Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


HELL LASTS FOREVER? DOES IT HAVE TO BE EVERLASTING ?
 
There are two sides to the notion that Jesus saved us by dying for us.  He gives us good things but this is a result of being saved from something.  The something is eternal punishment which you face if you die without asking his mercy. 

There are two sides to Hell. One is suffering and the other is separation from God. Even if God has to refuse to be the friend of a person who is in Hell forever that does not prove that he has to torture that person always. People who hate God in this life can feel no pain so the separation need not be agonising.

The real problem is with the notion that everlasting punishing is eternally painful.

Religion disagrees for if God alone matters as Jesus said then it is the separation that is terrible not the pain.  This is the notion again that sin is worse than suffering.  If there is a choice the sin matters and the suffering does not.  It is a serious sin then and choosing Hell if all you care about is the pain not God.

So what about the suffering?

Why is everlasting punishment everlasting? Does it really have to never ever stop? Hell-fire cults say yes. Here are all the “reasons” that are given by them.

A) Damned can’t take the endless torment all at once as to intensity so they have to endure it as to duration forever.

ANSWER. It is said that eternal punishment has to be unending because a finite creature cannot take unlimited punishment all in one go. But that is not a reason for Hell being everlasting for it does not hinder escape by repentance. It is only a reason when the person won’t turn away from the sin they are punished for.

When God has to punish a person infinitely he can do it in a moment. God can create an infinite line so he can remodel a person to enable her or him to take infinite punishment in a single instant. He made infinite space so he can turn sinners into beings that can take infinite torture all in one go. Christianity denies this maintaining that a finite being cannot take infinite punishment as to intensity but only as to duration. This is why if a person had to pay for sin it takes them forever to do it. But it is illogical.

God after administering infinite punishment could wait until the person repents and take her or him to Heaven where nobody sins ever again.

Christians protest that if God could give it all in one moment he wouldn’t for it would be encouraging sin. When people feel that they can’t be punished forever their morals will fall apart.

The fact that the damned deserve everlasting punishment does not imply that they have to abide in a state of corruption, hatred of God and misery forever. He would not be rewarding them if they suffered only a smart of pain every thousand years forever in Heaven for that would still amount to infinite pain in the final analysis. And if he can give it in one go he should and when the full penalty is paid he cannot be accused of encouraging sin.

Sinners should be put in a paradise and get a little ache that comes once in every equivalent of a million years forever and ever. This would still settle the infinite debt. They could be allowed to repent and enter God’s presence where nobody ever wants to sin again so that they no longer need to pay the infinite penalty. This way the infinite payment due to our holy and unholy deeds would be given.

Some say that if we bear infinite punishment in a very mild way bit by bit or altogether it feels like it is very mild. It does not feel like punishment. But it is punishment so it does not matter how it feels as long as it is done. If it is true that it is a fault if our punishment seems too mild then that means that we should suffer to the limit. No believers assert that.
 
B) God has the right to inflict such torment for he doesn’t owe the damned any favours.

ANSWER. He owes it to himself to have devoted servants so he should let them repent so that they will not be sinners forever and perhaps give them their punishment in one go if he is unmerciful and let them ascend into Heaven to be with him.

And he owes it to them. When sin is infinite evil any good we do must be infinite good and since we have all done good we are entitled to an eternity of chances to repent. When we are owed good and evil we should be owed good for it is best to be kind.

If he really hated sin and suffering he would give us a second chance.
 
C) The souls will not repent.

ANSWER. If they have free will then they would repent sometime. God cannot remove it for then it would be wrong to punish them. It would be punishing puppets that can feel pain.

D) If there were no endless punishing, God would be telling us that no matter how long we sin we can get away with it (page 109, Why Does God? page 116, The Life of all Living). We could sin forever if we are sure that his mercy will always be there. We could abuse his kindness and in that case it would be no longer kindness. His mercy has to stop somewhere. There has to come a time when he will not give us the grace to mend our ways the grace without which repentance is impossible.

