[Milton-L] Re: where's the comfort? and other matters

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Mon Feb 22 12:49:52 EST 2010

Thanks for your response, Jeffery.  And especially for the Hell as Bulletin
Board post earlier.

I could address your point directly, but I think the discussion would just
get more tangled, and I don't think untangling it would lead us to any
position different from the position that we are in now: we have to decide
what we think of hell with only very limited support from our rational
capacity, because we may not have all the necessary information, and cannot
know if we do or do not.

To judge the actions of an omniscient being we would need to share the
knowledge base that the omniscient being has; i.e., be omniscient ourselves,
or in other words, God.  To judge God we would need to be God.

But I would like to add one more thought to the discussion.  When we
consider the worst possible legal punishment offered in several Western
countries -- the death penalty -- we confront a great debate.  This is the
worst possible punishment that we can offer and is irrevocable.  While all
punishments are irrevocable -- you can't return to a person the time he or
she lost in jail -- the death penalty is especially so, as there is no
restitution or remediation possible at all.

Add to this fact the fact that our court systems are less than perfect --
that all judges and juries are always working with incomplete knowledge,
especially about motive and circumstance, that people with more money tend
to see a different species of justice than those with less, that biases come
into play -- and people are understandably very nervous about the death
penalty and some think it should never be an available option.

Now I think many of us are reasoning this way about God.  But the Christian
God is conceived of as the sum of all virtues, power, and knowledge.  There
is no question about acts, motives, or circumstances, so judgment is always
perfect.  If there is a hell, and people are sent there by this God, these
people deserve it.

So, in these circumstances, would it matter that we think otherwise?  If
this God exists, isn't our judgment irrelevant, except as it reveals our own

That is one of the reasons why I think the existence issue has to be
resolved prior to our thinking about Hell.

If (the Christian) God does not exist, Hell is just the projection of human
anger toward injustice onto the cosmos.  And, in that case, it is an
overstatement of this anger.  All sins are temporal and end with the
sinner's physical existence, if sin even can be said to exist.

If God does exist, sins are not temporal, do not end with the sinner's
physical existence, and the existence of Hell may be a necessity as well as
a moral good.

Jim R

On Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 3:31 AM, Horace Jeffery Hodges <
jefferyhodges at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Jim, I suppose that one could wonder why -- given our epistemic
> circumstances -- someone might prefer hellfire as metaphor to hellfire as
> literal fire. Both are logically equally justificable since God could have a
> 'good' reason for allowing either one . . . presumably. I suppose that an
> individual might find metaphor more plausible here than literal readings.
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