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(71,265 posts)
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 10:30 AM Mar 2013

If you believe in Heaven do you have to believe in Hell?

I always have believed in Heaven throughout my life but when it comes to Hell I just have a hard time believing in it. I have a hard time that a loving God would put people in a place of perpetual torment. Anyone have thoughts on this?

If you believe in Heaven do you have to believe in Hell? (Original Post) hrmjustin Mar 2013 OP
I've had many Newest Reality Mar 2013 #1
I think the allusion dipsydoodle Mar 2013 #2
You can believe in anything you can think up or learn from... Walk away Mar 2013 #3
Or separate but equal heavens for dogs BlueStreak Mar 2013 #9
Unfotunately, most people seem to believe that their fantasy is the only right one.... Walk away Mar 2013 #28
many jews believe in heaven but not hell. unblock Mar 2013 #4
Hell no! xtraxritical Mar 2013 #5
Yes, if you're Christian. aquart Mar 2013 #6
Satan referenced in Old Testament. Warren Stupidity Mar 2013 #8
It's an old question Fortinbras Armstrong Mar 2013 #7
If I had been forced to sit through COLGATE4 Mar 2013 #10
For many people Worried senior Mar 2013 #11
That's a question you never want to ask Lordquinton Mar 2013 #30
I don't think so. Wait Wut Mar 2013 #12
I like the Mormon thing where everybody gets their own planet. xtraxritical Mar 2013 #16
You don't *have* to believe in anything... gcomeau Mar 2013 #13
The universalists don't. backscatter712 Mar 2013 #14
I like that view. hrmjustin Mar 2013 #15
The Gates Of Hell And Heaven struggle4progress Mar 2013 #17
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam struggle4progress Mar 2013 #18
I think you answered your own question. Gore1FL Mar 2013 #19
There's a story from the Latin Kingdom okasha Mar 2013 #20
Hell is a pagan concept adopted by Christianity... Humanist_Activist Mar 2013 #21
Why do you believe in Heaven? brooklynite Mar 2013 #22
I just do. hrmjustin Mar 2013 #23
Not necessarily ButterflyBlood Mar 2013 #24
Thank you for this. hrmjustin Mar 2013 #25
The question I've always had is: how could the Bible be so obtuse? brooklynite Mar 2013 #31
In at least some of the Old Testament days, the Israelis didn't believe in the afterlife. backscatter712 Mar 2013 #35
If you believe in Heaven you can believe anything you like. bemildred Mar 2013 #26
Hell is meant to scare people to follow the "rules" socialindependocrat Mar 2013 #27
This. Hell, and religion in general, are used by power-elites to scare and control people. backscatter712 Mar 2013 #36
I agree with you. I just thought, though socialindependocrat Mar 2013 #37
It's less a matter of what you have to believe than a matter MineralMan Mar 2013 #29
Of course not skepticscott Mar 2013 #32
Never sugarcoat anything do you. hrmjustin Mar 2013 #33
My Grandma didn't believe in Hell - like you, a loving God wouldn't do that to us. OriginalGeek Mar 2013 #34
I've seen a Christian right here on DU proclaim that anyone who DOESN'T believe in hell... trotsky Mar 2013 #38

Newest Reality

(12,712 posts)
1. I've had many
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 10:38 AM
Mar 2013

thoughts on that. In fact, there are volumes and volumes of literature on the subject, yet Pookahs get very little treatment.

We tend, as a species, to reify to an extreme and just look at the results of living in abstractions from academic to religious. When I get my hands on a thought, I'll get back to you on that one.

I find that believing in things is believing in things and you can believe in anything and even question your belief in everything.

The ancient root of the word was lief, which meant to make things up. So believing can be both fun and, if you are good, profitable. It has no bounds!

Believe creatively, at least. There is no end to invisible things and the most convincing argument delivered under the right circumstances in the right times to the right people becomes almost as real as ... reality.

