Lately I’ve been enjoying watching debates between atheists and Christians. They’re thought-provoking.
Debates like that one got me thinking about questions and points that I’ve heard atheists ask and make.
Below are the points/questions, and my thoughts on them:
It’s prideful to believe that we are made in God’s image
If you write a story or paint a picture, than that story or picture will, in its own way, be made in your image.
For example: Your story about a woman who struggles with depression can be inspired by your own struggle with depression, or your knowledge of a woman who is struggling with depression.
It’s the same with us (humans) and God: God created us, therefore aspects of him (for the sake of this post, God is male) are in us, just like aspects of yourself are in art that you create.
Everything (not just humans) is made in God’s image in one way or another.
For example: If, upon reading the Bible, you come away with an impression of God that can be summed up with words like “Evil” and “Uncaring,” than congratulations — you just described cats.
If Heaven is ultimately your home, why don’t you kill yourself in order to go there right now?
Why keep on living if Earth is, ultimately, not where I want to be?
Because: I think of myself as Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings.
Gandalf has a mission — a task that it would unwise to turn away from.
Imagine if Gandalf, immediately after telling Frodo that the ring Bilbo had given him was the One Ring, leaves for the Grey Havens and sails to The Undying Lands.
Frodo would be yelling “What are you doing?!” and Middle-Earth would fall into darkness because the Ringwraiths would find Frodo and kill him.
My point is: Heaven is nice, but I have work on Earth that needs to get done.
Plus: Not all of my loved ones share my belief in Heaven, and I wouldn’t want to make them sad by ending my life for what is, to them, a fantasy.
Why would God suddenly start caring about us in The Bronze Age? (The Age that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.)
Why go about trying to save souls during The Bronze Age when so many people had already died without knowing anything about “the one, true God”?
One thing you notice reading the Bible is that, as time goes on, the groups that God uses to try and save humanity get bigger.
God created Adam and Eve. A holy couple.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God, so now God has got to save us from their freely-chosen disobedience.
So, down the line, God creates Noah and his family. A holy family.
Noah and his family keep humanity going after God says “Later, haters!” and drowns everyone else.
Then, down the line, humans in a land called Egypt start being mean to each other.
So, in order to make things right, God has to take a people out of slavery — the Israelites. A holy people.
After wandering the desert for 40 years because Moses’ people got — metaphorically — lost because they didn’t ask for directions…
…the Israelites’s are finally able to establish a nation in the land of Canaan.* A holy nation.
Then that nation gets a king and becomes a kingdom. A holy kingdom.
A couple — a family — a people — a nation — a kingdom: Bigger and bigger until we come to Jesus who, if he is who he says he is, is the fulfillment of the work of the couple, the family, the people, the nation, and the kingdom:
“Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Which reminds me, once again, of The Lord of the Rings:
When it comes to destroying Sauron, we start out with just Frodo and Gandalf.
Than Frodo, Gandalf, and Sam.
Than Frodo, Gandalf, Sam, Merry, and Pippin.
Than Frodo, Gandalf, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Aragorn.
Than Frodo, Gandalf, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, and Legolas.
Than Frodo, Gandalf, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, Legolas, and the Dwarves. (The Dwarves built Moria, and no Moria means no relatively safe path for the Fellowship’s journey.)
Than Frodo, Gandalf, Sam Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, Legolas, the Dwarves, and Smeagol. (After Smeogol agrees to help Frodo and Sam to the Black Gate.)
Than Frodo, Gandalf, Sam Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, Legolas, the Dwarves, Smeagol, and Rohan. (After Gandalf frees King Theoden from Saruman’s control.)
Than Frodo, Gandalf, Sam Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, Legolas, the Dwarves, Smeagol, Rohan, and the Elves. (Helm’s Deep.)
Than Frodo, Gandalf, Sam Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, Legolas, the Dwarves, Smeagol, Rohan, the Elves, and Gondor. (The battle for Minas Tirith.)
My point is:
Just like Tolkien didn’t leave the salvation of Middle-Earth up to two beings (a Hobbit and a wizard) and gave all beings of Middle-Earth (Men, Dwarves, Elves) a role in Sauron’s defeat — a role in their salvation — God doesn’t just clap his hands and make everything all better: He gives us all a role to play in our salvation. And that takes time.
What about all the people who die without saying “Jesus is lord!”?
The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as “a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.”
~The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 834
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.
~The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 847
If I believe that God is love (I do), and if I believe that God has given us all logic and reason (I do), than I don’t see how not believing in a god (being an atheist) or not accepting Jesus as one’s savior (not being a Christian) automatically means that a person is bound for Hell.
People reject God all the time.
It’s why a person rejects God that determines the fate of their soul.
Standing in front of the pearly gates, I believe that God will go easier on the person who says “I didn’t find compelling evidence for your existence,” than on the person who says “You killed my hamster! I hate you!”
Ultimately, only God knows the final destination of one’s soul:
“…the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”
~1 Samuel 16:7
Anyone who says “I know where ___ is,” is a fraud.
*God condones horrifying violence
Regarding the violence in the Bible, I remembered this video: