Why terrorists hate the Catholic Church so much

“We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” ISIS proclaimed in its declaration of war against the Catholic Church in 2014. Why does ISIS hate the Catholic Church so much? Why does it target priests and threaten Rome by name?

Christ Himself warned His Church and His followers would be persecuted. The Book of Revelations holds dire predictions for believers. History is filled with examples of Christian persecution, from the apostles themselves to the present day.

This is a sign that the Church is the right path, so while persecution is painful, it is also an affirmation that we are on the path marked by Christ.

The Church faces persecution from many sources; the devil has many faces. Governments, militant atheists, satanists, and militant Muslims target the Catholic Church. It is as if they all know the Catholic Church is the great bride of Christ. If you wish to strike against God, the best target is His Church, and that Church is the One, True, Holy, and Apostolic Catholic Church.

The Islamic State has a particular bloodlust for Catholics. Part of the reason, as outlined above, is that Satan surely has a special hatred of the Catholic Church, and ISIS is but one of his faces. However, history cannot be ignored.

More than nine centuries ago, the First Crusade was launched. The crusade was called by Pope Urban II, who was alarmed that Muslims were persecuting Christians on their pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The crusade provided an outlet for the surplus of unlanded nobility wandering the fields of medieval Europe. The crusade to protect pilgrims quickly became political and provided an opportunity to many nobles to make names for themselves and seize land.

The First Crusade was a Christian victory as the armies seized Jerusalem. However, it also reignited a conflict against the Islamic world that had continued off and on since the Islamic invasion of Europe two centuries before.

For the next hundred years, Islamic armies chipped away at the crusaders and the generations of soldiers who followed. Islam eventually regained the territory it lost to the Christian armies. Yet Islam stalled in southeastern Europe and was halted by the distinctly Catholic armies of the defending emperors and kings of Europe.

A lasting peace was established with only occasional, short-lived conflicts -relative to the crusades. This peace lasted until the establishment of the state of Israel after World War II. Since then, the Islamic world has been at war with the West.

The Islamic State sees itself as the continuation of the ancient Islamic Caliphate, which held a mandate to make the world Islamic. The greatest traditional gatekeeper of Christianity is the Catholic Church. So, the Islamic State has cast itself in the traditional Islamic role of jihadist, and the Catholic Church in the classic role as adversary.

The very manifesto of ISIS states:
“The Muslims will be at war with the Roman Christians. Rome in the Arabic tongue of the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) refers to the Christians of Europe and their colonies in Shām prior to the conquering of Shām at the hands of the Sahābah. There will be a pause in this war due to a truce or treaty. . Then the Romans will commit treachery by raising the cross and killing a Muslim. This will lead to the continuation of the war between the Muslims and the Romans. They will demand access to those who enslaved some of them or the former captives themselves who accept- ed Islam so as to fight them. This enslavement will have taken place either before the signing of the truce or after the treachery, and Allah knows best. These events all lead up to the final, greatest, and bloodiest battle – al-Malhamah al- Kubrā – between the Muslims and the Romans prior to the appearance of the Dajjāl and the descent of al-Masīh. This battle ends the era of the Roman Christians, as the Muslims will then advance upon Constantinople and thereafter Rome, to conquer the two cities and raise the flag of the Khilāfah over them.”

The fact the Church today preaches peace, tolerance, and commands no armies makes little difference to the Islamic State. They see the Church as a symbol for everything they hate. A paragon of resistance to their reign terror.

The Devil has many faces, and this is the face of ISIS. They target the Catholic Church because the Church is the single pure, Holy and Apostolic institution established by Christ at the end of His earthly ministry.

But the terrorists of the Islamic State do not know what the Devil knows. “The gates of Hell will not prevail against it,” (Matthew 16:18). The Church is assured of victory because she is protected by the promises of Christ.

Many, many people have attempted to destroy the Church. Armies have marched against her, emperors and kings have declared war on her. Her own priests and bishops have sometimes done much to damage her reputation. Yet even after all this, the Church still stands, proud and tall, a mighty rock against the evil of Satan. The Church has no shortage of volunteers to perform its work, giving charitably, healing courageously, and teaching selflessly.

The terrorists of the Islamic State may harm the clergy and members of the Church, but they cannot destroy the Church. We remain steadfast in our faith, no matter what face the Devil wears.

By Marshall Connolly



  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    “”The gates of Hell will not prevail against it,” (Matthew 16:18). The Church is assured of victory because she is protected by the promises of Christ.”
    So what’s the problem? If victory is preordained, then why not just chill out and let the Muslim advance continue? If Christians really believe in this pre-ordained victory, they should have no concern regarding Islam, but they are concerned, aren’t they? As the article states, the Vatican no longer has its own army, and the countries that have armies sufficient to combat Islamic extremism are becoming ever less religious. Maybe the solution is to back out of the region and let Muslims kill each other till they tire of it as Christianity did after centuries of doing the same. I sure as heck don’t want to send our kids off to kill Muslims in the name of any Abrahamic god. The Vatican is rich – let it raise its own army since it believes victory is pre-ordained.
    The only long term solution is to do away with the Abrahamic religions. They are inherently violent, as their entire history illustrates. All are based on events that did not happen – the foundation for the Abrahamic religions has washed out. There was no six day creation, no global flood, no mass Exodus from Egypt, and no conquest of Canaan, and it is upon these events that Yahweh was contrived. It’s insane for humans to continue killing each other over mythical figures. The solution seems to come down to: Religion OR Peace.

    1. Tomes Lore Reply

      well, you should read bible stories and please omit the ‘God words and deed’ in the stories, so you will clearly see that without religion, there were also no peace.
      Please read the story of Three Kingdoms, the classic of Chinesse, the warring states were not about religion. In India, you will find classic story of Mahabharat, the war between families from single line. Also not about religion.
      Vietnam war (1955-1975) wasn”t about religions also.
      Human history were full of violents. Judeo-Christian recorded it the way as it is. Even your own comment were full of hatred and violents. You are far from the peace itself.

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        Tomes, I agree that men go to war over other things besides religion, but it’s undeniable that humans have been killing each other over imaginary invisible beings that live in the sky for thousands and thousands of years. Removing religion just removes one of the things that we have to kill each other over.
        Why can’t the Vietnam war be seen as a quasi-religious war? You have Christians invading Buddhists, even though the war wasn’t specifically about religion, how much easier is it to kill an enemy when they don’t believe in the same god you do? I think it was this realization that finally got Europeans to stop killing each other over god, and once they did that, the killing pretty much stopped altogether.
        My comments were full of hatred and violence? In what way? I suggested that we “chill out” and let your god handle it, since He’s already decided who will win.

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        The question isn’t why am I angry. The question is – why isn’t everyone angry that religion continues to be a, or the, leading force for warfare. How long are we going to put up with this as a human race? The author gave a fairly honest rendition of the problem. Christians invaded, then Muslims invaded, then Christians took over, and now its the Muslim’s turn again. How long do we let this go on, given that all of this killing is over a being (the Abrahamic god) whose very foundation has washed away? The only good thing about religious war is eliminating violent religionists from the gene pool when they kill each other. Unfortunately a lot of innocents always seem to get caught up in the bloodshed.

      2. Barbara adams Reply

        The sooner people believe that Jesus came to save us the better and that. IS is The face of the devi. And that the devil has many faces who is trying to distroy Christianity but it will fail

    2. Ronnie Buda (@rsjb63) Reply

      Patrick Gannon: Over the course of Christianity (2,000 yrs), 2.65 million murdered in the name of Christianity while 305 million killed in the name of atheism, communism, nationalistic socialism, within the last century alone. I chose religion.

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        Nice numbers – but nobody was killed “in the name of atheism.” People were killed over ideologies that closely resembled religions, but I don’t know of any war that was ever fought “in the name of atheism.” Even Hitler was a Catholic who never disavowed his religion. Who in their right mind is going to go and die in the “name of atheism?” That’s ludicrous.
        How many deaths are Christians responsible for in new worlds, like America, where some 100 million natives – worse than the holocaust – were killed by Christians from Europe?

    3. phaenius Reply

      The term PREVAIL does not mean like the church is in a fort and resists the onslaughts of armies in some sort of siege. It is quite the reverse, but I have to take it according to the Bible and not Catholic dogma. Every assembly or congregation of a true church is a complete body of Christ as hinted in Matthew 18 where according to the law of two or three witnesses that establishes a matter as first spoken of in the Torah of Moses (churches made up of people must have at least TWO or THREE MEMBERS to be a testimony to the world) if two or three persecuted immersed Christians gather in a safe place, they then assemble themselves as a congregation, and if so, there is where Christ is as head. When the Jerusalem church (only time the church was ONE of all the believers) was persecuted and split by that persecution, the members fled in all directions and suddenly there were CHURCHES, and this is how it has been since. Every church then lies in ambushment against any local gate of hell and then the CHURCH is advancing, spiritually, against the powers holding the elect captive behind those gates of hell (their destination if they do not have Christ), and passing through such gates, they rescue the souls by the gospel.

      The Bible specifically says Christianity will not be advanced by the sword, and it never has (though things called churches have done so), for it is governments that are ordained by God to protect the righteous by being the secular sword or management of the force of the community, or basically all of us who can hold weapons.

      2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (KJV)

      3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
      4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
      5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
      6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

      Our weapon is the persuasion of the Gospel where God actually does the drawing of folk to Christ, not our holding some weapon of iron against their backsides pushing them to the alter. It is why the Baptist Pastor named Leonard Busher pleaded with King James in his RELIGIOUS FREEDOM or the Liberty of Conscience in 1615 to consider not persecuting Christians not named as some established religion like the Anglican or in Europe the Catholics. He even, when you consider words, pled for in the first time in the English language in a publication for a FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, and ironically EVEN FOR THE PAPISTS, credible as long as they use the BIBLE not their traditions for arguments of things that Christians must do.

      Too bad you have no cotton picking understanding of SCIENCE (or Sciencia in Latin for KNOWLEDGE ad GNOSIS is the Greek for KNOWLEDGE). The Scientific method is based upon this law of two or three witnesses that establishes a matter concerning how rigorous the Bible writers dealt with eyewitness testimony which is a major part of the Christian derived SCIENTIFIC METHOD, though a search for knowledge is an ancient art. This scientific method was the basis for the chemistry, biology, physics which for the most part were developed by Christians to give the ancient search for knowledge some credibility, at least for things that could be SEEN, or OBSERVED by multiple witnesses if the event is singularly unique. Origins are completely out of the question for the scientific methodology since such cannot be seen. Now while I am not a Catholic, and my sect has been under persecution by the Catholics in times past, at least I appreciate these Scientists who were many times of the Catholic faith, as I am of those who stopped the advance of Islam into Europe. I even appreciate the modern American Catholics who tasted in America, even amid some local persecutions of protestants here who had reason to worry about them in Europe, this liberty of conscience which they embraced and considering Rhode Island being Baptist, by taking in the persecuted of Catholic faith and of some others, the Catholics prospered so much it is now two thirds Catholic and the Baptist sought haven in the Heaven of Texas, which in a way is a better place. I even wanted CATHOLIC and BLACK Alan Keyes for my president over my hometown Midland, Texas homie, Georgie W. Bush, a while ago, because he KNEW and took on our founders concepts and willed to reinstate them were he able to.

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        “The Bible specifically says Christianity will not be advanced by the sword, and it never has (though things called churches have done so), for it is governments that are ordained by God to protect the righteous by being the secular sword or management of the force of the community, or basically all of us who can hold weapons.”

        So Christianity is not to be spread by the sword, however Yahweh puts governments in charge who permit, indeed require that all who can hold weapons, spread Christianity by the sword (as “protecting the righteous” always involves killing those who aren’t among that group). In this way, Christians can pretend to be innocent because Yahweh put governments in charge who made them do it. I think that’s your argument. It’s Yahweh’s fault that terrorists hate the Catholic Church. OK, I can buy that.

        Basically you’ve agreed with me. Christianity under Yahweh’s direction, indirectly using governments, has been spread by the sword, and in this case Islamic terrorists (remember in their minds, they are the righteous ones), resent it. We can have religion or we can have peace, but we can’t have both as long as all of them must be wrong except the one we belong to.

        1. phaenius Reply

          You have always a mixed group in the community, including the likes of you, Mr. Gannon, who have as much power of communication in a notion founded upon the concept of Liberty of Conscience and the freedom of the press, BOTH CONCEPTS being a Biblically derived principle, that can sway even the best of political experiments such as ours, and with more vigor, because what we basically are concerning some morality is offensive to the evil of this world. Our words, are powerful too, but only when the JHVH behind them direct them to the hearts, to the minds that are only truthful to themselves in the dark of night hidden in their closets, like yours is when not provoked to justify your lack.

          I am not Catholic, they were a political foe in Europe, and a persecutor of the likes of me, and, yet, in America until they can be enlightened fully, about the JHVH/JESUS of our common archive of testimony we call the Bible, were they to give credence ONLY to that source, those willing to embrace and defend this concept of Liberty of Conscience, can agree with us to defend against others who come after us with a sword (and all that which this metaphor suggests).

          But even these governments can go off course when the righteous are not truly guiding them, like in our past hundred and so years where politics seems too dirty for the lazy Christian to be involved in. I am not too sure we are fighting anyone BECAUSE they are a threat to the safety of the righteous American, because there are other interests, largely directed by people similar in disbelief as you, or even those dark lords YOU despise as well, since Satan apparently is not truly affectionate to any of humanity.

          The current wordspeak seems to be to spread Democracy, as substitute for the type of Constitutional Republic we originally are represented by, to the world that cannot even be prepared for it unless the majority is of the type of faith, generally more Protestant, than even we are today. Democracy is worthless to LIBERTY when the people in choosing their form of government is of a mind to choose the anti-freedom concept of Islam or socialism or even any OTHER world view out there that is controlled by the dark side. I make no apology that I am biased toward that which REALLY allows us more Liberty and is truly affectionate to the survival of innocent life, even if I have to share it with non-believers who just happens to enjoy not being trident poked concerning every aspect of life. There ARE those seemed oppressed when in the evil of their heart they actually seek contradictory virtues to Liberty such as that of the LICENSE John Locke, who himself was but a near Christian, speaks of that is deleterious to innocent life, to be offended by, just for the thrill of being contrarian. You speak of the “all of them must be wrong except the one we belong to.” Our Biblically derived Liberty of Conscience actually allows us to live among those unbelievers who do not want draconian government interfering with their lives. This effort of the likes of us is the best we can do to live up to Paul’s admonition:

          Romans 12:18-21 (KJV)
          18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
          19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
          20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
          21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

          This is the society that individuals of the likes of us hope to work in, to allow the unbeliever a bit of space to make his decisions, mainly because we all go through that stage before God reveals to the elect of us that we are objects of His mercy, and if you just take it on the basis of self preservation, we would hate to be wounded coming into the community of the righteous. When we are not forced to duck for incoming, we advance Christianity without use of the sword. But INCOMING does happen, even in our society, and the government is that which deals with those who despise innocent life who live in the world of LICENSE, I guess the keyword is when it comes to protecting INNOCENT LIFE, not morals, we resort to weapons. It is the same with our reaction to the world outside our national borders. If those come to take our innocent lives, deprive us of Liberty once we have been made free within our border, or property that maintains our innocent lives, Saint and sinner of us in America are obligated to protect this Liberty.

