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September 22nd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Different Takes: Should we abandon idea of hell?

Editor’s note: The new documentary "Hellbound?" explores Americans' ideas about hell. We asked two prominent Christians who featured in the film to give us their very different takes on hell.

My Faith: The dangerous effects of believing in hell

Editor’s note: Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times bestselling author. His latest book is "Crazy For God."

By Frank Schaeffer, Special to CNN

Is it any coincidence that the latest war of religion that started on September 11, 2001, is being fought primarily between the United States and the Islamic world? It just so happens that no subgroups of humanity are more ingrained with the doctrine of hell than conservative Muslims and conservative Christians.

And nowhere on earth have conservative Christians been closer to controlling foreign policy than here in the United States. And nowhere on earth have conservative Muslims been more dominant than in the countries from which the 9/11 extremists originated – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

What a pair George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden made! On the one hand, an American president who was a born-again evangelical with a special "heart" for the state of Israel and its importance to the so-called end times, and on the other hand a terrorist leader who believed that he was serving God by ridding the Arabian Peninsula of an American presence and cleansing the "defiled" land of Palestine of what he believed were “invader Jews.”

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So whether you're an atheist or not, the issue of who's going to hell or not matters because there are a lot of folks on this planet – many of them extraordinarily well-armed - from born-again American military personnel to Muslim fanatics, who seriously believe that God smiles upon them when they send their enemies to hell.

And so my view of "hell" encompasses two things: First, the theological question about whether a land of eternal suffering exists as God's "great plan" for most of humanity.

Second, the question of the political implications of having a huge chunk of humanity believe in damnation for those who disagree with their theology, politics and culture, as if somehow simply killing one's enemies is not enough.

What most people don't know is that there's another thread running through both Christianity and Islam that is far more merciful than the fundamentalists’ take on salvation, judgment and damnation.

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Paradise, which Muslims believe is the final destination of the society of God’s choice, is referred to in the Quran as "the home of peace"

“Our God,” Muslims are asked to recite, “You are peace, and peace is from You.”

Since Christianity is my tradition, I can say more about it. One view of God - the more fundamentalist view - is of a retributive God just itching to punish those who "stray."

The other equally ancient view, going right back into the New Testament era, is of an all-forgiving God who in the person of Jesus Christ ended the era of scapegoat sacrifice, retribution and punishment forever.

As Jesus said on the cross: "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

That redemptive view holds that far from God being a retributive God seeking justice, God is a merciful father who loves all his children equally. This is the less-known view today because fundamentalists - through televangelists and others - have been so loud and dominant in North American culture.

But for all that, this redemptive view is no less real.

Why does our view of hell matter? Because believers in hell believe in revenge. And according to brain chemistry studies, taking revenge and nurturing resentment is a major source of life-destroying stress.

For a profound exploration of the madness caused by embracing the “justice” of “godly” revenge and retribution, watch the film “Hellbound?”

The film shows how the "hell" of revenge thinking, and the resulting unhinging of some people’s brains through their denial of human empathy, leads them to relish the violent future of suffering that they predict awaits the “lost” in hell.

Do we really want to go back to a time of literalistic religion. Wasn’t 9/11 enough of an argument against retributive religion?

We need “hell” like a hole in the head. It’s time for the alternative of empathetic merciful religion to be understood.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Frank Schaeffer.

My Faith: Hell is for real and Jesus is the only way out

Editor's Note: Mark Driscoll is founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

By Mark Driscoll, Special to CNN

As a pastor, my job is to tell the truth. Your job is to make a decision.

When controversies over biblical doctrines arise, it’s a humbling opportunity to answer questions about what the Bible teaches without getting into name-calling and mudslinging. Near the very top of the controversial doctrines is hell.

What happens when we die?

Human beings were created by God with both a physical body and a spiritual soul. When someone dies, their body goes into the grave and their spirit goes into an afterlife to face judgment.

But death is not normal or natural—it’s an enemy and the consequence of sin.

