Tag Archives: Heaven

Choosing Your Religion Before You Are Born.

I overheard a couple of Mormons talking the other day.  One of them said: “We are the lucky ones, we were born into The Church, we have been able to live with the fullness of the Gospel for our entire lives!  It’s our duty to share that love with the world.” 

To which the other replied: “It’s not luck. I believe we choose where we will be born and what trials we will face in the preexistence.  I believe we even select the time and method of our own death.”

For those who are unfamiliar with Mormon theology, they believe our souls were born to spirit parents long before we were born to physical parents. They call this time before physical birth the “preexistence.”

I wasn’t part of the conversation but I still had to hold in my laughter.  I could just imagine God talking to their unborn soul and asking: “Would you like to be born into the One True Church and live with the fullness of the gospel or would you prefer to be born into a false religion and raised to THINK you were born into the One True Church?”

How would you know the difference once you were born?

And what about picking your trials in advance? How does that work with freewill?  If you “choose” to be raised by abusive parents, does that mean your parents didn’t have the freewill to choose any other action? What about people who are raped in this life? Did they choose that? Did the rapist have any choice in the matter?

The whole idea reeks of victim blaming.  (I’m sorry your life sucks, but you picked it.)  It seems like a way for people living comfortably to ignore those who are not as comfortable without feeling guilty.  After all, if a child is born into a poor family and dies of starvation that’s okay – they selected those trials and that death.

I don’t think Mormons realize how sadistic this belief makes their God.  Does he hand you a checklist with different ways you can suffer and require you to select a specific number of experiences?  “Please select at least 50 painful experiences from List A and 150 mild irritants from List B.”

Some people suffer extreme pain and even torture in this life, why would anyone VOLUNTEER for that ahead of time?  Imagine the spirits in heaven talking with each other: “You can choose to be killed by being burned alive when you are 14 or you can live until you 80 and die peacefully in your sleep. I’m so torn, I don’t know which to choose. Living to 80 would be so cool, but I wonder what fire feels like when it burns your flesh?”

Other Christian denominations don’t claim you pick your method of death or your trials – and whether or not you are born into the right religion is usually considered a matter of luck — of course, if you don’t get it right before you die God will still torture you forever… so God doesn’t look much nicer according to that theology.

Oh well, people believe crazy things.

Islamic Prayer Is As Effective as NOT Praying.

I received an interesting email from a Muslim who said Islamic prayers really are effective. He didn’t like it when I asked him to provide evidence supporting the effectiveness of Islamic prayers.  Enjoy the read:


“Guess youre not familiar with Islam after all, considering in another video of yours- rather a pathatic atempt of ruining our image- you made a hadith up!”

I guess you’re not as familiar with Islam as I am, and I definitely would never claim to be an expert.  The hadith was not made up.  Read it for yourself on the PDF here: http://x.co/UNRl go to page 319, you can read the Arabic or English version.

“pfft really?”

Yeah, really.

“let’s ignore the part where God tortures us for not praying for a while now, shall we?”

I prefer not to ignore the parts where God threatens to torture people… and if you really believe God exists and is a tyrant horrible enough to torture people, then you shouldn’t ignore him when he tells you the things he will use to justify tormenting you.

“when someone prays and then works for what he wants and gets it, he comes to appreciate it more,”

More than what?  Just having it handed to him on a silver platter… agreed.  More than working for it without praying first… I don’t think so.

“praying also gives him that feeling of responsibality towards that thing and he feels that this earned money is not fully his, that helps that person to donate some of it to the poor!”

So, praying doesn’t actually help you accomplish anything more than just working without prayer… but it guilts you into donating some of your money to the poor?

“im just sitting simple examples here ok? let’s look at the one who doesnt believe in god, say he works gets money and all, he has that part in him that no one can ever deny it exist that tells him that this money is only his and no one is allowed to take any of it cause its YOURS you fuckin worked SO HARD for it, so no, you dont wanna help the others with it.”

You got me, I don’t know how you read my mind so amazingly well.  I hoard every dollar I spend and I don’t ever help anyone or donate to any kind of charity.  You obviously don’t know any unbelievers.  However, if you need threats from an imaginary man to motivate you to help out those who are less fortunate, then please — keep believing in whatever imaginary creature motivates you to act as if you actually cared about the other humans living alongside you.

