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Hell as a Threat
Posted: 06 April 2011 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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inthegobi - 06 April 2011 10:30 AM
psikeyhackr - 06 April 2011 10:11 AM
Michel S. - 06 April 2011 02:34 AM

So please don’t lump us all together. Just as secular humanism has a conception of ethics that does not involve fear of eternal punishment, so do some of us who still choose to focus on this ineffableness we call God.

Jeezus H. Christ!

What percentage of American and Worldwide Christians are you?

psik

Well, it appears that a heck of a lot of american christians don’t believe in Hell, or when they do, that it will be at worst temporary. My immediate source is a theology student who keeps track of social data like that. (he is a former disciple of Rob Bell whose Mars Hill church is literally up the road from me, who - now infamously - avoids all talk of Hell.)

Volume isn’t populousness: angry people make more noise, but aren’t the majority just thereby.

Oh no!  Religion is going to Hell.

http://www.religionnewsblog.com/14986/religious-beliefs-going-to-you-know-where-some-fear

That means more Christians are going to Hell.

I’m so upset.

psik

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Posted: 06 April 2011 01:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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dougsmith - 06 April 2011 12:36 PM

Seems a false analogy. It’s no threat, unless the simple act of teaching someone, and distinguishing right from wrong, is threatening. (A threat must needs involve some form of agency to carry out the threat, no? Is it a threat if I tell you that by stepping over the ledge you’ll plunge to your doom? No, it’s a warning but not a threat).

Loss of social status is a threat - so far as i can see, the only real threat in a Humean world. And I bet if i sifted through this forum, full of fine and upstanding atheists and secularists, that i coudl squeeze a pretty posionous bucketful of hateful threats against the religious. Of course I would be unfair to do that. Wouldn’t I (smiling toothily)?

The religious threat is after death - we’re not talking here about physical threats in the here and now - but the secularist threatens my social status right now. So which is worse, really big threats in the afterlife, or smaller but all too real threats about my status in the village? many years ago I had a supervisor ruin me to his supervisor because I was a christian (and b/c he threatened my job and i reported it, I must add) and he was a big bad atheist, even tho’ my scientific work at the time had zero to do with christian issues. He would go out of his way to mock books i read in the break room - i went back to my old overseas habit of wrapping books in brown paper for a while after that. Why do you guys get to bring up the horrors of your childhoods as evidence that religion in general sucks but you’re ready even now to pooh-pooh my own personal horror story?

What? You say more horrors are perptrated by christians than secularists? but gosh, there’s just more of them (a statistical bias whose name escapes me).

To my mind a deeper criticism is that many of the greatest minds of secularist thought have rather nasty things to say about the religious (God delusion; religion spoils *everything* - EVERYTHING??, keep baptists in zoos eventually). You can doff that off as rhetoric, but such rhetoric! You’d all be better off - much better off - listening to Epicurus than Dawkins or PZ Meyers. You won’t find the Pope, or the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Presidents and Bishops of the Lutheran Synods, or the methodist leaders talking like that about atheists. Those are top men of the most populous denominations in the *world* - not bible-thumpers with a pulpit in podunk florida, a few dozen followers and media access.

But i get the feeling everyone here agrees that threatening people is at best a limited success, and foolishness in the long run. Right? Right.

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Posted: 06 April 2011 01:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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Er, we were talking about threats of eternal punishment, and now you’re talking about heightened rhetoric leading to loss of social status? OK then, the Pope has recently said:

It is no accident that this idea [atheism] has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice; rather, it is grounded in the intrinsic falsity of the claim. A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope.

I don’t see that as rhetorically different from what you’ll find in Dawkins or Hitchens. And I don’t think one can argue that this is out of character. Do we really want to go back through church history and find what’s been said about atheism in the past? Do recall that for centuries it was a charge that would get one burnt at the stake in Europe, and even today can get one murdered in much of the world. By religious folk.

(From all I’ve heard about the Archbishop of Canterbury—from Dawkins himself, no less!—he sounds like a nice fellow. I know nothing about the views of the Lutheran Bishops).

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Posted: 06 April 2011 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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Doug, we’re talking about threats of hell, not actual physical violence.

