In a previous post entitled “Why I Am an Anti-Fundamentalist,” I mentioned that I cannot condone any form of theism which preaches the concept of Hell. That post was long enough already, so I moved my elaboration of that point to here. To someone like me, the notion of Hell is absurd for at least three reasons:
a.) There’s a lot of fuzzy ambiguous thinking about how this concept would even work. Presumably the torture of this “place” is supposed to involve burning with fire, and yet that means a physical body would need to be both raised from the dead (ew!) and able to be burned perpetually. Is this body still physical? Does it have nerve endings? And do the nerve endings just keep regenerating so you can feel the fire forever and ever? This reminds me of the moment in Sixth Sense when I realized that all the ghosts have on ghost clothes and one guy even had a ghost bike helmet and was riding a ghost bike. What exactly are those things made of? And are they made in ghost factories somewhere? It makes for great cinema, but get real!
b.) There is no redemptive purpose for such a place. Most effective punishment is educational or rehabilitative. When you are done with your punishment you’re supposed to have learned something. But there is nothing to learn from eternal conscious torment, which doesn’t even begin until the last moment is past in which you could do anything about the discovery that such a place isn’t just made up. What kind of sick monster would allow for such a place? For billions of people? An omnipotent god, no matter how committed to the notion of “free will” (a concept the writers of the Bible seemed entirely unconcerned about), is ultimately responsible for the existence of such a place. Christian theology teaches that people can only exist if God keeps such in existence through an ongoing creative act. That means that the only way one could continue to exist for all eternity–in any state whatsoever–would be through a willful act of said deity. Again, what a horrific thought.
I find it a great irony that some would bristle at my calling the notion of eternal torment “unjust,” particularly if they have been taught to react to this by telling me I can’t call anything unjust if I am a naturalist. In other words, if there’s no external moral code imposed on us by a deity, then how can I judge anything as unjust, particularly the actions of said deity?
That sounds clever for a few moments (it’s actually an old question, Euthyphro’s dilemma), until you realize that what you’re left with is a deity who has no discernible morals at all, only apparently arbitrary actions which, we are told, are not under any obligation to adhere to any sense of logic that we can discern as poor, limited, finite humans. Incidentally, do you see how all three of these previous points work together? How convenient. And how unimpeachable this makes this particular concept of a deity.