Instigator / Con
Points: 7

"God is evil because the bible says most people will burn in hell forever."

Finished

The voting period has ended

After 1 vote the winner is ...
Raltar
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Religion
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Judicial decision
Voting period
One month
Point system
Four points
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15,000
Judges
Contender / Pro
Points: 4
Description
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."
(Source; https://www.debateart.com/debates/386/comment_links/3143)
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.
Round 1
Published:
God is evil because the bible says most people will burn in hell forever. No one deserves to burn in hell forever.
There are at least five major problems with this claim. I'll start out by introducing four of them, and I'm sure the fifth problem will manifest itself shortly.

.

Problem #1; An Oversimplification Fallacy

Aside from the specific facts alleged by this claim, which I will address in the subsequent sections of this argument, the overall claim being made by my opponent is a horrific oversimplification. This can be alternatively referred to as a Single Cause Fallacy

The greater issues which are implied by this claim invoke some of the highest philosophical discussions which have taken place over the last 2,000 years. And although my opponent makes broad sweeping generalizations about even the basic facts involved, there has been little consensus on even these basic facts among the most educated philosophers, theologians and apologists who have hotly debated the role of hell and divine punishment countless times over the millennia. 

To help the audience begin to grasp just how complex this issue is, and why it can't simply be boiled down to declaring a deity "evil" merely because you disagree with it, let me quote from the Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy;

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.
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. And yet, here he is, boldly declaring that these debatable facts have only a single logical conclusion. 


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.
In order for the claim my opponent has made to hold up, he must prove that,

  1. "Most" people will go to hell.
  2. All of those people will be there "forever."
  3. "No one" in hell deserves to be there.
  4. That this makes God "evil" beyond any shadow of doubt.
That is a burden of proof I surely wouldn't want to take on, particularly in light of how complex this topic really is!

.

Problem #2; "...the [B]ible says most people will burn in hell forever."

As any person with an extensive knowledge of Biblical scripture will surely admit, the Bible holds only a scant few references to hell and we actually know almost nothing about hell. And what very little we do "know" about hell has been interpreted in wildly different ways over the millennia, with very different viewpoints emerging. 

And in fact, there are two drastically different viewpoints which exist that explicitly conflict with and deny the claim that my opponent is making. 

One of these views is the view of Annihilationism. This view argues that although hell does exist and some people will be sent there, they will not be there "forever" as my opponent claims. Although some people may be sent to hell, adherents of Annihilationism believe that God will not allow people in hell to suffer "forever" and that all people contained within hell and even hell itself will eventually be destroyed. This view is held by many denominations of Christianity, including the Seventh-day Adventists, Bible Students, Christadelphians, various Advent Christian churches and the Church of England. The famous Protestant Christian leader Martin Luther also expressed this view in his writings. Even some members of the Roman Catholic Church have broken with the Church to advocate this view. 

The second major view which contradicts this claim is Universal Reconciliation. This view agrees with the Annihilationist view that God would not allow people to suffer in hell "forever" as my opponent claims. But the Universalist view differs in that instead of suggesting that those condemned to hell will eventually be destroyed, this view instead insists that these people will eventually be redeemed by God and brought out of hell. This view is mainly held by more "liberal" churches, but has also appeared many times throughout history, even as early as only a few decades after Jesus gave his original teachings, indicating that some of the earliest Church fathers may have held this view. 


...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.
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Problem #3: "No one deserves to burn in hell forever."

Initially this off-hand comment seems ancillary to the main argument, but it is actually critical to establish the overall claim, as without it, there is no connection between the claim that "most" people are going to hell, and the claim that God is "evil" according to my opponent. In order for God to be evil because of hell, my opponent has to establish that there is something inherently evil about hell itself. He hopes to do this by claiming that "no one" deserves to go there. Technically, while this whole statement is problematic, there are actually three smaller problems here.

First, as established above, there is already significant doubt that "most" people go to hell or that they remain there "forever" as my opponent claims. The punishment of hell is drastically less severe if there is any possibly that it will not last "forever" or that a person subjected to it will simply be destroyed and cease to suffer.

Secondly, the claim that "no one deserves" to go to hell is a terribly high burden to meet, because of the inherently subjective nature of this opinion. Can my opponent really say if people like Joseph Mengele, Stalin or Kermit Gosnell deserve to go to hell? Who is he to really decide what kind of punishment such people deserve? How many atrocities does a person need to commit before deserving some form of divine punishment? These subjective questions can't possibly be answered by any single human authority.

