God is all that there is and all that there ever will be. He was around before time itself, around even before existence existed. With intention, God created the universe and all the things in it, including us. He has a plan for every galaxy and every star, every human, every tree, rock and flea. Sometimes this concept may not make sense to us, but we just have to remember that there is a place for everything in God’s great plan.
If this is the case, as many religious people claim, then why does prayer exist and why is it even encouraged by the church? If God has an ultimate plan that covers everything from the beginning of time to the end of the universe, then what is the rationale behind prayer? Furthermore, wouldn’t it be viewed as selfish, even sinful, to ask God to change His plan just because it doesn’t jive with your plan? God should know what He’s doing. After all, he is supposedly the creator of well, everything, so praying to him to ask for modifications just so your team can win the Super Bowl seems to contradict the idea that we should submit to God’s will.
Jay Grafft is a third-year communication major.
A fundamental feature of religion is its supernatural claims of deities and magic, which fundamentally contradict all accumulated human knowledge, both from a priori (i.e. mathematical, logical sense) and a posteriori (i.e. methodologies in natural, social, applied sciences, etc.) reasoning. Religious claims have not proved reliably accurate, predictive or consistent through rigorous testing and often collapse under cursory investigation.
Religious declarations that have not been explicitly disproved have simply not been tested yet due to scarcity of contradictory evidence or technological limits. It is in this unknown territory that theistic claims flourish, as they are impervious to certainty. To be fair, this uncertainty goes both ways — there is no sensible reason to believe such claims are undoubtedly true without sufficient proof.
While supernatural belief is not unique to religion, it often provides compelling rationalizations and social pressure to bolster religious claims. Unfortunately, the value in scientific methods is not intuitive, while the tendency to believe in the supernatural is supported by evolved cognitive mechanisms which religious institutions take full advantage of.
David Sanos is a fourth-year psychology major.
To me, the notion of hell in its entirety should raise a few questions about the existence of God. One of the scriptures I found discussing hell — chosen for its brevity — reads, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the Earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace,” (Daniel 12:2).
For evangelical purposes, the ‘some’ are practicing Christians and the ‘others’ are those that commit sins like writing atheist columns, for one. But hell, like its dichotomous partner heaven, is the product of a belief system created by people to govern society. People naturally understand things as dichotomies or opposing points on a spectrum. Thus you can see how it was useful to polarize an ever-loving and all-powerful deity with some pointy-tailed jerk downstairs. In sum, God is Bugs Bunny to the Devil’s Daffy.
This, however, is basically where it all stops making sense. Depending on the teller, Lucifer will either trade souls for guitar lessons or plunge you into a sea of flames. He is always posed as God’s nemesis, tempting the Almighty’s poor little lambs, yet his threat of eternal suffering seems like it could be a huge favor to the man upstairs. If old Lucifer was really opposed to God, he should be happy to know people have things in common with him, maybe he would even want to share a drink with you on your way to his eternal orgy.
Travis Vail is a fourth-year communication major.