The Instigator
Con (against)
10 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

Is Hell useful ?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/9/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,961 times Debate No: 54329
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (17)
Votes (2)




If someone were to accept, this would be my first formal debate.

Assumptions :
- Hell exists in some form, like a parallel universe or the absence of God.
- A significant fraction of the population spends a long time in Hell against their will.
- Residents in Hell are in torment, meaning they are suffering/unhappy.
- An omnipotent, omniscient creator called God exists. God's morality is unknown.

Definitions :
this world : the universe
the world : the universe + Heaven + Hell

My position is that the world would be better off without Hell (= Con). My opponent's position is that it is better off with Hell (= Pro).

So it is my task to show that Hell is bad/undesirable/detrimental by showing the bad aspects / problems of/with Hell and challenging the justification/compensations that might be proposed. My opponent must show that, all things considered, Hell is good/desirable/useful. Hell can be good by itself, or a necessary cost for a greater good, e.g. because even though Hell may be bad, a world without Hell could be worse still.

The first round is for acceptance.

May the truth prevail.


Welcome to DDO.

I will accept this debate on the position that Hell is indeed useful, and without it, Heaven would be a worse place. [if we are debating specifically on it making Earth a worse place, that is fine. However, from my understanding and studies, it is to make Heaven a better place, not Earth].

May the LORD GOD bless you and thanks for the debate topic.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting my debate challenge.

There seems to be confusion about the resolution (see my comment) and I don't know how to cancel the debate. I think that if the resolution of the debate was unclear, my opponent should have asked clarification in the comment section prior to accepting. Therefore I stick with the resolution that we are talking about the well-being of the world and not just about Heaven or earth.

Arguing that Hell is bad by itself is easy, but in order to have something more to say I shall anticipate to some extent the justifications my opponent might present. For now I assume as model for Heaven and Hell that they are parallel worlds, the sort of thing one can imagine going to via an interdimensional portal.

I remind my opponent that God's moral nature is unknown. He may be benevolent and just, but he also may be malevolent and unjust. Related attributes like great and glorious are also not granted. They would have to be proven first, which would be a topic for debate on its own.

Why is Hell bad ?

As described in my first round, people residing in Hell are in a state of ill-being. We can see that civilized societies are organised around the principle that others may not be harmed in the absence of justification. This implies that tormenting people and holding them against their will is prohibited (unless there is justification). A world where people are not tormented is therefore better than one where they are. God could therefore improve the world by abolishing Hell and for example simply let the dead be really dead.

Possible justifications for Hell

A) Benefits for Heaven

How might Hell benefit Heaven ?
1) It removes undesirables from Heaven. Clearly that doesn't apply because denying people access doesn't mean they have to be tormented.
2) Somehow the tormenting in Hell benefits the residents of Heaven, for example like letting the latter feed on the suffering of the former, but such a scenario from a horror movie seems too gruesome to contemplate.

B) Benefits for earth

How could Hell benefit this world, the universe ?

B.1. In conjunction with Heaven, Hell may improve the behaviour of the people on earth, thereby increasing the world's well-being. It is the stick and carrot approach to coerce people into doing what God wants. Heaven seduces them into good behaviour, while Hell scares them away from bad behaviour.

Objections :

B.1.a. There is lack of conclusive evidence for Hell. Even among Christians, the existence of Hell is debatable. Among scientists, it isn't even a topic. The only evidence is religious texts and very rare testimonies. Neither of these actually require the existence of Hell.
First, the authors of the religious texts have written them based on their beliefs (assuming they were honest), regardless of whether these beliefs were true.
Second, the testimonies are far too rare to be reliable. One can find testimonies for just about any incredible personal event. For example, the ICAR has been contacted by thousands of alleged alien abductees : That doesn't mean aliens actually abduct people.

That implies Hell plays no role in dissuading people to behave immorally.

As an example, let's look at how penitentiary institutions dissuade people from committing crimes :

1) Criminals are being incarcerated.
2) ==> There is evidence that criminals are being incarcerated.
3) ==> People believe criminals are being incarcerated.
4) ==> People avoid behaving like criminals in order to not be incarcerated.