Think of it in this way: God is the source of life. When we choose to live independently of God and rebelliously against God it is akin to unplugging something from its power source. It begins to lose power until it eventually dies.

The Bible is clear that one day there will be a bodily resurrection for everyone, to either eternal salvation in heaven or eternal condemnation in hell.

Christians believe a person’s eternal status depends on their relationship with Jesus and that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Our lives are shaped by the reality that “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

What does Jesus say about hell?

Jesus was emphatically clear on the subject of hell. He alone has risen from death and knows what awaits us on the other side of this life. A day of judgment is coming when all of us — even you — will rise from our graves and stand before him for eternal sentencing to either worshiping in his kingdom or suffering in his hell.

The Bible could not be clearer: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

These are not just obscure Bible verses. In fact, Jesus talks about hell more than anyone else in Scripture. Amazingly, 13% of his sayings are about hell and judgment, and more than half of his parables relate to the eternal judgment of sinners.

Keep in mind that Jesus’ words come in the context of the rest of Scripture, which says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Furthermore, he “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

God is far more loving, kind and patient with his enemies than we are with our enemies.

What does the rest of the Bible say about hell?

The Bible gives us many descriptions of hell including (1) fire; (2) darkness; (3) punishment; (4) exclusion from God’s presence; (5) restlessness; (6) second death; and (7) weeping and gnashing of teeth in agony.

A common misperception of Satan is that he’s in a red suit, holding a pitchfork at the gates of hell. But Satan will not[j1]  reign there. Hell is a place of punishment that God prepared for the devil and his angels, and it’s where those who live apart from God will, according to Revelation:

. . . drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb [Jesus Christ]. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night.

At the end of the age, the devil will be “thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Hell will be ruled over by Jesus, and everyone present — humans and demons and Satan alike — will be tormented there continually in perfect justice.

Jesus says, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. ... And these will go away into eternal punishment.”

Is there a second chance after death?

The Bible is clear that we die once and are then judged without any second chance at salvation. As one clear example, Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

We live. We die. We face judgment. Period.

How long does the punishment last?

Some argue that the punishment of sinners is not eternal, a view called annihilationism. This means that after someone dies apart from Jesus, they suffer for a while and then simply cease to exist.

Annihilationism is simply not what the Bible teaches. Daniel 12:2 says, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Jesus speaks of those who “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Grammatically, there is no difference here between the length of time mentioned for “life” and that for “punishment”; rather, there is simply eternal life and eternal death.

Am I going to hell?

The good news is that the closing verses of the Bible say, “Come!” Everyone is invited to receive the free gift of God’s saving grace in Jesus. Jesus is God become a man to reconcile mankind to God.

He lived the sinless life we have not lived, died a substitutionary death on the cross for our sins. He endured our wrath, rose to conquer our enemies of sin and death, and ascended to heaven where he is ruling as Lord over all today. He did this all in love.

The stark reality is this: either Jesus suffered for your sins to rescue you from hell, or you will suffer for your sins in hell. These are the only two options and you have an eternal decision to make.

My hope and prayer is that you would become a Christian.

Have you confessed your sins to Jesus Christ, seeking forgiveness and salvation?

If not, you are hellbound, and there is no clever scholar who will be of any help when you stand before Jesus Christ for judgment. You’re not required to like hell as much as you need to believe in it, turn from your sin, trust in Jesus, and be saved from an eternal death into an eternal life.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Driscoll.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Devil • Opinion

soundoff (7,963 Responses)
  1. Ryan

    Its better to die on your feet, then live down on your knees.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • grace

      The level of contempt and sheer anger among those who choose not to believe is so profound. Why does it bother you so much that others have a faith?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Moo

      That wasn't the philosophy of the girl down the street from where I grew up... o_0

      September 24, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • cedar rapids

      "Why does it bother you so much that others have a faith?"

      because they dont keep their personal faith personal, they insist on telling others how to live their lives.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Ryan

      @moo schwinnnngggggg

      September 24, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  2. ironfray

    "Think of it in this way: God is the source of life. When we choose to live independently of God and rebelliously against God it is akin to unplugging something from its power source. It begins to lose power until it eventually dies."