          There IS NOT GOING to be peace. We have no hope in our current age this side of what we call the rapture to have a Theocracy that folk claim we are trying to have in America, mainly because a true Theocracy would have God directly and visibly leading us with prophets and such. That will come, but not through our efforts and even that of a very pristine CHRISTIAN America, because the Camelot concept of AMERICA is our best efforts toward peace or to live PEACEABLY with all, with the caveats of IF IT BE POSSIBLE and AS MUCH AS LIETH IN YOU (or us of the righteous).

          If America is using a sword right now against others, it is NOT us the leaders of Christianity guiding it unless against those who in spite of our patience insists on destroying us. The communists were such, and now it seems this Islam renewal, but while we do not desire it, we are not too surprised because even our Bible talks of turmoil, but since America is Christianity’s BEST effort to date, I am not willing to give it up, because out there, there is NO refuge for the likes of me.

          If you are agreeing that darkness hates light. I can live with that. If you are hinting if we get RID of the light, there will be peace, there is that parting of ways. Yep, its ALL OF THEM against us. YEP, if it means that by believing Jesus when He says, “I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE, and NO MAN COMETH UNTO THE FATHER BUT BY ME, is bigotry, then when you paint that b on my back, make it a capital B. But I am not going to come after you with a sword to change your mind, but you are not going to stop me telling this truth as found in our Bible. I was made FREE and I am going to USE it to remain free.

          1. Patrick Gannon

            You’re not a Catholic, and the original post is about why terrorists hate Catholics, and I’m not sure where you’;re going with your posts that seem to have little or nothing to do with this subject.
            As best I can tell, you are a fundamentalist evangelical, and I would love to watch you debate Catholics, rather than me. I already have a deal with a fundy friend that I can come and get all their stuff after they get raptured. (In my mind, the rapture is a big UFO going by that stops for an interstellar lunch treat).
            George Bush was one of you, and he had no problems wielding a sword, but for some reason the Catholics think the terrorists are mad at them instead of the fundamentalists like him who sent our kids to get blown up over there for no good reason.

          2. phaenius

            I appreciated the Catholics when we Baptists and photo-Baptists were too weak to defend ourselves against the Islamic onslaughts, as I appreciate Jefferson, whom my Baptist spiritual forefathers, supported because he tried to help us as well in a political sense. If I had my druthers, I would have had CATHOLIC and BLACK Alan Keyes for my president over my GEORGIE W. BUSH fellow Midland, Texas homeowner homey. The Catholic somewhat hesitant response to Islamic adventurism was basically that A RESPONSE whether or not they included incentives that were not so always that of self preservation.

            My original discussion or entrance into this was to correct a theological concept concerning the word PREVAIL. That was an offensive term weather than defensive in nature. In the spiritual front where we can spiritually confront the Gates of Hell in reference to people’s souls, the church’s position is to besiege those things that cause folk to be trapped in error, by the powerful words as found in the Corinthian statement of Paul concerning our warfare.

          3. Patrick Gannon

            The word “prevail” simply means: prove more powerful than opposing forces; be victorious. I’ve read the bible a few times and that is the sense in which the word is used most of the time. Occasionally it means, ‘to be widespread in a particular area at a particular time; be current, as in,”an atmosphere of crisis prevails” and it can also mean to persuade (someone) to do something. In the quoted passage, some versions translate it as ‘the gates of Hell (Hades in this case), will not overcome it.’ That makes the Church out to be a fortress as far as I’m concerned – a fortress from which to launch attacks on others who happen not to believe the same things.

          4. phaenius

            On this one thing I am actually having a hard time to NOT agree with what you are saying, and how the English of this is used. I AM saying that the church or rather a local, visible assembly, in that there is no such thing as ONE UNIVERSAL INVISIBLE or even VISIBLE ASSEMBLY, for an assembly may be as small as two or three, is in fact ON THE MARCH AGAINST in a manner of warfare that it can only be capable of, basically, in testifying the gospel to every part of the world that every true assembly of Christ has launched itself at. Am I not ALMOST saying what you are referring to? “from which to launch attacks on others who happen not to believe the same things.” The assembly is founded upon the WORDS of the saying,

            Matthew 16:16 (KJV)
            16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

            This is the portable tool AGAINST the things of Satan, including his “gates of Hell.”

            I don’t doubt that the Gates of Hell are the sally ports of hordes of error laden fiends and that they assault the assembly, but since the words of the Gospel are actually offensive weapons, not defensive, for you remember what I quoted before:

            2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (KJV)

            3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
            4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
            5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
            6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

            So even taking your generalized definition of simply “prove more powerful than opposing forces,” since GATES are fixed places in edifices THAT MAY EXALT ITSELF AGAINST THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, as being FIXED, and a defensive feature, it can only HOLD OUT AGAINST A FORCE and thus prove superior, OR SUPERIOR forces moving against the GATE prove more powerful and the edifice is breached…check mate.

            Apparently the Gate has no future it will simply NOT HOLD OUT (prevail or prove more powerful) than the OFFENSIVE TOOL of the established truth that JESUS is the CHRIST, the SON OF THE LIVING GOD” that DOES PREVAIL.

            The law of two or three witnesses defines in application the church as seen in Matthew 18:

            Matthew 18:16-20 (KJV)

            16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESS EVERY WORD BE ESTABLISHED
            17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
            18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
            19 Again I say unto you, That if TWO of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
            20 For where TWO OR THREE ARE GATHERED TOGETHER IN MY NAME, there am I in the midst of them.

            Gathering together is synonymous to BEING ASSEMBLED in a church (assembly) sense.

            One person is NOT a church and alone may not be able to prevail against another or hold out against ONE who might be superior in power to him. But we have this type of proverb or preaching point in the Bible concerning an application of the Torah law of two or three witnesses that Moses introduced concerning judgments, as paraphrased “in the mouth of ONE WITNESS shall NO man be put to death, but in the mouth of WITNESSES, TWO OR THREE, shall a matter be established:”

            Ecclesiastes 4:12 (KJV)
            12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

            Here we have your case of one trying to hold out against another though more powerful ONE. When the besieged calls 911 and a knight in shining honor comes to assist, then there is more power than any ONE, and where the ONE once PREVAILED in his assault, the TWO withstand the assault, and there is this added commentary that ties this as an application of the law of two or three witnesses that establishes a matter, “a THREEfold cord is NOT QUICKLY BROKEN.

            But again, the GATE is a fixed feature with only the ability to hold off a breach or in case of superior power is indeed breached. So Jesus says the church in its assault on that local gate of Hell the church is located in ambusheshment before (two or three gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them) and in application of the gospel (since no WEAPON of steel can be used) the fixed gate is breached and thus cannot prevail (or prove more powerful than) the assault.

            Of course these are tedious things that can be determined in an archive of testimony you are not willing to have any confidence in, but I won’t fault you in participating in the discussion, and while the lesson may not fall on you, others may be comforted. I do know that the elect of God are unknown and are found just about anywhere, and when such words are placed in their ears, GOD will do that which is necessary to bring them out of the chains of the enemy and retrieve them through the failed gates of Hell they would have otherwise have been confined behind. And that is the actual thrust of Jesus’ message, not that we go out of our way and kill unbelievers…this is GOD’S bailiwick. We were ALL unbelievers at one time. Since we do NOT know who are the elect, we broadcast to ALL our unconditional love if we are able, and if we have to duck, we have government that tries to protect us in our liberty to persuade people that we are unable to compel to obedience to the word by some sword. There is a bit of reason here.

    4. Patrick Cannon Reply

      Patrick Gannon, You are the King of Hatred.

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        Wow – our names are that similar?
        Who is it, exactly that you think I hate? I certainly don’t hate my fellow humans enough that I would ever want to see any one of them, for any reason whatsoever, to suffer eternal punishment in hellfire – as does your god, if he is as your Church says he is. To send a mere mortal human who lives but a handful of decades to billions and trillions of eternal years of torment simply for failing to believe, say or do the right things as dictated by an Iron Age church, is about as hateful a thing as anyone could possibly imagine.

        I hate the unnecessary shame, guilt and fear that the RCC inflicts on people for its own selfish purposes. Jesus, if he existed, always railed against the clergy, and if he was here today, he’d surely be railing away at your disordered Church.

  2. jaimcito Reply

    Yawn. He knows. He likes to stir the pot after he reads all the articles and wants to believe but…..well, you know the tired dissertations.

  3. Gallibus Reply

    Who is this wanna-be oracle? He sounds like he believes he created himself. Perhaps this is just his delusion characterizing this time in his life. Hopefully, he will pass on to allow wisdom to penetrate past this view of himself as the be-all and center of the Universe.

  4. Wanjala Reply

    War is an interest of very few individuals, worriers actually pay the prize of what they really dont understand and at no point they realize the benefit of the same war their are in.

  5. Leo Apolinar Escarpe Reply

    Patrick Gannon did you not noticed the way express your thoughts seems you became another face of the devil.?

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      What devil? Prove to me that the devil exists; and then prove to me that the devil is more evil than Yahweh. In the bible, Yahweh kills millions of people, most of whom are innocent. Satan kills Job’s family with Yahweh’s permission as part of a bet (if indeed Satan does the killing – the text is unclear). It’s much safer to be a human in the company of Satan than in the company of a genocidal Yahweh. Keep in mind as well that Satan told the truth and Yahweh lied when he told the kids that on the day they ate of the fruit of good and evil they would die.

      In some early texts – mostly gnostic – that did not make the bible for obvious reasons, Yahweh is the bad guy and Jesus is to fight him in the firmament in order to save us from Him. It is likely out of these myths that Paul came up with his celestial demigod, whom the author of Mark later turned into a real person.
      But of course we have absolutely no objective evidence that either of these imaginary beings (Yahweh and Satan) actually exists; and living our lives as though they do is a type of insanity.

      1. phaenius Reply

        While we are not in the age to produce “evidence” such as special miracles or healing or demand appearances or apparitions (I have no confidence in the charismatic movement saying things contrary to what the Bible indicates and that only the practice of agape or unconditional love sometimes translated charity being the only credibility giving gifts left the church age saints) we do have the imaginations of men using cosmic big bang ideas that seem to mirror the celestial big bang theory of the Lucifer or Satan or Devil of the Bible as the reason for the doubt of Lucifer as to the real nature of JHVH GODS (or Elohim plural of God in a sense of the trinity). I could see Lucifer becoming self aware after his creation and on his left hand he sees a more powerful spiritual being and on his right the lessor angels STILL in the confusion of their being aware. Noticing that Lucifer himself was faster at this self awareness than those lower glories of his fellow angels, he would suspect later that the greater glory of God might have allowed Him to be faster in self awareness than Lucifer’s lower glory and thought as his DEFECT God speaks of that the “God” glory might have ALSO been created in this Celestial Big bang (theory) and in taking advantage of it insisted He was actually the CREATOR so as to gain ascendency over the lesser glories such as Lucifer and his comrades. Noticing in the creation that there would be HUMAN spirits of the likes of the Angels as spirits, continuing to appear, Lucifer conceited that by gathering those spirits to him along with the third he was able to deceive of the angels, he would be able to rise above the greater glory of God Himself. His disrespect (outside of his respect of the power of the greater glory) of the claims of JHVH is why he attacked the GOD of THE GODS (elohim or trinity) called JESUS having a newly acquired human body in seeing if He could draw even THAT portion of the GODS (ELOHIM or trinity) to himself.

        God created man as a mirror of himself, and as a Creator, we have also, though tainted in our fall to have KNOWLEDGE of good and evil, derive our OWN creations in our mind (science fiction) of how OUR creation would be if WE were indeed creators, and this BIG BANG of the things called scientists today to derive an origin of the Universe sans an idea of a personal CREATOR, is but a mirror of LUCIFER’S imagination of a Celestial Big Bang, when God said

        Ezekiel 28:14-15 (KJV)
        14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
        15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

        God was talking through the King of Tyros to Lucifer as Jesus talked through Peter to Satan.

        So while we do not have direct evidence, we do have hints on how this Lucifer, Satan, Devil, who had close access to God as to have been one of the Angels that covereth, to have doubted even JHVH that he was his creator, by the imaginations of men like yourself who do not desire to have God reign over you.

        1. Patrick Gannon Reply

          I’m sorry, but I read this through a couple times, and it’s incoherent to me. We don’t have direct (objective, empirical) evidence for any gods or afterlives, and that’s all there is to it. If such evidence existed, there would be no need to debate it.
          You may be interested in reading a collection of ancient texts written prior to and slightly after the time of Jesus’ supposed ministry. “The Other Bible” includes early texts, some Christian, in which Yahweh is your Lucifer. He is a secondary god to the God of Light and Jesus role is to save us from him – in a sacrifice above the firmament. Also, I would have to go seek out sources again, but there was more than one God originally. Yahweh was the god of war, and married to Asherah, and the Jews were told to worship no gods before him – not that other gods didn’t exist. In time, Yahweh became the only god as the bible was edited, redacted and added to.

          1. phaenius

            Perhaps the gist of what I was saying is that the creations of mens minds concerning a physical celestial big bang to get around a concept of a Personal God creating all of this, might mirror, from hints given in the Bible, the source of the great “iniquity” that was found in the deceiver of our human race. Since this hint is found in the Hebrew Bible, I am not going to be too interested in so called other CHRISTIAN texts that make JHVH the Lucifer. I will admit it here in concert with the sentiment of Jesus in those Christian texts I accept, that the Hebrew Bible is not to be contradicted (I am not saying that JUDAISM as we see it in its forms today, is not to be contradicted, but that of the original Hebrew RELIGION).

            The Jews had a faith in JHVH, and the Christians have a faith in JHVH.

            The Jews had a RELIGION based on the faith in JHVH, and the Christians have a RELIGION based on the faith in JHVH.

            The Hebrew Bible deals primarily with the RELIGION in reference to the Jews, and the Christian scriptures deals primarily with the FAITH, and this is the difference, not that we actually have two different world views.

            The Hebrew Bible tends to make secondarily the FAITH, and the Christian literature makes secondarily the RELIGION.

            The confusion in the Christian world is when the Catholics and other sects try to make primary the RELIGION.

            Now RELIGION is things that we mainly DO (and governments are dealing with things we DO), and HERE is where things go a bit screwy in that the things that must be DONE BY RELIGION were seen by some, actually one I can’t remember the name of on the tip of my 70 year old tongue, more conveniently done by the SWORD OF THE GOVERNMENT since it might have been thought they were more experienced in compelling folk by that tool. When Catholics gave that up, and we provided in America a haven for those Catholics willing to follow the admonition of Paul in Romans 12:18, even in our messy American History of its founding, we lived in a modicum of peace, at least amongst ourselves. This is the best we could hope for, and why in spite of the messiness we feel we have a society with the most Liberty that can be expected, one that merits our best to continue.

            As far as the the Asherah is concerned, the Hebrews were never the greatest in wanting to follow the one ELOHIM (a plurality that indicates the trinity in the Hebrew scriptures when applied to JHVH) and were continually taking up this or that other deity and attributing to that the main attributes God exhibited on the Mountain during the Exodus. HECK, even while at the base of the mount, they were doing that, by attributing to a calf those attributes of the JHVH who was leading them out of Egypt:

            Exodus 32:1-4 (KJV)
            1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
            2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
            3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
            4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

            If this is the attitude of the Hebrews when they were in the presence of JHVH they were not allowed to look upon, I would not be surprised that we find evidence of all sorts of things associated with JHVH. If you notice it was this one calf they were calling ELOHIM or plurality…but in their minds they would notice something missing, and every great god in their experience had a consort thus an Asherah, and remember when the kingdom split, and the Jews kept their temple and thus a hidden Deity, the northern kingdom took the same RELIGION but dedicated IT to some calves as well. Your concept of redaction and such is based on an already debunked theory in Bible criticism, and advanced by those that seem to actually have a hatred toward that Bible. As for “told not to worship no gods before him.” Moses admitted already these be the gods in the land in the imaginations of the people of the land they were going to dispossess…not that they had any reality in the spiritual world JHVH exists in.

  6. Fernando Mancheno Reply

    God is with us, and we will follow the one and only church, god bless everyone and bring peace among Men.

    1. Marc Solomon Reply

      Patrick Gannon is far from a hateful man and has been blessed with critical thinking skills. The problem with criticizing the Living God is that we are human beings with extremely limited understanding concerning all subjects but most especially theology. If God exists, then he created the universe and reality. If God exists, then he is infinite truth and knows everything for all is then dependent on the Creator for being. If God exists, then he surely loves us because we reflect the love of our Father for each other. If God is love, then he must create us with free will since love is never forced. If God exists, then life has purpose and meaning and death is only the beginning of a blissful life with our God. If God does not exist, then everything is random and their is no such thing as truth, love, or meaning since everything is random.

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        Marc, thank you for your kind remark, however I must comment further:
        “The problem with criticizing the Living God is that we are human beings with extremely limited understanding concerning all subjects but most especially theology”
        We do not have limited understanding concerning ALL subjects. On some subjects, such as the standard model or core theory of physics, we have an outstanding and amazing understanding of how the particles that make up our natural world (actually vibrations in quantum fields) operate. This understanding leaves no room for magic, however. We know beyond any reasonable doubt that if there were forces such as souls, gods, consciousness, devils, etc. that had any effect whatsoever on the particles that make up everything we know, that we would know about it by now. Magic is not required to explain anything that happens to us in our piece of the universe. Of course there can be no final understanding of theology, because theology is concerned with something for which there is absolutely no compelling, objective evidence to begin with. If there was, we wouldn’t need theology. We’d know, and there would be no need for faith (pretending to know things you don’t know), or belief.
        ” If God exists, then he created the universe and reality.”
        Not necessarily. It could well be that the universe has always existed – not in its current form, but it may have always existed. We don’t know. This is a “god of the gaps” argument, that says, if we don’t understand something yet, god must have done it. Again and again and again, this has been proven wrong, and that which is attributed to god has steadily deteriorated over the last couple centuries, till little is left.
        “If God exists, then he is infinite truth and knows everything for all is then dependent on the Creator for being”
        You sure couldn’t prove this by reading the bible. Yahweh apparently didn’t know that all mankind was going to turn bad, so that he would have to cruelly drown them all. He also didn’t know that his story would be debunked in the future, as we discovered that there was no six day creation, no two-person DNA bottleneck, no global flood, no mass Exodus from Egypt and no conquest of Canaan. Given that these things didn’t happen, one would think that a god who knows everything would have inspired his book writer to get at least a few of the facts right. As to whether life depends on a creator – it’s just a matter of time till we discover how life started. We know how it evolved, once it did start, and we’re closing in on how the first replication took place – thus creating the “process” of life.
        “If God exists, then he surely loves us because we reflect the love of our Father for each other.”
        What parent among us has to command that our children love us? Yahweh-Jesus is so awful, that he has to command that his sheeple love him. Is it love to kill 70,000 innocent people because King Dave took a census? Is it love to command that the Israeli soldiers kill every man, woman, child and beast, but to take the young virgin girls as spoils of war? Is it love to kill the innocent first-born of Egypt, after hardening the heart of its leader? Is it love to command that brother should kill brother because the man that Yahweh is going to select as the chief priest (Aaron) made a pagan, golden calf to worship? Is that love? Is it love to condemn a mere human, who lives but a handful of decades to millions and billions and trillions of endless years of torture? How could that unbelievable evil – the most evil concept ever developed – ever be described as love? Do you know what happened before Jesus came? Prior to Jesus, everyone, good and bad alike went to Sheol. Many Jews believed you were simply dead there forever. It was not a place of punishment, you were just dead. Other Jews believed at the end of time that you would be wakened and judged. The good would be rewarded with a new garden paradise. The bad would simply be destroyed. It wasn’t until the “good news” of Jesus that the rules change. Now we are judged the instant we die, and if we believed, said and did with the robed, celibate virgins insisted upon, then we get to eventually go to heaven and turn into zombies. If we did not believe and do the right things – even through no fault of our own, such as accident of birth – then we are to be tortured for all of eternity, instead of simply being destroyed. How, pray tell me, has our condition improved?
        “If God is love, then he must create us with free will since love is never forced”
        The concept of free will is a sticky one. There is precious little free will in the bible. The Calvinists know this. The bible repeatedly describes Yahweh as pulling strings, directing the action, causing the Pharaoh to harden his heart, etc. Even Paul speaks of those who are predestined. Neurologists tell us there is good reason to question whether free will is actually an illusion. If “love is never forced,” then why is it “commanded”? If I don’t believe and love Jesus, I’m going to Hell, right? That sure sounds like force to me. It sounds just like extortion. When a goon walks into your store and demands half your proceeds or he breaks your kneecaps with a baseball bat, do you have “free will” or are you being extorted, i.e. “forced” to comply? We are extorted in the cruelest of fashions. If we don’t believe, say and do what a bunch of disordered, celibate, virgins dressed in robes command, then we are going to suffer eternal torment. That’s out and out extortion, of the most amazingly evil sort possible.
        ” If God exists, then life has purpose and meaning and death is only the beginning of a blissful life with our God”
        Life can have purpose, with or without god. We give our own lives purpose when we love our kids, work at our jobs, improve our neighborhood, contribute to the poor, etc. God is not necessary to give our lives purpose. And what of this “blissful” life with our god? What is attractive about that? Do you understand that this means you will be a zombie? The prayer says, “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” That means Yahweh-Jesus’ will, not ours. We will have no free will in heaven. Imagine if you did. Imagine that you went to heaven and you knew that billions of people were being viciously tortured for all of eternity, perhaps including family members or friends, and there wasn’t a thing you could do about it. What kind of heaven would that be? How could you possibly be happy if you were any sort of decent human? Remember that the Church opposes abortion because it sends souls to Hell since they committed the heinous crime of dying before being baptized. Think of all the babies in Hell. Contraception would reduce those numbers, but the Church is so disordered, and maniacally obsessed with sex, that it would prefer to send those souls to Hell than to let people use contraception to prevent that in the first place. How can that not be evil? You would have to be turned into a drugged-out zombie in order to be happy, and that is not who you are now. I think of the zombie I will be turned into, and I say, “who cares?” It won’t be “me.” It won’t be the self-aware consciousness that I define as myself, once I’m turned into a zombie, so why should I care? There will be nothing else to learn, to discover, to experience, other than zombie bliss, and after a few million years, even that will surely be boring.
        “If God does not exist, then everything is random and their (sic) is no such thing as truth, love, or meaning since everything is random.”
        You haven’t thought this through. Suppose you loved a woman, loved her with all your heart for many years, and then you discovered that there was no God. Maybe aliens come and show us how they faked the whole thing, or some scientific research confirms beyond any doubt (we’re actually there), that there is no god, and it convinces you. Does that mean you did not have real love for the woman? Does that mean your love was not real, not valid, just make-believe? I think you will agree that your love was still true and good and valuable and gods had nothing to do with it. Our relationships with each other are what matter; that is what gives our lives purpose and meaning. And how much happier we can be, as I’m here to attest, when we realize that there is no need to fear an imaginary, invisible being that lives in the sky who delights in sending mere mortals to eternal torment in Hell. But which Hell? The Church translated four words in the bible to the pagan word “Hell.” I mentioned Sheol, which is found in the Old Testament – it was not a place of punishment. Jesus referred to Gehenna, eleven times – this was the Jerusalem town dump. Obviously he was speaking metaphorically since for Jews of the time, to be thrown in the dump, rather than afforded a decent burial, was the ultimate final insult. The dump closed a long time ago. Hades is the next Hell, and it’s purely pagan, given that Hades, god of the underworld is brother to Zeus and Poseidon. If Hades is real, so are they. You’ve got pure paganism, right there in the New Testament. Finally, there’s Tartarus, the bottom layer of Hades, where Satan and his demons are supposed to end up. What we think of as Hell, comes from Dante’s “Inferno,” Milton’s “Lost Paradise” and a thousand medieval paintings of people being burned alive in the flames of Hell. It’s all made up. Please fact-check me on these four Hell’s, so you can see for yourself, what the Church never told us.

        1. Marc Solomon Reply

          Hi Patrick, you certainly have some well thought out arguments to justify your form of atheism. First of all, the reality of death as an apparent contradiction to the beauty and goodness we experience during life is something no scientist can explain. If death is the final end to a human being’s consciousness then all the choices and experiences of life have no ultimate purpose since a person ceases to know and exist. If you don’t agree with this then it’s useless to continue this conversation because you are not using reason. Since life does have goodness and beauty and love then there must be an ultimate, transcendent source for this who will give us an eternal life of happiness that can never get boring since God is infinite goodness and love. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is historical because 500 people saw him at one time after he was crucified, demonstrates that we will not be raised as zombies but be glorified like Christ with the ability to go anywhere in the universe at the speed of thought. This is in no way existing as a zombie with a boring life on a cloud. What will truly be amazing is seeing God who is infinite beauty and knowing absolute love forever. Hell exists because Satan has made it for himself, the other fallen angels and all foolish humans who choose death rather than the God of life. God gives free will because he cannot force us to love and he is also just. If there is no God, then there is no final justice. Hitler and Mother Teresa are equal and both receive the exact same thing for all their actions—–death and a rotten corpse. Thanks be to God our Creator who is perfect love and justice, Hitler receives what he earned and so does Saint Teresa of Calcutta. For you to claim that God does love love us is absolute absurdity. God would never allow rebellious, wicked people to dwell with His children who love their Father with gratitude. Choose who you will serve…the Living God or the god of death who is Lucifer, the unrepentant spirit of darkness. Your choice will have ultimate and eternal consequences.

          1. Patrick Gannon

            Marc, what do you mean by my “form of atheism”? How many forms are there? Atheism is simply a lack of belief in personal gods. You are an atheist too. Do you believe in the Muslim god, Norse gods, Greek gods, or the Hindu gods, ? Researchers have identified at least 3000 gods. The difference between us, is that you don’t believe in 2,999 of those gods, and I don’t believe in just one more. You are an atheist too. We are also both agnostics, because we both lack knowledge that any gods exist.
            “If death is the final end to a human being’s consciousness then all the choices and experiences of life have no ultimate purpose since a person ceases to know and exist.” I disagree that they have no ultimate purpose. They have no purpose to the person who has died, but the legacy each of us leaves behind is certainly purposeful. We humans give life purpose through our thoughts, words, actions and most of all, our relationships with each other. To suggest that the choices and experiences of Martin Luther King, for example, had no ultimate purpose is nonsense. Wouldn’t you agree that even if there is no god, that MLK’s contributions had a purpose? If nothing else, our purpose is to support the human genome so that it continues to survive and evolve. The Church is against our survival, however, given it’s push to overpopulate the world through denial of contraception under penalty of eternal torment.
            “Since life does have goodness and beauty and love then there must be an ultimate, transcendent source for this who will give us an eternal life of happiness that can never get boring since God is infinite goodness and love.”
            This is simply wishful thinking. No, it is not necessary that there “must be an ultimate, transcendent source.” That is not at all necessary, given that we can explain our natural world without resorting to such imaginary and magical inventions. The universe does not care a whit about our existence. That we are here, is something to be treasured and appreciated and given purpose through our own actions. A story… this man dies and goes to heaven. He is told by one of the guides that he can have anything he wants in heaven, he just has to imagine it. So the guy, being who he is, conjures up a life of endless voluptuous women to have relationships with. He eats the finest foods and drinks the finest wines. He plays golf all the time and gets so good that he practically gets a hole in one on every shot. After some time, however, he starts to get a little uneasy. He happens to come by the guide and asks, “Is this all there is?” The guide says, “No, you also have the option to simply be destroyed.” “Wow,” the man says. “Does anyone ever choose that?” The guide smiles, “Sooner or later, everyone does.”
            Let’s face it. The bible says next to nothing about heaven, and much about Hell. it is a religion of fear, after all. Early Jews did not expect to go to heaven. At best, they hoped for a restored garden of Eden. Billy Graham once said, that heaven would be like going to Church service forever. OMG what a horror!
            Where are the written accounts from the 500 people who saw Jesus? You know that Paul never mentions anyone having personal contact with Jesus, right? For Paul, these sightings were like his own, they were revelations, visions (delusions). When you do the research you discover that the likelihood there even was a historical Jesus is very low. Read Richard Carrier’s “On the Historicity of Jesus,” and Bart Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?” Both are notable scholars who take different sides. Read both and decide for yourself. If Jesus existed, nobody took note of it. Jesus was completely obscure, if he existed. The son of god walks the earth (and water) turning water into wine (but not lead into gold to feed the poor), and nobody takes notice for decades. How can that be? The first writing was by Paul, more than two decades after his supposed death. Paul knows nothing of a historical Jesus. His Jesus is a celestial demigod. Paul knows nothing of genealogy, virgin birth, family, baptism, disciples, miracles, ministry or sermons. All he knows is the crucifixion and he only knows it through revelation (visions) and scriptures (some of which are not in our current bible). It takes another two decades for Mark to fill in (i.e. invent) all these details, 40 years after Jesus died. How reliable could it be? Anyone who was alive and actively participating with the movement in Jesus’ time would be drooling in their soup by 70 AD, and dead by the time Matthew and Luke embellished Mark, and John reinvented Jesus.
            “Hell exists because Satan has made it for himself.” Can you provide scriptural support for that? Satan “created” Hell? Satan is a Creator?
            Where is it? Which Hell is it? (Sheol, Gehenna, Hades or Tartarus)? Why was there no punishing Hell until after the “good news” of Jesus? Where in the New Testament does it say that when Jesus shut down Sheol, that Satan simultaneously created Hell – and which one? Unless there is scripture I’ve forgotten, you are making things up. If Hell exists, it’s because Yahweh-Jesus created it in order to prove just how evil he could be. And what’s up with Satan and these fallen angels? You tell me how wonderful heaven will be; and how magnificent the glory of god. Apparently Satan and several of his buddies weren’t so convinced. How could this be? If God is love, if everything is wonderful, how could there possibly be discontent, unless Yahweh acts in heaven, the way he acts on earth! (And there are early Christians scriptures that obviously did not get into the canon, that say exactly this! In some of these scriptures, Yahweh is Satan, which given his actions in the bible, is not a difficult conclusion to jump to). [Source: “The Other Bible”]. I want nothing to do with gods who would torture mere humans for all of humanity. It doesn’t get any more evil than that. Remember, in the bible, Yahweh-Jesus kills millions of people, while Satan kills perhaps eight – with Yahweh’s (demented) permission (Job’s family).
            You speak of choosing death. If that’s what it was, that would be just fine. That’s what it was for the Jews. They went to Sheol. They were dead. Now along comes Jesus and takes that away from us. Now we are not allowed to simply die. Now we must go to eternal boredom with a cruel god, or be tortured for all eternity in one of the four Hell’s (which one?). Being dead sounds pretty good by comparison!
            Yes Hitler and Mother Teresa get exactly the same thing – worms eating their corpses. What they also get is the legacy they left behind. Mother Teresa’s legacy is manufactured by the Church. The truth about that woman is very different according to those who have carefully researched her. She took a lot of money intended for poor, dying people and used it to enrich the Church. Even if Hitler was to be punished, a fair, just and proportionate punishment (and proportionate justice is a concept found in the bible), might consist of experiencing what he did to everyone else, but to go on punishing, torturing actually, for billions of years – that’s just evil, and makes a liar of Yahweh, who called for proportionate justice (an eye for an eye). There’s no other word for it. Catholics worship an evil god – or the Church misrepresented its god for its own purposes – to make us terrified of this wrathful monster so that we would do what they told us to do!
            “Your choice will have ultimate and eternal consequences.” I wondered how long it would take. Inevitably Catholics and most other Christians remind me that I’m going to Hell if I don’t believe what they believe. They never tell me what I’m going to miss in heaven; it’s always the threat of Hell and eternal torture. This confirms again and again and again that Christianity and Catholicism, in particular, is a religion of FEAR. What kind of all-powerful god, who presumably can’t be hurt, would be so cruel as to torture mere, puny humans for all eternity? And you worship this miserable god? How can any decent person respect you or anyone else who worships an evil god?
            Remember, the foundation is gone. There was no six day creation, no two-person DNA bottleneck, no global flood, no mass Exodus from Egypt and no conquest of Canaan. We know these things beyond reasonable doubt, and without these pillars, what foundation remains for the Abrahamic gods?

