The Instigator
kvaughan
Pro (for)
Losing
30 Points
The Contender
SperoAmicus
Con (against)
Winning
39 Points

God and Hell cannot simultaneously exist

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2007 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,555 times Debate No: 744
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (23)

 

kvaughan

Pro

This will be my third go at arguing a problem of evil variant. In my past two debates (and in their comments sections) a theme seems to emerge – people disagree that more or less with the premise that there is evil in the world. There have been many different ways of doing this; you can (correctly) point out that I don't define evil, or say that evil is just an "absence of God" or whatever. While these arguments are useful and necessary to establish the problem, I grow tired of them, so I hope that this argument will sidestep that criticism and allow us to move on to something else.

Here's the argument: if God exists, no one would go to Hell.

I want to start out my mentioning that I will use Hell a lot here, but if you don't believe in Hell, the argument still applies if you substitute "non-Heaven", meaning just that God is incompatible with people going anywhere but Heaven.

This avoids the questions about evil because by definition, heaven is good and Hell is bad. If you deny this premise, I cannot see a reason to be religious. Religions all seem to prescribe ways to get into Heaven, so if you don't agree that heaven is better than Hell, then there is no reason to try to get into Heaven.

My argument formalized is this:
1. If God exists, then God is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.
2. If God is omnipotent, then God has the power to send everyone to Heaven.
3. If God is omniscient, then God knows how to send everyone to Heaven.
4. If God is morally perfect, then God has the desire to send everyone to Heaven.
5. According to religions, everyone does not go to Heaven
6. If Hell exists and God exists, then either God doesn't have the power to send everyone to Heaven, or doesn't know how to send everyone to Heaven, or doesn't have the desire to send everyone to Heaven.
7. Therefore, either God, Heaven, or both do not exist.

I think that's enough to get us started. I look forward to it!
SperoAmicus

Con

It might be relevant to know that I am coming from Christian - Roman Catholic perspective. The Catholic understanding of God is somewhat more carefully and philosophically defined than in many other Christian denominations.

To begin with, it's important to understand the qualities of God and the role in which they play with each other. Omnipotent and omniscient may work for our purposes as a definition of God, but we need to take a look at what you've here called the "morally perfect" quality of God. Morality, of course, is prominently defined by the capacity of judgement, so that this would equate into being a "Perfect Judge" as well as one who abides by the standards to which he judges. But you haven't here presented this moral perfection in a way that would in any way disparage against Hell.

The classic usage, from St. Augustine, rather is "omnibenevolent," or all-loving, which you were using in one of the other arguments. But regardless of what definition we use, we need to first understand that this is a standard to which God chose Himself to be bound by covenant promise. This covenant promise restrains His omnipotence to the standards given in His promise, as it would defy omnipotence to make a promise which is beyond Him to keep. Indeed, of course omnipotence would otherwise be incompatible with any sort of moral restraint whatsoever.

So that the question becomes understanding what it is that God has bound Himself to. To a Christian, that is what we understand as Love.

Love is a difficult thing to define, but we can recognize a few things right off the bat, and the conclusions which are to be drawn from them.

1) Love requires a separate entity to be the recipient of One's love.

-> The Distinctly Separate and Free Will of Man.

2) Love is associated with a desire to share Oneself with another.

-> Hence, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (John 17:3) Likewise, eternal damnation is to not know God. "Weeping and gnashing of teeth" is only an allegory to represent a state of eternal existence which does not know God.

3) Unrequitted love includes a respect for the other person and a refusal to thrust oneself unwanted onto that individual.

-> Therefore, the very love of God prevents Him from forcing Himself upon the Free Human Will which has chosen to reject Him.

There are others, but this will do for now. The first thing you might notice is probably the relationship between this and a romance. That would be dead-on.

"I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,

And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the LORD.

It will come about in that day that I will respond," declares the LORD.
"I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth,
And the (AV)earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil,
And they will respond to Jezreel.

"I will (AW)sow her for Myself in the land
I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion,
And I will say to those who were not My people,
'You are My people!'
And they will say, 'You are my God!'"

(Hosea 2:19-23)

The parallel is made throughout the Bible and throughout Christian history. It is the Catholic/Christian understanding that a marriage is an earthly "type" of what will be perfected in one's relationship with God.

In short, you gloss through "morally perfect" as a vague concept without alloting to it the specificity which is warranted to both a promise and a relationship. If "Knowledge of God" is eternal life, then it would not be in the prerogative of Love to force the other person to accept you, for you then would not a Freely Distinct entity to Love.

Once again, you are caught up in the definitions, both of "Hell" and "Morally Perfect."
Debate Round No. 1
kvaughan

Pro

Hey, SperoAmicus, sorry about the delay in my response – I've been busy with various Christmas related affairs. If you do indeed "flake out", no worries, we can just copy and paste what we have so far into a new debate.

I want to preface my arguments my admitting that I am not 100% clear on your defense. So, if I misinterpret anything, please let me know!

You seem to argue that God's love is like is similar to romantic love and in romantic love, it is essential that the love be mutual. Thus, God does not force us to love him and if we don't love him, we go to Hell, which is essentially an absence of God. If that is your argument I have a few responses (numbered and lettered for ease of debate).

1a) This is a completely ad hoc response. You do not have any external evidence suggesting that "Knowledge of God' is eternal life" or that God's love actually does work this way. The only thing you provide is a biblical quote which is poetic not literal and called into question by the very nature of this debate (i.e. we're trying to decide if God exists and if he doesn't then the Bible is called into question). Instead, you have invented a response that happens to fit the evidence we see without providing additional evidence for this response. As long as we allow ad hoc responses, nothing can EVER be proven wrong.

1b) That being said, it seems very likely to me that God's love does not work the way you describe. God's most common moniker is "God the father", indicating parental and not romantic love. In parental love, the love does not need to be requited; instead the parental figure often does things for the child against the child's will because it is in the best interest of the child. A parent doesn't care what the child thinks about running into the street or if the child agrees with that decision, the parent just does what is best for the child. Seeing as God is the "father" and his potential status over us would be more than equivalent to the status of a parent of a child, it seems more likely that God has paternal love. If God has paternal love, then your theodicy fails we are again faced with the paradox I have presented.

2) This argument is a false dichotomy. You are arguing that if God does not force us to love him, then people will go to Hell. I do not see why this must be so. Why can't God create a world in which everyone is free, yet everyone freely accepts God? Sure, this may seem unlikely to a puny human mind, but a requirement of omnipotence is that the being can do anything which is not logically contradictory. So unless you can demonstrate that freedom and complete acceptance of God are, by necessity, in contradiction, the response cannot fly.

3) Your argument assumes that God forcing someone to love him would be worse than Hell. This just seems false. In most definitions Hell is the worst possible state one can be in. A forced love cannot, by definition, be worse than this. So, this is not in our best interest. Why doesn't God just wait and see who will love him freely and who won't and then only force those who don't love him freely? Then he can have the best of both worlds.

4) This answer begs the further question of why God would create a world like this? God knew when he promised to himself not to force people to love him that it meant people would go to Hell. So, are still faced with the same question.

So, those are some of my thoughts. I look forward to your response!
SperoAmicus

Con

SperoAmicus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
kvaughan

Pro

I think my responses speak for themselves and of course, I should win defacto because he didn't respond. That being said, I'll probably lose because people generally disagree with my position on the topic. Prove me wrong.
SperoAmicus

Con

Sorry for missing the argument, again, I was out of town a few days for Christmas. If you would like to re-create the debate, I'm game. We can re-post exactly what we have if you just want to make round 3.

Otherwise, your response is generally sound, with the exception of several ambiguities which stem from the vagueness of your original statement.

Also, you draw at least once from an argument that I did not make, that Hell is the absence of God. That understanding of course comes from St. Augustine, but the details of our understanding of that have evolved over time. Lacking a "Knowledge of God" is not strictly the same thing as an "absence of God." It isn't simply a matter of God choosing to fill an extra space or give a little extra grace, but of forcing oneself onto another person.

Taking it point by point...

To my claim that "Love" is "Romantic," and therefore reciprical, you assert:
>1a) This is a completely ad hoc response. ... The only thing you provide is a biblical quote which is poetic not literal and called into question by the very nature of this debate (i.e. we're trying to decide if God exists and if he doesn't then the Bible is called into question).

First, your definition of God as "omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect" came from somewhere. Odin, Zues and a schlew of other gods were NEVER defined by terms which are anything like these. The only conclusion which can be inferred from your opening argument, from your reference to "Hell" and from the definition of God which you've provided, is that you're referring to the Christian God, which is defined through the Bible. Therefore, the Bible becomes a relevant source in the definition of love.

If this is wrong, and it is some other God we're discussing, please correct me.

Secondly, we are not "trying to decide if God exists," but specifically, whether there is a contradiction between God and Hell which proves that one or the other does not exist. This is a -technical- question which hinges upon every relevant definition, including "God," "morally perfect," and "Hell." Fine distinctions in the way these are understood matter significantly.

But moving on, you assert....
>1b) That being said, it seems very likely to me that God's love does not work the way you describe. God's most common moniker is "God the father", indicating parental and not romantic love. In parental love, the love does not need to be requited; instead the parental figure often does things for the child against the child's will because it is in the best interest of the child. ... If God has paternal love, then your theodicy fails we are again faced with the paradox I have presented.

This is easily the strongest part of your argument. A parental understanding of love is an equally valid Biblical perspective, and it is absolutely correct that parents attempt to intercede on their children's parts.

But Parental Love and Romantic Love are really very similar on this abstract level. An unrequitted lover still offers kindness to the woman who rejects him, just like a father intercedes in the life of his son.

The problem is that ultimately, as we understand both forms of love, love is naturally meant to be recipricated. And when it's not, there reaches a point where each intervention leads to antagonism and bitterness from the child or lover who must constantly refuse them. So that there is a point when offering someone more of yourself only leads that person to hate you further, and where ultimately, the Father and the Lover must simply pull back and leave the other person to decide for themselves.

If "morally perfect" is in fact defined in this manner of love, as a Christian / Catholic understanding of Him is, then you do not have a contradiction. For Eternal Life is specifically, Biblically defined as "Knowledge of God" (John 17:3), meaning that Hell becomes an amplified form of the bitterness which comes from rejecting a lover.

But according to you:
>2) This argument is a false dichotomy. You are arguing that if God does not force us to love him, then people will go to Hell. I do not see why this must be so. Why can't God create a world in which everyone is free, yet everyone freely accepts God? ... So unless you can demonstrate that freedom and complete acceptance of God are, by necessity, in contradiction, the response cannot fly.

"Freedom to accept" is not a freedom unless you also have the "freedom to reject." Otherwise it would mean you were programmed to accept. And to argue in favor of a world where only those who would choose to accept may exist is to argue for the pre-emptive annhilation of those who would choose otherwise. Whatever we may casually wish, it is presumably better to exist, even in Hell, than to not exist at all, but the latter cannot be tested.

>3) Your argument assumes that God forcing someone to love him would be worse than Hell. This just seems false. In most definitions Hell is the worst possible state one can be in. A forced love cannot, by definition, be worse than this.

I did not argue that forced love would be worse then Hell, but rather, that forced love is not love. In Christianity, God is defined by love in ways similar to what we understand on Earth, and to argue that God should force others to love Him is not arguing for a God who is defined by love. Consequently, you are calling for an oxy-moron. You are also calling for a violation of "morally perfect" as you understand it, for morality stands firmly against coercion.

But finally...
>4) This answer begs the further question of why God would create a world like this? God knew when he promised to himself not to force people to love him that it meant people would go to Hell. So, are still faced with the same question.

But you are forgetting my first and original assertion. God is omnipotent, and may do whatever He wants, but sequentially chose to bind Himself to a definition of Love. Arguing that God was in any way obligated before making such a promise is a violation of your own definition of God as omnipotent. Without this promise, where there is no "intercessor" between God and Man, you have the God of Job, where He may torture you for whatever whim he fancies. Hence, in creating a promise which creates things the way they are, there is no "morally perfect" obligation on His part to avoid a reality which sends people to Hell.

Such that...

I formulize the argument in this manner:
1) God is omnipotent and omniscient.
2) In His omnipotence, He freely chose to bind Himself to omnibenevolence.
3) Omnibenevolence requires a fully-distinct entity to love: Mankind.
4) To be fully-distinct, Individuals must be given the choice to reject God.
5) That rejection of God is defined as Hell and experienced as an infinite magnification of the bitterness associated with the act of rejecting another.
6) We know this because it is foreshadowed in our own experiences with love.

Hence, "morally perfect" and "Hell" are not contradictory.

If you want to challenge me again, what about making it a five rounder?
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by WaximusMaximus 9 years ago
WaximusMaximus
You guys need a rematch. I would agree with the idea that this should be a five round debate. I look forward the theology ahead!
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
Anyone who doesn't have time to read the full debate, read KVaughn's formalization at the top and mine at the bottom.

Unfortunately this was only two rounds because of a Christmas interuption.
Posted by rctvanchor08 9 years ago
rctvanchor08
If God is the heavenly Father, a perfect father, then how could Hell exist? Any Father who loves his children would not send said children to burn in Hell for eternity. The argument that God and Hell can co-exist is fundamentally flawed.

I'm just glad someone else saw this glaringly obvious flaw as well.
Posted by solo 9 years ago
solo
Gods do not exist, in my honest opinion. That being said, I have two perfectly good functioning arms. If I want, I can raise a cup to my lips and have a drink. If I don't choose to take a drink that doesn't mean that I cannot do it. It does not mean that my arms and the cup do not exist.
Posted by BarbieGirl 9 years ago
BarbieGirl
the bible says that god gave humanity free will to use as they pleased. If they decided to use it for good they would be rewarded and pass on into heaven. If the used it for bad they would be punished and pass into hell. That is my understanding of it
Posted by shelbih 9 years ago
shelbih
to go to heaven, you must be saved.
if you are not saved you go to hell.
simple as that.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
Unfortunately if you still reply at this point, I'll have to flake off, going away for Christmas.
Posted by Lydie 9 years ago
Lydie
I don´t think you can reason out religion.
Really though, you believe it or you don´t,

But i think if you sit down and think it out, it won´t really connect...because, its not really meant to do that.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
And woops, I also didn't explain the quote adequately. The form of the poem is literally written in the Hebrew as wedding vows.
Posted by SperoAmicus 9 years ago
SperoAmicus
Looking over my post, I somehow forgot to give adequate coverage to the reciprocity of love. Ah well, for round 2 I suppose.
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