Category Archives: Christianity

The Pointlessness of Hell

The material in this section originally came about because I was randomly emailed by some very rude Christians, who were determined to save my eternal soul from the barbarisms of their loving god. Intrusion into my private space arose because of comments that I occasionally leave on various forums in which I discuss theology and philosophy. A few of the offending (and offensive) comments are below. I only include initials, because I don’t really want to encourage either stupidity, or bad spelling and these people don’t deserve to get their names up in lights.

 

hell1180manuscript

 

Its Hell Out There!

 

” I think that you need to think about that. WE have been warnging yoU! we are telling you! you need to accept Jesus into your life. He loves you and is waiting for you. Other wise…I am sorry for you. You had your warning.” KTS

“Jesus doesn’t inflict Hell on anyone. People inflict it on themselves by refusing Christ offer to pay for their sins. I and everyone else sins each day. I am not perfect, I am only FORGIVEN. ” DR

“Jesus loves u and God, His Father does…but if u lack the Holy Spirit and you reject Christ, u will not see heaven. Read your Bible Greg. God is judge and love, both, not just one…that is how satan is deceiving many right now in this world. Please read your Bible, He will reap judgment on this world, really He is already by allowing things like disease, etc. Get a grip Greg, read your Bible and I will pray, the Truth of it comes thru in your mind and heart. Love u in the Lord.” BC

“Dude you seem to thrive on bigotry and insolence. If you know the word of God, then you are without excuse. Do you understand hyperbole? It.s used to compare our feelings for our family as hatred compared to the supernatural love that we have for Christ. We never stop loving our familys. Christ taught on the sermon of the mount that hatred is as murder. I’m no genius or expert in anything, but I know in whom I have believed. Sir/mam it takes guts to say what you’re saying, not because of the people in this forum, but because Christ will judge the living and the dead at His appearing as written in scripture” AL

This is only a sampling of the relevant hate mail landing in my inbox. But in each case, the writer obviously believes that their deity is going to inflict needless, eternal and evil torture on a significant section of the population, starting with one Greg Kasarik.

While the comments that I have received have been from Christians, what I have to say applies equally to Muslims and others who believe in a literal Eternal Hell.

Hell is pointless!

 

By it’s very definition Hell doesn’t achieve anything!

If I punish someone here on earth, it is with the intention of modifying their behaviour, so that they don’t repeat offend. In addition, one might argue that it is so that others might see the punishment and refrain from acting in that manner (although research, particularly on the death penalty shows almost no evidence of this).

One could also argue that it serves some metaphysical concept of “Justice”, in which case the proverbial “scales” of justice are weighed and an appropriate punishment given out, thereby balancing the scales because the perpetrator suffers an appropriate penalty for their transgressions.

Perhaps final possible reason for punishment is that of allowing the aggrieved party to achieve closure, in that they knowledge of the punishment helps to alleviate some of their pain.

Now, lets look at “Hell”.

The first two reasons for punishment don’t apply. By definition, it is for eternity, so nobody is going to be given the opportunity to reform and behave better next time. Also, as the punishment lies beyond our earthly gaze, it is an incredibly inefficient way of changing other people’s behaviour.

With respect to the first two reasons for punishment, Hell achieves nothing.

Which brings us to the third reason for punishment, closure for the victim. Care needs to be taken here as some victims would, through reasons of their own, seek to impose penalties far in excess of the original crime. The hilarious example occurred recently when someone tried to sue the Bank of America for 1,784 billion, trillion dollars. But the “victim” in this case is God, who we are being told is so aggrieved by my failure to believe in him that he demands that I suffer for eternity? 1,784 billion, trillion doesn’t even begin to scratch an eternity, but even if the punishment was that I suffer for this many days it would, in any reasonable assessment, judged excessive in the extreme.

When looking at the final reason for punishment, the impartial balancing of the scales of justice, we need to take a close look at the nature of the crime.

In this cases of the believers above, the crime was my “failure to believe”. Hardly the stuff that eternal torment should be made of. What about other crimes, such as murder, rape and the like? Aren’t these more worthy of eternal suffering? Indeed, take an unavowed mass murderer like Mao Zedong, who was probably responsible for the deaths of more than 40 million people; if we were to send him to jail for a full term of 25 years for each, he would “only” be in jail for a billion years. A fair whack of time, but not even a decent start on eternity.