    I unplugged from religion roughly 8 years ago and I've never felt more alive and free. Religion has always been the ultimate control mechanism and it's slowly losing it's grip on the world. It's no wonder that religion has been thrust across the world for people to see just how destructive chained minds can be. The sad part is that it took my own realization to break free. It started with a question and ultimately a series of questions then awakening. Questioning and logic is the key to unlock the chains, something religion tries to prevent you from doing. See, religion has this wonderful fail proof system called "faith". Faith is a powerful mechanism because once installed in your mind, you will always be led to believe that anything that challenges the logic of what religion teaches, suddenly becomes a test from God / Satan upon your "faith". Therefore, anytime your mind senses inconsistencies in religion (which occurs plenty of times) and logically begins to unravel the truth, FAITH kicks in and points you back the other way. Faith is the invisible body guard of religion.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Matt in Oregon

      Agreed. I chucked my Christianity in the trash three years ago now and life, for me anyway, has never been as happy and fulfilling as it is now.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • BobbyD

      I agree – religion is man made – God is NOT!!!

      September 24, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Olujil

      It is not a novel experience for people to have a sense of freedom after they've unplugged from religion. Of course, you feel free when there is no sense of obligation to a set of creed, a particular way of life, or a set of do's and don'ts. But the question is not about how free we feel on earth. The mistake we all make is thinking that earth is the "end game," but it's NOT. Satan we give us a false sense of freedom on earth so he can have us accompany him in HELL. "When we choose to live independent of God, it's akin to unplugging something from its power source....it gradually loses power until it dies." This statement is referring to the impact of unplugging from God on the spiritual level. And it is a common experience that Satan gives people a false sense of freedom and peace after unplugging from God in order to cover-up the truth about how they are spiritually draining away.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  3. Moo

    Hell is about as real as leprechauns, pixie dust, and you know... "God."

    September 24, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  4. BobZemko

    Is hell for real? Just watch TLC on any weeknight to find out.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  5. grace

    Well done, Pastor Mark Driscoll. Our God is truly for all!

    September 24, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Bob

      grace, frankly, your god would be an ass hole if he existed. Let's take a look at what the Christian book of nasty AKA the bible has him demanding of you:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      September 24, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Olujil

      @ Bob: I'm just curious if you found those bible passages yourself (by reading the bible) or you are just regurgitating what you found on the internet written by someone whose main intention is to confuse unbeliever like yourself. It is a shame that you read the bible to find what is wrong with it, what has been said wrong, or how the bible can self incriminate itself, instead of reading it for what its really saying. If you want to have a real conversation about the bible, religion, and God, I'll be more than happy to talk with you. Lastly, the bible is not the only way God talks to His children; the Holy Spirit is God talking to us in real time.

      September 24, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  6. MM

    The weather report from hell (center of the Earth) today is looking for the barometric pressure to be rising to about 50,000,000 psi, and the temp is going to hit 12,000 deg F.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Huebert

      Wouldn't you begin to under go fusion at that temperature and pressure?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  7. LeeCMH

    The Mark Driscoll article reads as a tract you see hateful Christians giving out at intersections. Christians hate large classes of people. They want to rationalize and justify their hatred. The use Christianity as a veneer hoping to mask their hatred with respectability. It is just hatred! This of this the next time a crazy hateful Christian is screaming, "you're going straight to hell", at you.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Topher

      Whom do I hate?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • MarylandBill

      While I am not a fan of the Protestant theories about hell, there is nothing Rev. Driscoll's article that is directly hateful. In my experience, quite a few Evangelicals talk about Hell not because they hate people, but because they hate that many, many people will be going there (in their view).

