Author Topic: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?  (Read 11058 times)

Offline David In Indy

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Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« on: November 07, 2010, 03:28:16 am »
It's a good question and one I've been wrestling with over the months and years.

"If the existence of God was not in question, like he talked to people openly, etc., but there was no eternal life, you just die and that was it, would you still worship and love God?"

It's a tough one, isn't it? We Christians seem to concentrate so much on what God will give us - an eternal reward - but not on what he's ALREADY given us - our life here now.

So what about it? If you believe in God, would you still love him even if you knew for a fact you would be nothing but worm food after you die? This is it, period?

I'm voting "not sure" because I'm really not certain about it. But it's something I'm working on. Because I'd like to say "yes" to this question. :)


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Offline CellarDweller

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2010, 10:51:35 am »
Ok, I want to make sure I'm understanding this.

You are saying in your question that we know that God exists, beyond question, and he openly talks to us, however, there is no Heaven or Hell.

Sure, I'd talk to Him, why not?


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Offline louisev

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2010, 11:12:08 am »
this is an easy one for me - because my concept of God is the immanent consciousness in all mankind.  As for there being a heaven and hell - I don't subscribe to those concepts.
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Offline horo04

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2010, 11:55:58 am »
Sure, I do.  I am a Wiccan and even though I don`t believe in an eternal damnation or heavenly realm I`m more concerned with the here & now. I believe our Creator helps us in or present life in some way or another.  But these are my personal beliefs....everyone has their own concept of a god or no god or whatever.
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Offline Lynne

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2010, 12:34:22 pm »
David - I have never believed in a literal Heaven or Hell. I sometimes think Hell might be life here on Earth.  I still waffle about the existence of God.  But - on days I think God might exist, I don't need the threat of eternal damnation nor the promise of eternal bliss to believe.
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2010, 07:15:22 pm »
Yes, absolutely. As it is, my private views of "heaven" and "hell" are highly unorthodox. I don't believe the stereotypical descriptions that I suppose ulitmately derive from the Book of Revelations (the Pearly Gates, for example). I suspect that when we die, That Which is Us is reunited to That Which is God. I guess you could therefore say that I don't believe in the existence of Hell.

I believe, and I worship, as a response to my experience of God in my life, not because I'm afraid of going to Hell.
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Offline milomorris

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2010, 08:00:42 pm »
"No heaven or hell" isn't really the same thing as "no afterlife." Regardless I answered "yes."

God has been such a major force in my this life, that I cannot imagine being one of the faithless. Like others here, I do not think of heaven or hell in the "fairy-tale" sense. My understanding is closer to Jeff's. Except that I believe that "going to hell" means the destruction of "That Which is Us," at least it means not uniting with "That Which is God."
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Offline Marina

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2010, 08:44:11 pm »
Hi,

I answered yes to this question as well.  I'm not particularly concerned with an afterlife either, or a Heaven or Hell - more so in what I see around me in the world in my life gives me my sense of a Creator or Higher Power, or a Consciousness, and sometimes, the things that go on right here on Earth are hellish.   The traditional images of Heaven and Hell are metaphorical, to me. 
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Offline RouxB

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2010, 01:47:27 am »
I answered yes but there are a few "ifs" embedded in there.
My interactions with the world and humanity are not based on a reward of heaven or fear of hell.

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Offline ifyoucantfixit

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2010, 02:09:42 am »
    I do not believe in Heaven or Hell.  One that can be located on a spatial or global
map.  I do not believe in a God either.  I believe that it is a form of self expectation,
that helps to relieve anxiety or fears.  It gives you a form of believe that helps you
to make yourself relieved under circumstances that leave you unable to find an
acceptance for the most difficult of fears or problems that you cannot find a reasonable
way to work yourself out of.  It helps many many people to place themself in an acceptable place to keep your psychi from falling apart.  When you reach such a level
of fear and difficulty, you are in danger of having a mental break.  In order to stop that
kind of reaction by the nervous system, they place their belief in "A God" in order to
make the physical mind and body lay the difficulty on an all powerful being.  ie God.
Someone or thing with the ability to handle any situation.  It takes the equation out
of their hands.  As to an afterlife, even when I believed in God, I never bought the
heaven or hell scenario
    I am probably going to get lots of flack from this, but I can live with that.






