1 Ticket to Hell Please

Generally, and especially in recent times, I have been more indifferent in my opinions towards Christianity, as long as you’re not harming anyone, it’s fine. However recently I’ve been made to feel angry by how some Christians deal with the issue of hell.

‘God does not send you to hell, an eternal endless torment of suffering, you do. God is innocent. By choosing to reject God and accept him into your life, you have chosen to send your self to hell’

Forgetting all of the logic that does not follow, all of the problems of presenting hell like this, and the lack of knowledge of what atheism actually is, could you not think of anything more insulting, ignorant, or incorrect said just to pass the blame to the victim for your horrible religious beliefs?

If you are an atheist you do not believe that God is real. Although Christians may believe you will go to hell, this isn’t a problem, because you don’t believe that hell is real. So how can you choose to go somewhere you don’t even believe is real? It’s not possible. Are Christians equally choosing to go to hell if Allah, Zeus or the sun god Ra is real?

I have not chosen to go to hell in the same way that I have not chosen to go to the underworld run by the Greek God Hades.

Obviously there are more problems as well. If God really is presenting you a choice, you cannot possibly know it’s there unless he tells you it is – something that he never does.

Imagine waking up tomorrow locked up in some random persons house completely wrapped up in rope. You of course, don’t want to be there, but then a man comes down the stairs saying that you choose to be here. You would be confused. Turns out he was invisible, and showed you an invisible sheet of paper saying “If you don’t want to be locked up in my basement start worshiping me now” – of course that doesn’t make it ok for him to actually do that. You wouldn’t find a court of law that would allow it. So how come it’s suddenly morally permissible not for God to do the same, but much much worse? This kind of thing would happen constantly in hell.

But it’s worse than that. The so called choice given here is not so simple as “where do you want to go where you die? Eternal bliss or eternal pain?” If that was the case, I would have no problems. The people who wanted to go to heaven would go to heaven and the people who wanted to go to hell would go to hell.

The issue is that this choice is more of a threat than a real choice itself. I think it’s extremely fair to say that worship God for your whole life and go to heaven or don’t and go to hell are not only limited choices, but horrible ones. You are forced into a horrible situation that nobody would ever want or choose.

A choice is forced upon you. If I could really choose where to go after I die, I would probably choose a paradise with no God where everything is made specifically to make life as enjoyable as possible, changing to me as I change. But I guess I can’t choose that.

You could also look at this another way. There is no choice, just one threat. Love God and have eternal life, or do nothing and go to hell. Love someone you fear, or be punished for it.

“Give me your money or I will shoot you” – You will never hear a story where a criminal is made innocent because he gave the victim the chance to live. In this situation the criminal is always guilty.

Of course this is a bad example, nothing can be equivalent to the threat of eternal torture. Besides that, it’s pretty spot on.

What kind of person would design this system? An all powerful God would know that a system like this was unfair. A person who takes you by surprise and threatens you with life and death is evil. A God who plays with your eternal life based on something as trivial as whether you believe in him or not must be considered much, much worse.

Some people would rather go to hell, just to be away from a God who would do this. I personally, would be scared to do either.

The eternal sleep of an atheist world is starting to sound nicer and nicer to me.

 

18 thoughts on “1 Ticket to Hell Please

  1. You mention the robber not being made a victim. Why is that? Because the robber, knowing full and well what he is doing, makes a choice, and that choice breaks the law. The robber thus forfeits the laws protection and earns the legal consequence of imprisonment. That is what it means to go to Hell, and I mean that in pretty much every version of Heaven and Hell that I have ever heard of, across the board, in every religion. They all agree that your eternal fate depends upon your choices here. It depends on you, not on what anyone else thinks or says about you. You determine your eternal fate.

    Going back to the robber analogy, though, the robber still makes excuses. Just as everyone else does for any wrong they do. Al Capone cast himself as the hero and the victim, no matter that he murdered so many that they named Cadaver Cove after all the bodies he put in the waters there. All the “misbehaving” priests that Crow mentions make excuses. All the mass-murdering Nazis and human-experimenting Japanese of Unit 731, they made excuses. Every gossiper, liar, fraud, con artist, thief, thug, rapist, abuser, unfaithful partner (of any sort), killer, and tormentor makes excuses. Everyone is the hero of their own story, and everyone who does wrong casts themselves as the victim in some way.

    In fact, these days, it is astonishingly widespread to see other people making excuses for the guilty. Outright criminals are being held up as victims. People who break the rules, break the laws, and hurt others are being portrayed as victims, heroes, or at least as tragic figures who are not so different from everyone else. In some cases, there may be some truth to it, but not enough to wipe away their misdeeds.

    And then there’s how even the guiltiest robber can make another choice to repent of the evil they have done, though they can never undo it. They still have to face the consequences of their actions, but there is mercy, at least in eternity, for such.

    So, when one says that you put yourself in Hell by your own choices, that’s what it means. It’s not victim-blaming in the slightest, it’s a statement as logical as “a robber gets sent to prison for his crimes.” And I very much subscribe to what Crow mentions, about the Ancient Christian principle of how we are judged according to what we do and why we do it, in accordance with what we know. There is, in my religion, a doctrine where those who do not have a fair chance to learn everything about the Gospel here in this life, they have the opportunity to learn it after they die, and either accept or reject it as they see fit. God is, after all, a god of justice and of mercy both, and an all-knowing being. There are no eternal weak spots in His Plan. Everyone is covered, everyone has a fair chance.

    Ultimately, though… I believe we’ve discussed Hell before? In my religion, there are relatively few people who will “go to Hell,” so to speak. Ultimately, where we go is where we will be happiest. Some of us will be happiest in the highest halls of the heavens, and some of us will be happiest in the lowest halls of the afterlife… and some will never be happy because they reject all happiness, choosing endless misery and eternal woe. No, that’s not logical, but, you have to remember, we are not entirely logical beings.

