I don't think I understand the concept of hell...

(133 Posts)
deadlift Fri 12-Apr-13 20:10:15

Hi, I hope I can explain my question clearly. I've been thinking about it for a while and I just don't really understand.

As a Christian, I would never condone torture because I don't think we should ever treat people like that, regardless of what they've done. If I can love my neighbour enough not to condone torture than how can God, who loves us more than I could ever love anybody, commit somebody to eternal torture in hell? I don't think I could condemn anyone to that (I certaintly hope I couldn't) so how could an all loving God do that?

I'm sure there's probably an explanation that I just haven't thought of (I know my current understanding of God is pretty rubbish) and I'd really appreciate it if somebody could help me.

ellie1234 Wed 24-Apr-13 10:01:04

Try reading Rob Bells book. It worked for me!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Tue 16-Apr-13 09:56:42

It is of course possible to link everything together in some way

Via Kevin Bacon!

ah yes "Separation from God".

Being free to make my own decisions.

Not having to strain to fit facts into the 'truth'.

If I were to see something today demonstrating that everything I know is incorrect then it would be an interesting and exciting time. For a religious person I imagine it would be a dreadful blow they might not recover from.

I can learn new things without fear. For a really devout person to watch/read about science/history must be like one of those horror films where any moment something nasty may leap out at you.

Not having to work at justifying/excusing religious morality.

As for living in hell now - well this world is not always a very nice place, but since I'm not religious I don't have to accept that it must stay that way - that all the nastiness is part of god's plan.
We may or may not fix things, but we could if we tried hard enough. It would help if we didn't have people holding us back by preaching acceptance of how things are and promising that it will be better in the afterlife.

CoteDAzur Tue 16-Apr-13 09:22:56

"your asserting that there is no link between truth and love is a philosophical one, not a scientific one"

No. True (as opposed to false) is an objective property whereas love is a subjective one. We can love stuff that is true and also those that are false, just as we can hate what is true as well as what is false. They are not linked in any way I can think.

It is of course possible to link everything together in some way, but I think it is fair to say that truth and love are two concepts more unrelated than most.

CoteDAzur Tue 16-Apr-13 09:15:14

"your form of atheism sees human life as basically self-oriented?"

Are you trying to ask if people are selfish beings?

Btw, there are no "forms of atheism", since atheism isn't a doctrine people subscribe to. We are people with out own minds, who have listened to the Abrahamic God hypothesis and didn't find it convincing.

CoteDAzur Tue 16-Apr-13 09:10:26

"Hell is separation from God"

So you believe that atheists are living in hell?

If so, I can assure you that "hell" is a perfectly pleasant place.

headinhands Italy Tue 16-Apr-13 07:32:40

Yeah different, and all watched by a god who does nothing.

differentnameforthis Tue 16-Apr-13 06:58:05

You are living in Hell at the moment.

Where else could be as bad as this world we live in?

Where people are killed running a marathon in honour of victims of a tragedy?

Where children are murdered by children, raped by adults for their won sick means?

Where people who raped a 16yr old are getting more sympathy & support than the victim?

Where diseases/famine are rife.

With diseases with no cure kill people everyday.

LizzyDay Mon 15-Apr-13 17:27:23

I think we have a responsibility not to wreck the environment just because it makes sense, and we're the only species in a position to change things. But for me it's a self-imposed responsibility, not one handed to us from on high.

Of course problems arise with this because no-one is ultimately 'in charge' and everyone thinks everyone else should make the compromises, not them. And as ecology is dynamic, by definition not everyone can be a winner. confused

HolofernesesHead Mon 15-Apr-13 17:22:12

So do you think that your form of atheism sees human life as basically self-oriented?

I can't imagine myself ever thiking like that...

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 16:41:41

Pedro, no offence meant, but I would much rather see the world as I do and not as you do! I do see responsibility built in to what it means to being human. And for that I'm glad!

