Can’t Christians Just Admit Anne Frank is in Hell?

Christian Rachel Held Evans asked a simple question on her site — one that’s been bugging her since childhood: Did Anne Frank go to hell?

This was the question that first drew my attention to a little crack in the Christian worldview wall, back when I was just twelve or thirteen years old. That crack would only grow bigger and more troublesome over time, until I was finally forced to consider the possibility that maybe it represented a serious foundation issue.

Sure enough, the walls fell down, the foundation crumbled, and I was left alone and trembling in a desperate state of faith, exposed to all the elements. Now I’m busy trying to rebuild, one brick at a time.

Here’s the answer: If you’re a Bible-believing Christian, then (Jewish) Anne Frank is burning in hell.

It’s an easy answer if you believe what the Bible says. Which I thought Christians did…

But the Christians commenting on Rachel’s site are trying oh-so-hard to avoid saying something that wouldn’t be politically correct:

Can I say for certain she is “burning in hell?” No because I am not God.

How do I answer this (very difficult) question?

By saying that God is good and wise, just and merciful. Full stop.

Whatever He decides is right. He knows and does what is best and good. And if it doesn’t seem that way to us, then we are the one’s who have to change our perspective. So if Anne Frank is in hell, it is because that is what was right and good. I’m hoping she isn’t.

For my own part, I’ll say this. Yeah, like many have mentioned, I don’t know for sure, about Anne Frank or any other person. That said, it’s much more likely that she is in heaven

I don’t get why so many self-professed Christians can’t be honest about their beliefs.

If their beliefs are true, Anne Frank is in hell. She was Jewish. She didn’t “accept Christ in her heart.” She’s still burning as we speak.

It’s cowardly to say, “Well, we don’t know.”

Ask those same people: “Is Hitler in hell?” and they’ll give you a definite answer: Yes. At least you won’t hear many pastors saying, “Sure, Hitler could be in heaven… he might have accepted Jesus at the end of his life.”

Can’t Christians just be honest about their horrific beliefs?

It seems like they’d rather let the cognitive dissonance drive them crazy.

I don’t get the equivocation with their answers.

If you’re Christian, you think Anne Frank went to hell. If you don’t, you’re not a Bible-believing Christian. But you can’t have it both ways.

At least atheists can be honest with our answers regarding death.

Where is Anne Frank? She’s buried somewhere in the ground. Her “soul” didn’t go anywhere. She’s not in heaven or hell because those places don’t exist.

See? Honesty. It’s easy.

  • amey

    Well, I think she’s in LDS heaven, if you ask the LDS. She was baptized by them posthumously. I think there’s a special place for her as a child/unwed. She might not get into the super special heaven they have because she didn’t have a husband to bring her there.

  • http://www.twistedconfessions.com Lxndr

    Given that Hitler was a professed Christian, shouldn’t he be in heaven – in much the same way Anne Frank would be in hell?

    I mean, if we follow their beliefs to their inevitable conclusions.

  • http://www.youtube.com/aajoeyjo Joe Zamecki

    Whenever I find a Christian who’s being wishy-washy about who’s going to hell, I ask them to discover a book called the Bible. Then I call them Christian agnostics.

    Then I feel better knowing that the only reason why Christians don’t want to commit to good people being burned in hell is that they are ALSO good people. Most Christians are good people saddled with a bad religion.

    I sure do love this question though! It makes people think. Just be sure they know ahead of time who Anne Frank was. And that the Nazis were and still are Christians!

  • http://www.tos100.com TOS100

    They must also acknowledge that Jeffrey Dahmer could very well be in heaven.

    According to what I’ve read, he became a born-again christian and was forgiven just weeks before he was murdered in prison.

  • Nick

    Just wanna point out that that is only a Protestant perspective. Catholicism had gotten to the point where it is pretty accepting of other faiths. A Catholic would not doubt that an innocent girl that was murdered is in Heaven, regardless of her belief system

  • Christi

    If Christians say she is in Heaven, that means it’s possible for us heathens to wind up in Heaven too, as long as we lead good lives.

    I bet they won’t admit that, though.

  • Hazor

    If you’re Christian, you think Anne Frank went to hell. If you don’t, you’re not a Bible-believing Christian. But you can’t have it both ways.

    I don’t think it would have been mistaken or in poor taste to add to this the part about Hitler being in heaven.

  • liz

    i’ve heard christians say things like, “well, at least jewish people believe in the same god as us, that’s a plus”

    stupid…just stupid

  • JD

    There are Christians that would say Anne Frank is in hell if she didn’t convert from Judiasm before she died.

    Christian beliefs are generally such that that someone can “accept Jesus” any time up until death and still be forgiven of their sins and saved.

  • Grimalkin

    @Lxndr – Whether works get one into heaven, divine grace, or simply believing the right stuff is a point of much contention among Christians.

    In other words, Christianity is vague as to whether Hitler is in heaven or hell, but Anne Frank is definitely, absolutely, positively in hell.

    Hoorah for religion!

  • Chris Ho-Stuart

    Gotta stick up for the Christians here… Christian beliefs are diverse. Some of the answers you are getting almost certainly ARE honest.

    The bible is a book with plenty of ambiguity, and incorporates a range of different views. Typically people who self-identify as “bible-believing” do not admit that the bible has any such problems. But even then (amusingly) they differ on what the bible actually teaches on different matters.

    The bible itself does not, in fact, give a clear consistent answer to your question, and many Christians acknowledge that. You should also, in my opinion! Also, quite a number of Christians don’t treat the bible as inerrant in any case, and are honest in that as well.

    You may find various ways to be critical of different theological perspectives on the bible and hell and so on… I certainly do. But you go too far to simply throw out a sweeping accusation of dishonesty.

  • Jon R

    It’s not that simple. Many Christians believe in a concept called “Universal reconciliation”, which holds that everyone will eventually be redeemed and go to heaven, perhaps even Satan. One of my favorite Christian writers, C. S. Lewis, appears to have taken the notion that “Hell is separation from God” quite literally; he wrote a fascinating book called “The Great Divorce”, in which denizens of hell can take field trips to heaven, and are offered, even begged to stay, but generally most of them refuse to do so.

    Of course, the whole idea’s rubbish, since neither heaven nor hell exist. But you ought to be fairer; not all Christians agree on the nature of hell, or whether the “damned” are eternally so.

  • Greg

    Nick – I’m pretty sure that’s not true – after all, the whole point of Limbo was that unbaptised children weren’t tortured for all eternity, right? Even Christians who died ‘impure’ must go through Purgatory.

    My understanding of the RCC is that both the correct faith and good deeds are required to enter heaven.

  • Grimalkin

    @Chris Ho-Stuart – What Biblical passages indicate that Anne Frank might be in Heaven?

  • Tom

    This is one of the main reasons I lost my religion. How does Hitler, a Catholic, get to go to heaven when relatively good, decent, non-Christian people are sent to burn in hell for eternity?

    Supposedly, ALL sins are forgiven when you’re “saved” by Jesus Christ. Yeah, right. To think Christians have the nerve to lecture us about morality, when their Bible essentially gives them a free pass to wreak havoc on the world with no (eternal) consequence.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Nick

    A Catholic would not doubt that an innocent girl that was murdered is in Heaven, regardless of her belief system

    Perhaps , but the point is that’s not a Catholic teaching. The Catholic then have to admit that some catholic teaching is wrong, some parts of the bible are wrong , the pope is fallible(in any matter , including doctrine) and why be a catholic if all the above hold.

  • Ryan

    I’m a bit confused by this assumption that Bible-believing Christians think Jews are in Hell. You’d be hard-pressed to find any mention at all of Hell in the Bible, let alone any guidelines of who goes there and who doesn’t. When there are seeming guidelines statements are always along the lines of “you have absolutely no way of knowing; only God does”. More often it says we’ll be surprised; people who we think are in aren’t and people who we think aren’t are. Saying that “only God knows” isn’t a cop-out; that is the honest biblical answer.

    Sorry, most of the time the critiques of Christians on this site are well-founded, but as a Master of Divinity student I personally think this is a gross exaggeration of exclusivistic theology that only a (admittedly the most vocal) minority of the North American churches subscribe to. Most are inclusivists, which isn’t quite as open as pluralists but along the same lines. This site typically prides itself on understanding religion, and it does a good job more often than not, but there is a horribly inaccurate assumption here.

  • http://www.ucsbskeptics.org Sam

    I met a Christian in freshman year that insisted that Hitler is in heaven since he probably “accepted Christ” before he died.

  • Ottawaanon

    Math 12 and Mark 3 are pretty clear, believe or burn. You don’t get to claim god is perfect in all things … except when it comes to writing down the criteria for the ultimate punishment and reward.

  • Deepak Shetty

    Chris Ho-Stuart
    You will find many Christians who state that just believing in Christ isnt enough , you must have good deeds too. However there are few people who hold that deeds are all that matter (and that an atheist or a polytheist idol worshipper will go to heaven if he performs good deeds). Its also non existent in the official positions of the churches.

  • http://sassyseminarian.blogspot.com Julie

    There are also several passages in the Bible that suggest universal salvation, which would mean that Anne Frank is “in heaven,” as is Hitler. I’m not advocating for any sides in this debate, but just presenting that the Bible does not just advocate one view of who goes to “heaven.”

    *I use the quotation marks because I don’t personally believe that there is a literal place (like, a glorious kingdom in the clouds) that we know as heaven. This means that a lot of my fellow Christians probably think that I am going to “hell,” but whatevs!

  • Grimalkin

    @Julie – I haven’t read any passages that talk about universal salvation. Do you happen to know what they are off hand?

  • Epistaxis

    Anne Frank might have been a lesbian, and that would definitely leave her hellbound.

  • Deepak Shetty

    To all the Christians who have answered here to the effect that the criteria for hell aren’t defined or are ambiguous
    Do you(you personally) believe that a belief in Jesus is necessary/needed/better for any of the goodies (if any) that might await us after we die?
    If your answer is no then
    Do you believe that a belief in Jesus helps you to be a better person or perform better deeds?
    If the answer is no then Im confused why you are christian.

  • http://villageatheist.org Drew

    Jeffrey Dahmer is in heaven. According to what I’ve read, he met with a priest at least once a week, repented several times and accepted Jesus into his life. ;)

  • http://www.bigmama247.com Alise

    Rachel actually did a follow-up post today explaining why she (and others) believes in a more inclusive view of the Bible.

  • Randy

    The southern baptist school I attended in Georgia taught this:

    1-Once your saved, your saved. You can commit mass murder afterwards but would still go to heaven….but you wouldn’t get as nice a mansion (there were levels or something).

    2-Jews would be a servant class.

    3-Even those who never heard of christ when they died, such as other parts of the world, would go to hell.

    Makes perfect since right?

  • Fraser

    Either Anne Frank is in heaven or she is in hell. If the former, what’s the point in being a Christian, and what exactly did Jesus die for? If the latter, what kind of god are you people worshipping?

  • http://sassyseminarian.blogspot.com Julie

    @Julie – I haven’t read any passages that talk about universal salvation. Do you happen to know what they are off hand?

    One of the most popular verses supporting universal salvation is John 12:31-32 — “[Jesus said,] ‘Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’” I won’t claim that this verse is “comforting” to or even preferred by those who do not believe in Jesus, but some Christians read that as being Jesus’ claim of universal salvation.

    Also, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 can be seen as a universal salvation verse: “For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.” I would assert that plenty Christians would tell Atheists (or anyone who doesn’t believe in God or Jesus, really) that they are sinners because of Adam and Eve’s sin, but I doubt they would be willing to extend the second half of the verse to anyone other than Christians.

    There are lots of other verses that have similar messages, even some in the Old Testament. I haven’t studied them extensively, but I could give them a closer look if needed.

    Practically, there are some groups that affirm universal salvation outright, like Unitarian Universalists, and there are some mainline denominations that, based on their theological background, could go there. Most denominations won’t make an outright statement one way or another, but some scholars will affirm it. For example, my personal opinion is formed more by the confessional work and documents that my denomination endorses rather than the explicit verses in the Bible, but the theology found in those documents is, of course, informed by the Bible. It’s pretty easy for Christians to hide behind certain Bible passages and not have to theologically engage with them, which is where a lot of the “this group is going to hell and this person is going to hell and these people can go to heaven” comes from.

  • ACN

    I really sympathize with Rachel when she says:

    I don’t know how to interpret Christ’s teachings regarding hell. I’ve heard theologians make a good case for the impermanent “trash heap” and a good case for the traditional view of eternal torture. Still sorting it all out.

    Because I felt similarly when I was a christian. What I think she is seeing here, is that a plain reading of the bible is, at best, ambiguous. If the christian’s god exists, and the bible is truly his inspired work, such a deity is ludicrously inept for crafting something that they KNEW would be misunderstood or constructed to support wildly different viewpoints on key issues.

    There is, of course, a better explanation. The NT’s internal inconsistency betrays the writings of its original works by fallible men in bronze age palestine and its metaphysical claims, as with every other equally unsupported metaphysical claim, are not true.

  • http://www.napoftheearth.com Darius

    If Christians are so uncertain of this why would they not be uncertain about other things. The following passages seem pretty clear to me if you believe the bible to be true.

    However it would at least be more tolerable if evangelists started preaching things such as “Can I say for certain that marriage should only be for heterosexual couples? No because I am not God.”

    “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

    “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all …” (1 Timothy 2:5)

    “There is one body and one Spirit … one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:4)

    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

    “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and find pasture … I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:9)

    Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25)

    Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

    And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

    “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)

    “… whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:15-16)

    “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)

    “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24)

    “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)

    “… And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11)

    “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:14)

  • Adam

    There is no reason to think that a Bible believing Christian should believe Anne Frank is in hell.I do not think the New Testament really makes it all that clear what happens to non-Christians. I can see how an evangelical atheist, who has a vested interest in trying to make Christians look bad would not have it in her interest to give the Bible (or any other religious text) a fair reading, but that is another issue.

  • Grimalkin

    @Julie – Thank you for that! I really appreciate you looking those verses up for me!

    I’ll freely admit that my brain tends to turn to fuzz when I’m reading the Bible, but the first example seems to be a bit of stretch. I don’t doubt you at all that there are people who choose to interpret it to mean universal salvation, but it seems a bit iffy to me. The second example seems far stronger.

  • Digitus Impudicus

    Even those who never heard of christ when they died, such as other parts of the world, would go to hell.

    I brought this up with my minister nephew once (honestly one of my favorite people in the world). I said “What about them?”
    His answer was “I don’t care about them.”

    It seems any logical flaw, when brought to light, simply becomes irrelevant.

  • http://aredemptionofhope.blogspot.com Ally C

    …not all Christians believe that one must “accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior” to get into heaven. As i read the Bible, i see no passage that would suggest we must pray a cutesy “sinner’s prayer” to become a Christian– we’ve given up freedom for a formula.

  • Claudia

    As to the Catholic discussion above, I once spoke to a conservative Catholic woman who told me that her Catholic education taught her that Jews would go to heaven because God had a convenant with them that was unbreakable. I then asked her if converting to Catholicism and converting to Judaism where equal and she waffled, but at least in that sense I did see some theological wiggle-room. Of course, none of that means a damn thing for Ghandi, who will be screaming for the pain to stop, according to both Catholics and Protestants.

    The views on the afterlife have been studied by the Pew Forum. See here. Here they ask about “eternal life” and not heaven, but I think that’s what’s understood. Most people don’t want to believe that good people go to hell, even if they are theologically mistaken. 40% of people are even willing to say that us big-bad atheists can get eternal life.

