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sdbl731
8th November 2008, 12:41 AM
Today I went with my friends to the mall for lunch (senior sign-outs :)) and on the way back I somehow brought up the fact that I don't believe in hell - and boy, what a barrage of dissent I received! They had a lot of fun describing Dante's hell to me (we all read parts of the Inferno in Humanities last year) - I'm sure a lot of it was joking around, but there was a real element of strong belief in the Judeo-Christian construct of heaven and hell (this isn't surprising at all - I was a believer of all that not long ago).

I wasn't really successful at asserting my new-found beliefs (perhaps because they haven't yet drilled down to my subconscious - some belief system demolishing / renewal might be in order) and ended up shutting up and changing the subject. Any suggestions / comments?

Andy

Palehorse Redivivus
8th November 2008, 03:43 AM
This used to be a "favorite" issue of mine when I really started doing theological research. I used to really get into the finer points of it, though now I think I'm mostly content to say "hell doesn't exist because God is not Charles Manson, and probably wouldn't be capable of effectively running a universe if he was." :P

But from a more theological perspective, the gist of it is that there are four words in the Bible that were translated as "hell," they all mean completely different things, and none of them referred to a place of eternal punishment after death.

Sheol -- Hebrew for "the grave," or pit. Literally means "an unseen place."

Hades -- The new Sheol for a Greek speaking audience. Just another vaguely defined shadowy underworld.

Tartarus -- Only appears one time; refers to "the abyss" where fallen angels were chained up awaiting judgment. The word and concept was likely borrowed from Greek mythology, as Tartarus is also where the Titans were said to be imprisoned.

Gehenna -- A British chick with pink hai--*cough* ...A flaming garbage dump just outside Jerusalem, and final resting place for executed criminals. Not a great vacation spot, but not exactly hell either. Lots of superstition surrounded it, and due to Jewish sensibilities about death and burial, when Jesus told the Pharisees they could end up here, it would have been an unthinkable insult. Incidentally many of them did, as it was used as a mass grave after the sack of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple in 70AD.

There's also the Lake of Fire in Revelation. "...and the beast and false prophet will be tormented with fire and brimstone day and night forever and ever" (roughly paraphrased; I think I may have just cobbled together two different verses there) is usually cited as "clear" evidence, but its not so clear cut. The Greek used for "torment" (basanizo if I remember right) could be better translated as "test"; it was associated with a touchstone that was used to test the purity of gold. "Brimstone" is theion -- a "divine incense" believed to have purifying properties. "Forever and ever" is aionos ton aionon, which would be better translated "to the age of the ages." Forever and ever actually doesn't make sense, as its an English expression with no Greek equivalent; not to mention the fact that "aionon" is the plural form, so it would have to be "evers." Just an example of someone trying to make the translation fit an agenda.

All things considered I would say the LoF could accurately be called "lake of divine purification." It's an alchemical fire that "tests what you're made of" -- which may not be pleasant, but punishment isn't the goal, and it's not eternal. Since John the Revelator was likely still perturbed at Nero for that whole exile thing though, he put him in there for ages. :P

Mishell
8th November 2008, 06:27 AM
But from a more theological perspective, the gist of it is that there are four words in the Bible that were translated as "hell," they all mean completely different things, and none of them referred to a place of eternal punishment after death.


This was the oppinion of the religion I grew up in. They did not believe in hell because of this point. And yet they still had ways of using fear to control their followers.

The other refferance to hell that some religions like to site is the parable Jesus told of Lazarus. But this story is the only time hell fire is mentioned in the bible.

Palehorse Redivivus
8th November 2008, 05:09 PM
The other refferance to hell that some religions like to site is the parable Jesus told of Lazarus. But this story is the only time hell fire is mentioned in the bible.

Oh yeah, forgot about that one. The moral of the story is... God really doesn't like rich people. Wait no! :P

"Parable" is the key word there; like all parables, this one used extensive symbolism and metaphor, was not a description of anything literally historical, and would not have been understood as such. In short, this is another instance of Jesus turning the tables on the religious leaders and claiming that their "inheritance" would be taken away. The "rich man" was a symbolic reference to the tribe of Judah; his "brothers" were the other lost tribes.

