The absurdity of this argument just compels me so much to call it out. It seems that the only thing the threat of hell seems to be saying is that if you don't believe that there is a hell to go to after you die for not believing in hell while you are alive, then you will go to hell. Or, to put it another way, if you don't believe what we believe in, then you will get punished in the way which you don't believe you will get punished in... but you will! Or still more absurdly, believe in what I believe in or you will suffer. How? Well, you'll have to die to find out.
It would be giggle-worthy if we didn't actually have to deal with people who think like this and actually threaten us with going to hell for thought-crimes, that is, not believing in the same delusions to which they have fallen prey. Particularly when it comes to children. The thought of threatening children that they will go to an imaginary place for not believing in said imaginary place and for not subscribing to the same fairy tales and fantasies that give rise to such a monstrous place angers me. As if a child could immediately realize the farcicality (I think I just made up a word) of a creator-god who punishes his creations for how he made them.
Along the same line of thought; it amazes me that the same people who tell us god is omnipotent accuse us heathens of "removing" god from--everything? They have the power to give us the power to take away their god's power. And then they freak because they gave us the power to take away their god's power! I am going to "hell" and will have control of the thermostat!
Yes, I've been told that I'm going to hell.
Ugh, how disgusting. Hard to even respond to such idiocy. Maybe best response would be, "what happened to 'thou shalt not judge'?"
You'd think that with all the people threatened with going to Hell, that Hell, Michigan would be rolling in the dough.
I finished a book a couple weeks ago - the Chamber, by John Grisham, about a racist on death row for murder. In the hour before his execution, a priest asks him to confess all his sins so that he may be forgiven. The convict is skeptical because there is so much to confess, but the priest assures him that god has unlimited forgiveness as long as you believe in him, and the convict admits to a lifetime of hideous hate crimes. I thought to myself, how fucking reckless is that? Spend your life being as evil as you can, and in the end just admit it to a priest and you can what? Go to heaven? If the reward for admitting it all just before you die isn't getting into heaven, then you are headed to hell anyways so what the hell is the point in confessing and "surrendering" to some god? If the reward for doing so is getting to heaven, then doesn't that kind of make the whole religion thing a huge detriment to society? Kill all your life and still be able to get your peice of the kingdom, and then all those actual good people who die have to share it with a life long killer?
When I was in Sunday school this came up a few times over the years, they never really explained why we shoud not sin all we want and repent later but gave some dodge about pleasing god and possible extra reward in heaven.
As far as I know deathbed confessions or repenting were popular in the middle ages.
Great paraphrase, Jedi Wanderer
...believe in what I believe in or you will suffer. How? Well, you'll have to die to find out.
Your point about thought crimes is provocative. I can see "thought crime" as a useful point in discounting "going to hell" condemnations.
It puts Xian insult into Orwellian context.
Thanks Ruth, but I can't take the credit. Hitchens pointed it out to me, I'm just paying it fwd.
Seriously hell does not seem to have made a dent in sinning when you look down the centuries. If people seriously had believed in it they would have taken fright and abstained and even IN CASE IT was sinning.
Hell conditions children in childhood. That is the only reason adults really did/do believe in hell. It's a pavlov's dog response from early brainwashing and bulling in childhood. Ingrained. In theory ;not much in practise. Medaevil times in fact as nasty as it was ribald.
My cat Fluffy was man-handled by two young boys who were just having fun being as she was trapped in a basement. I mean to their minds they were not physically injuring her. Now she meows with sweet querelousness on being picked up but her heart is beating madly anyway. Same thing.
This is only part of it.
At the very foundation of christianity is the idea of redemption to forgive sins (most of all original sin, just to get everyone). Original sin and many of the sins are only a problem according to the bible and other 'dangers" (demons, satan, etc) only exist if the religion is true.
Which boils down to: "Accept jesus as your lord so that he can help you with problems that are only real if you believe".
Good point DarkBlack. This conversation has gotten much better than I thought it would be when I posted it.