An Open Letter to Christopher Hitchens

Dear Mr. Hitchens,

You are going to heaven when you die.  This is because Everyone Is Going to Heaven.  I hope you will believe me, but even if you don’t, I am happy to say that the outcome remains the same.

As someone who believes in God, I have admired the way you have defended your atheism.  Specifically, you have done on the basis of morality.  Your debate opponents never seem to understand or address this point adequately, and they end up losing points with audiences for this reason. 

Your debate opponents have suffered from often having to defend religion.  Because religion has sponsored so much that is immoral or amoral, it is an impossible position to defend.  They stand on firmer ground when they defend God or faith in God.  They would stand on the best ground of all were they to defend simply Jesus of Nazareth, who was God visiting us for a moment.

You see, I agree with you that “religion poisons everything,” but, contrary to you, believe that “God is…great!”  The Old and New Testaments, taken together as the testimony of Jesus the Messiah, condemn and warn of all the evils that would be done in the name of religion.  Jesus even warned that people would do all sorts of evil in His name.  For this reason, we should not be surprised at the evils that spring from religion.  Neither should we reject the truth of God just because there are an abundance of lies about Him.

Ironically, one of your most common criticisms of God is that He is like a North Korean dictator.  The truth is that He gives humanity dramatically more freedom than any country in the world gives.  That fact explains why so much evil is done in the world – religiously and otherwise.  If He were a dictator, there’d be no human immorality and your debate opponents would not be confounded by your atheism. 

Even though everyone is going to heaven, God does judge every deed large and small.  Some of this judgment occurs on earth.  Of these earthly judgments, some we see and many we do not.  The balance of judgment comes in heaven after we die.  We certainly are not seeing heavenly judgments.  All that is to say that most of God’s judgment takes place out of our sight.  When we occasionally glimpse some of it (such as Saddam Hussein cowering in a hole in the ground), we shouldn’t think we are seeing all of it.  God is great, and we will all eventually acknowledge that He was right about everything all along. 

When I tell you that you are going to heaven, it is not in the hope that these words will convert you.  Rather, I hope they will comfort you – and your family.  Death is not the end for a human being, just as departure from a mother’s womb is not the end for the unborn child.

While you and I have disagreed about God, I have deeply admired the courage of your convictions.  Most of all, I admire you for refusing to exchange your integrity for some story about God that would require you to compromise your integrity and lower your moral standards.  You simply have not yet heard the pure and unadulterated story of Jesus Christ.  He will speak to you even now in your heart…because He loves you, and He always has.

Respectfully,

Michael Gantt

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77 Responses to An Open Letter to Christopher Hitchens

  1. mcoville says:

    Why do you give false hope? According to Jesus, not everyone is going to heaven.

    Matthew 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.”

    It is blasphemy to tell someone that they are going to heaven when they die because it is not for us to determine who goes to heaven and who does not. I pray that Mr Hitchens comes to call himself a servant of Jesus, who is the Christ, before his time is over here. In the mean time though, it is abusive to tell him that he can continue on his current path and still be with Jesus for all time.

    You need to get on your knees and confirm your own salvation, and not judge others. See Matthew 7:22.

    • Mike says:

      I am not judging anyone. As for the hope I am giving Mr. Hitchens, it is quite real because it is the same hope for all of us. Jesus said He would draw all men unto Himself (John 12:32). We may resist Him while we live on earth, and most do to one degree or another – but all resistance collapses at death because he who dies is freed from sin (Romans 6:7).

      The verses you quote are from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus was teaching about the kingdom of God, which is the rule of God in our lives. That is, Jesus was speaking of how we should live our lives while on earth, not what happens when we die.

      As you rightly say, “it is not for us to determine who goes to heaven and who does not.” I am merely reporting what the Bible says: Everyone Is Going to Heaven. I know this must sound strange or even heretical to your ears, but please read what I have written and you will see that I have given a truthful account of what the Bible actually says on this subject.

      • mcoville says:

        I would love to understand your stand point, so let me ask one question at a time: Where in the bible does Jesus say that every goes to heaven and no one goes to hell?

        • Mike says:

          Believe it or not, the premise of your question is not biblical. Bear with me on this and I will explain what I mean.

          The Old Testament teaches that everyone went to Sheol when they died. Everyone. No one went to heaven. When people don’t know or acknowledge this, then they misunderstand what the New Testament teaches about how Jesus was going to change this arrangement.

          Therefore, do you know and acknowledge that this is what the Old Testament teaches?

          (By the way, I am not stating something new or strange in this. Here is a direct quote from a Wikipedia article on the subject: “The Old Testament view of the afterlife was that all people, whether righteous or unrighteous, all went to Sheol when they died.”)

      • mcoville says:

        Sorry Mike, I do not listen to the teaching of men on things of heaven. I only listen to the teaching of the one who was in heaven and came to earth to tell us about it. If the doctrine is not said in the inspired Word of God, it is an opinion.

        If you have biblical chapter and verse to support your opinion please reference them. If not, you may want to spend more time reading the Word of God and sticking to the things that we know Jesus taught.

        • Mike says:

          The Old Testament was the only Bible Jesus had, and He staked His life on it. Are you saying you don’t trust it?

          As for New Testament verses, I already gave you John 12:32. Here are some more: Romans 5:18; 1 Cor 15:21-22; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 1 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:11-15; 2 Peter 3:9.

          But I must ask you again: Do you accept or reject that the Old Testament teaches that everyone went to Sheol when they died?

          • Steve Schlicht says:

            The flaw in your position is that the Hebrew “Sheol” means “the pit” or “the grave”, not the NT concept of a place of everlasting eternal fire and torment (Hell) for the rather benign crime of non-belief during a mortal life as posited by Christian doctrine.

            When folks died, they were dead, and not subject to the prospect of perpetual torture in some sort of afterlife of sensory maliciousness (or the presupposition of such a thing offered to their remaining family members in mourning).

            • Mike says:

              I’m puzzled by your comment because it’s as if you haven’t read what I’ve written. Please see Everyone Is Going to Heaven.

              Sheol indeed was indeed the place to which all the dead went during Bible times. Since the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again), everyone goes to heaven instead.

              The fiery judgment in the New Testament of which you speak refers to the constant judgment to which we are now subject on the earth during this life (Judgment Is Upon Us).

              • Steve Schlicht says:

                Well, now I’m puzzled, because I have read what you’ve written and the word “Sheol” doesn’t mean what you suggest, therefore exposing the flaw in your theory.

