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Heaven and Hell: Are They Literal Places or Figments of the Imagination?

Updated on December 17, 2010

The Great Equalizers

“Then I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth, for the first Heaven and the first earth had passed away,and there was no longer any sea. And I saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven from God…….(Revelation 21:1)[NIV]

Except in biblical or other written religious accounts, no scientific evidence has ever been documented to prove the existence of either a physical Heaven or a physical Hell. In the absence of this crucial evidence why then do millions of people believe so strongly in a Heaven and a Hell – and how could such beliefs in the unproven have survived scientific scrutiny for so long?

For those raised in Judea-Christian doctrine Heaven and Hell does, in fact exist and one of these places is waiting for the soul of the deceased in the afterlife. What Heaven or Hell may look like is subject to wide speculation. In the Judea-Christian tradition the image of Heaven is the original Garden of Eden where the soul returns in the afterlife, having lived a Christian life in the flesh. The perception of Heaven is that the soul is there with God and the angels, perhaps with loved ones. For believers it’s a wonderful tapestry of never ending peace which just keeps reaching outward to no apparent end. Modern day Christians believe that Heaven is a peaceful place somewhere above the clouds and Hell is that dark place of eternal torture somewhere deep beneath the core of the earth. In reality however, one can dig from the surface of the planet for the next 5,000 years and most likely never reach a literal Hell. By the same measure one can take a spaceship deep into the galaxy nebulae and never find a literal Heaven. Contrary to the literal perception neither Heaven nor Hell appears to be physical places – or are they?

So what really happens after we die? This question have both interested and troubled man for centuries. More than five thousand years ago the Egyptians built more monuments to the dead than to the living. They believed that once the deceased arrived in the afterlife their heart will be weighed on a scale against truth. If they were in balanced the soul went on to eternal peace. If the heart weighed heavier it was because the person was evil and the organ would then be eaten by a monster, over and over again. These cultural beliefs were recorded in a book titled “The Book of The Dead.” The Book of the Dead was a description of the ancient Egyptian conception of the afterlife. The book included a collection of hymns, spells, and instructions to allow the deceased to pass through obstacles in the afterlife. This book remained on the top ten list of books to read until 500 years later when the Holy Bible came on the scene which for Jews and Christians offered a more complex explanation for what happens in the afterlife. For an example, the book of Genesis 3:19 suggests that man was taken from the dust of the earth and to the dust shall man return. It suggests that after man disobeyed God he would die and return to dust. Is this what the God of the Jews really intended after banishing Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden – that they were nothing but dust returning to dust after death and nothing more? This would certainly suggest that man has no afterlife - no Heaven and no Hell. After death man would simply return to dust and that would be the end.

Perhaps this is the case, considering the fact that neither Heaven nor Hell can be found anywhere in the Hebrew Bible. It is however mentioned in earlier translations of the King James Version although the translation is not exactly correct in its description. The original word found in the Hebrew Bible was “Sheol” which meant ‘the unseen world’ of the dead. This world does not consist of either fire or torture. Souls are simply pictured as sleeping, or resting. In fact, the first five books of Moses (known as the Pentateuch) depict the Israelites as entering an era of peace and prosperity after leaving the bondage of Egypt. In this depiction God has come down to join the people and life on earth would become one peaceful scene of serenity where an afterlife was never a consideration.

Unfortunately, the message of eternal, earthly serenity of these first five books began to change and was no longer the case by the time the book of Job arrived on the biblical scene. The book of Job ushered in a new era with an emphasis on justice, both in this life and the next. The biblical writers describe Job as being a man of faith and commitment to God who suddenly loses all his possessions including his wealth, children, and health for no apparent conceivable reason. The biblical writers tell us that this event was provoked by Satan but allowed by God.

Without knowing about the Heavenly agreement between God and Satan Job's challenges caused him to question aloud how a just God could be so cruel. Perhaps it was at this point that the concept of Heaven and Hell becomes a reality among believers. Still, Hell is not mentioned in the Old Testament however, it was later characterized and given a physical location by the Prophet Jeremiah who described it as being a small valley named Gahanna. Gahanna was a place where both Jews and non Jews alike conducted the most violent, inhumane practices known during the time. The place became synonymous with constant, persistent evil. It was a valley located on the south side of the city of Jerusalem, considered to be a despicable place once used for child sacrifice. Gahanna is mentioned many times in the Hebrew Bible. During the time of Jesus it was considered a garbage dump where the fire was constantly burning with maggots consuming human and animal flesh – and it had an unbearable stench. Jesus Himself describes Hell as like Gahanna.

The book of Daniel, which is considered to be the last book of the Hebrew Bible, is the first to directly mention a Heaven and a Hell. Chapter 12:2 explicitly indicates that a Heaven or a Hell awaits man in the next life. However, it was written during the bloodiest days of Israel’s darkest hours during the desecration of the temple around the second century before the arrival of Christ. The city was devastated by Syrian invaders who threatened genocide. Their efforts were thwarted by the rise of a Jewish leader named Judas Maccabeus who led the Israelites to victory. However, after many years of invasions some Israelites began to question the promises of a peaceful exit mentioned in the earlier books. Among these new questioners was a visionary prophet named Enoch who once claimed to have been a witness to mans’ destiny afterlife. Since the introduction of a literal Heaven and Hell most cultures and peoples around the world, particularly in western societies vehemently believe in a pleasant place where the deceased souls of doers of good go after death as well as a not-so- pleasant place where the deceased souls of evil doers go after death. In fact, the most terrifying aspect for most Christians is the probability that Hell may be real.

The prophets of the New Testament were much more dedicated to events of the afterlife than those of the Hebrew Bible – beginning with the death of Christ and His resurrection. Their interpretations are taken literal to mean a place of eternal damnation and torture although there is no mention of the word ‘torture anywhere in the Hebrew Bible. The word used is ‘torment’, and it’s not everlasting. The notion of a Heaven and Hell is much more defined in the New Testament as supported by the book of Revelation. Revelation 20:10 tells us that at the end of time the devil will be thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur with the beast and false prophets. Here they will be tormented both day and night. Among the Christian community, the Book of Revelation is an authoritarian source in verifying the notion of a Hell. It is a book which suggests that Hell is in fact, a place of pain, torture, and vengeance.

Jesus Himself talks about an apocalyptic judgment awaiting mankind in the end. He made it very clear on numerous occasions that there is an afterlife awaiting the souls of the deceased. After the physical death of Jesus, it was written that He Himself descended into Hell. In the book of Acts 2, Peter was speaking in verse 31 seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ “ that his soul was not left in Hell.” Paul was suggesting that Hell is a literal place. The book of Ephesians 4:9 says of Jesus: “now that He ascended, what it is but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth” suggesting that Hell is in the earth. As a result of these comments,writings began to surface suggesting that Jesus Himself ascended to the underworld where he met the great patriots, from Abraham to John the Baptist and prepared a way for them to enter into the literal Heaven with him. So did Jesus really visit a literal Hell or is this simply an effort by the apostles to perpetuate a myth to maintain the status quo of faith and to instill the moral values of right and wrong among believers? When Jesus described Gahanna as Hell was He simply offering a visual analysis of what would happen to people who did not believe in Him and the Father – or was He actually acknowledging a physical location?

Both Jews and Christians believe in the afterlife and a resurrection but are their beliefs the same regarding Heaven and Hell? In Judaism there is no physical punishment, or physical rewards – after the physical death the body simply separates from the soul and the soul returns to God. The flesh, where all the physical pleasures, pains, excitement, emotions, and memories reside is buried in the grave and all that was associated with it is no more and this becomes the end. The book of Ecclesiastes 9:5 appear to support the Jewish notion as it states “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten.” This text clearly identifies death as the end of both the flesh and the soul. But the Christian claims of an afterlife in Heaven is found in the book of Matthew chapter 5:12 as Jesus Himself states "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven..." He also speakes of a Hell in Matthew 5:22. Is Ecclesiastes 9:5 and Matthew 5:12,22 contradictory statements of the gospels? If Matthew 5:12,22 is correct does this make Judaism beliefs incorrect - and if Ecclesiastes 9:5 is correct then why do millions of Christians still support the notion of a Heaven or a Hell - a punishment or a reward after death?

