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Hell: a discussion

Thorin

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HLGStrider said:
There are people who don't believe it is just to execute a murderer, for instance. Do you? I do. But if you don't and I do, justice obviously means different things to us. Why can't it mean a different thing to God than it does to you, and if it came down to trusting God or trusting you, I'd trust God's definition of just.
But is it really God's definition of justice, or man's vengeful and retributive attitude towards sinners imposed on God? The human mind (in general) does not revolt at the idea of someone dying for a heinous crime when it is retributive. It does revolt at the idea of someone being kept alive under hideous pain with no thought of cessation or relief. Why would God be worse then us when his thoughts are higher than our thoughts?

The problem is that we take this and try to apply it an eternal hell. We automatically accept that eternal torment is true and then accept on the basis that God is higher than us so we can't say that it is false or that God is wrong. That is thinking that paints us into a corner that we must accept this character of God. The character of God must be looked at first and used to interpret such a doctrine, not the other way around. When we do that we will find such a concept foreign to the nature of a being such as God.
HLGStrider said:
But that asside, your definition of Hell is more a matter of punishment than seperation. For the Devil it was punishment, the punishment of seperation, for us it is just seperation, an inevitable result of telling God to shove off.
It's all semantics. It doesn't change the fact that hell would exist for nothing more than torture and punishment. Why? Because God had to have made that hell first before we chose to go there.

That's like me digging a pit outside my classroom and telling my students not to leave the classroom. The kids do leave anyway and plummet to their deaths. I can try and justify myself by saying. "Hey, I warned them. They could have stayed in the classroom and been saved." It still begs the question:

What was the purpose for digging the hole to begin with?

And so it is with the traditional view of hell. You may say that the fires were prepared for the devil and his angels. That may be true but the devil and his angels don't get their reward until the end of time after the 1000 year reign in heaven of the saints after the end of the age. How could sinners go to this hell of torment at death when whom it was prepared for isn't even in it yet?? Is it really fair for Satan to burn the same amount of time with those poor souls who were deceived by him? If burning in fire is the punishment, don't you think that duration should be a retributive factor? Especially when the bible says that we will be judged by our works and Christ says in Revelation 22 that "his reward is with me to give every man according as his works shall be"?

Everyone is tossed in together, sinners, demons and all. It devours them and as Malachi says, "there is no root nor branch left and they (wicked) will be ashes under the soles of your feet" (Malachi 4:1-3).

When we understand that the 'wages of sin is death' (Romans 6:23) we see that everyone has sinned, therefore everyone gets the same punishment. Death is the harshest form of punishment that can be given on this world and every government instituted by God or allowed to reign by God has practiced it, even been commanded by God Himself to implement it. Why wouldn't God hold himself to His own word?

GOD: "Well, my Word says that the wages of sin is death, but hey. I've decided to commute that sentence to conscious life in fire. Death is too swift and painless. And even though my Word also says that I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, it doesn't say anything about the eternal fiery torment of the wicked. Of course, I won't take pleasure in that either despite the fact that it is ten times worse than your other punishment. I guess I'm going to just have to deal with it somehow."
 

Eriol

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Wow, great rhetoric there Thorin :).

Your reasoning applies with the same force to the notion of an eternal Heaven, though. What is the reason for us to not conclude that after a period of bliss we'll be annihilated?
 

HLGStrider

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Does anyone else remember this being a name somewhere in one of the Myst games?

For someone to deserve eternal punishment for rejecting Christ they would have to continue it for eternity.
I believe they do. I actually believe that they will continually have the chance to repent while in hell and continually reject it. However, this is a belief based on nothing but me thinking, so I don't put much stalk in it.

I have catagories for my belief:
A. I believe it but only in that I thought it once and I liked it so I'm going to believe it until I get something better (you can only loosely call these beliefs. Notions would be more accurate.).
B. I believe it, but not firmly. You'd actually have to use a reason to dissaude me. . .or be someone who I believe with authority. I generally won't argue these, though, because they don't mean enough to me, and I don't usually care enough about them to research them better. I won't just reject them on a whim however.
C. Beliefs based on things I'm sure of. Very good logic can make me doubt them, but it takes awhile to make me change my opinion.
D. Things I'll stubbornly believe no matter what. I can't think of anything that would make me change my mind, but since one of my beliefs is that all things are possible, it must be possible for these to be change.

The belief listed above is an A.
My belief in an eternal hell is a C based on fore mentioned trusted resources.
My belief in God is probably a D.
The only thing off the top of my head that I can think of that is a B is . . .gosh. . .I can't think of a B.

How could sinners go to this hell of torment at death when whom it was prepared for isn't even in it yet?
Actually, you had already persuaded me on this one subject. I believed about a year ago that after death we were immediately placed in whatever afterlife we go to, but you (Thorin) showed me one or two verses that showed me I was wrong. When I held this belief it was probably a B. It was based on one verse which changes with puncuation and that I really like the idea of instantaneous gratification.
 

Helcaraxë

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HLGStrider said:
Emotions can be illogical and that is why they can get out of hand. That is why we have therapists. To tell us to stop hating and fearing irrationally.

