Who would choose hell? And how is God just?

When people talk about free will, how do they explain the fact that no one would ever choose hell? Because, it seems that many people’s view of free will is that people have the God-given right to choose whether to follow/obey/worship God and, thusly, go to heaven. But that assumes everyone can believe whole-heartedly IN God. Doesn’t it?

Doesn’t this raise some problems? I can speak from experience that no matter how hard you try, you can’t FORCE yourself to believe in something you don’t. So how is that just if two people can read/hear the same thing but believe completely different things (or perhaps, one believes it and the other doesn’t). So how is that just? Doesn’t that just kill the idea of free will?

The truth is that if everyone was equally able to believe in God (as free will seems to suggest), then who would choose hell? Isn’t that the point?

Or is it one of those, “When you did that, you made a choice, that was free will, and since you chose to do something that God said not to, then you chose not to follow God, so you chose hell” things?

That doesn’t seem just to me. I want to excercise my free will and choose heaven. I’ll do what I need to, just as long as I believe. However, I’ve searched, and I don’t believe. I believe in a god, but I don’t know which one.

I know there are a lot of holes in these questions, but it’s late, so I’m going to leave it at that for the time being. Keep in mind, I’m not insulting anyone, so if you read this, and you’re mad, I didn’t mean it. I say that because whenever I write questions like this, someone gets mad at me.

Have a good one.

I love you all.

Hey!! Isn’t there some sort of rule against flirting??? :smiley:

There’s an underlying assumption in the OP that I wish to disagree with before running away as fast as I can.

The wish to believe in God equals belief; we can will faith. This is to say, belief is not just how one feels. It is how one acts, what one says, what they tell themselves. As such, there is a choice.


Good stuff in the OP. I agree that the idea that you can choose your beliefs is totally unsupported. When I teach philosophy of religion, I give students an experiment–I ask them to believe whole-heartedly for 60 seconds that they are Superman, with all of his superpowers; or that they are rich, etc. They can’t, of course. Many say that religious beliefs are different, and are subject to voluntary control, but this seems like an ad hoc move to me, aimed merely at saving their theory that we can be punished for failure to believe in God.

I’m more sympathetic to eustachian≠fallopian’s point. But you can’t have faith in something you don’t believe in; I can’t will myself to have faith in Santa Claus, b/c I don’t believe he exists, and I don’t choose my beliefs.

I guess you could say at this point that even if you don’t believe in God, you can still choose to behave morally. Many faithful, however, will deny that being morally good is sufficient to go to heaven (Paul himself writes that we are saved through faith, not works, though I can’t remember the book/chapter).

FWIW, I think a lot of religious types deny that there is such a thing as Hell. I think (and take this with a grain of salt, b/c I am not religious) that some think that bad people just die, but don’t go to Hell, whereas devout and/or otherwise morally good people get eternal life. Now IMO it would be okay for God to reserve eternal life for his peeps, as long as he wasn’t actively torturing his non-peeps. That doesn’t seem terribly unjust. And I think there should be a Christian rock band called God’s Peeps.

Are you saying I can pull the wool over the All Mighty’s eyes?

So if I just pretend to love God and act like I love God; I’ll get a free pass into the pearly gates?

As an Atheist I guess that’s why I’m going to burn in hell. Demanding logic out of religion seems to be too much to ask.

Personally it would be A LOT easier for me to believe in God, if all you had to do was act in a benevolent maner towards others and feel remorse when you don’t.

Of course this is all part of the wonderful hypocrisy that is religion, as long as you say you believe and carry out the actions of a believer, you can get a free pass to heaven etc, while all of us heretics, non-believers will burn in hell regardless of how moral a life we lead.

I seem to lack whichever part of the brain does blind faith, so by the logic of believers am destined to burn in hell (not that I believe in such a place).

If by some chance it turns out that I am wrong and they are correct, my next question would be what kind of allegedly benevolent creator sets people up to go straight to hell? Sounds like someone with a few emotional problems to me.

