision to create a natural cycle to govern our lives, instead of micromanaging everything Himself like a big game of Populous. There is no other alternative-- either God sits back and only intervenes when it is absolutely necessary (if the Hebrews didn't survive to reach Canaan, then obviously Jesus being born in Bethlehem to the tribe of Judah would be a problem)-- or we have no free will because God does everything. If there is an option C, I don't know what it could be.

So, if you accept rain and the water cycle, you accept droughts and deserts. If you accept sexual reproduction, you accept genetic disorders. And if you accept having a multitude of species-- for whatever reason-- you accept them preying on each other, as the only alternative is overpopulation and disaster. It's cold, relentless logic, and at times I don't like it either-- but it is justifiable. I would rather have a world of problems and pain than a world where my house can get dropped into the sea because God really needs to cut off the Devil's horde of Knights and he's out of mana for Earthquake.

And, similarly, evils caused by man are also entirely logical once you accept the existence of free will. Once God allowed us the choice of who to serve, he accepted the possibility that some would reject him in favor of Satan (or themselves-- the sin of pride is the original sin, after all). There's no getting around it-- if we can choose to be saints, we can choose to be sinners, and the only alternative is God smiting people with fire when they choose "wrong," in which case, again, what was the point of having the choice in the first place?

And really, if you think about it, isn't the very fact that you can recognize human evil a fantastic argument for God? You believe that "death and suffering" is bad, why? Why is it bad that animals kill each other, and even worse if we kill each other (I'm assuming you believe that; correct me if I'm wrong... >_>)? You are making judgments here about abstract things: morality, aesthetics ("empty balls of rock" are also bad), and benevolence. Why? How? If we're merely "apes in pants," why do we even have a concept of good and evil (or good and bad, for that matter)? What kind of evolutionary benefit does that serve, and where did it come from?

Quote:
He won't even let us know if he exists and forces people to make a guessing game with thier immortal souls. And yet he calls himself benevolent. Yeah, right.


I answered most of that previously, but I'd like to add that it's not exactly a "guessing game." Contrary to your last paragraph that I'm only a Christian because I was born one (and really, most of the places I've lived have been predominantly Catholic, but I'm not one of those either; and my church has a sizable missionary group from Korea as members... just to get started), I made that decision intellectually, as have a lot of people I've borrowed ideas from in debates like these-- Lee Stroebel, C. S. Lewis, and one of my relatives (who wasn't saved until in his 50s), just offhand. I've got a great collection from Josh McDowell called Evidence That Demands a Verdict that has tons of arguments in it, and... well, among the best evidence I've found is that it tends to be the evolutionists and naturalists that rely on dogmatic assertations and threats (like the uproar in Kansas about wanting to teach intelligent design), not their opponents.

I mean, seriously, has any scientific field had more "problems" with self-supported hoaxes than evolution? I mean, OK, we can both point and laugh at "88 Reasons the World will End in 1988," but what about Piltdown Man, Haeckel's falsified wood carvings, "archeoraptor," etc.? I'm not saying I don't believe in it-- honestly, I don't know-- but it seems like those are things that should really be discussed seriously, not swept under the rug while evolutionists quickly change the subject.

Quote:
What's to make the Christian god any more believable than Zeus, Thor or Ra?


This is a joke, right? Well, just to get us started, I can find Mt. Sinai on an atlas, and book a flight to Bethlehem, but I haven't had much luck seeing the gods on Olympus or going to Asgard....

---

Quote:
This guy named Paul had a dream and in that dream he saw


It was John, but yeah, that's very true. Revelations is extremely symbolic, to the point that I don't think anyone really understands exactly what it means, beyond that it's bad until it gets good again, which I suppose was probably the entire point, heh.
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power_word_wedgie
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:52 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SirWayne wrote:
This is a joke, right? Well, just to get us started, I can find Mt. Sinai on an atlas, and book a flight to Bethlehem, but I haven't had much luck seeing the gods on Olympus or going to Asgard....


So you're planning on seeing the burning bush once you get to Mt. Sinai or seeing the actual cross at Bethlehem? You can actually book a flight to Heaven?

The point is that for both examples (Mt. Sinai and Olympus) you can see the geographic site but you aren't going to see any deity. This doesn't prove or disprove their existance.

If they're god, they should have the power to move (or at the very least make themselves look invisible, right?
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Amethyst_Butterfly
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 8:18 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
In any event, the Christian belief is that homosexuals are no worse than other adulterers, thieves, murderers, etc.; all are equally depraved and all can be equally forgiven.


That, I have a problem with. That makes it sound as if its a crime to be gay. Are you seriously comparing 'being gay' with murderers and other criminals? holy shit!

I think one of the things I "love" about Vocal christians is when they spout off about Sodom and Gomorrah (and the destruction of them), and try to use THAT as part of their anti-gay agenda, as if it has anything to do with homosexuality.

Overall, Christianity holds entirely too much hatred within for me to be appreciative of it. There are many christians that, thankfully, do not hold hate in their heart, but most of the Vocal ones do, yet pretend they don't =( its very sad
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Draco_Argentum
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 8:21 am    Post subject: Re: Did Jesus invent Hell? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

SirWayne: That is the worst explanation of the rock paradox ever. Omnipotence clearly allows you to create a rock you can't lift. Make a big rock, which you can do, and then give up your omnipotence, which you can also do. Problem solved.

Further, as the omnipotent creator he has already decided what your reply to this post is. The exact setup at the beginning of time determines what happens from then on. That is the crux of Frank's arguement about free will. You have not choice because anything you do is something he knows already and could have changed by moving a quark in the beginning.

Intelligent design: I am not aware of any refutation of the coronet developement study. I don't remember the researcher's name but he put together the evolutionary tree of the coronet (musical instrument). This was clearly designed by intelligent beings. However, it bears no resemblance to the tree of life, suggesting that life was not created by an intelligently directed process.

Also while you can refute Zeus' existence by going mountaineering you haven't refuted the basic concept. As an example prove that Belshuran does not live in a massive black hole at the center of the galaxy.
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