• andrewk
    1.6k
    Threads discussing the existence of Hell, as advocated by some branches of some religions, and some religious texts, will be merged into this thread.

    God and Hell
    I’ve been thinking that hell is incompatible with the existence of the Judeo-Christian God. I’m open to being wrong and am looking forward to your objections.

    My first argument has to do with God’s quality of being love/loving and his creating hell. Many Christians understand God’s creating humans and sending His son Jesus to die for our sins as acts of munificent love. 1 John 4:8 says God is love. But there’s also hell, and I think God being loving and creating hell are at odds with each other. I’m taking hell to be what most Christians believe in, the hell that is contains the “lake of fire”, where non-Christians go to suffer forever. Here’s my argument in a more regimented form:

    1- If God is all-loving, He would not have created hell

    2- He did create hell

    3- Therefore, he must not be all-loving (1,2 MT)

    Obviously, if you don’t believe in God or hell this won’t be of interest to you. I’m more interested in seeing someone square the commonly-understood concept of hell with the loving character of the Judeo-Christian God. Thanks everyone!
    Empedocles
  • Jake
    838
    I’ve been thinking that hell is incompatible with the existence of the Judeo-Christian God. I’m open to being wrong and am looking forward to your objections.Empedocles

    It may help to consider that hell can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Bible writers were attempting to teach profound topics to masses of largely uneducated simple people. I suspect stories were often used to engage an audience and reach them on their level, without perhaps meaning to describe literal facts. Heaven and hell may be descriptions of psychological states, and not references to literal locations.

    I think what often happens in religion is that somebody with a rare talent will have a deep insight, and then once the message is passed on to folks of more ordinary ability the message gets downgraded in to memorized chanted concepts that become a dogma.

    We might remember that religion is not science, but is better compared to art. A play on the stage, a painting, a novel can all be interpreted in a variety of ways, and that's what makes them rich and interesting.
  • Sam26
    1.2k
    I think of it just a bit differently. If God is supposedly omniscient, and he knew what choices you would make before he created you, why would he create you knowing you would end up in hell? That for me, makes God immoral. And the tired free will argument doesn't work if this is true, because he knew what choices you would freely make, and those choices would lead to hell.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    If God is supposedly omniscient, and he knew what choices you would make before he created you, why would he create you knowing you would end up in hell? That for me, makes God immoral.Sam26

    Knowledge entails truth, correct? If God knows that you will end up in hell then you will end up in hell. It doesn't make sense to suggest that God can choose not to create you as that would invalidate his prior knowledge. There's a conflict between God being omniscient and God having the freedom to change the outcome (so it's a type of omnipotence paradox).
  • Galuchat
    482
    1 John 4:8 says God is love. But there’s also hell, and I think God being loving and creating hell are at odds with each other. — Empedocles

    The Koine Greek word rendered "love" here is agape (self-sacrifice), not philos (affection) or eros (romantic/sexual desire).

    Using a concordance and/or lexicon, it is instructive to note the subject, object, and context for each occurence of these terms.

    In short, the occupants of hell (Koine Greek, geenna) are not the objects of God's affection.
  • Michael Ossipoff
    1.5k


    That would be a good question to ask Biblical LIteralists next time they knock on your door.

    But this is a philosophy-forum. The notion of Hell as the result of a judicial decision is simplistic anthropomorphic Biblical Literalism.

    So is the belief in omnipotence--evidently shared by Atheists and other Biblical-Literalists

    Why do you so firmly and unshakably believe in a judicial decision that sentences people to Hell?

    ...and in God's power to make all of us in such a way that none of us will ensnarl ourselves in things that we later might not like?

    In fact, the notion of "Creation" is, itself, anthropomorphic. No one is more Biblical-Literalist or Fundamentalist than an Atheist.

    Should we believe in God's omnipotence to make custom-made worlds and people to order? And-- while we're at it--to contravene logic, and make a statement be able to be both true and false, and to make two contradictory true propositions or facts?

