Sex in heaven – Part II

| July 16, 2009 | 52 Replies

A co-worker raised a thorny issue today.  Assume that there is actually a heaven and that if you are good, you get to go there after you die.  Assume, further, that your spouse dies first, and you thus get to be re-united with your spouse in heaven.  Now that would be one hell of a joyous reunion, right?  You both actually died and now you find each other up there!  But not so fast . . .

What happens to widows and widowers who have remarried?  If all of the relevant parties were good, we’re going to have this uncomfortable situation: Joe goes to heaven and he sees his first wife Edna asking him to join her on the cloud on the left, while Betty, his second wife, is asking him to join her on the cloud on the right.   What should he do?  I thought that the whole reason that you could re-married is because your first spouse was dead. But that tidy earthly situation would unravel in heaven.

It could get really complicated in heaven if there were sex in heaven, but there apparently isn’t.  I once heard a Christian radio-show preacher having an extended conversation with an earnest caller about this exact topic (I wrote about this conversation in 2006–it was one of the first posts at DI).   The radio-preacher assured that man that there was no such thing as sex in heaven, but don’t worry, because the joys of heaven would be “better than sex.”   The caller was upset.  He insisted that he wanted to have sex in heaven–even if there was also something “better than sex.”

If body-less people still have emotions and passions, I would expect considerable turmoil in heaven.  Even couples who had been happily married for 50 years might have their patience tested after sitting together on the same cloud for several million years. What if she decides that she wants to go visit some other guy on some other cloud, legitimately claiming: “I know that it’s utterly perfect up here in heaven, but we’ve already discussed everything that we could possibly discuss.  I know everything about you; you know everything about me.  I’m tired of having that thing that’s better than sex, even though we have it 3 times per week, which is more than most couples in heaven.”

Is there marriage counseling in heaven?  A heavenly divorce court?   What about popcorn?  Just because you don’t have a traditional human body up there, wouldn’t you still crave popcorn?  Consider this case of dead Mary, who now lives in heaven:

Mary [speaking to her dead doctor, who works as a physician in heaven): “I crave popcorn”

Mary’s doctor:  “You have phantom taste buds syndrome.  You just think you crave popcorn. You don’t really crave it, and that’s a good thing, because popcorn would fall right through your ethereal hands. But don’t worry.  We have things that are better than popcorn up here. 

Assume, too, that the guy who wanted sex in heaven finally dies and makes it to heaven.  After a few restless nights, though, he complains to the heaven doctor:  “I’m horny.”

Heaven doctor:  “No, you only think you are horny.  You have phantom penis syndrome.

I’ll end with a quote by George Bernard Shaw:

Heaven: a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seaside.

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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (52)

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  1. Karl wrote:

    “Many people here on DI think hell (if it exists) will be a wonderful place because it will still allow them to be their individual “twisted” selves.”

    That, to me, is a telling statement. Very often when pushed far enough, many of the believers I've debated with reveal that the twistedness and depravity that they project onto everyone else are their own demons. It happens time and time again. The image they have of the rest of the world is a mirror of their own struggle.

    I was involved recently in a discussion on another forum about sin. My fellow forum member said to me that ALL of my sins are as bad as murder in the eyes of God! I was offended and said that I considered equating my relatively minor human failings with murder was an insult.

    In reply he revealed a dark and tortured inner self where lustful and murderous thoughts keep him frustratingly far from ever attaining the perfection that he knows God wants for us. It was a sad commentary on the impossibly high standards which his religion had set for him, keeping him in a constant state of failure, and also of the egotism of many believers.

    This projection of ones own faults and needs onto the rest of mankind is the one thing most bothersome to me about rigid believers. Our old friend Erik used to do it all the time and Karl does it too. They are too short sighted and wrapped up in themselves to see that not everyone is them and not everyone suffers with what they suffer or needs what they need.

  2. Gregory Bosch says:

    It is interesting how you choose to pick only small parts of my comment and begin to tear it apart when you pulled from it only the tiniest bit of its actual meaning.

