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October 16, 2012


Here's what I might say:

Do you actually believe that you have the power and authority within yourself to send another person to Heaven or Hell?

(Though in reality, I probably wouldn't say anything. In my experience, challenging these kind of things always seems to set others more stubbornly against the truth. Maybe I have a bad attitude; maybe I lack grace and tact.)

Yes, and if I believe the fabric of reality flutters in the winds of my worldview, then gosh darn it, it just does!

In a weird sort of way, this way of thinking is almost Word of Faith-like, isn't it?

This is like saying "If I believe in cancer, millions will die. But if I disbelieve in cancer, no one will die." Of course that would be ridiculous because it's not the belief that matters, it's what's actually true. So in essence this is merely an emotional appeal. A belief may have uncomfortable ramifications but that doesn't change whether it's true or not.

Another way to approach (reword) this challenge: "If Islam is true, 1.5 Muslims will live forever in joy with God. If Christianity is true, 2.2 billion Christians will live forever in joy with God. But if atheism is true, every single person who lives and who has ever lived (Christian, Muslim, other religion, and atheist) merely rots in the ground upon their death." This isn't an argument for theism per se, but it does point out the other side of the emotional appeal.

Um...last time I checked 'perishing' is the destination for every human being, so the real question is surely: who promises eternal life?

Islam: possibly, dependent on your actions and Allah's will (news)
Atheism: no hope for anyone at all (bad news)
Christianity: a free gift based on the perfect substitute death and resurrection made once for all (Good News!)

Let's think of it this way, "what if you really believed that 2+2=5?" Would that make it true? Of course not! While it might be much easier to see, the analogy is a valid one. Our beliefs do not change reality. So what we need to ask is "do my beliefs match reality?" I think the biblical worldview describes reality better than the secular one, would you like to know why?

+1 to emmzee. That is basically what I thought of: Wishing that ice cream was the cure for diabetes doesn't make it so. (Greg Koukl's argument in 'Truth is Not Wishing'.)

How does what you believe cause anyone to perish?

I thought the Koran taught everyone goes to Hell. Then some come out as a snails pace and others come out light the speed of lightning depending on their works. At least that's what I thought I read.

I had the same thought as emmzee. Rewording the challenge to reverse emotional appeal would be a concise way of getting point across. Sometimes I feel like the most effective way to combat rhetoric like this is with rhetoric of our own.

Wouldn't that be begging the question?

I think that he'd have to prove whether or not God is real first. I'd probably start off with Emmzee's comment: "This is like saying 'If I believe in cancer, millions will die. But if I disbelieve in cancer, no one will die.'"

To which, I'd likely get a reply that said something like: "Yeah, but cancer's real."

Which is the point. We have to first establish if God is real or not.. and the Colombo tactic from then on.

The premise they are starting off with is that religion is a fairy tale. None of it is real so why believe in it at all? The only people that would go to Hell are the ones in our minds that we are judging.

I think I would ask him, "Do you believe the statement on image was true?"

If he said yes, then I could ask him, "So you do think there are some things we believe that can be true, is that correct?
He obviously would have to answer yes to that question and then we could move on from there and discuss the ideas presented in the statement and define what and why he believes the statement to be true.

If he answers no, then I guess the next question to ask him would be, "Then why did you post it?"

The underlying premise is the key to this image.

But, this is a premise that has to be proven. And we can't get them to address it if all we do is show that the statement is flawed on it's face. We need to dig deeper and get them to either agree with it or not. Then we can start asking the deeper questions after that.

Next time you are at a busy traffic intersection, tell yourself this:

"If I believe there is a truck coming, and if I cross, then I'll die. But if I believe there is no truck, then I'll live. So let me believe there is no truck and cross."

I'll continue the conversation when you reach the other side.

Here's what I'd start with....

Beliefs don't create reality so I'm not sure what this graphic is trying to say about atheism. What's important are the reasons justifying the belief - why you believe. Clearly Islam, Christianity and atheism cannot all be true at the same time. What are your reasons for thinking atheism is true?

This is just a claim that "atheists are nicer than religious people." But that claim is bogus. The officially atheist regimes of the past were anything but nice--like Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot killing millions of people on a whim, because atheism says anybody can do anything they have power to do, and who is to say they are wrong?

The reality is that God has written His Law within our hearts, along with a sense that one day we will all be accountable for how well we followed our consciences. He has done that because HE LOVES US and WANTS US TO AVOID HELL. And He cleared the way for us to avoid hell by suffering in our place, in the Person of His Son, so we don't have to suffer. God is the One who overcame death for us, and Who offers us Heaven as a free gift. That is MUCH nicer than Stalin's worldview.

The JUSTICE of hell says that our actions matter even more than we think they do. Humans are so important that their actions carry consequences beyond the grave. Stalin and Pol Pot and Mao are NOT in heaven. Instead, they are receiving the justice we know they deserve.

