Is Hell perfect?

perfecthellWe are told that God is perfect. Let’s assume it’s true and do a thought experiment. Imagine the creator god of another universe who was starting from scratch creating his universe. And imagine this second god was perfect. Furthermore assume that this second perfect creator god was going to create sentient beings capable of worship but also having the free will to reject this second perfect creator god.

Now, ask yourself this:

What if the sentient worshipful beings failed to live up to the standards of this second perfect creator god? Is this second perfect creator god obliged by his perfection to create Hell?

The obvious answer is yes because perfection is a standard upon which there can be no deviation. 2 perfect beings must necessarily perform equivalent activities. Otherwise one would be slightly less than perfect. Of any specific endeavor, only one approach can be perfect.

There couldn’t be a better system of judgment than an eternal torture chamber for those who disbelieve? I’m not perfect but I can see very clearly that this is a less than perfect system. This system as defined doesn’t even try to have redeeming qualities. It’s merely unjust punishment. Is this the best a perfect god can come up with?


Were there carnivorous plants before Noah’s flood?

vftAsk Ken Ham or Creation Ministries about life before Noah’s flood and they’ll tell you that all life was vegetarian. It was only after their sin that animals would kill each other to survive and eat.

But what about carnivorous plants? There are about 600 species of carnivorous plants according to scientists. But they specifically eat animals. They aren’t vegetarian themselves. So what did they eat before the fall?

It’s funny to listen to creationists tying themselves in knots trying to explain these issues. A funny one is why lions have sharp teeth when all they ate were plants. I never doubt they’ll have an explanation though. Let me go look. Be right back.

Wow I couldn’t find anything about it. Maybe Ken Ham didn’t think of carnivorous plants. I’ll assume that the devil made the carnivorous plants after the fall. He seems to take the blame for the gaps in God’s plan.

PS…Ok on further searching I found one article on it. It sounds like they didn’t need to eat yet until the fall, if I’m reading this right:

“The Venus flytrap raises the broader question relating to the period of time before the Fall of Man: For how long was the animal kingdom, and insectivorous plants in particular, vegetarian? Creationists are generally inclined to think that it may have been as little as a few weeks, perhaps a year at most. The Scripture is read as a continuing narrative and it is assumed that the temptation in the Garden took place almost immediately after the creation of Eve. Further, there is no mention of any children and, making the unsaid assumption that the relationship between Adam and Eve was the same as would be expected today between a naked couple in paradise, it is argued that the Fall took place not more than a month or so after the creation of Eve. We need to return to the Scripture to get a better estimate of the more probable time interval.”

‘God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq’

Hearing-God-400x400I get pretty nervous when I hear politicians talking about what they heard from God. It’s really sad we can’t use the scientific method in religion. It would be so easy to disprove these words from God. Here’s how you could do the experiment. Get any number of believers in a room who said they got a word from God and as soon as any of them disagree on a specific point, you can determine that one of them isn’t hearing from God. Or when one of them claims that God told him/her to run for president and they are one of the earliest candidates to drop out, you can at least infer a possibility that they weren’t hearing from God. Or maybe God wanted them to get bigger speaking fees or a show on Fox. In that case maybe he did tell them to run.

So today I happened across this video with Ted Cruz’s father Rafael Cruz and megachurch pastor Kenneth Copeland. Rafael was recalling the events preceding the decision for Ted to run for president. It was a 2 hour marathon prayer session wherein Ted’s wife heard the voice of God. See the details below.

He said that after the church service, the family gathered in the pastor’s office. There, they spent two hours “on their knees” in prayer before the senator’s wife said something that triggered the final decision.

“I remember the final word came from Ted’s wife, from Heidi, and the word from the Lord was, ‘Seek My face, not My hand,'” Cruz said. “And I’ll tell you, as that word came—’Seek My face, not My hand’—it was as if a cloud of the Holy Spirit descended on that room. And all of a sudden we were all worshiping.

