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StevieWeevie

Fear of Hell

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I have been in the deconversion process for some time now and have been finding it very painful. One thing that has been causing me much fear is the concept of Hell. My Catholic friend tells me that God doesn't send anyone to Hell and doesn't want anybody to go there. That it breaks his heart if someone chooses to go there. That it is not a place but a self chosen state or condition of self exclusion, self alienation from the love of God, who is love. Because God respects our free will, he regrettably allows this. He would never violate our free will. Apparently the catholic church grows in its understanding and is continually developing. That while the Church may have understood it differently in the past this is its present understanding. That the images used in scripture are just that, images or pictures and not to be taken literally. I don't buy this. I would appreciate some feedback on this.

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Thanks Whitecloud 

 

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

 Citsonga, that letter of yours is a gift that keeps on giving. I know it involved a lot of blood, sweat, toil and tears when you wrote it several years ago, but it continues to be a valuable resource, especially for newcomers among us.  It's good that you're here to present relevant parts of it on occasions like this. 

 

Aw, shucks. Thanks, man.

 

Just last night I remembered that I had actually revamped the "hell" subject into a bullet point format several years ago. It contains mostly the same stuff as the excerpt from my letter, but it's a little more reader-friendly, so I thought I'd post that version as well:

 

SHOULD YOU FEAR "HELL"?

 

For a moment, let's set aside the debate over the Bible's accuracy and simply take a look at what it actually says about "hell" and the "lake of fire."

 

Is the "hell" in the Bible a "lake of fire"? Consider the words translated "hell" in the King James Bible:

  • Sheol (Hebrew), which appears 65 times in the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures), literally refers to an underworld, grave or pit. Newer translations of the Bible avoid translating Sheol as "hell" and even the KJV uses "hell" less than half of the time ("grave" or "pit" in other instances).
  • Gehenna (Greek), which appears 12 times in the New Testament, literally refers to the Valley of Hinnom, a dump south of Jerusalem where trash and carcases were burned. This served as a source of imagery.
  • Hades (Greek), which appears 11 times in the New Testament, refers to a netherworld or grave. Newer translations avoid translating Hades as "hell" and even the KJV renders it "grave" once. Revelation 20:14 has Hades thrown into the "lake of fire," thus clarifying that they are different things.
  • Tartaroo (Greek), which appears only one time in the New Testament, refers to being cast into Tartarus, a pit or abyss in Greek mythology.

 

Where does the concept of eternal torture in a "lake of fire" appear in the Bible? Consider this sequence:

  • The Old Testament has no mention of eternal torture in fire.
  • The earliest writings of the New Testament (some of the Epistles) also do not mention eternal torture in fire.
  • Matthew, Mark and Luke use Gehenna as scary imagery (for example, see Matthew 5:22,29-30), but nowhere do they claim that it is an eternal torture of conscious beings.
  • The "lake of fire" depicting eternal torture appears only in the Book of Revelation (chapters 19 and 20), one of the last books of the Bible to be written.

 

Since the Old Testament has no lake of fire, what does it claim to be the final punishment for wickedness?

  • Death (Ezekiel 3:18-19; 18:20,24; 33:8-14; Psalm 37:20; Proverbs 2:22; Genesis 2:17).
  • "Shall not rise" from death (Isaiah 26:14).
  • "Shall awake... to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2). This conflicts with the previous verse, but it still makes no mention of eternal torture or a lake of fire.

 

What else can we glean from Gehenna in the Bible?

  • "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43-44, where "hell" is Gehenna).
  • The worm and fire imagery above comes from the Old Testament: "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched" (Isaiah 66:24).
  • Isaiah was clearly referring to mounting corpses rather than eternal torture. The worm not dying out indicates constantly having rotting corpses to eat on. Thus, the fire imagery is clearly not depicting Christianity's hellfire doctrine.

 

In light of all of the factors so far, we need to ask ourselves:

  • If the doctrine of eternal hellfire was true and was such an important issue, then why would God avoid making mention of it throughout the entire Old Testament?
  • Why repeatedly warn of death as punishment if eternal torture was really the punishment? Wouldn't that be dishonest?
  • With the complete absence of the hellfire doctrine in the Old Testament, and the idea growing out of the imagery of a burning city dump south of Jerusalem in the New Testament, does it not seem most likely that the doctrine is simply an evolved concept?

