His response:

I’ve personally always found it hard to believe in higher power, or in other people. Part of this might just be my cynical misanthropic self…and the aforementioned pretenders don’t help religion’s case in my mind. Anyways, after thinking about it for a while, and reflecting on the past experiences of my life, I decided that I do believe in God. I don’t pretend to be Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim. I bordered on Agnosticism and Deism for a long time, until I finally did think about it. I usually dismiss most stories in the Bible, as most of them can be explained by coincidence or natural phenomena (The sandbar in the Red Sea for example…) The parts that can’t be explained, I put down to the fact that the events described were passed down orally for hundreds, probably thousands of years before they were written. In this time, it is very likely, even highly probable, that the stories were exaggerated, embellished, and otherwise extrapolated. The religion and God I’ve found myself believing in is quite different from the traditional Abrahamic model. For example, I don’t believe in a Heaven or a Hell, I believe those are just concepts created by the leaders to control the people. I believe that once you’re dead, and the signals stop going back and forth from your brain, that’s it, you’re dead. I also believe that any God worth believing in shouldn’t care whether you pray or worship him.
1. If he’s as omnipotent as he’s supposed to be, couldn’t he make us believe whatever he wanted?
2. If he really does need us to pray and worship, wouldn’t that just be to stroke an already oversized ego, I wouldn’t consider that a quality of a God.
3. If he really wants us to be happy, I doubt he’d care whether we believe in him or not, as long as we’re good people.

Again, this is just what I believe through personal experience and reflection. But above all, what I really believe, is that people should think about the faith they are devoting their lives to. If they can think about it, or prove it is true…that’s what believing should be about, not just blind following; independent thought…In your book, I’m probably going to Hell, but that’s OK. I don’t believe in Hell so I’m not worried. I guess I’m the guy you tried to convince not to jump off the cliff, but again, I’m not. I am not just blindly following the atheism so thickly layered in my environment. I have thought about it, and found it impossible to believe. Maybe you’re right, and I am going to Hell. Maybe I’m just letting my biased distaste for Christianity stop me from following “the path” or whatever you call it. But in my book, I’m the one with the sight. You have been tricked into believing you have sight, and I walk over the edge of the cliff, only to find that it is not a cliff. There is solid ground, and all that is just an illusion used to control and frighten you…

By the way, that really was a nice metaphor…I enjoyed this exchange

Mine:

1. If he’s as omnipotent as he’s supposed to be, couldn’t he make us believe whatever he wanted?

Forced love is basically rape. If you’re forced to believe something or if you’re forced to love someone then that’s not real love at all. By granting us the ability to make up our own minds we’re allowed to choose to love Him based on His love for us.

2. If he really does need us to pray and worship, wouldn’t that just be to stroke an already oversized ego, I wouldn’t consider that a quality of a God.

Imagine that you made a sculpture. You spent hours and hours getting the clay to just the right consistency, then you spent days working on it to make it right and to make it appear just as you had imagined it. You carve your name into it then fire it, then paint it, then back into the kiln to bake the paint. In the end you’ve created a beautiful thing for your own glory. Sure, you could be doing it for someone else as a gift but they’re still going to look at it and say “Wow! What a wonderful job they did on this for me!” – again, you get the glory. Now, imagine that you’re God and you create the whole universe and everything inside it. You take the time on a pale blue dot called Earth to make a perfect place where life can exist – you create all the conditions, enact all the laws of nature at the same time (because if they were put into place separately they would not be controlled by all the other laws that depend on them nor by those that these depend upon) then place everything into its exact place and order. You don’t create every animal but you create every kind of animal knowing that they will, through natural processes which you created, vary in their kinds until they produce different animals. You do the same for plants, birds, fish, etc. Then you create a special creation in your own image. You give it the ability to think, imagine, love, and play. You then give it free will and the ability to do whatever its heart desires. You set all this in motion, all the while knowing that it will fall apart. You could have forced it to act a certain way but you know then you’d never be loved for what you did out of real love and only because you created it TO love you. Even then, you have a plan to fix it and to redeem your creation and you know exactly when and how that’s going to take place and you do so exactly as you promised – 4,400 years prior when you set it in motion.

Do you then not deserve the glory for what you created? After all, you did pretty good on the sculpture. What about if you created the clay from nothing then sculpted that?

3. If he really wants us to be happy, I doubt he’d care whether we believe in him or not, as long as we’re good people.

Here’s where the next part comes into play – justice. If God didn’t care about what we do then He isn’t a just God and therefore unworthy of any praise or worship at all. If God allowed rapists and murderers to go free then He’d be no God at all, would he? The point is that God is SO holy that He sees not only what you do physically but even the intentions of your heart. In the 10 commandments, it says “do not commit adultery” but Jesus says whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. God is so holy and so perfect that He sees the intentions of your heart as if you’ve already committed them. This law is how He judges all people. That includes me, you, and even His own Son who, though He crammed Himself into the body of a baby then grew up with all the same temptations that you or I would have been tempted with, He did NOT sin – not even in thought. In fact, no one has ever been able to meet those requirements other than Jesus Christ and that’s why He had to come and do it for us. His sacrifice was for all who would accept it but He’s not going to force you to do it. Again, that’s not real love if you choose not to accept it. In that acceptance, you need to turn from your sins and ask for forgiveness because your sins against other people are pretty bad but remember that each thing you do against someone to whom you’re related only by blood or proximity means nothing compared to the sins against the God who not only created you but who allows you to continue to keep living today. That make more sense?

Regarding your reference to Hell, that’s totally up to your understanding of Hell. If you ascribe to the Biblical belief on it then Hell is a place where you’ll be in torment for eternity. Honestly, I’d rather be 100% positive on my views about that than anything else – esp it I was so willing to toss it aside.

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(e.g., John 1 or God's love)