Is Atheism a Complex?

Philosopher Thomas Nagel wrote:

I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”(”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)


Why would anyone want to live in such a random universe in which nothing has any sort of significance beyond its own immediate effect? Such a universe imparts the ability to love, takes away those you love, and never gives them back. Such a universe teases you with the notion of justice, but refuses to give it. Why hope for such a cruel and vile universe? What is the motivation?

Are such people self-evidently evil? Do they fear retribution for their own actions? What could possibly be the motivation? Truly, I don’t know. But such sentiments certainly work in the believer’s favor. They thrust a hint of dogmatism on a philosophy that its adherents swear is grounded in evidence and logic. What logic can be drawn from such a disgusting hope?

In my opinion, atheism is not the rejection of belief, but a perfectly defined set of dogmatic principles for self-aggrandizing “intellectuals” who occupy the highest stratum of their mental caste system. Seemingly, there is a psychological need, a complex, to be better than others, to know something others do not…

Or, at least it seems that way.


  1. I have been told too many times that the idea of God interferes with personal sexual morals – or, rather, lack of.

  2. You know some of the most out spoken people I’ve met about religion have been athiests. Athiesm is a religion, put simply if you are making claims about the purpose of the world and about God “even if it is that God does not exist” you are propagating a religious believe and worldview. We’ve turned science and rationalism into its own religion, turning are entire purpose on ourselves. Good post, good points. Blessings.

  3. So from the questions you ask in your post, Terrance, am I to infer that you believe in eternal love and ultimate justice and without those the universe would be cruel and vile?

    What if those you love in the here and now aren’t with you in the ever-after?
    What if the ultimate justice of the ever-after turns out to be something unfavorable for you or ones you love?

    It’s rather ironic that Glenn is the first to reply here, since I’m sure he would be quick to point out that many Christians who say they are Christians are in fact not Christians and destined for an unfavorable ever-after.

    Even if you do believe in god, apparently, not believing in the right god has dire consequences. Forever.

    • zqtx,
      You are correct that there are many people claiming to be Christians but who in actuality are not because they make up their own Christ and God rather than worship the true God and Christ. That means what they worship doesn’t really exist except in their own minds. That is true with all other “gods” people believe in – and they are doing nothing but worshiping idols or imaginary gods of their own construction. Since there is only ONE true and existing God, then unless you believe in that God you are condemned to hell for eternity.

  4. It is as unfair to bunch all atheists under “self-aggrandizing intellectuals” as it is to bunch all Christians under “evidence-denying sheeple.” Does rejecting the notion of a higher power mean rejecting the presence of meaning? Making the leap to the idea that atheists are evil is just that – a leap. I personally believe there is no inherent meaning on the universe nor do I despair about this because meaning is something we are able to create ourselves. Nothing is meaningless on the human level. And just because I believe this doesn’t mean other people with atheistic ideas believe this as well. Atheism is no more a “complex” than Christianity is.

    • SoS

      I agree that Terrance’s generalization might go too far, but how else do we approach certain topics without doing so? Speaking for myself, if I offer specific discussions with specific people, I am criticized for applying it to too many people. When I generalize, I am criticized for not being specific. It seems we can’t win.

      The main point, why Terrance and myself (if I may speak for him) would generalize in this fashion is because we have encountered enough Atheists (or whomever) who are like this so that it causes us to write about it. In other words, we have encountered enough Atheists who have this air about them that it justifies a generalization for the sake of discussing the topic. It’s not meant to lump an entire group of people together. Rather it is addressing the people within the group that this topic applies to.

      To your point, I basically agree. But the meaninglessness Terrance is speaking of is in the ultimate sense. Sure we can invent and assign meaning to our lives. But in respect to the universe as a whole, and over the broad course of time, if we have a godless universe, nothing has real meaning. In my experience, more often than not, (as evidenced by the atheists who visit this blog) there seems to be a condescension and smugness in the way they discuss religion and God. It seems like you’d be an exception to this, thus far, but I assure you, in this respect, you are in the minority among Atheists who frequent religious blogs and are vocal about their atheism.

      • John Barren,

        It’s true that it’s much easier to group and generalize. It would be impractical to try to make a single solid argument that applies to all the various points of view. In this case, Terrance could have made his argument more specific by just referring to “self-aggrandizing atheists.” Instead, the way it’s written, the self-aggrandizing trait is applied to all people who identify as atheist.

        And it is very unfortunate that anyone, atheists or otherwise, feel the need to condescend and ridicule opposing opinions that cause no harm. And it has been my experience as well that the ones who feel the need to discuss – or more often vehemently argue – religion are the disrespectful ones. Those more comfortable with their own perspectives and the perspectives of others don’t as often feel the need to express themselves arrogantly. Personally, I identify as agnostic because when it comes to whether or not there is a higher power, I don’t know. I only know what I know and nothing more. And of course, I can’t back up my claims with evidence. It’s speculation. Dare I say it, it’s belief.

