The Instigator
Derrida
Con (against)
Losing
32 Points
The Contender
Kleptin
Pro (for)
Winning
38 Points

Do all atheists go to Hell?

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Con Tied Pro
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/19/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,953 times Debate No: 1967
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (14)

 

Derrida

Con

Pascal's Wager states that theism is a better position than atheism, the denial of the existence of God, because if God exists then He sends atheists to Hell and the loss is infinite.

I believe that an argument can be leveled at the premiss that if God exists then He sends atheists to Hell. The argument, if valid, proves that it is never justified in sending someone to Hell for the sole reason that they are atheists.

The argument is this:

Atheists are either what I would call Rational Atheists and Irrational Atheists:

- If someone is an Irrational Atheist, then there is something wrong with their reasoning, and so there is reason to believe in God, but said atheist either can't put two and two together, or refuses to acknowledge the evidence. In this case, external forces have caused the person's reasoning to malfunction, I.E, stress, lack of nutrition, trauma...

- If someone is a Rational Atheist, then there really is no reason to believe in God, making atheism at least as rational as theism.

Now, if the first proposition is true, then the atheist isn't in fact culpable for their nonbelief, as irrationality is the result of external forces which cause the person to reach the wrong conclusions. If someone has irrational beliefs, then it is natural to assume that something is wrong with their reasoning; their minds are clouded and need to be demystified by medicine or rest. Thus, God can't send the Irrational Atheist to Hell, as they only reach the conclusion that they do because of external factors, and wouldn't have done so otherwise.

But, if the second proposition is true, then the Rational Atheist cannot be sent to Hell either, as their conclusion is as justified, if not more so, as theism. This is because, if we can affirm a position with no reason to do so, then we can just as readily reject such a position with no reason to do so. This means that, because Rational Atheists are rational, that God has no more reason to send Rational Atheists to Hell as Rational Theists.

Thus, it seems that it is never morally acceptable for God to send atheists to Hell purely for their atheism, but that He must send them to Hell, if at all, for other reasons as well, such as burglary, murder, vanity, etc.
Kleptin

Pro

I, also being an atheist, understand the importance of what you are trying to conclude, but I feel that there are some errors with the way you are proceeding with this.

First and foremost, I must say that Pascal's Wager deals with infinite happiness and the loss of infinite happiness. This implies Heaven, but does not necessarily imply Hell. I don't think it was ever concluded *what* the requirements are to be thrust into Hell, so for the sake of this debate, I shall focus on gaining or not gaining entry into Heaven.

I believe the theological answer is this: Christians believe that every person is born with "original sin". In this case, our souls are tainted and in order for it to be purified again, we must accept Jesus of Nazareth as the Christian messiah.

If death takes place prior to this, then according to Christian doctrine, the deceased will not be able to enter heaven, regardless of how pure the person may have been, simply because of original sin.
Debate Round No. 1
Derrida

Con

Kleptin:

This is an interesting argument. Some theologians do state that Hell is synonymous with oblivion, so I will accept your modification to "entry to Heaven" and "expulsion from Heaven".

On the Doctrine of Original Sin, I believe that the argument can be modified to acceptance and rejection of Jesus. If atheists reject Jesus rationally, as a myth, due to lack of evidence for Christianity, then how can God punish us for coming to this conclusion? Such a conclusion would be just as rational as a Christian leap of faith in this case, and so God has no reason to single out atheists.

If they reject Christ irrationally, then how can God punish us then? Think of it this way: babies are irrational atheists in that they don't accept Christ simply because they cannot understand what Christianity, or God, means. Similarly, people who are mentally disabled, or clinically insane, would be as unable to accept Christ as the person who is driven by pride to reject Christianity.

Thus, to say that irrational atheists should be expelled from Heaven is to say that people should be punished for something they can't comprehend. As Kant says, ought implies can, but if atheists are irrational, then they simply cannot see the reasons for accepting Christianity.
Kleptin

Pro

The thing about debating theology on the grounds of logical proof is that the basis is off. I've spent a lot of time trying to understand why the debates between theists and logicians seem to be so complicated: neither rally work on the other scale.

