Heaven offers a ‘happy” answer to life’s questions

By Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson What is Heaven? The band The Talking Heads tell us that “Heaven is a … Continued

By Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson

What is Heaven? The band The Talking Heads tell us that “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.” That sounds all right. Sometimes “things” are “bad things”, so a place with no “things” at all would be a calm and safe one. But sometimes things are “good things” and I’m not sure I could do without those. After all, they’re “good”.

Hmmm… a pickle, this one.

In the movie “The Invention of Lying,” Mark Bellison – a man living in a world where lying doesn’t exist – accidentally stumbles upon the ability to tell a lie. At first he uses the lie to fulfill selfish wishes, such as sleeping with a beautiful woman (in the end he couldn’t go through with it) and stealing from a casino (this one he was fine with). Bored with that he moves on to using the all powerful lie to help others: he lies to a bank teller so she’ll give money to a homeless man, he lies to an arguing couple so that they’ll make up.

With these small “white lies” out of the way, it’s time for Mark to get his hands dirty and start telling some big, hefty lies. So Mark invents fiction. All in a day’s work. Mark uses fiction to make himself very rich and powerful – writing a big blockbuster action film that Jerry Bruckheimer himself would have been proud to produce.

With fiction invented, Mark moves on to his next big lie, but this one he didn’t plan. This one was all instinct. And, as we believed when writing this film, quite possibly one of the oldest instincts hardwired into man’s DNA.

Mark gets a call from the hospital informing him that his mother has taken ill and probably won’t live through the night. Sitting by his mother’s side, waiting for her to die, watching her tremble in fear in the face of death and the great unknown, Mark does what anyone would do in this situation: he cheers his mother up and quells her fears. How does he do it?

He invents Heaven.

Mark tells his mother that when she dies she won’t enter a “world of nothingness” but instead will go to a “really great place where everyone you’ve ever loved and who has ever loved you” will be. In heaven, Mark’s mother will be able to dance like she used to when she was younger… and there will be free ice cream as well! Needless to say, Mark’s mother departs our world peacefully and with a smile on her face.

Good or bad, true or false, who wouldn’t invent heaven for their dying mother?

While admittedly a dumbed-down version, the scene of Mark inventing heaven for his mother is how we (the creators of The Invention of Lying) imagine most religions were started: with people searching for answers to scary, unanswerable questions. Almost every culture throughout that ages have had different answers to the big questions: what is that big moon in the sky? Where does the sun go at night? What is the point of all of this? Where do my loved ones go after they die?

Not having adequate answers to these questions can be very anxiety inducing for adults and children alike. On the other hand, having a wonderful, happy answer to these questions can make life feel meaningful and calm.

When I die I will go to a wonderful place and I will get to see all the people I love who have died.

A belief such as this can make almost any sadness or pain palatable. Add a set of rules to this equation (if I do A, B and C I’m assured to go to this place, or conversely, if I do X,Y and Z I will go to a very, very bad place) and you’ve taken all the scary unknowns out of life and given nearly everything purpose and meaning. In many ways, you’ve abolished chaos. You’ve also taken care of that pesky, nagging existential voice in your head asking, “why are we here and what does it all mean?”

That voice can make it very hard to get any farming done.

And while heaven might have made it possible to get some farming done over the ages, one has to wonder now what it might also be preventing us from accomplishing or learning about our existence?

Luckily, along with our evolution-granted ability to tell a lie, came with it the ability to reason, to question, and to occasionally poke some fun.

Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson co-wrote and co-directed the movie “The Invention of Lying”

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  • spidermean2

    One wonders why idiots has to resort with inventing lies like Darwin’s Evolution theory to convince themselves that there is no Heaven.

  • Dominicus1

    This is potentially a sufficient explanation of why belief in heaven comes about, though its picture of heaven seems to be based more on popular superstition than on theological theory. However, if you meant it as an argument against the truth of heaven’s existence, I’m afraid you’re guilty of circular reasoning. Your argument seems to be as follows: (1) heaven does not exist, (2) people would need a reason to come to believe in it, (3) the explanation posited in your article accounts for this belief, therefore (4) heaven does not exist. The alternative explanation, that heaven really exists, nicely accounts for all the facts too. It, of course, has the same logical weakness that your argument does. Just remember that logical validity is not the same as truth: we need to determine the truth of the premises in order to decide that.And, by the way, how does your evolutionary universe arrive at absolute truth?

  • knappellis

    In the eighth paragraph, “their” should be “there”. Otherwise…great post and very thought-provoking.

  • YEAL9

    Then there is Hell!!Hell is possible but would God tolerate satanic spirits and contaminated souls? (The Singularity would not according to Father Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous contemporary theologian). According to Schillebeeckx, if you die in mortal sin, you simply no longer exist. That should make you think again about Heaven or is it simply another theological guilt trip?Being good for the sake of goodness without rewards would be the better course but hey throw in a bit of Heaven to make it easier on the Day of Nevermore!!!

  • dcfanoutwest

    Raise your hand if you aspire to be good to and at least accommodate other human beings (and then, other living things) regardless of the existence of a deity.

  • dcfanoutwest

    A better world is one in which religious leaders take more care in filling empty brains such as SPIDERMEAN2’s.

  • barferio

    He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice …Jesus is Santa Claus for adults.

  • Layman_

    Heaven is a happy answer to life’s difficult questions. Glad she knew english and had the talent to learn my native language.

  • MHawke

    Maybe this is heaven.

  • dkp01

    Heaven is a place where one can plug their flopped movie in the Washington Post and pretend it’s a philosophical piece on religion.

  • cz_man

    Thank you. This was one of the more disturbing movies I have seen. Partially because it confronts the nature of God, Heaven, Truth, and such head on. One could almost ask “What is Truth”.Wait, Pilate asked that… Hm, go figure.Oddly enough as we discover more and more about the nature of the universe, the concept of “God” can either retreat into the small gaps or we can accept that what we see is God.And cherish it for heaven’s sake.C

  • Ecksley

    I didn’t love this movie, but I relished the way it satirized religion.The burden of proof should not be on those who have doubt, but on those who claim to know with absolute certainty.But the best you will get out of the religious is more cannon or the assertion that if something exists then there must be a god to have created it.Which in turn leads to the classic flying spaghetti monster debate. If I believe in the spaghetti monster who is to say I am wrong if it is sufficient to simply state one’s belief.Science is not so much a belief as it is a process. And while it cannot answer all of life’s riddles, it at least universal and open to reasonable debate.

  • hoya_alumna

    Heaven is a place where one can plug their flopped movie in the Washington Post and pretend it’s a philosophical piece on religion.Bingo…

  • AyulZamir

    Life is all about MONEY! In a democracy, people (the majority) elect the government they deserve. In a free world, one can choose the delusions one wants to believe in–that is what the democratic freedom is all about (mostly). So both labels–deeply held belief in the belief and a mere hoax are equally acceptable–both will lead to certain death, good ones and bad ones. Relgion is good. It certainly is very good for the ORGANIZATIONS managing it for the followers. Blessed, all such organizations (and their workers) are blessed with worldly riches. No, Heaven is not a hoax. Ask any organized religion management body, its workers, and the followers. Ypu’ll get the same answer for different reasons–I mean Conflicts of Interest. See even Pascal, when his legs were hanging in the grave, felt the urge to state that it was a better to bet that there was a God.