        I don’t see anything wrong with a lack of inherent meaning in the universe. I don’t see why some people jump to the conclusion that if there is no meaning, then what is to prevent people from doing evil things. Is it not enough to simply follow the course of nature? Act sustainably. To be honest, I’m still exploring what “sustainably” entails. At the moment, it is what personally makes the most sense.

        • TerranceH says:


          You must understand the typical atheist a Christian apologist can expect to encounter on this and many other political and religious blogs. In my experience, the lion’s share are monomaniacal gascons whose only animus, it seems, is to castigate Christians for a belief that, in point of fact, is no sillier than their own. Some of them go so far as to be outright cruel and malevolent. I had just finished a debate with one such atheist at the time, so forgive me for expressing my frustration.

          I have no problem with people ridiculing opinions; I have a problem with people ridiculing other people, and this is something atheists often do.

          Lastly, I didn’t say that atheists are self-evidently evil. I asked a question. Are we not allowed to ask questions for fear they may cause offense? And people say Christians are priggish. Ha!

          • Terranche,

            Ah, re-reading your post, I see that I had misunderstood the framework of the question.

            I have several religious friends with whom I’ve wanted to discuss religion with, but have been afraid for fear of it turning into a stubborn argument rather than a mutual exchanging of ideas. The Internet provides the perfect place for people to narrow-mindedly push their ideas on others, so I agree that the problem isn’t so much ridiculing opinions, but ridiculing people themselves.

            However, it would still be more accurate to say, for example, “narrow-minded atheists are self-aggrandizing ‘intellectuals'” rather than saying atheism is a set of dogmatic principles for condescending, narrow-minded people. (If I understand what you’re asserting).

  5. Thanks for agreeing with me, Glenn – it seems that the heaven you believe in is going to be a pretty empty place.

  6. Never mind the atheists, Glenn, just think about the 7 odd billion who don’t follow your path.

    • zqtx,
      Which is why I do my best to evangelize as much as possible. Every one of those 7 odd billion have been given the truth about God – God plants it in the heart of all mankind, and the knowledge of the true God is in the creation. If you seek Him, you will find Him.

      There is only one true path to God. Those who claim that all religions worship the same God don’t look at the contradictions proving otherwise.

  7. TerranceH says:


    I choose not to limit the power of God.

  8. This is sad! Why you not want there to be a universe or a God? This person needs much prayer.

  9. Terrance said…

    Such a universe imparts the ability to love, takes away those you love, and never gives them back.

    So, are you saying that, IF there is a universe (ours) where you can fall in love with people and they can be “taken away” (through death, presumably?) and never be reunited with them, that is evidence of a horrible universe – one you wouldn’t want to live in? Is that part of your point?

    Just a straightforward question to clarify your point. Thanks.

  10. Sad? Why would you say that’s sad?

    What I think is sad is the possibility of Glenn actually being right – the vast majority of people who have lived, are living and will ever live are doomed to spend an eternity in hell, most of them because they believed in the wrong god. That’s sad.

    • zqtx,
      It is just as sad as every other wrong choice people make which lead to some sort of disaster, whether it be drugs, alcohol, sex, crime, etc. People are responsible for their decisions. We all have the ability to choose truth over lies, facts over fiction, lawful living or lawless living. You can’t blame God for people’s choices. He gave us the ability to make our decisions.

  11. TerranceH says:

    So, are you saying that, IF there is a universe (ours) where you can fall in love with people and they can be “taken away” (through death, presumably?) and never be reunited with them, that is evidence of a horrible universe – one you wouldn’t want to live in? Is that part of your point?

    Just a straightforward question to clarify your point. Thanks.

    Yes. And then you’re going to respond with some salvo about those we love being cast into hell for unbelief. But unlike you, Dan, I choose not to limit the power of God or His forgiveness. Nobody knows what heaven is like. How we will feel. What will happen. Who will be with us. Etc…

    Good day, sir.

  12. paynehollow says:


    And then you’re going to respond with some salvo about those we love being cast into hell for unbelief.

    I was going to respond by pointing out that your “problem” with the atheists on that point is a problem that you share as well. Am I mistaken?

    You appear to be criticizing “the atheists” for holding to a belief that offers no hope for reuniting with lost (dead) loved ones and yet, that is a position that you share as it relates to lost (unsaved) loved ones.

    And how exactly am I limiting God? I merely asked a question pointing out how you believe the same situation as the atheist, I have not staked out a position here.

    I’m glad to hear you acknowledge you don’t know what heaven will be like. Me, either. Humility is a good starting place.

  13. TerranceH says:


    You are mistaken. The difference between mine and Nagel’s view is not small, but Herculean. In his view, it is not merely incidentally impossible to reunite with lost loved ones, but impossible in principle. It simply cannot happen, ever.

    Furthermore, the atheist view leaves no room for ultimate justice, which means over 90% of the people who have lived and died received no justice. If their life was miserable, too bad. Those like Hitler and Stalin who have bathed in the blood of humanity are given a necessary pass by atheists. I reject this.

