Why I Rejected Christianity Review: Godless Life Part 4

In this argument, Loftus wants us to be wary of those who claim to have ultimate values. (Yes. That value of loving your neighbor as yourself is deadly.)  He speaks of the Crusades for instance. What books has Loftus really read on the Crusades? Unfortunately, none are given. Why is it so awful that the Christians wanted to free Jerusalem? Does Loftus need to remember that this was in response to the Muslims going on their raid first?

Is it necessarily bad just because Christians fought it? Now I won’t defend all of the Crusades, but I don’t see how you can just make a blanket statement that all of them were wrong. Actually, I do see how you can do that. You can make such a statement if you don’t read the historians on them and instead assume that what you are told about them from anti-Christians is correct.

And slavery? First off, slavery was not just done by the Jews. It was done by everyone. It was seen as a way of life. Aristotle even told us that some people were meant to be slaves. However, this slavery was far different from anything seen in the Civil War time period. In fact, it was the coming of Christianity that eventually ended slavery.

Loftus also talks about scientific progress being impeded by Christians. I just wish he’d have given an example. The other crimes include forbidding same-sex marriage, impeding the progress of feminism, and intolerance and bigotry towards atheists and agnostics.

Let’s see. We think the first one is a sin and harmful to both parties and society as a whole. You need to show we’re wrong first. The second, we have nothing against women moving up in the world, but we have a problem if it’s a feminism that sees women as superior to men. As for the last, I’d like more agnostics and atheists to speak up. Go on and show how bankrupt your arguments are.

In all of this though, Loftus needs to wake up to the reality of what happens when there are no absolute values. Gulag Archipelago anyone? Would he prefer we jettison absolute values? If that’s the case, then he’s also just thrown out his argument from evil which is so precious to him. Never mind that we could just ask him the absolute value he’s appealing to to say these things are absolutely wrong or absolutely right.

I wish we could say there’s more, but sadly, there isn’t. It’s the kind of pedantic whining that seems to repeat itself constantly. We’ll look at argument five tomorrow.

Why I Rejected Christianity Review: Godless Life Part 3

I really look at a case like reason #3 and wonder what I’m expected to reply to. All it seems we have is assertions that do not have a basis to them. The start is that religion is seen as a search for meaning. Why should I believe that though? Is it hard to believe that religion could have started off instead as a search for truth since man did ultimately believe in some kind of higher power?

Besides, if we were on a quest for meaning, we would probably make religions a lot differently than they are. For some pagan forms, who would make a religion where they were required to sacrifice that which was most dear to them, such as burning children on altars? We might see some basis in sexual practices, but that also is an aspect of the transcendent. There was a day and age where people saw sexuality as something greater than themselves instead of merely a mechanical and/or biological process. What better way to get in touch with the divine than the highest experience this side of eternity?

It certainly though would not explain the Christian faith. My life would be a lot easier if I was not a Christian right now. (Ultimately, I do not think better, but the Christian faith is not a faith for the faint of heart.) I have left my family and friends behind and come to a new area and am spending money that I could spend on other things to learn about my faith. I am having to make sacrifices as well in moral areas as there are some corners I will not cut. I have to learn to practice self-control and learn how to love that person that annoys me to no end.

At the apologetics conference last year, Dinesh D’Souza spoke on the same thing in talking about the Ten Commandments and saying “I can think of three I’d scratch off right now.” No. If I was wanting a Freudian wish fulfillment, it would be somewhere else.

Loftus thinks this meaning is why we believe in God and not because of arguments pro and con. (Awfully odd for someone writing a book supposedly full of con arguments.) Now I’ll grant for some people, that is the case. For myself though, it is intellectually fulfilling to be a Christian. It does answer the biggest questions I have of life and I find a meaningless life to be a self-refuting position.

Now we can try to find an evolutionary cause, but it is quite amazing that an evolutionary cause is never sought for atheism. That belief is true for reason apparently, but for religion, you have to find a reason. Could it simply be a priori assumptions that are coming in trying to find an evolutionary cause for everything that they disagree with?

Tomorrow, we’ll look at point four.