    That’s my two cents to the conversation. 🙂

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    1. It’s great to hear from you Merlin! How are you doing?

      We have talked about this before and I remember liking your version of the afterlife more than this one. A lot of what this post said doesn’t really apply to your beliefs, I seem to remember you mentioning that in your religion we would be spirits for a thousand years and have much more educated choices.

      You’re comments make much more sense knowing this information, I’m sorry if people don’t realise and immediately say something like “If the robber is getting punished, since God represents robber, that means God deserves to be punished”

      “You determine your eternal fate.”

      This is the biggest disagreement I have. If I could determine my eternal fate, I would be in a paradise where everything was constantly changing in order to make me happy. If I wake up in hell, it will not be me who has walked there by choice. If after I die I become a spirit, I’m not going to wonder off to hell, I’d probably just travel the world or something. What I find most people mean when they say this, is that depending on what you do, God will send you to either heaven or hell. If I could determine my eternal fate, maybe I would become a God so that I could fix the system. The system of the afterlife is designed by God, he chose that anyone who has had the exact same life you have will go to either heaven or hell. We don’t get to make the system.

      The robber analogy was to establish the lack of choice in where you go after you die. In the much more serious situation of God sending people to hell without asking them first, unfortunately there is no consequences for God.

      The robber isn’t made a victim as long as his punishment is fair. For example, although it is wrong to shoplift, it’s also unfair to be punished for your entire life for this mistake and put on death row.

      “Everyone is the hero of their own story”

      I feel like excuses can be valid, or at the very least make a crime less bad. For example, if you have a mental illness and really had no concept of what you were doing, it’s not as bad as doing it deliberately. The biggest problem with hell (Christian) is seeing punishment as a black and white issue. If you’re at the point where you punish a guy who stole something once for millions and millions of years that’s when the punisher is doing something much worse.

      “So, when one says that you put yourself in Hell by your own choices, that’s what it means. It’s not victim-blaming in the slightest, it’s a statement as logical as “a robber gets sent to prison for his crimes.””

      I wish this is what people meant when they said about atheists choosing to go hell, but after they say that it’s mostly followed by “because they choose to reject God” – but if I hear a religious person say that, without following up with something like that, I will give them the good faith in thinking this is what they’re talking about.

      You of course cannot possibly say that a criminal chooses to go to hell because of their actions. They are sent to hell because of their actions. Very few criminals would choose to go to prison, and are rather sent to it against their will, and with hell it’s the exact same. In that respect it can never be a choice, which is the main thing I wanted to say here. The reason why the title of this post is “1 Ticket to Hell Please” is because it’s the only situation where you can say definitively that someone is choosing to go to hell.

      I think it’s good to have justice, but I don’t see God as a positive force of justice. Having an unmovable authority who cannot be questioned without punishment is not a good system for justice. I’d much rather have a system which everyone can contribute to, improve and change if necessary. Nobody should be in eternal punishment, theirs nothing you can do in a finite amount of time to deserve that.

      I really don’t find it fair to be stuck in any one place forever. Perhaps you did very little wrong and should only be in hell for a day. Or perhaps you would enjoy your afterlife the most touring around every single aspect and place to heaven, instead of just being refined to the main or low halls. What if you’d be most happy talking with the people in hell, but not being tortured, well you can have one or the other, but not both. I don’t believe it’s good for justice to be so limiting. It’s not like people are guaranteed to reject happiness forever.

      It’s really interesting to read this perspective and talk to you again, and I’m happy you read Crow’s comments too! I really think the baptism by desire ideas are a vast improvement to the standard. It’s just I’m not so convinced that it’s without fault. Also I should mention that I’m not arguing that Christianity is bad because we can’t choose what happens to us after we die. What I’m saying is that people do not choose to send themselves to hell after they die.

      Thank you very much! I really find it interesting to dive into the deep details like this!

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      1. Heh, it has been awhile, hasn’t it? Life is good, as I always say. 🙂 Of course, it would be a bit improved with an end to the unending catastrophes of this year, but it’s still good.

        I very much appreciate talking about these important things, too. If nothing else, exchanging perspectives makes me examine and understand my own more thoroughly. Not a bad thing, that! 🙂

        On that note, I would say that, I my religion, only the worst of the worst are really locked in one “place” so to speak. What gets locked, as I understand it, is how far one progresses personally, and what one does, how one contributes, in the works of eternity.

        I suppose we see this life a bit like high school or college. It’s not remotely a perfect analogy, by any means, but one goes to those, and endures everything involved in them, in order to develop oneself and prepare for the future. For my church, this life is about teaching, testing, and preparing us for what we will, or might, do in eternity. And the testing is of something other than our brains. If one fails the test, just as if one fails out of high school or college, then one’s future options are much more limited. Mind you, the analogy falls entirely apart because, in this life, we can always go back and try again, with college, community college, night school, etc., while in eternity… well, I have no idea what that’s really going to look like. I do know that this life is designed to test our entire soul, not just our logical functions, and that’s why we don’t just have everything taught to us, here and now, the easy way, with no room or reason to question anything.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I know exactly what you mean. In the UK we’ve been in lockdown for 6 months and it’s been pretty nightmarish. Got a job at least so time can pass faster that way.

          I agree, it feels like I’ve not had a lot of this kind of discussion for a long time and it’s good to happen.

          Is it really fair for people to be locked forever even if they are the worse of the worse? To an extent isn’t re-education better? It seems like a very bad thing for God to create a person he knows will be trapped forever and knows they will not be able to change to get out.

          I still find a problem with eternity, perhaps if they are dangerous to everyone after their punishment they should be kept separate, however I feel like it is not necessary to be tortured for all of that time.