Lastly, in my view, who is to say it is incidentally impossible for so and so to reunite with his unbelieving father? I’m not God. Are you? If not, how can you be certain that a lost loved one, even the unbeliever, is really lost? You cannot be. But in the atheists worldview, it is certain. 

That is the difference.

    • TerranceH,

Lastly, in my view, who is to say it is incidentally impossible for so and so to reunite with his unbelieving father? I’m not God. Are you? If not, how can you be certain that a lost loved one, even the unbeliever, is really lost? You cannot be.

      Those who died in unbelief will not be saved. The Bible says they are eternally lost. It isn’t a matter of being God – it is a matter of believing what God tells us in Scripture. There is no second chance after death (Hebrews 9:27). No believer will ever be reunited with an unbeliever, nor will any unbeliever ever be saved.

      • TerranceH says:

        While that may be true, Glenn, my point is that at least there is a hope of reunification in the Christian worldview. There is none in the atheists.

  14. paynehollow says:


    In my experience, the lion’s share are monomaniacal gascons

    In my experience, the way you perceive and are treated by the Other is largely shaped by how you perceive and treat them. Meeting a bloviating, arrogant atheist in my experience has been a tiny minority of times.

  15. wiley16350 says:

    I don’t want to take this discussion off topic so will not expound too much on this but I did notice some comments that I felt needed addressing. I feel that Christians would do well to research Ultimate Reconciliation and get a firm grasp of it before they expound on the idea of eternal hell. The only argument I will make at this time against the idea of eternal hell will be to say that the bible plainly claims that death will be the last enemy defeated. If the second death is the same as eternal hell and hell remains forever then how is death defeated in the traditional view? If you want to converse with me on this idea then feel free to e-mail me at I know John won’t want this to get off topic so it’s probably better if you don’t respond on here. Only contact me if you want serious discussion though. If you’re stuck in your belief in eternal hell, then don’t bother.

  16. wiley16350 says:

    Eternal Hell is not as scriptural as you believe and there is a lot to discuss on it. But those that are thrown into the lake of fire are thrown into death. The bible calls the lake of fire the second death. So it seems that the bible declares them to be in death. To avoid the idea of it being physical death most Christians will claim it as spiritual death. Others will claim it is just separation from God. All that matters is that the bible says they are in death. So as long as they are in death, death will remain. The bible clearly states that death will not remain forever. It will be defeated. Have you ever heard the bible proclaim that Jesus is the savior of all? That God wills to have all come to repentance and to be saved? That Jesus came to save the world and not to condemn it? The verses that are used to put forth eternal hell are very symbolic and not as straight forward as the verses that point to the salvation of all. I’m telling people to actually research it with an open mind and an open heart. It is not just the wishful thinking of a small group of people. It is to the glory of God, that Jesus will accomplish his goal in saving the people he came to die for. You really don’t understand the disservice you do to Jesus when you hold to the idea of eternal hell. You effectively say that, although he came to save everyone, he will not be able to. Unless you of course are a Calvinist and you believe that he has selected certain people to heaven and certain people to hell. Which seems downright evil for God to punish people that have no chance to redeem themselves from a situation they were forced into. Calvinism is very evil, but the main reason people hold to it is because they don’t want to believe in the salvation of all. Because they will admit the problems that I laid out previously, they’ll just try to get away with it by saying that Jesus didn’t come to save all, but to save all who he has chosen. In fact, the reason Calvinism and Armenia-ism can’t agree is because they are both trying to avoid the conclusion the Jesus will save all.

    • Wiley,
      Firstly, the death that is conquered is physical death. Even those in Hell are not physically dead. The second death is a permanent spiritual death – absent from the Lord.
      Your problem is the equivocation over the word “death.” The Bible plainly speaks of the two types of death – physical and spiritual.
      It is not a disservice to Jesus – he spoke of eternal damnation in Hell more than he spoke of heaven.
      The O.T. speaks of the eternal damnation of the lost, including Satan, the N.T. has much more in relation to hell than does the O.T. 4 Maccabees speaks of Hell, Josephus taught about Hell, demonstrating the understanding of the Jews of his time.
      And, no, I am not a Calvinist, and their claim that God selected certain people to go to hell is one of the main problems with that belief system.
      What you want people to do is to research NOT the Bible and what it says, but what men have said ABOUT what the Bible says. I have read this stuff for decades so I know what you are pointing to. It’s all about man not believing in the eternal judgment being so severe.
      Jesus is the savior of all WHO CHOOSE TO FOLLOW HIM. He makes that very, very plain, as do the letters of Paul. What you propose is a type of universal salvation. You sound much like Rob Bell (who is a rank heretic). The Bible does not anywhere teach that all are saved. Period
      I do agree with you on one thing – Calvinism is indeed very evil.

