"God is evil because the bible says most people will burn in hell forever."
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Several times, Debateart.com user Alec has made statements to the following effect;
"I think God is evil because the bible says most people will burn in hell forever. No one deserves to burn in hell forever."
Alec is not the only user who has advocated such a position. User Swagnarok has made similar allegations (https://www.debateart.com/forum/topics/911/post_links/40474).
Based on these statements, I hereby challenge Alec to a debate to defend his claim.
CON - Raltar - AGAINST the idea that "God is evil because the bible says most people will burn in hell forever."
PRO - Alec - FOR the idea that "God is evil because the bible says most people will burn in hell forever."
I have asked Ramshutu to judge this debate. Ramshutu is widely considered one of the best and most mature voters on this site. Ramshutu is also a non-Christian, so his view will be unbiased and he will be difficult to convince of either position.
God is evil because the bible says most people will burn in hell forever. No one deserves to burn in hell forever.
The views about hell in particular include very different conceptions of divine love, divine justice, and divine grace, very different ideas about free will and its role (if any) in determining a person’s ultimate destiny, very different understandings of moral evil and the purpose of punishment, and very different views about the nature of moral responsibility and the possibility of inherited guilt. There is also this further complication: in the Abrahamic family of monotheistic religions to which Christianity belongs (along with Judaism and Islam), theological reflection often includes an interpretation of various texts thought to be both sacred and authoritative. But the meaning of these texts, particularly when read in their original languages, is rarely transparent to all reasonable interpreters; that is, not even all who regard a relevant text as authoritative seem able to agree on its correct interpretation.
The myth [about hell], embellished by our human logic and human desire for swift and reasonable conclusions to complex matters, comforts only the non-thinker. The myth applies standards of morality and reasonable conduct to a God who is beyond either.
- "Most" people will go to hell.
- All of those people will be there "forever."
- "No one" in hell deserves to be there.
- That this makes God "evil" beyond any shadow of doubt.
...no traditional Christian doctrine has been so widely abandoned as that of eternal punishment. Its advocates among theologians today must be fewer than ever before. The alternative interpretation of hell as annihilation seems to have prevailed even among many of the more conservative theologians. Among the less conservative, universal salvation, either as hope or as dogma, is now so widely accepted that many theologians assume it virtually without argument.
Some of us have turned away from the church and, by extension, God because what we were taught as children—this nonsense, invented myth about “good” and “bad”—could not be reconciled in our mind with the concept of God’s love and Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us... The most basic answer is to correct an assumption: God does not send anyone to Hell. It is not God’s will that any of us should perish (2 Peter 3:9) but that we all might have everlasting life.
Make no mistake – hell is not a place where people are simply “sent to.” Just as there is a way that leads to heaven, there is also a way that leads to hell – and it’s heavily signposted. It’s a path that someone decides to take, a direction they have been heading in and a course they have set, long before they get there.
...the real reason why we cannot fathom the concept of God and Hell existing simultaneously is because we do not believe we deserve to go there. Why? Because we are not murderers or rapists (most of us). In other words, because we are not as bad as other people. We are not evil compared to other humans. This is problematic because we are not being compared with other humans when we talk about Hell. We are being compared with God himself. Do you think you fall short when compared with perfection?Of course, nobody wants to believe that they deserve Hell. But wanting something to be true by no means makes it so.
One such contemporary defender, the Christian philosopher Paul Helm, has argued that God’s loving nature no more necessitates that he extend his redemptive love equally to all humans than it necessitates that he create them all with the same human characteristics. For why is it, Helm asks, “that some are strong, some weak, some male, some female, some healthy, some diseased, and so forth?” He then makes the following claim: “if it is possible for there to be differentiations in the created universe that are consistent with the attributes of God then it is presumably possible for there to be differentiations with regard to God’s redemptive purposes which are entirely consistent with the divine attributes” (Helm 1985, 53).
...this is an incredibly audacious claim. In effect, we are saying that God would be morally corrupt if he sent people to Hell. Why? Because we say so. And therein lies the problem. We are saying that we know better than God, and that his morality is subject to ours. In other words, we have made ourselves God with this very statement. We have claimed that our perception of morality is perfect and God’s morality must conform to ours. This is a very troubling claim given the mess we have made of this world. It must be recognized that a morally imperfect being should be expected to disagree with a morally perfect being. Surely any disagreement therein, however, cannot be blamed on the morally perfect being.It is worth noting here that it would be impossible for there to be a God who is anything other than good. Since our existence depends upon God, our concepts of good and evil completely and utterly rely on him as well. His very being is the standard by which we can assess what is right and what is wrong (see previous post). This means that the concept of an evil God is literally impossible.
“In other words, people a lot more knowledgeable on the topic with much greater education can't even agree on the basic facts which my opponent has alleged.” In order for this to be true, the side denying what God would have said would need biblical evidence to support this.
- "Most" people will go to hell: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)/https://biblehub.com/matthew/19-21.htm
- All of those people will be there "forever."
- "No one" in hell deserves to be there.