                Sheol was “the grave”, while technically a place, it wasn’t another realm which housed human souls (good, bad or neutral). People and their mourning living families were allowed to rest in peace.

                It was (and is) where dead folks “go” when they are dead and buried.

                Not happy with such a peaceful relinquishment, the Christian doctrine visited everlasting fire or everlasting glory…for non-believers (aka bad) and those that accept Jesus as Lord (aka good) respectively (very monarchal, by the way, an effect of the times I suppose).

                So that we don’t slide into redundancy, I’ve read your thesis and, while very sweet, quite unsupported theologically.

                Something about false prophets as well, but I may be channeling my old bible study courses.

                ;0)

                • Mike says:

                  Let me try to sort out where we seem to agree…and where we seem to disagree.

                  I agree with you that…
                  Sheol was “the grave.”
                  It was “technically a place.”
                  “People and their mourning living families were allowed to rest in peace.”
                  “It was…where dead folks [went] when they [were] dead and buried.
                  “The Christian doctrine visited everlasting fire or everlasting glory…for non-believers (aka bad) and those that accept Jesus as Lord (aka good) respectively.”

                  I disagree with you that…
                  “It wasn’t another realm which housed human souls (good, bad, or neutral). [I think it was.]
                  “It…is…where dead folks go when they are dead and buried.” [I believe Jesus abolished it in His Second Coming and that everyone now goes to heaven when they die.]

                  Have I sorted these agreements and disagreements correctly?

  2. Tracy says:

    Ok, so what did Jesus mean when he said ‘no one gets into the Kingdom of Heaven but through him?’ I would interpret that to mean they must accept Jesus as their savior in order to enter Heaven. So that contradicts your claim everyone gets into Heaven. I’d like to believe your theory, but I think God, through Jesus, set forth laws and if those laws were lax with those who didn’t believe, then why speak of them in the first place? Thanks for the letter though, it was beautifully done.

    • Mike says:

      Jesus did say “No one comes to the Father except through Me,” but He also said, “I will draw all men unto Myself.” Thus, He is the only way…but it is a way He has made that works for everyone.

      As for laws and laxity, it still matters very much how we live. First of all, we should always seek to do what’s good in God’s sight. Secondly, faith will help us to know the right thing to do. We are being judged for everything we think, say, and do. Some of this judgment we receive while here on earth and the balance comes to us in heaven. I do not know a lot about what life will be like in heaven but I do know that Jesus said many who are first in this life will be last in that one, and vice versa. Just because everyone is going to heaven doesn’t mean that a person can or should live any old way.

      You can and should believe that Jesus died for everyone, and therefore everyone is going to heaven. It’s a comfort that He wants you to have.

      • Steve Schlicht says:

        Vicarious atonement, in my view, is an abhorrent standard of morality.

        Think of what an injustice such a practice would be in any civilized culture.

        For one human being, innocent of any crime, to be tortured and executed in order to absolve others of their crimes and sins against other folks is nonsensical at best, ethically bankrupt at its very worst.

        The message is that anyone who has been offended in this life may not decide to forgive the offender their transgressions, no matter how horrible, but they must accept that another being who was not even involved in the dispute has already forgiven them. This firmly rejects the notion of personal culpability for our own actions, successes, failures and ambiguous results.

        Not only that, but after drowning the entire race of humanity except for one family, this supreme being, thousands and thousands of years later finally decides that it is actually a human sacrifice that is what is now needed to absolve the human family of the sin brought to this world from his own first man of dust and woman born of man’s rib when they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge (after being beguiled by a talking serpent).

        I don’t believe a stitch of it…great fable and some good allegory mixed in though if one looks hard enough.

        • Mike says:

          You are challenging positions I am not taking. I encourage you to read this overview of my message.

          • Steve Schlicht says:

            I am merely stating my position on the issue, Mike, and I’ve read you’re “in a nutshell” summary already.

            If you think I am mis-characterizing anything, please feel free to address any such you find in the post I offered.

            This is a place for open discussion and further exploration of concepts I hope.

            I’ve read several threads here on your blog and you seem able to go to great lengths in extrapolating your views further, after all.

            • Mike says:

              Steve, it seemed to me that you thought I was teaching Sheol as being similar to hell. Therefore, I wasn’t challenging your opinion. Rather, I was trying to make sure I was being clear about what I was saying on these two subjects, as I believe the concepts are quite different.

              I am happy for you to challenge anything I say on this site, and happy to then defend it. However, in the exchange to which you were referring I couldn’t defend something I wasn’t saying – so my intent was to first sort out what I was saying. Once you understood that, then you could challenge whatever parts of it you wanted to…and I could respond.

              If it was me that was misunderstanding you, I apologize.

  3. Ian says:

    Guess it will be fun sitting around a table in heaven, having a chat with Hitler & Stalin.

    • Mike says:

      I only said that everyone was going to heaven; I did not say we’d be sitting around a table having chats. I don’t purport to know details about what heaven will be like for us. However, the Bible tells us some things about the experience that make your scenario highly unlikely.

      First, we will be like angels – that is, neither male nor female. That means no procreation or children either. These things alone will make life so different there that we can scarcely imagine it.

      Another thing we’re told is that many who are first here will be last there, and vice versa. This is another factor that stretches our imaginations beyond their useful boundaries. God’s judgment on our earthly lives will place us precisely where we should be and have us doing precisely what we should be doing in heaven.

      Third, everyone’s attitude will change dramatically in heaven. There is very little fear of God down here, but that’s because we’re selfishly myopic. When we die, the scales come off our eyes and we see God clearly. In other words, we won’t carry the attitudes there that we carry to the pub here.

      Fourth, Hitler and Stalin are likely to have the memories there of what they did here. Can you imagine the burden of that shame for them? How God will weave the benefit of eternal living with the burden of responsibility is a mystery to us – but there is no reason we should doubt His ability to do it. Moreover, just because you and I didn’t kill millions doesn’t mean we won’t have regrets about how we lived. Therefore, let’s repent and live as morally as we know how from this moment forward.

    • Mike says:

      P.S. I have written extensively both on the biblical basis for everyone going to heaven and on the implications of everyone going to heaven. Links to these writings are found in this post: Everyone Is Going to Heaven

  4. Ian says:

    I did in fact read your other post, and I am afraid it makes just as little sense as this one. I guess your theology is just one that I have never come across in my years of religious studies. I can however see how you construct your argument, if I can call it that. It seems mainly based one one sentence by Jesus – which is a very subjective statement and most probably changed very much during centuries of translations and edits.

