Eternal Punishment and Time.

I presented the argument that if a child commits some infraction and the parent beats him for twenty years the parent is immoral as is the god who allows eternal punishment. The contention is that punishment must fit the crime; and that nothing a human can do in this flyspeck of existence can merit an eternity of heaven or hell–hence Grace as the mitigating factor. I was told that the time argument cannot be true because a shooter can destroy a kindergarten full of kids in a few seconds and that the punishment could not consists of just a few seconds.
What is neglected in that argument is the reasonable idea that a person who commits such an atrocity should pay a reasonable debt to society, But does the time of mortality merit an eternity of human punishment for those who fail to have certain beliefs? Even with the kindergarten example an eternity of torture for the perpetrator seems excessive,
Can you help me clear up my mind concerning temporal crimes and eternity? My thought is that if one person is allowed to spend eternity in a hell of torture, God, who is expected to save all, is a loser.

In the minds of religious folk, God is responsible for all that is good, and it’s Satan that’s responsible for all that is bad.


A wild fire destroys an entire community, burning all the homes to the ground, killing several people. MIRACULOUSLY a dog survives the fire.

Thank God that the dog survived.
It was Satan that caused the fire!

God is never responsible for the bad things that happen, he is only responsible for the good things.

God isn’t responsible for the burnt homes or dead people, he is responsible for saving the dog’s life.

See how that works?

Watch the news and listen to people describe situations. It’s always, the doctors and nurses worked day and night to save a life. What do the family members say? Thank God! Thank You Jesus! LOL

For once I agree with Motor Daddy! :smiley:

You are thinking of it in terms of morality and punishment. That is not what Catholic thought on Heaven and Hell is about. God is not the police. It is about sanctity. Heaven is a holy place, and it will not admit of unholiness. It’s not a reward, so much as the place where God is. The catholic idea is that if you are not holy, you would be cramping the style. That is why the conventional idea is that very few people actually are holy enough to go straight to heaven. Most that eventually get there have to go to purgatory for a long time, to purge any unholiness.

In this question you are attempting to judge God and asking why He doesn’t fit your ideas of what ought to be. If god is a being whose greatness goes beyond your understanding, clearly he will not answer to you or any conceptions you may have. The Catholic religion doesn’t strive for morality, that is a common modern misconception. It strives for sanctity, closeness to God.

You’re making progress. :slight_smile:

By the way, modern Catholic doctrine defines hell as simply being apart from God, for eternity. Which would be your choice, not His.

The problem is that ifyou imagine eternal punishment however you do that, you can forget about it but it’s not possible to unthink it. Therefore people of a skeptical frame of mind like to point out that there’s no evidence for it. After all the only way to measure eternity would be to measure it from the standpoint of a greater in eternity from which it could be viewed. But generally skeptics atheists and agnostics look to science to debunk eternal punishment. In place of it they offer but endless oblivion which is preferable but ponderous in itself.

Another approach is to look at the passages of the Bible that are the textual basis for believing in eternal punishment in the first place. Christian universalists come up with a very different interpretation which is at least somewhat supportable. We could investigate that route if you think that would be helpful.

You didn’t address the point. The point is, why would any crime deserve eternal punishment? According to FreeSpirit, you can live a morally upstanding life, but if you fail to believe that God exists, you are condemned to eternal torment. Do you agree?

Lucifer, in Catholic reckoning, is the lord of Hell simply because he chose to be away from God. So, if you turn away from God, the most powerful being there that you will find, the lord of that place, will be Lucifer.

And why should anyone believe that this is literally true, rather than mythology or allegory? Do you believe the Genesis story is literally true, or rather allegorical mythology?

So you get one chance to decide if you believe or not. Once you choose it’s final.

If later, while in Hell, you realize you made a mistake, and you choose to believe in God while in Hell, will God save you and bring you to Heaven with him?

If everyone in Hell at some point chooses to believe in God, would Hell be full of God loving souls? Would God save them? Why is God so Hell bent on you only getting one chance to make the choice?

And, of course, as I argued in the Pascal’s Wager thread, there is no reason to believe that we are able to choose what we believe. Even Pascal recognized this problem, and urged that we brainwash ourselves into believing. Does God really prefer people who are brainwashed?

No comment. :wink:

Surprisingly Paul in the first chapter of Romans, a book frequently used to argue that only Christ can save, proposes that the gentiles had the ability to live moral lives.

"When gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when according to my gospel God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. "

All punisment is self induced. The punisher is man himself originating from an existential, primordial guilt that has gone consciously underground. God’s exist ance goes the same route, the Old Testament is a paternal instruction book written for the elucidation of the son.

The son, reacting to the anger implicit in the lunisment, got as angry, but developed a madness from his punisher that he was not able to extricate from himself.

He got so mad, that he regressed into the phantasy world of little helpless children, for whom he felt an incredibly limitless empathy.

What the psychiatrists Don t have to weigh in on, is the most elementary scholastic problem of the nature and power of such pent up energy, whether it is literally a nothingness, compared to the somethingnes s of veritable animal and human sacrifice of atonement.

