Problem of Hell

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Like the problem of evil, the Problem of Hell points out the incompatibility between a just god and the concept of an eternal hell, punishment in the form of torment or complete extermination.

  1. The Christian god is a loving, just creator
  2. Refusing to accept Jesus' gift of salvation renders an eternity of unpleasantness

This central Christian doctrine leaves the skeptic with a slew of objections. Why does God judge belief? Beliefs are largely irrelevant compared to physical actions. We even realize this in our courts. A just being would punish wrongdoings and let the criminal go after accounting for their actions. Why would God trust finite beings with their infinite future? We would not allow a child to sign a legal document or make investments bound to affect the rest of their life, but God allows his creation complete control of their eternal soul.

Counterarguments

Infinite God, infinite sins

Some theologians have argued that since crime committed against a finite being leads to a finite punishment, sin against an infinite god has infinite consequences. The problem is that we judge the severity of a crime based on the harm inflicted on the victim, not its lifespan. If God is omnipotent, by definition he can't be harmed. He is therefore punishing his creation based on deeds that had absolutely no effect on himself.

By ignoring God, humans choose hell

Theists have suggested that by ignoring God or rejecting the atonement, humans also reject all prospects of a pleasant afterlife: God would not want to be with humans who denied him, and he wouldn't force them to be with him. On an infinite time scale, this is also morally unsound because the judging god is still giving thoughts and beliefs priority over physical actions. Given a choice between heaven or hell, most skeptics will prefer a continued existence with a god not believed in to eternal torment or eternal death.

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