If people are good only because they fear punishment,
and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot Indeed.
Albert Einstein


I've just about decided that the most desirable part of retirement is having lots of time to think.

Okay, I hear that snicker.

You're thinking that if that's all Fog has to look forward to, he must be leading a pretty dull life out there on that sand dune with his cat.

Not really. In fact, for the first time I've been able to really think about things. 

Until recently—probably like just about everybody else — I spent almost all my waking hours thinking about 

    things I had to do

    things I didn't want to do, but should do

    things I would like to do

    things I was either afraid of doing or incapable of doing, and 

    things I regretted doing

Since my parents were pretty big on guilt, the latter was often on my mind.

I'm not sure I can blame them; they got it from preachers who regularly talked about sin, sinners...and hell...

...the forever and for ever fire and brimstone hell.

When you get to be my age you think about things like that.

Then I really got to thinking.

Not only is an eternal punishment inconsistent with a loving God, but the whole hell idea just doesn't make sense.

If God wants and demands our obedience, why did He intentionally devise a system in which "few are chosen."  (That's somewhere in the Bible I've repeatedly been told.)

Assuming He is all-knowing, then He would have known from the beginning how things would turn out.... 

....unless he gets his kicks from seeing most of us fall on our faces...

...and then, as a result, He could subject us to a eternal fire-and-brimstone punishment.

Sounds more like a description of a Satan to me.

There's also this...

If being obedient was so essential, why did He make it possible NOT to be obedient?

...even allowing a being to exist (Satan) whose entire purpose is to exert his considerable influence to try to keep us from being obedient.

Do we assume that God is powerless to contain Satan until after he's really screwed things up for most of us?

Oh, we're supposed to prove our love for God, you say?

Okay, consider this scenario:

You have three children you dearly love. 

They want to go on a hazardous journey. 

Or maybe you decide to send them on a hazardous journey.

But, you know for certain that a very terrible, tortuous fate will befall two of them.

And you have the power to stop or disallow this tragedy.

Do you let them go?

I didn't think so.