Timotheus
8th November 2008, 07:16 PM
:D

ButterflyWoman
9th November 2008, 02:47 AM
Interesting that you mention Dante. In fact, the modern concept of hell (not the idea of it, but the description of it, certainly) comes directly from Dante. The ironic thing is that Dante's work was satire.

Anyway, I did an extensive study of the Bible looking for this whole "hell" thing and, like Palehorse, found that it's not actually very well supported. At all. There are all these totally different words that get translated as "hell", as if the different speakers all mean the same thing, when, if you read it in the Greek or the Hebrew or Aramaic, it's very clear that they're not referring to some sort of eternal torture, but to "the grave" or to a garbage pit or to something else.

The whole hell thing never made any sense to me whatsoever, to be honest. I die at the age of thirteen (supposedly old enough to "know better") and because I once stole a pack of gum or told a lie, I get to suffer for all eternity... ? How is that in any way reasonable? What about all that stuff that Paul wrote about how God is a God of order? What's orderly about torturing someone for eternity because they were stupid? Nup. Just bad, stupid dogma used to control people with fear.

Oh, and another thing I've learned about hell. Any person who will willingly (and sometimes gleefully) condemn another human being to hell has nothing of value to say to me. Seriously. I'm not saying if they "believe" or "kinda believe" or "fear" hell. I mean the kind of person who will say that another human being "is going to hell" (because you know they're expecting God to do what they say and send you there). The sort of person who will happily condemn someone to an eternity of torture is twisted in more ways than that.

Ah, well. To hell with it. :twisted:

Palehorse Redivivus
9th November 2008, 03:30 AM
I think that about sums it up, OW.

I've learned that there are three kinds of hell-believers...

The ones who believe in it, but don't like to think about it, and somehow manage to mentally backfile this idea that God wants to torture the majority of humanity. The idea ends up as a piece of subconscious programming, which you can bet is coming out one way or another in all their interactions, and probably their physical and mental health.

The ones who believe in it, can't backfile it, and are severely troubled by it. They're reasonably compassionate people, and the fact that they're more compassionate than their image of god causes severe cognitive dissonance. These may end up as the most fervent evangelists, and/or psych ward occupants.

The ones who delight in it, which you mentioned. These are the ones to watch out for even more than the other two... anyone who gets their jollies from the idea of anybody being tortured, is not someone you want to spend much time with if you can possibly help it. I wouldn't leave one of these types alone with my cat for half a minute.

In short -- this idea of eternal torment has probably caused more temporal suffering than any piece of theology or ideology I can think of. It causes untold suffering for those who believe in it, those who have to deal with them, and those who have reacted against it and rejected any form of spirituality. I can tell you which side of the fence it originated from, and it isn't anywhere good. On the psychic self defense front -- it's probably the direct cause of a lot of those problems, too. I'm pretty sure it was with me.

I can remember as a kid at my Baptist elementary school, being at an assembly; the guest speaker was a baseball player who had a son there. He mentioned an old coach of his who had died, stated that the guy was now in hell... and then cheerfully went on taking questions. It was unnerving to me even then, and much moreso now. It's scary stuff, what these ideas do to people, and I don't think this can be overstated. :(

sdbl731
9th November 2008, 04:16 AM
What a very interesting discussion this has turned out to be - thanks to all for your words of wisdom! I'm not sure to what extent my friends were joking around / actually believed in what they were saying, but I think it was more joke than seriousness (we were all laughing it up in the car). It's interesting to note that one of them (who was driving the car) somewhat feebly expressed his belief that consciousness ends when you die (before joining in on all the Dante hell fun).

Unrelated to this, one of my close friends called me today (apparently he's at some Christian conference or something) asking me today when was the last time I took a look at the Bible - it was the most random thing, really. He asked me if I believe that Jesus was an incarnation of God, and I said I don't think I earnestly believe that anymore (not that I 100% disbelieve it - I'm just strongly skeptical about it based on a number of things). He might be coming over to my house tomorrow - we'll see what else he has to say on this subject.

