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.
Remember what it was like 100 years ago when you didn't exist? Well that's what it'll feel like 100 years from now too.
LMAO... great post!
lol great post.
Dear mr Driscoll.
All those things were put in the bible to test your mental abilities. You failed.
FREE WILL is the key. The Soul judges itself in the presence of God. Hell is the eternal endurance of knowledge of the loss of God's presence and its reward. Hell is the eternal abandonment by God, as judged by one's Soul. It is complete annihilation from God's memory.
free will is the devils plan to keep you in sin, and not to do the will of God
but if i don't go to hell, i'll miss all my friends...
Can't have "free will" with an omniscient deity. Because the deity has perfect foreknowledge of the one true ultimate forthcoming reality, mortals cannot make a decision which does not manifest in accordance with this perfect foreknowledge.
And why is that supposed to be a bad thing? Sounds downright enjoyable to me.
But you will escape all the fundies and vangies that, presumably, will go to heaven.
We've already been abandoned. Heard from god lately? Me either.
I hear from God everytime I read the Bible
@J – I assure you, it's not god's voice you hear. You either suffer from schizophrenia, or have a very active imagination Hopefully, the latter.
"I hear from God everytime I read the Bible" Well, that makes perfect sense. After all, David Berkowitz heard similar insightful supernatural edicts from his neighbor's dog, so why not j and his preferred book?
Oh, really? Does that mean I "hear from" Mark Twain every time I read Huckleberry Finn?
Difference being, Mark Twain actually *wrote* Huckleberry Finn. Men with a vested interested wrote the bible, dear.
As for your first post...that's messed up. So your god wants us to be robots then, with no sense of individuality or choice whatsoever? No thanks!
believe in God and His son Jesus Christ and do His will on this earth or don't believe in God and live after your own will and then when you die your soul goes to hell, where it will be tortured for billions and billions of years, with no end in sight
@J – So, you're living under a threat? Love is not gained from threatening someone. Love is gained on non-conditional acceptance. The relationship you have with your god is quite dysfunctional. You're beaten into submission.
Do I believe "hell" exists? Only here, on this planet. Some people are living in a hell. . .their lives are very hard and they have a hard time to go through. Others have an easy life. As far as "eternally" spending time in one place or another? Nope – please read Many Lives, Many Masters – for me it answered SO many spiritual questions, and gives great insight that we have been on all sides of every "religion" and "race". We are all connected, and what matters is faith, hope, charity and love.
The only things religions have succeeded in doing is bringing bigotry, hate, pain, suffering and death into the world. The worship of non-existent gods is the worst idea man has ever dreamed up.
Religion should only serve as a "guide" till one finds their own faith.
Yawn, More drivel from clearly uneducated trash
Obviously Johnny America is so well programmed he can't accept the truth.
Silly religious people.
As opposed to believing the universe is its own cause and origin?
Andy as a prime example of what is wrong with public schools.
I agree. I went private.
Johnny America, since when did public school have anything to do with religious doctrines?
Religious folks like Johnny here don't like public schools, because they can't indoctrinate young minds with their fairy tales as easily. They key is to get them into a religious school when they are innocent and can be brainwashed easier.
Hell is what happens when you open your eyes and realize you're all alone.
hell to me would be sitting on a cloud worshiping a megalomaniacal deity for eternity.
Hell for me would be an eternity in the company of a bunch of self righteous fanatics.
"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"
"Hell will be ruled over by Jesus, and everyone present — humans and demons and Satan alike — will be tormented there continually in perfect justice."
so a child in a third world country that's never heard of Jesus is going to hell to be tortured forever? an atheist that starts a charity feeding the homeless and is a good person is going to hell forever because he doesn't accept Jesus? a Buddhist monk living a quiet life of piety in Tibet is going to hell because he has different beliefs?
how disgusting. the christian religion is absolutely vile. "join us or be tortured forever" should be printed on the cover of every bible. the only people that think the christian god is all about love and compassion has never actually read the bible.
Their notion of "love" is akin to the love a wife-beater has for his spouse. You see, it's not really "His" fault, she just makes him angry sometimes...
sadly, that is a perfect analogy.
The bible teaches we all deserve hell. There's no reason any should escape hell. Yet God provided a way. Rather than be grateful that there is any way, instead so many complain that there aren't multiple ways. It's like someone stuck at the bottom of the well, and someone graciously offers them a rope out – but they complain that the person doesn't also have a ladder.
@Dan – the difference here is that the person offering the ladder is the one who constructed the well and then knowingly placed the person at the bottom of the well...
