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Atheist Tuesday: The Trickiest Questions

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“What about all those people who never heard of Jesus, like people in Africa? Do they go to Hell just because they never heard of Him?”

Those are the Trickiest Questions, and they are usually asked by people who don’t want to consider their dismal eternity. Please read this article by my friend Tony Yu that explains this more clearly. Then read how I answer this question when it’s posed to me.

True or False: You mean I’m going to Hell just because I don’t believe in Jesus?

The correct answer is “false”.

If you said “true” you have fallen for one of the most subtle deceptions. Please read on before you label me a heretic and a blasphemer.

The key to understanding the correct answer is found in John 3:17-18:

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Did you catch that? Humanity’s condemnation has nothing to do with Jesus. We were condemned before Jesus ever stepped foot on earth. It was our need for a Savior that moved God the Father to send God the Son. This need predated Jesus’ arrival on earth. We would all still be condemned if it wasn’t for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The best way to explain the principle is with the following illustration:

Sin is the disease, hell is the prognosis, Jesus is the cure.

Is it clear now why the correct answer is “false”? We are not going to Hell because we don’t believe in Jesus. We are going to Hell because we are sinners. Every single one of us, because of our sinful nature, is inexorably and irrevocably headed for Hell. Everyone of us has sinned by breaking His 10 Commandments. All have lied, stolen, blasphemed, looked with lust (which is adultery), or hated someone (which is murder). This is the only way that God redeems mankind: to put His own Son on the cross to atone for our sins. To say that we are going to Hell because we do not believe in Jesus is tantamount to blaming God for our well-deserved fate. Adam tried to do that in the Garden of Eden when he said “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12)

Here’s another way to look at this. Imagine you are walking in the woods when all of a sudden you feel a sharp pain in your calf. You look down and see a snake slithering away. You’ve just been bitten by a black mamba. You go to the doctor and he tells you that he needs to administer anti-venom right away or you will surely die. At this point you self-righteously say to the doctor, “Do you mean I’m going to die just because I refuse your anti-venom?”

First, it’s silly to get mad at the doctor. He’s trying to save your life. This is what people do when they get mad at God because Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Rather, we ought to be glad that there is any way at all to Heaven.

Secondly, it is technically true that you will die if you refuse the anti-venom. But the root cause of your impending death is the snake’s venom and your own stubbornness—not the anti-venom. Similarly, you won’t go to Hell just because you don’t believe in Jesus. You are headed for Hell because you have sinned and you won’t believe in Jesus.

Why does it matter?

Is this an exercise in semantics or spiritual trivia? No! There are real-world implications. The enemy did not craft this deception for fun and games. He had a goal in mind when he did this. The trickiest part of this question does not lie in the fact that most people—even Christians—get it wrong. The most deceptive aspect of this question is that it’s not even a question. For most who pose this question—especially if there is poison in their voice— it is a statement disguised as a question.

This is what most people are actually asserting when they ask, “You mean I’m going to Hell just because I don’t believe in Jesus?”:

  • This sounds arbitrary and capricious. It doesn’t make any sense.
  • God could never send people to Hell just because I don’t believe in some ancient rabbi.
  • Christianity is nonsense.
  • You are a fool.

Just as the word of God is the Sword of the Spirit, this question is a weapon formed by the enemy to attack God’s servants who are obedient to the Great Commission. Be on notice Christian. When an non-believer asks this question, you are most likely being attacked spiritually. You and God are being mocked and discredited before an
unbelieving audience. If you have a heart to reach the lost and yearn to serve the Lord you need to have the right answer to this question. Fortunately, not only can you deflect this attack, you can turn this attack back upon the one asking the question and go on the offensive (but always in love).

The following is a sample script of how you can effectively defend the faith:

Him: You mean I’m going to Hell just because I don’t believe in Jesus (sarcasm in his voice)?

You: Actually, NO, you’re not going to Hell because you don’t believe in Jesus.

Him: What (stunned)? I thought you Christians think we have to believe in Jesus to get to Heaven.

You: Jesus has nothing to do with you going to Hell. All of human-kind was headed for Hell because we are all sinners. Hell is mankind’s eternal destination because we have all sinned. Jesus came to change all that.

Him: Oh (flabbergasted).

You: Do you understand how you’ve sinned? Do you know what sin is? Would you like to see how you’ve broken God’s law? (You then take this opportunity to go through a few of the Ten Commandments…Have you ever lied, have you ever stolen anything…etc.).

******

Steve’s note: This is how I answer someone who asks me: “What about all those people in Africa who never heard of Jesus?”

Me: If you are so concerned about those people you should get saved now—then become a missionary so you can tell those people about Jesus.

44 Comments

  1. Alright Steve, finally you’ve answered my question, I am satisfied now.

    Let me see if I have your belief structure down:

    Belief in Jesus is a tool to get saved, disbelief doesn’t damn you it just doesn’t save you. That everyone in the world is born into sin regardless of their location and if they’re unfortunate enough to be born into a region without knowledge of the judeo-Christian God or Jesus then they are doomed to burn forever in the lake of fire because God saw fit to create them and put them there, as well as those who came before Jesus were born and destined for hell because of their original sin and sinful nature in general, and had no savior with which to redeem their souls.

