And God isn’t Good, Either

This post is an homage to Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011), the powerful speaker and eloquent author of God is not Great and much more.  Hitchens fought nonsense till the end, and he has been an inspiration to me and countless other atheists.  In my own small way, I hope I’m continuing the fight against nonsense. 

Thanks, Christopher.

The child’s blessing goes, “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food.”  Hitchens’ God is not Great is an eloquent rebuttal to the first claim of this prayer.  Let’s consider here the second claim: God is good.  Indeed, the Bible makes this clear: “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good” (Ps. 135:3).

But does the dictionary agree?  We must use words according to their meaning.

Here is what God commands about cities that refuse to submit to the Israelites: “Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you” (Deut. 20:17).

You and I know what “good” means.  If you were a king or general and you ordered the genocide of those tribes—over ten million people, according to the Bible1—would you be considered good?

But you might say that this was wartime, and the rules were different.  Yes it was wartime, but the Israelites were the invaders, displacing Canaanites from land they had occupied for centuries.  God tells the Israelites to destroy the Amalekites: “Attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them.  Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants” (1 Sam. 15:3).

What could the infants have possibly done to deserve to die?

Moses tells the Israelites that they must kill all of the Midianites, with one exception: “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man” (Num. 31:17–18).

Who’s ever heard any of these verses made the subject of a sermon?

The immoral commands don’t stop with genocide.  Slavery wasn’t prohibited in the Bible; in fact, it was so much a part of everyday life that it was regulated.  In the same way that God told the merchants to sell using fair weights and measures (Deut. 25:15), he told the Israelites how to handle slaves—how to treat a fellow Israelite as a slave (Ex. 21:4–6 and Lev. 25:39), how to sell your daughter into slavery (Ex. 21:7), how to decide when a beating was too harsh (Ex. 21:20–21), and so on.

And this doesn’t even consider the Flood.  God may exist and he may be powerful, but can the word “good” be applied to a being who acts like this?

Let’s turn from God’s unsavory side to his attempts at encouraging good behavior.  It’s odd that the Ten Commandments has room for “don’t covet” but no prohibitions against slavery, rape, genocide, or infanticide.  Christopher Hitchens cuts through the problem:

It’s interesting to note that the tenth Commandment, do not covet, is given at a time when the Israelites wandering in the desert are kept alive with covetous dreams—of taking the land, livestock, and women from the people living in Palestine.  In fact, the reason why injunctions against rape, genocide, and slavery aren’t in the Ten Commandments is because they’ll be mandatory pretty soon when the conquest of Palestine takes place.2

So they’re not crimes—they’re tools!

Christians respond in several ways.

1. But things were different back then.  We can’t judge Jews in Palestine 2500 years ago with today’s standards.

Can we assent to these crimes at any time in history?  I agree that standards of morality have changed, but I thought Christians were supposed to reject moral relativism.  They’re the ones who imagine an unchanging, objective morality.  If slavery is wrong now, they must insist that it was wrong then.

2. But God’s actions are good—they just are.  His actions are the very definition of good.  That’s as fundamental a truth as we have.

Shouldn’t God follow his own rules?  If God is the standard for goodness (Matt. 5:48), what else can this mean but that we should look to God’s actions as examples for us to follow?

Abraham made clear that God was held to the same moral standards as Man.  He said, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” as he argued against God’s plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  And God agreed (see Gen. 18:20–33).

If Christians modify the dictionary so that no action of God’s could ever be bad, assigning the word “good” to God’s actions says nothing.  They hope to make an important statement with “God is good,” but debasing the dictionary has made the word meaningless.

Playing games with the dictionary causes other problems.  If there are two supernatural agents, God and Satan, how do you tell which is which?  If the one that controls our realm is “good” by definition, maybe we’re stuck with Satan and have simply convinced ourselves to call him good.  That’s not a crazy idea, given the world’s natural disasters, disease, war, and other horrors.  Imagine Satan ruling this world and convincing us that the death of an innocent child is part of a greater plan, if you can believe such a thing.  And yet that’s the world we live in!  People look at all the bad in the world and dismiss it, giving Satan a pass.  (… or are we giving God a pass?  I can’t tell which.)

If this thinking is getting a bit bizarre, that’s the point.  That’s what happens if you declare God’s actions good by definition.

3. But the Canaanites were terrible, immoral people!  They sacrificed babies! 

How reliable are these summaries of the Canaanites’ morals?  If these tales come from their enemies, how objective are these accounts?  And even if the Canaanites did sacrifice babies, isn’t solving this with genocide like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly?  Couldn’t an omniscient guy like God figure out a better way than genocide to encourage a tribe to improve their behavior?

4. C’mon—can’t you recognize hyperbole when you see it?  This is just soldiers bragging around the campfire that grew until it was incorporated into Israelite lore.  You don’t really believe the genocide stories, do you?  Indeed, archeologists show no evidence of this mass slaughter.

Take your pick—is the Bible reliable history or not?  I disagree with the Bible literalists, but at least they wouldn’t be so hypocritical as to abandon the Bible when it embarrasses them.

Christians who label some Bible passages exaggerations and others as history are using their own judgment to figure this out.  I’m not complaining—that’s what I do myself—but they can’t then turn around and say that they get their guidance from the Bible.  No, my friend—the interpretation comes from you, not the Bible!

5. A bad thing today sets us up for a greater good in the future.

This is no more plausible than the reverse: “a good thing today sets us up for a greater bad in the future.”  Why imagine one over the other?  Only because we presuppose God’s existence, the thing we’re trying to prove.  And it’s ridiculous to imagine an omniscient God deliberately causing the Haiti earthquake (in which 300,000 people died) because he can act no more precisely than this.

6. But God is unjudgeable.  God said, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is. 55:9).  It’s presumptuous of us to judge God.  If God says that the Amalekites deserved to die, that’s good enough for me.

Okay, let’s not judge God then.  Let’s avoid labeling him.  But then not only can we not label his shocking actions “bad,” we can’t label his pleasing actions “good.”  The good God is no more.

And there’s more fallout from the “we imperfect humans can’t judge God” argument.  Consider this from Bob Price:

[The ultimate certainty in your mind, the believer’s mind, is] the guarantee that [God] will honor that ticket to heaven he supposedly issued you.  Here’s a troublesome thought.  Suppose you get to the Day of Judgment and God cancels the ticket.  No explanation.  No appeal.  You’re just screwed.  Won’t you have to allow that God must have reasons for it that you, a mere mortal, are not privy to?  Who are you, like Job, to call God to account?

Of course many Christians want it both ways.  They want to judge God’s noble actions as “good” but withhold judgment for actions that any thoughtful person would find hideous.  But if you can’t understand God’s actions when they look bad, why flatter yourself that you understand them when they look good?

I think of this as the Word Hygiene argument.  You can either call a spade a spade and acknowledge God’s cruelty or say that he’s unjudgeable.  Take your pick—either way, you can’t call him “good.”

Photo credit: Church Sign Maker

Here’s the math behind that figure: Israel had 600,000 men before entering Canaan (Ex. 12:37), or about two million people total.  These six tribes are all larger than Israel (Deut. 7:1).  That makes well over ten million people in the tribes God orders exterminated.

Hitchens makes this point in videos here and here.

Related links:

  • About the Ten Commandments, Hitchens concludes: “Don’t swallow your moral code in tablet form” (video).

188 thoughts on “And God isn’t Good, Either

  1. Hi Bob,

    The death of C. Hitchens is bad news. I don’t think he deserved to die so early. Besides, there is no evidence that he is in hell (whatever the fundamentalists will say).

    And I don’t believe that God ordered the conquest of Canaan, so your objections don’t bother me.

      • RandomFuntion 2 I never heard so much rubbish in all my life. You either believe the Bible or not. Can’t take out bits that don’t suit.

        Yes God did order the distruction as Bob S said. And for good reason, They were cruel nations, burned their children alive. Justice was done!

      • Paul:

        Yes God did order the distruction as Bob S said. And for good reason, They were cruel nations, burned their children alive. Justice was done!

        And yet in the West in the 21st century, we think that there can never be an excuse for genocide. So are we wrong for thinking so, or was God wrong for ordering it in the OT?

        • It seems so on the surface. But think of it this way.

          It was justice to eradicate a vile people who sacrificed their children. However what you don’t understand is that many of the ones that died will be ressurrected to be given a better chance at life under much better conditions. Far better than they had then.

      • Paul:

        It was justice to eradicate a vile people who sacrificed their children.

        And I return to my original point: are you saying that that is what we’d consider justice today?

        Don’t defend the indefensible. Where the Bible is barbaric, let’s all admit it rather than covering it up.

        This is like an alcoholic uncle who everyone defends after he gets drunk and then goes on a rampage. Let’s all admit that Uncle Frank is an SOB and get him some help rather than apologize for him.

      • Pope Francis pulled some strings & Christy is in Heaven, playing his harp to relax, after arguing with God, all week!

  2. So here we have a moral relativist ( Bob the Atheist) arguing about morals. Talk about an oxymoron? Bob is complaining about what God “OUGHT ” to do and what God “OUGHT NOT ” do?

