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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 • My Faith • Opinion

soundoff (7,963 Responses)
  1. KC

    Silly CNN.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  2. The Great Pumpkin

    Christ, Schmist! Allah Fallah boo Ballah! What a load of crap! I am the one true god, and this Hallowe'en – if you're not in the pumpkin patch praying your as-ses off to me – well, ever see what an omnipotent, infinite and very, very pi-ssed off pumpkin can do to your sorry unbelieving a-ss??

    September 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  3. Onetake

    Why do Atheists even bother to read let alone comment on an article like this? What's the point? I would think it wasn't worth your time. Nobody forced you to read it. It was your choice to click on the article.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Are you a moron, or do you just play one on tv?

      September 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  4. InAwe

    When I see another species...birds or bats, donkeys or dogs, frogs or fish, whales or wallabies, putting their hands/paws/hoofs/flippers together for prayer once a week, THEN I might believe there's something to religion and an almighty God. When other species voluntarily go 24 hours without food (or only eat after nightfall) because they're fasting, THEN I might believe. When I see or hear of spirits of my long-dead pets (or family or friends for that matter) revisiting me, or coming back reincarnated as something else, THEN I might believe. Until then......I will continue to believe that WE ARE JUST ANOTHER SPECIES...and when we're gone, we're gone!! The world would be a LOT happier place if others would join my 'philosophy'.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  5. haha

    "Hell will be ruled over by Jesus"?? If that is so then it's because jesus was satan who wanted to be worshipped and wanted to be "like God". Why would God want to be worshipped? Why would He feel the need? Why would God (or "jesus" as you say) want to watch His people being tormented day and night for not knowing any better and being deceived or abused by satan? And if a child is born somewhere and raised and brainwashed, or abused to believe some religion – does God love them any more or less? Are they not "saved"? Cmon now. It doesn't make any sense.

    If jesus died for humanity and our sins then why is satan and the demons still here torturing all of us? satan first came as "bhudda", then came as "jesus", then came as "mohammed" – satan's ultimate in deceits to divide, conquer and destroy all of God's people using pride (human beings' biggest weakness) as it's biggest tool. And it's working. We're NOT parasites, NONE of us are any more special than the rest and we're all LOVED EQUALLY. – ANYONE who is proud and says differently is speaking for satan.
    ALL religions were created by satan to divide, conquer and control all of God's chosen people (human beings) by exploiting our love for one Divine God above.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Smoke up much?

      September 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  6. idahogie

    The only thing worth debating is why a supposed news organization would waste time on something so lame. Unsurprisingly, an organization that employs both Dana Loesch and Eric Erickson really has no judgement. Who would have guessed?

    September 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Also hired refugee FOX NEWS executive Margaret Hoover who left no doubts about it by stating CNN needed to move to the right.

      CNN, how is that strategy of chasing the FOXian chaching business model of attracting a Joe SixPack audience working for you?

      September 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  7. This was a joke, right??????????????????

    "As a pastor, my job is to tell the truth"
    ---Mark Driscoll
    ahaha
    ahahahaha
    ahaha
    hahaha
    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
    bwahahahahahahahaha
    hahahahahahahahaha
    bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      I thought it was funnier than that

      September 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  8. hokmah

    Use fear and they will be conquered in their hearts and mind.
    Wisdom, knowledge, compassion will let you see through the veil

    September 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  9. Martin

    Only one way to be sure about not going to hell, wear magic underwear, don't eat pork, worship cows, pray 15 times a day facing all directions, do yoga, get your tethans checked, only eat kosher meals, practice vodoo and check the skies for mother ships just in case is time to get picked up. Feel free to add more as needed to have all bases covered.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  10. Larry

