(Pertaining to Christianity and Catholicism.)

Has anyone ever received a satisfactory answer (from a believer) of how Hell and a Benevolent God can be compatible? The more I think about that one, the more the problem of evil pales in comparison. That would be one monster of a god if it existed, worthy of nothing but contempt.

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I have never asked a christian/catholic the question, 'how Hell and a Benevolent God can be compatible ?' So I have never received any form of answer. Who made up the term 'benevolent god ? Was it you ?

Your discussion is pathetic.

On the question of "heaven and hell" I was told a long time ago that God could have used robots to worship him but he preferred creatures of "free will" who really wanted to praise him. Consequently they all said "God doesn't send you to hell, you send your own self to hell."

Now let's switch to God constantly hitting you in the head with a baseball bat claiming that "you don't have it right yet." This is Christianity and you live your entire life that way. God could have done better with robots.

Now that's fucking pathetic!

That's what xtians have said to me too Dennis.  You have "free will".  Ummm, no.  If the choice is believe or go to "hell", then there is no free will, and your god is not benevolent.

Napoleon, that was a rude reply!

I'm really really sorry. I apologize unreservedly. I do. I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact, and was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future.

lol Napolean, I'm never quite sure how to read you. :)

I really don't see free will even coming into the question. I'm thinking of those billion Hindus that were born to Hindu parents, and raised to believe in the Hindu gods. What have they ever done to deserve eternal fiery torment? What kind of a god would torture these people, or even we atheists who find it impossible to believe this nonsense? It's also fascinating that the Jewish people didn't have a concept of Hell, nor was "belief" the requirement for salvation like it is in Christianity. Jesus is the one who brought us Hell... so what kind of *man* was he? That's assuming he even existed, taught these radical concepts, and was then likely mythologized as the Son of God afterward.

Free will confronted with Hobson's Choice isn't very free from where I sit.  There isn't a courtroom in the US at least that would say that a decision made with a gun to one's head is made without duress or can be made rationally, yet this is what the christers are suggesting: we're free to either spend an eternity praising a god who, in the words of Robert Heinlein, "has all the manners and morals of a spoiled child," or an eternity of unbearable, agonizing torture.

If that's a sane, reasonable choice, I'll eat my hat.

The problem is we have had countless religions and countless gods (well not really countless, but no one can say for sure how many). If this god existed and was all-knowing and all-powerful, and many Christians claim that he loves us, why would he make himself so utterly impossible to distinguish as the true god? It seems what country you're born into and who your parents are will determine, in 99% of the cases, what you will believe. Our beliefs are not chosen but the result of our experiences. It's also very difficult to make yourself jump from one religion to another... there's no real basis for it, no way to disprove one or prove the other. It would be a really incompetent god to set things up like that, so that the vast majority of people who have ever lived would burn eternally for something that, by all accounts, was almost entirely beyond their conscious control. It throws a monkey wrench into this idea of an omni-benevolent, omni-potent, omni-scient God that most Christians seem to believe in.

Steve,

Your question is valid and insightful, and deserves a thoughtful response.

The issue of whether got is all benevolent is not fully agreed upon.  Some of the most fundamentalist of christians are clear that they do not believe god is benevolent, but rather is a vengeful and wrathful god who must be obeyed.  I think those folks are in a more old testament mode.

At the other extreme, not all christians believe god will send people to hell.  Those are the more liberal, unitarian christians.

I don't know so much about catholicism, not having been raised that way and having too many choices to make about what I read, to get into the obscure self-serving theology of the catholic teaching.  Wikipedia has an interesting article on the topic of hell, here.  The end of the article gives some catholic theologian opinion.

The truth is, most people have limited understanding of what their religion teaches.

(Napoleon, who pissed in your cornflakes this morning?  Booklover was right, that was rude).

There are supposedly 38,000+ sects of Christianity in existence, so it is difficult to pin them down, but I think most of them agree on accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior as a means to salvation, and also on Hell as that "other place" that people go to who fail to find salvation in this life.

I just can't understand how they could possibly think of eternal torment as a "just" consequence of being born into another religion, or being unable to tell which religion (if any) is true. In fact as a human being, there's pretty much nothing I can think of that is deserving of eternal torment. Even Hitler should eventually be released if such a place existed. How can this Jesus fellow, who is God, be more loving than me while at the same time doing something utterly reprehensible to so many people?

Think this is going to be the new question I ask Christians. =)

I once told a Xtian the idea of his religion's version of free will, e.g. accept Jesus and go to heaven, or reject him and go to hell, was the same as calling rape "unilateral consensual sex." Some choice!

Resolving the contradiction between eternal damnation and the omnibenevolence of God is an old theological problem that has never found a satisfactory answer. Jonathan Edwards thought the saints would rejoice at the torment of the wicked because it would show them how just God is:

They will rejoice in seeing the justice of God glorified in the sufferings of the damned. The misery of the damned, dreadful as it is, is but what justice requires. They in heaven will see and know it much more clearly, than any of us do here. They will see how perfectly just and righteous their punishment is, and therefore how properly inflicted by the supreme Governor of the world. They will greatly rejoice to see justice take place, to see that all the sin and wickedness that have been committed in the world, is remembered of God, and has its due punishment. The sight of this strict and immutable justice of God will render him amiable and adorable in their eves. They will rejoice when they see him who is their Father and eternal portion so glorious in his justice.

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