God loves you. Enjoy your eternity in hell.

A question for Christians, particularly those of the inerrantist stripe.

28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28, NIV

And:

8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed.

2 Thessalonians 1:8-10, NIV

“Punished with everlasting destruction.” Is that what a perfectly merciful, perfectly benevolent Father would do to his children?

268 thoughts on “God loves you. Enjoy your eternity in hell.

  1. keiths:
    keiths:

    Alan:

    Of course it’s a tautology.Have you noticed that tautologies have the interesting property of being… true?

    But you claim evil exists, don’t you? Not that evil is evil, which I grant as a tautology.

  2. keiths:
    As if that single sentence were the only thing I wrote.

    That was what I was querying. Does evil exist? I say no. You say…

  3. colewd,

    Our time on earth is exceedingly short in the best case.

    How loving of God to make it even shorter, then.

    I’m sure the survivors of the tsunami were grateful for the love God demonstrated in killing their friends and family members.

  4. keiths:

    As if that single sentence were the only thing I wrote.

    Alan:

    That was what I was querying. Does evil exist? I say no. You say…

    …exactly what I said:

    I picked the bayonetting of babies at Nanking as an example that we could presumably all agree was evil. If it’s evil, then we have an instance of evil; and if we have an instance of evil, then evil exists (although this appears to baffle Alan).

    Since you believe that evil doesn’t exist, you can start with the bayonetting of babies. Fill in the blank:

    According to Alan, the bayonetting of babies is not evil because ______ .

  5. keiths,

    Ah, more burden tennis.

    I am disputing “Evil exists.”

    I think the act of deliberately spearing babies on bayonets is abhorrent. I abhor it.

    You say?

  6. newton: So in standard theology wanton murder is a grievous sin punishable by eternal damnation , the soldiers who did God’s Will of preventing evil are punished by eternal damnation. If they hadn’t killed the babies they would be punished for refusing to do the will of God and would be punished by eternal damnation.

    Damned if you do,damned if you don’t.

    Well Pontius Pilate and Judas both absolutely followed and fulfilled God’s Will, and look where it got them.

  7. Alan,

    I am disputing “Evil exists.”

    Yes. Bizarrely.

    I think the act of deliberately spearing babies on bayonets is abhorrent. I abhor it.

    But you don’t think it’s evil. My question is, why?

    My own answer: Evil is subjective. If a person regards the bayonetting of babies as evil, then it is evil to that person. Thankfully, most people agree that it is evil.

    You don’t. Why?

    Fill in the blank:

    According to Alan, the bayonetting of babies is not evil because ______ .

  8. keiths:
    Alan,

    Yes.Bizarrely.

    You may call it bizarre. I don’t think “evil exists” is a coherent statement. What is “evil” and what sort of existence does it have? Is it binary, black-and-white or is it quantifiable? You say evil exists. Where is it? What is it?

    But you don’t think it’s evil.My question is, why?

    You are either seriously obtuse or playing at being so on the internet. I have never claimed suggested or implied that acts, events or people cannot be described as evil, if that rocks their boat.

    My own answer:Evil is subjective.If a person regards the bayonetting of babies as evil, then it is evil to that person.Thankfully, most people agree that it is evil.

    I don’t have much use for the descriptive “evil” as an adjective and prefer abhorrent. I don’t worry if other people prefer another adjective.

    Are you going to defend your claim “evil exists” or not?

  9. Alan,

    I’m not sure I can dumb this down for you any more than I already have:

    I picked the bayonetting of babies at Nanking as an example that we could presumably all agree was evil. If it’s evil, then we have an instance of evil; and if we have an instance of evil, then evil exists (although this appears to baffle Alan).

    If you have trouble following my argument, perhaps you should sit this one out and leave the abstract thinking to others.

    Do you also have trouble with the idea that debt exists? Or nepotism? Or any other abstract concept?

  10. keiths:

    But you don’t think it’s [the bayonetting of babies is] evil. My question is, why?

    Alan:

    You are either seriously obtuse or playing at being so on the internet. I have never claimed suggested or implied that acts, events or people cannot be described as evil, if that rocks their boat.

    The question is whether you think it’s evil, not whether it “can be described as evil, if that rocks their boat” — whoever “they” are.

  11. You don’t want to say — as “they” do — that the bayonetting of babies is evil.

    Why?

