Thursday, June 11, 2009

Choosing Hell

Maybe someday I'll write my book on Hell ("Hell No!" has always been my tentative title) but in the mean time, I may start posting on the subject every now and then.

Victor Reppert asks:

You die a faithful believer, you are ushered into heaven, and as you begin to sing your song in the heavenly choir, you notice the people in the fires of hell, suffering eternal torment wailing and gnashing their teeth. Your initial reaction is to

A) Feel sorry for them, and ask, as Lucy did concerning the Dwarves in the Last Battle, what can be done for the poor wretches.

B) Sing louder, praising God that while God's glory is demonstrated in the just punishment of the wicked, you reflect on the wonderful graciousness of your own salvation, that you were spared, by grace, the punishment that you otherwise would have received.

Dr. Reppert concludes that he'd make a bad Calvinist since he goes for option A. But really, he makes a bad Christian period, because if God knows all, and we couldn't even reason at all if not for Him, the people roasting and suffering forever must deserve what they're experiencing, right? Why would you feel sorry for them?

The real problem is the cognitive dissonance that arises from living in the modern world and knowing, deep down, that your fellow humans who happen to be non-Christians deserve no such thing, but being forced to believe it because it is orthodox Christian teaching. Even C.S. Lewis knew he had to subscribe to the hideous idea in one form or another to be considered a genuine Christian. But the solution he arrives at, that the people condemned to Hell have condemned themselves and that the doors are locked from the inside just doesn't square with historic Christian doctrine, and even if it does, it still makes no sense.

As Ed Babinski puts it in a comment on Victor's post:

Does freewill exist after you die?

If Satan could fall from heaven using his free will why won't the righteous in heaven ever be in danger of using their free will the same way?

If freewill exists in hell, why can't someone unchoose hell? Aren't time and God the best teachers? Can't God heal, teach, unblind blinded eyes, warm cold hearts, nudge them nearer to using their freewill in some other fashion than choosing hell, via education, experiences, so they have a chance to unchoose hell?

Can God--the only reality and truth--really be "rejected?" How is that even possible if its the one and only reality and everything else isn't?

How can God be rejected since literally everything is made directly out of the mind, heart, will and power of God, and out of nothing else?

If freewill exists throughout eternity why aren't people and angels able to choose hell and heaven, one and/or the other, possibly oscillating between the two for eternity?

I suspect that what freewillers really want to say is that freewill only takes one so far, and one's mind and opinions branch forth in a certain direction after a while and the ruts harden and change grows more difficult, especially with age and less new brain cells being produced, and with neural connections dying out with age, and then there's no more free will, it's all used up, the will has hardened like a clay pot in an oven of one's brief candle of a lifetime here on earth--and this earth is really just a huge net Yahweh uses to catch souls for hell, most of them anyway.

According to most theists, God values free will so highly that he was forced to create a world that is a complete mess, but for some strange reason, real free will mysteriously vanishes in the afterlife. Those in Hell stay there and remain in their God-hating rebellion while those in Heaven stay loyal to the Lord and never get the urge to topple the Almighty's dictatorship (in fact, they never "sin" again). This includes all those who died in infancy or early childhood (or were "murdered" by abortion) who go straight to bliss without passing Go. Do they have free will? If they do retain free will, but somehow also always do what is right and good, and enjoy paradise from the virtual beginning of their existence, why couldn't God have arranged that for all of humanity?

The Christian doesn't want to blame his invisible made-up god for anything evil, especially not the eternal concentration camp called hell; that might make his god look much worse than Hitler. No, better to blame the victims and assert that those sent to the concentration camp choose to go there of their own free will, a free will so "free" that once they're inside the torture chamber they never want to leave.

About Hell


  1. That cartoon is not funny!

    I did enjoy the Atheist's Hell: Satan telling an atheist "and now you will spend eternity listening to poorly reasoned arguments for my existence!"


  2. HELL, what a great subject to choose. You have done marvellous work and indeed original on the subject. Happy Blogging and....staying out of Hell

  3. It seems retarded that "god" would create "satan" in the first place. Seriously, what in the hell (pun intended) was the reason for doing that?

  4. Actually, there is a significant option for Christians, which is universalism. There are even universalist readings of Scripture. See the following

  5. Hello Dr. Reppert,

    Well, of course I'm aware that there are universalist Christians, but hasn't that always been viewed as rather a heterodox position by the mainstream of Christian thought?


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