So choosing atheism because it sounds nice is a very poor reason. Instead, search for God! He really IS NICE. As in PERFECT IN GOODNESS! PERFECT IN LOVINGKINDNESS! PERFECT in every way!

All you have to do is write out the poster's implications:

  • If I believe in Islam and Islam is true, then 2.2 billion Christians burn in hell.
  • If I believe in Christianity and Christianity is true, then 1.5 billion Muslims burn in hell.
  • If I believe in Atheism and Islam is true, then 2.2 billion Christians burn in hell plus me.
  • If I believe in Atheism and Christianity is true, then 1.5 billion Muslims burn in hell plus me.
  • If I believe in Islam and Atheism is true, then we're all just worm food.
  • If I believe in Christianity and Atheism is true, then we're all just worm food
  • If I believe in Atheism and Atheism is true, then we're all just worm food.

So the smart money is on outcome two.

It results in the least amount of people in hell.

I don't know why so many atheist insist on dying godless. I'm basically an atheist and I don't see the point.

If you put your chips on atheism, you get nothing eitherway.
If you put your chips on Christianity and its true, you get a mansion in paradise. (Assumedly beach-front property.)

So I have no idea why someone would die holding their chips.

what for?

Now of course, i think Christianity is just a confused lie.

But if I was given a death sentence tomorrow, might as well hop for the best and place your bet somewhere.

If anything, its simply good real estate economics.

Sarcastic response: "If I believe in solipsism, then you don't have to feel bad for your inability to think logically since you do not exist."

But that would be a bad ambassador, so I would just point out that we choose our beliefs based on what we have reason to believe is true, not based on what we would like to be true.

You can ask "Which is more important? What you believe or what is true?" The outcome does not depend on which belief you hold but on which belief is true.

If they believe their stance is true. Then you can have them explain it. "If you believe neither then what will happen to everyone? If they don't go to hell then where do they go?"

That will start some thinking...

That is a thought provoking quote. It seems to me, though, that it assumes that what I THINK is what creates reality. It says that what I believe is what makes something true. That doesn't seen to be the case though. I can believe that stepping in front of a moving car will do me no harm, that doesn't change the reality that I'll get smashed if I do.

I've never seen an atheist's/christian's mind changed in Facebook comments, so I would ignore it.

With a nod toward emmzee, I would say more succinctly,

"If I believe in atheism, then I believe that everyone's lives and deaths are ultimately meaningless."

I know this is off the topic but you should do this for many of the stupid FB posts out there like this; Especially the one floating around about rape. Deuteronomy 22:28-29.

As far as the post, I would say this is a dig at trying to say religion is a sham by playing a “slight of mind trick”. The real answer is the last sentence of the ad, “But if I believe in neither, nobody has to perish”. They are making a claim based on personal opinion. If you state that, it will most probably draw out the village atheists in their anti-bible comments, and get into another never ending confrontation. After all now spiritual truth is discerned in FB. Geeze.

I'd ask, "Do you believe that what you believe determines the eternal state of others?" The answer is obviously "no". So in the process of clearing up whatever other obfuscating sophistry is spilled out after that the question that must come up to get back on track is, "How can we know which belief is right, then?" That would lead to a new discussion of Christian epistemology: God must reveal himself to us for us to know - how has he done so?

...and if I believe that there are certain unalienable rights: among them is life, liberty, and mythical creatures...

Well then, unicorns for everyone!!!

Just believing it doesn't make it true. Beliefs don't create reality.

That's a really ignorant and dangerous stance. It's akin to saying, "If I cover my ears, then I won't have to listen to what's being said." Just because one doesn't believe in something, doesn't make the evidence in favor of the denied belief any less valid. For example, one could say that they don't believe that the NY Yankees are the most successful team in baseball history. Well, the evidence contradicts that belief because of how many world championships they have garnered. Regardless of how you feel about the NY Yankees (you either love them or hate them), you have to go where the evidence leads--which points to them being the most accomplished team in baseball history. Just like Jesus, people either love Him or hate Him, but the evidence points to Him being the Savior.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Books written for grownups RonH....... be as doves.... lay eggs... etc. You can do better; THAT I know.

Faith there, RonH, is leaning into the word of Other, not one's own mind.......less My, more Thy....


Mind does make things real. All things whatsoever as it turns out. Inverse. Thy; not My.

First of all, I cannot believe anyone would post something so nonsensical.

My response:

Believing or not believing something doesn't make it so. I can believe with all my heart that I have a million dollars in my bank account. But if I go to my bank to withdraw it, the bank teller is going to at best look at me like I'm nuts, and at worst, call the police.

What matters is whether something is objectively true. What you think about it is irrelevant.

The point of the quote is that hell is awful. How can a loving God condemn so many people to eternal suffering?