    I made no claim to "know what Heaven is like," I simply chose to use the description as is said in the Bible. I did this because, as we can all see here, it is the preferred object of ridicule, scorn and amusement with which the atheist lot of DI choose to use. So, why not use it also?

    The point I was attempting to make is that Heaven is like no physical place. It is not earth. In Heaven "we" will not be "human." We will not have "bodies." Many faiths believe different things, but it really isn't what that religion says or believes. Heaven, GOD is bigger than what some religious doctrine claims Him to be. (I say Him just because that is what we in society are so used to using to describe the Entity known as "God")

    Mark, you claim that God "wants" to be worshiped, that he becomes jealous and creates world catastrophes because people don't "like" Him enough. Excuse me, but who are you to claim that God has any such emotion. Who ever said that these were his characteristics at all? Oh yeah, the Christians, right? Who is to say that anything that they say is right?

    Think for yourself. That is the point. It isn't what the Christians, or the Muslims, or the Hindus say. "Finding God" is a personal journey, it is about finding your true self in the light of the "Divine," whatever that may be. God really is like a force that exists throughout the universe, but also within the human mind, for that is where the "soul" (if that really exists) is located. Since humans experience the universe through their own mind (we being the only animals capable of such intellectual perception), then it is by that vehicle that we experience "God." Perhaps this realization of the Soul and of the "True Self" will be the next evolutionary step?

    Interesting that you brought up Godel's Theorem as well. I am currently reading Hofstader's AMAZING book: Godel, Escher, Bach. In it he attempts to deduce the purpose of meaning, and how meaning arrives out of a basically meaningless universe. How is it that Humans have consciousness, what does it mean to be aware of one's self? In his following book "I am a Strange Loop" he goes further on the concept of "I" and of the Human soul.

    I bring it up because I find it a very profound philosophical diatribe on the meaning of existence. I believe some of you should take a good look at the book. Secondly, he describes in it the concept of Infinity. Tony, read the book. Infinity is the very concept of God (none of this is claimed by Hofstadter, mind you). You said to name you a god and you will name one better. Well, if you continue to do that it will occur for infinity. What you fail to realize is that God IS infinity. He encompasses "your god" and all the ones beneath and above it. God exists in the infinite and in the finite. God is not a person who sits on a cloud in some remote location called Heaven who then dishes out random bolts of destruction or compassion based on childish HUMAN whims.

    Think beyond the limited capacity that is your human understanding and then maybe you might be able to grasp a better concept of what "GOD" really is.

    And Erich, when I said callously amused I did not mean in regards to the Dead. The dead could care less what you say about them for indeed, as you say, they are quite dead. I meant towards those who ARE alive, meaning those who believe in a specific faith, who believe in a "Heaven" who believe in living a certain way in order to achieve a more enlightened state. As Tim has continued to say, too many people follow the bandwagon atheist train and ridicule the theists on this website.

    I find it interesting how many constantly berate theists for their one-sided, ignorant views (although it is very true that the majority of theists are indeed ignorant of many things, including their own faith. Please do not consider me among them), and yet attach themselves to the Atheist ditto-head conglomerate.

    I, for one, constantly question my beliefs and my understanding of existence and the Universe. I try to follow a very Socratic method of existence, and I know many here do the same. However, I still see the close mindedness of many on this website and elsewhere around me. I expect callous indifference and ignorant belief-clinging from them though, and not from the people here. I know that we are all far better than that.

  3. Ben says:

    "If they were more confident and secure in their religious convictions, they probably wouldn't waste their time trying to discredit a few atheists."

    -Dennett

    Tim, Gregory, Karl:

    How do you feel about the practice of human sacrifice by the Aztecs?

    Were they perhaps taking their religion a bit too far? Or just doing God's Bidding?

    Can it ever be dangerous or disadvantageous to believe things solely on "faith"?

    When did humans get "souls"? Did Neanderthal man have a soul?

    Is it possible that "God" (as you have learned, or been taught)is not necessary. (i.e. akin to the appendix in humans?)

