[DISCUSS] The Value of Life and the Afterlife: The Obnoxious Question

PREFACE: (Damn, I’ve been having to do a lot of these lately, huh?) I want to make it clear that I have been intending on writing this post for about a week now. There was a comment made in a thread on another one of my posts a couple days ago addressing this exact question, which is absurd and driving me crazy. I simply wanted to put it out there that my posting this has no relation to the commenter who asked this same question a couple days ago. It’s coincidence, that’s all.

OKAY! Time for the obnoxious question of the day!

Why does life matter to someone who does not believe there is an afterlife?

Well+what+else+where+you+expecting.+Seriously+_c7c6385795997f998e527c759f48e29bHow to begin… Well, first, there’s the fact that every person who I’ve seen ask this question has been Christian, and has every time been asked to an atheist. The typical way the conversation goes is something like this:

Atheist – I have no belief in god, heaven, or hell. There’s nothing to prove that there is anything after we are dead.

Christian – Then why live?

Atheist – …Excuse me?

Christian – If there is no afterlife, what’s the point of what you do in this life? What does it matter? Why try to contribute to society? Why keep on living?

Atheist – …*makes above face*

The idea (to the Christian) is that there is something to look forward to, something to work toward after death, and that next life is their motivator for everything they do in this life. Without that final reward of heaven (and the final threat of hell should they live incorrectly), they can see no purpose in life. I have even seen someone with this mindset go so far as to tell the person they were addressing to kill himself, because if there’s nothing after this then there’s no purpose for his life in the first place, so he might as well just end it now.

To all the people who have been in this discussion before, here is your answer, at least your answer from me.

Without an afterlife to look forward to, life itself becomes the most valued commodity one can possess, and that life must be cherished and valued above all other things. Additionally, with the view that no person has an afterlife to speak of after death, all life becomes of paramount value and must be cherished and preserved to the highest degree.

Chiwa-Mwafulirwa-MalawiFollow this explanation up with a metaphorical comparison. Take a good look at the girl to the right here. You can tell by her clothes and the mat under her feet that she lives a very meager life. She doesn’t have much, and her family cannot provide much for her. Before her are 3 toys.; the only 3 toys this girl possesses and likely will ever possess. Now look at the state of those toys, and may I specifically point out the bear to the far right. The bear is white, all white but for the ears. It is spotless. It looks as if it came out of a storefront window. Despite the grime caked on this girl’s shirt, the stains on the sheets hanging behind her, that bear, one of her only toys, is pristine. Why? Because those toys are all she has, and she knows they are likely all she will ever have. She cherishes those toys, she keeps them safe, she keeps them clean, she values their care above the care of her own clothing.

This is the feeling a person has when he or she either does not believe in or does not assume the existence of an afterlife. And not the feeling of having a toy, but cherishing a thing which we know is special and is not bountiful, a thing which only comes around once. That is my answer.

I hold to the idea (as most of you could guess) that it is better to assume there is no afterlife than to assume there is and spend copious amounts of time deciding which human-defined version of the afterlife is closest to the truth, and what are the best practices to adhere to in order to accomplish the positive afterlife versus the negative afterlife. If this life is all that we get, when there is no possibility of a second chance at consciousness, at existence, we must cherish every moment and every breath of every day. This life matters because it is every individual’s everything. It is your legacy, to exist and to be known to have existed.

This is another aspect of this question which bothers me; that the idea of one’s legacy here on earth – the actions we commit in this life, which will cause untold amount of repercussions throughout the rest of human history – also does not matter if there is no afterlife. As if one’s individual afterlife makes the entire future of Earth and mankind after that individual’s death completely obsolete and meaningless. I realize that’s not the point, but that’s how it comes across. And what kind of self-centered point it is! To think that no person’s life has meaning unless death is not the end, that the generations upon generations of lives which will come after are just as meaningless as your non-existence after death, so why put effort into yourself. I cannot comprehend this mindset, this idea that without an afterlife, life itself means nothing. That mindset could not be more wrong in my view.

I feel that this is a mindset which is developed to justify wasting one’s lifetime in pursuit of one’s afterlife, instead of putting all one’s efforts toward the life one knows one has now. To me, this is backward in every regard. To this mindset, I pose my own set of questions:

If you live your life under the assumption – no, the expectation – that there is another life after this one is over, then why cherish the life you have now? The afterlife is another chance, a second opportunity to live, a continuation after what seems to be a final end. If you just get another life after this one, then why should this life have so much more value than the one(s) to come? Especially if in that next life, you are essentially immortal, a soul not bound to a mortal body?

hvn and hellThe only answer to these questions is that the next life depends on what we do in this one, the our afterlife is built of consequences for the things we do in this life. Typically this is followed by an explanation of how loving God is, and how God wants to have us love Him in our lifetimes, through a combination of good works in God’s name and worship of God, allowing us the full rewards of heaven. If we do not love God as He loves us, then we do not gain the reward of heaven, and instead are doomed to eternal hellfire, basically going to the realm of Satan, the ‘god’ which replaced God god in our lives, since we did not worship God and do good works in His name and for His sake.

Here’s my take on this; if you live cherishing your life as if there is nothing left to you but the things you do in this life, would your actions not reflect a respect and value for all life? Would you not live to help those around you, for the sake of making their lives better, lives which are all you think they have to themselves just as your life is all you have to you? And would not a god of love appreciate this dedication to preservation and value of life that this god would reward our kindness and love for life?

The value of life as the only chance at consciousness we have, the value of life when death is the final destination, not only discourages waste of one’s life, but discourages the waste of others’ lives as well. Murder is out of the question. Suicide is out of the question. Grudges and fighting and anger are all just wastes of time and energy, precious time and energy that could go toward contemplating the sky, or baking a cake for a loved one just because, or reading a book that another person slaved to complete and publish, or calling Nana just to talk about the good old days, or investigating the sciences to better the lives of those less fortunate. Every moment accomplishes something, something that will better the only life that another person will live somewhere else, or right next door, or in one hundred years, or within your own skin.

So no, the expectation of an afterlife does not make one’s life matter. In fact, from the point of view of those like myself who do not assume or expect an afterlife, to assume and expect an afterlife devalues life itself. Cherish the life you have as if it is all you will ever know, and cherish all other life the same, and you will know what true value means.

love-life

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61 thoughts on “[DISCUSS] The Value of Life and the Afterlife: The Obnoxious Question

  1. Rana,
    As the one who posed the offending question, let me make a few comments, and take this off in the end to what will seem as a distraction, but, I believe, very much at the heart of our issue.
    First, to take away eternity is to take away the great part of our intrinsic value. Continuity and hope are as necessary to our humanity as food and air.
    Next. I’ve never seen an atheist who was truly focused on his fellow man and the generations to come. Mostly I’ve seen them focused on their own selves, self-gratification, and being smarter than everyone else. They may talk future generations for argument’s sake, but I dare say they give little thought to them at all. Even if they had concern for them, I do not think they would know what is truly good for them – much like you or me performing brain surgery, in that our best attempts would likely end in death or disaster for the objects of our compassion.
    And in regard to the good of the human race, there is no reason to think it will, on its own, endure into perpetuity – whether it ends by self-destruction (nuclear war, etc.), a cataclysmic cosmic event, or whatever.
    In regard to making things better, why are things no better now than as far back as we can see in history? Is man really “evolving” into a superior being, or is it the same old stuff with different names an in different form – wars, rape, disease, heartache and pain, divorce, disappointment, financial cares, torn relationships, etc.? What is the true legacy of mankind? The more I see of the present and the more I read of history, the more I understand that man’s legacy is primarily appalling, with a few brief bright candles here and there that never kindle into any kind of enduring flame. What is gained in one generation is lost in another. (Even as we see happening in this very country)