But Thirdly, and most importantly, this isn't even how Christian theology works anyway. People aren't sent to Hell because they "deserve" to be there or because they were "bad" people by human reckoning. As one of my sources points out, the myth that "good" people go to heaven and "bad" people go to hell is one of the greatest misconceptions the general public holds about Christianity;

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.
Again, it is essential to see how this entire argument made by my opponent is a drastic oversimplification of a complex, elaborate and ancient belief system, of which he seems to have only the most rudimentary knowledge. People don't go to hell for being "good" or "bad" or because they "deserve" to be there. The people who will end up in hell, whomever they are and whatever sort of life they may have lived, will finally arrive there because they simply rejected God, and not for any other reason;

...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.
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Problem #4; "God is evil"

We have already established that there are serious problems with the claim that "most" people will be "sent" to hell "forever." We have also established that the reason why people end up in hell is not what many members of the general public believe, and that any claims about how "no one deserves" to be in hell have some major problems. My opponent's attempts to use these flawed arguments to hold up his major thesis that God is "evil" aught to be enough reason alone to disregard this claim. And yet, even the claim itself has serious problems that need to be addressed. 

Even the idea that God owes us anything is a major shortcoming of this argument. If an entity like God does exist, and He did create us, then why do we arrogantly believe that God is somehow obligated to adhere to our definitions of morality, that He is required to allow us into His heaven or that He should be labeled "evil" for sending something that He created to a place that He created? 

Arguing that God owes us something is like arguing that Pizza Hut owes something to a cardboard box used to deliver a pizza, or that Pizza Hut is "evil" for throwing away unused boxes. Of course, thats the simple way of putting it. The Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy, quoting Paul Helm, puts it this way;

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).
The single greatest flaw in this entire argument is the idea that we as humans make the rules that decide who is "good" and who is "evil" in the world. But we didn't create the world. Not even atheists claim that we created the world. So why should we get to label a power greater than ourselves as anything at all? Who are we to decide?


...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.
And there you have it; The concept of an evil God is literally impossible.

Published:
“the overall claim being made by my opponent is a horrific oversimplification.”  This is a false statement stated by my opponent because of what the bible says.

“This can be alternatively referred to as a Single Cause Fallacy.”  I don’t think the single cause fallacy applies here because I think that they are different concepts.

“To help the audience begin to grasp just how complex this issue is, and why it can't simply be boiled down to declaring a deity "evil" merely because you disagree with it”  I don’t care what God believes. I care about what he does. An example I would like to point out is Kim Jong Un. He has committed human rights abuses to millions of people.  He is a bad entity because he does bad things. Science confirms that there have been about 100 billion humans in the history of planet Earth, 94% of which are dead(). Since the bible states that most of us are burning in hell, that means that God commits human rights abuses to tens of billions of people, a few thousand times more frequently than Kim Jun Un.  God also makes them suffer in hell more than Kim Jong Un does in death camps. As harsh as the North Korean death camps are, hell is much, much worse then any death camp that could have been invented by mankind.

Time for me to analyze/rebuttal the Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy;

“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,”  What other views are there? Where in the bible does it state that hell won’t be eternally torturous, or extremely painful?

“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.”  Where in the bible does it state that hell won’t be  eternally torturous, or extremely painful? I’ll cite my bible verses later since you ask for proof later in your argument.
“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.

Here, you basically say that since God is God, he can do whatever he wants.  However, this applies an inconsistent moral standard to a hypocritical God who says that “Thou shall not murder”.  Although God is more powerful than any of us, it is unjustified for him to burn people in hell forever, especially for trivial sins such as for lying, for adultery, and for not attending Church on the Sabbath.  Although these actions may be slightly bad, none of them are worthy of an eternal punishment in hell.

“But what about Jesus’s Sacrifice.  He paid for your big boy sins in full” you may ask.  Even Jesus Christ has incredibly tough standards for accepting his promises.  He says to sell all you have and give to the poor(http://biblicaltheologytoday.com/go-sell-give-poor/)(Matthew 19:21).  While I am not advocating for this, it shows just how strict Jesus wants us to live in order to serve him well enough to be able to accept him as our savior.  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.  Maybe that is why many religious nations tend to be poor. They choose to be. Since most people don’t do this, Jesus says that he doesn’t accept them into salvation. He says it’s easier to put a camel through the eye of a needle then for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Time for me to prove that the bible says:
  1. "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
  2. All of those people will be there "forever."
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”  Matthew 25:40-46/https://www.biblestudytools.com/matthew/passage/?q=matthew+25:40-46
 
  1. "No one" in hell deserves to be there.
  2. That this makes God "evil" beyond any shadow of doubt.

