My guess is they would rationalize it as: "I know that the commandment said don't kill , and purposefully trying to seek danger could be seen in Gods eyes as 'cheating' in this life to get to heaven."
Now, for someone else , like their child. I asked the Pastor at the church that I am the pianist for this question: 'Sir , I have a question ... why do you pray for people to get better if that just means they have to endure this life that much longer instead of being in heaven?"
He looked at me like I had 10 heads and It took him a while to adjust to the question ... I have a feeling he has never been asked this before. Then he said that the person , when they die , don't 'automatically' go to heaven because God still has to send Jesus for Judgement Day, so the dead person won't go 'there immediately'
I was puzzled by this answer , so I asked him : "Well sir ... if you're dead , wouldn't you agree your consciousness would be shut off? No way to know you are dead , correct , if you are in fact dead?"
His answer was Yes , if you are dead , you won't know you are dead.
Then I asked him how a dead person has any concept of 'time' when they are dead ... he said he didn't know. I asked then , 'Well , then the dead person won't have any sense of waiting , so to them , they die , then immediately they will realize they are Heaven. Just like when you sleep , without dreams , you really have no concept of time until you wake up and realize the sun is up again.'
Needless to say , he was very puzzled by my insights and questions and just said 'He has faith in the Lord to take us away from this world when it is the right time'
as if that was supposed to settle it ... I obviously could have asked him 'Then why do you pray - Don't you think your Lord might have in his intentions to take them away through cancer - and don't your prayers interrupt his plans?' , but I decided not too ... he was already getting irritated because he knew I was an Atheist. =)
I also asked a member of the church who I accompany regularly why people don't celebrate and rejoice when someone close to them dies , but feels sad and mourns. Why don't you throw a party and praise God for that person is in heaven?
He said that it's probably because humans are selfish and it's not really they are upset and mourning because the person is somehow in a worse state than before , but that the person mourning will no longer be able to interact with them until they die and go to heaven.
Honest answer I must say , and I think that's precisely why. THAT , or they don't REALLY believe. But he said he was 100% sure God exists and he was going to heaven. I asked him if he could be wrong - at all - he said no , he was absolutely certain. I had no other questions for him after that ..
Your friend got it right. We are indeed very happy that a person is with God. Unfortunately we aren't yet so we are still separated – although there is hope that the separation is only temporary (that is to say we believe there is heaven and we hope we will go there :).
I think that the Pastor was probably taken aback at your question because it is essentially the same as asking why Christians don't rejoice in feeling any other sort of pain like being flogged or having your leg broken. All pain is temporary as is everything we experience in this world. That does not make the world less real, nor the pain less painful.
As to committing suicide in order to enter heaven right now – heaven is the state in which you are with God face to face. Going to heaven is essentially causally linked to choosing God as being in heaven is being with God. As God himself is the Way and the Truth and the Life, surely you can see that to choose death is to refuse God. It should be obvious that you cannot get into heaven by refusing God. This is definitely not because it is cheating. It is because to refuse God is to refuse His kingdom. The difference is that calling it just cheating implies that God has arbitrarily chosen that those who kill themselves do not enter heaven (because that would be cheating :), when in fact the reality is that there is a much deeper reason.
Btw. to commit suicide is not only to refuse life. As argued by Chesterton, it is to refuse everything there is in this world, every gift that God has given us:
The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world. His act is worse (symbolically considered) than any rape or dynamite outrage. For it destroys all buildings: it insults all women. The thief is satisfied with diamonds; but the suicide is not: that is his crime. He cannot be bribed, even by the blazing stones of the Celestial City. The thief compliments the things he steals, if not the owner of them. But the suicide insults everything on earth by not stealing it. He defiles every flower by refusing to live for its sake.
As to a child being murdered: no, it is not God's plan for anyone to be murdered. He does know it will happen and He is so great that he can turn even the greatest evil into the greatest good. But that definitely does not make Him dependent on evil (as in a necessary and desired part of His plan), quite the opposite actually. Furthermore it should be noted that the fact that God is able to turn the outcome of an evil act, even a murder, into something good, does in no way make the evil act itself good.
As to the why pray at all question: we should never pray for God to do what we want Him to: His decisions are always wiser and better than ours. However, we should pray for Him to do something we consider good unless it is against His will as Lord Jesus does (Matthew 26, 39):
O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
and as Lord's Prayer teaches us:
- Thy kingdom come.
