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Dexter

Hell is only scary when you are a Christian

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The Lake of Fire. A place so far from God that his goodness and light do not shine there. Torture. Wailing. Gnashing of teeth. You live with your pain and sorrow and no goodness exists there.... wait what? No goodness exists there? But what of the good people who do not accept God? Some denominations claim that just being a "good person" is a free admission to heaven but most do not. So let's deconstruct this real quick. 

 

Why I feared hell:

As a Christian, I feared hell. I feared pain and torture, sure. No one wants that. But this fear was more visceral than just the cringing fear that the future was going to hurt. I feared being in pain and being alone without my friends or my family. I was going to be hauled away to be tortured, never to see my loved ones again.

 

There is no fellowship with non-believers:

Bad company corrupts good morals. Do not be unequally yoked. The way is narrow. Only goodness comes from God. The message is clear, do not associate with those outside the faith. Convert them, if you can, but guard yourself against the ways of the world. You see, if you realize that their goodness is really just God all along, then no man is intrinsically good. Don't make close friendships with non-Christians. Don't give them names. It just makes it that much harder at the slaughter. And if you, young goat, end up in the slaughter, how will you ever bear the lake of fire where the goodness from God no longer exists.

 

What the free-will, man?!

So the goodness expressed by non-believers is actually just God's explicit action without consent? Well shoot, we never had free-will to begin with then and are literally just sock puppets. No point worrying about being good. Just do whatever and God will control you however he feels like. If you are meant to burn, you'll burn. No sense worrying about it right now. 

 

What the hell would actually be like:

It would be awful. A lot of people would feel betrayed by a god they thought loved them. But after the initial shock and turmoil, people would rally together, form communities and start to help each other out, as we always have and as we always will. While I cannot speak for others, I know that my first thought would be tending to those worse off than me. I know for a fact I would not be alone. 

 

But wait!

"Nu-uh!" says the Christian. "You're gonna burn! You won't be able to think straight you'll be in so much pain." Really? This didn't seem to be the case for the rich man in Luke 16. But let's say you are right. If the pain is so severe that I cannot string two thoughts together, then I won't have eternity to worry about anyway because I will be tortured into madness. Some poor creature will surely suffer for endless eternity, but it will not be me. I, the consciousness that is me, will be gone. Dead.

"Nu-uh!" says the Christian. "God will give you a perfect body that can never go insane. You'll be aware of it forever!" Really? So by God's will, I will be healed of all defects and maladies so the my torture can be fresh and pure. I thought that hell was a place away from God's presence where those who reject him and do not wish to be dwell within his light can exist, outside of his light. But now you say that God is present and has an active role in my torture. He WANTS me to hurt. He WANTS me to suffer and burn. So tell me, do you pray to him out of love, or fear of his perfect torture? For if it is of God, then it must been good. 

 

Hell only works if God is a monster:

If Hell is a place removed from God's presence: Then in spite of whatever bad conditions this reality brings, humanity will band together against whatever common enemy or common adversary we face, as we always have and always will. After all, pretty much all liberals are going to hell according to American conservatives. There will be no shortage of grief counselors and mental health professionals to help us through.

If Hell is a place of pain so immense: Then don't fight off the madness. It is disgusting beyond imagine that God would watch creatures that can never die burn in fire (see Luke 16 if questions on whether God can see hell from his vantage point) but without your right mind, you are not you. Shed a tear for the husk of flesh and jibbering madness you leave behind but do not fear letting go.

If God heals you so that your torture is never ending: Then God is the devil. All of the pop-culture depictions of Satan with a pitchfork tormenting the damned, that is in fact God. If you argue that God is using Satan to deliver this torture, then it is still from God. Is a General innocent when he orders his troops to slaughter civilians even though he himself has never killed anyone in his entire life? This is the hell Christians fear. The never-ending torture. The ability to feel all the pain most intense and never ceasing for all eternity. 

 

But it only works if God is, in fact, the Devil.

 

 

 

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Most of what you're referring to isn't even biblical, but from Dante's Inferno and extrabiblical fiction. That's why there's a lot of disagreement about hell. SDA's, for instance, don't believe in an eternal hell. Just a lake of fire at the final judgement which will destroy the devil and everyone thrown in with him, then it's over and done. No eternal torture or any of that.

 

They skip through the bible picking and choosing verses of their liking in order to get there, like everyone else does. People go through scripture like a shopping mall, picking this or that, putting it in their cart, ignoring what they haven't picked and whether or not something else contradicts what they have picked, and stroll down the isle of the bible believing or not believing what ever suites their fancy. The result, thousands of christian denominations. Split opinions on hell, the trinity, and many other issues. The bottom line is that you're right, it doesn't make any sense and is very inconsistent. 

