Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Civil Discussion

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Have a seat. Would you like some coffee, tea?

I asked you here today to discuss the fact that you deserve to be beaten, tortured, and humiliated. Your thoughts are crimes worthy of sexual humiliation and agonizing pain, for as long as the torturers can keep it up.

In fact, it's not just your thoughts. It's what your ancestors thought. Don't blame me; that's just how it is.

It's not my fault, you see, because, by thinking those thoughts, you have chosen to be branded with hot metal and repeatedly, brutally sodomized. You have said, through your thoughts and actions, that you want to be chained down on a splintery rack, stretched, and shat upon by rabid livestock, while buzzards peck out your eyes. You said, "hey, mister. Would you mind putting me in an episode of twilight zone, where I slowly go into a psychological horror, despair and despondency, never to receive comfort from another human being? That would be great." Hey--that was you talking. Not me.

But you can take it all back. You can escape from your shame. All you have to do is to agree with me, and your unforgiveable thought-crimes will be erased. Admit that your thoughts are vile, and that you are vile, and that you deserve to sit in a hot tub full of feces and vomit, and handed a large spoon, and you will escape the fate of someone peeling your skin off and forcing you into an iodone and lime juice shower.

But the best part of all this, is if you admit you deserve to slide down a giant razor blade into a pond full of pirhana and Amazon Urethra fish, you will be able to hang out with me. Isn't that great? What good news that is!

Now, aren't you glad we could have this talk? If more people realized that people as different as we can have a civil exchange of ideas, we wouldn't be having these problems. I just wish that the other people, the ones like you, weren't so unreasonably hostile.

Thanks for listening.

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22 comments:

Aaron Kinney said...

Now this is just awesome. I had to post about it, because I love it so much!

My Post about "A Civil Discussion"

TheJollyNihilist said...

Alleee,

Tremendous work.

With respect to hell, I just loved what Richard Carrier said during the movie The God Who Wasn't There. Brian Flemming asked Carrier if he would be regretful if, when he died, he ended up in the Christian hell. Carrier said not at all; indeed, the Christian heaven would be a true hell for him. He pointed out that, if he knew billions of people were suffering agonizing torture for all eternity, and he couldn't do a thing about it while sitting up in heaven, that would be the worst afterlife he could imagine.

The very concept of hell demonstrates the inherent immorality of Christianity. No virtuous religion would envision a place filled with agonizing tortures and horrendous suffering. Envisioning such a place seems downright psychopathic.

Hellbound Alleee said...

Thank you.

But my intent when I conceived of this post is in the title: "A Civil Discussion." I was inspired by Stefan Molyneux' recent podcast about discussing war with pro-war individuals. If they really think you should be shot, what more do you have to talk about? "Get out of my house," as he said.

When you have a discussion with a Christian, they often demand civility from you while firmly believing that your deserving of hell is wholly just.

I recall a discussion we had with Matt Slick and Derek Sansone. After the discussion, Matt Slick said he was so impressed that an atheist could be so civil, unlike others who will remain nameless.

So when we all talk about being civil and facilitating dialogue, we shoud remember this, After all, would they tolerate it if you said this to them?

Phunicular said...

Well it may seem like God upstairs
Ain't been listening to my prayers
And the things I see ahappenin' make me cry,
But all those tears turn into glee...

A Traditional Spiritual

Zachary Moore said...

A little off-topic, but I absolutely love the pictures you use. They absolutely make the posts more poignant.

BRob said...

Great post!

----------------

Why is it that we are all aware of detailed, lurid, descriptions of Hell, but only very simplistic descriptions of Heaven?

Of course, both Hell and Heaven have 'reality' only in minds already ruined by having been infected at a tender age with the concept of an 'everlasting soul'.

Welcome to civilization!

velid said...

That was beautiful. And such nice music too.

Phunicular said...

Brob: "Why is it that we are all aware of detailed, lurid, descriptions of Hell, but only very simplistic descriptions of Heaven?"

I think that's because there cannot ever be a non-simplistic description of Heaven. As soon as you try to analyse it in any depth, the concept disappears in a puff of logic.

crazykama said...

why is it a picture of a boobie on primetime sports creates havoc but the mental images of assraping demons delights them?

