Saturday, May 14, 2016


Here's an interesting and fun challenge for all my friends. If you're a religious person, it's probably a critical issue in your mind. If you are an atheist, it still remains an interesting intellectual exercise and a great insight into your view of the nature of the reality and justice.

The challenge is, assuming there is an afterlife, what would be the nature of hell? For the sake of limiting the discussion, let's assume that God is both just and loving.  If any of my atheist friends simply can't imagine there being a God, then imagine the singularity has arrived. There is now a God. It is the great over consciousness created in the unity of all organic and silicon sapience.  So eternal life has been created and Techno God has to decide what to do with all the subconsciousnesses; like, say, a contemporary Hitler.

This has been an important issue for me for a very long time. Even as a child I could not understand what loving God could possibly maintain a private torture chamber just to amuse Himself punishing those that didn't obey.  On the other hand, as indicated in the website A Puritans Mind, many take quite a different attitude, "That the torments of the damned are no matter of grief, but of joy, to the inhabitants of heaven..."

So, according to some, not only are the unspeakable horrific torments of the damned well-deserved, we are all going to sit around in heaven (I guess eating popcorn and having a great time) watching the screaming victims as they suffer horrible, unspeakable torture.  Sorry, I mean evil bad people who deserve everything they get suffering horrible, unspeakable torture.  

Sorry, but I never could believe that, not even when I was a little kid in Sunday school. Somehow it just doesn't fit in with my concept of "a loving God".   Points out that;
>  an alternative doctrine, known as “annihilationism” or “conditional immortality,” which holds that, after death, sinners simply cease to exist, while those who are saved enjoy eternal life under God’s grace. Although it’s not a positive outcome for the wicked—in fact, it amounts to spiritual capital punishment—it’s deemed a far more merciful and just fate than an eternity of torture.  <   

The article also points out that while today many traditionalists insist that their position is the only acceptable one, the fact is that early Christianity had many differing opinions on the nature of hell.

>   Origen Adamantius, a third-century theologian, believed the wicked were punished after death, but only long enough for their souls to repent and be restored to their original state of purity. This doctrine, known as universalism, envisioned that everyone—including Satan—would eventually be redeemed and reunited with God.  <   

Augustine, the oh so sexually obscessed and oh so very creepy father of much of modern Christian belief, was the one who insisted that hell had to be  eternal and horrific and unspeakable and all the other awful things that so many loving Christians believe it must be today.  Although he is widely revered, I think he is about the least reliable internal source for Christian theology.

So, if you were God, what would you do about bad people who have done bad things? Would you just wipe out everybody's memory and send them to heaven? Would you have them suffer only enough to cleanse themselves of their sins, making hell into an upgraded version of Catholic purgatory? What would be just and loving?

Depending on your religion you might want to be careful about responding to this. As the National Geographic article pointed out by quoting one minister, some churches are not very tolerant of differing opinions.
>  “We have a very fear-driven evangelical culture where if you don't toe the line, you get kind of shunned,” says Sprinkle. “It's really kind of scary.”  <   

As for me, I long ago lost my belief in an afterlife. Some have asked me how I can still be a believer because they say that eternal salvation is the only reason to believe.  I say that's ridiculous. Believing in God is not a business deal where we have a contract and He gives me eternal life in response to my believing in Him.  I believe in God because I know God. No deal or special arrangement is required.

Yet, somehow I still have that all so human desire for justice. The question remains an intriguing one. It relates to how one conceives of the very idea of justice. If you were God, what would you do?

My answer is that I would be sure that everyone saw themselves as they really were. No more delusions. No more self-justification. No more excuses. Here you are. This is the real you. That could be a real hell for many people.


Since I don't believe God wants to torment people forever I believe He would help people to come to terms with what they once were and try to guide them into being repentant and to making what amends are possible. If some people were truly so horrible they could not stand their own existence, I believe He would permit them to commit a sort of soul suicide so they would simply cease to exist.

That's what I'd do.

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