“Still sounds Supernatural? not really.”

I agree, nothing supernatural — which kinda makes me wonder why you mentioned it.  Especially since you were originally telling me Islamic prayers were effective.  So far you’ve only argued that they’re effective at guilting you into donating money to charity, not that they’re effective at getting messages to and from God.

“it has something to do with your soul! oh please tell me you believe in souls.”

Nope, sorry.

“As for praying to God, first of all i have reached the point where i stopped wasting my time asking why the heck do i have to pray to god if helping is just as important cause i simply started to Want to pray to god cause its the least i could do to thank him for everything he gave me!”

Perfect, you admit that praying is ineffective… or at least that praying and then working is just as effective as working without praying.  Finally something we can agree about.  Oddly, it also means God didn’t really give you anything — since you still had to work for all of it.

“no matter how things can get worse i always remind myself that there are people out there that have much much worse lives than mine.”

Motivating yourself by focusing on the misery of others… interesting.  For me, that motivates me to do what I can to help make their lives better in whatever way I can.  I don’t use the suffering of others to make myself feel better.

“i come from Palestine, you should understand, i spend my life fearing for my family’s lives.”

Not a position I envy, and not a position I would wish on anyone.

“and btw, english isnt my mother language so exuse my mistake. although i believe it is understandable enough for you.”

You’re doing great.  Your English is much better than my Arabic.

“I never even think of God torturing me if i didnt pray cause i was busy doing something else, Islam teaches us that He is the most Merciful.”

How can you say he threatens to torture you if you don’t perform specific redundant actions and then say he is “most merciful?”  Torturing people is not even slightly merciful.

“all i know and all i could care about is that helping others is just as important as praying.”

Wrong, helping others is far more important than talking to an invisible man who supposedly already knows everything.

“all proofes of praying being healthy to your mind and body are books i own, i did a very simple research on the internet though and found this
http://www.answering-christianity.com/psychology_of_prayers.htm
read it ALL and tell me what you think.”

The video we are discussing specifically asks about prayer groups, and why God would need multiple people to ask God to do the same thing before he finally answers — and I pointed out that a simple phone call is much more effective at delivering a message and getting a message in return.  The link you provided does nothing to show that prayer is effective at getting a message to or from God — and definitely not even close to the effectiveness of a telephone.  It also doesn’t explain why group prayers would be needed in order to get a message to or from God.

“listen, sometimes you say that you have opened your mind up and discovered God doesnt exist, but fact is you have closed it and you’re refusing to believe in God.”

I’ve discovered that the reasons I used to have for believing in God just don’t work.  And then it’s simply a matter of being intellectually honest with myself.  With no reason to believe that any gods exist, I simply don’t believe in Gods.  My mind is open to change — if evidence can be provided, but understand — if I can come up with a non-supernatural explanation for your “evidence” then it’s NOT evidence.  If your “evidence” is just an assertion – it’s NOT evidence.  Simply pointing out something that science can’t explain is NOT evidence.  If I can replace the word “God” with “Fairies” and the argument still works, it’s NOT evidence.  I’m not refusing to believe in God, I’m refusing to believe in ANYTHING for bad reasons.

“just make sure you did the right decition”

Not believing in God wasn’t a decision, it was a result.  Not believing in God came as a result of an honest inquiry into the argument used to defend the existence of God.  When the arguments failed, there was no reason left for believing in God.

“again, sorry for any grammer or spelling mistakes, english isnt my first language.”

No problem, as I said – Your English is much better than my Arabic.

Your friend,
Shawn
aka: AZSuperman01

I don’t know _____, therefore I’m right!

Sometimes I love reading the things people send me in my email.  Let me share…


yo dude

Yo, Wazzup?

Hey I watched your video “To all the Christians on youtube.” From my understanding you used to be a Christian but now your an atheist (correct me if my wrong).

You’re right so far.  My video, To All Christians on YouTube, is a rebuttal to a Christian who posted a video basically using Pascal’s Wager. I posted another video much later, My “Awakening” Story, which goes into more detail regarding my de-conversion story if you’re interested.

