God delays his judgement so he can torture more people

Judgement2

A Christian pastor, ‘Peter C’, has been assuring everyone on Daniel B. Wallace’s blog-site that God’s judgement has been delayed (2000 years and counting) because, as it says in 2 Peter 3.9, he wants to give as many people as possible time to repent and avoid hell. The pastor puts it like this:

The Lord is longsuffering, and not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance. The context of 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that this is why the Lord appears to delay His coming – it is His longsuffering and love for humanity. It is not His will that anyone would pay the penalty for their own sin…

The claim of 2 Peter 3.9 – written not by Peter but by someone pretending to be Peter almost a century after he lived – has never made sense. God would have to delay his judgement indefinitely if he wanted to avoid punishing most of mankind. That’s because new unsaved humans are appearing all the time – about 353,000 are born every day. The longer God leaves it, therefore, the more unsaved humans there will be, simply because, as time goes on, the more of us there are.

If God had got on with the judgement in the first century, as Jesus said he would (Matthew 16.27-28; 24.27, 30-31, 34; Luke 21:27-28, 33-34 etc) then the unsaved would have been far fewer.

Here’s the maths: the population of the world in the first century was about 300 million; today it is 7.4 billion. Assuming, very generously, that about 30% of the population then, as now, was ‘saved’, the judgement then would have resulted in only 210 million people being sent to hell. The same percentage today would see 5.2 billion people being condemned to burn for all eternity.

2 Peter 3.9 is a weak excuse for why God’s judgement didn’t occur when Jesus, and Paul, said it would. It was written either by a fraud who lacked any understanding of basic maths and had no conception of how the world’s population would increase over the next two thousand years – or by someone who, like his predecessors in the cult, thought the judgement was imminent. If the latter, then he was referring only to those alive in his own time whom he thought were being given more time to repent. Either way, he was wrong. That his mistaken beliefs and false assurances are given credence by pastors and their flocks today testifies only to the stultifying effect of religious faith.

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Making Excuses for Jesus

Excuse 2. When Jesus said ‘Kingdom of God’ what he really meant was ‘the church’.

Kingdom

So if not the transfiguration, then what? Christians can’t accept that Jesus was wrong in all he prophesied, and must invent some other explanation. How about the church – the body of believers who saw, and still see, Jesus as their saviour? The church must be the Kingdom! Yes, that’s it surely.

But then they’re left to explain why the church, even in its early days, bore no resemblance to what Jesus said the Kingdom would look like. Where was the Son of Man descending through the clouds? The hosts of angels in full view of ‘the tribes of the Earth’? The disciples judging and ruling the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt 19.28)? The last becoming first and the first last? The meek inheriting the Earth? The righteous being rewarded for their good deeds, while the unrighteous are sent to outer darkness?

Even if we were to overlook the absence of these characteristics, all of which Jesus predicted would define the Kingdom, then isn’t the-church-as-Kingdom just a tiny bit, well… disappointing? It doesn’t embody either any of the conditions of the Kingdom that the Old Testament prophets promised it would (Micah 4.1-7 & Isaiah 11.6): nations continue to wage war, the lamb and the wolf don’t co-exist peacefully and God singularly fails to rule the earth from Mount Zion.

Instead, the church is all too human, riven with conflict and division. Despite the whitewash given to it by the author of Acts, Paul’s letters – 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans and Galatians in particular – serve as a permanent reminder of the dispute and strife that have characterised it since its earliest days. It has also a shameful history of persecuting those with whom it disagrees and produces its fair share of criminals and abusers. Today, it is split into 45,000 different factions and, according to some of its own, is awash with ‘false doctrine’.

One thing it is good at – the very thing Paul insists it shouldn’t be (1 Corinthians 5.12) – is judging the rest of us.

The Kingdom of God it is not.

To Hell and back

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The self-righteous have taken it upon themselves this week to indulge in a little rejoicing, and not a little bit more gloating, at the death of George Michael. They are particularly pleased that, in all likelihood, he has gone to Hell, what with him being gay and all. Because of his sexuality – and this is how their damaged minds work – some of these Christians have also decreed George must also have been a ‘paedophile’, a victim of AIDs and possessed by evil spirits. Incredibly, he still managed to fit in a singing career. He was, these true-believers say, an enemy of God and is now frying in Hell forever. Yippee!