Note the Pope talked about atheism, not atheists as a group. The New Atheists have a hard time separating the two - perhaps because rhetorical tools are mostly ad hominem (good and bad).

And pardon if I won’t cry *overmuch* about the subtle problems of Muslims and their religious leaders. But to partly excuse them, there’s a confusion here between *religious folk* and *peasants from the sticks*. Further, much of such v8iolence is at the instigation of cynical leaders: most of the world is deeply religious *and* unfailingly polite to strangers. And *massively* tolerant of the ignorance of foreigners. I’ve encountered it personally. As for what people do to each other in their own village - well, neighbors and family have the worst fights, but even that’s not most of the world.

None of the awful things you’ve mentioned are primarily religious in *origin*; it’s arguable that violence would decrease if religious feeling were to poof away, and the Pope’s claim is that it would get worse, not better. (I’d want to know more about that, but i have little interest really in ‘whose ideas have the most awful social consequences’ it’s just not my field.)

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Posted: 06 April 2011 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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Not to split too many hairs here, but for someone who purports to believe in hell, hell is “actual physical violence”. (Well, perhaps it’s “actual spook violence” but the pain is supposed to be the same, so it’s a distinction without a difference).

I don’t see the distinction between atheists/atheism to be germane. It’s not like there’s some disembodied thing “atheism” that’s going around committing cruelty and violations of justice in a hopeless world, on the Pope’s view. It’s atheists.

As for the origins of the anti-atheist cruelty, I don’t really know where else to locate them than in the religions that persecute atheists. That’s not to say there haven’t been cruel atheists as well, of course. But it’s a rare atheist indeed who is cruel because of a disbelief in God. Quite a lot of violence is done in God’s name, however. Like it or not.

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Posted: 06 April 2011 02:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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dougsmith - 06 April 2011 02:09 PM

Not to split too many hairs here, but for someone who purports to believe in hell, hell is “actual physical violence”. (Well, perhaps it’s “actual spook violence” but the pain is supposed to be the same, so it’s a distinction without a difference).

I don’t see the distinction between atheists/atheism to be germane. It’s not like there’s some disembodied thing “atheism” that’s going around committing cruelty and violations of justice in a hopeless world, on the Pope’s view. It’s atheists.

As for the origins of the anti-atheist cruelty, I don’t really know where else to locate them than in the religions that persecute atheists. That’s not to say there haven’t been cruel atheists as well, of course. But it’s a rare atheist indeed who is cruel because of a disbelief in God. Quite a lot of violence is done in God’s name, however. Like it or not.

Sorry if i’m making you split hairs.

We’ve tangled on this before, and I keep running away from it, because we won’t really move each other I think. You believe something like ‘religion spoils everything’ thesis (to give a jokey name); you think that religious belief is the origin of much if not most violence and cruelty. I think that the cruel and violent use religion as a tool, and they’d jusjt cooly pick up another tool if we took relgion away from them. Worse, in conformity with the Pope I suspect strongly that cruelty and violence would increase, not decrease.

Let’s leave it there. how on earth would we adjudicate such high-order social theses? Pretty far from my field - i barely know how to get along at work!

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Posted: 06 April 2011 02:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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Michel S. - 06 April 2011 12:26 PM
DarronS - 06 April 2011 12:21 PM

I suggest you read Matthew 25:31-46

It does not specify any specific punishment—all those fire and brimstone are just extra-biblical elaboration—

Yes, it does specify a punishment.

Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

There are plenty more Bible verses threatening people with eternal punishment. This is just one example.

Edit: Revelation 21:8

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

This is not extra-Biblical elaboration, this is quote out of the New Testament.

[ Edited: 06 April 2011 03:09 PM by DarronS ]
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Posted: 06 April 2011 03:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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DarronS - 06 April 2011 02:48 PM
Michel S. - 06 April 2011 12:26 PM
DarronS - 06 April 2011 12:21 PM

I suggest you read Matthew 25:31-46

It does not specify any specific punishment—all those fire and brimstone are just extra-biblical elaboration—

Yes, it does specify a punishment.

Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

There are plenty more Bible verses threatening people with eternal punishment. This is just one example.

Edit: Revelation 21:8

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

This is not extra-Biblical elaboration, this is quote out of the New Testament.

