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September 22nd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Different Takes: Should we abandon idea of hell?

Editor’s note: The new documentary "Hellbound?" explores Americans' ideas about hell. We asked two prominent Christians who featured in the film to give us their very different takes on hell.

My Faith: The dangerous effects of believing in hell

Editor’s note: Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times bestselling author. His latest book is "Crazy For God."

By Frank Schaeffer, Special to CNN

Is it any coincidence that the latest war of religion that started on September 11, 2001, is being fought primarily between the United States and the Islamic world? It just so happens that no subgroups of humanity are more ingrained with the doctrine of hell than conservative Muslims and conservative Christians.

And nowhere on earth have conservative Christians been closer to controlling foreign policy than here in the United States. And nowhere on earth have conservative Muslims been more dominant than in the countries from which the 9/11 extremists originated – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

What a pair George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden made! On the one hand, an American president who was a born-again evangelical with a special "heart" for the state of Israel and its importance to the so-called end times, and on the other hand a terrorist leader who believed that he was serving God by ridding the Arabian Peninsula of an American presence and cleansing the "defiled" land of Palestine of what he believed were “invader Jews.”

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So whether you're an atheist or not, the issue of who's going to hell or not matters because there are a lot of folks on this planet – many of them extraordinarily well-armed - from born-again American military personnel to Muslim fanatics, who seriously believe that God smiles upon them when they send their enemies to hell.

And so my view of "hell" encompasses two things: First, the theological question about whether a land of eternal suffering exists as God's "great plan" for most of humanity.

Second, the question of the political implications of having a huge chunk of humanity believe in damnation for those who disagree with their theology, politics and culture, as if somehow simply killing one's enemies is not enough.

What most people don't know is that there's another thread running through both Christianity and Islam that is far more merciful than the fundamentalists’ take on salvation, judgment and damnation.

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Paradise, which Muslims believe is the final destination of the society of God’s choice, is referred to in the Quran as "the home of peace"

“Our God,” Muslims are asked to recite, “You are peace, and peace is from You.”

Since Christianity is my tradition, I can say more about it. One view of God - the more fundamentalist view - is of a retributive God just itching to punish those who "stray."

The other equally ancient view, going right back into the New Testament era, is of an all-forgiving God who in the person of Jesus Christ ended the era of scapegoat sacrifice, retribution and punishment forever.

As Jesus said on the cross: "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

That redemptive view holds that far from God being a retributive God seeking justice, God is a merciful father who loves all his children equally. This is the less-known view today because fundamentalists - through televangelists and others - have been so loud and dominant in North American culture.

But for all that, this redemptive view is no less real.

Why does our view of hell matter? Because believers in hell believe in revenge. And according to brain chemistry studies, taking revenge and nurturing resentment is a major source of life-destroying stress.

For a profound exploration of the madness caused by embracing the “justice” of “godly” revenge and retribution, watch the film “Hellbound?”

The film shows how the "hell" of revenge thinking, and the resulting unhinging of some people’s brains through their denial of human empathy, leads them to relish the violent future of suffering that they predict awaits the “lost” in hell.

Do we really want to go back to a time of literalistic religion. Wasn’t 9/11 enough of an argument against retributive religion?

We need “hell” like a hole in the head. It’s time for the alternative of empathetic merciful religion to be understood.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Frank Schaeffer.

My Faith: Hell is for real and Jesus is the only way out

Editor's Note: Mark Driscoll is founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

By Mark Driscoll, Special to CNN

As a pastor, my job is to tell the truth. Your job is to make a decision.

When controversies over biblical doctrines arise, it’s a humbling opportunity to answer questions about what the Bible teaches without getting into name-calling and mudslinging. Near the very top of the controversial doctrines is hell.

What happens when we die?

Human beings were created by God with both a physical body and a spiritual soul. When someone dies, their body goes into the grave and their spirit goes into an afterlife to face judgment.

But death is not normal or natural—it’s an enemy and the consequence of sin.

Think of it in this way: God is the source of life. When we choose to live independently of God and rebelliously against God it is akin to unplugging something from its power source. It begins to lose power until it eventually dies.

The Bible is clear that one day there will be a bodily resurrection for everyone, to either eternal salvation in heaven or eternal condemnation in hell.

Christians believe a person’s eternal status depends on their relationship with Jesus and that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Our lives are shaped by the reality that “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

What does Jesus say about hell?

Jesus was emphatically clear on the subject of hell. He alone has risen from death and knows what awaits us on the other side of this life. A day of judgment is coming when all of us — even you — will rise from our graves and stand before him for eternal sentencing to either worshiping in his kingdom or suffering in his hell.

The Bible could not be clearer: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

These are not just obscure Bible verses. In fact, Jesus talks about hell more than anyone else in Scripture. Amazingly, 13% of his sayings are about hell and judgment, and more than half of his parables relate to the eternal judgment of sinners.

