Yesterday's garbled foray into science and atheism yielded a bountiful harvest of intelligent and well-reasoned comments. It will take me a while to digest these without awakening my polemicist side*, but this I shall endeavor to do. First off, I want to deal with an issue that comes up frequently when I interact with atheists and that is sin and Hell. Here it is summed up from a comment from that last post.
To say that we should instead be driven to goodness out of fear of divine retribution is as laughably ridiculous as it is tragically sad.The most devout Christians I know are not running away from Hell, they are running towards Christ. My wife volunteers at hospice as does a family friend of ours. The evangelicals at Pt. Loma Nazarene host the annual San Diego Special Olympics. I volunteer to coach kids' sports. We don't do this because we're afraid of some kind of eternal damnation, but because we're trying to be more Christ-like in our lives.
This is not one of my worries.
Similarly, the sacrament of Confession is less about avoiding the fires of Hell and more about learning from your mistakes and trying to become more loving in your life. I can't remember the last time one of my confessions wasn't used as an object lesson by the priest to become more loving in the things I do.
Striving to be more like Christ is the essence of Christianity. Yes, there is such a thing as sin and Hell, but that concerns me less than where I am on the road to living my life in a Christian way.
* - My repeated battles with my polemicist nature come not from the fact that screaming at people is a sin, but instead from the fact that it is an unloving thing to do.