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Problem of Evil

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Fynn

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The problem of hell
« on: September 14, 2016, 07:11:52 pm »
I have noticed that some atheists are very indgnant about the issue of hell,  and assert that God could have just created people who were going to be saved anyway,  therefore negating the need for people going to hell.

I note that this was tackled in a recent podcast,  and Dr Craig notes that may not be feasible because people (even atheists)  have a role to play in bringing people closer to salvation,  challenging others,  presenting counter arguments etc.

The atheist may then introduce the idea of a philosophical zombie (convincing humanoid robot) who could do this work without the subject knowing,  thus obviating the need for hell once again.

This got me thinking about the false premise upon which the argument is based, ie,  that the best possible world is one where no souls existed in hell.

Although it seems counter intuitive,  I don't think this is the same as saying that the best possible world is one in which all were saved (which would be true).

Taking the idea of the Potter (I think Rom 9:21 and 2 Tim 20)  making some vessels for honour and some for dishonor, it would make sense that the chamber pot only has value while it is in use within the home.  At some point in time,  it will be cast aside,  and its value will be gone.   A similar analogy would be that we don't like the fact that food has spoiled and needs throwing away,  but we don't really grieve for it once it has been disposed of. It is terrible that it went bad,  but of no consequence once it has been thrown away. It no longer has value.
 
The objection to a soul with value existing in hell would seem to be based on the incorrect assumption that man can reject God,  yet retain his intrinsic value.

Clearly this touches on the apparent dichotomy between election and free will,  but I'm willing to accept on that the two can work together in a world where God wills all to come to salvation,  yet chooses the ones who do (that's a theological argument,  and slightly off topic) .

 I would be interested to know your thoughts. 

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Al Graham

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Re: The problem of hell
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2016, 09:09:31 am »
The objection to a soul with value existing in hell would seem to be based on the incorrect assumption that man can reject God,  yet retain his intrinsic value.

I question whether this is an incorrect assumption.

Could it not be that God's love for those who are tormented in hell is not diminished by their rebellion?  Could it not be the case that the fire of hell is actually the reality of God - the God of everlasting love - which causes torment, precisely because the evil soul hates anything to do with the love of God?

It is often said that hell is separation from God, but there's an interesting verse in Revelation, chapter 14, which states that the damned are tormented "in the presence of the Lamb" (v. 10).  If we cross reference to Revelation chapter 5, we can see that the Lamb is a clear reference to Christ crucified (and, of course, the same imagery is in the gospels and elsewhere).  So we have the picture of the damned being tortured in the presence of God who reveals Himself, not as violent or vindictive, but as the ultimate victim of evil - as a docile lamb who was slain - and as the One who brings salvation to all people.  This seems to indicate to me something about the fundamental nature of hell: that hell is not to be compared to Auschwitz or other horrors contrived by man to cause suffering to others, but rather that hell is the experience of the love of God in the soul and spirit of the one who is unrepentantly evil, arrogant and merciless. 

Thus, from God's perspective, those who are tormented in hell are still of infinite value and 'loved'.  That is the problem for them!  They wish God would just hate them, and then they would have some sense of self-justification for their wickedness.  On the contrary, their experience is one of overwhelming shame, because the love of God has exposed their evil for what it is.
To understand that logic must be valid is to see at once that mind cannot be alien to the nature of the universe. Many people think this is due to the fact that Nature produced the mind. But on the assumption that Nature is herself mindless, this provides no explanation. CS Lewis (abridged)

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Re: The problem of hell
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2017, 10:19:07 pm »
Jonathan L. Kvanvig, in his book, The Problem of Hell, defines the "Strong View of Hell" as:
(H1) The Anti-Universalism Thesis: Some persons are consigned to Hell;
(H2) The Existence Thesis: Hell is a place where people exist, if they are consigned there;
(H3) The No Escape Thesis: There is no possibility of leaving hell and nothing one can do, change, or become in order to get out of hell, once one is consigned there; and
(H4) The Retribution Thesis: The justification of hell is retributive in nature, hell being constituted to mete out punishment to those whose earthly lives and behavior warrant it.

