I’ll be responding to the very interesting discussions developing on yesterday’s thread on baffling inconsistencies displayed by people on both sides on the religious divide after I turn in my senior thesis powerpoint for review before my presentation tomorrow. I need to finish not only the powerpoint and talk, but also a glossary of tech terms (4chan, DDoS, etc) and add a content advisory note, since some of my primary sources include obscene and anatomically impossible epithets. (Yale folks, let me know if you want to sneak in, even if you’re not in JE. I may be able to swing it.)
In the meantime, I wanted to link to Friendly Atheist, who identified another weird practice/doctrine conflict among a certain subset of believers. Many churches believe a wide range of people go to hell after death, but don’t acknowledge those behaviors at funerals. The funeral director Friendly Atheist cited said:
I have worked about 3,000 funerals in my 10 years as a funeral director and I have NEVER heard a pastor state conclusively that the person they are memorializing is going to hell… although I’ve heard thousands of messages that state CONCLUSIVELY that the deceased is in heaven!!!
There’s been some fancy preachwork done by pastors for those who lived less than clean, God honoring lives. I remember one pastor saying about a man who blatantly hated God, “This man didn’t like God, but he was a man who loved the outdoors. And anybody who loves the outdoors is like a lover of God because God created the outdoors.”
It’s not just hard-line evangelicals who feel uncomfortable acknowledging the logical consequences of their beliefs. Plenty of my Christian friends subscribe to theologies that strongly imply I will go to hell when I die, but they don’t feel compelled to evangelize to me, and, if pressed on the point, tend to adopt a somewhat wishy-washy position (“I can’t know what God will do”) or just wave their hands and say “I guess the Church teaches you’re going to Hell, but I don’t think I can do anything about it. It’s up to God.”
If it weren’t for the fact that these friends are very ready to help in other, supposedly lower stakes circumstances and, in other contexts, care about me a lot, I would suspect them of not being particularly invested in my well-being. As it is, I can only conclude they don’t really believe the tenets of their religion.