    It is of course one of the weak points of theology that it is open to so many interpretations. Thats why we see so many different variations of Christianity. I also do not understand how you say ” I don’t purport to know details about what heaven will be like for us.” Then, scarcely a sentence later, you follow with: “First, we will be like angels – that is, neither male nor female. That means no procreation or children either.” I would seriously be very interested if you could point these facts out in the Bible.

    Finally, my remark about tea with Hitler wasn’t meant literal, merely to point out what I believe is the fallacy of your post. If everyone is going to heaven, it would mean that heaven is simply another earth, only with God visible. It would negate any reward/punishment system, and render the moral superiority of Christianity null and void. Even Hitler could just continue what he was doing, and all that would happen to him was that he would have to stand in the back of the choir in heaven.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for reading the other post, but don’t forget that there were important links, perhaps relevant to your curiosity, near the end. One link was to a an online book-length treatment of The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven. The other was to a series of 21 Essays on the Implications of Everyone Going to Heaven. I’m not trying to impose on you to read these – just making sure are aware that there is a step-by-step explanation of where this teaching is found in the Bible, as well as some exposition on the implications of the idea. As you say, it has not been commonly taught and I thus felt I owed readers an full explanation of the post.

      Actually, the teaching is based on the Old Testament teaching about Sheol, which was the place of afterlife for all the dead – righteous and unrighteous. Sheol is mentioned in over 65 verses of the Bible so it’s not like a teaching that is built tenuously on one or two verses. Morever, that Sheol was the place for all the dead during Old Testament times is widely known by Bible scholars…but seldom mentioned or taught. This is all the more remarkable when you consider that the Old Testament was the entire Bible as far as Jesus was concerned because the New Testament wasn’t written while He was on earth. How could we possibly understand any statement about the afterlife in the New Testament if we don’t knowledge the context of the Old Testament in which they were speaking? The begged question is, “If everyone was going to Sheol, how does anyone (besides Jesus) ever get to heaven?” The “Biblical Case” book I mention above will take you through all this, chapter by chapter.

      You’re right that I said I didn’t know details about life in heaven but then went on to describe it in some degree. My intervening sentence was “However, the Bible tells us some things about the experience…” The fact about likeness to angels was from Matthew 22:23-32, especially verse 30.

      As for your description of heaven as “another earth, only with God visible” I have a hard time picturing that. Nor do I see how any heavenly scenario would of necessity negate a reward/punishment system. On the contrary, the Bible never talks about heaven without describing or implying order and hierarchy – and I certainly can’t picture Stalin or Hitler anywhere except near the bottom of such a totem pole. If anything, heaven would have to be more wondrous, more exhilarating, and more stimulating than life on earth. The idea of it being one big choir singalong on fluffy clouds with harps is yet another scenario I cannot picture God offering the human race He so loves.

      Thanks, by the way, for your thoughtful response here and for allowing me the opportunity to respond.

      • Steve Schlicht says:

        That has always been an interesting conundrum for me.

        If the Tanakh (the Old Testament) is literal history and God drowned the entire earth except for one family…(Genesis 6:5-22)…then how is this God not the most prolific of genocidal tyrants this earth has ever known?

        I suppose if one can be taught to be reverent of human sacrifice one can be taught to be reverent of genocide as well.

        Still, quite a conundrum given the correct assessment of the moral depravity of Hitler and Stalin.

        • Mike says:

          No genocidal tyrant ever took his victims to heaven.

          • steve schlicht says:

            Where do the victims of all genocidal tyrants go when they are slaughtered?

            Which brings me to something I’ve been meaning to ask you earlier:

            If we’re to accept your model that **everyone** gets to go to heaven when they die, what’s left to keep folks here in the mortal realm?

            My view is that your interpretive theology can end up being a very dangerous and nihilistic theory worth an extensive rethink.

            • Mike says:

              Where do the victims of all genocidal tyrants go when they are slaughtered?

              Before Christ they went to Sheol; since Christ they go to heaven.

              If we’re to accept your model that **everyone** gets to go to heaven when they die, what’s left to keep folks here in the mortal realm?

              Just because everyone is going to heaven does not mean that there is not judgment. On the contrary, God’s judges everything we think, say, and do. Some of that judgment we see on earth; the balance occurs when we go to heaven. As Jesus said, many who are first here will be last there, and vice versa. Morality is of the utmost importance (see Judgment Is Upon Us). The ultimate motivation for this morality, of course, is love – first for God and then for others. All this is antithetical to nihilism.

              • Steve Schlicht says:

                “Before Christ they went to Sheol; since Christ they go to heaven.”

                So then your prior assertion is wrong.

                According to you, all genocidal tyrants do, in fact, take their victims to heaven.

                “Just because everyone is going to heaven does not mean that there is not judgment. “

                Well that’s just it, Mike, your interpretive theology renders judgment completely impotent and that is problematic for those who are (in your view) guaranteed a spot in heaven.

                “The ultimate motivation for this morality, of course, is love”

                I agree and there is no further need for additional requirements or impositions.

                “– first for God and then for others. All this is antithetical to nihilism.”

                I disagree, God doesn’t exist and if the Judeo-Christian-Islamic-Mormon one did it would reflect an anti-human and (by definition) nihilistic one as reflected in the assorted depictions of the blatantly immoral behavior I’ve already gone over (vicarious atonement via human sacrifice and genocide…there are many others, but I’ll save that for another thread perhaps).

                What are your views regarding folks without belief in any of the God(s)ess(es), including the ones you also don’t believe in?

                We humans all seem to have similar foibles, follies, joys, despairs, successes, failures, etc., as religious adherents of assorted stripes.

                How do you reconcile that with your belief in judgment and the purported afterlife?

                Additionally, is it your view that without a love of your God at all, much less “first”, but with a deep and abiding love in our real human families we are somehow destined for a lower rung of heaven far separated from the happier, better place that believers in Jesus go…perhaps one called “hell” with everlasting fire and torment?

                ;0)

                • Mike says:

                  So then your prior assertion is wrong. According to you, all genocidal tyrants do, in fact, take their victims to heaven.

                  I stand by my prior assertion. A genocidal tyrant can take his victims to death; he can take them no farther than that.

                  Well that’s just it, Mike, your interpretive theology renders judgment completely impotent and that is problematic for those who are (in your view) guaranteed a spot in heaven.

                  How so?