  • mightysparrow

    “And while heaven might have made it possible to get some farming done over the ages, one has to wonder now what it might also be preventing us from accomplishing or learning about our existence?”One also has to wonder, if one is thinking, if heaven might also be preventing us from taking moral responsibility for our decisions and actions. It’s too easy to take an action because we “know” God wants us to take that action. Making our own choices and then taking responsibility for them is much more difficult.One poster seems to believe evolution theory is a lie. Really? There is more scientific evidence (that is, reliable evidence) supporting the theory of evolution than there is scientific evidence supporting the reality of a supernatural God. I can see that poster would bet against the scientific method in determining the truth. I’d go with the scientific method.

  • BadMommy1

    The popular concept of heaven is almost funny, certainly ripe for satire. So, my ex-husband loves me: when he dies, will I be there in heaven waiting for him? On the other hand, if I die and see him there, I will be certain that I have descended to hell. Somebody should have thought this through before making up the rules.Of course, theologically speaking, this is all just our imperfect human imagination of a perfect oneness with God – the concept used in Sufism of a drop of water reuniting with the ocean works nicely. You return to the perfect nature of what you are meant to be, not a chubby, winged goofball covered in free ice cream.I love your work. Perhaps I should volunteer to marry you next time around. I’m a fantastic cook.

  • Loblollypine

    So many years ago – late 1700’s actually – Thomas Paine wrote The Age of Reason…Yet here we are, still. Truly, it seems that the “Age of Enlightenment” that so many of these New Age gurus tout came and went back then, and we missed the boat.

  • rdbowe

    the Talking Heads’ line was “heaven is a place where nothing Never happens.”

  • pkhenry

    God created atheists too.

  • pkhenry

    Hell would be defined as being forced to watch most of the garbage being produced by Hollywood.

  • DoTheRightThing

    I used to think heaven and spiritual reality were hokum, just as portrayed in this article. Then, while an atheist and physics major, I was given a glimpse (possibly aided in part by my study of Tai Chi Chuan) of the reality beyond the material, and have never since been able to speak glibly about the spiritual realm, which is where we all will arrive sooner or later. Why I was given this knowledge and some others remain without it I do not know, but that doesn’t change the fact that I received it WITHOUT SEEKING IT. Now reconciled to the Roman Catholic Church for more than 30 years, daily life is both wondrous and challenging. Seek the truth and you shall find it, and it shall set you free.

  • stantheman1

    Yes, exactly – religion is the answer that pre-scientific people came up with to explain it all. Every single society came up with some set of stories so the need to create “answers” the scary questions we can all think of it must be hardwired into us.This all makes such perfect sense that I would say it is intuitively true, except then its starts to sound a little bit like the “faith” that can lead people to believe so many things that are manifestly not true. A conundrum.dkpo1 – clever comment; but the fact that it is written in this straightforward conversational way doesn’t make it any less philosophy. And who cares if the movie flopped (personally I thought it was pretty good, though maybe not Mr Gervais’s very best work – Extras, the Office.)

  • Rongoklunk

    Excellent piece Ricky. I look forward to seeing the movie. Which reminds me – whatever happened to the movie “Creation” about Darwin’s family life and his eventual realization that there is no god and no heaven. Apparently the Americans will not be allowed to see this film because it contradicts what the religious folks are indoctrinated to believe – that god created us, etcetra, etcetra. I find this is quite shocking. Truth is the last thing that the religious folk care about.

  • DrRP1

    Great post. Occam’s razor cuts deep.

  • joelcavicchia

    Isaiah Berlin wrote that people are willing to accept reality as long as it guarantees a happy ending. . . whether it be the hidden hand of capitalism, the withering away of the state into socialist paradise, the virgins waiting for the faithful in the afterlife, valhalla, heaven, etc. etc. . . .take your pick.

  • linguine33

    “Heaven is where God is, where God is; is Heaven. Jesus is in Heaven at the right hand of the Father.”

  • Rongoklunk

    I don’t think that religion is hardwired into us. What is hardwired is fear of death. We are the only animal aware of death and we’ve invented many stories to help us cope with this scary reality. Denying death is the simplest solution. But everything we know about death shows it is real. All life eventually dies. Even the earth itself will one day die, and this is scientific truth. In the cosmos planets die all the time, Even the sun will one day cease to exist.

  • johng1

    Heaven can be a state of mind, like when you put that spike into your vein and it goes though your body, makes you feel warm all over, just like Jesus’ son.

  • rexreddy

    Evolution is, for the most part, correct.They did not have the ability to understand any of it.

  • jb1151

    Heaven is a place where one can plug their flopped movie in the Washington Post and pretend it’s a philosophical piece on religion.Hey now, be nice to Ricky. Just b/c the movie was not a huge success doesn’t mean he can’t post about it.Another not-huge-success starring (but not written by) Gervais was Ghost Town — also dealt with the afterlife. I’d love to hear him reconcile that movie’s message with The Invention of Lying’s message.

  • cordobes17

    what is good about it, is that we can think whatever we want, without nobody telling us what to think!!!

  • roughrider7

    This was a really bad movie Ricky, and writing this column won’t help it any.

  • rexreddy

    Good News: You will get 72 Virgins in the afterlife!Bad News: You cant take you PEN!S with you!And they are eternally on the rag, and they all look like Nancy Pelosi.You weren’t saved were you?

  • InTheMiddle

    The real question is: Is there a hell? I’m fear that Ricky Gervals will find out only when he gets there.

  • hoosierlatina

    I read an interesting comment in another column by a women who identifies herself as Jewish. She cites sections in the New Testament where Moses, instructs the Israelites to have their way with the Medianite women, as directed by Yahweh. This she pronounces is the reason the bible is evil. The Torah’s authorship is attributed to Moses. It is also called the Pentateuch. I question her, and she considers it myth. I am sure certain parts are. Although I am not some expert on Judaism, or profess to be, I also know parts are allegory, historical. poetic, etc., as well. What confuses me about this is not her belief that it is myth, but why identify yourself as Jewish, if you do not believe in the Torah. Why consider what Moses did in the Christian Bible, the passages she cited from, as evil, if he is a key player in the Torah? And then claim or identify yourself with the religion? Just a preponderance on a contradiction. I do not believe that science has completely answered evolution, since it seems limited to what is known about time, space, anthropology, etc.

  • davidschulman1

    It’s true that early religions came about to enable people to understand and accept what they don’t know, what many have refered to as “the god of the gaps”; meaning the gaps in our understanding of the universe. However, I believe that supernatural concepts like Heaven and Hell came about by early kings and rulers so that they could subjugate the masses to do their bidding whether it was building their temples temples or fighting in their wars. Their invention of lying, like all lies had a very self-serving, and dark purpose.

  • hoosierlatina

    Last post I meant ponder no preponderance. Damn spell check and tiny type. I am sure the grammar or spelling police will be after me now.

  • hoosierlatina

    Last post I meant ponder no preponderance. Damn spell check and tiny type. I am sure the grammar or spelling police will be after me now.

