"What if Jesus is not dead"

"What if Jesus is not dead"

Arthur Dent
Arthur Dent

July 25th, 2010, 9:52 am #1

Another take on how should atheists react to the possibility that they could be wrong.

(Personally I dont think they can be wrong, because they actually do take into account the statistically improbable scenario that a god does exist somewhere and act accordingly.)

FAQ: What if youre wrong, and God does exist?
(Note: this is not the same as the previous FAQ, Isnt it better to believe, just in case? After all, if Im wrong, then I dont lose much, but if youre wrong. That one is a repudiation of Pascals Wager; this one is an answer to the remote possibility that there *is*, indeed, a God.)



This is a question often asked by believers (especially Christians) to atheists. What if were wrong, God does indeed exist, and after we die, as the saying goes, we do indeed meet our maker?

First, let me say that this is not a possibility that actually worries me, as I have every reason to believe that no god or gods exist. The universe appears 100% natural, and, while science is far from knowing everything, there isnt anything out there, so far, that absolutely requires a supernatural explanation and cant possibly ever be explained in naturalistic terms. In other words: a complete lack of evidence for is in itself very good evidence against (and its not like humanity hasnt searched, for millennia), and therefore evidence suggests there are zero deities out there.

Second, if there was a god, its still virtually impossible that the human religions are right. Their gods are small, provincial, territorial, petty and tribal. And very human-like. They have human emotions (including a lot of jealousy), they tend to have a chosen people, they supposedly created a universe that we now know is incredibly vast and complex (and which was unknown when the religions appeared), but our insignificant little planet is still the only thing that matters in the universe and our physical lives here arent even what really matters. (The idea of a universe old and vast like this, as simply background scenario for a test to see whether were saved or not it boggles the mind.) The anthropomorphic gods of our religions are too obviously man-made to be the real thing. If there was a god out there capable of creating a universe, he/she/it would probably be much too complex for us to even notice and he/she/it wouldnt certainly be concerned with us, our morality, our sexual lives , nor would he/she/it judge us and create places for us to go after we died. In other words, if there was a god, it wouldnt affect us in any way and it would be infinitely greater than the petty anthropomorphic fictional deities of our religions.

Third, what if, despite all the above, there still was a god, and he/she/it was concerned with us, and did judge us in some way after our physical deaths? Well, it depends on its standards of judging. Maybe it didnt care about our morality, or about being worshipped, but about something completely different. We have no way of knowing.

But suppose it did care about our actions. Then, the final question would be: is God good, or evil? Im dismissing any corruptions of the meaning of good such as whatever God does or wants is by definition good. There must be some standard, other than the whims of a powerful being.

Therefore:

a good god which precludes the insecure sexuality-obsessed tyrant the three monotheisms believe in would reward someone who lived a good life, generally being nice to other people, and full of curiosity to discover things, and to follow the available evidence to the logical conclusion. The available evidence doesnt in any way suggest the presence of a god, so to believe in one anyway is nothing more than intellectually dishonest wishful thinking. A good god would reward good atheists and good believers, and punish evil atheists and evil believers but would probably be a bit disappointed with the lack of curiosity and honesty shown by the believers (but then again, he/she/it would have some explaining to do: why stay hidden and make it so that the universe implies his/her/its non-existence?). A good god wouldnt be an insecure or immature, so he wouldnt need, desire or care about worship or any kind of ego-stroking at all. Therefore, I have no fear at all of a good god.
an evil god much like Yahweh or Allah (and if you dont agree with me, you havent been reading your holy books) would be much like a brutal dictator in a totalitarian dictatorship. No one is safe from such a monster; theres no use in expecting justice or fair treatment. He owns you; youre his property: a slave, no more. Sucking up might work for a time, but he can always torture or kill you on a whim, because, to him, youre not really a sentient being; you are a tool to be used, a toy to play with. Still, sucking up that is, worshipping him, and living your life just for him, obeying his commands blindly, no matter the suffering it causes would probably be your best bet. Of course, that would also make you a disgusting little coward, devoid of any moral integrity. This god is the kind of being that would indeed create two places for us to go for eternity one for endless torment, the other for sucking up to him even more. The only moral thing to do in the presence of such a monster, as he condemned and damned us for having the morality he lacks, would be to spit in his face, as a final act of defiance.
Fortunately, I dont believe any of the above exists. I have no reasons to, after all. And the result? A feeling of freedom.

http://www.wayofthemind.org/2008/03/06/ ... oes-exist/
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Joined: April 17th, 2006, 10:37 pm

July 25th, 2010, 2:24 pm #2

From your text, it looks like your question is really: What if you're wrong, and God does exist?

From your two descriptions of the "good god" and the "evil god", I would say you are closer to my understanding of the "good god", although your description is a little simplistic, and I wouldn't agree on every single point.