    I don’t see this as very different from Christian women who work outside the home, or from religious people who follow few of the more inconvenient rules about sex and diet etc. They are directly contradicting their holy books. Likewise with hell and heaven. Theist thought is not known for consistency or logic, so it’s no surprise that we’d get some pretty fuzzy bounderies and mental gymnastics when we try to force them to step outside the childish “good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell” mindset.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Julie
    What does universal salvation mean?
    Everyone gets saved? Deeds dont matter?

  • http://everydayatheist.wordpress.com Everyday Atheist

    One often finds moderate religious people uncomfortable committing to the consequences if their dogmas are played out to their logical ends, especially with someone very likeable but not of the same faith. What does it say that their own religion squicks them out when generally applied to everyone, not just disliked “others?”

  • http://cramandballwell.com Jerry Ballwell

    Reverend John Hagee clears this up for us. You can watch his big head on TBN. He has determined that God extends his grace to Jews because they’re god’s chosen people. He also believes, as do many other evangelicals, that if we don’t defend Israel we’ll be a cursed nation. But that hasn’t stopped Hagee from stating that “God sent Hitler to force Jews into Israel.” I guess if God is omniscient then Hagee must be correct. It must have been a part of God’s grand plan.

  • http://sassyseminarian.blogspot.com Julie

    Yeah, basically universal salvation means that everyone gets saved. As I said, I would never claim that this should be comforting or “good news” to someone who doesn’t believe in God, because if you don’t believe in God, why would you want to be saved? But that may be an argument for another day.

    And I’m Lutheran, so I would never say that salvation is based on deeds, even if I didn’t believe in universal salvation. And by the way, I’m still wrestling with this theological concept, but I’m probably 95% there, so that’s pretty much close enough to say that I believe in it, eh?

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    The comments on that site are just scary.

    From the article:

    After we finished the last pages of The Diary of Anne Frank in middle school, Mrs. Kelly informed the class that Anne and her sister died of typhus in a prison camp, thanks to Adolf Hitler. I was horrified, not just because of the prison camp but because everything I’d be taught as a girl told me that because Anne was Jewish, because she had not accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior, she and the rest of her family were burning in hell. I remember staring at the black-and-white picture of Anne on the cover of my paperback, privately begging God to let her out of the lake of fire. For weeks, I prayed diligently for her departed soul, even though I’d heard that only Catholics did such a thing.

    Poor kid. And people wonder why some of the New Atheists describe teaching hell-belief as child abuse. Can you imagine going through that kind of emotional anguish over not just complete strangers, but also classmates, friends, and relatives? What if your grandfather dies without accepting Jesus? What if your best friend at school is run over by a bus?

    Sometimes I wonder how people who believe in hell are even able to function in society. If they really think that everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus as their savior is burning eternally, how are they even able to have normal interactions with the damned? How are they able to read books or watch movies without thinking that the deceased authors or actors are being tortured? If they are normal, empathetic, compassionate people (as Rachel clearly is), wouldn’t that kind of thing drive them crazy?

    Maybe that’s why so many conservative Christians live such insular lives, why they don’t get emotionally close to anyone outside their circle. If they believe the rest of us are damned, maybe that’s why they discourage emotional connections (unequally yoked and all that) with people who don’t believe the same things they do. It can’t be easy to maintain hell-belief if you actually care about (or even love) people you think are condemned.

  • JohnJay

    I didn’t think anyone from earth was in heaven (well, except for Enoch and Elijah). I thought everyone was just in suspension until the final “Day of Judgement” when Christ returns… or at least until the “rapture”, when the dead’s souls will rise to join the saved living that are carried aloft. So right now, Ann and Hitler are exactly where everyone else is… dust in the ground. Right?

    “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”. If the dead are already in heaven, seems like they get to enjoy it for a while, and then possibly not pass the test and be booted out on the judgement? Think of the backtalk: “Hey, J, you can’t hold that against me… that was thousands of years ago when I was alive. Think what a good believer I’ve been since getting here.”

    I always thought that pretty stupid… God is such a procrastinator. Just think of the queue that’ll exist after all these centuries. Seems like that’s why many believe in the instant POD judgement, I guess.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Julie
    Thanks for the clarification.

  • Matt

    to add to the catholic conversation, I was raised catholic and went to a Jesuit high school. We spent a long time learning catholic theology and philosophy, ie the stuff that’s been written by catholics to rationalize their belief systems into more practical matters.

    Anyway, one tenant I was taught is that “no one goes to hell through no fault of their own”. (I still remember this verbatim b/c that double negative always pissed me off). What it means practically is that if you are never exposed to the catholic faith, or if you are exposed but your true conscience (another in-depth definition would be appropriate for that) does not permit you believe and have faith, then sort of it’s not your fault and you get a free pass to heaven (or more specifically, you get baptism by spirit).

    as an aside, later on in life this moral relativism sort of blew religion out of the water for me, and I’ve been atheist ever since. But there it is.

    I’ve never gone back to research the verity of that statement of theology because it’s irrelevant, but it’s what I was taught then.

  • Fraser

    @Julie: why bother being a Lutheran? This is a serious question. Actually, I suppose it’s a bit like Pascal’s Wager in reverse. If you’re going to get saved anyway, why muck around with all the irrelevant detail that ultimately has no effect?

    As an atheist, a gnu atheist even, I’d like to get saved so that I can understand Quantum Electrodynamics properly, and also to have sex with Richard Feynman.

  • Lukas

    I’m pretty sure a ton of christians (perhaps even a majority of them; certainly all that I know except one) don’t believe that you need to be a christian in order to go to heaven. No christian person reads the bible and believes everything in it literally (although some claim they do). Everybody allows *some* room for interpretation, and a lot of them believe that you’ll go to heaven if you lead a good life regardless of whether you believe in their god.

  • mikespeir

    It’s just like with Princess Diana. She and Anne Frank were loved. There’s no way they’re in Hell. But other people, people you’ve never heard of, who lived their lives the same way but didn’t have an active faith in Jesus, they’re in Hell. I’d explain, but it’s complicated.

  • Grimalkin

    The idea of hell and what I’d been taught about it was the first nail in my theism coffin. As @Anna said, once I thought “omg, all those people who have grown up never hearing about Jesus are going to go to hell,” I couldn’t un-think it. It was paralyzing.

    So the brand of Christianity I was raised with went straight out the window. I simply could not rationalize that a morally good god would be exclusive – especially based on things beyond the individual’s control.

    So then I went with this freaky “spiritual” pan-theism crap. That didn’t last too long. It quickly became clear to me that I was just making it up as I went along based on my personal sensibilities. It seemed a bit presumptuous to project my own personal opinions onto some cosmic deity. So *ploof* went my religion.

  • http://sassyseminarian.blogspot.com Julie

    Good question, Fraser. I was brought up Lutheran, but discovered on my own that I agreed with the theology that my denomination believes. However, I don’t believe that Lutherans are the only people who will be saved, and I certainly don’t believe that we are the “one true faith.” I just find myself aligning most with this specific denomination. I don’t know if the image of “different shades of the same color” helps elucidate the matter, but it’s the best I can think of on the spot!

  • JohnJay

    All this discussion reminded me of something I recall from childhood. I was raised Catholic, and in the early 1960′s… the mass was in Latin, and it was a mortal sin to willfully eat meat on Friday. (yeah, I’m old). When they changed the rule where it was OK to eat meat on Friday, I remember asking my Mom: “What about those who went to hell for doing that. And now the rules have changed. Is that fair?” She said, you have to play by the rules you’re given at the time. So that moment was the start of my fall from grace into atheism. Well, that, and actually reading the Bible cover to cover several times. And all other ‘holy’ books I could get my hands on. Finally came to believe… it was all rubbish.

  • Fraser

    @Julie: forgive me if I am being dense — I don’t mean to be. I can understand a preference for a particular brand of Christianity over another. If I was a Christian, I’m sure I would choose happy-shiny over hellfire.

    But why have a theology at all? The world has thousands of sects, cults and religions, why pick one? Do you think that you must have some sort of faith, and you’ve ended up with the one that matches the kind of person you are anyway?

    Why bother? Why can’t you be who you are and ignore religion? What does it give you? I expect you get community, social ties, a sort of family, but what does this have to do with believing in a god?

    I hope I don’t sound too combative; I’m seriously interested.

  • Darryl

    The Protestant evangelical doctrine of hell is not spelled out in any clear way anywhere in the Bible, and the verses pertaining to hell, or gehenna, are not consistent with one another. (It can’t be said often enough: The Bible does not have one clear, consistent viewpoint – it’s an anthology written by many hands, with many agendas, none of which would recognize modern evangelicalism.) But one thing that is really not in the Bible is the sinner’s prayer, or any version of the phrase “accept Jesus as your personal savior.”

    All that aside, this is a great question for the fundie in your life! It’s kind of similar to a question I like to ask my friends who keep trying to sell me on The Secret or “new thought” jive. “Did six million Jews die because they just weren’t visualizing a better result for themselves?” It’s a real stunner, and I’ve seen it cause instant cognitive dissonance in several friends. (Alas, they all managed to compartmentalize and disregard it almost as quickly. But maybe this seed will grow.)

    I might add to Hemant’s honest atheist answer (Anne Frank is neither in heaven nor in hell): Because there is no afterlife in which to right wrongs or sort out justice, we have to take this life seriously and pay real attention to the consequences of hateful ideologies.

  • Pingback: Damn You All To Hell...Or Not | RepTIDE

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Here’s the answer: If you’re a Bible-believing Christian, then (Jewish) Anne Frank is burning in hell.

    It’s an easy answer if you believe what the Bible says.

    The Bible offers contradicting views on that. In some places it says salvation is based on belief alone, in other places it says salvation is based on works.

  • Digitus Impudicus

    @Julie
    Getting out of the difference brands of Christianity mold:
    OK, do good Muslims go to heaven? They deny the divinity of Jesus.
    Do good Buddhist got to heaven? They do not think any gods are worth worshiping (emulating perhaps. They claim there is a difference).
    Do good Wiccans go to heaven?
    Do good atheists go to heaven?

    Because the question becomes “If good people do not go to heaven, what is the point of heaven? If non-Christians go to heaven, why bother being a Christian?”
    Depending on the interpretation you go with, Heaven could be full of some of the worst bastards ever born.

  • http://sassyseminarian.blogspot.com Julie

    Fraser, I genuinely appreciate your interest. Can we continue this via email? I don’t want to hijack the thread here, and I’d like some more time to give you a better answer. I’m in class now, and will probably forget to come back here once I’ve closed my computer!

    My email address is ohjulie [at] g m a i l [dot] com

  • JohnJay

    @Reginald Selkirk

    Someone’s a fan of Twain’s antedeluvian diaries, I see. The Mad Prophet, I presume?

  • http://www.facebook.com/happyembolism jerome

    Didn’t this pope reinstate the conversion prayer for jews? So, at least we know that catholics should assume by default that jews go to hell, or purgatory, or whatever other made up place they’re damning us too these days…

  • http://sassyseminarian.blogspot.com Julie

    @Digitus Impudicus

    Simply, yes. But universal salvation would not just limit it to people who are “good.” If I were to believe that only good people go to “heaven,” I would believe that there are a lot of atheists who would go and a lot of Christians who would not, and then salvation is still not universal. “Heaven” may very well be full of bastards, but that’s based on an idea that we are the same people in “heaven” that we are on earth, and my understanding of theology doesn’t support such a statement.

    Again, that’s all just me and the issues I’m working through at the moment!

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Digitus Impudicus

    Depending on the interpretation you go with, Heaven could be full of some of the worst bastards ever born.

    Heh. If you believe the Old testament then isnt the worst ****** God?

  • http://en.allexperts.com/q/Atheism-2724/indexExp_111189.htm Jeffrey Eldred

    What one wants to say instead is that anyone who would hold it against atheists for not having the same dogma has to hold it against Anne Frank. “Damned atheists” is equivalent to “Anne Frank on a hot-dog cooker.” And if we get someone to recognize atheists don’t deserve to be tortured and that its okay to interpret the Bible loosely so it makes ethical sense then that is quite a victory.

  • pansies4me

    My brother-in-law lamented out loud that it was sad that his roommate from college died “without knowing God”. He didn’t know I was an atheist myself at the time, so I didn’t confront him about the comment. Anyway, my father-in-law, who already knew about my lack of faith, made sure to ask him in front of me (yes it still bugs me) if he thought his friend was going to heaven. His reply was that he didn’t know, but he quoted the Bible passage about Jesus being the Way, the Truth, and the Light… He seemed really conflicted, as he very much loved and respected his friend. I think that if the religious people in my family truly thought I was going to hell for my heathen ways then they couldn’t get a lick of sleep. My mother is a very religious Catholic, and even she doesn’t bother me about it all the time. I think she’s even convinced herself that all of her beloved pets will see her in heaven as well.

  • http://seeduponthewind.blogspot.com Noelley B

    Of course Hitler’s in hell. He’s a suicide.

  • vr

    While i love this article, All those talking about the possibility of Hitler being in heaven need to understand that absolution and repentance requires the person to never again engage, or try not to engage in the sins they are seeking forgiveness from.

    You can assert that right before he died, Hitler decided he say the err in his ways and seeked forgiveness, but I HIGHLY doubt it would be sincere, and in this case, God would know that and send him right to hell. Where little Annie gets to throw ninja Jewish stars at his ball sack for all eternity.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    I was raised Christian and some of my Sunday School teachers told me Jews go to hell, and some of them were completely sure Jews were the chosen people, so Jews and Christians both go to hell. I was also told two completely different beliefs on suicides. I was told one, that suicide is murder and you go to hell, and the other idea is that someone who kills him/herself most often is in misery and wants to die so they can be rid of this life’s suffering and god allows them into heaven if they believe in heaven.

    So..yeah different version of Christianity and one reason I stopped believing. Being a sufferer of depression myself, one of the first things I couldn’t swallow was that god would allow depressed people to burn! There are more logical reasons for my disbelief now, but that was a small spark..aside from that fact that my value as a female human being was less than that of a male human being.

  • http://holloway.co.nz/ Matthew Holloway

    Of course the belief that gods want worship and that a person’s religious belief has ANY effect on judgment does mean that they must believe equal actions can be judged differently.

    I’d consider this to be as immoral as racism.

  • Digitus Impudicus

    but that’s based on an idea that we are the same people in “heaven” that we are on earth

    @Julie
    If we are different people in heaven, then WE don’t go to heaven, something else does.

    universal salvation would not just limit it to people who are “good.”

    Of course, universal salvation would not be limited to just good people, that is what would be universal about it.

    Actually, that is one of the theological debates I had with various [super-fundie] family members. God can’t be perfectly just and perfectly merciful. Mercy often requires that one withhold just punishment. If God gives Hitler or Pol Pot a pass after being mass murderers, and I get the same deal after being a fairly decent guy, I just got screwed. I could have (theoretically) murdered millions, with no problems. That would be perfectly merciful, however.

    And the argument that I get a better mansion or something is flawed, since if Hitler were in any way still human in heaven, he would eventually resent living in heaven’s gutters while I lived in a modest ranch-style, especially since he claimed to be doing God’s work in fighting the Jews.

    If we all got exactly what we deserved for failing to live perfectly, that would not be perfect mercy. It would however, be perfectly just. Unless, of course, God does not care about morality, which would make it hard to explain all the rules demanding certain moral behavior.

    And “perfectly merciful and perfectly just” is how many Christians describe God, among other logically inconsistent other pairs.