Why I Rejected Christianity Review: Godless Life Part 2

We now continue with our look at why Loftus believes what he does.

The second starts with saying that if anyone thinks a non-Christian society can’t be good, they need to look at the Roman empire, the Greek empire, the Chinese, etc. (Interestingly, the Islamic empire is mentioned in here. This from the guy who in the paragraph before said that we need to be on guard against Islamic terrorists that are seeking our demise.)

Pray tell what made these societies such beacons of morality? We’re never told how they were good. Just that they are.  Now I’ll grant there was much that was good in these societies, but there is much that is better in a Christian society.

For instance, for all his talk about slavery, is Loftus just going to waive his hand at the passages in Aristotle talking about how some people are meant to be slaves? Is he going to overlook all the wars that were constantly going on in this time period? Is he going to say the Roman persecution of the Christians was a sign of a moral empire?

Instead, I suppose Loftus just wants to take it on faith.

Of course, he tells us Medieval Christianity would have had us all burned at the stake. Source on this? None whatsoever. Of course, when listing ideas in the Bible that show we don’t have true Christianity supposedly represented there, what is mentioned.

The dispute involving Ananias and Sapphira. (Lasted just barely part of a chapter and ended immediately.)

The dispute involving widows and food in Acts 6.

And how the Galatian heresy threatened to split the church.

Uh huh.

Yeah. That’s signs of a hideous moral depravity right there….

Loftus says he could go on and talk about the Crusades, the Inquisition, black slavery, witch trials, treatment of minorities, etc.

But he doesn’t.

Which simply means, please take this on faith even though I am not backing it and assume popular opinion which has no bias against Christianity at all is totally correct. (Kind of like how most people today believe the medievals thought the Earth was flat.)

We now hear a citation from Charles Kimball arguing on when religion becomes evil. He says it becomes evil when five aspects are there.

#1-When it has absolute truth claims. (Yeah. That absolute claim of humans bearing the image of God is hideous. Let’s totally forget that all claims are absolute truth claims.)

#2-Demands blind obedience. (No problem there.)

#3-Tries to establish the ideal society. (I suppose we should try the less than ideal.)

#4-Utilizes the end justifies the means when defending their group identity. (An example of this would have been nice.)

#5-When they see themselves in a holy war. (Not entirely. A Jihad is quite different from Ephesians 6.)

He ends this with a quote from Kimball. “A strong case can be made that the history of Christianity contains considerably more violence and destruction than that of most other major religions.”

How I wish this case could have been made at least in some part….

Of course, we have the argument from Richard Dawkins that God is the most unpleasant fictional character of all and attacks religion as the cause for much of the pain and suffering in the world.

As Dinesh D’Souza says “This is what happens when you let a biologist out of the lab.”

Dawkins knows biology well, but this just isn’t his area and I want to laugh when atheists say they want Christians to read the God Delusion. I wish more would. It’d give them a good example of pathetic argumentation.

Loftus says he just doesn’t see why Christian society is better and if we want to say it’s because they started charities, hospitals, universities, etc. we are told that these would have been started anyway.

Well why weren’t they?

Does Loftus want to tell us about the Hospitalers in the 11th century? (You know, that hideous time called the Crusades going on.) Does he want to tell us about how hospitals really began then and how exquisite care was given to patients? Does he want to tell us about the universities that got started during this same time period? Does he want to tell about the charity work going on in India?

But these would have happened anyway…..

It must be nice to make claims like that with no evidence. Just wishful thinking.

And oh yeah, these probably weren’t started out of altruism but to convert people.

Because, you know, you just have to make any good on the other side look really bad…..

More claims without evidence. Must be nice to live in that world. Part three tomorrow.

Why I Rejected Christianity Review: Godless Life Part 1

Loftus now describes what life is like without God. (To be fair, I’d think life without believing God exists. He has yet to experience life without God.) He gives us six points to discuss on this so my dear friends, guess how many blogs we’re going to have on this chapter. After 27 short blogs…..Nah! We’re going to go with six blogs.

