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Monday, December 28, 2015

God's answer about hell

   Do you believe in hell?   That's a common question asked to people who are religious and non-religious alike.  In my years of walking this earth I have heard lots of seemingly intelligent people utter the most ridiculous claims about God than one can imagine.   One of the most outlandish statements is this: 
                                            God is too loving to send anyone to hell
  On its face it does seem like an oxymoron for an infinitely loving being to send a not so loving mortal to a place of infinite pain and suffering.   For many people, this statement provides a minute amount of comfort as they spin their "wheel-of-life" and see where the arrow lands.   We pride ourselves on our accomplishments of friends, family, work, awards and riches.   The wealthy feel their mounding of riches is a reward from God for their hard work and certainly if God was displeased with them he would not have lavished such abundance on them in this life.    The poor look at their lack of wealth as their "predicament" handed down to them and that its none of their fault for what they have had to do in order to survive.  While those in the middle-class play both sides of this coin depending on how things go from year to year.

    But does God really not send anyone to hell?  

    The best answer I have to that question is our favorite 20th century villain: Adolph Hitler.   For no one person personifies evil more than this one man.   A man who is credited with killing:
  • 5.1–6.0 million Jews, including 
  • 3.0–3.5 million Polish Jews
  • 1.8 –1.9 million non-Jewish Poles 
  • 500,000–1.2 million Serbs killed by Croat Nazis 
  • 200,000–800,000 Roma & Sinti 
  • 200,000–300,000 people with disabilities 
  • 80,000–200,000 Freemasons [23] 
  • 100,000 communists 
  • 10,000–25,000 homosexual men 
  • 2,000 Jehovah's Witnesses  
     Add up all those people and you have about 11 to 12 million people in total.  People he deemed to be unfit for living and procreating.   Starting with the disabled, the elderly and the mentally ill, he worked his way up the chain until he attained his goal of eliminating the Jews.  

     We see these numbers and clearly we cannot hold onto the view that "God cannot send anyone to hell".    I believe that Hitler is God's instrument to show us how silly our arguments are when evil is taken to its extreme.  Like a house of cards, it all comes crumbling down.    Can you really hold to the idea that there is no hell at all?   Or is that just another fashionable delusion we try to trick ourselves with.  If that is so, then Hitler got away with it.   Sure he didn't get to live a FULL life (died at the age of 44) but his life was very full and complete.   He had many parades in his honor.  He was loved and admired by his people.  He was feared by his enemies.  He met with the heads of state from the most powerful countries on earth.   He ate the best food.  Drank the finest of wines.  Heard the greatest symphonies.   Saw the greatest works of art.   His name was shouted in large gatherings.   In terms of self-actualization, Hitler was at the top of his game having come from meager beginnings, spend several years in prison and moving all the way to the top of the German parliament.   So what if he died at the age of 44.   He did it!

     Does that annoy you in the least?   It should, if you are the least bit human.  We demand justice for acts of evil.   A bullet to the head, even if it was self-inflicted is not enough for us to accept.  Hitler beat us to the punch and stole our glorious revenge on him.  

    We look at this and we say that there must be a hell for people like Hitler.   He must be punished for all the lives he destroyed.   But that means there is an exception to the premise that we started out with that God cannot punish anyone.   So either we must let Hitler get away with it, or we must admit the folly in our argument and concede that their are people worth of hell. 

   But let's not stop at the one man, Adolph Hitler.   Did Hitler do it all by himself?   Did he build the camps?   Did he build the gas chambers and incinerators?    Did he build the train tracks to the death camps?   Did he load up the cattle cars with the Jews and other all by himself?   Did he herd the people from their makeshift barns to the gas chambers and burn their bodies all by himself?  Did he rip the gold teeth from his dead victims for their monetary worth?  Did he take over their homes and their belongings all by himself?   Did he drive the trains full of people to these camps and see that people go in, but they never come out?   Did he convince people all by himself that society would be better off without the mentally/physically handicapped, or the mentally ill, or the weak?   Of course not!  It took hundreds of thousands to put this altogether.  I remember watching a show on the History Channel called "Engineering Evil" which showed the engineers who designed Hitlers efficient death camps.   In some ways these men were even worse than Hitler as they actually did the work of thinking it all out. 

   But let's not stop with the people who were active in this pursuit of racial cleansing.   Let's also include the millions of Germans who sat idly by and did nothing to stop it.   The pastors and teachers who said nothing to call attention to the evil they were taking part in.   The medical doctors and nurses who administered the lethal injections of the "unfit".   The scientists who saw the folly of Euthanasia and Genetic-Cleansing and did not stand up for reason and sanity.  The people in the towns near the death camps who smelled the stench of burning flesh when the wind blew it into their streets and shut their windows to avoid smelling it.    

    A famous Lutheran pastor by the name of Bonhoeffer who did try to stop Hitler wrote:  
                              "Not to speak, IS to speak.  Not to act, IS to act"
    His words show us that those who chose to do nothing are as guilty of these atrocities as those who acted to carry them out.   That by their decision to turn away and pretend it wasn't real, they became an active participant in all of it.  If so, where do these people fall on God's eternal punishment scale?   Don't they deserve hell as well?  But maybe those peoples lives are just a little to close to our own for us to make that call.  For we all know we have done just a awful things as well either in action or in-action.  We were okay with the judgement line, as long as the line was a thousand miles from where we believe we stand.  But now seeing that line to be a lot closer than expected we become uncertain of our own fate. 

   So the question remains:  Do you believe there is a hell?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Can technology defeat Evil?


    I was watching the rerun of the 60-minutes episode on the future of "Driver-less Automobiles"
recently and the horrible thought occurred to me that this might be a terrorists best-friend.  With this invention they could have suicide-bomber-vehicles MINUS the suicide-bomber.   A new age in efficient killing machines could be implemented in which they would no longer have to spend countless months/weeks indoctrinating and convincing poor idiots that they are better off sending themselves off into the next life than living in this one.   Now they would only need to purchase a fleet of Google-Cars,  load them with explosives, program their final destination through a Google-map App and then send them out on their merry way to wherever you need them to go.  New York Madison avenue?   A random government building.   A school.  A county fair.  An airport.  You could even send it into places a normal person would not be able to get into since there is no driver that guards would pull out their guns and shoot to stop.

    Of course some will say, we will figure out a technological solution to these problems.  But all those solutions are meaningless as they disregard an unchangeable truth:  

                                                         EVIL ALWAYS FINDS A WAY!

    And I am not just talking about ISIS levels of evil either. I am also talking about simple day-to-day issues as well. Take for example the issue of texting-while-driving.   I have seen several "solutions" to prevent this from happening, but each solution I see I only see more dangerous ways around the "fix".   One company envisions cars using sound-wave technology from the cars speakers to "locate" where in the car the texting is taking place and if its from the drivers location, it would disable the phone.   Sounds simple doesn't it?  But all the person needs to do to work around the issue is simply hold the phone away from them in the area of the passenger seat thereby fooling the phone into thinking its being used by the passenger.   This not only works around the fix, but now puts the driver in a more dangerous position than before because now his direction is completely off the road and facing the passenger side window.   Some would say, "No one is going to do that!" but they don't understand (or just don't want to admit) how "evil/sinful" we humans can be.

    As for ISIS terrorists they take their evil to all new levels and no "solution" you might propose will fix this problem.   Any software fix will be over-ridden by a hack.   Any method to disable the car will be turned off.   Any detection method will be cloaked.

    Does this mean we should never have driver-less cars?

    My answer is a full 100%  YES.

    In my opinion, there are only 2 forces in our society driving this "driver-less car" (sorry for the pun) technology.

              1) Laziness
              2) Greed

     Most technology is built on these two forces.   We don't want to scrub clothes clean, so we built clothes-washers.   We don't want to chop down trees so we invent chainsaws.  We don't want to look at a map so we get directions from Siri. The list goes on and on.   Now we are too lazy to drive our own cars.   We would rather spend our time reading our Facebook posts or checking out Twitter or texting a family member.   To many, driving is SUCH a hassle.   Yes we could take the train, subway or bus, but those methods are too noisy, too difficult and they are not on OUR schedule and we have to spend too much of our time waiting for them to arrive.   Secondly, greed factors in as companies want to increase their profits.  Many companies find that removing humans from the equation is the fastest way to do that.  Imagine Google teaming up with Uber and how they could supply taxi services without the taxi-drivers.   So long Uber drivers!  You have been replaced with someone who will work for even cheaper than you.  A computer.

    But we have good historical company when it comes to techno-destruction.   Rome was taken
down as well because of their reliance on technology.   Of course it wasn't computers, but it was something just as necessary to them.  Their aqueducts supplied millions of gallons of water every day to a city of over 1 million people.   Those aqueducts were the life-blood of the city and without it they would not last more than a month.  They found this out 537 when the Goths destroyed several key aqueducts leading into Rome and it was only a matter of days for Rome to surrender.  

    Will we learn from their folly?  Probably not.   Greed and Laziness are too tempting to pass up for most people.   We will continue to put our heads in the sand and say that some smart people out there will find a solution to these problems.  Only problem is the other side has equally smart people working on solutions to our solutions and unlike our people, they are not limited by laws or marketing (if a solution makes a product too hard to use we will often discard the solution) like we are.   Their only concern will be how many people they can kill at a single time.

   Maybe we just have to say that technology has its limits and on the balance of good vs evil some advances are just not worth having.