The very nature of the “crime” is suspect. Most would agree that “Belief” is based on evidence. If I don’t believe, it is because there isn’t enough evidence.

For example, if I were to say to someone that I have a talking rabbit in my kitchen, would anybody expect them to believe me?

No! In fact, we’d doubt the rationality of anyone who did. A person couldn’t even “choose” to believe me, as no amount of choice on anyone’s part is going to be able to make them believe something as nonsensical as talking rabbits.

Similarly, if I were to challenge a person’s belief that the sun will rise tomorrow, they’d need damned good evidence to abandon this belief and no amount of “choosing” to believe otherwise is going to work.

Of course, organised religion has spent centuries coming up with formulaic phrases designed to make non-believers seem like they are actively defying God, rather than sitting around going WTF?

For example, I’ve routinely been accused of “hardening my Heart against Jesus”. How anyone can harden their hearts against something that they don’t believe in beggars the imagination. I may as well be accused of hardening my heart against fairies, Darth Vader, or Ralph the Invisible Pink Unicorn (RIPU).

Belief is all about available evidence and there just isn’t enough objective evidence to warrant belief in any deity, let alone the Christian one. This is made abundantly clear when you realise that after 2000 years, Christianity has only a 30% market penetration worldwide. Coca Cola has at least this much after only 100. And don’t get me started on the ubiquity of Microsoft Windows after less than a generation.

Whose job is it to provide the evidence?

I’d suggest that it is the responsibility of the guy supposedly running the show (AKA God).  So, if there isn’t enough evidence, and God is responsible for providing it, then I’d suggest that blame lies with him and that it would be totally unjust punishment me for his error. In fact, if anybody is going to end up in Hell, its him, on account of sheer laziness, and ineptitude.

But what of the nature of God? Is it plausible that he would be as offended and hurt as you surely must claim? I’d suggest not. As defined by the Hellraising monotheistic faiths, God is Infinite, Omniscient, Omnipotent, the source of Ultimate Good, and chock block full of justice, love, mercy and forgiveness.

I would suggest to you that an infinitely good, omniscient being is also infinitely well-adjusted with a psychological stability beyond comprehension. He can forgive the most grievous transgression not just once, but a 1,784 billion, trillion times. He will punish, but only to the point of necessity and no further. It is inconceivable that an infinitely loving being could pointlessly inflict needless suffering on a creature that he loves. Such a being would descend into madness in the blink of an eye.

For those who believe in Hell I would ask, do you have a pet, a partner, or children that you genuinely love? What madness would have to be eating into your brain to make you inflict torture upon them? (Hint: If you are fine with torturing someone you claim to love, you really need to look up the meaning of either, or both those words).

Perhaps most importantly, the Eternal Hellraising God is Omnipotent! He can do anything he likes! Can anyone seriously try to claim that an Omnipotent being doesn’t have a choice over whether to torture me for eternity, or not? He certainly does; that’s the whole point of Omnipotence! Yes, I have my free will, but don’t for a second try to claim that my free will invalidates that of a God!

If God doesn’t like how I exert my “free will” (and once again, belief has nothing to do with “free will”), he has the free will to choose how to deal with me. He can either educate me properly, as I would do for any of my children, or pets, or he can freely choose to inflict cruel, pointless and unjust suffering on me. If he chooses the latter, he is obviously a mad god and not worthy of anyone’s worship in the first place.

A More Likely Story.

In conclusion, I’d like to put forward an alternative, much more likely idea.

God is an infinite being, who as we have seen, possesses precisely the characteristics that would prevent him from needlessly inflicting suffering on any other being. Man (and I use the gender term for “Humanity” deliberately here) however, is greedy, fearful, egotistical and desperate for power over his fellows. A doctrine of “hell” doesn’t begin to match the behaviour that we would expect from a just and loving God. It does however, match what we would expect from any man seeking to exert control over his fellows. What better way, than to terrify believers into submission, so that they police themselves for heresy, rather than actively searching for the truth of God’s wonder and majesty?

Accordingly, I would suggest that any belief system that contains threats of eternal damnation, is of man, not of God and we should all recognise the implications this has for our lives.

Ironically, within the context of my own Mystical journey, I have begun to realise that just as states of absolute Joy exist, so to do states of absolute despair and misery. Darkness is real, and it is incumbent upon each of us to choose our own paths through Eternity. Some people will choose Darkness and I believe that the belief in Hell is one such indicator that a person has chosen a path of Darkness.

Ironically, it is the person who believes in Hell as a destination for others who is far closer to Hell than anyone else, if for no other reason than because his conceptualisation of reality actually contains HELL, and because they believe that it is a Good thing!

From there, it is only a small step into the Fires.

One Surprising Secret about the Law of Attraction.

Today, I would like to talk about the New Agey idea of “The Law of Attraction” and why it is destructive to the spiritual journey and the quest towards the ultimate Happiness that arises from being in tune with the True Self.

 

“The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne

 

Briefly, the Law of Attraction states that thoughts produce results and that like thoughts will produce like results. Negative thoughts will produce negative outcomes in the world, while positive thoughts will produce positive outcomes. The idea is based on the pseudo-scientific nonsense that everything “vibrates” at a particular wavelength and that vibrations of a similar wavelength will attract each other. By this logic, certain ideas occur at certain vibrations and these then attract the events at a similar level of vibration.

At a deeper level, it is believed that one can tailor one’s own thoughts to achieve a particular outcome, so that if you want find your Soul Mate, all you have to do is tell the universe, and put out that “intention” and that person will magically appear. If they don’t, clearly you were doing something wrong. Perhaps you were sending “mixed intentions”, or perhaps you didn’t really want a Soul Mate after all!

Adherents to this philosophy will often talk about “putting it out there”, as a way of saying that they told the universe that they wanted a particular outcome. In my own experience, when the outcome happens, they’ll talk incessantly about it, thereby earning Spiritual Awareness Brownie Points (SABP) from their peers, but when it doesn’t they won’t say a word, because it would mean that there was something wrong with their intentions and this would rob them of SABP while damaging their egos and social standing.

While the idea is itself over 100 years old, the most recent push for it came within a book called “The Secret”, in which the main idea was that if you wish for something enough, it will somehow manifest in the real world. Because of this, the Law of Attraction is also referred to by many as “The Secret”. An excerpt from The Secret official webpage tells us that

“Money is magnetic energy. You are a magnet attracting to you all things, via the signal you are emitting through your thoughts and feelings. Discover how to become a powerful magnet for the creation of personal wealth”

Those familiar with certain types of protestant Christianity will recognise a similarity between these ideas and the so-called “Prosperity Gospel” so much beloved of Evangelical con men everywhere. Prosperity Gospel has it that despite all evidence to the contrary God really wants us all to be really, really rich. Interestingly enough, the first step on the road to your wealth is to donate money to whatever Evangelist you happening to be listening to at the time.

With the “Law of Attraction”, the first step is to buy the author’s books, DVDs, and whatever else they feel will help you on your journey towards making them filthy rich.

 

Why people love the Law of Attraction.

What both of these deceptions have in common is their appeal to two basic human emotions: Greed and laziness.

Everyone wants to be rich. Everyone wants to be able to live lives of financial security, family bliss and career satisfaction. And far too many people want these things to be handed to them on a silver platter. Financial planning for a significant percentage of the population seems to rely on winning the lottery, rather than investing energy into achieving their goals.

So, when someone comes along and says that we can simply become a “magnet” for money by thinking the right thoughts, the response of many people is to jump on the bandwagon and to embrace the silliness wholeheartedly. So much so, that there are a staggering 21 Million copies of this book in print and it has been translated into 44 languages. It seems that the real secret to wealth is to dangle it in front of others.

The Law of Attraction is nonsensical on a multitude of levels.

At its essence, it is saying that if you wish for something hard enough, you’ll get what you want. It’s the Genie and the Lamp story without the genie, or the lamp.

If someone handed you a lamp and asked you to rub it, so that a genie would emerge and grant you three wishes, most would think them quite mad. But take away the lamp, add some pseudo-scientific nonsense about “vibrations” and suddenly people are rubbing like mad.