          What would you consider a failure of the test of life? For example, I am unconvinced of God, partly for moral reasons, but I do try to do good, and don’t try to do bad. Would it be fair to consider my life more of a pass than Hitler who followed Catholosism? Would it be fair to say that belief in a god isn’t really relavent to your test score?

          You always give interesting responses which are great to think about. Thank you very much!

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          1. You ask some very good, thought-provoking questions. 🙂

            In regards to what would be a failure of the test of this life… hmmm… I have been thinking about that for a few days, and my answer comes at it a little sideways.

            I heard once about this man who was an expert in spotting forged dollar bills. Like, he was considered one of the premiere experts in that area. Every so often, people would come up to him and express admiration for how he must know so much about forgeries, but he dismissed that. He didn’t know much at all about forgeries, about what was false. He had instead devoted all of his time and attention on studying what was true and genuine. That’s how he could spot a forgery so easily, because of how it deviated from what he knew of the genuine dollar.

            I was reminded of that because I don’t think I look at the test of this life in terms of what makes one a failure. I try to focus on what makes for a success.

            For instance, the scriptures talk frequently about charity, which is pure, unselfish love. That love is patient, kind, forgiving, not easily angered, not prideful, not obsessed what one’s own self supposedly “deserves.” It is to serve God and man with love in our hearts, and to serve those around us is the same as to serve God.

            That last comes from a verse in the Book of Mormon, “I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.” It is clearly important enough in God’s eyes to make it one of the primary criteria of judgment, as I recall Christ sharing a parable about those who do good works being separated from those who do not, wherein he says, (this one’s not verbatim) “If ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren (referring to even the most humble person or creature we meet), ye have done it unto me.” He considers what we do to others, be it good or bad, as having been done to Him personally.

            As for Hitler’s religions, I refer to Christ again, in the Book of Matthew, when he says, very clearly, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Meaning, it’s not what church has your name on its roster, or how piously one behaves, or how often one has set foot in a chapel that determines one’s eternal fate. It’s whether we live our lives in alignment with Him and His will.

            Of course, there is often disagreement about what His will is, and there have been many people who have twisted His words to serve their own ends, and there are many, many people who have lived their entire lives without ever hearing about God. So, it’s not necessarily how much one knows, here and now, which determines our passing or failing in this test. Rather, it’s how true one is to what one knows. There are people who have belonged to what they called God’s church, and achieved high rank and status within such, but have been utterly self-serving and destructive. And then there are people who have never heard of God, and never risen high in the eyes of the world, but who have been the kindest, humblest people you could ever meet. There are people who have taken everything they have ever been taught about what is good and what is bad, and walked all over it in their pride. And then there are people who know very little about it, just a few basic principles, yet live true to what they know, no matter the cost.

            So, I would say a passing grade, so to speak, comes from a life filled with a love for others, and a life lived true to what one understands of goodness. Of course, as we are all imperfect, and we all have those moment of horror at something we have done, it also comes from a life where we correct our behaviors, and improve ourselves as best we can, which is not at all easy.

            One thing, however, about living true to what you know, is that the more one knows, the more knowledge one has of good and evil and the nature of God and His relationship with man, in short, the more one has… the more is required of them. When persons or a people are blessed to know God’s will explicitly, they are expected to abide by that same will. They are expected to obey, and to live by His precepts every day, rather than just for that one hour or so a week that they go to church. (see above regarding “not every one who says Lord, Lord…”) Once He has told His children to help others, and do no harm, and tell no lies, and be faithful to one’s spouse, and honor one’s parents and elders, and keep Him and His will as their first and highest priority, then they are accountable to Him for such. Did we do as He commanded us? Did we go where He sent us, say what He wanted as to say, do as He wanted us to do? Did we make the sacrifices necessary to abide by his will? Did we truly obey Him, or just go through the motions?

            And why? Why did we do everything we did? Stripped of any outward facades or false justifications, what is the truth of our motivations?

            So, there’s a lot to take into consideration when our final grade. Did we do good, and for the right reason? Did we live the best that we knew how? Did we love others, or did we love ourselves? Did we obey when He gave us specific direction, or did we deviate for our own reasons?

            With so much to consider, I am quite glad to know that there is more than just absolute paradise and absolute Hell awaiting us. There is more, and we will find joy almost anywhere we might be. There will be some who, as Satan did, forfeit everything, but by and large we don’t have to be afraid of eternity.

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            1. Thank you, it’s interesting to see the question flipped like this, and I love the analogy of the person who can identify forgeries. I really appreciate the positive sentiment of good deeds over beliefs as well.

              “It’s whether we live our lives in alignment with Him and His will.” is interesting to me because “Of course, there is often disagreement about what His will is” which makes eternity seem much more confusing to me than it should be. Due to the disagreement what I’ve seen people often end up doing is doing things that they think are good because God wants us to do good things. However I wouldn’t exactly consider these two things the same.

              Why is following God’s will good? It’s not because following the will of God is inherently a good thing, but because God’s will is good, right? For example we can conceive of a world where following the will of a not very nice God would not be a good thing to do, yet this same God may punish you in the same way that God could do, just with a different standard of judgement.

              What if God asked you to kill someone, would you do it? I think you’re answer would most likely be that he would never ask you this so it’s a pointless question. Yet, you don’t have to go very far into the old testament to find God commanding huge armies to kill not just armies but women and children of the people who have lost the battle. In this situation, it’s the killers who are the good people as they are following Gods will. I find it very difficult to agree with that, which is why I would find something like doing good things over following God’s will a much better thing to do. Not to mention that there are so many disagreements about what God’s will actually is, and so many things that God could have an opinion on that it’s very unlikely that you will have everything 100% correct.