  • Extempraneous

    TO any thoughtful person who enjoys living and the fullness of what it means to live and experience life, the prospect of death and eternal nihilism in death is the most horrible thing they can think of.Since we only live for a short time, it seems unmerciful and cruel to subject our spirits to an eternity of nothingness after all of our lives have been so fully experienced. When you dream at night or when you have a new idea, or even when you savor an experience, there is a tinge of wonder about whether that experience means anything, ultimately. All of us who no longer feel immortal in our youth understand that doubt.I certainly hope there is an afterlife that is larger and more intricate than the life I’ve lived here on this Earth. I hope that it isn’t the end of my consciousness and spirit once I am formally interned in the ground, and I pray that people do not have to think of the horizon of their existence cut off at the moment of their disapearance from this world. What a horrible thought! Eternity without existence is a long time indeed, as limited as our existence is. Perhaps God is more fair than that, and I like to think so.

  • John_Con

    Joe Lieberman quotes Jesish Scholar Rabbi Hillel: “What is hateful to you, do not do unto others. That is the meaning of Torah. All the rest is commentary.” Heaven, as a concept, doesn’t exist in the Old Testament except for a vague reference in Job 14:14.Therefore, IMHO, the “idea” of heaven is a New Testament concept. And if a New Testament concept then everyone carrying a bible should thenk the Catholic scribes and monks of the Middle Ages for their transcriptions and keeping “the Word” alive

  • Extempraneous

    Philosophically, I don’t understand how anyone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife can accept any form of morality or normalized reality: because if we are all doomed to the same fate of infinite nonexistance after death, nothing we do here on Earth during our lives really matters, except for that fleeting moment of time, and only to us.It’s really the ultimate test of whether you believe in God — whether you do or do not accept the proposition of losing your identity, the very being or “I” that defines who you are and all you experience — forever in death.Can anyone really accept that without losing their mind? Why bother doing anything at all if everything you are as a human being, including your consciousness, ultimately amounts to nothing?Atheists and nonbelievers try to skirt this question somehow and they mostly do a terrible job.

  • Inquisitive1

    The evidence substantiating the existence of Jesus is overwhelming. Now, that he lived doesn’t make him special. But, he declared himself to be God. He was either a liar, a lunatic, or he was who he said he was. Which was he? That is a decision best not made flippantly. Be sure that if you live like there is no heaven or hell that you are absolutely sure of it.Jesus said that he came to give abundant life to those lost in sin and separated eternally from God. He took our punishment on the cross and rose from the dead. He now offers the same opportunity to all mankind, if only we will believe. But, don’t take my word for it. Explore it yourselves. I once thought the whole message was a crutch; kind of like Ricky views heaven. I came to know differently. I look forward to heaven. I hope I see you there.

  • ErinMyers

    “The evidence substantiating the existence of Jesus is overwhelming. Now, that he lived doesn’t make him special. But, he declared himself to be God. He was either a liar, a lunatic, or he was who he said he was. Which was he?”Two additional, and far more likely options, that you forgot in your awkwardly-phrased rewording of C.S. Lewis’s Trilemma:4. He was simply, and sincerely, wrong.Logic! What a remarkable invention that was.

  • kreator6996

    Philosophically, I don’t understand how anyone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife can accept any form of morality or normalized reality: because if we are all doomed to the same fate of infinite nonexistance after death, nothing we do here on Earth during our lives really matters, except for that fleeting moment of time, and only to us.Some people feel their actions, however how small, benefit the human race as a whole.Thats like saying, why are some religous people extremist like AL-Quada?Believing there is no afterlife might make life meaningless..TO YOU.Some view religion as a cop-out for bad behavior..

  • lddoane1

    The concept of Heaven is used as a survival tool. “Why bother?” is the question that many ask… if there is no Heaven. But if we believe in an afterlife, we continue to pass on that belief to the next generation, and the next, and the next. The true concept of an eternal afterlife is simply believing that humans will survive forever, not that the individuals will float around in the sky.

  • zzcreamm

    Be happy for what you have today. Be respectful of everyone and live by Jesus’ teaching of the Golden Rule. We, mortal beings will never understand time and space and or the existence of God or God(s) in our current capacities. Try your best not to judge others and to do good, in the end, we will all have the same opportunities – I think. P.S. Be nice whenever you are able – Thanks.

  • Extempraneous

    Some people do indeed view religion as a “cop-out” for bad behavior, it’s true. It happens all the time, but I don’t think they really understand the stakes involved with their souls.When you think of things that might condemn you to eternal nonexistance, and really understand that, it requires you to believe that murder is wrong. It also requires you in some respect to believe in the Ten Commandments: not to bear false witness, not to commit adultery, not to do those things that you, as a willful and all-too-human individual might do as a result of their free will, which we all have. Whether it was through an evolutionary process that God set into motion or through divine intervention, we all do have free will, and it behooves all of us to treat it as a privilege, not a right. Certainly our free will is rescinded once we die. The question is whether there is anything left of our spirit to think of afterward.

  • JimZ1

    If belief in religion requires that we believe that dinosaurs and humans co-existed 5000 years ago, then religion is an impediment to progress. Luckily, there are those that operate on a plane that is not limited to religious doctrine. They have chosen to “go it alone” and are the truly brave ones.

  • Billy1932

    Heaven is the sanctuary of all who dread NOTHINGNESS, which is were we head for right out of the womb.

  • Spiritof761

    heaven after death is not what real religion is about. It is heaven on earth that is the goal of all authentic religion, and that ain’t no lie.

  • highland2

    {sigh}You know, …{sigh}

  • brickerd

    I’m not sure you’re helping your case, spidermean2, when you call a group “idiots” while failing to conjugate the verb “to have” in the same sentence.

  • websterr1

    Here’s what I’ve never understood about anti-religious people, specifically those against Christianity. What is that Christianity really teaches, and here I’m talking about the New Testament of the Bible. Simply: Do unto others as you would have them do to you and have faith that there is a way to get to a nice afterlife, and Jesus is the answer. That’s pretty much it. So let’s say I follow that to the best of my ability, and let’s say all the atheists, anti-religious bigots, whatever are right and I am wrong – that Christianity is just a big fat lie. What is the worst that has happened? I have lived my life the best way I know how, helped others as I could, and maybe wasted a few Sundays in Church. Then the worst that will happen is that when I die, I’ll just lie there. So what? Why is that bad? Now let’s posit just the opposite for a moment. Let’s say I AM right, that there IS in fact God, he’s told me how to live my life and generally told me how I can hang out with him in the afterlife IF I do certain things, but I decide NOT to do those things. THEN what’s the worst that could happen? Seems like a much rawer deal to me. I think I’ll just stick with the Christianity thank you very much. When you really get down to it, the Bible isn’t asking for a whole lot in order for you to have insurance that you’ll wind up where you want to in the end. Is there a Heaven and Hell? I believe there is. If I’m wrong? Even then, doesn’t sound like the downside is too bad to me. If I’m right though? Sounds like the downside could be very bad indeed.

  • mightysparrow

    Philosophically, I don’t understand how anyone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife can accept any form of morality or normalized reality: because if we are all doomed to the same fate of infinite nonexistance after death, nothing we do here on Earth during our lives really matters, except for that fleeting moment of time, and only to us.Simply not true! There are many people in the world who see the worth in life, even though we are, like Sisyphus, forced to roll the boulder up the mountain time and time again, only to have it fall back down to the bottom of the mountain, over and over. Albert Camus said that “Sisyphus was basically a happy man.”The problem is that you can’t personally see how an individual can decide that life is worth living without the promise of an afterlife. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible- it just means that you are not now campable of doing it. Keep working at it- and read some books by thoughtful atheists for some help.