          2. Marc Solomon

            Is the entire Genesis account of our origins literal or metaphorical? The Catholic Church believes much of it is a metaphor. The god you bow down to is your own false idea of reality. God is holy, perfect love and perfect justice, therefore when you blaspheme against him you only show people of faith what God has revealed about those who have no faith. Jesus declares reality, John 3: 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” How convenient for you to completely ignore the fact that God will give us a wondrous existence exploring the universe he created for us. Since the universe is so vast, scientists can’t begin to fathom it intellectually. They don’t even know much about the oceans either, your nature god is quite pathetic compared to your Creator. I was wrong, I don’t think your an atheist at all, in fact you are a polytheist without a doubt. You worship yourself with all the limitations you have and pseudo-science which is not based on the scientific method of observation. Since you worship these false gods then God will give you want you desire forever since he loves you and will never force you to accept the reality he has created. If you do not repent, then you will not be capable of union with the infinite love of God. When you die you will find yourself in the torments of separation from the ONE who is love. All the other suffering will seem like nothing compared to this. God is mercy and so he has sent me to help you realize the truth and he will give you some time to change. Please ask God if he exists to reveal himself to you. I have had many encounters with Divine Love and I hope you will too. I leave you with this quote from Marshall Entrekin, “Imagine a race of aliens living in a nearby solar system who have their own version of Occam’s Razor, and have adopted it as a guiding principle of science. In other words, they believe that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be chosen. One day, an automated probe from their planet lands in a field on Earth to collect soil and mineral samples. In the process, it happens to scoop up a long lost, small white ceramic teacup from a little girl’s toy tea set. Then it returns to the planet from whence it came. After much consideration, the aliens conclude that despite the fact that the teacup bears the semblance of intelligent design, it was most likely formed by the natural erosion of some kind of stone, and not designed by an intelligence, because erosion would be the simplest and least complex explanation.

            Obviously, these aliens have nicked themselves quite badly by shaving with Occam’s Razor. Why?

            Because sometimes the most reasonable explanation is not the simplest. And sometimes the true explanation is more complex than its false alternatives.”

          3. Patrick Gannon

            The Catholic Church does believe most of Genesis is a metaphor, but they continue to speak of it as though it were literally true, and they permit Catholics to believe it literally if they want to. The Church does not care about truth – it cares about belief. A wrong belief is better than no belief, as far as the Church is concerned.
            Seriously, no need to quote the bible to me. I’ve read it several times cover to cover. Have you? You quoted the gospel of John which reinvents Jesus many decades after he (supposedly) lived. It is the least reliable, given that it is the most removed from the events in question, and given that it is so different from the other three. John’s Jesus is completely different. John is interesting in that the author votes against a virgin birth and against the last supper. The author of John probably had Jewish roots, and was appalled at the idea of eating flesh and drinking blood.
            There is no such thing as a nature god, and so what that we still have much to discover. That proves only that we have much yet to discover. It doesn’t in any way prove that some god exists. If your god created this universe for us, why so much waste? A single solar system would have been more than sufficient. Why wait 14 billion years before even creating earth, if he did this all for us? What was he doing? Twiddling his thumbs?
            I completely reject your accusation that I have believe anything based on pseudo-science. As it turns out, I have a pretty good understanding of physics, and I have very good sources. Might I suggest “The Big Picture” by physicist Sean Carroll if you wish to broaden your horizons and maybe peek from behind your blinders at a little bit of reality.
            Thank you once again, for doubling down, as believers always do, with threats of Hell and eternal torment. There is nothing more “Christian” than a believer telling others they will be going to Hell. It makes your faith despicable.
            “God is mercy and so he has sent me to help you realize the truth and he will give you some time to change” Wow! Need a little help with that ego, Marc? My but you have an inflated view of yourself. Aren’t you special? Well guess what? God chose the wrong person if you think you are going to bring me truth. That means your god was wrong. I am perfectly capable of determining the truth by looking at the evidence, or lack thereof. You really are full of yourself, aren’t you? I thought I was arrogant. I can’t hold a candle to you!
            I would suggest that your story is nonsensical. Any alien species able to cross interstellar space to study us will have no problem determining the difference between a manufactured teacup handle and an eroded rock. A careful analysis of the teacup would quickly reveal a manufacturing process.

          4. Marc Solomon

            You wrote, that the story is nonsensical. The fact that you believe that the complexity of the universe, the complexity of the human eye, and the complexity of a human being with the ability to actually understand complexity, is all possible apart from a Creator is totally nonsensical. You missed the point bud. As for your ignorant statement concerning the Gospel of John, perhaps you should read it again. Here is what Jesus teaches about his body and blood in the Gospel: John 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.” 59 This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

            60 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him. 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

            66 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. 67 Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

            May God bless you, I forgive you for hating the Living God, our Father. Jesus said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”

          5. Patrick Gannon

            “Patrick Gannon is far from a hateful man and has been blessed with critical thinking skills.” LOL. That’s where we started and now you are telling me that I hate the Living God. Do you believe unicorns exist? No? Then is it possible to hate them? Do you believe Zeus exists? No? Then is it possible to hate him? Why do Christians always say such silly things? You have to understand that we laugh at you, when you do this. I cannot hate a god that I don’t believe exists, now can I?
            What if you’ve got it wrong? What if god is based on the parable of the Talents. In that story, the participants were given gifts and told to go out and use them. The one who did not use his gifts was punished severely. What if the “gifts” or talents, are logic, reason, critical thinking, and what if your god is going to reward me for using those skills and punish you for burying them in the garden? Wouldn’t a benign god be more impressed with the person who made a serious effort to uncover and understand the truth, than with a sheep who simply believed what he was told and accepted it blindly? I’m going to assume that if there is a god, he’s not an idiot, and take my chances. In any event, if he is indeed evil as the Catholic Church and his holy bible has portrayed him to be, then it’s better to burn in moral superiority.
            Your passage from John (all you need to do is cite the scripture – no need to cut/paste it. I assure you, I’ve read it. If you look at what I said, “John is interesting in that the author votes against a virgin birth and against the last supper. ” Nothing in the passage you quoted says anything about a last supper, does it? Indeed the author of John did understand the problem with telling Jews that they should do something that their religion strictly forbids – consuming blood, or eating human flesh. It’s likely that the author(s) of John were of Jewish descent, and they were stuck with this blasphemous idea that Paul originated (being of Greek background, the idea of eating/drinking blood/flesh was not as foreign), and thus had to try and explain it. The gospel does so, by making it clear that it’s symbolic.
            I’ve asked a few things during this discussion that you’ve ignored.
            – How does something immaterial, like the soul, affect the material in our natural world? What explanation does the Church give for this, and how does it explain the science that tells us that if such magical forces existed, we would know it by now?
            – Have you read the entire bible? You suggest that parts of Genesis are metaphorical. Which parts? Better yet, what parts are real? If it is acknowledged that at least parts of it are fiction, then how are we to trust any of it?
            – Why isn’t it evil for an all-powerful being who presumably can’t be hurt, to send mere humans who live but a few decades, to millions and billions of years of eternal torture, when his own holy book insists on proportionate justice?
            – What is my “form of atheism”? What the heck did that mean, and are you willing to accept the title of atheist yourself, given that we both agree on the non-existence of at least 2,999 gods?
            -Which Hell am I going to for not believing what you believe? Sheol, Gehenna, Hades or Tartarus? Which one? If you look up every single instance of the word “hell” in the bible, it will be a translation from one of those four words. Which one is the one I’m going to?
            -You said Satan created Hell. So Satan is a creator? You didn’t answer my question about why anyone would want to leave Yahweh-Jesus and heaven if it’s so wonderful.
            -Do you agree that we lose free will in heaven? The prayer is specific – “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That’s Yahweh-Jesus’ will, not ours. What is the definition of a zombie, if it’s not a lack of free will? If we have free will, won’t we continue to complain and squabble and fight among ourselves? If I made it to your heaven, I would be raising Cain over all the billions burning in Hell and demanding that Yahweh-Jesus stop being such a monster and free them.
            – Why do Christians, and Catholics in particular never talk to atheists and agnostics about what they will miss in heaven, but instead, always default to telling us how much we will be punished in Hell? Do you have any idea how off-putting that is, and why it chases people away from what appears to us as a hostile, evil religion? If you’re trying to convince someone that you have something to offer them, then to tell them that they are going to Hell if they don’t accept what you are selling, makes you look really sad and pathetic. If you went to buy a car and the salesperson told you that if you didn’t buy the car, you would be lit on fire, what would you think about that?
            -You said that God sent you to save me. How did you receive that message? On your smartphone via text? Why did he pick you? Clearly you’ve failed! I don’t trust Yahweh-Jesus’ choices. He chose Aaron to be the chief cleric for the Jews, after he built a pagan idol to worship! What kind of sense does that make? He chose to impregnate a young maiden without her consent, so that he could be born as himself, in order to sacrifice himself to himself, so that he could relieve us of a condition he placed on us in the first place, and the removal of that condition is based on us believing this fantastic, Rube Goldberg solution!!! What kind of sense does that make? After all, he removed original sin from Mary with a wink and a nod. Do you know the story?
            Mary had to be born without original sin (which couldn’t have happened since there was never a single breeding pair), so that she wouldn’t pass original sin on to Jesus. Sex is how original sin is passed along, which is why the Church is so maniacally obsessive about it. The thing is, back in those days they thought that the woman only carried the man’s seed. Thus Mary being a virgin would prevent her from passing on original sin to Jesus…. but OOPs. In the 1800s we discovered that women provide half the genetic material. Mary’s parents did the naughty sex thing, so they passed original sin on to Mary, so indeed she would have passed it on to Jesus. What to do? What to do? Well the answer was easy. In 1854 the Church arbitrarily and without any scriptural support, decided that Mary had been born free of original sin. Bingo! Problem solved. But wait! If Yahweh-Jesus could remove original sin from Mary with a wink and a nod, why can’t he do that for everyone? Why all the rigmarole of sacrificing himself to himself? What sense does that make? And how can it ever be moral for one person to pay for another person’s crimes?
            Your turn. I’m enjoying the debate. I’d like to see some answers to some of my questions and points though. You guys never do that, though. Once you can’t respond you tell us we’re going to Hell. So, OK. but once again – which one?

          6. Marc Solomon

            Why can’t he remove original sin for everyone? He does through the sacrament of baptism and we call this regeneration of the human person. We become one with Christ and are able to to choose love more easily. However, many Christians choose not to pray or love others and the Spirit of God is hindered from helping us become more like God. The sacrifice of Christ must be interpreted through the reality of sin. If God is infinite holiness, love and goodness then a serious sin offends infinite holiness, love and goodness. This is why perfect justice demands an eternal sentence and only a perfect God-man could fulfill this perfect justice, through the perfect sacrificial love of the cross and save us from eternal damnation. The reason I wrote that you hate God is because I believe you are in denial about Him. I’m sure your intention for spending so much time arguing with the faithful is pure love for us, right? I mean, you want to save us from a happy life of hope and loving each other. Would it not make sense to simply leave us alone if God doe not exist and stop offending us by speaking against the Lord we love so much?

          7. Patrick Gannon

            Yes, but you’ve just hit upon another problem. First, recall that original sin let all sin into the world, according to the myth, so the result of the rigmarole that I described, is that IF we are baptized, we get original sin removed – but that doesn’t stop sin, and we can still be sent to Hell (which one?) for not believing, saying and doing what the robed, celibate virgins tell us to do, right?
            The question was, “Why can’t he remove original sin for everyone?” You said, “He does through the sacrament of baptism..” but clearly not everyone is baptized. He went through all that rigmarole, but only for the 1/3 of the billions on this planet who happened to be born in the right place such that they could be baptized. The rest of them are doomed, right?

            This baptism solution has another huge hole in it. This hole is the reason the Church is against abortion. Aborted, miscarried and stillborns who are not baptized have original sin staining their soul (whatever that is) when they die, and the default destination for them is Hell. In the old days, they had a shot at Limbo, but that was never official dogma, only a hope. Today, the Church still offers a “hope” that their god isn’t a complete monster, but the catechism is clear that salvation comes through baptism. We won’t even touch on the billions of other people who were cursed to grow up in the wrong country with the wrong religion who are also doomed. Yahweh-Jesus is sending completely innocent, unborn or stillborn souls to Hell (which one?). What could be more evil than that? In what sense were they saved by Jesus’ supposed sacrifice? They are not included among the “everyone” are they?
            “If God is infinite holiness, love and goodness then a serious sin offends infinite holiness, love and goodness.”
            So what? Isn’t he all-powerful? How can he be hurt? How can an all-powerful being be ‘offended’ by a mere, puny human? Just how all-powerful is your god if his feelings can be hurt so easily? Would you consider condoning, commanding or committing slavery, sexism, racism, genocide, discrimination against the disabled, murder of innocents, to be sinful? His holy book says this is what Yahweh did. Who is he to talk to us about sin? Isn’t it more likely that we created him in our image, than the other way around?
            “perfect justice demands an eternal sentence.”
            So if your child does something wrong, you should punish them for the rest of their lives? Lock them up in a basement and torture them every day? The bible insists on proportionate justice. Why would God define and insist upon justice as proportionate if that was not perfect justice? The most notable example is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. That is proportionate justice. The book says that the punishment must fit the crime. Jesus even goes out of his way to suggest that instead of an eye for an eye, you should turn the other cheek. His Yahweh personna certainly doesn’t take that piece to heart! And he can’t even be hurt!
            Here you’ve got a mere, puny human who lives but a handful of decades, who somehow offends this all-powerful being who presumably can’t be hurt, and you’re going to torture him for eternity? In what way is that proportionate justice? Why would Yahweh define justice as proportionate, and now you insist that he defies his own ruling, and yet is still somehow good and loving and fair? In what world does that make any logical sense? If your god really tortures mere humans for all eternity, then he’s the most evil thing ever conceived of. What could possibly be worse? Now think about it. If you really believe in a loving (and intelligent) god, isn’t it more likely that it was the men who invented him, the men who translated four words that don’t mean Hell as you understand it, into that pagan word, in order to strike fear in your heart so that you would do what they tell you to do? Isn’t that more likely, than the possibility that the god you worship is the most evil monster imaginable? If you stop and think it through, you’ll come to understand that the Church has us worshipping the most evil god imaginable. I don’t think any gods exist; I don’t know – there’s no evidence for them; but if some god does exist, I’m inclined to think those robed, celibate virgin men lied to us about his character, than I am to think that any god could ever be so evil. In any event, contempt for evil, and not worship of evil, is what is called for.
            ” only a perfect God-man could fulfill this perfect justice, through the perfect sacrificial love of the cross and save us from eternal damnation.”
            So the default is eternal damnation, right? There’s no way around it. Unless we’re baptized, the rigmarole was all for nothing and we’re going to Hell (which one?) Yahweh-Jesus, this all-knowing god, allows us to be born knowing that if we aren’t baptized then we go straight to Hell. Sweet. That’s real love for you. Thus we agree that all the unbaptized aborted, miscarried and stillborns, along with all the unbaptized who were cursed to be born in the wrong country to the wrong religion, all go to one of the four Hells, no matter how innocent they might be. Yeah, that sounds like true unconditional love to me! Come on. He freed Mary from original sin with a wink and a nod. He’s all powerful. Why would you put restrictions on him? Why is there one and only one way – a rube goldberg rigmarole in which to save about 1/3 of us who happen to get baptized and then continue to believe, say and do the right things. That’s the best an all-powerful being can come up with? I am not impressed. I would also never ask someone else to pay the penalty for my crime. that would be immoral.
            Hate is not the same thing as being in denial. As I said, I deny that unicorns exist. I do not hate unicorns. I cannot hate a god that I have no evidence for. I can hold the Church in disdain though.
            I have my reasons for participating here. I am a recovering Catholic, and I seriously wish I had encountered someone like me who made me think about these things when I was much younger. I could have avoided decades of useless and unnecessary fear of an imaginary, invisible being that lives in the sky. I hope to do what I can to end the psychological abuse of children through evil religious indoctrination.
            You suggest that I should just leave you alone. What if this was a forum that promoted the benefits of slavery? Would it be wrong for me to come and question the goals and purpose of that forum? Your god condoned slavery. We had to overcome your god to end it. He is still holding us back. I think many people are smart, and some of them will look up and research some of my points – hoping to prove me wrong – which is fine. Along the way, they may have questions for their priests. “Why did the Church translate four very different words to the pagan word, Hell?” Ask them which one I am going to if I fail to believe what you do. (Actually I know the answer, but I want you to find out yourself).