              Is something only good because God says it’s good? Something makes me uncomfortable with thinking murder is wrong only because God says so, like what if he were to say something different?

              When we talk about your question of “Did we obey when He gave us specific direction, or did we deviate for our own reasons?” – it’s not impossible to conceive of a scenario where we would completely want to deviate from what God says due to our own moral reasons.

              “So, I would say a passing grade, so to speak, comes from a life filled with a love for others, and a life lived true to what one understands of goodness.”

              I’m very happy to hear that salvation doesn’t necessarily follow from belief. I don’t think someone should be punished for believing that doing bad things is ok, I think they should only be punished if they do those bad things.

              “If ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren (referring to even the most humble person or creature we meet), ye have done it unto me.” – Are you a vegan?

              “And why? Why did we do everything we did? Stripped of any outward facades or false justifications, what is the truth of our motivations?” – I love this question so much, it’s a really amazing question. I feel like selfless acts are very difficult to do as theirs always some motivation, for me, doing seemingly selfless deeds makes me feel good and happy with myself, so are those acts selfless despite being good things? I would say not, but it’s still good to do them anyway.

              “by and large we don’t have to be afraid of eternity.”

              I think to end, the last thing I would like to touch on is the people who should be afraid of eternity. If eternity never ends, then even three million years into heaven, the combined time of everyone there in total would be less than the time one person would have spent suffering through eternity at some point in their eternal lifetime. Can you please explain what happens to the people who do have something to fear for eternity, because I’m really getting a sense that this never ending punishment is not equal to any crime that can end.

              Thank you very much for your time, you really make me think as well and honestly it’s great to explore this in thorough detail because it’s easy to only listen to people who agree with you yet better to keep challenging yourself and asking questions. Recently I have found myself learning to give more credit to religion where it’s due, for example condemning the bad things while still acknowledging the good. Thank you for helping me with this!

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              1. I am really enjoying this discussion and how it makes me think. I don’t have answers for everything, of course, but I’ve addressed a few of your points (in quotes).

                “What if God asked you to kill someone, would you do it?”

                I don’t know. I haven’t faced anything like that yet, so I don’t think I can honestly say, one way or the other, what my answer would be. I do know that if my answer was yes, I would have made as certain of it as possible first.

                “I think you’re answer would most likely be that he would never ask you this so it’s a pointless question.”

                …ummm, no, there are definitely cases where He has, and probably will, ask His servants, his people, to kill someone. He has His reasons, though, and they aren’t the same ones that mortal men would usually have for it.

                Take, for instance, in the Book of Mormon. The first prophet of that book, a young man named Nephi, was ordered by God to kill a certain man. The man was wicked, tried to kill Nephi and his brothers more than once, and stole all of their riches for himself… but, still, Nephi didn’t want to kill him. He asked why, cited the commandment to not kill, and so on. He was answered, and it was explained to him… and he obeyed. His obedience enabled him to retrieve a sacred record, which his people were going to need and use for centuries, to know their history, preserve their language, and understand the will of God. But there’s even more to it, I think. See, Nephi’s family was divided either for or against their faith, with two of his elder brothers accusing him of trying to usurp leadership which was rightfully theirs, and becoming consumed with hatred. This gave rise to two nations that were frequently at war for centuries. Within Nephi’s own lifetime, his own brothers tried to murder him several times, and likely led their men in assaults on Nephi’s people, trying to kill him in battle. Nephi was his people’s protector, but how would he be able to fight his own brothers in battle if he couldn’t even kill one outright enemy? God usually has more than one reason for what He does, and what He commands us to do, so, perhaps He was preparing Nephi for what was to come.

                That is partially conjecture on my part, though, and reaches into a history which most people are completely unaware of, or even simply dismiss since, after all, it’s chronicled within a text that is entirely unique to my religion. Going to more established, recognized history… you mention the Old Testament, yes?

                When the Israelites first entered the promised land of Canaan, they were told to conquer the land and wipe out the people. They did not. This led directly to a thousand years or so of the Israelites wandering off into idolatry, including the worship of Baal. I remember hearing the story about a prophet (it was either Elijah or Elisha, and for the life of me I can never keep the two of them straight) calling fire down from the heavens, thoroughly demonstrating God’s superiority over the idol of Baal, and then said prophet had over four hundred attending priests of Baal killed. I wondered a lot about that, until a couple of years ago, when I learned exactly what the priests of Baal did, and what they led the Israelites in doing. They would basically offer sacrifices to burn on an altar, and have orgies around the burning sacrifice. This produced babies, naturally… and they would put those babies, alive, on the altar, and have their orgies while the babies screamed and burned. Which makes it quite appropriate, I think, for God to have condemned them with a display of fire from the heavens, burning up some sacrificed livestock.

                That, of course, is something we can look at and say that the priests of Baal and the Israelites did very, very wrong. Perhaps it could have been avoided entirely if they hadn’t had these idols to wander after, if they had wiped the previous peoples out as they had been directed. And I think it goes even further, because all of these periods of idolatry lasted right up until the Jews were conquered and taken to Babylon as slaves. When they were eventually freed to return, they never wandered off again. No, instead, they built up the Pharisaical law around the Law of Moses, and made that their idol instead. They were so busy with the letter of the law that they forgot the spirit of it entirely, including when such people as John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth came along. So, they disobeyed God’s will, then they and their descendants kept wandering after other gods, and then they went too far in the other direction, and completely missed the coming of the Son of God.

                I wonder very much what might have happened if they had obeyed instead.

                “Is something only good because God says it’s good?”

                No. It’s not that something is good because God says it’s good… it’s that God says it is good because it is good. That might sound like I’m just saying the same thing, but there are some distinctions. Both approaches involve trusting God, yes, but one of them encourages us to try and understand Him as well. He doesn’t simply decide what is good or bad, He understands what is good and bad, and why. We are encouraged to understand as well, or try to, by asking questions, making observations, thinking for ourselves, and so on. We are allowed that. We are allowed and encouraged to try to understand for ourselves, rather than be turned into little robotic drones.