If we give up on logic, what do we have?

I think there is logic to some things.

And I don't think nature is a conscious being. If so it is a self-destructive one.
I was actually thinking about this at work today because one thinks when mixing the chocolate powder with the chocolate syrup and then pouring the coffee on top because all you really have to think about to do this is not splashing your clothes and making sure all the powder disolves which doesn't take much thought. . .anyway. . .

I'm going to try and answer Eriol's question. I was thinking about the differences, and I came up with an answer, but the answer seemed wrong to me because it didn't seem that I had pantheism right.

My way of looking at it, for the sake of clarity, was to ask the question: What do you have left of your god if you take everything else away?

Meaning if there was no earth, no space, no inhabitants, no elements, no matter, no emotions, no anything, besides God, what would it be?

For the Christians the answer would be "God." God in Christianity is a whole, independent being who doesn't need any of that.

For Panenetheistic the answer would be, "A smaller god." . .or something like that. Better phrased of course. But the idea would be there would be something left, but it would be less than what it was before.

For Pantheism, I think the answer is "Nothing" for all those things listed above are god.

But I kept thinking, no no no, even a pantheistic god must have some element that is himself apart from everything else (I use himself because I don't like him/herself and itself seems . . .I don't know. . .odd.).

Or does it?
First question first. No emotion has any real logic. It is all a matter of personality. All that therapists do is try to help us give some order to this great heap of feelings and emotions. But order does not make it logical.

Second: if we give up logic, we have plenty of things. Perception, for one. Logic is a very specific way of thinking. It is an ordered progression from a premisis to a conclusion. (Thus it is only valid insofar as its indemonstratable premisis are valid, which cannot be verified by logic itself. But that's not the point.) We can still anylize our perceptions and our thoughts without being logical. There are many more schools of thought than mere logic.

Third: Nature is not a self-destructive consiousness. It just has many parts to it that are at times conflicting. Is a person self-destructive because of ambivalence? Or because their mind has several different parts to it that act and think differently? No, the parts of the person mind, conflicting as they may be, synthesize into an ordered whole.

Fourth: I think it is (at least in my philosophy of panentheism) somewhat self-defeated to ask, "What would happen if you made all of nature non-existant?" Nothing can be destroyed, only reduced to something much smaller. But if you ask, "What is there besides God?", that is answerable. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. God contains all of nature, but gives it a higher consciousness.

I just saw your last post. When you say the "above" belief is an A, which belief do you mean?

And there is another problem. The person who rejects Christ can't go to hell in the first place if hell is eternal, because they have commited a finite crime. They could never go to hell for commiting an infinte crime, because then they would never go to hell (they would never complete the crime.) You can't send someone to Hell merely because you don't think that they will repent at all, even in hell.

Eriol said:
If it has a personality, it must make choices. If it makes choices, then it has preferences. If it has preferences, then it has a notion of good and evil. That comes with consciousness and choice.

Will you try to answer to the question of the observable difference between the panentheistic and the pantheistic God, MB? As well as the question of where do our own ideas of good and evil come from?

*Waits with a great curiosity*

:)
Pantheism is more of an "omnipresence." God permeates and is present in all things. Panentheism implies that all things are part of a higher consciousness, not that the higher consciousness is a part of all things. It's a subtle but important difference.

MB
 

Thorin

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Eriol said:
Your reasoning applies with the same force to the notion of an eternal Heaven, though. What is the reason for us to not conclude that after a period of bliss we'll be annihilated?
Not true. Immortality is a gift promised by God to those who believe. Death is a natural consequence for those who sin. Death was never meant to be to begin with, immortality was. The end will be like the beginning before sin came to be. God will restore things to what they were.

You can't argue cessation of life for both parties because one needs to be terminated out of mercy, justice and love. The other is a promised gift given directly by God, and not a natural consequence.
HLGStrider said:
I believe they do. I actually believe that they will continually have the chance to repent while in hell and continually reject it.
And to me, I see this as a needed (but irrational) justification to continue believing in such a doctrine. I don't care who you are, the most evil person or your average Joe. If you hold their hand on a stove burner on high and say, "Will you recant or repent? If you do I'll take your hand off". I guarantee they will repent. Then you will say, 'Well it won't be heartfelt or genuine. It will only be to save themselves.' The possibility of that happening are remote in the beginning, but what about later on? Do you think even a good person would take the time to truly analyze themselves and search their heart to make a rational decision under those circumstances? Should they even be held accountable to make a rational decision under those circumstances? Come on here we are talking about torture by fire. That makes God even worse to expect genuine repentence under such conditions that He is allowing. That's like tossing the life rope a few feet away from the drowing person, chuckling and saying "Come on now. Do you really want to be saved? Try and reach for it."

I would think that even after a few days of second degree burning, the wicked would be wishing for a second chance to make it right with God and choose to live. You are assuming that only those in hell have no conscience or are the most stubbornly evil person in the world where a second chance means nothing to them. Do you honestly believe that? Unfortunately, many say it off the cuff because they have to justify hell somehow. If they stepped back and truly analyzed the logic of it all, they'd see more holes in it then swiss cheese.