Perhaps this notion came three centuries after the Crucifixion of Christ when the Pagan Rome Empire was converted to Christianity. It was during this remarkable fifth century event that the writings on Heaven and Hell, as described by St. Augustine were adopted and canonized by the church. St. Augustine was a notorious heathen before converting to Catholicism. His philosophy of moral damnation has made a significant impact on how Christians view their destiny in the afterlife. In fact, St. Augustine’s writings formalized the concept of Heaven and Hell which has survived through the ages. New Aged religion however, seems to have a more open minded approach on the subject in that it questions certain aspects of longed believed traditions while holding on to others. Nevertheless, both Heaven and Hell are motivators for millions of believers which guide their moral actions now in the flesh.

However, for a number of reasons it is Hell, not Heaven that has dominated the minds, thoughts, actions and energy of the church - and the imagination of its artists. Artistic paintings most often depict images of torture where beasts devour the flesh of the souls and/or the flesh of the soul is pictured in despicable, dehumanizing environments. It is the fear of Hell which motivates individual to do good deeds - and it is the main theme of religious sermons in churches, Synagogues, and Mosques across the globe. The most prominent assumptions about Hell is that it is real and it’s the final stage, and once the soul enters into its dark, menacing domain of eternal suffering there are no further opportunities to avoid it.

In 15th Century Italy, the Church and the State was competing for sovereign power and it was at this time a book was published which put both the church and the state beneath a magnifying glass for generations to come. The book was called “The Divine Commedia”, written by Dante Alighieri. It was later described as “Dante’s Inferno” which was the first major writings on religious matters in vernacular Italian - instead of Latin. Vernacular Italian allowed it to reach a much larger audience. The book would become the most influential literary work of all time in poetic form. The writings, in conjunction to the images, were very compelling and intense. The writings later became a series of three books depicting the state of souls after death. In his visions Dante concluded that there were nine stages the souls would descend before reaching the devil himself – further instilling the notion of a Hell in the minds of the masses. Were the visions of Dante nothing more than a reaction to the emphasis put on Hell by the church of his era – or is Hell simply a more compelling subject which fascinates, and rejuvenate the mind? Like a good horror film, its repulsive, nightmarish images may strike more collective cords than the more peaceful scenes of Heaven.

A change in philosophy towards Heaven and Hell began to emerge around the turn of the century during the middle Ages when the increasing powers of monarchies were forced to compete for followers. The church began to modify its position on Heaven and Hell, making Hell less of a threat and Heaven more readily attainable. The solution – the adoption of a third place for the departed souls called “Purgatory” where one could be pardoned, and passed directly to God - even after committing the worst atrocities against humanity, simply by confessing their sins and donating money to the church. This concept would later be challenged in the latter part of the 15th century by the Augustinian Monk named Martin Luther who thought the Monasteries was watering down the truth by selling seats to members and by collecting money for the pardon of their sins in the form of tithe and offerings. Martin Luther also felt that every man, woman, and child should be free to read and interpret the Bible for themselves and free their minds from the dangerous, untrustworthy philosophy of Catholicism.

Martin Luther’s efforts generated a new crop of believers known today as “Protestants” – or protesters of Catholicism. After several generations of believers of both Catholicism and Protestants it would appear that perhaps the notion of a Heaven or a Hell is nothing more than an attempt for man to justify his actions here on earth – and to offer an opportunity for everyone to be accountable for his or her earthly deeds. It would certainly seem unfair and unjust for a bad person who have committed heinous acts on another individual, who never get caught to just simply die and never have to be judged and punished for such actions. He commits his crime against humanity, he never gets caught, he dies, and that’s it. There has to be a sense of an afterlife where that person will have a rude awakening that the crimes he may have gotten away with in this world would be punishable in the afterlife. If this were not the case why then doesn’t everyone commit crimes against humanity, hide out in a remote location and simply wait until they die. With the belief in a Heaven and a Hell the concept of an afterlife and the judgment of ones actions while here in the flesh now carry an eternal price. A bad person can now be punished for his/her crimes while a good person can be rewarded for good deeds.

To authenticate the notion of a Just God there must be some place for the unjust. Certainly they can not reside in the domains of the just. And what about those who have no belief at all in religion, a God, a Heaven or a Hell – where do they stand on the subject? People like atheists/agnostics who remarkably represent more than six million people worldwide. The population in Japan alone is approximately 60-70% Atheist while 95% of the population of China have no Christian or religious beliefs whatsoever. Would this population be affected by Heaven or Hell whether they did good or not – or does Heaven and Hell apply to believers only?

This notion offers two critical set of consequences of error, both worth serious consideration as they will have an impact now and in the afterlife. Consequences of error for the believers are that the person rejects the idea that Heaven and Hell do not exist and conclude that Heaven and Hell do exits. In reality, it does not exist. The consequences of error is that the person lives life as if Heaven and Hell existed, thereby depriving themselves of certain opportunities in this life in an effort to live according to what they believes is more likely to keep them out of Hell and get them into Heaven. However, he does not actually get to enter Heaven and did not really need to worry about going to Hell. A non believer would consider this a wasted life.

The second consequence of error would be for the non believer who operates as if Heaven and Hell did not exist when in reality they do exist. The consequences of error for the non believer is that they live life as if Heaven and Hell did not exist, and thus may choose to engage in certain behaviors that they would have avoided, and vice versa, if they believed Heaven or Hell actually existed. However, it turns out that Heaven and Hell do exist and they most likely go to Hell because they did not meet the criteria for entrance into Heaven. This error has the worse consequences; therefore a prudent person operates to limit the probability of such an error.

Whatever ones belief or disbelief in the notion of a Heaven or Hell may be, it appear to be irrelevant in the larger scheme of things as few have been affected by the thousands of years of teachings on the subject. However, while there is no scientific evidence of a Heaven or Hell, most people believe that we continue to live on in one form or another after we die. What will that form be and in which domain would it reside - and do we really want to know now what will happen then? Or, is it perhaps better to continue to live not with scientific evidence but by faith? Non believers could care less, but for comfort regarding this troubling unknown, believers hold onto the book of 2nd Corinthians 5:7 as it suggests;

“We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight”

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    • jxb7076 profile image
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      James Brown 6 years ago from United States of America

      Vonnavie Sanchez - thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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      Vonnavie Sanchez 6 years ago

      Good hub! Very interesting to read.

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      James Brown 6 years ago from United States of America

      JeniferD - Real life events often contradicts biblical teachings, and logics get lost in emotions. I like your question about the origin of 6.5 billion people. It wouild be interesting to know the real story of the origin of man.

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      JeniferD 6 years ago from Sin City Nevada

      HA! Ask the Bible Thumpers how two people could possibly give birth to 6.5 billion humans, 160 languages and 80 cultures from one man's loins and one woman's womb. That oughta make their heads spin.

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      James Brown 7 years ago from United States of America

      Elefanza - this is definitely an interesting topic which touches all of us whether a person is religious or not. I have not read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis so I am not famaliar with this particular work. I have however, read the Brothers Karmazov and they do have some interesting viewpoints on the subject.

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      Elefanza 7 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      Another good hub! Funny observation, but when studying Milton's Paradise Lost, it was noted that Hell and Satan were much more interesting to the public consciousness of the past than Paradise Regained, which featured Christ and heaven. And Dante's Paradiso never was as popular as his Inferno. It seems that many find heaven to be boring while hell is rife with excitement.

      At some point in studying, I came across the comment that the teachings of Judaism focuses on how to live this life fully while Christianity teaches waiting for the next life. Considering how Christianity can be, I've always wondered about that. Have you ever read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis? His portrayal of heaven and hell is for me one of the most interesting.

      For my own still developing thoughts on hell and heaven, I can't escape the comment Jesus makes when he says "the kingdom of heaven is within you." Also, I heard one scholar say that the Lord's Prayer was in part designed to bring heaven to earth. And the way Jesus talks about heaven and hell with stories like Lazarus and the admonition not to say Raca to your brother also seems to imply to me that our actions are either moving us closer to the love and peace of heaven or the selfishness and pain of hell.

      So I wonder if heaven is really something you have to wait for completely. Jesus also said that the powerful take the kingdom of heaven by force, again implying a present reality. Also, one bible study I attended noted that people in heaven were eagerly waiting to come back to the new earth. So heaven and hell is quite fascinating to consider. Have you ever read Brothers Karmazov? It's an amazing book with so many different thoughts on this matter.