  17. Terrance,
    Of course bloviating arrogant liberals are all too common.


  18. Glen,
    I could be wrong, but it seems to me that Terrance’s point was not that unbelievers would be reunited with believers in the afterlife, but that we don’t necessarily know who is a believer and who is not. Thus he pointed out that in as Christians, we have some degree of hope that those we love can be saved, while an atheistic belief system offers no similar hope. IMO

    Just for the record, Calvinism is not very evil.

  19. wiley16350 says:

    So you don’t think its evil to create people that are destined to spend eternity in torment, waste, frustration and futility even though they had no say or ability to make their outcome different? They also had no decision or ability to choose between having this life and the eternity to come or no life at all. I can’t comprehend how that is not evil for God to do. It would be one thing for God to create people to go against him in this life and then destroyed them in the lake of fire after they have served their purpose. At least they would have gotten the opportunity to experience this life. But for God to induce eternal punishment onto people that he created to be against him without any ability for repentance or redemption, it seems very evil to me.

  20. Wiley,
    I wouldn’t presume to second guess God as to who he created and for what purpose He created them. Frankly the fact that you seem to think it’s OK to create people, in order to kill them is not much different from what you accuse Calvinists of believing.

    I will however accede to your wishes to not take this any further off topic than you already have. Having said that, the “forced conversion” that universalism implies seems to carry with it, if not evil, at least injustice.

  21. wiley16350 says:

    You say you believe what the bible says and yet you don’t even see all the things you’re adding to it. Where does the bible say that the second death is a spiritual death – absent from the Lord? That is something you’re bringing into the text. It just says the lake of fire is the 2nd death. You’re the one saying that the 2nd death is a spiritual death. You’re the one saying that it is the first death (physical death) that is defeated. The bible doesn’t say the 1st death will be defeated. It doesn’t say the 2nd death will be defeated. It says death will be defeated. It also says that after the lake of fire, towards the end of revelation. If people in hell are spiritually dead, then death still remains and hasn’t been defeated. The only way it would be defeated is for God to make them spiritually alive. If they are physically dead in the lake of fire, then they would need to be made physically alive, for if death still holds them, it still remains. It doesn’t matter what you call death, if hell is death then in your view death always remains. Jesus didn’t speak of eternal damnation in hell. Properly translated, Jesus spoke of Eonian destruction in Gehenna. All of those passages were directed at the religious elite of the Jews and not at the sinners or Gentiles. The Old Testament never mentions hell. It talks about the grave, destruction of the wicked and a future judgment but it doesn’t talk about an eternal place of damnation. I don’t care who the traditional church thinks is a heretic, I hold to what I see the bible saying. The Jews thought God was coming to save them, they thought his purpose for the Messiah was to bring peace to the earth. They couldn’t see the hidden secret within the scriptures of God’s purposes and missed Jesus as their Messiah because they couldn’t see all of his purposes. Here we Christians are claiming that God will only save people in this life and there is no chance that he has a certain objective in this eon and no future objectives in the next eon. You say that the bible doesn’t claim the salvation of all. Direct bible quote: This is a faithful saying worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. How can Jesus be the savior of those in Hell? Believers are especially saved, because they receive favorable judgment and reward for faithful service and don’t need to fear judgment. Others are saved through the judgment.

    • Wiley,
      What I have stated is plainly in the text, and understood that way by Jews and Christians for thousands of years. It is your universalism heresy which is more of a modern system, being only a few hundred years old. You twist the Scripture to suit your purpose and I’m not going to continue this discussion off topic.

      End of discussion.

  22. wiley16350 says:

    I don’t believe God created people to kill them. I just said that would at least be a more acceptable belief to me. Universalism doesn’t require forced conversion. It requires God to reveal truth to them through judgment and correction so that they repent of their own will. If it wasn’t for God revealing truth to us, we wouldn’t convert either. If it wasn’t for God putting stumbling blocks and troubles in our path we probably wouldn’t seek him. God creates our path as we choose our way. If he is ready to bring us to repentance he will find a way to get us there. The reason God is choosing some now for repentance is to show us the role mercy and grace play in teaching righteousness. I believe in the first eon he showed us the role law played in teaching righteousness. In the next eon he will show us the role Judgment will play in teaching righteousness. The goal and purpose of this life to me is to teach us righteousness. Through these lessons we will learn to live in harmony with God and others so that heaven can be a true paradise.

  23. Wiley,
    OK, then theoretically, you’re ok with God creating people just to kill them. Same difference.
    I guess, I’d suggest that any time anyone continues to judge and correct someone until they make the right decision that there is an element of coercion in that process. Honestly it almost sounds like a form of reincarnation or something.
    I’ve seen no biblical justification for your position, and some pretty significant biblical support for the opposite position. So in the absence of any compelling new revelation, it’s probably best to move along on this thread.

