“If you agree than an innocent child goes immediately to heaven for all eternity when they die, and you also agree with the commonly held position that only a minority of adults become Christians and make it to heaven, then, especially in an unbalanced mind, that could justify killing children. An ill individual could easily believe that they are actually doing a good thing, ensuring that those children receive a life of bliss at Jesus side that they might not otherwise have.
I am not trying to be cruel or insensitive, but if you are going to look for answers or possible reasons then no idea should be automatically excluded because it is unpleasant.”
Of all my ideas regarding metaphysics and faith, the one I address in this post is one I have never heard or seen addressed before. I can’t even recall when it has come up in even a passing conversation. I don’t exactly understand the reason for this, except to say that it could be one of those things that people simply think of as “ipso facto” to their own obvious existence. In other words, the way our reality is now is the way it will be in the afterlife. In this regard, it’s kind of like the subject of “time”. It never ceases to amaze me just how presumed it is that the passage of time is not only something that will follow us to heaven (or the afterlife/eternal life, whichever way you choose to look at it) as it does on earth, but that it is a force so pervasively permeating and binding to existence and reality that not only are we subject to it but God, Himself is also subject to it. That is, it is a force outside of Him, and thus, outside of His categorical control. He can “know” the future, in such a way as we mean he can “perfectly predict” the future, and He can perfectly assess the past; but in no measure is He outside of it. Time, in essence, defines God as much as it defines man. The only difference is that God has a greater degree of “predictive” power, so that He can, I suppose, maneuver the reality of the present so that it does or does not approach the perfectly predicted/completely known events of the future (though this is contradictory, of course…but, as I’ve said dozens of times, contradiction simply does not faze Christians, unfortunately…again, even the staunchest anti-Calvinists I know concede “predestination/free will paradox”). Some Christians will concede that God can control events and as such, He can control time; but again, this still always puts God inside of time, moving and going with it; they never concede that time simply does not EXIST as part of God’s functional reality. The more I ponder this, the more incredulous I become. Christians are quick to pay lip service to God’s omnipotence, but when the “rubber meets the road”, He is ultimately at the mercy of the same inexorable forces and existential reality as man is. In effect, they can only envision a “God” that exists the same way they do. The way they exist is how He exists. The way they think is how He thinks. The way He reasons is how they reason. The way He can know what He knows is the same way they know what they know. And so on and so forth. The only difference that God can do it…well, more so, I guess you could say. He is like us, but even more. And the “more” is usually subjectively defined by human understanding of what it would mean if they were omnipotent, without much deviation from one person to another I notice. And it also seems to me that the omnipotence of God tends to follow along the lines of the fantastical superhero paranormal “powers” and extra-physical “abilities” that many young children think about when they play “make believe”, and adults think about when they write comic books and movie scripts.
Fore example, one might say, if I were omnipotent, I would know the future. I would be able to control the minds of people to get them to do what I want. I could fly. I could teleport myself all over the universe. I could see people’s thoughts; read their minds. I could push people around with wind and fire and unseen forces like giant invisible limbs, or even visible limbs if you are Green Lantern . But in all of these cases, never is the “power” defined by a existential reality that is so fundamentally different that it makes “knowing” and “predicting” and “controlling” and the “future, past, present, movement”, etc., etc., completely irrelevant, which is how I would define the TRULY omnipotent. The truly Omnipotent, to me, wouldn’t have a thing about MY existential reality that He/She needed or recognized or even employed as a necessary tool to effect an outcome. Well..at least that’s where I would start. At any rate, this is why, I submit, Christians are so comfortable with logical and metaphysical and moral contradiction as the supreme foundations of their faith. Since the understanding of God never breaches the HOW of God’s metaphysical existence compared to ours, but it is presumed to be identical to our own–with the addition of “super powers”–then moral and metaphysically impossible contradiction are simply implied in the theology. And a nod and a shrug is how they explain the contradictions to the world.
It is my posit that we can thank secular, pagan Greek mythology (the original “super heroes”) and philosophy for this. For ever since the Roman Empire, Christianity has become a strange recipe of Jewish and secular philosophical stew, with gnostic despotism having the final say on matters of “sound doctrine” and faith.
That’s actually pretty gross, when you think about it.
Very little, if anything, has changed to this day. When we call ourselves Christians, we are generally not identifying with the NECESSARY Jewish philosophical and rational roots of Christ, but with a strange, grotesque version of European dark-aged superstition, with roots in pagan metaphysics. In other words, Christianity is not an extension of sound Jewish philosophical contexts, as it should be understood, but a tradition of a thin strand of world history; of very strange and narrow-minded Germans and Italians. And we continue to call these men geniuses, when in reality, within a couple hours of Google, the average American can know more, deduce more, and reason more than most of these “Great Fathers of the Faith” put together. And with a couple of bucks in late charges at the public library, they can start to write their own superior philosophy of sound doctrine.
