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Christian debate- A literal hell?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/14/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,587 times Debate No: 14771
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)





This is a debate for Christians. Other debaters may apply, however, only Christian religious views may be used.

In this debate, Con will argue the existence of a non-physical hell, while Pro will argue for the older view of eternal torture in hellfire.

Let's begin, shall we?

1. The existence of a non-physical hell

A. It is made quite clear in the Christian Bible, in the Gospels, that physical suffering is the lesser form of suffering. Even as he was being beaten with a cat-o'-nine-tails, Jesus simply said that I will be with the Father again. Physical torment is obviously not as painful as eternal seperation from God.

B. The likeliness of God punishing us in eternal hellfire

Imagine putting your hand on a stove for ten seconds. Painful, right? Now imagine your entire body engulfed with fire three times as hot... forever. A trillion years is a nice appetizer, except it's not even a fraction because it never ends. Ever. When humans execute people for their sins, we at least attempt to do it humanely. Does it stand to reason that God would, in fact, do that to his greatest creation?

I await a response.

The God Hand.



I would like to thank my opponent for creating this debate.

In round one, I will put forward my positive argument for the existence of Hell as a physical punishment. In round two I shall offer a rebuttal to my opponent's contentions, and in round three I shall give a closing argument and offer responses to any weaknesses that my opponent identifies in my argument.

When discussing any form of punishment, we must ask ourselves a simple question. Does the punishment fit the crime? To put all of my cards on the table, the general thrust of my argument is that only an eternal, physical punishment can fit the crime of human sin and rebellion.

Proposition 1) Rebellion against an eternal God requires an eternal punishment. It is a human instinct that the crime we commit should have a direct bearing on the punishment we serve as a consequence. If a child takes a cookie without permission, it is unfitting to put that child in prison for the rest of their lives. Likewise, if a man rapes and murders a child, it is not fitting to have that man simply pay a trivial fine. Likewise, it is human instinct that the station or status of the person the crime is committed against should have a bearing. If I punch a homeless person in the face, I receive a limited jail term... if I punch the President in the face, I will serve a much longer term in a much more severe prison. Likewise, with an eternal God of infinite honor, it is fitting for me to serve an eternal punishment in an infinitely severe prison.

Proposition 2) The state of our reward has bearing on the state of the punishment. The Bible clearly teaches that Christians shall, in part, be rewarded for their obedience to God with the physical resurrection of a physical body (1st Corinthians 15 is the primary passage). However, to say that our punishment is not physical is to fly in the face of the fact that our reward is indeed physical. A similar paradigm may be seen in our modern justice system. If I steal money from someone, part of my punishment is to pay that money back (called Restitution). If I harm someone physically, I may have my physical state detained. If I kill someone, I may lose my very life. In order for the punishment to fit the crime, it needs to be related to the nature of the reward. The reward of obeying the law, is freedom. the reward of disobeying the law is often imprisonment.

Proposition 3) The state in which we commit the crime is significant to the type of punishment. If I commit my crime in the state of Minnesota, I will likely be serving my jail time in the state of Minnesota. Likewise, if we commit a crime in the existential state of a physical body, we will also serve our punishment in the same existential state.

Ergo) In light of these three propositions, we must concede that our punishment must be eternal to fit the eternality and infiniteness of the one offended. It must also be related to the crime we commit in its punishment as well as being related to the reward we receive for not committing it, so since our reward is physical so also our punishment must be physical. Furthermore, the state of existence in which we commit our crime must also match the state of existence in which we serve our punishment.

Because of these three contentions, it is only logical that our eternal punishment for rebellion against God is eternal physical punishment.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1


Argument 1- Why should punching the president in the face give you a longer term in jail? Both are humans, and thus have basically equal standing. Also notice that my opponent is breaking a basic debate rule, taking a given. My opponent is taking the given that God is eternal and infinite, when this is not necessarily the case. Read my debate here: this debate, I won the debate of God's omnipotence as CON 16-0.
Taking a given is a massive blunder my opponent has committed.

Argument 2- My opponent is assuming basic logic in his example. God is more loving and just than humanity can possibly be. Also, as seen in argument 3, one should have their metaphysical state detained.

Argument 3- My opponent is saying that crimes against God are physical crimes, while this is in fact not the case. If I commited a crime such as murder, theft or rape, then this would be a physical crime against God. However, since God is metaphysical, rejection of God is also metaphysical, and thus punishments from the rejection of God should be metaphysical as well.