  24. @Craig
    You’re completely misrepresenting my position. I didn’t say I was o.k. with God creating people just to kill them. I do, however, find it a more logical position with who the Christian God is than calvinism. If God were to create people as vessels of dishonor to accomplish his goals in saving the people he created to save and then destroy them after they have served their purpose, then he is at least not punishing people for something they had no control over.
    Do you understand that God uses judgments and methods of correction in christian lives today to bring them to understanding of truth and closer to living righteously? It may be a form of coercion but his point is to teach his children the truth about right and wrong. This is best learned through experience. That is why the world is full of evil, why he set up the scene in Genesis with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He knew Adam and Eve would partake of it, he placed the serpent there, made them weak in spirit and gave them that one rule. He then accepted responsibility for it by providing the sacrifice and is working through Jesus to take away the sin of the world and undo its effects.
    I don’t see where what i’m claiming is reincarnation because you don’t keep dying and coming back to life. God resurrects the dead, judges them and then they are thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire then cleanses and purges them from all evil. When they come through the lake of fire they are raised to incorruptibility. I have no idea what actually happens in the lake of fire or what it entails or actually is, since the passage is more than likely symbolic. I have no idea how long people are in the fire or any paticulars. I just know that the lake of fire is the second death and that death will be the last enemy defeated. Then at the consummation you have this Bible quote: Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” So how does eternal hell fit in with this picture?
    There is so much involved in this issue and so much connected with it, that I can’t go through it all here.

    @ Glen
    have you ever heard of Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter Chrysologus, Theophilus of Antioch? They all believed in Universalism. Origen lived in the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries. The others lived around the 4th and 5th centuries. Then you have Paul and John (Revelations), who definetly allude to it in their writings.

  25. Ok, so you find it a more logical position for God to create people just to kill them. I still don’t see enough difference to justify your justifications of it. I also didn’t say you said it was reincarnation, I said it was similar to reincarnation. If God keeps correcting us until we get it right, it is similar to being born over and over until we get it right. Similar, not the same.

    As far as the rest of your off topic ramblings. You’ve provided nothing more than your opinions and I don’t find them compelling enough to actually ask you to back them up.

  26. @ Craig
    I have no problem backing them up. I did offer a couple of scriptures in what I wrote but here is a few more to back up what I was saying.

    This is a faithful saying worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

    Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

    What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? Thus it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish

    The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

    For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him

    And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.

    And that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the times of the restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time

    So then as through one transgression [Adam’s] there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness [Christ’s] there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One, the many will be made righteous. And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more!

    For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it in hope, that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

    For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved.

    For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all. Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

    For as it is written, “As I live”, says the Lord, “every knee shall bow to me [ie. repentance], and every tongue shall give praise to God”. [ie. worship]

    If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire

    For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order… “And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.”

    But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

    Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was [Ed., and is] in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

    For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach

    For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to be borne at the proper time

    For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men

    For in subjecting all things to him [ie., man], He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him…But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for every one

    But now once at the consummation He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself

    But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing [literally “not purposing”, from the Greek: boulema, “predetermined purpose”] that any should perish but for all to come to repentance.

    And He Himself is the propitiation [ie., satisfaction or appeasement] for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world

    And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

  27. Richard,

    By your understanding of the various and many passages you’ve offered here, why should I give a flying rat’s ass about how I behave? Your understanding suggests I’ll be saved no matter how perverse and twisted I might be, and no matter what I believe about whether or not there exists a God above.

  28. Richard,
    I’m sure that you realize that all none of the passages you’ve listed necessarily preclude interpretations short of universalism. Further, I’m sure you’ve read and thoroughly debunked the plentiful interpretations that would support positions other than universalism. I’m also sure you realize that based on what you’ve written, it appears that you’ve not looked at this beyond a superficial level.

    I guess, as long as John or Terrance don’t shut this down, I’ll continue to follow your off topic posts.

    As someone mentioned earlier, I have a huge problem with the fact that this sort of shallow universalism denies any sort of transcendent justice.

    Further, none of what you have posted in any way suggests that this process continues after death.

  29. wiley16350 says:

