Questions For Christians #1

So, I thought I’d start the month with a new blogging series; questions for Christians. Where I discuss religion and ask questions about various topics.

Topic: Heaven.

The place in the Bible that is supposedly free from all negative things – but also comes with a whole lot of problems. I have some questions for anyone who believes in the Bible.

Firstly, how could you possibly be happy in Heaven if your friends and family are in Hell? Do you actually care? Or does God just erase them from your memory?

Wouldn’t it be boring if everyone was ‘perfect’ in Heaven? If everyone can do exactly the same things then that means that no-one is unique.

What is the definition of ‘perfect’ anyway? If it means ‘free from sin’ then all in-animate objects are perfect!

Isn’t an eternity a long time? In an eternity everything that can be accomplished will be accomplished, leaving you with an infinite amount of pointless, meaningless existence.

Can you leave Heaven? And what if you want to be a God yourself? If the answer is that you cannot be a God, then I have another question: Heaven is a place where you become perfect and are supposed to be happy, then why would there be rules that you are unhappy with?

Do you exist up there only to worship your God? If so, your existence is pointless. If God needs to be worshiped, then he is hardly ‘perfect’, and if he only wants to be worshiped, it makes him sound like a tyrannical dictator.

Do the laws of reality even apply? With no illness and the inability to get injured, it seems as though Physics and reality don’t apply.

99% of people won’t get into Heaven. Why? Because everyone has broken at least one of the commandments. And if lying, stealing and murdering can be forgiven, why not a lack of belief?

Does God allow only good, moral people into Heaven, or just anyone who is a Christian? Life is not a test because he already knows what is going to happen, so punishing his creations for his own mistakes is illogical.

So those are just a few questions that either Atheists can use in debates to show the weaknesses and questions surrounding Heaven, or religious people can answer in the comments. I am hoping to get a few answers, just to see what different people think about it.

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Near Death and Personal Experiences

These are the things that people often attribute to the supernatural, and it can be hard to convince them otherwise. But there are perfectly reasonable explanations to people seeing things when they die, and ‘feeling God’s presence’ when praying.

To start with I’ll discuss near death experiences, when people die and say that they’ve been to Heaven. They often say that they’ve seen dead relatives, white lights and/or religious figures. This does not mean that there is a God. One of the reasons why is because everyone sees something slightly different, a Muslim would see Allah, a Christian would see Jesus, and some people see nothing at all. How can one religion be right if everyone is having different visions? Perhaps the answer is very simple; they’re all wrong. Or at least these visions are pointless. The brain is very active in death, the circulation of oxygen stops and carbon dioxide fills the bloodstream, which provokes these visions, feelings and vivid dreams often experienced. Whenever a religious person brings up near death experiences in a debate I often counter it by saying something along the lines of ‘if a Muslim told you that they had died and seen Allah, would you believe them? if not, why do you expect me to believe the stories of Christians dying and seeing God?’

The next thing I want to discuss is personal experiences. Most commonly in the form of meditation or prayer. When people meditate or pray they often report either a feeling of being one with the universe, or the feeling of the presence of a supernatural being. This can also be explained with science. During these activities you often undergo a period of time when there is either an increase or decrease in activity in the frontal lobe area of the brain. If there is an increase you will experience the presence of another being, whereas if there is a decrease then you will experience a feeling of peacefulness.

Of course not every personal experience is testable, observable or even explainable. We have good ideas about hallucinations, visions and brain activity, but it is not always possible to answer every question. But just because you think you saw a floating guy with wings does not mean that the Bible is true and accurate. That would be jumping to conclusions a bit, don’t you think? For all you know you could have suffered temporal lobe epilepsy, which is a possible cause of extreme hallucination.

Be sure to follow my blog to keep updated on new posts, and check out my website, I have lots of posts on topics such as the meaning of life, pascals wager, prophecies, fallacies and more.

No True Scotsman Fallacies

Sometimes in debates religious debates people claim that Hitler was an Atheist, but this is simply not true. The evidence for this claim is pretty much nothing, the evidence against it is that Hitler forced religion on public schools and on his army, he made his army ‘swear by God’ and carry crosses with Swastikas on them, and not to mention that his army wore belts with ‘Got Mitt uns’ on it, which meant ‘God is with us’. Hitler himself in speeches said that he believed that he was doing the work of a divine creator, who is going to argue against that?

Apparently some religious people. Despite all this evidence they often claim that Hitler was ‘faking it’ to get on the side of the general public, but this is a No True Scotsman Fallacy. This fallacy can be demonstrated like this:

person #1: All race-car drivers do not drive normal cars.

person #2: I am a race-car driver and I drive normal cars.

person #1: Then you’re not a race-car driver.