            I notice you’re still avoiding any of my questions. Answer at least one. Have you read the entire bible cover to cover? If not, why not? If this is the most important document ever written, the book upon which almost all of your faith rests, why on earth wouldn’t you read the whole thing? The Church does not encourage us to read it all – or certainly didn’t when I was younger. They know what’s in it. They know that reading the entire bible creates many new atheists. Read the whole thing and get a better idea of this god you worship. Consider his foundation. The Abrahamic religions rest on a foundation of five pillars. Remove these pillars, and there’s nothing else to really introduce and tell us about Yahweh. The five pillars that have washed out are 1) no six day creation, 2) no two-person DNA bottleneck, 3) no global flood, 4) no mass Exodus from Egypt, and 5) no conquest of Canaan. With all of these pillars having been quite thoroughly debunked, what else does your god rest upon? Keep these pillars in mind as you read through the bible and cross-check with real science along the way. You sound smart. You could end up using your talents instead of burying them in the garden.

          8. Patrick Gannon

            With regard to the typical suggestion that non-believers are going to Hell, that you and other Christians always default to, consider this quote from the Pope from a couple days ago:
            ““A Christian can sow bitterness, can sow perplexity, and this is not Christian,” he said, adding: “whoever does this is not a good Christian. Sow hope: sow the oil of hope, sow the fragrance of hope, and not the vinegar of bitterness and hopelessness.””
            Maybe he means you might try tempting non-believers with heaven instead of always threatening with “the vinegar of bitterness and hopelessness” of Hell. It’s counterproductive, just so you know, and as the Pope says, it makes you a bad Christian.

          9. Marc Solomon

            I attempted to explain to you that heaven will be an astounding experience of our Father’s love as he gives us a grand tour of the universe and unimaginable worlds. You completely ignored it and made no comment because you have never considered that the best of this world is only a preview of what is to come for those who love the Creator. It appears to me that you believe you are a god of some sort with these “all-knowing” answers to the mysteries of the Holy Bible. My intention is to help you have a correct reverence for your Father in heaven. You need to be reminded of reality my friend….and you will thank me one day if you are saved and we are together loving God forever 🙂 I will end this spiritual exercise with the words of Almighty God, Proverbs 9:5-12

            “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
            To him who is without sense she says,

            “Come, eat of my bread
            and drink of the wine I have mixed.

            Leave simpleness, and live,
            and walk in the way of insight.”

            He who corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
            and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.

            Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
            reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

            Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
            teach a righteous man and he will increase in learning.

            The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
            and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

            For by me your days will be multiplied,
            and years will be added to your life.

            If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
            if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

          10. Patrick Gannon

            ” My intention is to help you have a correct reverence for your Father in heaven.” Once again with the conceit and inflated sense of self-importance. My goodness! Who elected you to save me? Who are you to say what the correct reverence is? I put forth a viable hypothesis in which you will be punished for burying your talents in the garden – your ability to think critically, your sense of logic and rational thought. The parable is pretty clear. Who is to say which, or either of us is right? We have exactly the same evidence for this god of yours. NOTHING. If we had evidence, we would not be having this discussion.
            I need to be reminded of reality? You won’t even address it. You refused to answer my questions, or respond to most of the points I made to refute your arguments. A forum like this is a debate, and you lost on points. Big time. It seems to me that your god chose a poor representative, one incapable of, or unwilling to, provide reasonable answers to reasonable questions. I am willing to be convinced, but nobody has reasonable answers to my questions and objections. I give you credit for being willing to try though, and you did a good job with John, almost scoring a point there.
            Yes, Proverbs says it well. It’s funny. On the one hand the bible says with the parable of the talents, that we should use the tools we were provided with, and will be punished if we don’t; and yet in Proverbs it says we should bury them deep in the garden. You might think the NT would override the OT, but apparently not. What the proverbs passage says, is that you should take those talents and bury them as deep in the garden as you can. It says you should not think. It says ignorance is blessed. It says you should abandon what makes us different from the animals – our intellect. And you agree that’s a good thing? Tell me, if your god did not want us to use those tools, why on earth did he give them to us in the first place? Why not just leave us as animals? (Answer – he didn’t. Evolution did).
            It’s been fun. Bye.
            P.S. Read the whole bible, cover to cover, and then look me up again.

          11. Marc Solomon

            May the Lord have mercy upon your soul and give you peace…

          12. Patrick Gannon

            The suggestion that the lord should have mercy on my soul, implies once again, that I should be afraid of Hell. Once again, I ask: Which one? Ask your priest. Let me know what he says.

          13. Marc Solomon

            I am a priest and God will hear my prayer…

          14. Patrick Gannon

            You are a priest, and you couldn’t answer my questions???? Whoa… You might want to consider finding another profession. Surely they told you in Divinity School that the Church translated four very different words to the pagan word “Hell,” right? Where did you go? I had an uncle who recently passed away, who was a priest – actually monsignor – for years, before leaving the Church. He knew about the four Hells. Why don’t you? Or is it that you don’t want the sheeple to know?

          15. Marc Solomon

            Hi Patrick, may your uncle rest in peace. The reason why I didn’t answer all your questions is because answers to questions will not help you unless you trust God first. Faith is necessary for understanding and knowledge alone will not save anyone. My son, I leave you with these words of wisdom:
            Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

            4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

            “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
            and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
            because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
            and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

            7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

          16. Patrick Gannon

            How do you trust something you have no evidence for? You are saying that you can’t answer my questions about unicorns until I have faith that unicorns exist. That is a cop-out answer. How do you convert someone who has no faith to begin with, unless you can answer their questions? Your responses get lamer and lamer with each successive attempt.

            Faith is pretending to know things you don’t know. How can that help to understand something? How can lying to ourselves be good for our mental health? Our brains know good and well that we have no evidence for gods and afterlives, but then we tell our brains to pretend to know that these things exist – in other words, to lie to ourselves. How can that be healthy? What it does is create cognitive dissonance leading to angst, anxiety, anger, and resulting in Christianity coming to be known as the religion of hostility to the other.
            DO NOT CALL ME “MY SON.” i AM NOT YOUR SON, AND I DENY ANY AUTHORITY YOUR USE OF THAT TERM GIVES YOU. YOU ARE NOT MY FATHER. (Though it does explain your condescension). Posting passages about disciplining me – you know what you can do with that passage? It’s funny that you chose Hebrews, because that’s one of the NT books that supports the idea that Jesus was a celestial demigod, rather than an actual historical person.
            Quoting passages from the bible is exactly what fundagelicals do when they can’t answer questions. Or they attack the questioner. I expected better from the Catholic Church. You guys are supposed to be educated. Your inability to answer my questions, you try and pass off as my fault. You have lost this debate, for failure to respond in any meaningful way to the very pertinent questions I’ve raised. It’s either because you can’t, or because you don’t want your sheeple to see the answers. You don’t want them to know the Church invented what they think of as Hell; and that it’s not supported by scripture, right?
            Who were Jesus’ biggest enemies? Even greater enemies than the Romans? That’s right. It was the clergy. If he were here today, I suspect little would be changed. I suggest that Jesus, if he was real, would have a big issue with your arrogant condescension. Here’s what I say to you:

            “6 ‘Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

            2 ‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[a
            5 ‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[b]”
            Just so you know, Marc, you have contributed to pushing me even further away, and you have shown those who have followed our discussion here that you lack the courage or ability to answer relevant questions. You began this discourse by complimenting my critical thinking skills, then for the rest of the discussion, insisted that I bury those skills in the garden. You lose. I will not bury those skills, and if there is a god, I anticipate that he will respect my use of my gifts, far more than all the sheep who buried their gifts – unused and wasted.

          17. Marc Solomon

            Let’s make a deal. After we both die and are judged by Christ, having gained the knowledge of either a virtuous life well-lived or a wasted life of slavery to sin, then let’s have a conversation about all this nonsense you write, if our Father in heaven allows it of course. Shalom upon you and yours…

          18. Patrick Gannon

            “A wasted life of slavery to sin.” What, Marc Solomon, do you know about me that justifies assuming that I am a slave to sin? You know nothing about me, except that I am apparently able to disassemble your religion, and you are unable or unwilling to respond. While I deny the concept – given that there never was an original sin – I know how the Church defines mortal sin. It has to be bad. You have to know it’s bad, and you have to do it anyway. What makes you think that I do all sorts of bad things? I haven’t even had a speeding ticket in decades. Your condescending, conceited, holier than thou attitude that assumes you have led a more virtuous and well lived life than myself demonstrates that you are utterly shameless in your self-exalted, pomposity. If there is a god, I’m prepared to take my chances. I used my gifts. I didn’t bury them in the garden. It was the guy who did that who was punished. I’m arrogant, but I can’t hold a candle to you. No wonder Jesus did not get along with the clergy.
            “….if our Father in heaven allows it of course.” See – you agree! There is no free will in heaven. It’s Yahweh-Jesus’ will, not ours. If we had free will, we would go stone cold berserk in heaven. Any decent person who knew of the billions of people, often including friends and family, suffering in eternal torment and unable to do anything to help them, would go insane if they had free will and their wits (self-aware consciousness) about them. The only way a decent person could survive in heaven is to lose all knowledge and memory of such things – which means “we” are no longer who “we” are – our self-aware consciousness, our minds, will have been turned off. (Actually the mind can’t survive the death of the brain, so this is a rhetorical issue). We will have been turned into zombies. Zombies are humans without free will. That’s your heaven, and you just confirmed it, by confirming that we will not have free will. We will not be able to decide whether to have a chat. Your slave master will decide if we are to have a chat. No thanks. I’d much rather just be dead, which is the option we had in Sheol before the so-called “good news” of Jesus, who now sends us to eternal torment instead of simply destroying us if we fail to believe, say and do what you disordered, robed, celibate virgins tell us to do. (I will stop referring to clergy as disordered, when the Church stops referring to LGBTs with that term – and no I am not an LGBT; I am simply a decent human being).
            You suggest that what I’ve written here is “nonsense,” but of course theologians have struggled with these exact same issues, for the exact same reasons that I have raised, since the birth of the religion. You apparently skipped the classes where they tell you how to respond to these questions…… Of course the tough ones, are the loss of the five pillars. Augustine and Aquinas didn’t know that the creation story was a myth, that there was no two-person DNA bottleneck, that there was no global flood, no mass Exodus from Egypt and no conquest of Canaan. If they had known these things, I suspect you and I would not be here debating them. Then again, if Paul had known about evolution and DNA he wouldn’t have started this whole “original sin” mess in the first place.
            Have you ever wondered, why not a single prophet has ever known anything more about technology than what was known to all the people of the time? Even Jesus didn’t know that not washing your hands could kill you….
            I’m listening to you on a radio show back in 2013, and you’re talking about how ‘god is goodness and perfect love, everything depends on god.’ You say ‘there are no absolutes without god,’ etc. So was slavery absolutely good? Was the murder of innocents (King Dave’s census as one example), absolutely good? Are genocide, racism and sexism absolutely good? Is it absolutely good to prohibit disabled people from going into the temple? Is stoning a bride to death because she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night absolutely good? Your god gave out 613 laws, and many of them are horrific by civilized standards. Where is the absolutism? Most of the human rights that we’ve gained in recent times, are the result of overcoming Yahweh’s absolute moral good. We are told as children that God is good, but then the few of us who read the whole book, discover that Yahweh is a monster, and if we add in the concept of an eternal punishing Hell, then Yahweh-Jesus becomes the most evil creation of all time. Gen 3:22 says we know good and evil. Apparently Yahweh-Jesus forgot.
            Gotta go, but will try to finish the video. I hope you aren’t as condescending to your parishioners at Christ the King, as you were to me here. I’m happy to let it go, if you stop doing it! I hope some of them followed this conversation and that they pull you aside and ask some of these questions. Why don’t priests tell their congregants that the Church translated four very different words to the pagan word “Hell”? You know it’s true. You went to a decent school. Why does the Church persist in creating a false image? This is just one example, but it’s an important one, because your organization indoctrinates us in fear from early childhood and those neural pathways are not easy to overcome – they are like PTSD or sex abuse. We could have a good conversation about important issues, if you were willing to participate. That you won’t do so, and that you make the silly argument that I have to believe first, makes me wonder… Is it just you, or is it Church policy to try and avoid subjects like this… keep the sheeple in the dark as long as you can… kick the problem down the road to the next bunch. Man, that DNA evidence is going to be the biggest challenge the Church ever faced. The catechism is pretty clear that there was a single breeding pair we all came from – that didn’t happen. Actually, it’s wonderful news. It means that if there is a god, we need not fear him, her or it. But a lot of us are going to be upset with the organization that filled us with that unnecessary fear as children before we were capable of critical thinking….. Just sayin’

          19. Marc Solomon

            I know faith is not easy but God loves you and wants to help you through your objections. The Holy Bible is not a science book, it reveals truth that leads us to salvation. So God knows we do not need to know about DNA evidence to be saved. The Adam and Eve story reveals that we are created, perhaps God created us through an evolutionary process or perhaps he created the human body in such a way that the DNA was altered after the fall from grace. I do not need to know this in order to have faith. My faith is based upon God’s presence in my life and my relationship to Christ through prayer. Fear is not evil unless it leads to evil choices. I fear heights and this keeps me from taking unnecessary risks that put my life in danger. If I fear the justice of God this helps me from making unnecessary choices that harm my spiritual life in Christ. St. Faustina was given a vision of heaven to share with the world:
            “Today I was in heaven, in spirit,” she wrote in her diary on November 27th, 1936, “and I saw its inconceivable beauties and the happiness that awaits us after death.”

