Whoever Invented Damnation Was A Genius!

Came across this pearl of wisdom on a blog:

One of the ways dictators control populations is by first inventing a threat, and then offering a solution from the threat. This is exactly what religion does. It creates the threat of eternal damnation, then cleverly offers you a way out of it.

This is not the first time I’ve heard this sentiment.

The first few times I heard it, I dismissed it as random idiocy.

I’ve seen it repeated enough that I finally realize not everyone appreciates the grandeur of its stupidity.

Imagine looking over an inventor’s shoulder while he scribbles in his journal:

I’ve had a breakthrough today! I developed a technique to control people’s lives! I’m calling my invention, “religion”.  It is a simple two-step process:
1) Threaten everyone with eternal damnation.
2) Tell them religion is how they avoid it.

I’m going to be rich!

It’s pure genius, isn’t it?

Well…actually…no.

Let’s swap out “eternal damnation” with another threat:

  1. Threaten everyone with spontaneous combustion.
  2. Tell them religion is how they avoid it.

See the problem?

Threats must be credible.

That is to say, empty threats don’t work.

People don’t worry about suddenly bursting into flames.

(Most people anyway…)

So the “Sainthood of Spontaneous Combustion” won’t have many disciples.

At the same time, the possibility of eternal damnation DOES create some anxiety.

Why is that?

Because our sense of justice tells us that eternal damnation might be real.

And worse…we deserve to experience it.

It’s not difficult to identify people who need to be punished.

On our best, most honest days, we admit we are those people.

We don’t need religion to tell us we suck.

We already know it.

When we take a hard look at ourselves, eternal damnation seems like an appropriate destiny.

Guilt wasn’t invented by religion.

Religion is how we get rid of guilt.

69 thoughts on “Whoever Invented Damnation Was A Genius!

  1. Eternal damnation is genius? Amazing post. Now please demonstrate that such a fate and such punishment actually exists in reality, not just in the bible or in a mental or philosophical exercise, or a morality play. I’m sure the world is waiting for the evidence of such actual existence of said geniusly devised Justice. I Know I am. So go ahead, show us more than the assertion that such a place or fate awaits… This will be a very interesting discussion.

    • John Branyan says:

      It will not be an interesting discussion because you will bail out of it when you can’t contribute anything of substance. Let’s see how long that takes…

      I know how you feel about slavery,
      “Owning and controlling other people as property, or like animals is Evil. Period!!”

      You admit there is such a thing as evil, do you think evil-doers should have consequences for their evil activities?

    • John Branyan says:

      You are tap dancing, Mike. Just like I said you would. You didn’t even make it past the first comment.

      I agree with you that evil exists.
      It is rational to think that evil-doers should be punished for doing evil. Therefore, I think evil should be punished.

      I’ve answered my own question!
      Now, you take a crack at it…

      Should evil be punished?

    • John Branyan says:

      There you go, Mike!
      Your stubborn refusal to answer the question demonstrates that eternal punishment is a real and credible threat. If eternal damnation was merely an invention of religion, you would quickly answer my question with “no”.

      Have A Nice Day!

    • John Branyan says:

      Just because you “didn’t see a demonstration” doesn’t mean the demonstration didn’t occur. You don’t see a lot of things.

      The question is super-easy. Children answer it without hesitation.
      Should evil be punished?

    • mrsmcmommy says:

      Ouch. I hope Pastor Mike takes a break from commenting for awhile. That was embarrassing. 🙂

      But, there you have it, folks! Even those who deny the need for “jail” can’t escape their own sense of Justice.

      • John Branyan says:

        Avoiding the consequences of evil is the most appealing aspect of Christianity. It’s just one of the things “de-converts” don’t think about when they throw away their faith.

        I don’t mind explaining the concept to people who truly don’t understand. Mike is not one of those people. Obviously, he understands the hypocrisy of calling slavery “evil” then refusing to admit slave owners should be punished. He KNOWS he’s toast. That’s why he disappeared…again…

  2. I’ll take a crack at this.

    First, it’s obvious you (Kia) don’t believe hell or even the credible threat of some form of existential punishment for one’s soul apart from the Creator exists.

    Can I assume you don’t believe ANYTHING exists existentially or outside of material/nature?

    And at the risk of answering the question for you, but in order to save time (IOW please forgive my assumptions and correct me if I’m wrong) you are essentially asking for a material, physical proof of the existence of something you ‘know’ doesn’t exist in reality.

    So can I assume you have never been one of THOSE atheists who have spread the lie that religions invented hell to control/frighten the masses into being good?