New Point 1- Making a case for the unenlightened

My opponent refers to the fact that non-Christians will suffer. What about those who have never heard of the Gospel of
Jesus Christ? Do they deserve eternal torture in hellfire? This is like making a law at random, not something dictated by common sense like murder or rape, then selectively killing anyone who does not know of the law because you automatically break the law by not knowing it. Does this make sense, from our loving Creator?

As my opponent clearly wants a good debate, I will give it to him.

Thank you.

-The God Hand


Rebuttal to Contention 1A) Where exactly does it make it quite clear in the Christian Bible that physical suffering is the lesser form of suffering. My opponent is correct in saying that physical torment is not as painful as eternal separation from God, however the fact that it is less painful does not mean it is not a part of our eternal suffering. Would not eternal separation AND physical torment be more painful than just eternal separation. Additionally, the fact that the temporary physical pain was not as significant is only forceful because it was temporary. Had it not been temporary, then there would have been a different reaction to it. The very fact that temporary pain is bearable points to the fact that an appropriate punishment would be eternal physical pain.

Rebuttal to Contention 1B) You cannot argue from likeliness... that is not how debate works. You, as the person making an assertion, have the burden of proof. If you can say "it is unlikely" I can simply respond and say "no it isn't." You attempted to point out that physical pain is worse than spiritual pain. However, now you seem to say that eternal spiritual pain is somehow more humane than eternal physical pain. This is a contradiction within your own argument. If spiritual pain is indeed worse than physical pain (I am not conceding that it is, and you have failed to prove that it is) then would the more humane thing be to have physical pain and not spiritual? You are arguing against yourself within your own contentions.

Response to Argument 1 - If it SHOULD be that way or not is irrelevant. It IS that way. The reason for that is that we have a certain respect for station and status. A higher station and status deserves a higher respect, and offense against that station receives a more severe punishment. Human history shows us that this has been the instinct for ages. An assault against the King mandates death, an offense against a peasant receives a lower punishment. In terms of arguing that God is not eternal and infinite, you may have argued against that in a prior argument... however you submitted that the terms of this debate are that we are talking about the Judeo-Christian concepts of hell and God. That we are arguing from that perspective. Judeo-Christian orthodoxy has always recognized the eternality and infiniteness of God, so I do not need to defend that as a given since the parameters you set include that definition.

Response to Argument 2 and Argument 3 - We commit our crimes (sins) in physical form. The majority of our sins include physical action (or inaction) as a part of them. As such, our physical bodies must also serve punishment for their part in the sin. Additionally, my opponent argues that rejection of God is metaphysical... however when I reject God I also reject his desires and will for my body, so it is a physical rejection as well. Beyond that, God is perfectly and infinitely just as my opponent is arguing. All the more reason that an offense against an infinite and holy God should have an equally infinite punishment.

Rebuttal to New Point 1) My opponent is attempting to argue that unreached people groups should not suffer hell. Even if I concede that this is true (which I am not), that does not change the type of punishment that knowledge-given rebels receive. However, the book of Romans makes it clear that all are without excuse. Romans 1:20 - "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, nhave been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Essentially, it is saying that God's creation itself preaches the Gospel to all people, so they cannot say they were never told. They may not know the specifics, but they will be held to the knowledge they are given. It goes on later to say that people will be held accountable to the level of revelation they are given (Romans 2:14). However, Romans also makes it clear that all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and have earned death (Romans 6:23).

To summarize my rebuttal: Con has not fulfilled his burden of proof in showing that Physical pain is lower than spiritual pain. He has also not fulfilled his burden of proof in showing that it is unlikely that God would punish physically. He even contradicts himself in these two contentions. His New Point is a Red Herring. The destination of unreached peoples does not affect the type of punishment of those who do end up in hell. If my opponent wants to argue against the concept of eternal punishment, he should start a debate about that, however in his own words "Con will argue the existence of a non-physical hell." His argument "For the Unenlightened" poses the same problem for his position as it does for mine, which I have shown to not be a problem at all.

Thank you for reading this, I look forward to Pro's response.

Debate Round No. 2


Argument 1- It is undeniable that spiritual pain is infinitely worse than physical pain. Thus, if someone was kicking you in the face and someone is punching you in the butt, then whichever is worse would take precedence. My opponent is also being hypocritical in this point by admitting the effects of spiritual pain. Also, what's so great about temporary pain? Burning for 3423423536346345 billion trillion years is worse then being poked in the back for all eternity. Don't you agree?