“And the words that came out from Ted’s mouth were, ‘Here am I, Lord, use me. Let Your will be done.’ It was total brokenness, and I’ll tell you, I believe that God has raised him up for such a time as this.”

Now, in Ted’s defense, he didn’t say he heard the “word from the Lord” but he was certainly an active participant in this prayer meeting. He’s also clearly a very intelligent man who knows that even in a vastly Christian country like the US, people get nervous when candidates claim to be hearing voices.

I’ve been around believers my whole life and I know most of them can distinguish where the natural world ends and the supernatural world begins at least in their daily activities. They can successfully navigate the world, hold jobs, etc. But in my mind the risk has to be taken into account in the voting booth as to whether this new president is going to act in a way that is deleterious to our country “because God told him to.” Believers definitely do think they are hearing from God in some manner, even if not audibly.

Case in point: George W Bush had a revelation from God about the war in Iraq. Apparently God was fully on board with this debacle. In the interim we have learned what a disaster that war has been to the security and stability of the United States. There is a real case to be made that we have destabilized that region, empowered Isis to fill the vacuum, empowered Iran by empowering the Shia majority in Iraq, and put our nation on a disastrous financial footing. So Jeb Bush’s ridiculous answer (about knowing what we now know he would still go to war with Iraq)notwithstanding, was God the best foreign policy advisor President Bush had at that time? George W Bush was asked by Bob Woodward at the time if he had gotten advice from his earthly father George HW Bush and famously responded that he had a “higher father that I appeal to.”

Another telling sign of Mr Bush’s religion was his answer to Mr Woodward’s question on whether he had asked his father – the former president who refused to launch a full-scale invasion of Iraq after driving Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991 – for advice on what to do.

The current President replied that his earthly father was “the wrong father to appeal to for advice … there is a higher father that I appeal to”.

So my concern isn’t merely that we have a believer in the White House. Every president we have had at least claimed to be a Christian. My concern is for the true believers who are acting with the largest economy and military in the world acting on God’s behalf. Because I’m not voting for God’s foreign policy. He’s got a pretty piss poor track record.

Is this the hand of God?

309f184700000578-3419473-image-a-157_1453913928872No. It’s a cloud formation at sunset.

Believers want to have their cake and eat it too when it comes to God. On one hand they see the vastness of the universe or the beauty of the world and nature and attribute it to an ultimate creator. He’s all knowing, all powerful, all seeing. And on the other hand, he’s a giant human being in the sky. He has a red glowing fist apparently threatening us (as in the photo). Or maybe he’s a big giant hand in a star cluster.

We know from the Bible that God can come down and eat dinner with Abraham (Genesis 18). He can carve the 10 commandments into stone with his finger (Exodus 20) – twice (Exodus 34). He can smell our animal sacrifices to him (Genesis 8:21). He sits on a throne in heaven (Psalms 47:8). You can infer he has a penis based on the fact that we are calling God ‘him’. He even has a son so he’s a father.

Many atheists pride themselves with saying things like (like in this exchange), “I don’t know there’s no God. I just haven’t seen any evidence to prove there is one.” But I go further than that. I know there is no god because the concept itself is very obviously a human concoction. And I base my assertion on the evidence. I am only told the characteristics of these gods by other people and their supposed holy books. He never seems to manifest himself in a measurable, testable way. As with all magicians’ tricks, the more you examine it, the less magical and more natural it becomes.

In the past, the gods all had jobs to do – grow crops, make it rain, make the sun rise, make a woman fertile, etc. Then some humans decided there were too many gods so we narrowed it down to one God. He’s the ultimate God. He’s so tough if you go against him he punishes you in a ridiculously powerful and unjust way – forever!

I don’t have all the answers when it comes to why we are here or how we got here. There is still a lot to learn about the universe and origins but the simplest and dumbest answer is: “God’s a lot like us – only bigger, better, stronger and smarter! Oh and angrier!”