                  I disagree, God doesn’t exist and if the Judeo-Christian-Islamic-Mormon one did it would reflect an anti-human and (by definition) nihilistic one as reflected in…

                  You have strange definitions for “anti-human” and “nihilism” if you think they apply to an idea as pro-human and optimistic as everyone is going to heaven.

                  What are your views regarding folks without belief in any of the God(s)ess(es), including the ones you also don’t believe in?

                  I’ve already told you, though I don’t mind repeating it: everyone is going to heaven and everyone is judged.

                  We humans all seem to have similar foibles, follies, joys, despairs, successes, failures, etc., as religious adherents of assorted stripes. How do you reconcile that with your belief in judgment and the purported afterlife?

                  What’s to reconcile? Everyone is going to heaven and everyone is judged.

                  Additionally, is it your view that without a love of your God at all, much less “first”, but with a deep and abiding love in our real human families we are somehow destined for a lower rung of heaven far separated from the happier, better place that believers in Jesus go…perhaps one called “hell” with everlasting fire and torment?

                  We are all destined for heaven, but not for a particular rung on the ladder. That is something that God determines based on our individual behavior. “Believers in Jesus” get cut no special slack – and this is one of my chief objections to their substitutionary atonement theory. God judges us fairly – and that includes judging us according to the knowledge we have. To the degree that we know the right thing to do and don’t do it, then we’ve sinned. God doesn’t condemn us when we don’t know better. I will not be surprised to see moral atheists on higher rungs than Christian crooks. I expect to see genocidal tyrants humbled in heaven, but the hell we have to worry about consists of the judgments of God that come to us in this earth. For these reasons, it is in our best interests that each of us repent and live as morally as he or she knows how.

                  (If you reply to this, Steve, you’d best start a new thread, adjusting all the way to the left…lest we end up with one word per line!)

  5. steve schlicht says:

    “Let me try to sort out where we seem to agree…and where we seem to disagree.”

    Wow…I had to widen the thread a bit, Mike, hope you don’t mind.

    Yes, where we agree and disagree is fairly clear.

    The Hebrews allow folks to die…Sheol is “the pit” or “the grave”…rest in peace, the end, not another realm or Hell (though you do seem confused about my specific statement in another response).

    The doctrine of vicarious atonement through a brutal human sacrifice of an innocent (scapegoating by applying one’s sin/failures to the animal and offering its death to the gods) and, secondarily, plainly positing that a belief in such an execution was necessary in order to attain everlasting life praising this deity evermore is what I find morally bankrupt in Christian doctrine (along with the notion that this very same deity once even decimated the entire human race by drowning every man, woman and child before coming up with this plan B thousands of years later).

    The everlasting fire for unbelievers, the additional abhorrent model you kindly try to sidestep (nice guy that you are) simply fails via scripture and internal doctrine as other Christians have rightly pointed out.

    In short, it isn’t **only** the Christian notion of Hell that bothers me…it is the notion of vicarious atonement by the brutal human sacrifice of one innocent of not only the crime others have committed against their victims, but allegedly forgiving everyone involved without even bothering with the feelings of those offended.

    When is this ever considered a moral justice system on this earth, killing an innocent man for the crimes of others and then claiming that such an act fixes up everything for those victimized?

    CS Lewis addresses this issue in his work “Mere Christianity” and attempts to reconcile such a defective morality by inferring that if anyone but God were to do make this assertion it would be ludicrous (paraphrasing, it’s been years).

    I find that it doesn’t matter who posits such a model, it is morally bankrupt, regardless of the basic “might makes right” assertion of Lewis proscribed for the Christian God.

    • Mike says:

      I have not posited this model. I, too, find it morally repugnant.

      This issue comes up in Dialogue with Don and Robert (re: Heaven and Hell). Don and Robert are two Christians who are arguing this theory with me.

      • Steve Schlicht says:

        But you do posit this specific model when you say that you believe that “Jesus died for everyone”, Mike.

        That is, by definition, vicarious atonement and to such an absurdity I say “No thank you, I take full responsibility for my own successes, failures, ambiguous results and will wholeheartedly atone for anything I may have done to harm another to that person myself as best I can.”

        Additionally, what exactly was the personal sacrifice of a being who is purportedly immortal and omnipotent?

        Wouldn’t all of the world’s pain been better resolved if God had simply unconditionally forgiven his man of dust and woman of bone for their being tricked by a talking serpent that God allowed into the garden next to the only tree God forbade them to eat from in the first place?

        The entire fable seems rather dubious to me as a foundational standard.

        Further, the blood-soaked religious scrapping over a tiny patch of desert and the redundant “begatting of this man and that man” to establish some new divine right of kings on our pale blue dot in this vast galaxy of shooting stars is desperately disproportionate to what we know of the brilliant and wondrous perpetual universe in plain view.

        • Mike says:

          But you do posit this specific model when you say that you believe that “Jesus died for everyone”, Mike.

          Is it conversationally cricket for you to describe and condemn a theory with multiple aspects and then insist that I believe it because something I believe matches one of the aspects?

          That is, by definition, vicarious atonement and to such an absurdity I say “No thank you, I take full responsibility for my own successes, failures, ambiguous results and will wholeheartedly atone for anything I may have done to harm another to that person myself as best I can.”

          No problem. You are responsible for all those things. Everyone is going to heaven and everyone is judged.

          Additionally, what exactly was the personal sacrifice of a being who is purportedly immortal and omnipotent?

          If you’d ask this question I have to presume you haven’t mentally put yourself in His shoes.

          Wouldn’t all of the world’s pain been better resolved if God had simply unconditionally forgiven his man of dust and woman of bone for their being tricked by a talking serpent that God allowed into the garden next to the only tree God forbade them to eat from in the first place?

          Humanity was created for the very purpose of overcoming the evil that preexisted it. Your scenario would have the home team forfeit the game when they fell behind in the top half of the first inning.

          The entire fable seems rather dubious to me as a foundational standard.

          I understand that it doesn’t make sense to you yet. Pay more attention to the life and teachings of Jesus; then the other things, including the garden of Eden, will begin to make more sense.

          Further, the blood-soaked religious scrapping over a tiny patch of desert and the redundant “begatting of this man and that man” to establish some new divine right of kings on our pale blue dot in this vast galaxy of shooting stars is desperately disproportionate to what we know of the brilliant and wondrous perpetual universe in plain view.

          This is adequate reason for people to stop fighting in the Middle East as if were still taking sides between Muslims and Jews. It is not a reason, however, to disregard Jesus Christ, because of whom the distinction between Muslim and Jew no longer matters.