"The bible teaches we all deserve hell."
disgusting. truly disgusting concept that we are all deserving of hell. you could look at your 6 month old daughter and call her a sinner deserving of being tortured forever? it's sad that people buy into these inhuman and self-destructive concepts. but that's what the church pushes - so they can control you. break the control - think for yourself. you won't regret it.
"The bible teaches we all deserve hell. "
And that is exactly why I'm not interested in what you're selling. What an awful religion.
Your analogy about the pious man from Tibet, and the one who feeds the poor, etc, etc, are all exterior, Christianity is about the heart not outer appearances; the monk may sit for hours trying to silence what is within, (we all have tendency to do wrong) the one who feed the poor may do it out of guilty or desire to make him/herself feel good, "better than others". The child has not sin (if he is quite young). so will not apply.
So you see, we can not win forgiveness for our sins (wrong doing) just by only wishing it, sitting for hours in a Tibet monastery (where temptation is minimum) or give all that you posses to the poor in atonement for your wrong doing, that alone will not gain us salvation. We have to have someone bigger then ourselves paying for the sin against others. But most of all you have to have someone who is willing to pay the price for you.
All of us need salvation, if it is not salvation from ourselves, salvation from the world around us; we are all slaves to our own wrong doing.
Most of all we have to have faith that there is someone who cares and loves us and is willing to die for us so we can be free.
Anyone that's visited Orlando in July already knows that hell feels like.
I have visited Orlando many, many times in July. Usually the week of July 4th. Do Disney, and the other parks.
Its not the ghost town of, say, January, but it is still just fine.
exlongorn, If you already cant' see the evidence of God, being even into your own conscience the witness of Him, and in all things that exist around you ...and if you don't' believe testimony of Christ Jesus who came, suffered and died for sins of mankind, of whom your own conscience testifies to you that you need Him because deep down inside of you you KNOW you're a fallen creature full of sin... If you can't see all that, then even the dead coming to life would convince you. BTW those are the very words of Christ Himself!
Christ never wrote anything down. It's all mythology written years later.
for the weak minded, evidence of god abounds...
Says who? You don't know that, Prissy. You believe it, and there's a difference. The fact that we're here on earth isn't proof that a creator exists at all.
By the way, is Samuel Barber in hell, Prissy? You do know he was gay, don't you? You were swooning over the beauty of his Adagio for Strings until you found out about his s3xual orientation. What a hypocrite.
Prism, those are the words of people who heard the words of people who died a hundred or more years after the person they called Christ was killed in Judea.
The words of the Bible are true, in the same way the teachings of the Greek temples, Roman priests, Norse epics, Russian tales, Islam texts, and Jewish scrolls are true.
God says gays well go to hell if they don't repent from their sinful wicked paths
Then why is Prissy posting videos of Samuel Barber's music and raving about how Barber knew God?
if Barber knew God, he would of turned from his sinful evil ways
Well, then why did Prissy post a video of his music and say otherwise? You seem to think Prissy knows all, doofus. How could the dope be so dumb?
Prism....your post is just...nonsensical.
"God says gays well go to hell if they don't repent from their sinful wicked paths"
No. He/She/Is doesn't.
Hell is a ridiculous, man-made concept, as is the Judeo Christian tradition...
God made hell, for the devil, his angels and for people that don't believe in God and Jesus Christ !!
Then you should be able to post evidence of its existence, you muttonhead. Why don't you prove there's any such thing?
Why are you back here when you waved your hankie and flounced off earlier, j? Did you finish your shift at Burger King, or did you get fired for doing the nasty into the milkshake mix?
I had lunch with my wife Tom Tom, I'm a paramedic, been one for 11 years. Tom Tom read the the book of Luke in the New Testament in the bible, Jesus Christ talks about hell many times,
So what if some guy talked about "hell" 2000 years ago. Where is your proof beyond hearsay? Why would you worship something that would torture you for eternity for not worshiping it? That just seems wrong somehow.
Wrong again! It doesn't matter if you believe that Hell exists or not. If you don't believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and you accept him as your personal savior then your going to Hell.
"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."
Clever scholar?! It's common sense! It's not some twisting of meaning or otherwise transcendental thought process. Be good. Don't be bad. Not a single religion advocates killing another human. Every major religion has a "don't kill each other" clause of some sort. Every major religion has a "do unto others" clause.
The idea is to be a good person. The idea is to not do bad. I said this is a previous post. Religion is now a crutch instead of a guiding light. Some of the most intolerant people in the world base their belief on religion. "If you kill this person, you'll be a martyr!" "If you hate this lifestyle, Jesus will justify your hatred of a fellow man!"
