YOUR Thoughts and Feelings Are Nothing. Wrong. Bad.

Whew.

I just stumbled across a link to an Answers in Genesis page, and oh boy, it’s ugly.

In an article posted June 6, 2012, Tim Challies asks and answers the question, What Kind of God Would Condemn People to Eternal Torment?

The beginning lays out the question, but in a way that’s almost comical in its intensity:

How can you believe in a God who would condemn people to suffer the torments of hell eternally? I have been asked this question many times and, if you are a Christian, you probably have too. If you haven’t, you would do well to get working on an answer because the question may not be too far off. Hell is no laughing matter, despite cartoons and lampoons to the contrary. In all the world, in all eternity, there are few matters weightier than this one, and to every man and woman there is no issue more urgent.

Gah. My first year of college, I got assigned as a roommate an intense little guy who would pursue me around the room insisting I listen to him about this very subject. I was already well on the path to atheism, but I was totally non-confrontational about it, and did not want to get into a discussion. Bear in mind this was almost 40 years ago, and Texas – a very different time and place for overt atheism.

I had him as a roommate for about two weeks, then went to the dorm counselor and told him frankly the guy was driving me crazy, that I would not be able to live with him. I ended up with three hard-drinking, late-partying roomies who often prevented me from doing my homework and sometimes kept me awake until 3 a.m., but they were STILL better than Lord Lad of the Legion of Christian Superheroes (only DC Comics fans will get that joke).

On what basis can I so strongly and confidently assert the necessity and existence of eternal, conscious torment in hell, even if my heart naturally cries out in rebellion against the thought? Only because God’s Word is clear on the matter. The Bible describes hell as a place where God pours out His wrath on people who have been created in His image (Matthew 10:28; 25:46; Revelation 14:10–11; 20:10–15). God the Father has appointed His Son to be the eternal Judge who will condemn people to hell (Matthew 25:31–34, 25:41; Acts 10:42). This is not momentary or temporary torture dispensed by Satan or his demons, but eternal torment poured out by God Himself. This punishment will be inflicted upon conscious human beings, people who know who they are, what they were, what they have done (Luke 16:22–31).

More than once I’ve wondered what would happen if the Bible were to suddenly disappear from the world. If all these tortured Christian arguments depend on this one book, with no other corroborating arguments or facts … what would happen if you no longer had this book of justification?

It is truly, literally impossible to imagine a worse reality than this one. Yet the Bible, the best of books by the best of authors, the perfect book by the most trustworthy of authors, tells us it is so. If this is His judgment, then anything less wouldn’t be worthy of an infinitely holy, just, and good God.

Who am I to question God? If this infinitely holy and just God declares that hell exists and asserts that hell must exist, then rebellion against His will reveals a failure in my own understanding of justice and goodness. Do I know better than God? Or is it possible that I am far worse than God, infinitely worse, and that I fall woefully short of a complete understanding of God’s goodness and sin’s wickedness? To ask the question is to answer it.

Let me peel that last paragraph apart for you:

Who am I to question God?

God is everything, you are nothing. Stop thinking that you matter, that you can think, that your own personal judgment can possibly be right. Torture is GOOD because God says it is, right there in the His Holy Book. You know, “the best of books by the best of authors.”

If this infinitely holy and just God declares that hell exists and asserts that hell must exist, then rebellion against His will reveals a failure in my own understanding of justice and goodness.

Nothing you think about justice and goodness is right. If torture seems wrong to you, and torture that lasts for hours, for days, for EVER, seems even more wrong, it’s because YOU, little you, are incapable, ridiculously unqualified, to make  such an evaluation. Which means you better listen to what I’m telling you, because if you don’t you will face this same torture. Get it? Burning fucking HELL, fucking FOREVER, if you don’t listen to me.

Do I know better than God? Or is it possible that I am far worse than God, infinitely worse, and that I fall woefully short of a complete understanding of God’s goodness and sin’s wickedness?

You’re bad and stupid. In fact, you’re so bad and stupid you don’t even know how bad and stupid you are.

To ask the question is to answer it.

Sure this conclusion makes no sense to you, but just ride with it, okay? I already told you were you bad and stupid; stop trying to THINK about the subject and just accept what I’m telling you. Otherwise … oy, are you going to be sorry. Burning, screaming. Conscious the whole time. Forever.

But that’s a GOOD thing.

You know, to live in a society alongside people who actually believe insane shit like that, people who think everybody should believe stuff like that …

Well, it sort of explains how some people can work with every fiber of their being to oppose certain good, obvious things — oh, like women’s reproductive rights, or contraceptives, or hell, just basic science.