          • Ron says:

            If your definition of ‘punishment’ leans towards retribution, then the answer is no. Inflicting physical harm upon the guilty appeases only the sadist.

            Consider what happens in fraud and robbery cases. The convict goes to jail at taxpayer expense and the victim walks away empty-handed. Essentially, everyone loses. So where is the justice in that? A system in which the transgressor restores what’s been taken or damaged seems more productive, wouldn’t you agree?

          • mrsmcmommy says:

            I noticed you brought up fraud/theft, but you didn’t mention rape/murder. What about when the thing taken or damaged is deeper and more valuable than property? You can’t seriously believe that money can pay for all evil, can you?

          • Dylan Black says:

            Sorry to butt in, but I’ve been lurking.

            I think Ron may have focused on a less effective part of the question. “Should” implies a moral imperative. If there’s no separate entity of evil, the clear answer should be be “No” regardless of retribution. Nothing should be.

            Maybe I should just butt out ^_^

          • mrsmcmommy says:

            I’ve found it’s easier to just agree with the Atheists that we “SHOULD” punish evil, without pointing out to them explicitly that we do, in fact, agree that we SHOULD punish evil.

            (Because they tend to get squeamish as soon as you ask them to clarify, “Yes, we agree that some sort of justice ‘system’ should be in place to deal with transgressors, whether we can agree about the specifics of that system or not.” Often they stop agreeing about points with which they clearly did agree just seconds before. 🙂 )

            Then again, Ron proved me wrong a few days ago when he agreed that all humans, including himself, believe many things that can’t be proven. So he may be willing to agree again.

          • Ron says:

            Have state executions or lifetime sentences proven to be effective remedies in reviving the dead or erasing the physical/emotional scars left on victims? I admit that there’s no neat, perfect, one-size-fits-all solution for every situation. But in my opinion, working towards rehabilitation and reconciliation holds more promise than merely exacting vengeance. Even the Bible advises “do not repay evil with evil”.

            I mentioned fraud and theft because the FBI reports that out of the estimated 9.2 million crimes reported in 2016, property crimes accounted for aproximately 85% of all crimes, and murder accounted for approximately 1.4% of all violent crimes. Therefore it seems logical to focus attention on activities having the highest liklihood of occurence and resolution.

            And in response to Dylan Black:

            No, I don’t subscribe to deontological ethics or the notion of objective morality, though I’m always open to being convinced otherwise. To date, no one has furnished convincing evidence in support of that proposal.

          • Ron says:

            How many more ways should I say ‘no’ to punishment?

            Nope, nay, ixnay, nix, uh-uh, no siree, negatory, non, nein, não, nie, ne,
            нет, nu, nada, όχι, 沒有, thumbs down, pass, No way Jose!

            Satisfied?

          • John Branyan says:

            Got it.

            We had a dude chop up two little girls last summer with a hatchet in a park near our house. Would you suggest we let the killer go since murder is a paltry 1.4% of violent crime? Or, should we send the killer to a professional therapist for rehabilitation?

          • mrsmcmommy says:

            I also want to know how “sadists” should be handled. (Ron said something to the effect that “only sadists” demand punitive retribution for evil. So what should we do with sadists, then? lol.)

          • John Branyan says:

            Apparently, Ron has lost interest in honest dialogue. I do not think his “never punish” philosophy is sincere. He’s at least got the guts to throw his monstrous amoral position into the discussion. Pastor Mike ran away.

          • mrsmcmommy says:

            Honestly: teaching people to obey, in part, so as to avoid retribution/vengeance from a more powerful person/system seems perfectly fair to me. (And millions of other people.) I’m not sure why some folks–mainly Atheists–can’t see the difference between an earned punishment and “sadism.”

            …unless they were UN-justly punished in their past, and it caused their sense of justice to be out of whack now?

          • Ron says:

            Rehabilitaion does not constitute punishment; which is why I made the distinction between retributive and restorative justice in my previous post.

            Punishment teaches that might makes right — i.e., that those who possess power can force others to do their will. That’s not teaching morality; it’s teaching obedience for the sake of avoiding punishment.

          • John Branyan says:

            “Punishment teaches that might makes right…that those who possess power can force others to do their will”

            You mean, like a guy with a hatchet killing two, less powerful girls? Yeah. I see what you mean. We wouldn’t want to punish a guy like that.

            So do we let him go or send him to a rehab clinic? Which is it?

          • Matthew Cross says:

            “It doesn’t teach morality…”
            Wait, how is it “good” (and even possible) to teach others morality if morality has no objectivity?
            Also, if there is no objectivity- why is there a difference between retributive justice and restorative justice? Are you appealing to an objective basis or making an unfounded opinion on what “justice” is “better” for society?

          • John Branyan says:

            I think Ron is smart enough to see this dilemma. We’ll see if he admits it or just keeps pressing “rehabilitation” while claiming there’s no such thing as evil.

            Punishment doesn’t teach “might makes right”. Punishment teaches “respect for authority”.

          • Ron says:

            Punishment doesn’t teach “might makes right”. Punishment teaches “respect for authority”. ~John Branyan

            Authority: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience

            Rephrased:

            Punishment teaches “respect for [the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.]”

            The defense rests.

          • mrsmcmommy says:

            Objection, Your Honor.

            Relevance?

            (The defense has yet to explain why respect for authority is a bad thing.)

          • Ron says:

            @Matthew Cross

            Objective means free of bias. I contend that our moral codes are biased towards actions that align with our personal values. It simply cannot be otherwise. If there were objective moral standards, we’d all agree to what they are and discussions like this wouldn’t take place.

          • Ron says:

            @mrsmcmummy

            I didn’t say it was good or bad.. I wrote:

            “That’s not teaching morality; it’s teaching obedience for the sake of avoiding punishment.”

          • Matthew Cross says:

            To Ron:
            So you are just espousing your subjective opinion not based on facts? Okay, do you have any actual objective reasons that restoration is better than retribution?

            And actually, conversations like these ( providing arguments) make a person objective- if they are truly seeking the truth. Objectivity is how you can truly know which person/action/ “side” is truly right.
            So what objective are you using to know that restoration is better than retribution?

          • Ron says:

            mrsmcmommy asks: So–why do you have a problem with that system?

            Perhaps you’re right. Pupils already conditioned to respect authority are probably more apt to discard their parent’s superstitious religious beliefs and embrace evolution as a fact. And obedient, unquestioning followers are loved by cult leaders and dictators the world over.

          • Ron says:

            Matthew Cross

            There are studies showing that restorative justice programs can reduce recidivism rates and bring greater satisfaction to the victims. Ironically, a fair number of those programs were started by, or now involve faith-based organizations; so this is not just some atheist-inspired pipe dream.

            As to objective morality:

            If you and I have a dispute over the number of marbles in a bag, we can settle the matter objectively by performing a physical count. Likewise, if we have a dipute over the weight of an object, we can settle the matter objectively by placing it on a scale. By what metric can we objectively measure and settle moral disputes?

          • Matthew Cross says:

            Oh no, Ron, I wasn’t implying that your ideal was strictly an atheistic one. That is what was surprising to me, actually.

            When two or more people disagree, and the problem at hand needs resolving, there are a few things they can do to convince the other person(s).

            1) Appeal to the other person’s standard. Follow down their line of thinking- and point out any flaws that might arise. Ask questions about those points.
            2) Provide your alternative. Follow down your line of thinking and answer any questions that they might have.
            3) Show that your alternative is either fulfilling or going beyond their option.
            4) If you see that their alternative is fulfilling and going beyond your alternative- change your mind to theirs.
            5) Continue steps 1-4 until there is resolve.

            But you see, all parties know that there is an objective. They might just think that their opinion is in line with the true objective- and some people might see the error of their own ways.
            Conversations like these have no point when all parties think that there can’t be any resolution.

            So basically, 5 steps of one method: using moral reasoning.
            So I’m wondering, what consistent atheistic code of ethics did you use to come up with rehabilitation and reconciliation over retribution and vengence?
            As you hinted at, it can sound religious.

          • Ron says:

            Matthew,

            One clarification: the word ‘objective’ can be used as a noun (goal, purpose, target) or as an adjective (unbiased). Your examples (with which I generally agree) address the noun form. But for the purposes of this discussion, I’m using the adjective form and referring to William Lane Craig’s definition of objective moral values, which is:

            “To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so. It is to say, for example, that Nazi anti-Semitism was morally wrong, even though the Nazis who carried out the Holocaust thought that it was good; and it would still be wrong even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in exterminating or brainwashing everybody who disagreed with them.” (Can We Be Good without God?, ¶ 4)

            However, on what basis can he say the Holocaust was objectively wrong without appealing to popular concensus that it was wrong? In other words, if absolutely everyone were brainwashed into believing that the Holocaust was morally right and there were no clues left behind to indicate the brainwashing took place, how would anyone ever determine it was objectively wrong?

            To your question on punitive vs. restorative justice, my decision isn’t informed by ethics so much as it is by practical necessity. As I wrote in a previous post, the former approach is expensive and brings no lasting benefits to anyone, whereas the latter shows better promise. The U.S. has the world’s highest incarceration rates, and close to 50% of those in federal prisons are serving time for non-violent drug offenses —
            mostly possession. So the first order of business is to end the failed “War on Drugs” and treat substance abuse for what it really is: a medical problem. And the second is to address the social factors leading to crime.

            As En Vogue once sang:

            “Free your mind and the rest will follow.”

          • Matthew Cross says:

            Part of William Lane Craig’s argument is that if an atheist is consistent- they would not be able to say that they know the Holocaust is morally evil. Your question about his argument is actually evidence of that.
            See- Ron, an objective is used when two people decide on a solution. The use of the objective is solving the problem objectively. Now- that is moral ethics. But when they can KNOW that they are right means that there IS an existing moral objective- that is moral ontology. Also, if you are aware of WLC’s work- you know that he believes that the true objective “Good” is grounded in God.
            Now, according to atheism- why is having more people incarcerated a “wrong” thing? In other words- why do you feel that “practical necessity” is the “right” thing? Why should we, as humans care about fellow human’s welfare in an atheistic code of ethics? If there is no true objective to judge your opinion on- how can I know that you are right?

          • John Branyan says:

            Ron has already awarded himself game, set and match. He might be in the locker room bathing in champagne.

  3. It occurred to me that the only way someone can condemn/discredit/invalidate/characterize (etc) God as something (like evil) they must first use the ONLY experiencial/provable/real example of evil available to them… mankind.

    God is evil like a dictator.
    God is evil like a murderer.
    God is evil like a slave owner.

    Take away God and what’s left?

    Mankind is evil.

  4. I was going to eventually ask the guy named after a cheap, poor quality car if he would accept death bed testimony and eye witness accounts as proof or evidence of the existence of something we might describe as hell.

    My guess is if he can’t prove his own existence….

    Nightmare of a story though. :::shivers:::

    • mrsmcmommy says:

      For the record, “KIA” stands for “Know It All.” (Although he swears he’s in recovery.) Feel free to do with that information whatever you want as well.

  5. Hi jb, so… from the comments section, it still looks like you haven’t provided evidence for the actual existence or reality of the “credible threat” of eternal damnarion that you think is Genius. Didn’t think you would or even try. As I suspected, the ‘conversation’/discussion is not worth the time or effort unless you are going to demonstrate the reality of what you think is Genius. Have a great night. I pass.
    -kia

    • John Branyan says:

      Boy am I glad we waited for you to get home from work! That was a sensational contribution to the discussion!

      What kind of “evidence” were you expecting me to produce? A snapshot of people burning in hell? Some video footage of Satan poking Charles Manson with a pitchfork?
      Have A Great Night!
      You’re useless!

    • John Branyan says:

      This is typical nitwittery from you, Pastor Mike.
      You demand I offer evidence for eternal damnation while admitting (elsewhere, of course) that such evidence is impossible.
      kia_no_proof_of_afterlife_is_possible
      So, are you stupid or dishonest, which is it, Mike?

      • mrsmcmommy says:

        Lol! Speaking of blind faith! 😉

        Of course, I would agree there’s no way to PROVE our spirits live forever. But I do find it interesting how we’re able to have this concept of “forever” in the first place. And it’s fun to watch the way “forever” makes some people very uncomfortable.

        • John Branyan says:

          At least Ron admitted he doesn’t believe in punishment.

          Mike was his usual wimpy self. Spent all day at work, being Superman I assume, refusing to answer my question, then responded with “I pass.”

          If there was a stupidity hall of fame…

          • mrsmcmommy says:

            Meanwhile, there’s a conversation happening on Marla’s Facebook wall about where morality comes from. (She asked, “Where do people get their moral compass?”) All of it flows into the question about free will, and ultimately the question about justice and how to deal with those who do wrong…

            Funny how it’s all connected.

          • mrsmcmommy says:

            Everyone seems to think there are certain guidelines that all humans should follow.
            Jeffrey Dahmer was used as an example–obviously, of someone whose moral compass didn’t function like it SHOULD. 🙂

          • John Branyan says:

            Jeff keeps popping up in conversations about morality almost a quarter century after he dies. And we’re told “evil” isn’t real. So what does Dahmer have to do with all this?

          • mrsmcmommy says:

            Dahmer deserved to be punished for the (many) selfish, harmful decisions he made.
            He could have chosen to do better–but he didn’t–and there must be consequences for those choices.

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