      As a Catholic I also believe in Hell, and believe that the only sure way to avoid it is to follow Christ by being a member of his Church and partaking of the sacraments of grace he gave us. That being said, we don't believe we know who will or won't go to hell. We are all at risk, but hell might be a mostly empty place or quite full, we don't know.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Unafiliated

      Lee, I'm an Atheist, but I find your broad-brush prejudice to be unfair. Most Christians are not of the hate variety. It's Evangelical Christians that cross that line, and I would add that it's not even the majority of them. So, while I agree that there are extremist christians, just like extremist anything, and I wish they would shut up, it's not right to project our disdain for extremists onto the general populace of any group.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • LeeCMH

      I have been exposed to raw Christian hatred for 56 years.

      I can't tell you the number of times Christians have gotten red faced and screamed "you're goin' straight to hell." Just because I am gay. I have been physically threatened. I've been bullied both in school and the workplace. I have been injured by hateful Christians.

      Perhaps the "good" Christians can help tone-down the hateful Christians?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • BobbyD

      Lee, you are absolutely correct! As a Christian, it is my responsibility to rebuke other Christians about their behaviors, especially when it comes to dealing with non-Christians. I hopefully do this out of love and not contempt. If I meet a non-Christian, I certainly do not scream at them about going to hell. I always will have a rational conversation about God and what He has done for me in my life. Nothing is more powerful than personal testimony. I am sorry that you have been treated badly by supposed Christians. Please believe me – we are not all like that.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  8. TheToothFairy

    "God is far more loving, kind and patient with his enemies than we are with our enemies" So stated by the new age christian dude that looks like a linebacker.
    Give me an example of this in the bible b/c old testament he kills and orders people to kill, new testament he has a son that states unless you believe in my son who is not god but is god sorta, then you go to a fiery hell and grind your teeth and scream for eternity.
    This is love and foregiveness?
    This is delusion

    September 24, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Topher

      Let me ask you this: Do you love God?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Bob

      Topher, there is no god. Nothing there to love. If you think otherwise, then present your evidence, beyond your particular holey book. And ask yourself why your "god" can't convince sincere people like me that he exists.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Stan

      Hell is the abscence of God. It is vacuum or void of love that hurts the core of humanity. It is a place that we were not designed to be in. God loves us and wants us to receive, not reject, his love. If we reject his love we are left with a certain empty future. That is not God's wish. That is our wish if we choose it.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Topher

      Bob

      Let's say I did prove God's existance. Would you repent and trust the Savior and become a Christian?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Sojo_Truth

      Perhaps, the worst part of this article is that Mark Driscoll was not completely forthcoming about his real view regarding humanity and salvation. He is a Calvinist, and therefore does not believe that all who come to God can be saved. He believes that only the elect will be saved, and the non-elect have no choice in the matter.

      I get tired of these mainstream guys covering up their doctrinal beliefs in the name of keeping the peace. Just state all of your beliefs. Even the unpopular one's.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • sam stone

      "Let's say I did prove God's existance. Would you repent and trust the Savior and become a Christian?"

      Gosh....Topher, that supposes your proof of "god" supports the Christian view of god, and not any of the thousands of other gods that man has worshipped

      September 24, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • cedar rapids

      "Topher – Bob – Let's say I did prove God's existance. Would you repent and trust the Savior and become a Christian?"

      You are assuming that the god you prove exists is the christian one, and that if that god exists that therefore the story of jesus is also correct. Two mighty big assumptions there.

      "God is far more loving, kind and patient with his enemies than we are with our enemies"

      I agree this is a nonsense claim. As a civilised society we agree torture is wrong but apparently god wants to us non-believers to be tortured for eternity as punishment for simply not believing in him. If that isnt a peverse and evil act then I don't know what is.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • jmanring

      Sojo_Truth: Calvinism actually teaches that whoever comes to God in faith and repentance will be received (John 6:37).