 

Conflicting Intentions. What Law governs the “Law”?

But what of these “vibrations”? What does it even mean to say that thoughts have vibrations? How are they measured? How does one vibration attract another? How is it that one piece of paper (money) has a different vibration to another piece of paper (a phone bill). How is it that electronic money has the same vibration as paper money? How is it that “wealth” vibrates at all? Which scientific journal can I go to have these questions answered?

What happens when intentions collide? Lets say I meet an absolutely adorable girl, who I am just crazy about. I put out my intention to have her as my girlfriend. But she finds me somewhat less sexy than Godzilla, so she’d rather cover herself in honey and dance on an ant’s nest than have anything to do with me.

Both our intentions are clear. We are both “putting it out” into the universe, but only one of us is going to get what we want Probably her: Honey and ants are so easy to find…

But what happens if she just wants a boyfriend and I really, really want her. Does that mean that my certain intention wins against her vague one? Does the universe put our opposing intentions on a scale and award the prize to the most intense winner? Does success come to the biggest couch potato, basement dwelling fanatics?

Of course not. Indeed it is amazing that anyone past the age of believing in Santa should continue to believe that simply wishing hard enough for something will make it come true.

Magnify this conundrum by 7.whatever billion people on the planet, each with their own conflicting desires, intentions and ambitions and it should be fairly easy to see just how silly the whole idea really is.

The “Real Secret”!!

Think of anyone who has achieved success in their life and you’ll immediately realise the major lie inherent in the Law of Attraction.

Ask these people what they regard as “THE SECRET” to their own success and they’ll happily tell you: Persistent hard work that adds value. And a few other things, like having fun while doing it.

Success requires what is called “Sweat Equity”, in the form of focussed, active effort that produces results over and above your financial input. It involves challenging yourself and overcoming your fears, doubts and inhibitions.

Very few people achieve anything in life without putting in the hard work to get what they want, whether it be money, soul mate, happiness, friendship, career, education or family. Sure, there are many people who inherit good fortune, but even then, their subsequent relative success depends largely on how well they are prepared to work towards their goals.

Because what are these things, if not the result of some sort of hard work, by somebody? Money doesn’t exist on its own. Rather, it is a store of value and that value has been created somewhere by somebody. In a primitive society, I’d use my labour to raise a goat, which would be tasty and therefore have some value. I’d then barter it with someone else, in order to obtain something that I might have needed (fruit perhaps from a fellow farmer’s orchards). Each time I put effort into raising goats, I multiply my wealth. Each time my fellow farmer tends a tree he magnifies his. When we trade, we both benefit, magnifying our combined wealth.

Money is simply an abstraction that streamlines the bartering process. By itself it has no value. You can’t eat it, live in it, or (Rule 34 aside) have sex with it, but because we all agree that it is an abstract representation of wealth it attains recognised value.

You can’t simply produce value and wealth out of thin air. Wealth is produced when people create things. Houses, cars and plasma TVs don’t build themselves, but require that someone puts in the hard work to build them. If you want them, you should similarly expect to put in the hard work to produce something that someone else also wants.

Obviously, in cases of charity, or hardship benefits provided by Governments, there is a recognition that not all people are capable of producing wealth in this fashion and that they should not be adversely penalised for it. But generally speaking, intentional failure to do so as a way of life is regarded as “Free Riding” on the efforts of others.

Even if “The Secret” was true and people could magnetically attract money into your life through thinking about it, unless they are producing something of equivalent in your life in exchange, it is hard to see how this is any different from stealing: Like any thief, you are taking other people’s hard earned wealth while providing nothing in exchange.

The example of money extends to every other thing of value that people might wish to “attract” into their lives. If you want to find your soul mate, you need to put in the hard work of finding them and the even harder work of maintaining the relationship over the course of a lifetime. If you want a good education and you need to put in years of dedicated study to achieve academic mastery. Want to play the violin and you need to practice on it every day for years to achieve proficiency.

 

There are no shortcuts!

For most of us, there is precisely no situation in which failing to work towards a desired outcome will produce that outcome. Sure, you might inherit money, or win the lottery, but wealth gained in this way is easily frittered away and lost. In fact lottery winners are more likely to become bankrupt than other people.

