The Instigator
Homosapien
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
popculturepooka
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points

Christian hell is a morally abhorrent concept

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
popculturepooka
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/15/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,272 times Debate No: 36677
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
Votes (3)

 

Homosapien

Pro

Hello popculturepooka & fellow debaters,

This debate has arisen from a forum thread for which the link is below.

http://www.debate.org...

I would maintain that Hell, in the Christian tradition is a Morally abhorrent concept, and will be arguing this assertion.

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Opening arguments
Round 3: Rebuttal
Round 4: Closing statements - no new arguments

I am honoured to enter this debate and as a new forum member look forward to an enlightening and respectful discourse with a more experienced member.

Sir, I leave to you to accept and will then proceed with my opening arguments.

Respectfully,
Ben

popculturepooka

Con

I accept and look forward to a thought provoking debate.
Debate Round No. 1
Homosapien

Pro

Hello all,

Firstly I must thank my opponent for offering this challenge in the first instance and for taking the time to discuss this topic with me, alas, on with the crux of it.

I submit that Hell is a morally abhorrent concept, I will firstly establish what hell is, or at least marshal some evidence that suggests what it entails, then establish who may go there, and finally make my case for why, specifically this is morally abhorrent.


What is hell and who goes there

I have complied some quotes from Christian scripture that describe hell, in quite some detail in source 1.

Readers, I would submit that these quotes of the Bible tell us, that hell, in the Christian tradition is both eternal, painful and most importantly, designed with the torture of physical and mental souls in mind.

In the first instance I would submit that the torture of anyone, mind, body or soul, for eternity is morally abhorrent, most western democratic nations find torture abhorrent, as you can see from the statistics included below, if you disagree with torture in the first instance, then the corollary must be to disagree on moral grounds with the torture that occurs in Hell.

For example, could you, would you, hold someone’s hand in a fire for 5 minutes? Could you imagine morally justifying that action in any court, or to any friend, we are not talking about someone’s hand for 5 minutes, we are talking about entire bodies, for eternity (source 1).

Ask yourself, who, if anyone, deserves such a thing, could you even imagine taking some of the worst criminals our society has to offer, instead of imprisoning them, we torture them, for eternity without mercy. Maybe you could, but what about an un believer? And to what end? This is in its own right separate to torture of criminals for information, whether you agree with it or not, this is simply torture, for tortures sake is it not?

I ask you readers, do I deserve to be tortured for eternity for speaking against God as it states in revelation (source 1)? Maybe you think I do, but I don’t think you can morally justify this no more than I could morally justify torturing the Pope in this life. I do not claim the right to judge someone to be in pain simply for what they believe, whether I agree with it or not, I shan’t have them tortured in my name, or in the name of a Deity.

Take a look at the video provided below (please be aware it is a movie rated 16), who deserves this for eternity? Without end, I could never wish such a thing even upon the most terrible people I know of, the very thing that separates us from the wicked is a reasoned, rational and fair system of justice, or at least the attempt that we strive towards one is commendable.

The video is not the Bible description of hell, but I hope it hammers home just how serious a concept this is, for eternity.

Now this is somewhat simplistic, there are other traditions within Christian faith that will not submit to the above, so here is where I make further arguments.

Even if no-one goes to hell - the idea of it is morally abhorrent

The very idea, that just because of fear, someone might pursue a life of faith is disingenuous, it degrades the faith itself does it not? Surely sir, you do not want believers who share your values simply because they are in fear of eternal torture.

How many deathbed conversions occur not because of the truth of a prophecy, but because of Pascal’s wager.

http://plato.stanford.edu...

What does it make our own justice system, if for example it is true that those who commit sins, crimes and other abominations go to hell, other than separating such people from society, what other point would there be a to justice system, why stop the wicked, of 80 years of evil deeds grant them an eternity in hellfire, why bother going to great lengths to see them punished by a jury of their peers, why not just execute them and be done with it?

It makes those in heaven reside with a torturer

If I go to hell, for, let’s say, being a practising pagan (for example) and my opponent goes to heaven, for following a path of righteousness, then he may accept that this is the case, he may reside in heaven with the almighty. But, and I suspect this is the case, he would not wish to see me tortured (at least I hope not) and yet has no power to prevent my eternal suffering, other than to decline to enter heaven himself as protest at the torture of fellow man.

It’s what I would do, I would rather be tortured for eternity, than to sit in heaven and accept that anyone, even my mortal enemy, would spend eternity in hell. I abhor torture, many people do in fact the statistics on the view of torture can be seen below. I will not partake in it, I will not knowingly reside with a being that has judged another to be tortured, even if that being is God.

73% of Mexicans, 53% of US citizens, 82% of Francs and even 49% of Russians believe that torture, in all forms should be prohibited.

http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com...

If we on this earth, find it repulsive that we are against practicing it simply for the gain of information, with an end, then why, in all that is moral is it OK for God to dictate that anyone should suffer this fate for eternity. If you find yourself amongst the numbers above, then please, think upon whether hell is morally justified.