“the Bible holds only a scant few references”  The bible still references it. We know a satisfactory amount about hell to determine the content of this debate.  People have different opinions, but I don’t think those opinions are founded upon by New Testament bible verses.

One of these views is the view of Annihilationism. “This view argues that although hell does exist and some people will be sent there, they will not be there "forever" as my opponent claims.“  How is Annihilationism backed by the bible?

“Even some members of the Roman Catholic Church have broken with the Church to advocate this view.”  Like whom?

The Universal Reconciliation view requires New Testament biblical evidence in order to be a legitimate source on how people get to heaven/how they go to hell.

“...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.”  Many Protestant denominations believe in eternal hell so to say that almost no one believes it is like this is simply false.


“my opponent has to establish that there is something inherently evil about hell itself.”  In hell, the following occurs:

  • 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.

“there is already significant doubt that "most" people go to hell or that they remain there "forever" as my opponent claims.”  I confirmed that if the Christian God exists, then most people are going to hell with Matthew 7:13-14.  The verse, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)

“Secondly, the claim that "no one deserves" to go to hell is a terribly high burden to meet, because of the inherently subjective nature of this opinion.”  I said no one deserves to burn in hell forever.  All those people that you mentioned may deserve hell for some time, but they don’t deserve it forever.  

“God does not send anyone to Hell.”  He sends people to hell for disobeying him.  We say, “My parents sent me to time out” not, “I sent myself to time out”.  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 it were in Stalin’s power, he would have made the Gulags an eternal punishment. None of the Russians that suffered in the Gulags/Death camps deserved it forever, and similarly, no one deserves to burn in hell forever.  God is worse than Stalin since God commits much worse human rights abuses to tens of billions of people. If you would say that the people God kills are sinful, doesn’t this also apply to Stalin. They people he killed weren’t perfect. Even though Stalin wasn't perfect, is he doing God’s work with the Gulags?

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 way to heaven is extremely strict and the failure to do what orders you to without repentance results in eternal hell. Can you imagine if someone killed you for not attending a meeting? Well, God is doing much worse than killing you, for a similar offense (not attending Church for example, a weekly meeting that God requires all followers to attend).

“of which he seems to have only the most rudimentary knowledge.”  Here, he calls me stupid, and I would like the judge to classify this as poor conduct.

“The people who will end up in hell, whomever they are and whatever sort of life they may have lived, will finally arrive there because they simply rejected God, and not for any other reason”  God has strict standards for them to live by.  He demands that we sell all we have and give to the poor.  People shouldn’t have to choose between being incredibly poor and burning in hell as their only 2 reality options.  However, this is how God set it up due to the sinfulness that humanity inherited. He also is according to many secular personnel someone who advocates for the death of children for cursing their parents.  The Bible states, “Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.”  (Matthew 15:4)

“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.

“We are being compared with God himself. Do you think you fall short when compared with perfection?”  God is not perfect. He claims to be multiple times in the bible, but this is him making a claim without any evidence.  Him advocating for the death of various groups for a small to no offence is an example of him not being perfect, despite his book stating the opposite.

He is required to allow us into His heaven or that He should be labeled "evil" for sending something that He created to a place that He created?”  This is just like saying that child abuse should be legal because if your argument were applied to parents, it would be, “Should this parent be labeled as, “evil” for torturing a child in a place that he owns?”  Just because you create something does not mean you have a right to torture that human in a place that you create.

“Arguing that God owes us something is like arguing that Pizza Hut owes something to a cardboard box used to deliver a pizza, or that Pizza Hut is "evil" for throwing away unused boxes.”  Pizza Hut owns the pizza boxes. They can do what they want with them. God on the other hand, dos not own us anymore then our parents do. They both created us. Just because you create something does not mean you own it.  Moreover, there is not much of a correlation between owning something and creating it. I may own an apple, but did I create it? No. Did a farmer create it? No. He made it by taking care of an apple tree. But he made it from other materials, not creating it from nothing.  Just because you create something does not mean you own it and vice versa.