 

Now, what about the ethics of the concept of hell? Christians claim that God is just and fair, but consider the following:

  • Inflicting infinite torture as punishment for finite infractions is unjust.
  • Punishing people who never hear of Jesus for not believing in Jesus is unjust.
  • Punishing people who are raised in a culture with other views, through no fault of their own, for not believing in Jesus is unjust.
  • Punishing people who examine the evidence before them and simply honestly conclude that Christian claims do not meet the burden of proof is unjust.
  • Eternally torturing people by burning them in a lake of fire is "cruel and unusual punishment." It is sadistic and monstrous rather than just and fatherly.

 

Some Christians try to deal with the issue of those who never hear about Jesus by suggesting that God is just and will deal fairly with them apart from belief in Jesus. While that may seem noble, consider the following problems:

  • It is inconsistent with the claim attributed to Jesus that "he that believeth not is condemned" (John 3:18). This indicates that if one doesn't believe, then he's condemned, with no recourse.
  • It would be rather pointless to evangelize and send out missionaries if God would judge everyone justly anyway.
  • It would actually be dishonest to tell people that they must believe in Jesus if that really isn't necessary for salvation.

 

Another common Christian response to the ethics problem is to claim that due to "creation" we "are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). Yet, consider the following:

  • If that was true, then everyone who looks at nature would automatically be convinced of the Christian God.
  • People of various cultures with different religious views look at the same natural world and see evidence of their gods.
  • Other people look at nature and see no evidence of any god at all.

 

Given that the unjust nature of the doctrine of hell is incompatible with the idea of a loving and just God, and given the way the Christian doctrine of hell evolved out of the imagery of burning city dump outside Jerusalem, it becomes rather obvious that the idea of eternal torture in fire is not something revealed by a benevolent deity. It is merely a morbid myth that developed over time and became useful throughout the ages for scaring people into submission to a religion.

 

In conclusion, then, it is quite clear that there is absolutely no logical reason whatsoever to fear hell. You can live a good, honest, decent life without allowing irrational fear to keep you shackled to an ancient myth.

 

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Nice work Citsonga, as usual.

 

Another issue I would like to bring up that is related to this, If God is all knowing and all powerful, it makes no sense whatsoever that in the old testament, there was no need for salvation from hell. It is clear that there was no everlasting punishment, nor was there anything that Christians believe now. It is my understanding that Jews believe that they receive most of their rewards/punishments while living and that, at some point, God will raise up all righteous people from the dead to live in the Olam Ha-Ba (not just the Jews). So, for literally thousands of years, Hell wasn't even relevant to an all knowing God who never changes and he made no effort to warn the people under his watch of this. He goes silent from the "history books" and jewish religious texts for hundreds of years, then all of the sudden, he magically appears as a form of himself and teaches that we need to be saved from the everlasting fire of hell. Christians tell you that Jesus and the Holy spirit were in the OT all along, and Christians will tell you this was all part of God's master plan. But, truthfully. it looks as if he was just winging it as he went along and decided he just had enough and figured a human weenie roast for all eternity was what he needed to get people to love him. For a God who is all knowing, all powerful and the creator of all things, he sure has no idea how to get his people to love him. He tries all sorts of things, every one of them fails. Even Christianity fails. I don;t understand how this makes him worthy of anything other than ridicule.

 

If there ever was a more obvious sign of the evolution of a religion than the doctrine of Hell, I have yet to see it.

 

It is clear that the influence of Hell in the Greek culture has weighed heavily on the Christian faith and, as Citsonga pointed out above, Hell only became relevant as the faith progressed, as the book of Revelations (the last written book) has the most to say about it. There is nothing to worry about. Absolutely nothing.

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Greetings, SW! The fear of hell is common and threads like this pop up fairly regularly.

 

The line about choosing to go to hell is ridiculous. If it was really as simple as being given an option between alleged eternal bliss and alleged eternal suffering, who would choose the suffering? Also, the bit about increasing in understanding is simply a cover for doctrines evolving.