I agree with everyone who’s posted so far: it seems very peculiar, to say the least, that a just God would send the righteous unbelievers to hell for all eternity because they made a good faith mistake about the afterlife.

On the other hand, there’s a way in which this objection (which, again, I share) strikes me as very petty. Faith in God has been the foundation of morality in the Western world for thousands of years, and an almost universal aspect of that faith was that the unbelievers are in for some hard times when they hit the Big Sleep.

But now, with our oh-so-modern sensibilities, we’re ready to declare that the Old Style God is jealous, cruel, spiteful, and (Ha Ha) probably not even real anyways. Historically speaking, at this point, we’re an insignificant, heretical blip on the radar. In other words, for a few millenia accepting God has been the very least you could do, morally. Now, though, even that’s a monstrously unjust burden. Picky, picky.

I think it is very easy to beleive in ‘a’ God. and very hard not to. The universe is just too perfect and there are too many things which are unexplainable to happen naturally (Big bang, start of life, sexual reproduction just to name a few biggies).

Also one way to look at it is the choice you are making with free will is to live with or without God. If you choose to live w/o God then that might be ‘Hell’ (Hell being a place where you are cut off from God in this case), Basically you have chosen to make your own way through eternity.

I disagree, but the point of the OP is that one doesn’t choose one’s belief. I used to believe in God, and found my faith gradually eroding, until I finally realized that it had completely evaporated. The process was wholly non-voluntary. Now, if a theist thinks I deserve an eternity of hellfire for something that happened to me without my consent or control, then I have to question whether the theist means the same thing by “deserve” that I mean.

Just because at present we lack a complete understanding of the universe does not mean that we should automatically go looking for a supernatural answer to the questions that we seek answers to.

Besides, there are many , and i hate to use this word, theories that answer your unexplainables quite well. Evolution for one.

I personally do not find it easy to believe in a god. Also if it turned out there were a god, who was as desribed in the Biblical Old Testament, the Torah and the Koran i would probably be opposed to him/her/it on principle for all of the evil acts commited in his/her/its name, and if you read the texts of these books by the deity itself. This act would condemn me to hell by the logic of the religious, but if as you say that hell is being cut off from god, then I’m there already.

Life is never perfect, but we get by as best we can. On the whole I lead a fairly moral exisitence, I try not to hurt others either by design or ommision of action and mostly I enjoy life. Really that’s all we can do. Religion and the associated dogma just get in the way of that IMHO.

Heh, Now I’ve got that movie “The Rapture” (w/ Mimi Rogers) stuck in my head.

When I finally got to the end of that movie I thought my head was going to explode.

You’d oppose an Old Testament God on principle? Aside from being impractical and ridiculously prideful, isn’t that also absurd? If God exists as described in the Old Testament, the he is by definition correct, and where you disagree you are necessarily incorrect. Since your beef is with the omnipotent, omniscient creator, your side is necessarily the immoral one – there’s no longer any question of standing up for what’s right, becaue you’re standing up to the absolute arbiter of right and wrong. Hence, I don’t think you can disagree with God “on principal.” The closest you can come is to choose hell out of spite.

Hence, the answers to the OP’s questions: God is just because that is his nature, and Stryfe would choose hell.

Obviously my moral code against torturing, murdering, smiting and cursing for seven generations is a reflection of my flawed humanity, rather than indictment of an unjust unmerciful, jealous and angry creator (to paraphrase its own words).

Maybe this omnipotent being has got reasons for doing what it does, but if it wants to torture us just to get us to worship it then count me out. If I turn out to be wrong at least I’ve had the courage of my convictions and will stand up and be counted for my sins. Besides which, being blasted into oblivion is just what I expect when I die anyway, so it won’t come as any surprise and I wont be around to worry about it afterwards.

I disagree, I think in this case “right” and “wrong” would be subjective.