    For the young, death is a vague concept, so distant in our thinking that it might as well be an eternity away. And as far as the sudden loss of life in youth – well that’s primarily for other people. (I think most of us inwardly think this way, though intellectually we comprehend it is not true – we really cannot comprehend death.) As a middle aged man, I can feel the beginnings of death already at work in me – a new pain here, and new ache there. My wife and I just recently watched our 14 month old grandson at our home, and halfway through I said to my wife, “This is exhausting! Were our kids this active? (We raised six) She assured me they were. What has changed is my own vitality – despite working out regularly and being in decent shape for a guy my age. A few days ago I got a call from my father. My 88 year old mother with dementia suddenly lost her ability to walk, and now needs hospital care. After sixty years of marriage, my father suddenly finds himself alone at mealtimes – more alone even than from the effects of my mother’s dementia, where she will ask the same question thirty times in an hour, and often think her husband is her father. Even my father, a rock in our family, is beginning to falter, and my siblings and I find ourselves having to monitor his ability to make critical decisions for my mother. My point in all this? I think that as death takes its toll over the years, it becomes more real. Rana, you are currently looking forward to marriage, career improvements, perhaps owning a home, maybe children of your own one day. Life can be difficult, but life’s good. But in all your enjoyment of life, your husband, and so on, remember that one day you will bury this husband (or vice versa) One day you will have no strength or desire for career. One day, should you live long, you will be facing the increasing effects of death and decay on as a constant reminder, until you finally go to the grave as all men do. (And recent events have very much put me in touch with all of this) You enjoy poetry. Consider the following in Solomon’s picture of old age.
    Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
    Before the difficult days come,
    And the years draw near when you say,
    “I have no pleasure in them”:
    2 While the sun and the light,
    The moon and the stars,
    Are not darkened,
    And the clouds do not return after the rain;
    3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble,
    And the strong men bow down;
    When the grinders cease because they are few,
    And those that look through the windows grow dim;
    4 When the doors are shut in the streets,
    And the sound of grinding is low;
    When one rises up at the sound of a bird,
    And all the daughters of music are brought low.
    5 Also they are afraid of height,
    And of terrors in the way;
    When the almond tree blossoms,
    The grasshopper is a burden,
    And desire fails.
    For man goes to his eternal home,
    And the mourners go about the streets.
    6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,[a]
    Or the golden bowl is broken,
    Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
    Or the wheel broken at the well.
    7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
    And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
    8 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
    “All is vanity.”
    In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, a great king – a man who enjoyed vast wealth and building great projects, concludes after all of this that it all was vanity. In fact he laments whether he will pass on all his works in which he labored to a wise man or to a fool. I’ve seen many of the elderly go through this very thing, after living seemingly full and rich lives, and the wise will take this to heart.

    I invite you to place your thoughts of life into the context of your final end. Our discussion here arose from your poem, “Facets of morality”. A view, or perspective of life from its final destination can be instructive.

    Doom and death aside, have a happy Thanksgiving!
    RT

    • Hi RT,

      …I don’t really know why you used the word ‘offending’ to begin this. I do hope you were not going to the idea of your question being ‘offensive,’ as I made it clear at the beginning of the post (and the title) that the question does not offend me, it has simply gotten on my personal nerves as it has come up in so many conversations I’ve been in the past few weeks.

      To your first point: “First, to take away eternity is to take away the great part of our intrinsic value. Continuity and hope are as necessary to our humanity as food and air.” To me, life has intrinsic value just for existing. The fact that I experience a single moment, and then another and another, is enough for me to value those moments. If I were not given life, I would cease to exist as a conscious being, and so I would have no value. To exist is to hold value. The longevity of that life should not impede upon the value of the life itself. Additionally, continuity and hope are not ‘necessary to our humanity,’ they are aspects of our humanity. How you quantify continuity and hope determine how necessary they are for you as an individual. For me, hope is continual and comes with each moment. It is not something that must be eternal. To hope as an eternal state, or hope for an eternal state (completely different points, but under the same value to me personally) are not highly valued to me. I don’t want to hope forever, and I don’t want to hope for eternal life. I want to have hope for what I know, I want to hope for this world and the generations who will come to see it after me. In this, my continuity has a slightly higher importance, but is not at the height of my intentions. To put my hope in this world and the future of this world is also to put weight on my continuity in this world. I want to live as long as possible to make the most longing impact on this world, and I put hope in that my continuity will continue in this world after my death. To accomplish this hope and continuity, I must not waste time and put every effort into this world and my impact on it, no matter how small it may seem at the time. If I work toward being a psychologist and someday I help just a random someone, who turns out to be a future president, my continuity through helping that person supports and encourages my hopes.

      As for your second point, I don’t think I’ll get much into that. All I can say is that every individual is different. I believe that because of your stance on religion, you attract the bitter-minded atheist, the gnostic atheist, and this is why you have the opinion of atheism that you do. As someone who is comfortable in my agnosticism, I typically attract gnostic theists and agnostic atheists. It is the nature of how we present ourselves.

      You speak of the betterment of humanity here on this earth, and why it is still so full of anger and war and destruction. Well, that is also the nature of man. And I would dare say that it has and can still get better. In olden times, wars were fought just as readily as now, but they didn’t have the ability to have it on such a mass scale. War was a tool of not only power but control. War was casual back then, it was a way of life, and when there was no war, people got restless. Now, war is considered as a last resort, or is redefined as a ‘conflict’ in order to avoid the negative stigma. Humans haven’t been around that long. We’re still learning who and what we are as higher intelligence life forms compared to the other animals of this world. You can’t expect everything to go to roses in a lifetime, or in ten, or even one hundred. It takes time, and it takes the compilation of every individual’s stamp on this world and on humanity. We are the products of generations of people, and we will be the building blocks for generations to come. To dismiss the importance of our lives in the grand scheme of human existence on this planet simply on the whim that we may be going to something better, to me, seems like a waste of one’s life.

      Why live this life, continue contributing to this world and the people in it and the people to come in it, when something better waits for us? Why not just die and get to that better place if our impact on this world is moot?

      • Rana,

        You said, “To exist is to hold value.” Would it not follow then that to cease to exist is to cease to hold value?

        You also said, “As someone who is comfortable in my agnosticism, I typically attract gnostic theists and agnostic atheists. It is the nature of how we present ourselves.” I would only say here what I alluded to before: that you have more in common with the atheist than with the Christian. The atheist lives life on his own terms because he does not acknowledge the Creator. You live life on your own terms because you fashion a basically unknowable (and therefore unimposing) god to your liking, and then proceed to write Him in and out of your script as it suits you. A god that you can define and control is no god at all – which essentially places you firmly into the camp of the atheist. Both of you will react to a God that has any say or authority or right over your life, and though you disagree on many points, will instinctively come together in your joint distaste for a God who dares to assert His rule and will over our lives or require anything from us, much less hold us to account for those requirements.

        You said, “Why live this life, continue contributing to this world and the people in it and the people to come in it, when something better waits for us? Why not just die and get to that better place if our impact on this world is moot?” It is not the Christian that sees no purpose in this life, but rather sees it and its decisions of eternal weight and consequence. I’m not the one who believes I came in as a cosmic accident and will go out with the same obscurity in which I came. The still-born child comes into this world in darkness and leaves in darkness before ever seeing the light of day. The only difference between this child and the atheist is a few fleeting moments of time. (I am speaking according to the atheist’s view, not mine. In my view, the atheist will live on in a very terrible eternity – God honoring his choices but not absolving him from the consequences of those choices)

        You said, “Why dwell on one’s life and one’s impact on this world when it doesn’t matter, when you’re value comes from the life you are going into after this life is over?” No. My value comes from a God who knew me before I ever come to be, who is with me now, and with whom I will dwell with forever. There is no break in the continuity at all. I was conceived with value, live life on this earth with value, and will continue with value into eternity. Eternal life take nothing from the present, even as there will be a “present” in eternity. To the Christian, what he does in this life has eternal impact.
        RT

        • Hi RT,

          No, it would not follow that to cease to exist would be to cease to hold value, as the actions of your existence cause repercussions in others’ lives, a ripple effect. Without existence, the ripple is never made, but by existing the ripple goes ever on and on through the existence of man. When humanity ceases to exist, then it is possible the ripple would cease, but perhaps not. We do not know the future. Perhaps another civilization in the universe will be touched by our existence, and the ripple of humanity itself will continue to influence the universe.

          The only comment I have to your second paragraph is that it distresses me that you insist on essentially defining my views in your own way instead of taking my word for what I know my views mean to me. “You live life on your own terms because you fashion a basically unknowable (and therefore unimposing) god to your liking, and then proceed to write Him in and out of your script as it suits you.” I’m going to make this clear. I have an image of what I believe a creator of unconditional love would be like. I don’t claim that this god definitely exists. If I ever had, it was a mis-statement and I retract it. I do not worship this god; I reflect on this image of god and I hope that this image is something close to the truth. I have no expectations that this image of god is the reality of things, nor are my hopes for this image a point of selfish want, but hope for all of humanity. I do not spend time acknowledging the existence of this god if it may not exist. IT (not ‘He,’ that is a Christian reference only) is not something I write in and out of my life. It is simply a possible concept, one of which fulfills me and comforts me, and need not be an influence to anyone else. I live by the terms of socially accepted rules and regulations. I actively work toward a different rule if I believe that a particular rule is not fair on the broad scale of humanity, based on my experiences, my personal understanding of fairness, human rights, and a compilation of the moralities.