    Bob thinks the ought’s and ought not’s are instinctive in each person from the process of evolution. If Bob truly believed that, Bob would be consistent and not complain about what Bob thinks God ought or ought not do.

    After all in Bob’s atheistic neo-Darwinian micromutational evolutiontionist, naturalist, materialistic worldview, there is no absolute ought’s and ought not’s. All Bob can say is what Bob thinks one ought or ought not do is just the result of natural chemical reactions in that persons natural brain matter. Just like weeds growing in the grass.

    So all Bob’s complaining about ought and ought -not’s are just random firing electrodes in his brain. And meaningless, arbitrary, and irrelevant.

    So Bob’s entire blog is just morally irrelevant. Just a product of Bob’s natural brain functions, which only applies to himself.

    There is no outside absolute moral standard in Bob’s worldview. So Bob be consistent and live what you believe and stop complaining about ought and ought not’s.

    • So here we have a moral relativist ( Bob the Atheist) arguing about morals. Talk about an oxymoron?

      I think I’ve made my moral position clear. I’ll repeat it: (1) I see no evidence of objective morality. (2) I will, with pleasure, critique or reject someone else’s moral position. So where’s the paradox?

      Bob thinks the ought’s and ought not’s are instinctive in each person from the process of evolution. If Bob truly believed that, Bob would be consistent and not complain about what Bob thinks God ought or ought not do.

      Why? Because God is just a product of evolution? If you’re saying that the idea of God has no grounding in reality and has simply evolved over time, then that’s a surprising point of agreement!

      there is no absolute ought’s and ought not’s.

      Correct!

      All Bob can say is what Bob thinks one ought or ought not do

      Is there an alternative?

      So all Bob’s complaining about ought and ought -not’s are just random firing electrodes in his brain. And meaningless, arbitrary, and irrelevant.

      Is this just willful ignorance on your part? In the first place, it’s not random, but tuned by natural selection to give us a decent (though not perfect) understanding of reality. In the second, why call that arbitrary or irrelevant?

      There is no outside absolute moral standard in Bob’s worldview…

      True

      …So Bob be consistent and live what you believe and stop complaining about ought and ought not’s.

      Huh?? Just because there’s no absolute morality doesn’t mean there’s no morality. Look it up in the dictionary.

      • YO BOB,

        The Jews created Yahweh in the image of a Jew!
        Mohammad created Allah in his image and that is why the 2 “gods” are so tribal & so like the clowns who created them.

        But what is mind blowing, is the amount of intelligent people attempting to defend these GENOCIDAL MONSTERS.

        The book, WILLFUL BLINDNESS by Margaret Heffernan, is a MUST READ for EVERYONE! It shows us why we do the things we do & why we don’t do the things we should!

        • Larry: If you want to make a coherent point, that’d be great.

          Are you arguing for Christianity?

  3. “There is no outside absolute moral standard in Bob’s worldview.”

    The Christian’s worldview doesn’t have an absolute standard. If God orders it, it’s moral. In the past God ordered humans to kill humans, so at one time in the past it was moral to kill. Christian morality is relative to God’s will, and God’s will can and has changed, therefore it’s not absolute.

    • The difference is that in times past God did punish and used people to do this, but now he has said that justice is now up to him personally and he will exercise his right as Soveriegn of the Universe to carry out his justice. Christains today are asked to warn of the consequences of our actions, not to judge or carry out the judgement. That’s up to God who can judge the heart and not what appears to the eyes like us mere mortals.

      • Paul:

        The difference is that in times past God did punish and used people to do this

        Right. Anyone who orders the genocide in the OT is not good. It’s a simple matter of understanding what “good” means. Call God “unjudgeable” if you want, but not “good.”

  4. “…Bob thinks one ought or ought not do is just the result of natural chemical reactions in that persons natural brain matter. Just like weeds growing in the grass.”

    Is that true? Do you argue that knowing what “ought not to do” requires some supernatural entity to supply us with morals and a sense of common decency / propriety? The fact that I know that it isn’t right to kick a kitten doesn’t prove god’s existence does it? Biologically speaking there is no sound reason for me to NOT kick the cat, but my moral instinct tells me not to… and i’m supposed to credit God for that insight? Other’s don’t have that non-kicking reflex, and will kick to their hearts content. Are they therefore godless?

    Like Retro pointed out, the bible contradicts itself, and us mere mortals INTERPRET what we want to “hear”. Or is that god speaking through us saying, “pssst, don’t pay attention to that part” whenever there is an immoral instruction? Or is it our biological brains that provide us common sense in terms of morality in regards to our specific culture. I’m sure I could find a cat kicking passage somewhere in bible, just as we can find passages where murder is encouraged, slavery, and other obviously immoral actions are inferred. And after all of these we are supposed to believe that the bible provides a moral compass? I thought a compass that pointed every which way regardless of bearing… is broken, right?

    Like the old saying sort of goes… “If its broken, don’t use it”.

  5. One minute you marvel at the works of God in creation (you call evolution). Then you sit in judgement of your creator.
    Mmmmm I think I will sit back and watch the lightening from a safe distance thanks. All the best with your challenge. I will say good bye now!

    Hitchings? Just another man who has tried to judge God with his own inferior wisdom, and lost the battle. If he gets ressurected in the future, I wonder what he will say then. Possibly ‘sorry’ would be a good start.

    Bye the way, you say you will miss him! Why? In your view he is just another animal in the chain of evolution. Oh well never mind, just push on, nothing you can do!
    So there is another problem you have without God! We are the only creatures that miss the dead as if there should be more! Well there isn’t with evolution but there is with a God.

    • Just another man who has tried to judge God with his own inferior wisdom, and lost the battle. If he gets ressurected in the future, I wonder what he will say then. Possibly ‘sorry’ would be a good start.

      For using God’s gift of rationality to the best of his ability? What’s there to be sorry for?

      So there is another problem you have without God! We are the only creatures that miss the dead as if there should be more! Well there isn’t with evolution but there is with a God.

      And with Pastafarianism. But there’s no reason to imagine that Yahweh belief is any more well grounded in reality than FSM belief.

      • He should apologise for misleading so many people.

        We have been there before Bob about reality. Reality tells me that there can be no other answer but a superior mind, what we see in nature and our own DNA. One mathmatician put it this way, that the mind behind what we see must be a “mathmatician of a very high order”. Everything we see has an equation that puts it together and holds it there. This of course goes against evolution I know Bob, things left to themselves revert back to there basic elements. Called entripy (I think that’s how it is spelt), this is a law that goes aginst evolution.

      • Paul:

        He should apologise for misleading so many people.

        Deliberately misleading people? I see no evidence of that. As far as I can see, he used his God-given brain to its fullest extent–far more than most of us. Again: what’s there to apologize for? Perhaps it’s the rest of us who did so little with our brains who’ll have to apologize.

        Reality tells me that there can be no other answer but a superior mind, what we see in nature and our own DNA.

        You seem to imagine that the proof of this claim is easy and obviously true. I’d like to see this.

        One mathmatician put it this way, that the mind behind what we see must be a “mathmatician of a very high order”.

        John Lennox?

        Everything we see has an equation that puts it together and holds it there. This of course goes against evolution I know Bob

        Huh?? What goes against evolution?

        Called entripy (I think that’s how it is spelt), this is a law that goes aginst evolution.

        Nonsense. You’re saying that a seed growing into a huge tree (which is a reversal of entropy) is impossible?

      • Bob S said; Nonsense. You’re saying that a seed growing into a huge tree (which is a reversal of entropy) is impossible?

        No the fact that it is growing against entophy (thanks for the spelling) is indication of creation, that someone has designed and continues to control. Left to itself it would fail, indicating no god.

      • Paul:

        No the fact that it is growing against entophy (thanks for the spelling) is indication of creation, that someone has designed and continues to control. Left to itself it would fail, indicating no god.

        Let’s take a step back. You said that entropy shows that evolution is impossible, and I reminded you that reversal of entropy happens all the time. Conclusion: entropy is no evidence against evolution. Agreed?

        I don’t think you really understand your thermodynamics. My suggestion is that you drop the entropy argument–it’s not doing you any favors.

        Evolution gives a complete, natural explanation of why life is the way it is. No need for a supernatural explanation, thank you.

  6. Well, Hitchens the God hater is no longer an Atheist. He now knows Jesus is Lord! And will spend erternity in torment to think about it. As the Psalmist tells us. “The fool in his heart says there is no God.”

    • “Well, Hitchens the God hater is no longer an Atheist. He now knows Jesus is Lord! And will spend erternity in torment to think about it.”

      If it makes you feel better to think this…

      Do you think you existed before you were born Bob Calavan?

      If yes, I’d like to hear about it. Where were you, what were you doing. How did you come about being born. etc.

      If no, then what makes you think that you will exist after you die? Once, when asked if he was scared of death, Samuel Clemens said “I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never inconvenienced me a bit.”

    • To BobC,

      Your fundamentalist theology is not only absurd: it is unsensitive. Its only “strength” is that you may defend it on biblical grounds (provided that you read the Bible literally).