The point is mute anyway because either death or eternal torment, the choice was made, the fate is sealed because God respects free choice and has given ample enough opportunity to accept His gift of eternal life and reject the punishment. If one truly believes this then we have a problem. God, by having the wicked conscious with freedom of choice intact, is allowing them the chance to want to recant under torture. They are not allowed to, however. Even from a mercy standpoint, doesn't destroying them so there is no opportunity at all (if God by His own laws cannot offer the second chance at this time) make God benevolent and merciful instead of acting like the cruel child who dangles the piece of meat and dish of water over the beaten and tortured body of a dog through the glass knowing that there is no way the dog can get it?

Instituting the death penalty satisfies divine justice and puts an end to those suffering from sin. Consequences promised are given, freedom of choice is respected, everyone can get on with their life. Sin and sinners are destroyed and eternal life as was meant to be is given. Revelation 21 is affirmed.
 

Eriol

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Thorin said:
If you hold their hand on a stove burner on high and say, "Will you recant or repent? If you do I'll take your hand off". I guarantee they will repent.
This presupposes that eternity has a temporal continuity. I don't think I agree with that; I don't think there will be a "before" or an "after" in Hell (or Heaven), it is a constant present. Eternity is a tough concept for us to deal with.

The argument that Heaven is like a mirror image of Hell in your argument is based on the disproportionality of the reward (or punishment), not on the temporal duration of the reward (as I said I don't think there's any temporal duration). Finite crime brings infinite "punishment"; finite faith brings infinite "reward". I don't like either of the two words, because both bring the notion of something super-added to another thing. As if Heaven were a gift for our faith, or Hell a "gift" for our sin. I think both -- Heaven and Hell -- are essentially and intrinsically related to faith and sin respectively, and there is no question of something external being added to it.

As I look at it, faith "begets" Heaven, and sin "begets" Hell; both destinies are implicit in the nature of the thing, and God does not "add" the destiny to the faith or sin. Indeed, he would be "taking away" from the thing if he denied Heaven (or Hell).

I don't see any contradiction, be it of duration or of justice, in the notion that sin begets Hell, or that faith begets Heaven. This is simply another way of saying that we were made to behold the face of God and worship Him. When we look away, it's Hell; and this is a consequence of our own nature, of how we were created. It's how God made us.

MB, I think you posted this in the wrong thread :D. Anyway, I know the conceptual difference between panentheism and pantheism, but I still would like to know an observable difference. It's the scientist in me ;). How can we choose between one of the two Gods empirically? Is it a guess? How do you know it is a panentheistic God? Do you have any reason for choosing panentheism over pantheism, or was it a purely aesthetic choice?

By the way, perception uses logic ;). We use logic to move from raw sense perception to integration of senses to conceptualization. Check the Kasparov thread for a discussion between me and Aiwendil2 that touched upon these matters...
 

Thorin

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Eriol said:
Finite crime brings infinite "punishment"; finite faith brings infinite "reward". I don't like either of the two words, because both bring the notion of something super-added to another thing. As if Heaven were a gift for our faith, or Hell a "gift" for our sin. I think both -- Heaven and Hell -- are essentially and intrinsically related to faith and sin respectively, and there is no question of something external being added to it.

As I look at it, faith "begets" Heaven, and sin "begets" Hell; both destinies are implicit in the nature of the thing, and God does not "add" the destiny to the faith or sin. Indeed, he would be "taking away" from the thing if he denied Heaven (or Hell).
But eternal life is a gift from God. Even Adam and Eve's existence was contingent on God before they sinned. Man was not made with an immortal soul (another disagreement between us) Heaven is our restoring to what once was.

Your assumption that 'sin begets hell' as 'faith begets heaven' is a false comparison. If you had said that 'sin begets death' as 'faith begets heaven', you'd be right. In the traditional sense, Hell is not a natural consequence because hell had to have been created by God. In other words, hell is the punishment deliberately inflicted by God because of our actions. And because eternal life is not naturally a gift to the wicked, God has to GIVE them eternal life. This is a deliberate act by God and He is making this punishment continual for the wicked. This is a contradiction to the nature of God. You cannot take the onus of responsibility off God and place it solely on the sinner.

If however, you believe in the Biblical view of sin=death, death is the natural consequence and 'hell fire' is the means to the end. Sin must be destroyed and the earth cleansed of sin. Fire is this end and death is the natural consequence. God is not responsible because without God there is no life. That is why He had to come down and die for our sins. We were already doomed to die, hell-fire or not. As a matter of fact, were there not ANY fire at all to destroy, the wicked would still die because of their separation from God and combined with their sin. With the conditional view of hell, God can only be held responsible for not saving everybody.
 

Eriol

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Your view makes sense. However, I think you go to far when you say that the traditional view doesn't make sense. Both are reasonable, to me, and I would not be surprised if God chose either way.

I still disagree on the nature of sin, though. The nature of sin is not death; the wages of sin is death. This is an allusion to a superimposed concept. My work is not my wage; my wage is what I earned through my work. Similarly, death is what I earned through sin, but they are not the same thing.