But it just freaks the hell out of me.

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  • Otrame

    Yep. It was the “best book” that made me an atheist, and the doctrine of hell was one of the major reasons. I was sixteen when I read it.

    It’s funny that this person seems to think that when, as a Christian, you are asked about hell, your answer should be, “torture is good, the Bible tells me so”. Yeah, that will be convincing.

  • ned champlain

    The ponzi scheme continues. Notice there are no quotes from the Old Testament. I guess gentiles were not scared enough to fork over their tithe.
    That said, I don’t believe in talking snakes, I believe man came from the womb of a woman, not woman from the rib of a man and no virgin births. Slavery is wrong, honosexuality is a natural occurance of nature, 1500 species can’t be wrong. Religion is based on dogma that cannot be questioned, therefore cannot be true.

  • Mr.Kosta

    And we’re supposed to be the amoral ones. Gah.

  • ‘Tis Himself

    According to the propaganda Yahweh is a narcissistic, sadistic bully with the emotional maturity of a spoiled six year old. Punishing people forever because he’s in a snit is just an example of his immaturity.

    • kagekiri

      Yup, despite the church always trying to say “God’s ways are higher”, “God is mysterious”, “everything is humans’ fault”, just imagining a human in God’s place in pretty much any Biblical story makes it incredibly obvious how much of an ass he is.

      Job’s story is particularly awful at showing a God anyone in their right mind would respect. Killing your children to win a bet with Satan? Pretending that giving you more children makes up for it? Bragging about how Job is just a human, so he shouldn’t dare to question you? God is scum.

      Even Jesus’ parables make God seem like an ass. “Oh, I’m just a shitty sower who can’t aim; throwing seeds onto a path where they’ll die, that’s not my fault!” Wow, a stunning explanation of how God really does predetermine people going to hell, and shows that he doesn’t really care or take responsibility. “Oh, it’s the luck of the throw!”

      “Oh, I’m a king who magically forgives you without any cost, how can you not forgive others the ‘same’ way?” Except that God did require a cost to forgive us, punished all humanity for one sin, and tries to constantly guilt us for that cost that he required (aka Jesus dying), yet he expects us to forgive without reparations. Talk about obvious double standards.

  • AnyBeth

    Yup. And don’t forget that the same reasoning (or lack thereof) can equally apply to various tortures of the earthly sphere… only those are lesser what being that any life is nothing compared to eternity and we don’t deserve anything good anyway. This can be used for much evil.

    I was in my mid-teens. I came from an abusive background and had recently experienced sexual assault quite outside of that… and all of this was, at best, downplayed by every adult I talked to. A pastor took me aside to talk “with”. He asked me what was wrong. I said I felt like I was utterly worthless …and he told me I was right–and how dare I want to think I might have any worth! He went through the verses about how we can’t trust ourselves, our thoughts, our feelings. The ones about how worthless we are, how evil. The one that talks about God being the potter, and we his creations, the clay; how God makes some vessels to honor, some to dishonor, implying if not saying that I was made to cast upon the floor, broken and left.
    Yes, I believe what that pastor did was evil. And, yes, his words and what he showed me in the supposed holy book we then shared pushed me toward suicide many times. Indeed, it wasn’t until my fortuitous atheism that I didn’t have times of thinking maybe he was right and I really was worthless and even evil.

    Freaky? I don’t think they’re freaky; I think they’re vile.

    • kagekiri

      Eeesh, yeah, I got to the self-hating bullshit all on my own in the church.

      The Bible loves to emphasize our unworthiness, and most of the “feel good” emotions in worship and prayer are thanking God for loving you despite your unworthiness.

      So of course, immersed in that crap that de-emphasizes your ability to do good on your own and emphasizes your inherent evil, I became nihilistic and depressed about my future, and my desperate prayers didn’t change that, because God just wasn’t there. Christianity’s core tenets very nearly killed me.

      The true core of the Bible and Christianity is a whole bundle of self-hatred and insecurity, and I agree, it’s totally vile. Anyone who would actually PUSH that overwhelming feeling of unworthiness on others is utter scum.

      • AnyBeth

        What gets me is that no one that pushes this stuff actually believes it. I mean, someone who actually thought they were inherently evil, utterly worthless and deeply doubted their every thought and feeling would never dare think themselves high enough to be a proper judge of anyone else. I think the ones that really believe it don’t teach it and the ones that teach it don’t really believe it.

