Gehenna and Sheol
What I’ll bother with instead is a little musing about the subject of hell and the afterlife and heaven, and how bizarre it all is.
Hell, for instance. Imagine a child of 4 eats a cookie after her mother told her not to, and her parents sentence her to be constantly tortured for the rest of her life as punishment. That idea looks quite gentle and benign compared to the idea of hell that is in some sense orthodox (though in what sense is not altogether clear to me, but of that later). We live a few decades, and then after that, if we are ‘sinners,’ we are tortured forever. It’s sadistic enough, but along with that, it doesn’t even make sense. What’s the point? And besides what’s the point, what’s the reason? What’s the reason for the grotesque lack of proportion?
What’s god supposed to be accomplishing by this? Not teaching, not reformation, not improvement – because it’s eternal. So, what then? Nothing makes sense except sheer unadulterated revenge, but revenge that goes beyond the wildest fantasies of human sadism. And it’s an all-powerful being who is doing this, so it’s not as if it’s a fair fight.
So the truth is that people who believe in hell believe in a god that is truly bottomlessly disgusting and loathsome. A god that inflicts utterly futile pointless useless suffering on sentient thinking animals forever and ever and ever. I don’t see how they can stand it. I really don’t. I don’t see why they don’t just curdle with horror.
And then heaven, and the afterlife…They make a nonsense of for instance the fuss about Terry Schiavo. What sense did that ever make? She wasn’t having much of a life here – and when she died she would go to heaven and have a much better life – so why were the fundamentalists so outraged at the prospect of releasing her from her useless body?
And if the objection to abortion is that the embryo has an immortal soul from the moment of conception – then what’s the problem? It already has its soul, so it can just go to heaven and be happy there. The good place is not earth, it’s heaven, so why is it supposed to be such a disaster if a fetus goes to heaven instead of here?
Also, what does I Corinthians 5 mean? What does it mean to deliver someone to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved? If someone is delivered to Satan, the spirit isn’t saved, is it? Was there some interim arrangement in Paul’s day by which people went to Satan for an hour or two to have their flesh shredded so that after that their souls would be in tip-top shape? Was that later turned into Purgatory? Or what?
This stuff isn’t as well thought-out as it might be.