  12. keiths: You don’t. Why?

    Evil is not a thing. It is a categorization of an observation.

    Sweet does not exist. It is something we say about a perception.

  13. keiths:
    You don’t want to say — as “they” do — that the bayonetting of babies is evil.

    Why?

    I’ve no objection to the description. I wouldn’t use it myself as I don’t find any meaning in the word “evil”. It doesn’t do justice to an abhorrent act. Also causing suffering by torture and prolonging it (a lingering death) is more abhorrent to me than as a byproduct of killing. Doesn’t impinge on the question “Evil exists” though.

  14. petrushka,

    Does debt exist? Nepotism?

    Most people have no trouble understanding what debt is, or why carrying a lot of it is a bad idea.

  15. keiths: Most people have no trouble understanding what debt is, or why carrying a lot of it is a bad idea.

    Have you polled them?

  16. Anyway, let’s focus on the existence of evil.
    Does evil exist? I say no. Still not sure if Keiths wants to support the claim that “evil exists”.

  17. keiths:

    Most people have no trouble understanding what debt is, or why carrying a lot of it is a bad idea.

    Alan:

    Have you polled them?

    You think others are as baffled by abstract concepts as you are?

  18. keiths:
    keiths:

    Alan:

    You think others are as baffled by abstract concepts as you are?

    That’s the trap we all fall into, thinking everyone else is like us. You are immune of course! 🙂

    Anyway, evil exists? In what way? Where? How? C’mon Keiths, can’t be hard, can it?

  19. keiths, to petrushka:

    Does debt exist? Nepotism?

    Most people have no trouble understanding what debt is, or why carrying a lot of it is a bad idea.

    Next thing you know, these guys will be objecting to my use of the word “carrying”. How can you carry something that isn’t a physical object?

  20. keiths,

    Nope, I’m objecting to you continuing to avoid supporting your claim “Evil exists”. If you can’t it’s really no problem.

  21. keiths:
    Robin,

    They actually fared pretty well, depending on who you ask.

    See this:

    And this:

    Yeah…Ok. There are exceptions. Even Satan has his fan club and I’m sure there are those who believe he is the Ultimate Saint or some such.

    There are so many flavors and exceptions, it’s rather hard to keep up.

  22. keiths: Does debt exist? Nepotism?

    You are reifying.

    These are abstract labels for phenomena.

    There are people who owe money and there are people who got jobs via relatives. It’s a perfectly good language convention to say that debt and nepotism exist. It’s okay in casual conversation to say that evil exists.

    But it’s also perfectly okay to point out that what you mean by evil exists is that people do things that you don’t approve of, or that natural calamities occur.

  23. Robin:

    There are so many flavors and exceptions, it’s rather hard to keep up.

    In early Christianity alone, the variety is astounding. I wish more Christians understood that.

  24. petrushka,

    It’s a perfectly good language convention to say that debt and nepotism exist. It’s okay in casual conversation to say that evil exists.

    And not just in casual conversation, but other kinds too. A CFO at a shareholders’ meeting won’t hesitate to speak of ‘debt’, and he or she shouldn’t. Abstract concepts are useful. Political commentators discussing ‘nepotism’ in their columns don’t need to qualify it. To say that “evil exists” does not mean that it is an object, or that you can put it on a scale and weigh it.

    I’m not sure why you and Alan have such trouble with this.

    To say that evil exists is not an instance of the fallacy of reification.

  25. keiths:
    walto,

    If you can find me a theist who thinks his or her God is a “dumb asshole” that nevertheless loves us, then more power to you.I’ll venture a guess that Mung, phoodoo, and colewd don’t fit that bill.Like most theists, they envision a God who is actually admirable and worthy of reverence.

    Would you worship a “dumb asshole”?

    Wow, you’ve completely forgotten your argument at this point. Now it’s based on an omni-God again. Also, I got the majority reference from YOU. You should figure out just what you want to be saying here. And then (after you’ve convinced Patrick that there are no natural rights, and that quote he’s put up twice is about using people as means is wrong), I’ll come back and see how you’re doing.

    But I must say, you’ve made quite a mess of it on this thread so far.

  26. keiths:
    keiths, to petrushka:

    Next thing you know, these guys will be objecting to my use of the word “carry”.How can you carry something that isn’t a physical object?

