I just stumbled across a link to an Answers in Genesis page, and oh boy, it’s ugly.
In an article posted June 6, 2012, Tim Challies asks and answers the question, What Kind of God Would Condemn People to Eternal Torment?
The beginning lays out the question, but in a way that’s almost comical in its intensity:
How can you believe in a God who would condemn people to suffer the torments of hell eternally? I have been asked this question many times and, if you are a Christian, you probably have too. If you haven’t, you would do well to get working on an answer because the question may not be too far off. Hell is no laughing matter, despite cartoons and lampoons to the contrary. In all the world, in all eternity, there are few matters weightier than this one, and to every man and woman there is no issue more urgent.
Gah. My first year of college, I got assigned as a roommate an intense little guy who would pursue me around the room insisting I listen to him about this very subject. I was already well on the path to atheism, but I was totally non-confrontational about it, and did not want to get into a discussion. Bear in mind this was almost 40 years ago, and Texas – a very different time and place for overt atheism.
I had him as a roommate for about two weeks, then went to the dorm counselor and told him frankly the guy was driving me crazy, that I would not be able to live with him. I ended up with three hard-drinking, late-partying roomies who often prevented me from doing my homework and sometimes kept me awake until 3 a.m., but they were STILL better than Lord Lad of the Legion of Christian Superheroes (only DC Comics fans will get that joke).
On what basis can I so strongly and confidently assert the necessity and existence of eternal, conscious torment in hell, even if my heart naturally cries out in rebellion against the thought? Only because God’s Word is clear on the matter. The Bible describes hell as a place where God pours out His wrath on people who have been created in His image (Matthew 10:28; 25:46; Revelation 14:10–11; 20:10–15). God the Father has appointed His Son to be the eternal Judge who will condemn people to hell (Matthew 25:31–34, 25:41; Acts 10:42). This is not momentary or temporary torture dispensed by Satan or his demons, but eternal torment poured out by God Himself. This punishment will be inflicted upon conscious human beings, people who know who they are, what they were, what they have done (Luke 16:22–31).
More than once I’ve wondered what would happen if the Bible were to suddenly disappear from the world. If all these tortured Christian arguments depend on this one book, with no other corroborating arguments or facts … what would happen if you no longer had this book of justification?
It is truly, literally impossible to imagine a worse reality than this one. Yet the Bible, the best of books by the best of authors, the perfect book by the most trustworthy of authors, tells us it is so. If this is His judgment, then anything less wouldn’t be worthy of an infinitely holy, just, and good God.
Who am I to question God? If this infinitely holy and just God declares that hell exists and asserts that hell must exist, then rebellion against His will reveals a failure in my own understanding of justice and goodness. Do I know better than God? Or is it possible that I am far worse than God, infinitely worse, and that I fall woefully short of a complete understanding of God’s goodness and sin’s wickedness? To ask the question is to answer it.
Let me peel that last paragraph apart for you:
Who am I to question God?
God is everything, you are nothing. Stop thinking that you matter, that you can think, that your own personal judgment can possibly be right. Torture is GOOD because God says it is, right there in the His Holy Book. You know, “the best of books by the best of authors.”
If this infinitely holy and just God declares that hell exists and asserts that hell must exist, then rebellion against His will reveals a failure in my own understanding of justice and goodness.
Nothing you think about justice and goodness is right. If torture seems wrong to you, and torture that lasts for hours, for days, for EVER, seems even more wrong, it’s because YOU, little you, are incapable, ridiculously unqualified, to make such an evaluation. Which means you better listen to what I’m telling you, because if you don’t you will face this same torture. Get it? Burning fucking HELL, fucking FOREVER, if you don’t listen to me.
Do I know better than God? Or is it possible that I am far worse than God, infinitely worse, and that I fall woefully short of a complete understanding of God’s goodness and sin’s wickedness?
You’re bad and stupid. In fact, you’re so bad and stupid you don’t even know how bad and stupid you are.
To ask the question is to answer it.
Sure this conclusion makes no sense to you, but just ride with it, okay? I already told you were you bad and stupid; stop trying to THINK about the subject and just accept what I’m telling you. Otherwise … oy, are you going to be sorry. Burning, screaming. Conscious the whole time. Forever.
But that’s a GOOD thing.
You know, to live in a society alongside people who actually believe insane shit like that, people who think everybody should believe stuff like that …
Well, it sort of explains how some people can work with every fiber of their being to oppose certain good, obvious things — oh, like women’s reproductive rights, or contraceptives, or hell, just basic science.
But it just freaks the hell out of me.