MDtoMN said...

Very effective. I can see what you think of Christians, and I don't exactly blame you, particularly given that (1) this is the major public face displayed by the media; (2) Christians who respect others' beliefs & adhere to "pray in the closet, not in the street" are, by their nature, not seen as Christians and do not talk to others about their beliefs - but those are the ones who would are least likely to hold beliefs like these.

Now, I don't want to bore you, but I'll try to explain what that second group of Christians believes - or at least what I believe, and is one viewpoint.

Humanity is there now. We're IN Hell. We're apart from God. And while we don't always realize it, it's hell. It's a horrible way to be. Think about politics. Think about anger you might feel for right-wingers and Conservatives. Think about kids beaten by their parents, and minorities suffering mistreatment by the majority. Keep in mind that despite everything we try to do, those things will all be that way tomorrow - maybe less so, maybe better, but still there.

Hell may be no worse than this. Maybe this IS Hell. Maybe you don't believe things are too bad (Sometimes I feel that way, but a moment of deep anger or hatred or mistreatment of another or by another, and i am reminded of how excruciatingly sad things can get). Maybe you think things cannot get better (I often wonder). or maybe you believe things will get better through human progress (color me skeptical, we're not exactly in any rush to identify the asshole gene but we sure are in a hurry to identify those of other disabilities & homosexuality, so that people can start selectively aborting those kids but keep breeding selfish assholes - I'm pro-choice, but I don't have illusions about the most popular reasons for allowing abortion among the conservatives - anyway, we're not moving towards Heaven). Sometimes I don't either (I'm not a great Christian). But . . .

Christianity is about God dying for us. It's about a man willing to say "love thy enemy as thyself" turn the other cheek, give up everything you ever had and follow him, etc. It's about a Love that is so complete and unbridled that it literally glows on peoples' faces. It's about reaching a connection with God. The best Christians (very rare, now days), are already in heaven in every meaningful way. In their experience of God's love, they can love everyone else so completely that all distinctions, all limitations, fall away.

Now, I sure as heck am not there. And few are. But that's what some of us are trying to reach. And, if you want to try to reach it too, you can drop by some of the cool Mainstream Churches - Episcopalians, Methodists, Luterans, etc. Now, those denominations are shrinking because getting there is hard, and embracing arrogance and hate is easy, and people like the easy way out. But, people who believe that still exist. They write & inspire classic books - i.e. the World's Religions, other old classics.

Anyway, keep in mind that Christian theology and history are a lot more complex than many modern "Christian" adherents know, particularly those who make television and politics. There's a lot more there there than this stuff.

Francois Tremblay said...

Hey Godboy... if this is Hell, then whatever happened to the eternal torment part ? It seems to me like making that point means you think "Jesus" was a liar.

If Christianity is about not being on Earth then it seems to me you have a very dim view of human existence. Then again, you *are* a Christian.

Hellbound Alleee said...

This will have to go in another entry. My comments for mdtomn will appear in Sunday's entry.

So, mdtomn, you're not off the hook, mister.

MDtoMN said...

To say I have a very dim view of human existence is probably quite fair. I honestly don't know how anyone can read human history and live through current events and NOT have a dim view of human existence. Obviously, it has it's uplifting points, and I love many of the people I meet, but I can't help but think that we all deserve better and deserve to BE better than we are.

Second, I don't believe the Bible is infallible, particularly in the sense of being literally true or accurate every step of the way. Genesis has two accounts of creation, and they differ from each other. In John, there's a story which begins with Jesus in one location and ends with him wanding into another - but not nearly enough time could have passed for him to make the journey. Luke BEGINS acknowledging that it's a recounting of the story by a witness. Biblical scholars know this. Many professed Christians know. Many ministers & priests know it. So, asking me to admit that Jesus was a liar because of something the Bible says he said is questionable.

Also, the unkept secret among many Christians is that Jesus almost certainly was mistaken about world events. The Bible suggests that he believed that God would transform the world in his time or shortly thereafter. However, theologically it is not necessary for Jesus to be correct about everything for him to be fully human and fully divine. Personally, I disagree with many scholars and believe he may have been more correct than people paint him, but I'm not sure it theologically matters.