- Thy will be done
- on earth as it is in heaven.
Also the following quote from C. S. Lewis might be helpful:
The case against prayer (I mean the 'low' or old-fashioned kind) is this. The thing you ask for is either good—for you and for the world in general—or else it is not. If it is, then a good and wise God will do it anyway. If it is not, then He won't. In neither case can your prayer make any difference. But if this argument is sound, surely it is an argument not only against praying, but against doing anything whatever?
In every action, just as in every prayer, you are trying to bring about a certain result; and this result must be good or bad. Why, then, do we not argue as the opponents of prayer argue,flu-preparedness and say that if the intended result is good God will bring it to pass without your interference, and that if it is bad He will prevent it happening whatever you do? Why wash your hands? If God intends them to be clean, they'll come clean without your washing them. If He doesn't, they'll remain dirty (as Lady Macbeth found) however much soap you use. Why ask for the salt? Why put on your boots? Why do anything?
"I think that the Pastor was probably taken aback at your question because it is essentially the same as asking why Christians don't rejoice in feeling any other sort of pain like being flogged or having your leg broken. All pain is temporary as is everything we experience in this world. That does not make the world less real, nor the pain less painful."
This is just not true. If you can imagine your loved one in a place of eternal bliss and happiness which Heaven is supposed to be , then the death of a loved one should be the most ecstatic of all possible emotional states.
Seeing your child beaten with a baseball bat in front of your eyes is just not the same at all because children don't go to heaven from being beaten with baseball bats ...
Is your love so pure, Dustin? One really must strive very hard not to envy you... :D
Anyway, this statement is obviously not correct:
If you can imagine your loved one in a place of eternal bliss and happiness which Heaven is supposed to be , then the death of a loved one should be the most ecstatic of all possible emotional states.
Life of a loved one should perhaps be an ecstatic emotional state as you might put it... :) Death is not and cannot be the happy event you would like to make it. That people die is not a part of God's plan (as in: His intention), it is a consequence brought about by sin. We are not meant for death, we do not yearn for death, we do for Life. We seek Life and He assures us that if we die with Him, we will rise with Him. Therefore we must never praise death AND we must always rejoice in the hope of resurrection.
To summarize: death separates us from our loved ones. Our love, hope and faith is imperfect and so we often find ourselves too selfish and unable to overcome the loss that death means to us, even though we know it is followed by resurrection, which is a reason for great joy, and that the loss itself is only temporary. Even though there is resurrection, death itself is by no means to be celebrated – Life is.
Does this seem any more understandable to you?
If we aren't meant for death, then why do we die?
If god is all powerful, all knowing and ALL forgiving, then why the lake of fire and eternal damnation?
If he's god, he makes the rules.
Why not do away with death and hell all together, if that's his 'intent' or his 'plan.'
Seems stupid to write a rule book you don't like or want to follow if you're ALL POWERFUL.
It doesn't really seem like you want to know the answer. :D However, I will try to explain this the way I understand it anyway...
Let's start with free choice – as far as I can see, free will is required if we are supposed to be able to love. If you behave to someone, e.g. to a dictator in a way that resembles love just because he is otherwise going to kill you, that is obviously not love, it is in fact the opposite of love. If we had no free choice, we would be bound to a much greater extent than that – such love would surely be a great perversion. So God gave us the choice to refuse His love so that we can love Him. Adam and Eve chose not to – as was their right, nobody said it would feel great. We are meant for that love which they refused.
In spite of that Jesus Christ has still saved us from our sins so that we can be with God. Everyone has been saved unless they choose hell willingly. As C. S. Lewis shows in Great Divorce, there is nothing good left in those that go to hell. Not because He has taken it away – because they gave it up... His plan is for us all to be saved, but if we willingly become devoid of all that is good, there is no one in there left to save.
"Free will" is not required in order to be able to love. A part of the limbic system of the brain is what is required. This regulates and controls the irrational feelings of love and desire. Mothers develop a strong bond with their babies due to the effects of hormones acting on this area. The same area is responsible for the irrational development of sexual love and desire. It is also involved when someone either deliberately puts themselves in a trance via contemplative prayer or meditation or is put in a trance by a charismatic or evangelical preacher. It is likewise activated during temporal lobe seizure activity that results in transcendental experiences where the presence of an "other" is experienced (this time caused by the shutdown by an area of the brain the normally differentiates between self and others and between reality and fiction.) The person will feel ecstatic and will generally falsely attribute this to whatever religious entities or "energies" they are familiar with or that a preacher or guru has just outlined.
