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Discussion in 'Water Cooler' started by Lanolin, Sep 18, 2017.
Strangely, I've been waiting for this.
However, you do believe that He existed at one time. Correct?
When I was very young (around kindergarten) I asked my parents what what God is. They gave me a good explanation and made the connection between God and our family's religious observances. They were my parents (and good ones) so I accepted it as every bit as true as where they told me food in the grocery store comes from or why sometimes when we get sick we develop a fever.
I received a religious education until I was 15 and, honestly, the more I learned the more confused and inconsistent God (if he existed) seemed. I assumed it was due to some shortcoming on my part, that either I wasn’t smart or spiritual enough. But, if believers I met were telling me the truth, it would all fall into place some day. And, since God is kinda’ driving the bus, I could trust him to know when and where was the right time and place for me to realize my faith.
I didn’t call myself an atheist because, for a very long time, I thought an atheist is someone who believes, with faith, that there is no God. And, while I may not have been convinced in the reality of God, I certainly had no proof there was none. And I was under the impression that everyone I knew believed.
I was finally led to self-identify as an atheist by a silly, almost insignificant, event – I won’t bore you with the details unless you’re really interested. Only then did I take up the project of investigating what made me different from people of faith. Ever since, the more I learn, the more sense it all makes for me. (Confirmation bias, I know.)
I know I am still in a minority. For instance, my circle of close friends generally hold values and beliefs that, so far as I knew, were very similar to my own. Then, one day, at a party, I “came out” with my atheism. You could have heard a pin drop. To illustrate where my head was at the time, I said to them, “Of COURSE I’m an atheist. Aren’t you?”
Of the people gathered, there were a few who were active practicing Catholics, so they knew I wasn’t referring to them. But of all the rest, none described themselves as atheists. They all self identified as some combination of “spiritual,” “deist,” and “agnostic.” A few are members of Christian congregations, but they describe their worship as the culturally natural outlet for their personal religious expression. This is how they accept that there is no “false” religion for anyone who is faithful.
I have since come to know of other atheists around me. Of them, I think I am more interested in theology than most, whereas (being atheists) they don’t find much value in devoting a great deal of energy to anything religious.
So… there’s me in a nutshell.
Dear @Kirby D. P.
Thank-you for sharing that with me/us here. As much as I enjoyed reading this of you, which explains more about you. Which I'm sure you know, that many here also can also testify to this type of experience. At least up to a specific moment in time in which all that changed. For you it has yet to, but there is Hope
Still, you really didn't answer my question.
With the Love of Christ Jesus.
Ah. Sorry Nick. No. I have never sensed the existence of God and/or believed him to be real. As I mentioned, I took my parents' word for it when they told me who God was, but I never had any personal experience confirming the reality of that description. Not long ago, I described my atheism to them. They both admitted that they really didn't believe, but they didn't consider themselves atheists, per se. Because of the context of the conversation, i didn't ask if they believed at the time all those years ago when they told me about God's existence. If I had to guess, I'd say they probably don't remember. I can't ask my dad now (deceased) but I think I'll ask my mom next time I see her.
As a share to you as well @Kirby D. P. , While you figure out how to answer my question
I experienced very similar upbringing. My mother who is from Cuba was on her way at the age of 35 to become a Nun. So by this you can see she was a bit religious. Anyway she wanted her husband, children to believe as well. My mom was not really much into theology, had me study under almost every Western religion, to include Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Scientist, Catholics, and the beat goes on, and on...After joining the military, even went the Methaphysics route of the 60's and early 70's. Atheism was never something I could say I considered. The reason for this is that even before my early church teaching, I can recall at an early age, maybe 4, or 5. I was looking at the night sky and wondered to myself who had made the sky I was looking at. The concept of a Creation God, was so born within me, or just came to the surface. I don't know which but I'm sure He does
As religion goes. I guess this verse truly says it all - Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, [and] to keep oneself unspotted from the world. James 1:27 NKJ
Not quite what churches in the world are portraying to anyone or those who profess to call Jesus Christ Lord and Savior! Still, everyone has a part.
