Ok I've thought about doing this thread for a while and after seeing a bit of the chat in-game today I decided to go ahead. I've noticed that every once in a while the topic of the Bible and Christianity comes up, with typically negative feelings being expressed. I would like to start an intelligent discussion, not a flame war, about what we all think is good/bad about the Bible, Christianity, and other religions. Today's concerns were that the Bible is a book of hate, that it is impossible to perform perfect Biblical behavior, and that no good God would punish anyone eternally. -Book of hate - I can understand why this would be said when one is reading the Old Testament (OT). It is hard to accept that God would tell any one person to declare war on and completely eradicate another sovereign nation of people, including their women and children. It becomes apparent upon reading that many of the ancient Israelites felt similarly; on many occasions they failed to kill the women, or even entire populations, and backed down entirely from peoples who specifically surrendered or asked for mercy. They often stayed their hand if someone helped them, as in the case of Rahab. The reason given in the Bible for such a command from God was that He wanted the Israelites to control that particular land, within those particular boundaries, and wanted them to remain unaffected by the syncretism inevitable in allowing the other nations to remain nearby. Note that the command was not to conquer the entire earth through genocide, but to gain and protect that one land. The only reason given why they should follow His command was essentially "I am your Father, and this is what I want for you." This, as with many other points in the Bible is a 'take it or leave it' kind of thing. ie: if you can't accept it, no one can make you. It is however a Christians duty to try and convince others in a civil, intelligent manner. In the New Testament you see not the command to war and claim land, but one to love everyone, give to those who do not deserve relief, who cannot repay you, and to do your best to live up to Christ's teachings, not to fear every moment whether you've fully succeeded. Impossible to do everything said in the Bible- I like this comment because its actually Biblically accurate! The laws of the OT were given to Israel precisely to prove that (accepting that these laws are needful to be followed to please God and sustain life) no man can actually keep them all. The point of Christ's coming was to fulfill those laws through a greater sacrifice and remove the need for us to try to do things we can never accomplish. One thing we can do as humans though is to believe something and hold on to it with all our thoughts, emotions and strength, and share it with others. That's all Jesus asked for. Eternal Hell- this one is tough for anyone to get. If He is all powerful, why can't he make us good enough to be with him? Or why would He set us up to do things that are just going to get us killed or punished? How can a God of love sentence someone to eternal suffering? The theological answer is that God is pure and holy. His mere presence causes the burning destruction of anything less than holy, hence His apparent invisibility to a sinful world. The soul is an eternal component of being. Thus by His very nature any impure soul must be destroyed and cast away from His presence, or else His nature would have to become less than pure, which would violate the law of non-contradiction (ie: the Pure God is impure). If God and the soul are both eternal, then one who has made itself impure in life can never join a pure God in second life. The less theological answer, and perhaps no less satisfying to the skeptical mind, is that God is the author of everything, giving each being its place in the story, yet with their own free will to take that place, and as such He gets to decide where everyone ends up, just like the author of a book, whose characters cannot argue with his decisions. Well I hope this is interesting to someone, and I look forward to reading civil replies. Maybe we can all understand a little more!