The above causal chain shows that it is the belief that criminals are being incarcerated that keeps people in check. However, without actually locking up criminals, it would be very hard to create that belief.

Hell however has been set up such that the only way to verify its existence is to go there with a one way ticket, so that it is impossible to come back to testify that Hell exists. Therefore the belief in Hell does not depend on the actual existence of Hell. God could in fact manufacture much stronger false evidence for Hell, convincing much more people than he does now. He could for example organize visits to fake torture sessions that allegedly take place in Hell.

In addition, obviously, Hell or the belief in it is no deterrent for those who don't believe in it.

B.2.b. I don't have room to get into this, but the belief in Hell seems to be a poor deterrent compared to law-enforcement.

C) Benefits for the world

C.1. God is respecting people's choice to go to Hell. The most favourable scenario (to excuse God) I can think of is the following :

God is allergic to sin. Since here on earth we are all sinners, God is present, but not as present as he otherwise could be. Those people who accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, accept to abandon their sin upon death and can be with God, which is Heaven. The others thereby reject God, so God leaves them. However, the absence of God is very uncomfortable, which is Hell. It would be immoral of God to force himself onto them.

Not having the room to get into that, I'll just present a simple solution : God could just kill those who reject him, such that they are incapable of suffering from his absence. That way he would respect their choice, but not at their expense.

C.2. Some people may think that Hell is useful for dispensing justice. Without going into what justice actually is, you could see it as the principle that people should be treated the way they deserve. So, do people who reside in Hell deserve to be tormented ?

First, it would depend on who resides there.

C.2.a. Let's assume unrepentant sinners go to Hell. According most Christians, failure to worship God is a sin. Does that deserve punishment ? To answer that, we must know whether people are obligated to worship God. But what is an obligation ? According to :
1. something by which a person is bound or obliged to do certain things, and which arises out of a sense of duty or results from custom, law, etc.
[2. to 5.]

I'll assume definition (1) applies. The definition does not say what objectively is an obligation. An obligation is formed by opinions or rules (the 'something' in the definition). Rules are also formed by opinions. So an obligation can only exist because in the pertinent circumstances, someone is of the opinion the obligation exists. The obligation to worship God probably arises from the assumption that God deserves to be worshipped, which itself is also an opinion. Who might be of the opinion that God deserves to be worshipped ? God himself presumably.

Clearly the above reasoning to argue that justice is served by punishing people who fail to honour their obligation to worship God, is biased. It is just giving God special, favourable treatment. After all, people could also obliged to worship me, if I hold the opinion that I deserve to be worshipped. However, justice is not served by catering to someone's opinion, however powerful and wise he may be.

My opponent would have to show that worshipping God is good, not just for God, but for the rest of the world as well.

There is another objection to the 'Sinners deserve to be punished.' argument, but I lack the space.

C.2.b. What if only bad people are going to Hell and good people to Heaven, regardless of how they treat God ?

First, this assumes that God is benevolent, otherwise we have no reason to believe that people would be selected that way.
The rest will have to wait for more space.


I argued that Hell in itself is bad/detrimental and that for Hell to be good/useful, there must be some compensation/justification for its existence.

I presented few ways my opponent could argue that allow for Hell to have a favourable impact on Heaven, earth or the world (the universe or earth + Heaven + Hell) and have shown that these beneficial effects do not exist (except for C.2.b. which I merely challenged) or could by an almighty God be achieved in a different way.

The ball is now in my opponent's camp.


Christian_Debater forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


At the request of my opponent I forward my previous round post.

May the truth prevail.


Alright, my arguments are not going to be the best this round due to my schedule. I'm honestly thinking of making a policy for myself to keep it at one debate every 24 hours.

Yes I understand. I'd like to re-debate you with Heaven being included. The reason being, a lot of my arguments won't stand because of this. However, I did accept the debate and it is my fault.

Alright, I understand. For this debate, I'll leave it at that.

