Hell

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  • TheHedoMinimalist
    47

    Well, I don't think there is any empirical evidence for any deities existing. As far as non-empirical evidence goes, at best you could speculate that there might be something that can remotely be called a deity in the universe. There's no reason to suppose that the Christian God has to be the specific God that created the universe. There's nearly an infinite number of potential Gods that could exist and it's not clear why people should assume that the Christian God is the one true God. That's usually the argument I make for my Christian friends but they don't believe that argument. And, they often try to convince me to be a Christian because of their concerns so it's not like I can just agree to disagree with them. I have to alleviate their concerns however I can. Most Christians would refuse to believe that there is an evil and sadistic God that sends people to Hell. That's because some Christians believe in Christianity because it's what they want to believe, not necessarily because fundamentalist Christianity has credible evidence:
  • Athena
    106


    Well, I think I agree with what you said, up to- us having a notion of what a leader can do, and arguing that point would make this a political thread far from a metaphysical one. But in keeping with the subject of hell, I can say, in a short 200 years the US has swung for believing we are creating heaven on earth to believing we are in the last days. Obviously, something has gone very wrong and I think the problem began with education for a technological society with unknown values. Now we no longer understand what is necessary to have heaven on earth and we have hell on earth. That hell is going to get much worse if we do not take immediate and drastic steps to change that. Believing the problem is Satan and not ourselves is a serious problem! Believing our reality is caused by a God or a Satan, instead of our own decisions is a huge mistake but we allowed the wrong people to take control of education when the 1958 National Defense Education Act was passed, and we stopped transmitting our culture and left moral training to the church.

    Perhaps I should check, why are we talking about hell? Is this supposed to be a metaphysical discussion or about reality that is materially manifested?
  • Athena
    106


    For a long time in Christianity, it was assumed only a handful of people were the chosen people who would experience heaven. Like the Egyptians may have thought only the pharaoh and those directly associated with him would experience a good afterlife. But as Eygpt gained wealth, more and more expected to enjoy a good afterlife. Same with Christians. The fuller their bellies got and the more secure they became, the wider the gates to heaven got until heaven could include all deserving souls.

    Isis was the bread and water long before Jesus was the bread and wine. The Egyptian test for getting into the good afterlife was measuring a person's heart and if the heart was heavier than a feather, indicating a person lived a bad life, this person was not allowed into the good afterlife.
  • BrianW
    481


    I think for most people the turn of this millennium was supposed to mark the end of the old world order in more than one way. And even those who didn't believe in a religious doomsday, still harboured thoughts of a kind of social revolution from the old ways of pain and suffering brought on by our ignorant ways. Unfortunately, as it turned out, not much changed. Hence, from dreams of heaven, we were roused by a new wake up call of this reality we wish to call hell.
    Frankly, I think we're overreacting considering everything is a consequence of our collective actions. I think we let our hopes fall into naivety when we expected a magical turn around from the old ways. Though, in most ways, this is still a relative heaven compared with the past. So I'm kinda pretty ok with where we're at.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    47

    I understand that some Christians do believe that the majority of people go to Hell. Though, many Christians find hope in Christianity and feel that it's all about love, sunshine, and rainbows. I'm really just trying whatever persuasive tactic I can to alleviate the concerns of my Christian friends because I'm really sick and tired of having to have a constant conversation with them about my atheism. The problem with some religious people is that they feel like they know that they are correct about their specific religious beliefs and so they will try to persuade you to death about "turning over your life to Jesus Christ". It's just one of the disadvantages of living in the Bible Belt as an atheist lol.
  • TWI
    134
    I had a discussion with a fully signed up Christian and she dismissed my interpretation of God, adding "But what if you're wrong?" I replied "But what if you're wrong?" She gave me a beatific smile and replied "But I'm not!"

    It made me laugh.
  • Belouie
    10


    I have recently become an advocate of the notion known as Christian Universalism, due to the exact reason many are debating in this forum. How could an all-good, all-powerful and all loving God sentence his most beloved creations to eternal damnation? I don't believe He could.

    sinners must, eternally, suffer in hell.

    I have an argument that I'd like to purpose that further develops this idea of temporary damnation rather than eternal damnation.

    1) If God is all-good, all-powerful and all-loving, then he has the ability as well as the desire to ensure that none of his creations suffer eternal damnation in Hell.
    2) God is all-good, all-powerful and all-loving.
    3) Therefore, God will ensure that none of his creations suffer eternal damnation in Hell.