A person who has damage or disease in this part of the brain cannot feel love. Conversely, a person who has damage to the are of the brain that controls "will" can love others. It is all about brain activity. Even the concept of "free will" is quite curtailed when the workings of the brain are considered. A huge proportion of our actions are automatic and simply justified by the verbally dominant temporal lobe _after_ the event. We are generally as unaware of these mechanisms and made up "reasons" as we are of the permanent blind spot we have in each eye.
Love is an irrational emotion that does not involve the will. Nobody wills themselves to love someone. We fall in love due to factors that we cannot control. A human child develops love for its care-taker even when that caretaker is cruel. Many birds and animals "imprint" on their caretakers in the first few days of life. Later in life we learn to love others who are regularly kind to us or make us feel wanted, needed, important and so on. This kind of love has to be earned.
So, no, you are flat wrong in stating that loving someone requires "free will". The standard evangelical Christian dogma about "free will" being required in order to love an invisible god with whom you have no normal two-way relationship is just unscientific rubbish with no basis in fact. It's just made up stuff that fits the dogmatic belief system of the theist.
There is absolutely no scientific or biological justification for claiming that the ability to refuse to love someone is required in order to be able to love anyone. The evidence suggests that "refusing" to love someone may not even be possible.
You can, however, express concern, compassion and care for people you do not know or who are unlovely and unloveable. That is the closest it is possible to get to a "willed" love, but is also one that appears to an extension of our genetic predisposition to be sociable and assist others in our family, tribe or community and, conversely, NOT assist those who are outside this circle. Who we treat as "neighbors" expands as our intellectual and moral reasoning matures - and that has nothing to do with belief in gods or other supernatural beings. It is a selected evolutionary trait.
Your second paragraph is simply unsupported dogma that someone has told you is true and that you have not critically examined. If you had, you would provide reasonable evidence to support these claims. It should be blindingly self-evident to you that no-one would "choose hell willingly" if they believed in its existence.
You continue to quote C.S. Lewis as if he were some kind of infallibly inspired saint. He is just one of a whole platoon of Christian apologists, and not a very good one, at that.
I have spent my life working with people with problems of one sort or another. There is no demonstrable difference between the "goodness" or "badness" of people who have Christian beliefs and those who do not. There are some personality differences, however. Theists are far more likely to be conventional, conformist and stuck in the early authoritarian stages of moral reasoning.
Psychotherapy is full of tales of dramatic turn arounds in people's social behavior due to the administration of the right kinds of mind altering (or repairing) medication, appropriate encouragement, "re-parenting" experiences, appropriate social or psycho-therapy and an environment that allows growth because it refuses to describe and define someone by what they did or who they were in their immediate or remote past.
The religious doctrines and concepts that you have just described are actively damaging to the mental health and recovery of these people. If your version of god actually existed then it would make him into a monster for allowing you and other theists to not only believe this harmful material but damage others' lives by acting upon it and disseminating it. The doctrines of C.S. Lewis give Christian theists an excuse for engaging in hateful behavior towards people, even other Christians, who do not accept the truth or existence of the modern evangelical version of god.
It reminds me of the way the Nazi secret police used nationally entrenched Christian anti-semitic dogma to justify their "holy" treatment of the Jews The Catholic Pope and the Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, have a lot to answer for in this respect. These Christians taught that Jews were not to be treated as normal humans beings because they had "chosen" to reject Jesus. Now modern day religious Nazis are preaching that atheists (aka people who see no valid evidence of the existence of any gods and therefore see no reason to believe that at least one of them exists) are less than human because they have "chosen" to "reject" their version of "god". Taken to its logical conclusion, people like yourself will engage in hate crimes and discrminatory behavior towards those who simply cannot believe in the god you uncritically accept as existing.
"Taken to its logical conclusion, people like yourself will engage in hate crimes and discrminatory behavior towards those who simply cannot believe in the god you uncritically accept as existing."
That is untrue.
I continue to quote C. S. Lewis because what he says makes sense. When writing a scientific article I quote other authors for the same reason: not because they are divinely inspired. :)
Also, you can choose whether to love God the same way you can choose whether you believe in Him: faith and love are both gifts and although you are incapable of conjuring them up, they are given to you when you ask for them.
