Heaven and The Problem of Evil
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20-11-2013, 03:46 PM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(18-11-2013 09:39 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  One thing I've realized that I seldom see Christians talk about in any detail is heaven. Now, the Bible only gives us glimpses into what heaven is supposed to be, but it doesn't seem to be talked about other than in the most vague sense imaginable. I've noticed this both back when I believed and after I stopped. The only consistent thing I hear about it is that there is supposed to be no suffering. Now, how that is achieved differs from person to person. You might think that you'd feel sad thinking about loved ones that ended up in hell, but some people suggest that you are simply incapable of thinking about it (some go so far as to say your memory of those people is erased). Also, there is no sin or suffering in heaven, and certainly, no one is hurting anyone up there.

Now, that can conjure up some odd mental images, but where it really gets weird is how any imagining of heaven mixes with the most common forms of theodicy and modern apologetics.

There are a lot of different ways to try and solve the Problem of Evil, but the most common ones you hear about these days are Free will, you have to know dark to appreciate light, and the best of all possible worlds. Lets look at those in depth a bit in context with heaven.



Free Will:
Free will has always been a big deal for the Abrahamic religions. Many consider it the cause of all of our current suffering and the justification for the existence of hell. You can ask why God has to work under this framework and why it's necessary for us to be able to be this terrible for God's great plan, but rest assured that this is because of [reasons]. Sometimes, people speculate that this is because God needs to know that we really love him, so we have to be able to love him on our own, and that this isn't super creepy or narcissistic because of [more reasons]. I'm starting to get off track, but what's important is that free will is really important.

So, the believers all die and go to heaven (yay!) and everything is wonderful beyond all imagination. Also, they are being nice to each other, because if they weren't, it wouldn't be wonderful. So, are they able to sin or be mean to each other? Do they still have their free will? Yes or no?

Yes: Yes, they still have their free will, but they never make bad decisions. What the fuck?! Why couldn't God have made us this way in the first place? And before you say "well, only the good people go to heaven, so of course they behave themselves", according to the Bible there are no people on this planet who are without sin. It's not like they are already that good or anything. There's obviously some type of transformation going on here, and YHWH is clearly holding back on Earth. So, this leads to the conclusion of unnecessary suffering.

No: What the fuck!? I thought that free will was super important to justify The Problem of Evil because of [reasons]. This answer just invalidated this approach of theodicy on first principles.



You have to know dark to appreciate light/The best of all possible worlds:
(I'll combine these two here, because they work similarly when discussing heaven)

So, the idea here is that God faces some sort of limitations (because [reasons], of course) and that we have to suffer here before we can enjoy heaven there. It's a rather convenient Post Hoc justification, but it is what it is. The point is, we suffer some finite amount here so we can enjoy heaven infinitely there. Now, this seems like a bit of a math failure regarding how finite and infinite numbers work, but whatever. Now this leads me to an important question: does the amount we suffer in this life in any way impact our enjoyment of heaven (for all eternity!)? Yes or no?

Yes: Yikes! As creepy as it sounds, the most optimal solution here is the torture the ever-loving crap out of ourselves/each other as much as possible for optimal bliss later. Lets hope we weren't wrong and there is no heaven! Also, why does an all-loving God "bless" some people with more suffering than others? This seems unfair. Is it [reasons]?

No: So, as long as we've "suffered", then that's good enough to get the most out of heaven? Then anything more is unnecessary and God is being unnecessarily cruel. Anything beyond having souls exist in human bodies for just baaaarely as long as needed and then killing them and sending their souls to heaven is gratuitous. What the crap, YHWH?

Of course, the obvious answer is that these two approaches are simply Post Hoc rationalizations for why we get the world that we live in and can observe while simultaneously talking about God and The Problem of Evil. It's painfully obvious that either the yes or no answer to the question above point to a world that is clearly different than what we have, so, if you believe that heaven involves no suffering, then you have to come to the conclusion that God didn't craft the world in the most optimal fashion (making the best of all possible worlds fail).