BS. Religion, at this point, is an excuse to behave inhumanely in the hope that a "vengeful god" will prove them right. Not a single religious belief system tells you, as a human, to judge other people and punish or praise them for it. Your actions dictate your beliefs, and your actions are far stronger than words, printed or otherwise.
Religion was invented by some fella who didn't want to toil in the field.
hell is a disgusting concept. that a loving god would send someone to hell to be tortured for ETERNITY shows he is in fact not a loving god. hell is there for religious control. it's to fear you into obeying the church.
hell isn't real. god isn't real. grow up, seriously.
exactly... preach on brother
I feel sorry for the hell you are going through. Perhaps one day, you will find another brain cell that will help you realize how real God is.
Gail, why would an additional brain cell help him find god? Religion is belief despite fact, reason and logic. Religion's only connection to brain cells is that *less* of them will incline one toward it, not more.
lol. yes, gail. if only i used my brain when deciding whether to believe in an imaginary sky fairy, like you have. you seem a poster child for intelligent decision making...
God does not send us to hell, we do it to ourselves, on our own accord, we choose to do wrong, He Jesus Christ just separates the good from the bad, and then He Jesus Christ watches, and listen to what you have to say about yourself and the excuses you have for failing to be good or bad. Christianity is about been real, no crutches to lean on. You alone before the Son of God, looking at yourself and your failings. Christianity is for mature people "real adults" no emotional highs here, no excuses for our wrong doing.
@marie: "God does not send us to hell, we do it to ourselves, on our own accord, we choose to do wrong"
How can we "choose to do wrong and get sent to hell" in the eyes of god if there are no rules one way or another? God set these supposed rules, therefore god does indeed send us to hell. I mean how many times do you need to read the part about judgement in the bible? By christianity's rationale we cannot send ourselves to heel, we need to be judged by god. He is "the decider".
If we indeed decide whether to go to hell or not, then there must be no rules for it. There must be no commandments to break, else someone else is making the decision for us.
"He Jesus Christ just separates the good from the bad, and then He Jesus Christ watches, and listen to what you have to say about yourself and the excuses you have for failing to be good or bad."
He does not send bad people to hell on that premise alone. Hell is ostensibly for the disobedient, not for good versus bad.
"Christianity is about been real, no crutches to lean on."
Religion is a fraud, and your brand is no better than anyone else's. Religion is completely a crutch for those who fear our origin, fear our evolution, fear the reason for our existence, and then fear our death.
"You alone before the Son of God, looking at yourself and your failings. Christianity is for mature people "real adults" no emotional highs here, no excuses for our wrong doing."
It is totally about emotion. It has nothing to do with fact. Religion is about the "feeling" one gets from being involved and from following its tenets closely. Maturity has nothing to do with except that perhaps maturity of critical thinking skills tends to keep one away from religion. Your arrogance and pride are astounding, given that your god has commanded you to the opposite. You're being disobedient to him and will suffer in this hell you enjoy scaring others with.
please help me please. I am sick and tired of living life of Jekyll and Hyde. I want to be a good guy like you people, but Mohammad is taking over my mind. Please help me to get rid of Mohammad from my life. I am living in HELL.
Can you draw cartoon's ?
It's "cartoons", not "cartoon's".
Nobody is interesteds in yer anal problem for grammer
Can't spell either, I see.
It's spael not spell (dats witch stuff)
I'm interested in Dippy's anal grammar.
I'm interested in it, too.
well, if you like alphabet soup in yer bu-tt
If you supply the funnel and can of soup, I'm game.
you people still don't believe in God, do you ?
funnel ? whats that thing ! I put the whole can in (Chunky)
beleiving in god and beliving in the creator are 2 different things. religion abuses the word god as if they own it.
if ya diunt undestund go to hael
greg, let's be reasonable. I'm trying to bring us together. We have to have some common ground to be friends. Even if we disagree about god, we can meet in the middle. I've taken the step of allowing you to put soup in my butt. Won't you take a step in friendship and not use the can itself but rather pour it in? I even offered you a funnel so that no soup spills out onto the ground but rather that the entire can's contents makes it into my bowels (albeit from the wrong direction). What would jesus do? i believe he'd be compassionate and use a funnel. Though he may have preferred soup that had noodles in the shape of little crosses instead of letters...
This is such garbage. Why would someone waste his or her time pretending he or she is a Muslim? Because that's exactly what the original poster is doing and it's disgusting.
Hell is just one facet of the fairy tale that helped control the common masses throughout history. I'd have thought that we'd have grown out of it by now but there are still believers in the literal fire and brimstone!