  6. Thanks for leading me to your blog, Mike. Very thought provoking. I’m on the fence with universal salvation, although I think I lean in your direction. Many people think it is a modern concept, but it of course has roots in the Bible – every knee shall bow, etc. I’m reminded of Origen of Alexandria who, in the early 3rd century, looked to Acts 3:21 and defended apokatastasis, the doctrine of universal restoration. Then there’s Gregory of Nyssa (4th century) who wrote, “When, over long periods of time, when evil has been removed and those now lying in sin have been restored to their orginal state, all creation will join in united thanksgiving, both those whose purification needed punishment and those who never needed purification at all” (Catechetical Oration, 26). So you are in good company.

  7. Steve Schlicht says:

    “Is it conversationally cricket for you to describe and condemn a theory with multiple aspects and then insist that I believe it because something I believe matches one of the aspects?”

    No, but such an irrelevant inquiry can certainly be observed as a complete dodge regarding the consistency of my assessment that you are quite obviously positing vicarious atonement when you plainly state “Jesus died for everyone”.

    I understand you have no way out of that particular box, Mike, and recognize such a frustration it must be to try to avoid to connection to such an immoral and unjust foundation.

    “No problem. You are responsible for all those things. Everyone is going to heaven and everyone is judged.”

    So you keep pleading, my friend. But claiming both will happen rings hollow, without any significance…by default they cancel each other out.

    What is it you think being “judged” results in?

    “If you’d ask this question I have to presume you haven’t mentally put yourself in His shoes.”

    Another rather obvious and understandable dodge.

    Answering the question shouldn’t be incumbent upon me putting myself in anyone’s shoes.

    I will ask again:

    What exactly was the personal sacrifice of a being who is purportedly immortal and omnipotent?

    “Humanity was created for the very purpose of overcoming the evil that preexisted it. Your scenario would have the home team forfeit the game when they fell behind in the top half of the first inning. “

    Where is this theosophy depicted in the Bible?!

    You’re saying that Adam and Eve were set up for failure ahead of time, they were created from dust and bone by God…to fall, so that evil could be defeated?

    That hardly seems fair.

    How, then, does God accepting the brutal human sacrifice of his own son give humanity the ability of overcoming the evil that pre-existed it make for a better methodology for the defeat of evil…rather than God just forgiving Adam and Eve for being beguiled by the talking serpent in the first place?

    Who created evil?

    I’m thinking your going to have to elaborate extensively on your position here, Mike.

    I like sports analogies, but I look at the wondrous universe in plain view and (again) find such a hypothesis/analogy simply out of proportion to the vastness of reality.

    “I understand that it doesn’t make sense to you yet. Pay more attention to the life and teachings of Jesus; then the other things, including the garden of Eden, will begin to make more sense.”

    Your hubris notwithstanding, I assure you that I have indeed paid attention to the Christian mythology quite extensively and it doesn’t make sense historically, literally, morally or ethically due to reasons already stated rather plainly.

    I reject it just as I do Judaism, Islam and Mormonism (among others).

    • Mike says:

      You’ve got a lot here, so I’m going to address it in parts.

      No, but such an irrelevant inquiry can certainly be observed as a complete dodge regarding the consistency of my assessment that you are quite obviously positing vicarious atonement when you plainly state “Jesus died for everyone”. I understand you have no way out of that particular box, Mike, and recognize such a frustration it must be to try to avoid to connection to such an immoral and unjust foundation.

      The only box I’m in is the one you keep trying to force me into. The problem for you is that the box doesn’t fit me. If I hear that a U.S. soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan has died, I know that he or she has died for all of us. This act of sacrifice does not imply that I am relieved of responsibility. If anything, it increases my responsbility. Therefore, when I say that “Jesus died for everyone” it is not at all to say, as the theory of vicarious atonement does, that we are thereby relieved of responsibility for our sins…and it certainly doesn’t say, as the theory of vicarious atonement does, that accepting His sacrifice gets you into heaven while rejecting it gets you into hell…as Everyone Is Going to Heaven makes clear.

    • Mike says:

      So you keep pleading, my friend. But claiming both will happen rings hollow, without any significance…by default they cancel each other out. What is it you think being “judged” results in?

      I don’t buy your notion that “they cancel each other out,” but I can understand why you hold it. An infant in the womb cannot foresee what life will be like outside it.

      “Being judged” results in experiences on this earth and in heaven that are thoroughly nuanced and relevant to the way we’ve lived. We may not be able to describe what life in heaven will be like, but we know that leaning back on a Lazy-Boy cumulus stroking a Fender Harpocaster ain’t it.

    • Mike says:

      Another rather obvious and understandable dodge. Answering the question shouldn’t be incumbent upon me putting myself in anyone’s shoes. I will ask again: What exactly was the personal sacrifice of a being who is purportedly immortal and omnipotent?

      It’s no dodge to say that putting yourself in His shoes is the way to answer it, for it’s certainly the way I answer it. Because you’re insistent, I’ll put the shoes on while you watch:

      If I were an immortal and omnipotent being, I would find it incredibly demeaning and painful to exchange my state for thirty-odd years of mortality and relative impotence. It would be all the more demeaning if during those decades I were criticized and rejected, especially by the people who had the most reason to accept me. If that experience were to end in shameful execution, the result of which is that my reputation would be in tatters among a signicant portion of the world which I briefly inhabited and had bestowed nothing but kindness, such that my name would remain tarnished for some indefinite period of time among some of the population, then I would find it excruciatingly painful. As the etymology of “excruciating” leads back to “crucifixion” I’ll let that be all I’ll say about the physical aspects of this experience. The psychological pain of it must have been the greater issue. I could say much more, but hopefully you’ve heard enough to agree with me that filling these shoes is no easy task, even for an immortal and omnipotent being.

    • Mike says:

      Where is this theosophy depicted in the Bible?!

      First, in the garden of Eden. Then, expounded in the writings of the prophets.

    • Mike says:

      I’m thinking your going to have to elaborate extensively on your position here, Mike.

      I quite agree, which is why I have done so in The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven, and subsequently in 33 Essays on the Implications of Everyone Going to Heaven.

    • Mike says:

      Your hubris notwithstanding, I assure you that I have indeed paid attention to the Christian mythology quite extensively and it doesn’t make sense historically, literally, morally or ethically due to reasons already stated rather plainly.