Andy

ButterflyWoman
9th November 2008, 04:19 AM
The ones who believe in it, can't backfile it, and are severely troubled by it. They're reasonably compassionate people, and the fact that they're more compassionate than their image of god causes severe cognitive dissonance. These may end up as the most fervent evangelists, and/or psych ward occupants.
Interestingly, that was me. Okay, the psych ward had nothing to do with Hell, but still. ;) Actually, my inability to reconcile a loving God with eternal torture was what led me to do the work with the scriptures to find out what they ACTUALLY say, but it seems this is a very unusual path to take, statistically speaking. A lot of people seem to get to this point and throw out the whole idea and just become materialists (usually atheist, but sometimes Pantheists or some sort of vague Deist notion a la Nietzsche).


In short -- this idea of eternal torment has probably caused more temporal suffering than any piece of theology or ideology I can think of.
Agreed. And a close second is the concept of "heresy", i.e., if you have some slightly different view of God or saints or pretty much anything held by the Official Church(tm), you're going to hell (thus reducing the answer to a previous equation). The combination of "go to hell" and "don't disagree or go to hell, possibly after being burned alive" has stunted the spiritual potential of billions of people. No wonder they have to reincarnate.... (oooh! heresy! :twisted:)


I can remember as a kid at my Baptist elementary school, being at an assembly; the guest speaker was a baseball player who had a son there. He mentioned an old coach of his who had died, stated that the guy was now in hell... and then cheerfully went on taking questions. It was unnerving to me even then, and much moreso now. It's scary stuff, what these ideas do to people, and I don't think this can be overstated. :(
That's gruesome. I always wonder what sort of God these people actually worship, and then I wonder WHY you would want anything to do with a God like that. I faced a point in my life where I was so at odds with this concept that I was very close to just going the materialist/atheist route. Happily, I found out that just because this or that person says "God is like this" doesn't mean that it's universally true. YOUR God may be like that. Mine doesn't have to be.... But that's a different discussion, I think. ;)

Oh, on the other topic, I do believe that Jesus was the physical incarnation of God. But I don't believe he was the only one. If God is infinite, we're all incarnations and aspects of God. Jesus was just unusually aware of his unity with the Source. (Heresy again, I know ;))

ButterflyWoman
9th November 2008, 01:50 PM
Oh, I do believe that there's an Astral equivalent of hell. Hundreds of years of belief in such a place has to have created it.

And I lean toward the idea that what happens to you after death depends at least somewhat on what beliefs you held in life, so I could imagine someone who really believed they should go to hell finding something that looks suspiciously like Dante's inferno, satire or not. And they'd probably have to stay there until they figured out that they could leave any time they wanted, that it was up to them, and that there was no big, mean Skydaddy who sent them there for being "bad".

But that last paragraph is pure speculation. And heresy. :twisted:

Timotheus
9th November 2008, 03:12 PM
:D

CFTraveler
9th November 2008, 05:49 PM
metaphorically, i accept the "splinter" as a very microscopic piece of the greater wooden Cross which upon, Christ died for our sins. now before y'all get all allergic because Christ on a Cross was mentioned; I said "metaphorically". Ha ha ha you know I'm one of those who sees that differently- *cough cough sneeze* I think Jesus died on a cross not for our sins (unless our propensity to expect God to want bloody sacrifice can be considered a sin) but for us to know that physical death is not the end- and to make sure that 2000 years later we'd still be talking about it. And it sure worked, I might add.
Anyway, for Andy:
Jesus said: "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine so before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." Matthew 13:3-9
Notice the "your Father" there.
The Lord's Prayer: "Our Father who Art in Heaven"... Notice "Our" Father, not just "My" Father....
...."In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." (After telling them about the Holy Spirit).
John 14:20
This can be seen in a diversity of ways, but I think he's telling them that the only diff. between them and he is that he knows who he is, while they need to figure out who they are , and that's what he's here for; to teach them this truth about themselves. So....

sdbl731
9th November 2008, 11:49 PM
I faced a point in my life where I was so at odds with this concept that I was very close to just going the materialist/atheist route.
Sounds exactly like the direction I had been heading in before I found this site (except I had never really been that religious in the first place - I guess the idea of hell never sat too well with me, either, though in a more instinctual manner).