 

Anyway, it seems that what helps most people dealing with the fear of hell while leaving the faith are time and learning about how the doctrine of hell evolved over time. Others here could explain some of the pagan influences on the Christian understanding of hell, but I'll share something a wrote several years ago (an excerpt from a long letter detailing a lot of the reasons why I no longer believe in Christianity) dealing with the issue of hell. Now, I didn't come from a Catholic background, but this specifically deals with how the concept of hell evolved in the Bible. I hope it helps, so here it is:

 

The Lake of Fire

    The Bible says that "the beast" and "false prophet" will be "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Rev 19:20), and that "the devil" will also be "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone" and that they "shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev 20:10). After that we read that "death and hell" and "whosoever was not found written in the book of life" will be "cast into the lake of fire," which it also calls "the second death" (Rev 20:14-15). Though it doesn't specify here, one would assume that this implies that everyone thrown into this lake of fire would also be tortured forever, just like it says will happen to the beast, false prophet and devil. Granted, Revelation is highly symbolic, so one could argue that this is not meant literally, especially given the reference to a "second death." For the sake of this writing, though, I will treat it literally, as traditional Christians tend to do.

 

    As a side note, many confuse "hell" with the eternal "lake of fire." However, as can be seen from the statement that "hell" will be "cast into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:14), they are technically not the same thing in the Bible. "Hell" here is the Greek term "Hades," which was used for the grave, the nether world, the realm of the dead. But, since most people think of "Hell" as the lake of fire, from here on out that will be what I am referring to when I use the capitalized word "Hell" in quotes. So, let's move on and take a closer look at the concept of eternal torture and what the Bible has to say about "Hell."

 

    To hear Christians talk, "Hell" is one of the most important topics in Christianity. Indeed, what we supposedly need saving from is "Hell." Yet, if "Hell" is such a hot topic (pun intended), and burning eternally is the final punishment for the wicked, then why is the concept of the lake of fire completely absent from the Old Testament? Sure, the word "hell" is found in the KJV Old Testament, but it is the Hebrew word "Sheol," which means the grave, the underworld, the abode of the dead, a pit. Though there are several places where the Old Testament refers to "fire" symbolically, there is no place in it that says anything about eternal torture in fire (when preachers use Old Testament verses to prove "Hell," a quick look at the context always reveals that they mean something else).

 

    In the Old Testament, the punishment for wickedness is said to be death (Eze 3:18-19; 18:20,24; 33:8-14; Psalm 37:20; Prov 2:22). Beyond that, Isaiah says, "They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise" (Isa 26:14). Daniel contradicts that by saying, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan 12:2), but though it doesn't fit with most of what we see in the Old Testament, even this verse doesn't say anything about torture.

 

    There is a significant Old Testament verse to mention, though. Jeremiah says, "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter" (Jer 19:6). In this verse, "The valley of the son of Hinnom" in Hebrew is "gay ben Hinnom," or "gay Hinnom" ("The valley of Hinnom") for short, and is the basis of a later Greek word "Gehenna" that referred to a valley south of Jerusalem where they reportedly burned trash, dead animals and at times the corpses of executed criminals. This "Gehenna" is translated "hell" in the New Testament.

 

    So, for clarification, there are two Greek words commonly translated "hell" in the New Testament. "Hades," as mentioned previously, refers to the grave or the netherworld. "Gehenna," on the other hand, was the city dump where refuse was burned. (The Greek word "tartaroo" is also translated "hell," but it's only used once in the Bible and its meaning is comparable to "Hades.") Now let's look at a few uses of "Gehenna."

 

    When we read, "Whosever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire" (Matt 5:22), that "hell fire" is referring to the burning dump south of Jerusalem. So is the statement, "It is profitable for thee that one of thy members (body parts) should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell" (Matt 5:29-30). When we read, "Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell" (Luke 12:5), that is again using the burning city dump for imagery.

 

    In addition we read, "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43-44). This is an often cited passage about "Hell," but let's dig deeper. Not only is this using the imagery of "Gehenna" discussed above, but it is based on an Old Testament quote that says, "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched" (Isaiah 66:24).  What is being talked about here is clearly not eternal torture, but simply mounting corpses. The worm not dying out is meant in reference to constantly having rotting corpses to eat on. Whatever "fire" may be referring to here, it is clearly not depicting the "Hell" that Christianity teaches.