With those definitions in mind, we can summarize the "Moral Objection to the Equal Punishment Version of the Strong View": (1) every individual in hell receives the same punishment; and (2) this punishment is infinite in nature. This in unfair, because not everyone is equally guilty, and unjust, because not all sin, if any, deserves an infinite punishment.

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Fynn

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Re: The problem of hell
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2017, 07:09:54 pm »
Thanks both.  That raises an interesting proposition - the fires of hell and the fire of God's holiness being one and the same - the only difference being the position of the soul wrt repentance and being clothed in Christ.  (If you're a living flame, you don't get burned by the heat, rather are drawn towards him).

(1) every individual in hell receives the same punishment;

... has not been established.  In fact, I would suggest verses such as Matthew 10:15
- "Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town." - would suggest the opposite.

Likewise there's evidence to suggest not all those in heaven receive the same reward (1 Cor 3.15).

The nature of Hell itself is spoken of figuratively as both "outer darkness" (Matt. 8:12; ,22:13 and 25:30), a place of "fire" (Rev. 20:14) and "unquenchable flame" (Mark 9:48) so there's plenty of unknowns.  Speculation, but there may be an element of both.  You land on the other side in the presence of the Lamb, and find yourself either drawn towards the fire, or withdrawing to outer darkness.

I think there is a logic to suggesting that rejecting an infinite God constitutes an infinite sin.  Perhaps though, the main issue is not punitive, but God simply saying to man, "THY will be done".

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innerbling

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Re: The problem of hell
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2017, 03:31:11 pm »
If morality is ontological then it follows that a being who is in contradiction with this ontology will necessarily suffer the consequences. That is if you jump off a roof in hopes that the law of gravity does not somehow apply to you you will find out that ontology does not care about your opinion.

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jayceeii

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Re: The problem of hell
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2019, 09:02:22 am »
I have noticed that some atheists are very indgnant about the issue of hell,  and assert that God could have just created people who were going to be saved anyway,  therefore negating the need for people going to hell.

I note that this was tackled in a recent podcast,  and Dr Craig notes that may not be feasible because people (even atheists)  have a role to play in bringing people closer to salvation,  challenging others,  presenting counter arguments etc.

The atheist may then introduce the idea of a philosophical zombie (convincing humanoid robot) who could do this work without the subject knowing,  thus obviating the need for hell once again.

This got me thinking about the false premise upon which the argument is based, ie,  that the best possible world is one where no souls existed in hell.

Although it seems counter intuitive,  I don't think this is the same as saying that the best possible world is one in which all were saved (which would be true).

Taking the idea of the Potter (I think Rom 9:21 and 2 Tim 20)  making some vessels for honour and some for dishonor, it would make sense that the chamber pot only has value while it is in use within the home.  At some point in time,  it will be cast aside,  and its value will be gone.   A similar analogy would be that we don't like the fact that food has spoiled and needs throwing away,  but we don't really grieve for it once it has been disposed of. It is terrible that it went bad,  but of no consequence once it has been thrown away. It no longer has value.
 
The objection to a soul with value existing in hell would seem to be based on the incorrect assumption that man can reject God,  yet retain his intrinsic value.

Clearly this touches on the apparent dichotomy between election and free will,  but I'm willing to accept on that the two can work together in a world where God wills all to come to salvation,  yet chooses the ones who do (that's a theological argument,  and slightly off topic) .