Keep in mind that Jesus’ words come in the context of the rest of Scripture, which says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Furthermore, he “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

God is far more loving, kind and patient with his enemies than we are with our enemies.

What does the rest of the Bible say about hell?

The Bible gives us many descriptions of hell including (1) fire; (2) darkness; (3) punishment; (4) exclusion from God’s presence; (5) restlessness; (6) second death; and (7) weeping and gnashing of teeth in agony.

A common misperception of Satan is that he’s in a red suit, holding a pitchfork at the gates of hell. But Satan will not[j1]  reign there. Hell is a place of punishment that God prepared for the devil and his angels, and it’s where those who live apart from God will, according to Revelation:

. . . drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb [Jesus Christ]. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night.

At the end of the age, the devil will be “thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Hell will be ruled over by Jesus, and everyone present — humans and demons and Satan alike — will be tormented there continually in perfect justice.

Jesus says, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. ... And these will go away into eternal punishment.”

Is there a second chance after death?

The Bible is clear that we die once and are then judged without any second chance at salvation. As one clear example, Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

We live. We die. We face judgment. Period.

How long does the punishment last?

Some argue that the punishment of sinners is not eternal, a view called annihilationism. This means that after someone dies apart from Jesus, they suffer for a while and then simply cease to exist.

Annihilationism is simply not what the Bible teaches. Daniel 12:2 says, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Jesus speaks of those who “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Grammatically, there is no difference here between the length of time mentioned for “life” and that for “punishment”; rather, there is simply eternal life and eternal death.

Am I going to hell?

The good news is that the closing verses of the Bible say, “Come!” Everyone is invited to receive the free gift of God’s saving grace in Jesus. Jesus is God become a man to reconcile mankind to God.

He lived the sinless life we have not lived, died a substitutionary death on the cross for our sins. He endured our wrath, rose to conquer our enemies of sin and death, and ascended to heaven where he is ruling as Lord over all today. He did this all in love.

The stark reality is this: either Jesus suffered for your sins to rescue you from hell, or you will suffer for your sins in hell. These are the only two options and you have an eternal decision to make.

My hope and prayer is that you would become a Christian.

Have you confessed your sins to Jesus Christ, seeking forgiveness and salvation?

If not, you are hellbound, and there is no clever scholar who will be of any help when you stand before Jesus Christ for judgment. You’re not required to like hell as much as you need to believe in it, turn from your sin, trust in Jesus, and be saved from an eternal death into an eternal life.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Driscoll.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Devil • Opinion

soundoff (7,963 Responses)
  1. Heather

    You might want to take time to actually read the Bible before you jump to the false conclusion that it isn't reality.........God is real!

    September 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Madtown

      Read the bible to decide that the bible is reality? Huh? I agree, God is real. But, religion is a creation of human beings, and is not.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Blessed Are the Cheesmakers

      I have and it is just as absurd as the books about Greek and Norse gods I read as a child. There is no reason whatsoever to think it is true.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • JT

      You might want to read the Koran actually before you decend into the flames of hell for falling for the false bible...you infidel.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Ann

      I'm always amazed at how many "true believers" have actually NOT read the bible. They just depend on what some preacher selectively discusses on Sunday morning.

      I have read the whole thing, in several different versions, and that includes all the really bizarre and ridiculous parts. It sounds like horse poo to me, when taken as a whole. There are certainly nice sections – love your neighbor, etc. – that are worth keeping, but let's do without the talking donkeys and slavery and all that.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  2. Louise

    And what ever happened to purgatory? When I went to Catholic school, we were told purgatory was kind of like jail. You stayed there depending on how much sin you had till you paid your penance. Now, it's just kind of disappeared, no mention of it any more. If you died with a mortal sin on your soul, you went straight to hell, no ifs ands or buts. It was a mortal sin to eat meat on Friday and to work on Sunday, then the church revoked that. I asked "what about those in hell from when those were mortal sins, is god going to let them out now?" They don't like being questioned. I not only got no answers, I left the religion.

    September 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • CoolIt

      You know, the way I perceive it, you're not comfortable with the idea of any sort of variations in the religion. As pointed above, religion is divine, something in which humans have no say whatsoever. For me, the biggest perplexity is the way all religions EVOLVE. What was forbidden fifty years back is perfectly acceptable and sinless today. And, for that, I turned to Islam (translation: Peace). Most of the Muslims of this era fail to effectively represent the religion that was preached by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Man tends to go astray. But surprisingly you rifle through what was, you go through what's now, and, trust me, you won't find a single change, a single minute variation. Read the English translation of the Holy Quran. It's just a click away. It makes a lot of sense in an otherwise chaotic and muddled world. You'll be gripped. Completely hooked to the truth. Good luck.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  3. whybeundead

    Sadly Satan still wins with the offensive concept of a hell where God supposedly tortures people for the mistakes made in imperfection. It is not our fault we are imperfect. If "God is Love" as the Bible says. The worldly view of hell cannot be. Every human who fails to serve God will receive the same punishment as the angles who turned their backs on God. Death, lights out, no Paradise for them. That is the end of it. Gods loving concern is that resisters are not allowed to spoil his kingdom. Very soon the issue of his sovereignty will be answered. And when it is he will get rid of those who oppose him. Everlasting cutting off. Not torture. Love and torture are not compatible. Such an idea that they are can only come from Satan.