    As Christian, I have come to find out that The bible does not tell me that God burns or torments people after their death.This is a reseach work taken fom JW.org.. This question was a worry to me until Jehivah's Witnesses used the bible to help me understand what happens to us at death.
    HELL
    A word used in the King James Version (as well as in the Catholic Douay Version and most older translations) to translate the Hebrew she’ohl′ and the Greek hai′des. In the King James Version the word “hell” is rendered from she’ohl′ 31 times and from hai′des 10 times. This version is not consistent, however, since she’ohl′ is also translated 31 times “grave” and 3 times “pit.” In the Douay Version she’ohl′ is rendered “hell” 64 times, “pit” once, and “death” once.
    In 1885, with the publication of the complete English Revised Version, the original word she’ohl′ was in many places transliterated into the English text of the Hebrew Scriptures, though, in most occurrences, “grave” and “pit” were used, and “hell” is found some 14 times. This was a point on which the American committee disagreed with the British revisers, and so, when producing the American Standard Version (1901) they transliterated she’ohl′ in all 65 of its appearances. Both versions transliterated hai′des in the Christian Greek Scriptures in all ten of its occurrences, though the Greek word Ge′en·na (English, “Gehenna”) is rendered “hell” throughout, as is true of many other modern translations.
    Concerning this use of “hell” to translate these original words from the Hebrew and Greek, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (1981, Vol. 2, p. 187) says: “HADES . . . It corresponds to ‘Sheol’ in the O.T. [Old Testament]. In the A.V. of the O.T. [Old Testament] and N.T. [New Testament], it has been unhappily rendered ‘Hell.’”
    Collier’s Encyclopedia (1986, Vol. 12, p. 28) says concerning “Hell”: “First it stands for the Hebrew Sheol of the Old Testament and the Greek Hades of the Septuagint and New Testament. Since Sheol in Old Testament times referred simply to the abode of the dead and suggested no moral distinctions, the word ‘hell,’ as understood today, is not a happy translation.”
    It is, in fact, because of the way that the word “hell” is understood today that it is such an unsatisfactory translation of these original Bible words. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, unabridged, under “Hell” says: “fr[om] . . . helan to conceal.” The word “hell” thus originally conveyed no thought of heat or torment but simply of a ‘covered over or concealed place.’ In the old English dialect the expression “helling potatoes” meant, not to roast them, but simply to place the potatoes in the ground or in a cellar.
    The meaning given today to the word “hell” is that portrayed in Dante’s Divine Comedy and Milton’s Paradise Lost, which meaning is completely foreign to the original definition of the word. The idea of a “hell” of fiery torment, however, dates back long before Dante or Milton. The Grolier Universal Encyclopedia (1971, Vol. 9, p. 205) under “Hell” says: “Hindus and Buddhists regard hell as a place of spiritual cleansing and final restoration. Islamic tradition considers it as a place of everlasting punishment.” The idea of suffering after death is found among the pagan religious teachings of ancient peoples in Babylon and Egypt. Babylonian and Assyrian beliefs depicted the “nether world . . . as a place full of horrors, . . . presided over by gods and demons of great strength and fierceness.” Although ancient Egyptian religious texts do not teach that the burning of any individual victim would go on forever, they do portray the “Other World” as featuring “pits of fire” for “the damned.”—The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, by Morris Jastrow, Jr., 1898, p. 581; The Book of the Dead, with introduction by E. Wallis Budge, 1960, pp. 135, 144, 149, 151, 153, 161, 200.
    “Hellfire” has been a basic teaching in Christendom for many centuries. It is understandable why The Encyclopedia Americana (1956, Vol. XIV, p. 81) said: “Much confusion and misunderstanding has been caused through the early translators of the Bible persistently rendering the Hebrew Sheol and the Greek Hades and Gehenna by the word hell. The simple transliteration of these words by the translators of the revised editions of the Bible has not sufficed to appreciably clear up this confusion and misconception.” Nevertheless, such transliteration and consistent rendering does enable the Bible student to make an accurate comparison of the texts in which these original words appear and, with open mind, thereby to arrive at a correct understanding of their true significance.—See GEHENNA; GRAVE; HADES; SHEOL; TARTARUS.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Cooo-coo, coo-coo, coo-coo! And I'm not talking about the clock

      September 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • K from AZ

      Hate to be the ,messenger of bad news but, 'jehova's witnesses' is not Christian but a cult! First off they do not believe in the Triune God! End of discussion!