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/20

    "I am confident that those who believe in belief are wrong. That is, we no more need to preserve the myth of God in order to preserve a just and stable society than we needed to cling to the Gold Standard to keep our currency sound. It was a useful crutch, but we've outgrown it."

    Also see Marks new post on the Almighty Zeus for a possible strategy to answer the above questions (since the theists I encounter always seem to ignore or brush away questions which require empathy and/or critical thought). Perhaps the reason we don't believe in YOUR God is the same reason you don't believe in Zeus. Maybe we are all in the same boat. (or Ark, in Karl's case).

    http://dangerousintersection.org/2009/07/23/chris

  4. Gregory Bosch writes:—"I made no claim to “know what Heaven is like,” I simply chose to use the description as is said in the Bible."

    Yeah, well, where is that exactly? Except for John of Patmos' fever-dream description of the New Jerusalem, I don't recall any descriptions of daily life in heaven.

    Just curious.

  5. Tim Hogan says:

    1. What the Aztecs did was within the context of their belief system. I personally would not like to have my heart ripped from my chest.

    2. Yes.

    3. Yes, see No. 1.

    4. Yes. Faith compels compassion and mercy, some take advantage or mistake such for weakness.

    5. Humans have always had a soul.

    6. Neanderthals were humans.

    7. God is the first cause and therefore necessary for whatever is thereafter but, we have free will to muck things up.

  6. Gregory Bosch says:

    Ben writes:- "Can it ever be dangerous or disadvantageous to believe things solely on “faith”?"

    Of course it can, or did you not read my entire comment? I said over and over that it is best when people of faith constantly question their own religious convictions. The Aztecs and other ancient people are not unlike the people of our current era. The leaders used religion and fear to supplicate the masses to their whims. It takes place in Christianity, Islam, Judaism and even Hinduism and Buddhism all over the world today. Like I said before, please do not count me among the thoughtless sheep of the religious conglomerate. If I were like said people, I would definitely NOT even be commenting on this site.

    A further interpretation of this thoughtless following occurs among the atheist crowd as well, though to a different effect. Though it is no problem to revere logic and understanding, it becomes a problem when you place your logic on such a high pedestal that, in a sense, it becomes your God. In essence you have faith that your own logical convictions are correct, when they might not be. Just be careful, and be open, as I am.

    "When religion loses its reason, and reason becomes its own religion, then all is lost."

    Ben also writes:- "Is it possible that “God” (as you have learned, or been taught)is not necessary."

    It might be possible that the "God" of religious groups is not necessary, as I said. These "gods" were created as a means of supplication. Also, our ancestors created ideas of "God" in order to understand that which they could not fathom. Of course, we now have science for that, a new religion of sorts. However, I do not speak of that "God" in the sense that religions speak of Him. I prefer to use the word because it has such societal connotations already, and it is unfortunate that so many negative connotations have already been added. However, I do think that humans have a mental capacity for the understanding of a spiritual "realm." This is where one can experience great love, altruism, and understanding towards fellow man. Religions have a few things right in trying to teach these fundamental tenants of human empathy, though I am not saying they are 100% right.

    Mark, if you choose to discredit Revelations (which is, admittedly, where much of "Heaven's" description can be found), there are still MANY places throughout the Bible which describe Heaven. Though they are not physical descriptions of Heaven, they still describe what I was speaking of about a place of everlasting Love, Unity with "God," exceeding joy and happiness, etc.

    If you have a Bible handy, look up:

    Matthew 5:12

    Luke 6:23

    Deuteronomy 26:15

    Jude 1:24

    For starters. My favorite one, however, is

    "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

    Which basically means that Heaven will be a place of rewards based on one's own personal service to God. Now, it is interesting that the Bible describes Heaven as a place of reward. And also that it states that it DEPENDS on how your life was lived. Now, I know many will immediately trounce the profound subjectivity of this statement, but I think you have to look a little deeper than just the words. No matter who your "God" is or your faith, if you live your life to the full effect of how you know you should live (meaning, love one another, be good, etc) then you will receive your "reward" in heaven.