    Whybeundead.blogspot.com

    September 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  4. Reality

    There is no god, no hell and no heaven so enjoy your life while practicing these three powerful words: DO NO HARM !

    Only for new members of this blog and for those who still believe in god:

    Father Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous contemporary theologian, had a different take on hell. He reasoned that his god does not tolerate imperfection in his spiritual realm. Therefore, any soul dying in mortal sin will simply disappear since hell the imperfect state does not exist.

    September 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  5. Truth seeker

    There are a couple verses that seem to be against annhilationism, but there are more than 400 verses throughout the whole Bible that seem to support it. Worth looking into?

    September 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  6. Billy

    Hell is living in a Muslim country.

    September 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • JamieL

      Or anywhere in the Bible Belt!

      September 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  7. Papa Nichols

    A lot of close-minded people on both sides of the fence who are so brilliant that they have everything figured out. Can we get some reasonable people in here that can admit that there are valid arguments on both sides of the belief/non-belief stance? Until we have absolute proof either way (and we do not), please stop your childish bickering.

    September 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • JamieL

      Like kids with Santa, there is some value in believing that God is real, it might curb people's behavior and such, but that is no proof that he actually is real.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Sarge

      That would be great, but there is currently ZERO argument for the 'belief' side. Absolute proof, for either side, is not required. But there is no EVIDENCE to back up any belief in any supernatural being. It doesn't matter how much you really, really, really want it to be true.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Athy

      Give one valid argument for the belief side. And don't use the bible; remember, I said VALID.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      That's as silly as saying that the argument for evolution and the argument for creationism are equally valid arguments

      September 24, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Ann

      There really is no valid argument for religion. "I can't explain it, so it must be supernatural" is not a valid argument.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Papa Nichols

      1. Extremely complex planet that perfectly sustains life.
      2. DNA, human brain.
      3. Science has yet to legitimately explain how life started on Earth
      4. Tens of thousands of Near Death experiences, many which contain vivid memories which can not be explained by the G force/brain under stress theories (e.g. meeting & clearly describing physical characteristics of distant relatives they have never seen or known prior to the experience) . A number contain non-believers who have rapidly converted to belief.
      5. Mathematical improbability of one person (Jesus) fulfilling such a large number of prophecies.
      6. A universe with uniform laws. Natural laws based on mathematics.
      7. How did the universe/big bang start? Just out of nothing?

      There is a start. None of them prove anything, but they are "valid" points, and only #5 being Biblical based.

      Ann, none of these point to "I can't explain it". They all point to a reasonable assertion that inteligent design may have occured....and to the fact that some of us look at this from a wholistic view....rather than just what "mommy and daddy taught me"....which is one of the many atheist insults on here.

      Point being for both sides....if you feel so strongly that you want people to see the light......insulting or judging (too many Christians judge) the other person is never a good strategy for persuasion or change.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  8. JW

    Luke, the physician aside, isn't it in part the lack of education of these men that is astounding? How were they able to put together such a book that has stood the test of time and many destructive forces? How were they able to be so accurate historically, scientifically, and prophetically? Sixty-six harmonious and accurate books written by some 40 men over more than 1500 years with one unified message and with practical advice that applies to life today but written almost 2000 years ago? What other book has been translated into 2,300 different languages? The Book may have been written by man but it is Inspired of God (2 Tim 3:16).

    September 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Dan

      So true, so true.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • JamieL

      How were they accurate historically, scientifically, and prophetically? The Bible teaches that pi = 3, the Earth is flat and that bats are birds for crying out loud.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • shazzar

      It would serve Schaeffer and his followers well to remember what his Dad told him growing up – the "big idea" that God has revealed Himself through the inspired words of the Bible. He can abandon his idea of hell is he wants, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Maybe he should reflect on Jesus' take on hell when he said in Matthew 10:28 "don't not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, rather fear him who can destroy both body & soul in hell."

      September 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Madtown

      The Book may have been written by man but it is Inspired of God (2 Tim 3:16).
      -----–
      Oh, it says right there in the book, that the book is the inspired word of God? Well, how could anyone ever doubt that?!?!?

      September 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Blah, blah, blah

      JW,

      The Quran says the same damn thing about itself:

      {1} By the star when it sets!

      {2} Your companion has not strayed; he is not deluded;

      {3} he does not speak from his own desire.

      {4} It is nothing less than a inspiration that is inspired to him

      {5} It was taught to him by one with mighty powers,

      {6} great strength, who stood

      {7} on the highest horizon

      {8} and then approached––coming down

      {9} until he was two bow-lengths away or even closer

      {10} and revealed to God’s servant what He revealed.