            As with all of her visions, what she saw constitutes “private revelation,” and is thus not binding on the Catholic faithful, as public revelation (Scripture and Tradition) is. Nonetheless, it can aid in building up one’s faith.
            Here’s what she saw:

            “I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom.

            “This source of happiness is unchanging in its essence, but it is always new, gushing forth happiness for all creatures. Now I understand Saint Paul, who said, ‘Eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him.’”
            She then writes about what God values most:

            “And God has given me to understand that there is but one thing that is of infinite value in His eyes, and that is love of God; love, love and once again, love; and nothing can compare with a single act of pure love of God. Oh, with what inconceivable favors God gifts a soul that loves Him sincerely!

            “Oh, how happy is the soul who already here on earth enjoys His special favors! And of such are the little and humble souls.”
            She also reports that the sight of God in heaven didn’t bring her fear, but joy:

            “The sight of this great majesty of God, which I came to understand more profoundly and which is worshiped by the heavenly spirits according to their degree of grace and the hierarchies into which they are divided, did not cause my soul to be stricken with terror or fear; no, no, not at all!

            “My soul was filled with peace and love, and the more I come to know the greatness of God, the more joyful I become that He is as He is. And I rejoice immensely in His greatness and am delighted that I am so little because, since I am little He carries me in His arms and holds me close to His Heart.”
            She said the whole experience made her pity those who don’t believe in heaven:

            “O my God, how I pity those people who do not believe in eternal life; how I pray for them that a ray of mercy would envelop them too, and that God would clasp them to His fatherly bosom.

            “O Love, O queen! Love knows no fear, It passes through all the choirs of angels that stand on guard before his throne. It will fear no one. It reaches God and is immersed in Him as in its sole treasure. The Cherubim who guards paradise with flaming sword, has no power over it. O pure love of God, how great and unequaled you are!

            “Oh, if souls only knew your power!” (Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul, 777-781)

          20. Patrick Gannon

            “I know faith is not easy but God loves you and wants to help you through your objections.”
            Faith is very easy. When it’s indoctrinated, the psychologically abused individual often has little choice in the matter. It’s challenging faith that is difficult. Challenging our most closely held beliefs and acknowledging that we have absolutely no compelling, objective evidence for them is one of the most difficult things some humans will ever encounter. Been there, done that; got the T-shirt.
            You suggest that God loves me (while constantly threatening me with one of the four Hells), and wants to help me through my objections. You said he sent you to help me – but you have failed to address any of my objections. If God wants to help, I guess he’d better find another representative, since you are clearly unable or unwilling to fulfill that role, right?
            “The Holy Bible is not a science book, it reveals truth that leads us to salvation.” It makes scientific claims. It claims there was a creator of the universe, but that’s not something anyone can prove or even theorize with exacting confidence. It claimed that the earth was the center of the universe. It makes the scientific claim that the core theory, the standard model of physics, and every single physics experiment ever performed is wrong – because it insists that these laws can be broken at will, through miracles. Of course when we examine these miracles closely, there is never compelling, objective evidence that the laws of physics have failed us. The bible claims that there was a global flood; that’s a scientific claim that is completely debunked. It claims that there was a mass Exodus from Egypt with over 600,000 fighting men, family, foreigners and livestock spent 40 years, many of them in fixed locations, without leaving a shard of pottery, a spear tip, a shield, a wagon wheel – nothing. For 1 – 3 million people to spend 40 years without leaving a shred of their existence is a non-starter. Israeli archaeologists who had the opportunity to research the areas referred to in the myths, ended up calling it a fruitless search – there is no evidence that this event ever happened. The pillar of smoke and fire that followed them around must have been a giant vacuum cleaner! Note that the superpower of the day was Egypt with the largest army in history – about 100,000 men, but they were able to manage and control the 600,000 fighting Israeli men – even when they were off fighting wars in other places!!! These same 600,000 people were commanded to commit genocide in Canaan – in some cases to kill every man, woman, child and beast – except young virgins who could be taken as spoils of war. Is that absolutely moral? There was no such conquest by Israelis, but archaeologists tell us the Persians tore the place up a time or two. The bible’s scientific and historical claims are largely invalid – and these that we’ve discussed here, leave no room for a Yahweh to exist, if these events did not happen as claimed. There are no other pillars to support the existence of Yahweh, are there?
            You suggest that the book leads us to salvation, but salvation from what? There was no original sin. There was no two-person DNA bottleneck – another scientific claim that the bible and the Church have wrong. How are we being saved, when before Jesus, we were simply dead, and if brought back to life at the end of time, we were to simply be destroyed if we didn’t measure up. Now, following Jesus, we have a whole new set of rules, based not just on what we do, but what we believe or fail to believe, and for that crime, we are to be sentenced to eternal torture – what could be more evil than that?
            I raised this question before, but of course you can’t or won’t respond – but what was the original sin? You acknowledge that the garden story is mythical, so what did these kids do to get Yahweh’s panties in a wad, given that their primary goal in life at that point of their evolutionary development was to simply stay alive and procreate? The Church is fanatical when it comes to sex. I guess it was that evolutionary urge to procreate that was original sin – but it can’t be, since that had to be there all along, or they never would have evolved to that point. What was the original sin – given the acknowledgement that the garden story is a myth? You talk about salvation, but never tell us why we need to be saved.
            You give the common argument that people need to have fear of god in order to be good. It doesn’t work like that. If it takes fear of Hell for you to be a good person, then you simply are not a good person. I do not need any fear of Hell in order to be a good person, nor do most non-believers. Basically when you make this argument, you are stating that true believers are bad people who could not be good without this fear.
            Why would you think an account of delusionary visions would have any effect on a non-believer who values the scientific process? Yahweh-Jesus would have had to interact with the particles in her brain in order to generate this delusion. It would have to fire synapses, manage electrochemical reactions, etc. If such forces existed, we’d know it by now. In any event, Ms Faustina basically described a zombie heaven. She was unaware, in her vision, of the billions of people in Hell and expressed no concern for them. Either she was a Zombie, or she’s a cold-hearted, selfish and uncaring person. My first thought is for those being tortured for simply failing to believe, say and do what you and others of your ilk insist on – and you have no more knowledge of the existence of any gods or afterlives than any other human on the earth.

            So which Hell am I going to?

          21. Marc Solomon

            Patrick, perhaps you do not want to believe in God because then you would be held responsible for the evil you do. Here is a miracle for you to consider:

            “Research director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford University, Fr Andrew Pinsent, states that “a scientific perspective does not rule out miracles, and the event at Fatima is, in the view of many, particularly credible.” He states that a usual prejudice involves a lack of understanding of the scope of scientific laws, which merely describe how natural systems behave isolated from free agents. Concluding that the event is “a public miracle of the most extraordinary kind and credibility”, he sees the year of the event, as connected to significant historical milestones that call for Fatima’s message of repentance: Protestantism in 1517, Freemasonry in 1717 and Atheistic Communism in 1917. Here is what hell is: “I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence…the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.” (Diary 741)

            The Apostle of Divine Mercy
            St. Maria Faustina Kowalska
            of the
            Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy

            “Today, I was led by an angel to the Chasms of Hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw:
            The First Torture that constitutes hell is:
            The loss of God.
            The Second is:
            Perpetual remorse of conscience.
            The Third is
            That one’s condition will never change.
            The Fourth is:
            The fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it. A terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger.
            The Fifth Torture is:
            Continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own.
            The Sixth Torture is:
            The constant company of Satan.
            The Seventh Torture is:
            Horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.

            These are the Tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings.

            Indescribable Sufferings
            There are special Tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings related to the manner in which it has sinned.

            I would have died
            There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me.

            No One Can Say There is No Hell
            Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like…how terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God’s mercy upon them. O My Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend you by the least sin.” (Diary 741)

          22. Patrick Gannon

            “Patrick, perhaps you do not want to believe in God because then you would be held responsible for the evil you do”
            Would you care to elucidate on that? What evil do I do? Asking you questions you can’t or won’t answer? Is that the evil I do? You know nothing about me – and you infer that I am evil? Your organization is evil, and the god you worship (or invented) is evil, but I would not call you evil (unless you sexually abuse children). It’s very indecent for you to imply that someone you don’t even know, is evil; but you belong to a religion of hostility to the other, so it’s not unexpected, I guess. It’s a poor reflection on the priesthood. My uncle, never in a million years would have said that when he was a priest. It’s no wonder people are abandoning the Church in droves. Hmm, are you telling me that if I don’t believe in your god, that I am not responsible for the evil I do? That’s what it sounds like. Fortunately society will hold me accountable for any evil I do, as my fellow, rational human beings work as best we can, to derive rules and modes of behavior that work for as many as possible in our society. We have rejected the morals of your god (slavery, genocide, sexism, racism, discrimination against the disabled, murder of innocents, etc.) Don’t talk to me about evil. Gen 3:22 is correct in saying that we know what good and evil are – and your god, if he exists, and if he is as your Church describes him – is the epitome of evil.
            ““Research director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford University, Fr Andrew Pinsent, states that “a scientific perspective does not rule out miracles,”
            Actually, yes it does. If he said that prior to 2012 and the discovery of the Higgs field, he would have had a very small opening, but that has been slammed shut. We have solidified the standard model or core theory of physics and it leaves no room for magical, immaterial forces. Andrew Pinsent is at odds with most of his science peers and does not have evidence on his side. I did a quick search and can find no books or papers submitted by him for peer review that challenge the core theory/standard model of physics. That is what he is doing in saying miracles are real. He is saying that everything we have ever learned about physics is dead wrong, and every experiment ever performed gave the wrong results. That’s highly unlikely.

            In order for miracles to occur, the particles in our natural world have to be affected. The strong nuclear force that binds atoms has to be overcome if a particle is going to do something. We know of all the forces that can do this. If there were magical soul forces, we’d have found them by now, or at least seen the effects of their existence. The Church used to insist that the sun went around the earth and that we were the center of the universe – nothing ever changes when it comes to denying the truth in the Catholic Church! It may take as long as it did for the Church to acknowledge Galileo, (and it still owes Giordano Bruno a huge apology for burning him at the stake!), but in due course, the truth will become impossible to reject. The bigger problem for the Church right now, is not miracles, but DNA, since that debunks the original sin myth, and removes the Church’s very reason for existing.
            You provided one vision (hallucination) of Hell – but which one did she conjure up? Sheol, Gehenna, Hades or Tartarus? Which Hell did she visit? Sheol was closed by Jesus and was not a place of punishment. Gehenna was the Jerusalem town dump – long since closed. Jesus was clearly speaking metaphorically. The worst insult for a Jew at that time was to be thrown in the dump instead of being afforded a decent burial. Hades is clearly Pagan, given that Hades is the brother of Zeus and Poseidon. If Hades is real, then so are they. Tartarus is the bottom level of Hades, which seems to be reserved for Satan and his demons. Which Hell did Maria Faustina Kowalska visit? Why did the Church translate four very different words to the pagan word “Hell”? You know it’s true. Why do you avoid this question (and all my other questions), again and again? Is it Church policy to keep the sheeple in the dark? (Of course it is!)

            The vivid descriptions of Hell you’ve provided, (sounding much like Dante’s “Inferno” which is a primary source for our understanding of Hell today), confirm that torture is going on, not just separation – the language you used earlier. You are insisting that an “all-powerful” being, can be hurt so badly, that he sentences, mere, puny, insignificant humans to eternal torment and torture – described here in some detail – for millions and billions and trillions of eternal years, though we live here but a handful of decades, and you worship this evil monster and insist that I should do so as well? Even if you raped your altar boys, I would not condemn you to an eternity of torture; but your evil god would. I cannot respect any person who worships such evil, and you have not even attempted to pretend that this behavior is not evil. You know your god is evil, don’t you? What about the completely innocent and helpless unbaptized babies (abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth) – they are burning too, aren’t they? How can that not be evil?
            Fortunately your evil, vicious god is a bad nightmare and is not real.

          23. Marc Solomon

            Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, wrote the following meditation which might help you understand the human condition better.

            To whatever extent we become conscious, during our earthly lives, of our inability to rid ourselves completely of whatever blocks us from intimate union with God, we feel [spiritual] pain. We experience a taste of “purgatory,” recognizing how perfectly God loves us, and how imperfectly we love Him in return.

            In purgatory this pain is heightened, lifted in a sense to infinity, by the Divine Light that reveals to us at once the infinity and purity of Love, and the full extent of our inordinate self-love.

            We are filled with longing for God, whom we now, more than ever before, realize is the only One who can bring us to the fullness of joy. And we suffer the pain of separation from the object of our longing, knowing that it is a separation caused by our own self-centeredness.

            But although this is a very real and intense form of suffering, it yet carries with it a character of “sweetness and hope” which we can call purgatorial joy! This joy of souls is the result of having trustingly handed themselves over to God and accepted the purification that arises from their love and longing as their misery truly meets His mercy.

            Purgatory is our meeting with Christ who loves us, and of our loving acceptance of His pardoning love. It is our passage to holiness. It is not yet heaven, but it is a definite way to it, since the love of God underlies the purifying suffering of souls. … The souls in purgatory already definitely belong to God and nothing can separate them from Him.

          24. Patrick Gannon

            I feel no spiritual pain. None whatsoever. I’m like Carl Sagan on Cosmos. Let me share an experience…
            When I was in high school I was a gymnast. As it turns out, I did way too many front flips and forward rolls that ended up in landings on the back of my neck, and I apparently damaged it without knowing it. My neck began to hurt me off and on in my early 20’s and it progressed for decades after that. I was always aware of the discomfort, but it didn’t really feel like pain because I was so used to it. One day, a few years back, doing pushups, my left arm collapsed. I found I could hardly lift anything with that arm. I went to see a specialist and it turned out that I had to have 3 vertebrae fused together. (Got the left arm function back). When I woke up from the operation, I was sore from the incision, but the most amazing thing in the world – the pain in my neck was completely gone. It was glorious. I had no idea how much it really hurt, until it was gone. I had gotten used to it and never realized just how bad it was, until it was suddenly relieved.
            Now let me tell you another story. I have always been interested in religion. It terrified me as a young boy because I believed all of it – while the rest of my several siblings never established that same level of belief for some reason. I stopped going to mass in my teens – this was during the NIxon years when the clergy treated anyone under 30 like disease-ridden, hippy, communist sympathizers or something. They chased the young people out, and now wonder why they lost the next generation. Nevertheless, the indoctrination stuck and I considered myself a Christian, even a non-practicing Catholic, and I still believed in and was afraid of Hell – but I didn’t know how much. I frequently engaged in religious discussions and a Baptist Deacon insulted me one day, casting some passages at me, which when looked up, resulted in discovering I had been insulted as he called me a pig and a dog, using the NT to do so. How spiritual, right? I know I am much smarter and better educated than that Deacon and I vowed that would never happen again, so I read the whole bible. Then I read it again. And again. Then most of it again, Then I read the NT in chronological order (which really, changes the flavor!).