Loftus does say that our lives have no ultimate meaning beyond this life. I agree that if atheism is true, that is the case. I’d say though that they have no meaning in this life. The only meaning that is there is the meaning that is created. That is not a real meaning though. It is a meaning imposed on reality that is in fact denying reality. It makes one think of those great lines in Bertrand Russell’s “A Free Man’s Worship.”

“Brief and powerless is Man’s life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for Man, condemned to-day to lose his dearest, to-morrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day; disdaining the coward terrors of the slave of Fate, to worship at the shrine that his own hands have built; undismayed by the empire of chance, to preserve a mind free from the wanton tyranny that rules his outward life; proudly defiant of the irresistible forces that tolerate, for a moment, his knowledge and his condemnation, to sustain alone, a weary but unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have fashioned despite the trampling march of unconscious power.”

And of course,

“Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins–all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

To which the late Christian philosopher (Ah. A hero of mine. Always sad to refer to him as “Late”) adds that the only thing Russell needed to add was “And oh yes, have a nice day.”

Loftus doesn’t think though that this means he shouldn’t be a good person who seeks to be good to other people. One wonders if it means that he should though? One wonders even how we got this idea of good? Is good a meaningless idea? If all that we see is that which can be described only in material properties, then yes, good is a nonsense concept. There is no good. Things just are.

One point Loftus wishes to respond to is that our morality has declined due to our having rejected Christianity. Now Loftus does accept that we are in a decline. One indication of this is that we are producing many narcissists in the West.

The irony of this statement is enough that I’m tempted to pause for an hour.

Loftus says though that this is because Christianity was a myth that united us and we just need something new to unite on. He thinks human dignity, freedom, and Democratic Capitalism should unite us.

Paging Stark. Paging Rodney Stark.

Sure! I have no problem with those! I’m a strong Capitalist for all who don’t know, but what is the basis for those beliefs? It’s not enough to just say that humans have dignity. Why should I believe such a thing?

Loftus also claims that the enlightenment has been breaking it apart piece by piece. I find that amazing since we’ve actually been finding more and more confirmation since the Enlightenment such as the plethora of biblical texts, the findings in the anthropic principles, new philosophical arguments that are being raised, archaeological discoveries, etc.

In fact, Christianity I would say is growing more and more. The ones who claim that it is dead will die long before Christianity ever could. (Which it won’t.) Voltaire once said that within a hundred years of his death, the Bible would be a forgotten book. Within that time of his death, the Geneva Bible Society bought a house of his and used it to print Bibles.

Rest assured, God has the last laugh.

We will look at the second argument tomorrow.

Why I Rejected Christianity Review: Atheism Part 3

Tonight, we’re going to look at Loftus’s reasons for atheism that he gives. I’ve already given my reason why I don’t think the universe is ambiguous. Apparently, Loftus does think it is though and somehow thinks it should be properly interpreted in an atheistic way. We’re mainly going to look though to see if there is any reason given for atheism.

Loftus begins by telling us how chance events can produce order and we know this.

It’s news to me….

Some example would have been nice….

He quotes Pascal talking about looking at the world of nature and seeing obscurity and how nature offers nothing but matter for doubt. Loftus tells us that it cannot be figured out with reason and initially, it can’t. Loftus tells us that the best we can say is that random chance events can’t be figured out in hindsight. Loftus accepts that nature is ultimate and the universe is just a brute fact.

Then he comes out and says “I am an atheist. There is no God.” Please take note people. This is phrasing the negative in an absolute. This isn’t the weak atheism that is just trying to say “I have no God belief.” This is the clear affirmation that there is no God. He thinks this he says because the universe is absurd and just can’t be figured out.

How many readers really think this universe is absurd?

It’s puzzling at some times and hard to understand but absurd?

For someone who thinks so much of the laws of science and how we have things figured out, to come out and say the universe is absurd in the end is astounding. If there’s something we don’t understand, it’s not the fault of the universe. It’s our fault for being ignorant. One supposes that Loftus would like to say what he knows based on what he does not know. Quite interesting….

Loftus gives an amusing suggestion that Christians are atheists to all other gods. He just rules out one more. Fair enough. However, we all do this as well. I am a non-believer in all worldviews except my own. I can’t say “I’m not going to believe my worldview.” If I say that, then my new belief actually does become my worldview.