It doesn’t actually resolve the problem

Does hell actually undo the crime committed, we can be fairly sure that unscrupulous characters such as Charles Manson and Josef Fritzl may well arguably be residing in hell, fair enough you might say, serves them right. Does it unrape the raped? Does it unmurder the murders? Will any victim feel better knowing their torturer will go to hell and would you be prepared to tell them that during the intense emotional and physical torture they endure on this earth?

It makes a mockery of the centuries of western development in creating a justice system that works, that doesn’t involve torture, that isn’t based upon revenge and wrath and fury.

With that, I leave the floor to my honourable opponent to make his case.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Any questions from observers, please do provide them in comments and I will be happy to answer them in my rebuttal, along with addressing the points from my opposite (provided this is OK with my opponent).

Kindest Regards,

Ben
------------------------------

Source 1
Revelation 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death
2 Thessalonians 1:9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
Mark 9:43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire
Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Daniel 12:2,3; Matthew 25:46; John 5:28; Revelation 20:14,15 Everyone will exist eternally either in heaven or hell
Matthew 13:50 “furnace of fire…weeping and gnashing of teeth”
Mark 9:48 “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched
Revelation 14:10 “he will be tormented with fire and brimstone”

popculturepooka

Con

Thank to Pro for the debate challenge. I find the topic of hell unusually interesting.

I find myself in the odd position of agreeing with Pro - at least with a few qualifications. I agree that there are versions of hell found within the Christian tradition that are morally abhorrent and I have actually argued for that conclusion in the past here. But the rub is I think there are versions of hell within the Christian tradition that are not morally abhorrent, and it is those versions I will defend.

To the lay my cards on the table: I am a Christian universalist. [1] Universalists of my stripe emphatically believe in hell - they just don't believe that it is eternal. While hell it may serve some retributive aims, it also serves the aims to remediate, reconcile, restore, and rehabilitate sinners. Or in essence, all will be saved eventually. Some just have to go through hell (literally and figuratively) to attain salvation.

Needless to say speaking as a universalist I don't agree that the bible teaches a hell of eternal duration. Now, I don't think that Pro wants to end up having this debate turn into a one of mostly exegesis - that is, a matter of how to correctly interpret and make sense specific biblical texts - because the debate resolution is primarily a moral and ethical resolution and me endeavoring to show universalism from the bible wouldn't necessarily mitigate all of Pro's concerns about the notion of hell.

Some brief general comments are in order though.

For one, the word translated as "eternal" (aion in many of the passages listed by Pro has significant translational difficulties with it:

"Aion, transliterated aeon, is a period of longer or shorter duration, having a beginning and an end, and complete in itself. Aristotle (peri ouravou, i. 9, 15) said, “The period which includes the whole time of one’s life is called the aeon of each one.” Hence, it often means the life of a man, as in Homer, where one’s life (aion) is said to leave him or to consume away (Il v.685; Od v.160). It is not, however, limited to human life. It signifies any period in the course of the millennium, the mythological period before the beginnings of history. The word has not “a stationary and mechanical value” (De Quincey). It does not mean a period of a fixed length for all cases. There are as many aeons as entities, the respective durations of which are fixed by the normal conditions of the several entities. There is one aeon of a human life, another of the life of a nation, another of a crow’s life, another of an oak’s life. The length of the aeon depends on the subject to which it is attached.…The adjective aionious in like manner carries the idea of time. Neither the noun nor the adjective, in themselves, carry the sense of endless or everlasting. They may acquire that sense by their connotation….Aionios means “enduring through” or “pertaining to a period of time.” Both the noun and the adjective are applied to limited periods….Out of the 150 instances in LXX, [Greek Old Testament] four-fifths imply limited duration. For a few instances, see Gen. xlviii. 4; Num. x. 8; xv. 15; Prov. xxii. 28; Jonah ii.6; Hab. iii. 6; Isa lxi. 17.4" [2]

For two, there seem to be passages in the bible that teach that all will be saved.

Romans 5:18: "Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people."; 1 Corinthians 15:22: "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive."; Colossians 1:20: "and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."; Philippians 2:9-11: Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; (10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven,those on earth, and those under the earth, (11) and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, etc.

So, I will assume from now on that the notion of "Christian hell" here is not eternal unless I need to argue further otherwise.

Torture

One could still insist, with Pro, that even on the universalist understanding of hell as temporary is still depicts God as a being who tortures sinners into heaven as it were; that he tortures them into "accepting" his offer of grace. That is still a serious charge that should be answered. Hell is typically thought of a clear manifestation of divine wrath. But what exactly constitutes divine wrath? In Romans 1:18-32 it is said that God's wrath simply is him withdrawing his protections and letting people experience the natural and self-destructive consequences of their sins.[3] So on this understanding of the divine wrath God does not torture people into insincerely accepting his offter to heaven - he simply lets the natural consequences of sin take it's course and eventually when the painful reality of the sins consequences "hit home" and the sinner can't delude themselves into thinking that a life apart from God is worthwhile they will gladly accept God's offer of salvation. To think of a relevant analogy it's like when an alcoholic or drug abuser hits "rock bottom" - at that point they simply cannot convince themselves that their destructive addictions and habits aren't, well destructive. And at that point is when they are susceptible to offers of help. In essence, God let's them experience the painful reality of what an existence apart from God actually entails, and once sinners clearly see this, any rational person would clearly see God's gracious and loving offer for what it is. So, in that sense hell is restorative, reformative, remedial, educative, and reconcillatory. I believe that negates Pro's main point about torture and his secondary point about being in heaven residing with a morally abhorrent torturer.

It doesn't solve the problem?

With regards to Pro's last point about hell "not solving the problem", I believe that can also be answered quite adequately from the universalist perspective. I think a quote from George Macdonald is appropriate here: he asks us to imagine a thief who stole a mans watch and he asks whether just having the man punished does justice to the man whos watch was stolen. Macdonald clearly thinks otherwise:

"[My watch] is gone, and I remain a man wronged. Who has done me the wrong? The thief. Who can set right the wrong? The thief, and only the thief; nobody but the man that did the wrong. God may be able to move the man to right the wrong, but God himself cannot right it without the man. Suppose my watch is found and restored, is the account settled between me and the thief? I may forgive him, but is the wrong removed? By no means. But suppose the thief to bethink himself, to repent... Should I not feel that he had gone far to make atonement—done more to make up for the injury he had inflicted upon me, than the mere restoration of the watch, even by himself, could reach to?... He who commits the offence can make up for it—and he alone.

One thing must surely be plain—that the punishment of the wrong-doer makes no atonement for the wrong done. How could it make up to me for the stealing of my watch that the man was punished? The wrong would be there all the same. I am not saying the man ought not to be punished—far from it; I am only saying that the punishment nowise makes up to the man wronged... Would it set anything right? Would it anyway atone? ...Punishment may do good to the man who does the wrong, but that is a thing as different as important."

Here, I think, this clearly answers pro's argument. The notion of justice here crucially involves reconciliation and restitution. In this sense, it does actually reslove the problem and true justice is done.

Sources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.hopebeyondhell.net...;
[3] http://www.biblegateway.com...;
Debate Round No. 2
Homosapien

Pro

Homosapien forfeited this round.
popculturepooka

Con

Unfortunately, Pro has forfeit. Extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
Homosapien

Pro

Homosapien forfeited this round.
popculturepooka

Con

Again, unfortunately, my opponent has forfeit. Extend all arguments. Vote Con, please. Thanks for reading.
Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
Con also wins this argument simply due to Pro not responding.
If an argument stands unrefuted then that argument wins simply because it wasn't refuted. Pro forfeited the opportunity to refute Cons argument, so Cons argument being unrefuted, stands.

At least that's my understanding.
Posted by Eitan_Zohar 3 years ago
Eitan_Zohar
I'll vote later. I don't think it's fair to give Con anything more than the conduct point for Pro's forfeiture.
Posted by popculturepooka 3 years ago
popculturepooka
awwwww :(
Posted by rjohnson741 3 years ago
rjohnson741
Hi Popculturepooka. I'm a universalist as well, and you playing the devil's advocate is very interesting. Looking forward to the comments from both of you.
Posted by Homosapien 3 years ago
Homosapien
Hello Secret_stratagem,

I will be honored to debate with you, however if I may be as bold as to ask you to hold fire on this, as I do not have any additional time to spare on Debate.org for the next 14-16 days.

Best Regards,
Ben
Posted by popculturepooka 3 years ago
popculturepooka
Forgot the 4th source...my bad. It was supposed to go after the George MacDonald quote.

http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com...
Posted by popculturepooka 3 years ago
popculturepooka
Haha, I'm a universalist so it's going to go a lot different than many will expect. I used to be an annihilationist.
Posted by secret_strategem 3 years ago
secret_strategem
I would have loved to have done this debate. I am an annihilationist though, so I think you would find the debate very different. Perhaps we can joust debate wether the concept of annihilationisim is morally abhorrent when we are able...?
Posted by Homosapien 3 years ago
Homosapien
Sir,

As requested, voting extended to two weeks as per your request.

Best Regards,
Ben
Posted by popculturepooka 3 years ago
popculturepooka
Would you mind extending the voting period?
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by bsh1 3 years ago
bsh1
HomosapienpopculturepookaTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
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Vote Placed by johnlubba 3 years ago
johnlubba
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Reasons for voting decision: Seriously, Who would want to worship or submit to a God, who punishes his subjects eternally, I prefer corrective punishment personally. Good argument from Con, but nevertheless, there is a huge discrepancy over the correct definitions of the biblical understanding of eternal damnation, if the message being portrayed isn't correct in one sense, then how can you rely on the rest to be interpreted correctly. Maybe we all need to become Biblical Scholars and learn Hebrew and Greek, or we can just pray not to go to that dreadful place. After all is said and done, I can not believe in a God or for that matter, a religion that portrays a God to be as callous as to eternally punish undeniably fallible humans beings for an eternity. It's just doesn't sit well on Gods profile.