From the Christian point of view, the decision as to whether or not we gain entry into Heaven is not up to God, it's up to the individual. I believe the reasoning is as follows: if the soul, the part of the human that is akin to God, is tainted, it would not be able to be one with god upon its release from the body. In essence, we are not denied infinite happiness as a punishment, just as how it is not "punishment" to be denied a table at a restaurant without a reservation.

I also note your points on rational and irrational atheist, and I want to explain why I have not been responding to them. After engaging in a substantial amount of discussion over a period of years and consulting with various religious scholars and members of the church (I attend a Catholic University) I have found that logical reasoning is simply unimportant in issues of religious belief. As much as we hold logic and reasoning to be the yardstick for validating our personal beliefs, it seems that this is generally ignored in religious belief as the only issue of importance, is faith.

Thus, it is not a surprise that when we try to apply logic to evaluate the seemingly inconsistent or even contradictory moral "laws" (your example of God punishing people for their logical conclusion to atheism being a good one) we end up dazed and confused.

In short, a Christian will answer that it is not our place to question the ways by which God works. In my earlier days when I, as an atheist, debated Christians, I always helf the "God works in mysterious ways" response to be a cop-out. Only recently did I realize the depth of the response o.o

So to answer your question, God doesn't make the decision as to where we go. We do.
Debate Round No. 2
Derrida

Con

"The thing about debating theology on the grounds of logical proof is that the basis is off. I've spent a lot of time trying to understand why the debates between theists and logicians seem to be so complicated: neither rally work on the other scale."

This is a popular defense of religious/theistic ideas, but I can't shake the feeling that it's self-refuting: the fact that religious people claim to know the attributes of supernatural beings entails the necessity of logical analysis. If God is said to do something that contradicts one of His properties, (For instance, allowing unjustified evil to occur), then alterations must be made. Otherwise, we could say anything about God without contradicting ourselves.

"I believe the reasoning is as follows: if the soul, the part of the human that is akin to God, is tainted, it would not be able to be one with god upon its release from the body. In essence, we are not denied infinite happiness as a punishment, just as how it is not "punishment" to be denied a table at a restaurant without a reservation."

Nonetheless, if someone is irrational, they can't be held accountable for their actions, but if they are rational, then they should be applauded for their behavior. If the fact that the soul is tainted means that we make bad decisions, then God can't hand all responsibility to us, for He has in fact absolved us of our responsibility. Even though we aren't really punished, it still seems unfair for God to only allow rational people into Heaven.

"I also note your points on rational and irrational atheist, and I want to explain why I have not been responding to them. After engaging in a substantial amount of discussion over a period of years and consulting with various religious scholars and members of the church (I attend a Catholic University) I have found that logical reasoning is simply unimportant in issues of religious belief. As much as we hold logic and reasoning to be the yardstick for validating our personal beliefs, it seems that this is generally ignored in religious belief as the only issue of importance, is faith."

In this debate, I have tried to keep the discussion to arguments against Pascal's Wager, rather than the actual existence of any supernatural beings. However, the fact that religious beliefs have their origin in faith doesn't mean that they are absolved of logic. In answering questions such as "Does God act in the world?", or "Can God know the future?", the reasonable theist must take into account God's supposed attributes, and how those relate to each other. To do otherwise would result in chaos, a form of epistemic postmodernism that the majority of theists would reject.

"In short, a Christian will answer that it is not our place to question the ways by which God works. In my earlier days when I, as an atheist, debated Christians, I always helf the "God works in mysterious ways" response to be a cop-out. Only recently did I realize the depth of the response o.o"

The problem of the "Mystery Response", as I have stated in an earlier debate, is that it can be applied to any logical argument. For instance, If God can perform actions that are entirely good and entirely bad, then can God make 2+2=5? If this is so, then how can we give God any attributes at all?