You claimed that we weren't using Heaven (at least, from the comment section). The easiest way to explain this is by talking about prison. If you want to elaborate on this, then we can.

B.1 a) So, this is just a statement that you think Hell may not exist. I will ignore this since it has nothing to do with the debate.

No it does not. That is quite the slippery slope fallacy.

Okay, so you are not proving how Hell is not useful, but more how it doesn't exist? If anything, this debate is assuming that Hell already exists. I will ignore the parts where you are stating it doesn't exist.

I'd also like to add, you made Hell look useful by stating how people who know of things such as Hell or prisons behave better.

B.2 b) So, you think law-enforcement stops all crimes? Yet we still have criminals. So I ask you a question. You talk about prison helping people stop doing crimes, and now talk about law-enforcement instead. I could just claim that law-enforcement is equivalent to the book of life for Hell or say angels.

C.1) I have a question. You state that we are saying God's morality is unknown, yet you talk about Jesus Christ. You can't even do arguments as these without talking about God's morality. My point being, you can't acknowledge Jesus without acknowledging God's morality. The reason for this is Jesus himself shows God's morality since it is God going through pain to change the way he constructed the world. So come on now. So unless you are willing to acknowledge God's morality via the Bible, don't acknowledge things such as Christ.

Moreover, you are assuming souls can be deleted which is the main problem with your argument.

C.2) Hell isn't as much about that. Basically, souls can't be deleted especially when you read the Bible. Now, I'm going to acknowledge Heaven here since you have several times already when you stated we weren't going to. Basically, souls can enter Heaven. However, if every soul was allowed to enter Heaven, it would be chaos. It's equivalent to destroying all prisons and letting all murders, rapists, etc. free. Therefore, they go to a lawless place which is Hell.

On a side note, Christians can go to Hell too.

C.2.a) Quite the nice play on words. You don't have to worship God at all. Sure he wants you to, but it isn't an obligation unless you want to enter Heaven. There is a big difference. You forgot to add the part about it is only an obligation if you want to enter Heaven. If you don't care about going to Heaven, then it doesn't matter to you.

C.2. b) Well this is interesting. Since you didn't really state an argument here, I'll leave it as is.

So what has happened here? My opponent claimed that we were not talking about Heaven in the comment section and brought it up anyways. Then he brought up Jesus Christ, yet claims God's morality has to stay unknown. This is quite the interesting form of bias. My opponent is looking only at the bad sides of the arguments.

What I am saying is, he brings up Jesus, but forgets that Jesus is God who died so that it is easier for everyone to enter Heaven.

My opponent brings up Heaven and Hell, but hasn't stated how he'd gladly abolish prisons instead of having people in prison.

My opponent brings up just deleting people basically. However, he acknowledges Jesus which is Christianity, and does not acknowledge that Hell exists because souls can't be deleted.

In conclusion, at least from my understanding, my opponent hasn't made an argument here. I await his final argument, but from my understanding, he is specifically choosing certain sides to look at. My opponent even made Hell seem good in his earlier statements.
Debate Round No. 3


My opponent complains that I claimed that we are not talking about Heaven (e.g. right after C.2.b). However, I did not do so and I gave plenty of indications that the existence of Heaven is assumed.

Let us now the consider the responses my opponent presented to my arguments and what arguments he presented in support of the position that Hell is useful.

Why is Hell bad ?

My opponent did not address this and therefore tacitly agrees that this detrimental aspect of Hell indeed exists and that sufficient compensation or justification is required.

I could add that there is the problem of lack of proportionality, as many models of Hell include infinite punishment for finite sins.

Possible justifications for Hell

A) Benefits for Heaven

My opponent did not address this. Therefore we have no reason to assume Hell provides any benefits for Heaven.

B) Benefits for earth


My opponent claims that I argued against the existence of Hell and that that is irrelevant.
The first half of my argument can indeed be interpreted as such, but that would be missing the point of the argument.