Here’s how the Christ-like Steven Anderson puts it:

First of all, George Michael’s burning in Hell right now. He was a very wicked, God-hating sodomite reprobate, and he’s getting the punishment that he deserves right now… If you just look at the lyrics to one of his most famous songs, one of his biggest hits, you can just totally tell this is written by a paedophile… It’s clearly written by a sick pervert because that’s what these homosexuals are. They’re a bunch of paedophiles… Quit mourning the death of this filthy pervert. He’s rotting in Hell right now for being a God-hating homosexual reprobate.

George Michael was none of the things these Christians claim he was. His post-mortem was inconclusive, but even if he had died of an AIDs related illness it would not be a cause for celebration. He was not a paedophile nor demon-possessed, but Christians, having happily embraced today’s post-truth world, think it’s absolutely fine for them to say he was.

They see evil spirits and demons everywhere, particularly in people who don’t share their primitive views; homosexuality is caused by their malevolent presence, and so, apparently, are depression, eating disorders, insomnia, self-harming and sex before marriage. Little wonder, of course, when that first-century ignoramus they claim to follow regarded Satan’s little helpers as the source of sickness and disease (when it wasn’t sin itself that was doing it). It hardly matters there’s absolutely no evidence that such beings exist; Christians are more than happy to take on the demonisation of others themselves.

As for Hell itself, it isn’t real either, as I discuss here. George Michael isn’t there, nor is anyone else who’s died. But let’s humour all those fanatics gentle souls who have persuaded themselves that it does. What does the Bible say about it?

First, it doesn’t claim that individuals go to Hell after death. Rather, it sees Hell as a pit into which Satan and his minions will be thrown at the end of time (Revelation 20.10). No mention humans will go there with them. Instead, the whack-job who wrote Revelation suggests (20.7-9) that the unrighteous dead, once resurrected, will be consumed by the fire God is going to destroy the Earth with at the end of time. You might wonder why God would bother resurrecting bodies only to murder them again, but he’s God, and you know, mysterious ways and all that. Still, he doesn’t seem to have perpetual torment in mind, even so.

Second, Paul tells us that after they’ve died, the dead sleep until the final judgement (1 Thessalonians 4.15-17). So even if they are eventually to be consigned to Hell it certainly won’t be immediately after death. As the final judgement has yet to occur – and won’t ever – dead souls, including George’s, still slumber. (It’s possible of course that for the dead time ceases to exist and the period between death and judgement appears, from their perspective, instantaneous. But this is not what the Bible teaches. It’s not nearly as imaginative as that.)

Third, Jesus is made to imply (it’s all very vague) that those with whom he is displeased will, after death, simply be discarded – thrown on some sort of metaphorical rubbish tip (Matthew 23.33). In fact, he tells only one parable about the after-life (Luke 16.19-31) in which a resurrected rich man finds himself excluded from God’s presence Abraham’s bosom. Not, you’ll note, because he failed to accept Jesus as his personal saviour but because of his disregard for the poor. So, given his philanthropy, it doesn’t look as if George Michael will be spending his eternity in the Hell that Jesus imagined either.

All of those who threaten us with Hell, and who think George Michael is already there, don’t know, and probably don’t care, what God’s Word™ has to say about the place where they’d be happy to see the rest of us suffer everlasting torment. It hardly matters when it doesn’t exist, being a fantasy of primitive zealots, but it does make you wish those who delude themselves into thinking it does would shut the hell up about it. Yes, you Franklin, Stephen, Bob, Kim and Keith. You’re only showing yourselves up for the ignorant hypocrites you are.

 

All is Vanity

DaleThe idea that human beings can live forever is a very old one, being part of a number of ancient religions. The Egyptians, for example, believed there was an afterlife and that where you spent it was determined by a post-mortem judgement. Christianity would later embrace similar notions of judgement and everlasting life.

The idea is, however, largely absent from Judaism. Ecclesiastes in the Christian Old Testament (‘Kohelet’ in Judaism) has this to say about death and its aftermath:

I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again (Ecclesiastes 3.18-20).

This seems to me to be an entirely realistic, if somewhat pessimistic, view of life and death. (And humans as animals! Today’s believers still have trouble accepting this, even when their holy book spells it out for them.) Later writing – the book of Daniel, for example – begins to toy with the idea of eternal life, but it isn’t until we get to Jesus’ time that the idea really takes off.