Shoot…we have the Bible in our own language. That puts us ahead of these “Great Fathers” by eons already. If we’d only read it, starting NOT in the Gospel of John, but in Genesis, which is where GOD starts , we would all have a better understanding of God’s power and perfection.
What I was trying to say way back up there somewhere in the ether of this post is that this next subject is kind of like that of “time”. It is something that people simply presume. We “grow up” in this life and in this body, so we assume that children must also “grow up” in heaven. Again, we assume that the nature of our existential reality is unchanged in eternity as it is on earth in our mortal bodies; and again, this stems from the fact that we think, really, that because we are the IMAGE of God, He and we function pretty much the same, at the mercy of the same forces of time and knowledge and whatever else defines “reality” for us, on “earth as it is in heaven”.
I do not mean to insult or offend; I am merely trying to point out how Christianity has been able to function as a form of subculture tyranny and cultist control of human beings in the face of such obviously antithetical TRUTHS found in the natures of God and Christ and the Spirit as are found in scripture…and function so despotically for so many hundreds of years, with nary a Christian batting an eye.
The next and final chapter in my “Devil’s Question” trifecta has to do with the nature of our consciousness /awareness/cognitive evolution in heaven. Do we continue to grow and learn and acquire cognitive enlightenment as a function of our minds, as a function of our ability to REASON (to know whatever it is we say we know; even to declare that we know that we DON’T know something), or do we not? In other words, to get to the heart of the matter in question: do children “grow up” in heaven. If they are murdered, are they deprived only of their physical bodies, but their consciousness continues to develop as “normal”? Do they develop and become wise old men and women in heaven, or are they limited to whatever cognitive awareness they possess when they enter heaven?
Now, before you rush to respond in your mind, you need to realize that this is a much harder question to answer than it ostensibly seems like. No offense, but the obvious response, popping into your mind (which is very likely something along the lines of “Well…of course our consciousness evolves”) is likely very premature. The bible is silent on such a subject. And because of this, we make assumptions about the nature of our awareness in heaven; and as such, I think we perhaps miss what it is we deprive people of if we murder them. What if…just what if children do NOT “grow up” in heaven? What if the cognitive state a human being enters heaven is the same state they spend eternity in. What if cognitive development is in fact, as the scientists and doctors declare, a direct function of the maturity of the development of the biological brain in THIS body? (I am excepting those who have attained full access to their reason, but developed a limitation later in life; due to dementia, Alzheimer’s, or an accident, for example, under the presumption that when the biological is restored to health, they are able to resume their already-developed grasp of their reason. I argue that this would NOT be the case with those who’ve NEVER had access fully to their reason for whatever cause; and that simply restoring the biological structure to health does not necessarily assume the ability to apprehend reason fully which was never there in the first place.) If this is true, then murder becomes MUCH more egregious, doesn’t it? Now you are not only depriving one of a body, but of a mind in a sense. And why not? It is obvious that ALL we are and become in this life is directly related to the state of our biological bodies. The body is as important as the mind, even in scripture, and it is undeniable that limitations of the biological will affect cognition. The mind is inexorably linked to the body; and if we agree that the body does not continue to develop after death in heaven, why should we then assume that the mind does beyond the level attained in the mortal life? Surely the bible does not declare that we will all have perfect minds, with perfect omnipotent knowledge, and divine awareness in eternity, does it? We will have imperishable bodies…yes; but from this do we presuppose that the cognition of each “brain” in heaven will be fundamentally transformed into higher functioning awareness of our own selves? Since self-awareness, and REASON, is not directly related to sin—that is, how self-aware/smart/cognitively developed is not a sin issue, then why can it not be possible that consciousness does not necessarily change even though the brain (body) might be eternal.
It is my opinion that this is the case. And because of this, we can see the gravity of how we treat ourselves and others, but also arrive at a better understanding of just how destructive and far-reaching the Fall of Man was. The garden Sin was no trifling fender-bender of narrow and shallow consequences. No, I believe it has profound effects on the state of man not ONLY in this life but in the next. Salvation and moral innocence, through Christ, ARE possible now. But the mortal and perishable body in this life drives the mind in this life. And the mind, the ability to reason, the soul of man, is developed through the body. And as such, it is in heaven what it is now, minus sin. But minus sin does not equal “higher functioning” per se, or a “growing up” of the body and mind.
In light of that idea, can we not see just why God might think that murder is such an evil as to include it in the Ten Commandments?