    I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who studies neuroscience and he came up with a rather interesting idea. He believes that, since all experience is in the brain, that therefore when one dies they will experience a sort of residual build up of life experiences that will be a "left over" of life on earth. Thus, if one were to live a life of good, their last moment will be one of peace and therefore THAT will be their "eternity." Similarly, if one lives a life of exceeding turmoil, grief and pain, and evil (from which the former things arise), then their "eternity" will be solely based on those thoughts and will, in essence, be Hell.

    This ideal leaves a lot of room for questioning. However, basically it means that in the "end," we will be our own judge. And if we live a "good" life and have a good conscience and try to right the wrongs we have made towards others, then that is when you "find God" and die knowing you lived a good life.

    All speculation of course, but it is interesting nonetheless.

  7. Ben says:

    Thanks Tim!

    1. If you ever have a chance to visit the Aztec ruins of Chichen Itza in mexico, its spectacular.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chichen_Itza
    (doh, wiki says its mayan)

    Please if you could just clarify point number 6…

    I'm curious where the line is drawn, which of our ancestors had souls?

    Certainly this one?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenyanthropus_platyo
    Or this one?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ardipithecus

    (Of course I'm not asking you to speak for your Creator, just give your own opinion.)

    How about the "Hobbit" humans?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_evolution#Homo

    Did Australopithecus have a soul?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Austrolopithecu

    Do Modern Apes and/or animals (not including humans) have souls?

    What about our ancestors which might look more like chimps if we saw them today? Souls or not?

    Where do you draw the line between human and animal (assuming you'll say animals do not have souls)?

    If you have a moment, carefully watch this animation of the evolution of "our" skull.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcqA8wEljPM

    (also this old post of Erich's came to mind):
    http://dangerousintersection.org/2007/06/30/ances

  8. Karl says:

    As for calling "everyone" hell bound and twisted, I do not leave myself out of the family portrait. Without God doing something himself, I would have no hope. I do not claim that my works will get me out of any judgment for sin, personal or otherwise. I do not need to project this onto others, the buck stops at the front door of my own beliefs. Those who are offended at my use of terms with dubious connotations, I'm sorry but that's my belief system – which is apparently not yours.

    Hank, I prefaced my statements with "if hell actually exists." This is the crux of the issue. If you believe hell is not real, my assigning you a belief one way or the other should all be fictitious – just laugh it off. "Luke, I am not your Father."

    Any discussion between people with any kinds of views concerning the afterlife actually only have valid meaning to those whose beliefs somewhat match each other. To those who don't believe in any such possibilities for an afterlife, their references to heaven and hell should be matters of fiction to them, so their discussion of them should be as fiction and they should not get offended. I get such mixed signals from atheists that I never know if they are joking or serious about what they themselves might or might not believe in.

    It very likely that in many instances those who discuss fiction as though it has personal relevance and the ability to offend them is perplexing to say the least. It would be like saying "In 2012 the world as we know it will come to an end and there's nothing we can do about it."

    Que Sera, Sera,

    Whatever will be, will be

    The future's not ours, to see

    Que Sera, Sera

    What will be, will be.

    Should I try to write about heaven and hell as fictional and not let it bother me personally? I guess there are some who can do that.

    Should I consider that what I believe might be offensive to someone else so I should only reference myself and other fictional characters? What people believe can tend to offend other people, that’s part of being human.

    Perhaps atheists should consider what is offensive about the use of mocking, which they never consider as a fault of their own.

    I am not about to go through thousands of comments just to be told the writer's words didn't mean what others interpreted them to mean. Atheists can't be called upon anything they write concerning heaven or hell since they can always claim they write for an audience that begs to differ with their own beliefs concerning the use of the terms.

    Sex is heaven will about as pointless.

  9. Tony Coyle says:

    Gregory – I was reading Hofstadter when I was a teenager! His musings (and especially the golden braid) led me into computer science as much as trying to program games on a sinclair ZX or a BBC Micro ever did.