“So why should we get to label a power greater than ourselves as anything at all? Who are we to decide?”  As an example, this is like me asking, “Why should we label Bernie Sanders? He is a power greater than ourselves.”  It doesn’t matter how powerful someone is. If they commit things that are bad, then they should be held accountable for their actions.

“We are saying that we know better than God, and that his morality is subject to ours.”  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 has gone corrupt with his power. You like quoting philosophers a lot. I would like to quote someone similar, Brutal Truth. He said:

The following verses are a classic example of wholesale slaughter and rape under the direction of the same God they claim to be so merciful.  A quick sample of this tale: On the way to the promised land, God had Moses wage a war campaign against the Midian. Moses was told to put every Midianite to death, plunder anything of value, set fire to their towns where they lived and all their encampments.  Moses gave the orders to his troops (the sons of Israel) and went on a further campaign. On the return of his troops Moses was enraged with the commanders of the army. He said, “Why have you spared the life of all the women and children? You are to kill all the children and kill all the women who have slept with a man. The lord says spare the lives only of the young girls who have not slept with a man, and take them for yourselves, so that we may multiply into a great nation.”  Yes, friends, this is biblical infinite mercy and compassion for you. I particularly like the way that Moses got upset with them for sparing women and male children, but allowed the young girls to be kept for later raping.

I have had some Christians proclaim that these Midianite girls were not taken for raping but marriage.  How ridiculous! If you continue further in the scripture you will find that marriage to a Midianite was a crime against God.  A man named Zimri broke the law and married a Midianite woman. This angered God so he sent a plague among the Hebrews.


“God’s morality must conform to ours.”  The Old Testament preaches morality, but in practice,  it kills people for belonging to a different tribe, which is SJW in a nutshell (punishing the whole group for the actions of the few).  The New Testament, the ones Christians love to point out due to its relative earthbound civility, states that most of us are burning in hell forever in Matthew, that hell is extremely painful in Matthew and other bible authors, and they somehow claim that humans deserve to burn there for mostly trivial sins.

Round 2
Published:
My opponent declared;

Time for me to prove that the bible says…
As I expected, this introduces us to…

Problem #5; Abuse of the Rules of Biblical Hermeneutics

In order to “prove” that the Bible says “most” people will go to hell “forever” my opponent trots out a handful of verses from Biblical scripture which he feels supports his point. Not surprisingly, this is one of the most common (and most wrong) strategies you will encounter whenever debating someone on the topic of Biblical scripture. Why is this a problem? Because it breaks nearly every possible rule of Biblical Hermeneutics.

To make sure the audience understands, I should inform everyone that hermeneutics is the science of interpretation, especially interpretation of Biblical scripture. Whenever we talk about “what the Bible says” this is the science we need to implement in order to be certain that we have correctly understood what is being communicated by the Bible. Theology students who attend seminary are always required to take at least one graduate-level course in hermeneutics, because this skill is essential to correctly interpreting and understanding Biblical scripture. And unfortunately, my opponent is completely ignoring almost every major principle of hermeneutics to build his argument.

One of the most important rules of hermeneutics is the rule of CONTEXT. Whenever we talk about any Biblical scripture, context is extremely important. Context involves many factors. We need to know the context of the verse itself, the context of the paragraph in which that verse appears, the context of the book (genre of scripture) and the overall context of the Bible itself. This is in addition to considering the author of that particular passage of scripture (who wrote it, where and when), the intended audience of the scripture (what person, what civilization and where they were located) and the language in which the scripture was originally written along with an understanding of what type of English translation is being used (word-for-word or paraphrase).

If you choose to blatantly ignore all of those factors, then it becomes incredibly easy to pull out random passages of scripture that can support almost any argument. This isn’t just true when we talk about the Bible either. You could pull this same stunt with any religion, or any book at all for that matter. Would it be difficult to make the argument that Harry Potter is “stupid” if you used only three sentences from a random Harry Potter novel, but ignored the entire rest of the series? Of course not. You could easily make someone look stupid based on three sentences, but doing so would be terribly ignorant when you see how much other material was ignored to build such an argument. And that is exactly the type of fallacy my opponent is committing by focusing on only a handful of Bible verses which seem to support his argument, while blatantly excluding both the content and context of the other %99.99 of the Bible which he has excluded.