Many of you guys are just responding to the narrow literal meaning of the quote, which suggests that our thinking somehow creates truth, but you're totally missing the point. Come on, Christians! You can be smarter than that.

The point of this poster is a great one. At the heart of it is the hidden question in many non-believer's hearts. "How can a loving God punish so many simply because they don't pick the right religion?". It's a fair question, and one that deserves patience. We as believers had to wrestle the same question, and we shouldnt be arrogant philosophical know-it-alls about it.

However, this is a philosophical question requiring a philosophical answer. Islam, Christianity, Naturalism, Hinduism, etc. can not all be true. They are all very different, and it is illogical to require them to simultaneously be true in the name of "fairness".

The other question hidden here is wether a loving God can have such wrath. Loving humans are enraged when a loved one is hurt by hatred, anger, greed, etc. How much more so is our eternal, perfect and holy God? Without wrath, we are left with an indifferent God. Now I realize that's not love at all. As Christians we have wrath and grace. That is perfect love.

If there is a God and He is just then every human being that ever lived will experience God's justice unless there can be found a way for God to acquit the guilty without God being unjust. And if God is just we have a massive problem in the universe; God has not dealt with injustice, He has largely ignored it. And is that not the loudest cry from the critics of faith; if there is a God why is there so much evil?

And this is the single greatest dilemma in the universe. It isn't who is going to hell or who has the right religion. But how can God ignore all the injustice in the world and still be just?

All other questions become superfluous if there is a God and He is just.

So the question becomes not who is right or who is going to hell but who has a real solution that resolves the two greatest dilemma in the universe.

1.) How can God ignore evil and still be just

2.) How can God acquit the guilty and still be just

So we must ask; is there a solution to this dilemma that satisfies the justice of God without God being unjust? I know of only one because it was vindicated by a resurrection. And no other answer was ever vindicated in that manner, none.

The numbers never tell the whole story, they just hide it. In this case they hide the fact that how many will perish is not based on how many you believe will perish. It hinges instead on who has reality right. The numbers, in this case, are just used to give false legitimacy to the claim that if you reject the two major world religions, no one will actually perish and therefore, you can feel good about rejecting them. It plays into the arms of a self-absorbed culture whose idea of truth does not extend beyond the self. That is why this kind of message is likely to resonate with folks and why it is likely to be popular. But as history teaches us, at least those of us who care to learn from it, what is popular isn't always right.

If I may borrow from Louis, who noted, "the idea of truth does not extend beyond the self".

And there it is.

The whole of everything.

My and not Thy. Self and not Other. Mine and not Thine.

This is the Inverse of Love, which is that fierce imprisonment within the Isolated-I, the Pure-Self, the Alone of “I” which is by definition void of any I-You, thus void of Community, thus void of the Singular-We. This is the Alone of the Love-Less, for, we find within Love’s Triune, within Love’s embrace Three very present Agencies within the very present I, the very present You, and the very present I-You or the Us of the Singular-We. Love is by definition Community among Many, Many yet One there inside of that Uncreated and Eternal Embrace. In Scripture we find Each within the Triune forever acquiescing to the Other, Each forever giving away the Self, utterly and not in mere gesture, as Each testifies not of the I but of the You, and this in the pure Delight of the Joy which Love tastes in celebrating the Other. Here we find that Eternally-Sacrificed-Self, that Image in which Man will be fashioned. In the First Garden, Eden, we find the First Adam who wills toward the Self, toward I and not You, toward My-Will and not Thy-Will. This is that fatal move into the Self which births that which is by definition void of I-You, for the I here inside of Will’s Volition cleaves itself off of the You, and it therein stands now Alone, now Isolated, and where there is only I, and no You, there is by definition no We, and thus by definition there is something that is Love-Less for Love just “is” that Triune I-You-We and where such is not found God is not found nor is Love found for God just “is” Love’s Triune. This is thus the Loveless and thus the Godless of the fierce imprisonment within the Self where it is I, I and only I. In the Last Garden, Gethsemane, we find the Last Adam un-doing that fatal move of the First Adam, for He now cries You and not Me, Other and not Self, Thy-Will and not My-Will and He tells us this is the Way, this is the Pattern. He cries Follow Me! Do it this way! This is the way to Life, to Joy, to Love. And then He spreads His arms wide, and He gives Himself Away, and that Eternally-Sacrificed-Self pours Himself out, and this for His Beloved Other, who is Other, who is Us, who is I and You, all of Us, and Uncreated Love there does what Love forever does within Himself as He pours Himself out, and this into the Created-Other, and the two there become One within the Embrace of the Singular-We that just is the New Man, and Love here begets yet more Love, and so on forever. This is just what Love does. Here we find the solution to the problem of why-create.

God Is-Love.

Every-Thing whatsoever traces back across that impenetrable ad infinitum into Will’s Volition where the Un-Caused of Love is found. This is the story of Everything.

Belief is not equal to truth.

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