I see you replied. I guess, I'll close this and see what you have to say!
With the Love of Christ Jesus.
I knew I should have put the name of Jesus in there!!!
Historically of cause. Do you believe that Jesus existed?
Ha! Honestly, I have to say I am agnostic as to the historicity of Jesus. I never found any amount of harmonizing of the synoptic Gospels satisfying regarding his biographical reality, though I think points where they differ and where they are consonant are crucial to understanding what was important to the church at the time of their canonization. I find extrabiblical evidence for the existence of Jesus meager and unconvincing. However, SOMEBODY concieved the creed evident in the Gospels. Whether his or their name was actually spelled as the Aramaic version of "Jesus" or Paul or Saul is, to me, not of primacy. Indeed, if I did believe, and it was a belief in a truly omnipotent God, I would figure his ability to endow humanity with Christianity through the agency of a true born son is no greater than his ability to bequeath it via the power of myth. That's not me insisting Jesus MUST have been mythical, but an omnipotent God would be capable of programming global awareness and belief in Christ without necessarily breaking a large number of natural laws in his own creation. For me what is most important, after whether God or Jesus actually exist, is what people today believe, what they base those beliefs upon and why; and how those beliefs inform the way we treat each other.
I never implied they believed my God or Jesus exist. A god. It is simply insanity to think we are the product of random mutations whilst also being completely clueless on a starting point of this cycle.
Now most atheists are thinking people. Not dodo's. As such it is my experience that most given the time to explain properly, do believe in a higher power guiding things. They just do not believe in my God as they have not seen 'evidence' of Jesus / my God. Nor any other gods for that matter.
Isaac Newton ''He who thinks half heartedly will not believe in God, but he who really thinks has to believe in God''.
So, I would say you do believe in a god, just not any of the gods we have. As when they are challenged to prove themselves they all fail to deliver any evidence.
I enjoy talking to you Kirby. You are certainly unlike many atheists I encounter on atheist forums.
Anyway, I agree with your rationale. I want to add to it though. If you would come to God on His terms, He will reveal Himself to you. This is for me the testimony of every true Christian. It is mine and I was an atheist of sort before. I find it laughable to demand God of the universe jump through hoops we have created for him. ''I will only believe, when God does X or Y''. If there was only one thing I would pray that atheists retain from a conversation with me, it is this. That they come to Jesus / God on His terms.
If we do Psalm 51:17, Matt 16:24, Rom 12:9, God is drawn to us James 4:8 and reveals Jesus to us 1 Cor 12:3 Nobody can call Jesus Lord without it being revealed to them by the Holy Spirit, Matt 16:16-17. Always consider Abraham and Noah. How they were chosen among all men. God is scouring the earth for those that have any sincere hate of what is evil. There will not be one person in hell who hates what is evil more then he loves it.
A fool is someone who says there is no god. That ironically is not many atheists, or you I believe.
You should worry about the fate of your soul. You have a working brain that grasps good and evil. It is the reason God needed to plan Jesus and the cross before He made us. We should all easily grasp an inevitable judgement day. No matter how much we tell ourselves it is not going to happen. That type of self induced brainwashing can only hold water for so long.
Let's discuss these issues. That is a chief purpose of a site like this.
Getting to know God...
Well see God reached out to me when I didnt know if He was real or not. I had this hunger to know who God really was because people, especially christians, seemed to know Him and have joy and peace but I did not. I suffered a lot of depression which I know was not merely physical but spiritual. It seemd life was not even worth living and everything I did was futile.
I learned everything else I thought I could learn but not really who God was. So I started reading the Bible. At first it did not make sense. I found it really hard. But little bit by bit God was showing me who He was. I thought maybe I could study the Bible with others who knew God and theyd be able to tell me. So I asked someone at the Bible shop where I could go to learn. They told me this prayer group held at a home and so I got up the courage to check it out. Now this was a big step for me imagine going to a strangers house you never even met before but my hunger to know God was greater than my shyness. I didnt even really know how to pray. It was like Nicodemus the Pharisee going out at night in secret checking out who Jesus was. If my parents knew I was seeking God they would disown me!