      September 24, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  9. grist

    Never understood the logic of why simply believing in a particular god's son should make any difference in the scheme of things. One cannot will themselves to believe. Most people take on the religion of their parents. So according to Christians, those lucky enough to be born of Christian parents don't go to hell. Every religion thinks they are right and everyone else is wrong. Time to wake up and realize we don't need to believe in fairy tales anymore. The young get it. My kids tell me at least 30% of kids speak openly about being atheist. Science is the answer to our problems. Logic is the way to achieve morality.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • JSiD

      Grist, you are my God.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • BobbyD

      Grist, luck has nothing to do with it. God knows every hair on our head and knows us even before we are formed in our mothers womb! I certainly do not have all the answers and will not until I am face to face with Jesus!!!

      September 24, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  10. grace

    How dare you liken George W Bush's faith to the religion / faith of Osama Bin Laden. This is in such poor taste and just editorialism at its lowest. Nice work, CNN.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Bob

      No grace, you might not like it, but it's actually a very valid comparison.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • LeeCMH

      Both Bin Ladiin and GW Bush were/are hateful religionists. They existed/exist to fan the fires of worldwide hatred.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Anchorite

      OBL killed 3,000 innocent people in New York on his jihad, GWB killed 655,000 innocent people in Iraq on his self-styled crusade. I'd say you're right, there's no comparison.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • cedar rapids

      Why is it the people that moan about an article in the opinion section blame CNN rather than the person who made the statement? bizarre.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  11. jackhudson

    There is obviously lots of evidence of the existence of hell as anyone who has ever been to an African slum or war zone can tell you – whether it persists beyond death is really what Christians and atheists dispute.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  12. Matt in Oregon

    You cannot square the idea of a god of love sending people to be eternally tortured for not believing it exists. You just cant. Good thing for all of us that this god probably, and by extension this god's hell, does not exist.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • jmanring

      What is just and right is not up to you. God defines what is just, and if we have a problem with it, that means our understanding of justice is faulty. God does not just measure up to the standard of justice, He IS the standard of justice and righteousness. It is not for us to hold God to our flawed understanding of justice, but to submit to His.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  13. keefer

    Is this satirical?

    September 24, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  14. Isa

    1. Belief in the hereafter is not based on blind faith?

    Many people wonder as to how a person with a scientific and logical temperament, can lend any credence to the belief of life after death. People assume that anyone believing in the hereafter is doing so on the basis of blind belief.

    My belief in the hereafter is based on a logical argument.

    2. Hereafter a logical belief

    There are more than a thousand verses in the Glorious Qur’an, containing scientific facts (refer my book “Qur’an and Modern Science-Compatible or Incompatible?”). Many facts mentioned in the Qur’an have been discovered in the last few centuries. But science has not advanced to a level where it can confirm every statement of the Qur’an.

    Suppose 80% of all that is mentioned in the Qur’an has been proved 100% correct. About the remaining 20%, science makes no categorical statement, since it has not advanced to a level, where it can either prove or disprove these statements. With the limited knowledge that we have, we cannot say for sure whether even a single percentage or a single verse of the Qur’an from this 20% portion is wrong. Thus when 80% of the Qur’an is 100% correct and the remaining 20% is not disproved, logic says that even the 20% portion is correct. The existence of the hereafter, which is mentioned in the Qur’an, falls in the 20% ambiguous portion which my logic says is correct.

    3. Concept of peace and human values is useless without the concept of hereafter

    Is robbing a good or an evil act? A normal balanced person would say it is evil. How would a person who does not believe in the hereafter convince a powerful and influential criminal that robbing is evil?

    Suppose I am the most powerful and influential criminal in the world. At the same time I am an Intelligent and a logical person. I say that robbing is good because it helps me lead a luxurious life. Thus robbing is good for me.

    If anybody can put forward a single logical argument as to why it is evil for me, I will stop immediately. People usually put forward the following arguments:

    a. The person who is robbed will face difficulties

    Some may say that the person who is robbed will face difficulties. I certainly agree that it is bad for the person who is robbed. But it is good for me. If I rob a thousand dollars, I can enjoy a good meal at a 5 star restaurant.

    b. Someone may rob you

    Some people argue that someday I may be robbed. No one can rob me because I am a very powerful criminal and I have hundreds of bodyguards. I can rob anybody but nobody can rob me. Robbing may be a risky profession for a common man but not for an influential person like me.

    c. The police may arrest you

    Some may say, if you rob, you can be arrested by the police. The police cannot arrest me because I have the police on my payroll. I have the ministers on my payroll. I agree that if a common man robs, he will be arrested and it will be bad for him, but I am an extraordinarily influential and powerful criminal.