            After the first reading, I discovered that there was no Hell, I discovered that Yahweh was not good, I discovered that biblical morals were something to overcome, not something to enforce, and, the relief, the most amazing sense of joy that I ever encountered in my life came over me, as I came to realize that the childhood guilt, fear and shame was all a big lie. None of it was real. They told me God was good, but he’s a monster. They told me I would go to Hell, but they didn’t tell me there were four of them, and none of which matched the Hell they implanted into me, like the visions you recounted above. While I’ve gotten beyond that stage, I can still recall how magnificent and wonderful and free I felt, at having learned that it was all mythology and wasn’t real. I already knew the six day creation and global flood pillars had been destroyed, but I did a lot of research and study along the way as I read it each time, and I learned that there was no Exodus and no conquest of Canaan either. In the last couple years I’ve learned about DNA – and that’s the biggest problem of all, as it completely debunks original sin as we were taught it. It was clear to any rational, critically thinking person, after all this, that it was ancient mythology and to live my life as though it were true was pure lunacy. I went through months of sheer joy at the weight lifted from my shoulders. It’s very difficult to put into words, how great I felt. The joy and relief was far greater than what I experienced in losing that neck pain.
            Eventually what followed was anger. When you discover that you’ve lived a huge chunk of your life in completely useless and meaningless fear, that can be pretty upsetting, and in my view, it explains the attitudes of many who have become non-believers. People who were always atheist, are seldom as angry because they didn’t experience the same thing. I would have given anything for someone like me to provide me with the opportunity to think about some of the questions that I’ve asked you here, (only to be ignored), as it might have sparked my personal salvation much sooner.
            As for purgatory, can you give me some biblical justification for that concept? The word “purgatory” of course, is not found in the bible, is it? And what on earth does that have to do with our conversation? You haven’t threatened me with purgatory. While not coming right out and saying it, you’ve clearly insinuated that I’m on the way to Hell (which one?), so what does purgatory have to do with anything? Who raised the topic of the “human condition?” Why can’t you go back to my list and address some of those issues? Surely you must see that anyone following this thread, can see your inability or unwillingness to answer or address a number of points I’ve raised here. What message does that leave? Which Hell am I going to? No need to talk about purgatory. I’m going to join the unbaptized aborted, miscarried and stillborn souls in Hell – but which one?

          25. Marc Solomon

            My story is different. I was raised Catholic but didn’t have much faith and went off to college to enjoy life and learn something. During my junior year I began to question why I exist. I was getting good grades, dating, making great friends, my social life was outstanding. But I felt empty inside, my soul was in turmoil because it all seemed useless without an ultimate purpose. For the first time in my life I really prayed to God for answers. I made a good confession of my many sins and received Holy Communion with true faith. What I experienced can only be described as supernatural. Each time I received our Lord in the sacrament of mercy and then in the communion of love my whole being exalted with an inexpressible joy and peace. This blessing changed my life and I am a priest of Jesus Christ today because God had mercy on me in my misery delivered me from a sinful, pathetic life and restored my hope that life and love will never end. I love how the Lord fulfills the Hebrew Scriptures in the New Testament prophesy.

            Psalm 92: 1 A psalm. A sabbath song.

            It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
            to sing praise to your name, Most High,
            To proclaim your love at daybreak,
            your faithfulness in the night,
            With the ten-stringed harp,
            with melody upon the lyre.
            For you make me jubilant, Lord, by your deeds;
            at the works of your hands I shout for joy.

            How great are your works, Lord!
            How profound your designs!
            A senseless person cannot know this;
            a fool cannot comprehend.
            Though the wicked flourish like grass
            and all sinners thrive,
            They are destined for eternal destruction;
            but you, Lord, are forever on high.
            Indeed your enemies, Lord,
            indeed your enemies shall perish;
            all sinners shall be scattered.

            Revelation 21: 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them [as their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, the old order has passed away.”

            5 The one who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then he said, “Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me, “They are accomplished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water. 7 The victor will inherit these gifts, and I shall be his God, and he will be my son. 8 But as for cowards, the unfaithful, the depraved, murderers, the unchaste, sorcerers, idol-worshipers, and deceivers of every sort, their lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

          26. Patrick Gannon

            Thanks for sharing. I’ve read that true believers and non-believers have different brains. The brain has two thinking systems, System1 the reptilian brain is the one that we evolved first, and System2 the skeptical, cognitive thinking system evolved later. Each uses different parts of the brain, and we can see this through imaging. We’re learning an awful lot about the brain these days – and none of it is good for the idea that consciousness (soul or whatever you want to call it) comes from anywhere but the brain. It’s like seeking evidence for a young earth creation – every day new discoveries support evolution and nothing is ever discovered to support YEC. Similarly, every day (not literally) we learn something about the brain that supports the idea that consciousness emerges from it – the consensus is pretty universal on this – and we never discover anything to support consciousness coming from anywhere else.
            I too have had amazing spiritual experiences. I know that they are the product of hormones and electrochemical reactions in my brain induced by exercise, emotion, beauty, meditation, etc. I know how these can feel more real than reality itself. We’re coming to understand how that happens as well. In certain mental states, neural paths can be fired that would normally go through Thinking System 2 and be discarded, but for whatever reason, they get laid down without this fact-checking, and the experience ends up being more real than anything the person has ever experienced before, and you can’t talk them out of it. We’ll figure out how to let the brain erase those errors, or reprogram them so that we know them as subjective experiences that aren’t more real than reality.
            A question about Psalms… Why are so many of them, like the one you quoted? So many of them end with the petitioner begging God to destroy their enemies, and glorifying in their destruction. You do know that Yahweh was the god of war, one of several gods, before he became the only god, right? I must, of course, presume that this Psalm is directed to me. I’m a fool and a sinner because I don’t believe what you believe, and you are asking your god to crush and destroy me. That’s very Christian of you. That Sermon on the Mount thing really was inconvenient wasn’t it? All that turn the other cheek, love your neighbor stuff – that really gets in the way, doesn’t it? Fundamentalists hate that part of the bible, but Jesus or the authors who created him, meant that stuff to just apply to fellow Jews, so since we aren’t fellow Jews, I guess there’s no good reason for you to act in a “Christian” manner, as suggested in the Sermon…
            As for the Revelation – I’ve never done Acid, but I imagine that author took something pretty strong. We know John was writing about Rome. Then language is in the prose of mythology, popular at the time.

            Agan it’s just so Christian of you, so loving, so humane, so priestly and compassionate and caring to suggest to me yet again, that my “lot is in the burning pool of fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” You’ve abandoned the “soft Hell of Separation” for the “hard Hell of burning in torment,” and with it any pretense of civility. Which Hell is this? Sheol, Gehenna, Hades or Tartarus? And why? If your intent is to fill me with even greater contempt, you are doing it well. The pope does not approve of this tactic of telling non-believers that they are going to Hell. You don’t care for his authority, do you? I’m guessing you preferred the more conservative Benedict, the protector of child abusers…. ?

          27. Marc Solomon

            Hi Patrick, trying to explain away spiritual encounters with God is not helpful for us human beings heading into eternity. I don’t want you to go to hell, I want you to come back to God with love, seeking forgiveness. I shared these Scripture passages to help you understand that there will be ultimate justice when Christ returns. Those who love God will receive what they have been promised throughout salvation history and those who despise the God who made them and died for them will receive what they have earned. Here is a little insight from Dr. Peter Kreeft:
            “Most philosophers think Pascal’s Wager is the weakest of all arguments for believing in the existence of God. Pascal thought it was the strongest. After finishing the argument in his Pensées, he wrote, “This is conclusive, and if men are capable of any truth, this is it.” That is the only time Pascal ever wrote a sentence like that, for he was one of the most sceptical philosophers who ever wrote.

            Suppose someone terribly precious to you lay dying, and the doctor offered to try a new “miracle drug” that he could not guarantee but that seemed to have a 50-50 chance of saving your beloved friend’s life. Would it be reasonable to try it, even if it cost a little money? And suppose it were free—wouldn’t it be utterly reasonable to try it and unreasonable not to?

            Suppose you hear reports that your house is on fire and your children are inside. You do not know whether the reports are true or false. What is the reasonable thing to do—to ignore them or to take the time to run home or at least phone home just in case the reports are true?

            Suppose a winning sweepstakes ticket is worth a million dollars, and there are only two tickets left. You know that one of them is the winning ticket, while the other is worth nothing, and you are allowed to buy only one of the two tickets, at random. Would it be a good investment to spend a dollar on the good chance of winning a million?

            No reasonable person can be or ever is in doubt in such cases. But deciding whether to believe in God is a case like these, argues Pascal. It is therefore the height of folly not to “bet” on God, even if you have no certainty, no proof, no guarantee that your bet will win.”

          28. Patrick Gannon

            Marc, you don’t want me to go to Hell? Which Hell is it that you don’t want me to go to? Why can’t you answer that question?
            As I said, you know nothing about me. What is it that I’m supposed to seek forgiveness for? Before your scriptures can be taken seriously you need to prove that they are worth more than the paper they are written on. Yahweh-Jesus didn’t even inspire them enough to ensure that original copies for any part of the bible would remain intact. We have no idea exactly what the original scriptures might have said, and it apparently wasn’t important enough to your god that we should have these originals, so that we could trust that they were accurate. We know beyond any reasonable doubt, based on contradictory copies, that the Church modified some of the texts. These texts you keep quoting are not the evidence; they are the claim. Fundagelicals don’t get that either. Some of them worship the book even more than its god.
            “…and those who despise the God who made them…” We’ve covered this. As usual, no response from you – you just repeat it again. How does one despise something they don’t believe and/or think exists? I don’t think unicorns exist, so does that mean that I absolutely must despise them? It’s such an illogical statement. You can’t despise something that you don’t think exists, can you? Stop saying that to non-believers; it makes you sound really dumb. I don’t think fairies exist either, and I don’t spend a lot of time despising fairies. Think about it. If this god of yours existed, if there was compelling evidence for his existence, then is it likely anyone would still despise him? Hmm. Wait a minute. Well, actually yes, I suppose that’s possible. If he ended up being the god represented in the OT, and if he does send billions of people to eternal torment, then yes, I suspect there are many good people who would despise him, and oppose him if possible – but of course, there is no evidence for that, or any other god, so to despise him, is to despise a story book character, or mythical figure, like Medusa or the Cyclops. To me, your god is no more real than they are. Is it possible to be capable of despising a fictional character? Maybe so. You’ve provided nothing to indicate that your god is good, and the passages you’ve quoted generally illustrate the opposite. Your god is to be feared. Period. It really bothers you that there are people who don’t fear mythical characters… and it should bother the Church, because it’s a big problem since you don’t control the flow of information any longer. As a youngster, I never would have been afforded the opportunity to see this kind of discussion – and it would have been very helpful in throwing off that mantle of fear, much earlier.
            Let’s talk about your Pascal Wager argument. You mention a 50/50 shot at success for a medication to save my friend. We don’t get anything like that with religion. Researchers have identified at least 3000 global gods and religions, and that doesn’t include the thousands of offspring from many of them, including the Catholic Church which has generated more offspring than a field full of rabbits going at it with all the gusto they can muster! We have a 1/3000 shot just for the major gods, not a 50/50 shot. There is exactly the same evidence for all of those gods – ZERO. Any one of them, one not included in the 3000, or none at all, might be the reality, and choosing the wrong one may result in the same punishment as choosing none at all; which might actually be rewarded, if one is supposed to use the tools one of the gods gave us. There are many more ways to choose the wrong god.
            Pascal’s Wager is about total self-interest, maximizing personal gains. People are willing to hurt other people in order to maximize their self-interest, if they believe that this god wants them to do so. It implies that people who are completely evil, can be rewarded for believing the right thing. As you know, if you’ve ever actually read the entire bible, Yahweh commands his people to do all sorts of evil things – genocide, slavery, rape, etc. Surely it can be argued that it would be more moral to endure eternal punishment, than to obey a god’s command to hurt other people.
            What about children who die before having to make this choice – what happens to them? In the Catholic Church, as long as they are baptized they go to heaven, right? (If they aren’t baptized, then they go to Hell – which confirms that the Catholic god is evil to begin with). If they go to heaven, then isn’t the prudent thing, to kill your children while they are young in order to ensure that the go to heaven? Isn’t that the most important thing one can do for one’s children to ensure their salvation?
            Obviously if Yahweh-Jesus is willing to punish people for all eternity simply for failing to believe the right thing, this being cannot be “good” as we understand that word. Since no particular god has a monopoly on goodness, there’s no reason to assume that Yahweh-Jesus is the correct god. Indeed being in Hell might be preferable to being at the beck and call of an evil god!
            As mentioned above, there are thousands of gods and religions and no more evidence for the Christian god than any other god. In fact, the Christian god insists that we only worship him, while other gods, are not so demanding. It might be better to worship all those other gods just a little bit, rather than worship just one god, a lot. That would certainly improve your odds that you selected the right god. Without any compelling, objective evidence for any of these gods, there is no way to know which one to select, so better to select as many as you can to improve your chances, and these other gods are not going to punish you for worshipping more than just one god.
            Next we have the problem of a soul. There is, of course, no evidence for this, and for it to exist and to have the ability to affect the particles in our natural world, which it would have to do in order for “miracles” to occur, would mean that everything we have learned about physics is wrong, and every experiment ever performed somehow produced incorrect results. A 100 years ago, we couldn’t have said this with confidence, but today, we are very confident of this. But can an immaterial soul be hurt in Hell?
            I confess to being unsure of the whole mechanics of heaven and hell. We have a soul – but it is a physical body that is to be tortured, right? Yet the physical body is being consumed by worms, or gone back to the elements following cremation. So Yahweh-Jesus has to give us a new body, specifically so he can torture it? So we can feel pain? Is that the way it works? And you think I should worship this god?
            The real problem though is belief. I cannot turn a switch and suddenly say, “I believe in Marc Solomon’s god.” I know too much to just “change my mind,” no matter how much I might want to. Oh, I could say the words – is that enough – but presumably your god would know I’m lying. Most non-believers are stuck. They can’t just turn a switch and believe. I can’t just wake up one morning and say, “I believe in unicorns – pink polka-dotted unicorns, and I believe this with my heart, my soul and my mind.” That’s not any more possible than waking up and believing in your god.
            How do we know heaven will be any better? After a few million years, the joy of heaven or the pain of Hell will eventually become, “Meh,” just another day in eternity.
            Is your god an egomaniac? Pascal’s wager assumes your god will be impressed by people who believe things just to avoid Hell. What does an all-powerful god gain from such an allegiance from puny humans? It would be like having allegiance from ants to a human god, wouldn’t it? Isn’t your god at least as distant from me, as I am from ants? I have no egotistical need for the ants to worship me, but your god it seems, is very insecure and requires such allegiance.
            How do we know that your god isn’t perverse, and wouldn’t just damn us to Hell for his own amusement? What do we have to ensure that doesn’t happen – that he isn’t just playing games with us, pulling our strings, hardening hearts, etc. (as he does in the bible). What if it turns out there are more than one god? Don’t you run the risk of antagonizing several other gods, by worshipping just one of them?
            What if your god changes his mind? What if we believe the right thing, he lets us in, then says, “SNAP! Joke’s on you. Off to the burner you go!” How do we know he won’t do this? In the OT, he’s incredibly capricious.
            What if your god is the one who inspired the Parable of the Talents, and he punishes those who bury their talents in the garden (talents such as intelligence, logic, critical thinking, skepticism, etc.). This is probably one of the strongest arguments for me. If there is a god, and if this god is good, then this god is going to want us to use the tools we evolved. I go along with Michael Shermer in saying to some god, if there turns out to be one: ”Lord, I did the best I could with the tools you granted me. You gave me a brain to think skeptically and I used it accordingly. You gave me the capacity to reason and I applied it to all claims, including that of your existence. You gave me a moral sense and I felt the pangs of guilt and the joys of pride for the bad and good things I chose to do. I tried to do unto others as I would have them do unto me, and although I fell far short of this ideal far too many times, I tried to apply your foundational principle whenever I could. Whatever the nature of your immortal and infinite spiritual essence actually is, as a mortal finite corporeal being I cannot possibly fathom it despite my best efforts, and so do with me what you will.”
            —Michael Shermer
            I think I’ve pretty completely disassembled your Pascal Wager argument, and there’s much more if we are to get really esoteric. We can dig into Bayesian probabilities, etc., but I can’t see where Pascal’s wager offer’s any help at all.