Here is one great example of how he does this;

He says to sell all you have and give to the poor(http://biblicaltheologytoday.com/go-sell-give-poor/)(Matthew 19:21).
My opponent trots out a single passage of scripture and claims that all Christians must sell everything they own in order to receive Jesus’ salvation. Not only is this claim wrong because of his ignorance of the context, but it also happens to be incredibly ironic that he provided a citation which elaborates on the context and refutes the very argument which he is trying to make. Go ahead and check that website for yourself, and see if they really advocate for Christians to give up all worldly possessions.

The story of the rich man’s conversation with Jesus is very well known, but understanding the meaning of the story requires that the context of the story be taken into consideration. Before asking the rich man to sell his possessions, Jesus first challenged the man to obey the commandments. The rich man insisted that he had obeyed the commandments for his entire life. Next, Jesus asked the man to sell his possessions, give all his money to the poor AND follow him as one of his disciples! That last item is a very important part of the context here! Jesus made this man an offer which was extended to very few people. How did the man react? He ignored the offer and went away sad, because his possessions were more important to him than salvation.

That was the real message behind this passage of scripture. When we consider the whole context, we can see that Jesus was challenging this rich man because even though the man was technically compliant with the commandments, his personal shortcoming was that he still had a greater devotion to his wealth than to God. Jesus used this conversation, in a public place no less, as an object demonstration to show that God needs to be the highest priority of life, and the rich man had greater devotion to his wealth than to God. The story is NOT a commandment to all Christians to sell their possessions, as my opponent falsely claims.

The small handful of verses which he cites about hell (and not even all of them were actually about hell) have the exact same shortcoming;
He cherry picked a tiny minority of verses which superficially seem to support his argument, while blatantly ignoring the other 99.99% of both the content and context of the Bible which disproves his argument. Abusing Biblical Scripture in this way is known as Proof Texting, and is widely rejected by theologians.

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Other Rebuttals;

What other views are there? Where in the bible does it state that hell won’t be eternally torturous, or extremely painful?
It almost seems as if my opponent didn’t read my argument. I stated very clearly that two alternative views were Annihilationism and Universal Reconciliation. I provided links to the sources which explain these viewpoints in greater detail and cite specific passages of scripture which support these views. I also cited major Christian denominations, scholars and theologians who support these views. What more could my opponent ask here?

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“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.
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…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.
Again, it appears that my opponent didn’t even read my opening argument, as we already covered this. The belief that people get sent to hell for “trivial sins” is a misconception about how hell and divine justice work. The sources which I provided in my opening arguments already explain this point in great detail and refute the overly simplistic claims by opponent is making.

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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.
This is another fantastic example of how my opponent lacks basic knowledge about Christianity. The Old Testament is as equally important to Christian theology as the New Testament. In fact, it is actually impossible to understand the New Testament without an adequate knowledge of the Old Testament.

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God on the other hand, dos not own us…
You won’t like this answer, but according to Christian theology, God owns everything he has created, including people.

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…he calls me stupid…
Demonstrating ignorance of a topic is not the same thing as calling a person stupid. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge, not an inherent shortcoming in intelligence. You can be ignorant without being stupid. It is also possible to make an ignorant argument without actually being ignorant yourself.

I offer no comment or judgment on my opponent as an individual, but I must condemn his argument as being ignorant due to the fact that it ignores a massive body of evidence that contradicts the claims he is making.

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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.
That is a very… interesting… opinion.

However, again, it has no basis in either Biblical scripture or established Christian theology. The sources which I cited in my opening argument point out that if God created the universe, then he also created morality, and thus cannot be evil according to a definition of morality which he himself created. Assuming that humans have a better understanding of morality is a very bold claim that needs more evidence to support it other than because some guy calling himself "Brutal Truth" said so.

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God is not perfect. He claims to be multiple times in the bible, but this is him making a claim without any evidence.
This shows how my opponent’s argument is extremely contradictory of itself.

His entire argument rests on the claim that the Bible says specific things (namely, that “most” people will go to hell “forever”).

When he finds a passage of scripture that appears to support his views, he is quick to cite that passage as seemingly explicit “proof” of his argument, insisting that such passages are true without providing any outside evidence other than scripture itself.

But when scripture says something that he finds inconvenient or merely unlikeable, he insists that those passages must be false because they lack outside evidence to support them.