I don't think you understand the point of the claim that free will is required in order to love. Free will certainly isn't required for you to experience the biological feelings that you have chosen to call love. God would be able (if that could indeed be considered an ability) to make us all experience those feelings towards Him, He would be able to give us no choice but to accept Him. What we are saying is that this would not be love. :)
Where is your proof that people like yourself would NOT engage in hate crimes if the argument I proposed was taken to its logical conclusion? I don't see any.
OTOH, the bible is full of instances where god commands this type of behavior from the faithful. If you were a true Faith Patsy who acted before asking questions, then you would logically do what the bible commands without question. Since you constantly refuse to follow god's commands and divine example if they don't accord with your socially derived conscience, then that makes you a hypocrite instead.
You quote C.S. Lewis because YOU think he makes sense. It should be clear by now that people outside your religious fold do not agree with your assessment. To those who have read his works in a critical manner it is clear that he is an intellectual light weight and that he makes all manner of logical mistakes and silly un-evidenced claims.If you think he makes sense, then you have been indoctrinated to think so, and you haven't seriously challenged that indoctrination yet. You are to be pitied for that.
"Free will certainly isn't required for you to experience the biological feelings that you have chosen to call love."
My dear man, these are the things that we call "love" because our language defines the word this way. If you want to invent an entirely new meaning for the word then we are not talking about the same thing, are we? If you can make up your own meanings for a word everyone else uses to describe a biological condition, then you can make it subject to any condition you like. Since this runs the risk of having to fallaciously argue by ambiguity, I suggest that you use a different word, or invent a new one.
Perhaps you could use the Greek word "agape" - which biblical writers used to describe the love of the Yahweh god. You can define this emotion to be one that can be "chosen" rather than an emotion that occurs in response to something. Since there is no parallel in ordinary life, no-one but those who faithfully believe that such a concept exists in reality, WILL believe that it exists in reality.
There is certainly no biological evidence that a "choseable emotion" can exist, so you will have to resort to the invisible unmeasurable "spiritual" domain. It will also mean that all those biblical comparisons of god''s love with human paternal love are now meaningless and not divinely inspired.
I don't think YOU understand the point of what is being argued, here. If the integrity of your argument rest on you changing the meaning of words so that they represent something that does not occur in nature, then you are paddling up the mythical creek without the proverbial paddle.
Yes , my love is that pure. If I truly believed my child was in heaven , a place of eternal bliss and happiness , I would be ecstatic to know my child is there in Heaven.
You just simply do not actually believe your fairy tale ... you just wish it's true.
I love selflessly , and there are those Christians out there that feel the same way ... who actually do feel joyful knowing their loved one is in heaven because they seem to 'know' they are with God ... unlike those that are uncertain.
And how can you possibly say death is not something God intended? Jeez , talk about making stuff up
OK, first things first. I sincerely hope that you have no idea what you would feel like if your child had died. You certainly have no idea what you would feel like if you were a Christian whose child had died. :) However, you can ask... they will tell you...
I am myself perfectly joyful knowing that my great-grandmother is in heaven. That is because she is not dead. She is alive. Which is basically what I am saying all along: A Christian cannot possibly praise death. Christians are supposed to praise life. Anyway, I was still very sad when she died – her being in heaven still means I cannot come and visit for a very long time... :D If you don't miss those who die at all and feel no pain over your separation then you loved them extremely or too little. :D I am quite happy to say I did not love too little. :D Of course it would be nice to say that I loved her as Jesus Christ does. Well, I did not...
Btw. I rarely make stuff up. If you would kindly direct your attention to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 1006 - 1009, especially paragraph 1008 which says:
1008 Death is a consequence of sin. The Church's Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man's sin.569 Even though man's nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin.570 "Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned" is thus "the last enemy" of man left to be conquered.571
Genesis makes all of this fairly obvious – humans were to live forever as long as they were in the paradise. It was only after Adam and Eve sinned that death came into play. So if you're saying that death (and other suffering for that matter) is allowed by God, or even bestowed by Him to a certain extent (although we could probably discuss the exact meaning of the phrase when used in this context for years... :D), I think I can agree. It is most definitely not a part of His original plan though, as Genesis clearly shows...
Also St. Ambrose offers further explanation of why there is death:
Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning; he prescribed it as a remedy. Human life was condemned because of sin to unremitting labor and unbearable sorrow and so began to experience the burden of wretchedness. There had to be a limit to its evils; death had to restore what life had forfeited. Without the assistance of grace, immortality is more of a burden than a blessing.