 

    Again, if "Hell" was such an important topic, then why would God avoid making mention of it throughout the entire Old Testament? Why repeatedly warn of death as punishment if eternal torture was really the punishment? With the complete absence of "Hell" in the Old Testament, and the idea growing out of the imagery of a burning city dump south of Jerusalem called the Valley of Hinnom in the New Testament, isn't it quite clear that "Hell" is merely a doctrine that evolved over time?

 

    Beyond that, what about the ethics of "Hell"? How can justice be served by inflicting infinite torture as punishment for finite infractions? How is being burned forever a befitting discipline for mere mortals? What loving father would ever do such a thing? Would any good judge ever issue such an unfair sentence?

 

    Jesus supposedly said that "whosever believeth" in God's "only begotten Son" will "have everlasting life," and that "he that believeth not is condemned" (John 3:16,18). In Christian theology, that condemnation is "Hell." However, what about all the people who die having never heard about Jesus? What about people raised in different cultures far removed from Christianity, those who are indoctrinated with other views (through no fault of their own) to the point that that they cannot believe Christianity when presented with it? What about the many, many people throughout the ages who simply never had the opportunity to believe in Jesus?

 

    Some Christians try to weasel out of that dilemma by suggesting that God is just and will deal fairly with those other people. They may even cite the judgment based on deeds that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25:31-46. While that may seem to be a noble thought, it is flat-out contradicted by the very quote from Jesus listed above, that "he that believeth not is condemned" (John 3:18). If one doesn't believe, then he's condemned, with no recourse. Besides, there are other logical problems with this argument. Since it indicates that belief in Jesus really isn't necessary for salvation, then what's the point in evangelizing and sending out missionaries? That's commanded in the Bible, of course, but it would be rather pointless if it was true that God would judge everyone justly anyway and that believing in Jesus really isn't necessary for salvation!

 

    In addition, what about other people, such as myself, who know the story of Jesus quite well but study Christianity and honestly conclude that it is without merit? With regard to us, as well as the aforementioned people who never heard of Jesus or who were already indoctrinated with another religious view, how could a loving God condemn such people to eternal agony when God himself has refused to show himself? If the all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God of evangelical Christianity existed and wanted to have a relationship with every person, then there would be no question that he is real and Christianity is true because he would make it clear! Yet the majority of people in the world have not been convinced of such. Where is this Christian God who is supposedly reaching out to everyone?

 

    Another common Christian response is to bring up the quote, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). Thus, it is argued, nobody has an excuse for not knowing, because "the creation" around us is proof. But is it really? If this verse was true and the natural world we see clearly depicted the Christian God, then everyone who looks at nature would automatically be convinced of the Christian God! Yet, throughout the world there are varying cultures with different religious views, and many of those people look at the exact same nature and see evidence of their gods! And other people look at nature and see no evidence of any god at all! How could this be if "creation" was so clear regarding the Christian God? Obviously, this argument from "creation" is simply false.

 

    Think about this. You were raised in a Christian culture that convinced you that Christianity is true, but in the same way people raised in a Muslim culture are convinced that Islam is true, and people raised in a Hindu culture are convinced that Hinduism is true, and so on and so forth. The fact is that people's religious beliefs are primarily dependent upon demographics instead of logic, reason and indisputable evidence.

 

    You cannot believe Islam to be true because you were programmed to believe Christianity. But the opposite is also true: Those who are programmed to believe Islam simply cannot believe Christianity. Put yourself in their shoes. What if you had been raised and indoctrinated with Islam, and therefore you could not believe Christianity? That would be no fault of your own; it would simply be the result of being raised in that culture. Would it then be fair to torture you in "Hell" forever and ever and ever, with no mercy and no relief, simply because you did not believe something that you had no ability to believe? Do you not see the absurdity and injustice in that? Do you really believe that a righteous, loving God would do that to his creation?