Every rational thinker, be they believer or nonbeliever, should come to the conclusion that the laws of logic do apply to God, and that therefore, any supposed action or attribute of God should stand up to logical scrutiny.

If God exists, then He most definitely wouldn't send people to Hell over a matter of belief, for as Percy Bysshe Shelley states in his "Necessity of Atheism": "[Because belief is fundamentally passive],,,they have attached a degree of criminality to disbelief; of which, in its nature, it is incapable: it is equally incapable of merit."
Kleptin

Pro

"This is a popular defense of religious/theistic ideas, but I can't shake the feeling that it's self-refuting: the fact that religious people claim to know the attributes of supernatural beings entails the necessity of logical analysis. If God is said to do something that contradicts one of His properties, (For instance, allowing unjustified evil to occur), then alterations must be made. Otherwise, we could say anything about God without contradicting ourselves."

I think the main issue is the word "claim". I don't think religious people make any claim, they just live their lives having established something as an axiom. Logical proof and validity just aren't part of that world. Sure, as logicians we see their beliefs through a critical lens and instinctively subject it to all sorts of logical testing, but in the realm of religious faith, that testing isn't just unnecessary, it's completely useless. And it isn't necessarily that they can say anything about God and not contradict themselves, it's just that they apply logic further up the scale. The axioms that we use are relatively simple, A = A, for example. Or the definition of contradiction. The religious apply logic after a different set of axioms, such as "God exists" or "Jesus of Nazareth died on the cross for our sins". Anything that contradicts that would be marked "incorrect".

"Nonetheless, if someone is irrational, they can't be held accountable for their actions, but if they are rational, then they should be applauded for their behavior. If the fact that the soul is tainted means that we make bad decisions, then God can't hand all responsibility to us, for He has in fact absolved us of our responsibility. Even though we aren't really punished, it still seems unfair for God to only allow rational people into Heaven."

I think the Christians have that covered too. According to doctrine, it was woman that gave rise to original sin by disobeying God and eating from the fruit of the Tree. Original sin simply means that we inherit that sin of disobeying God in the times of Adam and Eve, not that we make bad decisions. Besides, I don't think God cares about rationality and irrationality. The Christians are a lot more focused on morals and sin, not so much so on what happens to people based on rationality. So it isn't that God allows people in heaven or denies them access, it's more like...God is pleased when you gain entry into heaven and disappointed when you don't.

"In this debate, I have tried to keep the discussion to arguments against Pascal's Wager, rather than the actual existence of any supernatural beings. However, the fact that religious beliefs have their origin in faith doesn't mean that they are absolved of logic. In answering questions such as "Does God act in the world?", or "Can God know the future?", the reasonable theist must take into account God's supposed attributes, and how those relate to each other. To do otherwise would result in chaos, a form of epistemic postmodernism that the majority of theists would reject."

That is true. If what I said above is correct, then that would answer this question. There are theological axioms just like there are logical axioms, and from there, they construct the rest of religious belief. I also understand that we should avoid any talk that goes too far into religion, but in delving into Pascal's Wager, it is difficult to avoid.

"The problem of the "Mystery Response", as I have stated in an earlier debate, is that it can be applied to any logical argument. For instance, If God can perform actions that are entirely good and entirely bad, then can God make 2+2=5? If this is so, then how can we give God any attributes at all?"

I found this to be a simplistic argument that accurately sums up why I'm not religious XD But the same argument applies to it. Faith. The primary attributes of God are dictated by faith and the rest are derived from logic.

"Every rational thinker, be they believer or nonbeliever, should come to the conclusion that the laws of logic do apply to God, and that therefore, any supposed action or attribute of God should stand up to logical scrutiny."

See, I'm not really sure about that. We assume that logic applies to everything, but that seems kind of grand. After all, logical axioms grew out of our perception of reality, and our perception of reality is flawed. Who knows? Maybe the concept of contradiction in and of itself is a fallacy. Maybe something can be different in the same way at the same time. It seems utterly ridiculous to us now, but then again, logic is just a tool, and every tool has some degree of uncertainty. It's just that the things we have to assume in order to use logic are much simpler.

