The Instigator
popculturepooka
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
KeytarHero
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

The Problem of Hell Redux (2)

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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: 4/22/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,600 times Debate No: 23059
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (3)

 

popculturepooka

Pro


I thank KeytarHero for agreeing to debate this with me.

Introduction

I have already done two debates on this subject but I hope to tackle this issue yet again. [1][2]

To reiterate, my position is that the existence of hell - conceived of as eternal, conscious torment (e.g. the "traditional" doctrine of hell) - is, in all likelihood, incompatible with the existence of a God who is conceived of as perfectly good (e.g. just, merciful, loving, etc), powerful, and wise. I think this problem presents a uniquely diffcult issue for that kind of monotheism in general and Christanity in particular; the latter position is the one I will be arguing from.

Just to make clear the commitments of the traditional (eternal, conscious torment) doctrine of hell I'll use Jonathan Kvanvig's explication:

The Anti-Universalism Thesis: Some persons are consigned to hell;
The Existence Thesis: Hell is a place where people exist, if they are consigned there;
The No Escape Thesis: There is no possibility of leaving hell and nothing one can do, change, or become in order to get out of hell once consigned there;
The Retribution Thesis: The justification for hell is retributive in nature, hell being constituted to mete out punishment to those whose earthly lives and behavior warrant it. [3]

One's theological or religious persuasion - whether theist or non-theist - does not matter in accepting this debate. The only type of person I hope to debate is someone who is competent and can argue powerfully for the position that the existence of hell and God, within the context of Christainity, are, in all likelihood, compatible.

I accept the burden of proof inasmuch as all the opponent has to do to defeat me is show that my arguments fail to prove their conclusion. If they show my arguments do not prove their conclusion the argument points should go to my opponent. Thusly, my opponent has to show how and why my arguments fail.

Good luck to whomever accepts this challenge.

Rules

Round 1 is for acceptance and clarifications and/or statements of purpose. If there are any more issues that need to be worked out please post them in the comments.

Rounds 2-4 are for argumentation.

Sources

[1] http://www.debate.org...

[2] http://www.debate.org...

[3] "The Strong View of Hell" , in The Problem of Hell, ed. Jonathan L. Kvanvig, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), p 25
KeytarHero

Con

I accept Popculturepookah's challenge and would like to thank him for issuing it and his willingness to debate this topic with me.

I accept his terms and definitions on the subject. I hold to a traditional view of Hell, which is conscious, eternal torment for those who do not accept Jesus' offer of salvation and seek forgiveness for their sins.

I would like to point one thing out, that I do believe in human free will and as such, I don't believe God just picks and chooses who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell.

I look forward to an excellent and interesting debate.
Debate Round No. 1
popculturepooka

Pro

Thanks to Con for accepting the debate.

I have two general objections to the traditional doctrine of hell.

The Proportionality Objection

Obviously, this view of hell is heavily based upon the retributive theory of punishment in moral philosophy. [1] Hell, after all, on this view, is not for redeeming the damned nor is it for deterring other bad actions. It's for retribution; it's because they deserve to be punished. In fact, this is where the doctrine gets most of it's legs or intuitional support from. The basic idea is that God is a just (among other attributes like holy, good, loving, and the like) God and therefore has to punish sinners in hell for their unethical actions here on earth in the after life.

Before even getting into proportionality objection there seems to a deep, fundamental problem - even incoherence - with saying (as many do) that a loving, merciful God 's sense of justice requires him to damn some eternally as philosophers Eric Reitan and John Kronnen have pointed out. [2] Christian theology has always maintained that every single of one us deserves hell because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Now, why isn't it the case that all of us will go to hell? Because it is said that God will take mercy and show grace to at least some of us and that is because Christ took on our punishments for sins and this was accomplished through the atonement. But, then, how is it supposed to be the case that God's justice requires him to damn some. Obviously it doesn't - so why would God's justice get in the way of showing mercy and love to all of his people and not sending them to a place to be eternally in torment? Obviously this would undermine the "anti-universalism thesis", giving us reason not to assent to that that thesis.

That worry aside, the very theory of punishment the doctrine draws upon actually gives us strong reason to reject the existence of hell when placed alongside the Christian God.

One can easily see how wholly disproportionate this whole scenario is. On retributivism the punishment is supposed the match the nature of the crime. If the punishment is too harsh it is unethical. Likewise, if the punishment is too lenient it is also unethical. Now, how could a finite person ever do something to warrant an infinite punishment? This seems to be a case of being far, far, far too harsh. The math does not not add up. Finite person + finite crime = infinite punishment? Even using paradigm cases of the worst that humanity has ever had to offer - say, Hitler - what he did can't ever merit an infinite, eternal punishment. Even if he gets tortured 4 quadrillion years for every person his genocidial policies affected how does that merit an infinite punishment? At some point this just punishment turns into cruelty and torture and something akin to a twisted sense of sadism. Punishing for no reason is not just. Thus, this argument seems to show that very foundation that the doctrine of hell is built upon is very shaky indeed; it even seems to refute it. So this undermines the "retribution thesis".

The Bliss of the Saved Objection

On any remotely orthodox Christian understanding of heaven it is said to be a place of unimaginable bliss and joy and happiness. This process is viewed as the pinnacle of sanctification - in other words - since our goal in this life (and maybe some more in the next) is to be Jesus-like or God-like. In heaven, people are sin-less, and thus more like God. Now, one of THE defining elements of God is love in Christianity. [3] One could easily surmise that in heaven the saved would have a God-like all abiding love for everyone as God seems to have. If that is the case, the presence of people being in a state of eternal torment seems fundamentally incompatible with the redeemed in heaven being in a state of unimaginable bliss. If we look at the concept of love we can see how just by it's very nature it is an inter-dependent thing. When one loves another that means, among other things, that one cares about what is in the others' best interests or their overall well-being. With that in mind what loving person can truly be happy while their loved ones are suffering much less suffering forever in unimaginable pain and anguish?

In fact, Paul himself seems to lend credence to this argument. [4] If Paul was that anguished over just considering the fate of his people, how much more would the saved and redeemed and sanctified be anguishing over actually knowing that all of their loved ones are burning in hell? It's often noted then when two people love each other anything that happens to one automatically effects the other. If one is suffering the other suffers too because they hate to see their loved one suffering. Or vice versa. Consider the old adage, "It makes me happy just to see you happy". Jesus and Paul illustrate this principle well. [5][6] If that is just earthly love, it should be infinitely greater in heaven. With this in mind seems that one has to give way. The saved could not be in the ultimate state of blissfulness and happiness all the while knowing that those loved ones are suffering eternally. This presents another strong reason to reject the traditional doctrine of hell that is conceived of as eternal, conscious torment. If hell as conceived exists, then heaven as conceived does not. Or, conversely, if heaven as conceived exists, then hell as conceived does not exist. I think the latter proposition has stronger warrant.


Sources

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.public.asu.edu...
[3] 1 John 4:8: " Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."
[4] Rom 9:2-3: "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people."
[5] Matt 25: 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ....
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
[6] Phil 2:27: "He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy upon him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another"
KeytarHero

Con

KeytarHero forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
popculturepooka

Pro

Forfeiting. This will be continued in another debate.
KeytarHero

Con

Indeed. Also forfeiting. This will be continued in another debate.
Debate Round No. 3
KeytarHero

Con

And...forfeit.
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Okay, sounds good.
Posted by popculturepooka 4 years ago
popculturepooka
I'll just re-issue it, Keytar.
Posted by kramden88 4 years ago
kramden88
Even though this debate appears to be getting reissued, I would like to point out that (at least in the Catholic belief) the only way to hell is by rejecting God (John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me."). This isn't punishment so much as it is a binary choice: if you exclude yourself from God's kingdom then there is only hell. As for sins, Catholics belief that all sins can be forgiven, even the gravest of them. For this there is purgatory, which a pathway to heaven for sinners after death.
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
If you could, that would be great. We could continue this one and I'll take a loss of conduct due to forfeiting a round. Or if you'd like a full debate, you could re-issue this one. For some reason the site was acting real glitchy for me last night. It said I still had more than a day to post up my response then when I came back it told me I forfeited the round.
Posted by popculturepooka 4 years ago
popculturepooka
Do you want me to reissue the challenge?
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Hey. I have no idea what's going on but debate.org is seriously glitching for me for some reason.
Posted by popculturepooka 4 years ago
popculturepooka
? Nac
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Oops. I apologize. I added an "h" to your screenname.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Actually, I think I'm ready to accept now.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Thanks.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by emospongebob527 4 years ago
emospongebob527
popculturepookaKeytarHeroTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct: Pro Con forfeited and presented no arguments. Spelling and Grammar: Tie Neither side had lacking phonics. Arguments: Pro Con presented no arguments. Sources: Pro Only one who provided sources.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 4 years ago
Maikuru
popculturepookaKeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: ...and forfeit!
Vote Placed by Freeman 4 years ago
Freeman
popculturepookaKeytarHeroTied
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: Everyone is a winner. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!