Subject: Help, please?
Hey yuh Bob.
Let me begin by saying, this isn't hate mail, so breathe easy, heh.
I am writing to you because I wanted your input.
I am an atheist who live in the buckle of the Bible Belt, Chattanooga, TN. I am constantly being solicited for debates and arguments with my fellow college students who have heard of me and my antics (messing with christian demonstrators by holding up signs like "Satan Is My Master, Lol" right next to them, etc) and ask me the typical Christian questions that I see you being asked.
Now I won't lie to you Bob, I try my best, I really, really do, and being a philosophy minor (graphic design major) I tend to have my thoughts relatively well collected but I feel like I never respond to these questions with the certain flair and quick wit that I notice on your site, and the only reason that this bothers me is because I feel like I could help a lot more people see their own ignorance if I could come off as though I am that sort of sarcastic person that really is intelligent.
So I suppose I'm writing to you then to ask you, how do you do it Bob? You never seem to get taken aback by some of the terribly rude and completely ignorant comments that get made to you on a daily basis, and you seem to take all of the christians in stride. Perhaps I am wrong though? Maybe you only make it look easy? Im sorry if my request for help is to vague, but whatever advice you could give me would be, well, more than appreciated as I really look up to you. I've been a fan now for 2 years.
I have to admit that I was at a loss too when I first started all of this, that's why I made sure all of my debates were in a letter-writing forum! You see, emailing a retort is a lot easier than direct face-to-face arguments. Writing a letter let's you research your answer, spend time on wording, and think up a snappy conclusion that'll leave 'em shivering in their loafers!
Now, after almost seven years of responding to hate mail I have found myself armed to the teeth whenever I come in contact with anybody hoping to defend their God against me. That's why I do it! And I post them all to help you with your Christian clashes.
My suggestion is to go through my hate mail one page at a time and pick the letters you don't know the answers to, then see how I handle it. It takes time, and you won't always be ready for every single question. But as time goes by you'll get better and better at it.
I also advise getting Sam Harris' book, "Letter to a Christian Nation." It's less than a hundred pages long, and full of helpful information that you'll need for most of the arguments you'll run into.
But most importantly, remember that Christians have to believe dinosaurs were on the ark. It's that sort of stuff that keeps the debates fun!
|“its really unfortunate that your spiritual eyes have been covered by satan”
i typed in Jesus on the internet and your site was the first to come up. i looked at it and read through some of your hate mail (and you have absoloutley loads!). I am a Christian from the UK and think its really unfortunate that your spiritual eyes have been covered by satan to such and extent that you not only dont believe in Jesus, but choose to make fun of him too. Proverbs 4:19 - 'but the wicked walk around in the dark, they can't even see what makes them stumble'.
you have not offended me with your website, although i do think it is very disrespectful. as i have gathered from your hate mail you have offended many other people out there, and i hope that they are not judging you or condeming you, but praying for your salvation. i shall be doing the same. i have noticed that not many will answer your questions about God or His Son. i will not be one of those people, so feel free to ask me questions and i will do my best to answer them.
our faith is not based on fear, as you seem to think, it is based on love. why do you choose to reject love and eternal happiness? God is a God of love, but there are punishments for not believing in Him. He is fair and just and will only judge according to what is right and true.
i hope to hear from you soon, Bob
Fantastic. FINIALLY someone who will answer my questions! It's so shocking to me that after more than a thousand disgruntled emails how many are so unwilling to answer questions. They simply expect a stranger to drop everything and believe crazy stories just on faith alone. I'm so happy you've stepped up to the plate to answer a question for me.
Okay, so here's my question: How can you have a heaven while anyone suffers forever in hell? I love people so so much! And to think that any of them have to burn forever in an ocean of fire just for being human troubles me a great deal, because I cannot foresee enjoying any sort of paradise whatsoever if there are people whom I've known melting over orange-hot rocks in a never ending wasteland of tortured bodies.
So yeah, that's a pretty basic question. And just to give you a heads-up, in the past I've heard- "We have a choice, and those people chose to burn forever." But that answer doesn't help! I still am expected to enjoy heaven while they suffer! And I have to be satisfied with the answer "They chose it" when we all know that a nice Hindu lady in India doesn't choose to reject Jesus. She was raised Hindu! And a sweet little Eskimo man who worships the Sun and the Moon isn't CHOOSING to hate your Christian God. He's adhering to a heritage that is important to his culture. It's not hatred directed at Jesus or a desire to burn in hell. And even just a person who simply believes that the Christian religion isn't the correct religion, but instead goes to another God, or no God at all! He doesn't believe what you believe, and that's not reason enough to suffer forever and ever.
Thank you for responding to this question. I think it's a reasonable one.