    It seems that deities are the only beings that can exist while being logically impossible.

    disclaimer: the reason I don’t murder people is not a fear of hell, it is compassion and other good things, but I am sure you see my point.

  • Wes Weinhold

    Have you all read C.S. Lewis, especially “The Great Divorce”? He suggests that salvation is an ongoing process, continuing through life and after death, that hell is literally a state of mind, i.e. rejection of the existence and salvation offered by God. Whether or not you specifically believe in Jesus is less relevant than whether you are willing to be sufficiently open to the idea that God exists and that you can live joyfully with that acceptance. For some reason, the Lutheran theologians at Valparaiso University thought it important for us to learn that. I do respect them for that, as it is not the Missouri Synod view.

  • ACN

    And “perfectly merciful and perfectly just” is how many Christians describe God, among other logically inconsistent other pairs.

    Indeed! Let’s not forget the litany of logically incoherent omni’s that get slapped on.

  • Darryl

    I have heard people say that salvation includes sanctification, so even if salvation were universal, all of those saved would be changed to take on the nature of Christ. So, even if all of us are saved, in essence NONE of us are saved!

    As well, I’ve had apologists say to me that the reason god permits evil is that we have to have free will. Without free will, our devotion to God would be meaningless. But these same people think that when we are in heaven, we will have our natures changed to Christ’s perfect nature and spend eternity glorifying god. Isn’t this the same thing? Don’t we then become the mindless automatons we were just told would be meaningless to God?

    Indeed, you’re never going to find logic here, not even internal logic.

  • jose

    Christians get their social and moral values from their environment (their society) as they grow up like everybody else, then they adapt their religious beliefs to those values they already have by trying desperately to come up with rationalizations and ad hoc excuses to justify the blatant dislocation between their values and their bibles.

    That’s why Anne Frank must be in Heaven and that’s why many young Christians will say gay people won’t go to Hell just for being gay.

    They have been doing it for centuries.

  • Robert W.

    The New Testament is clear that if you reject Jesus Christ as your savior, you are condemned but if you accept him you shall have eternal life. John 3:16-22.

    The Bible is also clear that we are saved by grace through faith and not our works, lest any man boast. Ephesians 2:8-10

    Just because Anne Frank was Jewish it doesn’t mean that she rejected Jesus Christ as her savior. There are messianic Jews that have accepted Christ.

    However, if she was presented with the Gospel and she rejected it then she would be treated like all others who have done the same and unfortunately that means she would be in Hell.

    Do I know if she is there? Of course I don’t. I don’t know her heart, nor what she believed when she died. Only God knows that.

    But I am confident that whether or not she is in hell is not based on her status as a jewish person or on her good works.

    I am also confident that Hitler is in hell despite his professed notion that he was a Christian. His actions show otherwise and the Bible states that not all who call Christ Lord will be in the kingdom. Matthew 7:21

  • JohnJay

    @Darryl said:

    when we are in heaven, we will have our natures changed to Christ’s perfect nature and spend eternity glorifying god. Isn’t this the same thing? Don’t we then become the mindless automatons we were just told would be meaningless to God?

    Reminds me of: “Your individuality will merge into the unity of Good. And in your submergence into the common being of the Body, you will find contentment and fulfillment. You will experience the Absolute Good.” (PS: You will be absorbed. It is the will of Landru)

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    I was giving Rachel points for calling out one of the more disgusting aspects of hell (that people are supposedly condemned merely for not believing in the right deity), but is it possible for her to transition away from hell-belief altogether?

    From the article:

    I don’t pretend to know exactly what happens to people when they die, but my most instinctive and visceral sense of right and wrong tells me that a good and loving God would not torture Anne Frank for eternity.

    If empathy and compassion are important to her, then wouldn’t she think that a good and loving god would refrain from torturing anyone for eternity? If Rachel believes in hell at all, she’s not a universalist, and that’s the only kind of Christianity I can find remotely morally acceptable. Maybe she’s on her way, though. Reading through her blog, she seems like too nice a person to be on board with eternal torture.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    The bible itself does not, in fact, give a clear consistent answer to your question, and many Christians acknowledge that.

    Ehh… kind of. It does give clear answers, such as in Romans 10:9-10.

    If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

    Cherry-picking? Sure. You can easily find a more ambiguous answer. But even with the inconsistencies, I don’t think you’ll find a single verse (in the New Testament – the Christian-only bit) that suggests that you can be saved without faith in Jesus. If Christians believe otherwise, it’s probably because they find the idea of hell to be repellent (at least hell for people we consider good or innocent).

    You should also, in my opinion!

    I agree. It’s a human problem, really; we all tend to paint with a broad brush. See? I just did.

    Also, quite a number of Christians don’t treat the bible as inerrant in any case, and are honest in that as well.

    My parents, for example. They believe everyone goes to heaven. Yet they still hassle me about being an atheist…

  • jose

    Convoluted interpretations come from the desire to avoid the most socially unacceptable tenets of religion. For example, if you say waterboarding is bad, you shouldn’t be defending eternal burning, right? That’s when “nah, hell is really just separation from God” comes in.

  • Robert W.

    Anna,

    If empathy and compassion are important to her, then wouldn’t she think that a good and loving god would refrain from torturing anyone for eternity?

    That is a great question.

    I would follow it up with one of my own- Why would a loving and caring God make you choose to love him and want to be with him?

    For atheists who believe that there is no afterlife the idea of eternity, either one in Heaven or Hell, seems unjust being based upon faith and belief instead of actions and good works. That is based upon man’s interpretation of justice

    But for theists who believe in an afterlife, belief and faith take on a whole new significance and the idea of eternal destination based upon works alone seems capricious and arbitrary. The idea being, how would your salvation ever be assured? Where are you in the equation? Have you done enough?

    The bottom line is that God doesn’t send anyone to Hell. Those that end up there who have heard and rejected the Gospel are there by their own free will and choice.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Robert, I know you believe that. I know because you keep stating it over and over and over, but I do not accept your excuses or justifications for hell. Remember our kitten stomping discussion? It was only last week, so I’m sure you haven’t forgotten it quite yet.

    Torture is wrong, regardless of your claim that people are given a “choice.” Of course, people cannot consciously choose what to believe (I defy you to start believing in Vishnu), and even if they could, torturing human beings for any reason (let alone for something as silly as an inconsequential, unchosen belief) is flat out immoral, not to mention absurd.

  • jose

    @Wes Weinhold,
    “He suggests that salvation is an ongoing process, continuing through life and after death, that hell is literally a state of mind, i.e. rejection of the existence and salvation offered by God.”

    He seems to like his god very much and can’t stand the idea of rejecting him, so doing so would feel real bad. Hence, hell. It’s like me saying Gawd I love chocolate so much. Those people who don’t like chocolate really must be having a hard time. Why won’t they embrace the utterly joy of chocolate?

    Maybe separation from God means hell to him. Certainly it doesn’t to me.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Oh, and this isn’t directed at Robert, but honestly, I feel like I’ve landed in bizarro-world when I have to keep talking about things like heaven and hell as if they were real. I just don’t understand how people can believe in any sort of afterlife, let alone one that’s so culture-specific. Heaven and hell are just societal constructs. People aren’t born believing in those things anymore than they’re born believing in deities. I just don’t get it. I mean, do they really, honestly, truly believe in life after death? Or things like souls? How does someone get to the point where they would start to believe in something like that? Is it all just a holdover from childhood indoctrination? Once they grow up, I would think that surely they would realize the truth. But apparently not. Sometimes I feel like one of the few people on the planet who never believed in anything like that and assumed it was fictional from the start.

  • ACN

    When I was a christian, it was through clever use of compartmentalization. Deliberately not turning your critical thinking (or lying to yourself and saying you were when you really weren’t!) on your religious beliefs allow you to rationalize/compartmentalize all sorts of ridiculous things.

  • Ryan

    Paragraph 839 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses the relationship between the Church and the Jewish people:

    “When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People, “the first to hear the Word of God.” The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God‘s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews ”belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ,” ”for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” (CCC ¶ 839) [footnotes removed]

    Subsequent paragraphs say more about the Jews and also address the relationship of the Church to Muslims and to practitioners of non–Abrahamic religions.

    I think CCC ¶ 847 gets at the heaven question however:

    Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation.

    I’d say a good theologian (and presumably God would be the best) could parlay this into saying that even people who reject the Church are doing so because they not do truly know the Church, but their search for truth in reality, if sincere, and their desire to be a good person through their actions admits them nonetheless into the community of heaven. Oh, snap.

  • ATL-Apostate

    The bible itself does not, in fact, give a clear consistent answer to your question, and many Christians acknowledge that. You should also, in my opinion! Also, quite a number of Christians don’t treat the bible as inerrant in any case, and are honest in that as well.

    Didn’t read through all 500 comments, so this may have already been said. BUT…
    With all it’s ambiguities, and contradictions the Bible is VERY CLEAR about who goes to hell. Nowhere does it even suggest that non-believers will see anything other than hell in the afterlife. Jesus spoke of hell more than any other topic in the NT.

    If I’m wrong, please show me chapter and verse and I will retract my statement.

    Edit: OK, so I read some of the comments about universal salvation. I would wager that all but the Unitarians would disagree with the “universal salvation” interpretation of those verses.

  • Steve

    Ironically, according to the Old Testament unbelievers simply died – or were murdered by God. The concept of eternal torture wasn’t invented until the New Testament. And the particulars were really worked out in various church councils over the next few centuries.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    lol WOOPS! I meant to say “heaven” in my post!

    Was supposed to read:

    “I was raised Christian and some of my Sunday School teachers told me Jews go to hell, and some of them were completely sure Jews were the chosen people, so Jews and Christians both go to heaven.

  • http://neosnowqueen.wordpress.com/ neosnowqueen

    Consensus about hell and who goes there is hardly universal amongst Christians, even amongst those who haven’t gotten into scholarship on the subject.

    It’s like baptism, faith vs. works, predestination vs. free will, rich vs. monastic, theodicy. These are questions that have gone on for a long time and will probably continue for an even longer time. Denominations have established how they feel, officially, but within those denominations, individual interpretations vary. There’s support for annihilation of the unrepentant soul, for universal salvation, and for nonbelievers going to hell. You name it. And then there are sects of Christianity that value tradition, and tradition may not hold with all nonbelievers going to hell.

    I can’t cite the source at the moment because I don’t remember where I read it, but I believe the belief in hell for all nonbelievers is a minority majority position.

  • http://lucywright.wordpress.com/about/ LucyWright

    I apologize to anyone I offend with this statement, but the bible is a bunch of crap! There’s just no way I can possible believe that in 2000 odd years of it’s exsistance that people have changed what it said to better suit themself. There is no way. So of course it sends to hell whoever the “translator” was having a beef with at the time.

  • Nick Andrew

    It’s all just twisting in the wind. Most christians want people they like to go to heaven, and people they don’t like to go to hell, so they’ll rationalize some way for that to happen. Their thought processes are as confused as the bible itself.

  • Robert W.

    Anna,

    Torture is wrong, regardless of your claim that people are given a “choice.” Of course, people cannot consciously choose what to believe (I defy you to start believing in Vishnu), and even if they could, torturing human beings for any reason (let alone for something as silly as an inconsequential, unchosen belief) is flat out immoral, not to mention absurd.

    I do remember our discussion and your feelings that even though you think it is all make believe that the notion of Hell offends you.

    But I disagree with your statement that your choice to believe or not to believe is inconsequential. Although our life span here on Earth is limited Christians clearly believe that this choice has eternal consequences. On both sides of the equation the results are eternal. One of the most consequential choices you will make.

    I have heard from many atheists on this site that they can’t choose to not believe and I simply disagree. Quite a few of them were raised in Christian homes and believed at one time, then they decided that they would no longer believe. So they made a choice.

  • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel H. Evans

    Thanks for highlighting the blog again. I always appreciate your thoughts.

    You said “If you’re Christian, you think Anne Frank went to hell. If you don’t, you’re not a Bible-believing Christian. But you can’t have it both ways.”

    I’m not convinced that is true – which is the topic of today’s post: http://rachelheldevans.com/bible-inclusive-salvation-heaven-hell

  • Paul D.

    For what it’s worth, this Christian thinks that the whole disembodied afterlife thing with heaven for people who said the magic words and hell for those who didn’t is completely unbiblical. Hell doesn’t exist, and Christians look forward to the resurrection, not heaven, as their eschatological hope.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Robert:

    He created humans with free will. It is that freedom which causes problems, but it is also that freedom which allows us to love him by our free choice. When humans take that free will and choose to separate themselves from God, they end up in Hell.

    Here’s the problem. According to your theology:
    1. God designed the mind of man, to the minutest details.
    2. God knows the future.
    3. God created a place of everlasting suffering for those who become separated from him (originally Lucifer and his angels, but eventually man as well).
    4. It is not the will of God that any should suffer.
    5. Everything that happens is in accordance with God’s plan.

    From 1 and 2, it follows that God knew mankind would rebel, since he had to put the ability to rebel into our minds in the first place when he designed them – after all, where else would we get our abilities from, before the fall?

    If rebellion leads to separation from God, then from 1, 2, and 3, it follows that God knew even before making mankind that some people would wind up in hell.

    However, if 4 is true, the only way that 1, 2, and 3 could all be true is if 5 is not. Either it is God’s plan that some will suffer, and thus 4 is not true, or it isn’t God’s plan that some will suffer, and thus something outside of God’s plan has superseded his will and 5 is not true.

    This theology is internally contradictory, and it’s just the basic outline. Once you throw in more details about God’s personality and attributes it becomes even more impossibly muddled. Either the type of god you believe in does not exist, or it is able to transcend logic (and therefore utterly immune to any sort of investigation and incapable of being trusted).

    Oh, and if you think that becoming an atheist is “simply” deciding to disbelieve: I challenge you to choose to believe that the tooth fairy actually exists. Not just say it – actually believe it. Then you’ll see how much of a choice it is.

  • ACN

    Mike,

    I think you put a fine point on it.

  • Peterson, C.

    Robert:

    I would follow it up with one of my own- Why would a loving and caring God make you choose to love him and want to be with him?

    If I meet a woman and tell her that she must love, worship, and adore me or I’ll make her life a living hell, have I really given her a choice? It’s more like an ultimatum. Do what I say or you’ll be punished.

    The more often used analogy is that of the mobster running a protection racket. I’m sure you’ve heard it. I believe it’s often rationalized away by stating that God is the supreme moral authority in the universe, and thus it’s perfectly acceptable for him to offer up such a non-choice. I don’t buy it.

    Any being that demands unconditional devotion, constant worship, and unquestioning obedience, while offering up eternal torture for those who refuse to obey, I name tyrant. Even if such a being did exist and I knew for sure the result of my refusal to submit, I would still not bend knee to such a creature.

  • Van Kraut

    Even though I’m an atheist for all my live I think the stance on this subject is rather clear from the biblical viewpoint. Jesus teaches in John 8:44 that jews are of the devil and thus burn in hell for all eternity. I don’t know if anybody posted this so far and if my interpretation of this verse is right as english is not my native language.
    Greetings from Europe

  • amey

    CIrcling back to the Catholicism bit for a moment, I read somewhere that a Catholic apologist (??) thinks that Hitler is not in heaven because while he wasn’t officially excommunicated, he was de facto excommunicated by his actions. His actions were in conflict with the teachings of the church, therefore he is no longer part of the church.

    I think someone upthread posted that because Hitler killed himself, he’s not in heaven (or at least not Catholic heaven).