      Not sure where you see hubris, but I’m suggesting you examine the baby without the dirty bathwater. I’m happy to defend Jesus and Bible; I cannot and will not defend the churches, their councils, and denominations who’ve clouded those issues and given us the corruption that has come to be known as Christianity (better described as “Churchianity”).

  8. Steve Schlicht says:

    “This is adequte reason for people to stop fighting in the Middle East as if were still taking sides between Muslims and Jews. It is not a reason, however, to disregard Jesus Christ, because of whom the distinction between Muslim and Jew no longer matters.”

    It isn’t the distinction between Muslim and Jews that is at issue.

    It is the issue of a God-Man being born of a human teenage female virgin in Bethlehem being some sort of foundational hypothesis explaining the vast and (so far) mysterious universe we live in.

    I disregard the lore of the Jesus stories because they have all of the earmarks of mythology and fable.

    Allegory is fine and good, until adherents conflate it with reality…then problems arise that lead to the sorts of discussions we are now involved in.

    ;0)

    • Mike says:

      It isn’t the distinction between Muslim and Jews that is at issue.

      It certainly is for the Muslims and the Jews.

      It is the issue of a God-Man being born of a human teenage female virgin in Bethlehem being some sort of foundational hypothesis explaining the vast and (so far) mysterious universe we live in.

      The Bible does not present the virgin birth as a foundational hypothesis explaining the universe. It’s simply a part of the broader story.

      I disregard the lore of the Jesus stories because they have all of the earmarks of mythology and fable.

      All I can say is that I’ve read mythology and fables, and what’s presented in the Bible regarding Jesus seems vastly different to me. I can’t account for your inability to discriminate.

  9. Steve Schlicht says:

    “It certainly is for the Muslims and the Jews.”

    But not for Steve and Mike within the course of the relevant discussion.

    ;0)

    “The Bible does not present the virgin birth as a foundational hypothesis explaining the universe. It’s simply a part of the broader story.”

    What is the story of existence according to Christian mythology without the virgin birth, Mike?

    “All I can say is that I’ve read mythology and fables, and what’s presented in the Bible regarding Jesus seems vastly different to me. I can’t account for your inability to discriminate.”

    We have a talking serpent beguiling the first created man of dust and the first woman born of his rib bone into eating of a tree that bore magic fruit containing knowledge that this deity distinctly forbade them to eat of…while purposely putting it in the garden of Eden along with the talking serpent and another tree that bore the magic fruit of eternal life.

    We have Jonah living inside a great fish for three days and nights.

    We have talking trees.

    We have a talking ass.

    We have a bear that defends a bald holy man by slaughtering children who were mocking him.

    We have a woman turned into a pillar of salt for looking at the destruction of a city.

    We have a burning bush that transmits divine messages.

    We have a global flood fable on par with the lore of Gilgamesh where two of every animal and one family in the Middle East fit onto one large boat and rode out the conflagration to corrupt the world anew.

    We have a man-god hybrid born of a virgin teenage girl via a holy ghost representing the supreme creator of the universe, who has a mysterious childhood and then reappears as an adult who practices magic by healing the blind, curing the sick, performing necromancy (brings the dead to life), walks on water, transforms small portions of fish and wine into larger portions, casts demons into pigs and causes them to drown in a river.

    This is not an all inclusive list.

    That said, I can certainly account for my ability to recognize fable when I read it…and I understand the difficulty it presents for you to do so.

    • Mike says:

      But not for Steve and Mike within the course of the relevant discussion.

      What’s relevant for Steve and Mike, in the context of the point you were making that led us here, is that great as the physical universe and current moment is, the spiritual universe and the eternity it occupies is even greater. The pale blue dot is transcended.

    • Mike says:

      What is the story of existence according to Christian mythology without the virgin birth, Mike?

      Foundationally the same. But as I’ve said elsewhere, I’m speaking for the truth of the Bible, not all the barnacles that churches through the ages have caused to be attached to that hull.

    • Mike says:

      I have already acknowledged that were I to encounter some of these accounts outside their context I doubt I would find them plausible. Therefore, juxtapose this Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not List you have have framed here with Bulfinch and I wouldn’t argue for discrimination. However, when read in their specific contexts as well as in the broader context of the Old and New Testaments of which they are part, they are indeed plausible.

      Oh, and I guess I can now account for your inability to discriminate after all.

  10. Steve Schlicht says:

    “What’s relevant for Steve and Mike, in the context of the point you were making that led us here, is that great as the physical universe and current moment is, the spiritual universe and the eternity it occupies is even greater. The pale blue dot is transcended.”

    Prove it and show your work.

    ;0)

      • Steve Schlicht says:

        You’ve also plainly stated to mcoville in an earlier post where he required you to support your claims in scripture and verse:

        “Believe it or not, the premise of your question is not biblical.”

        Since then I’ve learned that you are a preterist and there is far more theological scholarship (that you so often like to channel to support your individual interpretations of Biblical lore) to refute that particular heresy.

        That said, I will take some time (when I find it ;0) to address with you my understanding of just how flawed the preterist position is…even within the Christian mythology (which also goes far to explain why you think you’ve lost social standing within your religious subset).

        • Mike says:

          I told him that the premise of his question was not biblical because he was asking where in the Bible Jesus said everyone was going to heaven and no one to hell. Thus the premise of his question was that those were the two destinations the Bible had specified for the afterlife. As I indicate in Everyone Is Going to Heaven, and more thoroughly in The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven, that premise is inconsistent with what the Bible teaches about the afterlife. I do acknowledge that his premise is consistent with Christianity as it is broadly understood today…but that does not make it biblical. Anyone who can read can come to distinguish the difference, and then decide whether to embrace what the Bible says or what today’s Christianity says.

        • Mike says:

          As for “preterism,” I only came to learn that there was such a school of thought many years after I learned what I wrote about in Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again, and more extensively in Whatever Became of Jesus Christ?

          Even since I learned about preterism, I have spent very little time trying to understand it or engage with its adherents. Therefore, since I am neither a disciple of, nor a teacher in, the school of preterism, I hope you will direct your criticism at the things I have written and not at preterism, which I am unable and unwilling to either defend or attack.

          I might add that the same thing applies to universalism (Christian and otherwise). It was not the teachings of universalists that led me to the conclusion that Everyone Is Going to Heaven, nor have I sought standing in their circles. I seek neither to attack or defend them either.

