The Good Book?: The Problem of Hell

The biblical doctrine of Hell simply cannot be intelligently reconciled with the notion of  a loving, merciful, all-knowing, and all-powerful Creator.  The idea that a loving and merciful God would have knowingly created intelligent sentient beings whose destiny was to be eternally tortured is simply inconceivable.

Perhaps there is a loving and merciful God.  Perhaps there is an eternal torture chamber called Hell.  Or perhaps there is neither.  Regardless, there simply cannot be a loving and merciful God AND an eternal torture chamber called Hell.  It is one; the other; or neither.  It simply cannot be both.

Such we shall consider in my ongoing writings regarding the question of whether the Bible is in fact “The Good Book”:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

So begins the Bible.  So sets in motion every chain of events recorded in the Scriptures.  In fact, so sets in motion every chain of events that has ever occurred.  At least according to the Bible.

It has been my observation that allowing for the validity of the Bible is an effective manner of exposing its teaching to critical thinking and careful analysis.  And so, for the moment we shall assume the validity of the biblical claim that “God created the heavens and the earth”; and we shall assume other pertinent biblical assertions.   However; we shall reserve the right to critique and analyze the implications arising from those alleged facts.  And so we proceed.

Assumed facts:

1.  God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1; Psalms 33:6)

2.  God created everything “good” (Genesis 1:31)

3.  Everyone sins, and falls short of God’s good graces (Romans 3:23)

4.  There is an afterlife for humanity (John 5:28-29)

5. There are people who will suffer an eternity of endless torment in Hell (Matthew 5:41; Revelation 20:11-15)

Assessment:

Assuming these facts to be true, then something went terribly wrong with God’s creation.  In the light of the atrocious human suffering so described, then an impartial investigation is warranted.   There is no justifiable reason for any sentient being to suffer without relief.  (If this point seems debatable to the reader, then insert the actual image of any sentient being whatsoever into the setting so described. Then ask yourself if the image of even a single  sentient being suffering endless torture and torment with no relief from the anguish is or is not an atrocity for which there is no reasonable justification).

As to the questions to be answered:

1. What is the cause for the endless human suffering in Hell?

2.  Who is responsible for the cause which lead to this atrocity?

3.  What did the responsible party know?  And when did he know it?

4. What measures could have been taken by the responsible party to prevent this atrocity?

5.  Perhaps most importantly of all: Why were such measures not taken by the responsible party to prevent the endless human suffering in Hell?

As to #1:   What is the cause for the endless suffering in Hell?:

Per biblical teachings, people go to Hell due to sin.  The Bible in fact teaches that everyone sins, and therefore falls short of God’s good graces (Romans 3:23).  If in fact everyone sins, then such indicates that we humans are equipped with an overwhelming inclination to sin.  Thus, assuming we are created beings, then biblical teaching indicates that we are designed to sin intermittently.

Hence, the reason people suffer endless torment in Hell is due to a creative design which allows all humanity to sin intermittently.  That being the case, then there subsequently arises the question as to responsibility and liabilities.

As to #2:   Who is responsible for the endless suffering in Hell?:

Anytime a product malfunctions so as to result in massive suffering, then there is most oftentimes the question of responsibility and liabilities.  Invariably, the manufacturer/owner must account for the malfunction, and in many cases has to accept applicable liabilities for any pain inflicted or damages incurred .  In the case of the atrocity of eternal Hellfire, damnation, and unending torture for the lost; clearly God himself is the responsible party.

Per biblical teachings,God is all too proud to take the credit for the existence of everything.  In fact, he boldly claims to have created heaven and earth (Gen 1:1; Psalms 33:6).  Thus, God is the manufacturer of all that exists.  God furthermore boldly claims all which exists as his own personal possession (Psalms 24:1).  Therefore, per the teachings of the Bible, God is both the manufacturer and owner of everything which exists.  Thus, per the terms of the commonly understood principle of the responsibility and liabilities of a manufacturer/owner, then God must be willing to accept responsibility when the products of his creation malfunction.

Per biblical teachings, the malfunction of the products of the Creator is the pertinent topic to the subject at hand. God claims to have made everything good (Gen 1:31).  Then later, as the biblical account goes, humanity sinned; thus falling from God’s good graces. (Romans 3:23)  The fact that humanity was made “good”, then later sinned is irrelevant.

As previously considered, the weakness of humanity to “sin” is universal (Romans 3:10, 23);  and thus we are designed with an overwhelming capacity to do so.  Hence, since our capacity to sin is a condition of our humanity, and our humanity a condition created by God, then God is ultimately responsible for the sins of humanity.

“Sin” then being that which ignites hellfire; the problem itself is built into the condition of our humanity.  God himself being the creator of humanity, the flaws within such are his responsibility.  Therefore, if the biblical teachings be true, then God Himself is responsible for the endless suffering and eternal human torment in hell.

And so to recap:

The Atrocity:  Endless human suffering and torment in Hell.

The Deficient Product:  Humanity

The Cause:  The design of humanity which allowed for an overwhelming capacity to sin.

The Owner/Manufacturer:  God

The Responsible/Liable Party:  God

Having established that God himself is the party who is responsible for the endless suffering and eternal torment of people in Hell, we now proceed to the question of what God knew as to the capacity of humanity to sin, and exactly when he knew such information.

As to #3: What did the responsible party know?  And when did he know it?:

Can God be justified based upon ignorance as to what would happen when he created humanity?  Inconceivable!!!:

Per biblical teaching:

God knows everything (1 John 3:20).

His understanding is beyond measure (Psalms 147:5)

His understanding is unsearchable (Isaiah 40:28)

God knows our words before we speak (Psalms 139:4)

God fills heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24)

No creature is hidden from his sight (Hebrews 4:13)

The Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought (1 Chronicles 28:9)

God is perfect in knowledge (Job 37:16)

Frankly, the Bible teaches that God knows everything.  Thus, ignorance cannot be utilized to justify the fact that God created beings who were designed to intermittently sin.  If biblical teachings are true, then:

-God knew all too well that humanity was designed with that overwhelming inclination.

-God knew all too well who would reject him and therefore be sent to an eternally suffer in Hell.

-God knew their names, knew their faces, and God knew their plight.

-God knew the people who would spend an eternity suffering endless torment.

Nonetheless; per biblical teachings, God opted to create the world in spite of the intense and eternal suffering which would ensue from that decision.

Perhaps God did not know that people would go to Hell until it was too late to change the fact.  Inconceivable!!!:

Firstly, per biblical teachings God can do anything (Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37).  Thus, it was never too late to undo the damage of creating flawed products.  Thus, at any point in the process, even including right up to this very moment, God could undo everything; thereby relieving anyone of suffering eternal torment.

Secondly, per biblical teachings God is an eternal being (Deuteronomy 33:27; 1 Timothy 1:17)

Since God is both all-knowing (see above) and eternal, then God has always known everything. Therefore, God knew before he created the world  and all living beings therein that there would be people who would spend an eternity suffering endless torment.  Nonetheless; per biblical teachings, God opted to create the world in spite of the intense and eternal suffering which would ensue from that decision.

As to #4:  What measures could have been taken by the responsible party to prevent this atrocity?:

Clearly, there is one particular measure God could have taken in order to prevent the disaster known as eternal suffering in Hell.  He could have simply not created the world and all things therein!!  If we of humanity are so bad that it grieves him when we sin (Genesis 6:5-6); and if the consequences of our sin is to be tortured for all eternity (Revelation 20:11-15); then all God would have had to have done to prevent this disaster was to not have made us in the first place. Never to have existed would have been no issue for any of us, for we would have not have known any better.  Frankly, no one asked God to make us in the first place!!

Or,as previously mentioned, another measure that God could have employed would have been to simply undo it all!  If God is so all-powerful that he “spoke” us into existence, then by the same logic, could he not merely have “spoken” us out of existence?  Furthermore, could he have not done so without inflicting any pain and suffering? Per biblical teachings; “with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26); Luke 1:37).  That being the case, then at any point in history, right up to this very moment, God could just speak us out of existence; no pain, no suffering, no problem.  He could; but he doesn’t!  That is; if biblical teachings are true, then he could.

Per biblical teachings, this entire Universe exists because of the willful decision of one being and one being alone:  Jehovah God himself.  Thus, God and God alone is responsible for creating a scenario which would inevitably lead to intense human suffering; if indeed biblical teachings are true.

As to #5:  Why were measures not taken to prevent the endless human suffering in Hell?:

Why then did God make the world, since indeed the decision to do so lead to intense human suffering?

If God created the world to demonstrate his mercy and loving kindness; then in the light of the inhumane suffering of the many in an eternal Hell, he failed miserably in that regard.  Choosing not to have created the world in order to prevent human suffering would have demonstrated a sincere mercy and kindness towards those who never would have had to suffer.  As it is taught though, God chose to proceed with his plan in spite of the inevitable human suffering which would result from his decision.

If God created the world in order to give humanity a choice to love and serve him so as to live with him throughout eternity, then why did he not give humanity a choice as to whether to exist in the first place?  Was it so important to God to have faithful followers that he  was willing to allow the endless suffering and torment of those who chose not to follow him, in order to have the faithful following that he apparently so badly coveted?

If God created the world for his own glory, then in light of the endless human suffering and eternal torment which ensued from that decision, such would indicate a God too consumed with his own glory to consider the suffering of the many who sought not his glory.  Indeed, as indicated by the following passage, biblical teaching is that God created his faithful followers for his own glory:

“Everyone who is called by My name,

Whom I have created for My glory;

I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” (Isaiah 43:7)

If God created those who would be his faithful followers for his own glory, then why did he create those would choose not to follow him?

Why indeed would a God who is allegedly good, supposedly loving, reputably all-knowing and all capable; create intelligent sentient beings who he knew all too well would suffer excruciating and endless pain and torment as a result of his decision to do so?

Conclusion:

When biblical teachings are analyzed critically and rationally, the notion that the Bible is “The Good Book” is found lacking in substance.  For some 2,000 years now, a major portion of humanity has sold itself on a bill of goods which simply cannot be reconciled by reason.  The very idea that a loving, merciful God would have been party to a scenario that resulted in even one single person suffering endless torment is an insult to the very concept of “goodness”.

As I stated in my introductory remarks, it simply cannot be the case that there is a loving, merciful God AND an eternal torture chamber called Hell.  Perhaps there is the former.  Perhaps there is the latter. Perhaps there is neither.  But there simply cannot be both.

Frankly, how I ever could have regarded the Bible as being “The Good Book” in the light of its justification of endless human suffering and torment is beyond me. It is to my shame that I acknowledge such.  As to the Bible itself; I regard its fictitious nature as its foremost quality.  What a relief that it is not true.

Thank you for reading my ongoing thoughts regarding the general debate of whether the Bible really is “The Good Book”.

More next time….

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