    That’s a strong belief to hold to, one that isn’t easily accepted by the masses, that the vast majority of humanity is doomed to a place of eternal torture and fire. Do you believe all of humanity was damned to Hell because the savior had not come yet? Am I missing something or did I get this wrong?

  2. OK, Steve. I’ll be the one to ask.

    God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. He knows all things – past, present and future.

    God created humanity. Knowing that not all people would learn about Jesus, He nonetheless allowed those people to be created.

    God created the Jewish people and told them that their religion was correct. And they should accept that He changed His mind later? So they’re going to Hell.

    Further, knowing that people like Jeffrey Dahmer were going to commit irredeemable sins and die without accepting Christ, He still allowed our boy Jeffy to come into the world. (God is, after all, all-knowing – despite any attempt to weasel out with “free will,” God knows how Jeffy is going to choose, right? Which kind of puts the lie to “free will,” but still, that’s a different argument.)

    So God created Jeffrey Dahmer, knowing that Jeff was headed straight to Hell. As were the Jews. As are people outside of the reach of Christianity. All are headed to Hell, often through no fault of their own.

    So really, God is a sadist, who keeps a torture chamber in His basement for His own amusement.

    Did I miss something?

  3. Me: But isn’t Jesus, in fact, an avatar of God? The very being that made sin as well as the tree of knowledge in the first place? So, if we go back to the doctor metaphor, this is like being poisoned by the same doctor that has the anti-venom. Thus, we die for refusing his cure.

    You: OH SORRY REAL BUSY GOTTA RUN GUYS.

  4. First of all the issue of all the people who never hear of Jesus wasn’t actually addressed at all.

    Secondly, just as God made the snake venom, he also created sin and blessed us with the sinful nature. As punishment for Adam and Eve eating a piece of fruit.

    Pssst Nameless Cynic, Jeffery Dahmer is a Christian.

  5. Great post Pastor Steve! I’ve been praying and thinking on this subject for awhile now. My pastor has taught really since Christmas of last year off and on that people go to hell not because of sin but because they reject Jesus. I believe he sited Luke 2:8-14 that talks about the birth of Jesus and that when Jesus was born this brought peace between God and man. My pastor went on to say that this peace means that people no longer go to hell because of sin but because of not accepting Christ. Also my pastor sited 2 Cor. 5:19 as another verse that shows that in the New Testament era people go to hell for rejecting Jesus not sinning. (I would like to point out that I was able to give my pastor the book “God’s Got a Wonderful Plan for Your Life,” he really like it. Maybe that is a shred of hope after all.)

    But Pastor Steve you nailed it with John 3:17-18. These verses clearly show otherwise. That people go to hell because of sin not rejection of Jesus. God bless Pastor Steve!

    -Thomas

    P.S.—Another problem I see with this idea that people don’t go to hell for sin is it cuts out using the ten commandments in evangelism. If people are not going to hell because of sin then there is no reason to point out their sins to them. This is of course insane! Just a thought.

  6. Good post. I have a good post on a seed planted over a year ago on my blog.

  7. “(stunned)” “ (flabbergasted)” lol

    I get the distinction. No, really.

    The question is only a problem for you if you claim that God is ‘good’ and ‘just’ and that Jesus came to redeem all of humanity. If that’s not your claim, then there’s no problem. If you say, ‘God is not just – some people get a chance to hear of Jesus and turn from their sins and others are… not so lucky’, then there’s no conflict.

  8. @Nameless Cynic

    Nameless Cynic said:————
    God created the Jewish people and told them that their religion was correct. And they should accept that He changed His mind later? So they’re going to Hell.
    ————

    You’ve got it all wrong Mr. Cynic. God never changes. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. Christianity is not some new idea that God came up with on the fly. IT WAS THE PLAN FROM THE BEGINNING. Immediately after the fall, God said to the serpent:

    Genesis 3:15
    “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

    The phrase “he will crush your head” is a reference to Jesus defeating Satan at the cross. The phrase “you will strike his heel” is a reference to the crucifixion.

    Moreover, the Old Testament (Hebrew Tanakh) is replete with prophecies about Jesus. Here are just 5:

    VIRGIN BIRTH: Isaiah 7:14, written 700 years before Christ: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (which means God-With-Us).

    CRUCIFIXION: Psalm 22:16, written 1,000 years before Christ: For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet

    GAMBLED FOR HIS CLOTHES: Psalm 22:18, written 1,000 years before Christ: They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.

    BETRAYED FOR THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER: Zechariah 11:13, written 500 years before Christ: So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.

    THE ATONEMENT: Isaiah 53:5, written 700 years before Christ: But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

    God also specifically told the Jews that He had a Son:

    Proverbs 30:4
    Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
    Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
    Who has bound the waters in a garment?
    Who has established all the ends of the earth?
    What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, If you know?

    God also told the Jews He would make a new covenant (New Testament) with them:

    Jeremiah 31:31
    Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah

    If this is not enough proof that Jesus was a part of the orginal plan from the beginning, please speak up. I’ll post more.

