I’ve been following The Aspirational Agnostic for some time now. I don’t comment a lot because she is seeking out a faith or not faith or wherever she ends up. It is not my place to attempt to steer her (as if I could) in any particular direction. She wrote a post recently about an experience her son had entitled ‘Yeah, dont tell my son he’s going to hell….just, no.’ In an attempt not to hijack her post I’ve written my response to them here.
Sigh…and they battle rages on. “My version of God is better than your version of God.” Without “hell” and “eternal damnation” juxtaposed with “heaven” and “eternal salvation”, for some, there is no purpose for a God. Like Jennifer points out, even the grown ups are guilty of “My dad can beat up your dad” arguments. Even in the apology she offers she reinforces, basically, that heaven or hell is a choice, though she tries to frame it more diplomatically. And that if you don’t believe a certain thing you are choosing “no”.
I am not attacking Jennifer or anyone else, for that matter. It’s just that I read this post as a plea to stop with the bullying (yes, that’s what I’m calling it). And yet, here in the comments, it continues to rage on. Each side giving dissertations as to why their version is better or right and why this portion of people are going to heaven or to hell. All backed up by scripture references and X, Y, Z and “God said”. If my God were that much of a bully that I had to be afraid of him sending me to hell that wouldn’t be love now, would it? It would be fear. Through out the Bible that is what the Almighty mandates, is it not? He equates fear with love. And this is the God you all are trying to convince other people to obey? Even if I did believe he existed I would not like him. As I know that whether I believe a particular thing or not has no bearing on it’s reality, you should know the same. Just because you believe this does not make it truth or reality.
You see we all start out with a premise. Some can be proven, some cannot. Whether there is or is not a god cannot. That God is is not a given. Even if I started out with the premise that he is, I would not naturally conclude that he is love and wants to be my friend. Where I come from actions speak louder than words. Just giving birth does not impart love or friendship. There are many children who can attest to that fact. That Jesus is his son and is God himself is an assertion that, again, is unproven. It is found within a text that many believe to be true. Just because they believe that doesn’t make it so. From that the rest of the conclusions seem spurious at best.
All of these conclusions and beliefs might be attested to by your own personal experiences, but they are just that. Your own personal experiences. No one else can or should be expected to believe what you believe unless they have their own experiences. Else it isn’t a relationship the way you would like to claim. It’s third-hand, not first-hand, experience. I don’t have a relationship with a person someone else told me about. I have a relationship with someone I have personal experience with.
Guess what? I’ve been guilty of the same things. I had this experience or that and wanted others to feel the same way about it based on my experience. I’ve tried to convince people that they were in jeopardy of the fiery flames of hell. I’ve told people all about the bridge that was out and the house that was on fire and that I was just warning them about the dangers. I’ve also extolled the wondrous kingdom of heaven. All without a single shred of evidence except the wrinkled, highlighted, worn pages of an ancient text that I believed was inerrant, uncorrupted truth. Except now I don’t believe that anymore. And I know that my believing it didn’t make it so any more than my not believing it doesn’t. It’s just that when I look at the facts of how it was built, how it was put together, it seems less likely that it is than that it isn’t.
For what it’s worth, Jennifer, I don’t think you opened Pandora’s Box at all. I think the lid has been off for quite some time. All it takes its the mere mention of uncertainty, disbelief in certain aspects of what another believes, or a different interpretation of certain scriptures, ideas, orthodoxies, or doctrines for her to come out and play.