Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Episode 82 Hell's Bells

West Michigan's own Rob Bell has a new book out entitled Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Has Ever Lived. The Doubtcasters take the opportunity to revisit Bell's "theology," and take a look at just what it means, historically, to go to Hell. We also discuss a new study which draws the not-so-new conclusion that Yahweh had a wife.

Also in this episode: Props and Shit List and PolyAtheism goes to Hel.

Watch Rob Bell squirm


Anonymous said...

Your comments at the end of the podcast about Valhalla and Helheim reminded me of this animation:

Anonymous said...

You are incorrect when you say that the secular have fewer children. If you compare countries in Western Europe, the least religious have some of the highest birth rates and the most religious have some of the lowest. Google "Is Secularization Responsible for Lower Birth Rates?" to see some of the numbers.

Keith said...

My impression from the video you posted is that Robb Bell's mission is to sell a screen play.

Like the plot of many movies, especially fantasy movies, Bell's theology crumbles the moment you take a hard look at it.

Furthermore, like the plot of such movies, you aren't *meant* to take a hard look at it, you're supposed to sit back and enjoy the ride. That's precisely the impression I get from Bell's message. He just wants us to get caught up in the warm fuzzy feeling of it.

Bashir asks Bell some very straightforward questions and Bell replies by turning up the warm-fuzzy knob in the hope that Bashir will get swept up in the suspension of disbelief that Bell promotes. It's rather pathetic.

Lausten North said...

Wow Justin, “I looked it up and it turns out my ideas were wrong.” Paraphrased of course, but that was amazing. Not that I take pleasure in your admission, but if more people would do what you did, this whole science vs religion problem would be nearly non-existent.

Not to mention Luke’s pragmatic backing of Rob’s focus on the here and now.

Thanks guys.

Rachel 久允 said...

You mentioned that Christians might be surprised at the presence of morality and "good" behavior among atheists, but I remember the rationalization of this taught by one of my churches growing up (which I obviously no longer attend): any good in the world is there because of God. So, according to this view, the only reason atheists are not only capable of good, but do good, is because of God's hand. . . even though he'll probably send them to Hell.

We're tools!

Mirjiam said...

I've argued with some more well versed Christians before about the concept of hell, and mentioned that 'Satan' and 'hell' (usually referred to as Hades in the translations I've read) are rarely ever mentioned in the new testament.

They tell me this is because the bible chapters that discuss these and other concepts in depth were edited out of the original compilation of the new testament.

I was wondering to what degree this is true, and wanted to know more about where I might be able to find out about these texts banned from the bible. I would like to see for myself where some of these concepts came from.

Anonymous said...

> "They tell me this is because the bible chapters that discuss these and other concepts in depth were edited out of the original compilation of the new testament."

How did they know that? Presumably, they haven't read those edited-out sections of the New Testament (and if they did, they could point you to them). Do they just assume these New Testament books and chapters must've existed because the modern church has concepts of the devil and hell 2,000 years later? It seems like a lot of concepts could creep into the religious worldview that aren't traceable to the original text. (For example, there's plenty of Catholic beliefs that aren't directly traceable to the Bible.) Besides, we see that all the time in other cultures - where old and new religious beliefs get mixed together. Just look at how Christianity has mixed with other native beliefs. For example Santaria is a mixture of Catholicism and Voodoo. Perhaps they would claim that all their beliefs are traceable to lost books of the Bible, even though it's obvious to us that it's just a hybrid of two religions.

Rob said...

I haven't yet read Bell's book. But his theory seems to fit in with teachings.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son tells the story of a son who asked his dad for an early inheritance, wastes it, starves, then returns home to find his father forgiving, welcoming and happy to have him back.

This story, told by Jesus, begs the question of whether a mortal man has greater power to forgive than God. The Lord either has infinite power, or mortal death is a deadline that defeats even His influence.

Not much detail is given regarding the other son, but it can be inferred he followed his father, lived honorably and had a life much better than fighting pigs for slop. And when his father celebrated the return of the wicked son, he was not happy. Sadly, that mimics the reactions of too many Christians.

As for the comment above about who is having babies, Muslims countries have birth rates well above those of "secular" Europe. In fact, Russia, Japan and much of Europe have declining populations.

Take into account the booming Muslim immigration into Western Europe, and the secular birth rate is even lower than reports may indicate.

Anonymous said...


Muslims aren't necessary having children at such high rates for religious reasons, although that is sometimes the case. They often have large families because they lack knowledge about or access to birth control. When Muslims get access to birth control, their family sizes do decrease. Muslim Bangladesh has halved it's birth rate through an aggressive family planning program.

If you compare birth rates of more religious countries to less religious countries in Western Europe, the less religious countries generally have higher birth rates. In the US, the birth rates of the religious and the secular aren't significantly different.

The Is Secularization Responsible for Lower Birth Rates? article does acknowledge that some groups, such as Mormons, Muslims and Orthodox Jews do have larger families. But the point is the connection between birth rates and secularization is overblown. It would be more accurate to say that higher levels of wealth drive down birth rates. This is why Japan and Western Europe are seeing a decline in birth rates. Birth rates in America are only increasing due to higher Hispanic birth rates. But even Hispanics start to have fewer children when they are second and third generation.

I'm not sure if you read Is Secularization Responsible for Lower Birth Rates? The article did say that birth rates have increased in France. The birth rates of natives and immigrants were very similar, so it wasn't that immigrants were driving up the rate. Like in America, recent immigrants tend to have more children. But second and third generations have smaller families. This is generally true for European Muslims as well.

Most people, including the religious, would prefer to have smaller families. This is easier in wealthier countries where people tend to have more access to family planning services.

So, when you compare secular people and religious people in similar demographic groups, there is no real difference in birth rates. If you compare birth rates of Japan and Pakistan, then you are comparing apples and oranges. You can't properly compare such dissimilar groups.

Jon H said...

I don't have much to add, but I do want to say that I've really been loving the addition of Justin Schieber. I love all the doubt casters but it's always nice to hear a fresh voice of reason.

Anonymous said...

> "As for the comment above about who is having babies, Muslims countries have birth rates well above those of "secular" Europe. In fact, Russia, Japan and much of Europe have declining populations. Take into account the booming Muslim immigration into Western Europe, and the secular birth rate is even lower than reports may indicate."

Keep in mind that much of the talk about high muslim birthrates has been pushed by the right-wing media to stir up fear. The Muslim birthrates vary from country to country, and in general, the more educated the muslim, the fewer children they have. Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Palestine have high birthrates. On the other hand, the three largest countries around the middle east have lower birthrates than you'd expect. A replacement birthrate is 2 children per woman.

Iran: 1.71 children born/woman
Egypt: 2.72 children born/woman
Turkey: 1.87 children born/woman

This means these Iran and Turkey also have declining populations. And Egypt has said they want to get their birthrate down to 2.0.

Anonymous said...

another great episode.
As an inactive JW I wanted to challenge a brief comment you made that mormon's and JW's have "6 or 7" children.
I can't speak for Mormons, but I can safely say that this is not accurate for JW's, at least modern JW's anyhow.
In Southern Ontario Canada large families are not common at all, in fact young families are often only 1 or 2 children while more and more couples are remaining without children. I have friends in Germany and I see this same pattern there.
While the odd family may have large numbers of children I think this would be representative of large families within the population in general.
Just something I thought I would share with you