The Afterlife — Is Hell Real?

I don’t make a habit of studying evil. By its very nature, it is not a pleasant subject. But the truth is, it is part of the human dichotomy and has played a role in our history since the original decision to disobey.

I struggle with the question of whether “evil” is simply disobedience of our Creator, or if there is a demonic influence over this universal body like a cancer. Observing the cold-blooded, sadistic murders in the news certainly implies the latter. The Bible does mention “The Adversary.” But even so, did God not create everything? Is He not God of all? Does this mean He created His own enemy? Is He really that bored?

There are three possibilities I consider whenever I think about this:

  • God and the devil have always existed in tandem (Heaven and Hell have always existed concurrently), or Milton was right and the devil is Lucifer, a fallen angel that became Satan, the king of Hell – which came into existence as a result of his fall. God’s creation of the world was a way to get inhabitants for His Kingdom / souls for His army, although some choose to suffer alongside Satan through blatant rejection and disobedience. Hell is an alternate dimension like Heaven, but farther removed, having no connection to the universal body other than an entrance for demonic cancer to form and spread.

Within the body metaphor, angels are neurotransmitters and the nervous system. They have a very limited free will that allows them to intercede with humanity on God’s behalf. Angelic disobedience is like a brain malfunction that causes a disorder (e.g.  “Universal Tourette’s,” “Universal Schizophrenia”).

The first disobedience was not Adam and Eve, but Satan – that’s why Adam and Eve could not only choose to disobey, but choose to be evil (see Cain). The fall of “Lucifer” is what created the universal cancer/disorder. Note that Adam and Eve did not sin until Satan tempted them, after he fell for refusing to serve them.

As long as some people choose Evil, God’s kingdom cannot come. As long as some people choose Good, God won’t destroy the earth (“cleanse” evil from the earth).

With this possibility, the conclusion is that we must destroy ourselves, or become enlightened, before God can introduce the New Kingdom.

  • There is no Hell, merely nonexistence. Evil people who mock God and do immoral things without remorse are eliminated when they die. In other words, there is either a paradisiacal afterlife or an erasure of the soul and self-awareness, as if you never existed. This is exactly what atheists expect, so in a way, it’s “just deserts.”
  • God created the devil or is Himself both Good and Evil. Free will is His final touch on making us in His image. We have the ability to choose evil because He does. He, too, wrestles with this dichotomy, but Good reigns (Creation is the culmination of Good incarnate). God recognizes that the Evil side is “the adversary.” Perhaps it is an element of Himself that He will eventually destroy.

Whether there is a Hell or nonexistence with this possibility is debatable. If Heaven is God’s mind, Hell is (forgive my crassness) His bowels.  Nonexistence is more likely if His end goal is to destroy evil.

Perhaps we were created so He can experience suffering at the hands of those who choose evil, and surround Himself with Good in Heaven. Perhaps Jesus was sent to experience ultimate suffering in order to destroy the evil in Himself, and therefore free us from being imprisoned by that evil. Perhaps His temptation in the desert was a dissociative identity episode – He was debating with the evil side of Himself, asking Himself whether He really wanted to suffer in order for Good to win out, or whether it would be better to give in to the fleeting power and “happiness” evil could provide.

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The majority of Christians believe the first possibility (excepting the body metaphor, which is my own way of understanding panentheism and how the universe and spiritual realm function together) because it is what the Church teaches, despite not being one hundred percent Biblically-based. A lot of what we think we know about the devil actually comes from John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno.

I’d like to believe the second possibility, only because there is so much suffering in this life. I can’t stand to think there exists such a place of eternal suffering, even if only the worst of the worst go there. Nonexistence is a better way, besides, because why permit evil to go on existing? Is it not better for the universe, and for God, to destroy evil completely? Why banish it to a place where it can fester and exacerbate? But if this possibility of nonexistence is true, then the third possibility must also be true, because otherwise, where does evil come from? If there are no demons or devil, why does evil still remain a choice? The idea that God is both good and evil is hard for me to accept. I hate to think He not only allows, but ordains, oppression and suffering, but it would be foolish of me to dismiss it simply because I don’t like it.

I can’t say which possibility is the correct one. I don’t know. No one does. I find myself believing each one at different times. It is difficult to consider the nature of eternal suffering – none of us want to experience it, and we hope and pray we can be good enough to not find out what it’s like. What I do know is that no one is “good enough” to go straight to Heaven. We all disobey at some level, and do so repeatedly. The truth is we deserve to suffer. That is the wonderful miracle of Jesus – even if He is both good and evil, the good won out. He defeated evil by sacrificing Himself for our sakes; His resurrection is a precursor to the end, when God’s Goodness will triumph over Evil.

No matter what we do, we have the choice through Christ to destroy our own evil and focus on spending an eternity in God’s mind, Heaven, a place of eternal creation and perfect health.