    Another point for discussion is the Jehovah’s Witness position that heaven has a limited number of seats and that God already knows who’s getting those seats (and I think it’s only 144,000). My brother had a JW friend who told him that “heaven is full” but that he still needed to believe and do good works because there was still a good place for him to end up, it just wasn’t the REAL heaven.

  • Winter Wallaby

    @Julie: why bother being a Lutheran? This is a serious question. Actually, I suppose it’s a bit like Pascal’s Wager in reverse. If you’re going to get saved anyway, why muck around with all the irrelevant detail that ultimately has no effect?

    I see that you and Julie have decided to take your conversation off the blog, but I found this interesting, and thought I’d comment in case you’re still reading. (I’d encourage you to come back, because I was lurking and enjoying your discussion.)

    Fraser, I find your question a bit puzzling. Presumably, the reason to be Lutheran is that it’s true. (Possibly not the only true thing in the world, perhaps Islam is also true, in a different way, but a true thing nonetheless.) I would think the reasson to believe it a true thing is that it’s true, not because it comes with lots of benefits. I don’t believe in the principles of electricity because they helps me microwave my burritto, I believe them because they’re true. That would be my take on it, now Julie can come back and tell me I got it totally wrong. :)

  • Winter Wallaby

    As other have correctly pointed out, the Bible provides on a few fragmented hints that a hell exists, and certainly no clear direction on who ends up there, or what would happen to him if he got there. The snippets in the New Testament on the afterlife are so funamentally jumbled and contradictory that you can’t claim that it makes clear that there’s an eternal hell for anyone who’se not a Christian. There’s actually very few passages that are clearly about Hell, rather than about say, a garbage dump.

    A number of people here have attempted to find such quotes, but they all suffer from the same flaw – they read the text through the ideas of modern theology, and so fill in any unclear gaps (of which there many, huge ones) with modern ideas about the afterline, which come down to us after a 2000-year-long jumbly stream, containing the Bible, but also a whole lot of other stuff. So we end up reading these old texts as if they were full of our newer ideas about the afterline. For example, Mike the Infidel gives a passage that he claims gives a “clear answer” that there’s a hell here:

    If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

    I would suggest that this is anything but a “clear answer” that there’s hell, and that no independent, objective reader, unfamiliar with the Bible or Christianity, would find a “clear answer” that there’s a hell here. The quote says nothing about a hell, or even of anyone being punished in any way, so it certainly doesn’t say anything about who goes to this never-mentioned hell. All it says is that if you believe certain things, you will be “saved.” It doesn’t specify what “saved” means – are we to be resurrected in a new earthly body? given a spiritual body in a new world, which we could decide to call “heaven”? Given new planets to rule in the Celestial Kingdon?. It doesn’t say whether there are other ways to be “saved,” whatever that means. And it doesn’t say what happens to people who aren’t saved? Maybe there are none of them. Maybe nothing happens to them, and their punishment is not getting the good stuff that the saved do. Maybe they die like everyone else, which is too bad because they could have gotten resurrected into a new fleshy body. If these examples seem outlandish to you, it’s only because you’ve accepted 20th Century Christianity as the standard for “normal” afterlife behavior, and read it into these 1st century texts. But people in the 1st entury had much more diverse beliefs about the afterline.

    The only way you get from that passage to a clear picture of “hell” is by already having a 20th century picture of heaven, hell, and redemption in your head, and (consciously or unconsciously) reading it back into a 1st century text. I’ve read a bunch of the quotes above that claim to show that non-Christians all go to hell, and they all suffer from the same flaw.

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  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    Sorry but before you can discuss whether or not different people get sent to heaven or hell you first have to demonstrate that gods exist, that heaven and hell exist and that people somehow exist after they die.

    Good luck with that.

    The evidence suggests that we exist as material entities and when we die we cease to exist. The material breaks down. The brain decays and our consciousness is no longer maintained. The closest analogy I can think of is a perpetual, dreamless sleep. That doesn’t seem so bad to me. It is certainly better than spending eternity bowing and scraping to some tyrant god or having my delicate bits toasted by pitch fork wielding demons. Or whatever it is that different people believe.

  • Secular Stu

    There’s actually very few passages that are clearly about Hell, rather than about say, a garbage dump.

    Really?

    MATTHEW 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
    MARK 9:47 “And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell,
    9:48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
    REVELATION 21:8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

    Does it sound like they’re talking about a garbage dump? I can only wonder what contortions you’d have to go through to say that.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    For example, Mike the Infidel gives a passage that he claims gives a “clear answer” that there’s a hell here…

    You’ll notice that I said it gives clear answers – not that they’re consistent. This particular answer, taken on its own, is very clear – verbally declare Jesus’ sovereignty and believe in his resurrection and you’re saved. You’ll also notice that the question I was providing a clear answer to had nothing to do with whether or not there’s a hell; rather, it was about whether or not the Bible clearly said how to be saved, so any objections to the answer based on your misconception aren’t really my problem.

    All it says is that if you believe certain things, you will be “saved.” It doesn’t specify what “saved” means – are we to be resurrected in a new earthly body? given a spiritual body in a new world, which we could decide to call “heaven”? Given new planets to rule in the Celestial Kingdom? It doesn’t say whether there are other ways to be “saved,” whatever that means.

    Am I actually going to have to pull the “read it in context” card? Do so. The entire book of Romans does go into great detail about these things.

  • jose

    About the free choice thing.

    Your son, whom you love dearly, is walking toward a cliff. You say to him come, son, but he refuses because he doesn’t see any cliff. So you let him fall and die.

    This isn’t a matter of opinion, as if you would want him to go to law school but he wants to start a career as a mime and you think he will be better off following your advice. You do know he’ll die, and he doesn’t know it, and you let him die anyway. And then, once he’s f****d, you go “see? I told you!”

    Anyone here would act like that?

  • Ashton

    Your description of Biblical teachings is way off. It seems like you’re only going with the theology of the Christians who shout the loudest. If you really check out the bible, it absolutely does not say that everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus will go to hell. It’s pretty ambigous honestly so I think it is intellectually honest of a Christian to say that they don’t know who will be in heaven or hell.

    I’m not a Christian, but I grew up in a Chritian home and know a lot about what’s there in the Bible and what isn’t. Lots of times people say that certain things are Biblical, when they’re really just BSing and making things up as they go along. In addition, not all Christians believe that when you die you go straght to heaven or hell (or purgatory or some other state). There is debate on the subject of the state of the dead, with some believing that death is like a sleep and that they will only go a certain place after the second coming of Jesus. This is not so important for this discussion because it doesn’t really matter if you’re saying Anne Frank is in Hell or that she will go to Hell, but there are a lot of differences in Christian thought out there. If you’re unsure about which thought is Biblical, look it up. It’s pretty easy to do. In fact doing that can be a lot of fun. Try getting Chritians to show you where is says in the Bible that there’s fire in Hell.

  • Nordog

    “Can’t Christians just admit that Anne Frank is in Hell?”

    Isn’t that analogous to asking, “Can’t Atheists just admit that godlessness leads to the Gulag?”

  • Lost Left Coaster

    I don’t want to get too sentimental here, but I will say this, in response to Hemant’s comment that Anne Frank is nowhere but the ground — she has also achieved literary immortality, with every new generation of youth who read her diary and learn a little more about her time, life, and the human condition.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Nordog
    Picking two statements and saying they are analogous doesn’t make it so.

    The Bible has some reasonably clear passages about what happens to non believers (yes there might be other contradictory passages but that only serves to further prove its silliness) and a good number of mainstream *moderate* Christians would hold that one need both faith and deeds for God to approve (not just deeds).

    There is nothing in Atheism beyond a demand of evidence for God. It doesnt lead to anything (not necessarily rationality, not necessarily a better/worse human being).

  • Jani

    Sometimes I wonder how people who believe in hell are even able to function in society. If they really think that everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus as their savior is burning eternally, how are they even able to have normal interactions with the damned? How are they able to read books or watch movies without thinking that the deceased authors or actors are being tortured? If they are normal, empathetic, compassionate people (as Rachel clearly is), wouldn’t that kind of thing drive them crazy?

    Maybe that’s why so many conservative Christians live such insular lives, why they don’t get emotionally close to anyone outside their circle. If they believe the rest of us are damned, maybe that’s why they discourage emotional connections (unequally yoked and all that) with people who don’t believe the same things they do. It can’t be easy to maintain hell-belief if you actually care about (or even love) people you think are condemned.

    I am a Christian and I wonder the same things. You make an excellent point about the insular lives. I think it’s one of the regrettable things about American Christianity, and it makes me wonder how many of us truly believe what we claim to believe.

    As I understand from reading James and elsewhere, works are the natural outpouring of faith. If we don’t have works — if we don’t spread the gospel and help the poor and such — it’s a disturbing sign that our faith is dead.

  • http://www.gmgauthier.com/ Greg G

    Actually, Hitler should be in heaven, for being a believer in Christ, yes?

    But, if we go by the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, then every American soldier in WWII who shot one of Hitler’s Nazi’s is in hell too.

  • Robert W.

    Mike,

    Here’s the problem. According to your theology:

    1. God designed the mind of man, to the minutest details.
    2. God knows the future.
    3. God created a place of everlasting suffering for those who become separated from him (originally Lucifer and his angels, but eventually man as well).
    4. It is not the will of God that any should suffer.
    5. Everything that happens is in accordance with God’s plan.

    All of what you list is true, but that doesn’t make the theology internally inconsistent. You are discussing God’s sovereignty. God created man with the ability to choose him or not. That is evidence of his sovereignty in that he sovereignly decreed that we would have the choice to decide our fate. The fact that he knew that some would use their free will to chose not to follow him is something he knew but couldn’t change if he was to give us that choice.

    God’s plan was not which choice we would make but that we would have the ability to make it. If it is God’s plan to make that choice for us then the free choice goes away.

    Does God want us to suffer? No, the Bible states that God is a God of love and that he cares for all of his children, even those that choose not to follow him for whom he grieves. But it doesn’t logically follow that he would then make the choice for us to avoid that suffering. That would be illogical considering he gave us the choice in the first place.

    Oh, and if you think that becoming an atheist is “simply” deciding to disbelieve: I challenge you to choose to believe that the tooth fairy actually exists. Not just say it – actually believe it. Then you’ll see how much of a choice it is.

    Choosing to believe in Jesus Christ is a choice that you make. You seek him. From there the Holy Spirit takes over and grows your faith. I’m sure that doesn’t happen to with the tooth fairy.

    Mike it is obvious that you have studied the Bible and Christianity. Maybe that was because you grew up in a Christian home or maybe it was just to counter Christians in arguments, I don’t know but, I would take it that based upon your investigation you have decided that you don’t believe in God. You have studied the arguments for God, you have read parts of the Bible and you have read the books of prominent atheists who have espoused arguments against God and Christianity. To me that is a conscious choice.

  • Robert W.

    Jose,

    Your son, whom you love dearly, is walking toward a cliff. You say to him come, son, but he refuses because he doesn’t see any cliff. So you let him fall and die.

    This isn’t a matter of opinion, as if you would want him to go to law school but he wants to start a career as a mime and you think he will be better off following your advice. You do know he’ll die, and he doesn’t know it, and you let him die anyway. And then, once he’s f****d, you go “see? I told you!”

    Your analogy is flawed in that the Father is telling the son there is a cliff there and if you walk off if it you will die. So the son knows what his father is telling him and chooses not to trust him knowing the consequences. The son knows the consequences of not believing his father and chooses to go his own way.

  • Samiimas

    I love how people pull out these BS analogies for hell when we all know one that really fits: “Stalin didn’t send anyone to the gulag, people chose to go to the gulag when they chose to not be loyal communists.”

  • jose

    I don’t see any cliff (afterlife/hell), Robert. You don’t see it either. You believe there is one because someone told you. I remain skeptical because I haven’t seen it, like Thomas. So it’s okay and morally right to let me fall and die, even when noone cared to actually show me why I should believe what they say. Noone showed me the holes in their hands.

    You would literally let your son fall and die, right? You totally wouldn’t grab him to save his life. If God was a person, social services would have taken all his sons away from him a long time ago.

  • Greg

    Robert W, I hate to cut in to someone else’s discussion, but I had to reply to this:

    Choosing to believe in Jesus Christ is a choice that you make. You seek him. From there the Holy Spirit takes over and grows your faith. I’m sure that doesn’t happen to with the tooth fairy.

    Do you honestly think that some atheists haven’t tried to find god? In fact, given the amount of people who have painfully deconverted from Christianity, desperately trying to hold onto their faith every step of the way until they could do it no longer, are you honestly trying to tell me they weren’t trying to find Jesus? Seriously?

    Many, many atheists have tried to find your god, and there has been absolutely no answer.

    No offence, but that statement just shows your ignorance.

    (Also, as an aside, if you exchange the words “tooth fairy”, and “Jesus Christ”, the sentence makes equally as much sense to anyone who doesn’t believe in your god.)

  • http://www.katcox.com kat

    This is a very interesting post for me, as someone who grew up in a very theologically-minded household of Christians who believed “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and “you are saved by grace through faith and not by works”, etc.

    I remember once as a 10 or 11 year old girl hearing James Dobson talking on a Focus on the Family radio show … his argument was that nobody could deny that there must be divine retribution somewhere, because how could someone as evil as Hitler just kill himself and get away with it? Obviously the universe would need to punish Hitler for his behavior. So he’d have to be in Hell, wouldn’t he?

    I was awed by this argument. It seemed infallible.

    Of course Mr. Dobson did not present the other side of the story: Hitler was “a Christian”; the Jews he murdered were not. How could a God who punishes evil exist who also allows people who were murdered to go to hell for their lack of faith, while the murderers go to heaven? That was never addressed, and I never considered it until this moment.

    I will also say: If there is no punishment and therefore no possibility of salvation from that punishment, then Jesus does not matter anymore than any other teacher.

  • Robert W.

    Jose,

    The difference between you and me is that I don’t need to see the holes in Jesus’ hands before I will believe. But I do see evidence of God’s existence and I do believe that the Bible is true in what it says about Jesus Christ.

    If you actually need to see Hell or Heaven before you believe that it is real, then that is your choice. But why blame God for that choice?

    Its like saying I won’t get married before I see what that marriage will be like 50 years from now. You take faith and you make the decision to believe and you get married. If you have to see what that marriage will be like fifty years from now before you get married then you will never get married.

  • Nordog

    I love how people pull out these BS analogies for hell when we all know one that really fits: “Stalin didn’t send anyone to the gulag, people chose to go to the gulag when they chose to not be loyal communists.”

    This is a very apt comment, even though “The Gulag Archipelago” and other accunts make clear that people sent to the gulags most often very loyal communists.

    Rather, Samiimas’ comment it is apt because Stalin did indeed assume the role of God in the godless state.

  • jose

    “If you actually need to see Hell or Heaven before you believe that it is real, then that is your choice. But why blame God for that choice?”

    Easy, he created heaven and hell. He’s responsible for all that stuff. He could have created just heaven, but decided not to. Or he could have closed up hell. He could appear and show me the damn holes. He prefers watching people fall and die instead.

    Assuming for the sake of the argument that your god and your beliefs are real, I think he is kind of an ass. I think most people are better than him, because most people would save their children from a certain death if they could. Wouldn’t you?

    There’s this prayer we used to recite, it went sort of like this: I confess to God that I have sinned by thought and by word and by what I have done and by what I have failed to do. Mea culpa, mea culpa. Because of that I ask Mary ever virgin and all the angels and all the saints to pray for me before God. Kinda. Can’t remember exactly.

    Important bit: “and by what I have failed to do”. Like, say, being able to do what was right, like saving a life, and doing nothing instead.

