Why A Guide for Agnostics is wrong.
Steve writes this as part of his Perfect Chaos blog PerfectChaos. His blog is still interesting. I just do not agree with his conclusions.
I do not agree with Steve’s theology. He says, “Christians locate the bad news in the fall of man, and sin — ideas found in the Bible. But these are concepts (as I have argued elsewhere) which are questionable in light of a sovereign and omnipresent God, for I believe that God’s boundlessness leaves no room for freedom from God, or free will.” To me that is just plain incorrect and is against Christian doctrine. God created free will and the ability to be absent or separated from Him.
Without free will nobody can bear moral responsibility for their own decisions. Even Satan and all his angels cannot be held responsible for their evil. The Christian teaching is that God allows bad things in the world, and bad things are the result of those who are separated from God. Steve’s theology, by contrast, says God created the bad things. Not that he allows it. That he causes it. That, quite frankly, is Satan’s very own argument. “It’s all God’s fault.” I do not see this as being a Christian argument at all.
Steve’s theological flaw lies in his view that no phenomena is separate from God. God causes everything to happen. Every event, the way every particle moves. This points up what my main concern has been over creationists who claim that “God pushes every particle at every moment.” We hear this all the time from the more right wing branches of Christianity. To me it is a kind of Christian mysticism. And yes, it is corrosive of the concept of free will. It is a theological myth. Sadly, I think Steve Colborne succumbed to the myth.
So the question is, “Is God separate from his creation?”, or, “Are we all part of the mind of God?”
The latter option is an eastern concept.
The Orthodox view is that God exists outside the universe, and the universe exists as a created entity that goes along on it’s own. And God intrudes into the universe to affect events. That is how God causes outcomes he favors.
Steve writes in Eternal Conscious Torment the following:
When Christians discuss the doctrine of hell, they usually take one of three positions: traditionalism, conditionalism, or universalism. Some time ago I wrote this post which introduces the differences between these three positions.
There are scriptures that could be cited to support each of these three positions, but the position I find most persausive is conditionalism, with the associated doctrine of annihilationism. Annihilationism says that following death, the wicked will be punished for some time, but then their consciousness will cease (they will be annihilated).
I have experienced great despair when struggling to comprehend the traditionalist perspective, which supports the idea of eternal conscious torment. Christians often argue that eternal punishment for the wicked reflects God’s justice. ‘We all deserve hell’, they say in their evangelism. But I cannot see how, if a person were to commit a sexual sin for instance, this would warrant everlasting conscious torment? In all honesty, can anyone really argue that that’s a punishment appropriate to the crime?
CS Lewis addressed this issue in The Great Divorce:
where he describes hell as a very tiny place, no larger than an atom, where souls separated from God ponder themselves forever. And they themselves drive themselves to despair because they are separate from God.
None of that of course makes any sense if humans are not separated from God, but instead are God. The hell part is the being separated eternally and just being stuck with yourself, and realizing how unsatisfying that is. seems to me that is perfect justice! a bit final of course.
I believe in the eventual annihilation outcome though. That is what is represented by the lake of fire. The total randomization of all material structure and information, followed by heat death. It is like falling into a black hole. Time slows. It feels like an eternity. So it is characterized that way in the bible.
The bible teaches that all sins are basically equal. All of them separate human from God. It is the condition of fallenness that must be cured. Trying to discern whether one type of sin deserves a worse or a better punishment misses the point. It is not the sin that is the issue, it is the fallen condition that leads to it that is the problem.
Don’t get me wrong here. Just because I disagree with and am being critical of Steve’s conclusions does not mean I do not like him. He grapples with a lot of the human condition. Most people would just got to a pub instead.