Loftus speaks of his wife Gwen, who is an atheist also, and says her question is, “If God exists, then why doesn’t he show me?”

Pray tell why he should?

It’d be for the greater good for God to just have a grand revealing party? I don’t think so. I think God has good reasons for his supposed hiddenness and I’m looking for the atheist to tell me why God should reveal himself.

And I say supposed hiddenness because I don’t believe he’s hidden himself at all. I tend to agree with Paul. (Hey. I’m a Christian. Agreeing with what you believe to be the words of God is quite easy.) The creation makes the existence of God plain. It’s the brute fact, in fact, that Russell and Loftus both cannot explain, but somehow know God didn’t do it…..

In the end of looking at this chapter, I really see no reason given for atheism. Even if the universe is absurd, it doesn’t rule out the existence of a god. I don’t think the Christian God would work with an absurd universe, but it does not rule out the existence of any god whatsoever. Also, if Loftus really believes this universe is absurd, I urge him to live out that worldview. See how long he can be consistent with it.

I don’t think it will be very long.

Why I Rejected Christianity Review: Atheism Part 2

We now continue with the emphasis on the second part that the universe is religiously ambiguous. The claim is made of John Hick. The idea is that the evidence we see can be interpreted in anyway. Theistic and anti-theistic arguments are inconclusive. The evidences to which each appeal can be understood in a contrary worldview. Thus, we have religious ambiguitiy.

It makes one wonder if the idea that the universe is ambiguous is ambiguous.

Can this idea be interpreted in light of the notion that the universe is not religiously ambiguous?

Now at the same time, I’m not saying everything is cut and dry. There are still some puzzles to figure out. However, I would not say that it’s ambiguous. There are some interpretations that are right and some that are wrong. (Who knows though. Maybe Hick thinks God is postmodern and it’s up to the reader to give the text of the universe the meaning he thinks it ought to have.

In fact, I could question whether Hick really believes this. He interprets the world as Loftus says in the guise of liberal Christianity. Would he think I’m wrong? Of course. Would he give reasons? Of course. What’s he appealing to? The world around me. The only way he could say I’m wrong is that if he thinks his interpretation of the world is correct and mine is incorrect. I wouldn’t expect less.

This is the same with any work. (Interesting that at the points of Scripture, Loftus complains about NT interpretation of the OT. When it comes to the universe though, any interpretation is sound….) What is Loftus’s whole point about the problem of evil? That the correct interpretation of the world is to say there is no good God behind it.

Don’t misunderstand this. I’m not saying that he’s wrong to do that. I think it’s good to appeal to the evidence of the world in making a case. I’m saying that as soon as you do that, you are admitting that the universe is not ambiguous. In fact, you are admitting that your opponent should not think that either because you think if he is thinking right, he will see the correct way to see the world.

Does the world come with a giant label that says “Made by YHWH. Trust Jesus.”? No. I’m not saying either. I believe there is enough evidence in this world to convince a true seeker that God does exist and further that if he keeps seeking he will find that he has revealed himself in Christ. I also believe there’s not too much evidence so that someone can deny him, but I do not see that as rational. It is not rational to ignore the evidence that we have.

That’s my response. I don’t see it as ambiguous. I see the problem in man who often wants to resist that which is plainly set before him. Tomorrow, we shall see Loftus’s answer and how it measures up.

Why I Rejected Christianity Review: Atheism Part 1

Friends. This will be short. We had a friend come over and stay late with us discussing apologetics. This has been an exciting evening for me in many ways and a stunning one. However, I am fighting right now to keep my eyes open. Thus, I will only tackle one part of this chapter where Loftus tells us why he’s an atheist. Let’s see if the reasons establish atheism even if true. Please note this is also why he’s not an agnostic.

The first is the relationship between faith and reason.

Loftus starts by saying how there are two views that seem to present us with absurdities. Either something always existed or something popped into existence out of nothing.

I only see one of those as absurd. Guess which one it is….

The latter is treating nothing as if it is something. Nothing is nothing and something is something. Nothing is not something. It’s simple law of identity. They see it as absurd rightly because all things that begin to exist need a cause. (Hmmm. What about causality? Is it eternal?) Everyone believes in something eternal. I just happen to believe that it’s intelligence and personality.