Because it hasn’t been worked for, windfalls have no intrinsic value, which is probably why so many people who win the lottery end up just as poor, or poorer than they initially were. A similar phenomenon can be seen in child and teenage stars, who’s success relates to their parents effort, rather than their own.

 

Is That “Intention” Even Real?

If someone isn’t prepared to put in the effort required to achieve their desires, I’d really have to question whether they really are “desires” (as opposed to ephemeral wishes) in the first place. For example if we reject a suitable job because it requires us to get up an hour earlier, or get home late (thereby missing our favourite TV show – and yes, I have seen this happen), how much did we want the job? If a suitable partner appears but we reject them because they live a few more miles away than we hoped, or they not quite what we expected, how much do we really desire that soul mate?

If we can’t put in the required energy to work with what the universe has already given us, why on earth would we think that we can put in the required energy to magically manifest it in our own lives?

 

Secondary Benefits of the “Real Secret”.

While we work towards achieving something we are developing a range of skills and significantly boosting our willpower, self-control and resilience. In working towards something we also learn much more about ourselves than we might otherwise have done. Hard work teaches us our strengths and weaknesses. It stretches us and allows us to grow as people, in ways that we could never have imagined.

There is a common saying, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person”. Why? Because busy people are not only active at working towards their own success, but are far more likely to be skilled in managing the tasks that they need to do in order to succeed.

The converse also applies. By failing to work towards our desires and by simply “putting it out there”, we are encouraging stagnation and sowing the seeds of our own doom when our failures inevitably catch up with us.

Often if we are failing to work towards our goals, it is simply because we have no idea of how to achieve them. In these situations, something like the Law of Attraction allows us to invest hope in something (much like people who habitually by lotto tickets they can’t afford), but will inevitably lead to depression because we will be unable to deny to ourselves that we have no real hope of achieving our aspirations, or ambitions.

 

Moral Bankruptcy and The Law of Attraction.

 

My final objection to the entire philosophy entailed by “The Secret” is that it is morally offensive. I’ve already discussed how, even if real, there really isn’t any functional difference between applying “The Secret” and free-loading off the efforts of others.
But as I write this post, many parts of the world are in chaos. Just last week a Jordanian pilot was burnt to death. Over the last several years, hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed in the Syrian civil war. In the 1940s six million Jews were murdered by Germany’s Nazi regime, more than the entire population of my home state of Victoria, Australia. Mao’s Great Leap Forward killed up to 45 Million, more than four times the population of New York City.

On a daily basis, thousands of people in our cities are being assaulted, raped, murdered and victimised. Many people I have spoken to over the years have described horrific treatment, often at the hands of those whom they loved.

If it isn’t our own inhumanity to each other, nature too causes its own share of misery. Ten years ago, over a quarter of a million people lost their lives during an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Five years ago, 160,000 people lost their lives during the Haiti earthquake. In the fourteenth century, the Black Death is estimated to have killed between 30-60% of Europe’s population, accounting for a staggering death toll of between 70-200 million people.

According to the “Law of Attraction” all of these people “attracted” this death and destruction to themselves. Despite what they might have said while being lead to the gas chambers, or fleeing death and destruction, the supposed Secret invites us to say that each of these people truly got what they thought they deserved. They truly got what they wanted.

Taken to its natural conclusion, “The Secret” becomes the ultimate tool of victim blaming. It teaches us that we are the sole agents for our own fortune and misfortune, conveniently neglecting the real truth that evil (for want of a better word) people exist and that the random forces of nature can easily overwhelm our defences. It is an abhorrent philosophy.

As someone who has been responsible for more evil in the world than he would like, I find it disgusting that those who I have treated badly,or abused should be asked to take the blame, rather than the real instigator: Me.

 

In Conclusion.

As a can be seen, the “Law of Attraction”, also known as “The Secret” is silliness on multiple levels. Not only does it encourage us to free load off the efforts of others, but taken to its logical conclusion it inevitably leads to abhorrent victim blaming and the mind-boggling conclusion that, despite all evidence to the contrary, people actively want evil things to happen to them.