    I found Hofstadter when investigating philosophy in my search for real meaning and an understanding of religion. I had decided I was definitely agnostic regarding the question of god by the time I was 12. My dad died the year before, and I couldn't see any 'joy' in the adults that he had 'gone to heaven' after suffering terribly for years with a cancer riddled body. That started my quest for understanding. Why were they 'only' sad? Why were they not happy that his pain had ended?

    I was raised a catholic, and was seriously targeted towards a life of seminary & priesthood, like my smarter cousins (what else would a poor but clever catholic boy aspire to, after all?).

    You read Hofstadter as an affirmation of your god. I read Hofstadter as an affirmation of my humanity.

    Maybe you just don't understand what the ant colony means in those dialogs?

  10. Tony Coyle says:

    Karl writes: Perhaps atheists should consider what is offensive about the use of mocking

    I find this extremely rich coming from an avowed evangelical who would enforce creationist beliefs upon school children.

    perhaps you should reconsider, Karl.

    I find it offensive that I must pass many, many christian churches every day not one of whom pays a jot in taxes; who shout their message of 'jesus' at every passer-by regardless of the offense that may cause; who seek to increase their influence in every walk of secular life, denying basic human rights of love and affirmation to those they decry; whose practitioners loudly proclaim their fidelity, their honesty, their integrity, but who are frequently discovered to have no fidelity, zero honesty, and no integrity.

    Perhaps you should reconsider the use of the term 'offensive'. Your abrogation of that term in this context is itself offensive to me and to every freethinker.

    Perhaps christians should start acting as christians, rather than proselytizing. We can see the beam in your eye, you know, and it's not very pretty.

  11. Karl says:

    That was a fairly deserved response Tony, at least we both agree that Christians have flaws, but you purport that they shouldn't talk about a possible remedy.

    If you believed you knew of a solution to a problem that besets many people would you keep silent about it because there were some other people that didn't want to hear about it?

  12. Tony Coyle says:

    Karl said If you believed you knew of a solution to a problem that besets many people would you keep silent about it because there were some other people that didn’t want to hear about it?

    At last — you now understand the atheist position on blogs like this.

    We're simply shining a light on the extreme cognitive and behavioral dissonance exhibited by the religiously inclined.

    I'm so happy that you agree that such is a valuable, indeed a selfless, act.

  13. Hank says:

    What people object to is being repeatedly pitched a remedy to a problem which they don't believe exists.

    Example:

    "My magic keeps goblins away, join me in reciting the anti-goblins spell and be saved."

    "But I don't believe goblins exist. Insufficient evidence and all that, plus all the things that people say goblins do can be explained naturally without resorting to goblins."

    "They're totally there, says my goblin book, and they'll get you without my magic. Plus thousands of years of tradition and goblinology can't be wrong!"

    "You weren't listening were you?"

    "You're too closed-minded to notice the goblins – that or they've got you already!"

    "You're too dogmatic to accept you might be wrong about the bloody goblins."

    "I shall cleanse you of the goblin infestation, brother – open up…"

    "Stop pointing your wand at me."

    Why would a non-goblinist want your goblin-repellent if he doesn't believe in goblins?

    It's not just that they don't want to hear about your solution – it's that they don't think you're right about the problem in the first place.

  14. Karl says:

    So people have flaws, but there is not a common way to describe the problem and therefore there sure isn't going to be any way to come to a common agreement upon a solution for the unclear problem either.

    It all comes down to your philosophical predisposition (bias), either you admit that you have one like theists or creationsits do or you claim you don't personally care about individual problems (atheistic) or you claim you don't know if you even have a problem or not (agnostic).

    It seems to me that more than half of what gets discussed here is about people trying to get others to identify problems the same way they do, what does that tell you about the human condition?

    Many here on DI seem to claim that humans with their flaws and quirks are actually what makes life interesting and in fact enjoyable and without them human behaviors surrounding things like sex would really not have much purpose or even a reason for being ventured upon.

    Kind of sounds like most atheists and agnostics are therefore socialistic in regards to the overall population, but with a pervasive streak of libertarian rights (towards behaviors that are important to them) as far as smaller groups or individuals goes.

    What in the world would atheists and agnostics ever do if they had enough collective power to force smaller groups or individual libertarian views upon the larger society? I kind of think we're seeing that right now to some degree in America.