      Actually, there is no evidence that Hitchens is in hell. We don’t even know whether God or the afterlife are real: how could we know what happened to Hitchens? But assuming that there is a supreme being, there is some reason to think that he is indifferent. But assuming that he is good, I don’t think he would be bothered by the likes of Hitchens. True, God won’t compel Hitchens to be his friend, and if the horseman sticks to his hatred of God (even after he saw God stripped of caricatures and misunderstandings), then God will leave him alone, that is, in hell.

    • Bob you misrepresent the true God! Shame on you!!
      You state that Jehovah is a cruel God who torments people for all eternity, your a sicko if you think the true God, a god of love and who is love would torment someone for all eternity for a few years of sin.
      You worship a cruel god and it’s not Jehovah

      • To Paul,

        Jehovah does not exist. However, I don’t believe in eternal tortures either. Hell is just the state of those who don’t want to be God’s friends. Now, if those people absolutely want to be annihilated, I don’t think God would object.

        • And you have proof that, “Jehovah doesn’t exist.”?

          Yes you are right we are free moral agents and if we don’t want the gift of life that God gave, just return it to the counter. A shame but that’s our choice.

          Like a parent who gives a big ice cream to a kiddy and the kid says’ “no thanks”. That’s OK but why would you?

  7. ” Your fundamentalist theology is not only absurd: it is unsensitive. Its only “strength” is that you may defend it on biblical grounds (provided that you read the Bible literally).”

    So yes, that I do defend my theology, and read these letters written by the Apostles it is not absurd, and unsensitive.. It is logical and clear. You may not like how God works out His redeemption, and justice, but that is irrelevant.

    • Bob C:

      So yes, that I do defend my theology, and read these letters written by the Apostles it is not absurd, and unsensitive.. It is logical and clear. You may not like how God works out His redeemption, and justice, but that is irrelevant.

      No, it’s quite relevant. The god of the OT can’t be called “good.” That the Bible does call him good points up a contradiction. For those of us who are searching for the path most in accord with the evidence, this blinding contradiction is relevant.

  8. To Paul,

    Any evidence for evolution (and there is a lot) counts against the existence of Jehovah.

    And even if Jehovah exists, I would rather be annihilated than spend eternity under such a bully. Besides, no one in my family or among my friend is JW (nor will they convert) so they will not make it to heaven so I see no reason to go on existing after death.

  9. You may well get your wish. But I hope you don’t. By the way I’m not going to heaven either. According to the Bible, God’s Kingdom will rule over earth and those on it will live forever under that rule. Imagine what you could discover with eternal life? and you want to throw that away?

    • to Paul,

      Eternal life is meaningless if I am to be Jehovah’s slave (and leave aside my critical thinking and my conscience and submit to an archaic book controlled by a crazy religion) and eternal life is even more meaningless if those I loved are annihilated.

      • As I said, your choice and there’s.
        Being a slave of Jehovah isn’t as bad as it sounds. Got a lovely wife and kids, enjoy gardening, making projects with my son. Explore the world. Couldn’t think of anything better. Under Jehovah’s Kingdom I will also enjoy perfect health, won’t grow old and live forever doing what I enjoy. That’s all Jehovah wants for us.
        His only laws are aginst what we hate now, rape, murder, stealing, drugs, warlords and most of all money. Think of that no more rich or poor.
        With everlasting life it makes possible exploring our universe.

        Now that to me is heaven, on earth. I’m sorry you and your friends don’t want to be there. Oh well there will be plenty of others who I can have as friends.

      • Paul:

        His only laws are aginst what we hate now

        The OT god’s idea of justice is certainly not what either you or I think of as justice. Slavery? Genocide?

        Why imagine that he’s changed? (Maybe he got a girlfriend so he’s not such an SOB anymore? :-) )

        • Just to clear a point here, a SLAVE in ancient Israel would be an equivalent to an employee today. They had rights and were to be treated fairly.

      • No, that is not clear. A slave is a slave. A non-Jewish slave was held for life. Sometimes that life was decent, sometimes not. Apologists like to argue that conditions weren’t at all like that in the American South, but there’s no reason to imagine that. In the South, too, sometimes life was decent for slaves, sometimes not.

    • Paul:

      Imagine what you could discover with eternal life? and you want to throw that away?

      C’mon, Paul, it’s a story! You don’t believe the other guy’s religious story; why believe this one?

      Throw it away? You bet! I definitely want to discard delusion. I want to see reality clearly.

      Don’t you?

      • Paul:

        You may scoff, but it IS reality to me.

        I see that. But I don’t see that the support for your religious story is any stronger than that for any other guy’s religious story.

        Creation makes perfect sense.

        Perfect sense? I find that hard to believe. Don’t you wrestle with the odd parts of the Bible? The genocide and slavery in the OT, for example? Don’t you find yourself trying to rationalize away these problems? I understand that it’s your culture, but I don’t think even you would say that it makes perfect sense.

  10. Paul said: “The difference is that in times past God did punish and used people to do this…”

    But God’s morality has still changed.

    God has always had the power to kill humans Himself. Commanding humans to kill other humans was never needed. Christian morality is RELATIVE to God’s will, and God’s will has, and can change.

    Paul also asked: “And you have proof that, “Jehovah doesn’t exist.”?”

    Some Christians claim hell exists, some say it’s torture, some say it’s only separation… etc…

    Let’s settle this hell thing: Paul, do you have proof that hell actually doesn’t exist?

    • I can. You need to go back to the original renderings. In Hebrew she’ohl’ in Greek hai’des. These words in english are corredtly translated “the grave”, where dead people are. Many translation of the Bible use different words when translating, which is where the problem starts. Some translations use the word “Hell”. But they also use the word “Hell” for the greek word ge’en-na, which is a place outside the city walls of Jerusalem where they burned rubbish and bodies of dead criminals who did not in their view deserve a proper burial. This is where they get confused as to what hell is.
      For example the King James version translates she’ohl’ as “hell”, “the grave” and “the pit”. hades as “hell” and “the world of the dead”. Instead of being consistent in their rendering they allow their personal beliefs to colour their work of translating. This has resulted in the exact meaning of the original language words to be obscured.
      You may wish to investigate the original hebrew and greek words used, I am sure you will find as I did that they basically mean the “common grave of mankind”, where we all go when we die.
      Once you understand that you can better understand that Hell fire as a place of torment does not exist. I can give you more information if needed.

      • Paul said: “You may wish to investigate the original hebrew and greek words used, I am sure you will find as I did that they basically mean the “common grave of mankind”, where we all go when we die.”

        Actually, as a Christian I did study this, and I really do understand your argument. Many of the traditional “hell” verses refer to “gehenna”, while others refer to “sheol” etc.

        Of course, many Bible verses are non-sense if we’re assuming in the existence of unconditional immortality, John 3:16 is one example.

        However, other Bible verses are non-sense if we’re assuming conditional mortality, Matthew 26:24 and Mark 14:21 is one example. (Of course it also makes non-sense of Matthew 19:28, Revelation 21:14 and any other verses that speak of the future of Judas as one of the Twelve Disciples.)

        The first point I want to make is that the only evidence you have for there NOT being a hell is the Bible, The only evidence other Christians have FOR the existence of hell is the Bible. What extra-biblical evidence does anyone have for or against the existence of an afterlife and hell?

        My second point is that BOTH sides can make a case from the Bible. The case can be made that BOTH teachings were in existence at the time the Bible was being formed, and BOTH teachings therefore have been preserved. (We know Jewish sects at the time of Jesus had differing beliefs. The Pharisees believed in an afterlife, resurrection of the dead, with rewards or penalties after death. The Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife or resurrection.)

        My third point is that we KNOW that the Bible has been changed, which explains things like the long ending in Mark 16, and the warning in Rev. 22:18-19 not to add or take away any words from the book. Since teachings about things like the Trinity and the Cross have been added or changed, and the exact meaning of the original language words have been obscured, then how can any side of the hell debate say they’re correct with any certainty?

        This brings up the question of why God would ever allow something as important as the nature and existence of hell and an afterlife to be obscured and uncertain?

        • You raise some good questions. I would like some time to try and explain as best I can. I will get back to you.

        • Hi everyone, the place has gone mad since I was last here. Never read so much rubbish Bob C.
          I have been away and I am working on your questions at the moment Retro. That’s if you still want an answer.

