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Hell

September 21, 2010

Why Are Religious Claims a Target for the Extraordinary Claims Campaign?
Some comments on Supernatural Claims, Evidence, and the Burden of Proof

The Claims:

Hell is a place of suffering and torment in the afterlife.  Behaviour in the living world will determine the soul’s treatment after death. Those who live according to the rules of their religion will be rewarded with a version of Heaven, while those who disobey the commands of the deity (or deities) will be consigned to Hell.

The Evidence:

Though not all religions espouse a specific notion of Hell, those that do differ greatly in their descriptions.  The Christian notion of Hell was preceded by similar notions in Mesopotamian, Greek, Asian, and African religions. We have no direct description of Hell from someone who has visited it and returned. Rather, our notion of Hell relies exclusively on the imagination of artists (such as Dante in his Divine Comedy) and small excerpts in sacred texts.

On a purely philosophical level, the idea of Hell presents several difficulties:

  • In some faiths, how a soul can suffer the pain of fire or torture without a body;
  • How eternal punishment for mortal, finite transgressions can be justified;
  • How eternal torment is compatible with a compassionate, merciful deity;
  • Since more than one religion casts all unbelievers to its version of Hell, if all religions are accurate, everyone goes to Hell. One can logically claim no religions are true, but there exists no objective means to select one religious belief over another.

Conclusion:

Given there exists no evidence for the continuation of one’s consciousness beyond death, there is no rational method to determine whether any religion’s description of Hell is accurate. The most reasonable conclusion is that Hell is a human invention.

Links:

Wikipedia Page on the Problem of Hell

The Divine Comedy

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Vin permalink
    January 23, 2011 8:22 AM

    The Bible, in any form is far from historical evidence of Jesus Christ. Let alone evidence that someone returned from hell.

  2. goober permalink
    December 22, 2010 3:14 AM

    life is hell

  3. archie pool permalink
    December 7, 2010 2:59 PM

    Hhell has many different meaning as it is printed in the bible,the gave is trnslated as hell ,the garbage pit outside jerusalum is trnslated hell .It also says don’t fear he who can destroy this mortal body , but he can destroy your soul. So hell as some people believe is not being in a place suffering . your whole being is destroyed. look it up satan has been sentanced to be destroyed with fire from within. The Christians religions God is a consumming fire. like Jesus said many times have you not read

  4. Brian Ritter permalink
    December 4, 2010 3:19 PM

    “There is historical evidence of someone dieing, visiting hell, and returning: Jesus Christ.”
    Someone went with them and took pictures?
    How could there EVER be historical evidence of an event like that?
    That’s like claiming historical evidence of me speaking to god. I could tell you it happened, you could write it down, but it still don’t make it true or in anyway qualify as historical evidence.

    It’s like proving Harry Potter according to Ron and Hermione as eyewitnesses.
    Harry, Ron and Hermione are all well documented in books and it’s thoroughly explained how they use magic.

  5. RedStar permalink
    December 4, 2010 2:35 AM

    I like Yochi’s final paragraph:
    In a basic, Christian, sense. Hell could be explained like this: If you don’t want to hang out with God, He’s cool with that. He would rather that you did want to be with him, but He isn’t going to force you. Eternity, without God, is Hell.
    😀

  6. Yochi permalink
    December 3, 2010 7:47 AM

    Some errors in your logic:

    1) If hell is real, then of course the Christian “notion” of hell would be proceeded by other, earlier, notions form other religions. This would be more on the side of proof than of refutation. Since the population of the earth was dispersed following the building of the tower of Babel, and the languages confounded, the descriptions of hell have diverged from the original. (Now I’ll have to post on the global flood page.)

    2) There is historical evidence of someone dieing, visiting hell, and returning: Jesus Christ. (Now I’ll have to post on that page as well.)

    In a basic, Christian, sense. Hell could be explained like this: If you don’t want to hang out with God, He’s cool with that. He would rather that you did want to be with him, but He isn’t going to force you. Eternity, without God, is Hell.

  7. RedStarRipsaw permalink
    November 19, 2010 4:36 PM

    I guess you’ll find out if you go there

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