    (Warning — what follows is just a random rambling directed to noone) The argument of free choice strikes me as very American conservative style. The mentality of free market and less regulation that results in selfish individualism: you’re on your own and we have equal opportunities. If you screw up, well, too bad about you. Good luck with that! Don’t blame me, it was you who made the bad decision. Yeah I could have saved you, but I was busy with my own stuff (and saving you would have meant big government regulations and less freedom!). The arguments applied in the case against god showing up and actively saving people can be equally applied to the case against the bailout. To me, it looks pretty much as Christianity adapted to a certain set of social and economic values.

  • nankay

    Hmm..I was taught (in Catholic school)that somewhere Paul stated that god had chosen the Jews and it is a gift that can never be taken back. Therefore Jews get a “free pass’ to heaven.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Robert,

    I do remember our discussion and your feelings that even though you think it is all make believe that the notion of Hell offends you.

    Well, good. I really don’t feel like hashing it out all over again, and I’m tired of hearing justifications and excuses for torture. Maybe other people don’t find those statements as sickening as I do. If that’s the case, you’re welcome to discuss it with them, but I’ve had quite enough of people claiming that “kitten stomping” is fine and dandy, to borrow from our previous analogy.

    But I disagree with your statement that your choice to believe or not to believe is inconsequential.

    Yes, I know from your perspective that it matters a great deal, but I was explaining that it seems extremely inconsequential to me. I can’t think of anything more inconsequential than what people believe about deities, and the notion of punishing people for what they believe is absurd. Thoughts are private. There are no magical beings that can hear anyone’s thoughts, and people cannot choose what they believe is real and what isn’t.

    I have heard from many atheists on this site that they can’t choose to not believe and I simply disagree. Quite a few of them were raised in Christian homes and believed at one time, then they decided that they would no longer believe. So they made a choice.

    So you’re calling them liars. That’s nice. I’ll leave it to someone who actually went through that experience to refute you, but that’s not what happened to me. I was not raised in a Christian home, and I never believed in your deity or in any other deity. I never even heard about deities until I was in elementary school, and even then, it took me a really long time to understand that people took them seriously. So if you honestly think that I can choose to believe in your deity, you’re mistaken. I can no more choose to believe in your god than you can choose to believe in the gods of Hinduism.

  • AxeGrrl

    Robert W. wrote:

    I have heard from many atheists on this site that they can’t choose to not believe and I simply disagree. Quite a few of them were raised in Christian homes and believed at one time, then they decided that they would no longer believe. So they made a choice.

    Robert, if you were on a jury and the prosecution didn’t present a case that convinced you of the accused’s guilt, could you simply ‘choose’ to believe they’re guilty anyway? If so, how would you do that? Just close your eyes real tight, rock back and forth, chanting ‘guilty, guilty’ over and over?

    Could you explain to us how, when a person simply isn’t convinced by an argument, they can ‘choose’ to believe anyway?

  • AxeGrrl

    jose wrote:

    Easy, he created heaven and hell. He’s responsible for all that stuff. He could have created just heaven, but decided not to. Or he could have closed up hell. He could appear and show me the damn holes. He prefers watching people fall and die instead

    Exactly. ‘He’ set up all the parameters of this game.

    God’s immoral character

    Fast forward to 3:30 in the video. As Tracie Harris so aptly says, “it’s the most messed up thing ever”

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Robert W

    and I do believe that the Bible is true in what it says about Jesus Christ.

    Umm so it isnt true when it talks about other things?

    Its like saying I won’t get married before I see what that marriage will be like 50 years from now.

    Uh no. A closer analogy is you are saying you’ll marry someone solely on the basis of her glaringly inconsistent biography written by her friends – We insist on meeting that someone first.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    If these examples seem outlandish to you, it’s only because you’ve accepted 20th Century Christianity as the standard for “normal” afterlife behavior, and read it into these 1st century texts. But people in the 1st entury had much more diverse beliefs about the afterline.

    The only way you get from that passage to a clear picture of “hell” is by already having a 20th century picture of heaven, hell, and redemption in your head, and (consciously or unconsciously) reading it back into a 1st century text.

    Fascinating points. Atheists would take that even further and question the assumption of an afterlife at all, given that the only reason human beings believe in such things is because our cultures teach us that they are real. From the time we are tiny children, most of us are told that people are able to survive physical death.

    I will also say: If there is no punishment and therefore no possibility of salvation from that punishment, then Jesus does not matter anymore than any other teacher.

    Well, that’s certainly the atheist position. The reason that Jesus doesn’t matter is because the supernatural is not real, and there is no such thing as reward or punishment after death.

  • Nordog

    Choosing to believe in Jesus Christ is a choice that you make. You seek him. From there the Holy Spirit takes over and grows your faith.

    No, it’s not a choice. One does not choose to hold faith in the existence of Jesus as Son of God as a fact of reality.

    One does choose, however, to be open to the possibility of the existence of God, or to shut out any consideration of that possibility.

    Faith comes through grace, and grace builds upon nature.

    But if the nature of an individual is such that he or she concludes that God cannot and does not exist, then there is very little nature left upon which to build.

    It does seem curious that some atheists, of whom it may be said profess a sceptical nature, are decidedly unsceptical regarding the possibility of a metaphysical (i.e. supernatural) reality.

    On that point there often exists a decidedly nonsceptical view. A view that seems to be based upon the idea that a non-material reality must be proven with material evidence, and that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    One does choose, however, to be open to the possibility of the existence of God, or to shut out any consideration of that possibility. Faith comes through grace, and grace builds upon nature. But if the nature of an individual is such that he or she concludes that God cannot and does not exist, then there is very little nature left upon which to build.

    We don’t choose our nature, do we? I can’t accept things without evidence. That’s basically what it comes down to for me. If something is undetectable, I have absolutely no reason to believe it’s there. Is there a chance it might be there? Sure, anything’s possible. But I can’t start believing in something simply because someone tells me to. It’s like if I visited the Amazonian rainforest. The people there believe in spirits, but most visitors would not start believing that their spirits exist. Now, sure, they might be real, but people raised outside that culture would have no reason to assume that they are. We’d need to see some kind of evidence first.

    It does seem curious that some atheists, of whom it may be said profess a sceptical nature, are decidedly unsceptical regarding the possibility of a metaphysical (i.e. supernatural) reality. On that point there often exists a decidedly nonsceptical view. A view that seems to be based upon the idea that a non-material reality must be proven with material evidence, and that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

    I think absence of evidence is a pretty good indication. If there is absolutely no evidence of something, why on earth would you think that it exists? Anything might be real. The question is whether it’s plausible and probable. I don’t think the supernatural is either of those things. I’ve never seen even a shred of evidence that would make me doubt that we live in a purely material world. I find it, well, ridiculous to assume that people can survive their physical deaths. All the people who believe that only believe it because that’s what they were told from a very young age. But if they’re right, then why can’t they provide any evidence for their claim?

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    I’m curious as to how one would go about choosing to believe something?

  • Nordog

    If something is undetectable, I have absolutely no reason to believe it’s there.

    But that’s not the same thing as saying you know for a fact that it cannot be there. In other words, you did not say that you knew as a demonstrable fact that “God cannot and does not exist.”

    All the people who believe that only believe it because that’s what they were told from a very young age.

    That seems like both an overly broad assumption, and a type of profession of faith.

  • Nordog

    I’m curious as to how one would go about choosing to believe something?

    Me too.

  • jose

    “A view that seems to be based upon the idea that a non-material reality must be proven with material evidence”

    Religious people claim there is plenty of material evidence for Jesus and his resurrection. They’re always quoting historians that supposedly prove his existence and his sanctity. Also, we read in the bible that Jesus himself did quite a few material tricks to convince people, like, say, bringing dead people back to life. We also see him curing paralysis and leprosy and walking on water and turning water into wine and multiplying bread and fishes and letting some people kill him and then going back home alive and speaking with his friends for a while and then zooming all over the place and disappearing in the sky.

    So yeah, having some material evidence instead of just stories would be nice.

    “and that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence.”

    It’s just that better explanations are preferable. I think religion as a human invention makes more sense than religion as a tool some deity with inferiority complex uses to tell people to worship it or else. By the way, nobody is arguing that they absolutely know for a fact that it cannot exist. I don’t know if we live in the Matrix either. May be. Show me the evidence.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    But that’s not the same thing as saying you know for a fact that it cannot be there. In other words, you did not say that you knew as a demonstrable fact that “God cannot and does not exist.”

    Uh, when did I ever say that? I never stated that deities cannot exist. Sure they could. Any number of things could exist. For all I know, there could be twenty million gods or goddesses out there. However, I think it is ridiculous to assume that they do, let alone to proclaim that a particular god from a particular culture is real or even more likely to be real than any of the others.

    That seems like both an overly broad assumption, and a type of profession of faith.

    It’s faith to assume that children don’t believe in an afterlife until they are taught to believe in an afterlife? Well, I would love to see some evidence that children spontaneously come up with the idea themselves. I have never seen any indication that children start believing in deities or an afterlife on their own. Like I mentioned on another post, this is an area of great interest to me, and I wish we could conduct some proper research. However, it’s not feasible in our current society to isolate children and raise them as part of a social experiment.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I have to come down on the side that free-willed choices are largely an illusion. Our minds kind-of unconsciously self-organize around certain propositions that minimize internal dissonance. For some, that is God belief. For others that is being free of God belief. Any theology that has at its core rewards or punishments based on unconscious mental self-organizations is disingenuous at best and immoral at worst.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Robert:

    All of what you list is true, but that doesn’t make the theology internally inconsistent.

    Seeing that I laid out point-by-point precisely how it absolutely is internally inconsistent, I can now say with certainty that you either have no idea how logic works, or you believe in a god that violates the laws of logic, like I said.

  • Nordog

    Religious people claim there is plenty of material evidence for Jesus and his resurrection. They’re always quoting historians that supposedly prove his existence and his sanctity.

    Well, maybe you should take that up with them. I know of no such physical evidence.

    In any event, my point (which you block quoted) was not addressing particular claims regarding the physical life of Jesus. Rather it was an observation of a much more general claim regarding the requirement of material evidence to prove the existence of an immaterial reality.

  • jose

    Nordog, are you a deist? Don’t you think God plays any kind of active role at all in our reality? Like answering your prayers? Any kind of influence in the physical world has material consequences, and the good thing is we can test those! For example, we could tell when there’s water in the glass and when there’s wine.

    Anyway, if all you got is “maybe it’s true because you can’t prove it wrong”, well, I guess anything’s possible. As I said, we could be living in the Matrix. God totally could’ve put fossils in the rocks to deceive us. I am secretly Batman.

    I must say you didn’t sound very convincing though. I still think we have better explanations for what we see around.

  • Wes Weinhold

    Some anthropological evidence points to humans having a natural propensity toward spirituality, or at least to creating explanations for what they find in life that seems otherwise inexplicable and to feel awe when seeing the universe.
    As far as the afterlife is concerned, I think that most humans tend to that belief as they cannot truly imagine an end to their own consciousness. Can you imagine not being? This doesn’t prove anything, but I do think many religious beliefs grow out of natural human tendencies.
    It is actually materialism and atheism that is a later rationalist construct. For myself, I was raised Lutheran and then became a materialist; but I have no idea what to believe concerning gods, consequences and the afterlife.

  • Robert W.

    Mike,

    Seeing that I laid out point-by-point precisely how it absolutely is internally inconsistent, I can now say with certainty that you either have no idea how logic works, or you believe in a god that violates the laws of logic, like I said.

    Actually I showed how your “logic” was not a logical argument at all because it was based upon a false assumption of God’s plan. So the ideas you list are correct on their face, but they don’t work together the way you profess.

    To everyone else who commented on belief being a choice:

    This is my point that I think is supported by your comments both here and in previous posts: Most of you have indicated that you have looked at the evidence of God and maybe Christianity and have come to the conclusion that to you that the evidence is lacking and as such you do not believe. I would imagine that Anna, once you heard about God, you explored the idea even a little bit, and decided there was no reason to believe and that those that do are wrong (for lack of a better term).

    The weighing of the evidence and the conclusion you have reached is a conscious decision.. ie a choice.

    Once you have been exposed to information about God and you take a position on His existence, even if that position is I don’t believe because I haven’t seen enough evidence even though its a possibility, then you are making a choice. It is not a passive endeavor.

    By the same token, when theists look at the evidence and they see it as true and thus they believe, then they are equally making a choice. They are making the choice to believe just as much as you are making the choice not to believe.

  • Nordog

    Uh, when did I ever say that? I never stated that deities cannot exist.

    I didn’t say you said that. I said you didn’t say that, and did so because I was pointing out that we were talking about two different things.

  • Nordog

    Anyway, if all you got is “maybe it’s true because you can’t prove it wrong”, well, I guess anything’s possible…I must say you didn’t sound very convincing though.

    I’m not overly concerned that you don’t find “maybe it’s true because you can’t prove it wrong” very convincing.

    In fact, I don’t find it very convincing either. That’s at least one of the reasons I did not make that argument.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Robert,

    I would imagine that Anna, once you heard about God, you explored the idea even a little bit, and decided there was no reason to believe and that those that do are wrong (for lack of a better term).

    You’re awfully wrapped up in your culture box. It wasn’t just your god that I heard about. In fact, I really don’t know which god I heard about first. And I didn’t “explore the idea” and then decide “there was no reason to believe.” I had absolutely no idea people actually believed in deities at all, not for years after I first heard about them. I was always an atheist. I never made the choice not to believe. I simply never started to believe in the first place. It all seemed like mythology to me. I didn’t realize that people believed in things that were obviously made up, like heaven, when I could see no difference between that and Rainbow Land or Care-a-Lot. The idea that people might think any of those things were real was not even in my mind for a very long time. I just assumed it was all pretend, and that adults knew that.

    How old were you when people taught you to believe in your god? How old were you when they taught you that heaven was a real place? How old were you when you were taught that Jesus was a real person? How old were you when you were taught to say prayers? You just seem so unable to comprehend that different people have different life experiences. I never experienced any of the things that you did. I can’t understand why you think I should have been in any position to think of your god as likely or reasonable. It’s just bizarre to me. Again, I was not raised in a Christian home, and I had absolutely no reason to consider the Christian deity as special or more likely to be true than any other deity.

    The weighing of the evidence and the conclusion you have reached is a conscious decision.. ie a choice.

    A conscious choice? I never weighed any evidence because I never saw any evidence. I didn’t have to find reasons not to believe. I never started, so I didn’t have doubts or questions and I didn’t lose faith at all. I never had it to begin with. If you’re so bent on believing that I weighed the evidence and made a conscious choice not to believe in your deity, when was the exact moment you made a conscious choice not to believe in the gods of Hinduism? You didn’t have one, because you never started believing in them to start with. And you could not choose to start believing in them, either, making the “choice” to believe a false one.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Nordog,

    I didn’t say you said that. I said you didn’t say that, and did so because I was pointing out that we were talking about two different things.

    Okay. I don’t think you will find many atheists here (or elsewhere) who say that it is impossible for deities to exist. We just don’t believe in them because we have not been provided with any evidence that would support their existence.

  • Robert W.

    Anna,

    Since we were in a discussion about the God of the Bible, that is why I referred to that God in my previous post.

    A conscious choice? I never weighed any evidence because I never saw any evidence. I didn’t have to find reasons not to believe. I never started, so I didn’t have doubts or questions and I didn’t lose faith at all. I never had it to begin with.

    As an adult, have you read the Bible? Even just parts of it? Do you think it is true? I assume you don’t.