    Sin has consequences. God tells us not to sin for our benefit, not his. He allows us to sin to teach us why it is wrong and what its consequences are. This is so we can live in true harmony in the new heavens and new earth at the consummation. You could do whatever you want, but sooner or later God will bring you to your knees looking for a different way. How many people enjoy certain sins and then have those sins become their destruction? If you want to die in rebellion against God, that’s your perogative. You will still have to fear judgment. It’s not like judgment is going to be a piece of cake. The point is, sooner or later God WILL teach you that sin brings destruction and death. Ultimately, people that love God want to do what is right because he has given them the heart and desire to do so. If it wasn’t for God, nobody would seek him or want to do right (this is in the bible).
    People that believe in eternal hell constantly reveal that they don’t believe that God is in control. Unless they’re Calvinist (which he is in control but obviously lacks love). This is because they believe that humans are completely responsible for their belief and ability to do what is right. They don’t believe God is all powerful because they believe that a human has the ability to deny God’s salvation attempts. They also don’t believe God is love. Because love is patient… patience God would continue to give people the knowledge they need to accept him as their God. Sending people to hell for eternal punishment means he has lost patience. Love is kind….in kindness God would be considerate and helpful in developing people’s character/ righteousness. Sending people to hell means God would no longer care about or help people in developing their character/ righteousness. Love does not seek it’s own. If God’s goal is for the betterment of humans and to develop their character and righteousness then he would be acting in love. If his goal is to punish those eternally for not believing in him, then he would not be acting in love since the goal would not be for the good of humans. They believe that eventually love will fail because God doesn’t gain all of his lost. Every person belongs to God, whoever he loses means he has failed to gain his own property. They also believe Satan will win battles against God and possibly the war. For every person God loses and can’t save means a battle won by Satan. If you believe that the passage about the broad and narrow gates is talking about heaven and hell then you actually believe that Satan will win more battles than God and essentially wins the war. I say the gate passage is about our way in this life. The majority will choose to live it by walking the broad gate which is full of destruction. The few will choose to live it God’s way and they have a true life in God. Most of us that believe we are christians are actually walking through life on the broad way. There are so many logical problems with the idea of eternal punishment. The good news is that there is no reason to hold to it. When you understand that the words translated to eternal, forever, forever and ever and the like are from the word aion which means an age you can easily dismantle most of the eternal hell verses. Add in that the word translated punishment actually means correction and the picture becomes a little clearer. Notice that the word translated into hell comes from multiple words and the only one that could even come close to eternall hell is the word Jesus used, which was Gehenna. Understanding that Gehenna was an actual place used by the Jews as a garbage dump and to throw the bodies of criminals into might suggest that Jesus wasn’t talking about the hell we think it as. Jesus also only used that term when talking with the Jewish religious elite. The language is also very symbolic and can be easily misunderstood. Plus it may be hell, but that doesn’t mean it has to be eternal since the word actually means an age. Understanding that Lazurus and the rich man was a parable means that it is very possible that Jesus was predicting the change of roles between the Jews and the Gentiles. Jesus even predicted his resurrection in that parable.

    @ Craig,
    really, they don’t suggest an ability to change after this life?
    What does the end of death or defeat of death mean to you? What does no pain or crying or sadness in the new heavens and new earth mean to you? If hell remains, then so does pain, crying, sadness and death. If god is all in all, then that means hell is included. If God hasn’t saved everybody in this life and he says that he is the savior of all and he will defeat death, then people would obviously have to be saved in the next life.

  30. Rob Peterson says:

    “Such a universe teases you with the notion of justice, but refuses to give it. Why hope for such a cruel and vile universe? What is the motivation?”

    I do not hope for this type of Universe, I simply accept it as the way the the Universe operates. I do my best to change the world for the better, but recognize that I fight an uphill battle and I am limited in the amount I can do as one person. Furthermore, I do not impose my beliefs upon others, nor do I talk down to people who think differently than I. Now tell me, do I have a complex because of what I believe? Are you any better for generalizing a widespread and diverse group of people as “self-aggrandizing intellectuals?”

    Am I therefore “self-evidently evil” because I observe my surroundings and draw conclusions from the real world? you tell me.

  31. Wiley,

    No. The defeat of death refers to Christs victory over the death that came as a result of Adam’s sin. Since hell is not a part of the new heaven/new earth, I don’t see any connection. When you say “God is in all” you are sounding like a pan (or panen) theist. Which is not an orthodox Christian position. What makes you think God is not “in” hell? Your last sentence is circular reasoning. You are assuming Universalism as your default position, without proving that to be the case.

  32. wiley16350 says:

    @ Craig
    The bible declares that God is all in all. Those aren’t my words. My point is that if God is all in all (as the bible declares) then hell doesn’t exist separate from him. So it would seem the declaration that there are no more tears, crying, pain or death in the new heaven and new earth would include hell also since God is all in all at the consummation. Christ already has victory over the death that came as a result of adam’s sin. He defeated that the day he was raised from the grave. I didn’t even think of that until you just tried to make up some sort of explanation to hold onto eternal hell. He’ll defeat that death for us at the judgment when he raises the dead. Therefore we know the first death is not the death the bible is talking about as being defeated last. Since it’s accomplished before he defeats his enemies with judgment. So you just helped prove the point further that it is actually the second death that is the last enemy defeated. Eventually all enemies will be subjected under Christ’s feet and every knee will bow and tongue shall praise God. Those are claims that are made in the bible. Not something I am making up just to make my point.

  33. Richard, or Wiley, or Wiley Richard, or whatever,

    You still haven’t given a reason why I should care about how I behave. I am well aware that one who is totally God-centered in this life will act in a manner that is beneficial to him. But acting in a self-centered, world-centered or materialistic fashion does not guarantee a life of misery. Indeed, many atheists insist they live happy lives because they dismiss the possibility of a god and often commit sinful acts that they do not regard as sinful. The homosexual atheist, for example, lives in total rebellion but isn’t necessarily going to live in misery, especially in this day of advanced medical technologies and moral relativism. Your explanation simply doesn’t wash in light of Biblical teachings regarding a just God. In addition, no matter how uncomfortable a “correction” might be, it seems the end does not make that correction worth a second thought if I can do what I want, when I want if I can withstand any earthly ramifications. All rules are worthless because I’ll still have salvation and life eternal in God’s presence. You are way off base.