So when you see a big cloud formation that looks like a fist, go ahead and call it your God. But just realize in doing so, you are making my case and simultaneously denigrating your own.

What if God is not good but an evil sadist?

drownWhat do we really know about God? For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the Bible is 100% accurate in it’s depiction. We know from experience that God as a person is outside the domain of the natural world insofar as we cannot run experiments for God and get reproducible results the way we can in other scientific investigations.

Because of the gap in the depictions of God in the Bible and our scientific ignorance of his persona, it’s can be interesting to do thought experiments guessing about his persona.

A discussion with a believer usually describes a God of love and mercy and justice. However, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to dispute those characterizations simply by reading the Bible. There are literally millions of sanctioned murders in it’s pages.

What if the Bible is true but we have ascribed a more beneficent persona to God than he deserves? What if God is evil and a sadist? What if he enjoys watching the suffering of his created creatures? Suddenly the so-called problem of evil goes away. What if God created Noah’s flood because he found it appealing to watch not just nearly every human on earth but every land animal drown? What if he enjoyed watching Job suffer with the deaths of his family and with a body covered in boils? What if he loved watching the skin melt off of his victims in Sodom and Gomorra? What if even now, he loves to torment his creatures with suffering and diseases the same way a vicious child might enjoy tearing the wings off of a fly?

Granted, any believer might find these very questions themselves to be horrifying and disrespectful and unfounded. But this is a thought experiment. And the experimenter is encouraged to presuppose an evil sadistic God and then read the Bible with the presupposition in mind. After all, isn’t that what the believer does in reverse? First, they presuppose the existence of their deity and subsequently presuppose benevolence of that deity. It is with that in mind that they open up their Bible and begin reading. It is in this context that they condone slavery and genocide within its pages.

Finally, ponder God’s ultimate infatuation with torture – Hell. Hell goes way beyond any justice by any conceivable human measure. It’s the ultimate betrayal of beneficence. It’s hard to imagine any other motivation for such a ridiculously vicious punishment than sadism.

Furthermore, what if God’s adherents are the ultimate masochists? You hear it in their terminology. They willingly call themselves “sheep”. They constantly discuss falling on their faces before him. They forgive every immorality in the Bible. They have no qualms about the injustice he will visit upon humanity who do not accept him. What if they also secretly behold their own sadism in supporting this tyrant who would boil his creation for eternity?

Remember that if the Bible and it’s adherents are true and right, God could have created the world and beyond in any way he wished. What if, horrifyingly, that’s exactly what he did?

Is it too late to write a new Holy Book?

new_bookThe more science we discover, the less reliable our Holy Books are becoming. Yeah sure we can try to square the circle and say that science and religion go together like peanut butter and jelly. But do they really?

The 6 day Genesis account of the creation of the earth, moon and stars conflicts markedly from the creation account given to us by scientists. Granted science hasn’t yet discovered everything about the beginning of our universe but it has discovered a very old universe.

The timeline in the Bible implies a 6,000 year old universe which is conflicted in every way possible by the evidence we see in scientific discovery.

The instantaneous creation of creatures does not account whatsoever for the distribution of animals around the world. For example, the differences in species on islands makes complete sense given evolution and no sense given the Noah’s ark hypothesis.

Noah’s ark is clearly a fairy tale that left none of the evidence we would expect to see in the fossil record and in geological formations, not to mention genetic variability in animals.

The story of Joshua claiming that the sun and moon stopped in earth’s sky is impossible and makes no sense given what we know about the solar system and planetary orbits. The sun can’t stop in the sky. The earth would have to stop rotating (and then subsequently restart). Also, the moon would fall to earth if it wasn’t rotating around the earth.

Stars falling to earth is an impossibility that only a primitive person (as is written in the sayings of Jesus) could imagine. They thought the stars were just dots in the dome of the sky around earth. The Bible writers had no idea the relative size of stars compared to the earth.