    Michael Ossipoff
  • tim wood
    1.3k
    No one is more Biblical-Literalist or Fundamentalist than an Atheist.Michael Ossipoff
    :up: :cheer:
  • Jake
    838
    I’ve been thinking that hell is incompatible with the existence of the Judeo-Christian God.Empedocles

    Nothing would be incompatible, illogical or impossible etc. with a being of infinite ability.
  • tim wood
    1.3k
    I’ve been thinking that hell is incompatible with the existence of the Judeo-Christian God.
    — Empedocles

    Nothing would be incompatible, illogical or impossible etc. with a being of infinite ability.
    Jake

    Christians generally do not believe in a God of infinite ability, in your sense. As to hell, there's very little in the bible on the subject.
  • Sam26
    1.2k
    I have no idea what you're talking about. If you're trying to tell me that God's knowledge necessitates events, I disagree. Knowing that some event will happen, doesn't necessitate the event. We know that from our own knowledge.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.2k
    Knowing that some event will happen, doesn't necessitate the event. We know that from our own knowledge.Sam26

    So you're saying god can be wrong, right?
  • Michael
    7.4k
    I have no idea what you're talking about. If you're trying to tell me that God's knowledge necessitates events, I disagree. Knowing that some event will happen, doesn't necessitate the event. We know that from our own knowledge.Sam26

    How can you know that something will happen if that thing won't happen? It doesn't make sense to know that X is true and for X to be false.
  • Marcus de Brun
    450
    God and Hell?

    Completely compatible, and entirely deserving of each other.

    M
  • Sam26
    1.2k
    So you're saying god can be wrong, right?VagabondSpectre

    Well, first, I don't believe in the religious idea of God. However, if we assume there is a God that is omniscient in the Christian sense, i.e., that this being knows all that can be known (just a basic definition), then what we mean by know has to be in some way related to the concepts we're using. Second, I'm not sure that an omniscient being would arrive at knowledge in the same way we do, or that you could even say it's knowledge in the sense we mean. However, let's assume that it's possible that there is a being that's omniscient in the way many Christians believe for the purpose of this discussion.

    I said was that knowledge of a future event doesn't necessitate the event. We know this from our own understanding of knowledge. For example, "I know the sun will rise tomorrow, but my knowing this doesn't cause the sun to rise tomorrow." So there is no causal link, as some might think.

    My only point is that if God knows before he creates you, that you will make choices that necessitate being sent to hell, why would he create you? Why even bother to create a being that will spend eternity in hell? I can't make any sense of a God like this.

    I further stated that the free will argument doesn't defend against my argument, because your free will is taken into account by God. For instance, if God is omniscient, then before he created you, he would know that you would exercise your free will with the kinds of choices that would send you to hell. This is not a loving being in my mind, it's a being that people have created in their own minds.

    Finally, the Christian idea of God, makes God responsible for evil. For example, if I created a robot with a free will knowing that robot would kill millions of people, then I would be responsible for the evil. This is why I think that the God of the Christians is ultimately evil, given the way they define God. It's not a loving being at all, it's a being that you should despise. I don't think such a being exists. If there is a God, then this God doesn't have the attributes Christians assign to him/her.
  • Sam26
    1.2k
    How can you know that something will happen if that thing won't happen? It doesn't make sense to know that X is true and for X to be false.Michael

    I never said any such thing, that's your interpretation of what I said.
  • Sam26
    1.2k
    Completely compatible, and entirely deserving of each other.Marcus de Brun

    It's utter nonsense.
  • Jake
    838
    Christians generally do not believe in a God of infinite abilitytim wood

    Ok, what is it that limits God's ability?

    In any case the point stands. Trying to analyze some intelligence so large that it can create galaxies with something so small as human reason can be a fun game, but that's all it is. It's a fool's errand if we take it seriously.
  • tim wood
    1.3k
    Ok, what is it that limits God's ability?

    In any case the point stands. Trying to analyze some intelligence so large that it can create galaxies with something so small as human reason can be a fun game, but that's all it is. It's a fool's errand if we take it seriously.
    Jake

    The problem isn't with God; rather it is with competing ideas about God: the perfect God v. the omnipotent God. This distinction is captured in scholastic realism v. nominalism. It 's useful, imo, to keep two things in mind - there may be more than two, but at least these two: any thought of God is really thought about ideas of God, and, the last sentence of your post. Unfortunately, an astonishing number of people have been killed because they, or someone, did take it all too seriously.
  • Rank Amateur
    560
    In any case the point stands. Trying to analyze some intelligence so large that it can create galaxies with something so small as human reason can be a fun game, but that's all it is. It's a fool's errand if we take it seriously.Jake

    I agree - all such matters are theology not philosophy. IMO the only real philosophical discussion should be " is theism in conflict with fact or reason". If it is not, than there is no philosophic argument against any faith based belief.