  34. wiley16350 says:

    You should care about doing right because you love God and want to do what is right. Ultimately though you will only care because of God’s influence on your life. You’re right that some people may enjoy this life living in rebellion and in sin. But it’s only because God isn’t calling them at this time. If God is calling you to serve in this life, he will bring hardships to you in order to bring you to repentance and obedience. Not everyone is called in this life to serve him. Some are called to specific service in obedience to God (the elect). Some are used as vessels of dishonor to accomplish God’s will in this life. Others may not be called at all in this life. The majority may be called and have different responses. Some of those will respond favorably and God will bring them to understanding and salvation from sin in this life. Others will rebel and God may at some point give them over to their destructive ways and their lives will become a mess. The point is, God is the one in control. He knows how to bring everyone to repentance. He just accomplishes that repentance at different times (to teach us different aspects of righteousness) and in different ways.
    The difference between you and I is what we view God doing. I believe God’s will and purpose is to teach us righteousness. I believe he will accomplish that will and everyone will live in righteousness at the consummation. You believe God has created people in the hope that they will learn righteousness and if they do he will save them and if they don’t by the time they die he will allow them to be a waste forever and ever. I believe God has the ability to change the heart of anyone he wishes and bring them to repentance whenever he wants. Because he knows what it will take to change their heart. You believe he can’t and that people will always do what they want to do unless God threatens them with eternal hell and even then some people will still do what they want. Ultimately, in the traditional view a person can do whatever he wants and then at his death bed confess out of fear of hell and then receive salvation.
    As for justice, Jesus’s death is the payment for the sins of the world. At the judgment God will right all wrongs. Justice will be served. Why does eternal punishment have to be the only way God can achieve justice? Is it really justice if people are only paying for whether or not they believe in God? In your view the Christian doesn’t have to pay for his sins for God to achieve justice, but the unbeliever must pay with eternal torment for God to achieve justice. It doesn’t add up in terms of justice. Is it possible that God is no longer seeking justice but rather obedience. Through chastening, he will recieve obedience. And if he receives obedience, could it be possible that he will have achieved justice?
    Ultimately, I believe its God’s goal to teach us righteousness and he does this through chastening. Everyone will be chastened, whether it is in this life or at the judgment. Chastening is the way Jesus saves us from our sins. Which is another point, Jesus saves us from sin, we don’t save ourselves from sin. Living in obedience to God now will be the easiest road to that salvation. Rebelling against God now (if he is calling you to obedience) will be the hardest road to that salvation. The more God has revealed to you and the more you know, the harder the chastening will be when you’re disobedient. You’re whole post denies God’s Sovereignty. That is ultimately what you’re missing.

  35. wiley16350 says:

    To add another point. The reason Calvinism and Armenism differences exist is because they have created a dichotimy between God’s benovalence and his sovereignty. Either you raise his sovereignty above his benovalence as in Calvinism. Or you raise his benovalence above his sovereignty as in Armenism. The reason the dichomity exists is because they both have to fit eternal hell into their theology. Take away eternal hell, would easily fix the dichomity but no one wants to be an universalist. The Calvinists denies God’s benovalence (which is obviously stated in the bible) but aren’t seen as heretics. The Armenist denies God’s sovereignty (which is obviously stated in the bible) but they aren’t seen as heretics. The universalist denies an eternal hell which is based on questionable translation and highly symbolic passages and he is the one seen as the heretic.

    • Wiley16350,
      From your statements above, three things are patently obvious:
      1. You have no clear understanding of Scripture and twist it to your own agenda.
      2. You have no clear understanding of the teachings of Calvinism (which does not deny God’s benevolence, by the way)
      3. You have no clear understanding of Arminianism (which does NOT deny the sovereignty of God, by the way)

  36. YOU are the one missing the point of my question, which is based on your stated understanding of death and salvation. There is no degree of chastening that makes a difference to how I behave if the final result is the same as the most ardent follower of God’s will. Therefor, how I behave in this life is not restricted in any way. The chastening might be an incredible bitch, but if in the end I’m in heaven with the Almighty, why sweat? If your understanding is true, all bets are off. There is no such thing as living a proper life if there is no justice for living a sinful one. No matter how much I might suffer from the “chastening”, I will always know (and it really doesn’t matter if I come to believe otherwise during the ordeal), that all will be roses in the end. There’s just no point for denying one’s self anything. Even your belief for why I should care means nothing if I choose not to. Can’t you see the problem so obvious with your point of view?