  9. @Garrett

    Garrett Wrote:————
    But isn’t Jesus, in fact, an avatar of God? The very being that made sin as well as the tree of knowledge in the first place? So, if we go back to the doctor metaphor, this is like being poisoned by the same doctor that has the anti-venom. Thus, we die for refusing his cure.
    ————

    I totally understand your confusion, Garrett. However, you have arrived at the wrong conclusion because you’ve made two very subtle logical errors.

    FIRST

    God is omnipotent but he cannot do everything. This is not Christian double-talk. While He created the universe and He can flood the earth and he can raise the dead, there are things He definitely can’t do. These things fall into two main categories – violating moral law and violating logical law. So, God can’t lie and he can’t make square circles.

    Here’s another way of looking at this concept. God’s omnipotence can be likened to the number line. The list of things he CAN do is represented by all positive numbers – everything to the right of zero. There are an infinite number of positive numbers. His ability is infinite. However, all the negative numbers represent the evil and illogical things He CAN’T do. You see, He can be both infinite and limited at the same time. You should be glad about this fact – the fact that God isn’t evil or crazy.

    SECOND

    God didn’t create sin. Sin is uncreated. Sin is not something – it is the absence of something; absence ofGod. Darkness isn’t something – it is the absence of something; absence of light. Sin is what naturally occurs when God is rejected.

    So, rather than the doctor metaphor supporting your conclusion, I’d say that the metaphor holds up to your challenge. The doctor clearly had nothing to do with creating this snake. Similarly, God had nothing to do with creating sin. Again, sin just happens when we push God away. Even though God is omnipotent, He is powerless to stop the inevitable outcome of a world that rejects Him.

    EDIT: [Steve’s note concerning this last statement: “Even though God is omnipotent, He is powerless to stop the inevitable outcome of a world that rejects Him.”

    Steve says: God can do whatever He chooses to do. He is not powerless to to save anyone. Tony and I come from two different theological perspectives.

  10. [Steve’s note: This is a perspective from a friend who holds to a different theological perspective than I do. (There are indeed valid differences in the body of Christ.) But with the original post on this blog, I agree. And no, I will not argue about theological perspectives on this site. So, atheist friend, please don’t ask.]

    @BathTub

    BathTub Wrote:————
    First of all the issue of all the people who never hear of Jesus wasn’t actually addressed at all.
    ————

    Rather than giving you a one line answer, I’m going to go out on a limb and give a 12 zillion word answer (the soul of wit is brevity). This is something I had been working on and it’s not finished so it may be a little rough. Here goes.

    This is one of the most difficult questions that can be asked of a Christian. Sometimes this question is nothing more than an attempt to sidetrack a Christian’s witnessing. Sometimes this question is nothing less than a frontal assault on Christ. Other times it is an honest quest for answers. The questioner’s tone may give you some insight to his true motives.

    Before we formulate an answer to this question, let’s carefully dissect the question to see what is really being asked. The question may be implicitly asking:

    1. If salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone, what hope is there for someone who has never known Christ?

    2. If there is no hope for one who has never heard the Gospel, is it then fair to condemn him to hell without giving him a chance to be saved?

    3. On the other hand, suppose that all who have never heard the Gospel are granted entry into heaven, would it not be better if we never preach the Gospel? Would he be better off if he had never heard the name of Jesus Christ?

    4. Doesn’t this dilemma cast doubt on the Gospel?

    5. Isn’t this proof-positive that Christianity is a false religion?

    It appears there are at least five questions wrapped up in one. So, clearly, this is a loaded question – loaded with meaning, loaded with angst, loaded with hidden agendas, loaded with bullets aimed at the heart of Christ Himself. Having no satisfactory answer to this question leaves a powerful weapon in the hands of the unsaved with which he may attack the Gospel and a tool with which he abets his self-deception.

    When confronted with a question about God that appears to have no clear answers, the best strategy is to go back to what we do know. What do we know about God? Let’s examine some of the basic attributes we know about God.

    Some of God’s Attributes

    God is Omniscient

    Psalm 147:5
    Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.

    God is Omnipotent

    Revelation 19:6
    …For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!

    Job 42:2
    I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.

    God is Love

    1 John 4:8
    He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

    God Loves the Lost

    2 Peter 3:9
    The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

    Ezekiel 33:11
    Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live…

    Luke 19:10
    for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

    To recap, God is all-knowing, all-powerful, love, and loves the lost. With this information we can deduce some truths about God’s plan for humanity.

    1. Because God is love and loves the lost, He wants to save as many as are willing to be saved.

    2. Because He is all-powerful, He can and will save all who are willing to be saved. You can rest assured that there will not be a single soul who is willing to be saved who won’t be saved (don’t use this as an excuse not to evangelize).

    3. Because he is all-knowing, He already knows who will be saved. (Please do not confuse foreknowledge with predestination. Knowing what you will do is different than forcing you to do it.)

    Knowing what we know about God it is reasonable to conclude that, in order to achieve His above-stated goals, God orchestrates every single facet of life down to the minutest of details in order to give you every chance possible to come to know Him and be saved. Moreover, he does so in such a way that does not violate your free will. Think about it. Why would God leave anything to chance when it comes to the eternal destiny of that which He loves most – you? Doesn’t it make sense that He would use anything and everything at his disposal to help you to find Him without violating your free will?

    Would you do any less for your own children?

    Hypothetical Scenario

    Imagine for a moment. You are not saved. You are walking to your car. The ground is wet and covered with leaves. As you admire a beautiful sunset, you step on a leaf, slip and break your leg. You are taken to a hospital where you are attended to by an exceptionally kind and compassionate doctor. Before you are discharged, the doctor witnesses to you in a powerful way and you are saved.

    In the above scenario, you can be sure that God caused the leaf to fall at exactly the right time onto exactly the right spot, He caused the rain to come down at just the right time with just the right intensity to create slick conditions and he caused the sunset to be exceptionally beautiful to distract you at just the right moment so you can break your leg. You can also be sure that God, through His Holy Spirit, moved His faithful servant, the kind doctor, to speak words of life to you. More importantly, you can rest assured that it was God who had prepared your heart in a myriad of ways before all this took place.

    In this hypothetical scenario God orchestrated the timing of when a leaf was to fall, determined how it fluttered through the air so that it landed where He wanted it to, controlled the weather to produce the right amount of rain at the right time, manipulated atmospheric conditions to produce a head-turning sunset and spoke through a man. Although not explicitly stated in this scenario, God also ordained the time and place of this sinner’s birth and determined where he would live. This is the extent to which God will go in order to save a single sinner. Notice also, that at no time was the free will of the sinner ever violated.

    Although these assertions seem plausible, one must ask if they are Biblical. The key to understanding how God moves in the world to save the lost is found in Acts 17:26-27

    God Controls Every Variable of Our Lives So We May Find Him

    Acts 17:26-27
    And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

    Because God is omniscient He knows who will ultimately be saved and who will reject His mercy. Because God is omnipotent He is powerful enough to determine when and where someone is to be born and powerful enough to control all the seemingly random variables that govern someone’s life without violating his free will. Because He loves the lost, we know that He will orchestrate all these details in such a way that gives the sinner the best possible chance of finding Him.

    How does all this apply to the guy who has never heard the Gospel? If a sinner’s free will is the only thing in the entire universe that God will not manipulate to save the lost, then the only possible reason for someone to die in his sins is because he was unwilling to be saved. That is to say that for some there was no possible time, place or circumstance that God could orchestrate that would lead to their salvation.

    So what possible purpose could there be for God to allow some to live in a time and a place where the Gospel is not known?

    One possible explanation is mercy. Hearing the Gospel and then rejecting it places the hearer at greater jeopardy when he faces God on judgment day. Those who are headed for hell are actually better off if they have never heard the Gospel. This principle is alluded to in the parable of the servants in Luke 12:48.

    Could God Be Showing His Mercy By Shielding Some Unbelievers From The Gospel?

    Luke 12:48
    But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

    You might find the notion of God preventing the Gospel from going to certain peoples at certain times is a little disturbing. However it is not without Biblical precedent. Consider Paul’s second missionary journey as recorded on Acts 16:6-7. God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, prevented Paul and his companions from going into Asia.

    Acts 16:6-7
    Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

    But the danger for the believer is to play God and decide who is to hear the Gospel and who isn’t. The responsibility for deciding who will NOT hear the Gospel is God’s not man’s. Man’s commission is to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

    Be assured of this also, God loves the lost sinner more than we possibly can. And He loves the lost sinner more than anyone who seeks to ask this question in an attempt to discredit God.

    We may not know all the answers but He has given enough of a glimpse into his nature to give us peace in this matter.

    Romans 1:20
    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

  11. [Steve’s note: Some of this post was edited for content. I leave the rest so you will pray for Garrett and to give you an understanding of how far from the Kingdom some of these atheists are.]

    Ignoring your BLATANT insanity (“God’s all powerful, and yet he lacks the power to do certain things! Why are you looking at me like that, Garrett?”), you ignore that God planted the very tree that caused “original sin” and told two ignorant humans not to go near it. Oh and he allowed a rebellious creation of his to enter the so-called “paradise.” Or is Satan an embodiment of godlessness that manifested itself into a shapeshifting, magick-bestowing being?

    So even if we assume God did NOT make sin, he still set up everything to play out that way. It’s like you’re sitting in your home and the doctor puts a venomous snake in your house in order to get you to pay him a visit.

    Heeeeey, this is actually starting to make sense! It’s all a scam engineered to garner worship and glorification. Like the crooked doctor arranging a situation to get us to buy an anti-venom, God’s put us in a precarious situation for easy worship. Sneaky!

    I’d rather you just make the most out of this one life that we know is finite. The real waste is throwing away your limited years on a fantasy.

  12. [Steve’s note: Some of this post was edited for content. I leave the rest so you will pray for Garrett and to give you an understanding of how far from the Kingdom some of these atheists are.]

    @Tony

    God didn’t create sin? The same God that said, Thou Shalt Not Kill, but yet killed people on a MASSIVE scale. The Flood, the Plagues, you name it, God certainly enjoyed slaughtering people left and right in the ancient times, women, children, men, it didn’t seem to matter to God back then. Think of it, when you stand before the Lord on your day of judgement, will you ask God why he decided to murder so many people back then? And if he did it so often as described by the Bible, why doesn’t he do it today? If wickedness and disbelief in God causes God to get angry and ‘proclaim judgement’ over a people and wipe them out indiscriminately, then why not take out North Korea? Or Afganistan? Or Indonesia? Or Iran? Those countries are FILLED with people that do not believe in the judeo Christian God. Can you truly call sin the absence of God when God and even Jesus have shown ‘hatred in their hearts’ and acted on anger like so many mortal men and women have in the past?