I argued that the existing evidence for Hell (and therefore the belief in Hell) does not depend on whether or not Hell exists. I even provided an example with a prison the clarify what I meant. My opponent did not dispute that argument and therefore it stands.

My opponent claims I committed a slippery slope fallacy. However, he provided no explanation or support for that claim and I do not see how I may have committed such fallacy.

The final remark of my opponent, claiming I made Hell look useful because people knowing of it behave better, shows ignorance of the argument. I explained that the way a prison is useful does not apply to Hell.

B.2.b. (which should have been B.2.)

No, I do not believe law-enforcement stops all crimes.
My opponent complains that I used the term law-enforcement in stead of prisons and he is correct as that was not the right term. With law-enforcement I meant the whole system of police, justice system and penal system and suggested a comparison with the God's system of crime prevention (which he doesn't do), judging people on death and sending them to Heaven or Hell. (I do not know the term that encompasses these three systems.)

It is clear that without the three systems established by humans, society would collapse. In the absence of an authority who imposes these upon us, humans will still use them (like the primitive hunter-gatherer groups) because as social animals we have evolved an inclination to do so. Even other social animals (like most apes), who do not believe in Hell, can maintain order. There is also no conclusive evidence that Christians are less prone to crime than atheists, while it is obvious that if one were to abolish the police or prisons, crime rates would soar (otherwise, why don't we abolish the police or prisons ?)

C) Benefits for the world

First, I presented a possible scenario that believers could appeal to to excuse God. That does not imply I believe that scenario to be true, especially not the moral implications some believers attach to it.
Second, that I mention Jesus Christ does not imply I 'acknowledge' him, whatever that means. I merely assumed he existed and is somehow used by God for for his goals. Whether, Jesus is God's son, a manifestation of God, an anointed human or something else, I don't know. If the assumptions I made about Jesus Christ imply that God is a wonderful guy, then my opponent should have demonstrated that i.s.o. just claiming it.
Third, if my opponent dislikes my argument in defense of his position, he was free to present a better one.

My opponent claims that he believes Jesus Christ is God himself and that he died on the cross.
1) I doubt he can prove God really died on the cross.
2) I doubt my opponent can prove God was in pain.
3) Both God and Jesus are still alive. Resurrection takes the sting out of death.
4) My opponent did not provide any evidence that what has been achieve with God's sacrifice on the cross was useful and could not be achieved in another way.

My opponent claims I assume souls can be deleted (I assume he means destroyed), probably in response to my solution to just kill people i.s.o. sending them to Hell.
I think we should assume by default that something can be destroyed, for the following reasons :
1) Something is possible unless there is reason to believe it is impossible.
2) Almost everything in the universe can be destroyed.
3) Even more so, almost everything that is created can be destroyed (and I can't think of an exception)
4) The soul appears to be an emergent property and no evidence of it remains once the body it inhabited is destroyed.

The above reasons do not prove the soul can be destroyed, but make it likely, especially by an omnipotent being.

In addition, if God cannot destroy souls, then he does something irreversible when creating them and is at least in part responsible for their faith and it would have been better if he had abstained from creating the souls that would end up in Hell.

My opponent again mentions that souls cannot be deleted. If we assume that to be true and that mingling unrighteous souls with the righteous ones in Heaven creates problems (which my opponent provides no evidence for), then God still wouldn't have to send them to Hell. Being omnipotent and omniscient, God must be able to find a way to avoid those souls from suffering.

My opponent claims worship of God is not required, unless one wants to go to Heaven. However, my opponent suggested that Hell is the only alternative to Heaven. Having to do something means that if you don't do it there are undesirable consequences and going to Hell is undesirable. Otherwise, when a robber asks for your money or your life, you are not obligated to give your money.

Furthermore, if we are to believe the Bible, someone who curses God, worships money and has gay sex before marriage, is likely to end up in Hell.

The burden of providing arguments to justify Hell is on my opponent and it is not my burden to prove such justification is absent. In addition, my opponent did not address the point that God may be malevolent. Therefore, as far as we know, good people may end up in Hell.

