An often-repeated agument in favour of religion is that one requires religion to be moral. Not only do certain denominations of religious people claim this, but I have encountered rare non-theists who claim that religion is some kind of neccesary lie – that the illusion of a religious moral system is required in order to preserve society from chaos. I happen to think that whilst this may once have been the case, general human morals (in those parts of the world which are no longer governed in accordance with religious law) have moved past this phase and are now superior.
However, this post is about a specific evil of Christian doctrine – the doctrine of Hell. There are those who do not ascribe to this doctrine; for example, annihilationists believe that those who do not go to heaven simply cease to exist. However, the most mainstream view is that those who do not fit the requirements for paradise go to hell and are punished in some way for all eternity. This is not only immoral, it is qualitatively immoral. No finite crime can justify infinite punishment.
In order to justify hell as a moral system that god had set up, I recently saw this post on a forum I frequent:
“Would he demand love? Of course, can you imagine a father indifferent to whether his child loves him or not? What in the world are you talking about?
And as for the basement, he would be locked in and tortured if he was an evil and wicked child, yes.”
In order to give context; someone gave an analogy of hell as being similar to a parent who demands love from his children, and if the children did not love him (or if the child was evil in some way) he would lock the child up in a basement and torture him.
My problem is not solely with the logic of this post (I think virtually anyone looking critically at this can the flaw in torturing a child for it’s crimes), but the fact that the supposed bastion of morality allows this sort of thing.
Religious apologism for the evils of humanity and the world is when you think about it quite a horrible concept. We know and acknowledge these evils occur in the world – and those who wish to reconcile their deity with these evils are forced to justify them. By explaining how they fit within the paradigm of a universe ruled by an all-loving creator, they are essentially making these examples of great suffering and evil into actions that are fine; because they must be in order for them to be allowed.
Perhaps when you hear an apologist’s argument (or indeed when you make one) you should step back from what you have just explained, and look at it clearly for a moment. If you have just explained why the Haitian earthquake was in fact fine and dandy because it fits into god’s plan – perhaps you will want to think about whether you want to make these things fine and dandy.