Jesus said: "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine so before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." Matthew 13:3-9
Notice the "your Father" there.
The Lord's Prayer: "Our Father who Art in Heaven"... Notice "Our" Father, not just "My" Father....
...."In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." (After telling them about the Holy Spirit).
John 14:20
This can be seen in a diversity of ways, but I think he's telling them that the only diff. between them and he is that he knows who he is, while they need to figure out who they are , and that's what he's here for; to teach them this truth about themselves. So....
Thanks for these, CF - I'm sure they'll come in handy sooner or later!

Andy

CFTraveler
10th November 2008, 12:59 AM
Since you've encourage my Bible-Thumpiness I'm going to go out on a limb and expound on something most christians believe without really thinking about this too much, or do and then become uncomfortable with the implications that this gives and push them into the "beliefs that no one really justified to me but I had no other biblically-supported argument for" cabinet, and that is the idea that God would send his son to earth to suffer 'for our sins' and the act of dying would somehow 'atone'. As if God were some sort of bloodthirsty being that needs suffering to the extent that his acknowledged son would have to bear it. I have spoken before of my belief that
a) Jesus' death had nothing to do with anybody's sins- that God requires nothing of us that we don't naturally want, therefore no sacrifice has ever been necessary. That the idea of a God that requires tit-for tat (as if anything we do would qualify for this) is not the idea of a Parental figure- at least not of a good parental figure. An abusive one yes, not a good one.
2)Jesus' death was either the result of a historical characteristic that happened to anyone who spoke against the Romans, and he happened to come at a time when any notoriety would put him on the you-know-what list.
3) That this was known to Jesus and it was part of his plan- to die in such a spectacular or notorious way that when he came back no one would miss it- that it would awaken a consciousness of such proportions that as I jokingly said before- 2000 years later we're still talking about it.
No self-appointed christian (or not many that I know of) argues this oft-mentioned presuppossition, or does so in any but a logical standpoint (If God loves us and loves Jesus as his son, why would he send him here to be tortured to death? What is the point to that- From the sacrificial standpoint?) Of course, this makes sense only in a cultural standpoint- sacrifice is what people understood, and it was brought into a world into which this was no longer acceptable. But now the sacrifice is implied in the Last Supper and communion- the notion is kept alive by those who would maintain to feed us the idea that God still needs sacrifice, and we still haven't atoned for our sins- and then take our sins to the next step- making us here and now feel guilty for something that happened 2000 years ago (give or take 30 or 40) and subject us to this emotional blackmail which no reasonable person should expect God to sponsor.
So here is my Biblically supported argument: That God didn't send Jesus to die for our sins, because God, as a loving Father, wouldn't.
And like Luke said:(11:11-13)
"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
So I say-
If God wouldn't do it to you, why on earth would God demand sacrifice of anyone? What kind of Father would treat his children that way?
/rant.

sdbl731
10th November 2008, 01:14 AM
Since you've encourage my Bible-Thumpiness
I guess I'm an enabler... :D :D :D

God didn't send Jesus to die for our sins, because God, as a loving Father, wouldn't.
And like Luke said:(11:11-13)
"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
So I say-
If God wouldn't do it to you, why on earth would God demand sacrifice of anyone? What kind of Father would treat his children that way?
Sounds perfectly reasonable to me - it's funny (or, rather, very sad and unfortunate) that, as you mentioned, people never really consider it this way.

Andy

ButterflyWoman
10th November 2008, 03:53 AM
Well, people have considered it that way, but they frequently got burned alive for heresy. :cry:

Jaco
10th November 2008, 10:41 AM
Hi sdbl731 :)
During next discussion with your friends you could try to tackle hell mythologies from other religions, for example Buddhist Naraka, or Mayan Xibalbá. :)
Judaic religions are just a small part of worlds religious beliefs and concepts. :)

sdbl731
10th November 2008, 04:13 PM
Hi sdbl731 :)
During next discussion with your friends you could try to tackle hell mythologies from other religions, for example Buddhist Naraka, or Mayan Xibalbá. :)
Judaic religions are just a small part of worlds religious beliefs and concepts. :)
I can try that, but I need to research the other religions a bit if I want to be able to have an informed discussion.

Andy

CFTraveler
10th November 2008, 05:25 PM
Except for certain denominations, I've found that most orthodox christians do not respect or give any value to other scriptures if they're not 'The Bible'. With a few exceptions, of course.

