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Archive for the ‘Freethought’ Category

Irreligious Perspective

Bavin Stach has started his own blog to continue to offer rational answers to questions posed to Billy Graham. Check out his blog, Irreligious Perspective. He just started it last week and there are currently 2 entries.

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Q: I don’t see how anyone could think that the devil isn’t real — not with all the evil that goes on in the world today. But will the devil ever be defeated? I’d like to think so, but the world doesn’t seem to be getting any better, does it? — G.F.

A: There are many, many people, including me, who do not believe in any devils (or gods, for that matter). There are common elements that are shared by many of the religions that have been fabricated by humans such as a creation myth, a great flood, the fall of man, the Hero’s Journey, a virgin birth, a messiah, and even a malevolent supernatural being (e.g., your devil). It is obvious to most Christians that the elements of older religions (e.g. Mithraism, Paganism, Egyptian and Greek mythologies, Zoroastrianism, etc.) are pure mythology. However, the Christian bible and tradition borrow heavily from these older mythologies. For someone who looks at this information rationally, it is easy to see that Christianity and the Jewish tradition from which it arose are also nothing more than human fabricated mythology. Therefore, the “devil” of which you speak is just an element of this myth.

I think Christian churches propagate the devil myth for two main reasons. First, they use the threat of eternal torment (at the hands of Satan) as a way to exert power and influence over their adherents. Second, they revert to blaming unfortunate events and malevolent actions on the devil either because they can’t explain it any other way or because they choose not to deal with the real reasons for these unfortunate circumstances.

As to your last point, I think the world is indeed “getting better”. See this post for more.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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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.

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

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Religious Education

Q: How old does a child have to be before they can understand the Gospel and make their decision to follow Jesus? Neither my husband nor I grew up in a religious home, so we’re sort of feeling our way on this with our own children. — N.M.

A: You seem to be implying that a child will automatically decide “to follow Jesus”. If that is the case, then this child is not making a an informed, mature decision but being indoctrinated into the Christian faith without choice. To be fair to your child, you should teach him about a large number religious beliefs including Islam, Judaism, Hindu, Buddhism, Mormonism, etc. without prejudice or bias and the history of the origin of these beliefs. At the same time, he should be taught about the many mythologies ( e.g., Greek, Egyptian, Zulu, Norse, Celtic, Mayan) created by humans over our history. With this knowledge, your child should be able to make an informed decision about the credibility of your religion and others. The timing of this decision should be left entirely up to your child. If you follow my suggestion, you should understand that your child may not choose to follow your religion. You might not like this result, but your son will likely respect you for taking this open approach.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Gloomy

Q: Are some people just destined to be gloomy all their lives? I have an aunt who is like this, and no matter what happens, she’s always pessimistic and looking on the bad side of things. — M.G.W.

A: No one is destined to be anything. The use of the word “destiny” assumes that some events or lives are predetermined to turn out a certain way. The problem with this assumption lies in the nature of the agency that willfully forces certain outcomes in our universe. To the best of human knowledge, such an agency (some may refer to it as their god) does not exist.

However, it is possible that some people are predisposed to certain behaviors or personality traits. The causes for these can range from physical (specific biochemical processes) to experiential to emotional. Someone trained in psychology should be able to explain this further. While you may not agree with your aunt’s outlook on life, you should realize that there may be mitigating factors that cause her pessimism. If you think that your aunt’s attitude is harmful to her relationships with others, her job, her well being, etc., you may want to help her identify the source of her pessimism or recommend that she visits a certified therapist.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Go To Hell?

Q: Every week in our church, we repeat an old statement of faith that says Jesus descended into hell when He died. But didn’t He tell one of the men who was crucified with Him that he would join Him in heaven? Is this a contradiction? What actually happened to Jesus when He died? — N.S.

A: There are many good reasons to doubt whether the Jesus described in the Christian bible ever existed. However, if there was a real person that the stories of the New Testament were based on, he certainly was not a deity, and he did not go to either a heaven or a hell after he died.

It sounds like this “statement of faith” is a piece of dogma that you and your fellow congregants are supposed to believe without question. However, I am glad that you are questioning what it says. I urge you to continue to question not only this statement of faith but the Christian bible and other teachings. If you approach this rationally, you will likely come to the conclusion that the bible is a collection of myths and superstitions and that Jesus and the Christian god do not exist. For more resources, see this post.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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Death Warmed Over

Q: What do you think happens to us when we die? I don’t think anything does, because once we die that’s the end of everything for us. I’m sure you don’t agree, but what are your reasons? — T.H.

A: I gave this response to a similar question last September:

    The most likely answer is that you will not go to heaven because there are no gods and no heavens. I would guess 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.

I agree with you when you said, “once we die that’s the end of everything for us”. I think many Christians are such ardent believers in their god and afterlife because they fear the unknown of what happens after they die. However, we will most likely cease feeling and thinking (and fearing) when we die. The only aspect of my own death that I fear is the impact on my family and friends after I am gone. I have committed myself to supporting these people in one way or another and I hope to live a long life so that I can honor those commitments and share happy, loving moments with them.

Billy Graham’s answer.

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

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