  13. [Steve’s note: I deleted most of Quasar’s post due to a violation of these rules: blasphemy, incivility.

    Here’s what I deemed to be a nice reply from him/her]:

    Love,
    Qu

  14. “…and if they’re unfortunate enough to be born into a region without knowledge of the judeo-Christian God or Jesus then they are doomed to burn forever in the lake of fire because God saw fit to create them and put them there…”

    God can and will save whomever He pleases. Location has nothing to do with it.

  15. @Tony

    Yeah. Convenient that events we can’t verify fulfill prophesy that the New Testament writers were aware of, and could structure their narrative around, isn’t it? (Incidentally, though, consider this.)

    Meanwhile, let’s consider a few of your other points:

    “These things fall into two main categories – violating moral law and violating logical law. So, God can’t lie and he can’t make square circles.”

    Do you really want me to start listing where God “violates moral law”? The Old Testament is full of them – I’d say my favorite is Numbers 31:14-18, where, following a battle, THIS happened:

    “14 And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.

    15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?

    16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.

    17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

    18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

    Yes, that’s right. The children of Israel, blessed by God, going to war for God, committing genocide and raping prepubescent girls. For God.

    But “God can’t lie”? How about Genesis 2-3? God creates Adam, and tells him that eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil will kill him (and, you know, as the big Omniscient One, you’d think He’d have figured that Adam and Eve were going to be hitting that Tree up for snacks at some point…).

    That was a lie. And if you try to wriggle out saying that was when God decided that people would die (“and to dust shalt thou return”), then I’ll call YOU a liar. Because three verses after the “dust” line, we have:

    “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever” (Gen 3:22)

    Meaning Adam was already mortal.

  16. Thank you Tony for the article!

  17. My post got edited? Not sure what I rules I broke, I suppose the point I’m trying to make is how people can claim that God is sinless when the Bible points to examples of God wiping people out, men, women, and children. CHILDREN Steve. Cynic even points out that God’s chosen spokesman Moses told his followers to go forth and kill another people and take their virgin women for themselves. I can understand now why you lambast people who say they believe that God is a loving God and will forgive you of sins if they’re a ‘good person’.

    Clearly the Old Testament God was not loving, there are multiple examples of this in the Bible, but I fail to see how anyone could consider him sinless. If Murder is a Sin, the Bible clearly tells us that God has murdered people.

    Now Jesus didn’t wipe people out, he wasn’t a soldier, his message was love. But he did take up a whip, and forced money changers and herders out of the temple. He didn’t summon the officials or priests, he acted with violence against them. One might say he was guilty of murder because he acted with anger, and HATED those men in his heart, for conducting their business in a church. If he didn’t hate what they were doing, then why take up arms against them? Why not preach the word to them, perform a miracle, and tell them to get out, no weapons would have been needed, no one needed to get hurt.

    Steve, I’m interested how you see God as sinless when he has done such terrible things.

  18. You’re a snake, Steve. You edited the part where I disregard the question because it does not follow an atheist worldview. If God’s not real, you are not going to Hell. Period.

    While it’s interesting to look at religions and analyze them, … does not make him any less real. It’s a bogus question and you know it.

    There was no violation of the rules in my post, Steve. Set a decent example for your daughter and be HONEST.

  19. I deleted or edited some of the atheist posts due to a violation of these rules: blasphemy, incivility.

  20. I overlooked Tony’s comment here and must offer another persepective:

    [Steve’s note concerning this statement: “Even though God is omnipotent, He is powerless to stop the inevitable outcome of a world that rejects Him.”

    Steve says: God can do whatever He chooses to do. He is not powerless to to save anyone. Tony and I come from two different theological perspectives.

  21. Give me a break, Steve. I called Tony insane and compared God to a… There was nothing more blasphemous nor uncivil in the deleted part of my post.

  22. Great now I’ve been lumped into the atheist group? I’m Catholic.

  23. Your name is also Garrett now, apparently.

  24. That’s OK, he edited out the word “p*rn” on one of mine. Kind of ruined the joke, really.

    vintango2k (what is that, anyway? “Wine and Dancing 2000”?)
    Oh, you’re even worse off than the atheists. You’re one of those heathen idol-worshipping papists. Baptists and Pentacostals get grumpy about your kind, or hadn’t you noticed?

  25. Steve, let me deal with the consequences of my blasphemies. Just post and stop hacking up my posts like a child with scissors.

    In short: act like an adult. It’s not hard. I am certainly capable of following reasonable rules conducive to a discussion. You seem incapable of allowing people to say things you may not like.