Timotheus
10th November 2008, 05:56 PM
:D

CFTraveler
10th November 2008, 06:03 PM
Gotcha. Whew! I can breathe better already.
http://www.clicksmilies.com/s1106/lachen/laughing-smiley-001.gif

Jaco
10th November 2008, 06:29 PM
Except for certain denominations, I've found that most orthodox christians do not respect or give any value to other scriptures if they're not 'The Bible'. With a few exceptions, of course.
That's way I proposed it. That people would look outside the box. It gives one a perspective. :)

Timotheus
10th November 2008, 08:40 PM
:D

sdbl731
11th November 2008, 01:50 AM
Except for certain denominations, I've found that most orthodox christians do not respect or give any value to other scriptures if they're not 'The Bible'. With a few exceptions, of course.
By "orthodox christians", do you mean orthodox Christians in the sense of usual or conservative Christians, or in the sense of Orthodox Christians in the sense of the Orthodox denomination? I'm asking because in name I am an Orthodox Christian, although evidently I don't subscribe to Christian dogma anymore.

Andy

CFTraveler
11th November 2008, 03:21 PM
I don't mean of the 'Greek Orthodox' denomination- I mean any christian who clings to the doctrine of orthodoxy, as in 'there's a reason we've been doing it like this for years and anything else is wrong'. This can be any denomination. I have met openminded christians in any, even the most conservative denominations. I don't mean those.

sdbl731
11th November 2008, 08:56 PM
I figured as much by your non-capitalized "orthodox", but I was just making sure :).

Andy

CFTraveler
11th November 2008, 10:50 PM
:D You're very perceptive.

star
13th November 2008, 08:10 PM
If you enjoy Christian Youth groups, they can be just as nice as anyone else. A little Christian rock concert is a great way to meet girls.... I've gone completely off in my own direction haven't I?

CFTraveler
13th November 2008, 09:35 PM
I do like some of the music. Looks like I'm following you in the derailing of the thread.

ecitsretni
14th November 2008, 09:42 PM
I'm reminded of this image of Diversification I saw after a brief, but unforgettable meeting with Source --errr experience I had. I knew that Source needed me as much as I needed it.. the whole must have parts, just parts have a whole, tangents have a source. This helped further my impression that becoming most developed and individuated is the goal, and a sound way of celebrating Source and my connection to it // the Is.

"For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's enemies will be those of his own household" [Matt. 10:35-36]

To me the darker side of Creation, including human behavior such as persecution, comes back to the desire to continue developing into an ever more unique and whole being. Personal development among development of the Whole. The two charges reaching toward each other to form a lightning bolt of connection. Reaching toward Source as an individuated being.

Pulling myself up from the pool of herd/mob mentality when it threatens to homogenize by soul has at times brought accusations of heresy. It surprised me for some time to find that my desire to develop my relationship to Source is seen as negative/hoilier-than-thou-ish by some people, but I think that they are struggling with their own challenges in developing away from the fertile beginnings of herd into something more response-able and ultimately more conscious.

Timotheus
14th November 2008, 09:47 PM
:D

ButterflyWoman
15th November 2008, 02:36 AM
It surprised me for some time to find that my desire to develop my relationship to Source is seen as negative/hoilier-than-thou-ish by some people
A lot of what you wrote really resonated with me on a very deep level, but this in particular.

15th November 2008, 10:45 AM
The ones who delight in it, which you mentioned. These are the ones to watch out for even more than the other two... anyone who gets their jollies from the idea of anybody being tortured, is not someone you want to spend much time with if you can possibly help it. I wouldn't leave one of these types alone with my cat for half a minute.

Ahhh you just describe most of the rabid pro-life crowd. Srsly.

CFTraveler
4th September 2009, 01:02 AM
I don't mean to bump this thread, because I think everything's been said, but I just saw this and it seemed to belong here.

So please just ignore it.

http://roflrazzi.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/celebrity-pictures-barney-dantes-inferno.jpg?w=486&h=404

sdbl731
27th December 2009, 03:14 PM
That's HILARIOUS! :D Seriously, though, we don't ignore each other in THIS community... :wink: