From the Examiner:
What do Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and Billy Mays all have in common?As all of you surely know, there are two kinds of people in the world: hard-line evangelical Christians, and atheists. All Christians believe in salvation and are therefore either going to Heaven or ceasing to exist when they die. All atheists believe in nothing and are therefore either ceasing to exist or going to Hell when they die. End of story.
The obvious answer to the question, of course, is that they are all dead now.
The less obvious answer to many - think atheists, is that these four folks are all giving an account for their lives now...or not, if you are an atheist.
I do not presume to judge any of these four individuals. I don't know their outcome nor do I want to be the judge to determine their eternal destiny.
Something to consider.
Suppose a person were to live his/her entire life thinking there was a personal God and it was his/her responsiblity to love that God and love their neighbor. Then upon death they learned they were wrong and there was no God. Nothing loss, nothing gained. Right? Just a meaningful life filled with love and devotion.
Now suppose that same person thought there is no God and s/he just went about life doing whatever. Then upon death s/he learned s/he was wrong and there really was a God. Serious problem, no?
The short of it - it just makes sense (and for goodness sake this is not the only reason) to believe in a personal God.
I hope to meet Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and Billy Mays some day. That would mean they are with God, right? I know where I'll spend eternity. Do you?
How are you preparing for the eventuality of death?
Except, no. First of all, I don't think it's particularly Christ-like to use the dead in this manner. In fact, I looked, and Jesus never said anything along the lines of "these people who just died are super fucked if they didn't believe the right thing. FYI." I would imagine the reason He didn't say that was primarily because He, unlike Bill Belew (the author of this editorial) was not petty.
There is, ultimately, only one reality that we can definitively know to be true, and that is the one in which we are living now. We cannot know if there is an afterlife (at least not at the moment). While we can believe that there is a Heaven and that there is a God, we cannot prove these things. It therefore makes little sense to waste the life we know we have following arbitrary rules about morality and paying homage to a God of whom we are not worthy. I do not believe that God would want that. I find it unlikely that an all-powerful, ever-loving God would give a flying fuck whether we're "born again," whether we've atoned for our sins, or whether we've spent our lives worshiping any god, let alone the one human idea of Him that must be the correct one. I mean, really, can any human idea of God be the correct one? We are limited beings, and we can't prove anything. All we can do is believe in the idea of God that makes the most sense to us and acknowledge the possibility that we're wrong. If that lands us in Hell, then some kind of rebellion needs to happen because clearly God is an evil dictator.
To suggest that God revealed all His truth, which is necessary for salvation, to a particular incarnation of one of many religions, is to suggest that God is cruel. To suggest that important parts of the natural world - such as human sexuality - are sinful is to suggest that God is imperfect. In short, to suggest that belief in fundamentalism, of any kind, is the only path to salvation is insulting to God. And really, the only reason to believe in that kind of God (besides tradition) is fear. Blasphemous though it may sound to some, there is no room for fear in my faith.
Exodus 3:13-14 says:
Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"He is who He is, Bill. Let's leave dead people alone. WTFWJD?
God said to Moses, "I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'