Will stop here for a bit cos theres more to the story...
Well, KingJ, you have before you that particular flavor of atheist who honestly just does not agree there is any such thing as anything supernatural. This includes any notion of a higher power or personal deity. It also includes no belief in an afterlife. But, don’t feel so bad for me, because, in almost any version of afterlife I can conceive, I don’t think I’d really want one. You may find this hard to believe (a lot of faithful people I have met do), but I don’t think I actually have faith in anything. “Faith” here meaning a conviction in some state of reality without (according to standards I accept) sufficient evidence to do so. I know that plenty of Christians do find ample evidence to warrant belief. I just don’t credit that same evidence as convincing. For me to have faith, I would have to believe despite lacking sufficient evidence. By that standard, I lack faith. People have challenged me, “But aren’t you faithful to your wife? Don’t you have faith in your children?” I don’t, and I know to some that sounds horrible. I love my wife and kids more than I love myself or anybody else. I do not have to think twice any time some sacrifice on my part can benefit them. I include the sacrifice of my very life or even afterlife, if there is one. But, for me, my love is reasoned in that it is based on the reasonable expectation that they are as loveable to me today as they have been every day I have known them. I was agnostic about loving my wife until I got to know her. In the case of my children, my love is accentuated by a deeply ingrained awareness that they are very really partially me, and the only part of me that (since I do not believe) has any chance of surviving my own physical destruction.
I don’t think I have an unreasonably high standard of evidence I expect from God to convince me to believe. I’m not waiting for the satisfaction of any grand challenge or test. He knows exactly what it will take to convert me. I’m not absolutely clear on it myself, but I do know it doesn’t have to rise to the level of some crazy suspension of the laws of nature or rescue from some catastrophe.
I’m not sure what it means to come to Jesus on his own terms. If that means to pray sincerely, I have done so – before I ever considered myself an atheist. If, however, it means first I must believe and then he will reveal himself to me: First, I don’t think I’d want to but (more importantly) second, I don’t think it’s possible. I don’t think anyone can make themselves believe in something they do not without actual resort to make believe. Even if I want, I mean, reallyreallyreallyreallyreally want to believe in Jesus, if I don’t I just can’t. Until that time comes when I do out of sheer faith, then, my only other option is to come to belief through evidence. And there we go again…
I do understand a desire for life everlasting, as I also understand a natural desire that, upon their earthly death, people receive exactly the sort of afterlife they have earned while alive. So far as that goes, it appeals to a sense of justice and fairness. I’ll set aside for the moment all the particular flaws and apparent paradoxes I see in these things. But, you are absolutely right, these are exactly some of the subjects I’m excited to discuss. Let’s come back to any and all of those in time. For the moment, I’d like to zero in on the justice of posthumous punishment.
My understanding is: according to many Christians, someone who dies unrepentant and “in their sins” is to be subjected to the worst punishment one can possibly experience for all eternity.
Even if this only applies to people who are competent and capable of informed consent, to people of free will who freely accept and expect this punishment knowingly, I consider it to be unjust.
Please explain your understanding of my error.
I'm glad I was able to make you laugh
So you have researched the current evidence on the existence of Jesus or should I say/use Yeshua Hamashiach and find it wanting. With that you have concluded that he never existed. You appear to be learned and so your conclusion, being based on what you see as sound logic, resolves to not change, without additional Evidence.
So, I must pose to you another couple of questions only on the existing evidence. Your position to you is incontrovertible, because you dispute the few meager references outside of Christendom and see the plentiful writings of the Apostles as what?