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      James Brown 7 years ago from United States of America

      Hello Holy - AMEN!

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      Holy Hunter 7 years ago

      Hello again.

      remember:"And man's struggle against flesh is not the war we are fighting,but unto faith,that is the true war God is giving us,to make us see the divine path."

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      James Brown 7 years ago from United States of America

      Ann Lee - thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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      Ann Lee 7 years ago

      Excellent hub--I especially like your conclusion--we walk by faith, not by sight.

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      James Brown 7 years ago from United States of America

      brotheryochanan - my apologies for the late response. Thanks for stopping by and commmenting. I thnk it would be a great blessing if we could see the entire universe to experience God's massive creation. Can you imagine the unlimited reach of God's involvement.

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      brotheryochanan 7 years ago

      when defining the word sheol. you seem to have omitted the words: grave and pit. A grave nor a pit is a world for the dead. In my hub about this word i was alarmed by the opposing distinctions of such words. The 3rd heaven indeed is where gods focal point of existence is, perhaps this is why the universe is so large. To this I add, "that God is not IN the universe (the universe does not house god as such although his spirit is throughout, as much as needs be, by necessity) but the universe is contained withIN God".

    • jxb7076 profile image
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      James Brown 7 years ago from United States of America

      Disappearinghead - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I think man's perception of heaven and hell makes for some very good entertainment - but its not biblical.

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      Disappearinghead 7 years ago from Wales, UK

      Hi jxb7076, An excellent and well researched hub here. Unfortunately I don't have the time to read all the coments above, so forgive me if I sound like I'm repeating what has already been said.

      The church over the centuries has so much to answer for. Its depictions of Hell as a place of fire and torment at the hands of demons pushing hot pokers up people's bottoms, blah, blah, blah, is so far removed from anything scriptural. Yet even in today's church these ideas and imagery still persist.

      Like others, I have also studied the biblical use of Sheol, Hades, Tartaroo and Gehenna, then posted hubs. In summary I can conclude the following:

      1) Sheol and Hades are synonymous in their biblical use, but the Greek/Roman pagan concept of Hades is completely different. It is the pagan view that is mostly accepted in the church.

      2) Sheol/Hades is the grave, a place of unconconcious oblivion pictured as sleep, and is the resting place of all regardless of rank, righteousness or sin.

      3) The OT prophets had their hope in a future resurection, either to everlasting life or everlasting shame. Paul shared this same hope and Jesus said those who believed in Him would be raised up on the last day.

      4) Man is composed of flesh only and his soul is alive because of the bio-chemical-processes of the brain. He has no immortal spirit that lives on - this is a pagan concept. At the beginning God created Adam intending him to be immortal, so a spirit leaving a body is redundant. Furthermore, a spirit ascending to Heaven upon death renders resurection redundant. Our life is God's breath, and he takes that life back when we die.

      5) When Jesus died, he shared the same fate as all who died. Unconcious oblivion. He did not go to Hell or anywhere else. On resurection He had a glorified body, and just as He could appear in a room, He could also have visited Tartaroo to make His proclamation to the angles held in chains.

      6) Gehenna is a picture of the Lake of Fire, which itself cannot be literal as the whole of Revelation is symbolic, not literal. Whatever the LoF is, is open to huge speculation. The concept of eternal torment at God's hands of men there is inconsistent with love your enemies and do good to them. Then we also have the problem with translating the greek aionios to eternal, as aion is age a period of time of inderterminant length.

      Sorry for rambling. Keep up the good work.

    • jxb7076 profile image
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      James Brown 7 years ago from United States of America

      scheng1 - I think if scientists ever claim they've discovered heaven or will it will be an illusion verified only by obsolete facts. But then again.......

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      scheng1 7 years ago

      Nice analysis. Science obviously cannot prove the existence of heaven and hell. I doubt scientists have enough tools to test any existence within Milky Way, much less out of Milky Way.

      Whatever it is, the concept of heaven and hell provides hope for many people. When we suffer injustice, we hope that the wicked will burn in hell (or the 18 hells in Chinese culture).

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      scheng1 7 years ago

      Nice analysis. Science obviously cannot prove the existence of heaven and hell. I doubt scientists have enough tools to test any existence within Milky Way, much less out of Milky Way.

      Whatever it is, the concept of heaven and hell provides hope for many people. When we suffer injustice, we hope that the wicked will burn in hell (or the 18 hells in Chinese culture).

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      god 7 years ago

      Yes, hell is real. If you are a skeptic, the fire will be just as hot. So, I command you to take part in my discussions with those who question my was. Let the following link guide you.

      https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Ask-their...

    • jxb7076 profile image
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      James Brown 7 years ago from United States of America

      Holy Hunter: All I can say is AMEN!!!

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      Holy Hunter 7 years ago

      Satan can bring it on!!And his demons can bow down to me as I spit in their direction. Evil hath no hold on one who can break through the chains of damnation!!

    • jxb7076 profile image
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      James Brown 7 years ago from United States of America

      Elijah Returns - thanks for stopping by. Each day bring us closer to the prophecies in Revelation, so I am not taking any chances.

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      Elijah Returns 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Sheol, hades, hell...all names for the grave, the common grave of mankind, and not a place of fiery torment as depicted by the churches and Dante. When you die thats it. But, in the resurrection that will be in Gods kingdom, Sheol, hades and the sea give up those dead in them. Why would a God of love torment his creation, a creation that his hands long for, a creation that he sent his only begotten so to die for, why would he torture them? and besides, the wages of sin is death, once you die your death cancels that sin.

      Gehenna is the eternal lake of fire which will be eventually used to destroy Satan and all things that belong to him forever..but this does not happen until the 1000 year reign has ended when Satan has been let out for a little while to test again.

    • GreatContent profile image

      GreatContent 7 years ago

      LOL!!!!

    • jxb7076 profile image
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      James Brown 7 years ago from United States of America

      GreatContent - thanks for stopping by and commenting, and for the insight on Geenna. I don't know about the "frying crispy' (LOL)

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      GreatContent 7 years ago

      Hell has several well known Greek words-- Hades & Geenna. Hades is the grave... where all men go. Geenna, on the other hand, is the place of eternal destruction. But, there is more to the usage of both words. These words are used literally & figuratively.

      For example, in Luke 16, concerning the rich man and lazarus, the word Hades is used, showing us that the rich man was there.. aware of what he was doing. The literal meaning for Hades is the grave yard, so unless this rich man was buried alive..... then we cannot conclude that when men die, they go to a conscience Hades.

      Geenna is used several ways. One most notable way is its figurative use in the New Testament. Literally, Geenna was Jerusalem's city dump. It was where all the trash of the city were burned. Also, bodies, criminals, etc, were sent there to burn. The fire was always lit, and there were worms always present. So, there were lots of flies there.

      Yeshua used this place figuratively in place of eternal destruction. When He spoke to men, He spoke in parables. Why? Because they would not perceive and understand it, because their hearts were hardened. The literal punishment of wicked men is eternal death/destruction, and not eternal burning.. frying crispy haha.

    • jxb7076 profile image
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      James Brown 7 years ago from United States of America

      1skepticalbrother - Your comment "How do you or I or anyone know, for sure, that these are exact copies of the originals if we don't have the originals to compare them to? If the Christian Bible is the authoritative word of the one true and perfect God; how can copies of copies of copies with no original autograph(s) available to verify the assertion of whoever made the claim, satisfy the serious biblical scholar?"

      I can not give you any answers or produce any documents which will satisfy your quest for the truth. On the other hand one can not produce any defining evidence which will prove that the writing that are available are not authentic in nature, simply because the originals are not available. If the originals were available how would one verify that it is in fact, an original. A true skeptic would never discover the truth. The authenticity of biblical writings can be debated from various viewpoints with each view having its very own merits. It's boils down to ones personal belief. I am certainly not attempting to provide information to prove my viewpoint because outside of faith it would be impossible. On the other hand I am convinced, based on archeological evidence and other factors that the Bible contains foundational writings that can be substantiated. Your second point "Religions, in general, tell me that I am created in the image and likeness of the creator of the cosmos, science speculates that I may have evolved from very humble, eukaryotic beginnings. Which explanation do I entertain; the one that places me on the "center stage" or the one that advises me to be truly humble, stop insisting on being specially created and take my seat in the audience with the rest of the organic life forms?"