            So which Hell am I going to? Where is it? And how will I experience pain?


          29. Marc Solomon

            Since God alone is the Just Judge and knows what each soul has chosen, He will decide each person’s final state of existence. You need to ask God to forgive you because you have refused to believe in Jesus Christ our Savior. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.


          30. Patrick Gannon

            Marc, do you have any idea how many times that passage has been thrown out to myself and other non-believers? I don’t think I’ve ever debated a fundagelical without that passage being thrown in my face, again and again. What makes you think that it makes any difference to us? Why don’t you understand, that you are presenting the claim, not any evidence for it, and we consider clergy you to be clueless in basic logic and reason? The claim is not the evidence. Any class in basic logic will explain that. All clergy members should take a class in logic…. but their heads would explode I suppose! LOL
            Yahweh-Jesus is not “just” (based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair) as that word is defined. Condoning, commanding or committing slavery, genocide, murder of innocents, sexism, racism, discrimination against the disabled and so forth, are not just, fair or morally right. Sending mere humans to eternal torment, though they live here but a handful of decades is as far removed from just, fair and morally right as it is possible to be. Right from the start, in his book we learn that your god is not just. Was it “just” to punish the mythical kids in the garden for doing something they couldn’t know was wrong till AFTER they ate the fruit?
            You didn’t answer my question about how this immaterial “soul” is going to feel pain. Give me the Catholic dogma – I confess, I’ve forgotten and don’t feel like researching it now. Give me a quick and dirty overview. This is my basic understanding: When I die, my soul rises out of my body, Yahweh-Jesus immediately judges it and then what happens? I get a new body that can experience gruesome, horrific, agonizing pain in hell, yet without perishing, or this new body can experience pleasure in heaven (but what is pleasure without free will?). Assuming I’m going to one of the four Hells – you refuse to tell me which one – then “I” my self-aware consciousness will have this new body of some sort that can, (without being material???) feel pain, so that I can be tortured for all eternity for the crime of failing to believe what you do. Yahweh-Jesus, rather than simply destroy me, as would have been done by Jewish tradition, is going to give me an immaterial body that will ensure that my self-aware consciousness can experience agony, without the body being consumed, so that it can go on forever. But he loves me? Isn’t that basically how it works?

            You know John was almost certainly the last gospel, and you know that these authors “voted” against the synoptic gospels in several regards, creating a new and different Jesus persona with a rather different mission. John was likely written well over a half century after Jesus died, at a time when the average lifespan was about 35 years, and its primary task is to tie up and consolidate several theological issues – most important of which was that Jesus was always god – which means he is/was Yahweh, which is why I refer to Yahweh-Jesus. In asserting this, John assures us that the evil god who committed the many immoral offenses listed in his “Holy Book” were concurrently committed by Jesus. Right? Jesus is not the pretty flower boy of love and goodness we think of. It seems the Sermon on the Mount was a lie, intended to give Yahweh-Jesus a makeover… but it was just for show. In sending people to eternal torment, Jesus shows himself to be more evil in that form, than in his Yahweh persona – except that Jesus never said anything about a real Hell, did he? He spoke of Gehenna, the Jerusalem town dump, in a metaphorical way, didn’t he, Marc Solomon? Surely you know this…
            Why did Yahweh-Jesus have to go through all this rigmarole? Impregnating a young maiden without her consent in order to be born as himself so he could sacrifice himself to himself, in order to alleviate us of a condition he placed on us in the first place, and for which he was able to relieve Mary with just a wink and a nod, following the discovery of a little biology in the 1800s. I’m just not impressed with the story or your god. That’s the best an all-powerful being could come up with?
            Are you really a Catholic priest, or are you pretending to be one in order to give me the opportunity to completely disassemble the religion?


          31. Marc Solomon

            We will be judged on faith, hope, and love not on your pathetic attempt to deconstruct revealed truth. Did you check out the link about St. Thomas Aquinas and his five proofs for the existence of God?

          32. Patrick Gannon

            My “pathetic attempt to deconstruct revealed truth” far surpasses your pathetic attempts to defend it. You’ve failing to address the points or questions I’ve raised. Now, you want me to go and deconstruct Aquinas. If I thought it would result in active engagement from you, I would be happy to go through his points one by one. There are many sources debunking the Cosmological Argument, and of course it is not self-evident that gods exist. Researchers have found a few isolated humans in very remote areas who have no concept of gods.
            I’ll lightly touch on a couple objections for your Catholic readers who know Aquinas is revered by the Church, but have no idea what he really said – or what the bible really says!
            The first response to the claim that every moved thing had a mover, begs the question, who created the mover – who created God, right? Who created whatever created that? And so on, in infinite regression. It always boils down to that, and there’s really no way out of it. (Turtles all the way down, as the expression goes). Aquinas asserts that it is not possible for a person to conceive of an infinite process of causation, without a beginning. How then is it possible for the same individual to conceive of a being that is infinite and without beginning? Right from the get-go, he’s invalidated his own argument. Aquinas’ idea that causation is not an infinite process is being introduced as a given, without any reasons to show why it could not exist. This makes the rest of the argument moot. It’s not a valid argument.
            If we are to accept that a first cause can be considered to be uncaused, and therefore a god existing forever, then why doesn’t that logic apply to the universe itself? Perhaps the universe has always existed, and will always exist, perhaps in an unending cycle of expansion and contraction (Big Bangs)? Because we don’t know the answer to this (yet), is no reason to assert “God did it,” other than cowardice; other than lacking the gumption to go and figure it out. If we waited for faith to figure things out, the sun would still be going around the earth.
            If we are to assume that there is a god who always existed, we can assume the same about energy – which after all, only changes form. The universe could be a “phase transition” a changing of form, like water to ice. What’s the difference between “energy always existed” and “god always existed”? At least we have evidence for energy.
            This being that Aquinas proposes as a first mover, is devoid of characteristics or properties that believers in any particular religion typically project into the concept of their deity. The first mover or first cause, as described by Aquinas, has no characteristics whatsoever. Where do these ‘human’ characteristics such as jealousy, rage, wrath, retribution and revenge come from? His existence would not imply ours, in any case.
            The cosmological argument is not a valid argument as (a) it does not require the truth of its conclusion; (b) further it offers nothing to prove the existence of a god that has any awareness of the universe or what happens within it. We don’t need to propose a god in order to explain the universe. We have several hypotheses, none of which require a divine being. The God factor just complicates the issue, since the god thing has to be proven, before you can say the god thing created the universe.
            We can go into this in a lot more detail, but this is likely to get over the heads of many of the readers here, and those interested have plenty of material on the web debunking Aquinas.

          33. Marc Solomon

            Do we know from the laws of physics that matter can develop from nothing? Is matter able to generate from absolute nothingness?

          34. Patrick Gannon

            Who says there is complete nothingness? Prove that there was once “nothing.” Perhaps all the energy in the universe (and matter is just reformulated energy), has always existed. Besides, when you ask a woman “what’s wrong?” and she says, “Nothing,” you can know beyond any reasonable doubt that there is definitely something!!! (Just joking, ladies!).
            As for Kent Hovind, I can’t believe you’d use a convicted criminal (tax evasion) fundagelical to make an argument. He didn’t answer the question, to begin with. He was asked where god came from. He didn’t answer that question, or try to – he simply insisted that his god always existed outside of time and space – but he didn’t explain what that means. How does something exist outside of time and space? If it did, how could we even know about it?

            He was also asked, the question I’ve asked here a few times. How does an immaterial thing affect the material things of our natural world? He didn’t answer that question either. Hovind launched into a description of what he thinks god is, but he never explained how god came to be in the first place, and he didn’t touch on the issue of how something outside of space, time and matter – elements that make up our natural world, can therefore affect things in our natural world. How does he do that if he’s outside it all; and how would we know of his existence, given that he’s outside of it all?
            Hovind turns to emotions as evidence of god’s existence, but that’s ridiculous. Emotions are quite clearly the result of various electrochemical and hormonal actions inside of our brains. This immaterial force would have to decouple atoms, overcoming strong nuclear forces, and manipulating those atoms in our brains in such a way as to fire synapses and release particular chemicals like dopamine. How can the physical brain be affected in this way by something that is immaterial and outside time, space and matter? He has no clue. He refers to the brain as being constructed by random chance – but that illustrates a complete lack of understanding of evolution – and there are many YouTube videos out there shredding Hovind for his stances on evolution. Random chance is not evolution.
            You do understand that Hovind is no friend of the Catholic Church, right? I do agree with him that we should not refer to Catholic priests as our “Father.” For him, the reasons are biblical. For me they are biological, and of course, a denial of the Church’s authority. You also know that the clip you provided was part of a much larger debate, one in which Hovind is challenged repeatedly by real scientists, right?

          35. Marc Solomon

            How can energy be eternal? Human beings have intellects, so how can non-intellectual energy form into beings with intellects?

          36. Patrick Gannon

            Marc, you asked: “How can energy be eternal?”
            I ask instead: How can it not be eternal?
            con·ser·va·tion of en·er·gy noun. a principle stating that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can be altered from one form to another.
            The idea that the energy/matter of our universe has always existed, albeit in a different state until 14 billion years ago, does away with any need for a Creator, and potentially explains an infinite existence and infinite continuation of the universe’s energy.
            “…how can non-intellectual energy form into beings with intellects?” See Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Something the last half dozen or so Popes have accepted in large part. http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_01
            Note that energy can be altered from one form to another, and indeed that is how we end up with the particles in our natural world – actually there are no particles, there are vibrations in quantum fields, but let’s keep it simple for now. Apparently – but not conclusively proven yet, the right particles came together in such a way as to permit the first replication, which in turn led to the first process of life, and from there evolution explains the rest. Evolution through natural selection resulted in increasingly complex organisms, culminating in us. This evolutionary path from less to more complex is thoroughly consistent with the fossil record.
            This raises the question of original sin. Was attaining a certain level of intellect, the original sin of our struggling primate ancestors? How about developing a sense of self-aware consciousness? No, original sin must have been learning to talk – because the invention of words, changed the game. With words, the intellect had tools to work with, and this permitted intelligent design. The first intelligent design was biological, and came from the ground up by the process of Darwinian evolution through natural selection, but once intellect created words, we had a way to intelligently design ourselves from the top down, and this, some experts say, is the explanation for our rapid evolution over the last 50,000 years or so. I would suggest “From Bacteria to Bach and Back – The Evolution of Minds” by Daniel Dennett to learn more.
            If one is a fundagelical literalist who believes the world was created some 6000 years ago, then of course none of this evolution stuff could have happened, and it means one manages to operate without a fully functional brain! 🙂
            The Church in accepting evolution dug itself into a hole. The fundagelicals deny evolution because they know it invalidates original sin and any fall from grace. The DNA evidence is biting them in the butt too, though. As literalists, they require a literal Adam and Eve, just like the Church does, and there was none – the DNA evidence is clear that we evolved from a pool of ancestors, not just two individuals. That invalidates original sin as described in the catechism, and really does away with any legitimacy for the Church. There have been one or two articles on this forum that have lightly acknowledged this serious issue for the Church. There’s no sweeping this one under the carpet. All they can hope to do is reinterpret the Catechism in some way as to deny two original parents – but that’s going to be difficult. The catechism is pretty clear that we all came from two parents – and that’s been demonstrated by multiple means, to be wrong. A good summary of the subject: http://biologos.org/blogs/dennis-venema-letters-to-the-duchess/does-genetics-point-to-a-single-primal-couple

          37. Marc Solomon

            Here is another viewpoint which makes much more sense to the vast majority of “super-bacteria intellectuals” who inhabit planet earth. I will place my bet with Dr. Stephen Barr and prepare for eternity. George Weigel writes, “John Paul II’s challenge has now been taken up by the Society of Catholic Scientists. From a standing start last year, the Society now has almost 400 members, 80 percent of whom hold a doctorate in the natural sciences, the rest being primarily graduate students. That’s an impressive head count for such a new outfit; it also suggests that membership in such a Catholic organization is not an impediment to being taken seriously in the highly competitive academic world of natural science. SCS’s inaugural conference in April was addressed by scholars from Harvard, Oxford, MIT, Penn, Brown, and the University of Texas at Austin.
            The moving force in organizing the Society has been Dr. Stephen Barr, professor of theoretical particle physics at the University of Delaware. Barr’s engaging and accessible articles have long been familiar to readers of FIRST THINGS, and those looking for something different by way of vacation reading this summer might pick up the recently-published collection of his essays, The Believing Scientist. There, Barr discusses everything from evolution to the mind/soul debate to Big Bang cosmology to science-as-ersatz-religion, while gently skewering a few luminaries who begin to talk nonsense when they venture beyond their remit as scientists.
            The Bible teaches that God impressed his intelligibility onto the world through creation by the Word. When that conviction weakens, faith in reason begins to crumble and the result is the intellectual playpen known as post-modernism. In renewing the covenant between faith and reason, the Society of Catholic Scientists serves the good of both—and of our culture.”

  7. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Hmm. I left a response that I don’t see posted here. Will check back later.

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Marc, I left a response, but it didn’t post. I’ll try again. First, I don’t know what “super-bacteria intellectuals” are. That’s not a phrase i’m familiar with and can’t find it in a search. You copied the text in your post from The Denver Catholic, and I’m guessing you know less than I do about Barr’s contributions to physics. He writes much more about faith, than he does about physics, as best I can tell.
      Weigel, the author of the piece you copied without giving source credit, gives us two scientists – one working about 150 years ago, the other about 50 years ago. In the case of Mendel, if he knew what we know about Darwinian evolution today, who’s to say he wouldn’t have been an atheist or agnostic? In the case of Lemaitre, that’s also a fair question. 50 years ago the core theory had not been established, and the possibility still existed that magical soul forces could be explained or discovered – but today that door has closed, and who knows what Lemaitre would believe today. Weigel’s argument is very weak.
      As for Barr, he hasn’t done any work, as best I can tell, that would illustrate how something immaterial can affect our natural world, nor has he presented a theory for peer review that illustrates how his god of the gaps created the universe, or even proved that i needed creating. He’s a Catholic scientist with opinions. Great. I have opinions too! What matters is evidence. Barr appears to be like Francis Collins (The Language of God), who abandons the scientific process when it does not accommodate beliefs, while insisting at the same time that faith and reason are compatible. That’s nonsense. Faith is pretending to know things you don’t know. That is the exact opposite of reason.
      Barr suggests that reason and faith can ride hand in hand, but you certainly haven’t illustrated that here. You’ve insisted that I have to have faith before you can give me reasons. That’s about as unscientific as you can get! Speaking of reasons, can you tell me the reason the Church translated four very different words to the pagan word “Hell”?

  8. Patrick Gannon Reply

    I should have said “Weigel, the author of the piece you copied without giving full source credit,” You should have included the publisher.

  9. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Looks like they aren’t going to post my last response… Already tried 3 times, and nothing is displayed.

  10. Patrick Gannon Reply

    I’m apparently unable to post another reply. I’ve tried a couple times. I’m opening a new comment thread to see if that works. This is a test.

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