The historical evidence of Jesus as you say may be scanty, but the evidence of those who gave witness to his existence and by their deaths because of their belief is not. Believing as you do, surely you must have considered those writings as well in coming to your conclusion on Jesus. So, what did the firsthand accounts of mostly fishermen whom I look as down to earth folks signify to you?
Oh, on the harmonizing of the synoptic Gospels satisfying you. I'm sure you have noticed that each one highlights a different aspect of Jesus. However, with your thought in mind. Wouldn't them having a greater amount of, let's use your word "harmonizing", speak to a greater probability of them being contrived?
With the Love of Christ Jesus.
You mistake me… slightly. When I claim I am agnostic as to whether Jesus, as described in Scripture, actually lived, I do mean, “I don’t know.” I think it is perfectly possible that Jesus lived. But the evidence for it, in my opinion, is not convincingly strong. So, I think, he might not have. For me it doesn’t matter. SOMEONE (whether it was God or Paul) developed and codified the creed of Christianity. Please understand that, as a strict materialist who finds no value other than allegory in the supernatural aspects of any story, that’s about as high a level of esteem as I can assign to any idea. I find some marvelously revolutionary aspects to Christianity (for the time at which it first took form). If it was disseminated by God through Jesus, great! If Paul came up with most, or all, of it… still great! (At least to heathen like me.)
So, on the veracity of an earthly Jesus, my opinion is militantly NOT incontrovertible. On the contrary, my jury is simply still out.
As for eyewitness accounts of the man, my understanding is these are limited to the Gospels themselves, which were not even set down in writing until a generation or so after the events, by chroniclers who were not themselves the eyewitnesses in question. This does not mean I discard their biographical value altogether. But neither can I dismiss the possibility they are partially or wholly fanciful. I agree, the canonized Gospels are deeply telling in the ways they relate to and diverge from each other. As you say, they focus on different aspects of the same stories, showing different lusters by different light as with cut gemstones. But there is also no getting around the fact they also contain simple contradictions of fact: Who, how many, and of what gender were the people at the tomb on the third day? Were there any criminals also at the site of the Crucifixion? If so, were any spared execution? If so, who?
For me, these inconsistencies are not problematic. Since I consider them all allegorical (even if they are all based on some unitary underlying factual events), the inconsistencies are meaningful and ripe for contemplation. But they ARE manifestly problematic for any argument that the scriptures are literally inerrant. To put it poetically, I’ll accept there may be truth in them, but, as a body, they are not factual.
I am unaware of any extra biblical eyewitness sources. I know Josephus is a go-to source for corroboration, but at best he confirms that there were Christians when he was writing. At worst, his comments on the subject have been doctored.
There is no doubt that early church martyrs believed in the truth of the Gospels, willing to stake their very lives on their veracity. But this is testament to their faith, not to the factuality of where they placed that faith.
I do think the Gospels were “contrived,” but I do not think they are fraudulent. I am willing to believe that those who composed each believed in the central truth of what they set down, as did the chroniclers of each of the apocryphal gospels as well. But this panoply of accounts is just as consistent with different allegorical accounts of events, perhaps factual but perhaps not, as they are with a range of imperfect accounts of the same set of actual historical events. The one thing they cannot be is a host of unerring factual accounts. Unless one allows for parallel universes.
Don't you want to be in a resurrected body, living for eternity in tranquility with your wife and kids?
I wouldn't say ample evidence is ever needed.
Isaac Newton: ''In the absence of any proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence''.
You are touching on two very separate types of faith. We have faith in God's existence and then faith in God's goodness. The devils believe in his existence and it matters naught James 2:19. Abraham had faith in His goodness and reciprocated it by being faithful in what God asked of him. You were agnostic to your wife's goodness, not her existence. Can you affirm the same with God? If so we can move on to the more meaningful discussion on why God is good and you do not need to be agnostic to it. Who cares about serving / defending / discussing about an evil God...?
Psalm 136:1 Give thanks because God is good, His mercy endures forever.
Eph 3:18 may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of God's love.