      You have to follow your heart on this one as neither can be proven. It really boils down to whether one believes or not. For the believer sciene proves the existence of a creator - whether it's God or other. For the non believer science may dispell such a notion.

      Your quest for truth has to begin with acceptance of either being a believer or a non believer. If I may speak out of line I think you're a believer and like millions of other believers you're searching for truth.

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      1skepticalbrother 7 years ago

      jxb7076, Thank you for taking the time to respond to my queries and of course, being a skeptic, your response has raised questions instead of answering them. You stated; "There are however, multiple copies of original manuscripts of the New Testament..." How do you or I or anyone know, for sure, that these are exact copies of the originals if we don't have the originals to compare them to? If the Christian Bible is the authoritative word of the one true and perfect God; how can copies of copies of copies with no original autograph(s) available to verify the assertion of whoever made the claim, satisfy the serious biblical scholar?

      As far as the origin of organic life on this planet, the only humble answer I can give is that the jury is still in deliberation. Geologists, biologists and cosmologists have only just begun to offer their insights and opinions as to the origins of life. Religion makes very large assumptions regarding the presence of the biosphere. Real science moves slowly and tentatively, and relies on observation and experimentation. For me jxb, what it boils down to is; do I value self interest over evidence?

      When I go to my doctor I always want him to tell me the truth regarding the reality of my physical condition. I never want him to tell me anything but the cold, hard truth...even if it means that upon hearing the truth, I may become upset, frightened or depressed. For me,this is loosely analogous to the connection between religion and science. Religions, in general, tell me that I am created in the image and likeness of the creator of the cosmos, science speculates that I may have evolved from very humble, eukaryotic beginnings. Which explanation do I entertain; the one that places me on the "center stage" or the one that advises me to be truly humble, stop insisting on being specially created and take my seat in the audience with the rest of the organic life forms?

      Thank you again for your time jxb.

    • jxb7076 profile image
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      James Brown 7 years ago from United States of America

      1skepticalbrother - thanks for stoping by and commenting. Your questions and concerns are valid and has my utmost respect. Unfortunately, outside of speculation no one can provide adequate answers. There are however, multiple copies of original manuscripts of the new testament in circulation such as 5,300 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, 10,000 Latin Vulgates, and 9,300 other early versions providing modern scholars with more than 24,000 copies of portions of the New Testament. It would be great to have unquestionable evidence however the lack of evidence does not necessary dispel facts. For an example, outside documented proof we can only speculate as to the origins of life, the plants, oceans, etc., but we know at some point they came into existence - by whom or what is purely speculative.

      Your comment: "I respect the believer's right to believe whatever they want, it's not my business. What I am leery of are humans that want to impose their terrestrial judgements and actions against people that don't subscribe to their celestial concepts"....is shared by millions including myself. It would be great if everyone adopted a philosophy of respect and tolerence. Perhaps there would be fewer wars.

      I wish you ultimate success in your quest for knowledge and truth. Please share what you have learned with me as I too, am searching.

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      1skepticalbrother 7 years ago

      Brother jxb7076, I enjoyed reading your post, the comments and your responses. I have some questions. How do you reconcile your belief in any of the words of the Judeo-Christian bible if there is no original autographs? How is anyone certain that the English translation is the exact translation from the original Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, etc.?These bibles that we have may not bare any resemblance to the "original" texts. Why do we invest so much time and effort debating each other over words in a book? If the Christian God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent; created the entire cosmos, ex nihilo, and then decided to get into the publishing business with some of his terrestrial creations; how could he allow the destruction of such an important document? We seem to have all of his other original creations; the sun, the moon, the earth, the atmosphere, the stars, etc. I can understand how human beings can lose their keys or their wallets, but if the Judeo-Christian God wrote or co-wrote a book; doesn't it seem strange to you that there are no extant copies of the original documents?

      Before anyone uses the concept of faith as an answer to this dilemma of lack of autographs, just think about this for a minute. If an archaeologist(s) found an autograph copy of the Christian bible or the document known as 'Q', completely intact and available for investigation; would most of the faithful say something like, ..." I don't need to look at that book or scroll, all I need is my faith." Probably not. If such a document were to be discovered every Christian apologist would probably find some way to exploit it. I have found that faith is employed when there is lack of physical evidence. The moment you have the evidence, the more intact the better, you no longer need faith.

      I've read that somewhere between 140,000 to 155,000 people die, worldwide, everyday. If there is an afterlife, heaven or hell, I would think that we have a large enough sample to verify some aspect of this human soul continuation theory. I respect the believer's right to believe whatever they want, it's not my business. What I am leery of are humans that want to impose their terrestrial judgements and actions against people that don't subscribe to their celestial concepts. Peace, respect and critical thinking.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Right Black - thanks for stopping by and commenting. This is one of those subjective areas where one will have to experience to know the truth. Frankly, literal or figurative - at this point I am not ready for either and I am more than happy to wait for my turn.

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      Right Black 8 years ago from Huntington Beach, California

      jxb, fun hub! I like the provocative nature of the conversation. I agree with some of your exposition and others I have to disagree but overall I think we all have areas where we are right and wrong and God will sort it out in the end. What's most important is that we put our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Is heaven a physical or spiritual place? I don't care as long as I am there. Be Blessed.

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      LeeRoy 8 years ago

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      skye2day - Amen!! There is a lot of gospel to share and a short time to share it. Thanks for stopping by.

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      skye2day 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      The Holy Spirit reveals great clarity through your fine writing. I wrote Heaven or Hell. I wanted to read something again it must have been another hub. Anyway keep on my brother.Children of God have much work to do for him that we serve. In his name.

      Merry Christmas

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Holy Hunter - depending on what choices we make, you're absolutely right!

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      Holy Hunter 8 years ago

      yes, that is a most viable notion.

      perhaps this free will is our saving grace for some,and demise for others.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Hello Holy Hunter - thanks for stopping by. You make some valuable points regarding God's love for us. He gave us a free will perhaps to see if we're material for Heaven.

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      Holy Hunter 8 years ago

      I believe that there maybe a logical explaination for the garden of eden. God created two of the first human beings.we know that.we know he loved them very very much. He then told adam and eve not to eat the forebidin fruit from the tree of knowledge. now because he loved them he wanted to see if he could trust them.after all if they loved him he may have figured why would they disobey?

      now how did satan get into heaven?he protrayed a snake, but how did he get there?maybe god let in satan.maybe satan said "watch them disobey you,watch them not love you as you love them." maybe god made that bet. and when adam and eve did break gods trust by eating that fruit, thats why god said you will slither on your belly snake.and maybe all reptiles are an indoctrine to satan as god decided to keep reptiles around.however, it still begs the question: did satan actually be let in heaven to test gods creation????

      think about it, he still loves us very much to keep making human beings. maybe he wants to see through free will who his followers and believers truly are. maybe to see all the bad weeds, adam and eve broke his trust.free will is a way to see who he can still trust. even after sining,if we ask forgivness we get forgivness.maybe he trusts us if we acknowlege and he knows we are trying to be the best followers we can be so he can know who to trust.

      but then again I am only human......what do I know???

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      opinion duck - I responded your last post however, I do not see my response in the list so I will attempt to respond again.

      "I would ask, what would be the purpose of a Heaven or a Hell?" One can ask the same question about life. What is the purpose of life? Outside of sexual intercourse how can one explain our existence particularly where it relates to the spirit or the soul. We were at one time non existent and now we're here. The purpose of life is an unknown just as the purpose of a Hell or a Heaven. We think we know why we're here and we think we know the purpose of Heaven and Hell based on biblical teachings. Both are unknowns but they both have a purpose. I mentioned earlier, no man can answer that question except one who has experienced it. However, an in depth study of scripture provides the believer reasonable answers.

      "how would you describe the existence of its inhabitants?" Dead. I don't mean to be condencending however, the Bible teaches that the dead knows nothing - they are simply resting. Again, I can give you multiple text and answers which will be no more than speculation. Again, an in depth study of scripture provides the believer reasonable answers.