The agony of heaven and the ecstasy of hell may be nothing more than metaphors of extreme thinking and feeling. Experience has a structure to us and we are adept at metaphorical and temporal transpositions. That may be the real problem.


(42,239 posts)
2. I think the allusion
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 10:47 AM
Mar 2013

Last edited Mon Mar 25, 2013, 12:52 PM - Edit history (1)

is with respect to the absence of entry to heaven being in effect hell.

Walk away

(9,494 posts)
3. You can believe in anything you can think up or learn from...
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 10:50 AM
Mar 2013

another source. You can believe heaven is run by Pomeranians and hell only exists on alternate Thursdays. That is the one of the few good things about faith. It is completely arbitrary!



(8,377 posts)
9. Or separate but equal heavens for dogs
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 11:03 AM
Mar 2013

You can believe that "the devil" is the reason why so many bad things happen in a world ostensibly governed by an all-powerful loving god.

Or you can declare there is no such thing as the devil and bad things are just god's way of letting man have free choice.

Unencumbered by facts and evidence, you can believe anything. There really is no limit.

And why not? We all end up just as dead, but if you lived your life believing in fanciful ideas, maybe you had a happier life than you otherwise would have.

Just don't try to force that on other people, because it makes me sad when I see people believing nonsense.

Walk away

(9,494 posts)
28. Unfotunately, most people seem to believe that their fantasy is the only right one....
Wed Mar 27, 2013, 10:10 AM
Mar 2013

and that everyone else should suffer now and in the imaginary afterlife. It's the suffering here and now that I don't like.


(51,671 posts)
4. many jews believe in heaven but not hell.
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 10:51 AM
Mar 2013

personally, i don't believe in an afterlife ("you know what it was like before you were born? that's exactly what it's like after you're dead" -- ricky gervais) and this is also very common among jews.

i've always felt that the linguistics often separate us more than the actual concepts, so i'll allow that some of the departed are remembered fondly and others, not so much; and, arguably, this could be thought of as heaven and hell -- simply in the way we are remembered after we're gone. but i draw the line at the concept that there's anything experienced directly by the departed.


(69,014 posts)
6. Yes, if you're Christian.
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 10:52 AM
Mar 2013

They divied God up and gave all the power to the bad guy. Jews don't do Satan, Hell, any of it. Unless we've been hanging around Christians too much.

Our God is responsible for both bad and good.

Fortinbras Armstrong

(4,473 posts)
7. It's an old question
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 10:53 AM
Mar 2013

This is taken from an essay I wrote in graduate school.

The classic New Testament account of judgment is Matthew 25:31-46. This is full of apocalyptic imagery, with Jesus as judge. He is arbiter of the fate of those who appear before him; and their attitude towards him determines their fate. Elsewhere, people’s destiny hinges on their faith in Jesus, on their witness to him, and on their fraternal love. Here, however, charity towards the needy is love for Jesus himself. While the wording suggests that the text originally referred to members of the Christian community, the context extends it to the whole world. Matthew 25 is central to the notion of "anonymous Christians," those who, never having heard the Gospel, nevertheless struggle to live its ideals.

The earlier Jewish writings have nothing similar to the punishments associated with hell. In the Old Testament, the spirits of both good and bad people inhabit a nether world, Sheol, in a pallid, shadowy existence. Punishment for Israel's enemies was an old idea, but this was a direct, immediate, and earthly punishment. The idea that there would be retribution for all the wicked came later, during the Hellenistic period, when personal immortality was accepted.

Then, the image of everlasting fire came to describe the punishment of the wicked. The apochryphal book of Judith has "Woe to the nations that rise against my people! The Lord Almighty will requite them; on the day of judgment he will punish them: He will send fire and worms into their flesh, and they shall burn and suffer forever." The New Testament picks up this imagery: "Anyone whose name was not found in the book of life was hurled into the pool of burning fire." (Revelation 20:15) In the second century, Justin Martyr argued that hell fire is eternal, otherwise there would be no sanctions regulating one's life.