      September 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I'm sorry, "Larry", but all of your assertions regarding everything are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • hal 9001

      Evidently another ent'ity is using my ent'ity alias. However, I have reviewed the assertions by "HeavenSent" made to this post as a reply and have found no falsehoods nor unfounded statements.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • End Religion

      Spending your life and wasting your brain power on this minutiae is hilarious. Everyone thinks their flavour of religion is the only true one. The probablility of any one of those actually being true is tiny, even if we were to conceed that one of them *is* true.

      If Green Eggs & Ham were your choice of fiction on which to spend your life worshiping and arguing minutiae, there's be hundreds of branches in disagreement over what shade of Green is the real one. I'll give you a head start...

      A

      Ao (color)
      Army green
      Asparagus (color)
      Avocado (color)

      B

      Blue-green
      Bright green
      British racing green

      C

      Camouflage green
      Chartreuse (color)
      Citrine (colour)
      Cyan

      D

      Dartmouth green

      E

      Electric green
      Emerald (color)

      F

      Fern green
      Forest green
      Forest green (color)

      G

      Gray-asparagus
      Green-yellow

      H

      Harlequin (color)

      H cont.

      Honeydew (color)
      Hunter green

      I

      India green
      Islamic green

      J

      Jade
      Jade (color)
      Jungle green

      K

      Kelly green

      L

      Lime (color)
      Lime green
      Lincoln green
      List of colors

      M

      Midnight green
      Moss green
      MSU Green
      Myrtle (color)

      O

      Office green
      Olive (color)
      Olive drab
      Olive Drab

      P

      Paris Green

      P cont.

      Pear (color)
      Persian green
      Phthalocyanine Green G
      Pigment green
      Pine green

      R

      Rifle green

      S

      Sacramento State green
      Sap green
      Sea green
      Shamrock green
      Spring bud
      Spring green

      T

      Tea green
      Teal
      Turquoise (color)

      U

      UP Forest green

      V

      Shades of green
      Verdigris
      Vert
      Viridian

      Y

      Yellow-green

      September 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Religion equivalent of technobabble.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  11. Chris

    Hell is as imaginary as any religion, in other news, sky appears blue to most people.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • End Religion

      i thought it was occasionally white with big blue splotches?

      September 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  12. Martin

    There is nothing to discuss: There is no evidence for the existence hell. The end.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • K from AZ

      We'll see on 'judgement day'!

      September 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      No way, because Sarah Conner will avery judgment day!

      September 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Or perhaps she will avert it

      September 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • End Religion

      @KAZ: you're not paying attention. There will be no judgement day for anyone to learn anything about the non-existent hell.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • j

      martin

      read God's word "The Bible" Luke 16: verses 19-31. the parable that Jesus Christ told, The rich man and Lazarus

      September 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  13. Ed Sr of Dallas Tx

    I for one can physically PROVE there is a HELL..........I have a wife and 5 kids and they are all nuts! I am in HELL!

    September 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  14. Ben Dover

    Next on CNN: Is the Tooth Fairy for real?

    September 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Alex

      I know Santa is! I see him and his spirit every year around christmas. Santa SAVES!! Believe in Santa, or there will be a lump of coal for you this year.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  15. The Myth

    Is CNN and it's minions of trolls for real?

    My response is the same to everyone. "When you're dead you'll have your answer!" (TM)

    September 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • This was a joke, right??????????????????

      you didnt think your response through very well, did you?

      September 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  16. moe smith

    if Romney becomes president, then yes, Hell will become a reality.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  17. DJones

    Mark Driscoll hit the nail on the head and clears up the misconceptions and ignorance that so many have about sin, hell, heaven, salvation, and God.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • John

      Yes, there will be gnashing of teeth... and, if you don't have any, then teeth will be provided for you to gnash! :-)

      Come on, do you really believe all this stuff?

