Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thoughts on hell

One concept I couldn't ever quite accept even during my years as a Christian was that of a terrible place called Hell where even very good and kind people would be sent along with unrepentent criminals and murderers for simply not believing in an invisible god, or for not believing in the correct form of Christianity. (But, illogically they believe that murderers who say the magic words at the end of their lives will go up to Jesus when they die.)

Fundamentalist Christians and Christian extremists believe that non-believers, and also those Christians who do not take the concept of Hell literally are also going there when they die. So, even if I were to go back to my Presbyterian-type faith, I would still be going to Hell according to the beliefs of evangelicals and fundies because I would still not be a "True Christian" (funny that the Catholics believe that Baptists, Pentecostal, etc are going to Hell and all 2500 sects of Christianity could debate the Hell concept for a thousand years and would not come to an agreement).

If a person lives a good life, doesn't kill, murder, steal...is kind to his neighbors, friends, animals. If a person is forgiving, loving and cares for others, is compassionate, helpful, and obeys the law, it is ludicrous to believe that person is still deserving of some kind of eternal torment, especially when this god is supposedly a "just" god, and also when this god is not making his/her/its existence obviously apparent.
Here is an excerpt from ex-minister, Dan Barker's essay For Goodness Sake

Theology has given us hell.

The threat of damnation is designed to be an incentive to right action; but this is a phony morality. Humanists think we should do good for goodness' sake, not for the selfish prospect of reaping individual rewards or avoiding punishment. Any ideology that makes its point by threatening violence is morally bankrupt. (Hitler's ovens, at least, were relatively quick. The torment Jesus promised is a "fire that shall never be quenched.") Anyone who believes in hell is at heart not moral at all.

If the only way you can be forced to be kind to others is by the threat of hell, that shows how little you think of yourself. If the only way you can be motivated to be kind to others is by the promise of heaven, that shows how little you think of others.

Most atheists will say, "Be good, for goodness' sake!"


Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister, is a staff member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

3 comments:

Andrea said...

I think it's telling that more and more christians are moving away from this embarrassingly primitive doctrine. I have in my amazon wishlist a book called "Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment." (Of course, I have like 6 pages of books in my wishlist so who knows when I'll actually get to this one.)

Doesn't 1 Corinthians 15:22 very strongly imply universalism?

Tommy said...

My vision of hell is being stuck for hours in an elevator with someone I absolutely cannot stand. There are several people who work here in my office that if I were trapped in an elevator with them for hours on end, I would probably have to strangle them to death. One guy just keeps on talking and this other lady it always bitching about things all the time.

Stardust said...

tommy - I think I have served my time in hell at my last job. I was in charge of an art department of 20 people and all in cubes around me. I listened to one girl fighting with her boyfriend on the phone almost every day, these two other people would have a Harry Potter book discussion every single stinkin afternoon at 2:00. One girl was always slamming things around, another one was chatting it up with anyone who walked by her desk. Then the "food artist" would come every Friday and go downstairs to the studio kitchen to partially cook food in different kinds of chemicals and ingredients to make them look "appetizing" and the smell was overpowering and gaggy.
The food photographer was a 1,000 year old woman who looked like an ancient version of Doris Day and who thought she owned the joint because she had worked there since she was a teenager. My boss was on medication that caused her to walk around in a daze and when asked a question she simply gave you this deer-in-the-headlights look like "huhhhh? what are you saying to me?" The places was freezing cold year-round...snow blowing through the cracks in the windows in winter, and air conditioner set to 45 in the summer. The big bosses treated everyone like crap, and if anyone uttered a protest they were fired immediately.

It was the most awful place I have ever worked!