    Which smaller group would eventually take charge and push for the dominance of their bias? In this picture the entire picture of human existence is simply a matter of who has the power to do what they wish to do and to enforce this upon the rest of society. Extreme libertatrian views then become matters of tyranny at some point along the spectrum.

    How could this ever work out to make the any society suit either agnostics or atheists?

    It's like asking a question such as "What about sex in heaven?" No one will ever beable to make anyone happy enough for sex in heaven to suit them.

  15. Karl,

    We're all about solutions to problems—all of us, christians, nonbelievers, others. That is, in the main. Naturally there are those of all stripes who could care less about other people and their problems.

    Here's the thing. When we hear the christian proselyte avowing solutions to age old problems, it comes across like this.

    Cure for the common cold:

    "My remedy, in this here bottle, will cure the common cold. Taken three times daily, along with plenty of fluids, bed rest, extra vitamins, you will find that in about seven to ten days your cold will be miraculously gone."

    Standard cure?

    Plenty of fluids, bed rest, extra vitamins, in about seven to ten days the cold will be gone.

    So why should we take the miracle remedy?

    The fact is, the one-size-fits-all approach of most religions—mind you, I'm not singling christianity out—is a band-aid over the wound, which if we're serious about healing has other methods of approach.

    But they all require individual treatment and HARD WORK.

    I did peer counseling for a short while. I would regularly have this conversation:

    Them: "My life is all screwed up, I don't know what to do."

    Me: "What do you want from me, then?"

    Them: "Tell me how to fix things."

    Me: "I can give you a lot of pointers, but the bottom line is it's up to you."

    Them: "What do you mean?"

    Me: "The problem is in your hands. You don't like your life, change it."

    Them (snorting derisively): "You make it sound so easy. Don't like your life, change it. Just like that?"

    Me: "No. I didn't say it would be easy. It's damn hard work, actually, but the fact is you have to do the work. It may sound easy, but it's anything but. It's the only answer, though."

    See, the easily-stated hit them two ways: (1) well, isn't that obvious? and (2) it can't be that simple.

    Underlying both of those is an unwillingness to admit responsibility and an aversion to making hard choices.

    The magical miracle cure, though, does a dodge around these problems. By buying into the wonderful curative properties of the elixir, it seems they're getting help from outside. If it fails, it's not their fault. But if it works, you will likely find that they went ahead and did all the work that would have sufficed without the miracle cure, but they needed a crutch to get them started.

    Here's my problem with it: once the cure is effected, the crutch refuses to be put down. It becomes a millstone to be carried around for the rest of your life. And at some point it may just get in the way instead of benefiting anyone—vis a vis the systemic reaction to gay marriage or contraception you find in many religions.

    So if the answer to dealing with problems is hard work and that's about the only thing that works, the question is where does anyone get off telling people that hard work won't do without Jesus in their life?

    Then you get into what Hank referred to—selling people a cure for diseases that don't exist. People screw up, some people screw so badly they have to be put in prison, but it's on them (mostly). Their subscription to a supernatural ideology doesn't bear on that and it's usually an act of barn-door closing after the fact. But the cures aren't really there when needed.

    Problem: abusive parents.

    Solution: (possibly and very metaphorically) kick the shit out of the child beater and tell him that if the kid ever gets hurt again, you'll come back and finish the job.

    Religious solution: pray for the family.

    Net result? Take your pick.

    Problem: illness robs family of income necessary to keep them in their home.

    Solution: community pitch in to pay the mortgage and help out with medical bills.

    religious solution: pray for the family.

    Net result?

    This is not to say that religious communities don't intercede in such instances with the practical solution. But if the practical solution works without the praying, what do you need the praying for? And without the practical solution, praying generally doesn't do anything but make a do-nothing community feel good about itself while the damage continues.

    You might say that the religion is a rallying point to bring people together—and I say that's valid. But to suggest it's anything more than that is not the prerogative of the community to assert, only the choice of the individual to accept.