As for eternal torment - I honestly don't know what comes next exactly. I'm just saying, many Christians do not believe that the eternal Hell described in this post is what follows for non-believers.

I want to emphasize - I definitely sympathize with the nonbelievers, agnostics, atheists, and adherents of other faiths in feeling deeply insulted and angered by their treatment from those who DO paint Hell in the manner described here. Certainly, most Christians would assert that I was going to Hell, and they would have even more disdain for me than they do for the rest of you. Trust me, I know, they've expressed it to me. So far people here have been far kinder than those on the "Left Behind" website.

I just wanted to throw out there that there is a significant strain of Christianity that does not adhere to these beliefs. It has ancient roots - Gnostic writings, early Christian writers, medieval mystics like Julian of Norwich, and modern writers. Indeed, Julian specifically did not believe that ANYONE would go to Hell.

I can't promise to keep coming back here and posting responses to it - and I doubt any of you really want me to. I also am probably a very poor representative of it, because I am fairly religiously ignorant and somewhat weak in my faith. However, it certainly is OUT there, and I thought it would be good for y'all to know that it does exist and have adherents today.

I'm just curious, how do y'all feel about religious leaders like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., etc? Do you think they all thought this? Do you think they were all pretending to be religious? I don't believe those people thought this, and I don't think they were pretending.

As a more specific response - I didn't say this was ALL there was to Hell. Some scholars & theologians argue that Hell is the State of "Being Apart from God." Thus, those who are apart from God are in Hell in this life, in the next life, and eternally, until they reach the point of being one with God. Also, those who reach that point in this life are not in Hell. Some are one with God while on this Earth. Others continue to be apart from God after this life.

Finally, as to Eternal Torment - it is quite possible that no one will suffer eternal torment. Everyone may join the Kingdom of God in their own time. That's what I tend to think, but honestly, what do I know?

Hellbound Alleee said...

It doesn't matter how I feel about any one particular religious leader. I don't believe in anything supernatural, and I suppose they did. I don't know.

I suppose you could be called a Christian, but I don't see why you would have a favorable view of mainstream protestantism. What you are describing goes against these religions.

I don't think you understand when you say you are "letting us all know" that there is a thing that is "out there" that you believe in. I certainly know that extremely well, that people believe all sorts of strange things, with little rhyme or reason. But if you can't be specific about what you believe and why, I simply can't take it to heart. You say it exists but you don't define it. No reason to believe it.

There is no reason to believe that anything supernatural takes place anywhere. People die. When I say die, I mean cease to exist. That does not mean that there is black, or there is another place, or that there is any kind of a "you" that exists. This is fine with me, although I have so much fun and appreciation for life that I wish I could exist for a lot longer than I probably will.

When you realize this, you MUST start seeking personal appreciation for the Good. This is not a game, and this is not a dress rehearsal. You're on stage NOW. The best part of all this is that there is no one floating above you monitoring your thoughts and your sex life. Look up. Is there anyone there? No? There's your answer.

Hellbound Alleee said...

I was going to say it bloody well doesn't make sense to call oneself a Christian when one doesn't agree with what Jesus says in scripture. If one doesn't believe that scripture is actually reflective of a Christ, then one is batty and has made up a Christ out of wholecloth. So why the hell worship someone that one knows nothing about? You don't know what he said (if he even existed), or did--that's just screwed up. What if he, I don't know, believed in eternal torment and that the end of the world would result in all non-believers burning in a Lake of Fire? That's what the gospels say. You wouldn't want to follow a crwzy, evil person like that. I suggest one stop immediately before one's moral autonomy completely disappears.

MDtoMN said...

I understand people who don't believe in anything beyond physical reality. I used to agree with them. I don't now. I know, I know - we cease to exist. I've now had non-pysical experiences that lead me to doubt that. You haven't had those experiences, and you probably haven't opened yourself up to them. So, you're missing out on that. I don't consider this a dress rehearsal, and I never said I did. Also, I never conceive of things as God monitoring every moment. It's that as one goes through life, one is in constant interaction with the Lord.