      {11} [The Prophet’s] own heart did not distort what he saw.

      {12} Are you going to dispute with him what he saw?

      September 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Ann

      There are many religious texts that have survived far longer. They've all probably been translated by now.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  9. whybeundead

    Whybeundead.blogspot.com

    For something pointing to the truth.

    September 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  10. What is the difference between Atheist and children?

    Children have adult supervision.

    Just kiddin..but seroiusly...
    Hell is real for sure. Just because we are scared of it, does not mean it should not exist. The worse punishment anyone can ever face is the mental and physical torture in hell once accountability is done and the gates of hell are closed on the person. The pain of this world is negligible compared to the pain in the afterlife becaue here we know the pain will go away after a while. So, who will be in hell? The answer is very simple – disbelievers in the One True Creator. These include people who take idols, humans, trees, spaghetti-mosters, money, power, prophets, elephant-gods, snake-gods etc. as their creator. So, salvation of human beings is to believe, worship and follow the commands of the One True Merciful Creator. He loves us, but do we really love him? The blessings of eyes, taste, ears, hands, legs, children, families, friends, comforts of this world, good brain, good other parts of the body, peace of mind and so on cannot be repayed even if you offer the person 100 trillion dollars in return. So, who gave these blessings to us? Our parents? Not our imaginary monkey ancestors for sure. Imagine if we enjoy the day with these blessings and go back and bow our heads in front of a piece of stone thanking it? Or even worse we deny the existence of a Creator? And just so everyone undestands, the eternal punishment is because the disbelievers have that firm intention to disbeleive. So, even if they had to live for eternity, they would deny their Creator. Accountability for our actions will be based on intentions.

    September 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      LOL talk about completely irrational drivel.

      1) All you have are assertions, and no evidence to back it up.
      2) Can't be afraid of something which I do not believe exists.
      3) If hell even is real, and belief was a rquirement, your god is an unjust thug.
      4) I do not make it an intention to disbelieve.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Chin Tu Fat

      No thank you Atheists, you are as intolerant as religious extremists. And by the way my forefathers were not apes and monkeys.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • MaryH

      What is the difference between adult Christians and children?

      Nothing, except that children KNOW that their parents are actually real whereas adult Christians merely choose to act like the children of a god they do not even know is real.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Chin Tu Fat

      hawaiguest, if you do not believe in life after death, you must be crazy. You know why? because there is no justice in this world. Hitler kills 6 million innocent people and dies a quick death. Where is his accountability? So many good people die without getting justice. So afterlife is true. It's like saying I don't believe the earth is round because I haven't seen it. No you idiot, you BELEIVE the earth is round because you TRUST the people who took pictures of it from space and showed it to you..So similarly, Muslims trust their Prophets of God (Jesus, Moses, Muhammad).

      September 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      I would agree that there is little difference between atheist's belief in god and children's belief in god. That is, not having one. However, if you see this correlation then you must feel some doubt as a christian.

      In Jesus' own words,
      Matthew 18:3, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
      and
      Matthew 19:14 "But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

      What I can tell you about awakening to the truth of reality is that, hell is the "us and them" world you perpetuate. Hell is fear. Hell is condemnation of others. Hell is self-doubt and needing constant reassurance.

      Heaven is letting go of those things and like a child, recognizing the beauty of life and the truth of oneself. You don't have to take my word for it, just listen to your messiah's words.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Apes and monkeys are two seperate things, our anscestors were not apes, they were ape-like creatures. Every demographic has its intolerant morons. The difference is that atheism doesn't have any tenets that promote inotlerance, unlike many religions.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Chin

      Whoever said that there must necessarily be justice? And even if there were, then eternal punishment for finite crimes is not just anyway. Either way, you still have not shown there is justice, and you have not demonstrated that 1) Eternal justice is necessary, or 2) That your concept of what you think is just is true.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Bill

      Hawaiiguest, how can you say God is an unjust thug? He's laid out the rules for man to obey and he's provided instructions on how to obey those rules. Furthermore, he's stated the surefire way to get to Heaven and that is to believe in his son. If your parents laid out the rules of your house and you chose not to obey them, would your father be an just thug because he punished you for not obeying the rules? I'm not sure where the disconnect is. Also, just because you don't believe something exists, doesn't mean that there isn't a real danger in it.

      Again, why are so many atheists in the "Belief" section of CNN? If you don't believe, why do you bother?

