A few quick thoughts on Hell

[This post has been moved to Thinking-Critically.com]

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About Rodibidably

Jeff Randall is a frequent volunteer for free-thought organizations, including the Center For Inquiry – DC. Having been blogging since January 2008, he decided that a community of bloggers would be an interesting new experience (or at the very least a fun way to annoy his friends into reading his posts more frequently). Since finding out about about the existence of, and then joining, the atheist/skeptic community in 2007 he has been committed to community activism, critical thinking in all aspects of life, science, reason, and a fostering a secular society.
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11 Responses to A few quick thoughts on Hell

  1. awfrick says:

    No, you’re right, I’ve had the same thoughts as well.

    With your last thought about eternal punishment for a finite lifetime of sin, what has always captured me about this ideal is that God still is perfectly ‘just’ in this action. It’s not fair by any objective or rational standards, and if there was a God who operated in this manner, I could not follow him.

    I think it’s clear that hell is a myth instituted for means of social control. That’s all.

  2. Rodibidably says:

    “If the President does it, it’s not a crime” – Richard Nixon

    “If god does it, it must be just” – almost all theists throughout history

    Was Richard Nixon god?
    *shudders*

  3. Oliver says:

    Wow – tough questions. Anyone who comes along and claims to know all the answers is probably lying or ignorant. As a “fundie”, I actually do believe some of this, but I recognize it can appear unfair or be hard to comprehend. I also recognize I have a long way to go to really get it myself. But I can try to answer some questions, at least for myself.

    Original sin:
    I haven’t thought a whole lot about original sin until you brought it up. It certainly does seem unfair for sin to be inherited without request. My personal belief is that humans start sinless but sin very easily. Dying before the first sin would presumably get you into Heaven, and there’s probably also some sort of “age of accountability” through which the sins are ignored as unintentional. Certainly, there’s nothing Biblical to suggest that the particular sins of the parents find their way into the offspring. If anything, it would have to be a ‘general’ sin, or, more likely to me, an extreme tendency to sin. The only person to manage to not fall to this was Jesus.

    See Matt’s comment on http://www.findingrhythm.com/blog/?p=1682

    Infinite punishment:
    I got a bit too carried away in the first question and, though this is more important, I didn’t think about it as much as I should have. I think the crux of the issue really boils down to what sin *is*, in essence. I’d argue that there are cases where stealing that pack of gum is not necessarily a sin, although they may be far fetched. That the pack of gum moved from one cubicle to another is not the issue. There’s something deeper to sin than the action itself, having to do with the heart and choice of the individual. He elevates his status and consciously disobeys God. It’s this rebellion that I think is the issue. Note that this is a graver offense and present for all sins. If one believes that God is infinitely powerful, then it may be reasonable to accept infinite punishment for infinite insubordination.

    I’m also not necessarily against the idea of varying degrees of eternal punishment, but certainly not prepared to state it as fact.

    • Rodibidably says:

      Oliver,
      re innocence:
      Dying before the first sin would presumably get you into Heaven, and there’s probably also some sort of “age of accountability” through which the sins are ignored as unintentional.
      What would this age be? Would somebody who has mental disabilities be “given longer” than typical?
      Also, where do you get this concept from, since it’s not part of any holy book that I have read? If you get it from outside your particular holy book, then how do you know it’s true? If you can know truth from outside your holy book, then what is the purpose of your holy book?

      Do you believe the flood actually happened (or Sodom and Gomorrah)? Were any innocent people killed during this? Does this make god a murderer of innocent people? Can you reconcile god killing innocent people with the concept of god being omni-benevolent?

      re Original Sin:
      Among other passages, Romans 5:12 tends to point towards the idea of “original sin” be3ing passed from Adam/Eve to all humanity:
      “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
      There are other passages as well that many have used to explain the concept, but this one seems to sum it up fairly well…
      So one person who had personally met god pissed god off, and therfor all humanity for all time is doomed by that action.

      Obviously concepts of sin are not universal, but if we are all sinners, it doesn’t matter what you believe sin to be.
      You seem to define sin as “rebellion”, but that begs the question, can one rebell against something one never learns about. As an example, can an aboriginal person who never contacts a christian in their life, “rebel” against jesus?

      Can an person who sees no evidence for the existance of your god be guilty of rebellion against that god? Can YOU be guilty of rebellion against Thor? Is there any difference between these two ideas?

      re: Infinite punishment
      He elevates his status and consciously disobeys God
      And those who don’t believe in god? How are they disobeying god any more than you can consciously disobey the Easter Bunny or Ra?
      And those who believe in a different version of god… How can they consciously disobey your god?