          You speak of rallying against a God who ‘dares assert His rule.’ This is also a misconception on your part. The Christian God asserts nothing. It expects we humans to assert ourselves to His rules without giving clear guidance on which rules are really His. Take a child in a busy family. The parents are both working, so they have the child go to a care center after school. Each teacher at school asserts a set of rules for each class the child takes. The care center has a completely different set of rules, and the parents barely have an rules at all. The child is never given clear and consistent direction regarding which rules to follow when. This is one of the biggest concerns I have the with Christian God concept, is His insistence on following His rules, but despite His omnipotence, He makes no effort to universally declare what His specific rules are. He expects our faith to guide us to the right path, but even the best of people can be Buddhist or Taoist instead of Christian, or Jewish or even Muslim. Christianity is not the pot of the greatest people on Earth. It does attract only the good people of the world. So he shuns the good who accept a different god or belief system than His own. To me, this is judgmental and selfish. It is not mysterious, it is not a level of trust that is not given by man or a lack of worldly understanding on my part. The Christian God is selective, judgmental, and selfish in His wants from us. I don’t believe an omnipotent creator of all life would have such flawed human traits.

          All I can say to the rest of your comment is that I truly and sincerely feel sorry for you that you cannot value your life unless it is given you by something outside of yourself. Why can you not value your life and things you have simply on their own merit? By your comment, I can imagine that you value nothing in your life if you can’t give credit to God for it. I can’t comprehend that, and it truly saddens me to try. I suppose it is because of my bias that I cannot think on absolutes in terms of spirituality. I can’t put myself in the mindset that there is definitely an afterlife, that there will definitely be something after death that I not only can look forward to, but must work toward in my lifetime here. I still see this as a devaluing of this life, that all our labors here are merely to get to another life after. It reminds me of college. I valued my time in college for the sake of my experiences there, the things I learned, the people I met, etc. I value my time there for its own sake. I know many people who think it was a waste of their time because what they got out of it doesn’t currently directly contribute to their jobs. (Some fellow writing majors who got writing jobs but no longer write, which would include myself.) But I can’t understand their view. College made us friends, it gave us memories and experiences and knowledge which we can utilize in future jobs, or just in our writing hobbies. Even standing alone, with no benefits to our present, I would never give up what I had there. It has value to me just for being part of my life. This is how I view my life; no matter what comes after, I will value this life above all other things.

    • P.S. It strikes me that the atheist not only has a problem with meaning in regard to the end of his existence, but also an issue of meaning with the beginning. He begins without purpose or design, and ends in utter nothingness, and does not know where he came from, or where he is going. He comes in as a random cosmic, anomaly and dismisses into the same vast and meaningless void. How can he then assign meaning to this short blip on the radar screen we call life on earth?

      • Refer to my example of the little girl and the toy. If we never had anything before this life, and will have nothing after it, then our life is the only thing we can value, and so we value it higher than any other thing in the universe. We value life because if we do not, then it will have no value at all.

    • (cont) “Life can be difficult, but life’s good. But in all your enjoyment of life, your husband, and so on, remember that one day you will bury this husband (or vice versa) One day you will have no strength or desire for career. One day, should you live long, you will be facing the increasing effects of death and decay on as a constant reminder, until you finally go to the grave as all men do.”

      You seem to suggest here that, because we hit that low point, that our lives must not have meaning unless there is something beyond death to give us hope in this dark hour. I completely disagree. I have known my share of passing loved ones, and I assure you I think every day of these times coming upon myself and my fiance. But those who value every moment of their lives for the sake of valuing their existence will not fall to such despairs. To me, this attitude is an attitude of doubt toward an afterlife that one has built up over their lifetime. As you stated, ” In fact he laments whether he will pass on all his works in which he labored to a wise man or to a fool. I’ve seen many of the elderly go through this very thing, after living seemingly full and rich lives, and the wise will take this to heart.” If you have such a magnificent thing to look forward to, and this world is so worthless since we don’t accomplish any betterment of ourselves as human beings as you seem to suggest, then would not the hope and continuity of the afterlife make one even more excited for aging and death? Why dwell on one’s life and one’s impact on this world when it doesn’t matter, when you’re value comes from the life you are going into after this life is over?

  2. Hi Rana,

    Very good post. I can’t think of anything I disagree with. If was going to take it a step further, I’d be asking corollary questions to the religious, one of which you’ve already brought up. What’s the point of this life if you know there’s an infinite one to come? What’s the point of going through what used to be about 25 years in the infancy of our species to now say 80 years of ups and downs, where its damn near impossible to avoid committing a mortal sin, being supervised and judged every single second of every single day, waking or sleeping from the minute you’re born until the minute you die and if we pass certain tests we’ll get eternal life? A scenario where you’re born already incarcerated with the burden of original sin and then have to earn your emancipation. What kind of designer or deity does this kind of thing?!?!?! Who in their right mind would do this?!?! No sane entity could do such a thing.
    To put in another way, what’s the point of prison and courts and human rights or really, anything at all – good or bad? Who cares about Charles Manson? So what if he slaughtered all those people – the good ones will all be in heaven, the bad ones will have gone straight to hell and then when it’s all said and done, Manson will be roasting in hell for all of eternity. What possible difference can a prison sentence make to an eternity of hellfire? If all injustices are going to be compensated, all tears dried, and all wrongdoings punished – ETERNALLY – what’s the point of doing anything here on earth? Just let people do whatever they want, god’s gonna sort it all out in the end anyways.
    This whole idea of an afterlife is the most fatuous nonsense ever invented by man. It appeals to our fear of death by giving us delusions that we’re good and we’re all gonna go to heaven and spend eternity with all our friends and family. It also appeals to our wish thinking nature by assuring us that all the no-good evil-doers are going to spend an eternity paying for their crimes. This is not good for us. It makes no sense intellectually, no sense scientifically, no sense morally and no sense ethically. The nonsense of religion and afterlife if nothing more than the rantings of frightened children trying to make sense of something they don’t understand.

  3. Ashley,
    You asked, what the point is of this life if you know there’s an infinite one to come. The main point is to determine our eternal destiny. God shows us enough of both good and evil to make our choices.
    In regard to sin, and as you say, “mortal sin”, first know that all sin is “mortal sin”. All sin separates us from God. You talk about “earning” our way to heaven, or to emancipation. That idea is the antithesis of Christianity, which is based on the idea that there is absolutely NO WAY to earn our salvation. Even trying to work or earn our way into heaven is an insult to grace, is rooted in pride (the real problem!), and is at the heart of the fall. All works-based religion is a corrupt man-made attempt to be “good enough” to gain God’s acceptance, and it will never be good enough. We receive it as a gift in humility as a child, or not at all. God’s issue with us is not this specific sin and that specific sin, but our departure from Him – the entire man of pride, with the automatic result of departing from our source of life being corruption and death. God requires ONE thing from us, which is surrender – of our own way and our own works. Surrender and return. This fallen world is about man gone his own way – killing and stealing and grasping for the things that God intended to give us freely, who intended all work and labor to be a joy (as when you’re really into a project), not a curse (or a mixture, as is often the case) Man also does all sorts of things to grasp at value, grasp at significance, and grasp for love – all fighting and scheming for things that God freely gives. One of the main points of this life is the process of coming to grips with our total insufficiency at self-protection, self-provision, self-righteousness, self-fulfillment – in short, a life based on man and his abilities alone will never cut it. God has always planned and earnestly desired a living partnership with man. Not God instead of man, or man without God. The incarnation, or what we call, “Immanuel”, means literally “God with us”. Again, not “God instead of us” (a helpless, irresponsible corruption of God’s intention), nor is it Us without God (Which ends in futility and death), but “God with us”. Immanuel. I believe what you are fighting about Christianity is not Christianity at all, and I find your concept of works-based Christianity just as repulsive as you do. God first brought the law to show us that we had a problem (Old Testament). Grace (New Testament) does not negate the law, but addresses the heart of our problem, which is that fallen man cannot keep the law. The heart of the Christian message is about a new man – being “born again”.
    So why are we, as you say, born with “original sin” (i.e., the fallen nature)? Because all things reproduce after their own kind. (Oranges don’t grow from walnut trees) It’s just a fact of reality. Being created in the image of God, we are so significant that we affect even our progeny after us. It is the entire blood-line that is in need of redemption, and Jesus provided this very thing for those who will receive it. (But it involves a choice and a divine exchange – the man of pride for the man of grace.)
    In regard to human courts, God has not given the job to human courts to execute ultimate justice, but only sufficient justice to keep order here on earth, BUT HE ALSO GAVE THEM TO US TO COMMUNICATE TO US A TASTE OF THE IDEA THAT THERE WILL BE ULTIMTE JUDGMENT. In other words, human justice is just a small sample – both of the importance of justice to God, and the importance that we understand that He will indeed bring justice without favoritism or respect of persons. And in regard to the importance of justice, I would think that if someone raped or maimed your daughter, that you would want justice. Why? Because you were created in the image of a just God. We just struggle with it when that same justice and equity comes around to our own doors judging us and our deeds.
    You said, “This whole idea of an afterlife is the most fatuous nonsense ever invented by man. It appeals to our fear of death by giving us delusions that we’re good and we’re all gonna go to heaven and spend eternity with all our friends and family.” We are NOT going to all go to heaven, and the denial of God has to do with that reality. It is not death we need to fear, but eternal judgment.
    You also said, that spending eternity in hell makes no “sense morally and no sense ethically”. I would suggest two things for you to think about here. The first is why we have a sense of morality and ethics at all, if we came only from what is impersonal. Why is it we have a sense of right and wrong? Where does that come from? The Christian explanation is that we were created in the image of God, and God is moral and just. The next thought is that even in our sense of morality we are corrupt. Our sense of morality is flawed because it is separated from the source of morality. In our fallen state, for instance, we have a really tough time with the idea of eternal judgment. We also both excuse and condemn things that God does not. Our body, mind, spirit, and sense of judgment and morality are all corrupt. For this reason we see a strange mixture of both good and evil in every person we meet. All of Creation fell with man (Man was given dominion over it, so all that pertains to man fell with him.) So we see good and beauty in nature, but also great cruelty. We see glimmers of man’s original being as designed by God, but also the corruption of that being. It’s like looking over the ruins of a once great civilization.