    Give me one logical reason why it is bad for me and I will stop robbing.

    d. Its easy money

    Some may say its easy money and not hard-earned money. I agree completely that it is easy money, and that is one of the main reasons why I rob. If a person has the option of earning money the easy as well as the hard way, any logical person would choose the easy way.

    e. It is against humanity

    Some may say it is against humanity and that a person should care for other human beings. I counter argue by asking as to who wrote this law called ‘humanity’ and why should I follow it?

    This law may be good for the emotional and sentimental people but I am a logical person and I see no benefit in caring for other human beings.

    f. It is a selfish act

    Some may say that robbing is being selfish. It is true that robbing is a selfish act; but then why should I not be selfish? It helps me enjoy life.

    1. No logical reason for robbing being an evil act

    Hence all arguments that attempt to prove that robbing is an evil act are futile. These arguments may satisfy a common man but not a powerful and influential criminal like me. None of the arguments can be defended on the strength of reason and logic. It is no surprise that there are so many criminals in this world.

    Similarly raping, cheating etc. can be justified as good for a person like me and there is no logical argument that can convince me that these things are bad.

    2. A Muslim can convince a powerful and influential criminal

    Now let us switch sides. Suppose you are the most powerful and influential criminal in the world, who has the police and the ministers on his payroll. You have army of thugs to protect you. I am a Muslim who will convince you that robbing, raping, cheating, etc. are evil acts.

    Even if I put forth the same arguments to prove that robbing is evil the criminal will respond the same way as he did earlier.

    I agree that the criminal is being logical and all his arguments are true only when he is the most powerful and influential criminal.

    3. Every human being wants justice

    Each and every human being desires justice. Even if he does not want justice for others he wants justice for himself. Some people are intoxicated by power and influence and inflict pain and suffering on others. The same people, however, would surely object if some injustice was done to them. The reason such people become insensitive to the suffering of others is that they worship power and influence. Power and influence, they feel, not only allows them to inflict injustice on others but also prevents others from doing likewise to them.

    4. God is Most Powerful and Just

    As a Muslim I would convince the criminal about the existence of Almighty God (refer to answer proving the existence of God). This God is more powerful than you and at the same time is also just. The Glorious Qur’an says:

    “Allah is never unjust
    In the least degree”

    [Al-Qur’an 4:40]

    5. Why does God not punish me?

    The criminal, being a logical and scientific person, agrees that God exists, after being presented with scientific facts from the Qur’an. He may argue as to why God, if He is Powerful and Just, does not punish him.

    6. The people who do injustice should be punished

    Every person who has suffered injustice, irrespective of financial or social status, almost certainly wants the perpetrator of injustice to be punished. Every normal person would like the robber or the rapist to be taught a lesson. Though a large number of criminals are punished, many even go scot-free. They lead a pleasant, luxurious life, and even enjoy a peaceful existence. If injustice is done to a powerful and influential person, by someone more powerful and more influential than he, even such a person would want that person perpetrators of injustice to be punished.

    7. This life is a test for the hereafter

    This life is a test for the hereafter. The Glorious Qur’an says:

    “He who created Death
    And life that He
    May try which of you
    Is best in deed;
    And He is the Exalted
    In Might, Oft-Forgiving”
    [Al-Qur’an 67:2]

    8. Final justice on day of judgement

    The Glorious Qur’an says:

    “Every soul shall have
    A taste of death:
    And only on the Day
    Of Judgement shall you
    Be paid your full recompense.
    Only he who is saved
    Far from the Fire
    And admitted to the Garden
    Will have attained
    The object (of life):
    For the life of this world
    Is but goods and chattels
    Of deception.”
    [Al-Qur’an 3:185]

    Final justice will be meted out on the Day of Judgement. After a person dies, he will be resurrected on the Day of Judgement along with the rest of mankind. It is possible that a person receives part of his punishment in this world. The final reward and punishment will only be in the hereafter. God Almighty may not punish a robber or a rapist in this world but he will surely be held accountable on the Day of Judgement and will be punished in the hereafter i.e. life after death.