And that's fine as long you realise that just because something is appealing to you, doesn't mean it's right.

I don't believe we have any 'responsibility' at all, we're just another life form on the Earth, we are no more responsible for the Earth's wellbeing than an ant or a snail. However, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't take care of the earth in order to preserve ourselves.

My point was that we shouldn't be expending energy saving animals purely for our own selfish desire to keep them around or for our power trip of controlling nature.

If someone believes that god rewards faith then dying for their religion is in their own interest in the long run. The sad part is that people have died for all the different religions - even the wrong ones.

People die for Islam and they don't believe in Jesus as the son of god do they so they can't possibly qualify. It's not just a difference in names.

Then there are all the Mormons and the worshippers of Zeus and the Hindu gods and people who worship snakes, bulls, volcanoes, the sun and so on. All sincere and all brimming with faith and all completely wrong.

HolofernesesHead Mon 15-Apr-13 14:35:38

True, Lizzy - people do things for all sorts of reasons, don't they?

Of the people I know who have an environmental conscience, it's linked in to some sense of responsibility / belonging within the world / love of and connection to the world. I'm not knocking any of that, very far from it - I am so glad that people do have an environmental conscience - but the thing that i am saying is that this is how I, as a Christian, view my relationship with the world, that it is deeply embedded in my faith.

LizzyDay Mon 15-Apr-13 14:22:11

The thing is that it makes perfectly pragmatic common sense to take good care of the environment if you want to be able to live in it, farm it, breathe clean air etc.

Doesn't have to be connected to religion at all. (Unless you're a buddhist and don't squash cockroaches of course!)

HolofernesesHead Mon 15-Apr-13 14:07:41

True re. martyrs and heavenly afterlife, Ellie - if we believe in heaven that changes how we see this world completely.

There has actually been quite a big move in many mainstream Christian denomiations in the UK and USA over the past 5 - 10 years towards 'creation care', environmental respoonsibility, call it what you will. The C of E has it now written in as one of the 'five marks of mission' (i.e. things that we Christians are called to do). I think, tbh, we're only just really (as Christians) starting now to be aware of this, but if you read the Psalms, they're full of it - the heavens are telling forth the glory of God! (Psalm 19).

Pedro, no offence meant, but I would much rather see the world as I do and not as you do! I do see responsibility built in to what it means to being human. And for that I'm glad!

LizzyDay Mon 15-Apr-13 12:32:55

Re self preservation and Christian martyrs, I don't think you'd have nearly so many martyrs in the world if they hadn't somehow been convinced of a better afterlife, do you?

Re being chosen, yes I'd agree that most modern denominations of Christianity seem to be saying something along the lines of god loves all people, not just active Christians. But there does seem to be a definite emphasis on people, not cockroaches - I wonder why that would be grin

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 12:31:57

Let's put the giant cockroaches to the side for one moment then and take a real world example.

Giant Pandas. They are endangered, partly due to human intervention, however, they haven't adapted to their changing environment and the biggest problem is that they flat out refuse to procreate. Why should we be spending so much time and energy on a species which is trying so damned hard to wipe itself out?

"But I want my children to be able to see a real Giant Panda", I hear you screaming. Well tough. For starters, how many people have actually seen a real Giant Panda in the wild anyway? Secondly, I would have loved to see a Dodo in the wild, but I can't because, like 99% of all species which ever lived, they have become extinct because they didn't adapt. Oh well.

Human intervention is not really any different to the intervention of any other animal which has caused extinctions. Predators turning up on previously 'safe' islands for example. It just happens that the major evolutionary advantage we developed was the ability to manipulate our environment in previously unprecedented ways, meaning we could advance more quickly without having to wait for genetic mutations.

We are not special in any way other than we happen to be the most powerful animals on the planet right now. That doesn't give us a responsibility, it just means we are winning at the moment. It's a harsh truth that we live in a brutal Darwinian world. Luckily for us, we're pretty good at this game!