    And finally, you said, “The nonsense of religion and afterlife if nothing more than the rantings of frightened children trying to make sense of something they don’t understand.” I beg to differ with you. My sense of eternity is rooted in faith, not fear. And faith is not a wish. It is more substantive that the ground we walk upon. God is a faith-God. He created all things from nothing. Therefore there must be something about Him that supersedes sense-knowledge. (I said, “supersedes”, not denies) I believe, Ashley, that you are attempting to judge all of reality by a mere subset of reality. But God is ultimate reality. Someone two hundred years ago might think that what we do with a radio or remote control would be fantasy, only because they do not understand the invisible reality of the infrared spectrum or of radio waves and their reality and ability to influence reality. Have you considered that there is a spiritual realm as well that goes beyond sense knowledge and even supersedes it?
    Anyway, I wish the best over the holiday season to you and yours. Take care.

    • “God requires ONE thing from us, which is surrender – of our own way and our own works”
      Feel free to surrender yourself all you like but leave me out of it. Pardon the pun, but it will be a frosty Friday in hell before I “surrender” myself to anything or anyone, ESPECIALLY to an invisible, inaudible god who, oddly enough, never appears directly to tell me this, but always has human interpreters to relay his message for him. If you want to live your life as a slave, go right ahead. I wish you joy of it.

      • Ashley,
        I don’t know if you will surrender or not, but you are correct about the slim chance of a frosty Friday in hell. Tell me, what right do you have to demand anything from God? What right do you have to demand that HE come to YOU on YOUR terms? What does God owe you? Having raised children, I’ve seen this mentality in them from a young age. Rather than obey a simple instruction, they throw themselves on the floor, kick and scream, and say, “I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!” After a good, sound spanking, or letting them lay there and kick until they exhaust themselves, they get their first critical lesson that they, along with the 7 billion other people on this planet, are not the center of the universe. I assure you, if you want evidence of God (or rather, a revelation of God), that you must come to God on God’s terms. God is God and you are not. Your very posture of demanding from God denies God before before you begin looking. I personally threw quite a tantrum before surrendering to God. You’re not alone.
        In regard to slavery, you can serve sin or serve God, but as Bob Dylan said in his song, “You gotta serve somebody”. Serving God will lead to life, and serving sin to death. You are not your own master, and life will tell you that in so many ways if you would but listen. Tell me, how much of life happens on your own terms? Are you as tall or smart as you wish? Do you have as much money as you want? Did life turn out the way you had intended? How many people who are divorced say to themselves, “I know, I’ll get married, get into daily fights with my wife, have heart-wrenching custody battles over my child, then divorce and lose half of everything I’ve worked for all my life”? How many of us choose the terms of getting balder and fatter, joint pain, dimming eyes, cancer, or needing Viagra? Why do we lash out in anger at a loved one when we really didn’t want to, or eat a second helping of pie when we were trying to loose weight, except that we are slaves to sin? Don’t kid yourself about the slavery thing. You’re a slave.

        • P.S. Ashley, you to have a demand that God appear to you directly. Tell me, can you so much get the governor of your state to appear at your home upon your demand, much less the President or any world leader? I guarantee you, that if any meeting between you and these dignitaries takes place at all, it will be on their terms, not yours. What makes you think that the God of all the universe would bow to your conditions? God does meet with those who bow to His terms, and all men will meet Him at the final judgment as He has prescribed, which will certainly be on His terms, not ours. The Creator of all things does things on His own terms.

        • RT,

          Thank you very much for affirming that the acceptance of god is akin to the mentality of a 2 year old’s temper tantrum. You’ve said all I could say.

          • Ashley, you seem preoccupied with semantics and smart-ass zingers, while avoiding the heart of any discussion. I recall your statement where you said that you do not believe there is no God, but rather disbelief in God, and using that as a refuge from the burden of backing any claims you make. You know, Ashley, when I don’t feel like defending my views, I’ll just stop replying. I do not need a slick argument to cover my actions. The whole idea of having this “Get out of debate” card to pull out gives you no ground that anyone else already does not already have. I don’t need to prove my beliefs to anyone, regardless of your philosophical protocols. I would suggest to you, Ashley, that when you one day stand before God to give an account for your life, that this little trick of yours will not absolve you of anything. God will demand an account from you, and you will answer.

          • RT,
            Oh so using your own words against you is now called semantics is it?
            ” I’ve seen this mentality in them from a young age. Rather than obey a simple instruction, they throw themselves on the floor, kick and scream, and say, “I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!””
            “I personally threw quite a tantrum before surrendering to God.”
            YOUR WORDS NOT MINE. You have just PLAINLY STATED that you had temper tantrum, in the same manner that a small child has a temper tantrum before you could surrender to god.
            There is no discussion to be had here sir. You say that I (everyone) needs to surrender to god. I say you’re welcome to do so, but I’m not interested. You can assert that I’m already a slave, you can assert anything you like as a matter of fact. I’m still not accepting your offer. I’m not buying what you’re selling. End of discussion.
            I hope I have made myself clear.

          • Ashley,
            I am not selling a thing and have nothing to sell. The things of God are not for sale. I am, rather pointing to the gift of God, which you can take or leave. Neither God, nor I need you to receive it. It’s up to you. Eternal life is not for sale, and if it were, who could afford it? Who could give the Creator anything of value, other than their heart?
            In regard to the temper tantrum, I guarantee you that at the heart of salvation is a surrender to God – our will or God’s will, and that our natural man is greatly hostile to God, because like a child, it wants its own way. By a temper tantrum I am speaking of trying anything and everything but yielding to God, and the most intense struggle a person will ever have – a struggle that will determine his eternal destiny. Make no mistake, our old nature needs to be crucified. It needs to die! There is a divine exchange of what will perish for what will never perish, and this transaction rarely goes down without the fight of a lifetime.

          • RT,

            ” I am, rather pointing to the gift of God, which you can take or leave. Neither God, nor I need you to receive it. It’s up to you.”
            Well then if it’s up to me, I’ll leave it. NOT INTERESTED.

        • Ashley,
          That is certainly your prerogative, though it saddens me. Abandoning our discussion on the existence of God for a moment, I have one question for you. If (I said “IF”) you knew for sure that the Christian God existed, and that there indeed was a heaven and a hell, would you still reject the gift and say, “NOT INTERESTED”?