Ok I am a Christian and I have several questions to ask you.

Awesome, I’ll answer your questions, then you can answer mine.

How do you think the world was created?

What exactly do you mean by “the world?”  Your later questions pertain to how galaxies were created, so I can only assume “the world” does not include our galaxy.  If you’re referring to how the planet formed, it’s really quite simple, and something you could have easily found an answer to within a few seconds.  I recommend watching the video, How the Earth Was Made for a detailed explanation and a history of all the advancements that lead to our current understanding.

If after watching that video you find that you disagree with the process involved in creating the planet, please let me know how YOU think the Earth was made. Please be specific.  If you think a god or gods created the planet, please explain the processes they used and how you came to know and understand the creation method.

How do you think galaxies upon galaxies upon galaxies were created?

The process which created and continues to create galaxies is actually very similar to the process that created our planet. All objects have gravity and are attracted to each other. Gravity is what holds the earth in orbit around the sun, and the sun in orbit around the center of the galaxy.  Again, this is a question to which you could have easily found the answer with a simple search.  The video Birth of the Universe gives a pretty good explanation of the process.

How do you think scientist pick up music coming from stars?

The word “music” is used very loosely here.  There is no actual sound coming from the stars.  Sound describes the vibration of air molecules interacting with the ear drum.  The vast emptiness between our planet and the stars prevents any of them from creating any noticeable effect on the air in our atmosphere.  The “music” from the stars is not sound.

Some scientists have used radio telescopes to collect information about the radioactive decay of hydrogen atoms and then converted the waveform into an audio format, others have used seismometers to study the surface vibrations on the sun (sun quakes), and other stars, then converted the data into an audio format.

The “music from stars” doesn’t have a tune, a melody, or any other characteristic we generally associate with music.  It’s simply poetic language used to describe a method scientists use to learn more about the universe.

You can listen to some examples of this “music” here and here.  Again, if you disagree or have some other explanation for the music from the stars, could you please give me your explanation and how you came to this understanding?

Ever try and make your heart stop beating?

Nope.  Have you?

How long can you go without breathing?

I used to swim a lot and could hold my breath for several minutes back then, but now I’m lucky if I can hold it for 2 minutes.  Why is this important?

How do you think scientist just found another planet evolving around space that was over 2 billion light years away?

I’m assuming you meant “revolve” because planets don’t “evolve.”  It was probably just a simple typo.  Astronomers have located around 500 extrasolar planets so far.  There are several methods used to detect extrasolar planets.  Large (Jupiter-size) planets can be detected by measuring their gravitational effect on the star they orbit.  Smaller (earth size) planets are harder to detect, but if their orbit is parallel to ours scientists can detect them by measuring the amount of light they block when they travel in front of the star they orbit.  This is another question you could have easily answered on your own with a simple search.  This Wikipedia article gives a very thorough explanation.

If this world has been around for billions and billions of years, how come we are only in year 2010?

We’ve used several methods for counting the years throughout history.  According to the Hebrew calendar, which predates the modern calendar, we are living in year 5770.  The Roman’s used to count the years following the foundation of Rome, or they would mark the years according to who was in political power at the time.  The names of the months in our current calendar came from those used in the earlier calendars.  Jesus wasn’t used as a basis for the year until more than 500 years after he died.  A monk named Dionysius was concerned with trying to calculate the correct date for Easter, and at that time the years were counted in A.D. but the “A.D.” referred to Emperor Diocletain.  Dionysius decided to try to calculate the exact year of Jesus’ birth (most scholars believe he got it wrong), he determined that Jesus was born in 753  ab urbe conditâ (753 years after the founding of Rome).  He kept the abbreviation “A.D.” but changed the meaning to “Anno Domini” and the years before Christ’s birth were abbreviated “A.C.” or “Ante Christum.”  There is no year “0,” some historians believe this was because of a deep religious superstition against the number zero at the time.  (Zero literally describes “nothing,” since God is “everything” they believed zero represented the devil or a lack of God.)