  • ethangeary

    Webster1

  • Extempraneous

    The idea that murder, lying, adultery, dishonoring your parents or abusing the elderly, theft, lying or idolatry are something that the world has just discovered as harmful to our existence is a uniquely modern idea, and it has no basis in fact. The underpinnings of the basic rules of human behavior are more than 2,000 years old and they are quite well-grounded in experience. Most of the terrible things that have happened in the years since the Ten Commandments were codified were the result of people violating them — time and time again. And they will be again!All of the complexity of our world and the nuanced intelligence of human beings will not ever change the basic rules of our existence as people: if you do these things, you’re going to pay, eventually.You don’t have to be a Catholic to believe that, you can see it everywhere in the world today, all our legislative efforts notwithstanding.And that’s not a cop-out.

  • twmatthews

    Spidermean,You claim to be an engineer. I’m a software engineer. By what sound reasoning do you conclude there is a heaven?And try to lose the name calling — it’s just plain childish.

  • websterr1

    Posted by: ethangeary Webster1

  • slamming

    I personally have had 3 instances where the unexplainable happened in regard to deceased loved ones. I feel blessed to have had them. Once you experience this phenomena NOTHING will convince you that the dead are just ”in the ground.”

  • Chaotician

    Heaven is/was the rationalization that the death of Jesus did not bring the “kingdom of God” to Earth when he was tortured and murdered… so either he was not the prophesied Messiah or the idea of the Kingdom of God was misunderstood. If you chose the latter, then you are a Jew waiting for the Messiah still; if the former then you dumped the Jewish notion of the Kingdom of God and relocated same into infinite space where it can avoid any pesky contradictions into ones “faith”. And Jesus can be a triune component of God but still sitting at the right hand in what must be a interesting visual assuming one can comprehend infinite thing with left and right sort of mixed up and how a unitary triune thing can be separate and all that; and an eternal infinite Jesus, part of the Father, can be sacrificed to appease the Father, for the eternal condemnation of the progeny of that ungrateful Adam, for being the imperfect creation of the Father…where was Jesus when pops was doing all this begetting anyway…and if daddy and Jr are the same God, what does killing God mean anyway?? can one kill and eternal God? This is so confusing!

  • websterr1

    Posted by: twmatthews | March 25, 2010 4:46 PMSpidermean,You claim to be an engineer. I’m a software engineer. By what sound reasoning do you conclude there is a heaven?And try to lose the name calling — it’s just plain childish.He can’t use sound reasoning to prove there’s a heaven any more than you can use it to prove there’s not. Reasoning breaks down when you are trying to understand the infinite I think. It’s a useless argument, but I agree there’s no need for calling folks names.Regarding Darwin’s theories, I don’t think there’s anything about evolution that says God doesn’t exist. How do we know that God just used evolution as the method to achieve creation? I do have very strong doubt about macro evolution – one species becoming another, simply because I don’t think any definitive proof has been found, but I do in fact believe in evolution within a species. Regarding Creation itself and being accused of being a “creationist” I do in face believe in creation and I believe it was done in 7 days – 7 of GOD’s days. And how long is a day in the life of God? 1 Million years? 10 Million years? How does an infinite, immortal being measure “days”, especially when if you believe in Genesis, he created the concept of a day in the first place. I think one of the biggest problems people run into is when they think they have figured it all out. I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t.

  • justbeing

    There is no GOD! It was invented by our reasoning to answer unknowns of past times.Life evolving, and reason as part of that evolution, is what we are all about. I’m perfectly moral and happy knowing that one day my body will cease to function and return to the basic materials from which life evolution created it.Religion is a drug that feeds on peoples anxieties and ignorance, but over time is served a good purpose for humanity.We are now in an age where we understand the big picture of how the Universe works, and what a wonderful picture. From stardust galaxies are created and over milennia life comes about. One day our sun will explode and bring the whole solar system to that basic state of interstelar dust once again – the cycle begins again. What a ride!I hope by then humanity has found a way to travel to other places in the universe and our future generations will continue to evolve reason and love.Hooray for the human condition, hooray for the life condition in our beautiful planet.

  • DaveHarris

    It’s interesting that atheists such as myself have no problem at all imagining the believer’s view of the afterlife (without believing it), but believers simply cannot comprehend how anyone can live without this belief. It is kind of a mystery, even to me, but I do it every day, all day, without any regret that I will not live forever.

  • websterr1

    This:”It’s interesting that atheists such as myself have no problem at all imagining the believer’s view of the afterlife (without believing it),”and this: “I suspect it will still be here after people abandon the silly notion of an afterlife.”Do not compute.

  • TJMAN

    God has to exist. Beyond that the rest is up for discussion. Most of mans history in religion is to use God to explain the unexplainable. The classic story is the island population off the coast of Thailand. One group was westernized due to their close proximity to the Thai coast. The other group was in an isolate group of islands farther from the coast with no exposure to western tourists. The westernized islanders adopted more western culture and religions. The isolated islanders retained their old culture and religion practices. The westernized islanders were nearly wiped out by the tsunami after the earthquake of Indonesia. The isolated islanders survived by moving up to high ground when the water started receding. The isolated islanders explanation for the occurance was that they had made the Gods angry. The Gods took the sea away and were going to throw it back on them. They new they could protect themselves by moving to high ground. It is a classic explaination for the storys of ancient writings or storys biblical or otherwise.

  • Rongoklunk

    Extempraneous; Morals have nothing to do with religion. Just to get along in any group requires certain behaviors. And these certain behaviours can also be spotted among certain animals like chimps and bonobos, to name two. And they don’t have religion.As far as we know – no gods ever actually existed. Ancient stories prove nothing. Our ancestors were superstitious to a fault, and made up thousands of gods over the years. It’s the kind of thing anyone would have made up before the enlightenment happened. We no longer need to pretend there’s a god. Many of us have outgrown it. You can’t imagine how good it feels to be free of superstition and similar mumbo jumbo. Reality is beautiful.

  • Jason75

    I, for one, am sorry to see so many comments that reflect a disbelief in God. But, it is no skin off my back if people don’t want to believe. What does bother me, however, is the way in which believers are mocked and looked down upon here, and on other posts. Maybe we could civily and respectfully discuss our reasons without being abrasive.I’ll go first. I believe in God because I have seen his hand in my life and I feel his interest in my life. This is particularly true during trials, but also in my triumphs.

