The subject came up the other day of whether angels could sin. Some pointed out that one angel in particular, Lucifer, sinned. After he sinned he talked a third of the host to sin with him. But what about the angels still doing Angel duty? Do they sin as humans do? Are they held to the same standard? If they can't sin, then there is nothing commendable about their nature. If they simply don't sin, we could respect them more for avoiding temptation. Many of my Christian friends are fond of pointing out the bible verse that states "ALL" (emphasis mine) "have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

I have a problem with that logic. If ALL have sinned that would include new born babies that have taken less than half a breath of life. That would include aborted babies who had not made a full trimester of life. If that were true, it would mean that an all knowing God created us imperfectly. If that were so, if we are inherently "bad" then why would God hold it against us? Anyone who has ever worked with animals would surely be aware that some are better suited than others for certain jobs. A dog may be a natural at "therapy" behaviors, or a herding cattle, or at sniffing trails. We don't fault the dogs who don't do as well. They aren't "bad." So why would a God, infinitely more kind, more compassionate, more intelligent than us – decide we need to be tortured in hell forever because of our nature?

I find it disturbing to believe that God would set up a situation where the only door out is the simple phrase "Jesus Christ is my personal savior." That would mean that people unable to speak were damned to eternal torment. That would mean all the people who lived and died before Christ was born had no chance. Or worse, may be their sins were not held against them because they had no out, in which case the birth of Christ was the worst thing that ever happened on humanity. That doesn't seem logical. As a research oriented person I follow the basic premise that if you hear hoof beats, you don't look for zebras, meaning the most logical explanation is best. The most farfetched, illogical, most contorted explanation is worst.

So what's logical? It's logical that if you have a society of people you want them to behave. No society can last long if it values murder and theft and fighting. The infrastructure would quickly break down and everyone would die. So the smartest people around come up with religion. How can you get people to believe it? Offer them something. In the earliest most primitive religions the goal is usually to appease Gods in order to receive abundant harvests, or animals to hunt or fertility. Living with nature was usually preferable to living against it. But what if you can't guarantee the fine harvest? Having a prize in the afterlife is way easier to promise because no one can come back and refute your claims.

But wait, according to the Christians one person did come back, Christ! Problem solved. Now a religion has been established with much promise. If only people will straighten up and live right they can enjoy "heaven." Why secular depictions of heaven include clouds and angels isn't quite clear. The bible doesn't describe it that way. In the bible, heaven is apparently all about worshiping God. That may not appeal to your average fun loving type. I suspect that's the real reason for hell. If you can entice half the people with promises of eternal salvation you can frighten the other half with threats of eternal damnation.

Is it easier to believe that hell was created to frighten people into towing the line, or to believe the bible is a divinely created Book, every word of which is absolutely true? Let's try for one moment to believe the bible was written by God and not man. Then why does it contradict itself? Why does it say that no one can see God, that no one HAS seen God, if Moses saw God? Or why does it say women should be silent in church and then instruct them to pray with their heads covered? Are they praying silently? Why would it claim the earth began with Adam and Eve if there is so much scientific evidence to the contrary? Isn't it easier to just admit the bible was written by men about God, and not by God for men?

If the bible were the only word of God, why on earth would there be so many splinter groups of Christianity? It would seem if the thing were absolutely true, that a perfect God could have made it easy enough to understand. Why would wars be fought, and people killed, and so much sorrow and tragedy have come of something ordained by God. Wouldn't it be more logical that if God had invented a religion it would be a religion that sustained people, gifted them with compassion and a peaceful mind? Japanese Shinto, comes to mind as religion that did not cause Crusaders to pillage and kill.

The ironic thing is the vast number of books that are published every month claiming to "explain" the bible. Nice books, by Christian authors who promise if you will just follow their instructions the bible will come clear and be perfectly simple to understand. My friend who recently started a hobby of bible study, said while the book had never made sense to him as a kid everything was perfectly clear to him now. Needless to say his interpretations did not match any of the mainstream Christian religions. They remain his personal revelations.

Martin Zender, whose book I read recently postulated the Bible is purposely confusing to separate the sheep from the goats. The earnest seeker he explained, would be rewarded by seeing what Mr. Zender uncovered. He wrote a convincing book on how "hell" as most churches define it, is not in the bible. I like that.