    9. What punishment can the human law give Hitler?

    Hitler incinerated six million Jews during his reign of terror. Even if the police had arrested him, what punishment can the human law give Hitler for justice to prevail? The most they can do is to send Hitler to the gas chamber. But that will only be punishment for the killing of one Jew. What about the remaining five million, nine hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine Jews?

    10. Allah can burn Hitler more than six million times in hellfire

    Allah say in the Glorious Qur’an:

    “Those who reject
    Our signs, We shall soon
    Cast into the Fire;
    As often as their skins
    Are roasted through,
    We shall change them
    For fresh skins,
    That they may taste
    The penalty: for Allah
    Is Exalted in Power, Wise”
    [Al-Qur’an 4:56]

    If Allah wishes he can incinerate Hitler six million times in the hereafter in the hellfire.

    11. No concept of human values or good and bad without concept of hereafter

    It is clear that without convincing a person about the hereafter, i.e. life after death, the concept of human values and the good or evil nature of acts is impossible to prove to any person who is doing injustice especially when he is influential and powerful.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Matt in Oregon

      Yes, Islam is a religion of peace... and Muslims will f***ing kill you if you disagree!

      September 24, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Bob

      Nice copy and paste, Isa, but we are still waiting for any evidence to support your particular crazy supersti-tion, over any of the thousands of other ones that man has created.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • TheToothFairy

      Further, I love how religion embracing science when it's in their favor and then disputes it when it is not. If we followed the logic of your religions teachings we would still be in the dark ages where many of your religions most fervant believers would like us to return.
      Hogwash...

      September 24, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • cedar rapids

      wow, sorry isa but that was nonsense.
      For starters you cannot come close to claiming 80% proven correct. Secondly there have been known cases where modern translations have been that have twisted words to make them look more prophetic than what they were, and there have been cases where it has been proved wrong, so to claim that therefore the 20% left is correct is a false logic claim.
      Therefore if the person is logic, as you claim, then your statement that you will convince them god exists is also a false claim based on the fact that your original argument was false right from the start. After that the rest of your post becomes nonsense.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • evinar

      tl;dr

      You know, Einstein needed a lot of room too, to prove something logically about Relativity... the difference between his genius and your BS, though, is that he came out of it with an equation 5 characters long that can be proven again and again by other people measuring everything from the distortion of spacetime around a massive star to the difference in spacetime of a GPS satellite.

      You've proven absolutely NOTHING. I see percentages in your post; does this somehow lend weight to anything you've said, at all?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • TheSchmaltz

      "Suppose 80% of all that is mentioned in the Qur’an has been proved 100% correct."

      Not until you prove that is the case. It isn't, and your argument only works when started with this faulty premise.

      "logic says that even the 20% portion is correct."

      No it doesn't. Big logical fallacy there.

      "If anybody can put forward a single logical argument as to why it is evil for me"

      You shifted from talking about morality to talking about personal consequences. If you're the world's most successful criminal, then stealing obviously isn't bad For You, but it's still evil. You're making a good living mistreating others. Those are two different things, and you're talking about them as though they're the same.

      The rest of your wall of text boils down to this: Humans can't punish everyone evil, but you think God can therefore we should believe in him. While it might be nice to have a world where justice is absolute, that doesn't mean we do have it or should believe we do. This is not evidence. This is why it's a comforting thought, but doesn't say why it's real.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  15. Wm.