      September 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Zulqarnain

      I can't believe people still believe in complex living cells forming from lifeless gaseous matter by chance. Athiest are such great human beings that they want revelations sent to them about the exitence of God. Guess what, you don't make the rules. Arrogance is a bad thing and you are walking on the kingdom of our Creator enjoying your life while disbelieving in Him. I'v seen hundreds of sincrere Atheists and other seekers of truth convert to Islam because they made the effort to learn it from the right sources. The trick is to open your heart and come out of your little closed-minded world of science and proofs.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Blessed Are the Cheesmakers

      Bill,

      The god as described in the bible is a thug. Might does not make right. I wouldn't punish my worst enemy the way the bible says god treats "his children". I am more moral than the god of the bible and my guess is you are too.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Henry

      "beings that they want revelations sent to them about the exitence of God. Guess what, you don't make the rules. Arrogance is a bad thing and you are walking on the kingdom of our Creator enjoying your life while disbelieving in Him. I'v seen hundreds of sincrere Atheists and other seekers of truth convert to Islam because they made the effort to learn it from the right sources. The trick is to open your heart and come out of your little closed-minded world of science and proofs."

      Which god are you talking about since there have been so many in our history. If it's the Christian god then only 30% of people on this earth believe in that god. Time to come out of your bubble.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Bill

      Cheesemakers puts it nicely. And as for being here, you cannot generalize a question like that honestly. Everyone has their own motivations.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Bill

      I still don't understand how atheists can say that God is unjust and treats his "children" badly. He cared so much for the world that he sacrificed his own son for their benefit. That is basically what John 3:16 says. How many of you would do the same to your child for a stranger, especially a stranger that hates you?

      As for why people are here, here's what I responded before.

      I don't believe in unicorns or leprechauns as many in here have related God to. Because of this, I don't go to websites about unicorns and leprechauns and try to convince people that they don't exist. I typically don't share my beliefs with others unless I am asked. I feel that those "Christians" that yell on street corners and protest soldiers' funerals are not Christians. If you want to ask my what I believe, I will tell you. I don't, however, walk around trying to convince others that I'm right, nor do I judge others that don't believe how I believe. Most atheists that I know spend an awful lot of time and energy judging others and insulting them because they happen to believe in God and his son, Jesus Christ. Why is that?

      September 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Madtown

      he sacrificed his own son for their benefit.
      -----
      I'm always curious as to why there was only 1 son? God is almighty, created heaven and earth, could've sent as many children as needed. Why not a son/daughter, to be sent to all reaches of the globe, to deliver God's "good news" to all of God's equal creations? Why only a small sub-set in the middle east? Did God have something against the humans he created that inhabited North America at that time? Why were they not privy to this message of good news?

      September 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Blessed Are the Cheesmakers

      Bill,

      The idea that I am somehow responsible for original sin and deserve to be punished because of it. UNLESS I accept the blood sacrifice of Jesus. If I don't believe it is my fault and once again I deserve to be punished for a crime of thought. In our society we agree that punishing children for the crimes of their parents is morally wrong, and punishing thought crimes is wrong yet in Christian dogma somehow the same "crimes" are punishable for eternity. If the leader of a country acted in such a way we would call him a dictator, and that is what the Christian god is.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @chin tu fat: Why would you think there would be "justice" sufficient to punish a Hitler or a Pol Pot? Why would you think there would be ANY "justice" outside of the courts of law at all? What a silly notion! There's no guarantee of justice unless it's here on earth and is meted out by a judge and jury.

      What sort of nut-job would think that there's some "rule" that those who murder will face some judge in the afterlife?

      September 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  11. Bill

    I always find it interesting how much time atheists spend trying to convince believers that God does not exist. If you don't believe in God, why do you care if others do?

    September 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • MaryH

      And we can ask why Christians bother to share their beliefs as well, can't we? Most of us are very interested in religion and why people believe what they do, and all of us are concerned over the influence those beliefs have over others and how they affect our way of life.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Bill

      MaryH, let me put it like this. I don't believe in unicorns or leprechauns as many in here have related God to. Because of this, I don't go to websites about unicorns and leprechauns and try to convince people that they don't exist. I typically don't share my beliefs with others unless I am asked. I feel that those "Christians" that yell on street corners and protest soldiers' funerals are not Christians. If you want to ask my what I believe, I will tell you. I don't, however, walk around trying to convince others that I'm right, nor do I judge others that don't believe how I believe. Most atheists that I know spend an awful lot of time and energy judging others and insulting them because they happen to believe in God and his son, Jesus Christ. Why is that?

      September 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Bill, the prevailing theory is that because Christ beckons all men that atheists are, at the least, subliminally fascinated with Him. Some are actually overtly fascinated just in a negative manner.

      Their response is usually that they would not be so vocal if Christians were not trying to steer the legislative course of the nation. To this I say balderdash. Reason being they never want to discuss social or legislative issues or process. It's always about the Bible or Jesus or some aspect of faith which is beyond their comprehension. I have come to look upon their condition, in most cases, as a kind of spiritual mal-adaptation.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Blessed Are the Cheesmakers

      Bill,

      Because their belief has real consequence in my life. That is why I care. Now a question for you.

      You don't seem to mind when other believers share their beliefs even if you don't completely agree with them. Why do you care if unbelievers share their unbelief?