So let’s get real. Either the God of the Bible (Yawheh) is a trickster who puts evidence around us directly conflicting with “His Word” to test our faith or it was written with the limited scientific knowledge of the human writer at that time. So let’s have a thought experiment. Let’s assume there is a God who created the universe. Think about how he might do it. Would he build it and then constantly tinker inside of it? Or would he setup the mechanisms where it runs on it’s own and creates new stars, planets and solar systems? What the evidence shows is that there are various laws of physics that guide matter to form galaxies including stars and planets. And the mechanism of evolution is also part of a biological law of change and adaptation. Science is telling us a very detailed and robust story of a universe that can be mostly understood to be acting in accordance with the laws of physics. Yes there are gaps in our knowledge but what we know so far contradicts all of the ancient holy books.

It seems to me that humans are discovering the universe around them but still looking at the various Holy Books their parents told them were true and assuming they are the only Holy Books possible. One might say I’ll pick the Quaran. One says I’ll pick the Bible. Another says I’ll pick the Book of Mormon. And a few say they’ll pick Dianetics. We are choosing from the books we already have but obviously they don’t match the evidence of the world we see in front of us. The real God needs to dictate a new book to humanity. And that new book needs to reflect the universe and the world exactly as we see it. Only then can we start believing in Him and stop forcing the universe to fit into the teachings of a false book. Clearly the gods of the current Holy Books are false gods.

Can’t we all agree to accept what we see before us and stop lying to protect our Gods and Holy Books? After all, if there are god(s) and they set all this in motion, they did it for a reason and didn’t intend for us to deny their handiwork.

Why do we deserve hell for sinning?

god-will-give-me-justiceOne of the most popular themes in Christianity is that we are all filthy sinners deserving of death and hell and it’s only by God’s grace that we can be saved. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) and “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6)

In addition to our conscience, humans and even animals appear to have a built in concept of justice. So on reflection, it’s clear that this doctrine of eternal punishment for sin is really unjust.

According to the Bible, Adam and Eve were the first humans and also the first sinners (after Satan and his minions). According to most forms of Christianity, all humans from that point forward were born with Original Sin. They are tainted sinners with essentially no capacity to completely resist sinning. There was one person born of a woman who was able to resist sinning and of course that was Jesus. It has been fairly common dogma in the church that Original Sin is passed down in the semen (as St. Augustine described) and therefore Jesus was able to be born without Original Sin. But we are also told that Jesus was tempted in every way essentially and yet still resisted sinning (Hebrews 4:15).

So where does that leave us as humans? Well, we can infer from the evidence that the only person capable of resisting sin was not only born without Original Sin but was also God himself according to trinitarianism. Seems like an unfair advantage to me.

Is sin a valid standard by which humanity should be judged? As an analogy, imagine a dictator whose son was the best pole vaulter in the world. He had achieved the world record in pole vaulting. The dictator ordered that everyone he chose would get a chance to do a pole vault and if they didn’t match or exceed the world record, they were going to be thrown into prison for the rest of their lives. No matter how eager each person was to achieve this feat and avoid the punishment, they were unable. Thus if he chose them to attempt the pole vaulting feat, he was essentially automatically choosing them to face punishment because the task was impossible.

Christians will be quick to point out that all we have to do is believe on Jesus and we’ll be saved (and we are to believe on really flimsy evidence). But that’s as far as the grace goes. Jesus himself said that the path to Heaven is narrow. So according to Christian doctrine, almost all humans who ever lived will be tortured eternally for their crimes. Namely sin. Something that by God’s own creation is impossible to avoid.

Christopher Hitchens said it best about this doctrine (quoting Cardinal Newman), “God created us sick and commands us to be well.

The analogy above about the pole vaulting contest is inadequate as a comparison. At least with the dictator, a person can die to escape the punishment. Not so with the dictator God. A person can never escape. Oh what a monstrous scenario this God has created. I often wonder why we need a Devil when we have this God. Thank God he doesn’t exist.