Saturday, October 8, 2011

B is for Bull Shit

One of my old friends puts it like this: “What you’re supposed to acquire during your four years in college is a built-in Bull Shit Detector—every time you’re exposed to bull shit the detector sounds a warning signal inside your head.”

Imagine trying to convert an English-speaking Humanoid Space Alien with a built-in BS Detector to the Christian religion. The conversation might go something like this:

YOU: Hey pal, have I got a great religion for you.

HSA: Tell me about it.

YOU: Well it all begins here on Earth a little over two-thousand years ago.

HSA: What happened?

YOU: God came to life in the form of a human being.

HSA: How do you know?

YOU: Well, it’s in the Bible for one thing.

HSA: What’s the Bible?

YOU: It’s a very old book where all of this is written down.

HSA: Who wrote it down?

YOU: Lots of different people; but the ones we’re interested in are four guys named Mark, Matthew, Luke and John—plus St. Paul.

HSA: Did they write about things they saw and heard or did they write about things that were reported to them?

YOU: Some say they wrote about things they actually saw and heard but most scholars say they wrote about things that were reported to them.

HSA: I see. How long after these things happened did they do their writing?

YOU: Some scholars say a few years later, others say decades.

HSA: So you’re telling me I should believe things written years after they supposedly happened by people who weren’t around at the time—second-hand stuff, hearsay.

YOU: Well, millions of humans have believed in it for thousands of years.

HSA: I have no doubt about that. But why should I believe it?

YOU: Because if you do you’ll be saved.

HSA: Saved from what?

YOU: Saved from having your soul end up in hell for eternity for one thing.

HSA: What’s a soul?

YOU: It’s a part of you that’s immaterial but it lasts for eternity.

HSA: It’s in me, it’s a part of me, but there’s no way of detecting it?

YOU: That’s right. And when you die it goes on living.

HSA: How does it live without me to keep it alive?

YOU: It’s existence does not depend on you.

HSA: You mean it existed before I was born?

YOU: No. It came into existence the moment you were conceived.

HSA: So, if I’m following what you’re saying, it wasn’t in the egg and it wasn’t in the sperm but it came into existence when they merged to make me.

YOU: That’s exactly right.

HSA: How can it “come into existence” if it has no dimensions.

YOU: It has a spiritual existence. It is not a physical thing.

HSA: But its existence begins with a physical event—a sperm meeting up with an egg.

YOU: Yes, that’s so. But it has no prior existence.

HSA: How does it get implanted in the fertilized egg? It must be “within it” somehow.

YOU: God creates it and implants it at the instant of conception.

HSA: So God waits patiently while millions of sperms swim around an egg. The instant one of them penetrates it he inserts a soul in the fertilized egg. All of this is invisible and leaves no traces—no DNA, no nothing.

YOU: You’ve got it.

HSA: And the fertilized eggs that don’t make it as living babies—what happens to their souls?

YOU: They are also immortal and eternal.

HSA: And where do they end up?

YOU: It’s another place—an immaterial place—known as limbo.

HSA: What’s it like?

YOU: Not much is known about it, but it’s a place of no pain and no suffering. The souls in limbo are denied the Presence of God.

HSA: Why not? Did they do something bad? Suppose they were part of a miscarriage or in an aborted fetus—it’s not their fault they were miscarried or aborted or whatever.

YOU: Yes, but they can’t be allowed to go to Heaven with the Good Souls and they can’t be sent to Hell with the bad ones.

HSA: Why can’t they go to heaven? They’re immaterial—they won’t use up any space.

YOU: It’s not a question of space, it’s a question of deserving.

HSA: For a soul to get into Heaven it must deserve to get there.

YOU: That’s right.

HSA: And God decides which ones make it and which ones don’t.

YOU: Yes, you’re catching on.

HSA: What about the ones that don’t make it—what happens to them.

YOU: They go to Hell where they spend eternity being tortured.

HSA: Wow. They must be really, really bad to deserve that. Does anyone go to Hell?

YOU: I’m sure the soul of Adolph Hitler and lots of other top Nazis are there.

HSA: And they are there for eternity?

YOU: Yes.

HSA: Isn’t that taking things too far. Even if Hitler or Himmler, or any of the others, had to serve a century in hell for each and every Holocaust victim that would be around 600,000,000 years—far less than eternity.

YOU: These things aren’t intended to be taken literally?

HSA: Not taken literally? Then how are they to be taken? With a grain of salt.

YOU: God’s punishments and His rewards are just. That’s what matters. Good people are rewarded and bad people are punished.

HSA: Is there any evidence of any sort that supports any of this?

YOU: I suppose it all depends on what you call evidence.

HSA: I was afraid of that. Well it’s been an interesting chat. And now I must be off.

YOU: Your soul could end up in Hell!

HSA: If your God is just, it won’t. Think about it.

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