The state of awareness in which one enters “eternity” is the state of awareness minus the physical imperfections of the temporal body. The ability to reason (the soul of man) and consciousness is developed in the temporal body. A fact that is verified by empirical science and medicine the world over. I maintain that the ability to reason, the development of the consciousness, self-awareness…knowledge and the ability to apprehend abstract truth and physical laws and to live by them, and to rule and subdue one’s self and his/her environment by the apprehension and employing and manipulation of them, is a function of the first body and the first world. I maintain then that wisdom and understanding are gained in the world we are born into; and that this is the intended function of the first life. Eternity…the new earth and heaven and even body is a place of perpetual IS, absent the normal passage of time as we understand it (though I maintain that “time” will still have place; as created beings, we need space in which to move, and space and movement imply time; however, I’m not acceding “evolution” of the body, or the material environment, as it were). That is, the evolution of the soul (the reference ability of reason) cannot be and is not developed in the eternal, heavenly state, where one functions according, not to a hostile world and environment, where all things exist and are defined by the moral law of good and evil, and human knowledge of it, but by what I would describe as “whims”. Pleasure, peace, comfort…absent a hostile existence of any sort; where needs are met or done away with by God (in the case of moral and mortal “needs” as a function of the degenerating physical body and world). So, in light of this understanding of eternal existence, we need to ask: what is the purpose of reason in the eternal state?
Reason is there to affirm the free will and volition of the mind; to affirm the status of individual “difference” of the individual from the rest of surrounding creation; “this” and “that”, as it were; and that preference, and choice, and “natural” law is seen not as good and evil, but…well, I would say, rather than degrees of “good” or degrees of “bad”, there are degrees of perhaps “more” or “less”, better or worse, as a function of OUR created reality, verses that of God (there can be no degrees with God, for God is perfect, and as such, there cannot be degrees of perfection, or preferences of perfection, obviously). So, what I am trying to say is that absent the need to survive in a hostile environment, there is no logical reason why it should be expected that our consciousness grows. For a developing consciousness is a byproduct of the need to thrive in an antithetical place to man (the fallen world), a growing awareness of good and evil, so that we may consciously choose to pursue either/or, in a manner which speaks to right or wrong moral existence. But absent the need to thrive, and the need to learn to avoid evil to one’s spiritual (and physical, I could add) advantage, then it does not follow that a developing self-awareness is a prerequisite for eternal existence. And as such I maintain that if it is redundant for reason/awareness to develop in heaven, like it is redundant that the body should “grow” or mature in heaven, because all its needs are provided for, via its eternal make-up, that the state of man does not MATTER beyond how he enters heaven as a morally innocent creation. That perfection of the body and mind in heaven does not necessarily need to equal utter maturity as we would define it in THIS life. Moreover, if a child is murdered before the age of self-awareness, that is, he or she is in a state of moral innocence already, then what is the reason that this should or even can change in heaven? I suppose this begs the question, then: is awareness of God a prerequisite of moral purity before Him?
Interesting question, don’t you think?
But we won’t tackle that one just now. However, any comments or ideas in regards to it, I would more than welcome.
At any rate, what I am suggesting is that the state of awareness with which one enters heaven, or “eternity”, is the state of awareness with which they are perpetually bound to. (And, yes…I do understand the implications of this statement; I have regarded the consciousnesses of those who perhaps are cognitively challenged (e.g. mentally retarded; autistic), and my answer is: How much do we really know about their state of consciousness? What is the level of contribution the biological handicap plays in a person’s ability to access reason? The answers are likely nebulous. In other words, we don’t really know. Since the answers invariably involve a certain amount of spiritual/metaphysical facets, it is likely that we will never know. All we know is what we can see…and what we can see is the biological. And what we can reason from what we can see and know about metaphysical reason is that absent sin and hostility in heaven, what does the state of consciousness really have to do with eternity once one is actually in heaven? What is the logical necessity of a “growing” consciousness absent sin and need? I’m not saying that I’m categorically right…I’m merely suggesting that, at least ostensibly, the idea of an evolving or growing state of self-awareness/ability to reason is redundant and unnecessary in eternity. Of course, I could be wrong. If I am, I would love to hear why. I don’t say this facetiously either; I mean it. Help me grow in truth. I welcome it.) That is, I am not convinced that the body and mind is developmentally different, or that it develops beyond what it is in THIS life, for THIS life is the first, and the first intended life and body of man (see Genesis, Chapter One). We should not underestimate the supreme importance of our lives in the bodies and in the environments we are in NOW.