How can I have a paradise while beautiful, friendly, trustworthy folks suffer eternally, forever and ever, for the crime of being born human?
|“We don’t want to do anything for anyone else, let alone live for them!”
Thank you for replying. I will answer your question as best as I can. I agree with you about others saying people 'choose hell', that is a silly response to your given examples and an answer that I wouldn’t always give. I don’t think anyone does choose hell consciously. If I walked up to a girl in the street and asked her "do you want to spend an eternity in bliss with Jesus or spend time in hell with Satan?" I can guarantee that she would choose heaven, who wouldn’t given that choice?!? But people don’t just get into heaven for being nice, and you can’t just turn up, without ever doing anything for God and expect to get in. Heaven is God’s home and He invites everyone to be there with Him once they die. But. Imagine this, you are trapped in a house on fire, everyone outside is just standing and staring, too afraid to come and get you in case they get hurt themselves. A nice man walking by sees you in distress and runs in to save you. He gets you out alive and well, but is now ill himself from the smoke. He later dies in hospital. He gave his life for you. His father then invites you to come and live in his house because yours was destroyed in the fire, even though you were the reason his only son died. You would be very grateful to this man and want to do nice things for him wouldn’t you? It’s the same analogy with God and His Son.
But this world has taught us to be selfish. We don’t want to do anything for anyone else, let alone live for them! If this man’s father had asked you to come and live with him and you said no, I don’t ever want to speak to you again, the man’s father would be quite hurt. If you came back 10 years later and asked to live with him then, because it suited you, he may say no because you were doing it for your own gain. God is always upset when people reject Him. And He wants them to come back to Him so that He can let them back into His home with open arms. But if we wait until a time when we realise we did need Him (when we die) He will say it’s too late. If we come back at any time in our living lives He will be gracious and save us.
I believe that what Jesus spoke was the complete truth, seeing as Jesus was perfect and therefore could not lie. In the Bible salvation is described as a gift. You can do nothing to earn it, it is God's gift, because of the suffering that Jesus did for mankind when He hung on the cross. Johnny Lee Clary described it as this; “I could give you a gift right now, of lets say $100.00, if I wanted to. However, in order for you to take advantage of that gift, you would have to first accept it from me.” Now the point is, no matter the fact that Jesus paid the price for your sins, He is NOT going to force you to accept His free gift of salvation. In Genesis 19 it describes how God totally destroyed two entire cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, which were filled with people who lived evil lifestyles. God did this in order to show just how much He hates sin and will not tolerate evil lifestyles. Just because something is different, does not mean it is acceptable in the eyes of God. The choice is yours. He is not going to force salvation or eternal damnation upon you. That is what love really is all about. It is up to you. If you love Him you will obey His word and if you do not love Him you won't.
You gave me the examples of a nice Hindu lady who had been raised Hindu and hadn’t heard of Jesus, the same with the sweet Eskimo man. I am sad to say that yes, they will unfortunately go to hell. But, all is not lost for those souls! I don’t believe for a second that God would send the people He loves to a place of torture and physical pain forever. Everyone, no matter faith, sexual orientation or gender, will be standing before God when they die. Being in front some something SO holy and amazing must be awesome. The happiness that just being near God must bring would be immense, then to be sent away from that presence? That must be the worst punishment of all. I don’t think there is physical pain in hell, just the longing to be back in God’s presence and the shame of being sent away from Him. The word hell is also translated from Greek to mean ‘age-long’; therefore, many have backed the theory that hell may not be eternal. I believe this theory because in John 5:28-29 it says – “Don’t be surprised at this: a time is coming when all who are dead and in their graves will hear His voice. Then they will come out of their graves. Those who did good will rise and have life forever, but those who did evil will rise to be judged guilty.” In my opinion this means that there will come a time when everyone in hell will have a second judgement. They will be judged according to their actions in life, and the fact that they did not believe in Jesus will be erased because they have served their time in hell, away from God. Those who did good will then go to Heaven, and those who did evil will spend eternity in hell.
The same will happen to people who actively choose not to follow Jesus but I believe their punishment will be more severe (but still not physical) because they had the knowledge of Jesus but chose not to process that knowledge into life. For those who have not heard of Jesus, it is up to the Christians of the world to tell them. Romans 10:14 says – “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” It is up to Christians to bring people like the lovely Hindu lady and the worthy Eskimo man to salvation and eternal life.
The punishment for sin is death. But God loves people so much (like you do but even more!), He sent His only son Jesus Christ to die in their place. Anyone who truly follows Christ therefore avoids the punishment of death and receives forgiveness. In fact, they are considered as blameless as Christ himself. These are the people whose names appear in the book of life. They go to heaven when they die. John 3:18 says – “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.” Only Jesus’ cross is the key than unlocks the door of death!