    “Reason is in fact the path to faith, and faith takes over when reason can say no more.” Thomas Merton
  • Waya
    900
    Is God only love? What is love? And, what is hell?
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.2k
    My only point is that if God knows before he creates you, that you will make choices that necessitate being sent to hell, why would he create you? Why even bother to create a being that will spend eternity in hell? I can't make any sense of a God like this.Sam26

    I can't make sense of it either (unless God is a sadist)...

    Finally, the Christian idea of God, makes God responsible for evil. For example, if I created a robot with a free will knowing that robot would kill millions of people, then I would be responsible for the evil. This is why I think that the God of the Christians is ultimately evil, given the way they define God. It's not a loving being at all, it's a being that you should despise. I don't think such a being exists. If there is a God, then this God doesn't have the attributes Christians assign to him/her.Sam26

    :cheer:

    I don't believe in any notion of god, and for the reasons you've mentioned an omniscient and omnipotent god would be downright despicable (let alone paradoxical).

    Hell is one of the absolute most intellectually/morally retarded concepts mankind has ever bandied.
  • Empedocles
    31
    That's definitely an option to solve the conflict I'm seeing. I was hoping to see what a more "literalist"/mainstream response might be instead of redefining religion, heaven, hell, etc...but you take is definitely interesting!
  • Empedocles
    31
    I agree, God's omniscience is another trouble spot for me. I'll probably post more on that soon
  • Empedocles
    31
    Couldn't God have the true knowledge in conditional form, "if I create x, they will go to hell", and in that way he could choose not to create x and not "violate his prior knowledge"?
  • Empedocles
    31
    That's interesting. So would humans just become loved by God once they become Christians? What about when John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world"? That's just one other verse, but it seems to me to point to God loving all people, before they could be Christians.
  • Empedocles
    31
    I'm not sure that God is a being of infinite ability. Is he able to sin? Can he make a stone so big He can't lift it? And isn't He limited by His promises (to never wipe out mankind again, to send His son to die as a sacrifice for mankind, etc...)? Can he make squared-circles, or both exist and not exist? All this seems to me to limit God and leave Him still vulnerable to paradoxes/conflicts.
  • Empedocles
    31
    I mean all those terms in the way we usually mean them. Of course God has more qualities than being loving. If you're interested in learning more about what love is, perhaps read through this entry: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/love/ . And for hell, I mean a place of eternal torment where people's souls go if they never became Christians.
  • Jake
    838
    I'm not sure that God is a being of infinite ability. Is he able to sin? Can he make a stone so big He can't lift it? And isn't He limited by His promises (to never wipe out mankind again, to send His son to die as a sacrifice for mankind, etc...)? Can he make squared-circles, or both exist and not exist? All this seems to me to limit God and leave Him still vulnerable to paradoxes/conflicts.Empedocles

    You're proposing that a God, should one exist, would be bound by the rules of human reason. Human reason is the poorly implemented ability of a single half insane species on one planet in one of billions of galaxies. You're essentially proposing human reason to be a god of sorts, a factor above all else.

    The descriptor "supernatural" means "above nature". Above the laws of nature. Above human beings. Above whatever rules human beings create. Above everything everywhere.

    Such an illogical insistence that gods would be subservient to the rules of human reason is a very common problem which plagues most discussions of gods.
  • Waya
    900
    I mean all those terms in the way we usually mean them. Of course God has more qualities than being loving. If you're interested in learning more about what love is, perhaps read through this entry: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/love/ . And for hell, I mean a place of eternal torment where people's souls go if they never became Christians.Empedocles

    I was asking for your definition. I know my definition roughly, although I am yet exploring it. :)
    If God is also holy, that would mean that He is set apart. If He is just, then He has a law that He adheres to. Hence, Hell is really not a result of the absence of love. Love is not always getting whatever we what.
    As for being sent to hell for never becoming Christians, what does being a Christian mean to you? Is it strict adherence to the Ten Commandments? Believing in the existence of God? or something else?
  • Wayfarer
    6.9k
    The ‘doctrine of evil as privation of the good’ says that sinners are not punished except for by having refused salvation. Evil itself is the mere absence of the good and has no more real being than holes or shadows. So according to this doctrine, sinners are no more punished than those who are thirsty and refuse water are ‘punished’ by thirst.
  • Michael
    7.4k
    Couldn't God have the true knowledge in conditional form, "if I create x, they will go to hell", and in that way he could choose not to create x and not "violate his prior knowledge"?Empedocles

    If he's omniscient he should also know which of "I will create X" and "I will not create X" is true.
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