Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Sitter Downers

I fired off another email to the Sitter Downers Podcast last week after the death of my father. I was (and still am) totally confused as to how anyone could accept that it is OK to imagine someone is in hell.

Dear Sitter-Downers

I am sorry I have not been in contact recently, my Father has been ill and he passed away this week. I have just spent 6 days at his bedside watching him die from the effects of Motor Neurone Disease. Have I to thank your “Loving and merciful” Jesus for that? Funny how no amount of prayers can ever get God to reverse the advance stages of MND but he can, of course help someone get a new job!

His death brought into sharp focus what Adam said to Tom in a recent episode, when he asked “Where do you think my Mum is now?” to which Adam apologised but stated she was in hell because of her unbelief.

I assume you think my father is there to.

My dad was a “Christian” but of course to you he was the “wrong sort”, being a Roman Catholic. He, like his father before him, was a church-going, reverential man who firmly believed in the doctrines of the Catholic Church and that he would gain eternal life after his death.

Your apology to Tom (and I suspect to me) is extremely telling. If you feel the need to say “sorry, but…” you obviously recognise the absurdity of the situation: The creator of the universe creates humans, wants us to believe (with faith not evidence) in his existence - but only in a particular way mind - or he will torment them for the rest of time. Not for one year, not a hundred years, not even a billion years or a billion, billion, billion years. FOREVER!

How does this concept work exactly? What about people who have not heard the “word of God” and been able to “accept Jesus as their personal saviour” (whatever the heck that actually means)? Do they go to Hell?

If they do, then that is hardly fair, if they don’t then it would be better if you did not tell anyone about it and risk damming them for all eternity by your actions. (Please do not argue it is their decision, they only have to make the decision because you give it to them, if you did not, they would be 100% guaranteed to win, but only 50-50 if you do.)

What about children who cannot understand the implications? What about the mentally handicapped? What about stillborn or miscarried foetuses, some even just a few cells large – you seem to think they have a “soul” from conception; do they go to Hell? If they do then that is obviously unfair, if they don’t surely it is better to be unborn! “Go directly to Heaven, do not pass Go…” Sounds like an Abortion is a good thing for the foetus by that point of view, they get a free pass without all the hassle of living on earth. Do foetuses have a personality in an afterlife?

What about all the billions of people who lived in the world before the spread of Christianity? Are they all damned? There are around 1-2 billion nominal “Christians” (mostly Catholics) out of the 6 billion people in the world today and it is estimated something like 100 billion people who have ever lived (see here). Add in all the billions of miscarriages, stillborns and abortions and there must be a very very high proportion of souls who could not “accept Jesus as their personal saviour” and who therefore are damned through no fault of their own; must be a bit crowded there.

Adam, If you and Tom die in a road accident during your visit to England how could Heaven be any sort of a paradise for you when you would know that Tom is suffering eternal torments? Would you not be upset at the suffering of your friend? Suppose your son, when he grew up, became an atheist and rejected your beliefs but otherwise was a good, honest member of the community and although he respected you, he could not lie to you about his beliefs. After you are both dead will you be happy in Heaven knowing your own son is suffering horribly and there is nothing you could do to help him? That could not be a paradise for anyone surely?

Adam, you are clearly an intelligent, thoughtful, reasonable, man who claims to be sceptical of claims of paranormal and other absurd claims. Please turn that scepticism onto your religious beliefs too. What harm could come of questioning what you believe? If your beliefs are wrong it will show them up, if they are right it will strengthen them. It is only by questioning we can reach a better understanding and clear away any doubts we have of what the world around us actually is.

Stop reading Ann Coulter and start reading something that disagrees with your point of view. You might actually learn something.

Kind regards


My email was read and dissected. To be fair I think they did a reasonable job of refuting my presumptions of damning Catholics and the fact that they read other things (Aaron said he was reading Dawkins' God Delusion) but they completely failed to answer the points about hell/heaven and the fact that it is absurd. Preferring to "hope there is a get-out clause" for good non-believers and that God would wipe the knowledge of other's suffering in heaven.

I'm not even going to start on the logical fallacies and torturous excuses here, simply say that they really know for sure if any of this bullshit is true. They just make it up as they go along.


Anthony said...

Well, I certainly don't make it up as I go along. I was rather shocked at the "hope there is a get-out clause" response, myself. But they acknowledged that there was no mention of it in scripture.

Anyway, here's my question for you, Sean. If you don't think the bible is authoritative, why argue about a doctrine derived from this unauthoritative source?

Sean said...

Anthony. What makes you think I am arguing FROM the Bible?

I see no evidence of any afterlife, especially not the Christian concept. My point was to make a reducio ad absurdum argument that the rules accepted by Christians are illogical, irrational and indeed, absurd.

I find it strange why someone would think that it is OK to try and put forward a suggestion that their friend's mother (i.e. Tom's) is most likely suffering eternal torments and simply laugh it off?

How can you, as a believer, square this? How can you answer my point at heaven being a paradise if your own child is being tormented? It makes no sense!

We die; that is it.

One question for you Anthony. What was it like before you were born? To me, that is what it will be like after we die.

Anthony said...

Ok, maybe I misread part of your original post when I thought you were arguing from the Bible.

About your question about what it was like before I was born, I suspect it was like what rocks dream about because I was nothing.

Having no memory before I existed doesn't unnerve me especially.

As for my own child being tormented, I agree it makes no sense. But if that's what glorifies God, then so be it.

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