So, there you have it. As soon as you start imagining an infinitely wonderful heaven, the Problem of Evil rears it's ugly head again, destroying several hundred years of carefully crafted apologetics. I really with Christians would talk more about heaven in Bible studies and ask these sorts of questions.

I'll bite:

*Heaven is in part, eternal life. Life is awesome, breathing, eating, playing, running, jumping, loving, making love. For eternity? I'm all in.

*Heaven is in part being with good friends and sharing good times with them. Check.

*Heaven is talking to God and getting direct answers from the ultimate overmind? Who killed JFK? How does quantum mechanics "work"? Why are most people between three and six feet tall? Cool. Check.

*Heaven is like traveling with AmEx Black in first class. Flying without a plane? Checking out black holes then escaping them? Eating without gaining weight? Check.

*Heaven is God showing His kindnesses to us. There are verses about constantly learning more and more from God like the above. Coolness.

I think that's enough goodies to whet your appetite.
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20-11-2013, 06:21 PM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(20-11-2013 01:59 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:If not, then what is the point of heaven?
To enjoy that relationship, among other things.
If we can enjoy the relationship in heaven, why the suffering on earth?


(20-11-2013 01:59 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:If we have to suffer here first to become good friends with him, then when we get to heaven, we no longer need free will, why not operate on a faster time line on earth?
Huh?
Why do we need to live this long on Earth to establish the relationship? Could it be done faster? If so, why the extra suffering? If not, what happens to the poor people that die early? Do they enjoy heaven less?


(20-11-2013 01:59 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:
Yes, but judges don't have the power to determine greater societal conditions. We have laws against things like murder because society can't function if we allow it. Sure, a judge could let murderers go free, but there would be consequences.
Likewise heaven wouldn’t be heaven if everyone were let in.
That sounds really macabre to me. The idea that you have to make a bunch of people that will be tortured so the others can enjoy doesn't sound very good. The god you are positing here isn't one that I would worship out of love, but out of fear. If the whole point of suffering is to establish relationships, this sounds really counter to the goal: establishing a relationship with someone I fear rather than love.


(20-11-2013 01:59 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:If anyone believes in a heaven that has no suffering or sin, then they already believe that God is powerful enough to create a world like that. Judges can't do that. My point is all this judgment is unnecessary on first principles. God isn't judging and punishing us because he has to. He does it because he wants to. That's why the analogy fails.
As already noted, God has a purpose – deeper relationships. Yes, he wants to achieve that purpose. He could have decided to accept shallower relationships in order to avoid the need for sin and suffering. That would punish those who would have loved him anyway, and reward those who would have hated or ignored him. That’s obviously not a logical thing to do.
You realize that not all people that don't accept Jesus do so out of hatred or ignoring God. Some people do so because they were raised in other religions. You could call this ignorance (it is, in a sense), but that's exceptionally callous. Others don't accept him out of not being able to believe.

I, myself, was Christian for about 30 years before I realized I couldn't believe anymore. I tried for two years to believe again and couldn't. Where do I fall in? Hatred, ignorance, or heaven?


(20-11-2013 01:59 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:Yes, except for, in one way or another, he created evil, so he's effectively protecting us from himself. I asked you earlier and you didn't answer: you say that God didn't create evil. What did create it?
Angels and people.
Quote:What created the thing that created evil?
God.
If God created angels and people who were capable of creating evil, God is responsible for evil. The only way to make him not culpable would be to make him powerless to deal with the problem.