The traditional view of Hell is simply the natural consequence of sin, taken into eternity. Once a soul is "outside time", it can't repent. I don't see the need of a Hell "created" by God, in the sense that God set up a part of the Universe for the punishment of the sinners; to me, Hell is where the damned are (including demons). Where are they? I have no idea. But they must be somewhere. There is where Hell is. It does not entail special creation of a place for the sole purpose of punishment.

You cannot take the onus of responsibility off God and place it solely on the sinner.
Why not? I don't understand that. Is there any responsibility in the damnation of a soul that pertains to God?

As a matter of fact, were there not ANY fire at all to destroy, the wicked would still die because of their separation from God and combined with their sin. With the conditional view of hell, God can only be held responsible for not saving everybody.
Well, everybody dies. I think you are using death in a spiritual as well as in a physical sense, therefore. We'll soon get into the matter of the immortality of the soul, again :D. But I see no problem with what you call "conditional immortality", that the soul is immortal just because God allows it to be. I fully believe in that. After all, everything that is, is just because God allows it to be. The soul is no exception.

However, if the soul is immortal (for the sake of argument ;)), then to kill (i.e. destroy) a soul is a direct intervention of God. To let it continue to exist is not "unjust", therefore. The sinner reaps what he sowed.

Another thing is that you think that annihilation is somehow more merciful than eternal punishment. I see the reason for that belief, but it is still simply a belief. There is no support for it. Perhaps God chooses eternal punishment because it is, in fact, more merciful than annihilation. We can't know. This is one of those tricky dilemmas, such as "would you trade freedom for happiness?"

Would you trade existence for freedom from pain? It is not as simple as it sounds. Existence is another tough concept for us to digest.
 

Thorin

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Eriol said:
I don't think there will be a "before" or an "after" in Hell (or Heaven), it is a constant present. Eternity is a tough concept for us to deal with.
The traditional view of Hell has not (nor does not) exist in eternity. Rather, it is a solution to the sin problem created by God to punish sinners when the sin problem occured. However, this punishment is not going on now. It is nothing more than a 'tool' (for lack of a better word) to deal with sin. Your fundamental flaw is to assume that immortal souls are burning in hell (wherever it is) outside the realm of existence as we know it. This is not biblical.
Eriol said:
I still disagree on the nature of sin, though. The nature of sin is not death; the wages of sin is death. This is an allusion to a superimposed concept. My work is not my wage; my wage is what I earned through my work. Similarly, death is what I earned through sin, but they are not the same thing.
Whether it be our nature or an intentional act, sin is sin. Sin came into the world and from that day on, life began to die. The wages of sin is death does not just mean what we've earned (i.e. intentional sin) but who we are. Our very nature is doomed to die. Unless we accept God's gift of eternal life, that death will take it's course.

Eriol said:
The traditional view of Hell is simply the natural consequence of sin, taken into eternity. Once a soul is "outside time", it can't repent. I don't see the need of a Hell "created" by God, in the sense that God set up a part of the Universe for the punishment of the sinners; to me, Hell is where the damned are (including demons). Where are they? I have no idea. But they must be somewhere. There is where Hell is. It does not entail special creation of a place for the sole purpose of punishment.
Ah, but we can know. The bible makes it plain that the dead are not suffering now, but are in Hades (the grave) the demons live in Tartaros. They are not in the same place. If a fiery hell existed from the beginning, we would still have to say that God set that place up for nothing more than torment. It would not be a natural consequence. God is still responsible. If a fiery hell did exist for us when we died, then Christ would have established it when he conquered death on the cross (immortality for all mankind including sinners - this totally contradicts the Bible but let's use it for the sake of argument). Christ is therefore responsible for establishing a place solely to punish sinners.

When we believe that the fires come at the end of time simply to purify the earth and all sin on it, we see there is no responsibility on God.

In other words, you'd be better off abandoning this midieval belief that the wicked are in 'fire' now and not at the end of time. You might have a better argument even if you just believed the wicked will get their eternal torment at the end of time (which many Christians are coming around to).

Your misuse of the word 'hell' and when it is received creates many contradictions both logically and scripturally.
Eriol said:
Another thing is that you think that annihilation is somehow more merciful than eternal punishment. I see the reason for that belief, but it is still simply a belief. There is no support for it. Perhaps God chooses eternal punishment because it is, in fact, more merciful than annihilation. We can't know. This is one of those tricky dilemmas, such as "would you trade freedom for happiness?"

Would you trade existence for freedom from pain? It is not as simple as it sounds. Existence is another tough concept for us to digest.
I cannot fathom how God will take a punishment that blows any sort of punishment on earth we humans can inflict (and would be loathe to inflict and would do anything to avoid) and try to make it better then death? Again this is an argument needed to be created to make God look better to us then He does, because He is God after all and He is supposed to be better than us. If a soldier in war has his legs blown off and his intestines on the ground he'd rather suffer than ask someone to put a bullet into him to end his misery? On a smaller scale both in magnitude and intensity, you are saying that you'd rather be burnt alive in a house instead of someone or having something destroy you earlier to end your pain? And you are trying to tell me that burning for eternity is better than being put out of your misery? If there were some sort of end where redemption and reformation could take place, then maybe suffering for awhile is better than non-existence. But an existence without any end or hope of redemption is more appealing then not existing? What is freedom to exist if it is under those conditions?