Naturally I’m sure the audience can see how this is contradictory. The Bible is my opponent’s sole source of evidence to support his claim, and the Bible is automatically presumed true whenever it seems convenient for his argument. Yet simultaneously, whenever the Bible becomes inconvenient, then those passages must be false without some outside evidence backing them. This is a textbook example of cherry picking.

Forfeited
Round 3
Published:
My opponent hasn’t responded within three days, and being that this is the final round of the debate, I’m left with little else to say other than to summarize the problems that I’ve identified in my opponent’s argument.
.
Problem #1; Oversimplification

My opponent’s argument rests upon what he claims the Bible says. However, a good reminder here for the audience is the words which I previously quoted from Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy;

…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.
My opponent has committed a fallacy of oversimplification because he is attempting to tackle an extremely complex issue of morality, theology and philosophy which has hounded even the most intelligent and educated men on earth for thousands of years, yet my opponent feels it can be resolved with nothing more than a few poorly chosen passages from the Bible. Furthermore, my opponent contradicts himself in doing this, because while holding forth one passage from the Bible as inarguably true, he declares that other passages should be presumed false unless outside evidence can corroborate those claims. This is especially problematic for passages about hell and the afterlife, because no outside evidence or corroboration is ever likely to be forthcoming. What he has done here is a form of cherry picking only the evidence which supports his view while ignoring everything else, as well as committing the theological error of proof texting.

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Problem #2; "...the [B]ible says most people will burn in hell forever."

The entire basis of the claim my opponent has made rests upon his claim that “most” people will “burn in hell forever.” The keywords there are “most” and “forever” because without those qualifiers, this entire argument falls flat.

I have shown that considerable doubt exists in this portion of the argument by demonstrating how legitimately qualified, educated and intelligent theologians have presented two alternate views to this claim;

1. Annihilationism (a form of Conditional Immortality) is the belief that hell and those contained therein will eventually be destroyed. Many variations on this concept exist, based on different beliefs about when and how people contained in hell may be destroyed. However, if any form of this belief is correct, then my opponent’s claim that people are kept in hell “forever” effectively fails.

2. Universal Reconciliation is the belief that all people will eventually be reconciled to God. If this view is correct, then not only would the “forever” element of my opponent’s claim be negated, but even the “most” element would become effectively moot.

If either of these two views proved to be correct, then my opponent’s argument fails. My opponent has rested his entire argument upon a tiny minority of cherry picked proof texts, which makes his argument very weak and questionable from a theological standpoint. Conversely, many of the supporters of Annihilationism, Conditional Immortality and Universal Reconciliation are fully qualified and well-educated theologians who have written entire books advocating for their views. Allow me to remind the audience of a few key quotes from those individuals.

Christian scholar Richard J. Bauckham said,

...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.
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Problem #3; “No one deserves to burn in hell forever.”

This element of the claim is little more than an opinion.

Per the above, I’ve already demonstrated that there is significant reason to doubt the “forever” element of my opponent’s claim. If punishment in hell does not last forever, or if there is still the possibility of reconciliation even for those who are there, then the idea that people don’t deserve to be there has major flaws.

Additionally, even aside from the doubtful nature of the claim itself, the concept that “no one” deserves to be sent to hell is a highly subjective opinion. Many people of extreme evil have existed throughout history, ranging from deranged serial killers to outrageous war criminals. Can my opponent really be confident in saying that none of those people deserve hell? Can he present any quantifiable evidence to support that opinion? I don’t see how.

But most importantly, this is another way in which my opponent has completely misrepresented Christian theology. My opponent claims that people are sent to hell for “trivial sins” like not going to church on Sunday. But as I’ve demonstrated with numerous citations throughout this debate, “trivial sins” aren’t the reason why people end up in hell.

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Problem #4; “God is evil…”

Without the above addressed elements backing it, this statement becomes little more than an opinion. If punishment in hell doesn’t last “forever” then this entire argument is a flop. If at least some people deserve to be in hell, this argument has some shortcomings. With all of the problems I’ve already established above, we could easily dismiss this element of the claim because the other elements fail to properly support this astounding conclusion.

But even this particular statement itself has problems without the rest of the argument being considered. I think one of my sources put it best when they wrote

...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
.

Problem #5; Abuse of the Rules of Biblical Hermeneutics
 
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.
 
However, if you choose to refer to any religion and try to use their scriptures to build an argument, the absolute least I can expect of you is to correctly understand and interpret those scriptures in the way that their original author meant for them to be understood. And to say that “God is evil” because of the incredibly limited amount of information which the Bible provides about hell is simply not within the realm of that intended understanding.

