Aren’t ancient gods ridiculous?

Boddi prays for his mother to get better. She had been in agony for days now. He is so scared. So Boddi prays.

The next day his mother is better. The worst is past. She is still weak, but she is definitively saved. Odin answered his prayers. Praise Odin!


What do you think of people who worship Jupiter, Bacchus, Cupid, Isis, Odin or Rama?

No one believes in the mythological gods anymore. If a strong belief system can go from main stream to being laughed at in mere centuries, how can you be sure that your’s won’t too, someday soon?

What makes your particular 21st century version worth more than any other version throughout history and across the world?

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Where is the cutoff line between heaven and hell?

Bob isn’t really a good person. But he hasn’t committed any serious crimes either. At some points in his life, he has tried to turn a new leaf, but has always lapsed back to his old ways.

Joe is generally a good person. He helps his community, gives to charity. He will give to a homeless person and go out of his way to help an old lady cross the street. He has been unfaithful to his wife for years now. She doesn’t suspect.

Bob and Joe die in a tragic car accident. They are judged by god and one is let into heaven, with eternal bliss, while the other is sent to hell to burn for all time.


In the grand scale of things, these two men were very close to the cutoff line. A little will power might have saved one, but an extra slip up might have damned the other.

Punishment

In our family, in our society, we thrive to find the right punishment for each bad act. How can we accept an all or nothing view of heaven and hell?

Our whole judicial system is based on punishment proportional to the crime. If you speed on the freeway, you get a fine. If you steal for the first time, you could get a suspended sentence. If you premeditate murder, you can spend your life in prison. Even the most horrific crime won’t get you tortured. A lot of thought goes into defining the punishment that fits the crime. We are shocked when a killer gets of with a slap on the wrist, but even more so when the punishment is too severe.

Reward

On the other end of the spectrum, maybe surprisingly, good deeds are often their own reward. We might be threatened with punishment to avoid bad actions, but we are not paid for good deeds. It takes the good out it if we get paid.

God’s system is much more simple. One slip up and you will be tortured for all eternity. There is no middle ground, either you are perfect and win the jackpot or else your punishment will be infinitely painful and never end.

What would you think of a friend who only did good, only helped others, for a reward? Would you be as proud of him?

Say, when you were a kid, you stole some candy from the corner store. What would you think if your parents beat you every night for a year? A year isn’t very long compared to eternity…

It seems that the goal is to not do evil, more than to do good. The ten commandments do not include « be nice ». If you live a good life, dedicated to helping others, but slip up and steal, will you go to hell?

With such a binary system, there must be some cutoff line. More good than bad, heaven, more bad than good, hell. Or any bad, hell. Whatever the line, there will be people who are pretty close. Two people who have been equally good all their life. One goes to heaven. The other slips up, once, and burns in hell for all eternity.

How do you rationalize heaven and hell?

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Bob goes to heaven. What does he do all day?

Bob goes to heaven. What does he do all day?


Heaven, in one form or another, is one of the basic pillars of religion. Believing in God is believing in « a better place » after your death. Heaven is perfect. You will always be happy with all your friends and family. The sky will always be blue.

But what could a perfect place actually be like? Even if you forget the idea of sitting on a cloud playing a harp, what could heaven be like?

Let’s stop to think about perfect. Perfect cannot get better. So perfect cannot change.

But think about your perfect day.

  • Playing hokey.
  • Going on an adventure.
  • Meeting someone new.
  • Getting that job.
  • Getting married.
  • A great mystery novel or movie.
  • Working in your community.
  • A walk on the beach.
  • A crazy party where you drank too much.
  • Winning the game.

Cheating, anticipation, (a little) fear, discovery, accomplishment, promises, suspense, helping, sharing, excess, success…

Change.

In heaven, with everything perfect, how could there be change? Cheating seems out of the question, along with fear and excess. If everything will always be perfect, how could there be suspense? What would be the point of promises? If everything is already perfect, how can you accomplish anything, who is there to help? Winning the game usually means someone is loosing. Even sharing is a transition from something not shared…

Take that perfect moment at the beach. Half asleep in the shade. A little breeze in your hair. A cool drink at your side. A good book. A loved one. Would you want that every day, forever? Forever is a really long time. How could you imagine a heaven where you wouldn’t be bored out of your mind?

It is hard to picture yourself alone in heaven. You don’t get to meet new people, or only for a while. It doesn’t take eternity to meet everyone. You would be with your favorite people. Are your favorite people the same as the favorite people of your favorite people? Are your favorite activities the same as the favorite activities of your favorite people? Does everyone like the same things? Is there only one heaven?

A better world today?

Since we are who we are, our perfect world is a better world. Could heaven be our world, just better? No more disease, hunger, accidents, natural disasters. No more crime, injustice, discrimination, fear. Every child having the opportunity to become what he or she wants.