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Offline David In Indy

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2010, 03:01:12 am »
   I do not believe in Heaven or Hell.  One that can be located on a spatial or global
map.  I do not believe in a God either.  I believe that it is a form of self expectation,
that helps to relieve anxiety or fears.  It gives you a form of believe that helps you
to make yourself relieved under circumstances that leave you unable to find an
acceptance for the most difficult of fears or problems that you cannot find a reasonable
way to work yourself out of.  It helps many many people to place themself in an acceptable place to keep your psychi from falling apart.  When you reach such a level
of fear and difficulty, you are in danger of having a mental break.  In order to stop that
kind of reaction by the nervous system, they place their belief in "A God" in order to
make the physical mind and body lay the difficulty on an all powerful being.  ie God.
Someone or thing with the ability to handle any situation.  It takes the equation out
of their hands.  As to an afterlife, even when I believed in God, I never bought the
heaven or hell scenario
   I am probably going to get lots of flack from this, but I can live with that.






Not from me, sweetie!

God is what God is. I think God is very personal and our translation of God/Creator/Universal Conscience/Great Spirit orWakan Tanka/..... is different for each of us. And so are the concepts of Heaven and Hell.

Great answers everyone! Thank you! I originally started this thread because I am often disgusted and appalled by these so called religious people who claim to love God but at the same time speak so often of the gift of eternal life. So I started wondering if they would still love God even IF there were no life at all after this one. And it seems we've tapped into some very interesting and thought provoking answers. :)


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Marge_Innavera

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2010, 12:08:39 pm »
The question in the header assumes a previous belief in the Christian concept of heaven and hell.  AFAIK, there's a less close connection to Judaism, since a common Jewish POV on the afterlife is that we can trust God to do what's best for us and that our focus is on what we do and don't do in the current physical, three-dimensional life.

I believe in karma and reincarnation.  It's an encouraging concept in many ways, although sometimes, well, inconvenient.  You never lose sight of the "fact" (" = belief) that you can't really get away with anything and it doesn't work either to look at a sorry state of world affairs and think 'well, the s**t will hit the fan long after I'm dead.'  You might very well be in the thick of it next time around!   :o

As far as Heaven and Hell is concerned -- as least as that's been traditionally taught: to wholeheartedly believe in that I'd have to believe in a deity who would do something more unimaginably cruel than any human being would be able to do: consign a person to suffering that not even death will end.  If I believed in a deity like that I'd do what I needed to do to appease Him/Her/It but wholehearted worship?  No way.  I could as easily worship a violent domestic abuser: "love and worship me or you'll suffer a terrible fate" fits that kind of psychology perfectly.

Of course, the basis of the original question and poll was there being nothing after death but total annhiliation -- not "no Heaven or Hell" but "no afterlife".  And I suspect that whatever concept most of us have of "God", in that case the emphasis would be more on making life better in the here and now.  Sounds depressing to me, but that's just my POV.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2010, 12:01:08 pm »
to wholeheartedly believe in that I'd have to believe in a deity who would do something more unimaginably cruel than any human being would be able to do: consign a person to suffering that not even death will end.

I know. I can't even wrap my head around that kind of cruelty. And since I believe the concepts of heaven and hell were invented by humans seeking to reassure themselves that justice prevailed in the afterlife even when it doesn't on earth ... I am astounded by the depth of cruelty that those long-ago humans were willing to embrace, theologically at least.


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2010, 01:25:33 pm »
I know. I can't even wrap my head around that kind of cruelty. And since I believe the concepts of heaven and hell were invented by humans seeking to reassure themselves that justice prevailed in the afterlife even when it doesn't on earth ... I am astounded by the depth of cruelty that those long-ago humans were willing to embrace, theologically at least.

Does't suprise me in the least, not when you consider the depths of cruelty to which human beings sank in the course of the 20th century.  :-\

Of course, I suppose it isn't necessarily possible to know everything to which the New Testament was written in reaction, but I suppose if you are being ostracized by your own community, shunned by your own family, and (at times literallly) crucified or thrown to the lions by your government, there was some comfort in believing that the people who were doing all these horrible things to you in this world would be getting theirs in the next.  :-\
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Offline Shakesthecoffecan

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2010, 03:55:30 pm »
I'll go along with what Janice says.  ;)
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Offline delalluvia

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2011, 08:06:25 pm »
I'm not a Christian so the concepts of heaven and hell don't apply, but why wouldn't you still worship?  The gods can certainly make things easier or harder for you in THIS life.  Wouldn't you want to be on their good side?

Offline David In Indy

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2011, 03:40:07 am »
I'm not a Christian so the concepts of heaven and hell don't apply, but why wouldn't you still worship?  The gods can certainly make things easier or harder for you in THIS life.  Wouldn't you want to be on their good side?

That is an excellent point, Del!
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2011, 09:44:20 am »
I'm not a Christian so the concepts of heaven and hell don't apply, but why wouldn't you still worship?  The gods can certainly make things easier or harder for you in THIS life.  Wouldn't you want to be on their good side?

Hate to quibble, but heaven and hell aren't exclusively Christian concepts. In any case, though, your larger point is a good one.