      September 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Please explain why his version of myth is actually true and no just a baseless assertion. Any reference to the bible as an authority on his question is irrelevant.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  18. Rosa Toussaint

    For me it's not so much the fear of hell that motivates me to get closer to God. It's my way to let Him know that I believe that He is real, created me and wants the best for me. I will never be able to pay Him for all He has done for me. It's all about what you have experienced with God!!!!

    September 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Ken

      How do you know he's real? Why him and not one of the thousands of other gods people have worshipped throughout the ages?

      September 23, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  19. Bill the Deist

    There was too much evidence for an omnipotent, intelligent designer for me not to believe in God, but too much BS in the religion business for me to label myself as a particular denomination. This is why I chose to be a deist. Deism: Belief in a God (based on reason and nature alone) who set creation/evolution in motion, then chose to step back and observe. Does not believe in the legitimacy of any religions or the bible for that matter (as it was written and edited by man). I was asked for an example of the evidence for an intelligent designer. Well here's one of my favorites. Enjoy.
    The following is an excerpt from a speech made by Thomas Paine to the Society of Theophilanthropists in Paris, France, shortly after the French Revolution:

    In the first place, admitting matter to have properties, as we see it has, the question still remains, how came matter by those properties? To this they will answer, that matter possessed those properties eternally. This is not solution, but a-ssertion; and to deny it is as impossible of proof as to a-ssert it.

    It is then necessary to go further; and therefore I say – if there exist a circ-umstance that is not a property of matter, and without which the universe, or to speak in a limited degree, the solar system composed of planets and a sun, could not exist a moment, all the arguments of atheism, drawn from properties of matter, and applied to account for the universe, will be overthrown, and the existence of a superior cause, or that which man calls God, becomes discoverable, as is before said, by natural philosophy.

    I go now to show that such a circ-umstance exists, and what it is.

    The universe is composed of matter, and, as a system, is sustained by motion. Motion is not a property of matter, and without this motion, the solar system could not exist. Were motion a property of matter, that undiscovered and undiscoverable thing called perpetual motion would establish itself.

    It is because motion is not a property of matter, that perpetual motion is an impossibility in the hand of every being but that of the Creator of motion. When the pretenders to atheism can produce perpetual motion, and not till then, they may expect to be credited.

    The natural state of matter, as to place, is a state of rest. Motion, or change of place, is the effect of an external cause acting upon matter. As to that faculty of matter that is called gravitation, it is the influence which two or more bodies have reciprocally on each other to unite and be at rest. Everything which has hitherto been discovered, with respect to the motion of the planets in the system, relates only to the laws by which motion acts, and not to the cause of motion.

    Gravitation, so far from being the cause of motion to the planets that compose the solar system, would be the destruction of the solar system, were revolutionary motion to cease; for as the action of spinning upholds a top, the revolutionary motion upholds the planets in their orbits, and prevents them from gravitating and forming one ma-ss with the sun. In one sense of the word, philosophy knows, and atheism says, that matter is in perpetual motion.

    But the motion here meant refers to the state of matter, and that only on the surface of the Earth. It is either decomposition, which is continually destroying the form of bodies of matter, or recomposition, which renews that matter in the same or another form, as the decomposition of animal or vegetable substances enters into the composition of other bodies.

    But the motion that upholds the solar system, is of an entirely different kind, and is not a property of matter. It operates also to an entirely different effect. It operates to perpetual preservation, and to prevent any change in the state of the system.

    Giving then to matter all the properties which philosophy knows it has, or all that atheism ascribes to it, and can prove, and even supposing matter to be eternal, it will not account for the system of the universe, or of the solar system, because it will not account for motion, and it is motion that preserves it.

    When, therefore, we discover a circ-umstance of such immense importance, that without it the universe could not exist, and for which neither matter, nor any nor all the properties can account, we are by necessity forced into the rational conformable belief of the existence of a cause superior to matter, and that cause man calls GOD.