The current dating system didn’t become the world standard overnight, in fact, it took several hundred years for it to catch on.  Emperor Charlemagne adopted the dating system and his successors found no reason to change it.  Many Popes and religious leaders continued to use the prior dating system. Eventually, politics won out and it became the standard.

Well because Jesus was born 2,010 years ago. If Jesus was never born, we’d be in year 4,000,000,000,000 right?

No, we wouldn’t be in the year “4,000,000,000,000.”  First, the universe is not believed to be 4 trillion years old, and second because there was no one around back then to start a dating system.  Life needed to develop, then create languages, then writing, then math.  That process takes a while.

Yes, the current dating system is based off a monk’s (erroneous) calculation for Jesus’ birth.  Most of the current calendar is named after ancient gods.  The fact that the current method for calculating the year was originally created to mark the birth of Jesus is no more relevant nowadays than the fact that:

  • January is named for the Roman God “Janus,” God of gates and doorways
  • March is named for the Roman God “Mars,” God of war
  • April is named for the Greek Goddess “Aphrodite,” Goddess of love and beauty
  • May is named for the Greek God “Maia,” Goddess of spring
  • June is named for the Roman Goddess “Juno,” Goddess of marriage
  • Sunday is named for “Sun’s day,” the day set aside by pagan sun worshipers
  • Monday is named for “Moon’s day,” the day set aside by pagans to worship the Goddess of the Moon
  • Tuesday is named for the Norse God “Tyr” or “Tiw,” the God of war
  • Wednesday is named for the Norse God “Wodan,” the God of trade
  • Thursday is named for the Norse God “Thor,” the God of thunder, lightning, and storms
  • Friday is named for the Norse Goddess “Frigg,” Queen of Asgard, the most high goddess.
  • Saturday is named for the Roman God “Saturn,” God of agriculture and harvest

Surely you don’t actually think that the existence of a dating system proves that Jesus is a God, do you?  If so, wouldn’t the other examples above also prove the validity of those other deities?

If God isn’t real, how come everything in the Bible is coming to the truth in these present day times?

I’m afraid you’ll need to be a little more specific.  You see, the prophecies in the Bible are extremely vague and have no actual date by which they are supposed to happen.  This means the prophecies can be interpreted to mean one thing, and when that fails they simply re-assign the prophecy to something else.  If you think any prophecies in the Bible are coming to pass, please share.  And be specific.  I want to know the book and verse describing the prophecy, and the modern example of it “coming to pass.”  Also, please explain how you came to your interpretation of the prophecy.

If God isn’t real, how come many witnesses that died and went to heaven have their testimonies?

People die for stupid reasons all the time.  The fact that someone is willing to die for a belief doesn’t prove that their belief is true.  Surely you don’t think the terrorist’s choice to fly planes into the World Trade Center Towers proves that their religion is the correct one.  After all, they died and went to heaven too (according to their beliefs).

If God isn’t real, how come atheist experienced hell?

You can claim that atheists experience Hell and that you experience Heaven but you have no evidence for the existence of either location.  If you are referring to someone having a Near Death Experience, then that is easily explained.  Near Death Experiences happen in all religions, and people always seem to meet the God they already believe in or were raised to believe in.  Buddhists see Buddha, Muslims see Allah, Christians see Jesus, etc.  If an atheist had a Near Death Experience where he went to Hell, then he was probably raised in a Christian, “fire and brimstone” style church.  Which is where his mind pulled the information for the hallucination.

If Near Death Experiences are actually evidence for an afterlife, or for a specific religion – then wouldn’t all non-Christians experience Hell?  Wouldn’t people who had never heard of Jesus come back and start preaching the gospel?  If you’re going to accept one specific NDE as evidence for the validity of a supernatural claim, then you will need to accept all NDEs as proof of their claims.

I am familiar with only one account where a religious person changed their religion after a Near Death Experience.  That person changed from Christian to Muslim.  There is a YouTube video somewhere describing the conversion… I looked for it but I am unable to find it.  (It’s late and I’m tired… so I didn’t look all that hard.)

If God isn’t real, how come amazing miracles happen?

They don’t.  (That was easy.)  Do you have any specific miracles you consider to be especially “amazing?”