    The Bible is some evidence that Christians rely upon to believe. So if you have read the Bible and have reached the conclusion that what it says is not true then I would argue that you have made a choice as an adult not to believe.

    As for my history, I was raised as a Christian then as an adult I questioned my faith and did independent study.

    As for the gods of hinduism, the minute I decided that the God of the Bible was the one true God, then I knew that the gods of hinduism were not to be believed in.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Robert, you did absolutely nothing to contradict what I said. If God truly wished that none should suffer, he could’ve designed the human mind with the ability to make free choices that didn’t involve rebellion. We’re already limited in the choices we can make as it is – that your theology allows for a god that didn’t design us properly in line with his own desire is a little disappointing.

    …if you have read the Bible and have reached the conclusion that what it says is not true then I would argue that you have made a choice as an adult not to believe.

    Sorry, Robert, but that’s bullshit. The Bible is only convincing if you were raised to believe it was true. If you aren’t coming from that perspective, it is absolutely unconvincing. It reads like nothing more true than the Greek stories of their gods.

    To say that reading mythology and coming away unconvinced that it’s true is a choice to disbelieve is to make the most fatuous argument I can possibly imagine.

    If you read the Koran and don’t believe it’s true, have you chosen to believe that Allah doesn’t exist, or have you failed to be convinced by evidence? If you read the stories of Hercules and don’t believe they’re true, have you chosen to believe that Zeus doesn’t exist, or have you failed to be convinced by evidence?

    It is not a choice. The evidence is only convincing if you begin with the assumption that some part of Christian theology is correct. Coming from any other position, it reads like fiction.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Robert,

    As an adult, have you read the Bible? Even just parts of it? Do you think it is true? I assume you don’t.

    What has that got to do with the supernatural? I didn’t read the Bible until I was an adult, but I had heard about all sorts of gods and goddesses for years by that point. I was an atheist long before I ever heard of your holy book, let alone got around to reading it.

    The Bible is some evidence that Christians rely upon to believe. So if you have read the Bible and have reached the conclusion that what it says is not true then I would argue that you have made a choice as an adult not to believe.

    So I didn’t make the “choice” until I read the Bible? I was already an adult by then, and I was well aware that I was an atheist. Your definition of “conscious choice” strikes me as very strange. You somehow believe that I made the conscious choice not to believe in deities that a) I had never heard of, b) had no idea people thought were real, and c) never started believing in in the first place.

    As for my history, I was raised as a Christian then as an adult I questioned my faith and did independent study.

    So you were taught these things as a baby and toddler. Well, I figured that. It seems to me that you have absolutely no conception of how people can have different beliefs than you do. You seem to think that we’re all lying, dishonest, and stubborn, and you keep completely discounting our experiences and pretending that you know our thoughts and feelings better than we do. I suppose that goes hand in hand with your fundamentalism. You are so convinced of your deity that you simply can’t conceive of people who see no evidence for not just your deity, but for the supernatural in general.

    As for the gods of hinduism, the minute I decided that the God of the Bible was the one true God, then I knew that the gods of hinduism were not to be believed in.

    When was that? When you were a baby? Was there ever a time in your life when you didn’t believe in the god of the Bible? You said you were raised as a Christian. That means you already believed in your god at the time you encountered the gods of Hinduism. You didn’t encounter them as an unbiased outsider. You were taught they were false. I mean, if you were raised in the type of fundamentalism that you now espouse, you should at least be honest about the fact that you were taught that all other gods were false. You never had a chance of believing in them because they were a) outside your culture and b) dismissed by the people who taught you to believe in the supernatural.

  • Nordog

    The Bible is only convincing if you were raised to believe it was true. If you aren’t coming from that perspective, it is absolutely unconvincing.

    Mike, I don’t think this is true.

    Certainly being raised to believe in the Bible predisposes one to believe in the Bible.

    However, there are historic cases of peoples coming to believe as adults after having never heard of the Bible. And I’m not talking about indigenous peoples of color oppressed by Western empire. Specifically, I’m thinking of the first Japanese converts who were tortured and killed by the Japanese powers for being Christians. Undoubtedly there are of course other examples.

  • Robert W.

    Mike,

    If God truly wished that none should suffer, he could’ve designed the human mind with the ability to make free choices that didn’t involve rebellion. We’re already limited in the choices we can make as it is – that your theology allows for a god that didn’t design us properly in line with his own desire is a little disappointing.

    If God designed us with only one choice- the choice to accept and believe in him then there is no real choice. The only way the choice is a true choice is if it includes the choice to rebel. That way the choice to love is also a true choice.

    It is not a choice. The evidence is only convincing if you begin with the assumption that some part of Christian theology is correct. Coming from any other position, it reads like fiction.

    How does that explain all of those who grew up in Christian households and then later became Atheists? They believed it was true at one point and certainly assumed that some part of Christian theology was correct. They then changed their belief. Multiple people on this blog have explained that occurring to them.

    And I have personally seen the opposite where people raised in African villages heard the gospel and believed, after being raised without learning that theology.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Nordog,

    However, there are historic cases of peoples coming to believe as adults after having never heard of the Bible. And I’m not talking about indigenous peoples of color oppressed by Western empire. Specifically, I’m thinking of the first Japanese converts who were tortured and killed by the Japanese powers for being Christians. Undoubtedly there are of course other examples.

    While I’m sure that’s true, I doubt it spontaneously occurred to those converts that the Bible was special. They didn’t just read a Bible and become convinced it was something other than mythology. In all those cases, Bibles were brought to those lands by foreign missionaries, who did their damndest to tell people that it was a a special holy book and that the god it talked about was real. It’s not like these people randomly stumbled across a Bible and all of a sudden began to think it talked about the One True God™. Missionaries don’t just drop off Bibles and leave. They invest considerable effort to get the people there to accept that what they are saying is true. Since those people already believe in the supernatural, it’s not a big leap for many of them to accept that missionaries know what they’re talking about.

  • Robert W.

    Anna,

    It seems to me that you have absolutely no conception of how people can have different beliefs than you do. You seem to think that we’re all lying, dishonest, and stubborn, and you keep completely discounting our experiences and pretending that you know our thoughts and feelings better than we do. I suppose that goes hand in hand with your fundamentalism. You are so convinced of your deity that you simply can’t conceive of people who see no evidence for not just your deity, but for the supernatural in general.

    If my comments come off that way I apologize. I readily admit I am convinced about God and find it hard to believe that others cannot see that. But that is nature of faith. And I can be closed minded about that I admit.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    If God designed us with only one choice- the choice to accept and believe in him then there is no real choice. The only way the choice is a true choice is if it includes the choice to rebel. That way the choice to love is also a true choice.

    Please describe the logical connection between love and rebellion.

    We can’t choose to fly unaided, yet you still believe we have free will. Please explain to me why you think we couldn’t have free will if the choice to rebel were removed. God could have made it impossible to rebel. That does not force love on anyone. You could be forced to follow someone’s will and still resent them.

    How does that explain all of those who grew up in Christian households and then later became Atheists? They believed it was true at one point and certainly assumed that some part of Christian theology was correct. They then changed their belief. Multiple people on this blog have explained that occurring to them.

    And it has absolutely nothing to do with choosing to believe or disbelieve. For me, it had to do with choosing to use the same standard of evidence I did for my religious beliefs that I did for everything else.

  • Nordog

    While I’m sure that’s true, I doubt it spontaneously occurred to those converts that the Bible was special. They didn’t just read a Bible and become convinced it was something other than mythology. In all those cases, Bibles were brought to those lands by foreign missionaries, who did their damndest to tell people that it was a a special holy book and that the god it talked about was real. It’s not like these people randomly stumbled across a Bible and all of a sudden began to think it talked about the One True God™. Missionaries don’t just drop off Bibles and leave. They invest considerable effort to get the people there to accept that what they are saying is true. Since those people already believe in the supernatural, it’s not a big leap for many of them to accept that missionaries know what they’re talking about.

    Perhaps, but that’s a separate issue from the one Mike brought up and about which I was commenting.

  • Robert W.

    Mike,

    Please describe the logical connection between love and rebellion.

    In the context of God and the choices that are available it is choosing to love Him or not which would be rebellion.

    Please explain to me why you think we couldn’t have free will if the choice to rebel were removed. God could have made it impossible to rebel. That does not force love on anyone. You could be forced to follow someone’s will and still resent them.

    Then that wouldn’t be true love. God wants us to love him. It wouldn’t be true love if we didn’t have the choice not to love him. Which in the context of God would be to rebel against him.

    For me, it had to do with choosing to use the same standard of evidence I did for my religious beliefs that I did for everything else.

    So when this evidence didn’t add up to you then you lost your belief. i would say that that was a conscious choice arrived at from your review of the evidence or lack thereof.

    Why would you think that was not a choice? Is there a reason you think that you would not want it to be a choice?

  • AxeGrrl

    Robert, could you specifically answer this question?

    If you were on a jury and the prosecution didn’t present a case that convinced you of the accused’s guilt, how would you ‘decide’ to believe they’re guilty anyway?

    How would you go about making yourself do that?

  • Pseudonym

    Here’s the answer: If you’re a Bible-believing Christian, then (Jewish) Anne Frank is burning in hell.

    It’s an easy answer if you believe what the Bible says. Which I thought Christians did…

    There are four claims here, all four of which are wrong. OK, three if you accept that “Bible-believing” is a content-free label which describes a certain kind of US-inspired Evangelical Protestant rather than an accurate description for someone who actually believes what the Bible says.

  • Robert W.

    Axe Girl,

    If you were on a jury and the prosecution didn’t present a case that convinced you of the accused’s guilt, how would you ‘decide’ to believe they’re guilty anyway?

    How would you go about making yourself do that?

    Assuming that that was all the evidence there was and three was only one way to look at it, I wouldn’t. I would decide that the accused was not guilty. That choice to believe in the innocence would be based upon what I perceived to be a lack of evidence.

    On the other hand, others on the jury could look at that same evidence and chose to believe that the accused was guilty.

    Further, i could be convinced to look at that same evidence in a different light or from a different perspective and change my beliefs.

    Either way it would be a conscious choice.

    Choice is defined in the dictionary as such:

    choice (chois)
    n.
    1. The act of choosing; selection.
    2. The power, right, or liberty to choose; option.
    3. One that is chosen.
    4. A number or variety from which to choose: a wide choice of styles and colors.
    5. The best or most preferable part.
    6. Care in choosing.
    7. An alternative.

    Chose choosing not to believe or to believe is an act. Something that is done. It is not just a passive lack of belief.

    Ihope this answers your question

  • AxeGrrl

    Assuming that that was all the evidence there was and three was only one way to look at it, I wouldn’t. I would decide that the accused was not guilty. That choice to believe in the innocence would be based upon what I perceived to be a lack of evidence.

    If you perceived a lack of evidence, why are you characterizing your conclusion as a “choice”? If you couldn’t come to a different conclusion (based on the evidence), where’s the ‘choice’ there? If it were TRULY a choice, you could have decided to believe differently in that specific situation…..but you just admitted that you wouldn’t.

    On the other hand, others on the jury could look at that same evidence and chose to believe that the accused was guilty

    But just because another person may evaluate the evidence differently, how does that render your conclusion a ‘choice’?

    i could be convinced to look at that same evidence in a different light or from a different perspective and change my beliefs

    Robert, you’re just basically saying that you can choose to come to almost any conclusion regarding almost any situation. If this were the case, you could ‘choose’ to believe that a guy you meet on the street is the reincarnation of Napoleon, right? I mean, given what you’ve said, you could be convinced to look at it from his perspective and come to a different conclusion. I mean, that’s how ‘easy’ you’re making this sound.

    Robert, what you’ve basically done is render your belief in ‘God’ as being almost completely arbitrary….because as you’ve just said, you probably could just as easily be persuaded to ‘choose’ a different belief….

    If the belief you hold is that flimsy/arbitrary/changeable, how do you hold any convition in it at all?

  • Nordog

    AxxGrrl,

    I’ve only skimmed a few of the posts between you and Robert about “choice” so I’m not up to speed on all that’s been put forth.

    Yet if my skimming is any indication, you are right on this matter.

    If in considering any proposition one is honest with one’s self, the conclusions made (even if in error) are what they are. A person can only “choose” against that conclusion with some sort of self-dishonesty; maybe willfully, maybe not.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    In the context of God and the choices that are available it is choosing to love Him or not which would be rebellion.

    You did it again. You didn’t explain, you just equated rebellion with not loving. You do understand that a child that rebels against its parents can still love them, right?

    Then that wouldn’t be true love. God wants us to love him. It wouldn’t be true love if we didn’t have the choice not to love him. Which in the context of God would be to rebel against him.

    Please explain the bold bit. How is rebelling against God equivalent to not loving God?

    So when this evidence didn’t add up to you then you lost your belief. i would say that that was a conscious choice arrived at from your review of the evidence or lack thereof.
    Why would you think that was not a choice? Is there a reason you think that you would not want it to be a choice?

    Seriously, you’re just not getting it. When the evidence doesn’t convince you, you’re not choosing to be unconvinced. It has nothing to do with what I want. There are things that our brains do that really, truly are not conscious choices. You seem to think that true belief in the existence of something is a choice. It’s not.

    choosing not to believe or to believe is an act.

    That’s just it – we aren’t choosing not to believe. It is not a choice. Are you actively choosing not to believe in fairies? Dragons? Aliens? Tell me something you don’t believe in, and then tell me honestly whether or not you could choose to actually believe it exists. Not just whether you can say you believe it, but actually believe it.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    BTW, Nordog:

    If in considering any proposition one is honest with one’s self, the conclusions made (even if in error) are what they are. A person can only “choose” against that conclusion with some sort of self-dishonesty; maybe willfully, maybe not.

    Was about to say something like this myself before I saw you’d already said it. If you’ve decided to follow where the evidence leads, and the evidence doesn’t support a position, the choice would be to willfully ignore the lack of evidence and believe it anyways. If there’s no evidence, it doesn’t even really register as a choice to go ahead and disbelieve. To call it a choice is to say that every single thing we disbelieve in was a choice – even things we may not even know about yet, since we don’t believe in them.

  • Secular Stu

    When I was 12 I chose not to believe in Santa Claus.

  • Nordog

    At the age of 6 I chose to accept gifts from the Santa Clause in whom I no longer believed.

  • Robert W.

    Axe Girl,

    If you perceived a lack of evidence, why are you characterizing your conclusion as a “choice”? If you couldn’t come to a different conclusion (based on the evidence), where’s the ‘choice’ there? If it were TRULY a choice, you could have decided to believe differently in that specific situation…..but you just admitted that you wouldn’t.

    Why wouldn’t it be a choice?

    In your hypothetical a jury member is faced with making a decision- guilty or not guilty. They need to choose between those two options.

    Robert, you’re just basically saying that you can choose to come to almost any conclusion regarding almost any situation. If this were the case, you could ‘choose’ to believe that a guy you meet on the street is the reincarnation of Napoleon, right? I mean, given what you’ve said, you could be convinced to look at it from his perspective and come to a different conclusion. I mean, that’s how ‘easy’ you’re making this sound.

    Robert, what you’ve basically done is render your belief in ‘God’ as being almost completely arbitrary….because as you’ve just said, you probably could just as easily be persuaded to ‘choose’ a different belief….

    If the belief you hold is that flimsy/arbitrary/changeable, how do you hold any conviction in it at all?

    Not at all.

    Did you see the movie Twelve Angry Men? A good example of how twelve men, looking at the same evidence at fist 11 wanted to convict and one voted for acquittal. Then after deliberation, looking at the same evidence from a different perspective or in a different way, they all changed their mind and voted for acquittal.