    Essentially, what I'm proposing with this argument is an elaboration on the quote listed above. Think of our earthly existence as a trial run of sorts, where we get to live in a world made up partially of good stuff and partially of bad stuff.

    The good stuff that we experience is the manifestation of God's love, while the bad stuff is the absence of His love. In this trial run we are to decide if we want His love or not.

    If we decide that we do in fact want his love, we die and subsequently go to Heaven, where we get to experience a world made up entirely of His love, the good stuff.

    However, if we decide that we don't want his love, we die and subsequently go to Hell, where we get to experience a world made up of the absence of His love, the bad stuff.

    Part of the pain and suffering we experience in Hell, is the result of a Godless, sinful existence. However, once we accept God and His love into our lives, we will subsequently be granted permission to enter his kingdom of love, Heaven.

    I believe we can choose to accept His love at any point, even after we die. Meaning that even if we do end up in Hell, we will probably have some time to serve. However, we will still have the ability to accept His love and eventually join Him in Heaven.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    47

    I have a couple of questions I would like to ask you:

    1. If there is an all powerful and all loving God, then why would God not eliminate all the bad stuff(which you refer to as the absence of his love) since he has the power to do that(given that he is all powerful)? Couldn't and shouldn't God just make his love omnipresent? I suppose your response might be to argue that God gave us free will and that allows us to choose to reject his love. But since there are plenty of things that humans have no psychological capacity to think or desire(For example, I can't think of a single human being that has had a desire to go smell his toaster after work or count to 100 while flickering his light switch), I doubt that the possiblity to have a lack of desire for God's love would be requirement for free will. Even if it is a logical requirement for free will, because God is all powerful he can change logic so that he could give people free will while simultaneously making his love omnipresent.

    2. If the bad stuff that happens in our lives is the result of the absence of God's love then how come it feels like something?(namely pain and suffering). What would be the source of the negative mental states that we experience? It's hard to imagine how an absence of something could produce something with a presence like that of suffering. Shouldn't the absence of God's love manifest itself as nothing, while the presence of God's love manifest itself as something good?
  • TWI
    134
    On a dualistic basis it doesn't add up but viewed as non dualistic i.e. that God is everyone/everything or everyone/everything is God it does make sense. God then is the giver and receiver of love, if anyone suffers it's because they are, in reality, God doing stuff to itself.
  • Artie
    25
    If God is all-loving, He would not have created hellEmpedocles
    Yes, I agree with you. I don't believe in God but it's question a very interesting and it again proves that God don't exists.
  • Rank Amateur
    560
    The argument from evil does not prove anything. It is a good argument and it is reasonable to believe it is compelling. There are also very good arguments against it. And it is equally reasonable to find it is not compelling.
  • Belouie
    10


    To respond to your first question, yes your supposition is correct, God gave us free will in order to give us the ability to reject His love. And ultimately, yes God could do those things. However, that just seems like cheating to me.

    To illustrate just exactly how this is cheating, let's imagine that you have a significant other with whom you are in love dearly.

    As a man who's has been in love with a woman, I can tell you that, personally, one of the best parts about it is the fact that this person makes you feel so special. They make you feel so special because somehow, out of everyone this beautiful girl could've fallen in love with, somehow she fell in love with you.

    Now let's imagine that somehow, before you actually met this beautiful girl you slipped her a love potion, making it so she would only love you for ever and ever, regardless of what you did or said. At first it might be great, however, eventually, wouldn't you begin to question the legitimacy of her love? Wouldn't you begin to wonder if she would love you had you not slipped her that potion? Would that not suck this "special" feeling out of the relationship leaving you ultimately feeling empty inside? Knowing that it's not natural love, but rather fake love that you induced by yourself?

    Essentially what I'm trying to say is, yes, God could give us a love potion effectively giving us no choice in the matter, and we'd never be the wiser. And yes, that would ultimately be in our best interest. But I imagine, being that we are made in His image, God wants real love much in the same way that we want real love.

    God wants us to choose Him too. After all He is a God of love, and while that would ultimately be in our best interest, God isn't interested in being some cosmic dictator, forcing His will upon all of his subjects, regardless of whether or not that's what's best for us.