          As for today’s Christianity, I do have issues with it – points at which I am willing to defend or attack (as I summarize in Spiritual Christianity Versus Social Christianity and True Christianity). To the extent that its people honor Christ and the Bible, I defend it. To the extent that it doesn’t – and that is to a great extent – I condemn it. This is why I continue to appeal to you to challenge my positions all you like but to not accuse me of holding positions I reject: including popes, pastors, denominations, holy days, sacraments, churches, the Crusades, the Inquisition, church dogma, vicarious atonement, believer-unbeliever distinctions, organized Christianity of any kind, and so on. I am a human being proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ as God and Lord of all of us. He is true.

  11. Steve Schlicht says:

    “Foundationally the same.

    But as I’ve said elsewhere, I’m speaking for the truth of the Bible, not all the barnacles that churches through the ages have caused to be attached to that hull.”

    Aren’t “churches through the ages” actually men who speak for “the truth of the Bible” as well?

    So, which are the barnacles?

  12. Steve Schlicht says:

    “I have already acknowledged that were I to encounter some of these accounts outside their context I doubt I would find them plausible. Therefore, juxtapose this Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not List you have have framed here with Bulfinch and I wouldn’t argue for discrimination. However, when read in their specific contexts as well as in the broader context of the Old and New Testaments of which they are part, they are indeed plausible.”

    How so?

    Explain how these many fables actually depict real events.

    “Oh, and I guess I can now account for your inability to discriminate after all.”

    Not in the least.

    You have as much admitted that this list depicts obvious fable, but you simply find them “plausible” by invoking the magic ointment of “context” that somehow anesthetizes the entire book into a chronology of actual events in history and reality.

    My view is that a fable is a fable and is evidence that the entire edited, compiled and voted on story is one as well.

    It is the very definition of cognitive dissonance to merely assert “context” can, in any way, refute that.

  13. Mike says:

    It’s clear that we disagree on this.

    • Steve Schlicht says:

      Well, yes, of course…and let me say that is a responsible way to conclude a thread, I truly appreciate a good conversation that doesn’t result in ad hominems and barbed sarcasm.

      Let me add that I am here to offer my views and expressions in the open marketplace of ideas civilly and rationally, Mike.

      Unlike many people who choose to engage in such dynamic topics online, I am not here to win anything, sling mud or even de-convert anyone from their tightly held and cherished beliefs.

      That said, others reading our exchanges will certainly have a wonderful opportunity to assess our respective views…and perhaps even give our expressions some thought and consideration along their own journey to understanding life, the universe and everything!

      • Mike says:

        Agreed.

        Morever, we might even return some day to the specific subject of this thread, but only when one of us feels that we have something fresh to say to the other.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “The only box I’m in is the one you keep trying to force me into. The problem for you is that the box doesn’t fit me. If I hear that a U.S. soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan has died, I know that he or she has died for all of us. This act of sacrifice does not imply that I am relieved of responsibility. If anything, it increases my responsbility.”

    I am only home for lunch for a short time, but I thought I would address this particular claim that I missed earlier.

    Without getting into the entirely separate topic of the wars you mentioned (and any perceived purposes they may or may not have toward our individual well being as US citizens), I need to point out that you have completely conflated different acts into one definition of “sacrifice”.

    Let me put it more generally, if a any human being puts themselves in harm’s way, risks their own life, in order to protect another from immediate harm from an external force (bullets, fire, homicidal maniac, etc.) and is killed (permanently) then that is a personal sacrifice.

    If an eternal man-god is found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit so that (according to plan) he can be brutally tortured and then executed “for” everyone else, only to go on and live as an immortal being on a glorious throne reigning over all existence, then that isn’t a personal sacrifice at all.

    It is a scapegoat man-god sacrifice and one that, by definition, is purported to atone for the crimes/sins of others so that they can be judged by this same god in the afterlife if only they believe in such a thing.

    This raises further inquiries:

    How exactly does Jesus being convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and being tortured and executed so that he could go to heaven make it so that everyone else does as well?

    Show your work.

    Additionally:

    What effect does the entire exercise of the crucifixion have on the sins of others if everyone goes to heaven now that that has been done?

    Further, why should anyone repent of their sins if they are going to the heaven of “nuanced experiences” after they are judged?

    I asked you earlier what you think “judgment” results in if heaven awaits all contestants in any event?

    This how you answered (for those following along):

    ““Being judged” results in experiences on this earth and in heaven that are thoroughly nuanced and relevant to the way we’ve lived. ”

    What does that mean, Mike?

    There is nothing of substance in that response at all.

    Not only that, but I’ve read and studied the assorted versions of the Bible and cannot find where we will be judged and then attain “nuanced experiences *in heaven* relative to the way we’ve lived” as a doctrine, scripture or verse.

    Hell is mentioned, however, as is eternal everlasting fire.

    “We may not be able to describe what life in heaven will be like, but we know that leaning back on a Lazy-Boy cumulus stroking a Fender Harpocaster ain’t it.”

    How do “we” (aka “you”) know this, Mike?

    What would the adjudicated “nuanced experiences *in heaven*” of a serial killer rapist be over, say, a police officer who saves a baby girl from a burning car only to die of his own injuries after doing so?

    Again, show your work.

    My view is that, while very sweet to try, you have not significantly changed the Christian paradigm of Heaven and Hell…you’ve only done your best to candy coat them.

    As an aside, what does your god have against rock and roll and comfy chairs?

    ;0)

  15. Steve Schlicht says:

    That last post, listed as “anonymous”, was from me.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for making that clear, Steve. I recognized that it was you, of course, but other readers might not.

      By the way, to those reading, I do allow anonymous comments. I moderate all comments before they’re posted, disallowing only those comments that are spam or excessively profane. Obviously, I welcome challenge and criticism. If you like what I write, just practice it – you don’t need say anything to me about it or make yourself known to me. Walk before God and walk with God.

      • Scott says:

        Steve 1, Mike 0…

        The thread is a great read (thank you Steve), but Mike how do you believe that you have the right interpretation of the bible, while every other christian practitioner seems to have faith aligned differently. What make your view the correct one, and the other christians wrong?

        • Mike says:

          Christians have their faith aligned in at least 30,000 different directions (there being at least 30,000 different denominations). I haven’t noticed atheists being all that unified either. Each of us as human beings has pieces of the truth.

          What I am reporting in my blogs is what I’ve read and understood in the Bible. If you don’t believe me, you can always check out the source for yourself for I give you chapter and verse.

          • Steve Schlicht says:

            Atheism is merely the disbelief in any of the purported deities due to a distinct lack of evidence for any of them.