    The evidence didn’t change, but the way they thought about that evidence or looked at it changed their belief. It didn’t mean that their original belief was not strong or that they didn’t truly belief it, but they were open to another perspective.

    But just because another person may evaluate the evidence differently, how does that render your conclusion a ‘choice’?

    Of course it would still be a choice. My personal choice. Look at the definition of choice.

    I quess I am confused as to why when faced with two options of what you think the truth to be, when you select one based upon what you know or what you perceive, why isn’t that belief a choice?

  • Robert W.

    Mike,

    You did it again. You didn’t explain, you just equated rebellion with not loving. You do understand that a child that rebels against its parents can still love them, right?

    Please explain the bold bit. How is rebelling against God equivalent to not loving God?

    By putting the two words in the proper context the connection is explained. So are you saying that you can rebel against God, ignore his existence, fail to follow his Word and still Love him?

    A child can do that to a point with their parents in the sense that they can rebel against their teachings and still love them because they recognize their relationship that still exists between them. If you rebel against God in the sense that you ignore his existence then there isn’t any room for love.

    That is the choice options I was talking about. We weren’t discussing the idea of two Christians, one who follows God’s word more then the other, but free will to decide if he exists or not.

    That’s just it – we aren’t choosing not to believe. It is not a choice. Are you actively choosing not to believe in fairies? Dragons? Aliens? Tell me something you don’t believe in, and then tell me honestly whether or not you could choose to actually believe it exists. Not just whether you can say you believe it, but actually believe it.

    In my opinion the decision that you made to decide that God doesn’t exist was a choice. You may never look at tit that way. But it was similar to choices you make everyday. For example, (not a perfect analogy but close) say you were going to fly somewhere. Based upon the evidence you have gathered, past history of flying, some knowledge of the safety of airlines, some evidence of the safety record of this particular airline, etc. you choose to get on the plane.

    If on the other hand you had evidence that this airline wasn’t safe, that their could be a safety problem with this particular plane you would choose not to get on the plane. Your act of not getting on the plane is a choice based upon the evidence.

    When it comes to faith and belief in God, I contend that you made that same sort of decision after thinking about it and being exposed to other ideas or doubts in your mind.

    Say that I present you with overwhelming evidence of God’s existence. And you re thought your current position and came to the conclusion that God exists. Do you not agree that the decision to believe would be a choice?

    As for something I don’t believe in, say unicorns to use a common example, if I was presented with the same evidence that I have for the existence of God then I would have to change my belief that they don’t exist.

  • Nordog

    I guess it’s true to say that one can rebel against a parent and still love the parent.

    But I do think that to refuse love to a parent would be a type of rebellion.

  • Ray

    If you have read the Bible with the Spirit guiding you you realize no one has ascended to Heaven except Jesus. Jesus tells the thief on the cross “I tell you today you will be with me in Paradise”. No commas in the Greek language when this was written. So stating I tell you today not stating it will happen just stating you will be with me in Paradise. And what about the Post trib rapture? If people are in Heaven now who will rise from the graves and meet Christ in the air? Paul states “we will not all sleep”. Please read and understand the Bible before commenting on things you have no knowledge about. May God call you unto repentance. Repent and be baptized.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1635587385 Jason Ricard

       What a joke.

  • Nordog

    Ray, you may wish to compare and contrast the ministry of St. Paul to the Jews and his ministry to the Greeks, paying particular attention to his method.

    Short Version: Know your audience.

  • Ray

    I can not change to become one of them I can only tell them the truth. You will either accept it or you will not. Just as the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Most know the law that God gave to Moses if they dont believe him they will not believe me. I am here to put people on the right path. I dont bring them into a relationship with Jesus only the Father can do that. That is my prayer people to read the Bible instead of following man made traditions. This is the reason Christians and I use that word loosely look uneducated to non believers. There are so many different beliefs how can one be sure. If you follow the Bible completely you will find the truth. I just wish I could have two hours time with those who think they are following God to show them there error from the Bible Gods words. Open your mind and you will find the truth. I use to laugh to myself as my Dad would talk about God. Now I realize as most things come to pass Dad was right.

  • Nordog

    Good luck with that.

  • AxeGrrl

    Robert W wrote:

    If on the other hand you had evidence that this airline wasn’t safe, that their could be a safety problem with this particular plane you would choose not to get on the plane. Your act of not getting on the plane is a choice based upon the evidence

    Ok, this is a GREAT example to use Robert!

    Yes, not getting on the plane would be the ‘choice’ in that scenario. But (and here’s the crucial part)……

    Was your conclusion that the plane “wasn’t safe” a choice Robert? That’s the relevant part of the scenario you’ve just described, and you glossed right over it!

    You mentioned evidence that the “plane wasn’t safe”. Given that evidence, could you, instead, have simply chosen to believe that the plane is completely safe? If coming to conclusions is simply a ‘choice’, then you’d have to say that you could have chosen to believe that the plane is safe…..in the face of evidence to the contrary.

    And as Nordog has already pointed out, that would have to involve a certain degree of ‘self-dishonesty’.

    (are you getting where we’re coming from yet, Robert?)

  • Pingback: Did Anne Frank go to hell? | Dangerous Intersection

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Robert,

    If my comments come off that way I apologize. I readily admit I am convinced about God and find it hard to believe that others cannot see that. But that is nature of faith. And I can be closed minded about that I admit.

    I always appreciate that you are polite, but sometimes you do come across as, not exactly closed minded, but rather like you’re being purposely obtuse. You seem like an intelligent person, so I don’t always understand how you have such a difficult time comprehending our perspectives. I realize we have had completely different life experiences, but maybe it’s a good thing for both of us to use our imaginations and think about what it would have been like if our childhoods had been different.

    You know, they say the first five years of a child’s life are the most important. That’s when our brains are developing at the fastest rate and that’s when we learn to how to interpret the world around us. During your first five years, you were taught to believe in the supernatural and were taught to interpret the world in a supernatural way. I was not taught those things. As a result, you have a hard time believing that other people don’t see evidence of your god, while I have a hard time understanding how people can believe in such obvious mythology.

    I can imagine what it would have been like to have been raised in a different environment, though. If I’d been raised like you were, it might be easier for me to understand your perspective. I might even be in your position. Likewise, if you or I had been raised in a tiny village in Bhutan, our perspectives on the world would be radically different. If I think outside the culture box for a moment, I can picture myself as a little girl being taught those things and believing them.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    Nordog,

    Perhaps, but that’s a separate issue from the one Mike brought up and about which I was commenting.

    I didn’t mean to imply that’s what you were saying. It’s a related point, though, since it’s no surprise that religions with histories of aggressive proselytization tend to gain converts. Particularly since they also have a tendency to target uneducated, disenfranchised people who are in no position to question the claims of the missionaries or to do research on their own. People who already believe in the supernatural are prime candidates for conversion by missionaries who speak with authority, and an illiterate villager has no way of determining whether or not what the missionaries are saying is true.

  • Shana

    Hello everyone. I’m not sure how I came across this website. I was just looking for people’s beliefs re: heaven and hell. Anyway, I am a Christian who loves the Lord and try to repent from my sins and live to glorify His name. I cannot tell you for sure who is in heaven or hell because I do not know if they accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior and repented. I can tell you that if they did, they are in heaven, and if not, they are in hell. This means that if a person we consider evil who murders people chooses to repent and is truly sorry for all of his sins and asks Jesus to forgive him, then Jesus will forgive and take him to heaven. If there is a person who we consider to be “good” but that person does not accept Jesus and repent (because ALL have sinned, and the wages of sin is “death”), then that person goes to hell. We cannot earn our way into heaven because since we are all sinful, but Jesus cleanses us of our sins in the sight of the Father. It’s only by God’s grace that we are saved. However, that is not to say that a person who was once saved and then rejects the Lord then that person does not go to heaven because he didn’t truly love the Lord as he claimed. If he again repents then Jesus will forgive him again up until the day he dies, however if he dies without returning to the Lord then he will go to hell. I encourage everyone to seek Jesus, truly with your heart, before it is too late, and He will reveal the truth to you :)
    luv,
    Shana

  • Hannah, the God and Jesus Lover

    You aren’t a very “friendly Atheist”… just saying. Jesus was Jewish, but Jesus even said that his own would be against him. Can’t we all just get along? I would gladly except your views IF you wouldn’t be mean about it. I’m a devout Christian and love Jesus, but I don’t go around saying “YOU ARE GOING TO HELL!!!!!” to nonbelievers.

    • dauntless

      But you believe it.

  • Bob Nelson

    Ok Anne Frank is not in Hell. She did nothing wrong and she loved the world. If anything she deserves to go to heaven more than alot of Christians do.

  • ljg

    Our Blessed Lord says that ALL people get paid equally for their work.  A person may agree to a full day’s labor for $100, and another may agree to a full day’s pay but for only working for one hour.  Most of us would consider this unjust, but the bible tells us otherwise because we both agreed to the terms ahead of time.  

    Likewise it is said about the life long believer and the death bed convert.  They both get the same reward – Heaven.  But what is a death bed convert?  Does a person have to be conscious for God to talk to his soul and reveal himself?  Is there another level of consciousness that only God can access, but leaves the soul with his reasoning powers and free will?  Are there “timeless” moments between death and judgment where God reveals himself to the soul?  Can anyone answer these questions with certainty?  

    God rejects NO ONE.  God does everything possible for our salvation, and every single person throughout life or at the moment of death has an equal opportunity to accept salvation or not.   And the question that each one of us must answer transcends gender, nationality, religious beliefs and time itself, and is the same, and equally so, for everyone. Period! Otherwise, God would not be just. Keep in mind, that it’s not anyone’s fault that they were born Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Native American, Atheist, Agnostic or whatever.  What IS our choice and under our control is what we do with the life God has given us.  Do we love our neighbor? Do we help others? Do we pray for others? Do we make sacrifices for others? Or do we gas people to death or condemn them to hell?  

    So, is Anne Frank in Heaven?  She sure as hell is (no pun intended), unless sometime in her life (or at the moment of death) she consciously, willfully and with full understanding of the consequences, tells God to shove it!  And since we don’t know with certitude when God actually revealed himself to her (during life, at the moment of death or a timeless moment after death), we are left to wonder about her decision.  And we must give her the benefit of the doubt, for who among us thinks they would have faired better than her in all aspects of her life and death.  Poor girl!  Condemned in this life because she was a Jew and condemned in the next life for the same reason.  There may have been none to defend her in life, but I’ll fight to the death to defend her in eternity.  Ann Frank may have been a Jew, but she was more Christian than all of us.  God bless her…………..!

  • 22

    Well, I think both Christians and Jews are much alike – they all copulate anally with donkeys. For that reason, I think they’ll all end up in heaven. It is good to pleasure such a gentle and proud animal as a donkey.

    • Daniel_8394

      YOUR STLL ONE OF US DONKEY

  • Blackout

    If you are a Christian this is an easy question to answer. If Anne Frank did not give her life to Christ, than she is in hell (John 3:16). We don’t 100% know if she didn’t give her life to Christ but odds are that she didn’t. Anyway, whoever said God is fair and will give just punishment has no idea what they are saying. God is completely unfair. If He was fair, we would all be dead and in hell. That would be the only just punishment. To be honest all of us deserve hell. Odds are you are a liar, a cheater, an adulterer at heart, a thief, and a plain sinner. So you can’t say only people like Hitler deserve hell. Anyway to back to the point, it says in the Bible that only through Jesus you can get to heaven. So back to before, unless Anne accepted Jesus into her life, she is in hell, even as bad as that sounds. I like the point Robert W. made, God doesn’t send you to hell, you are there by your own free will and choice.

    • Garbled

      This person is ignorant. They do not even know what John 3:16 says. Must be a wresting fan, but Christians, Jews, and non-believers alike should just ignore this lunacy

  • LilyARH

    The older I get the more disgusted I am by the bible … I still find it wrong when people openly insult Christians though. I think it’s religious texts that I find ludicrous and ultimately dangerous as a lesbian rather than religious people.

  • Annette Huneault

    you have no right  to judged. you dont know at the last moment she could of aske Jesus to forgive her. who knows. God is the only one who know . we don dont have the right to judge. God didnt give the right to judge.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      So you’re totally fine with your god torturing people for eternity?

    • OooShiny

      Annette Huneault:
       
      Forgive her for WHAT?!!??  
       
      What on earth could a tiny, hungry, frightened Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis in an attic possibly have done to deserve hell?
       
      SHAME on you.

      • Df

        This person was talking about forgiveness of “the original sin,” or baptism. Basically washing away what Adam and Eve created when they ate the forbidden fruit. I don’t believe Christians think Anne Frank is burning. It is more likely, if they have actually read their bible, that Anne Frank is in purgatory, like all the unborn children.think of it in colors. Black is evil, white is good, grey is in the middle. When people are born, they are grey, as they have not exercised any moral decisions. Once they are baptized, they become white, but they can still move toward the black by committing evil acts. Christians view all people who are good and have not accepted Christ as grey, but that doesn’t rope them into hell. Consider aborted fetus’. They are morally grey because they have not made any moral depictions yet.
        And yeah purgatory sounds horrible, but it’s supposedly only temporary, with Jesus destroying all the evil in hell and freeing all the souls from purgatory to lead them into heaven yada yada head blah blah blah.
        Sorry, I would have proofed this better but I’m typing it on an iPad. I hope you don’t take extremist views too seriously. It would make the world seem like an ignorant place.

  • Madly Raven

    I always thought Hitler was christian. He waged a christian war, that’s certain. That would mean Hitler is in heaven playing golf with Jesus and poor Miss Frank is burning in hell, as you say.

    Admit it.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      Exactly. Hitler was all for the Christianity in Germany. It was a way to unify the country. And if a Christian tries to argue that even if he thought he believed, he did horrible things, so he wouldn’t go to heaven, then that means that everyone involved in the Crusades (including the Pope) went to hell, because they did horrible things even if they believed in God.

    • Mike s

      Christian?! Hitler was an atheist who worshiped himself

  • daniel gutierrez

    there is only one worthy to open the scrolls.and his name is jesus.it is his and his alone,to judge,who goes to hell or to heaven.it is not for us to contemplate the idea.our job is to spread the good news which christ taught us.to all that will hear it,and if you never heard it.i will tell it to you.he has risen.and he is the son of god.and he sits at the right hand of the father.and no one can come to the father.ecept through him.so if your worried about ann frank.don’t be .jesus christ already took care of her.

  • Justmy02cents2

    You obviously view Christians through your lens that tells you Christians are hateful people. One tenet of Christianity is humility. Given that, I don’t see anything wrong with a Christian saying they would never presume to know the mind of God or otherwise sit in judgment of another. Whether Hitler or Anne Frank go to hell is for God decide. That is not a politically correct statement. It is humility before the Almighty. I have two questions. When will athiests learn that faith is faith and science is science and never the two shall meet. I sure Kant say when. Second, why proselytize atheism? Why not just proselytize the principles atheists supposedly espouse (but like so many Christians and their principles, rarely live up to)?

  • Nik

    Are you people all as stupid as it seems? The old Testament is Jewish not Christian and Jesus Christ himself was Jewish. Does he go to hell too in your opinion?The new Testament does not send anyone to hell. I see why everybody laughs at Americans here in Europe.

  • Neutral

    Look guys, I see you guys are having terrible difficulty on being neutral. Ignoring the religious stuff, what did Anne Frank do to Jesus so that Jesus gives Anne an eternal punishment? By being christians, our mission is to make people believe in god. She didn’t have the chance! No one told her about christianity, and her parents were jews.