ANSWER. This answer claims that it is better for God to discourage evil in this world by threatening everlasting evil on us in the next world which makes no sense. It’s a vindictive suggestion. It suggests that unending torment and evil is better than encouraging evil on earth which only lasts for a short time.
 
Suppose there is no endless punishing and the sinners are forever free to repent. They will repent sometime. When they do God can take them to Heaven for full union with him. When that happens people cannot sin anymore for they are too happy to throw it away. If you put them on a lonely planet where there is nobody to sin against they will soon repent – there is no difference between repenting then and repenting partly to win the joy of Heaven which is what all Christians do. Christians say that Hell exists and is everlasting because of God’s regard for our free will. Evil makes you less free not more free so God will have to do what leaves the door open for the person to turn away from evil. He has to do whatever makes us the most free. Moreover, the sinner and the damned want the sin not the punishment (page 303, Handbook of Christian Apologetics). (This is a silly claim. Why would the damned want the sin of adultery and murder when there is nobody to commit adultery with or to murder where they are? They have no bodies and any body they will get will be burned alive in a fire, that does not consume just like fire doesn’t consume iron, so it will not be having carnal cravings.) So Hell makes them less free rather than being a recognition of their free will. It seems that when God does not know what you would do he has to assume you would have done the best for he commands us to trust one another. So if you die without a chance to repent and you lose that chance he has to assume you would have repented had you lived on especially when your failure to repent led to a bad situation for you. This would mean that there could be no way he could have anything to do with sending people to Hell if he is good.

The idea behind the reasoning that God can’t let us freely sin forever is that sin is so serious that God has to show it by making a cut-off point though it will lead to many being damned and lost forever. But when sin must be an infinite insult to the infinite goodness of God this does not need a demonstration. Nor does it need a demonstration if the infinite God incarnate himself, Jesus, had to die for sins to pay for them.

It is better to let souls sin forever than to force them to sin forever by withholding grace from them.

Christians say that if God set the cut-off point at 100 years we would still be saying that it should be longer. Maybe. They say that when nobody can decide where to draw the line God is free to draw it where he likes and we deserve no chances at all so we should be happy with what we get. This is extremely evil. All people however evil deserve the chance to change. Evil deserves the power to change as well as to be punished. Because, if you do not deserve the chance to change then you deserve to sin more and that is incoherent. Even if the objection had any force what harm would there be in setting the limit at 100? It gives everybody the same chance which is the way it should be and gives us longer to mature and to think and to learn.
 
E) There is no time in Hell and that is why it never ends.

ANSWER. Time must pass by in Hell. If it doesn’t then there is just a kind of “present” (which is called eternity) there – it would be as if the present moment was frozen forever. So it is just like a present moment that never gives way to the next moment – you experience it as a moment but it is a moment that never ends. So it is the same experientially as a moment of suffering for a moment cannot be perceived as a long time or an everlasting thing for then it wouldn’t be a moment. Obviously, even extreme suffering is tolerable for a moment. Hell may be the same as this except there is no past or future. There is no time. If that is Hell then why avoid it? It is worth sinning for depending on your perspective and as long as you don’t know what you are missing. The only person who comes out badly in the whole thing is God. God would not place you in a timeless Hell as it would not fit the requirement of infinite suffering. One spasm of pain is nothing if it lasts a moment. If Hell is timeless then it is exactly the same as that except the future never comes.

This view means that no matter how much harm you do on earth all you get for it is what is the same as one moment of suffering on earth. But as long as that suffering matches the harm intended on earth that is fine.
 
F) It is surmised that because sin is an infinite rejection of God, you lose what is infinite in value by losing God or rejecting him. By rejecting the infinitely valuable, you lose the infinitely valuable. You are asking for infinite consequences for your rejection.
 
Since you cannot receive the awful infinite consequences that in a moment of time you have to tolerate them forever and ever in endless time. So, Hell is everlasting separation from God because it deserves that.