      September 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Bill

      How does my belief in God affect you? Also, I don't mind if you share your non-belief with me. I'm pretty open-minded and will listen to just about anyone as long as they're respectful to me and my beliefs. What I don't like is that most atheists try to convince believers that God doesn't exist by more or less telling them that they're stupid or uneducated for believing in God. If you want to go through life believing that God doesn't exist, more power to you and quite honestly, for your sake, I hope you're right.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • fatchubby

      Why do Christians care if others don't believe in Christ, send millions in sending folks off to missions and acquiring new believers? It can't just be for the tax exemptions really, can it?

      September 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Bill

      fatchubby, we care because we want all to be saved and we truly care about humanity. That said, at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter to most Christians if others believe or not. I think that's the primary difference between believers and atheists.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Madtown

      we care because we want all to be saved and we truly care about humanity.
      ----–
      This is arrogance. The fact that you think missionaries are necessary so all of humanity might be "saved", means that you think your way is the only "right way". In other words, christianity is the only man-made religion God finds favorable. This is ridiculous, and the height of arrogance. Very simply, if God found favor with only 1 way, he would've provided this way to be available to all his equal human creations on earth. The fact is, christianity is not available to all humans on earth. So, no possible way christianity is the 1 and only right way.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Blessed Are the Cheesmakers

      Bill for your sake I hope you have chosen the "right" god otherwise your fate will be the same. I don't think you are stupid or uneducated I just think you believe something without valid reason and are wrong. You belief can affect my life in any number of ways. People are so deluded with their faith that public policy is affected by it every day. Their are people in gov't that think we don't need to worry about the environment and it is based on their religious belief. Your faith helps give their belief validity, even if you don't agree with their specific belief. You are helping to promote the idea of "faith" as being a valid way of coming to what is actually true....it isn't.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      because believers use their beliefs to influence our secular laws, including denying people their civil rights (gays and marriage, for instance)

      September 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Ann

      Bill, I'll stop caring what people choose to believe when they stop trying to use their views to discriminate against others. Oh, and when they pay their fair share of taxes. Tax exemptions for religious organizations steal money from MY pocket. You bet I'm gonna object to that.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  12. SK

    we protest and saying stop the publication of anti islam film
    we don't defend to publish any kind of image of video of our Holy Prophet MOHAMMAD P.B.U.H
    ISLAM is the religious of peace and MUSLIMS don't act like others and are not doing these kind of things which hearts others as religous point.

    September 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • RK

      Then why is all of the killing around the world being done in the name of Islam? If Islam is peaceful why not stop your own people. Interesting how a political leader in Pakistan puts a bounty on a film maker to have him killed. NOT PEACEFUL, practice what you preach.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  13. derp

    Does god have a belly button?

    September 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      No, but he has a schlong that can reach Uran-us

      September 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  14. mdfaraone

    I can't believe how many idiots there are on this board actually arguing "where" Hell is. It is the same place where Unicorns roam free and Leprechauns cast magic spells,....your imagination. Heaven and Hell do NOT exist ,anywhere, PERIOD, they are constructs of the human mind. I can't believe how many idiots still believe in this nonsense in the year 2012 , in the scientific age, or the disparity of human intellect, some of the brightest most creative people ever born are alive walking the planet while at the same time a large chunk of the populace is still living in the Stone Age.

    September 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • The Eternal Satyr

      Well put! I think that those of us who are evolved, who know better than to place blind faith in fantasies like heaven and hell will survive this era of nonsense while those who are stuck in the Dark Ages will be left behind. Left behind! Ha! The irony!

      September 24, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Tell the TRUTH

      How do you know that?

      What we know comes from Jesus who came from heaven and went back to heaven, who is the Creator of everything.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • OneTruth

      TTT. The real question is how do you know that? Do you have videos of heaven and of hell?

      September 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • fred

      mdfaraone
      Your belief of Heaven and Hell is completely unsuported by any evidence. You fall into the Stone Age catagory as well.
      Abraham, Moses right up the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were not dummies as you suggest yet they acknowledged the Creator.
      There is a reason why only a very small segment of the population is Atheist. At a mininum step into the agnostic catagory and out of the stonned age

      September 24, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      ttt......good for you. delusion can be fun.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Still lying with your 56 signer bullshit eh fred? Guess you really liked Martin Luther and his "lie for Jesus" views.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Dan

      It never ceases to amaze me how atheists always get so emotionally charged when it comes to an article pertaining to God/Jesus/Heaven/Hell or anything having to do with Christianity. I wonder why you read this article anyway, let alone spend the time to ridicule it. If it is so untrue, fake, stupid or whatever, why go to all the trouble?