    Shit, you don’t think knowledge exists–how the hell are WE supposed to know what your views are about nepotism?

  27. keiths: I’m not sure why you and Alan have such trouble with this.

    To say that evil exists is not an instance of the fallacy of reification.

    So, are you now saying that “evil exists” but not really?

  28. Alan,

    Nope, I’m objecting to you continuing to avoid supporting your claim “Evil exists”. If you can’t it’s really no problem.

    You’re doing the hands over the ears, “La la la I can’t hear you” thing again.

    For the fourth time:

    I picked the bayonetting of babies at Nanking as an example that we could presumably all agree was evil. If it’s evil, then we have an instance of evil; and if we have an instance of evil, then evil exists (although this appears to baffle Alan).

    If you think my argument is unsound, then please point out exactly how and where it goes wrong.

  29. petrushka: But it’s also perfectly okay to point out that what you mean by evil exists is that people do things that you don’t approve of, or that natural calamities occur.

    Actually, I object to the suggestion that natural calamities such as volcanic eruptions or tsunamis are evil. I think intent has something to do with it.

  30. keiths:

    To say that evil exists is not an instance of the fallacy of reification.

    Alan:

    So, are you now saying that “evil exists” but not really?

    No, I’m saying that evil really does exist and that this is not an instance of the fallacy of reification.

  31. keiths: If you think my argument is unsound, then please point out exactly how and where it goes wrong.

    What argument? You haven’t yet supported the claim that “evil exists”. Or was that previous elision from adjective to noun really meant to be serious? In which case, see my response.

    Fifteen-love

  32. keiths: No, I’m saying that evil really does exist and that this is not an instance of the fallacy of reification.

    And your support for that claim? Where is evil? What is evil?

  33. Alan,

    Actually, I object to the suggestion that natural calamities such as volcanic eruptions or tsunamis are evil. I think intent has something to do with it.

    Intent does have something to do with it when we are talking about the problem of evil. A God who knows that these things are going to happen, but does nothing to prevent them or to warn or otherwise assist the victims, has something to answer for.

    A God who stands idly by, as a dog eats a baby’s head, does too.

    This is not hard to see. Put a human in God’s place. If a human knew that the death of 230,000 people was imminent, and that he or she could do something to prevent it or at the very least to warn them, what decent person would refuse to do so? Why does God get off the hook for something that if done by a human would earn severe condemnation?

    If a human knew that a dog was about to eat a living baby’s head, what decent person would refuse to intervene? Yet Christians want to let God off the hook for this. Their moral standards for God are lower than their moral standards for humans, when it should be the other way around.

    Tsunamis, earthquakes, drought, dogs eating babies’ heads, etc. are referred to as “natural evil”, and evil is the appropriate word, since God is responsible for them, in the context of the problem of evil.

  34. Alan,

    What argument?

    This one, which I am now presenting for the fifth time:

    I picked the bayonetting of babies at Nanking as an example that we could presumably all agree was evil. If it’s evil, then we have an instance of evil; and if we have an instance of evil, then evil exists (although this appears to baffle Alan).

    Alan:

    Or was that previous elision from adjective to noun really meant to be serious? In which case, see my response.

    I’m asking the following:

    If you think my argument is unsound, then please point out exactly how and where it goes wrong.

    You haven’t done so.

  35. keiths:
    Alan,

    Intent does have something to do with it when we are talking about the problem of evil.

    Without yet establishing what you mean by the noun “evil.”

    A God who knows that these things are going to happen, but does nothing to prevent them or to warn or otherwise assist the victims, has something to answer for.

    If, like evil, she existed, she would.

    A God who stands idly by, as a dog eats a baby’s head, does too.

    This example is almost Murrayesque.

    This is not hard to see.

    🙂

    Put a human in God’s place.If a human knew that the death of 230,000 people was imminent, and that he or she could do something to prevent it or at the very least to warn them, what decent person would refuse to do so?Why does God get off the hook for something that if done by a human would earn severe condemnation?

    God gets off with a pass because he is a human construct.

    If a human knew that a dog was about to eat a living baby’s head,

    Would you rather have a discussion regarding what to do about irresponsible dog owners? Gun owners? Slave owners?

    What decent person would refuse to intervene? Yet Christians want to let God off the hook for this.Their moral standards for God are lower than their moral standards for humans, when it should be the other way around.