Matthew is New Testament…New Testament is extra-biblical elaboration.

Insertion of various kinds, margin notes over previous writings and lots of different authors…none of which were people who had contact with god…

[ Edited: 06 April 2011 03:41 PM by Affluenza ]
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Posted: 06 April 2011 03:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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inthegobi - 06 April 2011 02:24 PM

We’ve tangled on this before, and I keep running away from it, because we won’t really move each other I think. You believe something like ‘religion spoils everything’ thesis (to give a jokey name); you think that religious belief is the origin of much if not most violence and cruelty. I think that the cruel and violent use religion as a tool, and they’d jusjt cooly pick up another tool if we took relgion away from them. Worse, in conformity with the Pope I suspect strongly that cruelty and violence would increase, not decrease.

Let’s leave it there. how on earth would we adjudicate such high-order social theses? Pretty far from my field - i barely know how to get along at work!

Fair enough. But I think I was pretty clear in #60, above that I don’t agree with the ‘religion spoils everything’ thesis. If any statement can be made along those lines, it’s that conservative religion spoils lots of things. And wooly, nonscientific thinking spoils lots of things.

... and unthinking ideology spoils lots of things. And blind obedience spoils lots of things. (And there’s some truth to the claim that hell is used as a bludgeon among conservative religious folk to enforce this sort of obedience).

Religion is one very powerful source of these threads. It’s not the only source, and that’s not all that religion does.

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Posted: 06 April 2011 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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dougsmith - 06 April 2011 03:29 PM

. . . I was pretty clear in #60, above that I don’t agree with the ‘religion spoils everything’ thesis. If any statement can be made along those lines, it’s that conservative religion spoils lots of things. And wooly, nonscientific thinking spoils lots of things. ... and unthinking ideology spoils lots of things. And blind obedience spoils lots of things. (And there’s some truth to the claim that hell is used as a bludgeon among conservative religious folk to enforce this sort of obedience).

Religion is one very powerful source of these threads. It’s not the only source, and that’s not all that religion does.

Not unfair. If ‘source’ means like a mine is a source of both diamonds and dangers, then more than not unfair. But religion is no more at fault than the underground is.

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Posted: 06 April 2011 07:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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inthegobi - 06 April 2011 03:51 PM
dougsmith - 06 April 2011 03:29 PM

. . . I was pretty clear in #60, above that I don’t agree with the ‘religion spoils everything’ thesis. If any statement can be made along those lines, it’s that conservative religion spoils lots of things. And wooly, nonscientific thinking spoils lots of things. ... and unthinking ideology spoils lots of things. And blind obedience spoils lots of things. (And there’s some truth to the claim that hell is used as a bludgeon among conservative religious folk to enforce this sort of obedience).

Religion is one very powerful source of these threads. It’s not the only source, and that’s not all that religion does.

Not unfair. If ‘source’ means like a mine is a source of both diamonds and dangers, then more than not unfair. But religion is no more at fault than the underground is.

Perhaps. Though not to talk about ‘religion’ but rather the Bible, I’d be more sanguine about letting religions based upon that text off the hook if it were not so thoroughly problematic. Though the Bible has passages of great literature, as a document of moral teachings it is deeply flawed. Biblical morality is at turns banal, questionable, bizarre and abhorrent. I’m fine with the banal (treat your neighbor as yourself, do not kill, etc.); arguably many correct moral claims are banal. The other categories lead me to believe that many of the most devoted and by-the-Book accurate practitioners of the religion are the conservative.

Or to put it another way, to be moral one has to reject a vast amount of Biblical teaching.

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Posted: 06 April 2011 07:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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inthegobi - 06 April 2011 11:13 AM
Mriana - 06 April 2011 09:13 AM

So that means a person who’s already been through hell, with perpetual flashbacks, on earth won’t get hell and will get a nice peaceful place with no violence.  Nice.  I can dig it.

Gosh, I hope not. That would equate the rich, powerful and other cats that just ate the canary with the elect! Jesus was pretty sure that in fact soft living was a mighty distraction (not a sin, just heavy occasion to sin).

Oh so if one goes through hell on earth, they get a free ticket?  Seems you are almost up there with my Fundamngelical mother.