        • Retro said: Of course, many Bible verses are non-sense if we’re assuming in the existence of unconditional immortality, John 3:16 is one example.
          If you have a closer look Retro this is still “conditional”, one is still required to exercise faith, if not they will be destroyed.
          Retro said: However, other Bible verses are non-sense if we’re assuming conditional mortality, Matthew 26:24 and Mark 14:21 is one example. (Of course it also makes non-sense of Matthew 19:28, Revelation 21:14 and any other verses that speak of the future of Judas as one of the Twelve Disciples.)
          Not sure why you say it is non-sense? Judas betrayed Jesus and then hung himself, thus not wanting to repent and so does not get immortality, as Jesus said he would have been better not born. Obviously you have not that Judas was replaced by another, who like the other Apostles had been an eye witness of Jesus life, which made up the 12 again. Try reading Acts 1:15-26
          Retro said: The first point I want to make is that the only evidence you have for there NOT being a hell is the Bible, The only evidence other Christians have FOR the existence of hell is the Bible. What extra-biblical evidence does anyone have for or against the existence of an afterlife and hell?
          I don’t think a Christian needs any ‘other’ evidence. Hell in the Bible is not what some religions teach. NOT a fiery place of torment. Simply the common grave of mankind from which people are resurrected. The fiery place Gehenna spoken of in Revelation signifies total destruction or total annihilation, just as when you burn something it cannot be reclaimed.
          Retro said: My second point is that BOTH sides can make a case from the Bible. The case can be made that BOTH teachings were in existence at the time the Bible was being formed, and BOTH teachings therefore have been preserved. (We know Jewish sects at the time of Jesus had differing beliefs. The Pharisees believed in an afterlife, resurrection of the dead, with rewards or penalties after death. The Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife or resurrection.)
          Jesus corrected the wrong view of the Sadducees.

          I have to go out again, so I will answer your third question upon my return. Bob C. I did not have to go to Head Office to get any answers, I just read the Bible. You should try it, with an open mind.

        • To answer your third point;
          Retro said: My third point is that we KNOW that the Bible has been changed, which explains things like the long ending in Mark 16, and the warning in Rev. 22:18-19 not to add or take away any words from the book. Since teachings about things like the Trinity and the Cross have been added or changed, and the exact meaning of the original language words have been obscured, then how can any side of the hell debate say they’re correct with any certainty?
          How do you think we know it is changed? It is because they have found copies very close to the time of writing, which has revealed mistakes that have crept in. So now the Bible of today is recognised as the most accurate. Sir Frederic Kenyon in his book ‘Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts’ says; “We must be content to know that the general authenticity of the NT text has been remarkably supported by the modern discoveries which have so greatly reduced the interval between the original autographs and our earliest extant manuscripts ……, do not affect the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.”
          Retro said: This brings up the question of why God would ever allow something as important as the nature and existence of hell and an afterlife to be obscured and uncertain?
          Changes were made and God made sure they were recognised and has done something about it. That is why many of the modern translations are more accurate, NOT obscure or uncertain.

  11. To Paul and Retro

    Boy, this is fun watching the battle ( Paul and Retro) between two goats ( unregenerate) argue.
    In case you two don’t realize you are both on the same team ..The unregenerate. It would be like two Atheist argue over the doctrines of the Spaghetti Monsters theology.

    Do you get what I am saying. Paul’s god is not the biblical god and does not exist, and neither does Retro’s.

    This is truly comical.

    Like I said there are only two people’s in the world Regenerate ( Those God has predestined to eternal life before the foundation of the world) and the unregenerate which fall under the labels of, Atheist, Agnostic, J.W. ( Paul) Mormon, Buddhists, Human secularist , Jew, Muslim, etc.
    So you two keep at it.

    Plus Paul’s annihilation argument on hell is a joke. So full of biblical errors. Don’t forget Paul death ( ALL THOSE DEAD BURIED PEOPLE WILL BE RAISED) and Hades are thrown into the eternal lake of fire with eternal torture for ever and ever. Oy!

    So I will sit here and watch this comedy unfold!

    LOL

    • Do you get what I am saying. Paul’s god is not the biblical god and does not exist, and neither does Retro’s.

      And it’s helpful that you deign to humbly and without bias present the plain and simple truth.

      You’re a saint.

      This is truly comical.

      Then perhaps you can imagine my amusement when I see one believer (Bob C) dismiss other believers (Paul or Rick T) as improperly Christian. Luckily we have you to give us the Obvious Truth® that is invisible to the rest of us.

  12. Retro, Be patient. Paul has to get his answers from the Watchtower society..Paul believes God headquarters are in Brooklyn N.Y.

  13. Then perhaps you can imagine my amusement when I see one believer (Bob C) dismiss other believers (Paul or Rick T) as improperly Christian. Luckily we have you to give us the Obvious Truth® that is invisible to the rest of us.

  14. Bob said:

    “Then perhaps you can imagine my amusement when I see one believer (Bob C) dismiss other believers (Paul or Rick T) as improperly Christian. Luckily we have you to give us the Obvious Truth® that is invisible to the rest of us.”

    Well, that is not true.. I do dismiss Paul as a believer as he is in a cult.. That denies the finished and complete work of Jesus Christ. As all cults the JW holds to a synergistic works salvation. And deny the Deity of Jesus Christ.

    As far As Rick T . I consider Rick my beloved brother in the Lord. Rick And I may disagree on what Jesus meant when he said ” My God my God why have you forsaken me…” As there are a few commentaries with different opinions on what Jesus meant…But that is no big deal and fun to discuss. Rick is my brother in Christ and I have a special love for him as my Christian brother.

  15. Bob C said: “Plus Paul’s annihilation argument on hell is a joke. So full of biblical errors.”

    Ah… I think Paul’s argument is more Biblical than you think, and dismissing it as a “joke” simply shows that you don’t know the Bible as well as you think you do. The fact that you don’t think there’s any argument simply demonstrates that you don’t understand the argument.

    John 3:16 is one of the best known verses in the Bible, and it clearly states that the decision is between eternal life or perishing. It does not say the choice is between eternal life in heaven or eternal life in hell.

    So how do you explain away verses like John 3:16 Bob C? (I can give many additional verses if you wish.)

    • To Retro,

      In addition, there is no concept of hell in the pauline epistles. We just cannot assume that when Paul says someone will not make it to heaven, he meant that that one will go to hell.

      So it seems that in the NT, the idea of hell is a debated issue.

      • I think you assume too much. If someone does not go to heaven at death it simply means that they go back to the ground, as the saying goes “dust to dust, ashes to ashes”. God actually made a promised to Adam, Gen 3:19 “….For dust you are and to dust you will return.” Also Ecclessiates 9:10 says; “All your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol (the grave), the place to which you are going.”

    • You are absolutely correct, thanks for the support, at last someone who actually reads the Bible.
      The teaching of hell goes against a God of love. If your child did something bad you would not hold his hand on a hot stove for punishment, just as God would not burn someone for all eternity for a few years of sin.

  16. Retro asked:

    “Ah… I think Paul’s argument is more Biblical than you think, and dismissing it as a “joke” simply shows that you don’t know the Bible as well as you think you do. The fact that you don’t think there’s any argument simply demonstrates that you don’t understand the argument…”

    Yes I do! I have studied it and listened to 20 some hours of debate on it. In fact there are many types of Annihilationist.. Are you aware of that? And do you know the different arguments for these’s types? Well I do. If I held to any form of Annihilation it would not be the heretical one of the JW.

    There is a view of anihilationalism called “conditional immortality” Which falls under orthodoxy. If I held any view of a type of anihilationalism it would be that..

    You asked:

    ” John 3:16 is one of the best known verses in the Bible, and it clearly states that the decision is between eternal life or perishing. It does not say the choice is between eternal life in heaven or eternal life in hell. ..”

    “.So how do you explain away verses like John 3:16 Bob C? (I can give many additional verses if you wish.)…”

    It all depends on how one interprets the Greek and Hebrew and context of words like Perish, destruction, and death… Very involved and deep.

    • “Yes I do! I have studied it and listened to 20 some hours of debate on it. In fact there are many types of Annihilationist.. Are you aware of that?”

      Yes I was. After 20 hours of debates, I’d think that you’d not be so quick to dismiss Paul’s argument a “joke”.

      “There is a view of anihilationalism called “conditional immortality” Which falls under orthodoxy. If I held any view of a type of anihilationalism it would be that.”

      Isn’t conditional immortality exactly what JW’s believe? (If not, maybe Paul could clarify.)

      “It all depends on how one interprets the Greek and Hebrew and context of words like Perish, destruction, and death… Very involved and deep.”

      Yeah, it’s not as simple as it should be is it? It actually does become much simpler if you accept the possibility that there is more than one teaching in the Bible.

      If you accept that conditional AND unconditional immortality are BOTH taught in the Bible, it actually becomes very simple and it makes perfect sense.

      • There is no unconditional immortality taught in the Bible. Show me one verse?
        There is always a requirement, being faithful, obiedent to Jesus commands and so forth.

        Any contract (covenant) has conditions and that’s what Jesus invited those who go to heaven to be in a covenant for a Kingdom. To rule with him, that has conditions.

        • Hi Bob, There is no reference in this scripture of anyone going to heaven. It refers to either surviving to everlasting life or getting cut off in everlasting death. It is also not talking about dead people. They are alive in that they are doing good to Jesus brothers or not. No mention of faith either as you say, however one would have to recognise Jesus brothers to do them good. Which would require a measure of faith in his brothers.

      • Paul:

        Hi Bob, There is no reference in this scripture of anyone going to heaven.

        It talks about the “kingdom.” What do you think this is?

        No mention of faith either as you say, however one would have to recognise Jesus brothers to do them good.

        Huh? Aren’t we all “brothers and sisters”? What’s there to recognize? Are you saying that helping some people gets you into the kingdom and helping others counts for nothing?