PedroYoniLikesCrisps Mon 15-Apr-13 12:16:09

My point is, Pedro, that your asserting that there is no link between truth and love is a philosophical one, not a scientific one, as I have yet to meet or hear of a scientist who finds it within her professional remit to define 'truth.' Are we back to Pilate's question 'What is truth'? If so, it's a good job we're in the philosophy secion as that's a philosophical question!

I agree that truth fits in this category because it's a poorly defined word. But love does not. Love and truth are entirely separate things.

HolofernesesHead Mon 15-Apr-13 12:12:47

Well...! grin I don't know! All I do know is that I believe that God calls me and all people to know his love and to make his love known in all the world and to all the world, and to all creation.

The history of Christian martyrs teaches us that plenty of Christians have followed the way of Jesus to death and not gone for their own self-preservation. Maybe self-preservation isn't the be all and end all; maybe there's something bigger to aim for. How that would work out in a giant cockroach scenario is anyone's guess.

I'd also want to think a bit more about the 'chosen people' tag - it's not that one group of people is chosen and another isn't - again, I'd see an ever-widening awareness that all people are chosen by God, an evolutionary process that starts with knowing ourselves to be chosen. Maybe we can only know all people to be chosen or beloved of God if we've known it first of ourselves.

LizzyDay Mon 15-Apr-13 12:02:51

So I see the evolutionary advantage as a mandate to care, nurture and protect.

But that's only ever going to work from a human self-preservation perspective really, isn't it? If giant cockroaches started taking over the world and ate OUR food, we'd try and eradicate them pretty quickly. And if the cockroaches were to win and kill us off, does that mean that god would have decided that cockroaches are now his chosen species as we didn't do a good enough job?

HolofernesesHead Mon 15-Apr-13 11:45:42

I suppose I'm quite an eco-person generally (again, I can only speak for myself here, I don't claim to be the voice of Christianity!) and I see recognising the specialness of human beings as a way towards recognising the specialness of all creation ( I use that term loosely). I.e. once we understand ourselves to be beloved of God, we can start to see that all creatures and all creation are beloved of God and therefore start to care for it out of real love. So I see the evolutionary advantage as a mandate to care, nurture and protect. That, to me, is a big part of what it means to be human.

LizzyDay Mon 15-Apr-13 11:28:58

Maybe one of the big differences here is that most atheists don't believe that humans are 'special' - it's just that for the moment, we have the greatest evolutionary advantage in most parts of the world.

This has not always been the case, and could easily change again if say a disease were to take hold that medicine couldn't fix, or if there were a huge climactic change that we couldn't adapt to quickly enough.

HolofernesesHead Mon 15-Apr-13 10:00:27

I agree with you Lizzy.

LizzyDay Mon 15-Apr-13 09:57:12

Neuropsychology is good at looking at some things and useless for others. It is pretty bad at understanding how we live as social beings, how we are shaped by and experience ourselves through culture and language. It can't tell us how we ought to act, or why some actions are good, and it can't tell us why some actions are full of meaning, and some are meaningless.

I disagree - neuropsychology, ethology and animal behaviour are subjects which give huge insight into why animals (including humans) behave socially as they do. I think that understanding the biological dynamics of a society gives a really good pragmatic underpinning for social organisation and justice, and helps us to better understand the more difficult stuff like why societies go to war and generally have disagreements. It is absolutely relevant to understanding what it is to be human.

HolofernesesHead Mon 15-Apr-13 09:49:14

Okay, forget 'wisdom'.

My point is, Pedro, that your asserting that there is no link between truth and love is a philosophical one, not a scientific one, as I have yet to meet or hear of a scientist who finds it within her professional remit to define 'truth.' Are we back to Pilate's question 'What is truth'? If so, it's a good job we're in the philosophy secion as that's a philosophical question! smile

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