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Brunswick

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« on: January 17, 2011, 05:18:10 am »
One objection that atheists often make to hell is that it is overkill, because God would be sending someone to hell for an eternity as punishment for sins that they committed during a finite amount of time in this life.  One response that I have often heard from Christians is that it doesn't matter how long it takes one to commit a crime, the punishment is initiated based on the magnitude of the crime.  Ergo, a crime committed against an infinitely great being is worthy of an infinitely great punishment.

It seems that the Christian's line of reasoning commits the fallacy of equivocation, because the Christian is using two different definitions of "infinite" in their defense: infinite in regards to greatness, and infinite in regards to duration.  Therefore, to claim that a crime committed against an infinitely great being is worthy of an infinitely long punishment is equivocation, because this line of reasoning uses both definitions of infinite.  

Thoughts?

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Johan Biemans (jbiemans)

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2011, 05:59:13 am »
I use a different approach to explain my problem with that.  This analogy may help:

Imagine that your a con artist and you steal 1000$ from a poor family that has taken years to save that much.

Then imagine that you are a con artist and you steal 1000$ from Bill Gates.

Which of those 2 crimes should be more severely punished ?  They are the exact same crime, do they really both deserve the same punishment ?

Now, imagine that you are a con artist and you steal 1000$ from someone who has unlimited money.

Does this crime deserve the same punishment as the 2 above ?

Basically, if God has an unlimited amount of good, then there should be nothing that we can do that could offend him.  Its like an ant trying to bite a tank.

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 06:20:25 am »
jbiemans wrote: I use a different approach to explain my problem with that.  This analogy may help:

Imagine that your a con artist and you steal 1000$ from a poor family that has taken years to save that much.

Then imagine that you are a con artist and you steal 1000$ from Bill Gates.

Which of those 2 crimes should be more severely punished ?  They are the exact same crime, do they really both deserve the same punishment ?

Now, imagine that you are a con artist and you steal 1000$ from someone who has unlimited money.

Does this crime deserve the same punishment as the 2 above ?

Basically, if God has an unlimited amount of good, then there should be nothing that we can do that could offend him.  Its like an ant trying to bite a tank.

So you mean that God should not care about the things taking place on this earth, mass murder, torture all the way down to say lying? He should on your view just decide to not care about it all on the basis that he is so extremly great. Is that correct or have I read things into what you are saying that you are not saying?

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Filip Prsic

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2011, 07:30:33 am »
As far as I know, most apologists today do not think God is literally "infinitely" great.

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Paul Kelly

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2011, 08:42:59 am »
Brunswick wrote: One objection that atheists often make to hell is that it is overkill, because God would be sending someone to hell for an eternity as punishment for sins that they committed during a finite amount of time in this life.  One response that I have often heard from Christians is that it doesn't matter how long it takes one to commit a crime, the punishment is initiated based on the magnitude of the crime.  Ergo, a crime committed against an infinitely great being is worthy of an infinitely great punishment.

It seems that the Christian's line of reasoning commits the fallacy of equivocation, because the Christian is using two different definitions of "infinite" in their defense: infinite in regards to greatness, and infinite in regards to duration.  Therefore, to claim that a crime committed against an infinitely great being is worthy of an infinitely long punishment is equivocation, because this line of reasoning uses both definitions of infinite.  

Thoughts?


I think this response is wholly appropriate. When I first read this portion of Dr. Craig's response, this fallacy jumped right out at me. However,  I think Christians still have some options available to answer objectors to hell:

(1) It could be argued that punishment goes on because the more punishment is given, the more the reprobate continue to hate God. The more they continue to hate God, the more punishment they deserve. Thus, "Hell is locked from the inside".

(2) Perhaps our doctrine of hell needs altering.  There are plenty of brilliant theologians who have contended that hell is not eternal and that you can explain those verses away that seem to suggest it is.  I have read a good book on this topic called Four Views on Hell where scholars present their positions on hell and then they comment on each of the others presentation.    

(3) One could possibly adopt a sort of corrective view of hell. I personally find this option to be extreme and an option I wouldn't personally endorse.  But some (though a minority, I think)  believes all people will be saved and hell is a temporary place.  Some verses seem to suggest this,

"Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Rom. 5:18-19)

This can get messy theologically, but it is a possible route to take if our backs are up against the wall.


(4) An even more extreme view would be to reject Biblical inerrancy and so reject the doctrine of hell. You'd have to explain away Jesus saying in Matt. 25:46 as unhistorical or we have misinterpretted.  

I would probably go for (1) or (2).  

But the point is, don't let hell be a wall between you and your acceptance of Christianity and of Christ because there are plenty of routes that steer clear of your objections.  


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wonderer

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2011, 09:23:55 am »

forthelord wrote: ...But the point is, don't let hell be a wall between you and your acceptance of Christianity and of Christ because there are plenty of routes that steer clear of your objections.

This seems to me (preceding text included) to be very similar to saying that there are plenty of places to move the goalposts.  Is that a good thing?
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Paul Kelly

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2011, 09:33:54 am »
wonderer wrote:

Quote from: forthelord
...But the point is, don't let hell be a wall between you and your acceptance of Christianity and of Christ because there are plenty of routes that steer clear of your objections.

This seems to me (preceding text included) to be very similar to saying that there are plenty of places to move the goalposts.  Is that a good thing?


I'll take it you're a physicalist right?  Now, pretend that you have good reasons to think that physicalism is true and I present the following argument:

(1) Persons have free will.
(2) Physical systems are causally determinate.
(3) Incompatibilism is true with respect to persons.
(4) Therefore, persons are not physical systems.