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Supporting arguments for the Third Possibility:

https://perfectchaos.org/2015/08/01/the-devil-doesnt-exist/  (I recommend looking up the Bible verses referenced both in this blog and in the comments.)

https://perfectchaos.org/2012/03/25/morality-and-god/ (Very interesting comments section here as well; I recommend reading through it.)

https://perfectchaos.org/2016/07/24/gods-sovereignty-in-scripture/ (Yes, this is the third link for the same blogger – what can I say, he has some good points. Here he outlines some Bible verses that support God’s control over all good and evil.)

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Bible verses describing Hell (Most describe a fiery lake or blazing furnace, or reference the “realm of the dead” and everlasting destruction – these could be describing a real place. Or, they could be metaphors for the painful process of becoming eternally separate from God – or nonexistent.):

http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/hell-bible-verses/

2 Thessalonians 1:9 in particular supports the nonexistence possibility. Any reference to a “second death” by way of the “lake of fire” could be speaking of the process of the soul being erased.

…Matthew 25:41, 2 Peter 2:4, and Revelation 12:7 support the first possibility of Lucifer’s fall, however.

 

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

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Panentheism and the Body Metaphor

In Part One of The Problem with Biblical Literalism, I briefly spoke about the idea of Panentheism, or all-in-god. Not to be confused with Pantheism, or all-is-god, Panentheism is the theory that God exists within His creation, and His creation exists within Him. However, creation is not God. He exists outside of creation as well.

In other words, Panentheism claims God is immanent and transcendent.

Christianity also claims God is both immanent and transcendent. In practice, however, most Christians understand God only as transcendent – He created us and is separate from us. Immanence, or God’s presence among us, is all but abandoned, or briefly mentioned in passing when discussing the Holy Spirit.

Theism2

I have read a few Christian articles that denounce Panentheism as another tactic to distract us from Christ. I do not see it this way at all. In fact, the theory helps me better understand the nature of God.

A common metaphor Panentheists use is that of the mind-body relationship. I have expanded on this idea to incorporate Christianity.

The human body is necessary to live and experience, but our souls exist beyond its death.

God, the Great Soul, created the universe out of Himself as His Body – to experience and exist in tandem with His creation. His essence is within all things. While it enhances His existence, He is not transcribed by it – He does not require “the body” to be God. However, as long as “the body” exists, God is within it, just as our awareness is within our bodies until we die.

Sentient beings are like red blood cells, countless but necessary for the body to “live.” Satan and sin are cancers. Free will gives the red blood cells a choice to flow for the benefit of the whole body or be infected by the cancer (turning away and denouncing God).

Christ is the cure, the immune system of mighty white blood cells. Each infected cell (all of them since original sin) now can choose to be healed, or stay infected. The healed cells may become re-infected but always have the option to be healed again. The cells that stay infected wither, and once dead, they are eliminated from the system, never to be a part of the body again.

That is what Hell is – a complete severance from God. It is a choice, and the result isn’t a fiery inferno, but nonexistence. Since atheists already believe death is a metamorphosis into nonexistence, they get exactly what they expect.

Angels exist, too – they were created right before the body as the neurotransmitters, necessary for the mind to communicate and control the body. As I have mentioned before, they are the pathways, not the targets, and so cannot receive God’s love as we do. The brain sends these “messengers” to tell the “body” what to do. In a sense, they are Christ’s support, dictating to the immune system and other “bodily functions.” While the mind/spirit/soul (the “trinity” of the brain) is aware of the body, it cannot itself travel to the kidney or liver or heart. The Father controls the body, angels execute the control, and Christ comes to us personally with the Holy Spirit to continuously heal.

I’ll admit, this is not by any means a perfect metaphor, but I believe it is an appropriate one, as we were created in His image – not only do we have a trinity of mind/soul/spirit, but our bodies function the same way physically that His does metaphorically. “In His image” does not literally mean that He has some kind of physical form that mirrors ours.

The following article acknowledges how Panentheism could be compatible with Christianity, except that it “denies creation ex nihilo” –

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/08/whats-wrong-with-panentheism/

Of course, I disagree. In fact, I believe Panentheism because it affirms creation ex nihilo – if God created out of nothing, then it comes to bear he created from only Himself, and therefore, the universe is His physical form – His body. How is this denying Genesis?

This theory brings God closer to us, and it is more effortless to have a relationship knowing we are part of His body. Olson does make interesting points about redefining what redemption and salvation mean in this context – how it might mean God is dependent on it, rather than it being a gift for us. This is why I agree with Martin Luther’s “weak” Panentheism – God is, indeed, within all of creation, but He is not transcribed by it. He doesn’t need it in order to be God.