 

    You've heard about "cruel and unusual punishment." Indeed, when someone commits a crime, we expect them to be punished, but we expect the punishment to be in accordance with the crime. However, how could any criminal deserve being tortured forever and ever and ever? We are mere mortals with a very limited life-span, so how could anything one does be worthy of unending agony? Such torture would be "cruel and unusual punishment"! And, again, the idea of issuing such punishment for a lack of belief by those who can't believe is even more problematic.

 

    Clearly, any God who would torture people like that would have to be sadistic and unjust, because only a sadistic monster could be so cruel! To call any such God "good" is ridiculous, and is an insult to all that is good.

 

    Given that the unjust nature of the doctrine of "Hell" is incompatible with the idea of a loving and just God, and given the way the Christian doctrine of "Hell" evolved out of the imagery of a burning city dump outside Jerusalem, it becomes quite clear that "Hell" is not something revealed by God, but merely a morbid myth that developed over time and became useful for scaring people throughout the ages.

 

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Hi SW

 

Would you believe that we just thrashed out this very topic with the very same name with another new member?

 

I think it would be well worth your while reading through it: 

 

Free will is a separate topic and an interesting rabbit hole it is. However on the subject of "god doesn't want anyone to go to hell" Really? And Christians know this how? Lets look at the evidence:

 

Note this assumes God exists:

 

1) God is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent

2) God doesn't want anyone to go to hell

3) God creates hell for the vast majority of humanity to spend eternity in

 

We have something of a logic problem in that we have an omnipotent god not wanting anyone to go to hell that he create. If he cannot stop people going to hell then he is not omnipotent. If he can, but doesn't, then he wants you to go to hell. You might have 'qualified' for it in his book, but he still wants you to go there. 

 

Therefore the argument "god doesn't want you to go to hell" is a poor whitewash in an attempt to excuse the horrific idea of people buring forever. Most humans find the idea unfortable when they realise that most people going there are not rapist, murderers etc - they are simply those who don't believe.

 

Right all that aside: There is no evidence of hell, and no evidence to conclude that anything supernatural in the bible is anything but stories.

 

I'm going to quote BAA here:

Quote

The bible fails at Genesis 1:1

.. and it doesn't get any better... talking snakes, talking donkey's, magical boats, magical water for 2 million in the desert, magical fish, magical shouts that bring down city walls, magical births, magical resurrections, seven headed dragons... then there's all the real gory stuff: rape, incest, murder, genocide, politics, kings, queens, captives, slaves.....

 

No no, I'm not talking about Game of Thrones I'm talking about the bible!

 

The fear you have is all from imagination of the mind, dreaming up what it might be like from stories told to you by those too ignorant to think critically themselves.

 

Yes it seems real, but its not!

 

All the best and stick around!

 

LF

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Lol I almost didn't look at this notification because I thought it was the old one I had already posted on.

 

DB

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 Citsonga, that letter of yours is a gift that keeps on giving. I know it involved a lot of blood, sweat, toil and tears when you wrote it several years ago, but it continues to be a valuable resource, especially for newcomers among us.  It's good that you're here to present relevant parts of it on occasions like this. 

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A thread was started in General Theological Issues dealing with the Bible intended for folks that are in the process of leaving their faith. Determining if the Bible is true or not is usually a major issue for people leaving their faith or just thinking about it. You might consider checking out that topic I think you will find it helpful. 

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Thanks for all the feedback, helpful stuff. It's a hard one for me to eradicate but I'll keep plugging at it. 

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Hello Stevie

 

I know what you are going through because I went through it and I am still not over it. Thanks to the cool people here though, they are helping deal with this phobia of hell.

 

You may have read the following in the other thread but I thought I'd post it here just in case.

 

Hell is not once mentioned in the entire bible. Not once. Gehenna is translated hell in the NT. Gehenna is Greek for Ge Hinnom and Ge Hinnom is an actual rubbish tip that was located SW of Jerusalem. The rubbish tip was kept burning (interestingly enough sulphur was used to keep the fires burning) and convicted/executed criminals and animal carcases were thrown into this rubbish tip to be destroyed. Jesus used this rubbish tip as an example of what would happen to sinners after judgement. Nobody there listening to Jesus would have believed in eternal suffering because those familiar with the burning rubbish tip knew that anything thrown in, was destroyed.  