    Now to respond to your second question.
    It's hard to imagine how an absence of something could produce something with a presence like that of suffering.TheHedoMinimalist
    I can name an absence of many things which would result in our imminent suffering. Let's start with the basics, how long could you go without food or water before you begin to suffer? How long could you go without sleep before beginning to suffer? How long could you go without human interaction before you end up suffering from insanity?

    Now I realize this may be ever so slightly fallacious reasoning as that was probably the weakest part of your objection.

    However, my response will ultimately be similar to my initial response. I think lack of God's love manifests itself as negativity because somewhere deep down, we want God's approval. Much in the same way we seek the approval and validation of those around us. Not only do we want His love, but we need his love to be complete. Maybe not in our earthly existence, however ultimately sooner or later, we are all going to seek His love. This is because sooner or later, everyone will get tired of suffering through the dark, sad, lonely, painful Godless existence waiting for us in Hell, and therefore seek re-union with God.
  • TWI
    134

    "This is because sooner or later, everyone will get tired of suffering through the dark, lonely, sad Godless existence in Hell, and therefore seek union with God"

    I prefer 're-union' with God That would mean we are all God, pretending to be temporarily separate from God in order to experience what it's like to be mortal. Re-union in this case means remembering you are God and abandoning self inflicted loneliness in so called 'Hell'
  • Belouie
    10

    I completely agree with you, minor oversight on my part.

    Just edited my comment to reflect the fact that it's more of a re-union with God, rather than an initial joining.
  • TWI
    134
    Technically speaking it's not really a re-unification as God is the only thing existing and as we are God we're always united, it's just that 'we' forget when we begin another mortal life
  • Athena
    106


    I have a Christian friend and she used to drive me and her family crazy. She seems to realize now that her behavior of trying to save us was a relationship problem with people she really cares about. However, we live in Oregon and not the Bible Belt. Also, she got, while she was praying for people, I take action to help them and I think she realized taking action works better than praying? Like really on what grounds would a god condemn me and her family to hell? For Christianity to work, a person has to believe those who are not Christians are bad people undeserving of heaven. But what if they are good people? How do they explain being a good person but not a saved person, if being good depends on being saved?

    The belief system does not work for democracy, because the kind of person we are depends on how we were raised, the people who influence us and education. People who don't understand that are okay with education for technology that prepares the young to serve industry, instead of preparing them for freedom. Liberal education is for free people, and education for technology is not. Satan didn't come to earth, we changed education, and what we have now is the social, economic and political ramification of that change.
  • Athena
    106


    The Egyptians had a trinity of the soul not a trinity of god. One part of our soul dies with our body and another is judged and may or may not go on to the good life and the third always returns to the source. I am afraid I didn't say that well but metaphysically what is the nature of spirit? Is it internal to us or external to us as the trinity of God is external to us?

    I think Christianity is very paradoxical as it struggles with materialism (believing everything has matter) and spirituality (not a material manifestation).
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    47
    Essentially what I'm trying to say is, yes, God could give us a love potion effectively giving us no choice in the matter, and we'd never be the wiser. And yes, that would ultimately be in our best interest. But I imagine, being that we are made in His image, God wants real love much in the same way that we want real love.Belouie

    You seem to be implying that God creates a possibility for suffering to satisfy his own interest in having genuine rather than fake love from people. That is not something a all-benevolent God would do, in my opinion(although it could be justified if the benefit for God outweighs the harm to people done).

    I can name an absence of many things which would result in our imminent suffering. Let's start with the basics, how long could you go without food or water before you begin to suffer? How long could you go without sleep before beginning to suffer? How long could you go without human interaction before you end up suffering from insanity?Belouie

    The reason I suffer from hunger is not the absence of food but rather the biological need I have for food. If I didn't need to eat then the absence of food wouldn't cause any suffering. If God had created a need for his love, in order to have us not suffer, would he not be forcing us to love him on some level? If I caused you suffering for refusing to love me, you would certainly call that cheating and you would only be able to give me fake love. My point is that God had a malicious role to play in creating a need for us to love him in order to avoid suffering.
  • TWI
    134
    Well I believe the so called human soul and God are one and the same, no separation or classification. Human beings don't 'have' a soul, the soul, or rather God, has a self image as a human being for a while. (also the word 'God' is just a label)

