How do we know that God is love? Not by observation of nature, any more than by philosophical reasoning; "nature red in tooth and claw" does not manifest love. Not by science. No experiment has ever verified divine love, or measured or weighed it or even observed it. Not by conscience, for conscience is "hard as nails." Conscience tells us what is right and wrong and tells us we are absolutely obliged to do right and not wrong, but it does not tell us we are forgiven. The King's laws imprinted on the walls of our conscience do not excuse, but accuse, the lawbreakers. Only the King himself forgives. Not by history either. History does not move by universal love but by universal selfishness. In fact, history began to move only after universal love was dethroned in Eden. Before the Fall, what happened? Adam and Eve loved each other and God. Hardly headlines. To us fallen creatures, evil and its conflict with good is necessary for anything dramatic and interesting. There is one and only one reason anyone ever came to the idea that God is love, mercy and forgiveness-and only one good proof that this idea is true. That reason is the character of God revealed in the Bible, culminating in Jesus Christ. The exact same authority which is our only authority for believing God is love also assures us that there is a hell. Either we accept both on the same ground or reject both on the same ground, for they stand on the same ground.

Defining the Doctrine of Hell

Before deciding whether the doctrine of hell is guilty of being a monstrous myth, or is innocent and true, we need to know just what it is, what it means. Divine revelation gives us much less information about hell than about heaven. This is what we should reasonably expect, for at least two reasons.

First, hell is essentially the absence of heaven, "the outer darkness." Darkness is defined only negatively, as the absence of light. Light is not the absence of darkness. Evil is the privation of good, good is not the privation of evil. If you believe good and evil are each relative to the other, then you cannot believe in the God of the Bible, for this God is perfectly good and independent of all evil.

Second, we were designed for heaven, not for hell. The travel agent tells you more about the beach resort you are supposed to go to than about the swamp by the side of the highway that you are not supposed to fall into.

COMMENT: These teachings call the person who goes to Hell a failure.  It is linked to Christian love so if it is an evil judgemental concept then Christian love is itself evil.  Notice too how only Jesus is evidence for God's love. This is an attack on other religions. They just invent the idea of a loving deity.  But it has no foundation.  I hate sin as if it were a person so if it were a person I'd hate her or him.  That is the reality.  To say sin creates Hell and the pain there is just an excuse for hating intensely.  Christianity is immoral for love sinner and hate sin is a lie.  Jesus described the terror of Hell both to inform us and deter us. That means it would be unfair if it is an okay place in any sense. He meant what he said.


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.  Who do we blame?  Some blame Jesus.  Others blame the person in Hell.  It is a terrible thing to just blame the person so that Jesus can smell of roses.

Believers say, "If you do not worry about going to everlasting damnation and think you know that there is no such thing, then what is stopping you going on a killing spree?"  They could add, "I think God is stopping you with his grace though you do not know it."

Reply: Is that all that is stopping YOU!? Are you saying you would go on the spree if you were me? You are inciting hate against me and even against yourself.

Those who do not believe in Hell think it is a great deterrent.  It is not.  It just drives evil inward.  It turns it inward.

If you assume religion is mainly about how you live with God in this life then it follows your motive for advocating the doctrine is to deter.  Pascal said that you should take a chance that there might be a Hell and live a good life to avoid it.  If that is essentially what the doctrine is about then it is a useless and cruel doctrine and a disgrace.

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.


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