(20-11-2013 01:59 PM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote: Except for God set the bar and created the punishment/reward system. Any "mercy" from him is just him shifting the goal posts. And, again, the punishment/reward system doesn't address evil; it addresses "Do you believe in Jesus? Y/N".
Incorrect. Earlier I privately gave you kudos for not conflating justice and mercy, but that was apparently premature.
They are the same thing when God sets the bar. He is in control of what is good and evil and he sets the bar for what is rewarded and punished. Unfortunately, good and evil are not rewarded or punished. He simply checks if you believe in Jesus. That's not justice. You are punished for not believing in a very particular non-falsifiable belief system and you are not punished for actually doing things that would be nominally described as evil.
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20-11-2013, 06:24 PM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(20-11-2013 03:46 PM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  I'll bite:

*Heaven is in part, eternal life. Life is awesome, breathing, eating, playing, running, jumping, loving, making love. For eternity? I'm all in.

*Heaven is in part being with good friends and sharing good times with them. Check.

*Heaven is talking to God and getting direct answers from the ultimate overmind? Who killed JFK? How does quantum mechanics "work"? Why are most people between three and six feet tall? Cool. Check.

*Heaven is like traveling with AmEx Black in first class. Flying without a plane? Checking out black holes then escaping them? Eating without gaining weight? Check.

*Heaven is God showing His kindnesses to us. There are verses about constantly learning more and more from God like the above. Coolness.

I think that's enough goodies to whet your appetite.

So, you said a few things that you believe heaven is, but I have a few questions for you. It's entirely possible your belief system isn't consistent with what I described, and this wouldn't apply to you.

Do you believe heaven has any suffering? If not, do people have free will in heaven?

Do you believe God is all powerful (at least, able to prevent evil)?

Do you believe God is all loving (at least, willing to prevent evil)?
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20-11-2013, 09:08 PM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(20-11-2013 03:46 PM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  I'll bite:

*Heaven is in part, eternal life. Life is awesome, breathing, eating, playing, running, jumping, loving, making love. For eternity? I'm all in.

*Heaven is in part being with good friends and sharing good times with them. Check.

*Heaven is talking to God and getting direct answers from the ultimate overmind? Who killed JFK? How does quantum mechanics "work"? Why are most people between three and six feet tall? Cool. Check.

*Heaven is like traveling with AmEx Black in first class. Flying without a plane? Checking out black holes then escaping them? Eating without gaining weight? Check.

*Heaven is God showing His kindnesses to us. There are verses about constantly learning more and more from God like the above. Coolness.

I think that's enough goodies to whet your appetite.

Guess how I know you are making all this shit up. Rolleyes

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21-11-2013, 07:41 AM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(20-11-2013 06:21 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  If we can enjoy the relationship in heaven, why the suffering on earth?
To gain the knowledge of God necessary to fully enjoy the relationship in heaven.

Quote:Why do we need to live this long on Earth to establish the relationship? Could it be done faster? If so, why the extra suffering? If not, what happens to the poor people that die early? Do they enjoy heaven less?
Do you find life on earth to be a net negative? If not, this question is ad hoc.

Quote:That sounds really macabre to me. The idea that you have to make a bunch of people that will be tortured so the others can enjoy doesn't sound very good. The god you are positing here isn't one that I would worship out of love, but out of fear. If the whole point of suffering is to establish relationships, this sounds really counter to the goal: establishing a relationship with someone I fear rather than love.
It comes down to whether you find yourself deserving of judgment. If not, then yes, you would only worship out of fear. If so, you worship out of gratitude and love.

Quote: You realize that not all people that don't accept Jesus do so out of hatred or ignoring God. Some people do so because they were raised in other religions. You could call this ignorance (it is, in a sense), but that's exceptionally callous. Others don't accept him out of not being able to believe.
Jesus said that people will be judged as they judge, which seems very fair to me.
Quote:I, myself, was Christian for about 30 years before I realized I couldn't believe anymore. I tried for two years to believe again and couldn't. Where do I fall in? Hatred, ignorance, or heaven?
It’s not ignorance obviously, as you didn’t just lose interest, you’re on an atheist board actively criticizing Christianity. So, it’s either hatred or heaven. That’s between you and God. I don’t know your heart. But it doesn’t look good on the surface.

Biblically, most anyone is able to believe in a creator god at the very least. IMO people misread the “I am the way…” passage. The OT saints didn’t have express belief in Jesus’ death for them on the cross, yet Christians consider them saved. A person is responsible for the light given to them.

Quote:If God created angels and people who were capable of creating evil, God is responsible for evil. The only way to make him not culpable would be to make him powerless to deal with the problem.
As God is sovereign and evil wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t allowed it, then yes, you could say God “is responsible for” evil. That doesn’t mean he created evil. If I let my kids run around a store and they break something, I’m responsible for the damage – but I didn’t break the item.


Quote:They are the same thing when God sets the bar. He is in control of what is good and evil and he sets the bar for what is rewarded and punished. Unfortunately, good and evil are not rewarded or punished.

What’s your support for this claim? As I read the Bible, all people are evil and deserve punishment. Some are less evil or more good than others, and get lesser punishment.

Quote:He simply checks if you believe in Jesus. That's not justice.
I agree. That's not justice, it’s mercy.

Quote:You are punished for not believing in a very particular non-falsifiable belief system and you are not punished for actually doing things that would be nominally described as evil.
No, you’re punished for your sins. As noted, OT saints didn’t believe in Jesus and were saved. Plus, there are varying levels of punishment in hell. If it were simply one check box, there would be only one level of punishment. Also note that the demons believe, and yet are punished.
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21-11-2013, 08:01 AM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(21-11-2013 07:41 AM)alpha male Wrote:  Plus, there are varying levels of punishment in hell.

There's only one kind of "punishment in hell," and that's the kind that exists in your mind. I did experiments. Smartass

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21-11-2013, 08:48 AM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(21-11-2013 07:41 AM)alpha male Wrote:  
(20-11-2013 06:21 PM)RobbyPants Wrote:  If we can enjoy the relationship in heaven, why the suffering on earth?
To gain the knowledge of God necessary to fully enjoy the relationship in heaven.

Quote:Why do we need to live this long on Earth to establish the relationship? Could it be done faster? If so, why the extra suffering? If not, what happens to the poor people that die early? Do they enjoy heaven less?
Do you find life on earth to be a net negative? If not, this question is ad hoc.

Quote:That sounds really macabre to me. The idea that you have to make a bunch of people that will be tortured so the others can enjoy doesn't sound very good. The god you are positing here isn't one that I would worship out of love, but out of fear. If the whole point of suffering is to establish relationships, this sounds really counter to the goal: establishing a relationship with someone I fear rather than love.
It comes down to whether you find yourself deserving of judgment. If not, then yes, you would only worship out of fear. If so, you worship out of gratitude and love.

Quote: You realize that not all people that don't accept Jesus do so out of hatred or ignoring God. Some people do so because they were raised in other religions. You could call this ignorance (it is, in a sense), but that's exceptionally callous. Others don't accept him out of not being able to believe.
Jesus said that people will be judged as they judge, which seems very fair to me.
Quote:I, myself, was Christian for about 30 years before I realized I couldn't believe anymore. I tried for two years to believe again and couldn't. Where do I fall in? Hatred, ignorance, or heaven?
It’s not ignorance obviously, as you didn’t just lose interest, you’re on an atheist board actively criticizing Christianity. So, it’s either hatred or heaven. That’s between you and God. I don’t know your heart. But it doesn’t look good on the surface.

Biblically, most anyone is able to believe in a creator god at the very least. IMO people misread the “I am the way…” passage. The OT saints didn’t have express belief in Jesus’ death for them on the cross, yet Christians consider them saved. A person is responsible for the light given to them.

Quote:If God created angels and people who were capable of creating evil, God is responsible for evil. The only way to make him not culpable would be to make him powerless to deal with the problem.
As God is sovereign and evil wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t allowed it, then yes, you could say God “is responsible for” evil. That doesn’t mean he created evil. If I let my kids run around a store and they break something, I’m responsible for the damage – but I didn’t break the item.