          • RT,

            As you may or may not be aware (likely not), you have just committed another logical fallacy – The Loaded Question. My answer is I would consider myself to be condemned to live under the tyranny of a celestial despot who prefers unthinking, uncritical sycophant slaves. In other words, I’d have no choice but to accept because of the terrible consequences. So it’s my turn to ask you a loaded question. IF and I said IF you knew for sure that Allah, the god of Islam existed and was the one true god, would you accept him into your heart and convert to being a Muslim?

            • Ashley,
              Would I convert to Islam if I knew it were true? Would I get to see my 72 virgins first, and have assurances that they’re not PMS-ing or anything? (The devil is in the details!) Actually, given that I positively do have a relationship with God, the proposition is an abomination to me – a little like offering pork to a Jew. If I did not, however, I would have to say that I would honor God as he is. In fact, I already do that in ways that are contrary to my personal preferences. Back when I came to the Lord at age 23, I was in a relationship with a woman that I am sure God did not approve (that is, did not approve the nature of the relationship, not the woman herself). I severed it, and shortly after entered a relationship with the woman who became my wife, who I have now been married to for 30 years. I realized there was a conflict between the life I was living (and that woman was just the beginning of it!) and the new life God would have me live. There are many other issues as well, such as the fact that God is a God who tests. I initially did not like that or appreciate it. I now do. There are aspects of God that I easily and readily embrace, and others that I only come to appreciate after a great deal of difficulty. Think of the kid who doesn’t understand why he must stay in and do homework when he wants to be with friends, and only later in life is thankful for his parents’ discipline. I will say this, however: Whenever God has asked me to surrender anything in my life, it has been for one of several reasons: 1) It was bad for me (as when I gave up drinking after it nearly destroyed my life at age 23) 2) It was not bad in and of itself (just as alcohol is not), but I was not properly related to it. These things God often asks of us, then shows us that He is more than enough in these idolatrous areas, then releases them back to us when we can relate to them in an edifying way. 3) The last, and most difficult (and most rewarding) are those things that do not have anything directly to do with my present welfare at all, but rather His purposes. In these things, the reward is always a greater revelation of Himself, who is beyond comparison. We were made to fulfill God’s purposes, and when we do so we are most alive.
              By the way, I do believe in Allah. I just believe he is a demonic spirit, as is the case of all the false religions of the world. The Bible says that there are many “gods”, and that what is sacrificed to idols is sacrificed to demons. I have seen people released from demons, cursing God, spitting, and the lights flickering off and on in the room as the laughed and said, “Thank you Satan”. This particular woman’s mother was a witch, who forced her to sacrifice a rabbit when she was a child. I watched demon after demon come over her, and each was a pure form of evil. She would mock, then it would change to a rebellious spirit, then sexual perversion, then blasphemy, then lying, then craftiness and conniving – it was like watching a show! This woman tried to murder the pastor’s wife at this retreat center. (And the funny thing is that my wife and I stayed there a year later, and they put us in the same room, with the knife hole still in the hollow door!) In order to understand all the false religions, one must first understand that the arena involves more than just mankind. There is spiritual realm as well, with both angels and fallen angels (demons), and God is dealing with all of it in one great drama. These demonic beings seek to corrupt mankind, and God gives them their opportunity in order to give mankind a clear choice between good and evil, and to pursue the things they really want. (That’s enough of the demonic stuff for now. You’ll probably have fun with this paragraph)
              As far as your accepting heaven under a tyrannical god because there is no other rational choice, given the consequences (hell), this at least tells me that you are not crazy or sadistic. I would suggest to you, however, that God is not tyrannical. Our sin nature is tyrannical. The person blows his entire paycheck down at the local bar the day he receives it is not free, and the person who is disciplined, spends some, and saves for future purposes is not a slave. Or rather, he forgoes the tyranny of lacking in the future for the tyranny of today’s discipline and moderation. I would like to challenge you to consider that your concept of God is a mix of religious junk (and there’s plenty of it out there), things that are not God at all, but pose as God, and simple failures of human understanding (like the dog that does not understand when you are trying to pull a tick off its ear that you are trying to help it, not hurt it, and therefore will not come near you.)

          • RT,

            ” I would have to say that I would honor God as he is”, so your answer is yes, you’d convert and be a muslim then…I think. I’m having a hard time deciphering your code.
            “Actually, given that I positively do have a relationship with God, the proposition is an abomination to me – a little like offering pork to a Jew.” Well, given that I don’t believe in god, your proposition to me is a ridiculously stupid one…but I still answered it. You might as well have asked me if my aunt had bollocks would I call her my uncle. It’s about as intelligent a question.
            “I would like to challenge you to consider that your concept of God is a mix of religious junk….”
            My concept of god is non existent. I don’t believe in the supernatural. My impression of religion is that it’s a man-made fairy tale, full of superstitious, illogical, contradictory, idiotic nonsense, written by fearful ignoramuses that are 1/2 a chromosome away from being a chimpanzee and that it can’t be believed by a thinking person. It makes people say the stupidest things imaginable, as you have so aptly demonstrated.
            And to address one final point in a previous post “Neither God, nor I need you to receive it”. If neither god, nor you need me to receive god’s wonderful offer and that it doesn’t really matter and it’s my prerogative, can you please explain why you just CANNOT SHUT THE *&^% UP about him? Why do you have to write post after post after post about your wonderful relationship with him and how I need to “choose wisely” or I need to “surrender” or I need “salvation” or that there’s no value to life unless there’s an afterlife and on and on and on like a broken *&^%ing record? Is there a reason why you just CANNOT stop torturing Rana and telling her that she’s only “toying” or “tinkering” with her concept of god (which is all wrong obviously because it doesn’t conform to your concept of god) and all the other things you’ve said to her?

  4. Very well argued! I can see you and I share similar thoughts. I never felt so full of life until I admitted to myself that I was an atheist. It’s turned me into much more of humanitarian and made my heart far more peaceful. In my definition of atheism it means living your life as if there was no God. As a result I value this life much more, because it could be my only chance to exist. Furthermore removing intentionality from the universe means it’s indifferent and I actually find that much more calming because that there aren’t agents of evil and agents of good floating around causing good or bad things to happen. It puts the responsibility on us to try to make things better. In my experience I find many religious people far more selfish because their view in the afterlife leaves them much more self-centered because of the conceit they develop in their own righteousness. Where as most secular people I know are far more egalitarian and humanistic. But their are a lot of good religious people too and this is the point…”Belief in God is not a prerequisite to being a good person”. Science can explain the existence of morality without the need of religion, thus if there is a God none of us on Earth have every come close to explaining properly. And I refuse to argue with anyone on the existence of God unless somebody can come up with a unified definition on what the nature of God is. 🙂

    • Well said! Thank you for sharing and checking out the blog! I very much agree that living life as if there is nothing after allows not only for responsibility to be taken by man, but also that man’s taking of responsibility is not a bad thing, not a punishment or degradation of man’s abilities due to choice. To take responsibility for what we are as human beings should not be looked down upon. Our restricted view on ourselves (the bound image of good and evil) is not something to be cringed at, nor to be ashamed of. We should embrace our flaws as aspects of what make us great.

      • “Our restricted view on ourselves (the bound image of good and evil) is not something to be cringed at, nor to be ashamed of. We should embrace our flaws as aspects of what make us great.”

        Beautifully said! 🙂

    • Swarn Gill,
      In regard to your feeling so full of life once you admitted to yourself you were an atheist, you may wish to consider that those who are wrestling with suicide for months suddenly come into a giddy peace and joy once they make up their mind to go through with it, even as they commit themselves to their own destruction. They are merely experiencing release from the battle, much like a college student feels when he decides to drop a physics course that was not going well. This kind of “full of life” feeling will likely be be short-lived – as short as the time to the next crisis in life that will prove you are not sufficient to be your own God after all.
      RT

      • RT

        To even dare to equate the decision to take one’s own life to that of a college student who decides to drop a physics course has shown how completely and thoroughly your mind has been corrupted and poisoned by the Christian ideology that you subscribe to. To say that realizing that you’re an atheist, that you just can’t be brought to believe in superstitious, supernatural, illogical non-sense is akin or even remotely analogous to someone giving up on life, committing suicide and that the feeling of happiness will be “short-lived” is saying something that is just absolutely un-*&^%ing-believable. I’ve heard you say hateful things before but I must say that this takes the cake. And do you know what the worst part of it is? You don’t even realize how hateful what you’ve just written really is. I already know you’ll be coming back with justifications or explanations as to why you said what you said. That was a deplorably contemptuous statement and if you had even an ounce of integrity or dare I say decency anywhere in your body, you’d hang your head in shame and beg Swarn Gill for forgiveness for having said something so hideously, immorally wicked as that.