The ‘Lake of Fire’ that is described in the Bible is a visual image of the burning frustration and distress people feel in hell. It’s not any physical pain that makes them cry; it’s their regret and anger that makes it so unbearable for them. In heaven, nothing makes you sad or impairs your happiness ever, so I don't think that you would remember family or friends that were in hell until they got to heaven because remembering them would make you sad. But you would have the knowledge that everyone in hell will have a second judgement according to the things they have done, so not everyone will stay in hell forever. God loves people too much to do that!
I have just realised that I seem to have written you a short essay! So I will finish here and pray you email back with thoughts, comments and more questions! Remember that God loves you!
After reading your email, I couldn't help but notice what a dark and grim outlook you have on the world. You said, "We don’t want to do anything for anyone else, let alone live for them!" And I think that statement is absolutely false. People help each other all the time. We do things for each other every day! So much so that it is completely overlooked as anything odd or selfless. Even here in New York if you're lost and you ask a stranger for directions several people will stop to help. And when it comes to the sacrifices parents make for their kids, or friends for friends, it's even more astounding the amount of work us humans offer to others for no reason other than making someone else happy and a fulfillment of the heart. I can't allow statements like the ones you've made to just slip by.
I mean, we're all complete strangers walking by each other on the streets every day, and we don't attack each other with open fists, or mob people and take their money, or molest them on the sidewalk. You make it sound like we're all a bunch of horrible creatures selfishly pissing on each other in a quest to be king of the world. That's simply not the case. We each want to get along and live our lives in peace. Most of us live by the Golden Rule: Treat others as you'd want to be treated. I'm sorry, but the outlook in your essay disturbed me.
That all said, I still don't see how you can rest so easy knowing that your paradise will be set apart from all of the other wonderfully different people of the world who simply don't subscribe to the same historical manuscripts that you do. And your suggestion that God wipes our minds of our friends and loved ones who end up in hell, that's probably the most disturbing idea yet! Please tell me you're not planting that idea in the minds of children. I don't even want to think about what a child must think imagining his mind being wiped of the people he or she knows who aren't Christian. It makes me sick to think about it. Have you told children that?
Emily, do you honestly and truly believe in your heart of hearts that other people who don't believe what you believe deserve to suffer eternally? Don't quote me scripture, and don't give me a long drawn out analogy about how I wouldn't want people who didn't love me to attend a party I'm throwing, or live in my neighborhood. You're not going to convince me that I wouldn't rescue people from eternal suffering who didn't know me. That's absurd. If I were God I would allow anyone into heaven, even if they outright hated my guts. If it saves them from eternal suffering I would absolutely be that selfless. I think most people would. I couldn't live with myself if I felt I was responsible for even one person's eternal suffering. Us humans save each other all the time from horrible fates, and I personally know people who help people they don't like and who don't like them in return. Hell, we even lay down our lives for each other, and for people who don't like us. Does that make us more merciful and generous than God?
I'm saying these things because it looks as if your beliefs have painted a rather ugly picture of your fellow humans, and they're not deserving of it. And it's even more bothersome that you have all these beliefs about people different than you and you still have the nerve to say "I love you!" or "God loves you!"
Anybody standing outside of this looking in can clearly see that it's harmful to divide people up into different religions that believe the others are damned to hell, or working for Satan, or whatever it is you think of everyone else. No good God would outline such a plan for mankind. This alone should be enough to open your eyes to the lies you've been fed and who wrote them down.
I hope you consider stopping this whole "belief in God" nonsense. Reading your email clearly shows how it's distorted your view on people who are different than you, and that's so very sad.
|“why do you hate God so much? What part of pure love do you hate?”
I may have used some of the wrong wording in my 'essay' in my haste to answer to your email. i do realise that people do actually do wonderful things for each other every day, no one is evil so everyone has selfless compassion within them. but there are people who are out for their own gain because that is what the media tells us is the best way to live our lives. the media tells us we need to be the best, the prettiest, the thinnest or the richest to get what we want out of life. people do mug old ladies in the street for her £20 pension and an oyster card, they do rob banks for millions, they do start drunken fights because they are conforming to the pattern of this world and living for themselves. these are the people who need compassion the most and i think it is truly honourable that you and lots of society show them it. i myself am the same. you may think i have a dark outlook on the world, but i dont think i do, i think i see the world from the reality that its not all rainbows and butterflies because this world belongs to satan until Christ returns and makes it perfect again. When that happens, people will be selfless all the time and there will be no more violence or crime or pain. So yes, parents do make great sacrifices for their children, and i admire that greatly, that is love in its purest form. God sacrificed one of His children (Jesus) so that all His children (EVERYONE on this earth) could be saved by His grace.