  • davidct

    With all this fear of Hell, why aren’t Christians better behaved? They seem to have the sick idea that they have nothing to fear from their bad actions. As long as they believe they will be forgiven and go to the boring place(Christian heaven which is also Viking hell).

    • Kevin

      According to them, it’s belief in Jesus that matters, not your behavior.

      Die with the name “Jesus” on your lips, and you get to go to heaven, even if you’re a baby-eating serial killer.

      Deeds are nothing. No deed is too abhorrent to not be forgiven.

      It’s all about the blood of Jesus. These folks are very big on Jesus’ magic blood and how it saved you. Even baby-eating serial killers.

      Gandhi, however, is rotting in hell.

      All part of the con.

      • RW Ahrens

        That depends upon the specific denomination you belong to. Some believe in good works, others in god’s grace. Another reason why I don’t believe.

        If someone ever reveals a holy book that truly reveal the secrets to the universe and which cannot be interpreted in more than one way, maybe I’ll condescend to read it. Until then, they are all blowing smoke.

    • naturalcynic

      There is one unpardonable sin mentioned in each of the 3 Synoptic Gospels: blaspheming against the Holy Ghost. So screw the Spook.

  • karmakin

    @6. Because they pretty much all share the concept that what you do doesn’t matter. If you belong to the right club or have the right belief or whatever, you’re all good. It’s when those things are not the case that you’re in trouble.

  • Chris

    The awful things they believe about their own God.

  • machintelligence

    If God is such a vile shit, how can any moral person do anything but oppose him?

  • baal

    worthy of an infinitely holy, just, and good God.

    I find single adjectives make meanings muddy. When you string them together like this…it’s a lost cause trying to untangle what meaning is trying to be conveyed.

    I fault religions for teaching that it’s a good thing to stack adjectives and recite meaningless statements. We internalize what we say and our thought patterns get built up through tie-ins and repetition. By saying this meaningless garbage over and over, you stick your brain into a can’t think mode (and as Hank notes, the you’re nothing god is all part reinforces this can’t think mode). By having a lot of adjectives, even more related ideas and thoughts get tied into the can’t think path.

    It’s small wonder that some of the most faithful’s quotes and blog postings are little more than an endless jumble of word salad. That’s all they have in their heads.

  • had3

    Once I realized that I had a superior moral compass to their god (eg, I know slavery is wrong, always, under all conditions), then discarding their god was pretty easy.

  • Randomfactor

    If this infinitely holy and just God declares that hell exists

    That equation doesn’t balance.

  • Steerpike

    So let’s see: GOD created a race of remarkable creatures in His image, gifted with intelligence, curiosity, and appreciation of things like love, beauty and justice. But He also made them to be fundamentally flawed: physically, mentally and spiritually weak, so that almost all of them would fail to live up to His aspirations for them in an eternity of bliss at His side. So then He provided a guide (actually a series of confusing and self-contradictory guides) for us to follow, to help us avoid mistakes and live according to His will. Being omniscient, He knew from the beginning that only a select few would succeed in reaching His side in heaven, so he apparently created the vast majority of the human race for the express purpose of torturing them for ever and ever.

    But to question the morality of this, or even make note of it, is both naive and arrogant, and certain to land one in the torture-me-forever dungeon, just for asking. Got it.

    • rtmillic

      You hit the nail on the head, Steerpike. This sums up exactly my thoughts on the Christian God as it was taught to me.

      Hell was the very first crack in my Christian faith. I reacted viscerally to it as a child, not wanting to believe a just and loving god would torture people. Then I realized we were saved by belief, not by actions, and one’s religion was determined usually by the religion of one’s parents. Therefore, god condemns people to hell largely on geography (so if you’re born in a Muslim country, you’re doomed, or more likely to be doomed than those born in a Christian country.) I also realized that if god is all-knowing, then he knew what decisions we were going to make before we were born, so he wanted us to go to hell. The more I thought about hell, the less sense it made.

      After years of thought and maturity I eventually came to the set of conclusions that you just listed.

    • http://tuibguy.com Mike Haubrich

      Well, he apparently didn’t give a shit about the millions of people who lived and died in the interval between The Fall and the Resurrection. He also didn’t plan very well by having Jesus rise and save everyone in an age of mass communications. How long did it take The Good News to spread from Jerusalem through the rest of the world? Do all of the people who don’t know this story go to Hell for being vile rebellers against something to which they are completely oblivious? That’s the part that makes no sense.

      It is part of the reason that Hector Avalos refers to Salvation as a “scarce resource” in his book Fighting Words.

