(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.
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.
Yeah that's a sick answer from Mr. Edwards. It's not justice whatsoever. Even as imperfect as our criminal justice system is here in America, it's infinitely more just than God's, which shouldn't be the case... unless of course it's all invented by ignorant human beings, which makes perfect sense. =P
What they observe is the injustice of their god glorified in the sufferings of their victims. Sadly, when they die, they will not experience either heaven or hell nor will they watch non-believers suffering in their delusional god's eternal fire.
The good news, non-believers realize that the present moment exists to be enjoyed in this moment and time; these are to be put to productive use of being, working, participating with others, thinking renewing and refreshing. Our time on Earth is so very short that we can use every moment for doing something with meaning and purpose, not waiting for some entity to define them for us. We can imagine and create and feel self-respect and pride as we go about out lives without expectations of some imagined after life. We can seek not for approval by some god or person but seek and develop our own talents to our full potential. We write our own books, sing our own songs, do our own work, care for one another and love in the here and now.
There is truth and reality that are the Universal powers of the unseen. Man attempted to explain this power in the only way he knows how using the visible seen Universe. Then man attempted to control this power by inventing gods that have man at the center of his universe. Man is a sad pathetic creature when he cannot join his inner consciousness. Without it he invents from his imagination. Imagination is a very powerful power that can and does create in both the seen and the unseen and is being misused by man. Man believes his imagination is reality and he is wrong. The reason questions about man invented gods cannot be answered is because it is mythological fantasy. There is no truth or reality to imaginary questions and to attempt to apply logic and reason to man invented fairy tales is simply pathetic and illogical. We can see the results and form of the unseen powers but we cannot see the power that creates it. This will never change because the seen and unseen do not cross over. The unseen is the power of creation but once created it can never be a part of the unseen Universe until the day it it is reborn back into the star dust from whence all creation came from. This is why it is call unknowing and beyond understanding. Once this is realized and accepted as truth the mind will clear away all the mythological fantasy beliefs and the two Universes become clear to study and learn from. So benevolent god? That is like asking is there a benevolent Universal unseen power of creation. The term benevolent is humanistic and man invented. It does not exist in truth and reality. There is NOTHING man imagination invented! It is all fantasy not reality.
Steve, I agree, for those who claim to believe in a benevolent god and do not know of all the violence in the old and new testaments, the fables of heaven and hell and the history of violence throughout time and place can't be readers and thinkers even as they claim they build their beliefs on love and peace. Further compounding their delusions are their claims they hold the ownership on morals and ethics. Claims built on fabrications do not earn them respect or dignity. I like your word, "contempt".
In fairness though, Joan, many of them I think are aware of the atrocities both committed and commanded by Yahweh, but suffer so badly from cognitive dissonance that they explain it away as "justice": the byproduct of our fall from grace. As if the murder and rape of women and children, who had almost no say in societal decisions whatsoever at that time, no less, could ever be considered justice. Even if it could, justice and goodness are not even close to the same thing in my books. The bigoted hypocrisy present when Christians try to explain away how much of an evil twat their God is, gets to be nearly too much to take at times...
Calling the God of the bible benevolent or loving in any way is one of the most disgusting and self-deceiving actions a human being can undertake.
Being taught very well, the modern christian has an instant defense if you point out the slaughter and suffering caused by God. They immediately say "Oh, that was in the Old Testament." Not that it explains anything, but such is the way of modern christian apologitics.
Not having been indoctrinated into any faith, it took me a long time to figure out that Jesus as the "lamb of god" referred not to his supposed meekness/goodness/humility/whatevs, but to his position as the final sacrificial animal necessary to appease their bloodthirsty monster god. Used to be that they had to kill some sheep every year to make god happy. (Or IDK, maybe some random kids, too. Like Isaac?) Then they figured they'd make a big down payment by sacrificing god's son and we'd be good for 2000 years or so. Yup. That's why the New Testament is so much friendlier. 'Cuz in the New Testament, the monster was well-fed on his own son's flesh, and so kinda left the poor humans alone for the most part.
In the Old Testament sometimes "sin" was placed on a goat and that goat was ran off into the wilderness. From this we get the modern term "scapegoat." At a later time lambs were sacrificed. ("I'm burning up some lambs for you. Now will you leave me alone?") Various animals were burned and sacrificed.
Rather than Jesus becoming the "Goat of God" he became the lamb of god. He was ran off into the wilderness of death. Nobody would know what to do if he came back.
Just a little humor there.
Heh. The shepherd/flock analogy is disturbing in this context, too. All Christians are sacrificial animals for their god.
I went and looked up the history of "scapegoat". Turns out it's from the Hebrew ez oezel, or azazel, "goat that departs", and possibly related to the demon Azazel, who might be a fallen angel in his own right or possibly another moniker for Satan, the "sent away one". So, wait... The devil is god's scapegoat? Lemme get this straight. God creates Satan to "create" sin, which he does; therefore God creates sin. Because he's omniscient and he knew it was gonna happen. Then God blames Satan for sin and will ultimately destroy him at the end of the world for doing what God wanted him to do? Sounds legit.
The church attempted to side step away from the old war God when they invented the new god/man Jesus. But it is still just mythological fantasy fairy tale delusion no matter what god or religion you attempt to delude to.