ReligionSkepticism

Speaking of Hitler…

Here’s a bit of fun for your daylight savings eve (or for no reason if you live someplace that just leaves the clock alone).  [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nxfc-pLUvQE&feature=related] 
Funny stuff, that.  
Thinking about Hitler and Jesus (in a serious way) actually started me on my path to nonbelief.  I started to think about evil and forgiveness, and the supposed eternal goodness of god.  If god was eternally good and eternally forgiving, then he should most definitely be more good and forgiving than I, a puny and flawed human.  I wondered, could I damn anyone, even Hitler, to an eternity of suffering?  No, I don’t think so.  Sure, I’d probably sentence him to the experience of every bit of the suffering he caused, and I might even double it, but that would top out at a few billion years or so.  
I can’t imagine anything a human is capable of that I believe could cause them to deserve eternal damnation.  We are a mere blip on a blip in space and time.  On the “god” scale, that’s pretty much nothing.  If I couldn’t damn Hitler eternally, then how could a truly loving god damn anyone eternally?  So I stopped believing in hell.  And that was the beginning of a long walk out of the darkness. 

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16 Comments

  1. Exactly. What kind of being could look at another creature in torment and not want to stop it? And if you can know and see that torment without intervening, indeed if you are the cause, what does that say about what kind of creature YOU are?

  2. Writerdd said

    "I don’t understand how anyone could enjoy heaven knowing that so many other humans were being eternally tortured."

    A lot of uber-religious people seem to get off on the suffering of others (cough cough Mother Theresa cough Jerry Falwell cough Sylvia Brown cough). Yet these same people claim to love and respect their fellow man. Such bullshit.

  3. YES. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

    (Warning: This post is produced under the influence of a rather spectacular Irish Cream-based martini from a bored bartender at Bentley's Grill, and is, as a result, entirely unfiltered by my usual Baptist defenses.)

    Yes. This is exactly why I resigned quite suddenly in the spring of 2005 from a very active, very visible position at my church — I played the piano and planned the song sets every week for our church band, and then I made the grievous error of discovering that I cared very deeply about people who didn't believe anything CLOSE to the Christian babble I was so used to. They were not "saved". They were, according to my accustomed doctrine, going straight to hell, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars.

    And do you know what? That was it for me. Not the end, maybe, but the beginning of the end. One of these poor doomed bastards, at least, I loved. And I could no longer handle the concept of planning worship services every week to honor and praise a god who knowingly, deliberately doomed this beloved friend to eternal torment.

    Maybe it's true. Maybe it's ALL true. Maybe those twisted, scary "Left Behind" books are prophetic down to every jot and tittle.

    And maybe it's all bullshit.

    (Can I say bullshit here? I guess I'll find out in the morning.)

    Regardless, I realized that if it is true, then that's not a god I want to spend my time and energy praising. I don't WANT to bow down to somebody who can do that to perfectly good human beings. And if it's not true, then I'll save my energy. I'd rather spend my time and resources being a good friend, listening to people who need to talk, donating to people who need some help, and making people laugh when they're having a bad day. Maybe THIS is true religion.

    /rant

  4. Historically, the Universalist side of what has since become the Unitarian Universalist Association had denied the existence of hell or eternal damnation. (However, the denomination currently has no official or required doctrine.)

    This is an idea within Christianity that existed since the lifetime of Jesus, and it one that Origen of Alexandria had strongly endorsed.

    It is currently considered a heresy by most within the Christian orthodoxy.

    The joke amongst Unitarian Universalists (about the difference between Unitarians and Universalists and their shared theological opponent Calvinism) goes likes this:

    Universalists believe that God is too good to damn people.

    Unitarians believe that people are too good to be damned.

    Calvinists believe that people are no damn good.

    I've always been critical of the idea of being good or accepting a doctrine in order to avoid damnation. When fear of punishment is the reason for being good it lacks any ethical depth.

    The true religion Bee is speaking of sounds like a good one to me.

  5. I just recently discovered this blog and I find it very entertaining and I will certainly share with friends. I would much rather laugh at human nature than spend my time condemning others to hell :) What I find interesting is that a person could imagine that a spokesperson is required for an omnipotent being.

    I look forward to reading older posts.

    I am lol.

  6. Nitpicking said:

    "Medieval Christian doctrine was in fact that part of the fun of Heaven was enjoying the screams of agony from Hell."

    That's what I was wondering…is Heaven just a large white room with a big screen TV tuned into a livecam feed from the River Styx where the Heavenites sit all day and watch the infidels get their comeuppance?

  7. To follow up on what waltdakind said, there are numerous interpretations of "hell" within the Christian faith (just like every other subject). For example, C.S. Lewis proposed that Hell is simply eternal separation from God's love, and was a condition actively chosen by the individual. No fire, no brimstone, no pitchforks. By his reasoning, most of those on this blog would, in fact, go to Hell, but would not really notice anything different from their current existence.

    Note that I am not endorsing this view, just paraphrasing it as best I can. I am more of a Universalist, believing that any God worthy of the name, would be able to come up with a sufficiently compelling argument to convince ANYONE to make the choice to accept His love. Thus even Hitler would eventually be redeemable. That idea fits better with my conceptual model for God.

  8. Lewis's view of hell is pretty much the only one I can stomach that works with the rest of Christian doctrine. Even still, I agree with your last paragraph wholeheartedly.

    What irritates me the most about the standard Christian perspective is that God is presented as loving, merciful, patient, etc. — in short, the sort of God who would make it abundantly clear to EVERYBODY that he exists, that he loves them, and all of that. But if you look even for a minute at the actual Christian doctrine, it presents a different God altogether, and that's not the God they sing about on Sunday mornings.

    It's the inconsistency that gets to me.

  9. It's not just Hitler that gets to burn in hell of course. My favourite peaceful leader for social reform, Gandhi, also gets to toast. There's no grading system or idea of reform in hell. No minimum security, no home at weekends hell and no maximum security solitary confinement hell. Just hot pokers and gibbering demons.

    It is a bit unrealistic when you think about it.

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