I would propose that God does not want to visit an unrepentant sinner, ''at all''. The only time I can recall Him doing this was with Cain. He literally visited Cain and gave him an opportunity to repent. This visit by God of the universe did not prompt Cain to repent, rather he remained hard hearted. It is an interesting truth. On all other occasions God has worked through His saints or plagues at increasing levels of severity.
What is also interesting is how God visits the righteous. God did not work on a literal basis with anyone bar a few prophets chosen to speak on His behalf. For Jews, via the Mosaic law. For non Jews, they either heeded warnings to cut down on mortal sins (Nineveh) or ignored them (Sodom). In the NT, before the rapture / tribulation. God wants to reveal Himself to the righteous via the Holy Spirit, as Jesus 1 Cor 12:3. So we live by a belief in the unseen / IE by faith. But this faith is not something we need to muster up (IE positive thinking). It is a spiritual revelation that is given Rom 12:3. The righteous / Christians can hear God's voice John 10:27.
So I see honesty from someone who says they don't believe. Many force a belief in Jesus just to escape hell, I believe.
We both agree then on never forcing or faking a belief.
Jesus's terms are very interesting indeed. The young rich man is a good example Matt 19:16-22. ''I have obeyed all the laws, what must I do to inherit the kingdom of God'' Jesus: ''Sell all you have''.
This seems extreme but is it too much to ask? I always tell people to think of marriage vows. A fornicator would agree to stop seeing others 100% surely? Be willing to give up all for the person? Is marriage not supposed to be reflective of a sufficiently deep intent / commitment? The righteous are going to have a marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven. So marriage is a perfect comparison.
I find John 15:13 very interesting as it states the greatest love is to lay your life down. God did that for us.
When I got saved a nun told me I better stop my sins because it made God upset. Jesus died for my sins, so I must repent and make right. This prompted me to think about God. I recall my exact words to Him ''God, I guess you are up there, I did not make myself. I enjoy what I am doing and cannot think of a life without it. I don't want to upset you. If you did die for me, thanks and please help me to see things your way''. That day a friend I used to sin with came to me and played a Christian song and couldn't stop telling me how wonderful he felt after giving his life to Jesus. The next day I was walking in a corn field and saw Jesus on a cross in the sky (not literally, but like a vision in my head that was quite literal). I recall Jesus telling me (quiet inner voice in my head) to grasp what He has done and why He did it. That night I prayed and repented. The Holy Spirit came upon me and I prayed in tongues all night long. This is two days that changed my life. I even recall going to church that weekend and asking God in my mind. ''So what am I to do now, can I come to heaven?''. The preacher responded in His sermon ''God has us here for two reasons 1. To serve Him and 2. To grow closer to Him, hang in there!''.
If you can grasp it is unjust, how much more a saint like say Mother Theresa, or God in whom there is no darkness at all 1 John 1:5.
This is where many just fail at Christianity. Christianity is all about righteous judgement 1 Cor 6. Loving your enemy Matt 5:44. Doing unto others as you would like done unto you Luke 6:31.
Now it is simply insane to think God and....us, will for the rest of eternity do the complete opposite of these scriptures. For crying out aloud it is insanity at the highest level.
Anyway, I propose we leave this discussion for the other thread ''Creator and hell''.
I understand only two meanings of the word “faith.” 1. Fidelity to some obligation or duty. And 2. Belief in the reality of something without regard to relevant evidence.
In our context here, I am speaking only of the second meaning, by which I consider both faith in God’s existence and also faith in God’s goodness as the same sort of faith. These may be two separate issues, but belief in their reality would entail (at least for me, for the time being) the same sort of faith.
As for my wife’s existence, I did not and do not have any faith in it. Before I met her, I was ignorant to her existence. If someone had told me about her, depending on the details of their description, I might have been agnostic about her existence or treated her existence with a provisional belief, pending verification by evidence. I now feel satisfied she does exist, so my belief in her existence does not depend on faith, at least as we are using the word here.
