Friday, July 9, 2010

The Needlessly Broken-Hearted

A commenter to a post from the dark and backward abysm of time (Cf.) sounds troubled, if not medically endangered:

As a Christian, my heart literally breaks for those who reject the path of life. The thought of "unlimited popcorn" while watching the atheists being tortured for eternity is absolutely preposterous. Knowing that in the presence of the Almighty God we will be in absolute peace, surrounded by absolute love and filled with complete joy...miraculously we won't be aware anymore of those who chose to rebel against God.
Whether it is a hell that has been written about and described, or just being removed completely from any peace, joy and's not a place to be.
God is pure perfection...even a little white lie is pure evil in His presence. That is why He provided the "blood sacrifice" of His only Son, Jesus, to die in our place. If that's not love, I don't know what is. It is our choice and being the God that He is, He allows us to choose our path of life and ultimately our eternity. I pray that you choose life.
Anonymous Christian, your heart doesn't literally break; it figuratively breaks. If your heart literally broke, it would mean you would be too dead, or at best too busy with the attentions of medical professionals, to make comments on this precious, precious blog.

That pedantry aside, let me say: fix your heart, Anonymous Christian, and stop worrying. As with you and everyone else living today, I will be fine right up until I am not, at which point there will only be the memories and, in my case, this decreasingly-updated blog sitting here forlorn.

As to your objections and claims, I like the "unlimited popcorn" idea -- is that one of mine? -- but I fail to see what's "preposterous" about following your ideas where they lead and marking the results. Under the tenets of your theological scheme, some will enjoy heaven while others will suffer in hell. The saved can be expected to be burdened with the awareness of the damned, with or without the live video feed or bottomless popcorn tubs, because this is how things fit together according to every available line of evidence.

I can see how this conclusion is emotionally discomfiting, but it follows from your theological premises and from the human condition that confirms, billions of times over across time, that we notice and bemoan the loss of those we love.

Against this you assert: "Miraculously we won't be aware anymore ..." What is the basis of this speculation? Moreover, have you thought through what's involved in taking a person as is and then subtracting her awareness of people with whom she lives, loves, relates, remembers, and otherwise moves through life? Remove swaths of a person's human connections and what remains but a beast? Aren't Christians generally resistant to this exact reduction? And now you're celebrating it and framing it as your heaven?

You are free, of course, to say and believe as you wish, but please don't waste any pity on me if I am unwilling to demote and degrade every connection I have ever known for the sake of a relationship with one of the last few storybook deities people still cling to. I say you're the one closer to what deserves to be called hell if your hopes for fulfillment and connection lie beyond anyone, and potentially beyond everyone,  alive today.

I mean this literally: I hope you will choose life.


Ian McCullough said...

Let me get this straight. Anonymous Christian imagines a heaven in which they watch other people getting tortured for eternity? That doesn't sound very nice.

Dale said...

Well Ian, maybe yes, maybe no. Anon-Christ seems to be rejecting that view, though I am still waiting for the demonstration that it doesn't flow from his/her premises.

Whether AC holds it or not, it is a dreadfully common view:

See, for example, this:

... to which I commented here:

Anonymous said...

Here is where I always get stuck: "He provided the 'blood sacrifice' of His only Son, Jesus, to die in our place. If that's not love, I don't know what is." So in the parent/child metaphor, if you really, really love someone, you should torture and kill your son, require that all others need to do is believe he is your son and has been killed for you, and you won't suffer a fiery eternity John3:16). a parent, I don't see how I, especially if I'm omnipotent, couldn't come up with a better plan than that. And if that IS love, I guess I've been doing it all wrong!

Thor said...

I love reading discussions of atheists. My simple message is this: Nothing can comprehend the love of God. He created Charles Darwin to discover His amazing creations and wonders of the world. Now, men claim to be so brilliant and try to make their own gods, big or small, and claim that we evolved on single micro-organism, then to apes or monkeys...Thank God, I don't look like one.

Dale said...

Anonymous, no, you're not doing it wrong. It is what it appears to be -- the Bible's tale of blood sacrifice is a debasement of the idea of love, so much so as to be Orwellian.

If I see my son sliding off a 1000-foot precipice and decline to step in and pull him back, but then, just as he slides off to his death, I turn and announce to onlookers that I made this sacrifice for the betterment of mankind, and then say I expect the onlookers to spread the word of my sacrifice and willingly die for it, everyone will know what I am: I will deserve either a padded room or a gas chamber, maybe the first followed by the second. Only the insane would take my justification seriously.

This is morals 101. No, it's not even college level -- it's pre-K morals.

Ian McCullough said...

Thor -

What does Darwin and evolutionary theory have to do with discussions of the afterlife?