    As I am unpersuaded by the whole idea of Gods, I can’t help you there.

    In that context, tsunamis, earthquakes, drought, dogs eating babies’ heads, etc. are referred to as “natural evil”, and evil is the appropriate word, since God is responsible for them, under the assumptions of the problem of evil.

    There’s a whole other issue regarding “natural”, but, leaving that on one side, I assert a tsunami is not evil, earthquakes and other such phenomena are not evil. Dogs need to be properly trained and more so their owners but they (the dogs) are not inherently evil.

    So what is evil (as a noun)?

  36. keiths: I picked the bayonetting of babies at Nanking as an example that we could presumably all agree was evil. If it’s evil, then we have an instance of evil; and if we have an instance of evil, then evil exists

    But I agree that such acts are abhorrent and I’m not objecting to the description “evil” as an emotional reaction to hearing of such atrocious acts. I wouldn’t use the word myself.

    Which has no relevance to your not yet supporting your assertion that “evil exists”.

  37. Alan Fox: Actually, I object to the suggestion that natural calamities such as volcanic eruptions or tsunamis are evil. I think intent has something to do with it.

    No problem with that. It’s a label for a perception. In the case of natural evil, we are culturally primed to attribute the intention to the creator, the devil, or to animistic spirits. But it’s a modifier, a label, like red or sweet. Not a thing. When we use it as a noun, it’s a metaphor.

  38. Alan Fox: If it’s evil, then we have an instance of evil

    To clarify, here is where you go wrong. You could say “If this is an evil act then we have an instance of an evil act”. Fine. You are defining “evil” as an adjective. But you leap to the noun “Evil exists”. It’s a semantic trick.

  39. petrushka: In the case of natural evil, we are culturally primed to attribute the intention to the creator, the devil, or to animistic spirits.

    I guess that’s what I’m kicking against – my cultural traces. Though I was never (as far as I can remember) convinced by the version of theism that obtained in my culture in my childhood.

  40. keiths:
    colewd,

    How loving of God to make it even shorter, then.

    I’m sure the survivors of the tsunami were grateful for the love God demonstrated in killing their friends and family members.

    Blame physics

  41. walto: Wow, you’ve completely forgotten your argument at this point.Now it’s based on an omni-God again.

    But I must say, you’ve made quite a mess of it on this thread so far.

    A loving God would have stopped him

  42. newton: A loving God would have stopped him

    Only if she were smart, good, and didn’t think the enjoyment-by-others aspect wasn’t swamping every other consideration.

  43. Apparently, the reification of evil is evil incarnate.

    I am LMAO. keiths being taken to task.

  44. Alan Fox: I guess that’s what I’m kicking against – my cultural traces. Though Iwas never (as far as I can remember) convinced by the version of theism that obtained in my culture in my childhood.

    My high school physics teacher introduced me to the perversity of inanimate objects. I have difficulty resisting this meme. Last Thanksgiving the diswasher broke the day before, with ten guests invited. A decade or so ago, the oven did the same thing.

    Evil is everywhere because we see bad intentions behind bad happenings. I suppose that could adaptive, but that would make me an adaptationist, which is bad.

  45. So keiths thinks evil exists but a God doesn’t exist.

    But if there is no God, then things just do what they do, because that’s what chemicals do. If evolution makes someone want to eat a baby, than that is just what evolution happened to do. How can it be “evil”?

    Its like calling an oxygen molecule evil. I wish keiths had the ability to explain, but well, he is a little shy these days about answering things.

  46. The amazing thing about this discussion is that both Alan and petrushka think that to deploy abstract nouns like “evil”, “debt”, and “nepotism” is somehow inevitably fallacious, when in fact they are supremely useful and practically indispensable.

    To use an abstract noun is not invariably to commit the fallacy of reification. The fallacy only occurs when the abstractum is treated as if it were concrete. That does not happen when accountants talk about the debt on a balance sheet, when commentators discuss nepotism in politics, or when philosophers talk about the existence of evil as evidence against a loving God.

    Even more amusing is that Alan and petrushka both commit the supposed fallacy they are warning against, freely and with abandon. Consider Alan’s use of the word ‘rancour’, for instance. I guess rancor exists, but evil doesn’t.

    Too funny.

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