      "BTW, why would anyone think that the Devil would be doing God's punishment?" It must be understood that the devil has nothing to do with sufferings or punishment - he merely survives off the free will of man when that free will goes against God's commands. God is the author of both good and evil including punishment as stated in Isaiah 45:7.

      "Finally, as for the bibles, the old and the new testament don't support each other. The old testament, if it was the authorship of God should have been clear and contained everything that we needed to know about us and God. Yet, the new testament tells a new story with new players"

      The Old Testament does tell one all they need to know about God and man. The OT is a very exhausted study of events which happened before Christ. They appear to contradict each other because the same story is being told from a different perspective. The OT tells of God's direct communications with man. The NT explains the OT from a perspective of grace which was required after the fall. All information is clearly defined but it will take persistent open minded study to see it.

      Now I have a question for you...where are you in your walk with Christ? Do you study the Bible or are you in the vally of decision? I have to say that based on your questions you appear to be a believer but somewhat skeptical which is Okay. I am not judging you I am just curious.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      platinumOwl4 - Your comment "The reason it is so confusing to some people is because they are dealing with a copy of a copy that was then past off as the original" is, in my opinion absolutely correct. I will check out Dr. Ben's writings. Thanks for the info.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      aguasilver - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. The group briefly discussed the subject but did not dwelve on it. The conclusion was that during the time of Christ the people who followed Him was members of a movement called "The Way" (short for 'the way to salvation'). Their theory was that anyone who followed Christ was going to be saved simply by association. This developed into a universal theory later described as "Universalism". All they had to do was call on the name of Christ and all will be well. The Book of Joel 2:32, Romans 10:13 and others supports this philosophy however in an attempt to clarify the true way to salvation Jesus says that not everyone who says Lord, Lord will be saved. Early 20th century Universalism operated on the basis of its original intent which suggests that one can be saved without obedience or adherrence to the word, although many understand that this is no longer the case. In my opinion, outside the group thought, there is nothing wrong with Universalism as it's intent provides an open door into understanding the true nature of Christ as long as one understands that obedience is the ultimate vehicle for entrance, into the kingdom of God.

      This is but one opinion among many. What's your concluding viewpoint on the subject?

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      platinumOwl4 8 years ago

      anyone who is really serious about these question should do some real in dept study of ancient Egypt, Sumeria and Babylon. Everything you are discussing has its origin in Egypt. The reason it is so confusing to some people is because they are dealing with a copy of a copy that was then past off as the original. Those tablets of Moses are derived from the 43 negative confessions carved in stone in Egypt. See Dr. Ben. Remember the tower of babble

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      John Harper 8 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      Hi jxb,

      Good hub... may I ask what your Bible study group concludes about universalism? - The study I have done lends credence to the position, though it would be considered heresy to mention it in a conventional church body, it does however tick all the boxes about heaven and hell, lakes of fire (being refining fire) and God desiring that ALL should be saved.

      It's never sat well with me that God could possibly end up disappointed!

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      opinion duck 8 years ago

      jxb7076

      Thanks for the warm welcome.

      As for the paranormal activities, they could be in the same real as UFO and Alien Life.

      I was hoping that you would have addressed the specific scenario from my last comment. You have done a great deal of research into the Bible and God, so it would be interesting to read what you think could be answers to my queries.

      Looking forward to your analysis.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Hello Opinion Duck - it's good to hear from you again. My apologies for the late response.

      I could give you multiple biblical scriptures which substantiate the existence of a heaven and hell however,in the absence of hard core evidence - it all goes out the window.

      Perhaps the answers will be provided at the time of death. But then again the bible teaches that the dead knows nothing. On the other hand given the evidence of paranormal actvities wouldn't you agree that we do live on in one form or another and that, with the exception of a few unexplained spiritual events here on earth that the soul resides someplace in the spiritual realm?

      THerefore, in the absense of hardcore evidence we're once again left with our faith -faith that both domains exists for the departed and while we do not have physical evidence that a heaven or hell does exist there is also no evidence that it does not exist. If they do exist the requirements for entrance into either are clearly defined in biblical scripture.

      Nevertheless - since there are a lot of paranormal activities yet to be explained wouldn't it be prudent to live as if they do exist?

      Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

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      opinion duck 8 years ago

      I would ask, what would be the purpose of a Heaven or a Hell?

      But more importantly, what if Heaven or Hell exists, how would you describe the existence of its inhabitants?

      For example, you couldn't expect it to be a continuation of your life on earth. All the things that you hold as precious to you, your family, your friends, your possessions etc. They would die, when your body dies. What goals would you have in Heaven, seems to me that all you can do is worship. There would be no plans to elevate your existence.

      BTW, why would anyone think that the Devil would be doing God's punishment? It seems to me that anyone disobeying God would be the friend of the Devil. After all, God and the Devil are enemies or at least not in agreement that God is King.

      The point is that Heaven and Hell are more likely the creation of people independent of a deity. Without quoting from the bibles, where is the evidence of either heaven and hell. As far as paranormal activity, that cannot connect to a Heaven or Hell. It is more likely an artifact of physics.

      Finally, as for the bibles, the old and the new testament don't support each other. The old testament, if it was the authorship of God should have been clear and contained everything that we needed to know about us and God. Yet, the new testament tells a new story with new players. The new testament should not have been needed if the old testament was created by God.

      Again, I have to ask, why are there no physical artifacts such as the tablets with the Ten Commandments on it to be found? Why did Moses never find the promised land, even though God was guiding his every move?

      As for the purgatory comment someone made, I do think that if there was Heaven that Purgatory makes sense. After all, it is for those people that didn't put the same effort into following God's word as those that can go into Heaven directly. What would be the passing test to go to Heaven versus the failing test to go to Hell. Say on a scale of 1 to 100 with 90 and above Heaven, O to 10 a Hell.

      So from 11 to 89, which go to Heaven and which go to Hell? Would it be fair for a score of 70 to go to Heaven and 69 to go to Hell. With Purgatory, you can make up for the Earthly failure with some wait in Purgatory.

      The fact that there is no real criteria for getting into Heaven, doesn't it seem strange.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      pmccray - Hell on earth and then Hell in hell! This is a perspective I've never considered but I see your logics.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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      pmccray 8 years ago from Utah

      Does it really matter? I'm not taking any chances ending up in hell with all the people here on earth I couldn't stand. I not willing to play guessing games with my soul.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      whomtheSonsetFree - your comment "As for me? I Believe GOD" I am with you on this one brother. I just pray that when my time comes that the works I've done speak for me. If not, may God have mercy on my soul!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Hello Kori Lee F.P. - thanks for taking time to read and comment on the hub. It would appear that the old saying "we will find out when we get there" applies to the notion of heaven and hell. Your comment "Heaven and Hell are over done but there is something out there" is so true. There are just to many paranormal activities happening on this planet to totally ignore all possibilities of the existence of a heavern or hell.

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      Susan 8 years ago from USA

      Heaven and Hell are very real and literal places to which we will spend eternity in according to our acceptance or rejection of the Son of the Living God-Jesus Christ.

      It makes no difference at all whether you-me or anyone else believes God's Word on this Truth. However I do believe Him.

      It will make no difference to anyone's denying the truth of their realities-God's Word IS TRUTH. And so are the descriptions of Heaven and Hell. His Word is what we ALL will be judged by. Jesus taught more on this subject than any other while He was on the earth. He wouldn't have warned us if it were only a "figment" of peoples imaginations. There IS ACCOUNTABILITY To God the Father for our actions. For Him or against Him.

      As for me? I Believe GOD.

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      Kori Lee F.P. 8 years ago from Northern Arizona

      I think I agree with Opinion Duck on most of these issues. I have to commend the author of this hub, you are very patient and sincere in all of you responses. Well done. I have not met a lot of devout Christians that embody the Christ compassion and grace. I like to believe they are out there.

      So I just want to remind everyone that Jesus was a radical of his time- he was upset with the pharisees and how they were teaching the First Testament. I think it was a mistake to put the first and second testament together. To me they oppose each other. Now if you start getting into the Cabbala then you may have some truth. I think all religions have a light that is hidden in each one, but man does corrupt it with his unholy intentions. I am currently addicted to the Lost Scriptures- Nag Hammadi - and like to research another perspective. Heaven and Hell are over done but there is something out there. I think there are states of being that are higher than this plane and I think there are states of being that are without Light/God and thus you have a type of hell. I don't believe any Bible Hell- burning eternally somewhere. The Second Testament God would not allow it. The First Testament God would love it. Anyway Great responses and enjoyable to read.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      skye2day - thanks for paying me a visit on hubpages, and for the kind words of encourageent. Whether Jesus comes before we die or we die becomes He comes - either way, time is short for man in this life. I will visit your hub and thanks for the suggestion.