      September 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • fred

      hawaiiguest
      I thought we closed the story on Martin Luther last week.......
      As to a lie simply get out a history book and notice that the Declaration makes clear we were endowed by our creator and then closes in an appeal (prayer) to the Superme Judge of the World. Facts are facts these 56 were no dummies and they believed in a creator. Diest or Theist matters not.
      Even Jesus would rather you were an atheist instead of an agnostic. "for I would rather you were hot or cold" there is hope for those that care enough to commit to something.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • fred

      Dan
      Right on the money! Atheists are focused on Jesus and the Bible for a cause they themselves do not understand. Atheists are like sleeping cows and can be tipped over very easy because there is emotion behind their displaced thoughts. Like Paul who was passionate to kill Christians the passionate to die for Christ. Agnostics don't give a hoot so the devil leaves them alone.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @fred

      You're still lying, so I guess it's not closed. You may not like reality fred, but that doesn't change it. Just because someone says "Creator" doesn't mean it's your creator. And there is extensive historical evidence from the signers themselves to say with confidence that many were not christians, but deists. Start with the spin now fred, that's what you're good at.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • midwest rail

      So only people who think like fred and Dan should post here – I think I missed that memo.

      September 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Dan and fred

      Oh yes it has absolutely othing to do with the fact that the believers in that nonsense are trying to codify their religious beliefs into law, trying to use tax-payer money to pay for symbols of their religion everywhere, trying to get their nonsense taught in science classes. We should just shut up and allow the move to theocracy by the religious right?

      September 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • fred

      hawaiiguest
      I cannot recall the last time I saw a school book that did not imply church was for dummies and old fashion. The cool kids ar the ones that run around and make fun of the Boy Scouts and religion.
      As to higher learning just try and stand up for Jesus in any classroom and hold onto your hat.
      As to writting law I assume you mean marriage which is meaningless these days with the exeption of a small minority that actually follow Gods commands. If you are speaking about the rest of the laws related to marriage they all need to be tossed out the window as the foundation where the little woman stayed home to care for kids is long gone. No benefits to gays and no benefits to opposite $ex marriages.
      Hawaiiguest you can decide to put in whatever godless rules you like because for some reason your godless laws that you put in place are preferable to those believers may want. It will be a great godless society that only Stalin and Mao could admire because only a dictatorship survives when all freedoms are removed from a society. Only the strong can weed out those that do not conform. Yeah, your godless concept sounds great and is the result when those who lust for power remove God. That is because it is self evident that we were endowed by our creator with certain rights and freedom only exists when man gives himself to a higher power (Supreme Judge of the World). Not when the godless attempt to remove God and believers. Go study your history and know it repeats itself and the freedoms you enjoy as the result of believers in America will be taken.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " the little woman " ? Could you possibly be more condescending ?

      September 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Henry

      "Hawaiiguest you can decide to put in whatever godless rules you like because for some reason your godless laws that you put in place are preferable to those believers may want."

      The history of the U.S. isn't that great even when your kind was more in charge, they treated women like crap, the enslaved 12 million people – that is godless. And just recently we had a Christian president that lied to America and got us into a false war. So fred take your head out of your azz and get a grip of the reality of your horrible religion.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @fred

      Oh gee another tangent with nothing relevant, and certainly not addressing my posts. Who could have possibly seen that coming.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ fred – just read your posts – wow! You should post your full name – Fred Flintstone. Talk about a stone age mentality. What's that? You thought that the Flintstones was a doc-umentary – people living happily with the dinosaurs? Sorry, bud – like the dinosaurs, religion will find itself extinct.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • fred

      mdfaraone
      Not condesending at all that is how the wife was looked at when the laws were written. Since you think "little women" should be changed then we can assume you agree that all marriage benefits need to be tossed out that were based upon "the little women" who lived in a shoe.
      Bob and Bob should get exactly what Fred and Frederina get. Now go find some politician willing to do what's right

      September 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • fred

      Attack in your big undies
      When such a time arrives that more than 50% of the world cheers for the godless ones your statement may hold water. Until then don't get your panties in a wringer.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • fred

      Henry
      Here we go again where the atheist claims Stalin and Mao were nice atheists and it was the communist manifesto that killed off millions. Along with that twisted thought is yours where Christians did terrible things because the Bible manifesto is a terrible thing.
      Getting your facts straight is a good beginning. The Bible has nothing to do with the African Slave trade. We are to be servants and follow Christ examples. It was a sin to treat people wrong and a sin to treat people less than oneself. That is the way the Bible left it plain and simple. People misused the Bible just as Hitler abused the truth of Christ to bring harm to a select targeted group.
      The treatment of women in the Bible is expressly stated to put order and perspective in the relationship between God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, man and women. The man and women are equal under God. Love is the key and when the man loves God and loves the woman (wife) the wife honors the man and God with respect. You can pull a Hitler on this one also and use it to abuse women or treat them poorly which as you can imagine is sin.
      Now, the godless who do not love God will not respect the things or ways of God. Stalin and Mao are typical examples where the Bible will be replaced by a creed or manifesto i.e. communism. These men are godless just as Hitler a professed Christian was godless

      September 24, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Henry

      Good jb you got fred to go off on anothe moronic tangent. He only does that when he doesn't really have a leg to stand on.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Jen

      Yikes. If Fred is married that woman is the unluckiest woman alive.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • fred

      Jen
      You will find some muslim women who love to honor Alah and their husband by proudly wearing the complete covering. You find abusive men and kind loving men that are married to obedient wives. The kind man understand the relationship between God, man and wife. The abuser is godless in his soul regardless of religion professed. It does not matter that they hold onto 3,000 year old words what matters is how they apply what was written.
      This is how you know the difference between God and false gods because one relfects the truth that is known reflecting the wonder and love of the creator that said let there be light. The false always moves towards darkness.