That such incredible energy can morph out of mere animal existence is astounding, they can’t understand it, so they stay as sacrificial tokens to be ingested as food.

Except cows in India.

The truth be told, the mystery of the ‘transsubstanciation’ consists in the medieval practice of …and that is completely a figure of speech. The miracle, that miracle has elevated believers into the state of grace they yearned for, and it was done by the simple life of Man for his helpless infant Son.

That this Son, was able through his life go back in time and change his Father through the new covenant, developed man to the realm of Being that would have been impossible before that event.If is really as if the Son went back in time and reunited with His Father and merged with His consciousness to compel Him to Sacrafice His Own Self, after They became One.

That reintegration through transsubstantiation redeemed god’s heretofore primal fallacious existential ambiguity, for the enigma literally became substantial.

God did that at that time, because before the second covenant, people could not understand parables, that made more demand on the unexplained miracles on any higher grounded , miracolous level.

Man became self conscious primarily, due to the expulsion in physical terms, but after Christ, such indescence added the weight of the evolved spiritual dimension, that grew out of the Father’s new understanding of The Son.

The Holy Spirit thereafter became a viable tool, to communicate and share that was unspeakable between them beforehand.

(Michelangelo painting of the touching hands of The Father and The Son on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel)

The language of live was transposed from a physical to a spiritual form.

Plato the analyst was really an unspoken prophet of love, and his propethic language induced by a simple man Socrates, who was condemned because of ruining young men for showing this possible new way of love.

Christian fundamentalists, the majority of Christians in the USA, do not believe in purgatory. This thread was written from that perspective, since I was raised in fundamentalism and spent a good deal of my life fighting its beliefs.
Its beliefs are black and white: The majority of humans on the globe are bound for hell. Hell is the lake of fire. Temporal justice defines atemporal existence. There is a real God and a real Devil at odds in a Miltonic sense. Disbelief is sin not preference. We are born in a sinful state.
In my heartfelt belief, which was hard fought for, God, who created all and is all will reclaim all souls. Universal salvation is Biblical.
Other than in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the word Hell is a translation of Hades, Sheol, Tantalus, Gehenna, etc. etc. --a one size fits all label. Again–does the punishment fit the crime?

See Matthew Fox’s “Original Blessing” in which he rebuts Augustine’s notion of original sin.


Catholicism is literal in its beliefs too. And it’s worth considering that all Christian religions, including all US denominations, spring from Catholicism.

Anyway, it looks like this is a statement of rebellion rather than an actual question.

Religion is like climate: you can find a lot of people that say they want to talk about them for the sake of search of knowledge, but you will find few that will mean it.

On a lighter note:


I was a fundamentalist for a short time, I accepted the teaching and followed the logic although I was already straying to Catholicism and the Mystics, and so it didn’t take long for questions to arise, and my style of teaching worried some of the people, because I felt we had to find what moved people, and not just what appeased their concerns about sin. But a close look at history, in particular the history of the church, as well as the various confessions of church fathers, revealed to me how human they were and how much they were children of their times. There is a lot to learn there, but their “holiness” seemed to be the point of doubt, unless we brought the bar a lot lower.

The more I got to know people and their situations, particularly after entering nursing, I couldn’t help but recognise the compassion that people needed. Considering the historical situation of simple peasantry throughout the ages, I couldn’t help but think that many statements that cursed dissention and disbelief were about power. The general situation of poor people is confusion, and it is down to each individual to find some orientation. The church was instrumental in conjuring up “evil”, because it couldn’t see its own hypocrisy, and people reacted by ridiculing the ceremonies in Latin, believing that the insincere bishop was using spells to invoke spirits. As long as humility wasn’t a position that the church assumes, and as long as its clergy thought they were something better, an opposition was natural.

The reformation didn’t change anything. The constant separation of protestant denominations, the stories that show how superstitious the church made people, the accusing, the torturing and the killing (especially of women) makes me shudder to think of. I’ve known young women from pious families who were so disturbed in their development, that they never married and always avoided other young people’s activities, for fear of sin. It was made particularly clear by a British satirist who wrote comical books satirising the more pious groups. On his visit to Germany, I was in the audience and heard him say that churches must be wary of power-play and psychological cruelty, but it wasn’t translated that way. I spoke to him afterwards at his book signing table and he wasn’t surprised.

I believe that we come out of God and we will all return to God with our experiences, and it will be the bottom line that tells our story: “25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Of course, the Gospel parable condemns those who did not do these things, but this is where the bar is set. It is about basic compassion with people in need, something we wouldn’t normally even consider a “good deed”. The parable is also an allegory: an expression of truths or generalizations about human existence by means of symbolic fictional figures and their actions. Turning parables into condemnations in law isn’t in keeping with the call to compassion. A parable like this is a call to reason, a wake-up call, and its lesson is straightforward. How can you condemn others if you can’t manage simple acts of compassion?