- That this makes God "evil" beyond any shadow of doubt.
- Matthew 13:50 “furnace of fire…weeping and gnashing of teeth”
- Mark 9:48 “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”
- Revelation 14:10 “he will be tormented with fire and brimstone.
“because we do not believe we deserve to go there. Why? Because we are not murderers or rapists (most of us).” Murderers and rapists don’t deserve to go there either, at least not forever.
Time for me to prove that the bible says…
He says to sell all you have and give to the poor(http://biblicaltheologytoday.com/go-sell-give-poor/)(Matthew 19:21).
What other views are there? Where in the bible does it state that hell won’t be eternally torturous, or extremely painful?
“Even some members of the Roman Catholic Church have broken with the Church to advocate this view.” Like whom?
Fr. Robert Wild is a conditionalist Roman Catholic who advocates for considering both conditionalism and universalism as possibilities for Roman Catholics. He argues that conditionalism is the best understanding both biblically and philosophically, and that CI was likely the most widely held belief among the earliest Christians.
…it is unjustified for him to burn people in hell forever, especially for trivial sins… these actions may be slightly bad, none of them are worthy of an eternal punishment in hell.
While you may cite various other verses, these verses have a strong tendency to be Old Testament and therefore, not as reliable as the New Testament when analyzing the strict code of Christianity.
God on the other hand, dos not own us…
…he calls me stupid…
God also makes them suffer in hell more than Kim Jong Un does…God is worse than Stalin…
While God is smarter than Humans in general, it would be safe to say that humans know more then God in terms of justice for humans.
God is not perfect. He claims to be multiple times in the bible, but this is him making a claim without any evidence.
Problem #1; Oversimplification
…the meaning of these texts, particularly when read in their original languages, is rarely transparent to all reasonable interpreters; that is, not even all who regard a relevant text as authoritative seem able to agree on its correct interpretation.
...no traditional Christian doctrine has been so widely abandoned as that of eternal punishment. Its advocates among theologians today must be fewer than ever before.
[Conditional Immortality] is the best understanding both biblically and philosophically, and that CI was likely the most widely held belief among the earliest Christians.
...this is an incredibly audacious claim. In effect, we are saying that God would be morally corrupt if he sent people to Hell. Why? Because we say so. And therein lies the problem. We are saying that we know better than God, and that his morality is subject to ours. In other words, we have made ourselves God with this very statement. We have claimed that our perception of morality is perfect and God’s morality must conform to ours. This is a very troubling claim given the mess we have made of this world. It must be recognized that a morally imperfect being should be expected to disagree with a morally perfect being. Surely any disagreement therein, however, cannot be blamed on the morally perfect being.
It is worth noting here that it would be impossible for there to be a God who is anything other than good. Since our existence depends upon God, our concepts of good and evil completely and utterly rely on him as well. His very being is the standard by which we can assess what is right and what is wrong (see previous post). This means that the concept of an evil God is literally impossible
Although all of the above is problematic for my opponent’s argument, this is the single greatest key reason why his argument is wrong. Simply put, everything about how his argument was assembled and presented violates every major principle of the way that qualified theologians interpret and understand Biblical scripture.
As I pointed out previously, hermeneutics is the science of interpretation, especially interpretation of Biblical scripture. Whenever we make an argument based on “what the Bible says” this is the science we need to utilize and make certain that we have correctly applied to be sure that we do indeed correctly understand what the Bible says. One of the most essential rules of hermeneutics is context.
Rather than engaging in poorly thought out proof texting the way my opponent does, theologians who apply hermeneutics need to not only understand the individual context of the passage or verse they are citing, but they also need to know many more details about the context. The totality of the context includes the context of the verse itself, the context of the larger passage/paragraph in which that verse appears, the context of the book in which the verse is contained (the genre of the book), and the overall content and context of the Bible as a whole. If the context of an individual verse or passage appears to have a contradiction with another element of scripture, or if the reader is otherwise confused or uncertain, then more investigation and reading is needed to clarify the actual meaning of the text. Oftentimes, we even need to refer back to the original languages in which the text was written, as well as consider the cultural differences between ourselves, the original author and the intended original audience to fully comprehend what is really meant to be communicated by a particular passage of scripture.
So ultimately, you have to ask yourself this; Should I believe an internet user who says “God is evil” because he cherry picked and proof texted a few obscure verses of scripture with no apparent knowledge of the context? Or should I believe thousands of years worth of qualified, educated and intelligent men and women who applied the legitimate sciences of hermeneutics and philosophy to understanding the problem of hell and human morality and came up with a broad selection of significantly more eloquent answers?
Understand that I am not here to preach Christianity or convert anyone. I do not begrudge anyone who wishes to be an atheist, agnostic, pagan or anything else.
Good to know. Thanks for all your feedback!
I’ve seen this type of argument multiple times, so I think it’s fairly common. I made a variation of it years ago myself - but using Saddam Hussein, on MySpace - so that kinda dates it.
Of course! I'm glad to get your perspective on this. I'm sure I will hear an argument like this again someday and having an opportunity to refine my response is helpful. Out of curiosity, have you ever seen anyone else attempt a Stalin->God comparison before? Is that a common Atheist viewpoint as far as you know?
Bear in mind these responses aren’t a reason why your arguments were bad - simply my opinion (as an Atheist) as to how you could make it harder to argue against.
It was a good rebuttal with some limitations.
If he had made the same argument about Stalin, and argued if Stalin had made a rule that everyone who said anything bad about Stalin should be shot on sight, that it would not have been Stalin ordering people to their death, it would have been their own choice - that would have been a good argument that was directly equivalent. That’s what I was trying to get at with my RfD.
So, did you find it to be a good rebuttal in the way he used it, in response to where one of my sources claimed that God doesn't send people to hell? Or are you saying that he should have fleshed this out further to try to compare God to Stalin and gulags to hell?
Yes, i think it was specifically incomplete - but is a great explanatory example - when you can change the word God for Stalin, and make an argument is a fairly compelling moral argument it implies immorality using an agreed baseline, rather than having to specifically prove one example of another.
When you refer to his Stalin argument, do you mean where he said; "This also would be like saying that Stalin did not send Russians to death camps, but rather the Russians chose to go there for disobeying Stalin."
If you’re arguing God, and talking about Biblical questions and quotations as pro did - fight the ground that is strongest for you. In this case, using
Blocks citations and theological principles would have been better. Arguing from a secular position massively weakens your position in my view, as you cut off the biggest source of support for your arguments
This is purely personal preference: but the strongest way, in my view, that you could have argued this, is to have offered a specific framework then defended that framework. While your argument is valid, it was a bit of a patchwork of different examples and positions that made it harder for you to defend as a whole and tie everything together; that’s not to say that you’re argument was poor.
As a hard core Atheist, I don’t think this would have been too hard for me to argue against the individual points you made: the only argument I could have made against you presenting and defending a framework, is biblical support - which immediately gives you the advantage with your excellent interpretation argument.
Saying that, you didn’t do badly by any means, pro was hampered by the forfeits, and very short dismissive rebuttals.
Note that his Stalin rebuttal was really good - if you’re interested in atheism debates, this is a great example of one individual point.
I guess I also avoided using "specific examples" because I wanted to make an argument from as much of a "secular" position as possible, so that even non-christians who disagree with the Bible in general could follow along with my reasoning. Do you think it would have been better to have taken a "more theological" approach and responded to his Bible citations with counter-citations?
Interesting. So, if I understand correctly, you wanted to see more of an explanation of how hell (somewhat regardless of the "forever" angle) is moral beyond merely refuting Pro's interpretation? I could have gone that way, but to do that I would have probably had to completely alter the approach and not even addressed point #2. I felt that if I undermined the specific wording of his argument, specifically the claim that hell is proven to be "forever" then trying to explain the morality of hell would be largely unnecessary. In fact, the two things somewhat would contradict each other, because most sources I could draw upon to defend the morality of hell tend to take the "forever" stance, and the sources that oppose the "forever" interpretation tend to brush off the moral argument because it's largely moot if you don't think people will be there forever. So... I suppose I could do what you are suggesting, but it may require a lot more research, some more specific sources and a much longer argument (30,000 characters per round would have been necessary, most likely). I'll definitely take that under consideration for the future.
Yeah, that certain collection... but anyway, please do! I'm especially looking for feedback on if what I presented was able to be easily understood by a "secular" audience or if it was too theological/apologetic for the average person to see what I was driving at. And even if Alec didn't refute all my points, I'm curious to see how well his overall argument stands up to the way I attacked it.
Generally speaking, as I can’t score conduct: there wouldn’t be any specific impact from the forfeit, other than if one side made a good argument that isn’t refuted. It’s hard to determine a winner without considering unrefuted arguments - but if both sides are happy with me doing so I can provide constructive feedback in the RFD of both sides along with the decision.
I’ve generally started avoiding doing that, as it seems a collection of individuals are unable to discern constructive feedback portions, from my actual decision.
Alec, just to clarify, judged debates don't have any effect on your rating, so it won't actually matter who wins/loses/ties in this debate. It's basically just bragging points, at best.
Ramshutu, even though my opponent ran out of time, I hope you can score this debate as though it wasn't a forfeit. I hit this one with everything I had and I actually want to see how effective I was at convincing you on this topic.
There is probably an option that says "other" or something along those lines.
At the time I made that, I would call myself a Christian who hates God. I should change it but I don't know what to change it too.
But your profile also says you are a Christian and you argued that God is evil. So I dunno how much we aught to trust profiles on this site...
As of right now, your profile does.
I don't vote on my own debate and this is the last round, so there is no further action I can take anyway. It will be up to Ramshutu to decide how to weigh everything. Besides, who said I was a Christian?
I apologize for forfeiting. I think I was too involved with schoolwork. Given that your a Christian, I would expect you to forgive me for the forfeit. It's the Christian thing to do after all.
Very interesting to debate an opinion.
This is a much more interesting read than I thought it would be from the topic. Will be voting. :)