      September 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  15. riller

    Religion is the opiate of the masses.

    September 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • ME II

      ... and political parties are the gateway drugs

      September 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  16. clubschadenfreude

    Is Santa's home at the North Pole real? Do leprechauns and fairies live in my garden? Hell is a primitive sadomasochistic fantasy created by people who want to get their rocks off hoping those that disagree with them will suffer torture eternally. Emotionally it's about level with the tantrum a spoiled three year old throws. Christians and other theists who have hells can't even agree on what those hells really are, just like they can't agree on what their gods "really" mean in their supposedly holy books. Yet more evidence that religion is simply made up nonsense created by primitive ignorant people to explain the world and to make themselves feel like special snowflakes.

    September 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  17. JW

    Interesting discussion. Rather than discussing whether a God of love would send people into torment for an eternity, shouldn't we be discussing whether we have the Truth about God? Where do you find the Truth about God? In his Word the Bible, right? Why not read the Bible for yourself and decide if what it says is true? Aren't blind faith and blind ignorance both harmful?

    September 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • fn0rdz

      Depends on which god you're referring to, I suppose.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • BobbyG

      The bible was written by men uneducated in comparision to today's standards. Looking for the meaning of life. The higher powers state and church saw an advantage so they told society don't question it. Its an explination of the unknown from back then. Prior humans like egypt and mayans had there own ideas to the afterlife. Life didn't start at 1AD

      September 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You'll find that many, if not most, of the atheists here have read The Bible.
      In my home, we've a bookshelf dedicated to theology. The KJV is but on of many Holy Books sitting there.
      I've told my kid the The Greatest Story Ever Told as a bedtime story, the same way I told her the tales of Arthur Dent and Frodo and the Ring.
      When we finish up Frodo, we'll move on to Gilgamesh.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Where do you find the Truth about God? In his Word the Bible, right?"

      No. You ask god yourself and ignore religious texts

      September 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Madtown

      In his Word the Bible, right?
      ----
      Well, the bible isn't the word of God, it's the "word of man – about some of his opinions about God". If God wrote the bible, there'd be no need for all the editing that has occured, as God is perfection. Human beings wouldn't dare mess with God's word, because it would be perfection. But, that's not the case at all. The hand of man is all over the bible, every single word.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • What4

      JW,

      What makes you think that The Bible is the words of a god?

      September 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • BobbyG

      fnorz... theres only one creator of everything. One supreme being to be simple.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • RobbyG

      And brother Bobby, that god is surely the Flying Spaghetti Monster. No other god could be as delicious, nor as plentiful.

      Pasta be upon you.

      RAMen

      September 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • BobbyG

      Right brother Robby, God is everywhere, everything, and very good.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Jose

      Using your same argument. Shouldn't you also read the Koran and every other religion's holy book? Why just limit it to the Bible?

      September 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  18. BobbyG

    Why do so many humans take what a man wrote as the truth. how many times has the catholics and evangulous and govt lied. Will we ever learn that man will lie for a hidden agenda?

    September 24, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      The agenda is not hidden, it is in plain view. Man's ego is so big some men cannot take being wrong or even questioned in regard to the reality which we all live in and why we are here. The agenda is to control peoples thoughts, and manipulate people through emotion and money. Some of these men will do it for power and money, some will do it for fame, some will do it because they honestly believe they are helping. some will do it just to hold up that book and justify that they are right. The sooner mankind throws off the yoke of organized religion the better for our species, we have laws that can keep the bad guys in line we don't need myths. We need education, we need community, we need activism and self accountabiliy.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  19. ROBERT RAY

    I am now glad to be barred from this post... YOU PEOPLE ARE NUTS

    September 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      ROBERT,

      Barred? More likely:

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters or some html tricks to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ---
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, sopho-more, etc.
      ho-oters…as in sho-oters
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      nip-ple
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-oon… as in sp-oon, lamp-oon, harp-oon
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      que-er
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sl-ut
      sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
      sn-atch
      sp-ank
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      strip-per
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, t-itle, ent-ity, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, salt-water, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      wt-f....also!!!!!!!
      There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).

      September 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • RobbyG

      ROBERT, so much use of all caps on your part indicates that you are not solidly in the sane boat yerself. Harrrrr.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  20. PAUL

    My Take on Hell and The Devil!!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw_zVjLhzcU&w=640&h=390]

    September 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.