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Archive for September, 2009

End Times

Q: A few weeks ago, a friend gave me a book in which the author tells exactly when Jesus is going to return (and he claims it’s not far away). He says the Holy Spirit revealed it to him in a dream. Could he be right? — W.G

A: There is no good reason to believe Jesus will be appearing on Earth in the near future or ever. In fact, there is no good reason to believe Jesus ever walked the Earth or that he and his father god ever existed.

Certain types of religionists have been claiming that the end times or the second coming of Jesus are imminent throughout the last 2,000 years. (The bible itself seemed to indicate that Jesus would return during the lifetime of the Twelve Apostles.) Obviously, this has not happened. Either these people are delusional (even more so than the average believer) or are taking advantage of other people’s fears for their own benefit.

If you are a pet owner and still believe the Rapture is imminent and that you are likely to be taken to heaven, you may want to heed these tips about post-Rapture pet care or even hire this service to care for your pets.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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After Death

Q: What happens to us in the first minute after we die? Do we enter heaven immediately, or do our souls go into some kind of a sleep until the end of time, when our souls and our bodies will be reunited? I’ve always had lots of questions about heaven. — T.N.W.

A: No one can answer this question with any amount of certainty. The most likely answer is that you will not go to heaven because gods and heavens do not exist. After you die, your body goes through a number of biochemical changes. A medical doctor should be able to explain these changes in more detail.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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I’m happy to announce that An Atheist’s Answer has been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.

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Freedom of Thought

Q: Some people in our church have two sons. They both grew up in the same home but now they’ve gone very different ways. One is a dedicated Christian but the other is rebellious and wants nothing to do with God. How could this happen? — A.L.

A: Your friends’ children (and you and I and most everyone else) possess freedom of thought. Many people choose to use this freedom to skeptically question many ideas they have been taught, including religious beliefs. This type of questioning can lead to the rejection of religion due to inconsistencies in and lack of credibility of religious texts. A person who “wants nothing to do with God” is not necessarily a bad or immoral person. Most non-Christians (including atheists) lead respectable, moral lives.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Morality

Q: I know some things are always wrong, but what about situations where the Bible doesn’t give us a clear rule? How should we decide whether or not to do something that might be questionable? I travel a lot in my business, and I face this issue all the time. — J.H.

A: The bible is a very poor basis for a moral code. It is cruel, sexist, and racist. It advocates murder, genocide, rape, and slavery. For examples, see here, here, and here.

Developing an individualized moral code is very personal. Your moral code is likely to change as your lifestyle changes or as you gain additional life experiences. Before deciding on a course of action, you may want to ask yourself, “Will my actions cause harm to other people, their possessions, the natural world, or our society?”. You could put yourself in the place of someone who will be affected by your actions and think about how you would be affected by them.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Loneliness

Q: Our children almost never call us or come see us. They say they’re busy, and I’m sure they are, but it’s lonely and even a brief phone call would make us happy. Could you please urge young people to stay in touch with their parents? It may not be important to them but it sure means a lot to us. — H.B.

A: I am sorry that you feel lonely. People of different generations often have different value systems and this can sometimes lead to conflict and estrangement. Although these value systems may be different, one is not necessarily “better” than another. I would urge you to try reaching out to your children and to try to arrive at some common ground if there has been conflict in the past. In order to fight your feeling of loneliness, you could try interacting with other people in your area (via a community center or volunteer work), taking up a new hobby, or committing to learn a new skill.

I love Samuel Johnson’s wonderful insight into the age-old conflict between children and their parents:

“The opinions of children and parents, of the young and the old, are naturally opposite, by the contrary effects of hope and despondence, of expectation and experience, without crime or folly on either side. The colors of life in youth and age appear different, as the face of nature in spring and winter. And how can children credit the assertions of parents, which their own eyes show them to be false?”

from The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Q: Where did the devil come from? I suppose God must have created him, since God created everything that exists. But I have a hard time understanding this, since it would make God the creator of evil, wouldn’t it? Or has the devil always existed? — F.R.L.

A: This is a very good question and is often referred to as “the problem of evil”. It has been discussed and analyzed to a great degree. Why would an all-powerful, loving god create evil? It does not make sense. Click here to read more.

As a child, I was taught that Christianity and the bible were true, and I accepted that without question. As an adult, I began to question the validity of the bible and discovered that it does not make rational sense. This led me to reject Christianity and identify myself as an atheist. I urge you to continue asking tough questions like this and to not stop until you arrive at satisfactory answers. An increasing number of people are finding that there are none and end up rejecting the bible, Christianity, and it’s teachings.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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