In reality, the only “SECRET” is focused, productive, hard work. Only hard work will get you where you want to be and only hard work will allow you to achieve your life’s goals. Nothing of value was ever achieved without effort and it is this realisation that will allow you to grow as a person, to progress on your spiritual journey and to become the being that you would truly like to become, whoever that might be.

 

TLDR:

The one surprising secret about the “Law of Attraction”? That it is complete bollocks and that if you really want something, you need to exert some effort to work towards it.

Although that probably wasn’t too big a surprise now was it? 🙂

Apologising: The Forgotten Virtue.

When it comes to moral virtues, there is much talk about Forgiveness, but while forgiveness is a crucial aspect of getting along with others, it does not stand in isolation.

The other, much overlooked but essential aspect of forgiveness is that of Apology.

For example, the New Testament of the Bible, talks much about forgiveness, both with respect to forgiveness of sins and forgiving others. Jesus is famously thought to have the power to forgive the sins of his followers, but nowhere does one see him actually apologise for any of his own bad behaviour. These include lying (John 7:8-10), cursing a and withering perfectly good fig tree before trashing the Temple market stalls (Mark 11:12-21) and being involved in potentially deadly violence against the local constabulary (John 18:10).

Similarly, a search of books in print reveals many written on the topic of forgiveness, but few written about the virtues of sincere apology.

Ironically many of the books about apology, are rather about “apologetics”, which is the Christian field of study devoted to rationalising some of the gobsmacking errors and confusions in the Bible, including the transgressions of Jesus mentioned above.

This is a significant discrepancy. While forgiveness is hard, I think that the lack of appreciation for and discussion about apology shows just how difficult it is for people to apologise. It is so confronting that they’d rather not even talk about it.

The truth is that in many cases, forgiveness simply isn’t possible without an apology. Certainly, there is some considerable virtue in being able to forgive those who have hurt you, even when an apology has not been forthcoming. In these situations, forgiveness is less about the other person, and more about letting go of the impulse towards revenge and retribution. It is a recognition that one must move on from past transgressions against us, lest we become mired in dysfunctional, unresolvable emotions that will only destroy our lives.

Even with this in mind, an apology, when genuine reflects not only an inner awareness that a transgression has occurred, but also a commitment that the behaviour will not be repeated. A sincere apology is essential for the building of trust, because without any recognition of harm caused, it is almost certain that the behaviour will continue and the harms will inevitably magnify.

In practice, making an apology is fraught with danger and can take considerable courage.

When we apologise to people, we are admitting that we have not only made a mistake, but that our mistake has hurt people that we care about. To apologise is to let go of one’s pride and to drop the facade that we are perfect. Our own egos rebel at the very prospect, because our egos would rather justify all of our behaviour under all circumstances than face the reality that we are flawed, imperfect beings, who are struggling in a reality that we barely understand.

Apologising is fraught with danger in a way that forgiveness is not. In apologising, we are opening ourselves to the rejection of others. We are inviting not only their condemnation, but the very real possibility that they will seek to capitalise on our apology and extract concessions, or favours rather than offer the simple forgiveness that we might have hoped for.

Forgiving someone does not necessarily involve letting down one’s guard against future transgressions. For example, a wife may forgive her former partner for domestic abuse, but this forgiveness does not necessarily entail her resuming any form of relationship with that person. She is well within her rights to offer forgiveness, while acknowledging that trust has been irrevocably broken and that she doesn’t wish to have anything to do with that person any longer. Indeed, the genuineness of the initial apology will be shown by how accepting the abuser is of being offered forgiveness, but no resumption of former relationships.

The ability to apologise goes to the heart of your character. Who do you wish to be? Do you have the courage to behave in an adult way, or will you insist on continuing with childish behaviour that denies your own culpability while inevitably blaming others for your own behaviour.

Because the person who is incapable of offering apologies must necessarily find someone else to blame for the issues that they have caused. Inevitably this will revolve around shifting blame from one’s self to some external source.

Such a person will create toxic relationships because if they can’t blame their situation, society, or equipment, they will inevitably blame those against whom they have transgressed. There isn’t a whole amount of difference between the rapist who says that the woman was “asking for it” and the person who routinely says that someone else’s behaviour “made them so angry” that they lashed out.

In both cases, the true blame lies not only with the inability of the person to firstly control their negative impulses, but also to recognise that they and no one else is the only person responsible for their behaviour.