  • Extempraneous

    I was an atheist and I read a lot of books by “thoughtful atheists” like the ones the Washington Post presents here in the ‘On Faith’ series. I respect their point of view but I think they’re overwhelmed by their certainty in the lack of an afterlife or a more spiritual purpose for human beings that’s an adjuvant to human life, one that’s fulfilling and also benefits others.I remember listening to a program on NPR a few years ago, discussing why people who are devout (or at least those who are believers) tend to donate more money and time to charity than others, and it was very instructive: as an atheist, I realized that I hadn’t done much in recent years (or anything at all) for my fellow men and women. I began to change my views once I realized that, because I was raised to be as hard-core a rationalist in terms of scientific fact as anyone on this thread. I can still recite the benefits of mitochondrial DNA analysis, I understand the half-life of radioactive materials, I know the difference between a nanometer and an angstrom, and I still at the end of it all don’t think that any true humanism can exist that isn’t inspired by faith. The scientific truths are facts, to be sure. The real test of us as human beings is how we choose to treat each other by dint of our free will and in view of our eternal spirit. It does not mean defenselessness, it does not mean living in a self-imposed poverty, nor does it mean not having a point of view. In fact it requires us to have a profound respect for the centuries-long interplay between science and religion, not some wholesale rejection of one in favor of the other. They have never been separate: they’re still inextricably tied together as a search for truth. The best teachers in our Universities understand that. And we had all better hope that there are mysteries we cannot arrive at the answer to, through any of our technological or scientific means. If we knew everything, we’d be bored very quickly, and usually when we find ourselves bored we turn on each other, and very violently. I still believe in the synthesis of science and religion, I see them as part of the same quest for truth. But human beings are very limited creatures who misuse what they learn and what they have been taught. Our humility before our ignorance should be what guides us, because we’re all endlessly ignorant. Carl Sagan could not convince me that God does not exist and neither can Katrina vanden Heuvel, and neither can Christopher Hitchens. I tend to think like Donald Knuth, who has a pipe organ in his house and does not begrudge himself the worship of God, because it is a mystery that by definition we cannot know.

  • rb-freedom-for-all

    Hunter-gatherer communities create war-mongering, angry male gods. Fishing and farming communities create goddesses where the fertility of the earth and seas are paramount for their survival (as long as you keep those human sacrifices coming).I haven’t heard anyone discuss reincarnation. Maybe you don’t go to heaven or hell, maybe you are reincarnated according to what level/form of life you earned in your prior life.Bottom line for me: I don’t know if there is or is not a god. I believe in a creator of life, the universe, and everything (I think), but I don’t believe in a god that has nothing better to do than to monitor and intervene in every moment of every human’s personal life (all 6 billion of us). More likely that kind of god was invented by those wonderful people who love controlling other people by interpreting god’s “message” for them. The obvious truth is that belief in god is one thing, belief in religion and man-made rules and institutions (including all of their ridiculous rituals) is another, far more scary proposition.

  • Wallenstein

    So if you have nothing really great to say about yourself, you spend the rest of your time bashing others? Such is atheism.Why is atheism so great? Please attempt to write a response that 1) does not mention religion, and 2) contains no negative words (not, no, etc.) or prefixes (a, anti, etc.) I say it can’t be done.You have to stand on your merits, kiddies.

  • dmarney

    “There is no GOD! It was invented by our reasoning to answer unknowns of past times”- – – -Prove it.

  • Extempraneous

    To another person who says that morals have nothing to do with religion, I would like to ask them to live in a world without religious morals. For all of their faults, most of the people on this Earth who believe in the monotheistic religions have a very strong sense of morality that guides them — sometimes in opposition, to be sure, but it guides them nevertheless. I don’t see any substitute for it in the columns of anyone at the Washington Post that will be anywhere near as effective. It will be worse. It will be a return to a pre-religious condition, which was basically a nightmare. Anyone who thinks our social institutions and scientific accomplishments will mean anything morally once religion is discarded are going to be surprised by the results they find. Human beings have not evolved, all they have done is find better ways to kill each other once the impediments to doing so have been removed.

  • Extempraneous

    If anyone here really thinks they’re smarter or more civilized than people were 2,000 years ago because of what they have learned at a University, I have to tell them that they are wrong. In fact they have become less civilized and more apt to harm each other, the more free from religion they imagine themselves to be.

  • JillCalifornia

    What is wonderful about GOD is he only gets good press. Everything wonderful that happens is a miracle. Then we have the millions of children dying of war, poverty, illness, starvation.

  • 12thgenamerican

    one thing for sure , we are all going to get a look at the other side. or we won’t. another thing for sure, if there is a God in heaven, ted kennedy was immediatly standing in front of 45000000 little babies.

  • 12thgenamerican

    jill in california, or as daft as those who think they are blessed because obama won an election.

  • Merianya

    “TO any thoughtful person who enjoys living and the fullness of what it means to live and experience life, the prospect of death and eternal nihilism in death is the most horrible thing they can think of.[…]What a horrible thought! Eternity without existence is a long time indeed, as limited as our existence is.”Think back as far as you can to your earliest memories. Now try to think back before that time. We have all spent 13+ BILLION years of non-existence since the emergence of the Universe to the time we are born, but we are not wracked with horror from the memory of not existing. I do not fear returning to that condition.“Can anyone really accept that without losing their mind? Why bother doing anything at all if everything you are as a human being, including your consciousness, ultimately amounts to nothing?”You think that just because there is no eternal existence that everything we do is meaningless or worthless? What each of us does matters to all of humanity! Each one of us has the power to affect the lives of all around us even after our deaths. Just because there is no one keeping a tally sheet doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t all strive to be the best we can be. Is the promise of a spiritual “gold star” at the end of your life really all that motivates you to be a good and decent person? There are enough examples in the world of the benefits of being good to one another and the pitfalls of treating each other poorly to convince me of what behavior is right and proper without needing to invoke the name of a deity.

  • ThishowIseeit

    Heaven is just a promise made by those aware that there’s a sucker born every minute.

  • Extempraneous

    …But we are not wracked with horror from the memory of not existing. I do not fear returning to that condition.”If you don’t fear returning to the condition of non-existence then why do you bother posting anything on this forum? Because you exist now?

  • jmichael2

    This article is complete nonsense. In regard to Christianity, the Cross is completely, utterly, almost unimaginably beyond whatever humanity could invent for itself. It goes against the grain. If you don’t think that, you’ve not read the life of a single saint.In regard to lying: Prof. Peter Kreeft put it well: believing in Santa Claus would make us better, and happier, but no adult does. Why? Because it’s not true.Truth and happiness go together. Only a journalist could sell you something different.

  • JillCalifornia

    Why would any female want to go to heaven?.

  • cadam72

    An honest answer on being an athiest- We have a value system and moral code, just like Christians and other theists but it is based upon the tenants of human interaction, civilization, and development 1) the golden rule, 2) do unto others as you would have them do unto you, etc Many of the Christian Ten Commandments are paramount to societal growth (1) Don’t kill 2) Don’t covet other people’s property. We live by moral codes that are driven by human kind’s best intentions and do not think it is dependant upon a supreme being

  • JimZ1

    Religion is a gyp. It is always the human element that does wrong, and the divine element that does what is good. No wonder why civilization is shackled to religion. It assumes that humans can’t or won’t do the right thing without the threat of retribution. That sounds like a recipe for developmental stagnation to me.

  • Extempraneous

    Jillcalifornia wrote:What is wonderful about GOD is he only gets good press. Everything wonderful that happens is a miracle.That just isn’t so. In fact what usually happens here in the pages of the Washington Post is that God gets a pretty bad rap.

  • Extempraneous

    I just have one other comment to make, and it’s a little glib, but I have to ask anyway:If there are so many hard core rationalists here on this blog at the Washington Post, how do they explain the popularity and the political efficacy of the the triumverate of Black Reverends?There’s Jesse, and there’s Al, and there’s Louis: all of them profess to be men of God, and yet here on the Washington Post’s pages, we see a tremendous disavowal in the comments of the influence of religion on politics.