Argument 2/3- We commit our crimes and sins in a physical form, true, but in the end they are soul crimes. If I punched someone in the face while Iwas wearing a robot suit, who would take the blame- the robot suit or me?The same applies to us. We are just "jackets" we wear, as we are metaphysical beings.

Argument 4- If I kept a guy locked in a room with nothing except food and water for his life, then he would never hear of the gospel. Not hearing about the gospel is not possible, unless some angel literally gets up in front of him and tells him the entire gospel. Not happening.

Summarized: CON presents hyperbolized exaggerations of his points. Also, CON fails to note the metaphysical existence of souls in our physical form while contradicting his belief in my resolution. Thank you.

Running low on time here, see you next round.


Response to Argument 1) Simply saying "it is undeniable" does not make something undeniable. Show me any biblical evidence that spiritual pain is considered worse than physical pain. Often times they are correlated and connected... many times people use physical pain to express spiritual anguish (tearing their clothes, gnashing their teeth, weeping: spiritual pain bringing about physical pain and response). Second, you have still not addressed the fact that both spiritual pain and physical pain would be worse still than spiritual pain alone. If hell is the most perfect eternal and infinite punishment that a holy God uses to punish the unrighteous... it would be a holistic punishment that is inflicted upon both the spirit and the body. Otherwise there would be a more significant punishment, and there would be something worse than hell. This cannot be.

Argument 2/3 - Our bodies are not just "jackets we wear." Christian theology has always affirmed that the body is an integral part of our being. The ultimate teleological state Christians will exist in is physical and spiritual. This is why there is a resurrection of the dead, and a New Earth in the closing pages of Revelation. Theological greats like Thomas Aquinas have actually argued that without your body your soul isn't actually who you are (just like your body without your soul isn't who you are) and that it is the fusion of the two that make up your being. Your argument about a robot suit is invalid and is an argument ad ridiculum. It does not apply because the robot suit is not a part of who you are. Now, if you were inseparable from the robot suit they would punish you inside the robot suit.

Argument 4) Again, you have not addressed the real point in this argument. Regardless of the eternal destination of this individual... we are not arguing about if there IS a Hell or who goes there. We are arguing about the nature of the punishment of those who do go there. You stated in your opening argument that we are arguing from a Christian perspective, and orthodox Christian theology acknowledges that there is a hell and that some people go there. This invalidates your rebuttal.

Response to your summary: I realize that this is the last round, so you cannot respond... but you cannot just say that I have hyperbolized something without proving it. That is how debate works. If you are referring to my example of punching a homeless person vs. punching the President... it is not hyperbole. If I punched the President I would serve a longer jail term in a more sever prison than if I punched a homeless person (sadly, if I punched a homeless person I probably wouldn't spend any time in jail). Furthermore, I have acknowledged the metaphysical existence of a soul, however YOU have not acknowledged that orthodox Christian Theology teaches that our souls and bodies will be reunited in the resurrection and our eternal state (either positive or negative) is both spiritual and physical.

I think that it is obvious who has won this debate. My logic has not been adequately refuted. Furthermore, Pro has not fulfilled the substantial burden of proof that would be required to overturn centuries of tradition and biblical teaching. His arguments are novel, but unforceful, and it is clear that he has lost this debate. Please vote Con. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by thegodhand 7 years ago
Oh. Sorry, in that case.
Posted by ReformedArsenal 7 years ago
I'll read what you had to say, but I hope that you realize that your former debates bear no impact on this one.
Posted by thegodhand 7 years ago
sorry, link doesnt work. search debates for "impossible to prove that god"
Posted by Gileandos 7 years ago
Brilliant Round. I applaud the craft of all three propositions.
Posted by thegodhand 7 years ago
I believe hell is either temporary, or more likely the absence of God.
Posted by MrCarroll 7 years ago
I mean, its not fake. Hell is likely a place of constant sin. It does not necessarily mean flames and torture and all that. But the Bible does say there will be gnashing of teeth, so it can't be pleasant.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by BangBang-Coconut 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: The Con didn't back up their statements with scripture, Pro did. Not to mention their logic over-all made much more sense. I also wish the Pro would have pointed out that Hell isn't aplace meant for man, but it is where man goes when they don't have their trangressions forgiven by Jesus.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con made more assertions than arguments, much stronger presentation from pro.