But also, worshiping God doesn't seem like something that should be based on the prospect of punishment or reward, either on earth or afterward. You don't love your parents only because you think they'll raise your allowance or ground you, accordingly. And if you believe that God created the universe, wouldn't you appreciate him/her just for that accomplishment?


Offline Marina

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2011, 10:34:39 am »
Quote
And if you believe that God created the universe, wouldn't you appreciate him/her just for that accomplishment?

Yes, very much so.   :)
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Offline delalluvia

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2011, 03:35:28 pm »
Hate to quibble, but heaven and hell aren't exclusively Christian concepts. In any case, though, your larger point is a good one.

But also, worshiping God doesn't seem like something that should be based on the prospect of punishment or reward, either on earth or afterward. You don't love your parents only because you think they'll raise your allowance or ground you, accordingly. And if you believe that God created the universe, wouldn't you appreciate him/her just for that accomplishment?

Appreciate?  Sure.  But the OP was about worshipping a god.  And who says the gods invented the universe just for us?  It probably was for their own enjoyment, so appreciation only goes so far.

Marge_Innavera

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2011, 03:52:05 pm »
Does't suprise me in the least, not when you consider the depths of cruelty to which human beings sank in the course of the 20th century.  :-\

Of course, I suppose it isn't necessarily possible to know everything to which the New Testament was written in reaction, but I suppose if you are being ostracized by your own community, shunned by your own family, and (at times literallly) crucified or thrown to the lions by your government, there was some comfort in believing that the people who were doing all these horrible things to you in this world would be getting theirs in the next.  :-\

But the difference is that if you are thrown to the lions or even crucified, which has to rank with burning alive as one of the worst ways to die, death would eventually release you from your suffering.

Waiting to gloat over your enemies "getting theirs" in the next life doesn't sound too consistent with Jesus' teachings; but then, compared with Paul, Christianity has never taken Jesus all that seriously.

Offline Marina

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2011, 04:01:45 pm »
Quote
And who says the gods invented the universe just for us?

They didn't!  That's [one] of the big problems I have with the world today, and organized religion.   The universe was not created just for humanity, IMO.
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Offline ifyoucantfixit

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #22 on: March 10, 2011, 05:49:34 pm »
   If you were a God, why would you invent, or make a universe?  In order to have
someone to associate with?  Or would you do it because you wanted people to use for people to be on your side of the argument.  The way I see it.  If you read the
bible, he made man in order to have them take his side in the universe.  For them to be against the Devil and his minions.  If you don't take his side then you will be sent
to hell, and burned for eternity.  I think that has been my particular problem with
God all the way.  That would be like having children in order to have more men to
go to war with your enemies.  I find that difficult to accept.  Not very God like, if you
will.



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Offline serious crayons

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #23 on: March 10, 2011, 06:44:34 pm »
Appreciate?  Sure.  But the OP was about worshipping a god.  And who says the gods invented the universe just for us?  It probably was for their own enjoyment, so appreciation only goes so far.

Good point. I couldn't bring myself to say "worship." The title of the thread involves a few assumptions -- 1) that we not only believe in God, we even worship him/her, 2) that the existence of heaven or hell is iffy -- that I don't buy into.

I don't wonder about the possible non-existence of heaven and hell, I ASSUME they're myths. I don't worship God. I am agnostic, so I don't totally even believe in God. So maybe I'm not the best person to answer this poll.

However, my answer didn't involve the assumption that god(s) created the universe just for us. If you believe in god(s), and if you assume that s/he/they created the universe, you certainly can appreciate him/her/them for that achievement without believing yourself to be the only beneficiary.


Offline Wayne

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #24 on: March 10, 2011, 07:05:19 pm »
I don't claim that my impression is the authoritative truth about what the text of the Bible says, but overall to me it is surprising how little detail is provided in the Bible about an afterlife. At the time of Jesus, the Jews were sharply divided as to whether there was any afterlife at all. The Pharisees said there was an afterlife and the Saducees said there was not. I take that as an indication that the "Old Testament" does not give a consistent authoritative answer.

It was clearly the pop-cultural obsession of Jesus's time, but there was no clear religious unified position on it.