  • Extempraneous

    Let’s put it another way:If Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton or Louis Farrakhan were to succeed in their bid to be President of the United States, would the objection to religious leaders of secular states grow or shrink here at the Washington Post?All of them can claim that they’ve devoted their entire adult lives to spirtual causes. If they were President, would the tolerance for religious leaders here at the Washington Post be greater?

  • twmatthews

    JillCalifornia makes a good point. I just read the story of a tornado that virtually wiped out a trailer park community with only a few people surviving. One of the survivors claimed what a miracle of God to be spared. So, God let the tornado into the trailer park and kill most of the people — many innocent children. Wow, what a loving, miraculous God. God gets the credit for the good and a pass on the bad. I wish my job were like that.

  • spidermean2

    Extempraneous wrote “I tend to think like Donald Knuth, who has a pipe organ in his house and does not begrudge himself the worship of God, because it is a mystery that by definition we cannot know.”Here’s the definition of God :”Iam the Way , the Truth and the Life; No man comes to the Father but by Me”. (Jn 14:6)”I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” Jn 14:21

  • truthhurts

    Problem is as I see it that most Believers rely on the beliefs of others to form their own beliefs (or illusions) of Heaven and Hell. We seem to be in short supply of prime movers today another take on the definition of a Hero.I suppose that for some time, people have considered the definition, nature and role of a hero. Am told that the word hero has its roots in the meaning of a warrior. And that a hero is a human of noble deeds with ties to divinity. Someone suggested that a Hero evolves from a warrior to a Prophet, interesting. And that most Heroes are just ordinary people being at the right time and space acting on instinct. So do the beliefs of these Heroes become the ideology of the many ?On Heaven and Hell one night I was attacked by a rabid raccoon in my front yard. On a particular beautiful early morn, I watched a American bald eagle perched in our 200 year old black walnut tree. Just recently, I opened the front door to let the dog out, only to find a colt eating my front lawn. Standing nearby were 2 mares gazing lazily. I fed them until their keepers arrived. This afternoon, a small brown hawk or falcon stalked the fields from that old black walnut tree. Suffice to say, apparently, I have invented a Heaven uniquely suited for me and yet, a series of life’s fortunes and misfortunes have placed me where I am today.Be well, as for the morrow, one never knows..

  • spidermean2

    twmatthews wrote “You claim to be an engineer. I’m a software engineer. By what sound reasoning do you conclude there is a heaven?””Iam the Way , the Truth and the Life; No man comes to the Father but by Me”. (Jn 14:6)”Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. ” (Jn 14:1-2)The Truth doesn’t lie.

  • chipgower

    @ salero21. What you said is just not true. I’m sorry. I know your belief sustains you, and we all need comfort in this crazy world. But just because that story is in a really old book doesn’t make it true. Jesus was a great mystic, a truly holy man. He’s as much the son of God as you and me. No more and no less.

  • twmatthews

    Extempraneous says: To another person who says that morals have nothing to do with religion, I would like to ask them to live in a world without religious morals.For 1,200 years Christians tortured, maimed and killed people who didn’t believe as they do. Are these the morals you speak of?Of the 10 commandments, the only words God thought important enough to write down, only 3 or 4 really have to do with how to live with other people. Most have more to do with their relationship to God.And on the night of the passover, when God supposedly killed the first born of Egypt. What moral lesson did you learn — kill everything, innocent or not?I’d like to know what moral lessons you learned from the flood story, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (really, don’t look back…..that’s such a terrible crime against man). The people of European are far less religious (only 15% claim a belief in God) than Americans 85% of whom claim to believe in God. Yet by every measurement, incarceration rates, number of murders, number of rates, amount of child abuse — their morals are far superior to those of Americans. How do you explain that?

  • ThishowIseeit

    Heaven if where that huge asteroid came from 56 millions years ago that destroyed 97 % of living things in our planet.

  • twmatthews

    To Spidermean, yes, the bible says that. Is that your idea of evidence? The bible also mentions the dangers posed by dragons and the beauty of unicorns…..so what?You think that a book, interpreted by average people with virtually no education, that had to be transcribed by hand without the benefit of punctuation or upper and lower case, from Greek to Latin to German to English, whose originals were lost a hundred years earlier; is anything but a bunch of stories? And besides wanting to believe that, why would you?

  • medogsbstfrnd

    It takes a certain hutzpuh to claim, as atheists do and professional comedians who are amateur philosophers, that we cannot know truth, that it is merely a cultural epiphenomenon but then in the same gas bag of philosophical spew assert something theologically,like there is no heaven. Heaven was not a simple way of trying to help people with the fear of death. Most people who believed in such an idea feared judgement at the time of death. The post-modern militant atheist posits a simplistic materialist view in order to avoid the possibility that he or she will one day be held accountable for their lives. That latter assertion has as much rational, empirical validity as the silly Gervais assertion, btw. every day any day 24 hrs a day.

  • twmatthews

    This article is complete nonsense. In regard to Christianity, the Cross is completely, utterly, almost unimaginably beyond whatever humanity could invent for itself.Maybe you can explain to me exactly how blood sacrifice works……What kind of God would be pleased with this? How about if god, rather than taking human form and having himself tortured and killed in order to forgive sin, simply “forgave sin”?

  • spidermean2

    mack1 wrote “How about you provide a rational for contrary without using the word “faith” or any similar nonsense.”Self-replication that we see in plants and animals is not scientifically feasible without a super intelligent being behind it.Self-replication has been a puzzle for many thinkers for hundred of years already if not thousands. If one thinks that it can be done in some future time, he/she is dreaming.Imagine a car making another car or a computer making another computer. The intelligence is just unimaginable. Imagine that super intelligent being creating his own “resort”. I just can’t imagine the technolgy and beauty of the place. That is Heaven.

  • twmatthews

    And your evidence for heaven medogsbstfrnd is…….So the bible states that the gates are narrow and few will enter. And what does it take to get to heaven? Belief. Nothing else but belief.So how’s this for a loving God. The person who spends all their life working on behalf of others but doesn’t believe will go to hell while the person who injured all sorts of people throughout their lifetime but has a deathbed conversion, gets to go.No thanks. I don’t need the myth of heaven or hell to guide my behavior. I’m neither militant or angry. I don’t believe in god or Jesus or Thor or Santa and I’ll do my best to leave the world a little better than I found it.

  • spidermean2

    twmatthews, It just so happened that the qoutations I posted were not just simple words but it came from somebody who has raised dead people and multiplied wine, fishes and bread from a small amount. Yup, self-replication.

  • twmatthews

    Spidermean says “Self-replication that we see in plants and animals is not scientifically feasible without a super intelligent being behind it.”Crystals self replicate. Certain amino acids can combine to form more complex amino acids. Were they all guided by an intelligent being?The biology involved in the reproduction of living organisms is well understood from DNA transcription to cell multiplication. I don’t see the big mystery. You think that a big guy in the sky designed way more life forms than we have today and decided to let them all die or 99% of the life forms to become extinct. Does that make any sense to you?Biology and chemistry explain everything about life. You believe that life is better explained by magic. Does that sound the least bit plausible to you?

  • spidermean2

    TMMathews wrote “Crystals self replicate.”You don’t know what you are talking about. They can’t self-replicate coz they can’t feed themselves.