I happen to enjoy how Sam Harris is quoted as saying “Any intellectually honest person will admit that he does not know why the universe exists.”

I find this interesting. The why question is raised rather than the how. This is something we’ll get to when discussing other issues. Why does the universe exist. However, I think an intellectually honest person can admit that he is sure how it came about. That is by the creation of God. Of course, Harris would say I am either not honest or intellectual or that I am ignorant.

That has yet to be established.

Don’t you just love this atheist game? We don’t know implies that supernatural explanations are already ruled out a priori. I have no problem with naturalistic explanations, but for the sake of argument, let’s suppose the universe did begin fiat by God at the Big Bang? If that’s the case, you won’t find a naturalistic explanation.

But you do enjoy the assumption that there must be a natural explanation.

It’s so nice to be a theist and not have to have a natural explanation for everything a priori and being open to both natural and supernatural causes and getting to choose which best fits the evidence. Good thing our worldview doesn’t pre-commit us before we study something.

Why I Rejected Christianity Review: Christianity’s Achilles Heel

People who have Loftus’s book will notice I skipped over a couple of chapters. I need to explain. Most anxiously, I’m sure some were looking forward to the review on the chapter on the Problem of Evil. I chose to not do that actually at this time because I have written a research paper on the topic focusing on natural evil and using Loftus’s arguments and explaining why I think they’re fallacious. It is being reviewed by some English major friends of mine and then I’ll edit it and turn it in and after I get it back, I plan on putting it up. It could be a month or two so there will be waiting. Rest assured though, it is one I am looking forward to.

There is also the chapter on Calvinism. I did not review that simply because I am not a Calvinist and I will leave it to the Calvinists to defend Calvinism. I will put up one critique of it though here. I was surprised because in all the writings that I found there, I did not find one quote from John Calvin. I would think a critique of Calvinism would include some of his statements.

For now though, we move to what Loftus calls the Achilles’ heel of Christianity. That is the difference between the modern mind and the ancient mind.

Odd. I find that the Achilles’ Heel of modernity. (What happened to that Outsiders Test?)

He says we must either canonize these standards that are primitive thinking, come to a half-way house in-between, or reject them.
Or we can just realize they’re not primitive thinking. It’s simply Chronological snobbery.

In speaking of the slave being beat for instance, Loftus doesn’t understand that discipline would be used at times and the owner was given the benefit of the doubt. It’s unlikely he’d want to kill a slave. (It’s also worth noting that this was for a theocracy.) Slavery in those days was hardly anything like it was in the Civil War period. In fact, it was Christianity that ended slavery. (Loftus. Go look up Bathilda, wife of Clovis II or get a book like “The Victory of Reason” by Rodney Stark.)

As for science, Loftus says science runs on the assumption that there is a natural explanation for every event. (Page 262) Yes friends. Watch that. It’s an assumption. I don’t see Loftus’s assertions here. I can see God working through natural events just as much as supernatural ones. Even with a grocery store down the street, I can still pray for my daily bread.

Let’s remember the main part though. This is an assumption? Can it be demonstrated? No. He takes it on faith. (Has he read C.S. Lewis’s essay on the Laws of Nature in God in the Dock?) Why should the world be granted as rational? Why should it be that my mind that is the result supposedly of an accident somehow corresponds to a world that is accidental as well? (For an excellent look at this, see Dinesh D’Souza’s “What’s So Great About Christianity?”

Of course, he complains about God in the Gaps. Loftus. Who was the first to despise the God of the Gaps idea? It was Christians! Check a Methodist layspeaker named Charles Coulson as an example. While I am generally against it, let something be admitted. If God did do something fiat, then we are not going to be able to close that gap. We should not ask “What is the best natural explanation for X?” but “What is the best explanation?”

As Loftus goes on, it’s more of the chronological snobbery that we’ve already seen and dealt with. If this is the Achilles’ heel, we are in good hands.

Why I Rejected Christianity Review: Hell Part 2

I hope my readers remember what I said last night. I said that when we discuss Hell, we have to make sure that we are being rational and not emotional. Let’s keep that in mind as we go through.

