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HELL IS A USELESS AND THEREFORE CRUEL DOCTRINE

Hell is a doctrine of hate. Jesus said that unless we believe in him and get his forgiveness we will go to Hell forever at death deprived of mercy for all eternity.

Any doctrine that is not necessary for making us happier and better people is useless. This is true of all religious doctrines for what you need to know is how to accept the trials of life and be happy not that there is a hell or that the Virgin Mary was conceived without sin or that the Holy Spirit is God. We find happiness through our own natural powers. Religious people say that God makes them happy. But when it comes down to it, it was because they let others condition them to like God. They still made themselves happy and it wasn’t God. People can be happy without God which proves the point. They might have some very simple and plain form of spirituality but if you need belief in God as the Church interprets God then you have been conditioned. The people with simple beliefs are the ones doing the most right thing – they keep things simple. Complicating is bad and leads to division and unnecessary disagreement.
 
Doctrines like hell seek to make people so grateful to the Church for warning them about hell and saving them from it that they will do almost anything for the Church. For example, if the parish priest saves your soul doesn’t he deserve all the millions you have if you are a millionaire? The potential for manipulation is stupendous.
 
Christianity has to admit that this doleful doctrine of everlasting punishing for all those who die in serious sin has damaged lots of people. It has put thousands in psychiatric hospitals. It has given many poor souls many a sleepless night. It has made many detest God and follow what boasted about being his religion out of fear and deprived them of any sense or taste of liberty. The Church nods at these facts and she says that worse would happen if people ceased to believe in it. Let us see.

The alleged benefits of subscribing to the doctrine are that it puts one off sinning mortally, makes one take more care to protect others from sinful influence and makes one conscious of how terrible sin is. The doctrine is thanked for making the world a nicer place. The Dark Ages had a worse world and the doctrine was accepted and propagated more deeply and seriously that it is now.

The Church however would agree with us atheists that to invent such a doctrine or to preach it solely with the intention of making people controllable would be abusive and cynical.  Nobody has the right to say it is good to believe that people going to Hell forever is okay as long as it puts sociopaths off their evil.  That is intending to put what you see as an eternal disaster before temporary problems.

The only relation between the doctrine and the benefits is that they happen in spite of it. Why not sin mortally when you are unlikely to die? If God wants nobody to go to Hell let him worry about attractions towards sin. And the doctrine of God itself which implies that all sin is infinitely evil is a sufficient indication of the gravity of sin so who needs threats? A person should do good and obey not to avoid Hell but to please God and because when sin is bad it is only right to avoid it. Fear is useless for it means you would commit the sin if you could so it does not stop you choosing to sin. How could you be altruistic when you would not go to Hell forever in two other people’s place? Yet Hell is supposed to advance altruism which is the true morality according to the spirituality of the Christians. The doctrine is morally useless even according to Christian standards.

When we are told to love God alone the Hell doctrine is not needed for we have to suppress sin for God and not others or ourselves. We are not to think of the suffering sin causes but only of God’s hatred of sin which incidentally cannot hurt him for he is perfectly happy. Besides, God is supposed to be able to change all minds about sinning for he has the power to attract and influence.

Hell cannot scare you into being a better person. It does not. All it does is add fear to the problem. Thus it makes the problem worse and more toxic.

The Church might say that the doctrine is useful for getting a person interested in the Church for selfish reasons so that they can drop these selfish reasons and come to God in faith, hope and charity. It is reckoned that it is better to encourage the kind of selfishness that will lead to holiness than to encourage any other kind when there is no other choice. But true faith and love which please God are supposed to be caused solely by the power and grace of God. It is not true then that following God out of the fear of Hell can lead to real and grace-caused following of God in a selfless fashion. Also, counterfeit spirituality is more dangerous than blatant egotistic materialism which was why Jesus thought it was more fruitful to work on harlots and thieves than on smug religious hypocrites.

The Church ignores the moral and emotional and mental destruction caused by belief in the doctrine - nothing is worth that ignominious ignoring.  Where are the protests when the Church distributes pamphlets and films promoting the doctrine?  The silence is disgraceful.

The only protection from eternal punishment the person who wants to embark on a life of mortal sin and have a deathbed repentance needs is knowing how to make an act of perfect contrition. Something like, “My God, I repent of my sins and will not sin again simply because you hate them and for no other reason”. This prayer remits sins even without priestly absolution. It is easy as any Catholic who as tried it will know for it is an act of will not of feeling. It is as a headline in Life In Christ by the Jesuit, Fergal Mc Grath, puts it, “PERFECT CONTRITION NOT DIFFICULT” (page 89). If one gets past the first word and immediately dies one will still go to Heaven for one tried to repent. God understands that the incompletion couldn’t be helped and that you meant to repent of your sin. It is the thought that counts.

Repentance can be genuine even if you start reversing it an a few minutes. The resolve never to sin again can be meant and be broken later. The person who is scared of dying in their sleep need have no fear about ending a day of sinning with an act of contrition and walking the same road of rottenness the next day and the day after that.

Catholics believe that if they cast certain spells like going to Mass and taking communion for Nine First Fridays in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus he will save them on their deathbeds.

If you are a Protestant you will believe that once you repent and trust in Jesus to pardon you, you will reach Heaven no matter what kind of sin you die in. The saved behave in a worthy manner but they still sin.

Hell makes sin worse. For example, if you commit the mortal sin of adultery and you believe that Hell exists you commit the infinitely worse and more cruel sin of being ready and making somebody else ready to go to Hell forever.

We conclude that the doctrine of Hell has no deterrent effect on sinners and is not meant to have any. When such a doctrine does harm and is just excess baggage we see how malicious it truly is.