                Faith in such situations is something of a balancing act: obeying even when we don’t understand, but also sincerely trying to understand.

                “It’s not impossible to conceive of a scenario where we would completely want to deviate from what God says due to our own moral reasons.”

                True. That happens all the time. We live and learn, and sometimes we are very, very wrong.

                “Are you a vegan?”

                Hah, no. LOL.

                To apply what I said in relation to things like veganism… well, there is a difference between, on the one hand, doing what we need to survive and be healthy and strong, with as much respect and gratitude as possible (including giving the animals who feed us as quick and painless a death as possible), and, on the other hand… being cruel. I could list a number of instances of cruelty towards animals, every one of which makes my blood boil (except one, about these guys who had to call the cops to rescue them from the desert, because the furry little creature they had caught and strapped a bit of explosive to, as they often did, had found the nearest shade, right under their car, and left them stranded and having just narrowly avoided the Darwin award). There are also countless examples of people rescuing animals with as much love as they have when rescuing their fellow humans. One cannot entertain a spirit of cruelty towards man or beast while also entertaining the Spirit of God. His Spirit encourages us to watch over those who are otherwise lost, neglected, or alone and in need, to love them and help them. That does not mean that one must become a vegan, it just means that one behaves as humanely as possible.

                “I feel like selfless acts are very difficult to do as theirs always some motivation, for me, doing seemingly selfless deeds makes me feel good and happy with myself, so are those acts selfless despite being good things? I would say not, but it’s still good to do them anyway.”

                Agreed. There’s doing good for the right reasons, and doing good for the wrong reasons, but doing good is a good thing. If nothing else, it means we are trying. 🙂

                “Can you please explain what happens to the people who do have something to fear for eternity, because I’m really getting a sense that this never ending punishment is not equal to any crime that can end.”

                As a reminder, there is a lot we don’t really know, and which I, especially, don’t know, about what eternity looks like. In fact, you just added something to my perspective which I had not quite realized before. It’s your choice of phrase, “any crime that can end.” Hm. It is true that most any crime we could think of would have a definite end, in some way. But Lucifer, who became Satan, and his followers, they are guilty of a crime that really is endless. They didn’t rebel against anything mortal, or try to hurt anything that is temporary. They knew full well that they were rejecting God and His Plan, and so they have rejected his power as well, even if they are still subject to it. They compounded that crime by striving to hurt all of us as they are hurt, to make us as miserable in eternity as they will be, and there are some (not many, thankfully) of us who will indeed join them. It is, quite certainly, an endless crime, and the punishment fits said crime.

                As I understand what, in my religion, is called Outer Darkness, it is a place (for given definition of the word “place”) which is beyond what exists. It is beyond where things are, where there is Creation, and so it is beyond the divine power which sustains all of Creation, including all of us. Our souls are indestructible, and yet, deprived of that which gives life to the soul, because one has rejected it, in a place where there is simply nothing… it is a place of wailing and despair. That place where there is nothing is the destination of those who knowingly reject… everything. The same way Satan did, and with as much knowledge of God as Satan had.

                At least, that’s what I understand of it right now.

                And thank you, by the way. You make me think too, and you ask good, thoughtful questions.

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                1. “I don’t have answers for everything”

                  That’s no problem, nobody does, I can imagine that theirs so many different things you could talk about here, and it’s more interesting to go in depth into one thing than cover everything briefly.

                  “I don’t know. I haven’t faced anything like that yet“

                  I think that’s the most honest answer you can give, of course it’s a situation so difficult to put yourself in. This is a really honest response.

                  For me, of course my answer would be no, and if I did feel put in that situation I would sooner seek mental health therapy, but your basis for saying yes would be based on the belief that if God ordered it, it must be good – likely your absolute confirmation beforehand would include mental health consultation and etc.

                  To me, the idea that God would need to make someone do an act that would normally be considered a sin is kind of absurd. Shouldn’t there always be a way around it? Let’s say if God creates people knowing how they will die, couldn’t he create a person who would die of natural causes at the exact point where he would have wanted that person to kill him?

                  Commanding someone to kill someone is also a really sinister thing to do. It feels like if God decides when everyone will die anyway, then he could do something to alleviate this problem.

                  Sure, killing people would have stopped something much worse, but aren’t there more ways to prevent these horrible things? It’s not farfetched to think that God could have brought Nephi the sacred record using his powers.

                  Could God solve these problems without the need to sin or make others sin, if so, why didn’t he?

                  Well I disbelieve the book of Mormon in a similar way to how I disbelieve the old testament so you shouldn’t worry about that there! It’s not like I am dismissing it outright out of principle, it’s rather that if you believe something, it’s your job to prove it. The book of Mormon and the old testament have not been proven historical events, and science goes against a lot of it, but if it’s proven obviously I would believe it. The only evidence I’ve seen so far for the book of Mormon is the book itself (for which the origins to me seem questionable) and the reports of a traveller in old America where he spoke to people who told stories which were similar to an event that happened in the book. I have not heard of much at all.

                  Something really still bothers me about committing murder for the greater good. Even if the outcome is better than the murder, I would still feel uncomfortable calling that murder good.

                  For us mere mortals, there are often cases where there is nothing we can do but to fight. But for all powerful Gods, I would sort of expect to see something better.

                  Sure the priests of Ball were of course doing horrible and disgusting things. But God simply stopping their orgies from producing babies would have stopped at least some suffering and death.

                  In situations like this with bad people like this, it’s not easy to think of fair ways to solve the problem. But making people infertile is surely more acceptable than ordering them to be killed.