I have a little space left to come back on what justice is, which my opponent didn't explain. I came up with this myself and asked a lawyer and a law student, who said they agreed with me.

Justice is a tool to promote well-being of society (although other goals may be aimed, like the well-being of those in power), using the following sub-goals :
1) to protect society by incapacitating trespassers
2) to please society by giving the people the impression that justice reigns
3) to teach society undesirable behaviour does not pay
4) to teach trespassers undesirable behaviour does not pay

In you can find a similar list under 'Theories of sentencing'. I disagree with 'Retribution' as a goal as it would make justice a goal all by itself. Accepting (2) (akin to denunciation in the list) as a goal means that 'retribution' can be reduced to being the means to the goal that is (2).

How well does Hell perform these tasks ?
1) Not at all, as only people who are dead are sentenced. As I argued these can be kept out of Heaven by other means.
2) Hell doesn't do that for the reasons I gave in B.1.a. In addition, opinions on whether Hell is just vary.
3) Again, Hell doesn't do that for the reasons given in B.1.a. Moreover, many people do not know the rules Hell is supposed to impose upon them.
4) That could only work if trespassers are reintroduced in society, which is excluded by most models of Hell. In addition, depending on who is actually sentenced to Hell, the residents may feel treated unfairly, which would be counter-productive.

Closing remarks

I had hoped that in this debate my opponent would present arguments that we could then argue about. Unfortunately, the only arguments in support of his position were presented by me.


I'll give you the debate. I need to close my account. This is why:

Galatians 5:19-20;King James Version (KJV);19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these;Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,;20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

I forgot about these verses. I shouldn't argue with people. They will choose to believe whatever they want, regardless of the evidence I show.

I appreciate you taking the time to debate me. May God bless you.
Debate Round No. 4
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Amoranemix 7 years ago
* and I even mentioned Heaven in the third round.
Posted by Amoranemix 7 years ago
I don't understand where you get the idea that Heaven isn't included. I said it was in the first round, I didn't deny it in the comments and even mentioned Hell in the third round.
Posted by Christian_Debater 7 years ago
Believe it or not, my ride's car's water pump or whatever it's called is broken and being replaced. So I basically have an hour and a half to write my argument. So I should have it done and posted soon.
Posted by Christian_Debater 7 years ago
Im going to Hamilton. It's my fault for procrastinating this. I Should be back in time, but I don't know. If I mess up again, I'll forfeit the debate and just restart it again with you.
Posted by Christian_Debater 7 years ago
Basiclaly, yea. It's basically you don't add upon anything. You can if you want, but I doubt I'll have enough room to respond if you do.
Posted by Amoranemix 7 years ago
What does forwarding mean ? Referring the previous round and presenting and challenging any new arguments ?
Posted by Christian_Debater 7 years ago
Oh my apologies I missed a round, my bad. I completely forgot about this debate :S... if you don't mind, can you just forward your arguments from the previous round?
Posted by Christian_Debater 7 years ago
I agree the Trinity is not in the Bible. I will start up the Debate and challenge you to it.
Posted by Longline 7 years ago
I would actual love that. To have a debate on it. Because thier really is no hell, hell from the Bible is actually taken from a Hebrew word meaning, Gehena, which was a place outside of Jerusalem people use to burn dead bodies.

And it was a nasty site that Jesus use when talking about the end time, this hell was not a spiritual places as many people think, it was a real place that can actually go to even today. The mistranslation was due to the teaching of the trinity, in order to SUPORT the whole trinity people had to reedit the Bible. As you even know the word Trinity is nowhere in the Bible.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro openly conceded the debate in the last round so all points have to go to Con. Regarding the arguments themselves I would suggest making a more simpler proposition focusing on less semantics. You essentially made an immensely easy argument ridiculously difficult by arguing irrelevant points. Just some advice for next time.
Vote Placed by ArcTImes 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro didn't understand Con's arguments. It was clear that Con was talking about how the lack of evidence would affect the usefulness of hell even if this existed. And at the end Pro conceded.

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