Quote:They are the same thing when God sets the bar. He is in control of what is good and evil and he sets the bar for what is rewarded and punished. Unfortunately, good and evil are not rewarded or punished.

What’s your support for this claim? As I read the Bible, all people are evil and deserve punishment. Some are less evil or more good than others, and get lesser punishment.

Quote:He simply checks if you believe in Jesus. That's not justice.
I agree. That's not justice, it’s mercy.

Quote:You are punished for not believing in a very particular non-falsifiable belief system and you are not punished for actually doing things that would be nominally described as evil.
No, you’re punished for your sins. As noted, OT saints didn’t believe in Jesus and were saved. Plus, there are varying levels of punishment in hell. If it were simply one check box, there would be only one level of punishment. Also note that the demons believe, and yet are punished.

You make all kinds of assertions for which there is no evidence.
(And, no, the Bible is not evidence - it is a claim.)

Why do you believe this stuff?

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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21-11-2013, 09:44 AM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(21-11-2013 07:41 AM)alpha male Wrote:  To gain the knowledge of God necessary to fully enjoy the relationship in heaven.

...

It comes down to whether you find yourself deserving of judgment. If not, then yes, you would only worship out of fear. If so, you worship out of gratitude and love.
I still find the notion of God creating people just so he can have friends, and allowing them to suffer so he can know that they're really his friends to be rather creepy. It comes off as narcissistic.

Regardless, you've already stated that you don't believe God is all good or all powerful, so you've already solved the problem of evil, and the OP of this thread doesn't really apply to your belief system. It's just that I find your particular notion to be rather disturbing. To each their own, I suppose.


(21-11-2013 07:41 AM)alpha male Wrote:  Do you find life on earth to be a net negative? If not, this question is ad hoc.
That's not the point. It could be better, and it's not. The only way people can try to describe the world that we can see and observe (with suffering) and reconcile that with a benevolent creator God is to list that there are some (unstated!) reasons for why this is. No one can tell us what they are, but they're really sure that [reasons] exist and that they're valid. That is ad hoc. Until I see any reason to believe it (evidence), I won't.


(21-11-2013 07:41 AM)alpha male Wrote:  Jesus said that people will be judged as they judge, which seems very fair to me.
I need you to elaborate on that. Are you saying that if I'm non-judgmental that I won't be judged very much in the afterlife, or what?


(21-11-2013 07:41 AM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:I, myself, was Christian for about 30 years before I realized I couldn't believe anymore. I tried for two years to believe again and couldn't. Where do I fall in? Hatred, ignorance, or heaven?
It’s not ignorance obviously, as you didn’t just lose interest, you’re on an atheist board actively criticizing Christianity. So, it’s either hatred or heaven. That’s between you and God. I don’t know your heart. But it doesn’t look good on the surface.

Can I get there if I don't believe, even if I wanted to really badly for two years? Also, I like you are judging what is "good on the surface" based on my attitude toward non-falsifiable theology, while knowing nothing about what I do in my outside life. I've done nothing but criticize a belief system that is non-falsifiable and doesn't make sense on the surface and can only be reconciled with more non-falsifiable claims. I don't really see that fitting onto a good/bad spectrum.


(21-11-2013 07:41 AM)alpha male Wrote:  Biblically, most anyone is able to believe in a creator god at the very least. IMO people misread the “I am the way…” passage. The OT saints didn’t have express belief in Jesus’ death for them on the cross, yet Christians consider them saved. A person is responsible for the light given to them.
Most Christians reconcile that by assuming they were grandfathered in, sine Jesus wasn't around, yet. As for being able to believe in a creator god, I wasn't able. I tried for several years. Either God was withholding the Holy Spirit from me for some reason, the Holy Spirit doesn't exist, or this is somehow my fault for reasons that cannot be stated (which is quite non-falsifiable).