    I don't believe in sin. I believe there are problems and there are solutions, and that there are people who help and people who hinder. The results sometimes are labeled character flaws or "consequence of sin" but that's a nonsense formulation to my mind.

  16. Gregory Bosch says:

    Tony Coyle writ:- "You read Hofstadter as an affirmation of your god. I read Hofstadter as an affirmation of my humanity."

    I read no book as an affirmation of any of my preconceived notions about the world. I read in order to enrich my understanding of what I know and learn things I never knew. Hofstadter's book is profound in that it offers an understanding of the human condition to seek meaning in that which is essentially meaningless. I did not read to affirm "my god." What I gathered from it is that the Human mind is quite profound, and that one's ability to discover and prescribe meaning is universal. I see no image of God in the book, and I don't see it as a proof that God exists or does not exist.

    You are under the mistaken assumption that I am a simple Christian with indoctrinated beliefs and that is simply not the case. You chose to become agnostic after the people around you showed you contradictions in their own faith, which in turn made you question yours. That is understandable, but you cannot hope to gather a better understanding of true spirituality through people, and ESPECIALLY not through the Church.

    It is easy to denounce faith, and then even easier to criticize and ridicule the faithful for what their brothers and sisters (who are also human)do. No one is perfect, and unfortunately the majority of religious people are the farthest from perfection. Humans are hypocrites, and will lie to themselves just as much as they lie to others.

    Tony, just because you are offended by what Christians as a group do does not mean that you can attribute those same qualities to any individual, especially on this site. As I said before, it is easy to point out the beam in Christians' eyes because it is always there, and because it is what they should be doing already. But what about the mocking, ridiculing tone of the atheists not just in general life but on this site also? Who is to point out the massive wooden rob that constantly pokes them in the eye? Certainly not they themselves, for they don't believe in what the Bible says. And not Christians, for then that would be preaching.

    I think religion is a problem, to be sure. As I said before it indoctrinates people into believing something just for the sake of believing, when one should always question his beliefs and values.

  17. Karl says:

    Mark,

    Christians aren't suppose to be adverse to the kind of hard work you speak of, but they are not to trust in anything that they can do or not do that enables them to stay in relationship with God, and their fellow humans as well.

    In today's world when a person decides there is no need for a relationship with another person or persons it is because they consider that they find no internal meaning or value for such a relationship. People then tend to write off these relationships because of their self-serving perspective which prefers specific "current relationship serving."

    People do write off other people and such relationships as well for their own internal self-motivated reasons. Personal relationships with God and other people can exist and they can run very much amuck.

    The following is essentially the only

    'human' thing about Christianity that separates it from the rest of the religions.

    Christians learn to bestow and accept forgiveness on/to others and themselves by the acceptance of the forgiveness bestowed upon them by God through Jesus Christ.

    If this is a hoax, I wish the whole world were delusional. People that can't forgive themselves and/or others are the essential blight upon humanity.

    Atheists and agnostics must either be immune to the need for forgiveness, or have they may have learned a tight rope walk that keeps them balanced as long as their friends keep on accepting all manner of behaviors and ideology.

    Yesterday, un-marital sex and abortion were tolerated. Today gay marriage must be tolerated. In the future those who do not tolerate such things will not be tolerated, get the picture?

    Where is the use of the term forgiveness in today's world of the atheist or agnostic?

    I guess that must not be believed in either.

  18. Karl writes:—"Where is the use of the term forgiveness in today’s world of the atheist or agnostic?"

    Good question, Karl. The answer is, we learn to forgive each other. And we do. Atheists do not automatically become cold, insensitive dweebs just because they don't have Jesus or Allah or Vishnu.

    My point, though, is that since the solution is usually something we do for each other, selling that program in the guise of something that doesn't solve problems (directly) is fraudulent. Unless, that is, as I said, you're using it as a focus to bring charitable people together.

    You forgive others. From yourself. You learn to tolerate, you learn to forgive, you learn to help—because that's where the energy is anyway. If it helps you to do all that by crediting the supernatural, fine, but I think it would be a good thing to teach people that this is the way to live no matter what god they pray to—or don't pray to.