"If God exists, then He most definitely wouldn't send people to Hell over a matter of belief, for as Percy Bysshe Shelley states in his "Necessity of Atheism": "[Because belief is fundamentally passive],,,they have attached a degree of criminality to disbelief; of which, in its nature, it is incapable: it is equally incapable of merit.""

What are the premises for this conclusion? This is a religion where a woman gets pregnant without sexual intercourse and a man is resurrected after death. As I said before, the Christians believe that God has little to nothing to do with who goes to Heaven or not. In the end, it's up to the individual. If the requirement is atonement and acceptance of the Messiah in order to clear original sin, then that's what it is. That we call it a "belief" is just a coincidence. It's through that belief that we accomplish what needs to be done.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by GodSands 7 years ago
GodSands
By not believing in God, loving your God with all your soul and mind and strenght is a sin against God. Therefore atheists go to hell.
Posted by Kleptin 7 years ago
Kleptin
You have it reversed. People do not usually debate facts, they debate issues in which people can hold different opinions and no one has the actual truth yet. Derrida's argument is "If an atheist did not do anything wrong, then how can god send him to hell?" The answer I gave was "Original Sin" and "God does not send people to hell, people decide to send themselves to hell".
Posted by GodSands 7 years ago
GodSands
But you could win just by saying that. What's the point of debates if right and wrong do not matter? Are debates in that case just people showing off their gramma skills? Might as well be otherwise.
Posted by Kleptin 7 years ago
Kleptin
Wrong. The winner of the debate is not decided by the position, but by how well a person defends and argues that position.
Posted by GodSands 7 years ago
GodSands
All atheists will go to hell, because none of them have faith in Jesus Christ. Kleptin, you should have won.
Posted by Tatarize 9 years ago
Tatarize
"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg." - Abraham Lincoln
Posted by Kleptin 9 years ago
Kleptin
@kenicks

I can believe that I'm a pink llama, but that doesn't make me one o.o

Your logic only works out if the Atheist is right. If the atheist is wrong...then I guess I win?

Better flip a coin XD!
Posted by kenicks 9 years ago
kenicks
plain and simple: if you are an atheist, you do not believe in the concept of hell. therefore, an atheist cannot go to hell. Therefore, Derrida is 100% correct.
Posted by Dapperdan2007 9 years ago
Dapperdan2007
Pascal's wager is really easily defeated... it fails by assuming that hell and heaven are the only two possibilities in the after life.

I just made a religion, and if you believe in ME, then you go to Candy Land, if you don't believe in me, then I sentence you to eternal viewings of AVP Requiem. So clearly, the best decision is to believe in me so you go to candy land. (no, this is obviously absurd)

For someone who doesn't believe in the Christian religion, why in the world would they believe anything other than the fact that there are infinite possibilities as to what could happen in the afterlife, and that believing (pretendingly) in (the christian) god just to keep yourself from going to hell is ridiculous.
Posted by Logical-Master 9 years ago
Logical-Master
Incidentally, pascal's wager was incomplete as he had intended to "prove" that Christianity was the one valid religion before he died. A pity, as without doing that, the wager is easily dismissible without even having to scrutinize it.
14 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by tmhustler 7 years ago
tmhustler
DerridaKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by wonderwoman 7 years ago
wonderwoman
DerridaKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
DerridaKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by Logical-Master 7 years ago
Logical-Master
DerridaKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by s0m31john 7 years ago
s0m31john
DerridaKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by Tatarize 7 years ago
Tatarize
DerridaKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by kevsext 7 years ago
kevsext
DerridaKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by Kleptin 8 years ago
Kleptin
DerridaKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by blond_guy 9 years ago
blond_guy
DerridaKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by solo 9 years ago
solo
DerridaKleptinTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30