  26. Me: Oh, you’ve gone and done it now, Steve. The one time I hand the controls over to Girl-me, and you delete her contribution. She’s really annoyed now, I can tell by the way the arm I use for strangling is twitching. Handing the controls over to her again…

    Her: I’m going to be bluntly honest with you all: I really didn’t expect Steve to delete my post. I capitalised the name of God and Jesus, repeatedly. I did not use any “cuss” words or direct any insults at him or anyone else here, but I did express (somewhat colourfully, I’ll admit) my opinion of the mentality that accepts eternal torture as a good and just thing, but this was directed at a belief, not an individual, so I fail to see how it falls under the category of incivility. I also expressed my opinion that Jesus Christ, (you know, the guy for whom forgiveness was such a big deal?) would agree with me that eternal torture with no hope of redeption was pointless and sadistic.

    I can understand that this may fall under the category of “blasphemy,” but it’s not like I questioned Jesus’ divinity or existance. I was merely disputing the doctrine of hell, and entirely seperate issue which many churches also dispute. By labelling my argument as blasphemy, you have effectively labelled anyone who doesn’t require the threat of hell to accept Jesus Christ as their savior as heretics.

    I’m watching my words very carefully here: you’ll note that I have not directed anything volatile at Steve as an individual, have only reiterated my previous opinions under the disclaimer that they were personal opinions, and have been careful to clarify which individual part of Steves evangelical christian theology I dispute, rather than launching an attack on all of it. I’ve even toned down the sarcasm: the previous paragraph used to have a quip tacked on the end.

    Me: And trust me, not making sarcastic quips all over the place is really hard for her.

    Her: Shut up you, I’m not done yet. I’m going to admit, the deletion of a perfectly good, rule abiding post has lowered my opinion of Steve somewhat. It makes me wonder if he is capable of responding to my disputations, or in the event that he isn’t is capable of being honest about it. Personally, I think it comes down to a simple difference in theology: Steve needs to believe in hell, not all christians do. How many people think it is in-character for the loving, kind God of christianity, Jesus Christ himself, to torture his children for the rest of eternity? How many parents would forgive, let alone admire a father who, when faced with a disobedient child, even one who ignored their warnings and kept being disobediant, tortured them to death?

    Me: You done now?

    Her: I’m done. Peace, guys. Girl-Qu out!

    Me: Okay, great, now I’ve gone and developed a split personality. That cannot be beneficial for my long term mental health. It’s a good thing I’m saving these posts elsewhere: they’ll come in handy when the hospital needs to diagnose how long I’ve been insane for.

  27. Tony Y that whole screed was as lame as Steve’s “God hasn’t called me to Iran because I am not in Iran”. That goes for Waynedawg too.

    It’s really the ultimate cop out. We all know that God, being God, could convince every single person on the planet, instantly that he exists and that Jesus is Lord, without violating free will because he is God.

    It’s just the justification to you make to yourself to enable yourself to sleep at night. “Those Amazonian Tribesmen were made from the souls that would never have converted anyway… yeah that’s the ticket, phew praise God!”

    Besides as we have discussed before God isn’t that big on free will.

  28. Careful, Bathtub, these tough men of God strangely get all frightened would asked to argue about inter-Christian controversy. Steve has flat-out said he won’t discuss Arminianism vs. Calvinism.

    I don’t know why Tony Miano’s site is now read-only, but it happened days after a flap over the same subject. Weird how they pick their battles. THESE Christians that I disagree with are false converts and yet THESE Christians I disagree with on a particular issue I will just skirt around and try to co-exist with.

  29. @vintango2k

    vintango2k Wrote————
    God didn’t create sin? The same God that said, Thou Shalt Not Kill, but yet killed people on a MASSIVE scale. The Flood, the Plagues, you name it, God certainly enjoyed slaughtering people left and right in the ancient times, women, children, men, it didn’t seem to matter to God back then.
    ————

    The sixth commandment is “You shall not MURDER” (Ex 20:13 & Deut 5:17). It is not “You shall not KILL”. Let’s look at Merriam Webster’s definition for murder.

    Murder:
    to kill (a human being) unlawfully and with premeditated malice.

    The difference is important. The incidents in the Old Testament that are oft cited by detractors are NOT murder. These incidents were neither unlawful nor with malice. Do you believe in justifiable war? Do you believe the use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was mass murder? Do you think it is ever justifiable to take innocent life? Would it be a “sin” or “evil” if you HAD to kill 10 innocent lives to save 1,000 innocent lives? Tell me. What would you do in that circumstance? Would you save the 10 and allow the 1,000 to perish? Or, would you kill the 10 to save the 1,000?

    In every case, God had a good reason to do what He did. Sometimes He is protecting the world from disease. Other times He is stopping the practice of child sacrifice. Am I making this stuff up? Let’s let archaeology tell us:

    http://www.susancanthony.com/resources/dennis/canaan.html

    Here are two notable snippets:

    Archeology gives some hints about what the Canaanites did. On one of the High Places, archeologists found several stone pillars and great numbers of jars containing the remains of newborn babies. When a new house was built, a child would be sacrificed and its body built into the wall to bring good luck to the rest of the family. The firstborn were often sacrificed to Molech, a giant hollow bronze image in which a fire was built. Parents would place their children in its red hot hands and the babies would roll down into the fire. The sacrifice was invalid if the mother showed grief. She was supposed to dance and sing. The Israelites later copied this practice in a valley near Jerusalem called Gehenna. Hundreds of jars containing infant bones have been found there.

    There was a great deal of sexual sin among the Canaanites. They believed that cultic prostitution was important to encourage their gods, Baal and Ashtoreth to mate so that the land would be fertile and rain would come. VD was probably rampant. Many young people forced into prostitution were abused to the point of death. Even the surrounding pagan nations were appalled by Canaanite religious practices.

  30. @BathTub

    BathTub Wrote————
    We all know that God, being God, could convince every single person on the planet, instantly that he exists and that Jesus is Lord, without violating free will because he is God.
    ————

    Really. Please tell me how he can do that without violating our free will?

  31. @ All Atheists

    We can go round and round all day. I can convince you on this point or that – or not. You can hurl a few insults here and there. None of this matters.

    This is what you have to really ask yourselves. Why are you wasting your time trying to debunk an idea that you say is so unworthy of your time? If you REALLY believed that God didn’t exist, you’d be spending your time watching Oprah or As the World Turns or something.

    The real reason you come to this site is because, deep down, you KNOW God exists and you want to soothe your conscience by trying to intellectualize Him away. It’s not that you don’t BELIEVE He exists but rather you DON’T WANT Him to exist. You don’t want Him to exist because you love your sin too much.

    When was the last time you debated people who believed in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus? You don’t bother because you know these characters are fake (and they don’t cramp your lifestyle with rules and regulations).

    Maybe you can go to this website and debate them:

    http://tinyurl.com/ypsfzv

  32. Tony,

    No, if we REALLY believed that people would stop trying to make us follow ridiculous “rules and regulations” whose existence is based strictly on one groups interpretation of a group of ancient scrolls, THEN we’d stop annoying you dominionists.

    And here, let me handle that question you posed to Bathtub. He could simply say, inside the minds of all people everywhere, “I AM LORD.” That’s all. Not command anybody to do anything. Just provide evidence of His existence. You know, that evidence that you can’t provide? Yeah, some of that.

    See? Was that difficult?

  33. When was the last time you debated people who believed in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus?

    Sigh, this is so old that it kills me.

    Look, when people who believe in the tooth fairy start creating blogs, do “jerky evangelism” in public, and try to change national policy to support their own beliefs, then I’ll debate them.

    You seriously don’t see a difference between how the average American views the concepts of “Santa Claus” and “tooth fairy”, compared to how the view the concept of “God”?

    Seriously, Tony? Don’t you see the difference?

    No one is trying to get Santa Claus into science classes. Therefore, I don’t debate them. This idea that we really believe in God but don’t want to because of his rules would make us the DUMBEST people alive. Who cares if I don’t want to follow his rules? I still would have to because He is GOD, right? So what exactly would my rebellion accomplish?

    Absolutely nothing.

    Tony, I actually do not believe in your God. Honestly. It’s not a dumb ruse with no point, as you appear to think it is.

  34. Lastly, it’s not unworthy of my time. I never said it was.

    Hence, that premise fails, as do the rest of the premises with it.

  35. Tony, that is a line of questioning that has been kicked to the curb constantly.

    How much of the population believes in the Easter Bunny? Santa Claus? Not many beyond children! There’s nothing to debate here. It’d be like suggesting that we should outlaw murder. We have solid consensus on the issue and have moved on.

    This is not the case with your, or any, god(s).

    Furthermore, your beliefs have negative impacts on the lives of others. You strive to deny people rights, wish to erect a pseudo-theocracy and so on. If people that believed in Santa wanted to, I dunno, impose harsh laws against toy companies or make demands of the coal industry, I’d probably go on the blogs of Evangelical Santaists and debate them.

    Your beliefs affect me and threaten my rights. That is not a mere “cramping” of my lifestyle: I fully believe in the rights of people to do what they wish so long as they don’t cause undesired harm to others. You don’t agree with that worldview, and that disagreement arises from something that isn’t real.

    Maybe YOU should go to that site, Tony. You got the right mentality for it.

  36. When was the last time you debated people who believed in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus?

    Why do Living Waters fanboys so often think this argument is sane? Santa Claus worshippers aren’t the majority of the population, they aren’t trying to pass legislation based on their belief in what Santa does or doesn’t like, they don’t get special tax-exemptions, and not believing in Santa Claus does not adversely affect a polititions chance to be voted into power.

  37. @Tony “Please tell me how he can do that without violating our free will?”

    Because he’s God. It’s that simple.

    Besides ask Pharaoh about God’s love of free will.

    And I don’t see anyone who’s insulted you. Sounds like an excuse.

    Good to know you don’t think drowning children is murder.

    And then you top it off with the standard terrible mind reading, isn’t that witchcraft btw?

    Then tell us to go to disney.com.

    So mature. Nice Job Tony.

    Amazing how quickly he fell apart, I seem to recall it wasn’t that long ago that people were lamenting the half hearted Christian response here.