Published:
I apologize about the forfeit.  I ran out of time.  This round, I'm basically saying that since I have a Rough draft for an essay and an AP Chem Test both due tomorrow, I won't be able to have enough time for an argument.  Want to call this debate a tie?
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
Good to know. Thanks for all your feedback!
Instigator
#23
Added:
--> @Raltar
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.
Judge
#22
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
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?
Instigator
#21
Added:
--> @Raltar
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.
Judge
#20
Added:
--> @Raltar
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.
Judge
#19
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
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?
Instigator
#18
Added:
--> @Raltar
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.
Judge
#17
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
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."
Instigator
#16
Added:
--> @Raltar
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
Judge
#15
Added:
--> @Raltar
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.
Judge
#14
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
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?
Instigator
#13
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
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.
Instigator
#12
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
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.
Instigator
#11
Added:
--> @Alec, @Raltar
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.
Judge
#10
Added:
--> @Ramshutu, @Alec
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.
Instigator
#9
Judge
#1
Criterion Con Tie Pro Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
1.) Oversimplification.
Con argues that the claim is an oversimplification - that various scholars have disagreed with what hell means and how it works.
Pro tersely dismisses this, by saying that he will attempt to prove his position. While Con is effectively making an appeal to authority here, and pro rightly states that he will make his argument and it should be viewed on merit, pros generalized dismissal of the point was incomplete. Pro needs to more thoroughly justify his position in light of both these arguments (why can he simply cite the bible, in view of the issues with language and interpretation), and later on cons point 5. Without that, con has laid reasonable ground work for a challenge on the grounds of interpretation.
2.) Not forever
Con offers two examples of interpretations of the bible that do not require eternal torture. This is a valid argument - however what weakens his position is that while he provided examples of groups who disagree with the contention, but no specific reasons why that point of view is valid.
Pro points this out, by questioning where the biblical support for these two positions. This was very terse response, but I think is a valid point.
3.) could you deserve to burn in Hell?
Con raises a very interesting argument - maybe some people may deserve to be tortured forever. It’s a subjective choice.
More specifically - he also argues that it’s not so much being sent to hell, as ending there based on life choices.
Pro responds by effectively calling this a euphemism: “we send ourselves”, really means “god sends us”. By referencing Stalin, pro attempts to bolster this case, by proving a human understandable example. I feel this falls a little short of actually addressing cons point, but not far.
In my view there is insufficient argument on behalf of pro on moralistic grounds, why he believes that such evil people shouldn’t be in Hell forever.
4.) God is not evil.
Cons contention here is that effectively while it may not make sense to us, that just because there is eternal torture, a supreme beings decision to do this in the context of the universe may not be arguable. He lays our reasonable ground work for this. In terms of pros rebuttal is effectively pointing out how this is unfair, and morally hypocritical.
5.) interpretation.
Cons final argument here is that the bible has to be interpreted in a number of contexts, with a number of translatative burdens, and it’s not always easy to draw specific conclusions from a few passages. He gives an example of one of pros points that I find valid, and argues this applies to all. Pro did not respond here, so in my view this has to stand.
6.) Biblical support for Pro.
Pro uses biblical passages to argue and justify his point. Con argues, mostly that this is interpretation (see point 5). I have to go with con on this as his position is largely unrefuted due to forfeits.
Summary: My critique (not part of my overall decision)
My feeling on this debate is that pro had the individually better arguments, but didn’t argue them in enough detail, or land any form of knock out blow required to override two rounds of forfeits and being unable to respond to con. I feel that pro could well have won had he not forfeited - but I there were several parts where he made a terse or minimal reply that I felt he needed to add meat to.
Con did well, but the major flaw in my view is that he discussed a lot of abstract topics, and examples - but didn’t support a specific framework - it would have been better to have raised a particular point of view, describe the moral “Hell framework”, and defended using the bible, and against pros generalized position, that would have been preferable.
What con did argue, he argued fairly well - but simply lacked specific examples he could cite to make it harder for pro.
If I had to make a decision based solely on R1 opening and rebuttal, I think pro edges this out - just - but as an overall debate I can’t overlook all the missed refutations and arguments due to forfeits. So I have to go with con on arguments.
In general, this feels like only half a debate, and didn’t end with a satisfactory conclusion.