In the third century, Origen maintained the opposite view. He denied hell, feeling that it frustrates God's plan of universal salvation, and thus is repugnant to a God of love. Origen's central idea is the restoration of all things in Christ. At death, the souls of sinners enter a purifying fire where they are cleansed and restored. Although Origen taught that when this restoration occurred, it would be the result of the sinner’s conversion; his ideas were repeatedly condemned.

Origen’s "universalism" -- all people are saved -- is at best a minority opinion, at worst considered heresy. Many Church fathers in the East and West, medieval theologians, and Catholics and Protestants from the Reformation to the present held that most are damned. Augustine in particular championed this view, maintaining that original sin condemns us all. He cited texts such as "Many are called, few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14) and "Many … will try to enter and will be unable." (Luke 13:24) See Augustine's The City of God, book 11.

Modern theologians are less eager to condemn everyone. Some present a version of universalism; while others, who accept an eternal hell, question if anyone is actually there. The late Anglican Bishop John A T Robinson acknowledges that judgment is necessary, but argues that its only function is to show God's mercy, which thus renders judgment superfluous. That a human could resist divine love and frustrate God’s will is unthinkable. To admit the possibility that some persons may be lost is for Robinson an impossible concession to a power outside God.

It is hard to reconcile this with human freedom. Free will implies the choice of eternal separation from God. If God overrides our free decisions, then freedom is a sham. If there is a connection between our acts in this world and our fate in the next, we must be allowed to make even a wrong choice in something so definitive as our final destiny. The late Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner gives the common position when he says that a time comes when each person either ratifies or reverses the fundamental choice lived throughout life, and accepts the consequences. C S Lewis agrees: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell, choose it." (The Great Divorce, p 69)

Whatever the torments of hell may be (fire is obviously a metaphor), they are not tortures imposed by a vindictive judge. Modern psychology is more helpful than medieval penology in understanding the suffering of the damned. Hell is a projection of the person, not a punishment imposed for sins (perhaps) bitterly and belatedly regretted. Hell is an extreme narcissism turning the sinner in on self and causing unending turmoil and frustration. Hell is estrangement from God and alienation from the created universe -- a renunciation of love. The suffering of hell is compounded, according to Augustine, because God continues to love the sinner, who is not able to return this love.

Although modern theologians differ on the possibility of an eternal hell, they generally agree that God wills to save all humanity. This is a departure from the Augustinian tradition of salvation only for the few. Jesus said at the Last Supper: "This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:28) The reference to the "many" must be interpreted in the broader context of Paul’s classic witness to God’s will: "I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for all men … Prayer of this kind is good, and God our savior is pleased with it, for he wants all men to be saved and to come and know the truth. And the truth is this: God is one, one also is the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all." (1 Timothy 2:1, 3-6)

Would the coming of the Son of Man represent a triumph over sin and hell in any significant way if most of the human race is lost?

Wait Wut

(8,492 posts)
12. I don't think so.
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 11:18 AM
Mar 2013

I haven't been a Christian for over 30 years, but when I was, I didn't believe in hell. I always thought of God as a parent. Yes, there are some asshole parents in the world that would torture their children for eternity, but I couldn't imagine THE parent being a child abuser. My son (who is now 30) has pissed me off beyond belief during his life, but I couldn't imagine punishing him for eternity. Now, I let his wife handle it.

As I got a bit older, I thought 'hell' would be our life on earth and that we just needed to learn something from our lives before we moved on. That led to my belief in reincarnation, because some people just never seem to get it the first time around. I think the imagery and idea of hell was created just to put the 'fear of God' into people to make them easier to control.

And...I keep moving forward with belief/non-belief/and everything in between. I always say, "I'll get back to you when I'm dead."