  38. @Tony

    It was my hope to come here to spread the gospel of rationalism. When I learned the message that was being spread around here, I couldn’t help but post.
    – One to learn the reasons why Young Earthers believe what they do in this day and age despite overwhelming evidence, knowledge, and science to the contrary.
    – Two to try and ask questions that challenge people in their beliefs in the dogmatic and downright morally poisonous nature of religious fundamentalism. Religious dogma threatens the advancement of human knowledge, if we were to believe in only the Bible and its strict interpretations, then we could not have modern science, what we know about physics, biology, and reality directly contradicts the text and in a modern society we can’t be tethered to bronze age superstitions. We simply can not cling to Genesis, the earth being 6000 years old, or a Global flood, when they are impossibilities. All I ask is that the Young Earthers get an education, take science classes, do the research yourself and help humanity progress.
    – Three – Perdita’s pie.

  39. I don’t often comment on any web page, let alone one such as this one, but i just can’t keep silent in regards to Tony on why people debate on here so much or try and speak some sense. It could be, maybe because they have lost someone close to them like i have to this religious group of evangelisms or whatever they are called. Your group tries to warp people’s minds with religous jibber jab and when somebody has a good point you all reply with words that are not even your own.
    To say things like, “you people dont want God to exist,” just shows how confused and scared you are. You don’t even have any ansers of your own because all you people do is cut and paste quotes from a book that others have written. They are not your own words or thoughts. Your group appears to be mindless zombies spreading words around as if they are your own and like you completely understand them.
    Get a mind of your own and get some perspective on how your religion and your specific group affects people in the NOW. I myself am angry that i can not live my life with my brother in the NOW because he is so concerned with what will happen when he dies.
    I do not claim to be smarter than anybody nor do i preach my athiest beliefs on anybody but sometimes you just have to let your emotions out…i dunno if many of you evangelists know where emotions come from anymore though. Not God. Or a book. Your mind…use it…dont use a book.
    Im a rambler i know but i think most will get the jist of it.
    It’s not that I dont want God to exist, its just that im more in touch with reality and want to live life as a good person without having to go to parades and piers and others people’s gatherings and spread the “word.” Im worried about the now. Because there is only one now..you dont get a second chance at life. (and here comes all the quotes and lines from the book)

  40. Ladies and Gentlemen: Tony Y has left the building.

  41. @ Tony

    Sorry I must have missed your quote of the bible comment, it happens sometimes when you skim posts, but your response of the Commandment says ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder’ is false. Or more importantly it depends on which VERSION of the Bible you read, the King James Version of the bible says, ‘THOU SHALT NOT KILL’ plain and simple, no other addendum or elaboration it just says, thou shall not kill, meaning we can’t kill anyone… or perhaps anything? What if it meant thou shalt not kill anything at all, animals, insects, trees, then we’d all be in trouble for certain because who can honestly say they’ve never stepped on a bug before?

    And honestly Tony, there is nothing at all righteous about wiping out an ENTIRE culture because a few bad people are doing something you don’t like. If God can do anything… he’s infallible, he set the whole thing in motion then why does he act in such base, violent, and cruel ways when his power would allow him to simply SMITE those who practiced child sacrifice etc. If he wipes out an ENTIRE culture, that’s everyone, the women, children, mentally feeble, eldery, and the wicked alike, and you can’t tell me EVERYONE in that society was wicked, even the newborn children who were struck down by God, then how can you not say he hasn’t violated this Law. Those people died, killed by God.

    As far as justification of killing, its not difficult to justify taking someone’s life if the situation calls for it. Yes we dropped a bomb on Hiroshima and Nagaski, but that action might not have been necessary, because with the European theatre over and the Russians moving east again, America closing in the Japanese would have surrendered, yes an invasion of Japan would have been costly but America had something to prove with these new bombs. So Truman ordered them dropped, I don’t even think he knew the full ramifications of what would happen as a result, I mean they sent in troops after the bombs fell without adequate protection afterwards. Did it end the war? Yeah. Did it cause a legacy of birth defects and genetic mutation to survivors in that region? Yeah. Did the resulting arms race of nuclear weapons push us to the brink of a nuclear war? Yeah.

    We, meaning living animals, kill for several reasons, but then main ones are we kill in defense, we kill for food, and we kill for resources. If your back was to the wall, you’d probably kill an attacker to preserve your own life. You’d also kill an animal if you were starving and needed food. The last one is tricky, its the reason wars start, because either people don’t have enough resources or they WANT resources that belong to someone else, the Nazi’s didn’t start WW2 because they felt like it, they had become a pariah state after WW1, and Hitler and the Nazi party were able to unite the people and galvanize them. They had nothing so they would take from other states around them, invade and conquer, just like the Romans before them. They wanted resources that other states had, now there’s more to it but I’m not going to delve into every aspect of the Nazi state. Regardless the same behavior is seen in animals as well, Chimpanzees will often get together in ‘kill teams’ to go attack and kill other chimps in neighboring lands because they don’t want them encroaching on their territory, or they have food, women, etc.

    Killing or killing for the greater good, so to speak, really just comes down to which side you’re on. I have Christian friends who still believe the invasion of Iraq was justified and necessary, and they don’t so much as bat an eyelash when I tell them that 122,000 Iraqi civilians (estimated) have been killed in the conflict. Was the deaths of those people moral or justified? Or even for the greater good?

  42. “– Three – Perdita’s pie.”

    🙂 I make a mean butter crust, what can I say.

  43. Man I was joking about Tony, but I guess I was actually prophesying.

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