The "evil god" as you describe him, is unfortunately how God is described in some of the Old Testament and the Qu'ran -- which are, as you mentioned, the holy scriptures for the three main monotheistic religions in the world. If you look at the societies that produced these writings, as they were in ancient times and as they are today, you get a better feel for why those ancient texts were written the way they were, the attitudes toward things like slavery, war, women as chattel, and "people not like us". And when you compare the angry, vengeful, unjust god with the comforting God of the 23rd Psalm, or the Creator God in the first chapters of Genesis, you might start to think that God has an identity crisis, or multiple personalities.

The Old Testament was written over a very long period of time, thousands of years, a large part of it was handed down through oral tradition. It was written by many authors with different agendas and in different political situations. The writers did their best to explain and discuss God in a way that made sense to them, and to their audience -- and at times they sometimes personified God, creating God in their own image. Every society, every culture all over the world does that -- African gods are African, Chinese gods are Chinese, and for a long time in America, paintings of Jesus depicted a Jewish man from ancient Israel as having blue eyes and light brown hair. =) But it goes beyond what a culture thinks God "looks like" -- creating God in the image of your society means you also project your values, your social mores, your taboos, your petty concerns, etc. on to your image of God. Whether or not those things would be of any importance or concern to God.

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Seoc Colla
Seoc Colla

July 25th, 2010, 6:22 pm #3

"""The "evil god" as you describe him, is unfortunately how God is described in some of the Old Testament and the Qu'ran -- which are, as you mentioned, the holy scriptures for ((the three main monotheistic religions.....))"""

With the vast range of competing bibles, old and new, doctrinal differences and nuances in opposing beliefs, it is a wee bit beyond comprehension to see the common source.
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Joined: May 4th, 2005, 1:31 pm

July 25th, 2010, 9:13 pm #4

That this "evil god" is what Jesus was describing when he said "You are of your Father the Devil."
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Joined: April 17th, 2006, 10:37 pm

July 25th, 2010, 9:36 pm #5

"""The "evil god" as you describe him, is unfortunately how God is described in some of the Old Testament and the Qu'ran -- which are, as you mentioned, the holy scriptures for ((the three main monotheistic religions.....))"""

With the vast range of competing bibles, old and new, doctrinal differences and nuances in opposing beliefs, it is a wee bit beyond comprehension to see the common source.
Seoc Colla: With the vast range of competing bibles, old and new, doctrinal differences and nuances in opposing beliefs, it is a wee bit beyond comprehension to see the common source.

I'm not sure what you mean here. Are you saying that the vast range of Bible translations, doctrines and denominations, that you can't see a common source?

Most of the passages I'm thinking of are pretty unmistakable, it doesn't matter what translation you use. For example, 1 Samuel 15:3, the order to slaughter the Amalekites:


New International Version (©1984)
Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"

New Living Translation (©2007)
Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation--men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys."

English Standard Version (©2001)
Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
'Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'"

GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
Now go and attack Amalek. Claim everything they have for God by destroying it. Don't spare them, but kill men and women, infants and children, cows and sheep, camels and donkeys."

King James Bible
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

American King James Version
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

American Standard Version
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Bible in Basic English
Go now and put Amalek to the sword, putting to the curse all they have, without mercy: put to death every man and woman, every child and baby at the breast, every ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Now therefore go, and smite Amalec, and utterly destroy all that he hath: spare him not, nor covet any thing that is his: but slay both man and woman, child and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Darby Bible Translation
Now go and smite Amalek, and destroy utterly all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

English Revised Version
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Webster's Bible Translation
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

World English Bible
Now go and strike Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and don't spare them; but kill both man and woman, infant and nursing baby, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'"

Young's Literal Translation
Now, go, and thou hast smitten Amalek, and devoted all that it hath, and thou hast no pity on it, and hast put to death from man unto woman, from infant unto suckling, from ox unto sheep, from camel unto ass.'


Lot of different translations there. They all say pretty much the same thing, though.
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Seoc Colla
Seoc Colla

July 26th, 2010, 8:40 am #6

Good morning, Kate.
Aye, I agree that your chosen examples are similar in meaning, but perhaps I didn't make clear that it is the current tendency to sneakily switch the 'literal' biblical pronouncements of 'the immutable word of god' to silently become 'metaphorical' that I was aiming at.
The tale of the deluge, for example.
Once the original story is no longer credible, rather than admit it was wrong - then and therefore wrong now - the story is given a fudged make-over.

Again, a mindset that has to be eternally right in all it thinks, serves to undermine those who hold it, does it not?

