Thursday, February 26, 2009

Heaven and Hell/ Atheism

Yesterday, I was going to make a post about heaven, and ended up reading some stuff on hell, as well.-- What shall we start with?

I ended up mentioning this (quote below) to Rev. Dr. Strand at Lenten supper last night. So I'll start with with it. Dr. Strand was talking about a book he would like to write in his sabbatical on philosophy, a kind of popular guide. The main point would be that atheism is immoral. I did not quite catch the way the argument was going to go. (Maybe, Ruth you can summarize it for us!)

This is what I contributed to the conversation. Luther writes about how man has always resented the teaching about hell. When you are talking with atheists, this does keep coming up. Christianity stinks just for the threat of hell. And God's remedy they don't like either.

It does seem incredible and unworthy of God's wisdom and goodness that, in addition to all the discomforts of this life, one must also fear eternal death, and do so because God is angry with men, who are miserable enough as it is. Such thoughts reason cannot approve without engaging in blasphemy. Therefore Epicurus advises: Become either insane or incredulous, and thus rid yourself of this feeling of wrath and sin when you find yourself in the throes of miseries and death. Oh, what frivolous advice: for suppose you are unable to be incredulous and you fear that what you now disdain you might, after this life, experience to be true? Or suppose you are unable to become insane, so you are unable to become insane, so that it is impossible for you not to give thought to this impending peril?

Therefore man, as he is by nature, cannot do otherwise than become obsessed with fear and be indignant at the thought that after death God, of whom one must be afraid, still rules over us. We are reminded of what Cicero has Velleius say: Thus he imposes on our necks a timeless tyrant."

It reminds me of the famous bus campaign: "There probably is no God, so go ahead and enjoy your life." Well, there is that timeless tyrant: "probably". What if in your heart of heart you can't be "incredulous" after all? What is it with hedging, as Ezra Levant wrote, there "probably" is no God? What if there is? You don't have the choice to be insane or to be incredulous. Something/ someone is talking in your head/heart.

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