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.
God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Heaven is a reference to the spiritual realm.
The word ‘hell’ was translated in the Old Testament from the word ‘Sheol’ which comes from an Assyrian root meaning ‘chamber’. It was regarded as an underworld for the dead, often called the grave.
Two words are translated in the New Testament by ‘hell’, namely ‘Hades’ and ‘Gehenna’.
‘Hades’ is the Latin translation of ‘Sheol’ and means literally ‘the unseen world’ or the ‘grave’.
‘Gehenna’ is however the word that is most often used. Originally the valley of Hinnom (Ge-Hinnom) was the area where Molech and Tammuz were worshipped and eventually became the place for burning the local refuse and was regarded as a fit symbol of the destruction of wicked souls.
The words ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ are symbolic in nature.
At the return of Christ only those that are dead in Christ (referred to as asleep) will rise with him (1 Thess. 4:16). It is noteworthy that there are only few that are dead (asleep) in Christ (Matthew 7:14), as this whole world has been deceived (Rev. 12:9).
At the final judgment, all those whosover was not found written in the book of life will be cast out into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).
The above mentioned article by Frank Schaeffer is a good example how distorted things have become in society with the media industry as the main culprit.
He is spiritually blind and the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:15).
In order for anyone to be able to understand the Word of God they must repent and turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God (Acts 26:18). Frank Schaeffer does not know what spirit he is off (Luke 9:55).
The Word of God is not to be interpreted (2 Peter 1:20) and it is the discerner of every thought and intent of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
For a better understanding of all of the above we invite you to read all the pages and articles of our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca
Seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7)
You have been deceived by Satan, AvdBerg. How you have been deceived:
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
You are not to read. You must hear the word of God.
Return to God, AvdBerg.
Jesus was in 'hell' according to Acts 2:31, King James Version. And that is completely in harmony with the proper original meaning of hell; grave, pit. Jesus was sleeping in the grave for parts of three days and was resurrected. That coincides with what he said about Lazarus after he died in John 11:11-14, "Lazarus is sleeping". So according to scripture you can come out of hell, as its simply the grave.
If today's leaders of the church had the same knowledge and were in harmony with God in the same manner that the leaders of the first century church were, the same miracles would be done in their churches that were done by the first century church.
It is not a case of whether something exists that the words "heaven or hell" are meant to describe really exist or not, but are those descriptions as taught today accurately construed from a centuries old book written in allegories and metaphors?
David said that whether he went to hell or ascended unto heaven God was in both places. Jesus compared hell to the garbage dump outside of Jerusalem where the fire was fueled by garbage. Where the real problem comes in is with certain fire resistant garbage such as pride, and condemning others to eternal torment when they have no idea of the truth of the afterlife and the resurrection.
BTW, In Islam there's a story written about a non Muslim man who Allah granted him paradise for clearing a road for Muslims to pass through. Allah is merciful even to non Muslims. It's about good and bad deeds. Allah knows your intentions.
allah is not God and islam is the deceptive work of the devil.
Allah is dumb.
Case in point:
Let me show you allah's great scientific knowledge straight from his work of art 'the qu'ran':
Do you not see how Allah has created the seven heavens one above the other, and made the moon a light in their midst, and made the Sun as a lamp. [Quran-71: 15-16]
And He completed the seven firmaments (heavens) in two days and assigned to each heaven its command; and We adorned the lower heaven with lamps (Sun), and rendered it guarded… [Quran- 41:12]
According to these two verses, the moon lies in the middle of the seven heavens, and the Sun and stars (lamps) lie in the lowest heaven. This means that the moon is further away from us than the sun and the stars!
Obviously allah himself is not aware of basic astronomical facts but claims that he created everything.
Example of allah's great math skills:
When a man dies, and is leaving behind three daughters, his two parents and his wife, they will receive the respective shares of 2/3 for the 3 daughters together, 1/3 for the parents together and 1/8 for the wife [Quran 4:11-12 and 4:176]
Doing the math, 2/3 for all daughters + 1/3 for parents = 1. But wait, give another 1/8 to the wife! This adds up to more than what the man had!
It's easy to see that this 'allah' character has a low IQ, cant do math, and does not know simple things such as the sun and stars r further away from us than the moon. Its time to give up believing in erroneous books such as the quran where imaginary beings such as allah are mentioned.
It amazes me that in an information age people still go to church or believe in Heaven or Hell.
'Set' or Satan represented Darkness, night, death in Egyptian mythology. The Sun represented Life.