I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around such a concept, Eriol. Sin dehumanizes, destroys us spiritually and makes our lives miserable. Why would God want to compound that misery when He wants to put an end to sin? Sin should NEVER HAVE EXISTED. It only makes sense that that sin will go back to non-existence as it was before, doesn't it?
 
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Helcaraxë

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Eriol said:
This presupposes that eternity has a temporal continuity. I don't think I agree with that; I don't think there will be a "before" or an "after" in Hell (or Heaven), it is a constant present. Eternity is a tough concept for us to deal with.

The argument that Heaven is like a mirror image of Hell in your argument is based on the disproportionality of the reward (or punishment), not on the temporal duration of the reward (as I said I don't think there's any temporal duration). Finite crime brings infinite "punishment"; finite faith brings infinite "reward". I don't like either of the two words, because both bring the notion of something super-added to another thing. As if Heaven were a gift for our faith, or Hell a "gift" for our sin. I think both -- Heaven and Hell -- are essentially and intrinsically related to faith and sin respectively, and there is no question of something external being added to it.
How do you come to the conclusion that Hell has no temporal continuity, only a "constant present?" I see no basis for this. But whether it has temporal continuity or not makes no difference. The punishment in Hell is continuous, even if it is static. The crime is not continuous (as well as not being static.) So the punishemnt still does not match the crime. Because the punishment has no beginning and no end, it is infinite (finity implies a defininable time with a beginning and an end), and thus cannot be the product of a finite action. And even if Heaven and Hell are only consequences and not punishments or gifts, the consequence must still fit the crime.


You say that Thorin's argument is based on disproporitonality of the reward, not on the duration of the reward. But these are one and the same; it is precisely the duration of the reward or punishment that makes it disproportional.

Eriol said:
As I look at it, faith "begets" Heaven, and sin "begets" Hell; both destinies are implicit in the nature of the thing, and God does not "add" the destiny to the faith or sin. Indeed, he would be "taking away" from the thing if he denied Heaven (or Hell).

I don't see any contradiction, be it of duration or of justice, in the notion that sin begets Hell, or that faith begets Heaven. This is simply another way of saying that we were made to behold the face of God and worship Him. When we look away, it's Hell; and this is a consequence of our own nature, of how we were created. It's how God made us.
"A consequence of our nature?" Looking away is a crime (supposedly) and thus deserves a matching punishment. Even if it was simply inherent that looking away is Hell, that is still injustice, perhaps even more so because God gave us less choice because it is in our "nature"

Eriol said:
MB, I think you posted this in the wrong thread :D. Anyway, I know the conceptual difference between panentheism and pantheism, but I still would like to know an observable difference. It's the scientist in me ;). How can we choose between one of the two Gods empirically? Is it a guess? How do you know it is a panentheistic God? Do you have any reason for choosing panentheism over pantheism, or was it a purely aesthetic choice?

By the way, perception uses logic ;). We use logic to move from raw sense perception to integration of senses to conceptualization. Check the Kasparov thread for a discussion between me and Aiwendil2 that touched upon these matters...
Not really. Conceptualization is a seperate skill from logic. One can integrate a chaotic mass of perception into an ordered picture of reality subconsciously, and certainly without logic. I am getting an orderly picture in my mind of the key board upon which I am typing without logic; logic, remember, is deduction based on premises. I am making no deductions about the keyboard and am using no logic. Reason, perhaps, but not logic.

MB
 

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Thorin said:
I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around such a concept, Eriol. Sin dehumanizes, destroys us spiritually and makes our lives miserable. Why would God want to compound that misery when He wants to put an end to sin? Sin should NEVER HAVE EXISTED. It only makes sense that that sin will go back to non-existence as it was before, doesn't it?
Oh, but people in Hell do not sin ;). Sin will not exist in Hell.

I think you put too much weight in the "fiery Hell" description. That is universally accepted by theologians as a metaphor; and yes, it is a metaphor seen in pre-Christian religions; this does not detract from it, not everything that is pagan is useless. But the point is not the degree of burning, or the place of the burning; the point of the "Hell metaphor" is -- you don't want to go there.

I think it was St. Catherine of Siena (I may be wildly mistaken) who said that if Hell had actual fire, it would not be as bad, because actual fire is a creature of God and therefore inherently good. Hell does not have "fire"; it has infinite pain, as a result of separation from God. That we describe this state as fire is not strange, since burning pain is among the greatest pains we can feel and imagine. But as any spiritual reality, the image described by the words is beyond our everyday concepts.

Again this is an argument needed to be created to make God look better to us then He does, because He is God after all and He is supposed to be better than us. If a soldier in war has his legs blown off and his intestines on the ground he'd rather suffer than ask someone to put a bullet into him to end his misery?
Yes, it is an argument created to make God look better, and why should I be ashamed of it? He is God after all, and He is supposed to be better than us ;). It's the point of Job. Who are we to question God?

