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Is Hell excessive?

#1rodman870Posted 6/6/2014 7:02:19 PM
Second topic, I know, but I was waiting around, and figured why not?

So, I get that technically the demons, contrapasso, drowning in boiling blood is just crap that whittled its way into the mainstream interpretation of Hell because of Dante's Inferno, and that the biblical Hell is basically sitting in a lake of fire for an eternity.

I've always had a problem with this concept though. Take the worst human in history for example, most people would go with Hitler, because he's easy to understand. Let's say that Hitler was responsible for 20 million deaths as a ballpark estimate. Clearly, he deserves to be punished. For his punishment, he would spend 1 hour burning in hell for each life loss due to his actions. 20 million hours of burning in Hell seems excessive, but he did kill 20 million people and deserves a punishment.

My problem though, is that Hell is eternal. Hitler wouldn't only spend 20 million hours in Hell, but 20 million hours, 20 million times, then when he was done serving 4x10^14 hours in Hell, he would have to do it all over again. Hitler was a horrible person, and deserves punishment, but does anyone seriously believe he deserves that??

My real issue with hell though, is that you don't even have to be as bad as Hitler to go there. Atheists, blasphemers, adulterers, sodomites, bastards, etc. would go to Hell as well. Even spending an hour burning in Hell seems excessive for someone who just cheated on his wife and never repented for it, but an eternity? No one deserves that. How could any good Christian look at a gay person, or an atheist and casually say "Well, he's probably going to Hell."? It just seems far too cruel to even begin to fathom.

So, what do you all think about Hell?
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#2Silencer SPosted 6/6/2014 7:30:12 PM
Yeah Hell is pretty screwed up.

Though, in some religions/mythos, it's not as bad (See: Dante's Inferno -- first level of Hell ain't too bad).
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#3takashi351Posted 6/6/2014 8:20:29 PM
Hell is inherently unjust. It's an infinite punishment for finite sins. There is no repentance, no learning the error of your ways, no chance to become a better person and make amends. It's just retribution. An eye for an eye, but infinitely worse. It's torture and murder for a paper for a paper cut, but infinitely more cruel.

Of course, there are those that say he'll isn't painful or tortuous, it's just "separation from God's love." To that, all I have to say is, "So what?" I'm an atheist, I don't feel that now. And no one has ever given me a concrete explanation of what exactly that entails. Just more of the same, but...sadder, somehow? That's still eternal punishment, and it's still incredibly unjust.

I suppose a lot of it, like most debates, comes down to a disagreement over definitions and values. There's a lot of crossover between how one perceives hell and what one believes to be the goal of the prison/criminal justice system. I think retribution is not synonymous with justice. The goal of the prison system should be, in my opinion, to reform criminals and give them the means to exist peacefully in society. That failing, it should be to remove dangerous people from the general population. That's impossible with eternal punishment. Others believe that prison is there to simply there to punish people for their transgressions. This would be internally consistent with a belief in hell. That's where the fundamental divide is, and I'm not quite sure how to bridge that gap.


Either way, the concept of hell, in any of its incarnations, is by far the most ****ed up thing that humanity has ever conceived.
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#4The ApologistPosted 6/6/2014 8:41:38 PM
The first question is: what would a just afterlife consist in?
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#51116587Posted 6/6/2014 8:57:44 PM
Even the gods don't deserve hell, and that's saying something.
#6Dathrowed1Posted 6/6/2014 9:12:04 PM
The Apologist posted...
The first question is: what would a just afterlife consist in?


Actually it already makes a lot of assumptions. The real first question is does the bible say there is an afterlife
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#7takashi351Posted 6/6/2014 10:26:23 PM
The Apologist posted...
The first question is: what would a just afterlife consist in?


I would say it would consist of reliving the pain you caused others, but through their eyes. So Stalin would have to, for example, live through the unjust torture and death he inflicted upon countless millions. Perhaps after going through that, he would have a better understanding of exactly what he did to others. It's (perfectly) proportional, finite, and would show him what he did to those he harmed.

After that? I don't really know. I'm only a mortal, and I can't begin to truly comprehend the idea of infinity in any meaningful way. Plus, I don't have any visions of what the afterlife should be. Perhaps using that knowledge and experience to help others in a guardian angel fashion.
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#8Al-UzzaPosted 6/6/2014 11:37:00 PM
Why is eternal Hell any more excessive than eternal Heaven presided by an overpowered god?
#9darkmaian23Posted 6/7/2014 12:08:29 AM
Al-Uzza posted...
Why is eternal Hell any more excessive than eternal Heaven presided by an overpowered god?


That's an interesting question. Growing up, I knew many people who believed that there was no hell and that God sent everyone to heaven and made them perfect after death. These friends of mine felt that life was just to give us some experience.

In more conventional terms, if we consider the Christian beliefs that man was created without sin and that all will be perfect in heaven, going to heaven is more or less just a return to what things should have been like to begin with. Many Christians reject the notion that works get you in to heaven. It is about redemption in the eyes of God and the sacrifice of Jesus.

As an atheist, I think the ideas of heaven, hell, and the sacrifice of Jesus as atonement for the sins of mankind are absurd. But if you look at common Christian beliefs, I do not think you can claim that a return to the peace and goodness intended for mankind is excessive.
#10Nitro378Posted 6/7/2014 1:44:06 AM
Infinite punishment for finite crime is infinitely wrong.
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