(21-11-2013 07:41 AM)alpha male Wrote:  As God is sovereign and evil wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t allowed it, then yes, you could say God “is responsible for” evil. That doesn’t mean he created evil. If I let my kids run around a store and they break something, I’m responsible for the damage – but I didn’t break the item.

Quote:They are the same thing when God sets the bar. He is in control of what is good and evil and he sets the bar for what is rewarded and punished. Unfortunately, good and evil are not rewarded or punished.

What’s your support for this claim? As I read the Bible, all people are evil and deserve punishment. Some are less evil or more good than others, and get lesser punishment.
Who created heaven and hell? Who decides what it takes to get into one place or the other? Who created entities capable of making decisions that could be punished? God set the bar. As for what that bar is, most modern Christians assume it is believing in Jesus. Most people argue fiercely that you get into heaven by grace and not works. Therefore, they believe that good or bad acts are not the deciding factor.


(21-11-2013 07:41 AM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:He simply checks if you believe in Jesus. That's not justice.
I agree. That's not justice, it’s mercy.
It's a rather weird notion of mercy, since God creates the problem and then "mercifully" gives us the solution. It would be like me coming up to you, pulling a gun on you, and then telling you I spared your life. Functionally speaking, it would be the same as if I had just left you alone in the first place, except you still have the emotional trauma of me having pulled a gun on you (which I'd say is bad). So, I'd rate God's punishment -> salvation -> mercy system as a net negative. He could have just opted not to judge us, and we'd be better off.


(21-11-2013 07:41 AM)alpha male Wrote:  
Quote:You are punished for not believing in a very particular non-falsifiable belief system and you are not punished for actually doing things that would be nominally described as evil.
No, you’re punished for your sins. As noted, OT saints didn’t believe in Jesus and were saved. Plus, there are varying levels of punishment in hell. If it were simply one check box, there would be only one level of punishment. Also note that the demons believe, and yet are punished.
Do you have any evidence of differing punishments in hell? Most people assume angels can't be forgiven, or that they're on some sort of different playing field than us. I have no idea how much of that is biblically supported and how much is post hoc theology, but that seems to be the common belief, from what I've seen.
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21-11-2013, 03:15 PM
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(21-11-2013 09:44 AM)RobbyPants Wrote:  I still find the notion of God creating people just so he can have friends, and allowing them to suffer so he can know that they're really his friends to be rather creepy. It comes off as narcissistic.

Regardless, you've already stated that you don't believe God is all good or all powerful, so you've already solved the problem of evil, and the OP of this thread doesn't really apply to your belief system.
I’ve said that I don’t believe God is omnibenevolent or omnipotent. These terms aren’t necessarily equivalent to all good and all powerful.

Quote:It's just that I find your particular notion to be rather disturbing. To each their own, I suppose.
IMO you misunderstand or purposely misrepresent my position somewhat, but anyway, yes, in the end it’s largely a matter of opinion. Some people think they’re deserving of judgment, others don’t. Some thing a creator has a right to do as he pleases with his creation, others don’t. The problem for the critic is then consistency. While we can’t disprove opinion, we can look for hypocrisy and special pleadings. As I’ve noted, you’re judged based on your own judgment.

Quote:That's not the point. It could be better, and it's not. The only way people can try to describe the world that we can see and observe (with suffering) and reconcile that with a benevolent creator God is to list that there are some (unstated!) reasons for why this is. No one can tell us what they are, but they're really sure that [reasons] exist and that they're valid. That is ad hoc. Until I see any reason to believe it (evidence), I won't.
Funny, you keep repeating that the reasons are unstated, and I keep repeating a reason.

Quote:I need you to elaborate on that. Are you saying that if I'm non-judgmental that I won't be judged very much in the afterlife, or what?
Yes. Good luck with that. People judge God for allowing suffering for his own purposes, yet most all of us do the same. People blow money on all sorts of unnecessary (or even harmful) luxuries while other people are starving. The defense is frequently that an omnipotent god which they don’t believe in anyway could relieve all suffering, as if that somehow relieves themselves of responsibility to ease what suffering they can.