Christians are ignorant of the fact that the ressurection story, which is the core of their faith, is based on the Winter Solstice. It is simply the ancient story of our Sun(Son), the 'great life giver' which between Dec 22nd and Dec 25th every year stops moving South on the horizon for 3 days then on Dec 25th begins to move North again. The new born Sun then Passes over (Passover) from death to life as it moves into Spring, bringing life back to the earth. This is why every Easter (EASTER(n))sun rises in the east) Christians often celebrate with a SUN-RISE service. Easster is the vernal equinox. It is when the sun reches a point where days and nights are now equal in length – it represents the Sun now passing over from death (mostly nighttime hours every day) to Life, (mostly daytime hours).The Christian day of worship is on SUN-day. The 12 diciples represent the 12 ages and 12 months of the Zodiac. Each Age of the Zodiac lasts approx 2,160 years. We are currently in the age of Pisces which is represented by the symbol of the 2 fish. This is why the bible has so many references to fish and fisherman and fishers of men. Every Dec 25th the '3 kings' in the constellation of Orion's belt line up or "follow" the brightest star in the eastern sky, Sirius. Sirius is located in the constellation of Virgo, meaning Virgin. The 3 kings in Orion and Sirius all line up or follow the brightest star in the east to the new born Sun precisely on Dec 25th morning. There have been 16 Sun Gods before Jesus going back to the beginning of recorded history. They all have the same attributes and share the same story.
I too used to 'be a christian' until I learned the Truth. It is true, the truth surely does set one free – free of ignorance, and the chains of beleif systems.
I find it funny that pastors often talk of truth every other word and preach on bible history and origins, yet never tell the truth or really teach it's origins.
I find it sad that here we are living in an information age, yet people bumbling like sheep every Sunday still are led into churchs to listen to lies and give away their hard earned money to continue to propagate lies to people worldwide.
One must investigate and begin asking themselves why it is that before the Jesus character came along there were 16 other Sun Gods with the same attributes.
All were born of a virgin on dec 25th and had 12 diciples and died for 3 days and were resurrected. before the Jesus story came along. Ever heard of Isis, or Amen-Ra, or El? Take a good look at the word Israel (Isis – Amen-Ra-El)
What is really sad is that dim witted, ignorant folks, even while living in the midst of the information age still fall for the lies of the Church. I mean seriously, pick up a book sometimes besides a 2000 year old story and read, learn, investigate, question what you have been told. It is a free society you know. We do have the option to do such things.
16 Sun Gods later, and here we are, the more things change, the more things stay the same.
"The christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun." – Thomas Paine
Check out the encyclopedia's explanation of the origins of Christmas and Easter...they all came from pagan sources. The bibles account of Jesus birth and death are a far cry from what some celebrate, and the timing is way off.
This is the dumbest line of discussion I've ever read. It should be are the tooth fairy and santa claus real? Just as valid. Don't waste your time, science is the antidote for the poison that is religion.
Intuitionists will always want something that science doesn't provide. We're stuck with religion, or worse – spirituality.
Why go into the belief section and read this article if you don't believe. Makes no sence to me. Unless you are seaking the truth?
To Beerfuzzman: reading this blog is like watching reality TV. You know its crazy, but it's a train wreck and you have to watch.
I'm a Christian and I've prayed on this many times and I've come to the conclusion, and I truly believe Jesus led me to this conclusion, that all people, no matter their actions, their faith, or lack thereof, will eventually come to be saved. For some it may take longer than others, there will be people who will go immediately to heaven upon their deaths and there will be people who must be made to comprehend the evil they've done on this earth whom it will take ages before they are ready to be in heaven but everyone will eventually get there.
I could not be happy in heaven knowing that anyone is suffering eternal torment. A just, kind God would not allow infinite punishment for finite transgressions. If you're honestly okay with the idea of billions of people being tortured forever, you're sick and you need help.
"saved" ?...saved from what ?
Putting that aside, I fully agree with the last sentence of your post.
Which Bible do you read. The Bible calls the condemnation the 'second death'. Dont be naive. There are millions who will be choosing hell instead of Jesus. Hell is real and permanent according to the Bible. Theres no return.The scriptures speak of it. So stop praying and instead read His Word too.
goinmad2009 Did you just tell another Christian to "stop praying" and simply accept your notion of what the Christian Bible means? Really? Wow.
The Mormons have the best definition of hell. When you see a couple of missionaries walking in your neighborhood, flag them down and ask them about it.
Only for new members of this blog:
In the video, the speaker notes that there is no mention of hell in the Old Testament. Now turning to a new version of the Old Testament/Torah, Abraham and Moses also were not really there either since both were apparently invented by the Jewish scribes.
origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.
New Torah For Modern Minds
“Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).
The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.
Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.
The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."
Why would they find anything. It says that during that time not even their sandeles wore out or their clothes.
Archaeologists have found many things. This liar repeats this crap on every story and it never has an honest or original thing to say. When you see the heading "reality" know that what follows will be anything but reality.
Obviously said rebuttals should be sent to the 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis.
I could not finish reading this one sided blog. It's someone's opinion, but totally misses the mark on Islam. If you want truth, read the Quran.
Little tip Achmed. There is a God. He's not Allah.
I don't know if there's a hell or not but I won't live my life in fear of it.
Hell is real. You can find out for yourself if you reject Jesus Christ and the Gospel. But be warned, you will never get out. Personally, I do not like the idea of burning in molten lava and sulfur for eternity. So I have decided to follow Jesus. I suggest you do the same.
Thanks for the early morning laugh.