The only thing that we truly have control over is ourselves. In truth, the person who routinely shifts blame from themselves and who is incapable of apologising is one who has not only refused to exert control over the one thing that they can, but has simultaneously decided to try an exert undue and unfair control over things they can’t.

Such a strategy is doomed to fail and in failing, it is guaranteed to cause considerable damage to the person’s relationships.

 

Now I want to talk to you, the reader, personally…

 

In truth, none of us are perfect and we all make a mess of things on a routine basis. It is incumbent on us all to recognise when we are making such mistakes and to offer the necessary apologies.

If we lack the personal insight, or courage to recognise and admit when we are wrong, it will be impossible for us to ever live in a world dominated by forgiveness. We will forever be stuck in a world without love and without trust.

How can I continually forgive you, when your ego will never allow you to acknowledge the harms you have done? How can I extend trust, when I know that you will simply spit on me (literally) again.

Sure, I might not accept your apology, but that is my problem, not yours. Your apology is about who you decide to be and the person that you wish to be. Coward, or courageous?

I want everyone who reads this to make an apology that they know they should make, but have been too proud, or too scared to follow-up on.

Today!!

If you honestly think that you have nothing to apologise for and nobody to apologise to, then you are almost certainly the exact sort of person that I am talking about.

The Disconcerting Worldview of William Lane Craig

I’ve just started reading William Lane Craig’s “Reasonable Faith”, which is a university level textbook on Christian Apologetics. This is the guy that Richard Dawkins has famously refused to debate and who is widely regarded by many Christians as one of the worlds leading Christian philosophers and apologists. What he says carries significant influence.

Reasonable Faith @ the Book Depository

Even before I got into the meat of the book, it felt like I’d stepped into a surreal parallel universe. For example, in the introduction, he writes:

“It is my earnest hope that God will use this material to help equip a new generation of intelligent, articulate Christians, who are filled with the Spirit and burdened to see the Great Commission fulfilled.”

My immediate thought was to wonder whether God orders his books through Amazon, or Book Depository. But of course, this is representative of a world view, where by definition, God is on Craig’s side and anyone who disagrees is acting on behalf of Satan. Indeed only a few pages later, in the Introduction, Craig tells us that:

“Indeed, I think that getting people to believe that we live in a postmodern culture is one of the craftiest deceptions that Satan has yet devised”.

So, people have no real agency in Craig’s world. We are either servants of God, or pawns of Satan. Even when we think that we are acting out of our own free will, everything that we do is actually tied into the great battle between God and Satan.

And where does this end? Well where all organised religion ends: War.

Again from the Introduction (when talking about the need to train kids in apologetics):

“We’ve got to train our kids for war. We dare not send them out into public high school and university armed with rubber swords and plastic armor. The time for playing games is past”.

While Craig would undoubtedly claim that he is only talking about war in a metaphorical way, his worldview is certainly seems little different from that of any Islamist, or other person who views his own views as divinely inspired, while holding all others as the work of the Devil.

Of course, everyone knows that war and violence are justified when you are combatting Satanically inspired evil. Just ask George W Bush.

I find this sort of worldview abhorrent in the extreme. By aligning one’s own views with the will of God and those who disagree with Satan, you are guaranteeing that you’ll never critically examine your own ideas, even when they do inevitably slide into serving Darkness instead of Light. Not only will you lie to yourself, but to others as well.

There has to be a better way! I’m sick and tired of this “us vs them” mentality. It is high time that we dropped all of this pointless dogma, and started working together for a better result for us all. Light and Darkness exist in every culture, in every time and place. It is up to us to search for those who embody Light and to work with them towards a better world.

I firmly believe that people of goodwill can work together and find win-win solutions, irrespective of their cultural and religious differences. The key is that we need to be able to give up our need for certainty and our need to be right. Rather than having resolute faith in our own position, we need to take a step back and admit that we could be wrong, because without an acknowledgement that we could be wrong, we’ll never learn anything new and will continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

We need to be able to empathise with the viewpoints of others, even as we disagree. We need to be able to listen to the criticisms of others without getting offended and without pulling a gun.

We can work together if only our egos will let us.