I remember as a child my father, after having a few, got very close and earnest telling me that going to hell would be just like him taking his acetylene torch (he was a welder) to me.
That's just the kind of thing you tell a kid when he's around 8!!
My grandfather was a rural Arkansas, pound the pulpit, fire and brimstone backwoods preacher just one step away from snake handling!
I'll stick with reality, if you don't mind.
the problem with the people who take the bible literally is that they don't. if they did they would be wearing the clothes prescribed in leviticus and eating the food with appropriate preparation etc..and that is just the tip of the iceberg of stern commandments given to those who read the bible for the purpose of knowing exactly how to live. jesus spoke in metaphore. he used parables...hell is serparation from your god what,whoever that might be. people like to do with god like they do with their pets;put human emotions and attributes on them. expecting god to have human pety emotions is a very lementary way to look at this. i spent 12 yrs in religious schooling. much of it was bible interpretation...i think most intellegent people see this.
So you wasted 12 years of your life when you could have gotten a real education. Pity.
I'd like to know what God would think about a person that chooses Christianity solely to avoid the chance of winding up in hell. Would they still choose Christianity if they knew there were no hell? Would God care what the motivation was behind the choice, or does the underlying motivation not matter? For example, does a person choose not to speed because they might get a speeding ticket, or does one not speed because they realize they could hurt someone else? Does one not steal because he would get punished if caught, or does one not steal because he realizes it would hurt someone else? They both end with the same result (not speeding, not stealing), but the motivation behind the choices is very different (me vs. others). Would God care?
You're laboring under the delusion that there is a god. Shake that off and everything will make sense.
What parent would torture their own child? What could possibly justify torture of any length of time? It is sad and pathetic to see 21st century educated people attempting to rationalize this horrific fairly tale.
Agreed! I've heard Fundamentalist Christians argue from the stand point that God is a loving God...and, like a loving parent that punishes his/her child for disobedience, hell (eternal fire) is the consequence for disobedience. But I have to ask – what loving parent would subject their child to torture by fire...even for 1 minute let alone eternity for a disobedient act, no matter how grievous the act? Could such a "loving" parent be considered fair and just? I find it interesting how, as Americans, we can recognize when the punishment doesn't fit the crime (ie., we wouldn't condemn someone to life in prison for "J-walking"). And yet, some of us have no problem feeling that someone deserves to be punished for eternity, simply for not believing the "correct" religious ideology.
It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and lets them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago. (Yes, charlatan folklore and spam started long before the Bible; what would make you think they hadn't???????) And they need to be taught that other things, like God, we really don't know a damn thing about.
Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Many religious folk have the best intentions. But too often, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). And too often, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!
Although there are many religious folk with good intentions – some selflessly helping others, religions and religious organizations are, as a whole, just big old clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division (often disguised as love) along the way. The problem is that people too easily buy into religion and don't realize how unfounded it all is. And when they buy into it, they buy into a lot of really old, really weird tenets that are nothing but harmful for the human species.
Take Christianity, for instance. Just look at all the things that Christians argue about amongst themselves today – abortion, men's and women's roles in the church, celibacy, contraception, acceptance of gays, etc. Most of these issues have their roots in the conflicted, unfounded tenets of early Christianity. Non-Mormons harp on Joseph Smith these days. But we really don't have any more proof at all to believe that Paul, the self-proclaimed "apostle" was anything more than an ordinary man who needed to make up religious "sales literature" to survive and spread his own personal beliefs. And yet a good chunk of the NT is attributed to Paul and accepted by many Christians. And a lot of what he wrote about has to do with many of the issues I mentioned above that have Christians fighting amongst themselves hundreds of years later. It's way too unfounded to argue over.
Get a good cup of tea, and sit down and collect your thoughts. If you find it helpful to pray to a god, fine. But it is really healthier for the mind to leave behind all the characters that people over the centuries have invented or given powers to, for which there is little or no foundation. Because with those invented characters and powers – that's where division and hate join the little party in your mind. That's where, in your mind, you are inheriting the division and hate from ordinary politicians, lobbyists and salesmen from long ago. My goodness.
Fanaticism of any type is the issue here, atheism and the age of enlightenment is what brought us to this point in history. The age of reason and the mind is not sufficient to forge a civilization that is balanced and sustainable. The age of reason fundamentally brought strong self interest and selfish motives in exploiting the earth and getting rich and industrialization are all founded upon the renaissance mode of thinking. The world, tired after the inquisition etc.. sought to use the mind alone. We need new way of thinking that is open to science and religion and that can leverage both for the good of humanity. Fundamentalism of religion or atheism and agnosticism all are wrong.....
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.