Now, as I said I think both viewpoints make sense from what the data (Scriptures) tell us. I also think this is a supremely unimportant question compared to the reality of Hell. Who cares whether it is finite or eternal? We don't want to go there. That's the point.

I don't think annihilation is merciful or good in any way. And I don't think killing wounded soldiers is Christian. There is a short distance between this and euthanasia and abortion. That Christians uniformly oppose euthanasia and abortion is evidence that they think that life -- existence -- is more important than the absence of pain. The same point is seen in the analysis of Hell.

The Scriptural data are unconclusive, as far as I can see. I'm lucky to be able to access a second way to truth, Sacred Tradition :D. Remember that Sacred Tradition never contradicts the Scriptures, and vice versa ;).
 

Helcaraxë

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D'oh! I mixed one thread up with another and combined two threads into one! Now I'm really confused :mad: :confused: .

See, my parents kicked me off the computer, and I had just written a really long post so as not to lose it I copied it and saved it to word. But then I posted it in the wrong thread. It was supposed to be in the Christian God thread. Not only this, but I added some stuff that pertained to this thread in with the bundle. AGGGHHHHH!!!! :mad: :D

MB
 

Eriol

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MorgothsBane said:
How do you come to the conclusion that Hell has no temporal continuity, only a "constant present?" I see no basis for this.
I would think this is the standard definition of "eternity". The Christian belief is not in a "Hell of infinite duration", but in an "eternal Hell". An eternal Hell stands outside time. It has no duration. It makes no sense to talk about temporal disproportion between crime and result if there is no duration there. A million years are felt as one moment, one moment is felt as a million years, and quite frankly what this all means is that we can't really understand how it will play out :). And it does not quite matter as a practical problem. The main point of Hell is that we don't want it. That's the point of all the words written about it. Whether it is finite or eternal makes no difference. What should be questioned is not the nature of Hell, but whether it is a reality. If it is, then we should avoid it, even if we ignore its nature.

But whether it has temporal continuity or not makes no difference. The punishment in Hell is continuous, even if it is static. The crime is not continuous (as well as not being static.) So the punishemnt still does not match the crime. Because the punishment has no beginning and no end, it is infinite (finity implies a defininable time with a beginning and an end), and thus cannot be the product of a finite action. And even if Heaven and Hell are only consequences and not punishments or gifts, the consequence must still fit the crime.
"Continuous" and "static" either are synonymous with "eternal", or don't fit into it. But there is a difference between an eternal and an infinite punishment, as you assert when you define finity as a matter of time. There is no time in Eternity. There is no infinity or finity either, there.

"A consequence of our nature?" Looking away is a crime (supposedly) and thus deserves a matching punishment. Even if it was simply inherent that looking away is Hell, that is still injustice, perhaps even more so because God gave us less choice because it is in our "nature"
No, looking away is not something that "deserves punishment"; looking away is its own punishment. We can't be happy while looking away from God. God can't make "looking away" be the same thing as "looking towards" without breaking the rules of logic or our own free will (in effect, forcing us to look towards Himself).

If the sinner does not want to look at God, God can't make him look at God without breaking his will. And if Hell is separation from God (as all theologians assert) then God can't help the sinner. It's not a punishment for sin; it is the nature of sin. You can't look away without avoiding to look towards.

Not really. Conceptualization is a seperate skill from logic. One can integrate a chaotic mass of perception into an ordered picture of reality subconsciously, and certainly without logic. I am getting an orderly picture in my mind of the key board upon which I am typing without logic; logic, remember, is deduction based on premises. I am making no deductions about the keyboard and am using no logic. Reason, perhaps, but not logic.
A matter of definition, perhaps, when you say "Reason, but not logic". But every step, from the identification of a keyboard to the movement of the fingers towards the keys to the typing of words -- every step -- agrees with the fundamental laws of logic (Identity, Non-contradiction, Excluded Middle...). We can't be non-logical. Even our attempts to be non-logical are logical ;).

As you see, I don't take logic to be "deduction based on premises", that to me is a particular application of logic -- a deductive syllogism. I take logic to be the axioms of thought (those fundamental laws I mentioned). Even when we write poetry we're following those laws.
 

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MorgothsBane said:
D'oh! I mixed one thread up with another and combined two threads into one! Now I'm really confused :mad: :confused: .

See, my parents kicked me off the computer, and I had just written a really long post so as not to lose it I copied it and saved it to word. But then I posted it in the wrong thread. It was supposed to be in the Christian God thread. Not only this, but I added some stuff that pertained to this thread in with the bundle. AGGGHHHHH!!!! :mad: :D

MB
I copied my questions about panentheism in the other thread to help with sorting it out :).
 