 

Eternal Punishment: It is the judgement that is eternal not the suffering, it is the sentence that is eternal, not the suffering. Death is eternal, separation from God is eternal.

 

We are clearly told (Romans 6:23) that the wages of sin is death, that the lake of fire is the second death, that those who believe in Jesus will not suffer eternal torment, but will perish, the eternal fires of Sodom and Gomorrah were an example (Peter) of what would happen to sinners. Sodom and Gomorrah were utterly destroyed and their 'eternal' fires are no longer burning. It's metaphor. In Thessalonians Paul clearly says wicked (2Th 1:9) will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction. The Greek meaning of the word destruction means just that, destruction, destroyed, annihilated, oblivion. Gone. In the OT Psalms (37:20) says the wicked perish, and in Peter (2 Peter 3:9) it says God doesn't want any to perish. The Greek word perish means to 'destroy fully' (#622 Strong's Concordance). The prophet Ezekiel wrote (twice) that “The soul that sins, it shall die” (18:4, 20). Matthew (10:28) says to fear God who can destroy both soul and body in hell (i.e. in the grave). Destroy. It doesn't say "who can punish humans forever in hell"

 

Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire. If the lake of fire is a real place, how can a state (death) and a place (the grave: hades/sheol = grave) be thrown into it? It can't be done because it is all symbology; a major part of the Book of Revelation is symbology. Again, Revelation (20:14) tells us the lake of fire is the second death

 

Hel is an archaic word meaning covering. There is an old English word that was used; helling potatoes. Helling potatoes simply meant covering the potatoes with earth or placing them in the cellar. A helmet covers the head. Hell is the earth covering the body. When Jesus went to hell for three days he went to, the grave. 

 

The OT never mentions a fiery hell, and Jews today do not believe in a fiery hell of eternal torment. The idea of hell first entered into Christianity after the Jews returned from Babylon. It was in Babylon where they first encountered ideas of an eternal punishment in the afterlife. The OT tells us that (Ecclesiastes 9:5) the dead know nothing and (Psalms 146:4) their (the dead) thoughts perish

 

Fire is used in Scripture for utter destruction, sometimes purification, but never for preservation in torment

 

One last thing

 

Jeremiah 7: 31 And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.

 

Jeremiah 32: 35 They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin

 

I find it hard to accept that God would send his children to burn in agony forever, when killing children by burning them is seen as an abomination to God and the idea did not even enter his mind.

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Thanks Seajay, that is very interesting. Where did you discover this information. It makes a lot of sense.

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4 minutes ago, StevieWeevie said:

Thanks Seajay, that is very interesting. Where did you discover this information. It makes a lot of sense.

 

I was a Christadelphian for about two years, and they do not believe in a literal hell or an actual devil (they believe the devil is just a personification of humankind's propensity to sin). 

 

Check this out too: www.wrestedscriptures.com/b03hell/hell.html <--- Christadelphian website debunking the idea of a literal hell 

 

 

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Stevie, I'll pop in with the same two cents I gave SeaJay (hopefully it helped @SeaJay):


First logical question, as has been noted: why a loving, all powerful God would create such a place to begin with? That is what always bothered me, especially when he didn't want you to go to hell (or so I was told to say during my ministry days). 

 

Why create a place if you don't want us to go? After a while, you just look at it from a perspective of the so-called free will argument and how there technically is none since not believing is a ticket to hell. 

 

Now I just joke that if such a place exists, it can't be all that bad. Lucifer is a good guy if you look into his deeds. He's probably made the place into a paradise with booze and concerts. I hear the Devil's Fingers band is pretty good. 

 

In all seriousness, for me it was just the absurd nature of such a place when I finally took off my rose colored ministry glasses and realized the fallacy behind the argument and it's destination. Why would a loving god make such a place to begin with? It comes with the Free Will argument and Problem with Hell inquiry. You get some research, not sure how credible, showing that some bishops and so forth coming forward with saying it was something invented by the early church to keep butts in the seats, and therefore power of the church over the people, along with money for the coffers.