  37. wiley16350 says:

    I will expound on salvation and maybe that will clear some things up. The bible actually talks of many types of salvation. The first one is salvation from death. The wages of sin is death and therefore everybody deserves to die. Except for Jesus, since he was sinless. Jesus holds the key to death since he was sinless and death could not hold him. Jesus has promised that he will give all the free gift of salvation from death. There is nothing we can do to earn this or accomplish it. It could only be accomplished through Christ. For those that believe in God now and have faith that Jesus will do this they will receive eonion life in the millennial kingdom. For the unbelievers, they won’t see life until the consummation. The next salvation is from sin. This is accomplished through the work (chastening) of Jesus in our lives and at the judgment. He will bring us all to repentance and belief, each in our own order. The last salvation is from judgment. This is where we can save ourselves through our works. If we repent, strive and work to do the will of God we will receive favorable judgment and reward. If we rebel and work to do evil, then we receive negative judgment and punishment/ chastening.

    The believer receives reward for service, so the result is not the same. The believer also receives eonion life in the millennial kingdom. There is also the parable of the workers in the vineyard where workers complained as you do that it was unfair for people that didn’t work as long to receive the same payment as they did. So maybe that shows more about where your heart is at then a problem with my view. I understand what you’re saying about doing whatever you want. But what I am saying is that if Christ is within you and working to save you from your sins, you will not have that attitude. This is where the sovereignty of God comes in. So it’s not a problem in my view because the desire to be righteous comes from God and not from ourselves.

  38. I agree with Marshall. If one wantonly engages in sin, then it’s clear he is wantonly rejecting Jesus Christ, and thus his faith is not true.

  39. wiley16350 says:

    @ Glen
    Yeah, I twist the scriptures, like when I said the bible declares that death is the final enemy to be defeated and you come back and say it is talking about the first death. Even though it says no such thing. Plus, as I had shown previously, the first death is defeated at the resurrection or judgment (if you want to go as far into the future as possible). Since enemies are defeated after that because they are raised from the dead before they are judged, it must be the second death that is the last enemy defeated. Are you talking about that kind of scripture twisting? Because that is an exact example of twisting scripture accomplished by you. Marshall tried to do the same thing.
    You’re right they don’t deny those things completely, they just make them weaker traits. Calvinist believe that God created people for the purpose of being a vessel of dishonor and then will throw them into eternal hell for being what they were created to be. That is not loving/ benovalent. Basically they have to accept that God doesn’t love all of his creation. Even though he is love, he chooses not to love part of his creation. For what purpose does he do that? The armenist don’t believe in Jesus’s ability to gain all the lost. They believe he can only recover those that want to be recovered. That means God doesn’t have complete sovereignty. It also means that mans will is stronger than God’s will. Weakening God’s sovereignty.

    I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

    That is what the bible claims. Do you see verse 4? “who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” This is God’s will. Armenist say that this is only God’s desire. They say this to hold onto the idea that man has complete control of his final destination and complete free will. This effectively weakens God’s sovereignty. Jesus may have gave himself up for all people and God may desire the salvation of all but because of man’s free will, God CAN’T accomplish his desire and Jesus falls short of saving all. This verse is why people are Calvinist and don’t agree with Armenist. It’s obvious you guys hold to hell as bad as an atheist holds onto evolution. No matter how illogical it is and how much it’s shown to be wrong you’ll stick to it because the so-called more knowledgeable’s ability to make it sound factual and irrational for someone to argue against. You guys want the final word, so have it. I will do my best to walk away because its obvious neither of us will change our mind. I have pretty much explained everything to the best of my ability. Ultimately, this matter is between God and you. If you’re at peace with the logic of an eternal hell, then so be it. Have a great day and may God bless you.

    • Wiley,
      I stated the dispute was at an end. You are a heretic. You have decided that the teachings of the church for 2000 years are not correct and that you have the correct teachings. You have demonstrated that you are unteachable and I refuse to debate you.

  40. What I’m holding to is the lack of logic in your understanding and the idea of a just God. No behavior is so bad that one can be separated from God, including outright rejection, according to your explanation as it has been expressed. Nothing you’ve said gives one any reason to act in a Christian manner if one WILL survive any chastening/punishment to eventually exist along side of all those who lived a life devoted to God and His Will. It can’t help but leave one with the question “Why should I bother?”

  41. Wiley/Richard
    You’re like a steamroller. You’ve presupposed a universalist interpretation and just keep on coming. Unfortunately, your perspective seems to place the power of salvation in the hands of the saved, not God. Further, you keep dodging this issue of God’s justice. If God just keeps applying relentless remorseless pressure until everyone finally capitulates doesn’t that just leave a bunch of beaten down folks who grudgingly accept the inevitable. Interestingly enough, that seems to be your tactic, Unfortunately, in the vast reams of your comments, you’ve neglected to demonstrate why the universalist interpretation is the only possible interpretation. Further, you;ve never provided any support that explicitly supports your post death conversion theory. If you want to actually address and debunk the arguments for a non universalist position, great. There are a number of talented intelligent folks who have done a good enough job, that it seems pointless for me to simply repeat the established arguments. Feel free if you’d like. But otherwise, I see no point in going any further,

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