Does God judge atheists?


I recieved a mail from somebody who wanted to know where I got the idea that if there is a god he will not pass judgement on me for what I believe. In order to understand my reply, it is important to realise that when I speak of (the hypothetical construct) "god" I'm not talking about the Christian God, with capital G, but a god that is a creator whose nature has to be understood by reasoning and investigating the world.
>Date: Sun, 12 Oct 1997 17:20:06 -0700
>From: Jensen
>To: fbendz
>Subject: ??
>hi,
>i was just skimming through your webpage and have a few
>questions...but i will only bother you with one. i was wondering
>where you got the idea that one won't be judged by god if he does not
>believe the bible. i understand that if you do not believe in the
>bible as truth that you would not believe that anyone would be judged
>at all. but how does it make you exempt from god's judgement? i was
>just curious how or where you got that idea. i must agree with you
>that there are real threats in people like pat robertson and other
>extremists however. he makes a lot of christians look bad. (remember,
>though, that christians struggle with hypocricy sometimes more than
>non christians).
>anyway...
>
>interesting page...
>
>nathan

First, imagine that there is a god, and that his will has not been revealed in the Bible. This is what men such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine believed; they even believed that Jesus was a man of the highest moral character, even though they did not believe that he was a messanger from god. Anyway, Thomas Paine wrote a lengthy text in his book The Age of Reason where he expressed his belief about the idea of Satan and summarised it with the following words:

"Putting aside everything that might excite laughter by its absurdity, or detestation by its profaneness, and confining ourselves merely an examination of the parts, it is impossible to concieve a story more derogatory to the Allmighty, more inconsistent with his wisdom, more contrary to his power, than this story is." (Note that I had not read The Age of Reason when I wrote the text you are commenting.)
I simply cannot concieve of a omnipotent, omnibenevolent god who tortures anybody for eternity just because their minds are set up by him in a way that they cannot believe in the stories they are told. Wouldn't this god prefer that we used our brains he had given us? Wouldn't he then prefer that we don't believe he exists if that is what our reason tells us? Wouldn't he rather put those in hell who lie to themselves and to others because it makes them feel good?

I suppose you believe in the Bible as the inspired word of God. In that case the following lines should make you see that even the Bible does not condemn people just for lacking the belief that the Bible is the word of God:

  • Rom 2:15 "Which show the work of the law, written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusingor else excusing one another."
  • Luke 12:48 "But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: "
  • John 12:47 "And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for i came not to judge the world, but to save the world."
I'm sure you can find some passages that contradict these, but then again, who said the Bible didn't contain any contradictions? (That's one of my reasons not to believe in the Bible.)

Sincerely,
/Fredrik Bendz


I was allowed to add this to my homepage on the condition that I posted his reply. So here it is with a few notes from me.

first of all, i never believed that Franklin, Jefferson, or Paine were true christians...humanists and pantheists at the most. (i dont know if that is what you were implying, but i mentioned it anyway)

Fredrik: I never said you did. I did not mean to imply that you believed anything about these people, only to explain the basis for Paine's quote. Their faith is called Deism, by the way

second...god judges people based upon what they have heard in their lifetime about jesus. mentally disabled people and young children who die, I believe, are judged on a different standard than those of us who have the mental capability to believe jesus' teachings. the bible says that (paraphrased) all one needs to believe is a faith the size of a mustard seed. god does not create people without the ability to have that much faith.

Fredrik: I do lack the "capability to believe jesus' teachings". Reason tells me that the Bible is a collection of ancient myths comparable to the Iliad and the Odyssey. Additionally I can't see why faith would be so important to god. Wouldn't it be more rational to judge people for what they do than what they think?

third...the verses you quoted were interesting. i realize that you have taken them out of context, however. a book that is translated from the greek or aramaic cannot be translated, (as in any other language), word for word and therefore must be translated as closely as one can to the original wording without compromising the clear intent of the original manuscripts. you cannot take one verse of the bible and live by it without realizing what the intent of the author was by reading the context from which it is in. read the whole paragraph, at least.

Fredrik: These quotes were given to me by a pentecoastalist who said they were Biblical support of heir belief that God (JHWH, that is) does not condemn people for being atheists. I explicitly asked her if they were not taken out of context, but she did not think so.

Rom 2:15...this verse is describing the difference between "the law that is written on their hearts" and their conscience. it says (NIV) " Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their conscences also bearing witness, and thier thoughts now accusing, now even defending them." the law is what god has set in the hearts of all men, the natural knowing of what is right and what is wrong. the conscience is a person's personal feelings about something. their conscience may conflict with the law (morality) or it may be concurrent with the law. in the later case, excusing them and in the former, accusing.

Luke 12:48...he that is not given as much, god does not expect as much...but he still expects...
luke is talking about obedience to him, not faith in him. (the passage is about obedient servants versus disobedient servants)

John 12:47... the context of the paragraph clearly shows that jesus is comparing his characteristics with the Father's characteristics. Jesus did no come to judge the world. his purpose in coming to earth was to save everyone via his death.

Fredrik: The following scenario should be completely compatible with the Bible - With Jesus came a new alliance with God. In this alliance the judgeing god is replaced by the forgiving Jesus and it is this that separates Christianity from Judaism. Thus Jesus saves christians but does not condemn atheists. Because of the trinity, Jesus is God and hence god does not condemn unbelievers.

i do not believe that these verses are "contradictions" as you state.

Fredrik: What I ment was that it is possible to find other biblical quotes to contradict the ones I presented.


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