Quote: Can I get there if I don't believe, even if I wanted to really badly for two years?
Why did you want to really badly? You seem to think God is evil – why did you want to believe in him?

Quote:Also, I like you are judging what is "good on the surface" based on my attitude toward non-falsifiable theology, while knowing nothing about what I do in my outside life. I've done nothing but criticize a belief system that is non-falsifiable and doesn't make sense on the surface and can only be reconciled with more non-falsifiable claims. I don't really see that fitting onto a good/bad spectrum.
I just meant that the prospect of heaven looked bad for you on the surface. “On the surface” is an admission that I don’t really know you, and I also stated that I don’t know you’re heart, so I think this complaint is unreasonable.


Quote:Most Christians reconcile that by assuming they were grandfathered in, sine Jesus wasn't around, yet. As for being able to believe in a creator god, I wasn't able. I tried for several years. Either God was withholding the Holy Spirit from me for some reason, the Holy Spirit doesn't exist, or this is somehow my fault for reasons that cannot be stated (which is quite non-falsifiable).
Why did you try? How did you try? Did you ever believe in a creator god? What makes you different from the billions of people who have believed in a creator god?

Quote:Who created heaven and hell? Who decides what it takes to get into one place or the other? Who created entities capable of making decisions that could be punished? God set the bar. As for what that bar is, most modern Christians assume it is believing in Jesus. Most people argue fiercely that you get into heaven by grace and not works. Therefore, they believe that good or bad acts are not the deciding factor.
Your observation is correct, but I disagree with your conclusion. People argue that you get into heaven by grace and not works because they recognize that our works have been judged and we’ve all been found guilty (justice), so we can only be saved by grace.


Quote:It's a rather weird notion of mercy, since God creates the problem and then "mercifully" gives us the solution.
The “problem” is life. I find it to be a net positive. So do you, but ungratefully complain that it could be better. What are the alternatives?
- God doesn’t create in the first place.
- God creates but doesn’t allow suffering/evil, which cheapens the quality of his relationship with those who would have been saved.
Again, you’re arguing that God should reward those who would hate him or want nothing to do with him, and punish those who would have loved him. That makes no sense. And speaking of seeming narcissistic...

Quote:It would be like me coming up to you, pulling a gun on you, and then telling you I spared your life. Functionally speaking, it would be the same as if I had just left you alone in the first place, except you still have the emotional trauma of me having pulled a gun on you (which I'd say is bad). So, I'd rate God's punishment -> salvation -> mercy system as a net negative. He could have just opted not to judge us, and we'd be better off.
What if I deserved to be shot? In that case, you did indeed spare my life. If I deserved to be shot and you had a gun and authority and just ignored me, you would be unjust. This of course is where the cross comes in.


Quote:Do you have any evidence of differing punishments in hell? Most people assume angels can't be forgiven, or that they're on some sort of different playing field than us. I have no idea how much of that is biblically supported and how much is post hoc theology, but that seems to be the common belief, from what I've seen.
Sure, here’s one passage showing different levels of punishment:
Matt 10
15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
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21-11-2013, 03:28 PM (This post was last modified: 21-11-2013 03:31 PM by docskeptic.)
RE: Heaven and The Problem of Evil
(21-11-2013 03:15 PM)alpha male Wrote:  Matt 10
15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Alpha,
The "sins" involved in the two situations are different.

I suspect you know that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was that of the men of the town wanting to have sex with the angels who were visiting Lot. Lot, an inhabitant of the town, offered his two virgin daughters as substitutes for the angels (for this he was called "righteous").

The "sin" of the other hypothetical town that Jesus was talking about was the lack of hospitality to the disciples.

Yet, the latter town is singled out for the worse punishment. And you accept that as OK?

Doc
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