  • Rongoklunk

    Jason75. You say “I, for one, am sorry to see so many comments that reflect a disbelief in God. But, it is no skin off my back if people don’t want to believe”It’s not a question of “wanting to believe” Jacob. Do people DECIDE to believe? Can you, for instance, decide to believe that the moon is made of cream cheese if you wanted to? Give it a try. Can you decide to believe in mermaids? I can’t – because they sound kinda silly. Like god. That sounds silly, and I could never force myself to believe something so patently silly. I can make myself believe the earth is more or less round, because we have seen photographs of it’s roundness; and it’s possible to sail or fly around it.

  • twmatthews

    Extempraneous said, “I remember listening to a program on NPR a few years ago, discussing why people who are devout (or at least those who are believers) tend to donate more money and time to charity than others, and it was very instructive: as an atheist, I realized that I hadn’t done much in recent years (or anything at all) for my fellow men and women.”You raise an interesting question. But,if you take the most atheistic countries in the world — Finland, Norway, Sweden — they give a higher percentage of their income to charities than do Americans. I didn’t hear that segment on NPR but I do not that churches provide a convenient place to give. Now, how much of that money goes to helping others — what I call real charity — versus how much goes to the church itself?Let me give you an example. Although I don’t believe in God, I regularly attend church, every week as a matter of fact. I do so not to propagate the beliefs of my denomination, but because my particular church spends a significant portion of its income on the community — food shelters, clothing drives, etc. When the church wants to spend money on itself, like buying a new organ for $120,000, I don’t contribute. The conclusion that religious people are more likely to give to charities is to simplistic and I don’t think reflects the world. It may also be because there are so many more churches who are happy to take your money than there are secular vehicles.

  • spidermean2

    Rongoklunk wrote “There is no reason to believe that anything supernatural exists.”That only applies to people who don’t think harder. There are lots of reasons. Millions of reason and it just proves the Bible right when it said :”The FOOL hath said in his heart that there is no God”.Note that it used the word “heart”. Maybe fools have no brains.

  • twmatthews

    Spidermean says “It just so happened that the qoutations I posted were not just simple words but it came from somebody who has raised dead people and multiplied wine, fishes and bread from a small amount.”Yes, and Harry Potter has mastered the Accio charm as well as the Alohomora spell. I read about it in a book. It that book is just as truthful / accurate as your book.

  • Rongoklunk

    Extempraneous;You claim to have been an atheist. I don’t believe that for one minute. It’s the oldest ploy in the argument. You’re not smart enough to have been an atheist. Real atheists never go back. Atheism is all about seeing the light – seeing the complete nonsense that religion is. It’s all about understanding why the ancients made up gods, thousands of them from Apollo to Zeus with Allah and the great noname God of Christendom.You have been indoctrinated – hypnotized is a better word – by the cultural environment in which you grew up, and now forever – you will continue to parrot the same old dogma of the ancients – who didn’t know there asses from their elbows.By the way, all nonbelievers were previously believers who had enough of the primitive mumbojumo. It is pure unadulterated crap.

  • etin

    If a young man or woman finds within them a yearning for love, does that prove there is no such thing as love? If someone is lost in the woods and hopes for someone to rescue them, does that prove there is no such thing as a rescuer? If I long for heaven, does that prove there is no such thing as heaven?

  • Rongoklunk

    Spiderchild;You are so far gone, you’re not worth dealing with. You and Extempraneous need each other.

  • medogsbstfrnd

    TWMatthews says “I don’t believe in god or Jesus or Thor or Santa and I’ll do my best to leave the world a little better than I found it.”The operative word in your post is “believe.” So you don’t believe in G-O-D or Santa. Okay. So your philosophical viewpoint fits on an REI knapsack. It is as simplistic as any fundamentalist slogan. You’ve simply illustrated my point in an earlier post.You ask for evidence which an empiricist might be expected to do but I seriously question your commitment to an evidentiary exploration of the complexities of the world and how such might actually lead one to the rational conclusion that you and the world didn’t just “pop” into existence. but I’ll bite. Just what is your evidence for your belief?This much is clear: a naturalist and materialistic view of the world does not rationally lead to an ethic like the one you just espoused. It may fit nicely on the side of the cereal box, but you’re getting your ethic about leaving the world a better place from somewhere other than cold empirical, materialistic philosophy. And that ethic or viewpoint is not more rational, no more empirical than a religious viewpoint that says people have souls and are held accountable for the gift of their lives.

  • stantheman1

    medog, I read your post quite a few times but couldn’t quite figure out what the point was. It really seemed like you had just heard a lot of new long words you wanted to try out but hadn’t quite learned what they meant yet. Can you give it another try? I’d love to hear it. (BTW, its “chutzpah.”) Thanks.*******It takes a certain hutzpuh to claim, as atheists do and professional comedians who are amateur philosophers, that we cannot know truth, that it is merely a cultural epiphenomenon but then in the same gas bag of philosophical spew assert something theologically,like there is no heaven. Heaven was not a simple way of trying to help people with the fear of death. Most people who believed in such an idea feared judgement at the time of death. The post-modern militant atheist posits a simplistic materialist view in order to avoid the possibility that he or she will one day be held accountable for their lives. That latter assertion has as much rational, empirical validity as the silly Gervais assertion, btw. every day any day 24 hrs a day.

  • twmatthews

    Medog,I am confused by what you said. My belief or lack thereof, is based on a lack of evidence for the existence of god or gods. I also assume that you understand that for the person proffering an assertion — there is a god — the burden of proof lies with you. However, I am more than happy to point out the inconsistencies found in the bible, the conflicting moral examples found in both the old and new testaments not to mention the heinous acts committed by people of faith over the last 2,000 years in the name of their god. Send me your evidence, contemporary or historical, for the existence of supernatural beings and I’ll look at it with an open mind.Give me your definition of a loving god. Maybe I’ve just misunderstood all the love found in the passover story or the story of the great flood or the rules under which the bible says I can own slaves.

  • spidermean2

    Rongoklunk wrote “There is no reason to believe that anything supernatural exists.”There are thousands, if not millions, of flowers out there. Each one are pretty. Perfect in it’s use of colors. And to think that none of these flowers have eyes or mirrors to critique their own work.If it’s not supernatural, I’ll give you pot of soil and water and make me one colorful object and don’t forget, blindfolded. Idiot.

  • spidermean2

    These are the types of people who believe in Darwinian Evolution and would want to legalize pot.Idiots.

  • spidermean2

    apissedant wrote “YOU CANNOT PROVE A NEGATIVE.”Wrong. I can prove that atheists are NOT thinking normally. There is something missing in how they use their logical skills. Everytime I see “documentaries” concerning Darwinian Evolution, I can’t believe my ears how these people has turned into IDIOTS. One narrator said that dinosaurs lived for millions of years “because they FOUGHT for it”. Do these dinosaurs have any clue why they self-replicate? And does the narrator know the science of self-replication?Idiots.

  • funkey

    gotta love religious nuts. they really *do* believe it. ah well….

  • surfbum

    Ricky and Matt are clearly entitled to their evolution given right to be fully ape like. The burning theological question is really not do Ricky and Matt know all about heaven, but are Ricky and Matt evolved enough to know when they have passed the functional lizard brain test so that they can adequately contemplate the meaning of life, much less heaven. Let’s get them tested and post the scores before we consider their uneducated and unqualified rant as a legitimate philosophical analysis. When Ricky and Matt go to their reward, they will be fully qualified to report back. Until then, let’s assume they are lost!