    And it's hard work.

    I understand christians don't shirk hard work, that wasn't my point. But a lot of them are only willing to do it if there are browny points with the godhead, or if it serves to enlarge the congregation. It comes in a package very often—we'll help you but you hacve to listen to us preach at you and tell you how you live and how you believe is wrong. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but I'd rather show people solutions that let them feed themselves and house themselves rather than tell them to pray for it and maybe it'll get better.

    Anyway, been down this road before. I've known too many christians—and others—who live as if bending the knee and praying were the only things that mattered and wouldn't give a dime to a starving man unless he professed the same belief. It's tiresome and it's hypocritical and it's beside the point.

  19. Karl says:

    Jesus said something like this, (paraphrased here) "What good is it if you forgive those you want to keep as your friends? That's easy and self serving in most cases. The hard thing to do is to forgive those who don't want anything to do with you. Lets see you forgive those that are at enmity with you or you with them. Then you will truly be my disciples."

    Forgiveness is not something you can only talk about. People only know it is genuine when they see restoration of broken relationships, the strengthening of existing relationships or in some cases the formation of new relationships that didn't exist before.

    The full ideals of Jesus are basically out of reach for anyone who responsibly has commitments to a family, or an employer or a political party unless the family, employer or political party share the same ideals as Jesus.

    Then a person could sacrifice (give and volunteer of his or her own life) for the betterment of others without being seen as having ulterior motives.

    Then he or she could forgive and help not only his near clansmen or clanswomen but even those who are afar off from those they consider their clansmen and clanswomen.

    Liberals of any persuasion could then work with conservatives of any persuasion. This would of course also mean in some cases that atheists would be able to remain civil and not get bent out of shape after repeated contact with non atheists. Then people wouldn't have to fear being honest about their actual beliefs for fear of making others question their sanity. Theists wouldn't need to walk around hiding that they do go to church and find it meaningful.

    Evangelicals that believe in Jesus’ teachings also do believe in aspects of a social gospel, which should not be conditioned upon merit. But it also is only beneficial in both the short and long run to those who can learn to exhibit forgiveness themselves.

    Lets see how the meeting goes between Gates, Crowley and Obama. Cheers!

  20. In case anyone is still reading, a positive (though possibly speculative) case can be made that male-female relationships similar to marital bonds can continue between the redeemed into the next life. This may then also imply a romantic, physical or even sexual aspect in such a relationship.

    Below are some websites that make this positive case (across Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant strands of Christianity). Each website does deal with the marriage pericope of Mt 22 to a lesser or greater degree –

    1. http://rezfamilies.googlepages.com
    2. http://www.ewtn.org/library/Marriage/zmarrheavn.h
    3. http://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&id=YSS
    Whether you find these arguments convincing is ultimately up to you.

    PS. please note according to historic Christian doctrine, the next life involves the resurrection, which is physical in nature, and is not to be identified with “heaven” (where the redeemed go after death to await future physical resurrection of their bodies) – please see this link for more explanation –
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,171

  21. Erich Vieth says:

    "It is a curious thing… that every creed promises a paradise which will be absolutely uninhabitable for anyone of civilized taste."

    Evelyn Waugh (1903 – 1966)

  22. Logan says:

    Great points, and interesting because people were arguing about this same topic when Jesus was alive. Matt chapter 22 verses 23-30 describe the debate and Jesus says there will be no marriage in heaven so having multiple wives won't be an issue.

    Another point, real Christianity is the belief that nobody is "good" and that we're all a bunch of screw ups and that's why Jesus came and died in our place so that believing in him will make us "good enough" in Gods eyes.

    Finally you have to look at the purpose of sex/marriage. God said it's not good for us to be wandering around on this rock alone so he gave us spouses that we can share intimacy with. Ultimately that intimacy is just a bandaid though and if we accept Jesus's offer of life after death then the true relationship with God will take the place of that need. At the end of the bible it talks about new bodies, a new heaven, and a new earth where evil is gone. Who knows what that will look like but I think it's more than clouds, harps, and halos.

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