As the writer of Ecclesiastes knew, and as I suggest here, there is no evidence we survive death. Death would hardly be death if we did. The dessicated bodies of those Egyptians, mummified so their ‘owners’ could reclaim and re-use them on the other side, are still with us. There’s no evidence either that a special part of us – a soul or spirit – makes the transition. In any case, this is a predominantly pagan idea and is not what the New Testament offers. Both Jesus and Paul are firm believers in bodily resurrection here on the Earth.

The desire to live beyond the brief few years that our physical bodies last is understandable. It’s hard to imagine that one day every single one of us will no longer exist, that our consciousness, personalities, thoughts, memories, emotions – everything that makes us who we are – will simply no longer be. That’s why, I suppose, people in the past rebelled against that inevitability and fantasised about a continued existence once this one came to an end. Eventually religions came to offer such compensatory life-after-death, provided of course suckers people believed the right things.

Such is Christianity.

When you think about it, what a truly absurd notion it is; that believing in a magic formula will defeat death and enable you to be resurrected on the Earth to live in God’s new Kingdom here, or (when that didn’t quite pan out) taken up to Heaven to live there. All you have to do is believe the right things and God will do this for you. Death will be defeated by the simple expedient of your belief. We’re so used to the idea after 2,000 years of Christianity that the absurdity ceases to register – but absurd it surely is.

to be continued

 

There Is No God. And Here’s Why

adamSometimes I wonder why I continue writing this blog. There seems to be little that can shake believers from their delusions; what I write here doesn’t appear to be it. When they do respond it’s to tell me that I’m in for a shock when, after my death, I stand in front of the the throne of God and have to give an account of myself. I’ll not be smiling then, they tell me. They’re right, I won’t be. Not because of any ‘judgement’, but because dead people don’t smile. Not of their own volition anyway.

Christians can’t seem to see the ludicrousness of their post-mortem proposals. Religion, all religion, is wrong about most things at most levels; it denies death, which does exist, and replaces it with fantasies about supernatural beings, eternal life and judgements, none of which does. Christianity offers false promises, failed prophecies and an impossible morality, which Christians themselves can’t even manage. By and large they don’t even try to (see previous posts on all of this) yet they stick uncritically, unthinkingly, blindly to the fantasy elements of their ‘faith’ because they’re frightened of their own extinction and want to live forever. Christianity deceitfully promises them that they will – the ultimate false promise.

So let’s cut to the chase. There is no God. This is an indisputable fact, though believers will dispute it anyway. Even now, any Christians who are reading this will be muttering something about the fool saying in his heart there is no God; another tired, cliched response, which I’ve already considered here. But there is no God, not because of any foolishness on my part but because of the evidence. Or rather the absence of it. There is no evidence there is anything other than the physical universe or that life came about as the result of anything other than physical processes (it is not the case that scientists do not know how life emerged from non-life; they do and it did) or that humans evolved by any means other than blind, mindless natural selection. God is not required to explain any of this; not necessary to explain anything at all to do with life, the universe and ‘why there is something rather than nothing’. That being the case, we can know for certainty that he wasn’t in any way involved.

Let’s take a more down-to-Earth parallel to illustrate the point: we do not need to resort to stories of the tooth fairy to explain dentistry. I’m guessing that even Christians would agree with this; the tooth fairy has no part in matters of dental hygiene, orthodontist training or even the payment sometimes made by indulgent parents when their child’s tooth falls out. Trying to force the tooth fairy into any of these scenarios is not only entirely unnecessary, it’s erroneous and unhelpful. Dentistry is far better explained without reference to a mythical sprite. The tooth fairy not being needed, we can safely conclude that she doesn’t actually exist; she is a figment invented for children intended to take the away the pain of tooth loss, nothing more.

So it is with God in explanations into which he too is shoe-horned. He’s not needed, he’s superfluous to requirements. That being so, we can similarly conclude that he isn’t real either. A being that isn’t needed to explain anything is one that doesn’t exist.

This is not, note, a rejection of a figure who, even now, is sitting up in the sky somewhere feeling sad or angry because we’re ‘shaking our fist’ at him. If that’s what you’re seeing, you’re still believing in God, even if it is one you might be in the process of rejecting. It’s worse than that, Jim (or better): there is no super-being in the sky, or anywhere else. The universe is devoid of gods and of God; it always has been and always will be. There are none to be found because there are none there; not your pet god, nor those of other faiths, ancient or modern. None. There is only the physical universe itself and for the brief time we are here in it, we are lucky to be here in it. Which is more than any god has ever managed.