Is God the Greatest Hoax of All Time (from a Quora discussion, 10/22/2015)

Posted: October 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

“Nobody has ever seen him. No one can describe what he’s actually like. The idea of a timeless, spaceless entity seems to make no sense. The “revelations” received by the so called prophets might as well be delusions of a schizophrenic patient. We live in the 21st century and yet believe in miracles. Even if the miracle stories of the prophets are true, why should we believe they came from God? An advanced civilization with advanced technology can easily deceive a primitive group of people. Eternal hell is the most unjust concept to ever exist yet God is “forgiving and merciful”. How did such a huge portion of mankind fool themselves into believing and dedicating themselves to such an absurd entity? It baffles me actually.”

Answer:

Hoax: “a humorous or malicious deception”
No, God is not the greatest hoax of all time, not if you mean the God of the Bible. Other Gods…meh. I don’t know them.

“Nobody has ever seen him.” Nobody alive, that we know of. No one has seen Socrates, Plato, or Akhenaten. We accept (at least most people) that they existed based on testimony of others, whom no one has seen either. Moses saw God and testified to it in books many people accept as at least as authoritative as the Republic, and we accept Socrates’ existence even though he didn’t write anything at all; Job, Abraham, Jacob, Manoah’s wife, and, of course, Jesus of Nazareth, all saw God. One can accept their testimony or not.
“No one can describe what he’s actually like.” The prophets and patriarchs described him pretty well, I think.
“The idea of a timeless, spaceless entity seems to make no sense.” Glad you used the qualifier seems, because, of course, it wouldn’t to one bound by both time and space. Multiverses “seem” to make no sense, but that doesn’t mean they do not exist. Further, you would make no sense to a two dimensional being, if there are any, and you would “seem” perhaps a bit stunted or incomplete to a 4 dimensional being.
“The ‘revelations’ received by the so called prophets might as well be delusions of a schizophrenic patient.” And your degree in abnormal psychology is from where, exactly? Read the prophets. They were not madmen with sandwich boards jibbering on street corners. They were priests, kings, princes, diplomats. Many held the highest offices foreigners could hold in the administrations of the kingdoms that conquered them. They had a message, spoke it, and shut up. Yes, some were harassed, beaten, and killed, often accused of being mad, but were really thorns in the sides of terribly wicked people. One would have to be “mad” to stand up to a monarchical dictator who thought he was a god and commanded the worship of all his subjects, no?
“Even if the miracle stories of the prophets are true, why should we believe they came from God?” Because once you accept the miraculous, all bets are off; your argument self-destructs. A miracle (“a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency”) by nature is something that happens outside the realm of science. If they could be attributed to, say, aliens, that would only prove (?) that aliens were real, hence scientific; ergo, no miracles.
“Eternal hell is the most unjust concept to ever exist yet God is ‘forgiving and merciful’.” Really? This will take a little time, please be patient. I’ll try to bring this down to mundane, but accessible terms.
Do you have a favorite music? Let’s say you do and it’s alternative rock, one of my favorite genres. Now, do you have a least favorite, I mean a style that you immediately turn off if it comes on the radio or you laugh at whenever you hear it? How ’bout…polka (that, yodeling, gangsta rap, old time twangy country or gospel—would all be among my least favorites!)
Now, have you ever been on a long ride with someone, perhaps a parent, who constantly listened to music that you absolutely abhorred? If not, you are a lucky soul! I am a child of the 60s and 70s and my pop was an opera/religious singer. You can imagine how awful road trips could be for me! It was either Texaco Live at the Met or Christian radio, and there was no “contemporary Christian” radio in those days! If you have had the experience, you know what a singular kind of “hell” it could be! Being forced to listen over and over again to sounds you found deplorable, that you couldn’t bring yourself to like even when you tried your hardest!
Here’s where the hell comparison comes together: If you were forced to worship for eternity a Being you spent your entire life denying, that you even scoffed at the thought of, and Whom, even through all that eternity you hated with all your being, would you call that heaven? Wouldn’t it be the cruelest of all things to force you to listen to a song for all eternity that you could not stand? YOU want to listen to Nirvana and Soundgarden and The Smashing Pumpkins; Afghan Whigs, My Bloody Valentine, Pavement, and Sonic Youth—all that great stuff; but, no…God wants you to listen to POLKA. And Slim Whitman…Lawrence Welk! Forever. And ever. Amen! THAT would not be heaven to you, it would be hell. Hell is actually God’s mercy to those who choose to reject him forever, finally, without recourse or remorse. It is what people CHOOSE, not where they are SENT.
“Hell” is also subjective; if you’re a masochist, the kind of hell the Bible seems to describe looks, quite frankly, like heaven! It’s like the joke about the guy who died and went to hell. Satan shows him a room where people are eternally roasted over open flames; another where they are tormented by demons with spikes and knives; in the last one, people are just sitting for miles and miles in all directions, up to their chests in feces, vomit, stinking, rotting carcasses…erk! But, they’re all sitting there drinking coffee! Fellow says, “Well, none of these is great, but this last looks least bad.” So, in he goes! Once he quits gagging, he almost gets used to the smell, especially when a little flying imp brings him his coffee. He thinks, “Hmm. It could be worse.” That is, until an alarm goes off and a loud voice orders, “All right! Coffee break’s over! BACK ON YER HEADS!”
I think the Orthodox mystics might have been right, that heaven and hell are the same place, actually, but it becomes one or the other from the perspective of the person. Kind of like this beautiful allegory:

“How did such a huge portion of mankind fool themselves into believing and dedicating themselves to such an absurd entity?”  Jesus is said to have healed a blind man on the Sabbath, a man who had previously had to sit and beg for money to live (John 9). This outraged the religious leaders, and they had the man brought before their council for interrogation. After much discussion, they finally turned to the man in question (“his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.'”!)
“Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know.I was blind but now I see!” (emphasis mine)
A sinner or prophet? Absurd entity or Messiah? I can only speak for myself: I was wretched, torn, defeated, broken, rotting in a prison cell, with every ounce of self esteem and goodness stripped from me as if I had been flayed by inquisitors. I had found that the abyss was only the anteroom to another abyss. Rock bottom would have been a blessing, could I only reach it. But someone was kind to me, even me, universally hated and despised, and that because of the love of Jesus Christ. It changed me forever.
If I reach an intellect, a mind, and that only, I have failed, because the mind is but the “porch”, the “welcome mat” to the spirit. As the Psalmist wrote so eloquently:
“My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.” (42:6-8)
“Deep calls to deep” : It is the depth of the Spirit of God that calls to the depth of our dead spirits, and says “rise”. Only then can we know him and see for real, truly, honestly, that he is not an “absurd entity”, but the Father we have always longed for for.
Of course you are baffled. No one is born knowing this; no one. We all reject it…until some of us don’t.
Thank you for the A2A. I know you are in near complete disagreement with me, but I hope we can keep the discussion civil. You asked some very honest and intelligent questions; I only hope I answered them well.

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