You don’t have to answer all these questions, but I want you to ask yourself them.

Oh great, NOW you tell me.

How did we really get here.

My parents had sex.  I’m sure yours did too.

It was God, God created us. And galaxies upon lightyears.

Exactly what evidence do you have that God created us?  So far all you’ve done is list a bunch of questions.  You seem to be saying that because YOU don’t understand the natural explanation for something, a God must be the ONLY possible solution.

You’re saying: “I don’t know _____, therefore I’m right!”

The questions you asked have answers, but I don’t think you’re actually concerned with finding answers.  If you were looking for answers you could easily find them.  Instead, you use your own voluntary ignorance as a reason to believe in God.  After all, if YOU can’t understand how something happened, then it must be impossible for it to have actually happened.  It really is an arrogant statement, and one reserved for religious conversations.  You don’t need to know every detail about how your iPod works down to the molecular level in order to know that the claim that magic music pixies live inside it is bogus.  And it would be wrong for me to claim that your lack of knowledge regarding electronics was “proof” of the magic music pixies.

It’s crazy not to believe in God.

Don’t you find it a little odd to believe that an all-powerful invisible man created the entire world, then cursed it’s entire population for not being gods, impregnated a teenage girl with himself in order to have himself sacrificed to himself so he could get around a bloodthirsty law he created that required him to torture everyone for eternity for a crime their ancient ancestors committed?

Did I also say most of scientist got saved because there was just so much evidence of God?

Nope, you didn’t.  And it’s probably a good thing because it would have been a bold-faced lie.  I appreciate that you are at least attempting to remain honest by not making such a demonstrably false statement.  Especially without providing any evidence to back it up.  Thank you.

The Holy Bible isn’t the only evidence.

I’m still waiting for you to provide ANY evidence, at least beyond your own ignorance.  Your voluntary ignorance isn’t really convincing as far as apologetic arguments go.

Here I also have an opinion book for you to get, you might change your ways. It’s called 90 Minutes in Heaven written by Don Piper. It is about a preacher who was killed in a car accident, was in heaven for 90 minutes, and came back to life after someone prayed for him. It’s a great book, and it’s a must have.

I’ve already explained why Near Death Experiences are useless as evidence.  There are NDE accounts from every religion.  Some NDEs don’t involve a God at all, in some cases people meet loved ones, in other cases they re-live childhood events, and there are even NDE cases where people have reported that they were abducted by aliens while they were “dead.”  Please explain what criteria you use to determine that an NDE should be accepted as true, and when it should be treated as a hallucination created by an oxygen-starved brain.

Near Death Experiences have also been recreated in laboratory conditions which prove the cause can be physiological, and not necessarily supernatural.

Even though we should always have Faith in God, just like any human being, it’s natural to be curious. But Satan uses that tactic to counterfeit God and make you not believe. Also if you ever get a chance and read the Bible, it says that Satan will rule the world. Now it is quite fascinating you were converted from a Christian to an Atheist. God also said people would betray, hate, and Satan would rule the world. Those are signs of the end times.

I’ve read the Bible, a couple times actually.  Have you, or are you just repeating what your pastors have told you?  I don’t hate God, nor have I “betrayed” him, I simply no longer find the claims of his existence to be convincing, for the same reasons you don’t find claims of Santa and the Easter Bunny convincing.  The claims themselves are laughably absurd, and there is no evidence to support them.

If you show me a toy factory at the North Pole being run by elves and flying reindeer, I will believe in Santa.  Likewise, if you show me actual evidence for a God I will believe in a God.  Unfortunately, giving me a list of questions to which you don’t understand the answers isn’t a very good way to defend your belief.

Poor Apologetics 2: Just in Case

The Theist’s Argument:
I can’t tell you how often I receive emails from people saying: “You’re risking Hell! Not just for you, but for your daughter, you’re going to send her to Hell too! Why risk it? Why risk it? Why worry about that? Go to Heaven!”

Why they use this argument (What they believe)

I need to believe in Jesus, just in case. Just to make sure I avoid Hell, because if I don’t I’m going to be damned, and if I don’t teach my kids to believe in Jesus I’m going to damn the rest of my family at the same time.