        • Bob said: It talks about the “kingdom.” What do you think this is?
          A Kingdom is a form of government, this just happens to be God’s Kingdom with Jesus as King. Revelation also says that he has 144,000 resurrected humans (his brothers) sharing in that rulership, which will benefit people on earth.
          Bob said: No mention of faith either as you say, however one would have to recognise Jesus brothers to do them good.
          Huh? Aren’t we all “brothers and sisters”? What’s there to recognize? Are you saying that helping some people gets you into the kingdom and helping others counts for nothing?
          No that’s not what I’m saying. Helping people is a good thing, but specifically helping Jesus brothers has a reward, and that is everlasting life on earth under that Kingdom. Reaping the benefits of good rulership.

    • Herein is where you start making mistakes Bob C.
      You venture to interpret the Bible, whereas the Bible should be allowed to interpret itself. If you don’t understand a writing you dont say, “I THINK”. You check out other verses and find what the Bible says in clarification and in context on the subject.

  17. Hi Bob S,

    Besides, I don’t believe in a god who tortures forever whoever does not worship him, as it is written on the board in the picture of this thread. But I understand that this misrepresentation is common among atheists, who are happy to make a cheap point against religion.

    • “But I understand that this misrepresentation is common among atheists, who are happy to make a cheap point against religion.”

      I was raised believing that hell is eternal conscious torment, and it seems to be a commonplace belief in both Catholic and Protestant Christianity.

      It may be a misrepresentation to say that ALL Christians believe in eternal conscious torment, but it certainly isn’t a misrepresentation to say that MANY Christians do.

      • To Retro,

        All I am prepared to say is that eternal life with God is better than eternal existence without him. Just as friendship is better than loneliness. Now, I don’t quite know what it’s like to be in hell. But I cannot imagine eternal torture… God is not supposed to be a fiend who finds enjoyment in crushing atheists and pagans.

        • You are absolutely right. You may or may not realise it, you were quoting from Ezekiel 33:11 where God says he finds no delight in the death of the wicked but would rather he listen to his counsel.

        • Not when you understand the full story.
          If you only heard part of a story, out of context, it may seem terrible. But in context it is understandable.
          For example if all you heard that a parent treated their son really badly to the point of them screaming in pain. That would sound like terrible abuse. But if you got the full story and found out that the son had dilocated his shoulder and the father was resetting it, well all makes sense and you think what a great Dad he was.

      • As an organised religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in the widely held teaching of eternal torment of Hell. Simply because the Bible does not teach it.

      • Paul:

        Not when you understand the full story.

        I think I have the full story, but even if I only have a part of it (the genocide, let’s say), that’s enough. No good person commands genocide.

        Or was genocide OK back then?

        • Is it OK then for an entire Nation to burn children alive, teach incest, beastiality?
          If a nation was doing that today what action would be needed? Many of these practices were taught from youth up, hence the need for total punishment so that these practices were not obsorbed into the nation of Israel.
          Sodom and Gomorah is a case in point, they were so depraved in sexual immorality that God rained down fire and sulphur and consumed them all. Hence we get a idea of how God feels about Homosexuality. (That may start another debate I’m sure)

      • Paul:

        Is it OK then for an entire Nation to burn children alive, teach incest, beastiality?

        This is your justification for genocide? It wouldn’t work among fallible people today; why should it work for infallible, omnipotent God at any point in history? Genocide is the cleverest solution God can come up with? Doesn’t it look odd that God’s solution is the same as the one that an ordinary king or general of the time would come up with?

        And how do you know these things about the Canaanites? Wait–let me guess. The Bible, the book of the victors, said this about their enemies–is that right?!

        Perhaps we need a more objective source before we condemn a tribe of people.

        Many of these practices were taught from youth up, hence the need for total punishment so that these practices were not obsorbed into the nation of Israel.

        Now you see why atheists worry about the harm of Christianity. Do you hear what you’re saying? An abomination happened, and you’re unable to criticize it. What does that say about your worldview?

        Sodom and Gomorah is a case in point, they were so depraved in sexual immorality that God rained down fire and sulphur and consumed them all.

        Again, how do we know? Perhaps … because of what the guys on the other side said? Hardly an objective critique.

        Hence we get a idea of how God feels about Homosexuality.

        The only crime I saw was rape. OK–I get it. Rape is bad. But what about a loving, monogamous, homosexual relationship? This story doesn’t help us.

        • Not just recored in the Bible. I have read reports from Archeologists and the results of their diggings confirm what the Bible says about the Cannanites. I remember reading one saying he was suprised God had not distroyed them earlier.

    • Yes I agree, Bob C. gives a bad wrap on true Christianity. The belief in Hell has spured religion on to do some terrible things in history, like burning people alive at the stake and the holy crusades. To mention a few.

    • Paul:

      I remember reading one saying he was suprised God had not distroyed them earlier.

      Hmm. Perhaps not an objective archeologist then.

      In the first place, I’d like to see that these terrible practices are the consensus view of archeologists. In the second, you’ve avoided the big question. Let’s imagine that the Canaanites did bad things. So God’s solution is to do the ultimate bad thing (genocide)?? He’s furious that Canaanites sacrifice babies so he’s going to kill all the babies with Israelite swords? What sense does that make?

      Doesn’t this look like simply a justification after the fact? They kill the local people and their history justifies this centuries later? Sure looks like God was made up.

      • Bob S said: “He’s furious that Canaanites sacrifice babies so he’s going to kill all the babies with Israelite swords? What sense does that make?”

        That’s exactly the question I’ve always asked, but I never actually get an answer to. Seems to me if you can justify killing children and babies, then you can justify just about anything.

        Christians, I’m really tired of being lectured on how I need your God for morality, but then you won’t (or can’t) explain why your God is not moral Himself.

        Please Christians, step up and give an answer to this question!

  18. Back to Hitchens: now the new atheists will face up to the toughest challenge against naturalism: the death of a loved one and its irreducible meaninglessness. Even the person’s own death is less unbearable (or should be) than the death of whoever the person loved.

    • Back to Hitchens: now the new atheists will face up to the toughest challenge against naturalism: the death of a loved one and its irreducible meaninglessness.

      Et tu RF2?

      There is indeed no cosmic significance to Hitchens’ life. Or mine, or yours. So what? That doesn’t mean that we can’t find significance of the non-cosmic kind.

      • Hi Bob,

        Sure, atheists can find some meaning in their lives: people like Darwin and Bertrand Russell had fulfilled lives. Still, when they lose the people they love, it’s impossible to make sense of it outside of religion. Such meaningless happenings resist the rationalizations of atheists.

      • it’s impossible to make sense of it outside of religion

        You mean: it’s impossible to make sense of it outside of reality. If Christianity exists and it’s God’s plan, then the sooner we realize that, the sooner we’ll be able to make sense of things. Or, alternatively, if religion is invented, then let’s quickly understand that so we can make sense of things.

        You could argue that the Christian has the happier story (“Don’t worry–you’ll see them soon in heaven!”) but of course, the Christian story has a hideous side too (“… unless you don’t believe the correct things, in which case you’ll roast on a spit for eternity”).

        And who cares about the happier story anyway? Don’t you want the more accurate story?

      • We can make a difference and are important to God. I believe God is either disappointed or over joyed by our stand for what is right. I believe he was particularly sadened by Hitchings stand.

    • I agree, it can be tough to think about as death is never easy, especially when it’s someone who is close to you.

      There are several Robert G. Ingersoll quotes about death, here is but one:

      “No man, standing where the horizon of a life has touched a grave, has any right to prophesy a future filled with pain and tears. It may be that death gives all there is of worth to life. If those we press and strain against our hearts could never die, perhaps that love would wither from the earth. Maybe this common fate treads from out the paths between our hearts the weeds of selfishness and hate, and I had rather live and love where death is king, than have eternal life where love is not.” – Robert G. Ingersoll

      Here’s another one:

      “Oh,” they say to me, “but you take away immortality.” I do not. If we are immortal it is a fact in nature, and we are not indebted to priests for it, nor to bibles for it, and it cannot be destroyed by unbelief. – Robert G. Ingersoll

      And one more:

      “It is far better to have no heaven than to have heaven and hell; better to have no God than God and Devil. better to rest in eternal sleep than to be an angel and know that the ones you love are suffering eternal pain; better to live a free and loving life — a life that ends forever at the grave — than to be an immortal slave.” – Robert G. Ingersoll

    • I wonder if he allowed himself to be buried in a memorial tomb? Memorial tombs are for christians awaiting a resurrection. In God’s memory so to speak.
      Or was he a true Atheist?

  19. Pingback: Understanding Morality—It’s Really Not that Hard | Cross Examined

    • To Bob Calvan,

      It is God as he reveals his will in my conscience. I won’t do whatever I want just because I don’t follow rules written down in a book. Sometimes my conscience leads me to go uphill. Sometimes it blames what I did. To be more specific, God does not reveal himself only in my conscience, but in everyone’s conscience, so that people should share their moral insights and find out what is the best solution to practical problems. No one can claim one has a special link to God. One needs to think over one’s moral beliefs and let them be challenged by others who may have a clearer insight into God’s revelation.

