(Today is March 8 and the Miltary Religious Freedom Foundation has called upon people to protest the United StatesAirForceAcademy’s action of using a malicious homophobic amateur website as a source for information on Jewish holidays. They had no problem in using a neutral website like about.com to use as a link for Christian holidays. It is a shame that the US Air Force Academy must continue in its religious intolerance and that its leadership still thinks that no one is noticing. General Welsh, homosexuals are allowed in the military now. Time you and your staff got over it.)
Since Mr. Rogers has apparently been unable to continue to educate me on how “wrong” I supposedly am or to rebut my demonstration of his errors, I thought I’d take one last look at his blog to see if I could mine it for a blog post. Getting my attention, telling me I’m wrong and then evidently running away when shown wrong just whets this leopard’s appetite for more.
I found a doozy “What about those who have never heard the gospel?” It’s a good lead into talking about heaven and hell and free will in this season where myths about people being nailed to crosses as blood sacrifices and first born being murdered by imaginary deities are so popular.
As a bit of an aside, I don’t believe in complete free will. I think we are beings limited to the physical and chemical laws of this universe, including the chemicals that we’ve been exposed to that form emotions in our brains. However, within that, I think we can make mostly free choices if we are educated enough about how emotions, trauma, heredity and upbringing mark our brains and thought processes. We still can’t decide to fly without mechanical help though, sigh. The title of this blog entry is a paraphrase of a very good sociology textbook I had way back when.
A lot of Christians and theists in general, have a problem with their god damning anyone who doesn’t believe in it. I’m glad they do since it shows that they are decent and humane people despite their religion. This is also the question a lot of kids ask when they realize that people aren’t all just like them. They have friends who don’t believe like they do and they care about them.
This issue gets even more problematic since belief is entirely dependent on where you were born and when. For example, someone born in Alabama, USA isn’t likely to have a Zoroastrian family or be taught Shinto philosophy. To deal with the problem of divine punishment, we have different claims by different sects. Some sects of Christianity go for universalism, where everyone eventually gets to heaven, even if they have a short stay in hell to correct them. We have the Roman Catholics who say “well, other religions have at least part of the truth” so maybe they won’t go to hell, but they certainly won’t get *our* afterlife presents.” Some think that God knows better than humans, and is only concerned if you are a decent, humane person and worship doesn’t matter. Some think that there is no hell, but non-believers are simply annihilated. As you can see, so much for one supposed “truth”.
In the blog post, Mr. Rogers talks about a book called “Letters from a Skeptic” where a Christian theologian exchanges letter with his father who is a skeptic and who asks the question above (supposedly the father converts). What’s amusing is that Greg Boyd doesn’t agree with much of what Mr. Rogers claims as the truth. It’s always a problem with Christians, they find something they like and then have to realize that the book they find really great is by someone who they are sure is going to hell. Again, I would guess that Mr. Rogers would decide that he agrees a little with Mr. Boyd, just like he thinks Mother Teresa was good too, though by his own sects words, she’s going to hell. She’s probably there anyway, considering that one, she was a hypocrite (link to the paper mentioned, in French only at the moment) and two, she admitted to not feeling any god at all. I do wonder how they can find the parts that are true and ignore the parts that aren’t. That ol’ magic decoder ring again, I know. It’s used on the bible so why not use it on heretic writings if you find it convenient?
Mr. Rogers, to his credit, acknowledges the problems that most Christians have with the idea of being damned for a very silly reason. He also mentions the usual problem with missionary work, that if you believe that people who haven’t heard of God will go to heaven since they never had a chance to reject God, then the worst thing you can ever do is tell them about God since now they can reject the idea. However, Mr. Rogers is sure that they’re damned anyway. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – who you are is where you were when, and that can get you damned”