  • funkey

    surfbum – yikes. that wasn’t even a cogent thought. jezeus christo! go back to the fountain for another drink!

  • IronGiant1000

    Millions of ‘believers’ have died since humankind began preaching the concept of heaven. Yet there isn’t a single piece of evidence that any of them is IN heaven — or hell, for that matter.So how is the onus on atheists to prove heaven does NOT exist? There isn’t a single word in Gervais’ column that a believer in heaven could argue with because it’s based on the life we know. Believing in a world we don’t know and can’t calculate requires faith. Faith is a wonderful trait. It turns toxic — and oftentimes bloody — when the faithful become indignant towards competing faiths, including science. This forum offers proof, as one believer in heaven repeatedly refers to non-believers as ‘idiots’.Talk about chutzpah.

  • spidermean2

    “From The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine”.Guess what? Do these idiots know basic engineering science to even know the definition of reason?Can these idiots list the reasons or science behind how a supposedly “common ancestor” form into a chimp or human? How one can turn into a dumb chimp (it can’t utter a single word) and another into a talkative dumb evolutionist?

  • 20steveltd

    My father had the best answer I’ve heard without getting into religeon. As a six year old I once asked what death was like. He answered,”Well, do you remember what it was like before you were born?”. I’ve been working on that one my entire life.

  • barferio

    The problem with Pascal’s Wager is that it is equally valid for the question: Why Aren’t You A Muslim.so, how do you christians making your way through life with your particular answer to Pascal’s Wager feel about that? Why aren’t you Muslim?

  • ZZim

    Why would any female want to go to heaven?.=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-Jill, the simple and obvious answer is that your conception of Heaven is inaccurate. Women form the backbone of most Christian church communities and are more likely to take the kids to church when only one spouse attends church. Would they do this if Heaven were misogynist? Certainly not.Think of it as democracy in action. Most women disagree with you, therefore you are wrong. However, we appreciate your bravery in coming here and publicly exposing your ignorance. It allows for a nice teaching moment.

  • ZZim

    I was an atheist and I read a lot of books by “thoughtful atheists” like the ones the Washington Post presents here in the ‘On Faith’ series. I respect their point of view but I think they’re overwhelmed by their certainty in the lack of an afterlife or a more spiritual purpose for human beings that’s an adjuvant to human life, one that’s fulfilling and also benefits others.I remember listening to a program on NPR a few years ago, discussing why people who are devout (or at least those who are believers) tend to donate more money and time to charity than others, and it was very instructive: as an atheist, I realized that I hadn’t done much in recent years (or anything at all) for my fellow men and women. I began to change my views once I realized that, because I was raised to be as hard-core a rationalist in terms of scientific fact as anyone on this thread. I can still recite the benefits of mitochondrial DNA analysis, I understand the half-life of radioactive materials, I know the difference between a nanometer and an angstrom, and I still at the end of it all don’t think that any true humanism can exist that isn’t inspired by faith. The scientific truths are facts, to be sure. The real test of us as human beings is how we choose to treat each other by dint of our free will and in view of our eternal spirit.The best teachers in our Universities understand that. And we had all better hope that there are mysteries we cannot arrive at the answer to, through any of our technological or scientific means. If we knew everything, we’d be bored very quickly, and usually when we find ourselves bored we turn on each other, and very violently. Our humility before our ignorance should be what guides us, because we’re all endlessly ignorant. Carl Sagan could not convince me that God does not exist and neither can Katrina vanden Heuvel, and neither can Christopher Hitchens. I tend to think like Donald Knuth, who has a pipe organ in his house and does not begrudge himself the worship of God, because it is a mystery that by definition we cannot know. Posted by: ExtempraneousProbably the best post here today. I don’t personally agree with you, Extemp, but I’m impressed with this post.

  • ZZim

    If belief in religion requires that we believe that dinosaurs and humans co-existed 5000 years ago, then religion is an impediment to progress. Luckily, there are those that operate on a plane that is not limited to religious doctrine. They have chosen to “go it alone” and are the truly brave ones.Posted by: JimZ1 =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-Actually, Jim, we are more fortunate that believing in the co-existence of Humans and dinosaurs is NOT required. Most Christians do just fine without believing in “creation science”.That way we get to have our cake and eat it too. We get good Christian neighbors without having to put up with all that creationism nonsense.

  • linguine33

    Are there bigots such as Billy Graham, Martin Luther, Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, many Catholic saints, etc., etc., etc., etc., in Heaven?

  • ZZim

    “When I die I will go to a wonderful place and I will get to see all the people I love who have died. A belief such as this can make almost any sadness or pain palatable.”It does. I don’t believe in this stuff, but I teach it to my daughter. We just had a discussion this morning regarding a few of our pets who died.They’re playing together with their new friends in heaven and they’ll be there when we get there. She stopped crying and was ready to go to school.Awesome.

  • YEAL9

    Some observations:Heaven(if it exists) is a Spirit State as per Aquinas and JPII i.e. no bodies to include glorified bodies allowed. That sure puts the kibosh on Easter!!The simple preacher man’s spirit/soul resides in Heaven (if it exists) with all the souls of deceased good people of any religion or of no religion therefore there will be no second coming.As per Somerville, “Religion is our vehicle for the journey. Once arrived, it will be left at the door” i.e. there is no religion in Heaven (if it exists).The Holy Roman “Empirers”/Popes/Kings/Queens et al continued the money grab selling access to JC and heaven resulting in some of today’s “Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us.” Islam’s reliance on heavenly angels and “demons of the demented” for authenication is coming to a fast close. As it does, Mecca will no longer be a shrine to these fictional characters and will simply become a historical tourist attraction. Maybe Disney will construct another Disney World there featuring roller coaster-chariot rides to the fictional heavens, a water park at the Grand Mosque along with a Hall of Religious Embellished Characters featuring talking figures of Abraham, Jesus and Mohammed and his eleven wives.

  • safmmail

    There are things you know. You don’t know how you know you just know. That is called faith in what you know that you cannot see. I believe, because I just know, and through events in my life that have no logical explanation other then a power outside of myself had intervened, to me there is only one explanation and that God is the I AM! And Jesus is the son of God!

  • HookedOnThePost

    ZZIM Wrote: I don’t believe in this stuff, but I teach it to my daughter. We just had a discussion this morning regarding a few of our pets who died.

  • rannrann

    Hi Ricky,Great piece! So true.

  • married380

    In the martial arts, right before the fight, there is a moment when you just know you are superior to your opponent. You stand supreme, calm and relaxed in your knowledge. Of course, seconds later, you find out that things are not what they seemed to be.

  • Rongoklunk

    safmmail; you write”There are things you know. You don’t know how you know you just know. That is called faith in what you know that you cannot see. I believe, because I just know, and through events in my life that have no logical explanation other then a power outside of myself had intervened, to me there is only one explanation and that God is the I AM! And Jesus is the son of God!”Yeah, but if you had been born and raised in Mecca you would ‘just know’ that Allah was the only true God. If you had been born and raised in India you would ‘just know’ that Rama was the true God, or Vishnu, or Hanuman, If you had been born and raised like me – without a God you would ‘just know’ there are no Gods. Think about it. Gods are all in the minds of the indoctrinated, and do not actually exist, and never did.