      • Perhaps you’ll get it now from both sides–from both me and from Bob C–so I hope you don’t mind.

        The atheist will, of course, wonder if your conscience has a natural explanation. And how it helps to inject God into the conversation.

  20. Hi Bob,

    If conscience comes from evolution alone (without God’s guidance), then our conscience is an illusion that serves nature’s only purpose: making our bodies good survival machines for selfish replicators. When I look at nature, the only purpose I see is for genes to replicate by means of survival machines, hardly a grand purpose. I do think that people deserve better than that.

    • “When I look at nature, the only purpose I see is for genes to replicate by means of survival machines, hardly a grand purpose. I do think that people deserve better than that.”

      Without replication there can be no change. Without change there can be no advancement. Life with no chance of advancement wouldn’t have a very grand purpose either.

      People pass on more than just their genes, they also pass on things like culture and knowledge.

      Passing on a better culture or increasing knowledge (with or without passing on genes) seems like a grand enough purpose for me.

    • I agree with Retro’s point. As for the “conscience is an illusion,” I think you mean that it’s an illusion to imagine any sort of supernatural or absolute morality. And I agree. But of course that doesn’t mean that there’s isn’t the ordinary kind of morality–the kind that the dictionary defines. Indeed, the only kind of morality that exists.

      How would you tell a world with evolution giving us morality and God giving us morality? And how can you tell that we can’t be the former?

  21. Paul said: “If you have a closer look Retro this is still “conditional”, one is still required to exercise faith, if not they will be destroyed.”

    I agree with you. I said it didn’t make sense if one believes in UNconditional immortality.

    Paul said: “Not sure why you say it is non-sense? Judas betrayed Jesus and then hung himself, thus not wanting to repent and so does not get immortality, as Jesus said he would have been better not born.”

    I’d agree with you if Jesus had simply said Judas would be better off dead.

    To me, saying “woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!” implies that Judas is in for a severe punishment. Saying that “it would be better for him if he had not been born” implies that something worse than death is going to happen to Judas.

    But, I will concede that this verse not very specific. The implied punishment could be a limited punishment followed by annihilation, or the implied punishment could be eternal conscious torment.

    John 6:70-71 States that Jesus foreknew that Judas would betray him, and said “one of you is a devil”. However, I don’t think that betraying Jesus automatically disqualified Judas from being saved. I find it interesting that the only Disciple that Jesus ever called “Satan” was Peter, and yet Peter went on to become a leader of the church. (Matt 16:23, Mark 8:33)

    In fact, Peter was rebuked and called “Satan” precisely because he didn’t want Jesus to be killed.

    Does it really make sense that Peter gets called “Satan” for not wanting Jesus to die, but then Judas is called a “devil” for doing what was necessary to make the atoning sacrifice of Jesus possible?

    I would argue that Judas did repent. Judas returned the money. If Judas had not been repentant, then why did he commit suicide? People don’t kill themselves because they are unrepentant about what they have done.

    Paul said: “Jesus corrected the wrong view of the Sadducees.”

    Jesus only corrected them in that there would indeed be a resurrection. Who exactly would be resurrected is the real question here. Are only the righteous resurrected, or is everyone resurrected?

    Matthew 22:30 simply says the dead will rise, with no reference to whether it’s everyone or just the righteous. Later on in Matthew 25:41, Jesus says “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” which plainly states that not only will the wicked dead be resurrected, but they will suffer eternal fire.

    Luke 20:35 says those “who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead” which implies only the righteous will be raised.

    Acts 24:15 states that there will “be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked”.

    I don’t want to get too deep into this, as my main point is that BOTH sides can make a case from the Bible. The Bible is contradictory, and one must accept that BOTH conditional AND unconditional immortality are taught in the Bible.

    • Yes Judas punishment is more severe in that he has no hope of a resurrection. So he did not go to a memorial grave but went straight to total destruction.
      Jesus has the ability to read the heart, so if he said he was the son of destruction then he judged him as unrepentant.
      Hitler committed suicide, do you think he was sorry? Being sorry is facing up to the consequences of your actions.

      • So why did Judas return the money if he was unrepentant?

        Matt 27:3 says: “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.”

        However, Acts completely contradicts what Matthew said, and Judas spends the money rather than returning it. Also, instead of committing suicide, Judas apparently accidentally falls to his death.

        Acts 1:18 “With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.”

        One can try and harmonize these two conflicting accounts, but I think it makes much more sense to simply see it as a contradiction. Other things were added or changed, like the long ending of Mark, so maybe one of these verses about Judas was added or changed too.

    • Retro said: The implied punishment could be a limited punishment followed by annihilation, or the implied punishment could be eternal conscious torment. John 6:70-71 States that Jesus foreknew that Judas would betray him, and said “one of you is a devil”.
      In other translations the word is also translated ‘slanderer’ and ‘resister’ which is what ‘devil’ means.
      Retro said: However, I don’t think that betraying Jesus automatically disqualified Judas from being saved.
      No it did not, but Judas chose this outcome. Although Jesus actually knew the outcome, because Jesus could read his heart (inner person). No one is predestined as some religions teach. Maybe another discussion some time.
      Retro said: I find it interesting that the only Disciple that Jesus ever called “Satan” was Peter, and yet Peter went on to become a leader of the church. (Matt 16:23, Mark 8:33) In fact, Peter was rebuked and called “Satan” precisely because he didn’t want Jesus to be killed. Does it really make sense that Peter gets called “Satan” for not wanting Jesus to die, but then Judas is called a “devil” for doing what was necessary to make the atoning sacrifice of Jesus possible? I would argue that Judas did repent. Judas returned the money. If Judas had not been repentant, then why did he commit suicide? People don’t kill themselves because they are unrepentant about what they have done.
      Yes I agree Peter did deny Jesus 3 times and even tried to talk Jesus out of doing his Fathers will for him. Peter was weak but not wicked like Judas. If you recall Judas had had his fingers in the till for some time and it appears he was trying to profit from Jesus, so his motives were quite different from that of Peter. I am pleased you referred to Peter as ‘a’ leader not ‘the’ leader it is a common misconception that Peter became the first Pope. Peter was never in Rome, but lived in Babylon and had a wife and daughters.

      • So which account concerning what Judas did with the money is correct?

        Matthew says Judas returned the money. Acts says Judas spent the money.

        Which account concerning the death of Judas is correct?

        Matthew says Judas hanged himself. Acts says he fell headlong to his death and his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.

        • So which account concerning what Judas did with the money is correct? Matthew says Judas returned the money. Acts says Judas spent the money. Which account concerning the death of Judas is correct? Matthew says Judas hanged himself. Acts says he fell headlong to his death and his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.
          Both from different perspectives. Two sets of people looking on an event see the event from a different perspective. Cops get the same at a crime scene or a car accident.
          Matthews account tells us what Judas actually did. Acts tells us what happened with the money, it was used to purchase land, which was the end result of Judas’ money. Matthew simply goes into more detail. Matthew simply tells us that Judas hung himself. Acts tells us more detail on the hanging in that in the process of hanging himself he either fell or the rope broke causing his body to fall on the rocks below. No contradiction just different perspectives of an event. This does prove that the stories weren’t corroborated but different eye witness accounts of the same event.

      • Paul said: “No contradiction just different perspectives of an event. This does prove that the stories weren’t corroborated but different eye witness accounts of the same event.”

        And I suppose you also have an explanation for Matthew’s claim that it fulfilled prophecy?

        Matt 27:9-10 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

        The problem is there’s no such verse anywhere in Jeremiah.

        Matthew seems to actually be quoting Zechariah:

        Zechariah 11:12-13 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the LORD.

        Can you honestly say that this verse in Zechariah makes any sense as a prophecy that’s fulfilled in Matthew?

        I think it’s obvious that Matthew twisted his account of Judas to fit an alleged OT prophecy.

        Matthew did a similar thing by having Jesus riding on TWO donkeys in Matthew 21:7 when the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 really only intended to mean ONE donkey.

      • Paul:

        If you’re determined to rationalize two contradictory passages, I’ll agree that you can. But shouldn’t you consider all the options? Like, for example, that these are stories rather than history?

    • Retro said: Who exactly would be resurrected is the real question here. Are only the righteous resurrected, or is everyone resurrected? Matthew 22:30 simply says the dead will rise, with no reference to whether it’s everyone or just the righteous. Later on in Matthew 25:41, Jesus says “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” which plainly states that not only will the wicked dead be resurrected, but they will suffer eternal fire.
      The account in Matt 25:41, Jesus is here referring to people that are alive not dead. As they are in a position to be able to do good to his brothers or not. In the grave there is neither work nor devising. Ecclesiastes 9:10. So this judgement was passed on to people who are alive at Jesus return, see vs 31. They would depart into everlasting cutting off from which there is no resurrection, that is why it is depicted as a fire, as a fire consumes everything and nothing is left. A loving God does not torment people with fire for eternity.