    • TB

      Put that way, it seems that Earth is just one big Reality TV Contest. I guess we know what the winners watch in Heaven ;)

  • Zinc Avenger

    Why would a just God bestow His creatures with a sense of justice so far removed from His own? You’d think that this wouldn’t even be a question if there were such a God – we wouldn’t have to reconcile the difference between worldly justice and divine justice like that because we’d agree. We’d see incomprehensibly agonizing eternal torture as a good thing.

    • Randomfactor

      Why would a just God bestow His creatures with a sense of justice so far removed from His own?

      According to the fairy tale, once Eve at the Fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, her (and Adam’s) view of such things became like their god’s.

      Since the one we have doesn’t agree with the one portrayed in Christianity, obviously the one in Christianity is wrong, or we’re no longer suffering from the after-effects of the Fall.

      • http://peopleofpublictransport.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

        Or the Fall causes us to have a more developed sense of justice than a deity with the emotional sophistication of a vindictive, omnipotent toddler without a mommy to calm him down.

        Anyone got some more apple?

    • M Walton

      Actually, the morality of the bible seems to match pretty well with the morality of those Iron Age tribalists that wrote it. It just hasn’t kept up with the times…and it is only accepted as literal truth by those that are afraid of modernity.

      When I was, oh, 13-14 (1960 or so in Corpus Christi, TX) I completely baffled the History class I was in by saying that I rejected the bible as an authority on any subject. That left a room full of kids with no way to argue. Who said atheism wasn’t fun!

  • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

    “It is truly, literally impossible to imagine a worse reality than this one.”

    Oh, I don’t know about that. Let’s imagine a place ruled by an immoral sanctimonious prick, we’ll call him God, who demands that you spend eternity with your lips firmly attached to his ass for not sending you to this hell; while muttering ‘thank you, master’ out of the corner of your mouth. Sounds like hell to me, and hard on the knees.

    If you ever try to stop he probably just looks at you and casually says, “You know that time you wanked it over than weird German porn mag but I forgave you? Maybe I’m changing my mind on that(gestures to ass, points at lips).”

    God’s a dick.

    • ajb47

      I was going to point out that line, too. It’s actually quite easy to imagine a worse reality than this. One where Abraham’s god did exist would be far worse than this.

    • Brownian

      It’s rare, but once in awhile I encounter a commenter who argues and writes in the style that I like to think I do, but does so much better and funnier than I. I’d be more jealous if I weren’t so busy laughing.

      So, thanks usingreason, and go to hell.

      • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

        Thank you sir. I will look you up when I get there as I believe a few like minded individuals could probably engineer a hostile takeover of an obviously corrupt power structure. Once in charge, the sky is the limit; item 1, turn down the heat a tad.

        Then we start a BBQ restaurant.

        Note to self; make sure you have all rub and sauce recipes thoroughly memorized before something bad happens.

        • Brownian

          Oh, no need to worry about the heat. I was just kidding about going to hell. There’s no one there.

          Consider these points:

          1: Heaven has an army. Angels, flaming swords, non-iron chariots, all that. And what is an army for but to defend that which needs to be defended from enemies, external or internal? So heaven is vulnerable.

          2: Hell is full of history’s most tactical masterminds. Alexander, Hannibal, Sun Wu, they’re all there. And if the stories of hell are true, they don’t want to be.

          3: Hell is the worst possible punishment God could come up with. He’s got nothing worse. So what possible deterrent could there be against trying to break out of hell and overthrow heaven? Try and fail, you’re no worse off than if you hadn’t tried at all. You’re still in hell. And if at first you don’t succeed, there’s always tomorrow.

          4: Heaven and hell are both eternal. Infinite in time. If something has a non-zero probability of happening, given an infinite amount of time in which to happen, it will.

          5: Nobody’s heard from God in a long time. Generations ago he was meddling in the day-to-day affairs of mortals, smiting this city, turning that one into a pillar of salt. These days he seems to have turned off his cellphone ringer and didn’t even bother to set his out-of-office email autoresponder.

          Therefore, the inescapable conclusion is not just that heaven will be overthrown by the denizens of hell, it’s highly likely that it’s already happened, and the God that Christians pray to is just a head on a pike.

          All of that notwithstanding, I love the idea of a BBQ joint in the afterlife. I just hope we can get set up while angels’ wings are still plentiful enough that we can charge a reasonable mark-up.

          I wonder if they carry salmonella.

          • RW Ahrens

            +100

            Best post I’ve seen in a while!