The Rebuttal:

Now, the way the American court system works, or the way the jury system works, is basically – you’re convicted or released based on the beliefs of the jury. (Or what the jury SAYS they believe.) If the jury believes the prosecutor you’re probably going to go to jail. If the jury believes the defense attorney then you’re probably going to be let off.

So the idea of both attorneys is to tell the story in such a convincing manner that it causes the jury to believe their version over the opposing versions being offered.

Imagine for just a moment that the defense attorney comes up to the jury and tells them all that if they find his client innocent, he will reward them and pay them all $1,000,000 each.

Some people can be easily bought will claim immediately that “Yes, the defendant is innocent.” Other people will hold out because they are not that shallow. Some people believe in the court system and want to be true and honest to themselves.

Now, the people who accept the money and claim that the defendant is innocent – Do they really believe he’s innocent, or are they just saying that to get the reward?

Most likely they are just saying it to get the reward.

What if the defense attorney again came up to the jury, when he realized the bribe didn’t work for everyone and said: “If you find my client guilty I will hunt you down and I will kill you! I will burn you alive and I will slaughter your children!”

Well, now some more people are going to claim that the defendant is indeed innocent because they don’t want to risk the harm to themselves and their family.

You see, I’m one of the jurors who is sitting there saying: “I can’t honestly believe that the defendant is innocent just because his attorney is offering to pay me off. I also can’t honestly believe that he’s innocent because the attorney is threatening me.”

The threats and the bribes won’t actually change my mind. They may change my actions. In reality, I wouldn’t want harm to come to my family, so if I honestly thought that was a serious threat I would probably LIE and say that the person was innocent because I wouldn’t harm to come to my family.

But, even if I lie, I’m not necessarily going to believe that the man is actually innocent, I’m not going to actually believe the claims of his attorney just because I’m being threatened or bribed.

The same can be said about God. For all you people who email me and tell me that: “I need to convert! I need to convert! I need to accept Jesus and just do it – just in case.” That’s like trying to be that attorney who’s bribing me and threatening me simultaneously.

Either way, you’re not going to make me change my mind.

You need to actually submit a case and make an argument PROVING your God – and PROVING YOUR POINT.

You can’t just threaten and bribe your way to victory… too many people can’t see that.

BEFORE THE REWARDS OF HEAVEN OR THE PUNISHMENTS OF HELL CAN BE HONESTLY CONSIDERED, YOU MUST PROVE THAT THE GOD RESPONSIBLE ACTUALLY EXISTS.

Tough Questions for Christians 28: Earth vs. Heaven

When the Earth was created it was perfect. Flawless and sinless, created by a perfect being, for his perfect creations. And that’s the way it existed for a while. Um, up until Adam and Eve actually took a bite of that forbidden fruit. And then suddenly everything went to Hell… literally.

Now God is perfect, he doesn’t make mistakes. So you figure Earth was literally the best he could do. He wouldn’t build something substandard, right? The “perfect” planet, the “perfect” creation, and his “perfect” humans were as “perfect” as they could possibly get.

He wouldn’t ever build something less-than-perfect, ’cause that would, therefore, make him less-than-perfect.

Now, the idea is: Once you die, you go to Heaven. Which is, again, a “perfect” place, built by a “perfect” God, for his “perfect” creations. He has some other “perfect” creations there already, his angels and so on.

But if Earth was a perfect place, and it went to shit, and God is all-powerful… Why should we believe he can do any better with Heaven?

What makes us think that Heaven is not going to suffer the same fate that Earth did?

If God is all-powerful and perfect, we have absolutely no reason to believe he can do anything better than what he did the first time around. Because the first time would’ve been “perfect” and as good as he can get! (By definition you can’t improve on perfection.)

So what reason do we have to believe that Heaven is going to be any better than Earth?

TOUGH QUESTION FOR CHRISTIANS #28
WHAT REASON DO WE HAVE TO BELIEVE HEAVEN WILL BE ANY BETTER THAN EARTH?

DID GOD SOMEHOW MAKE HEAVEN “MORE PERFECT” THAN HE MADE EARTH?