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      skye2day 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Hi jxb, Wow I will need to read your hub again. Very well written and informative. I am so grateful I know where I am going and it is up. I can see you have touched many hearts and souls. The Holy Spirit movement is on and flourishing. Individiuals are searching for truth. These are the most difficult times we live in. Christ is the one keeping me together. We have much work to do for our Savior. There are many lost. Yes there is heaven and there is hell. It is a choice. I wrote a hub "Where do I go when I die" Check it out when you are not to busy answering questions. I love to study the word. It is truly fascinating. Thank you for your hard work. Well done. Add a new fan to your club.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      GRivers - my apologies for the late response but thanks for stopping by and commenting. I will stop by your hub for a different perspective o the subject.

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      GRivers 8 years ago

      A very detailed and spirited view which I found to be very interesting. Please see: http://hubpages.com/hub/A-Fiery-Hell-Of-Torment? for another point of view.

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      GRivers 8 years ago

      A very detailed and spirited view which I found to be very interesting. Please see: http://hubpages.com/hub/A-Fiery-Hell-Of-Torment? for another point of view.

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      GRivers 8 years ago

      A very detailed and spirited view which I found to be very interesting. Please see: http://hubpages.com/hub/A-Fiery-Hell-Of-Torment? for another point of view.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Markie_Mark - well spoken!

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      Markie_Mark 8 years ago

      I really enjoy seeing people express their religious beliefs, without any cares for rejection. That alone will make your fatih stronger and any other person that shares your same beliefs. Its strength in numbers, one mans strength can build another mans weaknesses..

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Rob Lattin - your question "But from the point of looking at the afterlife through the current cultural climate, wouldn't you agree that a majority of Christians and Jews have lost that sense of fear about hell? Or even belief in hell?

      Quite honestly I think the way society has given everyone an opportunity to blame someone else for their personal problems most Christians while believing in Hell think they can bargain their way out so they don't worry too much about it. Or we're so self righteous that we can't fantom hell applying to us.

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      Rob Lattin 8 years ago from Born in Chicago, now I'm in Mostly Michigan

      Your hub is very interesting. Your point that science can't prove the existence of either is true. Science can't prove a lot of things. Aside from a religious or theological perspective, the existence of the afterlife can be proven by philosophy, which is a subject most people do not delve into. I understand different Christian traditions have various view points of the afterlife, especially purgatory and hell, which I say "to each his own". But from the point of looking at the afterlife through the current cultural climate, wouldn't you agree that a majority of Christians and Jews have lost that sense of fear about hell? Or even belief in hell?

      Another point, according to the tradition of my Church heaven and hell are both a place and a state of being. They are now a "spiritual place" for the souls that have died and will soon be a physical place after the general resurrection and final judgment. Purgatory is a spiritual place and state of being where those souls who committed sins that are forgiven cleanse themselves before entering the gates of heaven. Purgatory will be abolished at the final judgment.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      jezbiz - "Unlike other people who may know a lot of facts about the bible but don't have faith in God." This is so true. There are people who are very well read in biblical doctrine whereas their knowledge has replace their faith. God to them has become nothing more than historical data which can be reasoned. It's like the lay person who onced believed that the heavans existed above the clouds until he took his first plane ride. Now his faith is shattered because he thinks he knows more than he does. I've discovered that the more I learn the less I know which requires more and more study. Each new discovery strengthens my faith as I learn more and more of the complexity of creation. Everything man made can be easily disected for understanding. However, everything God made is beyond understanding even when we think we understand it.

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      jezbiz 8 years ago from Somewhere Here

      I understand. I also have a deep interest in biblical teachings, I'm still trying to understand a lot of things about the bible including it's historical background. And I enjoy finding out interesting things about the different books of the bible and their writers. I find it interesting also to read books written by people in other religious groups about certain topics, and I study their reasons and interpretations. But like what it says, we should use the knowledge we gain to increase our faith and share the truth to others. Unlike other people who may know a lot of facts about the bible but don't have faith in God.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      jezbiz - your question; "what made you write about all these things?" Answer: I believe God is the creator and Jesus died for my sins. I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God however, because of all the inaccurate translations based on cultural, social, political, economic and religious biases I do not believe everything I read or hear about Them so I have a need for deeper knowledge and understanding. I am also a member of an advance bible study group which challenges the status quo of traditional biblical teachings. We compare historical biblical writings including information from the lost books and secular events of the time to develop a broader scope of biblical knowledge.

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      jezbiz 8 years ago from Somewhere Here

      I know, just looking back ever since in the garden of eden, man has been abusing his free will... and God just keep on finding a way to fix things up. however, Satan is doing all his best to make people turn away from God, and as we can see, he is doing a very good job by using the very same Word of God (Bible, twist it a bit and then add a little lie on the interpretation and people will be led astray, it worked in Eden and still works until now... by the way man, what made you write about all these things?

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      jezbiz - I often wonder if God ever regret giving man a 'free will', I know I would be fed up by now! lol

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      jezbiz 8 years ago from Somewhere Here

      You did a good job in writing these hubs. I also read about your other hub about the 4th commandment, and I like the way you presented the truth about the 7th day sabbath.. however, its just sad that people are undermining some of these things, since they will just say that their "faith" is more important than the law, which I believe is partly true...

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      jezbiz - thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to read and comment on the hub. It is obvious that you are knowlegeable of biblical doctrine. I agree with all you wrote regarding the state of the dead. No one goes directly to Heaven until the prescribed time. Thanks for stopping by.

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      jezbiz 8 years ago from Somewhere Here

      Great hub man, Well, There sure is a lot of things that you wrote are true. To start with, it is true that "purgatory" doesn't exist, it is no where written/describe in the bible, and I have no idea why a lot of people believe in it. As for heaven, yes it is the reward for the righteous, but they will not go there right after their death. Except for enoch and elijah (who didn't experience death), moses and Jesus Christ (both died). So other than them no one is still in heaven even the righteous king david "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day." acts 2:28-30 The righteous will remain in their graves and will be resurrected on the 2nd coming of christ. "in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." 1 cor. 15:52 and those who are unjust or unrighteous will be resurrected after the 1000 years and on the judgement day, where they will cast down into the lake of fire (hell) for punishment. This is summarized in Rev 20:6,14 "Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years...Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death." So Hell is not somewhere under the earth where wicked people are being burned now, The wicked who died are also in their graves and still waiting for the judgment day, and then after they have been judge will they be destroyed in the lake of fire including Satan and his angels. After the fire on earth consumed all the wicked, God will create a new heaven and a new earth, where the righteous will live forever. So it is clear in the bible that heaven and the lake of fire (hell) is real, but not in the way people understood it, When a person dies his body and soul are in the grave, and his breathe of life returns to God. (Eccl. 12:7) .. God loves us so much that he wants us to be with him in heaven that is why he gave his Son to die for us, so that we can have eternal life.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Kim G. - You're definitely not alone. The more I think about the requirements for grace the more I feel that I don't deserve it. My thoughts and my actions are often times in absolute conflict with the will of God that I wonder why He even cares. Then I remember that He is nothing like me and that makes me greatfull!!

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      Kim Garcia 8 years ago

      Wow!! Thank you so much for your time and thoughtful answers. Many times in my past I....as I am sure many have wondered this, and have had the thought...."Did I commit the unpardonable sin?" But many pastors have said and reassured...."If you even have that thought, and repent, then His mercy and grace to forgive us is there for all who ask." I feel blessed and overwhelmed sometimes when I meditate on His Goodness and grace. Thanks for taking the time to answer. Be Blessed. ~K

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Hi Kim, in my study, research, analysis, comprehension, opinion and conclusions there is no one single unpardonable sin as they are varied and may include but are not limited to the following; Disrespecting God., Giving credit due God to Satan or man, Defiant Irreverence, Cursing God or calling His name in vain, Degrading things of the Spirit, Rejecting the Holy Scriptures, Unbelief,and Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

      They can all be summarized in one word; Disrespect.