    • Retro said: Luke 20:35 says those “who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead” which implies only the righteous will be raised. Acts 24:15 states that there will “be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked”. I don’t want to get too deep into this, as my main point is that BOTH sides can make a case from the Bible. The Bible is contradictory, and one must accept that BOTH conditional AND unconditional immortality are taught in the Bible.
      Jesus simply states that the ‘worthy ones’ would get resurrected and Acts tells us who is worthy, which include the righteous and unrighteous. I see no contradiction there. By the way there is no mention of them receiving immortality.

    • These inherit the earth under the Kingdom. Jesus spoke of two sheep folds John 10:1-16. the first sheep fold will rule with Jesus in the heavens and then in vs 16 he says he has ‘other sheep, which are not of this fold, those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice.
      Revelation explains this nicely, Rev 5:9,10.

        • Of course there’s an agenda. Suprised you asked. It is God’s book and is all inspired by him so that we can understand it. Every part of it helps with the whole. The Bible has a theme as any book. the theme is ‘The Vindication of Jehovah’s Sovereignty by his Kingdom’. Every book relates to this theme and helps us understand God’s purpose to restore the earth to a paradise as he intended in the beginning with Adam and Eve.

      • Paul:

        Of course there’s an agenda. Suprised you asked.

        People often have an agenda but either don’t realize it or refuse to admit it. Most Christians, for example, would say that they’re objective truth seekers who go where the facts lead them. It’s refreshing to see you put your cards on the table.

        Every part of it helps with the whole.

        Here’s where the agenda shows. If you know what you want to see, you’ll find it in the Bible. Savagery? Read the genocide stuff. Kindness? Focus on parts of the gospels. IMO, you have your view of what the Bible ought to say, so you marshal your verses to defend that view (ignoring that a very different view could also be defended).

        • Yes I see your point. However when you try and fit it to your own thinking you end up with so called contraditions. There are none in the Bible so we conclude that our understanding of what we are reading is wrong.
          Scientests do something similar. They know an effect so they look for a cause, as much as they try to invent one by theory there is only one cause. That’s how they found the Elements. So through study they eventually find the right answer.
          We do the same with God’s word, it’s in there, we just have to find it and it will be in harmony with the rest of the Bible. It means even changing our views when we find the truth. For example Jehovah’s Witnesses use to believe in the Cross, Trinity and other false teachings. But we found through a study of the entire Bible these views were wrong and changed our view to a more accurate one. Jehovah’s Witnesses constantly study God’s Word for enlightenment and revealed truth, but must be in harmony with the entire Bible.
          I hope this makes sense!

      • Anytime someone uses an apocalyptic vision in Revelation to explain a parable, I get a little nervous.

        The “other sheep” in John chapter 10 is obviously refering to the gentiles.

        • Why do you say obviously? I can explain in more detail if you wish, and I will need a little more time to study God’s Word for you.

      • Paul said: “Why do you say obviously? I can explain in more detail if you wish, and I will need a little more time to study God’s Word for you.”

        I said “obviously” because that is the theme of the Gospel of John. It’s all about how Jesus was seeking the outsiders that were searching for the kingdom. Jesus talked to tax collectors, Samaritans, women, lepers, children etc. Until this time, the Jewish religion caused the Jews to remain separated from the Gentiles. The Gospel of John makes it clear that Jesus came to save everyone, not just the Jews.

        The insiders were the Jewish leaders like the Pharisees, and they failed to recognize who Jesus was, and they ultimately rejected Jesus.

        The sheep already in the fold are the Jews, and the “other sheep” are the Gentiles.

        That’s how I see it, but I’d be happy to discuss it further.

      • Paul:

        when you try and fit it to your own thinking you end up with so called contraditions. There are none in the Bible so we conclude that our understanding of what we are reading is wrong.

        Wow. We are about as far away from the same page as possible. There are shelves of books either pointing out the contradictions or trying to shore up the idea that there are none.

        Do you say there are none because you were told or because you’ve researched this?

        Scientests do something similar.

        Not really. Scientists do go into an investigation trying to upset as little as possible of current thinking. But if a scientist is too cautious and too attached to a theory, rivals will be happy to point out the error. This peer review, going where the evidence demands, and basing conclusions on evidence yields results–we can see this in the way we’re communicating right now. Religion is about as far from this as possible.

        We do the same with God’s word, it’s in there, we just have to find it and it will be in harmony with the rest of the Bible.

        And do you consider the possibility that there is no god at all, that this is just another manmade religion like all the rest?

        • Hi Bob, I have reached this conclusion through many years of study in the Bible and other reference work. We continually challenge or views as we are involved in a public preaching work meeting people of all religions and atheists, agnostics. So my views are always challenge as here on this site and I have heard nothing that comes close to the truth as I have found in God’s Word. Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only Christian religion engaged in a door to door campaign world wide teaching the same as Jesus, the coming of God’s Kingdom. Mormans do too but not to teach God’s Word but the book of Mormon, and it is not their life long work as with JW.

      • Paul:

        I have heard nothing that comes close to the truth as I have found in God’s Word.

        I can imagine that nothing makes you feel as good as imagining God’s word, but I’m not sure what you mean here by “truth.” How do you determine truth?

        • Jesus said with reference to the Bible, “Your Word is truth.” John 17:17. So that is where it is found. Of course is is not the truth on any given subject. But everything it touches on is truth. That is because it comes from someone who cannot lie, being perfect. Of course I don’t expect you to believe that on my word. You would need to, like myself study God’s Word and find that for yourself. Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy to assist people in their search without predudice.

      • Paul:

        Jesus said with reference to the Bible, “Your Word is truth.” John 17:17. So that is where it is found.

        So you presuppose the Bible is true and then go from there?

        But everything it touches on is truth.

        So Genesis is true and Big Bang is not?

        • Yes that’s right. But the Bible does not explain how the universe was started just that God made it. How he did that, who knows he did not say? He may have started that with a big bang but under controlled conditions to keep things away from chaos. I went to IMax in Australia and saw the Hubble flight through space. It was awe inspiring. Hitchens also theorised that the galaxies had a beginning and continue to grow outward. That would also harmonise in my humble view with a creative start. Call it Big Bang if you like. I believe that is still in debate, but it must be billions of years old.

        • Because science does does not accept a creator or should I say won’t consider a creator. I am not saying all science is wrong, by no means. But like some religions they have an agenda. For example I read this the other day from Richard C. Lewontin, “We have a prior commitment…..to materialism,” and “That materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

      • Paul said: “Because science does does not accept a creator or should I say won’t consider a creator.”

        It’s not that science won’t consider a creator, it’s that science only deals with things that can be detected, measured, and tested.

        An infinite, immaterial, and undetectable being that doesn’t interact with the material world is something you have a religious belief in, it’s not something you can do scientific research on.

        Paul said: “I am not saying all science is wrong, by no means.”

        I glad you accept that at least some science is correct. Until science came along, diseases were thought to be caused by evil spirits. Today we immunize rather than exorcize.

        • Yes that is correct and for that we are truly thankfull to such men for their research in finding cures.
          Interestingly God gave good direction too about isolated ones with infectious diseases, when he gave the law to the Israelites.

      • Paul:

        Sure, you can cherry pick scientists who refuse to consider supernatural explanations.

        I’m happy to consider supernatural explanations. But the lack of evidence in favor of that position makes me suspect that there’s nothing there.

        • You see we have to be careful about ‘cherry picking’. I agree, it is the same with religion. Just as there are no doubt sincere scientists, there is equally sincere people who believe in God.

          JW spend enormous amount of time helping sincere people to come to an accurate knowledge of the Bible and explaining God. However some would rather not have it explained and happy with their own views. Well that’s OK we are free moral agents and are given freedom to chose as you do Bob. It is apparent you would rather have faith in scientists and I would rather have faith in God. That is our right and priviledge. But we must also accept the consequences of our decisions.

        • Absolutely. By the way I live in Christchurch NZ. We have just had 3 major earthquakes. 5.9, 5.3 and another 5.8. I may not have power for too long. Christchurch is in trouble.

    • Paul:

      Interestingly God gave good direction too about isolated ones with infectious diseases, when he gave the law to the Israelites.

      So early Jews were grossed out by skin diseases. Big deal. Where is the recipe for soap? Where are the “boil thy drinking water” or “locate thy privy far from thy water source” commandments?

      • Paul said: “They did actually have commands for doing ‘number 2′. They were required to go outside the camp and bury it.”

        And the Bible even explains why:

        Deuteronomy 23:12-14 Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.

        For God moves about in your camp, and if He sees any dung, He’ll turn away.

        In other words, if God steps in it, you’re in big trouble.

      • Paul:

        Whether we’re like God or God’s like us, it’s still odd that he acts just like an ordinary person–grossed out by poop and skin ailments. Genocides people who are in his way. And so on. You’d think that he’d be above such human-like thoughts and actions.

    • Paul said: “It is apparent you would rather have faith in scientists and I would rather have faith in God.”

      How can you even equate the two? Do you go to a doctor and take medicine when you are sick, or do you only go to church and pray for a cure?

      I don’t need “faith” in the doctor or the medicine for it to work.

      Saying that Bob would “rather have faith” in science makes it sound like he prefers not believing in God. Rational people do not believe in things because they prefer to believe in them. A rational person goes where the evidence leads them.

      Paul, did you actually start believing because you had scientific evidence, or did you start believing because it felt true?