We don’t need our bodies, necessarily, but they are a blessing in that they allow us to experience and learn. As I mentioned in Part One of The Problem with Biblical Literalism, perhaps the all-knowing God wants to experience His existence through ignorant eyes, to see what His body/children see and create more from those experiences.

The following article explains Panentheism but refers to it as an “age-old heresy” and gets some facts wrong (I blame her source), such as “God is bi-polar,” “God is finite,” “Creation is ex materia,” and “God is changing.” These are tenets from pantheism, which dictates as the universe changes, God changes with it. This is not necessarily true of Panentheism.

http://www.rebecca-writes.com/rebeccawrites/2008/3/28/theological-term-of-the-week.html

Weak (Palamite) Panentheism replaces the idea of God’s essence with “divine energies” that permeate the world and allow God’s presence among us, without the possible interpretation that He is dependent on creation. It is more compatible with the Christian idea of God than what I have described here, and does not mesh as well with my metaphor, but it is enlightening for Christians and those investigating Christianity who are uncomfortable with how the faith tends to reflect deism and stoicism, which focus on God’s transcendence and disregard His immanence.

Watch this video for more information on how weak (Palamite) Panentheism is compatible with Christianity:

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

Why I Cannot Support Atheism

“The worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank.”  — G. K. Chesterton

I believe in science. I believe in natural selection and evolution as the ways God set(s) the universe in motion.

Atheism does not explain why evil exists. Atheism views everything as complex groupings of cells and processes. Atheism claims morality is possible without God but doesn’t explain where morality comes from, how it evolved, or how it can exist without absolutes. The Merriam-Webster definition of morality is, “[a set of] beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior.” If morality is relative, nothing is right or wrong. Rather, what is right or wrong changes depending on perspective, so what is right or wrong is not constant. Therefore, morality cannot be properly distinguished. In essence, “morality” cannot exist if it is always different from person to person. Murder and larceny are just choices people make, and suffering therefore is a choice.

My spiritual, intuitive mind can respect others’ beliefs, but I cannot embrace this nonbelief as an option for myself.

If atheism were true, why do people have different opinions, perspectives, and personalities? It is not entirely the complexity of the brain doing all this. The way the brain works, if evolution is true on its own without God, we should all be the same, as animals. It cannot all be put on separate experiences either.

I have been an introvert since I was three years old. I had no experience at that age that shaped my brain to believe reading was more fun. I had no experience that made me believe I shouldn’t rely on other people to define my happiness or ability to have fun. I had no experience that told me crowds are uncomfortable.

Education, being financed by the government and being liberal in nature, should have made me liberal. Yet I still believe in God, not to have an “imaginary friend in the sky” (every part of that mockery is wrong), but because I recognize that I have a mind, soul, and spirit. My brain contains all three in its miraculous construction. This trinity dictates how my brain understands concepts; my brain does not control how this trinity forms.

I do not write this as an attempt to prove atheists wrong or to convert them. I do not pretend to try. This is to explain why I turn to God as the answer, and why atheism is not a compatible worldview with my understanding.

I have compiled a list of aspects that differentiate humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. It is ever-expanding, but I will leave the current version here.

Humans:

1) Recognize and appreciate music (contours of sound) in our minds and through our bodies, beyond the boundaries of mere communication

1b) Recognize and appreciate the beauty of art through eyes and ears, and create the beauty of art through mouths, hands, and bodies (evidence shows apes and dolphins, among other animals, can create “art,” but whether these animals recognize it as such, and especially whether they appreciate it, is debatable)

We have:

2) Complex and numerous languages

3) Ability to read and write (record thoughts and comprehend others’ thoughts)

4) Capacity for spirituality and idea of the divine

5) Capacity to comprehend science and conduct experiments (including technology)

6) Politics, morals, ethics, social mores

7) Knowledge and fear of death (While animals do have the self-preservation instinct, they do not know that they will die. They do not have inclinations about the future – they live in the present. Also, past events shape their instincts, but they do not recall these events as vivid memories like humans do.)

Man is both an evolved ape-man and a separate creature. To protect and have compassion for creation, we must be a part of creation. All sentient beings have eyes, are able to eat, having beating hearts, are able to breathe. We are designed to recognize this in order to connect with them.

Why are our brains so highly functioning, while other animals do not have such capabilities? Why did our weak, fleshly husks become the dominant species (ahead of lions, tigers, wolves, and other large predators)?

We are the result of intelligent design via evolution.

The result of evolution shows us that we are the chosen creatures of God, to be like Him, to grow as his children into sub-creators with Him. The process of our evolution shows that in this mortal realm, we are as animals: both to show compassion and protection for them, and to recognize that we are not purely divine. Only God is divine.

Everything we are that is higher than animals is for the purpose of creation beyond procreation. Everything except the knowledge of death, and that is meant to keep us humble in the knowledge that we are God’s children, not God itself.

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.