You see the problem? Anyone can make excuses and claim that Hitler was not a Christian, but this is pointless, as the evidence that he was a Christian is undeniable. I can understand that religious people would not want to consider Hitler part of their group, but it really doesn’t matter what they want. Atheists don’t say that Stalin was just ‘faking’ being an Atheist, so Christians shouldn’t say that Hitler was just ‘faking’ being a Christian.

Prophecies: evidence for the Bible?

One of the arguments used by religious people to support the Bible is that the Old Testament makes many, many prophecies, most of which come true. Could the Bible be false if all the things it said was going to happen did?

The answer is yes. Most of the prophecies are self-fulfilling, it is easy to fulfill a prophecy if you already know what it says. If a guy knew that there was a prophecy of him riding into a town on a specific horse on a specific day, he would do it and it would seem like a miracle, but he knew of the prophecy, so it really isn’t amazing.

The Bible was written by many people, and the authors of the later books would have gone back to the earlier ones and looked at what was supposed to happen, and then they wrote about the prophecies being fulfilled. Remember that we have few – or no – accounts outside of the Bible for the things that it talks about, meaning that even if a prophecy was said to have been fulfilled, it might not have actually happened. If the Bible predicted that a land would be discovered where America is, then it would seem amazing, because no-one knew of this land and it couldn’t be self-fulfilling. But no, in the Bible we get lots of prophecies that were easy for the people at the time to knowingly fulfill.

Not to mention the fact that there are failed prophecies in the Bible, such as the one saying that the king Nebuchadnezzar would conquer Egypt with chariots – it never happened. And plenty of others haven’t happened. Many say that these prophecies ‘just haven’t happened yet’ like the one about Egypt becoming a wasteland for 40 years, or the one about Tyre being destroyed. But do you really expect the ancient Persian king Nebuchadnezzar to come back to life, build an ancient army of chariots and take over modern day Egypt? Not likely.

Plagiarism in the Bible

Many religions predate the Bible, such as Hinduism, the Egyptian mythology, Paganism, Greek mythology and Roman mythology. Throughout the Bible you find man stories and events that have been stolen from other religions, the flood myth is taken from both Egyptian and Greek stories, many of the Biblical characters are also talked about in other religions, and the most noticeable plagiarism is the story of Jesus. Look at these three gods, Horus, Krishna and Mithra, and you can see the similarities.

Horus:

An Egyptian God in the book of the dead who was the son of a God, he was born of a virgin and baptized at birth. He healed the sick, cured the blind, cast out demons, walked on water and raised someone from the dead. He had 12 disciples. He was crucified and arose from the dead 3 days later.

Krishna:

A Hindu God who was the son of a God. He was sent to earth in the form of a man and was called the savior. He was visited at birth by wise men and shepherds guided by a star. He was without sin and he was a God-man. He performed many miracles including curing disease, casting out demons and raising the dead. He had disciples to spread his teachings and had a last supper before ascending into Heaven.

Mithra:

A Roman God who was called the savior and was sent to earth as a mortal, he died for people’s sins, he rose from the dead, he was born from a virgin on December 25th in a barn and he had 12 disciples. He had a last supper before he died and people had a symbolic ceremony where they ate his blood and flesh. Pictures of him depicted him with halo around his head.

If you put these three stories together what do you get? The story of Jesus. All the these three stories predate the Bible by up to hundreds of years, it looks like maybe the Bible isn’t divinely inspired after all, but plagiarized from the countless other religions at the time. Depending on what time you’re referencing the exact details may vary, and scholars do try to argue the little details. But arguing a handful of the little details is not really going to do much to the mountain of evidence that we have. Some festivals have even been stolen, although not as bad. The Pagan rituals of the Winter Solstice and the celebration of life were turned into Christmas and Easter.

The Bible is clearly not unique, which strengthens the evidence that it was just made by a bunch of sheep herders thousands of years ago, and somewhat reduces the entire books’ credibility. But some of the Biblical stories maybe based on truth; a small flood could have occurred and it got exaggerated, or one of the supposed miracles could easily have been altered before it was written down. But overall the evidence we have that the Bible is plagiarized shows that believing it 100% is not a good idea.

Why Creation is not Scientific

Young Earth Creationism is not scientific and certainly should not be taught in public schools, and I will explain why.

Creationism, Intelligent Design, and all the other religious ideas are pseudoscience, mainly because they start with a conclusion and then try to prove it, which is the exact opposite of real science. Not only that, but they are untestable and unfalsifiable. We cannot find any observable evidence to falsify ideas like ‘God started the Big Bang’ false, so they are not Scientific. Take for instance the Statement ‘all polar bears are white’, this can be falsified by saying ‘there is a black polar bear’. But seeing as no black polar bears have been discovered the hypothesis that all polar bears are white is proven to be true.