        • Ashley do you have a blog? I’d like to follow it just for your beautiful response, and thank you. 🙂 People like RT are the kind of people that convince me I’m on the right path so it’s hard to find it offensive. lol To make me doubt my path he’d actually have to be a kind and compassionate person whose faith in God seemed more like a blessing than a burden.

          • Swarn,

            You’re actually the second person to ask/suggest that I should have a blog of my own since I’ve started commenting on Rana’s blog. I don’t at present but maybe in the not too distant future, I may be persuaded to start my own. If/when I do, I’ll let you know!
            As for RT, I find him somewhere beneath contempt. I’ve had “debates” or “conversations” with him in the past so I know how shallow he can be, (I’ve seen the “you’re going to hell” in various forms dozens of times since I’ve been on this blog), but I never ever thought that he would stoop to that level and then, on top of that not only not apologize but make an even more contemptuous statement. Just when I think he can’t possibly go any lower, he surprises me yet again.

          • Birds of a feather most definitely flock together. Perhaps you should all gather at one website where you can comfort and approve one another in your ideologies, and remove the tension of what does not agree.

          • RT,

            Might I be the one that perhaps suggests that you’re on the wrong website and that you’d be better off elsewhere talking to people who have the same outlook on life that you do and discussing how heathens like Shelldigger, Swarn and myself are going straight to hell because we haven’t “chosen wisely” like you have? It seems to be about the only topic you care to discuss since you have to bring it up on almost a daily basis, so why not go somewhere and talk about it with people who want to talk about it?

          • Ashley,
            You already live on God’s terms in everything except certain choices He left to you to be temporarily on your own terms. I doubt if you are making as much money as you’d like to make. I doubt if sickness or dragging yourself out of bed when you don’t feel like it to get to work under a boss who does not do thing on your terms is all on your terms. I doubt if you human limitations are on your terms.
            You said, “The day I start living my life on YOUR or GOD’S terms WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER COME.” I beg to differ with you on the God part. Your God-given license to do anything at all on your own terms will expire at death. (And the timing and fact of death is also not on your own terms either) At death, those who had signed on to God’s initial terms will enjoy a new contract much more to their liking, but still ultimately on God’s terms. (The goal is not to escape God’s terms, but to embrace them and enjoy life within His provision and boundaries.) I assure you that those who do not will do nothing on their own terms throughout eternity. They will not so much as have the power to cease to exist.

        • Ah, and he’s a conspiracy theorist to boot, making Type 1 errors in his interpretation of scripture.

          I find blogging to be a nice way to explore various topics. My followers are few, probably due mostly to my impatience for editing, but thus far I have found the blogosphere quite enjoyable. I’ve just found Rana’s blog, but she is one of several blogs I have found being written by thoughtful, intelligent and creative people. It can be a really nice community, even with a few trolls! I agree that RT’s style of argumentation doesn’t really qualify as debate. The man’s a poster child for the Straw Man fallacy and many other logical fallacies. I have several religious friends that I have debates with and they are actually enjoyable and are a learning experience. To be honest I read all of his ramblings under this thread and knew it was going to be a waste of time to argue with him which is why I didn’t respond to any of his other somewhat vapid attempts to challenge Rana’s thoughtful blog post and responses. Alas I have been drawn in to the fight with a “child having a tantrum” and it just makes me sad, because just like children they aren’t equipped with the tools to have meaningful conversation.

          I am originally from Canada too, from Edmonton, so it’s nice to meet a fellow Canadian. 🙂

          • Swarn,

            Yes I would say that you’ve likely chosen the better path, which is to ignore because there really is no talking and debating with a loon like that. I keep getting sucked in the (too often) and I have used the dialectic to hone my own skills so I can’t say it’s been a complete loss. But I think it’s gotten to a point where I can’t even stand the sight of his handle. I want to vomit every time I see it. I’ve never had so much contempt for one person in my life.
            And yes, nice to meet a fellow Canadian! Sochi 2014 all the way!!! LOL

      • What I always love about people like you is how presumptuous you can be. I’ve been an atheist for 10 years now, gone through devastating marriage troubles in which my wife cheated on my and I thought I was going to have divorce from the woman I love. I’ve had my grandfather pass away and been in two car accidents. And in none of those times did I need to rely on God to help me get through it. I relied on friends, I relied on family, I’ve relied on psychologists and I relied on my own experience in having dealt with difficult situations before. I realize the value of emotional and mental health and am not afraid of seeking the professional help I need should I be in crisis. I realize that life will have it’s hard times, but it will also have good times too, and I know what I need to do to help myself through feelings of grief and loss. I feel even more happy and fulfilled then the day I admitted to myself I am an atheist. Letting go of God wasn’t done in a fit of anger or due to some terrible thing that happened to me, it was through learning, it was through being biracial and recognizing that their are good people in the two belief systems I was raised in, it comes from knowing many good people who are very secular and seeing how happy and fulfilled they are, and what good and generous people they are. So I am sorry you can’t fathom how somebody can be truly fulfilled spiritually, emotionally, and mentally as an atheist, but they can. I’m living it, you are not, so in the future maybe keep your lame psychoanalysis to yourself.

        And I couldn’t agree with Ashley more. Your comparison of suicide to dropping a college course is intellectually shallow and poorly constructed. The fact that you are unable to detect how poor the analogy shows that you should stay out of the field of apologetics and just keep doing your day job, believe in God and live out your life happy and fulfilled. But given all your posts on this thread it seem that I much more happy and fulfilled than you are, because I haven’t gone around and attacked anybody for the way they choose to live their life. You have.

        • Swarn Gill and Ashley,
          Perhaps I have underestimated the determination of the atheist. As I thought over your response, Swarn Gill, and your statement about going through hardships without God, I thought of Revelation 9:20, 21 which states that even after many of the judgments during the Great Tribulation, that the people still did not repent. They fought God until the end. And it dawned on me that you may actually be happy to be upon your chosen path, though I do not think you will like the destination. Bon voyage! RT

          • And thank you for quoting scripture as if it was a source of truth in the world. Clearly that’s what you believe. You might as well quote the Hobbit or something. Revelations is a story too. I know plenty of people who pretend they are in middle earth. It’s mildly entertaining. To fight God, I’d actually have to believe there really was one. You can’t fight or be angry with something that isn’t there. Your destination and mine are the same. Fertilizer. It’s really not so bad to be the source of life for other things in this world. Just as old stars forged the elements to make our solar system, so shall what makes me go into wonderful plants that grow, and provide sustenance for other life, just as this Earth has sustained me. I am not so full of conceit that I feel like my consciousness must go on after I die.

            I am so fortunate in this world because of where I live and what I’m able to do with my life. Each day I get to exist is a gift, and when I face non-existence I will hopefully look back on a life I am proud of, and die in peace knowing that I am not the first to pass on, and I won’t be the last and that death is just as much part of life as anything else. The one true experience we all share. What could be more peaceful that to remember at the last moments that you share brotherhood with all mankind? I feel sorry for you that you live in such fear you have to convince yourself of your beliefs so as to erase doubt from your mind and to attack others for their point of view simply because you are afraid that you have wasted your entire life believing in something that in the end you can only hope is real. People like you are the luckiest of them all in the end…not because you go to heaven, but because you won’t get to realize once your dead all the time you wasted judging other people for the way they live their lives. You won’t get to realize that you failed to savor the richness that life has to offer by learning the value of all those different cultural perspectives on the life’s biggest questions have to offer. You won’t get to realize that you didn’t even follow the lessons of Jesus Christ for which claim to believe. You won’t get to realize that for someone who so wholly believes in creation you didn’t spend very much time learning about how the universe actually worked. You won’t even get to feel disappointed. But you know what? I’m actually kind of glad about that because regret is a terrible thing and you seem like somebody who really isn’t at peace and is really afraid and if treating others like this and needing one book to give you a feeling of safety and certainty lessens that fear a little bit then I am actually glad it does. Feeling lost and terrified is so difficult and the desire to erase that is so strong that I can’t judge anybody for the decisions they make. Some people turn to drugs, myriads of relationships, some to religion. Many times people become better people when they find a religion that suits them, some however never lose that feeling of fear and want to make others feel the same way so they don’t feel so alone. I hope you find true peace before your end.