There are many viable options to escape dualism. You could:

(1) Deny free will.
(2) You can appeal to quantum indeterminacy to deny that physical systems are causally determinate at the fundemental level.
(3) You could believe that determinism and free will are compatible.

So, this argument against physicalism shouldn't be a great obstacle towards your acceptance of physicalism especially when many of these routes are very plausible.

I'm not saying that we need to only appeal to the possible to refute something, I'm saying that you have your work cut out for you if you want to show hell falsifies Christianity.  If you want to do that, you have to show that each escape route is untenable.  I personally find the first two options I gave to be quite plausible.  Eternal hell is workable in theory, but I think anihilationism is a Biblical position.

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Johan Biemans (jbiemans)

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2011, 10:02:03 am »
So you mean that God should not care about the things taking place on this earth, mass murder, torture all the way down to say lying? He should on your view just decide to not care about it all on the basis that he is so extremly great. Is that correct or have I read things into what you are saying that you are not saying?

Yes, you read too much into it.  I was not trying to say that God shouldn't care, but rather that it should not be offensive to him, no matter what happens on earth, it is insignificant in comparison to God, right ?

The common argument against the problem of evil is that heaven is so great it will eclipse all the suffering here and now (not that I accept that).  In this way, God is so great, he should be able to excuse and correct all wrong doings against him without flinching.

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Maxeo

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2011, 01:00:35 pm »
Brunswick wrote: One objection that atheists often make to hell is that it is overkill, because God would be sending someone to hell for an eternity as punishment for sins that they committed during a finite amount of time in this life.  One response that I have often heard from Christians is that it doesn't matter how long it takes one to commit a crime, the punishment is initiated based on the magnitude of the crime.  Ergo, a crime committed against an infinitely great being is worthy of an infinitely great punishment.

It seems that the Christian's line of reasoning commits the fallacy of equivocation, because the Christian is using two different definitions of "infinite" in their defense: infinite in regards to greatness, and infinite in regards to duration.  Therefore, to claim that a crime committed against an infinitely great being is worthy of an infinitely long punishment is equivocation, because this line of reasoning uses both definitions of infinite.  

Thoughts?

If an offense against an infinite quality requires an infinite punishment equal to that quality and if that quality of a punishment requires an infinite duration then there's no problem.  This was Thomas' position.  I think it's an argument to be made but I prefer Craig's finite punishment but infinite number of sins to incur an infinite punishment.
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Filip Prsic

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2011, 02:36:27 pm »
forthelord wrote:
(1) It could be argued that punishment goes on because the more punishment is given, the more the reprobate continue to hate God. The more they continue to hate God, the more punishment they deserve. Thus, "Hell is locked from the inside".


You're demonizing non-Christians. Virtually no one is so evil they would refuse to repent for the whole eternity. That's a load of nonsense.





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Paul Kelly

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2011, 02:58:47 pm »
gunman wrote:
You're demonizing non-Christians. Virtually no one is so evil they would refuse to repent for the whole eternity. That's a load of nonsense.


Those are the only type of people that will end up in hell.  The the more God punishes the reprobate, the more they grow in their hatred towards God-this seems to make sense given what we know about human nature.   People who would not continue to hate God the more they are punished aren't the type of people that end up in hell.  

Of course, I myself only defend the coherence of that doctrine.  I tend to side with the annihilationists and believe that the reprobate will simply be destroyed.  Unless you're willing to go scholarly toe-to-toe with annihilationist Biblical scholars, you can't reject Christianity on the basis of eternal hell because, for all you know, the Bible may not even teach eternal hell.

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Johan Biemans (jbiemans)

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2011, 03:22:08 pm »
being finite beings though, we cannot commit an infinite number of sins, so it sounds like you agree that a finite number of sins is not worthy of an infinite punishment. ?

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Paul Kelly

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2011, 03:23:49 pm »

jbiemans wrote: being finite beings though, we cannot commit an infinite number of sins, so it sounds like you agree that a finite number of sins is not worthy of an infinite punishment. ?


If you are talking to me, then yes, I don't think finite sins require infinine punishment.  However, a potentially infinite number of sins requires a potentially infinite number of punishments.  

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Johan Biemans (jbiemans)

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2011, 04:04:45 pm »
If you are talking to me, then yes, I don't think finite sins require infinine punishment.  However, a potentially infinite number of sins requires a potentially infinite number of punishments.  


I actually agree with you.  My problem is that no human is capable of a potentially infinite number of sins.  Maybe humanity as a whole, but not individually.

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Dan Stewart

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defense of hell -- fallacy
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2011, 04:20:55 pm »
Brunswick wrote: One objection that atheists often make to hell is that it is overkill, because God would be sending someone to hell for an eternity as punishment for sins that they committed during a finite amount of time in this life.  One response that I have often heard from Christians is that it doesn't matter how long it takes one to commit a crime, the punishment is initiated based on the magnitude of the crime.  Ergo, a crime committed against an infinitely great being is worthy of an infinitely great punishment.

It seems that the Christian's line of reasoning commits the fallacy of equivocation, because the Christian is using two different definitions of "infinite" in their defense: infinite in regards to greatness, and infinite in regards to duration.  Therefore, to claim that a crime committed against an infinitely great being is worthy of an infinitely long punishment is equivocation, because this line of reasoning uses both definitions of infinite.  

Thoughts?

So then you think it's an equivocation fallacy when a petty thief is sentenced to a month in jail, and a rapist is sentence to life?

There is no fallacy. Punishment only need be just; that's the only requirement. It need not be to your liking.

Either demonstrate that infinite punishment for infinite crime is unjust or give up. Your false accusations will only serve to help you delude yourself a little. Is it worth the effort?
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