I'm pretty clear that when Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven he, at least usually, meant the new way of doing things that he wanted to encourage here on earth during our usual lifetimes. We are told that he did make a definitive statement on one occasion that there is an afterlife - supporting the Pharisees against the Saducees - but most of the time he was talking about changing how we do things in this life. Given how little he talked about an afterlife, it wouldn't surprise me if somebody just threw that into the text later, slash fiction style, because they wanted him to have said something about it.
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Offline Wayne

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #25 on: March 10, 2011, 07:13:28 pm »
It's only the spin-off material, the epistles and Revelation that give much of a position. To me that makes the Biblical argument for an afterlife pretty weak. To me it comes across as just an afterthought in the last 15% of the Bible, including Revelation which was not even consistently accepted as canon in the early church. Even the stuff in Revelation is not clearly about an afterlife - it sounds like someone who is justifiably dissatisfied with the Roman Empire, "predicting" - or rather calling for - its overthrow.
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2011, 07:16:16 pm »
The trouble with all religions is that the Infinite has to be funneled through the very finite minds of human beings.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Wayne

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #27 on: March 10, 2011, 07:19:44 pm »
So that's it for Heaven. As for Hell, there are two words in Biblical Hebrew that are usually translated as Hell. Sheol actually means "grave" - not an afterlife condition, just the burial place. And Gehenna is an even more literal location: a specific valley used as a garbage dump on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Dead bodies were dumped there if nobody claimed them; it was a terrible thing to have that happen to you. That is what going to hell meant.

All the stuff about fire and brimstone is literally a description of decaying flesh in the garbage dump. There is nothing metaphysical about it.

Again, this is my impression, nobody has to agree. Still, I'm pretty sure I'm right  ;)
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Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #28 on: March 10, 2011, 07:21:10 pm »
Yes, the question that this thread seems to be asking is whether there's some kind of intrinsic benefit to the act of worshipping.  If one knows that there is no actual afterlife reward... is the activity of worshipping some kind of positive mental or spiritual activity on it's own?

For me personally, the answer is an easy no.

I'm very suspect of the idea of worshipping.  And, I'm miles and miles away from being a religious person.  So, my personal answer is no.  And, in some ways, I actually hope that there isn't an afterlife.  I hope that death is like being in a deep sleep with no dreams.

And, as has been here in this thread, I think a lot of religion is really politics.  Ancient politics are embedded in old religious documents/doctrines and obviously people still use religion to control other people.

I'm very cynical about religion.
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Offline delalluvia

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #29 on: March 10, 2011, 07:52:42 pm »
  If you were a God, why would you invent, or make a universe?  In order to have
someone to associate with?  Or would you do it because you wanted people to use for people to be on your side of the argument.  The way I see it.  If you read the
bible, he made man in order to have them take his side in the universe.  For them to be against the Devil and his minions.  If you don't take his side then you will be sent
to hell, and burned for eternity.  I think that has been my particular problem with
God all the way.  That would be like having children in order to have more men to
go to war with your enemies.  I find that difficult to accept.  Not very God like, if you
will.

Agree.  This idea assumes god needs help.  If he created everything, including the devil and his minions, I daresay he'd have no trouble taking them all out without needing any help from anyone.  Hence the strange idea of being a member of God's Army or a Soldier for Christ.

As I recall very faintly from the Sumerian religion, humans were created to tend the garden for the gods.   So humans were created for all kinds of reasons in different religions.

Quote
So that's it for Heaven. As for Hell, there are two words in Biblical Hebrew that are usually translated as Hell. Sheol actually means "grave" - not an afterlife condition, just the burial place. And Gehenna is an even more literal location: a specific valley used as a garbage dump on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Dead bodies were dumped there if nobody claimed them; it was a terrible thing to have that happen to you. That is what going to hell meant.

All the stuff about fire and brimstone is literally a description of decaying flesh in the garbage dump.

This is what I read as well.  Early Hebrew tribes didn't really have a concept of Heaven/Hell as the modern Christians see it.  It was a belief concept shared by their pagan neighbors.  THIS life is what was important, so if you needed to worship like there was no tomorrow, you did, because literally, as a human, there was no tomorrow, today was all you had.  And if your god didn't deliver, you went to another god who could.  The monotheists were odd in that they turned any failure on their god's part to help them into a masochistic self-blame.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Would You Still Worship God If There Was No Heaven or Hell?
« Reply #30 on: March 12, 2011, 01:44:51 am »
It was clearly the pop-cultural obsession of Jesus's time, but there was no clear religious unified position on it.

So the pop-cultural obsession of Jesus' time was the existence and/or nature of an afterlife. Whereas the pop-cultural obsession of our time is Charlie Sheen.

Well thank god(s) for public schools, the printing press, the internet and 21st century enlightenment. Obviously with all of that education, we have made considerable progress in 2,000 years.  ::) ;D


Sheol actually means "grave" - not an afterlife condition, just the burial place. And Gehenna is an even more literal location: a specific valley used as a garbage dump on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Dead bodies were dumped there if nobody claimed them; it was a terrible thing to have that happen to you. That is what going to hell meant.

All the stuff about fire and brimstone is literally a description of decaying flesh in the garbage dump. There is nothing metaphysical about it.

That is a really interesting idea, and makes perfect sense. I tend to interpret things that way, too. I don't mean this particular thing, I mean mythical things in general. I think they are often based on very real circumstances that get blown into myth in the retelling.