Regarding Newton, I hasten to point out his contribution to the world has been as a scientist, not as a theologian. One doesn’t study St. Thomas Aquinas on particle physics and, genius though he was, Newton’s thoughts on God have had as much influence on higher religious study as his avid work on alchemically transmuting lead into gold has had on metallurgy. But his laws of motion and his contribution to optics and mathematics remain no less titanic.
As to God or Jesus directly contacting humans who are not righteous, in most of the testimonies of reformed sinners who have come to faith in modern times, I would say the overwhelming majority of such tales depict people who are fallen/wicked/etc., etc; but who experience Christ and repent at that moment, but not before. Going back to a Biblical source, I would suggest Paul as the gold standard and poster child for such conversion. He was actively engaged in the attempted destruction of the Church when he had his experience. I don’t claim to ‘deserve’ any such experience myself. I simply mean to say that impiety is not necessarily an impediment to personal revelation.
It’s hard to discuss my ambivalence about an afterlife without very quickly getting down into the weeds, I’m afraid. I will try to sketch out some of my misgivings as best I can. Would I like to spend time with departed loved ones again, people like my grandmothers, grandfathers and my father? Absolutely. But, take my father. Will he meet me as I remember him when was a kid? Young, vital and active? Or as he was when we parted ways? Feeble, infirmed and wracked with agony. Now, before you answer, keep in mind that he evolved between the time of my youth and the time of his death. If he is “Young Dad,” there’ll be a long list of things he learned and experiences we shared together which cannot be a part of him. And it is impossible to embody those lessons and shared experiences and not be my “Old, Sick Dad.” And I don’t even want to think there’s a chance he’ll have to suffer his ailments for eternity if by necessity he must be “Old Dad” in order to make my afterlife happy.
Also, many of my departed loved ones passed away decidedly NOT accepting Christ. For some of them I was in the room when it happened. Also, my children are old enough to know OF Christ, but they are, for the moment, “living in their sins” and will be as such if the worst were to happen today. To me it does not matter at all how pure and tranquil my resurrection body is if I will not be sharing any eternity with these people. And, if I am somehow supposed to gain some sort of gnosis at death which leads me to a state of peace and acceptance over such a situation, then the me I will become will not be the me I am in any sense in which I find any value. And of I won’t be able to decline such a conversion, then ultimately I have no free will, at least not in the way which matters to me most.
To say nothing of any notion that, while I’ll want to spend all my time with my kids, my om will be wanting to spend all her time with me while HER mom will want to spend 24/7 with her, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Once again, if this looooong chain of family are altered in the afterlife to either contend or simply accept such spider webbing of relationships, which can’t help but affect from sublimity of experience between any two individuals, then we arrive in heave as different people. Not the people we think we are.
What are some of the attributes you associate with Heaven?
I've had one tell me, "I will never worship your God!" ... I have tried to do what Jesus says and love them no matter what - and a couple of times they've been shocked when I've been loving towards them - in a good way ... just keep on loving everyone even when they don't love you back ... as Jesus says in John 13:35, "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." ... and as Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:3-11, "As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness! And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his
divine nature. So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads
to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally you will grow to have genuine love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop these virtues are blind or, at least, very shortsighted. They have already forgotten that God has cleansed them from their old life of sin. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Doing this, you will never stumble or fall away. And God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
I forgot my thread..will pick up again later.
Some atheists claim christians are brainwashed, but thats not true...we are baptised lol. Its more than our brains that have been cleansed.
Was working with athiest workmate who seems to have a dirty mind and just said to him maybe its you that needs a brainwash.
I think deep down he knows Im right and that God is real. He just doesnt want to admit he's wrong. Thats the thing, admiting to God that maybe you were wrong! He's not going to punish you for admitting that! He's going to forgive you. He forgave me!
Some atheists have a big ego, and go round judging everyone and railing against things they dont understand so sometimes you just have to ask them, well, who died and made YOU God?!