 

The summary. It's all 100% man made mythology which evolved into organized religion over time. 

 

The next question. 

 

So what is a mythology, then? 

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41 minutes ago, Dexter said:

The Lake of Fire. A place so far from God that his goodness and light do not shine there. Torture. Wailing. Gnashing of teeth. You live with your pain and sorrow and no goodness exists there.... wait what? No goodness exists there? But what of the good people who do not accept God? Some denominations claim that just being a "good person" is a free admission to heaven but most do not. So let's deconstruct this real quick. 

 

Why I feared hell:

As a Christian, I feared hell. I feared pain and torture, sure.

 

 

But your body doesn't go to "hell," only your soul, or "spirit," which is disembodied and therefore cannot feel anything. 

 

"The Lake of Fire" is only mentioned once in the entire Bible. it was a concept completely unknown to 99% of Biblical writers. 

 

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If more people actually thought about it thoroughly it would create too much cognitive dissonance...the reality is that hell is in direct contact with with any sort of theology of a good, loving, and just god.  The idea of hell has evolved through time simply as a means to control people's minds.

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Often overlooked is the fact that the Jews would have interrupted Jesus anytime he mentioned the concept of damnation, because it isn't a Jewish concept. "What, are you a Roman?!" The New Testament treats his statements about damnation like it was an accepted concept in Judaism, and it never has been. It came from other religions (Greeks, Romans, Zoroastrians). Believers will point to obscure poetic references about burning chaff in the Old Testament, but ignore that the passages are full of poetic language (people are not literally chaff, etc).

 

Interestingly, Judaism does have a form of reincarnation, and one goes through it again and again, or PARTS of the soul go through it again and again. After death there can be temporary punishment, a sort of "washing machine" to purge sinful ways, and then back to become more obedient. I'm willing to bet that was also adopted from other religions since nothing in the limited Jewish scriptures we have in the Bible even hints at such things.

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2 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

Most of what you're referring to isn't even biblical, but from Dante's Inferno and extrabiblical fiction. 

 

I am aware of this but I often find that it doesn’t matter. Every time I’ve tried the approach that, “no, your religion actually teaches...” I’ve already lost my audience. Hell, I’ve had to refute a people I called “Brownies.” They are readers of Dan Brown’s fiction, the Davinci Code, and believed it as true. It’s all mythology. So I start where the mythos starts. 

 

2 hours ago, Blood said:

 

 

But your body doesn't go to "hell," only your soul, or "spirit," which is disembodied and therefore cannot feel anything. 

 

"The Lake of Fire" is only mentioned once in the entire Bible. it was a concept completely unknown to 99% of Biblical writers. 

 

 

But what a great imagery, no? :)

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1 hour ago, MamaCaz said:

If more people actually thought about it thoroughly it would create too much cognitive dissonance...the reality is that hell is in direct contact with with any sort of theology of a good, loving, and just god.  The idea of hell has evolved through time simply as a means to control people's minds.

 

Interestingly, the way I resolved it when I was a true believer was like this: 

 

God’s nature is not to torture so any hell of “active” torture is false. Rather, those who rebel against god, he will ALLOW to leave his presence utterly. And since his presence is goodness, peace and love, hell is just a place with the absence of those things. It is “like” fire and it is “like” torture but to keep my god model internally consistent, he took no active part in the affairs of hell. 

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18 minutes ago, Dexter said:

 

Interestingly, the way I resolved it when I was a true believer was like this: 

 

God’s nature is not to torture so any hell of “active” torture is false. Rather, those who rebel against god, he will ALLOW to leave his presence utterly. And since his presence is goodness, peace and love, hell is just a place with the absence of those things. It is “like” fire and it is “like” torture but to keep my god model internally consistent, he took no active part in the affairs of hell. 

 

I was taught the same.  Even that didn't make sense though, and during the later stages of the beginning of my deconversion I a andoned the idea in favour of annihilationism.

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7 hours ago, Dexter said:

 

I am aware of this but I often find that it doesn’t matter. Every time I’ve tried the approach that, “no, your religion actually teaches...” I’ve already lost my audience. Hell, I’ve had to refute a people I called “Brownies.” They are readers of Dan Brown’s fiction, the Davinci Code, and believed it as true. It’s all mythology. So I start where the mythos starts. 

 

 

But what a great imagery, no? :)

 

Hell is basically pagan mythology, as is a ton of the rest of what's in the bible. Yahweh not withstanding. I do find it interesting that the lake of fire in Revelation wasn't known to other writers. Revelation is largely astrotheological mythology and I'm sure the lake of fire entry ties in somewhere. I don't see why that wouldn't be a pagan esoteric reference as well. I just haven't looked that closely at the lake of fire symbolism yet. 

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