          • busterggi

            Just make sure you cook them to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit for at least five minutes and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

          • docsarvis

            I agree with RW Ahrens. This post is so good I bookmarked it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

            Are you trying to tell me that some sneaky bastard has already staged a coup? Sonofabitch. Plan B was always to go Catholic and repent on my deathbed but I’ve never much cared for it; the planning required to have enough time for the one monster confession has always concerned me. I guess I’ll just have to focus on having a rock star skill set that the current overlord will absolutely need. Not a small thing when considering the illustrious company I’ll be in. I just hope it’s not George Carlin cause I don’t think I can hang with him in the humor arena.

          • http://tuibguy.com Mike Haubrich

            If that hasn’t happened yet, we should organize the Union of Tortured Souls, Local #666 and stage a wildcat strike until we can present our demands.

          • http://blog.luigiscorner.com Azel

            Your post made me think of two things:

            One, it’s illogical for Satan to torture Hell’s denizens: you have an army of tactical and strategic geniuses ready to help you storm Heaven if only you get them out of here and you’ll torture them ? That doesn’t make sense at all.

            Two, the takeover took place millennia ago, almost surely even before Jesus got down (or just after, possibly when he was down there). Because during the untold millennia between the Fall and the Resurrection, no one got into Heaven, so Heaven got no additional defenders whereas Hell’s armies got new soldiers, staff members, tacticians, commanders, smithes…

            Eh, that made me think of an alternative interpretation for Jesus’s words in Mark 15:34: his father didn’t forsake him, he just got axed, that’s all. And his resurrection and subsequent ascension was just Satan screwing with him.

          • alexharman

            Reminds me of the joke about the civil engineer who ends up in Hell. Having had a look around, he goes to the boss and says, “You know, we could do some things to make this place more comfortable.” And Satan replies that he got sent there involuntarily himself, and would be happy to see some improvements. Fast-forward to an indefinite time later (time gets hazy in an eternal setting): the River Styx has been dammed, the fires of Hell either doused or harnessed as an energy source, and parts of the place are beginning to look a lot like Heaven. Satan decides to call up God and gloat a bit about all the things his Chief Engineer has achieved.

            God checks over his lists and realized the engineer wasn’t supposed to end up in Hell at all, and demands him back — but he’s having way too much fun renovating Hell to want to go off to a place where there’s no real work for him to do. God says, “Oh yeah? I’m going to sue.” And Satan grins and asks Him, “Really? And where, pray tell, are you going to find a lawyer?”

            Your concept is also reminiscent of a work of on-line fiction called The Salvation War.

  • Ryan Jean

    ‘Tis Himself: “According to the propaganda Yahweh is a narcissistic, sadistic bully with the emotional maturity of a spoiled six year old. Punishing people forever because he’s in a snit is just an example of his immaturity.

    had3: “Once I realized that I had a superior moral compass to their god (eg, I know slavery is wrong, always, under all conditions), then discarding their god was pretty easy.

    Just last week I had a rather amusing chat that culminated with things similar to the above, as well as the sudden realization that this is a perfect explanation for that quirky Mormon belief of becoming a god and getting your own universe to rule. If any god exists maybe they’re just an insufferable, juvenile-minded righteous person from another reality, thus explaining why Yahweh clearly has so much growing up left to do…

  • steve oberski

    More than once I’ve wondered what would happen if the Bible were to suddenly disappear from the world.

    The movie The Book of Eli did a really bad job of trying to answer that question.

  • F

    The Bible describes hell as a place where God pours out His wrath on people who have been created in His image

    Oh, I’m sorry. I thought that was Earth.

  • grumpyoldfart

    I sometimes pretend I’m quoting the bible and make up really horrible stories – and unwitting Christians will nod their heads and say, “See, see, that’s the wonderful thing about Jesus…” There is no limit to their gullibility nor their callous disregard for others.

    • Monimonika

      Can you give an example of such a story? I’d like to know what kind of morals the gullible Christians you talked to had.

  • ik

    I just realized.

    If they truly are so perfectly uncritical of God, might the next dispensation lead them to bow to God incarnate in some human vessel? A vessel which would be ruled by the sane and loving for the greater good?

  • machintelligence

    Nehemiah Scudder seems more likely. http://issuepedia.org/Nehemiah_Scudder

  • Kirsh

    All of you will end-up to hell if you’ll continue being an atheist. Believe in Jesus. Do not try to comprehend all things with your own point of view… God bless you.

    • Bob Jase

      “All of you will end-up to hell ”

      “God bless you”

      Nope, no cognitive disassociation here.


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