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Archive for February, 2010

Tried To Be A Good Person

Q: I’ll be 89 on my next birthday, and I know I don’t have much longer to live. How can I know that I’ll go to heaven? I’ve always tried to be a good person, but maybe I haven’t been good enough. — V. McF.

A: Congratulations on reaching such a milestone! Unfortunately, we can’t know if there is an afterlife. In fact, there is very little reason to think that one does exist. The heaven that Christians believe in almost certainly does not exist. If you’ve truly tried to be a good person, you can take satisfaction that your actions and words have aided many people throughout your life and that you have served as a good example to your family, friends, and others. You should not fear death, because you will cease to feel and think at that point. Ultimately, you are the only judge of whether you have been “good enough”.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Q: Does the Bible say that some day God will take our old bodies and remake them so they’ll never grow old? I don’t understand how this is possible, since our bodies disintegrate after we die and hardly anything is left. — K.F.

A: Billy Graham claims that the Christian bible indeed says this, and without looking it up myself, I would trust him to be correct. However, you should not trust anything in that bible. The bible states the following:

  • Hares are ruminants (Leviticus 11:6)
  • Bats are birds (Leviticus 11:13,19)
  • The sun revolves around the Earth (Ecclesiastes 1:5)
  • The Earth does not move (1st Chronicles 16:30)
  • There is a “firmament” that separates the waters of Earth form some other waters (Genesis 1:6-7)
  • The sun, moon, and stars are fixed in this firmament (Genesis 1:17)

As these statements are certainly wrong, how can any of the bible be trusted? The Christian bible is also full of inconsistencies and logical errors. It advocates cruelty and oppression of others. This book should not be trusted, believed, followed, or revered. It has no credibility.

I am glad that you are asking this type of question. If you continue to question the absurdity, inconsistency, and cruelty of the bible, you are likely to conclude that it is nothing more than a human fabrication (and not a good one, either).

Billy Graham’s answer.

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No Use For God

Q: Is it possible to be so far from God that it becomes impossible for Him to reach you? I worry about this with my brother, because he’s never had any use for God and I don’t think he’ll ever change. — S.T.

A: I answered a similar question last November.

Q: Does God ever give up on some people? I have a cousin who just laughs whenever anyone starts talking about God, and he says he’ll just take his chances when it comes time to die. Several of us in our family pray for him regularly but he looks like a hopeless case to me. — S.Y.

              A: The possibility that any gods exist is extremely remote. The chances that the god you believe in are even more so. It then follows that heaven and hell do not exist and your cousin is not in danger of eternal punishment in any hell. Belief in gods and religions initially arose as attempts to explain the existence of the physical universe and mankind’s place in it and as a way to impose order and rules on society. Since these roles are no longer necessary (thanks to scientific discoveries and the emergence of democracy throughout the world), established religions attempt to maintain their status and power by dictating their (oftentimes ridiculous) rules under threat of eternal damnation. If the word “hopeless” were relevant here, it would apply to your belief that prayers to your god will have any effect on our reality.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Q: I really do believe in Jesus, but sometimes I wonder if it’s all too good to be true. What I mean is, how can God possibly love us and forgive us when we treat Him so badly? If I were God, I don’t think I’d bother with the human race, let alone let us into heaven. — G.R.

A: There is very little (if any) truth in the bible. It is both too good and too horrible to be true. It’s too good to be true because it says that people who perform horrible acts throughout their lives can repent on their death bed and go to paradise when they die. It’s too horrible to be true because it says that its all-powerful god not only allows evil to exist, but perpetrates mass murder and genocide. It’s also too absurd, too bigoted, too misogynistic, and too contradictory to be the true word of a loving god. If I were you, I don’t think I’d bother with any gods. If you consider belief in a supernatural deity and think for yourself, you are likely to reject any such beliefs as irrational.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Q: My boyfriend and I just broke up, and it’s really crushed me. One reason is because when we started dating we were both convinced God had brought us together, but I guess it wasn’t true. Where did I go wrong? Where was God in all this? — R.H.

A: You erred when you believed that your god exists and that it had brought you and your boyfriend together. Any relationship based on a belief in a non-existent deity could be unstable. Romantic relationships should be based on trust, common interests, physical attraction, and shared expectations and goals. I would recommend that in the future you rely on these as a basis for a healthy relationship and not any belief in a fictitious god. I would also add that many aspects of your life could improve by rejecting belief in your god and embracing ration and freethought.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Sex

Q: Can you give me even one reason why I ought to keep myself sexually pure? I’m 16, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t have the same fun my friends do, no matter what my parents say. But I promised them I’d write you. — K.S.

A: There a number of good reasons to not have sexual intercourse. If you are not careful , you can contract a sexually transmitted disease . Unprotected vaginal intercourse can result in a pregnancy. There may also be emotional dangers for young people, especially females. (However, a more recent study casts doubt on this idea.)

There are also good reasons to engage in sexual activity. It can be very exciting and pleasurable and can increase the level of intimacy in a loving relationship. Your decision to engage in sexual activity is yours alone. You should weigh the advantages and risks before you make your decision. If you choose to have sexual relations, I hope that you do so safely.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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Earthquake

Q: How do you explain something like the earthquake in Haiti? We’ve really been saddened by what’s happened there, and we just don’t understand why God lets things like this happen. Do you have any answers?
— D.K.

A: The different tectonic plates that make up Earth’s crust are in constant relative motion. Often this motion is impeded due to irregular features at the boundary (fault) between adjacent plates, and the plates deform over time. This deformation creates a large amount of stored energy. Periodically this strain energy is released rapidly, leading to the formation of seismic waves. When these waves reach the surface, they cause the ground to move side to side or up and down, and can result in catastrophic changes to the topology of the surface, severe damage to human constructions, and significant injury and loss of human life. This phenomenon is called an earthquake. Certain areas of Earth’s surface lie close to faults and are prone to frequent and/or major earthquakes. See Wikipedia for more information.

The recent disastrous earthquake of 12 January 2010 was due to slippage of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault. While this earthquake was sudden and had devastating consequences of human life, it was not completely surprising given Haiti’s proximity to this fault and history of major earthquakes.

I have heard many people attribute this earthquake to the work of a supernatural deity but this notion is ridiculous. If it were caused by a god, then it is a god that kills people cruelly and indiscriminately. Haiti’s capital (Port-au-Prince, the site of the earthquake) has a birthrate of approximately 130 babies per day. That means that when the earthquake struck, 130 day-old babies, and 3,900 month-old babies were subjected to its effects. Since the death toll amounted to about 10% of the population of Port-au-Prince metro area, it is reasonable to expect a significant fraction of these vulnerable babies were killed. An additional significant fraction were also maimed and/or orphaned. If someone believes that a benevolent god let this happen or caused it to happen, their belief system is completely irrational and their god is cruel and crude. The most reasonable explanation is that there are no gods that intervene in our universe (for good or ill).

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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