Heaven is not more growth and development; for that is the intended purpose of the first life and body. Heaven is merely a new body that does not decay and a new mind that functions as morally innocent because the law of good and evil is moot in heaven. Plus, with no physical needs, and no mortal decay, sin is even further mitigated and so the mind is free to be…well, static, I might say. Because decay implies a place where the body and mind decay from in their temporal, mortal evolution. If there is no decay, then there is no growth; and if there is no growth in the body, then there is no growth in the brain, by which reason is accessed. And since awareness is inevitably linked to the body, then how can we argue for an increase in self-awareness/consciousness? Heaven is not a functional separation of spirit and body, as I think many Christians assume; no it is the consummate integration of one with the other. An eternal body which houses the eternal spirit. Body and spirit are not pulled apart in heaven…they become even more ONE with each other in heaven, I believe, than in earth. Human beings NEED a body in order to exist. They cannot be simply “spirit”, like God because they need an instrument by which their actions from their volition and reason can be realized. Without tangible bodies and objects by which to manipulate reality, man cannot exist (why I don’t believe in ghosts, by the way). And this is quite biblical, I should add. The body is never denigrated, or given a secondary importance to the mind in light of man’s creation…that is, body and mind are hand in hand; part of the reality of man in total. On the contrary, notice in Genesis that the body is the FIRST prerequisite to existence; and this in the Garden! Where man was supposed to live forever…in his body. So, again, body and mind are one in this life, and thus how much moreso will they be as eternal and imperishable entities in the next.
In heaven, then, what I am saying is that in terms of physical and cognitive development you ARE what you ARE; and you ARE forever. Absent the moral law of sin and physical decay, there is no reason that you can’t exist in whatever state you enter in…forever. And yes, it is depressing on the one hand to think this, but it is also positive because it helps us realize just why it is SO important that we do all we can to foster love and kindness and peace for our fellow human beings in this life, because though it is redundant to BE cognitively more self-aware, morally speaking, in heaven, it is BETTER to know God than to not know God; because God is the objective we pursue in our existence, because HE is the primary example of freedom of existence. And it is thus hard to truly be free to BE if we do not know God. We can live for eternity in a state of lesser awareness, because lesser awareness is not sin; but it is, again, better, and preferable to be more aware of self, in that by this, you can be more aware of God. Which, again, is simply metaphysically rational because it is why you exist in the first place. There can be exceptions to living the why of knowing God, in the interest of the supreme morality of love and mercy, but the why of existence cannot be done away with; and man cannot ultimately exist (as a total entity…that is “humanity”) as a created consciousness unless he knows his God. You can exist more fully when you realize who the Creator of your life is, and you can grasp His TRUTH. You exist more fully because you can consciously seek Him. And why should we continue to pursue Him in heaven? Because by Him we grow in understanding of what it means to be US. This evolution of knowledge is going to happen in heaven, but not beyond the apprehending of the ability to reason in this body, which is a function of development in this life.
So, this being the case, when we consider murder, and in particular the murder of children, in accordance with the question posed by the atheist I have cited above, we realize that when one murders them prior to the age of “awareness” (i.e. full access to their reason), then the murderer has deprived them of their fully developed consciousness for all eternity. They have been deprived of their ability to acquire the understanding necessary in order to understand just how they are and who God is, this being the purpose of existence, and the point of our creation. They are thus deprived of their ability to fully exist according to their purpose, and while safe with God, they are in a perpetual state of lacking the fullness of their due right and purpose of owning their own existence. They have been forever robbed of themselves. Thus murder is not merely larceny of the body, but it is in fact larceny of the mind and soul, as well. The theft of a fullness of consciousness and therefore existence which will NEVER be aquired.
Are you starting to see why murder is forbidden by God, and punished severely numerous times in the scriptures? It is a BIG deal. A big one; and I fear that as evidenced by the question posed by the atheist, the gravity of taking a life has been lost on so many. To even consider such a question as even remotely reasonable—and for Christians not to have a sensible, moral, and easily understood response to such an abominable idea—strikes me as evidence that we as humans have strayed far beyond the rational metaphysics which should define us, and which, frankly, we all should be utterly aware of from every moment to every moment.
And so we must then debate the morality of the point, for truly this is the crossroads of the debate: Is it better to rob a human being of their very souls in order that they may live forever in a state of inferior and less functional awareness, where themselves and their Creator are not fully grasped according to their reason, according to the root purpose of their existence? Or is it better to allow them to grow and develop into the full understanding of themselves and of God…or at least develop into a consciousness which has full access to its own ability to reason; to possess that which is inherent to all human beings who own a fully functional biological structure by virtue of having “grown up” in the body as they, by God and by obvious laws of nature, were intended? That they might have full possession of their minds and souls and bodies in this life and the next, and so that the choice of Christ, necessary to understand LOVE, can, as it must, be fully their own?
“Thou shall not murder.”
This commandment was written on the stone tablets. It is as close to inerrant as the Scriptures can get. It is as close to infallible as any created thing can be.
The Devil is a right proper liar. And all his words are intended to deprive man of his life and his mind; and God of his place.
The question of murder is therefore a question of the devil.