    Christians: What could a little girl do? Now according to some of you, Adolph Hitler is enjoying his hatred life, and poor Anne is suffering in hell. Do you think god is that ignorant? I am a catholic, sometimes even I had trouble beleving on him, but now a days, I am getting a bit more faithful. I should be going to hell, because I bet I sinned more than her. Everyone born in earth makes mistakes, and Anne has rights to make mistakes like the rest of us.

    Ex:

    1. In case of Anne, she was given 1 talent with another 500 disadvantages. She made another 20 talents with that 500 disadvantages. She wanted to be a journalist or an author, and at the end, she is one of the most famous authors! She made it with those disadvantages. What did you do? For those of you who made it, congratulations, but for those who didn’t? A 15 years old girls made it!

    2. Jews prayed directly to the father. We both have the same genesis and exodus. We both came from the same father. The same god told us to be loving. Now look what you are doing? By saying Anne Frank is in hell, does that make you a loving person? In my opinion, I do not think so. This means you have to go to hell because you did not obey god. Anne believed in god but no in Jesus, so she deserves to go heaven.

    As a conclusion, lets not talk in an egoistic manners. I say that religion wars are the most fatal wars in history!

    • baahbaahImASheepThinkForMePlzz

      What a thought-provoking conclusion you have there. Two questions if I may…? Have you taken even a glance at your dusty bible other than for zombie-jesus/easter sunday? Was the last history lesson you learned in the 7th grade?
      Lets take a moment to check back to documented history when trying to learn about these casualties surrounding religious wars. Which of the religions have the most blood (and by such exponentially greater degrees) on their hands in our historically ACCURATE records as well as in the biblical desert-tales of the old testament? When considering the blood soaked hands of the christians and the catholics, both waging the most devastating of all wars, commencing the river of blood on whims of founders trying to gain a foothold during their initial inception, then progressing to the present fear-mongering, bigoted and fanciful ideologies, one would hopefully be capable of attaining the tiniest nugget of rationalism. Historically, the fact is that these “believers” have always been enamored with their commission by the man in the sky to run around the globe, infect any along the way with the virulent condemnation all-the-while, holding steadfast to the illusion of going about this(one of many) self-proclaimed ‘christ’s” work.
      The fact of the matter is that current leaders of these money-chasing pedophiles are thoroughly and belligerently drunk, each wreaking with the vile, yet blissful I’m sure, delusion of grandeur since all of the other ~4,199 religions sadly missed out on the absolute and universal truth that has been so very graciously (and seemingly at random) bestowed to Generic-Power-Religion #4,200.
      Therefore, the chosen “enlightened” ones must now “go into all the world” and share cloud-man’s obviously divine (he said so himself in the bible!) and delightfully wrathful message with all of the world at any cost (and why not roll like Columbus and make some converts upon threat of slavery, rape, robbery and death).

      ~~~The White Man’s God Marches On~~~
      jesus-gog says:”HOOHOOWhoo do ya wanna rape and make a concubine next, dad?

      Dad-god says: “Actually, since you’re talking to god like a fucking owl, i’m feeling like nailing you to a fucking tree today…maybe kick back and have a few pints while my chosen ants rape YOU this time. I have reason you know…..it’ll all be for some sorry jerk-off that I love in 2013 years… HAHA, JK, he’s def a pathetic jerkoff fuck him, I think ill just torture him forever”

      It’s a wonder how the poor souls of these uncontacted (and prior to gospel exposure, uncontaminated) tribes, living in simple harmony and union with all life around them, continued living for centuries without the “good news” that they are going to burn in an everlasting inferno with their ancestors because of their age-old pagan ways weren’t up to par with the zombies.
      As a christian, you have been commissioned by your zombie god to, in your own words, “MAKE PEOPLE BELIEVE IN [[YOUR VERSION OF]] GOD”. It frightens me for someone to not only utter such bullocks, but to truly believe this way to be for the absolute best for the world without the unnerving of what few synapses zombie jesus allows you to still use. Historically, biblically and in your own word, can you honestly not distinguish the utter disregard of respectful and compassionate christians share for ANY differing peoples, ideologies and even religions that predate bloodthirsty zombie (who always enjoys the weekly blood and flesh feast with the ol’ sheep [[HE EVEN CALLS YOU SHEEP]] every week) and his ever bloodthirsty father by THOUSANDS of years.
      I suppose one much not expected much from the death child of a pillaging sand-people, insistent to follow their all-powerful cloud-god aimlessly through the desert, leaving behind only a blood-soaked trail of mindless (maybe the wrong word, but then again, orders came down from cloud-god) destruction, rape and death until enough of the wrath of cloud-god was appeased with the designed killing of just one generation
      of his super-special sheep.
      Apologies for the joking taunts..I meant every word and can back it up with one the bazillion versions of “god’s unchanging word”, though I would rather use something not quite as magical, like an educational book.

      There is not ONE human throughout our history on this elegantly diverse spectrum of vibrant, ever-changing dance of life which comprises our delicate world standing to gain any whisper of benefit, whether spiritually, educationally, emotionally or physiologically. There is only one absolute that can rears it’s deformed head from the ever-altered text, put in context/taken out of context as willed to ensure maximum cookie-cutter sheep are procured by greed-inspired gospel thumpers who arm themselves with credentials likened to those of the tooth-fairies who steal my left sock.
      BUT WAIT, there’s more rambling… GREAT IDEA–let use tom-foolering and weird nonsense from the new edition of that zombie book so that the sheep can desperately register just enough of some distorted version of inspiration and day to day tolerance so that they can resist the urge to act with real conviction and voluntarily remove themselves from the gene pool, and then finally, we could ALMOST reach the shiny plastic phallus of the superior, awe-inspiring vacuous intellectual capabilities found in our true designer, cloud-god, shepard, cannibal, L. Ron Hubbard, sharing the vacuous intellectual capabilities as well as the same four chromosomes of a spider mites.

      baaahhhhhh baaahh sheep, have you any of your own thoughts?

      • Christ

        Did you take meth when you wrote this?

  • PocketMonster

    You said, “Can’t Christians just be honest about their horiffic beliefs?”
    However, we have not slammed your beliefs in any way, shape, or form. Therefore, I feel it is morally incorrect of you to slam us like that. I’m sorry you feel so bitter about us. But it is not the Christian people that matter- it is God. Do not let how the people act and think be a stumbling block to you, but let Jesus be what matters to you about Christianity. A follower is not the leader for a reason.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

      Are you seriously trying to claim that Christians do not slam other people’s beliefs? Not only do they say everyone else’s beliefs are wrong, they further make the horrific assertion that everyone who does not believe the exact same things they do will be tortured for all eternity, and that they deserve to be tortured for all eternity. That is a disgusting, morally indefensible belief.

      Atheists don’t believe in deities, so Jesus is not relevant here. As an atheist, Christianity doesn’t matter to me. I feel the same way about Christianity as I do about Jainism, Sikhism, or Zoroastrianism. They are all religions that make supernatural claims. I do not see any reason to assume that their claims are correct.

      • God

        Anne Frank did not believe in hell, so I’m sure she’d feel the same way about this post as you do about ‘Zoroastianism.’ However I do believe your views on what Christians think is wrong. Especially since you’ve roped them into one large group here, as Catholics,
        Mormons, and Protestants are not the same.
        Your statement reminds me of how I feel when people say all Muslims are terrorist or all gay people have aids. It’s just ignorant. The bible is just a book with vague guidelines on morality. It doesn’t say how to interpret them, nor can it accept responsibility for the negativity possible with misinterpretation.
        After all that, I would say pocket monster is stuck in some confused interpretation of the bible, riddled with conversion

  • Doug

    Some people obviously haven’t read the WHOLE BIBLE. Matthew 19:13-15 there’s your answer to this question from the words of Jesus himself

  • Tel

    “So if Anne Frank is in hell, it is because that is what was right and good.”

    That’s… that’s… that’s horrible.

    “Right and good.” I just… no. No. Hell is not and cannot be right and good, and no god who damns someone there can be right and good either. You’re using “good” to mean “bad”, dear Christian. It doesn’t work. I just don’t understand. It’s horrible.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      The idea of hell was always horrifying to me. Why would anyone worship a god that would eternally punish people that didn’t agree to follow his rules? It’s just as bad as any of the gods that the Aztecs followed, except they believed the people used in their blood sacrifices went to their version of heaven.

  • KPJ

    Jewish people can believe in Jesus (i.e. Messianic Jews). Jesus Himself was Jewish. They can retain their culture but recognize Jesus as the Messiah, even though most Jewish people believe it will be someone else. It is not our place to judge whether Anne Frank is in heaven or not. I know she did mention Jesus in her diary, but I don’t know anything more than that.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Not so much, no. That’s something all Jews agree on; whatever Messianic Jews might be, it’s not Jewish. The whole Jesus as savior thing is absolutely contrary to Jewish belief. You can be an atheist Jew (a lot of the worldview carries over, even if one rejects the idea of a creator deity), but you can’t be a Christian Jew (whole different worldview, and worshiping another god (absolutely forbidden) as opposed to merely rejecting (very frowned upon)).

      Anne Frank’s mentions of Jesus were talking about what she, a fairly sheltered Jewish girl, had heard about Christianity through the grapevine. That’s it. Kinda like how you might write about Allah and Muhammed in your diary upon talking with a Muslim friend (or being hidden from genocidal maniacs by one). It wouldn’t suggest you were about to convert to Islam, and to suggest so is immensely disrespectful to you, especially were you to be killed for your ethnic background and religious beliefs. It would erase who you were and why you were killed.

      • One or two gods I don’t care

        Jewish atheism is more about the culturally aspects of Judaism as beleive in a God is one of the requirements of Judaism. Christian Jews do exist, as all of the 12 apostles were considered this. Plenty of Jewish sects recognize Jesus’ existence, and some even recognize him as a prophet of God. So I’m writing to wonder why it is you even commented on this as all you are doing is perpetrating assumptions and misinformation.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Ah, no, no they don’t. Messianic Judaism is specifically not Judaism. Most Jews do hold the widely believed (though possibly historically inaccurate) view that Jesus was a guy who existed and wandered around preaching for awhile before getting killed by Romans, but there wasn’t anything special or divine about him. I have never met a Jew who thinks Jesus was even a prophet- you may be thinking of Muslims, who see Jesus as a prophet second only to Mohammed in importance?

          What is perpetrating assumptions and misinformation is for people like you to try to blur the lines between Judaism and Christianity, or to claim that one can be both Jewish and Christian in belief at the same time. One of my cousins does that, and it is the most frustrating thing to all the Jewish members of the family ever! She is not only Christian, she is Fundamentalist Christian, with all the political and social implications of that. She does the Jewish holidays, but she is Christian in the Jesus thing, the insufferable Facebook posts thing, the proselytizing thing, the hyper-conservative political outlook thing. She thinks God has a purpose for her and her alone- not a Jewish outlook, but a very Christian one. She denigrates knowledge and is willing to lie, manipulate, and coerce people into doing her will because Jesus- an attitude I very rarely see among Jews (though I don’t hang out with Orthodox ones) but one I am intensely familiar with coming from Christians.

          • Jebus

            I mean you perpetuate bullshit. You can’t present any facts that weren’t surmised from your assumptions about the people you know. Look, your using cousin as a reference. Why do you care what and how she believes. Are you, yourself, Jewish? Do you study their culture? Have you ever been to listen to anything that wasn’t thrown at you by a tv?How about Christian? Are you talking about all Christians? Just Catholics? Maybe Opus Dei? Your sweeping arguments are ill-formed and full of logical fallacies. You have no right to even comment on these things if you haven’t made it your passion, wether its living it or just studying it. As an World Citizen I do not support your ignorance of Article 18 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As an American, I feel sorry for your cousin, who is related to someone (you) who has no respect for the First Ammendment. How dare you criticize whatever Frankenstein religion she’s a part of. And how foolish of you to give an example of some who is both Jewish and Christian. Sorry your other family members think its frustrating, but I find their judgement and lack of support foolish. Maybe she wouldn’t be so hyper-conservative if the family had accepted her.
            As for your other point on Christians being self serving and thinking God has a purpose for them, no shit. The Jews also have this trait, have you ever heard the term God’s Chosen People? Sounds pretty purposeful to me.
            I am non-religious, and my political views slant left, so you really aren’t doing anything by arguing with me. Just making yourself look stupid.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              Uh, I was raised Jewish and am now quite firmly atheist, though I still consider myself culturally Jewish, so yeah, I know just a wee bit about it. I know a lot about Christianity, having looked into it a fair bit because of its ubiquity (I live in the Bible Belt). That’s also how I know quite a lot about fundamentalist Christianity- unfortunately, I live at ground zero for that shit and get to see their monstrous policies put into play in my very state. And clearly my statements refer back to fundamentalist Christianity as practiced in the US, as anyone with basic reading comprehension skills would figure out by simply reading my post.

              Of course my cousin has the right to be irrational and believe crazy things. I also have the right to call her out on it and talk about the harms it does. First Amendment rights do not include the right to be immune from criticism. Of course I’m going to criticize her religion- it’s immensely harmful to her and the people around her. All religion is foolish, but religion that relies on hurting people and crushing them is worse and should be, must be, criticized. She volunteers for a Crisis Pregnancy Center, for crying out loud, and those are places known for emotional manipulation, guilt-lading, deliberate misinformation, fear-mongering, and even sabotage of women’s actual abortion appointments. It’s in their training manuals.

              And no, Jews being the Chosen People doesn’t have a purpose, as you’d know if you knew anything about Judaism. Jews do not believe God put us here to do X, as my cousin does (she thinks God personally chose her to “save babies”). We’re not that arrogant or egotistical in our religious beliefs, see. The Chosen People thing is more a burden than a blessing- if you’ve ever seen Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye’s line ” I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?” is quite apropos to how most Jews feel about it.

              Your personal religious and political views are meaningless to your arguments, you realize. You said something incorrect about Judaism and Christianity, and I endeavored to correct it. You then somehow assumed that I didn’t know what I was talking about (without actually doing any research to confirm or deny this) and claimed that I was somehow trying to restrict people’s rights, without understanding one bit about what the First Amendment actually says (it doesn’t immunize any idea to criticism and it doesn’t say anything about calling people wrong or unethical either, especially when backed up by evidence- it merely bans the government from establishing a religion or favoring any religion or non-religion over any other).

              • fart

                still, if you grew up jewish you would know that ann frank doesn’t give a “damn” about all this. one because shes not christian, two because shes not dead.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Obvious troll is obvious. Shoo.

  • I motet

    First off Christians and Jews worship the same God, the god of Abraham. That being said, Jesus himself was a Jew, not a Christian, so it’s probably safe to say that there are more than just Christians in heaven. Also, have you heard of this place called purgatory? It’s where souls who can’t go to heaven or hell go. Maybe she’s there, IDK I don’t work at the Vatican and I gave up religion a long time ago.

    Second, the Jews don’t believe in hell. So this whole argument is moot. Anne Frank is not in Christian Heaven or Hell because she was JEWISH!

    Christians believe in one God, with Jesus as a son, but the main goal of the religion isn’t what happens after death. It’s about how to live your life. If someone wants to distort that meaning to get what they want, like you are here, or when we use religion in our politics, they destroy its truth with humanism. Think of god – less as a person, and more of an ideal guiding people to righteous self-governance.

  • CraigOlsen

    Wrong answer. Children of God know that Anne is in Hades, awaiting her resurrection.


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