I always thought that the plan of salvation wasn't exactly fair to everyone who lived before Christ, and to all the people in civilizations that arose with no contact with Christianity, like all the civilizations of the pre-Columbian Americas. But nobody can capture the essence of an issue and make it quite so scathingly crystal-clear as Hitch.
Why must two of my intellectual heros, Roger Ebert and Hitchens, both have lost their voices to illness and be nearing the end of their lives? The future is going to be depressing.
Christians don't believe that Jesus was sent to relieve the suffering of the living. Suffering through life is recognized by many religions as a way to higher places in the afterlife. Jesus supposedly came to allow for this eternal salvation. Those that died before he came were supposedly rescued from Hell when he rose from the dead.
Then it's still not fair to those of us who came after Jesus and aren't convinced by the story. It's not fair to those who suffered in Hell for whatever period of time until he rose from the dead. It's not fair that those who suffered in life get rewarded while the rest of us who lived in relative safety and comfort do not.
The problem of evil is not so easily dismissed by claiming that suffering leads to rewards in the afterlife.
Not to mention that God is omniscient and omnipotent, and therefore no suffering is ever necessary.
Hey now... "less literate"? We are talking about the paper-driven Roman Empire which took over the Hellenistic society which invented history in the modern sense and filled the Library of Alexandria; and specifically Judea at the time of the tremendously verbose tomes of the Mishna and both Talmuds. At this time among the Jews literacy was already the defining skill for a man come of age; the Bar Mitzva being a ceremony where every young man must stand up in front of the whole community and read out loud-- far from the illiterate norm of Christendom for the best part of its two-millenium history. The Jesus story was not recorded, except by his followers, not because the region was illiterate, but because the life and death of one more anti-establishment preacher was not newsworthy enough.
No Christian I have ever talked with has an answer to the problem of suffering in the world.
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