I would seem that if a “Heavenly Father” were love, then he wouldn’t let any human be so cruel and harmful to little children.  What sort of threat can be responded to when one has been threatened with everything under the sun short of death?  Something as silly as the idea of hell, which is a human concept, is like threatening them with the Mad Hatter or monkeys from Oz.  The only thing to fear are the crazy humans who threaten angrily as though they themselves are going to do one harm.  If God’s love is reality and evil is a lack of reality, then I would hate to live in the land of Oz.  The fantasy doesn’t seem worth it to me.

It might seem so to *some*, such as yourself. To many it seems that it’s people more than God who make such threats.

Of course, humans make the threat.  The whole concept was created by humans.

All the real-life examples given so far are awful, but not really standard theology. This coming Sunday, most well-trained ministers, pastors and priests will *not* threaten their congregations with Hell, and likewise all the other Sundays. Nez pah?

What real-life examples?  The one’s churches give is laughable and made up of fairy tales IMO.

confusion: no, the claim is that most churches do not preach hell and damnation, at least not on any typical sunday. On any typical sunday, H & D is a minority topic - and likely a very minority topic. On individual sample-churches, YMMV as we used to say on ‘teh Interwebs’.

I never said anything about confusion.  The Lutheran and Episcopal Church doesn’t, but the Evangelical Fundamentalist church my relatives belong to does and many of them mentally live in Oz.

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Posted: 06 April 2011 07:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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DarronS - 06 April 2011 12:10 PM
Michel S. - 06 April 2011 11:52 AM

I do include myself, yes. The Episcopalian conception of hell is just eternal death—not an eternal chamber of torture. That being said, I consider my Episcopalianism as a tradition, and am not too dogmatic about it; theologically I probably fit in better with Unitarian Universalists.

Glad to hear Episcopalians are rational enough to ignore what the Bible says about eternal damnation. So, if there is no Hell what was the point of Jesus dying on the cross? That seems to me the central tenet of Christianity. Jesus died to save us from the consequences of our sins.

Sadly, I can answer this one as an apostate of the Episcopal Church.  Jesus concurred death.  That’s why he died.  Well that and for people’s sins, of course, but the damnation was conquered for those who believe the story.  In fact, that Episcopal Church I went too before I lost any belief I did have, did teach they are just stories.  If one choose to actually study them, they find out they are just that, but you can read the creeds, which are much similar to the Catholic and Lutheran versions.  They take John 3:16 very seriously- those who believe shall not die, but have every lasting life.  Some priest even teach that the Hebrew word for hell means “the grave” or “the place of the dead”.

http://anglicansonline.org/basics/nicene.html
http://anglicansonline.org/basics/apostles.html

Which makes one who thinks wonder, then what’s the point.  When you’re dead you’re dead.  So what’s the point?

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Posted: 06 April 2011 07:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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Mriana - 06 April 2011 07:34 PM

Which makes one who thinks wonder, then what’s the point.  When you’re dead you’re dead.  So what’s the point?

That was where I was going, too. If we just die, what’s the point of all the religious posturing? I’d rather spend my time studying mathematics than theology. At least math gives us a chance of explaining the universe. Theology gives us allegory and divisiveness.

I also love how Michel S has denied the Bible says what it says. Once again, atheists know the Bible better than theists.

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Posted: 06 April 2011 07:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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Michel S. - 06 April 2011 12:17 PM

Note that when it comes to the conception of hell, I am actually referring to the Episcopal catechism—Book of Common Prayer, page 862—but when I make a comment in general I’m not necessarily speaking for all Episcopalians. There are some among us who, yes, think the Star in the East was actually a real astronomical phenomenon!

P 862, which is part of the Catechism (I was a lay minister and even though I left due to disbelief, I never discarded my copy).  Here we go:  http://anglicansonline.org/basics/catechism.html#The Christian Hope

I believe he is referring to this question:

Q. What do we mean by heaven and hell?
A. By heaven, we mean eternal life in our enjoyment of God; by hell, we mean eternal death in our rejection of God.

However, he maybe referring to that whole section concerning Xian hope.  BTW, Michel, I doubt you are on who would be offended with the use of the Greek Chi as abbreviation for Christ, but just in case you are one of the few Anglicans that don’t know about the Chi Rho and alike…

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