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I agree with you Travi, and for a long time it was taught that Hell is a created place as far as I am aware. Now the theologians are saying that it is not a place but  a self chosen state or condition caused by self separation and of course they teach that self separation from love and Life is a self induced agonising condition, not caused by God. 

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Thanks for the link Seajay 

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28 minutes ago, StevieWeevie said:

I agree with you Travi, and for a long time it was taught that Hell is a created place as far as I am aware. Now the theologians are saying that it is not a place but  a self chosen state or condition caused by self separation and of course they teach that self separation from love and Life is a self induced agonising condition, not caused by God. 

Anything to deflect blame away from their god. I have heard this argument as well: "God isn't throwing you in hell, you're throwing yourself there by not believing in him."

Reverse argument that comes back to the original questions: Why was it created in the first place? And where is my free will to believe in him if the alternative is eternal torment?

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I guess with me, once I accepted that the bible was false then hell went with it. I felt all gappy and lost, then I knew that the belief system I had was gone.

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Steevie,

 

If you have the time to read through eight pages of discussion, please follow the link to Christianforums.com that's embedded in this one..

 

We don't know who Dr. Truth is aside from the fact he was an atheist who visited Christianforums and put a 'killer' question to them.

 

I reckon that you'll find the way the Christians cannot answer his question to be just as informative as any answer we Ex-Christians can give you here.

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

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Aw, shucks. Thanks, man.

 

Just last night I remembered that I had actually revamped the "hell" subject into a bullet point format several years ago. It contains mostly the same stuff as the excerpt from my letter, but it's a little more reader-friendly, so I thought I'd post that version as well:

 

SHOULD YOU FEAR "HELL"?

 

Citsonga, you are amazing.

 

We need a feature where we can take a single post like this and put it in a "Important & Awesome Posts" section for future reference.

 

So when someone asks about hell you can just say Citsonga nailed that topic, here's the link. Boom. No need to remember and re-write stuff.

 

Mind if I copy it for my own personal 'research' collection I have of great points against the bible?

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Mind if I copy it for my own personal 'research' collection I have of great points against the bible?

 

Sure, feel free to use it. I hope it helps people get past the fear that's been ingrained in them. 

 

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Post deleted and moved to the other 'Fear of Hell' thread.

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Page 6

The fact that something sprung from nothing with no catalyst

 

Yes, I know. I can almost hear the collective groan :) But once again, this is a statement that just hit me. I’m not even going to pretend so I’m just going to simply ask (though I believe the question is no), do scientists believe that something sprung from nothing with no catalyst?

 

 

I'm going to go straight to your last point first.  Maybe others (or myself if I get time) will respond to your other concerns...

 

I'm no scientist but I believe that science has not yet been able to explain what "caused" the Big Bang.  Christians of course will say that God must have caused it.  But then what caused God?  Christians might say that God. by his very nature, did not need to be caused.  But can't we save a step and speculate that the laws of physics did not need to be caused and that these laws led to the universe we live in?  There seem to be at least two possibilities here:  (1) The laws of physics just ARE, with no intelligence behind them, no need for a god.  The laws of physics are the closest thing there is to an intelligence behind the universe. This is what I tend to believe.  (2) The laws of physics are "fine tuned" so that they must have been "designed" by some intelligent entity, which might be called "God".  The problem with this is that such a creator would itself have to be more complex than the laws it created, and if - as Christians would argue - it did not need to itself have a cause, why do the laws of physics have to have a cause?  Either possibility (or any other option, such as the multiverse idea) is simply mind-blowing to a mere human like me.  And while it's fascinating to think about, none of this makes a difference to my atheism or to how I live my life.  Why?  Because even if  such a Great Designer existed, it clearly is unwilling or unable to communicate clearly with us, given the garbled mess of god-beliefs that have sprung up on this planet alone, all with equal certainty.

 

In any case, even if it could be proven that an intelligent being was behind the universe, it is a VERY big step from there to Christianity.  The problems with Christianity (as with Islam and Judaism, etc.) are so profound and so wide-ranging that I (and most of us here) have confidently rejected it:  there is no Father, no Son, no Holy Spirit, no Sin, no Salvation, no Heaven and no Hell. 

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That's a very interesting thread! I’ve read it twice and was very interesting.