    As to that which is called nature, it is no other than the laws by which motion and action of every kind, with respect to unintelligible matter, are regulated. And when we speak of looking through nature up to nature's God, we speak philosophically the same rational language as when we speak of looking through human laws up to the power that ordained them.

    God is the power of first cause, nature is the law, and matter is the subject acted upon.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      A deistic and a non-existent god have the same effect.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • moe smith

      As opposed to an omnipotent refukintarded idiotic designer?

      September 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • lotrowardrobe

      Deism is at least intellectually more honest than atheism, but I would still ask yourself the question: If Jesus Christ really is the Son of God, and came to offer you an opportunity to enter into the family of a Loving Creator, would you want to know about it? If not, then skip the rest of this post. But if so, then there is an opportunity to investigate this for yourself without anyone asking to suspend your critical thinking skills. Read "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses:The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony." Through an understanding of Greco-Roman historicity, you can investigate the perspectives of Traditional Christianity without asking you to accept things on "blind faith". It is an excellent resource for people who have a sincere desire to pursue an intellectual investigation of the authenticity of Judeo-Christianity.

      Best wishes in your pursuit of Truth.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Bill the Deist

      I agree completely. A deistic God isn't meant to have an "effect". He set creation/evolution in motion, then took a step back and watched the fireworks. He doesn't interfere with our day-to-day lives nor does he demand sacrifice or homage. He just... is.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Ken

      What "evidence" do you have for there being a God? I've heard this claim many, many times, but it has always boiled down to people just "feeling" that God must exist. What do you have that's any different?

      September 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Bill the Deist

      Obviously you didn't read or fully understand my post Ken. I posted a speech made by Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of the United States, in which he presented an argument that completely debunked the religion of Athiesm in one sitting, and providing rational and specific proof for the existence of a "God".

      September 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • chicago7

      @Bill the Deist
      Re: your reply to Ken. Except for the part of Paine's argument that rests on the premise that the properties of matter and motion are not related, not both a part of the physical universe. Which they are. I believe in God too, but Paine's argument is not proof of the existence of God to anyone with a middle-school understanding of science.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Bill the Deist

      Lotrowardrobe, I appreciate the intelligent reply. I do believe in Jesus and that he was the son of God, a belief shared by many Deists (often called Christian Deists). I was born into a life of Christianity, went to church 2-3 times a week, read the bible (in its entirety) 4 times, and went to a Christian private school most of my childhood. It was after experiencing all of this... that I decided I couldn't believe in the God that the Bible depicts... one who... murders innocent babies (Exodus 11:5), performs hate crimes against gays (Lev.20:13), and commits acts of mass genocide (Genesis 6:13). Speaking of the flood, according to the Bible, the flood was essentially God's means of erasing his mistake, yet the fundamental concept behind God is that he doesn't make mistakes. Make a God bleed, and people will cease to believe in Him. These reasons and more are why I could NOT continue to believe in the God portrayed in the Bible (a book written and edited by man), yet, deep inside I knew I believed He existed based on all I've seen and experienced. I do believe in Jesus, I just don't believe my God is the a-ssh-ole depicted in the scriptures.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bill the Deist

      Chicago7, I concede to your speech made before a Society of Theophilanthropists which speaks to the contrary.

      September 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • ImranIgra

      You need to simplify it more.it incoherent.

      September 23, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  20. hindu source of hindufilthyracism.

    Only by hindu absurdity of a hindu, hindu and pagan. Filthy Christian Captain Crunch dog. Filthy pagan hindu pig dog. Filthy Randy Jackson dog. Filthy hebrew national beef dog. Filthy Ron Jeremy foot-long dog.

    NO DOGS!!!! Who let them be out? Quran means nothing else but path of triple abdullah absolute quantified. please visit ahmadinebinpaid.com/blog.html and click on word Choice to open file. But turn virus protection off before.

    September 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • ImranIgra

      Please don't start this nonsense. Our world has enough hate as it is. Find a better hobby.

      September 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.