    Advaita Vedanta the Hindu school of philosophy holds that Brahman, or God if you like, and Atman the human soul are one and the same (Advaita means 'not two' ) Though interestingly Vedanta says Brahman consists of the creator, the maintainer and the destroyer, a bit Holy Trinity (ish)
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    47
    For Christianity to work, a person has to believe those who are not Christians are bad people undeserving of heaven. But what if they are good people? How do they explain being a good person but not a saved person, if being good depends on being saved?Athena

    I agree completely. I sometimes feel Christianity provides an opportunity for easy virtue. It could also give you a sense of moral superiority even if all you do is sit on your ass and pray to your imaginary friend.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    257
    You’re being a judgmental prick.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    257
    You seem to be implying that God creates a possibility for suffering to satisfy his own interest in having genuine rather than fake love from people. That is not something a all-benevolent God would do, in my opinion(although it could be justified if the benefit for God outweighs the harm to people done).TheHedoMinimalist

    Atheists are the biggest fundamentalists of all. Most people who believe in God as Love see Her as a Presence that can be called upon for strength, patience, hope, joy, understanding, empathy, humility, and most of all, love. Giving attributes to a Presence that is ineffable is fundamentalist language gaming.
  • Belouie
    10


    He creates a possibility of suffering not merely to satisfy His own interest, but rather to satisfy the mutual interest shared by Him, as well as all of humanity. Therefore in my opinion, it is something an benevolent God would do, being that the result is the eternal happiness of every human ever while the cost at which this happiness comes, is merely temporary suffering.

    If I didn't need to eat then the absence of food wouldn't cause any suffering.TheHedoMinimalist

    Be that as it may, you still need to eat, which means you still need food, which means the absence of food will still ultimately result in suffering. Being that you need food to avoid this suffering, the absence of food is still arguably the cause of suffering from starvation.

    God gave us needs to give us purpose. Our ultimate purpose being, to be loved by Him. Whether or not you choose to view that as malicious is up to you, much in the same way the choice to fulfill this purpose is up to you. I don't feel this is cheating because in this scenario, unlike the love potion scenario, God faces the same risk of suffering that we do. Meaning that He suffers without our love, just as we suffer without His. He already chose us, now its our turn to choose Him.
  • TheHedoMinimalist
    47

    I agree with you that the God that you are describing is benevolent. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm certainly not claiming that you're God is evil. My claim was simply that the God you are describing is not "all benevolent". I think you set the bar too low for all benevolence here. That is because, in order for a God to be all benevolent, you should have a hard time imagining a better God
    Having said that, let me imagine an omnipotent God that I think is more benevolent than your conception of God:

    1. While we are alive on Earth, God's love manifests itself as the most extreme good imaginable. We feel the most extreme pleasure and awe from the presence of God's love. The absence of God's love manifests itself as mild and unimpressive good that disappoints us just a little. Our lives on Earth are a trial run by which we decide if we would like to accept God's love.

    2. When we die(a pleasurable death, of course), if we accept God's love, we will subsequently go to Heaven(which is the place made of God's love and it is as great as you described). If we do not accept God's love then we will go to Hell, a place where there is an absence of God's love. But instead of being a place of torture, Hell is kind of boring place with the most mild pleasure imaginable.

    3. While God does not provide us with the need for his love, he provides us with a strong want for his love instead. This gives our lives purpose.(if you think that we can't derive genuine purpose from strong wants, then my God could change that fact with his omnipotence. Also note that an omnipotent God could technically make the "fake" love you were describing earlier be the most genuine love imaginable because he decides what is genuine and fake in the first place given his omnipotence.)

    In conclusion, while I do think your God is admirable. I'm still having a hard time seeing how your God is better than the God I'm describing.
  • Athena
    106
    This morning I am in hell. I have been working at a temporary shelter for homeless people. We have organized churches to open their doors on freezing nights. People are fed a dinner and breakfast and sleep on mats with one blanket. What I see when I volunteer to help troubles me greatly. I see people trapped in their own hells. Sometimes they are trapped in hell because they have a mental disorder and sometimes it is because they are doing a drug. Some of these people have cancer and some are in wheelchairs. Some choose to be on the streets and some do not.

    In the early days of the United States many different religious groups believed it possible to create heaven on earth, and now we leave people on the streets even when they are dying or mentally too confused to care for themselves. How do we live with this reality? How could a hell be worse?
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