          • What I believe you do not understand is that my faith in God is not some sort of a crap shoot. I’ve had a very real encounter with God 32 years ago, with God’s regular working and speaking into my life. I know his presence, his speaking, and his faithfulness. And the book of Revelation, which you refer to as a “story”, makes an awful lot of sense in our current age, and would have made so little when it was written. When, but in the computer age, would a world government and banking system make sense, along with the ability to control that banking system? When, but now, would it make sense to received a “mark” (The mark of the Beast), without which a person cannot buy or sell? (Think, implantable computer chips) That did not even make sense thirty years ago when I first read it. It certainly does now. We are moving toward a world banking system and globalism. When, but now, do we have the capacity to monitor all of these banking transactions, and when, but now, could we track people’s coming and going?
            Also consider that Israel became a state again in 1948, even as Hitler attempted to exterminate the Jews from the face of the earth. So Israel comes back, in the face of extermination to become a nation again after 2000 years, as Scripture predicts, and Israel is the time clock of Biblical prophecy. Why are the nations of the world so fixated on this tiny country? It is because it is the centerpiece of what God is about to do. The Bible also says that in the last days knowledge and transportation will increase. (Dan. 12:4) Just look at the last hundred years.

          • RT

            And not being content with the original offending statement, why not trot out the old “you’re going to hell!” statements to round it all off eh? Well done sir. You truly are the most despicable human being on the face of the earth. You make me sick to my stomach.
            How Rana has the patience and the stomach to put up with a piece of garbage like you, I’ll never know.

          • You’re an angry atheist, with the tension between your current position in respect to God and God’s immoveable reality about ready to make you blow a gasket.

          • RT,

            There is no tension between me and god because there is no god. Everything you think is real in that regard is a figment of your imagination. It’s no wonder you’re bewildered when someone appears angry to you after you’ve told them that being an atheist is akin to someone giving up on life and committing suicide and then telling them that they’re going to hell because they’ve called you on it. Call me angry all you like, it doesn’t make you any less the wicked, downright evil, hateful prick that you are.

          • Do you gentlemen 🙂 understand that there can be no meeting of the minds between those who believe in God and those who do not? The very foundation from which we process all things could not be farther apart. What I say will appear utter foolishness to you, and what what you say is utterly foolish to me. To err in regard to the Creator is the greatest error in the universe. Not only will a person be wrong on that particular matter, as if we were talking about being wrong about whether the Patriots will win this season, but he will then view essentially everything in a wrong light. We are speaking about the very ground we are standing upon and there nothing more critical. RT

          • RT,

            There can be no “meeting of the minds” in your case because you don’t have a mind. The goop of protoplasm that’s between your ears (which may or may not at one point have been a functioning brain, but I doubt it) is no longer a mind. Sure it provides the basic functions like breathing, eating and perhaps maybe even recognizing shiny objects and bright lights but its been so thoroughly infected with a virus, that it cannot function anywhere near full capacity. You can’t go more than 10 seconds without “god this” or “god that” or “hell this” or “hell that”. You can’t even read a limerick without starting to foam at the mouth.
            You wonder why people like me get angry? It’s because religion can and does make people do and say wicked, evil, hateful things and you have proven my point at least 1000x over since I’ve started following this blog about 8 months ago. People like YOU are the reason we can’t have stem cell research. People like YOU are the reason why gay people can’t live normal lives. People like YOU are the reason why the AIDS virus is still rampant in Africa because “condoms are immoral”. You’re a worthless shell of a human being. You’re rotten to the core. You, and people who think and talk like you will never ever amount to anything in your useless, pointless lives. The only thing that you excel at is being divisive, hateful, ignorant and stupid.

          • Ashley, you said in regard to me, “I’ve never had so much contempt for one person in my life.” Wow. What an honor. That’s a huge place to occupy in someone’s life.

            I find you primarily an object of concern on the positive side, and a minor irritant on the negative side, which is further mitigated by the distance of the internet, much like the distance we feel from a car accident we hear about on the news. I find that in order for me to really loathe anything or anybody in this world, it has to have some great, profound, and negative influence in my life.

          • Ashley:

            You said of me, “You truly are the most despicable human being on the face of the earth.” . What an absurdity. One would think that if this were so my infamy would be world-renowned. I don’t know, maybe I’m just waiting to be recognized. Move over, Hitler! Move over, Attila the Hun, Charles Manson, Ariel Castro! All small fry!
            What a strange thing when the Atheist comes on with moral indignation! When they are morally indignant they betray their godlessness. After your indignant talk about not judging, you then go on to make an incredibly extreme statement of judgment, judging me to be not merely despicable, but the most despicable human being on the face of the earth. Where did your, “Don’t judge, jellyfish floating on the sea”, happy talk go now?

            You can talk your atheistic philosophies, but you cannot live them out. You talk, “No God”, but live nonetheless as one created in His image. You are at the very least very unfaithful to your atheistic assertions. If God were to judge you solely on your adherence to atheistic principles, you would be found a hypocrite. On what basis do you make ANY moral assertion? How do you make a judgment between you and me without appealing to something or someone that transcends us both? Where do you get your standard? If you, yourself, are the standard, along with the criteria that you, yourself have set up (Which I suspect is the case), then join the club of 7 billion separate standard-bearers walking this earth as if they were the center of the universe, each with his own tailor-made morality. It’s like walking into the electronics section of a Walmart with 30 TV’s all tuned to different stations prattling on at the same time, except we are talking 7 billion. If society is your standard, then you’ve got to deal with the fact that we have had some pretty monstrous societies in human history. (And if all of society were sending in text-votes as to the most despicable human being on the planet, then it would judge you to be wrong here. In fact, it would find your comment laughable.) But you DO, in fact, act as if there is a basis, an ultimate determiner of right and wrong, and from this you cannot escape. It comes out when you blow your stack, when you hear something that hits a nerve, revealing to yourself that you are out of sync with your stated and intricately woven, ever-so-tightly managed shields against hard truth, thus challenging your entire foundation for life.
            RT

          • RT,

            Very good sir. Since god is your moral compass, then I’ll just say that both you and he are gigantic assholes. What was that you were saying about birds of a feather flocking together? Sounds about right.

          • Ashley,

            So there it is. Openly and willfully hostile to God. I never believed for a moment that your issue was “disbelief” in God – not for a moment. You have inadvertently manifested your heart. This is an eye-opener for me. I do not understand how a human being could so completely reject the grace of God and stand in open defiance of the God of all the universe. It, honestly, both floors me and sobers me. But when I see it, clear, and out in the open, it brings home to me that eternal damnation is truly just. It is both just and fitting. Know this, Ashley, God has said,
            Isa 45:22-24
            22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
            23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.
            24 They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.'” All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame.

            When God backs up what He says with an oath, He swears by Himself, in that there is none greater or surer to swear by. Even those who go off into eternal punishment will acknowledge the perfect justice and righteousness of God in judging them. There will be no accusation left standing toward God. In the judgment, men will see things in God’s perfect light, even as that perfect light lays bear their souls with perfect transparency. Standing in the presence of God it is impossible to lie. There is no hiding, no obfuscation. Who you are will be laid open before Him like a book.

            If you wish to continue on, Ashley, in this mad defiance of God, the very seat of power, there is not a thing that I or anyone living can do to stop you. I would urge you, plead with you to reconsider while you still can. No man has the next hour guaranteed to him. Know this also: there is no name-calling or mocking that comes from you that will rattle me in the slightest. You, however, seem to be completely unraveled, and you ought to be. If you fully understood what you were saying, and the utter foolishness of your defiant posture toward God, and what that means, I think you would find that you are not yet rattled enough. My hope for you is that you are doing some of this yet in a degree of ignorance or temporary bitterness about things you do not understand. If you do this with both eyes wide open, what a chilling thing that is! I do not know how many warnings are left for you, Ashley. I only know this: when I had determined to reply no further, later in the day I suddenly found the Lord putting these thoughts on my heart to speak to you.