 I would be interested to know your thoughts.
fn: I have noticed that some atheists are very indgnant about the issue of hell,  and assert that God could have just created people who were going to be saved anyway,  therefore negating the need for people going to hell.

jc: The concept of hell was always intended to frighten “spiritual infants,” who were unable to respond to the threat of actual hell. The trouble is the hell that is real is something these lower souls crave, so a concept they would perceive as more threatening was devised. In general the concept relies on them retaining their current body and being tormented in it. This gives an image of suffering they can understand, whereas consequences outside the body are far beyond the ability of their minds to conceive.

fn: I note that this was tackled in a recent podcast,  and Dr Craig notes that may not be feasible because people (even atheists)  have a role to play in bringing people closer to salvation,  challenging others,  presenting counter arguments etc.

jc: Such thinking relies on the premise the Christian attempts to save are efficacious, which is false. These are merely “herding” activities, where the real route to salvation was never declared in any religion. Humans don’t have the power to save themselves or each other, especially not with the halfhearted and cognitively improbable Bible theories.

fn: The atheist may then introduce the idea of a philosophical zombie (convincing humanoid robot) who could do this work without the subject knowing,  thus obviating the need for hell once again.

jc: Atheists and theists are just two sides of the same coin, that God flips randomly. The theists are not justified in their beliefs because their ideas point them away from the living God. The atheists are not justified in throwing down theists because they don’t have the truth either. The theists can only be thrown down properly from a higher venue.

fn: This got me thinking about the false premise upon which the argument is based, ie,  that the best possible world is one where no souls existed in hell.

jc: This is in fact our world, because hell is not perceived as torment by those who dwell there, only by those looking on it from above, understanding all of the lost opportunities. Importantly the human race is unable to consider it properly as a loss, instead secretly supposing it to be a gain, therefore the more horrific tales were concocted for their sakes.

fn: Although it seems counter intuitive,  I don't think this is the same as saying that the best possible world is one in which all were saved (which would be true).

jc: Once you see the souls, you see that salvation of all is a literal impossibility, even in eternity. Chopping off points come, where God tires of the game of endless soul farming.

fn: Taking the idea of the Potter (I think Rom 9:21 and 2 Tim 20)  making some vessels for honour and some for dishonor, it would make sense that the chamber pot only has value while it is in use within the home. 

jc: This is indeed fitting, the pot used for excrement in ancient days used for an analogy to the sinful soul. Could they receive instruction and strive for improvement, they would have value. Instead as Jesus remarked, many are good only to be burnt, like dried wood.

fn: At some point in time,  it will be cast aside,  and its value will be gone.

jc: Such a sentiment fills the angelic heart with pathos, as they long to save all souls. Yet every approach of logic or love fails before the bitter ones who resent their own existence.

fn: A similar analogy would be that we don't like the fact that food has spoiled and needs throwing away,  but we don't really grieve for it once it has been disposed of.

jc: Yes, the angels eventually kick up their heels with joy, though some men need be left. These men get what they wanted, and it wasn’t an eternity filled with fun with the angels.

fn: It is terrible that it went bad,  but of no consequence once it has been thrown away. It no longer has value.

jc: Again, those who will strive have value, however it is not easy to enter by this door, as Jesus averred. Men cannot be made to walk straight towards the goal. They will only go by indirect, shuffling routes, where selfish drives are preserved. In general no one has objective value before entering a true “second birth,” and no man has entered it on Earth.

fn: The objection to a soul with value existing in hell would seem to be based on the incorrect assumption that man can reject God,  yet retain his intrinsic value.

jc: This appears to be dancing around the same truth of which I speak, the sinners don’t rise to intrinsic value even when they strive. Importantly, the highest men, who can be identified since they were raised to prominence, reject God, although this also rejects them. It isn’t just before God. Such souls have no intrinsic value to the other souls either.

fn: Clearly this touches on the apparent dichotomy between election and free will,  but I'm willing to accept on that the two can work together in a world where God wills all to come to salvation,  yet chooses the ones who do (that's a theological argument,  and slightly off topic) .

jc: The ruse of the religions is that men have a choice, when really their minds are unable to assess their status or their progress. The choices that were given only move them around slightly within their selfish drives, not pushing them out of themselves into higher zones acceptable to God (or other souls). The true religion will be opposition, which is to say the humans will strive to understand God opposes them in fundamental ways, almost everywhere they think or act. The current religion tries to drag God down to their ways.

fn: I would be interested to know your thoughts.

jc: If so you’d be first. Such courteous statements seldom have deep intent behind them.