(5,764 posts)
13. You don't *have* to believe in anything...
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 11:35 AM
Mar 2013

...particularly when it comes to religious beliefs, none of which have rational justifications in the first place.


(26,355 posts)
14. The universalists don't.
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 12:04 PM
Mar 2013

Their philosophy is that of universal salvation - God loves everyone, so he saves everyone. If Hell existed, it'd be empty.


(116,849 posts)
17. The Gates Of Hell And Heaven
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 12:48 PM
Mar 2013
... There was once a Samurai, named Nobuchika, who approached the Zen master, named Haku-in, and asked whether there were really Hell and Heaven. The Zen master asked him, “Who are you?” The Samurai answered, “I am a Samurai, sir”. “Uh! Are you?”, the master exclaimed, and said, “You don’t look like a Samurai; you look like a beggar”. The Samurai got angry and grabbed his sword. When Master Haku-in saw that, he said, “Uh! You have a sword. It looks very dull. What can you do with the dull sword?” Nobuchika drew his sword out of the sheath. Then Master Haku-in said, softly, “See! The gate of Hell opens now”. When Hobuchika heard that, he realised that and calmed down. And then again, Master Haku-in said, kindly, “See! The gate of Heaven opens now” ...
The Gates Of Hell And Heaven


(116,849 posts)
18. Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 12:52 PM
Mar 2013
I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
Some letter of that After-life to spell:
And by and by my Soul return'd to me,
And answer'd "I Myself am Heav'n and Hell"

(tr Edward Fitzgerald)


(20,846 posts)
19. I think you answered your own question.
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 06:06 PM
Mar 2013

You are an example of not believing in Hell while believing in Heaven.

I have many Christian friends with the same beliefs.


(11,573 posts)
20. There's a story from the Latin Kingdom
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 07:18 PM
Mar 2013

of Jerusalem that doesn't exactly answer your question but perhaps speaks to its context.

One night a Crusader priest was returning to his lodging after midnight. He met no one on the street except an elderly Sufi woman, who was carrying a torch in one hand and a pail of water with the other. «Grandmother,» said the priest, «where are you going so late at night, with no one to protect you?»

«My son,» she answered, «With the torch I am going to burn down the green trees of Paradise, and with the water I will put out the fires if Hell, so that men and women may love Allah for himself alone, and not for hope of reward or fear of punishment.»



(7,670 posts)
21. Hell is a pagan concept adopted by Christianity...
Mon Mar 25, 2013, 08:59 PM
Mar 2013

technically so is heaven as well, Elysian Fields(heaven) and Tartarus(Hell), note in the Greek of the New Testament, reference to hell generally call it Tartarus.

Ancient Judaism, along with portrayals of the afterlife in the Old Testament are more like Hades, called Sheol, or graveyard or resting place. Not a place of punishment or reward, but a place of rest. Indeed, some Jewish sects don't believe in a true, soul lasts forever, afterlife at all.

As far as believing in one over the other, well, frankly, the god of the Bible is a cruel, capricious individual, but the worst he could do to you was kill you, Jesus was worse for introducing Hell in the first place. So sure, you can believe heaven and not hell, don't know if you can properly call yourself a Christian though.

Generally I don't understand why anyone believes in either, they are rather obvious myths.


(91,702 posts)
22. Why do you believe in Heaven?
Tue Mar 26, 2013, 02:43 PM
Mar 2013

Why would God go the effort of creating a transcendentally large large and old Universe in which you would live for a microscopically small amount of time, if the transcendentally long period of your conscious existence is in an incorporeal afterlife? And while everyone probably wants to live longer, how many people have contemplated the length of an "eternity" spent anywhere, even in Heaven?



(71,265 posts)
23. I just do.
Tue Mar 26, 2013, 03:00 PM
Mar 2013

I want to go to heaven and I hope it is there. If it does not exist than it won't matter because we will be dead.



