I received a comment/question about hell and I was spending so much time on my response that I figured it was worth a post.
Here’s the question from Tamlor (on the ‘My Story’ page):
I have always been sooooo consfused over the issue of how people that say that they don’t believe in God hold Him responsible for “sending people to hell”. i have always had the understanding and belief that to acknowledge and accept the we are created in the image of God, believing that He came Himself to earth to take responsibility for His creation and the mistakes (or sins) that we make BECAUSE He created us and Loves us beyond our understanding, not holding us responsible because He KNOWS HE created us, and would never expect us to take responsiblity for what He created. asking only that we BELIEVE in Him, not our own understanding. Those of us that accept this, that believe this, have the joy of eternity with Him where those that deny Him choose to take responsibiltiy for themselves and they CHOOSE to NOT spend eternity with Him, choosing instead to make a well informed decision to spend eternity instead without Him which is hell. He has made it very clear that we have that choice and has also made it very clear that He desires but never forces us to do anything, that includes Him never “forcing” us into hell. His Judegement will be a time of truth for those that trust, believe and accept as well as for those that refuse, deny and doubt. He will simply say, as they have said, that He doesn’t know them, which is what they agree to while living here…they don’t even believe He exists let alone know Him.
Here’s my response:
Thank you for leaving your comment. I appreciate the question.
First, here is something I copied and pasted from my ‘Bible‘ page:
As a Christian I cringed at some of the Old Testament atrocities but I believed Christ had come to change all that so they didn’t cause me to waiver in my faith. (Never mind that Christ and God are supposed to be one so Christ was also a part of those atrocities.) But over time I came to agree with Dan Barker who says in ‘godless‘ (p. 181): “But probably the worst of all Jesus’ ideas is the teaching of hell. He did not invent the concept of eternal punishment, but the promotion of the Christian doctrine of hell originated with Jesus. In the Old Testament, hell is just death or the grave. With Jesus, hell became a place of everlasting torment. In Mark 9:43, Jesus said that hell is ‘the fire that never shall be quenched.’ In Matthew 13:41-42, Jesus gives us a graphic (and almost gleeful) description of the place he created: ‘The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.’ Hitlers gas ovens were horrendous and the the suffering was unspeakable, but they did not burn forever. The murdered victims of the Holocaust suffer no more, but the victims of God’s anger will scream forever and ever.”
Watch this video concerning the concept of hell:
Here are some thoughts from Atheist Universe by David Mills:
“Suppose, by analogy, that a stranger pulls a gun on you and says, ‘Your money or your life.’ You refuse to surrender your money, and the robber kills you. Do you believe that a jury would acquit the gunman because he had offered you a ‘free choice’?
Would this gunman deserve praise and worship if, after putting a gun to your head, he decided to spare your life? No, because he was merely removing the threat that he himself had imposed upon you unasked and unwanted. Yet the biblical God is viewed as ‘merciful’ because He ‘saves’ a minority of human beings from His own hideous tortures, imposed upon humanity unasked and unwanted.
‘But,’ Christians respond, ‘without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin. And God asks only that we accept the blood sacrifice that Jesus offered for us on the cross.’
And who, may I ask, established this rule that ‘without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin’? The answer, again, is ‘God.’ If truly omnipotent, God could have proclaimed that ‘without the drinking of apple cider, there can be no forgiveness of sin,’ or ‘without the expulsion of farts, there can be no forgiveness of sin.’ God, if omnipotent, could do anything He wanted, including forgiving all ‘sinnners’ unconditionally. The fact that God supposedly demands blood before He offers forgiveness is indicative of the bestial mindset of the primitive cultures extant when the Bible was written. The biblical God was created in man’s own vengeful, bloodletting image.”
(I encourage you to read the entire chapter on hell from The Atheist Universe. It is a very indepth discussion.)
Then my thoughts went to this video which is on the ‘My Story’ page. It highlights why the Christian story seems so implausable to many people. The longer I’ve been out of Christianity the more glaring and fundamental holes I see in the whole thing. So when you tell me that all I have to do is believe, I see all these massive and numerous unbelievable things that I would have to accept and I just can’t be that intellectually dishonest with myself or anybody else. Please watch the whole video, but I list some of his basic arguments about hell starting at the 6:45 mark.
6:45 Christ’s sacrifice is required because of our sin but God created us with sinful natures in the first place.
7:00 Do not make this sacrifice free!
7:10 Despite the quality of their intentions, any cognitive being who is unconvinced that these events actually took place is designating themselves to the endless suffering of hell.
7:25 Refrain from making it clear and knowable that these events actually took place. Make sure they happen before technology and science would have allowed people to verify that they took place if they were not present.
8:02 Make sure that beleiving in something without evidence is morally superior to investigation and verification.
8:20 Bible – This is how we’re supposed to know that these things happened but it is FAR from reliable.
8:40 God can’t use his omniscience to discern who is truly rebelling and who just can’t distinguish Him from other versions of God with the same claims of exlusivity?
9:00 Do not make it clear that You’re even here. Allow for Your existence to remain an easily debatable, easily questionable, easily doubtable proposition.
9:14 Allow for billions and billions of souls to be unthinkablly tortured for all of eternity regardless of their character, integrity, bravery, responsibility, or conduct because they had not correctly assumed that the right set of propositions were true by the time their lives on earth were over.
9:40 Demand that you be praised for this plan.
I would love to discuss any or all of these issues with any Christian. It really is an interesting topic and one that I take very seriously.