The concept of Hell.
I wonder how it didn’t bother me before, but now I find it a revolting concept. It is an extremely exaggerated punishment, really; no matter how evil a person could have been, no matter how revolting their actions, their lifetime of evil is limited. An ETERNAL punishment for a LIMITED guilt, no matter how big? That is revolting. And while it may be argued that Hell is a fitting punishment for really bad motherfuckers like Mao and Stalin, who have killed tens of millions of people, the justness of such a cruel punishment breaks down when we consider the more common evildoers.
Well yeah, that’s probably why the Catholics invented the Purgatory. To mitigate the revolting concept of an eternal place of torment that a loving God would send you to. “Eternal punishment? Ridiculous! Let’s shorten that a bit”. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as the concept of Purgatory clearly spelled-out in the Bible. You need to twist some verses to come up with this concept.
This problem with Hell is probably why the Adventists came up with the idea that the wicked will not be sent to an eternal torment in Hell, but instead will be simply annihilated. It doesn’t really fit with what the Bible is teaching, but it sounds a lot more humane, isn’t it? As a humorous side note, on this issue the Adventists are in perfect agreement with the Atheists if rephrased as — “after they die, the bad people will simply cease to exist”.
It’s interesting to see how believers try to be more merciful and just than their God, and try their best to bend their holy book to better fit with the requirements of obvious morality. From their behavior you can see how disgusting and revolting the concept if Hell really is even to honest Bible-believing Christians.
The matter is further complicated by the situation of “honest disbelief”. Let’s imagine a person who tried their best to be “a good person” and to “do unto others what you would want them to do unto you”. This good person who has gone to great lengths to become a better person and who altruistically helped their fellow man, has a little problem: they’ve been a Non-Christian or let’s say, even an Atheist. According to Christian doctrine, they will go to Hell. Doesn’t seem quite fair, is it? And some thug, rapist or killer who happened to be born in a Christian country and happened to “repent” later in life will get free ticket to Heaven. While an honest disbeliever will be forever suffering atrociously in Hell.
If such a cruel and unjust God would exist I’m not really sure I would enjoy neither his heaven, nor his company.
So I’m left with a few variants, from the most atheistic to the most faithful; I can’t really decide, but I’m sure (as Hell 😛 ) it’s not number 7 anymore.
1. There is actually no God and thus it doesn’t really matter what nonsense the Bible may happen to be saying on anything.
2. There is a God, but he is not the cruel and unjust God of the Bible. Meaning that the Bible and Christianity are at best equal to all other religions and holy books out there, and the one true God treats all religions as products of a free spiritual market.
3. The true God is not the one in the Bible, but some other God, with another holy book you’ve been ignoring, and He has his own particular set of reasons and rules for sending people into Hell, which may or may not be fairer than Yahve’s.
4. The true God is indeed the one in the Bible, but the Bible happened to get the concept of Hell all wrong (thus making the Bible an unreliable guide for the believer).
5. The God of the Bible is just being pragmatic; He won’t really send people to Hell, He’s just trying to scare them into Heaven; It is merely meant as an incentive for spiritually immature people to follow their moral and spiritual development. Just the way some parents use the Boogeyman concept to stimulate their children to behave in a desirable way. Yes, it’s a dirty trick, but an effective one. I might probably do that, if I were God 🙂 . The good people are good anyway. Or to quote Jesus Himself “I have not come for the holy ones, but for the wicked. It’s the sick who are in need of a doctor, and not the healthy ones”
6. The true God is indeed the one in the Bible, and He will truly sent people into Hell. Even if I will qualify for heaven, I will still hold an eternal grudge to Him, unless He chooses to brainwash me upon entrance through the pearly gates.
7. The true God is the one in the Bible, He will send people to Hell, but paradoxically He is neither cruel nor unjust. His wisdom is beyond limited mortal understanding and we will fully understand this only in the afterlife.
– The Thinking Atheist about Hell: “The rational part of your brain realizes it is ridiculous, and if it would exist, it would be immoral. What kind of just, benevolent deity, worthy of our worship would ever construct such a horrible place, an unthinkable place, worst than anything ever-ever conceived by any earthly tyrant? The human mind can’t even imagine the kind of eternal, nonstop torture that hell would be.
If we were truely in rebellion against God, if we were truely out of His will, if we were truely not deserving of heaven, why not just vaporize us? End our lives. Or why not temporary punishment? Who could ever worship such a being?”