Edward Tarte Discusses Hell

[Link to video]

About Edward Tarte

I am age 78, once a Catholic priest for five years (in the 1960's), then a math teacher for 44 years up to the present day. I became an atheist a few years ago. My hobbies are music and chess.

  • http://www.ajourneyshared.org.uk/ Ken

    If I believed what you do about hell, then I agree with your assessment. I can’t comment on Catholic belief (not being one), and it may be a fair representation of a lot of what is preached, but is the issue the Christian God, or the misconceptions we have about him? There are many that would argue that your picture of hell is more connected with Dante than God. I also believe that the Orthodox Christians would find difficulty identifying the hell you describe.

    So, I think you are right to call out an issue with the way hell is often presented, but the issue is (I’d claim) our presentation rather than our God.

    • Fargofan

       I was raised a conservative Lutheran, and our hell sounds just like what Ed described. I don’t know how changes in the portrayal of God or the “presentation” of hell would matter. Isn’t hell still a place of eternal torment?

    • Ibis3

       Edward didn’t give any specifics about the nature of Hell, aside from the four basic doctrines:

      *it is eternal
      *it is torturous or painful in some way
      *it is God’s mode of punishment
      *we deserve it (and can presumably “get out of it” by performing some action(s) or holding some belief involving Jesus or his teachings)

      This understanding of Hell is Christian orthodoxy (your flippant comment about Dante notwithstanding), as I’m sure Edward (who went to seminary for five years) is well aware.

      • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

        Good summary on the orthodox definition of Hell.

        I’ve often wondered how Christians view free will in the afterlife and if there is continued judgment.
        For example, if you end up in heaven and then fall out of favor due to unwanted actions or evolving belief, would you then go to hell?
        If you end up in hell, can you gain favor and get pulled up to heaven?
        Is there any limit on how many times you can go back and forth?
        Do you need some kind of passport or are you free to move back and forth at will?

        If there is no free will in the Christian notion of the afterlife, do we really still exist in any meaningful way?

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    I agree that the conventional depiction of hell described by Edward is deplorable.  The Christian churches that have historically popularized such a vision obviously did so in order to leverage fear to increase their numbers and keep their existing flock in line.  It is also true that this aberrant notion of hell isn’t selling so well in the increasingly secular modern age.  Many people that self-identify as Christians are starting to view hell as merely a separation from God – perhaps without any real torture involved.  There are others that kind-of believe that there isn’t really a hell and everybody will go to heaven.  Without any evidence for either place, it is possible to form all sorts of beliefs.  It is against this evolution of belief that the conservative elements of the Catholic and evangelical churches become so vocal about preserving the traditional notion of Hell.  I totally agree that a cosmology set up with an infinite consequence for a finite transaction is “evil” for lack of a better word. 
    Therefore, I think if someone believes in both heaven and hell and worships a God they believe created everything, they are worshiping pure evil.    Or in secular language, a very very bad God.

    • advancedatheist

      It is also true that this aberrant notion of hell isn’t selling so well in the increasingly secular modern age.  Many people that self-identify as Christians are starting to view hell as merely a separation from God – perhaps without any real torture involved.

      Actually some christians, notably the previous pope, describe hell as the horrific psychological state of eternal separation from god. I suppose that signals progress, of sorts, because that view of hell values emotional well being and attributes authority to the secular science of psychology. 

    • Ibis3

      Many people that self-identify as Christians are starting to view hell
      as merely a separation from God – perhaps without any real torture
      involved.

      This is not a new idea. It goes back at least to the middle ages (I can’t quite recall if it appears in patristic writings). But that doesn’t change anything about Hell being real torture. What’s to choose between a spiritual body being burned in a lake of fire and a soul being cast in the outer darkness beyond hope and love?

      • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

        Ibis3, good point.

        It may well be that active attention-directed torture could be preferable to being cast in the outer darkness beyond hope and love. If you have eternity, you will probably get used to the physical discomfort of the active attention directed torture and at least appreciate that someone is showing you attention. Once I think about it, from the perspective of eternity, separation from God could be much worse than being in a lake of fire and being harassed by Harpies or something. IMO, the only non-disgusting (theologically speaking) version of Christianity would be the Universalists.

  • advancedatheist

    Hell goes by a new name now in geek subculture: The Basilisk:

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Less_wrong#Roko.27s_Basilisk

    I’ve asked christians why they fear hell so much, if people go there with the knowledge that their lives have meaning & purpose in god’s plan as a kind of consolation prize. Apparently they consider the alleged meaninglessness and purposelessness of a materialist world view as an even greater horror. I haven’t heard a good answer from a christian yet. 

  • Librepensadora

    To Hemant and Edward:  Thank you for this series of videos.  They are informative and interesting.  That I was raised Catholic in the pre-Vatican 2 Church makes them a window to my past as well.

    • Edward Tarte

      Hello, Librepensadora. I invite you to go to YouTube, search Edward Tarte, get to my profile page, and browse my Religion: Catholic Church playlist.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Bravo!


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