            Consider, Ashley, that this is not about me at all. If you mock at God, your chords will grow tighter, and you alone will bear it.
            RT

          • Ashley,
            As I’ve said, it is not that you do not believe in God, but that you are furious with Him, kicking and bucking and at war with Him. Let me tell you what your anger is about: God will not do things on your terms. You have not yet conceded that this is His show, not yours, and you fundamentally think that your way is better than His, and that you are more righteous that God. And until that breaks, you will not know Him. Ashley, I have begun praying for you often. Prayer will not force a thing (as in God will not force your will in this), but it can have a softening effect on the heart, make you aware of your need for God, and make you miserable in your sin and desperate to be free of it, rather than carry it to the grave and into a miserable eternity. In my own life, I know there was a time that I quite enjoyed my sin, but in the time of God’s dealing I became as miserable as can be in it, and I was then presented with a choice.
            RT

            • Thunder, I can’t help but make the observation that it is you who are furious, kicking and screaming at the idea that someone can be content without a concept of god to obsess over. It also makes you furious that such people cannot concieve of your choice in belief, just as you cannot comprehend that person’s choice of life without god. It seems to bother you to no end that people can be content, be truly happy without a concept of god to base that happiness on, as you do. This bothers you so much you have to put words in others mouths, purposefully and intentionally falsely portraying others’ views in order to justify your own belief in their eyes. Simply another observation of your blatant denial of empathy toward those with viees different from your own.

          • Rana,
            I think this is an odd place for you to jump in! Did you read Ashley’s comments? I would think that if you were going to get involved, it would have been then.

          • Rana,
            You and Ashley have this in common: You both insist on life on your own terms – Ashley by an attempt to strip the universe of God (and hence, accountability to God), and you in the manufacture of a god who won’t mess with your life or hold you accountable for it in any way. I believe both of you have this in common in regard to your futures: At some point between now and eternity you will run into the wall of an immoveable God, and discover quite starkly that your life is not your own, and that He has a very definite will for your and for all mankind, and you can walk in cooperation with that or in rebellion. He will hold you to account for what you chose, and no one is capable of holding to account like God.

            • You say that Ashley and I demand to live life on our own terms, as if you do not already do the same. You rely only on your own interpretation of scripture and your own personal observations of life to determine right from wrong, just like everyone else. How many churches did you say you’ve been kicked out of? And what gives you the authority to make the rules of your life according to your interpretation of scriptures above those churches? You are no different, Thunder, And as for myself, I live life according to the rules of society, of my family values (which are partially based on religious values anyway), and my personal observations. In my view, as I have made clear before, this is how all people make their ‘rules’ for themselves. Some people take socially accepted rules into account, some do not. Same goes with family, with spirituality, and with personal observations.

              And let me say I’m getting quite offended that you continue to insist, despite my civil explanation to the contrary, that I have made my own god. I have a personal ideology on what god may be like, if that god exists. At this point, I do not hold that belief as a basis of judgment on how I conduct my life. In my view, you do the same. You do not conform your image of god to any specific religious doctrine or policy. You have an image of god which you consider right and you do not shirk that image for the sake of others. The difference between you and I is that you demand to conduct your life as if this image of god you have is the only possible truth of god, while I do not take such a self-important stance on the image of god I hold as the best possibility. I also am willing to acknowledge my belief as just that, belief. You are too obsessed with knowing truth to lower yourself to having faith in beliefs.

          • RT,

            “You and Ashley have this in common: You both insist on life on your own terms”
            Yes sir, you have that exactly right. The day I start living my life on YOUR or GOD’S terms WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER COME.
            Your assertion that some time between now and eternity, I will run into an “immovable god” is baseless and has exactly zero evidence to support it. I do not consider the delusional rantings from a crackpot like you as evidence that that’s what’s going to happen.
            And yet, once again, here we have another example of you preaching and warning about god’s wrath when in an earlier post you said neither you nor god cared whether or not I accepted his wonderful offer. It would seem that you positively lied in that regard doesn’t it? You care a great deal because you just cannot shut the *&^% up about it. So not only are you a delusional crack pot, you’re a liar too.

        • Ashley,
          Call me what you wish. In regard to God, however, I would urge the greatest caution before letting a rash word proceed from your mouth
          RT

        • Rana,
          I do not make my assertions in regard to Ashley without cause. When Ashley says he will “NEVER EVER EVER EVER” live life on God’s terms, he is making a very strong statement of the will, not the intellect. He merely heaps his intellectual arguments on top of what his will has already determined. When Ashley curses God in an unguarded moment with uncommon vitriol, he unwittingly acknowledges the very God he says he “disbelieves.” And when he thunders that he never said he believes there is no God, but rather that he “disbelieves in God”, he reveals a great deal about the flimsy cover of his semantic house of cards. No one reacts the way he does to a mere “disbelief”. If you told me you believed in the Easter Bunny, I’d shrug and say, “Have at it”. But Ashley is coming unglued. I find his taking refuge in his “disbelief” phraseology an incredibly dishonest attempt to avoid the real and critical questions involved – origins of life and the fact that anything at all exists – like some “get out of jail free” card, or like a child who covers his eyes when he’s embarrassed, and imagines that the whole world disappears.
          With tax season fast approaching, I just might take a tax tip from Ashley’s universal avoidance principle. When the nasty IRS notice comes in the mail for neglecting to file my taxes, I will simply say, “I did not FORGET to file my taxes, I just did NOT REMEMBER to file them! Stumped, the IRS man will bow to my superior intellect and will move on to some clumsy fool who has neither the sense nor understanding to shield himself beneath the all-inclusive and airtight benefits as bestowed by this wonderful Ashley principle. He will harass some other poor dupe who says he actually FORGOT to file! Gotcha, Fool! I will then struggle with whether I give Ashley credit for this Judo maneuver or just let the IRS man think it was my own brilliance that got me off the hook for all accountability before this most intimidating of all government entities. What? You’re skeptical this tactic will not work in the face of such power? You think the IRS might actually be able to HOLD me to account? Now, try your magic principle on God, the wisest, most powerful being in the universe, and see if you can stump Him.

          • RT,

            Yep, you got me all pegged son! I’m coming “unglued”. Your bullet proof logic is just too much for me. Saying that god is a dickhead absolutely must mean that I really do believe, and there’s no possible way I could ever be talking metaphorically right? Damn, you’re so smart!
            And to this gem “God, the wisest, most powerful being in the universe, and see if you can stump Him”. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
            The wisest most powerful being in the universe creates man sick, with original sin and then offers his son as a human sacrifice to absolve us of the sin he graced us in the very first place. Now that may sound to you like an intelligent thing to do, but that’s because you’re a delusional lunatic.
            I do notice that your god has filled you with tremendous courage. I don’t know where you summon it from to make all the idiotic statements you’ve made to do, but it seems as though there is an inexhaustible supply of it. That IRS rant was some pretty amazing stuff. Every time I read one of your posts, I think to myself “wow, that had to be the stupidest thing anyone has ever written!” But No! The very next post, you say something that was even more idiotic than the previous post. It’s like I said before, you’re the gold mine that just never runs out of ore. The case for having you committed to an asylum for the mentally insane is growing stronger by the day.

          • Thunder, here you are putting words in Ashley’s mouth. He has stated before that if some conscious, higher power entity came to him in some fashion and gave evidence of it’s existence as the complete creator of all things, as an omnipotent super-being, that he would be willing to accept that evidence. Ashley’s ‘disbelief’ is not of the concept of god, but of your interpretation of that god. Ashley’s personal thought process and observations of the world do not condone his acceptance of your god on your terms. There are not terms of god which you speak of, they are your personal interpretation and opinion of what god wants from man and how god wants it from us. Ashley’s stance of atheism is a stance against the religious institutions of mankind and all of their claims to knowing the truth of god. He does not agree that any of them are right, and makes no claim of his own knowledge of god. Ashley, in his outburst of challenge toward your version of god, is not an acknowledgment that such a god is real. He is denying the possibility of converting to your way of thinking, to your image of god; hence why he says, “The day I start living my life on YOUR or GOD’S terms…” The ‘or’ there is a comparative use, meaning that since you claim the truth of knowledge about god, to convert to your way of think, in your eyes, is to convert to how god wants you to think, and Ashley, in denying to convert to your way of life, is to deny, in your eyes, converting to what your god wants.

            I have nothing to say to your IRS example, as I feel it is a very poorly constructed argument based on the misinterpretation I’ve already explained above.

          • Rana,

            LOL about the IRS statement being a poorly constructed! Now if that’s not an understatement, there’s no such thing as an understatement! Ha ha ha.
            Do you do yoga or meditation? The reason I ask is that you seem to have an infinite amount of patience and I’d like to know where you get it from. LOL

  5. I’m only stopping by to say that I’m not getting involved in this particular back and forth between you 3. XD You all seem to be holding your own very well. Carry on if you desire.

*Insert your thought here*

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