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Eriol said:
I would think this is the standard definition of "eternity". The Christian belief is not in a "Hell of infinite duration", but in an "eternal Hell". An eternal Hell stands outside time. It has no duration. It makes no sense to talk about temporal disproportion between crime and result if there is no duration there. A million years are felt as one moment, one moment is felt as a million years, and quite frankly what this all means is that we can't really understand how it will play out :). And it does not quite matter as a practical problem. The main point of Hell is that we don't want it. That's the point of all the words written about it. Whether it is finite or eternal makes no difference. What should be questioned is not the nature of Hell, but whether it is a reality. If it is, then we should avoid it, even if we ignore its nature.



"Continuous" and "static" either are synonymous with "eternal", or don't fit into it. But there is a difference between an eternal and an infinite punishment, as you assert when you define finity as a matter of time. There is no time in Eternity. There is no infinity or finity either, there.

But the very fact that it is "eternal" and thus can have no temporal meaning is precisely why the punishment can never suit the crime there. The punishment is "timeless", while the crime has a finite and definable duration. They are on two very seperate levels of existence and cannot correspond.

If looking away is its own punishement than it is a punishment instituted by God, because he created it in such a way.


MB
 

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Not really, since we are the ones looking away. Would you blame the height of the building for the death of the suicide? Or would you blame the suicide? God created the world in such a way as to allow us to have eternal bliss. If we refuse, is it His fault? I can't agree.

What does not correspond is not the nature of the punishment, but the perceived nature of the entity being punished. When we are alive, we think we are not eternal, and are thus fooled into sinning. When we die, we realize we are indeed eternal (either contingently or not, Thorin ;)) and we see that what we chose is eternal pain.

It's not as if this was not publicized. We can't blame God for our own obstinacy.
 

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Eriol said:
Oh, but people in Hell do not sin ;). Sin will not exist in Hell.
Sin does exist, whether it is practiced or not. Sin in it's very nature exists and therefore, God's new heaven and new earth are marred from day one.
Eriol said:
I think you put too much weight in the "fiery Hell" description. That is universally accepted by theologians as a metaphor;..But the point is not the degree of burning, or the place of the burning; the point of the "Hell metaphor" is -- you don't want to go there.
Hold on here. The traditional view on hell which is believed by the vast majority of Christians who believe in 'hell' involves tormenting fire. You can't explain that away (as well as the obvious Bible texts) as "metaphoric" or that it is 'universally accepted by theologians. The biggest defenders of hell I've read make no bones that it is exactly what Revelation describes it as and 'metaphoric' does not come into their vocabulary.

Again, these are attempts to 'sanitize' hell to make God look better. The point is indeed the nature of hell, for the nature of hell determines the light the character of God is viewed at. To say 'the point of the 'hell metaphor is--you don't want to go there" is a cop out and basically saying that we don't understand it and God is God so...make sure you don't go there. To me that is not searching the scriptures for truth and allows one (or forces one) to accept any view of hell that is put forward no matter what it makes God look like.
Eriol said:
That we describe this state as fire is not strange, since burning pain is among the greatest pains we can feel and imagine. But as any spiritual reality, the image described by the words is beyond our everyday concepts.
First you must work around the fact that fire will come down out of heaven and devour Satan and the wicked. Not to initially punish, but to cleanse the earth so it can be made new. You can't explain THAT metaphorically. Considering this is the 'hell fire' that has caused all this doctrine to begin with, you can't escape the fire's secondary function, that of punishment and that this fire actually exists. I find it highly unlikely that God was being so descriptive of the end of the age with fire only to have it mean nothing more than a 'metaphor' for separation from God.
Eriol said:
Yes, it is an argument created to make God look better, and why should I be ashamed of it? He is God after all, and He is supposed to be better than us ;). It's the point of Job. Who are we to question God?
Circles, circles...we're going in circles. Exactly my point! We are digging God's pit for him and trying to make it good because God is supposed to look good. Why did we dig the pit to begin with? We automatically accept that eternal conscious torment (and that's what it is regardless of how you interpret it or label it as 'separation from God') and then try to make God look good from it.
Eriol said:
Now, as I said I think both viewpoints make sense from what the data (Scriptures) tell us. I also think this is a supremely unimportant question compared to the reality of Hell. Who cares whether it is finite or eternal? We don't want to go there. That's the point.
I don't believe they do, but even if they did, we must follow the path that agrees with the rest of scripture as far as the character of God is concerned. Whether one can take the scriptures and 'make it fit' still doesn't explain the contradictions elsewhere. As for the second point...see my argument at the beginning of the thread.
Eriol said:
I don't think annihilation is merciful or good in any way. And I don't think killing wounded soldiers is Christian. There is a short distance between this and euthanasia and abortion. That Christians uniformly oppose euthanasia and abortion is evidence that they think that life -- existence -- is more important than the absence of pain. The same point is seen in the analysis of Hell.
We have a right to live because this world is all we have to live the life we do. Eternity is another story. The reason why people don't believe in euthanasia is because they don't feel someone has the right to play God, not because they enjoy seeing someone suffer. God is God and therefore those decisions are ultimately His. Nonetheless he has put in our moral framework the necessity for compassion and not to see suffering.