We start with Loftus speaking of Copan’s view as an evangelical conservative. On page 232 he says, “And while it appears Copan is trying to soften the horrors of hell, if correct, such a viw of hell is still a horrible fate for a loving God to inflict upon human beings. The punishment does not fit the crime, period. No thinking person should believe this is what our so-called “sins” deserve.

Unfortunately, there is nothing rational. There is simply an appeal to emotion. Loftus wants you to feel the way he does, and this is evident especially when he speaks about “so-called sins.” Let’s consider this though with the biblical revelation in mind and having its claim of God being who he is granted for the sake of the argument.

If God is who he is, then he is the most awesome, lovely, wonderful, beautiful, holy, etc. being that there is. All sin then is a denial of who he is. It’s an attempt to take his throne. It’s saying that he is not who he claims to be and that we are the ones who deserve that place. It’s divine treason, and I’m guilty of it everyday. Unless you live a perfect life, so are you.

What is God to do with those who commit this? Just say “boys will be boys?” It’s interesting that Loftus complains about the problem of evil so much, but when it comes to God judging and punishing evil, he complains about that as well. What does he want? God’s evil when he doesn’t do something about evil. He’s evil when he does do something about evil. Sorry Loftus. Sin is not breaking an abstract law hanging out there. It’s a violation of God’s very being.

He makes this later quote about God letting us go our own way on the same page:

“However, I find this almost absurd that the Christian God blames us for living our lives as if he didn’t exist, because there simply isn’t enough reason to believe in him over any of the other gods, or no god at all, especially when we usually adopt the religion we were born into! I furthermore find it absurd that God is so upset that we don’t acknowledge him. If he is omniscient, then he knows why we do what we do and why we believe what we do, and I fail to see how such a God cannot empathize with how we live our lives. We all do the best we can do given our environment and brain matter.”

I guess that settles it.

First off, Loftus is complaining that God is unjust. At this though, he needs a moral standard of justice. Where does he get it from? The very thing he’s complaining about is dependent on the very thing that he says doesn’t exist.

Second, he speaks of us choosing the religion we were born into. Was Loftus born into naturalism? He can’t use that excuse for his own beliefs. Also, is this justification? If I am born into a belief system that says that Hell is entirely justified, what’s Loftus to say? Is he to say I should believe it just because I was born into it? No. While we may be more prone to those beliefs, we are not locked into them. I’ve disavowed many beliefs I grew up with.

Third, God does know why we do what we do and if our reasons are no good, he knows it. If there are any excuses we could use for our sins, he knows them better than we do. C.S. Lewis has a marvelous essay on this in The Weight of Glory.

Finally, we don’t all do the best. Much of the time, we all know something is wrong and we do it anyway. If one reads Loftus’s book, it’s clear that he did this. I’ve done things I’ve known are wrong before also. I’m quite certain so have you. The point for us as Christians is that we are to repent and seek forgiveness and move on. Let’s not say we are doing our best though. We’re falling dreadfully short. (That’s what makes grace just so awesome.)

Copan also speaks of the gates of Hell being locked from the inside. Loftus thinks this is absurd. Why would someone choose the anguish of Hell? Unfortunately, Sartre said he would choose the same thing. In a work of his when he and others are in Hell and a door opens, none of them go out. They choose to acknowledge the choice of their freedom.

How would Loftus know otherwise? Is he saying he would be filled with overwhelming love for God in Hell? You want to know the joys of Heaven? The joy of Heaven is God himself. If you have hatred for God himself that you’ve built up over this lifetime, why on Earth would you want to be with him? Look at how Loftus describes God all throughout this book. He suddenly thinks it’d be a joy to be near him?

Loftus thinks if people knew the truth about God with certainty, they would change their minds. Not at all. There are many things we know the truth of any way today but do them. Many of us know that it’s wrong to cheat on our taxes, but it’s done anyway. We know it’s wrong to be lazy, but we’re lazy anyway. Also, this is the time we have to repent. We’re not promised another moment.

