Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Answers for the Hillbilly Atheist: Part 5

Following on from parts one, two, three and four. And responding to these questions.

41. If god can do anything and loves us, why is there evil?

As stated elsewhere on this blog, I question the 'God can do anything' assumption. In my opinion the possibility of evil exists because, in order to have freewill, there has to be an alternative to good. Of course it is conceivable that nobody would ever have made that choice, but that didn't happen.

42. Why can’t we just skip this step and go straight to heaven?

What is the purpose of 'this step'? What is the purpose of 'heaven'?

One line of reasoning (which I don't really subscribe to) is that 'this step' is here to weed out the undesirables, so only the good guys get to go to heaven. Heaven wouldn't be heaven if the bad folk got in, would it?

But my way of looking at this is that 'this step' was meant to be more heavenly than it is, but it got mucked up. So God has graciously provided another, more heavenly 'step' for those who opt to take it. And I have no idea if there are further steps beyond the next one.

43. Why does god need to test us if he already knows the answer?

Its not a test. Its an opportunity. He's not trying to find out how you will respond, but rather He is giving you the opportunity to make the right choice. Whether you do is entirely up to you.

44. If heaven is all great and yet has freewill why can’t the same be true here, and what about the still born that goes straight to heaven that would have been the next Hitler has he been born, will he ruin heaven for the rest of us?

Maybe. As I said above, maybe what we call heaven is just another step.

45. If nobody can sin in heaven then how did the devil do it?

Ah. That is the big question about the Devil. No idea. None. I'm not sure we can find an answer to that question. For what its worth, I'm more interested in who the devil actually is...

46. Why does god let the devil tempt people?

Its all part of the big freewill question.

47. How is Jesus the son of god if Jesus is supposed to be eternal?

In what way is Jesus the son of God? Was there a mother involved? Well, on the human level, apparently yes - Mary had something to do with it, but on the everlasting, eternal level, there was no mother. God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit are all God. They chose to present themselves to us in these three forms, with these apparent relationships. But I think its all just a simple way of explaining that they are distinct characters to simple people. We understand the father-son relationship, so they chose to use it.

48. If God is a God of light why does he require blind faith?

Ha ha. Nice one. I don't believe God requires blind faith at all. Trusting someone that you have a reason to trust is not blind.

49. Do you feel lucky you happened to believe in the One True Religion™ ?

I believe in one God (expressed in three persons). I also believe that nobody on this planet has a totally accurate belief in that God. No religion has got it all right. In other words, all religions are wrong (to a greater or lesser degree). However, I do feel lucky that I was not raised in a culture where God was presented as a tyranical ogre. I feel lucky that I was raised in a culture where I had the freedom to think through things without fear of persecution. I'm not looking for religion, I simply want to find out the truth about God (whatever the truth may be!).

50. Why isn't the One True Religion™ as obvious as gravity that way nobody would have the "wrong" religion?

All religions are wrong. All religions muck things up. All religions distort our world view so that we can't clearly see the God who is there. Even Christianity (in its present, fractured, multi-denominational form) distorts and often obscures the real God.

A world with no religion could be paradise. Just people and God and none of the stupid stuff in between. I watched the Richard Dawkins documentary 'the root of all evil' (search for it on YouTube if you haven't seen it) where he presented religion as the cause of many of the problems in the world - and he's right, religion has been responsible for all kinds of evil. But that doesn't mean God is responsible - only that religious people, with their distorted views, are responsible.

So what I'm trying to say is that there is no 'One True Religion'!

Monday, November 13, 2006


I don't like religion.

This may seem odd, coming from someone who calls himself a Christian, but I really dislike religion. I mean, what is the point?

Jesus once said to his followers that whenever they eat bread and drink wine, they should remember him. Fair enough. But along comes religion and ritualises the whole thing - the bread becomes some silly little dry wafers and the wine is frequently either (a) not wine at all, but simply grape juice, or (b) some really special fancy wine - only drunk once in a blue moon. Where has the normal, everyday bread gone? What about 'everyday' wine?

The practical aspect of this is that when Christians have other Christians round for a meal, and share a bottle of wine and eat bread with their meal - they don't pause to remember Jesus.

I am certain that Jesus intended us to remember him when sharing a meal in our homes, not by ritualising the whole thing into a ceremony - and an infrequent ceremony too, for some denominations.

From my point of view Christianity is a relationship with God. Christianity is a way of life. It should not be a religion. From observation, it seems to me that for many folk, religion actually gets in the way of the relationship. It formalises the parent-child relationship into something more like a headmaster-pupil relationship. In fact, it tends to put the religious leaders in between us and God - as mediators. But the bible says the only mediator is Jesus himself.

Another thing ritualising Christianity has done is to place Christianity on the same playing field as all the other religions. Most world religions are about the quest for the distant God, but Christianity is about 'God with us'. If we are just a bunch of people doing rituals to appease or please the distant God, we are no different to any other religion.

Can we not just abolish religion in our churches?