                  Why in these situations do you think God ordered murders rather than intervening with a less sinful solution?

                  “It’s not that something is good because God says it’s good… it’s that God says it is good because it is good.”

                  I don’t think it’s the same, it is a subtle difference. Rather, God cannot decide what is good, he can’t wake up one day and decide that murder is a good thing, rather he orders and says the good things because he knows it’s a good thing.

                  What is sort of sad to me though is that despite this, the effect is still the same. Whatever God says is good, therefore disagreeing with it is not good. If we see God ordering people to do these horrible sins like murder and are ok with it, then where do we draw the line? At what point should we question if everything God says, even if it appears a horrible sin is actually good? It is possible to be living in the world of an evil God, and we could really be doing bad things, believing they’re good based on what he tells us.

                  Many people following Gods orders wouldn’t have known or had explained how they would actually be better for everyone. If presented with a situation like this, how could you know if you were listening to the good or evil God? To phrase it differently, how could Abraham have known that he was doing the right thing for God (when he was about to sacrifice Isaac) when his experience would have been identical to that of an evil Gods up until the last moment?

                  ““Are you a vegan?”
                  Hah, no. LOL.”

                  In the online circles that I am in, veganism is a fairly common topic, and I’ve heard a lot of good arguments for it although I’m not a vegan myself. It was interesting to see your response, it is perfectly respectable to me. Personally, I think it would be better to be vegan but am reluctant to change. I think it’s more important for science and the food industry to produce food that can replace meat rather than us to give up the food that we like, or rather, it’s more important for this to happen if the way we treat animals is to see any meaningful difference.

                  I think your right that the only fair punishment for an endless crime is endless punishment. But I think we still disagree on what counts as an endless punishment. To take your devil example, isn’t it possible to reject God temporally and then accept him again? I’ve seen many humans do that.

                  Is rejecting God really a crime? To look at it another way, is rejecting your parents, brother, friend or partner a crime? It may be a bad thing, but you certainly wouldn’t be put in prison for it. I feel like it should be the same for God.

                  To think about the devil more. Let’s say he’s really bothering people by driving them to commit crime and making them suffer.

                  His punishment could theoretically be endless on the condition that he inflicts suffering at the same rate that he is punished for it. That is reasonable.

                  The afterlife is a very unknown territory indeed, there’s so much that we can’t know until we’re there. I think considering the vital importance of not neglecting a single person’s fate is crucial and worth thinking about.

                  “And thank you, by the way. You make me think too, and you ask good, thoughtful questions.”
                  I’m really glad of that. It’s really interesting to see your answers to the questions. It’s obvious you’re really considering this and because of that your answers are very thought proving, and push my thinking into the obscure.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. If I may speak on one particular subject, I notice a certain pattern with some of your questions, and one which I’ve seen elsewhere. It’s all the same question, really, asked in many different ways, and I’ve asked it before myself.

                    Why is it so hard?
                    Why can’t it be easy?
                    Why does there have to be pain?
                    Why does there have to be hardship?
                    Why do we have to sacrifice?
                    Why can’t God just take care of everything?
                    Why do we have to do anything?
                    Why can’t we just have everything given to us?
                    Why do bad things happen to good people?
                    Why do good things happen to bad people?
                    Why can’t God just fix everything?
                    Why can’t we just do whatever we want?
                    Why does it hurt so much?
                    Why can’t we just know everything already and get it all right?
                    (and so on, and so forth)

                    Because we would gain nothing from it otherwise.

                    There would be no chance for compassion unless someone was hurting. There would be no understanding of another person’s pain if we didn’t know pain as well. There would be no learning from our mistakes without the pains that result from them.

                    No pain, no gain.

                    Developing our muscles is a long and painful process, involving much soreness along the way, but people do it because they want to be stronger. Climbing a mountain is difficult and tiring, but people do it because they want to reach the top. Writing stories is difficult in a multitude of ways, but people do it, and we consume those stories, none of which feature nice, easy roads to everything. There is something that we gain for all of our pains and doubts and sacrifices, for doing things the hard way instead of trying for an easy way.

                    That is what this life, with all of its attendant pains, is all about: what we gain from it, from an eternal perspective.

                    Like

  2. I’m onboard with your sentiment. I’ll offer one thing to consider:

    “Christians believe you will go to hell, but this isn’t a problem, because you don’t believe that hell is real.”

    Not _all_ Christians think that way. There’s a concept in Ancient Christianity (that sounds better than Catholicism, whose hierarchy has, let’s face it, stumbled hard in recent years) called Baptism by Desire. The idea is that if anyone decides to do what they perceive is good, because they perceive it is good, they get “credit.”

    Basically, it’s an intellectually honest approach to answering the question, “Do people who never heard the Gospel go to hell simply because of where they were born?”

    In today’s climate, I’d amend it to say, “Do people who reject the insane vision of Christianity that is currently in power in the USA automatically go to hell simply because they are good people?”

    “What kind of person would design this system? An all powerful God would know that a system like this was unfair. ”

    We’re back to the Trilemma! Talk about an effective little tool!

    “The eternal sleep of an atheist world is starting to sound nicer and nicer to me.”

    Applying the concept of Baptism by Desire, I’d classify this as a step towards salvation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very interesting thoughts!

      Yes, I didn’t intend to say that this is true for every Christian, I’ll have to go back through and change this mistake! I’ve spoken to Christians who believe in a non-torture kind of hell and that very system you mentioned.

      Although you mentioned that the concept comes from Christianity, I feel like it is really modern as well. I’ve heard people say that and think like that today, particularly in the UK. It’s really nice to hear things like that as (even if you’re unsure whether or not it’s actually true in Christian theology – it’s so complicated!) it sort of reduces the need for any kind of pascal’s wager and is quite reassuring.