The book in question has many postive attributes, especially for awakening a deep part in us, but the idea of 'teaching humanity of anything spiritually relevant' seems a non-starter.
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Joined: June 13th, 2006, 12:37 am

July 26th, 2010, 11:56 am #7

That this "evil god" is what Jesus was describing when he said "You are of your Father the Devil."
It is false teaching masquerading as "Christian" and was refuted by the Apostles Paul, Peter, and John and "Christian" gnosticism had its origins with Simon the Sorcerer.
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Joined: May 4th, 2005, 1:31 pm

July 26th, 2010, 12:52 pm #8

Some folks would suggest that what you follow is not Christianity.

Gnostic Christianity:

"True" Gnostic Christianity is an objective body of knowledge that Jesus taught. It is not a mystery religion or heretical cult. Gnostic Christianity teaches a non-judgemental "process" of reasoning. This new process, is justified by a natural principle that Jesus revealed and contemporary physics demonstrates is a scientific fact. Combining non- judgemental reasoning with the current judgemental process, expands our consciousness of reality. In this enlightened consciousness we are personally empowered to resolve all problems and as Paul said "live the good life as from the beginning He [God] had meant us to live it." (Eph 2:10)

Evidence that Jesus taught a process of reasoning that could expand consciousness surfaces in Jn 8:31-32 jbv, where he says, "If you make my word your home you will learn the truth and the truth will set you free [word or will of God is the English translation of the Greek term logos, which refers to the logic or reasoning of God]." And in Rm 12:2 (rsv) Paul said "do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..."

The Gnosis, or reasoning process, that Gnostic Christianity introduces, does not contradict Jesus' spiritually-centered public teachings. It documents what scholars refer to as Jesus' oral or logos/logic tradition, which he taught in private (Mk 4:33-34). These teachings elevate our reasoning mind to that of the will/reasoning of God. In this renewed mind, our reasoning supports spiritual values. This is the truth that can set us free. For when mind and spirit seek the same ends (syzygy) doing "on earth as it is in heaven" will no longer be an idealistic goal, it will be a practical reality. (Matt 6:10)

http://www.darnellworks.com/gnostic/
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Joined: July 1st, 2008, 11:52 pm

July 26th, 2010, 1:21 pm #9

the reason gnosticism didn't make it is because so few had the "EXPERIENCE" of CHRIST so they could speak of it gnostically:


discussing gnosticms is like discussing estoericsim like Striver does:

neither tell us anything about them unless one experiences the meanings discussed and defined, which is what they MEAN in the first place.


discussing the meaning of a mystery is not the same as "KNOWING" a mystery:


Jews discuss the TORAH all their lives without necessarily understanding the "meaning" of it spiritually: this is their DESIRE and their "WORK" but its impossible to understand the meaning of it by simply reading and discussing it with the "exoteric mind";

the exoteric mind can not really discuss esoteric meanings without experiencing them; it can only give a definition of the terms....which anyone who can read can do:
every day is a new day to die to the old and live to the newness of life
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Joined: June 13th, 2006, 12:37 am

July 26th, 2010, 1:24 pm #10

Some folks would suggest that what you follow is not Christianity.

Gnostic Christianity:

"True" Gnostic Christianity is an objective body of knowledge that Jesus taught. It is not a mystery religion or heretical cult. Gnostic Christianity teaches a non-judgemental "process" of reasoning. This new process, is justified by a natural principle that Jesus revealed and contemporary physics demonstrates is a scientific fact. Combining non- judgemental reasoning with the current judgemental process, expands our consciousness of reality. In this enlightened consciousness we are personally empowered to resolve all problems and as Paul said "live the good life as from the beginning He [God] had meant us to live it." (Eph 2:10)

Evidence that Jesus taught a process of reasoning that could expand consciousness surfaces in Jn 8:31-32 jbv, where he says, "If you make my word your home you will learn the truth and the truth will set you free [word or will of God is the English translation of the Greek term logos, which refers to the logic or reasoning of God]." And in Rm 12:2 (rsv) Paul said "do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind..."

The Gnosis, or reasoning process, that Gnostic Christianity introduces, does not contradict Jesus' spiritually-centered public teachings. It documents what scholars refer to as Jesus' oral or logos/logic tradition, which he taught in private (Mk 4:33-34). These teachings elevate our reasoning mind to that of the will/reasoning of God. In this renewed mind, our reasoning supports spiritual values. This is the truth that can set us free. For when mind and spirit seek the same ends (syzygy) doing "on earth as it is in heaven" will no longer be an idealistic goal, it will be a practical reality. (Matt 6:10)

http://www.darnellworks.com/gnostic/
I didn't deny it exists, stupid. It is NOT legitimate New Testament Christianity, and was refuted by the apostles and early church as HERESY. Get that through that thick skull of yours, stupid, and do a better job of researching its heretical origins. Got that?
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