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Is There a Fate Worse Than Death? December 29, 2010

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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8 comments

I heard the phrase “fate worse than death” on an unrelated YouTube video, and it got me thinking about the topic. For humans, we know that we will all die one day. Of course, there are many who believe, or at least hope, that there is some kind of life after death. These beliefs are all over the map in terms of details, but they are quite popular. I don’t even have to wonder why this is the case, as I myself do not want my life to end. Or, so I say.

My personal belief is that when we die, we revert back to the same state we were in prior to conception. Which is my way of describing to others the state I believe I will be in; that of non-existence, and with no ability to recognize or acknowledge my existence. Before the egg and sperm united that created me, I was not, nor was I even intended. I was a rather rare luck of the draw, so to speak. And so it will be, I presume, after I die. But for some, there is a fate even worse if one considers death to be a bad thing.

Christianity claims that those who do not get accepted into heaven will be doomed to Hell. And Hell is described in most sects as an eternal lake of fire, or an eternal burning, gnashing of teeth, etc. Sounds awful to me. Yes, it sounds far worse to me than being a corpse, even if my body were cremated, the burning stops once the fuel (my body) is consumed. But Hell is an eternal burning of my body, while I am aware and alive, and while I can always feel the burning! This sounds horrific. To be fair, not all Christians believe in this type of Hell.

But, no matter how I look at it, if rejecting God, Jesus, or Christianity is going to land me in this awful place, this fate, then I don’t see any way to call Christianity a loving or peaceful religion. I don’t see how I have been given the “free will” to accept or reject this god, if this punishment exists. There is nothing more evil and despicable in my book. As a parent, I would never hold a punishment so severe over my children, for any reason. It is simply not necessary. However, I hold no delusion that fear is not the greatest motivator for most humans. And if Hell is real, it has certainly scared many people enough to keep them at least pretending to believe.

I know there are Christians who will say that the love of Jesus and the promise of Heaven are far greater rewards, and that this is the reason they choose to accept Jesus. But those same people refuse to renounce the punishment of Hell. In other words, they claim that they are not afraid of Hell, because they believe, but they simultaneously claim that we have a choice to believe or not. So, if I don’t believe, they prefer to claim that I don’t want to be in Heaven, or to accept Jesus as my savior. And they believe that it is always my choice to believe, or go to Hell.

If there are in fact only two fates, Heaven or Hell, then the only rational choice, according to believers, is to believe! It never occurs to many of them that a reward alone should be enough to gain believers. It never occurs to some of them that the reward of eternal life would still work for most believers, and that NOT making it to Heaven is punishment enough. Why add Hell to the mix at all? Well, if you’re a god like the one in The Bible, you can add Hell as the ultimate punishment, thereby cutting off all options and choices for everyone. What choice does anyone actually have if the reward and punishment are equally eternal, and at polar opposities in terms of fate?

I do not want to die. But then again, do I really want to live forever? We’ve all seen enough fictional movies to see where eternal life could get awfully boring. For me, Heaven is a human idea designed to ease the finality of death. You don’t come back, as they say. And if that’s what it takes for many humans to accept the finality of death, that’s OK with me. I know I have one shot. And I know it is relatively short.

I can say that at this point in my life, I am happier than I have ever been with the knowledge that I was able to be so lucky to be here, and that I was able to experience the love of my family and my children. I want to be there for my youngest son, and for my grand-children, but I know that I cannot be here forever. That makes everything I am doing right now even more important. It makes me want to be as kind and helpful as I possibly can. It makes me want to share my knowledge, help others in need, and smile a lot more.

But what do I know, I’m just a godless heathen!

The Young Versus the Old December 24, 2010

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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2 comments

I’m talking about our planet earth, and it’s age. How old is the earth anyway? According to science, our planet is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Within the scientific community, there really is no debate worth considering over this, as the facts and evidence to support this estimate are well documented and tested.

On the other hand, there are many people, especially in the United States, who believe that our planet is somewhere between six to ten thousand years old. The scale of difference between 4.5 billon and 6 thousand is not even worth writing down (.0000013). Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

So why do people believe this young and very absurd age? Because they were told that the biblical story of Genesis pinpoints the beginning of the earth, God’s creation, at about 6,000 years ago. That’s it. God did it, they believe it, end of story. Science be damned, they say. Although, to be fair, I think that most of these people just don’t want to challenge religious doctrine, or biblical stories.

But this also poses what I consider a serious problem for Christians who hold either the young earth or old earth position. Yes, there are Christians who reject the young earth idea, and adopt an old earth version of creation, which they somehow have decided matches very well with science. Go figure. The problem is that only one of these positions can be true, and Christians do not agree with each other.

So, what if Genesis is just a metaphor for how God created the earth, and science has it about right? Well, Christians still get to believe that God did all of this work, and they can rest easy knowing that science is finally catching up to the truth of God’s creation. But if they believe the rigid accounting from The Bible as accurate, then they must hold that the earth is much younger than science thinks it is. This of course creates all sorts of problems for scientists if it is true, but whatever.

One thing I would like to add to this is the fact that I personally know Christians on both sides of this issue. And when I challenged them to this obvious difference, I was astounded to hear them both agree that this difference in no way affects their salvation! What? Seriously? Apparently I am supposed to sit back in awe of Christian knowledge of scripture and science catching up to scripture, and just ignore this magnanimous, blunderingly sad excuse for an explanation?

Christianity holds that accepting Jesus is the way to eternal life and salvation after we die, as well as the horrific fiery torture and burning in hell for not believing. So when people like myself want to find out why we should accept Jesus as our savior, we are expected to suspend all critical thinking and only be concerned with salvation? Is that it, really? And if this is true, then I ask this simple question:

Why do Christians care about anything in scripture that does not speak directly to the faith-based acceptance of Jesus for one’s salvation? And please don’t try to tell me that every word in scripture matters, if you can’t agree on how old the earth is based on scripture.