I can also assure you that I do not rest easily thinking that even one soul will go to hell (even if hell isnt eternal as eternal is also described to mean age-long). my parents and a lot of my friends are not Christians and i pray for them frantically, because i couldnt stand the thought of being in a place void of God, even if they arent tortured (because i dont believe they will be), the emotional angiush they would feel against themselves would be horrible. But, saying that, i trust God with all my heart and soul and believe that He will be able to bring them to Him.
God doesnt LET anyone go to hell, i know you hate the fact, because it hits a nerve, but everyone who has heard about Jesus has a choice. Life or death. God gave us free will so that we're not His robots, but we have the choice whether to follow Him or not. That is why i will not force someone to turn to God if they do not want to, but i cant stand the idea of a soul being lost for a period of time until they are judged again.
At first i didnt like the idea that God would wipe away all your bad memories of loved ones that are not in heaven with you, and it is just an idea that someone has thought up through interpreting Revelation.
And in answer to your question, no i dont believe anyone deserves to suffer at for any period of time in a place without God. But all through the Old Testament God tried to regain contact with His people but they kept turning away from Him. So He sent Jesus as a bridge so that we could connect with God again. This was the greatest sacrifice of all.
I have nothing against people who are 'different' from me at all (id like you to define 'different' please because i believe that everyone is equal because we all were created in the image of God), I have gay friends, lesbian friends, bisexual friends, and friends of other faiths, i dont think they are any less than me by any means. I just hope and pray that they will turn to God.
It is not for me to judge anyone in this world, that is up to God. I am here merely as His helper. And i dont believe that there is anything wrong with me saying "God loves you" because He truly does, and it hurts Him that He has to send people away from Him for a time until they are judged again.
And i was interested in your point about Catholics...they have Jesus and therefore do go to heaven...why do you think otherwise? And if you would let everyone into heaven does that include people like Stalin, Hitler and Saddam Hussein?
Also, in response to your last comment, no, i could never consider dropping my faith because Jesus is so many things to me and I couldnt possibly live without Him, would you like a list? id be more than happy to give one to you!
Thank you for you time as i am intruiged by your views and questions
ps - why do you hate God so much? What part of pure love do you hate?
You just asked a brilliant question, Emily. And no, I'm not talking about the "Why do you hate God so much?" one. I'm an atheist, silly. There's no God for me to hate.
No. The brilliant question I'm referring to is this one– "What part of pure love do you hate?"
I adore that question, and I am DYING to respond to it.
The part that I hate about your "pure love" is the the killing and eternal suffering, and eternal torture (2 Thessalonians 1:6--9) that it includes. The sweeping murder and devastation of cities (Ezekiel 9), the killing of thousands of people, even wiping out the entire earth at one point (Genesis 7). That's something I dislike about your God and His "pure love." From the story of Abraham who He ordered to take his child to the altar and plunge a knife into his chest (Genesis 22:10), to God's direct orders to rape women and children (Deuteronomy 10:10-13), to sanctioning the selling one's children into sex slavery (Exodus 21:7-11), even ordering the violent execution of little babies (Hosea 13:15-16). God's "pure love" for the human race really leaves a lot to be desired if you ask me.
I realize you worship this thing that instructs us to kill and rape and torture each other, and you claim that your life has been changed for the better because of It. But I think you're still wrong in your assumption that so many of us mug old ladies for their pocketbooks, rob banks, and reap havoc wherever we go. You watch too much TV, and it sounds like you believe everything the news tells you is happening 24 hours a day on every corner, and we're all guilty of the crimes. In my opinion this is the mentality your Bible encourages.
There is no way you can see your gay friends as equals while at the same time you know your God looks down on them and hates their actions to the point where He ordered them to be stoned to death (Romans 7:90). I don't believe for one second that you see your non believer friends as equals while this "God" you bow down to orders you to kill them (Deuteronomy 13:6).
Perhaps this is what "love" means to you? Perhaps your God matters more to you than the brutal mutilation of women and children? Perhaps your love for God is so great that every human on the face of the earth could be held underwater and drowned by His hand and it would not sway you even an inch from your love for Him? I think what you're trying to tell me in your latest email is that your love for God surpasses the importance of any living creature on the face of the earth, including human beings, and no matter how much blood and pain your God incites there is no amount so great that could lure you away from groveling at His feet? This is the "pure love" you're offering me, and then you question why I want nothing to do with it?
Please remove this "purist of love' from my sight. It is a vile perversion of the word "love," and it disturbs me to no end that you are so proud to call it your own.
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