            Atheists are unified by definition.

            All theists, for that matter, are unified by definition as well.

            Now, all folks have their own ideologies and opinions and favorite baseball teams, etc.

            It is important not to confuse such issues.

            • Mike says:

              How are they confused?

              • Steve Schlicht says:

                You were confusing the issue by stating that you don’t observe “atheists being all that unified either”.

                You were directly comparing a Christian group subset’s lack of unification over internal doctrines with atheist’s not being unified, therefore, you confused an ideology (Christianity) with a non-ideology (atheism).

                To explain in greater detail:

                Atheism, like theism, are words that define a position regarding whether or not deities exist, nothing more…they are not “ideologies”.

                Ideologies are systematic concepts about human life and/or culture.

                All people have some sort of ideology, but they are separate from the issue of whether or not deities exist.

                So, while Christians are not unified on Christian doctrine, dogma or some nuance regarding their ideology…atheists are unified in their disbelief in deities due to a lack of evidence.

                Now, it may be true that one atheist may disagree with another atheist regarding their perspective on human life, moral standards and culture (ideology), but it isn’t over some doctrinal issues that are found in atheism, because there aren’t any.

    • Mike says:

      I fell behind, Steve, and am just now getting to answer this post of yours. Apologies for the delay.

      How exactly does Jesus being convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and being tortured and executed so that he could go to heaven make it so that everyone else does as well?

      In this paragraph, and the two that precede it, you have described the doctrine of substitutionary atonement and asked me to defend it. I have already told you that I don’t subscribe to it.

      As for all your questions about judgment and “nuanced experiences,” here is an essay which elaborates on the concepts: All Behavior Has Consequences. It is one in a series of 33 essays I have written on the implications of everyone going to heaven. There is quite a bit of work there.

      As far as the broader issue of actually going to heaven and how hell relates to that, I assume by your questions that you have not read my thorough explanation: The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven. You call for my work quite a bit in this post and I am quite happy to have done it.

      As for your question about “rock and roll and comfy chairs” you may have been speaking purely in jest. If not, my original point was that, while not knowing that the vast variety of experience that is likely to await us in heaven would not include such things, I’m comfortable saying that such things cannot epitomize our experience there because it would be silly and utterly inconsistent not just with the biblical God but with our experience of this life. In other words, God would have something better for us to do in eternity, and it wouldn’t take long for us to become sick of it anyway (i.e., even groupies would eventually lose interest in a unending rock concert).

  16. Steve Schlicht says:

    “What I am reporting in my blogs is what I’ve read and understood in the Bible.”

    Precisely!

    It is a completely subjective view.

    Now, since we’re talking about a compilation of ancient text, doctrine, ritual and dogma that makes absolute assertions about life, the universe and everything in reality, it is important that we not rely on such a completely subjective view.

    If we do rely on such subjectivity, then we’re basically up for grabs to any claim at all (as we can observe in the world of religious faith to date).

    Rather, for such an important topic, we should rely strongly on the objective and empirical evidence and, absent any such data, remain dubious and skeptical about the claims until such time as evidence is presented.

    Keep in mind my prior articulated statements regarding the continuum of “possibility and probability” to find how simple it then becomes to step out of the box of religious memes.

    • Mike says:

      It is a completely subjective view.

      Let’s say you’re in 7th grade and I’m your younger brother in 1st grade. We’re both at home and you’re doing your science homework. You’re read in your text book that water boils at 212F and freezes at 32F. You then turn to me and say, “Guess what, little brother: water boils at 212F and freezes at 32F.” Have you merely given me your completely subjective view?

      Rather, for such an important topic, we should rely strongly on the objective and empirical evidence and, absent any such data, remain dubious and skeptical about the claims until such time as evidence is presented.

      And what then if I respond, “You know what, big brother: I’m not impressed with your interpretive reading of that obtuse science book you lug around; when I want to know how water responds to heat and cold I’ll conduct an experiment, thank you just the same.”

  17. Steve Schlicht says:

    “Let’s say you’re in 7th grade and I’m your younger brother in 1st grade. We’re both at home and you’re doing your science homework. You’re read in your text book that water boils at 212F and freezes at 32F. You then turn to me and say, “Guess what, little brother: water boils at 212F and freezes at 32F.” Have you merely given me your completely subjective view?”

    Yes.

    Then we can conduct an empirical experiment confirming or refuting the claim.

    What will we discover?

    “And what then if I respond, “You know what, big brother: I’m not impressed with your interpretive reading of that obtuse science book you lug around; when I want to know how water responds to heat and cold I’ll conduct an experiment, thank you just the same.”

    Precisely!

    You are awakening, my friend.

    • Mike says:

      Are you seriously suggesting that this is how you live your life?

      You actually perform scientific experiments to prove any data that is submitted to you from another person?

      Thus, without a science experiment in a controlled environment you won’t
      …believe the weather man when it tells you the temperature is going to dip into the teens tonight?
      …believe your wife when she tells you she’ll be home late from work today?
      …believe the IRS when they say they found a discrepancy on your tax return and want you to justify it?
      …believe any international news headlines until you’ve personally visited each country and validated that what the reporter said is true?
      …and on and on and on and on…for this is the way people live.

      If you really live the way you’re saying you must have made your poor brother miserable.

      I have to believe it’s otherwise though, and that when your friends and family provide you information about which they have personal knowledge, and its on a subject which they understand, that you do indeed trust them.

      • steve schlicht says:

        Another wild non-sequitur shifting of the goal post, Mike, and a rather obvious one.

        I was addressing the particular analogy regarding the children and the science book…and then you made a huge leap to posit that I then must live to presume each and every human contact I have requires an experiment to determine absolute veracity.

        Of course, our daily human experience is far more dynamic than that and once we have processed certain knowledge, as we grow and mature, there is a marginal acceptance (or even neutrality) along a continuum of relative significance without continually testing every minutiae of events.

        In short, many things we’ve come to understand in our respective lives become accepted along the “possibility and probability” scale you and I have already discussed and, absent any new data or anomalies, can be casually taken for granted in the face of more important things holding our attention.

  18. Pingback: Christopher Hitchens Made Such a Vivid Impression | Current Events in Light of the Kingdom of God

  19. Pingback: “The God-Haunted Atheism of Christopher Hitchens” | Current Events in Light of the Kingdom of God

  20. Mike Gantt says:

    newenglandsun,

    I didn’t read the entire article you linked, but enough to agree that Curtis White is a more fair-minded atheist than was Hitch.

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