      • Actually science proves there is a God. You guys just don’t want to see it. I can’t help that I’m sorry. The evidence of creation, or if you like intelligence being behind what we see is undeniable and I just don’t see how you can come to any other conclusion.

  22. Matt 25:41 speaks specifically about Satan and his angels going into eternal death or total destruction. Not sure what you mean about the wicked being resurrected to eternal death?

    • Matt 25:41 is talking about resurrected HUMANS who will go to eternal punishment. Matt 25:32 states that those on the left are PEOPLE.

      Matt 25:32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

      Doesn’t make much sense to resurrect someone just to kill them again. It makes much more sense if these verses are implying eternal conscious torment.

      • Retro said: Matt 25:41 is talking about resurrected HUMANS who will go to eternal punishment. Matt 25:32 states that those on the left are PEOPLE. Matt 25:32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Doesn’t make much sense to resurrect someone just to kill them again. It makes much more sense if these verses are implying eternal conscious torment.
        Please look at vs 31, 32 you will see that when Jesus arrives he will gather the nations before him to judge them. He is not gathering dead people, but people that are able to show they have been doing good to Jesus brothers.

  23. Luke 20:35 Jesus was specifically talking about one group who get resurrected. This does not counter the fact that others will also get resurrected, such as the wicked. If you take the Bible as a whole it makes sense.

  24. Immortality is only for those going to heaven. Eternal life does not necessarily mean immortality.

    Someone immortal cannot be killed. But someone with eternal life can be killed. Does this make sense?

    • If someone with eternal life can be killed, their life isn’t “eternal” then is it?

      The dictionary says eternal = perpetual; ceaseless; endless.

      What’s your definition of “eternal”?

      • Eternal life is just that, like the dictionary says. However like Adam and Eve who had eternal life, it can be lost. As free moral agents we still have a choice to remain in eternal life or choose not to like Adam and Eve.

      • That makes a little more sense.

        I’m not sure the Bible makes that distinction though. What verses do you use to support this idea?

        The Bible doesn’t say that Adam and Eve HAD eternal life and then lost it.

        Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

        The Bible simply states that Adam and Eve COULD have lived forever if they ate from the tree of life. This means that they DID NOT ALREADY have eternal life.

        So then, it;s not like thay had it and lost it, it’s that they could’ve had it but never actually got it.

        • Excellent. I would love to answer this for you. I have to go out tonight in a few minutes so I will get back to you with a more concise answer from God’s Word.
          Thanks for being open enough to discuss these matters.

        • Retro said: That makes a little more sense. I’m not sure the Bible makes that distinction though. What verses do you use to support this idea? The Bible doesn’t say that Adam and Eve HAD eternal life and then lost it. Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” The Bible simply states that Adam and Eve COULD have lived forever if they ate from the tree of life. This means that they DID NOT ALREADY have eternal life. So then, it;s not like thay had it and lost it, it’s that they could’ve had it but never actually got it.
          It is made clear in Gen 2:17 and Gen 3:3-5. The only mention of death for Adam and Eve is if they eat from the fruit, which would mean sin. If they did not eat from the fruit they obviously would live forever. This is discussed by Paul in Rom 6:23. God’s purpose is clearly explained in Ps 3:29: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” This was God’s original purpose for Adam and Eve and for you and me and it is still his purpose. This is also obvious in the way our bodies are made. For example; Scientist Carl Sagan states that the human brain could hold information that “would fill some twenty million volumes, as many as in the world’s largest libraries.” (Cosmos, 1980, p.278) Also regarding the capacity of the human brain’s “filling system,” biochemist Isaac Asimov wrote that it is “perfectly capable of handling any load of learning and memory which the human being is likely to put upon it – and a billion times more than that quantity, too.” So it certainly appears our creator intended us to live a lot longer than we do at present.

      • Paul said: “If they did not eat from the fruit they obviously would live forever”

        Then what is the point of keeping them from eating from the tree of life?

        Why would there even be a tree of life at all?

        • Paul said: “If they did not eat from the fruit they obviously would live forever”
          Retro said: Then what is the point of keeping them from eating from the tree of life? Why would there even be a tree of life at all?
          The tree was symbol of God’s right to determine or set the standards for man as to what is ‘good and bad’. It was a test of man’s respect for his creator’s position and his willingness to remain within the area of freedom decreed by God. To eat of the tree would be a revolt against God’s sovereignty.
          Adam and Eve chose to decide for themselves what was good and bad. So the reason given for putting Adam out of the garden was so that he could “not put his hand out and actually take fruit also from the tree of life and eat and live”—yes, forever! After expelling Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden, Jehovah posted “the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning itself continually to guard the way to the tree of life. The tree simply represented God’s guarantee of everlasting life to the one who would be allowed to eat its fruit.

      • Paul:

        The only mention of death for Adam and Eve is if they eat from the fruit, which would mean sin.

        If they ate from the fruit, God says they would die (as if it were made of cyanide).

        On the sin point: it is nonsense to judge someone as sinful when they have no capability to understand sin, as Adam and Eve did before eating the fruit.

        If they did not eat from the fruit they obviously would live forever.

        If they didn’t eat the fruit, they wouldn’t drop dead.

        • Bob said: If they ate from the fruit, God says they would die (as if it were made of cyanide).
          No they just pulled away from their life line. It took a long time for them to die in fact he lived for 930 years. Which was within the day, as one day for God, is like a thousand years for us 2 Pet 3:8. In that time Adam and Eve had children from which we have descended.
          Bob said: On the sin point: it is nonsense to judge someone as sinful when they have no capability to understand sin, as Adam and Eve did before eating the fruit.
          They knew what they were commanded by God, and that a death penalty would be imposed if they broke it. They knew what death was as animal creation lived and died around them. Do not consider them like us as sinners. We find it hard to do what is right on the other hand Adam and Eve would have found it easy being perfect without sin.
          Bob said: If they did not eat from the fruit they obviously would live forever.
          If they didn’t eat the fruit, they wouldn’t drop dead.
          All in one Bob. So if your going to angry about anything it’s them we can blame. The rat bags gave up our real heritage and sold us into sin.

      • Paul:

        It took a long time for them to die in fact he lived for 930 years.

        God says, “you will surely die.” As in, die like you were electrocuted. Not die as in live another 900+ years.

        The snake said that wasn’t true … and the snake was right. Weird how the snake becomes the hero.

        Which was within the day, as one day for God, is like a thousand years for us 2 Pet 3:8.

        You’re bringing in the book of Peter to rationalize away this problem?? What would a contemporary reader of Genesis have thought? Would he know about the Peter justification? I don’t think so.

        They knew what they were commanded by God, and that a death penalty would be imposed if they broke it.

        Then what does the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil give you if not this kind of appreciation? And if they knew this beforehand, what’s the point of eating the fruit of this tree?

        Do not consider them like us as sinners.

        Genesis portrays them as innocents.

        The rat bags gave up our real heritage and sold us into sin.

        “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.” (Deuteronomy 24:16)

        What sense does it make for us to suffer for an error someone else made?

        • No you have it wrong sorry. The snake said you will NOT die, but be like God. They did die even though over 900 years old, but they did die. Like God said. The serpent or Satan the Devil is responsible for the mess we are in, but Adam and Eve threw their lot in with him.
          I will answer the rest when I have a bit more time!

      • Paul:

        No you have it wrong sorry. The snake said you will NOT die, but be like God.

        OK, sounds like what I said.

        God said that they would die (as in, immediately). The snake said that that was wrong. And the snake was correct.

        Adam and Eve threw their lot in with him.

        And you’ve sidestepped my point. Why does what Adam did affect me? Why punish me for someone else’s crime?

  25. So immortality does have conditions to be resurrected to heaven. To be resurrected on earth also has conditions (the righteous), unless you have never had an opportunity to make a decision and die, you will be resurrected to be given that opportunity to accept the conditions, these ones are what the Bible calls wicked.
    So in the end everyone has an opportunity to accept life in God’s Kingdom or not, with the conditions of course.Jehovah is Just and Fair and gives all mankind the opportunity to accept eternal life or not under his Kingdom rule by his son Jesus.

  26. Retro,
    I will reply to Paul’s heretical view on the J,.W. false teaching on the “Two calss theology”.

    Where the annointed born again 144,000 Christians go to heaven. And the rest go to earth.

    I will show this false teaching in the near future.

  27. Pingback: The Irrelevant Wisdom of the Ten Commandments | Cross Examined

  28. Good post
    I chortled my way through the comments. You have the patience of Job !

    Is it any wonder Marcion took one look at the Old Testament and declared, “Stuff this for a bunch of soldiers,I am NOT worshipping this old murdering Jewish bastard” turfed it out , did a major edit of the NT and came up with a Gospel and a God that was God that was as clean as driven snow. Amen.
    And then the Catholics declared him a heretic because they realised that without the OT there would be no Jesus let alone a New Testament.
    “And that, children, is why you don’t piss God off, understand?”

    • There’s a lot to recommend Marcion’s approach. It’s a fantasy, of course, so that’s one strike against it, but it does resolve some of the problems with conventional Christianity.

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