      This sin is most profound when committed against the Holy Spirit, the third entity of the Godhead. We have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (ghost). It is by the Spirit of God that we are baptized and become one with Him. It’s that spirit that gives us life, and that same Spirit which returns to God after death.

      The Holy Spirit is God's active principle in the world. The Son (Jesus) is the word. Therefore the Holy Spirit is the personified effect of God in the lives of people and in the world. By "blaspheming" the Holy Spirit, one denies the divine authority and activity of God Himself (big mistake).

      Therefore, with this narrow summary we have all committed the unpardonable sin at one point or another in our daily lives but yet God continues to love and protect us. Also, God know that we are all born in sin which only belief, acceptance, and a commitment to His word can cure and we find the cure through a relationship with the Son who pardons all sins if we repent and ask for forgiveness.

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      Kim Garcia 8 years ago

      I've read this Hub a few months ago, but felt compelled to reread it. This is such a great study, one in which many ponder the inevitable. You have such a gift for communicating Scripture in laymen's terms and giving the reader a superb visual on the article at hand. Can you answer this question; What is the unpardonable sin? This sin that is never forgiven which would ultimately catapult our hell bound demise? I've read several theories on this; and also have my own theory, but would truly be interested in your insight. Thank you again, be blessed!! ~K

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Yasmina - thanks for stopping by and commenting, and thankd for the additional information about Job. Can you imagine going through what he experienced. It would cause any human to question God.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      The Rope - thanks for stopping by and for the kind comments. I look forward to hanging out with you on hubpages and reading your works.

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      Yasmina 8 years ago

      I can see that you really have studied this topic!It's very interesting!

      You wrote from Gen 3:19, that "for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return".

      And Eccl 9:5,10 "For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten."

      Vers 10 "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, doit with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Shéol, whither thou goest."

      What you wrote about Job, was also true! He beliefed that God was the reason for his situation.

      But there is more about Job that is interesting!

      Job 2:9,10

      "The said his wife unto him. Doust thou still hold fast thine integrity? renounce God, and die.

      But he said unto her, Thou speakes as one of the foolish women. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips."

      And he must have beliefed that Shéol was not a hell, and he also must have beliefed in a resurrection. We can see that in Job 14:13

      "Oh that thou wouldest hide me in Shéol, That thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, That thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!"

      That there is no immortal soul, we can read in Ezekiel 18:4

      "Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so aalso the the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth, it shall die."

      Jesus knew there were no burning hell. In Matt 25:46 he said

      "And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the rihteous into etal life."

      If you compare this with The Emphatic Diaglott, translated word by word, you will see that they use "cutting-of" instead of "punishment", which is more correct.

      We can also compare Jesus word in Luk 17:29 with Jude 7.

      Luk 17:29

      "but in the day that Lt went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone frm heaven, and destroyed them all;"

      Jude 7

      "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities abot them, having in like manner with these given themselves over to fornicaion and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as

      an example, suffering the punishment of eternial fire."

      Notice that the "cities" undergo eternal fire. What does that mean?

      The fires ceased burning thousands of years aga; evidently the former cities now lie beneath the Dead Sea.

      But those cities were destroyed forever, never to be rebuilt.

      And Jerem 50:40 confirm that it is so.

      "As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor cities thereof, saith Jehovah, so shall no man dwell there, neither shall any son of man sojourn therein."

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      The Rope 8 years ago from SE US

      I can't add more than Kim did in her comment 2 months ago "Bravo!!!... Eloquently written!" Your clarity and research are excellent. We are blessed to be at the table with you and to share our journey together.

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      Dutch Hermit 8 years ago from Utrecht

      Opinion Duck - It is a bit out of the discussion but I was touched by one of your requirements for the truth of the bible. You say there is no physical proof for the truth of the bible and for the existance of God. I would like to relieve you from your ignorance because scientific evidence is clear about the existance of a creation out of nothing, and therefore for a creator and therefore for a God. Just study a little on genetics and you got the proof your asking for. I'll just give you a little summary:

      With each genetic mutation there is a loss of information in the dna. There is no reason to assume that by any mutation there would information be added. There is no account of any living thing that started from zero and evoluated into a fukll grown living thing in millions of years. Just look at genetic, just look at the scientific evidenc and the belief in a God will become very reasonable.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      kirstenblog - your conclusion would be the idea reason for doing good. Not because one think they will make it into heaven or out of Hell, but because it's the right thing to do whether you are a believer or not. A lot of people do good things for the wrong reasons expecting recognition but that's not what it's all about.

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      kirstenblog 8 years ago from London UK

      For the sake of this comment lets assume that heaven and hell do exits. Further that with the existence of heaven and hell there is method that exists for sorting each soul to one of these destinations, and that method is based on the quality of our deeds in this life. How much quality is there in choosing to do good things out of fear of punishment and desire for reward? Are not the most impressive good deeds those done not for a promised afterlife but out of a desire to live in a good world here and now? Is not the greatest good deed that of one life freely given to save not many lives but one other life, with no possibility of fame or praise but in the dark where no one will ever know for the sake of simple love and with the certainty that death is the end ?

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      brookelynn26 - thanks for stopping by and commenting. I share your concerns regarding biblical truth. It is often times very difficult to distinquish facts from traditions, truth from personal bias - and the biblical writers does little to promote confidence in their translations particularly when one consider the social and political challenges of their times. I grew up in a Christian home but some statements made on behalf of God and Jesus just didn't add up for me, so for the past 25+ years I've been on a spiritual journey for the truth. It has taken me to some interesting places. Perhaps I will never find the real truth but the journey has offered me significant spiritual growth and its been well worth the trip.

      Welcome to Hubpages!

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      brookelynn26 8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Your post was more than informative!!!! You are obviously talented at researching and interpreting information. I tend to agree with a few of the other comments in that the bible has been interpreted in many ways in the past. My problem is the fact that so many of these interpretations have been for the advancement and oppression of different groups of people. While I do believe in God I have a hard time believing in some of the messages that have been put forth in some holy text. Because of ulterior motives throughout the centuries it is almost impossible to decipher what some passages "could have" meant. Because there is no coming back from the dead there is no way to know what happens to our souls after our bodies have done their work. I just can not bring myself to believe that a God that loves his children and forgives us for our trespasses would send us to a "lake of Eternal Fire". One can only guess and hope that there is some relief from the strains of this physical world when we pass away. Great post, you have sparked the light of thought and contemplation in me and many others.

    • brookelynn26 profile image

      brookelynn26 8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Your post was more than informative!!!! You are obviously talented at researching and interpreting information. I tend to agree with a few of the other comments in that the bible has been interpreted in many ways in the past. My problem is the fact that so many of these interpretations have been for the advancement and oppression of different groups of people. While I do believe in God I have a hard time believing in some of the messages that have been put forth in some holy text. Because of ulterior motives throughout the centuries it is almost impossible to decipher what some passages "could have" meant. Because there is no coming back from the dead there is no way to know what happens to our souls after our bodies have done their work. I just can not bring myself to believe that a God that loves his children and forgives us for our trespasses would send us to a "lake of Eternal Fire". One can only guess and hope that there is some relief from the strains of this physical world when we pass away. Great post, you have sparked the light of thought and contemplation in me and many others.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      AnneB -

      you are so right! It seems like the road to hell is a much straighter path with minimum detours. Perhaps this is why we need to study and show ourselves approved to avoid the illusion and better understand that the road to heaven - while sometimes challenging is actually the better route!!!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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      AnneB 8 years ago

      she there is a heaven and yes there is a helll. There's one way to heaven and millions of ways to get to hell

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Hello steffsings - thanks for stopping by and commenting. Welcome to HubPages! I look forward to reading your hubs.

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      steffsings 8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      What an excellent post! I'm glad I came across this. I agree - there is both Heaven & Hell: real places. (side note, I question the idea that Jesus descended into Hell tho, I believe this is referring to death like Psalms 63:9-10) however this is small disagreement & doesn't amount to doctrinal difference on the foundation we both believe. Thank you for this post - very enlightening!

