Why does religion appeal to our selfishness? Why must eternal life be the reward for following Jesus? Why not serve God and then perish?
What is “eternity” anyway? We cannot conceive an infinity of time. “Eternal life” means that we will never face the moment when we know we will die. This moment is what we fear, not death itself.
May I suggest a workaround to your fear of death? When that moment is presented to you, fantasize about something else. Imagine you are in a much better place and time. Take your mind off the present. If you can do this, you no longer need fear death. (If you do not have the imaginative powers to fantasize, then devote your life to developing such powers).
The only reason to seek immortality is because one is confused about death, which means one is confused about life. Every day we lose consciousness when we sleep, which does not terrify us. We believe we will wake up again. In essence, we believe in our own resurrection. This belief separates sleep from death. It is a fine line.
Is eternal life really such a desirable thing? Won’t you get incredibly bored? You will repeat the same pattern in your life millions, billions, trillions of times (and more). Isn’t it better to lead a rewarding life and then gracefully (and hopefully painlessly) check out? Worried about facing death? See the above workaround.
Christians believe in “heaven forever”, meaning a wonderful situation that persists. Can we really imagine this? The only way to avoid boredom is to periodically forget one’s past. Isn’t that the same as the “old” you dying and a “new” you taking it’s place? If you forget your past, your are effectively a different person. Therefore, you have effectively died because your old self is gone.
Embrace the transient nature of your life, which is in fact a wonderful gift.
God sent His only Son to die for your sins. Christ was sacrificed on the cross for you.
What have you done for God?
The Bible promises that if you follow Jesus, you will have eternal life. Isn’t that a small price to pay for following Him? It’s almost a “no brainer”: be a decent person, go to church once per week, repent your sins before you die and you will never face death.
This begs the question: why are you following God’s commandments? Is it for purely selfish reasons, because you want immortality? Does following God’s commandments constitute the most selfish of acts?
Shouldn’t you follow God’s commandments because Jesus is Lord, and following the Lord is simply the right thing to do? As a Christian, you need never answer that question. You will never need to sacrifice for the sake of goodness. That’s part of the bargain. Be good, and you will be rewarded with ever-lasting life.
What of atheists, or others, who in fact sacrifice and devote their lives to a greater good? That is true sacrifice, and true goodness, because no bargain is involved. These atheists will never be rewarded for being good, unlike Christians.
Who embodies a more pure sense of goodness: those who do good for a huge reward, or those who do good because of what they believe in?
Religion can encourage what is, at its core, a deep selfishness. Christianity does not ask you to do good out of a sense of devotion and worship. Rather, do good because it will bring you significant personal gain. In my view, there is a problem with that message.
Athesists often use the idea that the existence of evil in the world is proof there is no God. Believers reject this by stating that God has intentionally given man free will. God intended that Mankind (and Womankind) be free to make moral choices. When the wrong choices are made, evil is manifest in the world. So, the existence of both evil and of God are entirely consistent.
There is another observation that may pose a challenge for those who hold traditional religious views. It is that God created a world where reading and learning about nature will get you farther than meditating about God and the Bible. Why isn’t the latter rewarded much more?
A society that creates an infrastructure for science and engineering will become more powerful in the world than one that only facilitates devotion to God. A deep knowledge of science and engineering is not enough for a society to function well. However, a scientifically-based society that does function well will almost certainly dominate over societies that are exclusively centered around man’s relationship to God.
Why did God so construct the world that physical law seems to trump spiritual law? This does not seem consistent with the “jealous God” that is written about in the Bible. It seems that those who ignore God and focus on mastering natural law are rewarded even though they de-emphasize God. This is not a question of “free will”. One can willingly devote oneself exclusively to God, and lead a righteous life that follows His commandments. Yet, without paying attention to the natural world, that righteous person is vulnerable to those who wield power by virtue of their mastery of nature.
Perhaps this fact tells us something about the nature of God.
I thought you folks would enjoy this.
Originally posted on The Upside Down World:
Back when I was a kid, I would hear the words of Jesus telling us to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us and wonder . . . do I have enemies? Did the popular girls at school who seemed to be snearing at me all the time count as enemies? How about the teachers who kept insisting that I do my homework rather than just ace the test – were they my enemies? Was the dog who scared the ever-loving-crap out of me on my paper route an enemy? Enemy’s such a harsh word. Labeling those involved in low-level conflicts with me as enemies seemed awfully melodramatic – even for me.
Growing up in peacetime and as the child of parents who got along with the neighbors rather than starting Hatfield and MaCoy style fueds with them, enemies seemed in short supply. But I’ve always been…
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This is something I question: speaking for God.
The tagline for ChristianMingle.com (a dating site) is: “Find God’s Match for You™” (note the trademark). The company acknowledges that tagline has caused controversy, but states “we do believe ChristianMingle is a tool God can and has used to bring people together.”
Is this an uplifting belief? Is this a belief that leads to our enrichment as people, to our betterment? Or is this a belief that is used to achieve a specific result?
Is this belief based on anything other than a desire to want it to be so?
Beware of such beliefs that imply an intimate knowledge of God. Insight into the Almighty is not why we believe. We believe so that we can allow ourselves to imagine a larger purpose to our lives. Yet, we must be humble in our beliefs because we recognize our limitations as human beings.
Beware of all beliefs that imply a knowledge of God, leading to a use of that knowledge to achieve specific results. That is using belief. Be suspicious of such use.
Then continue on your journey, believing your way forward, but remaining humble about the knowledge of where you will be.