Not wanting to abort is different then how we treat a criminal. The innocent unborn have a right to experience a life they haven't lived yet. A criminal has lived his right and forfeits his right to live when he has taken one. You cannot compare these points with the final state of the wicked. No matter whether we pull the plug or allow someone to suffer through life and die of natural causes. In hell there is no end. A big moral difference.
Eriol said:
The Scriptural data are unconclusive, as far as I can see. I'm lucky to be able to access a second way to truth, Sacred Tradition :D. Remember that Sacred Tradition never contradicts the Scriptures, and vice versa ;).
And here is where we ultimately disagree. There is ample enough scriptural data (never mind the cosmological, judicial, ethical and moral arguments) in favor of annihilation. It is far from 'unconclusive'. I cannot accept the whole 'sacred tradition' being so different from scripture in this regard. It doesn't hold water, my Catholic friend. Ultimately the facts are that people want to believe what they've been taught as true regardless of how it portrays God or is contradictory, rather than search for themselves and step back and see the whole picture of God's character. They'd rather take a few texts and arguments and base a whole theology on it no matter if the foundation is faulty to begin with.
 

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Thorin said:
Hold on here. The traditional view on hell which is believed by the vast majority of Christians who believe in 'hell' involves tormenting fire. You can't explain that away (as well as the obvious Bible texts) as "metaphoric" or that it is 'universally accepted by theologians. The biggest defenders of hell I've read make no bones that it is exactly what Revelation describes it as and 'metaphoric' does not come into their vocabulary.
And yet, there is that statement of a saint that I quoted, and the old, old link that Malbeth used in the old, old Hell thread:

http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0085a.html

which explains that the metaphorical use of "fire" and other bad symbols is not to make for a less worrisome message, but on the contrary, to emphasize the pains of Hell. It is not less painful than ordinary fire, it is much more painful than fire.

Again, these are attempts to 'sanitize' hell to make God look better. The point is indeed the nature of hell, for the nature of hell determines the light the character of God is viewed at. To say 'the point of the 'hell metaphor is--you don't want to go there" is a cop out and basically saying that we don't understand it and God is God so...make sure you don't go there.
No, as my prior comment says. It is not "sanitizing" Hell, it is establishing that it is the worst thing we can imagine -- in fact, worse than the worst thing we can imagine, just as Heaven is better than our wildest dreams.

I find it highly unlikely that God was being so descriptive of the end of the age with fire only to have it mean nothing more than a 'metaphor' for separation from God.
Why is the metaphorical interpretation equated with a "non-existent fire"?? Are we going to discuss THAT again? :) The fire will exist, but it will not be material fire, such as flames from combustion of organic compounds when mixed with oxygen and ignited at high temperatures :D. It will be another kind of fire, the fire that can't be extinguished, a non-material fire (which does NOT mean non-existent fire, as you know), and which will inflict much more pain than ordinary fire.

Why did we dig the pit to begin with? We automatically accept that eternal conscious torment (and that's what it is regardless of how you interpret it or label it as 'separation from God') and then try to make God look good from it.
Yes, that's what we do, and for a very good reason -- Jesus Christ and the NT talk of an eternal Hell, and we do not usually dispute with those guys :).

Some snippets:

Luke 23

28 But Jesus turning to them, said: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me; but weep for yourselves and for your children.

29 For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say: Blessed are the barren and the wombs that have not borne and the paps that have not given suck.

30 Then shall they begin to say to the mountains: Fall upon us. And to the hills: Cover us.

31 For if in the green wood they do these things, what shall be done in the dry?

Do these guys, who want the mountains to fall upon them and the hills to cover them, sound like people who were annihilated to you?

;)

Apocalypse 6:

15 And the kings of the earth and the princes and tribunes and the rich and the strong and every bondman and every freeman hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of mountains:

16 And they say to the mountains and the rocks: Fall upon us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.

17 For the great day of their wrath is come. And who shall be able to stand?




Again the same theme. These guys are hoping for annihilation.

You also have to address why would God resurrect the wicked, just to annihilate them. Wouldn't it be better to leave them annihilated (since you don't believe in an immortal soul that survives death?)
 

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Eriol said:
Not really, since we are the ones looking away. Would you blame the height of the building for the death of the suicide? Or would you blame the suicide? God created the world in such a way as to allow us to have eternal bliss. If we refuse, is it His fault? I can't agree.

What does not correspond is not the nature of the punishment, but the perceived nature of the entity being punished. When we are alive, we think we are not eternal, and are thus fooled into sinning. When we die, we realize we are indeed eternal (either contingently or not, Thorin ;)) and we see that what we chose is eternal pain.

It's not as if this was not publicized. We can't blame God for our own obstinacy.

I did not say precisely that God was to blame. What I said was, the punishment must suit the crime. If the person jumps off the building, it is just and fair that the person would die. It is just for the person to be tormented for a crime that deserves death and nothing more?

And I am confused when you say that the nature of the punishment does not correspond, as it is precisely for this reason why the eternal hell is not a just concept, because of the nature of the punishment. Indeed we are eternal, but us ourselves being eternal does not necessitate all of our actions being eternal, as they are in a definable time. So the fact that we are eternal creatures really has nothing to do with the question of whether eternal punishment is just.

MB
 

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