(71,265 posts)
25. Thank you for this.
Wed Mar 27, 2013, 09:59 AM
Mar 2013

Never could put it into words that easily. But I think most people if not all get to heaven in the end.


(91,702 posts)
31. The question I've always had is: how could the Bible be so obtuse?
Wed Mar 27, 2013, 04:18 PM
Mar 2013

On a matter so monumentally eternal and final, how could be Bible be so unclear as to offer "evidence" for Universalists, Annihilationists and traditional "burn in hell" believers.


(26,355 posts)
35. In at least some of the Old Testament days, the Israelis didn't believe in the afterlife.
Thu Mar 28, 2013, 04:37 PM
Mar 2013

And beliefs about the nature of heaven and hell mutated a lot in the early years of Christianity. The canonical Catholic dogma of Heaven, Hell, limbo, purgatory, etc. etc. etc. came centuries later. Then the various Protestant movements threw out much of that doctrine when they formed.


(90,061 posts)
26. If you believe in Heaven you can believe anything you like.
Wed Mar 27, 2013, 10:06 AM
Mar 2013

I mean, we are not in an evidence based space there are we?

However, I do agree that any deity that creates and maintains places whose sole purpose is to torture souls can kiss my ass as far as getting any worship from me.

I think we get this world to play with, and it is Heaven or Hell according to how we choose.


(1,372 posts)
27. Hell is meant to scare people to follow the "rules"
Wed Mar 27, 2013, 10:07 AM
Mar 2013

It's one thing to ask people and teach people that it is
best to be kind and good.

If you add the Hell concept so you scare people it makes people afraid
to not do good.

I think the Devil idea is crap

People are on a continuum of nice to naughty
Some are pricks and hurt others - This is just
the absence of nice.


(26,355 posts)
36. This. Hell, and religion in general, are used by power-elites to scare and control people.
Thu Mar 28, 2013, 04:38 PM
Mar 2013


It's nothing but manipulative horseshit if you ask me.


(1,372 posts)
37. I agree with you. I just thought, though
Thu Mar 28, 2013, 04:52 PM
Mar 2013

Why is it that a lot of wealthy people go to church?

IS it another way to look richous and rub elbows with
other influential people on Sundays?

I don't get it...


(145,878 posts)
29. It's less a matter of what you have to believe than a matter
Wed Mar 27, 2013, 12:56 PM
Mar 2013

of what you are able to believe. If you can believe that something called "Heaven" exists, then you probably can believe that something called "Hell" exists, too. Personally, I'm unable to believe that either thing exists.



(13,029 posts)
32. Of course not
Wed Mar 27, 2013, 08:06 PM
Mar 2013

It's belief. Logic, sense, reason and rationality don't enter into it.

But where did you get the idea that this the guy in the Bible was a "loving" god? Did he tell you that? Or do you just cherry pick the parts that reinforce that delusion and ignore the ones that you can't accept?



(71,265 posts)
33. Never sugarcoat anything do you.
Wed Mar 27, 2013, 08:29 PM
Mar 2013

Jesus said he loves us and i believe it. I know the religion is not logical but I do believe it. I don't believe the bible word for word and yes some things i choose to believe in the bible as there are things that are not meant to be taken literaly. It comes from within I guess. Yes there are things I choose to ignore because I think it is the local culture speaking and not God.


(12,132 posts)
34. My Grandma didn't believe in Hell - like you, a loving God wouldn't do that to us.
Thu Mar 28, 2013, 09:37 AM
Mar 2013

But I was raised in a hell-fire and brimstone fundamentalist baptist church.

So since I'm an atheist, if it turns out I'm wrong, I certainly hope Grandma was right.


(49,533 posts)
38. I've seen a Christian right here on DU proclaim that anyone who DOESN'T believe in hell...
Fri Mar 29, 2013, 04:50 PM
Mar 2013

must therefore not believe there are any consequences for actions, ever.

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