      Baptism by Desire is a much better concept but I still have to worry for those who, even after all of that, are sent to hell. I just don’t see how any eternal punishment could be equal to something a person has done in a finite amount of time. Take Stalin for example, is 7 trillion years of suffering (a negligible amount compared to infinity) really equal to the suffering he inflicted? Don’t get me wrong, I think he should be punished a lot, but for lengths of time greater than the time the universe has existed? Definitely not. By the end of that he wouldn’t be the same person.

      I hope that this idea of hell changes it to be more of a finite, punishment fits the crime thing. But then you could go into all of these problems of re-education rather than punishment etc.

      To talk about the Trilemma further, let’s imagine that the hell system is fair and I’m the one who doesn’t know it is fair. In this case, wouldn’t you rather have our fates and lives designed by a human system? Instead of the unmovable authority of a God? If fairness really is so strange to humans that we just see it as laughable, wouldn’t it be better to have a system we could understand clearly and believe in? Rather than a system which we just have no idea how it works. I guess I think it’s better to be treated better than fair if that’s the case.

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean by the last sentence. Do you mean like rejecting this Christianity for moral reasons, not wanting to go to either place, would give me a better standing in the baptism by desire model?

      Thank you very much for the comment! It really made me think, and I know I’m going to keep thinking about these things for a much longer after this!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “but I still have to worry for those who, even after all of that, are sent to hell. ”

        To be fair, we don’t know that anyone’s in hell. No one’s come back from death with a census. There’s allegorical discussion of people in torment, but I don’t see that as definitive evidence. The prophets and even Jesus himself use parables to teach. Stories of people in torment strike me as belonging to that category.

        “Take Stalin for example, is 7 trillion years of suffering (a negligible amount compared to infinity) really equal to the suffering he inflicted? ”

        A very reasonable question, I think. The answer is of course not. No amount of suffering incurred can make up for suffering inflicted. it’s an absurd question at its core. There’s no suffering ratio that determines how long is long enough; at the same time, if hell is eternal damnation, then some who has a sexual addiction gets the same sentence as Stalin.

        That makes no sense.

        Plus, what do you do with masochist? Sentence them to an eternity of pleasure?

        The best description I ever heard of hell was that it was the state of complete separation from God. It was, in short, utter Void. But what does that really mean? I have never met anyone who could credibly claim to know.

        “Do you mean like rejecting this Christianity for moral reasons, not wanting to go to either place, would give me a better standing in the baptism by desire model?”

        Yeah. In effect, I think you’re rejecting a false Christianity for the right reasons. If if you call yourself an atheist, I’d say you’re a more of a Christian than someone who, on one hand, effusively praises the picture of a man holding a bible in front of a church, while at the same time consciously ignoring the citizens who had been gassed to make room for the photo op.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “To be fair, we don’t know that anyone’s in hell. No one’s come back from death with a census”

          I don’t believe theirs any evidence to warrant belief that people are in hell either. When talking about baptism by desire it’s all hypothetical. I still think it’s quite fair to consider hell in this scenario. If nobody is in it now that doesn’t mean theirs no possibility of anyone going there ever.

          Yeah it’s hard to even imagine how a system of eternal punishment could possibly be fair. I was sort of hoping the extension of the baptism by desire would be punishment in line with the crime and also education.

          “The best description I ever heard of hell was that it was the state of complete separation from God. It was, in short, utter Void. But what does that really mean? I have never met anyone who could credibly claim to know.”

          Obviously nobody can know, I’ve heard that description as well. Hell being a void is strange to me. Why can’t there be things in hell? If it’s total separation from God then it would be because hell cannot have things God created, however if God created us, that would mean we can’t go into hell either. Maybe he can send people into hell? But if that’s the case, if God can send things into hell, but just can’t go into it, it’s not really total separation from God. I don’t have total separation from my computer just because I can’t physically put myself inside it. Perhaps this just refers to an eternal sleep.

          “Yeah. In effect, I think you’re rejecting a false Christianity for the right reasons”

          I get what you mean. But it probably wasn’t for these reasons that I stopped believing in God, I just stopped because I didn’t think he was real, at the time I always avoided thinking about the bad aspects of God, it’s probably only with the extra freedom of not being worried about a God punishing me for these thoughts that I could think this. I would be incredibly impressed with a person who could reject Christianity for moral reasons, it would take incredible strength of mind as goes in complete opposite of what everyone around you says.

          Also, whose to say what true Christianity is? The bible offers so many different interpretations that it’s quite unclear. Right now I have the opinion that I’m unconvinced by Christianity, but I’d certainly judge these morally wrong versions of Christianity as less convincing than a model of Christianity that is more compatible with an all loving God. I don’t really know for certain how you could know if one person’s religious belief’s were more correct than anthers.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. ” I just stopped because I didn’t think he was real”

            Then that’s the right reason. That invokes the Baptism by Desire API. You’re doing what’s right simply because you think it’s right.

            “Also, whose to say what true Christianity is?”

            There’s actually an answer to that. The concept at least is that Christ left the church in the hands of the Apostles, who then by designating their successors, and they theirs, left a chain of command, so to speak. In the early Church, those individual because community leaders (in effect, the first Bishops), and they were wise enough by virtue of their training and association with the original Apostles that they would and did say what true Christianity was.

            Their first efforts along those lines were the Epistles.

            Of course, you could argue that Constantine kinda threw a wrench in all that. He subverted the church leadership and turned it into a tool of state expansion. Still, the remnants are in place, though today those structures are more used to shuffle priests about to avoid misconduct prosecution.

            Why, yes, I am bitter about that.

            Interesting discussion!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I really disagree. I don’t feel like being on the right side of a two thousand year long Chinese whispers game cuts it. Aren’t there different sects among these groups of ‘true Christianity’? – if they’re true, then how come they’re different.