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Rubes - I believe that if we can remove greed and selfishness we could reach that utopia you described.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Rubes profile image

      Rubes 8 years ago from Somwhere up high

      Nice Hub. Very informative. Although, one's decision to be good should not be based on heaven and hell. Rather, it should be based on what is right and wrong and how to be a good person. One major aspect of life is about doing kind deeds. If a person follows this principle then if heaven and hell exists he will definitely go to heaven for being a good person.

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      opinion duck 8 years ago

      The bible is not self authenticating and it has no real answers.

      For example, Who created the Angels and how many of them are there?

      The bible doesn't answer these questions.

      Dncing.....

      I don't understand your comment, if you want to remain a child you certainly can do that, but then what is the purpose of your existence.

      As a child you believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. No child really questions these characters.

      Three major religions have three different Gods. Jews, Christians and Muslims.

      It would be one thing if a Deity appeared and reinforced your bible, but the last account was about two thousand years ago.

      You don't have any physical evidence that even the Ten Commandments exist, or any other tangible connection to God.

      About 40 years ago, the US Government gave up on the existence of Alien Life Forms or UFO for this same reason, no evidence.

      Believe in what ever you want but don't try to use the bible to support your belief until you can connect it with real proof.

      The bible has interesting and clever stories but so do the works of Shakespeare.

      The world today hasn't seen an evolved human, man is basically the same as when Cain killed Abel. People didn't change from BC to AD. The majority of the people don't adhere to even the Ten Commandments.

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      DancingRedFeather 8 years ago

      Your welcome, when we are children, we don't complicate things. We see things as they are and don't try to find 1000 ways to say what it is. Like I said, a truck is a truck, not important what make or shape or color it is.

      EVil is evil..GOOD is good DEATH..is death..no need to explain evil, good or death. we all know what it is. :)

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      DancingRedFeather - thanks for stopping by and commenting -and for your honest opinion on the subject. I think we humans like to make life uncessarily complicated despite God's attempt to make life easy. Perhaps this is why we're so confused even on something as clear as His word.

    • DancingRedFeather profile image

      DancingRedFeather 8 years ago

      My how man loves to complicat things. Understand God is so simple that even children understand it. No wonder Jesus said that we should be like children as they understand and don't complicate it.

      Heaven does exist as God says that is where He lives. Hell doesn't exist because God said that at Judgement day if your name is found in the Book of Life..you live forever. If it is found in the Book of Death..you will be destroyed..eliminated..period..no burning in hell and being tormented.. how can you be burning in hell and live?

      Hell was invented as you have written because they didn't believe in GOD but in gods of their own making and making up what they thought was going to happen to them.

      No where in the Bible it is written that a Soul goes to heaven or hell.

      Actually a Soul, became a living soul only once it receives the breath of life..God's life force..therefore if you don't breath you are nothing..not even a soul because you didn't take your first breath of life..as God wrote in Genesis..He breathed in Adam's NOSTRILS and he became a living soul.

      So what goes back to God is what He gave..THE BREATH OF LIFE - LIVING FORCE of God.

      When you die..you go back to what you were made of..dust. You go nowhere..

      Did Lazarus or anyone Jesus brought back to life say where they went?

      No, they got up as if they were asleep and Jesus says so when He went to where a little girl was said to be dead, he asked them why they were wailing and crying. They said because she was dead. Jesus said..no, she is only sleeping..and they scorned and laughed at Him.

      He went inside, took her hand and told her to get up..exactly like when you go wake up your child. So when you die..YOU GO NOWHERE..you are in a sleeping state until God raises you up again.

      So simple..but man doesn't like simple things. Children understand and unless you are like a child..keep things simple .. you get the wrong idea.

      When you give a child a truck..you ask the child what kind a truck..he will answer..my truck.. not important if it is a fire truck, a pick-up truck..it is his truck.. as simple as that.

      The Bible is simple also if you read it as is with a child's mind.

    • profile image

      Opinion Duck 8 years ago

      Allan

      Wow, I can't believe that your comments.

      Your God of the Old Testament is an imperfect, weak and vindictive god.

      Your Jesus of the New Testament is the loving human god.

      Neither of them should want to take credit for creating the Universe and us.

      We are imperfect and who ever created us, created us imperfectly or was itself imperfect. It is the Creator that should take the responsibility for how we exist.

      Evil existed long before the Universe, otherwise the devil wouldn't be here. God was impotent to keep his angels causing a third of them (that could be only one of three) from rebelling against him.

      According to your bibles, the angels know and see God and a third of them chose to leave him. There is something wrong in Heaven.

      There are no female figures in God, only male.

      How can you even consider the concept of a son?

      The bottom line is that humanity favors evil and nothing has changed since Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. BC and AD are filled with Evil, and no one has to preach on how to be evil, it is inherent in us.

      Good is the exception rather than the rule of life.

      You Old Testament God should have either taken responsibility for creating us or should have at least treated Adam and Eve like the full grown babies that they were and not like trained adults.

      The God of the Old Testament hung around Earth, while not being seen and mostly heard his presence was known but only by a few.

      The Jesus of the New Testament has not been seen in over 2000 years. You and others keep him alive by reading from a bible that was written over a century after he left. It was collected from many sources and edited and re-edited by people.

      While no one can either prove or disprove the existence of God, isn't possible that the bible(s) could have been written by people even if none of the stories were real. There is no physical evidence, including the Ten Commandments that exist for us to analyze. So why couldn't the bible be written by clever human writers without divine guidance, like the works of Shakespeare?

      Do you really want your God of the bibles to take credit for us and how we live. We have not evolved in six thousand years, I think it is time to call creation a failure.

      Just because the people mentioned in the bible may have had a belief, it doesn't mean that they are truths.

      As far as prophets, if you can tell the future then why go through the motions?

      Today, religion is the world's most lethal weapon. Much of it because no one can seem to agree on who is the real God.

      My final note uses an old SciFi movie called "The Day That The Earth Stood Still". It had two major factors in what is proof and both are missing in the bible.

      First, the alien existed because we saw their spaceship and their robot. We didn't believe that the human looking person was an alien until he predicted and actually made happen the standing of time.

      While this is Sci Fi, it would still be a good example of the kind of proof that exists from the bible.

      Alas, poor Earthlings, there is no physical evidence of the God from the bibles.

      .....if you continue to quote from the bible, then I will quote from movies.

    • albert49 profile image

      Albert Williams 8 years ago from ms

      I like your response to oscarwms comment, good work frieend.

    • Allan McGregor profile image

      Allan McGregor 8 years ago from South Lanarkshire

      Opinion Duck.

      'The Bible is humanly not divinely authored?'

      Well, if you care to study it diligently you can find the incredibly intricate 'fingerprints' of God all over the place in the original Hebrew and Greek texts. 'Heptads' are one such 'fingerprint'. The encrypted patterns and codes hidden throughout scripture are too many and too sophisticated to statistically sustain the claim of human authorship.

      'Jesus was not mentioned in the Old Testament.'

      Well, that must be news to Jesus. Rather, we read the following of him, talking to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus on the Sunday of his Resurrection, who iniially failed to recognise him (Luke 24:25-25):

      'Then he said unto them, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.'

      I could take you book-by-book, and often chapter-by-chapter through the whole Old Testament and show you where Jesus is revealed.

      'Why was the devil in Eden?'

      Good question. Which is why I have written several articles on this very subject, just Google me up to find them. Try something like 'Allan McGregor satan devil eden' and you should find an answer to you queries. They're actually quite simple.

      In brief, I explain that Satan was orginally Lucifer, a mighty cherub sent by God to serve Adam and his wife (she was not renamed 'Eve' until after the Fall). I also explain why Lucifer tempted her, what he hoped to achieve and why it all went wrong.

      I also explain why God did not subvert mankind's autonomy (or, if you prefer, Adam's sovereignty) granted to him in Genesis 1:26.

      It all pans out, but it takes a little more room than we have here to explain in detail.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Haute Coco - thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am in agreement that we will only know after we die. Because I don't know I am going to live as if they do exist, whether literal or spiritual.

    • Haute Coco profile image

      Haute Coco 8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      great article. Nicely done.

      I believe that until we die and experience Heaven or Hell, we will never truly know if it exists. For we cannot inhabit such places with our physical bodies, for it is only our spirits who can experience the truth.

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      James Brown 8 years ago from United States of America

      Tackle This - :)

      I'll check out your new hub universe.