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Archive for January, 2010

Wild, Wild Life

Q: I work with a woman who claims to be a Christian but she leads a pretty wild life and doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with it. When I confronted her about this, she said it doesn’t matter how she lives because Jesus will forgive her anyway. Is she right? — C.D.

A: I have already addressed this same topic twice this month (here and here). To quote myself from the first of those answers:

    Many Christians believe that they will go to heaven only if they believe that Jesus died for them. … I think this is a lazy way for many to feel moral and righteous, since their actions don’t seem to matter, only their belief in a fictitious deity.

Three letters this month that deal with sin and redemption seem to be indicative of many Christians’ fear of hell and eternal torment. Christian churches (and I would guess many other organized religions) have always used fear as a means to control their faithful. I truly wish that more people would come to realize this, and break free of the oppression of organized religion and the irrationality of supernatural belief.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Filthy? Rich

Q: Is it wrong in God’s eyes to be rich? I’ve heard that Jesus had some harsh things to say about rich people, but does that mean you can’t go to heaven if you’re rich? I’m not a wealthy person, but do I have to give away everything I have in order to be saved? — K.W.

A: This is what the New Testament has to say on the topic.

Luke 14:33

    In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple

Matthew 19:21

    Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Luke 6:30

    Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back

However, I would venture to say that the vast majority of Christians (especially here in the U.S.) do not follow these instructions. The same point can be made with other instructions in the New Testament ( e.g., do not take oaths [Matthew 5:34], do not defend yourself in court [Matthew 5:40], love your enemies [Luke 6:27]). Living according to these instructions is near impossible in the 21st century, and virtually no Christians do so. This video gives some nice examples of this. These examples are all from the New Testament but there are many more examples from the Old Testament ( e.g., stoning rape victims, killing children who are disrespectful of their parents, not eating shellfish).

Modern Christians pick which parts of their bible to follow and which to ignore. They decide that some parts (that they do not like) are not to be trusted. As Christians, on whose authority do they do this? How do they make these decisions? I would argue that for someone who believes the bible was divinely inspired by a god, ignoring parts of the bible invalidates the authority of the entire bible. If these people thought about this rationally, they would likely come to the same conclusion. There are many other reasons to not place credibility in the bible. Once you accept this, you will not have to worry about giving away all of your possessions or whether you’ll be going to heaven. You won’t. No one will. It doesn’t exist. We can’t know for sure if some type of afterlife exists, but it seems unlikely. We can be fairly confident, though, that Christianity and it’s heaven are false.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Devil Belief

Q: I’ve always said I don’t believe in the devil, but we had a terrible case of murder-suicide in our town a few weeks ago and I’m beginning to wonder if maybe the devil is real after all. What happened just didn’t make any sense, and I can’t find any other explanation for it. — L.T.

A: There are many, many things that happen that are hard to understand or that don’t make sense. Some of these are awful (the murder you mentioned) while some are wonderful (inception of life on Earth). However, while these may be difficult to understand, they are not necessarily impossible to understand or the work of a god or a devil. Our understanding of the universe, our world, and ourselves is progressing greatly, and many of the things we don’t understand may be explained in the future. It may be easy to default to “God did it” or “the devil did it” but its not honest to do so.

What doesn’t make sense to me is why a loving, all-powerful god would create evil and allow horrible things to happen such as the Haitian earthquake, child rape, murder, etc. I also can’t understand how otherwise intelligent people not only believe that such a god exists but also praise that god.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Q: I have a friend who talks about having a personal relationship with God, but I don’t know what that means. I believe in God, but I can’t say I have a personal relationship with Him. Can you explain this concept? — G.R.W.

A: Since all of the gods known to us are human fabrications, it is ridiculous for anyone to claim having a personal relationship with any of them. People who make these claims may feel that such an imagined relationship makes them more significant. I was raised as a Christian and in the 30+ years that I believed Christian teachings, I never felt like I wanted or needed to have a personal relationship with God, Jesus, or any other imaginary being. For other perspectives on this topic, see these forum threads at EX-christian.net:

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Antichrist

Q: A friend of mine believes that the Antichrist is alive today, and he even thinks he knows who it is. Could he be right? What is the Antichrist, anyway? — D.McK.

A: The antichrist is a fictional character. It is usually described as someone who rises to prominence by promising prosperity to a particular country or society but who really has more devious motives. Since the antichrist is fictional, it is not possible that it is alive or for your friend to know who it is.

The antichrist character has been successfully used to make good horror books and movies such as The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Cain’s Wife?

Q: Where did Adam and Eve’s sons get their wives? I’ve heard people talk about this for years, but I’ve never heard anyone give a clear answer. — E.M.

A: This is both a good and a poor question. It is a good one to ask Christians because they usually do not have a good answer. They might say that Cain and Abel’s wives were their own sisters and that incest had not yet been forbidden by the Christian god. However, this is a ridiculous attempt to impart realism to a fictional story.

For a rational person, it is a poorly framed question because Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel are fictional characters. They never existed. We (homo sapiens) evolved over a long period of time from older Homo hominids. The evolutionary changes that occurred to produce homo sapiens from older Homo species (H. heidelbergensis, H. antecessor, etc.) happened very slowly and gradually over tens and hundreds of thousands of years. Males and females, of course, evolved along side each other, and so there was never any real situation where the “first humans” had problems finding mates.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Trouble

Q: Why do so many celebrities get into moral trouble? Don’t they realize it could destroy them? They ought to be thinking of the bad influence they’re having on people who look up to them. — J.D.

A: I don’t know that celebrities get into moral trouble (per your definition) any more frequently than non-celebrities. These stories certainly make the news much more frequently than if you or I got in trouble. We humans are excellent at pattern recognition. Every time you hear a story about a celebrity getting in trouble, it reinforces this pattern for you. However, when celebrities do not get in trouble (which probably pertains to most celebrities for any given time period), you do not hear about it, and the opposite pattern is not reinforced.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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