So, no more talk of spaghetti monsters and hell pizza. I mean good try at changing the topic, but no..God even now is listening to and reading this discussion. He knows a lot more than we humans will ever know!!
Yep well just keep praying for them to have a real encounter with Him, as Jesus said he would manifest himself to them that believe or call upon His name.
I remember back when I was confused and seeking and I had a vision of Christ crucified. I was having his new age reiki treatment and everyone else was having visions of buddha and tara and other deities. I never saw what the others saw but I saw Jesus dying for me. See God could reach me even when I was in darkness.
The definition of faith is to simply believe the unseen is seen. Issues on faith arise when people confuse types of faith. We must be very specific.
I think that's a mistake on your part. The existence of God is a given. As I have already pointed out a few times. God's goodness and our approval of that is everything. It does not for example help saying ''I believe Jesus existed''. We have to accept what He taught, stand with Him on those issues that caused many to hate Him and confess He is our Lord.
Intelligent design is part and parcel of science. The need to use science in a theological discussion is odd, I agree. It should be a given.
You know that God visited Cain. You know that God showed Pharaoh miracles that would convince anyone on His existence. You know that Judas witnessed insane miracles. Yet you isolate Paul's experience. Anyone judging scripture needs to consider all scripture. God saw Paul's heart. We too can see Paul's heart by his actions and the sufferings he endured for Jesus.
Scripture is clear that we receive resurrected bodies, retain our memories, no longer see through a glass darkly / IE we receive better vision / bigger brains 1 Cor 13:12.
You are holding onto your idea of God and heaven. It is not scriptural. You should be making assumptions in the direction of a good God. Scripture is clear that God does not remove free will. It is evil. God is not evil.
The real issue lies with the wicked. Those that hate God full measure. All those that die unrepentant. The kind of position you as a father want to do the uttermost to remedy in your children. They will be cast out. They will not, for the rest of ETERNITY be able to reconcile with God. You have to apply your mind to this reality. It is not God's doing. God has done His uttermost to remedy this as best He can whilst not robbing an intelligent creation of free will / being evil. We argue free will in the other direction of God selecting some for heaven, when the complete opposite is closer to the truth.
Well I truly hate statements of the future that make the Being in power sound wicked and cruel...when scripture defining Him is literally a polar opposite.
My personal two cents is: In heaven we will be 100% free. We will choose to serve Him because we will grasp how good He is. He will serve us tea and cake as He is the greatest and the greatest in heaven is the most humble. We will not be perfect in heaven. We will still commit venial sins and choose not to do things. Only God is perfect. But we will forever be covered by the blood of Jesus as God will always recall the depth of intent we sunk to when we got saved. Just as you would forever tolerate someone who took a bullet for you. This will lend to ranks as among the angels. We remain humans, we do not transform into something else. As such we will continue with sport, eating, relationships of a different kind, projects or just a couple thousand years on a beach partying. We will get mansions in the new Jerusalem. We will be able to go on vacation to places we can't afford right now. I also expect some order. Like 'dinner time''. Some duties like ''hell duty''. I do believe we will be able to visit those in hell. I don't believe we will be ignorant of time. We are forever a creation, we are not the Beginning and the End. The worst to come is that those in hell will not be able to visit us. They will weep and gnash their teeth because they are cast out Luke 13:28. There will be ranks among them too. A whole functioning society with much to do. But joy will be hard to find. Many will be punished with community work. The devil will be on a 1000 year, mow your front lawn duty. Hitler will be assigned to working in a post office mailing letters for Jews for 200 years. I can't apply my mind too much on hell though, as the reality of your neighbor, shopkeeper, friends, landlord all being someone wicked is so depressing.
Elegantly put. Tell me, so far as you understand it, are any of the people who do not possess love of all humans, or even love for all Christians, or even enduring patience, but who do accept Christ, admitted into Heaven?
Conversely, will someone who lives out all of the attributes you describe, but who fails to accept Jesus, be admitted?