They are not the only ‘controversy’. If Creationism is taught as an ‘alternative’ to real science, then all of the other ideas and religions should be taught. Creationism and Intelligent Design can wait in line behind the hypothesis that life started on Mars and was blown here by cosmic wind, the aquatic-ape theory, every other religion on the planet, the Flat Earth Society, the idea that the Holocaust was a lie, and all the other crazy ideas that we can think of. It is unfair to teach one religious myth and not another, especially if it is supposed to be a ‘substitute’ for science.

A good scientific model can predict things and explain things. Evolution not only predicts how animals might evolve in the future, it also effortlessly explains how life got so diverse and complex. What does Creationism predict and explain? Well, it explains how some God who has not been proven to exist magically made everything and then made it look like the universe was actually old. And it does not predict anything at all.

Not to mention the fact that all Creationist arguments, from the receding Moon to Irreducible Complexity, have been debunked years ago. There is no evidence that Creationism is right, and in science we go with the theory that best fits the evidence. Creation doesn’t.

You don’t pray in our schools, and we won’t think in your Church. Problem solved.

Pascal’s wager

The good old ‘what if you’re wrong?’ argument.

There is a few ways to counter this irrelevant claim, the first is to turn the argument back on the person giving it. “What if you’re wrong?” can be answered with “What if I’m wrong? What if YOU’RE wrong? What if all this time you’ve been worshiping the wrong God? Don’t you think that if you were the real one would be a bit annoyed?” Pascal’s wager relies on the false dichotomy fallacy, stating that it’s either Atheism or Christianity. But the argument leaves out the fact that there are thousands of other religions that are just as likely to be true. The idea that ‘if an Atheist is right everyone loses, but if the Christian is right then only the Atheist loses’ is pointless; a third statement must be added: ‘if another religion is right then both the Atheist and the Christian lose’.

The second way I have seen people answer this question is to say something like: “I would not want to worship a God who would send me to hell for simply not believing”. Who would want to spend eternity with a God who orders you to worship him otherwise he will punish you forever? Seems just like the thing a maniacal dictator would do.

Is God an Atheist?

Seems rather strange, but under some context it might just have some credibility.

The definition of an Atheist is: “someone who rejects the belief of a Deity”. God does not believe that there is a deity other than himself, and he certainly doesn’t believe in any ‘super-God’ who rules over him. But does God ‘believe’ in himself? If so then he is a theist, if not then he is an Atheist. But how can you have Religious belief in yourself?

Believing in yourself is basically believing that you can do things, and having trust in your own abilities, but this is not Religious belief. God does not have faith in his existence, as faith is belief without evidence, and if God can’t find evidence for his own existence then he isn’t very smart. So does God have Religious belief and faith in himself, or do Christians worship an Atheist? What do you think?

Another approach is this: God is omniscient, so he knows everything. But how is God sure that there is no ‘super-God’? Is it because his omniscience tells him so? The question then becomes: “how does God know that he IS omniscient?” If God’s omniscience tells him that he’s omniscient, that is circular reasoning, and he has no way of knowing that his omniscience really is omniscience, and not just lying to him.

Interested in more questions, blogs, random thoughts and articles about religion, Atheism, Science and Creationism? Then follow my blog to keep updated and check out my site, countercreationist.wordpress.com

On a related note, I have a Facebook page for my site:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Counter-Creationist-an-Atheists-blog/1610684469150167?fref=ts

Afterlife

I found this excellent and inspiring video by the Thinking Atheist on YouTube.

I did write an article on the afterlife myself, but for some reason I couldn’t find it when I was searching through the posts on the reader. So I will post the link here:

https://countercreationist.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/the-afterlife-finite-vs-infinite-life/

And I now have a Facebook page for my site, this is the URL: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Counter-Creationist-an-Atheists-blog/1610684469150167

The Afterlife – finite vs infinite life

One of the things that religion promises you is infinite life. Humans often have a tendency to fear death, and religion uses this. Throughout all religions they tell you that after life you go somewhere else, whether it be Heaven, Hell, the Underworld, Asgard, or any other place, but some religions become so focused on the afterlife that they are practically worshiping death. And if all you are doing is focusing on the next life (if it even exists) then you are not focusing on this life.

Some people say that it must be depressing thinking that this is it, and when you die there is nothing. But that is not the case, we do not live for death, a finite life makes living more valuable. If you only have one life then it encourages you to make it worthwhile. No point wasting this life in hope for the next, and it takes the pressure off of you not to be burnt for eternity, which seems completely unjust and illogical.

Everything we are is controlled by brain chemicals; chemicals and electrical signals make us who we are, and there is no evidence that a soul even exists. And if life is infinite, it would turn into a hell pretty quickly. Given an eternity everything that can be accomplished will be accomplished, everything you could possibly do and experience will be, and then you’ll be left for an infinite amount of time with nothing new to do or experience. Everything will become boring and dull sooner or later. After everything is done then there will be only pointless existence.

In a way, people have been dead for billions and billions of years, and if life is finite they will go back to not existing after death. But our bodies will decompose and be cycled back into the universe.