“Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.” ― Christopher Hitchens
Just recently we had a stall at the Swindon Old Town Festival, and had a lovely day meeting people, chatting about humanism and scoffing cake. Also with a stall at the event was our local evangelical church – Swindon Evangelical Church. As in previous years they had “If you could ask God a question, what would you ask?” posters up, but this year they came with a mobile phone number to text the questions! While not actually a direct line to the Almighty, it seemed as close as we were going to get so some of us decided to take advantage of the opportunity and text a question. Below are some of the questions and responses (not edited in anyway for spelling, punctuation etc) for you to assimilate:
Humanist. What acts performed by a person are worthy of eternal punishment? Isn’t eternal punishment by definition immoral?
God. IF THERE IS NO GOD THERE ARE NO MORAL ABSOLUTES BUT IF THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IS INFINITE IN ALL HIS ATTRIBUTES INCLUDING HIS JUSTICE SO EVERY SIN IS AN INFINTE OFFENCE THAT DEMANDS INFINITE PUNISHMENT
H. How is infinite punishment for every sin something a merciful God would approve of? Is God not merciful or forgiving?
G. ABSOLUTELY BUT THERE MUST BE ATONEMENT*
H. Is not believing in God a sin demanding eternal punishment?
G. God is merciful and forgiving. All we have to do is ask just like we do with people.
No believing in God is a blessing resulting in a purpose of life and knowing that death is not the end.
H. Plenty of people have purpose in life without belief in God or an afterlife, myself being one of them. And as yet there’s no good reason to think that death isn’t the end, physics pretty much rules it out. Thanks for the answers!
H. Why don’t you heal the people dying I’m Africa, even though you have powers to make the world. From Sadie aged 7.
G. Hi sadie God did make the world. God has given the gifts to men to heal sicknesses. Sometimes men are selfish and dont share medicines or the money to make them.
H. Why would God make the sickness when he made the world?
G. You assume that God made sickness. It was introduced by man when he brought sin into the world.
H. Why have most swear words got God’s name in them?
G. you are right we agree. it is because He is the autority figure we want to rebel against.
H. Why does God sometimes heal people with disabilities but never heal amputees? Does prayer not work for that?
G. we start from a position that we dont deserve anything but God will heal according to his perfect will. He may not choose to heal amputees in this life but he gives us perfect bodies in the life to come. Isnt that good news.
By coincidence, today I came across a YouTube video of cosmologist and physicist Sean Carroll on the subject of death being the end, which is where the q&a I had above ended. So, as Sean is probably my favourite speaker on all things science (and many things not) and because maybe some curious minds from the Evangelical Church may read this, here is that entertaining and illuminating talk where he explains why physics shows that death is indeed the end (skip to 5.00 mins in as the first few minutes are Sean receiving an award):
Please feel free to comment about the q&a’s or the video 🙂
*After this reply, I had a (real life) conversation about the questions with a church member and commented that ALLCAPS made the replies seem very shouty – this was fixed directly after that 🙂