Isn’t that the world we are trying to build today?

What does your heaven look like?

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Is pure evil just insanity? Except for the faithful…

Bob mugs an old lady to steal her purse. That’s evil. He is hungry and finds it easier to steal than to work. He puts his well-being before that of the old lady.

Joe buys a new TV. That’s nice. He prefers to spend his money on himself, instead of helping others that are more in need than he is. He puts his well-being before that of starving children in Africa.


There is a line somewhere beyond which you are bad

We all pretty much agree that there is a line somewhere between being bad and being acceptably selfish. If Bob had found the purse and not given it back, it wouldn’t have been as bad.

So, what is pure evil?

Doing bad things for personal gain is not pure evil. It’s bad, but its more a question of degree. You do not hurt for no reason. You want more for less work and believe another’s pain is worth less than your pleasure. We are all like that, if only by omission.

We know children are starving, but we still buy that flat screen TV. Our pleasure is worth more than their pain. Each of us draws a line where we justify our actions so as to be a good person. Society draws that line also. Even the mafia boss helps his family and people close to him.

When hurting becomes pure pleasure, with no other gain, is it pure evil? Or does it become a mental disease. If real evil is just crazy, then it is not really evil.

The only ones that harm for abstract pleasure and that are not considered crazy are the religious extremists.

Do you believe in evil?

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Do bad things happen because god is a dick?

Jane’s husband is out for a run, like every morning, and he has a sharp pain in his chest. He dies of a heart attack on the spot. Jane is devastated. He was so young, how could this happen?

Her best friend Betty tries to console her, she says that god works in mysterious ways. Jane feels better.


Mysterious ways

What Betty was saying is that there was a reason for her husband’s precocious death, we just cannot understand what it could be. God is up there, he planned everything, and killing off Jane’s husband was part of the plan.

How is that comforting? God has a plan, and that plan might include the death of someone close to you. Each of your love ones is just a time bomb in god’s plan.

Isn’t it more comforting to accept that bad things just happen, that there is no fatality? That Jane’s husband could have been saved?

Why do you think bad things happen?

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Did god, as Jesus, plan to have himself nailed to a cross?

Jesus, as god, elaborates a complicated plan to forgive us. Somehow god, as Jesus, is nailed to a cross and dies in agony. Of course, god, as Jesus, does not really feel pain or die. But it does get the message across. To convince the world, he needs the drama. The betrayal by Judas is especially powerful, he plays an important part in the show. This was the best way for Jesus, as god, to forgive us our sins.


I always feel sorry for Judas, he, not god, made the ultimate sacrifice for the plan to succeed. Without him, we might never have recognised Jesus as our saviour. Too bad he never gets the recognition he deserves.

So, what’s the point? Why go through all this theatre to forgive mankind? If god wanted to forgive mankind, why didn’t he just do it?

More than this ineffable forgiveness, the point seems more to have been to trick people into believing in him. Is that really how god works? If it was all a show, all manipulation, nothing was sincere, what is the message? The end justifies the means? Is that his teaching?

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Is god watching you only to keep count?

Bob goes about his day. He gets up, has breakfast, goes back to take a nice long shower and gets dressed. God watches him at every moment, even when he picks his nose. He is late to work and lies about traffic. To make up being yelled at by his boss, he steals office supplies. Bob eats diner with his wife, but they fight.

And god watches every second of all that. He is not too happy, but mostly he is bored out of his mind. He adds today’s acts to his enormous ledger, ready for the day Bob dies.

On Sunday, Bob confesses. God throws out Bob’s ledger and starts a new one.


God is watching you. Why?

God watches us for exactly two things: keeping a tally of our sins and starting over when we confess. He doesn’t intervene, saving us from an imminent danger. He doesn’t advise us on good courses of action. He doesn’t stop us from hurting others.

Since he’s watching, he could do more than just keep count.

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Why does god hate amputees?

Helping people in Africa, Bob contracts the deadly Ebola virus. His wife and friends pray for him. And he heals. He is back to his healthy state.

Joe is on the job and a girder falls and pins him to the ground. There is nothing the doctors can do, he loses his right arm. His wife and friends pray for him. And nothing. Joe talks with friends, his spiritual leader, looks up miraculous healing online. He can find no trace of an amputee that was healed. Joe wonders why god hates amputees?


If god heals cancer and Ebola, why does he not heal amputees? How hard can it be to regrow a limb here or there? Reptiles can do it.

People believe that god answers prayers and heals people. There are numerous accounts of miraculous healing, including of the most terrible diseases. Why does he only heal « invisible » diseases, not more obvious ones? Why not accident victims?


Said no doctor ever

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