      If one believes that God is infinitely powerful, then it may be reasonable to accept infinite punishment for infinite insubordination.
      Here I would disagree. Even if one accepts the premise of god as true, how can anybody EVER condone an infinite punishment for a finite crime? Even the most henious people in history (Hitler, Stalin, Dahmer, Manson, etc) are not deserving of UNENDING punishment. Much less those who lived a “good” life, but happened to worship the wrong god, or no god…

    • Rodibidably says:

      Black text on a black background… That is a FUN read…

      It also fails to answer any of the questions I raised…
      I’m curious, do you have a response to the questions posed, or are you just here to pimp your site?

  4. sybodoh says:

    Sorry about that. I haven’t been to check out my site in a while. I don’t know what happened to it. It’s certainly not in the same condition I made it in.
    It would have answered a lot of your questions.
    Who will be “sentenced” to hell are: all those above the age of accountability that reject Jesus Christ as their Savior. Not because of any sin or sins that have been committed during their life. All who do not accept God’s gift of eternal salvation through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ will go to hell; yes, for eternity. It has nothing to do with what sins have been committed.
    For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Hell is eternal punishment and separation from God.
    You are not guilty of your parents sins and cannot go to hell because of what they did or didn’t do. Your salvation is dependent upon YOU only.

    God created hell for the devil and his angels. He does not wish for anyone to go there. You are right; it is your choice. God makes a way to escape hell’s punishment! Only believe and receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and let Him lead and guide your life. It’s that Simple!
    In God’s eyes, it is just for people to go to hell for eternity when they reject Jesus and the blood He shed on Calvary to wipe away all of our sins.God allowed His only begotten Son to die a Cruel, horrible death on the cross so we don’t have to go to hell. This was God’s Gift to mankind. Jesus suffered tremendously! And the anguish God must have felt. When you reject God’s gift you suffer the penalty.
    No one is worthy of Gods’ grace; but He gives it to us anyway.
    Hell is not the place of judgment. You are judged while you are still alive on this earth. All who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior will stand before the Great White Throne Judgment of
    God and will be judged for what they did during their lifetime. If you accept Jesus as your Savior you have already been judged because at that moment, all your sins are forgiven.
    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever beleiveth on Him should not perish (go to hell), but have everlasting life (life in heaven with God). For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but through Him all might be saved. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned(to hell), but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
    Hopefully I have answered some of your questions.

    • Rodibidably says:

      Actually you’ve answered NONE of my questions… You seemed to have gone on about your thoughts on hell, without any attempt to look at the purpose of this thread, or the earlier questions posed in the original post or those directed to previous commenter.

      So let’s try it a bit more directly. I’ll ask you the same questions I asked Oliver…

      1) What exactly would the “age of accountability” be? Would somebody who has mental disabilities be “given longer” than typical?
      Also, where do you get this concept from, since it’s not part of any holy book that I have read? If you get it from outside your particular holy book, then how do you know it’s true? If you can know truth from outside your holy book, then what is the purpose of your holy book?

      2) Do you believe the biblical flood actually happened (or Sodom and Gomorrah)? Were any innocent people killed during this? Does this make god a murderer of innocent people? Can you reconcile god killing innocent people with the concept of god being omnibenevolent?

      3) Can one rebel against something one never learns about. As an example, can an aboriginal person who never contacts a christian in their life, “rebel” against jesus?

      Can an person who sees no evidence for the existence of your god be guilty of rebellion against that god? Can YOU be guilty of rebellion against Thor? Is there any difference between these two ideas?

      4) Is there ANYTHING that a person can do that true justice would call for an infinite punishment?

      And if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask one other question, related to this topic:

      5) Keeping in mind that I don’t already accept your particular holy book as “truth” or “divine”, are there any specific reasons you can give me to accept your specific religion over all other religions throughout history (or a lack of religion, such as I currently have)?

  5. Shirley says:

    It is your choice whether you accept or reject the Holy Word of the Bible. (God’s Word) Just read it for yourself and prove it.

    • Rodibidably says:

      Shirley,
      I actually have read the bible. I found no knowledge contained in it that was extraordinary or showed it to be divinely inspired.

      Perhaps I’m being too judgmental, but I find stories of girls getting their father drunk till he passes out and then raping him to NOT be the best moral teachings.

      I find condoning slavery to be one of the most vile things any person can do, and when your “god” not only condones it, but instructs in what way you can and can not beat your slaves, I find this to be heinous and certainly not worthy of praise of worship.

      And I find those who attempt to dismiss or explain this away as being a different time to be either intentionally lying or delusional, since by your own definitions of god, he knows all, and therefor beating other people or enslaving them should NEVER have been condoned, regardless of the time in history.

  6. Pingback: Accepting an invitation from a christian to have a dialog… « Rodibidably

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