Loftus also uses the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. This parable is not meant to tell us about the afterlife per se. It is about how circumstances are differentiated. The Jewish person would have seen the rich man as having God’s blessing and the poor man as God’s curse. It is by seeing the afterlife that we see that that is not the case. Notice though that the rich man anyway never does repent and we have a strong statement about belief. If they do not believe Moses and the prophets, a resurrection won’t convince them either.

Loftus wants to know what if Allah exists? Sure. If Allah exists, I’m in a lot of trouble. (Taking Allah to refer to the specific Muslim deity and not simply the Arabic title for God. Christian Arabs could legitimately call God “Allah.”) Loftus says that no intelligent being would demand that we believe things about him in order to get to Heaven.

Really? How come?

Loftus says that this is an age of diversity. We tolerate many opinions. (Excepting the opinion that people should go to Hell apparently and the opinion that we shouldn’t tolerate many opinions.) I find this absolutely astounding. What you tolerate is not truth. You tolerate error. If we tolerate some beliefs, then we are saying they are false. If we don’t bother to have true beliefs about the most awesome being of all, how seriously are we taking him?

The remedy also is not simply to believe the correct things. The remedy is to believe and live them out. Even the demons believe and tremble. All Christians can indeed say with James that faith without works is dead. I am not saying that works save us, but that true faith eventually produces true works.

I said at the start that we should watch for emotional appeals. We have seen several. Unfortunately, the rational aspect was lacking. So we shall see as we continue.

Why I Rejected Christianity Review: Hell Part 1

This is a difficult topic to write about. It’s not because it’s a hard argument to defend rationally. I don’t think it is. It’s because there is such an emotional argument. I think Dwight L. Moody once said that you’d better not preach about Hell unless there are tears in your eyes. I also recall the day Saddam’s sons were killed and someone IMed me on PALtalk and was telling me about it and said it was such good news. My thought I told them was “It’s good that the terror they brought is at an end, but it’s sad because they’ve entered an eternity with no hope.”

That’s really my view. I don’t believe in Hell because I like it. I don’t. I believe in Hell simply because I believe the Bible teaches it and then of course, my Lord teaches it, and if I believe that they teach it, then I, as a Christian, am obligated to agree. I believe it’s just and I believe it’s proper. It does not mean I enjoy the thought of it. Still, I will defend the doctrine. We start by the three options Loftus gives us on Hell.

I will agree with the first view. Hell is not described literally any more than Heaven is described literally. I believe the fires and the worms described indicate a greater reality. They indicate the judgment of God. The remains of sacrifices would be eaten up by worms and the garbage of Jerusalem would be burned at Gehenna, which is where we get our word for Hell.

Hell is a cosmic dump basically. It’s where humans go when they cease to fulfill their potential. It is where God ultimately leaves people alone granting them their wish. C.S. Lewis was one of the best writers on this topic and I highly recommend people read The Great Divorce and the Hell chapter in the Problem of Pain. (For contrast of course, read the Heaven chapter as well. Peter Kreeft’s book of “Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing” is the best book I have ever read on Heaven.)

What about Annihilationism? I don’t believe that simply because I do not see my Lord teaching it. I see Hell in the Bible consistently as conscious punishment. Is language of destruction used? Yes. That language though more refers to ruin than the cessation of existence.

I also believe God is a respecter of the free choices of man and those who hold his image. He will let them live with the choice that they have made rather than destroy that which is good, which is his image. I see passages where the duration of Heaven and Hell are placed alongside each other and both are seen as unending. I also see people described as gnashing teeth in Hell, a picture of great sorrow, indicating consciousness. (For the record, I do not see the parable of the rich man and Lazarus as giving us the furniture of the afterlife but contrasting the view that rich people have the blessing of God and the poor have the curse of God.)

Lastly, there is Loftus’s view that it doesn’t exist. It developed among superstitious and barbaric people.

Now was the idea of Hell developed rather late in biblical chronology? Yes it was. I believe though there are shades of it, but there was never a need to expound nor really a place to do so. The message was simply on getting Israel back on track in the now and not on track for what was to be in the future aside from the coming of the Messiah.

Of course, readers know the real argument will be on the emotional appeal and how this is unjust. We shall look at that tomorrow.