    Along with the Original Sin and the Problem of Evil, the idea of Hell was enough to drive me away from the Abrahmic religions. Where is Love, the Good, Justice? Nothing just about any of these propositions is just or kind. On the miniscule chance that this fundamentalist view would be correct, I think I'd choose Hell- I want no part of their puritanical paradise.
    After many years of study and reflection, I became a Buddhist in 2009. Problem solved.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  16. glades2

    Dont' take it from us Christians, instead, listen to those atheists who had near-death experiences and sensed hell for themselves (from a spiritual distance) – as they said, they were absolutely terrified, and convinced them that not only is there a hell, but that God does exist, and Heaven, too. All you need to do is search the Internet and their experiences are told for all to read...

    September 24, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Bob

      Baloney, glades. I can just as readily find sites that shred those claims. But why can't your god produce his own modern web presence, rather than expect us to believe some stale old book re-translated a bazillion times, that even believers can't agree on interpretations of.

      Pretty pathetic god it is that you've made for yourself there.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Ryan

      I can find evidence on the internet for the existence of UFO's, Aliens, 2012 world end, and Spiderman.

      The internet isn't a credible source.

      When people die, they get frightened and may hallucinate and see things. Sound is said to be the last sense to shut off. When someone faints, often times they see light then it goes dark. There are plenty of things we do know, scientifically that could shed light on near death experiences and even more we don't know about consciousness and how the brain works.

      Science and accounts can no more prove religion right than they can disprove it, but science should keep discovering and explaining, giving us new answers. Religion is faith, there is no basis in proof.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • jackhudson

      @Bob – yes, because if God set up a web site, then we would know He was real. God is certainly well represented on the web – I am not sure what difference that makes in terms of the reality of His existence.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Moo

      bahahahahahahahaha... from a "spiritual" distance. Yesterday, I was driving to the grocery store and saw a three horned penguin dog coming at me from a "tripping balls on acid" distance.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • cedar rapids

      I can find videos of fish supposedly with 'allah' written in arabic on their sides. I guess that makes Islam the truth as well.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • cedar rapids

      and boy, condemned to an eternity of punishment simply for being atheist, such a loving and forgiving god you have there.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Anchorite

      Contrary to popular belief, there are no cases of atheists facing imminent death or having near-death experiences suddenly believing in God or making deals with a God who might exist. We do not believe there is no God because people don't try to scare us enough like they obviously did to you. We don't believe because there is no evidence, the same reason we don't believe in a lot of things.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  17. lolita

    hell is real. I'm a hell of a guy

    September 24, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  18. Judy

    Mankind is slowly outgrowing the need for a god...not in my lifetime but it will happen.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  19. ThatGuy

    Umm.... I think I'll go ahead and pass on both the Jesus guy and that Hell place. Both sound a little extreme to me.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  20. jan

    With GOD there is hope, without hope, what is there?

    September 24, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • cedar rapids

      hope for what exactly?
      i have hope for various things without god so what 'hope' do you actually need god for?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • natepush

      With god there is fear, hate, and ignorance. Without and with god there can be peace, love, and cooperation. Unfortunately, it appears to be a million times more likely without him. I don't remember the last time atheists waged a holy war over their beliefs. Maybe it's because it has never happened.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Doug

      Better think that through a bit more, jan. Substitute "tooth fairy" or "Santa Claus" for "God" and you might get a sense of why that is.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Petercha

      With God there is love, joy, and peace. Without God there is hatred and intolerance.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • ThatGuy

      Both hope and... reality?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Louis

      jan
      I don't think that you can argue that God is the only source of hope in this world. Besides, for about 2/3 of the world's population your beliefs are taking away their hope of being able to die and remain dead peacefully, so I wouldn't call it "hope" at all.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • pat

      Hope for an afterlife?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Louis

      Petercha
      Lots of people supposedly "with" God sure do seem to to me to have a lot of hatred and intolerance, so I'm not sure how you can say that?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'm curious about what hope you can get from god. Hope that when you die, you aren't really dead? Hope that someday some magic spirit will come and make the world or your life better? Why not work to make the world and your own life better, and be content with the life you do have?

      September 24, 2012 at 10:17 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.