It’s not really the same thing, though. Nobody can honestly believe they’re Superman (or that they’re rich if they’re poor, etc.) (unless they’re seriously delusional, of course). But plenty of people, when given essentially the same information, can either believe or not believe in God. One example asks that we believe in something that is obviously false, the other is asking us to believe in something in which there is no indisputable evidence either way. I don’t see why it’s unreasonable to assume there’s some amount of choice involved in the latter.

The argument from design, basically. Has been pretty much defeated on both logical and scientific grounds, as has been pointed out to you. All manner of things both complex and seemingly “unexplainable” occur naturally, and have been fairly thoroughly documented. There are dozens of books for the layman on evolution and complexity and other aspects of physics and biology/nature that give quite detailed accounts of the mechanisms by which such processes occur.

Being a devoted relativist, I can hardly remember the last time I told someone he was simply wrong, but here goes: No. That position is untenable. If the Old Testament God exists as described – if we humanitarian atheists meet the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of heaven and earth, judge of the quick and the dead, etc. – then there’s nothing left to do but repent. Not because it’s expedient, but because we were wrong. How do we know? God said so. Continued below. . .

At the point at which you’re disagreeing with a God you know to be omniscient, ‘standing up for your convictions’ no longer has anything to do with courage. Face to face with the Old God, the only rational conclusion is that you’ve fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the universe and of morality. You are, unequivocally and by definition, wrong. Standing up for your convictions no longer means unselfishly standing up for what you think to be right. It means standing up for what you know to be wrong, because at least it’s yours – in other words, it has become the ultimate act of selfishness, rather than the opposite.

Well, speaking for myself, I could not choose to believe in God. I could tell myself I believed in God, but it would be a lie.

Now perhaps, one who is teetering between belief and non-belief might choose belief; but this still leaves Heaven open only to those who believe or who are indifferent and hence capable of choosing to believe. In any case, if no evidence supports belief or disbelief, the proper thing to do is withhold belief, if we do have control over belief. If I have evidence both for and against a belief (such as “JFK slept with Marylin Monroe,”) but not enough evidence to fully justify or refute the belief, then the responsible thing to do is to neither believe nor disbelieve, but to withhold judgment. It would be arbitrary to choose to believe on the basis of inadequate evidence. Why should God reward arbitrary belief-forming practices? And further, is it just to send someone to Hell merely for making this kind of error?

But the problem goes deeper. The question is, if I am wavering between belief and disbelief, why would I choose belief? You can’t say “Because God punishes those who don’t believe in Him,” because I already have to believe in God to support that kind of reasoning. Thus, I would have to believe in God already to have a reason to choose belief in God.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m in basic agreement with you - I definitely find it harder to believe in God than not to. I just didn’t think the example you used in class was, well, exemplary. You (or I) couldn’t tell yourself to believe in God because of your (or my) interpretation of the “evidence”, which could conceivably involve choice in that we chose to disregard or view as lacking some of the reasons believers gave for their deism while choosing to focus on certain other areas (scientific, logical, whatever) that lent credence to our views. In the Superman hypothesis, though, there really is no room for interpretation - at least, not if we’re sane. There are different kinds of proofs (and hence different kinds of reasoning) involved, is all I’m saying.

Well, hopefully the JFK-Marylin Monroe example is better.

I don’t see why anyone would chose hell, but I know that some do. They feel so bad about themselves and what they have done with their lives that hell seems the only choice for them.

Spiritualists believe that hell is not eternal, and if someone does choose hell there will be guides there to help them out. Teaching them to forgive themselves, and accept the mistakes they made are past. This will allow them to start anew with more knowledge and wisdom.

Spiritualists also believe in reincarnation, and the devil is only an illusion in the minds of those who believe in him. Even Satanists don’t believe the devil is real.

As the OP states it is hard to believe in God without knowledge of God. Only faith can be used. So it is easier to believe in Good (God) and turn away from Evil (Devil). Here is where spiritual love enters, learn to love others, by forgiving their mistakes, and forgive yourself also. Before long, if you practice, the knowledge and understanding of God will come to you naturally.

Now you can debate all the issues over and over, but without love there will be no understanding.