              Wouldn’t true Christianity also be the original one? If it was changed slightly it’s not really fair to call it the same in my opinion. If the original is true Christianity, then it seems unfair to call the things that follow from it also true, if the first one is the true Christianity then any deviation from this is certainly not true right?

              It also seems wrong to think that someone couldn’t stumble across true Christianity by coincidence, being closer to the original true Christianity than any of the sects of Christianity now available to choose from.

              I am not only bitter about that but despise it, the catholic church’s attitude towards rapist priests has proved to be disgusting.

              Yeah I think it’s interesting too! Glad I opened up discussion for this again as I’ve not had a lot of conversations like this lately.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. ” I don’t feel like being on the right side of a two thousand year long Chinese whispers game cuts it.”

                It wasn’t so in the beginning. Any time something hits the space/time stream — a fact, a rock, a theological concept — it has to be passed on by some mechanism. In the early church, that mechanism was the Epistles. The alternative is a direct divine intervention, which is generally not something we see.

                You asked “Wouldn’t true Christianity also be the original one?” Yes. But. Can the divine be articulated at any point in finite time? No, that’s just not possible. And in fact, if you read the early Epistles and the four Gospels closely, there are some interesting hints there that Jesus was trying to say something that his apostles understood, but that Constantine and the power structures simply took advantage of.

                “If it was changed slightly it’s not really fair to call it the same in my opinion.”

                And that leads me tot he “something.” What if Christianity is not a specific dogma? What if it is the ascent of the heart, mind, and will to the divine? What does Paul mean when he talks about something being permissible for him, but only if it won’t offend others? What does Jesus mean when he said, “Love one another as I have loved you?”

                The early church didn’t have a lot of rituals. Those grew over time. Did you notice Jesus never once asked for a ritual? Or an incantation? Or any specific set of words?

                That’s because they’re not core to who he was.

                That’s because it’s not necessary.

                Christianity is “Love one another as I have loved you.” Want some examples? Check out the Beatitudes. Want a specific act? Ascent of will to accept Jesus.

                Really, everything else is just a human way to try to put structure around that which cannot be fit into space/time.

                “It also seems wrong to think that someone couldn’t stumble across true Christianity by coincidence,…”

                They can. That’s where Baptism by Desire comes in. If there are sentient aliens who never heard of Jesus, they might be better Christians than any of us, if they love one another as Jesus loved us (even without the example) and they want to do good simply because it’s good.

                Baptism by Desire is nothing more than a space/time expression of the divine within us. That’s all.

                “I am not only bitter about that but despise it, the catholic church’s attitude towards rapist priests has proved to be disgusting.”

                All populations have some percentage of pedophiles or rapists. They’re a problem. In my view, the worse problem, and perhaps the most clear articulation of the state of the hierarchy, is that many of the Bishops aided and abetted those pedophile and rapists by reassigning them if they were discovered. That is morally reprehensible.

                It’s one of the key reasons that, to paraphrase Nero from the first JJ Abrams’ Star Trek movie, the empire and I stand apart. I cannot by word, though, action, or inaction contribute to an organization that took those actions. Let alone later tried to hide those actions, then defend them.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. “It wasn’t so in the beginning.”

                  When it starts you can be more certain. I just feel like word of mouth is such an unreliable way of communication that it’s hard to see how it’s possible that it would be protected just because of it’s origin. For example it’s possible that one day in a thousand years or something the pope will do crimes as bad as Hitler, or give horrible advice about aids, provide a structure where people can get away with sexual abuse, or abuse children with the fear of hell but this would still be true Christianity as it came from true Christianity originally. All but one of those things has happened/is happening, however you could argue quite strongly that the Catholic church was complacent with Hitler in their open agreement with him. It feels kind of like you could get away with a lot of things using this method. I’m using Catholicism as an example, I don’t exactly know if this is something you consider comes from true Christianity so it may not apply to what you believe, and I know you would condemn these things as well.

                  What if the people from the original religion came back to life and thought that this Christianity was incorrect, would both versions of Christianity be true Christianity?

                  “What does Paul mean when he talks about something being permissible for him, but only if it won’t offend others? What does Jesus mean when he said, “Love one another as I have loved you?””

                  Wouldn’t these questions be just as interesting and enlightening coming from an atheist? I really think that these things are interesting but it doesn’t have to be from a divine perspective, as it has a lot of baggage thrown in. The golden rule also isn’t exclusively a christian concept.

                  There are a lot of things in the bible that I would consider horrific. I would like to keep the good without trying to justify the bad. You could have equally said what did Paul mean when he talked about homosexuality being an abomination and what did Jesus mean when he said that you will always have the poor as an excuse for not helping them. I don’t think those horrific views are worth the time to ponder. You can find a lot of good and also a lot of bad in the bible. To me it sounds better to keep the good stuff. And a lot of interesting thoughts and philosophies like that come from secular sources too.

                  “Christianity is “Love one another as I have loved you.” Want some examples? Check out the Beatitudes. Want a specific act? Ascent of will to accept Jesus.”

                  I obviously don’t think Christians have these horrific views from the bible, and of course most will agree with you that this is what Christianity is about. And frankly, I’m happy that this is the case, and most people just ignore all the bad stuff. It’s just difficult for me, knowing about a lot of the bad stuff to then forget about it. It’s like if you had a really good friend who did a lot of charity, was a really great guy to you and was always nice and friendly… but then he kills someone right in front of you for seemingly no reason and goes back to being the same. Although he is generally a great guy towards you and nearly everyone, that bad thing would still make you want to disassociate from him.

                  I think on that light note I’ll finish. I do really miss these conversations, I really like going to places which I’ve not thought about previously and taking the time to look at things like this, so thank you very much for this!

                  Liked by 1 person

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