Belief due to fear is a petty way to wield salvation.
Apparently you do not like the idea of learning anything discovered in the last thousand years.
Be careful Penny, he pretty much says if you blindly follow and have the wrong idea he's going to chunk you right in the lava with the rest of the infidels....hope you're right for your eternal souls sake. :)
Father Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous contemporary theologian, had a different take on hell. He reasoned that the Singularity 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.
It's a shame Father Schillebeeckx died a couple of years ago. Some mathematics would be nice. Was he ever up to it?
Best joke I ever heard:
A man reaches heaven and enters the gates of glory. He looks around and sees the vast variety of peoples of different creeds, backgrounds and religions. Over in one corner, he sees a wall bult up into a circle. He asks an angel: "What is that wall for?"
The angel replies: "Oh that the [insert religion]. They like to think they're the only ones here."
Just read The Egyptian Book of The Dead, this is all rehashed ancient text used to control the masses. Horus/Christ- same guy repackaged. Live a fair life, treat others as you wish to be treated, once your gone, poof, that's all you get folks. Everything else is pure, man made fantasy.
a nice comfortable religion that demands nothing of you. of course you'd pick that one to be 'true'.
I know evil exists in the world ~ it is out there for everyone to see on a daily basis. You can read the news or watch it on t.v. and learn of horrific, malevolent things occurring. I would hate to think that evil would simply be given a pass after this life and continue to exist in the next.
Hell served it's purpose during the times before guns, phones and cars. A few hundred years ago, it was difficult to remain in power when you did not have a lot of tools to get people to listen to you. Enter the clergy and their tool of the promise of an eternity of hell. Not much else would convince people they needed to follow you blindly.
I agree with you and have believed that for years. Religion was an early form of Governmemt. Hell was the punishment for breaking the laws.
Yet today, we continue to debate the musings of men written thousands of years ago before electricity was discovered, the earth was believed flat, the sun rotated around the earth, and god and the angels sat ontop the fluffy clouds.
This whole debate is nuts. And people are still going to war over it and killing one another. Those people create modern day hell for us.
I just laughed when I read Mark Driscoll's piece. Seriously?
Prayer changes things.
My daughter, 6 years old, has never had this god rubbish shoved down her throat and as such she is a very happy, healthy little girl.
Take your religion and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.
Oh and whilst you are there, take a look at all the other many many religions from human history and let me know why your religion is true and the others are false.
Religious people always seem to overlook the obvious – if you're born in a certain part of the world into a certain family then you will be a follower of religion X. This is the case for the vast majority of the brainwashed sheep out there – and yet you believe so strongly that your religion is THE ONE. What a joke.
I started off thinking this was a scholarly article about Hell, but quit reading after author pontificated about how Fanatic Muslims and Fanatic Christians want to send people to Hell. While it is true some Fanatic Muslims do still believe that to kill an infidel is good, Christians DO NOT want to "send unbelievers to Hell" On the contrary, to show love and compassion to your enemies is what Christ commanded...Don't overgeneralize stereotypes that are not even accurate
How could you have a scholarly article on hell? That's like having a scholarly article on Santa Claus.
I agree. I will expand on it ~ I think compassionate believers grieve for non~believers, especially the ones they know.
Saint Nickolas was a real person so you could have a scholarly article about him.
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.
So, if i stay plugged in i will live forever ?
What kind of being demands to be worshipped or else suffer eternal damnation in hell? That has to be the mother of all egos. Even if I did believe there was a God I would really resent being blackmailed and might even consider suffering eternal hell instead of being forced to worship some invisible God that demands my total obedience
Ever here the saying if you love something set it free? If there was a God he wouldn't be the egotistical revengeful God you guys worship.
You have no concept of who God is if that is your true opinion. Worship comes from an inner love and is neither demanded or forced. When you love God you worship God as an expression of love not as a duty. Hell is your choice, you choose to reject love there is nowhere else to go and you will have done it to yourself.
truth b... the point is, that those of us who do not see any reason to believe in a deity do not reject love. We experience love, we share love, we recognize love in our families, friends, partners and in people who are distant from us but who appear to live their lives in a loving way.
There is nothing in that book or in the deity that is presented to us in the bible that shows love in any meaningful way. Not one instance.
I would be an atheist as well if I believed in that kind of a God. The Bible actually teaches in Ecclesiastis "the dead are conscious of nothing at all" The Bible also states "God makes his sun shine on the righteous and the unrighteousness"
and one of my favorite passages from Jeremiah talks about worshippers making their own sons and daughters pass through the fire and God calls that "A thing that had not come up into my heart" or as another Bible paraphrases it "it never crossed my mind"
Neither does God want that kind of relationship with you – which is why each and every one of us have a free will. You may deny him, curse His Holy name, but that does not change who He is. I've searched for God for almost 58 years now, wondering if He is, what I believe and why I believe it. I don't want "religion", I want the truth. A few months ago, I read a book called "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist" by Norman L Geisler & Frank Turek. It answered all my questions, you are welcome to your own conclusions.
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.