 

For the most part, Dr Truth wins the argument. But there are a few areas I struggle with. I’m going to list them here in the hope we can discuss them. I won’t list the posters’ identities, I’ll just post the page numbers of the post involved (if anyone wants to read them in context) and I’ll blue text the posts themselves. Hope that’s alright:

 

Page 2

Knowing all possible outcomes means He knows all the outcomes. Period. If we come to a fork in the road, God can see all possible outcomes from either decision. You see the problem with this "paradox" is that it assumes God has a limited intelligence like we do. He does not. His knowledge is infinite. We are viewing the future and eternity from a single point in time, the present. God can see from eternity to eternity. Past present and future only exist to us. God is eternal. We cannot conceive of that kind of depth, our brains just simply cannot handle that type of information

 

Omniscience: everything that is knowable about all possible futures

 

The best way I can convey my thinking here is to use an example.

 

Imagine that God has a bird’s eye view of a pool of water, and He can see everything in the water, including its circular border. The pool of water represents the entire concept of ‘time’. Now imagine there are thin slivers of water, like lines, representing the lives of billions of people, and these lines/people emerge from the centre of this pool, and wind their way toward the pool’s borders (i.e. the lines of water represent people who are born, live, then die). There are literally billions upon billions of these lines/people, but even so, God can see them all; He can see their start, their journey, and their final destination (heaven or hell).

 

In this respect, if God is outside of this time stream (i.e. above the pool of water looking down), and can see EVERYTHING that has, is, and ever will happen to the people, then you have the situation where God is observing the paths we take. He is aware of the decisions being made and where they will end up.

 

It's like I am watching a rivulet of water run down a window.  The water is making its decision to go straight down and has decided not to veer left or right (let's say the water is sentient for argument's sake) but I know the path it'll take because I am watching it as it happens. This way, the water (us) have free will to make a decision and God (the observer) doesn't force us to make a decision but is aware of the outcome. 

 

In other words, we see time linear, like a river flowing from A to Z, but God sees it all at once. It's like, all that ever has, will and can happen, has already happened to God because God sees time all at once in an instant. In a way, all the choices we might make in the future, God sees as already been made. 

 

This then poses the question if God is all powerful, then why doesn't He stop people from choosing incorrectly? The answer for me would be God won't control us due to not wanting to take away our free will. 

 

But then, the real question, is not time and how God might view time, and not examples of pools and rivers running down a window, but the issue of hell. If the final destination of non believers is eternal agony, then I can't help but ask why God would NOT interfere with our free will if it meant stopping us going to hell. But if the final destination of non believers is oblivion, then I am fine with free will not being interfered with. That's the real issue here for me. I guess. 

 

 

Yes, SeaJay...

 

...the crux of the matter is the issue of hell.  Dr. T asks how a loving and merciful god can create beings he knows will suffer in hell.  Surely, if god were loving and merciful, he wouldn't do this?  Following on from this, here's my take on the issue.

 

Being eternal and omniscient, god knew everything there is to know before he created the count of time in his creation.

This knowledge includes knowing who goes to hell and who doesn't.  Before creation (if I can use the word, 'before'!) everyone existed only as unexpressed thoughts in god's eternal mind.  So, knowing beforehand who joins him in heaven and who doesn't, why doesn't god just create only the saved and leave the damned as unexpressed thoughts in his mind?  That way there's no need for him to create the physical universe or the Earth.  He can just populate heaven with the people he foreknew would go there.  That way nobody suffers and nobody has their free will violated.  After all, a person who only exists in god's mind has no real existence and therefore cannot have their free will violated, can they?  

 

Thanks,

 

BAA.

 

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The free will defence of hell is nonsensical.

First of all, capturing someone and torturing them forever is hardly a great way of showing respect for free will. How would they exercise this free will while being tortured in hell?

But leaving that aside, God would have ample opportunities to guide or even restrain people without taking away their free will.

In fact, I'm using my power to influence your decision-making right now. Does God not have this same power? Or did I deprive you of your free will as well?

Clearly, this argument is pure nonsense thought up by people grasping at straws to justify the unjustifiable.

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Posted deleted and moved to the other 'Fear of Hell' thread.

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