Second, as to scripture - I never said scripture provided no guidance to what Jesus said or believed. I just said that it takes IMMENSE study and research and leaves certain questions up to faith. Almost all biblical scholars agree that Jesus was waiting for the arrival of the Kingdom of God. What that means is open to massive debate, and it has to be informed by both faith and biblical study. People who resort solely to Biblical study inevitably bring in their faith (or more often their prejudices) into things. So, I hesitated to answer the question because I could (and have) write 35 pages on what Jesus' passages about the Kingdom of God mean. It's hard to consolidate into a blog post. Most of the info about Hell either comes from other people OR involve that complicated question.

Finally, there is a real challenge here. On one hand, I'm completely incapable of explaining centuries of Biblical scholarship, theological development, and the current dogma of the modern Churches over the internet. On the other hand, I HOPED I was providing sufficient information to make it clear that it's not simple a belief that "there is something out there." Apparently I failed. Part of the mystery of religious belief is that it is so different from normal belief. It's not about defining things in concrete terms. And it's definitely not about RATIONAlITY. It's about recognizing the truth beyond RATIONALITY. I know most people have little time for that, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. One can, if one tries, have experiences that give one reason to believe but which are not rational or scientifically replicable.

All I know - most atheists and agnostics show themselves to be woefully uninformed about all of these centuries of debate, discourse, and belief, and then they critique religion based on the ranting of one chunk of supposed "Christians". Your statement about my beliefs being against mainstream protestantism suggests that you may not really know about many mainstream protestant churches or where they are. It's actually a major area of contention today.

Disclaimer - I have no doubt I can't change your mind about this. I can respect that. I understand your position. I just feel sad that so many people have a view of Christianity which is so utterly incomplete in such a sad way. That is mostly the fault of other "Christians," but sometimes I try to do something about it. For instance, imagine a person consistently discussed Islam solely in terms of terrorism and oppression of women. Then imagine how an Islamic progressive woman might get frustrated with that wholly incomplete picture. I guess that's analogous to how I feel.

crazykama said...

while i am not super smart and articulate - i just thought i would ask this - why if your faith means so much to you - to any christian - does someone need to justify it by others? if your relationship with god is so personal and you are happy - why seek out others and do the same saccharine speach just blogged about? oh yes the tone is different but cant you feel the passive aggressive finger nails on chalk board? you believe what you believe. another believes what they believe. but why seek out to talk about "other christians" as if you have spoken any different or kinder? do not fool yourself. i will give you this - what you believe is beautiful and right for YOU. what anyone else believes is non of your business to change or pretend to be the friendly and gentle religious nut case but secretly be a pusher all along. by making me believe something does not make your relationship or your place in your heaven or hell any sweeter.

Hellbound Alleee said...

I can`t ag ree with the statement "what you believe is beautiful and right for you." I promote non-belief because belief is bad for people. It causes us to abandon our moral standards and rationality. Remember: we believe because the facts don't support our hypothesis. We waste our time, we commit acts based on falsehoods, we spread falsehoods to others, we sacrifice the good for the false, and worst of all, we have to constantly justify falsehoods and immorality--if not to others, to ourselves. It's not a good way to live. Especially when we think we can live after death.

jhuger said...

mdtomn, you say "I've now had non-pysical experiences that lead me to doubt that."

You have no way to prove those experiences were non-physical. The best you can do even in theory is say "science" can't explain them, but even that's probably not true.

"Science" can reliably duplicate religious experience with purely physical means such as drugs and direct electrical stimulation of the brain.

We can even duplicate them, though not so reliably, using exactly the same methods you folks use: fasting, sleep deprivation, isolation, rhythmic chanting, visualizations, etc.

I done it myself, and it's kinda cool in a trippy sort of way. But it's not a reliable way to learn about the world around us.

Hellbound Alleee said...

That`s a good point, jhuger. Because there's no such thing as a "non-physical experience." How can an experience be non-physical? If there were, just exactly how does one figure out that it's non-physical? Using...

the senses?

Hellbound Alleee said...

As Franc said, "I sense something that's beyond the senses!"

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