But separation from God is not punishment in itself unless God makes it painful. So, the pain is the most important thing to him. So, we could take it all in one go. Separation from God does not entitle him to make Hell everlasting. If you lose God for one second you lose what is infinitely valuable. This is infinitely terrible and therefore is a fitting price for infinite sin though it is not necessarily painful and it does not need to be continued for infinite time.

G) It is a mystery.

ANSWER. Just a cop-out. This answer could be used to defend any evil doctrine and religion is supposed to give good simple answers and not to create new problems. Perhaps God only lets you into Heaven if you commit suicide? If we may believe that it is a mystery then we may believe in any equally cruel one. The mystery excuse is itself evil. It is bigoted of it to say that everybody should believe as it wants.

It is suggested that it is logically impossible for a forgiving God to release souls from sin and Hell so he doesn’t. But this answer is absurd. Forgiving them won’t do the saints any harm and it will make the universe a better place. Therefore it is absurd to call everlasting punishing a mystery.

To do good is to do what is best. Punishing people forever does no good. It is doing the grater evil. Now you will begin to see why Hell-fire religions can often get their victims to do great evil.

The ancient doctrine of everlasting punishment makes no sense and is unworthy of attribution to a good God.

 
CONCLUSION
 
The doctrine of everlasting punishment is a load of vicious nonsense. It puts you off God. It should.
 
BIBLE VERSION
 
The Amplified Bible
 
FURTHER READING
APOLOGETICS AND CATHOLIC DOCTRINE, Most Rev M Sheehan DD, M H Gill & Son, Dublin, 1954  
APOLOGETICS FOR THE PULPIT, Aloysius Roche, Burns Oates & Washbourne LTD, London, 1950
ENCHIRIDION SYMBOLORUM ET DEFINITIONUM, Heinrich Joseph Denzinger, Edited by A Schonmetzer, Barcelona, 1963
GOD IS NOT GREAT, THE CASE AGAINST RELIGION, Christopher Hitchens, Atlantic Books, London, 2007
 ‘GOD, THAT’S NOT FAIR!’ Dick Dowsett, [OMF Books, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, Belmont, The Vine, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 3TZ] Kent, 1982
HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS, Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1994
HAVE WE TO FEAR A DEVIL? Fred Pearce, The Christadelphian Office, Birmingham
HEAVEN AND HELL Dudley Fifield, Christadelphian Publishing Office, Birmingham
HELL – WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT IT, John R Rice, Sword of the Lord, Murfreesboro, 1945
JEHOVAH OF THE WATCH-TOWER, Walter Martin and Norman Klann, Bethany House, Minnesota, 1974
LIFE IN CHRIST, PART 3, Fergal McGrath SJ, MH Gill and Son Ltd, Dublin, 1960
RADIO REPLIES VOL 1, Frs Rumble and Carty, Radio Replies Press, St Paul, Minnesota, 1938
REASON AND BELIEF, Bland Blanschard, George Allen & and Unwin Ltd, London, 1974
THE BIBLE TELLS US SO, R B Kuiper, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1978
THE CASE FOR FAITH, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000
THE DEVIL, THE GREAT DECEIVER Peter Watkins, The Christadelphian Birmingham, 1992
THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES, Gleason W Archer, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982
THE FOUR MAJOR CULTS, AA Hoekema, Paternoster Press, Carlisle, 1992
THE KINDNESS OF GOD, EJ Cuskelly MSC, Mercier Press, Cork, 1965
THE LIFE OF ALL LIVING, Fulton J Sheen, Image Books, New York, 1979
THE REAL DEVIL, Alan Hayward, Christadelphian Bible Mission, Birmingham
THE REALITY OF HELL, St Alphonsus Liguori, Augustine Publishing Company, Devon, 1988
THE SERMONS OF ST ALPHONSUS LIGOURI, St Alphonsus Ligouri, TAN, Illinois, 1982
THE TRUTH ABOUT HELL, Dawn Bible Students, East Rutherford, NJ
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT HELL? Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HEAVEN?, Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1988
WHY DOES GOD? Domenico Grasso SJ, St Paul Publications, Bucks, 1970