Monday, April 23, 2007


Is there a Hell? Separationism vs. Universalism

Main questions:

  • Is there a Hell? If so, what is it like?
  • Could anyone go there? Does anyone go there? Could anyone stay there eternally? Does anyone stay there eternally? (Adams says no. Davis says maybe. You say?)

Who cares? Depends on your perspective:

  • Many theists, esp. Christians, claim that there’s a hell and some people go there eternally: they are Separationists. Perhaps they are mistaken and there are arguments to show that Universalism is correct! If Universalism is correct, then that might make some differences to these Christians’ beliefs, policies, priorities, etc.
  • Atheists, of course, deny that there’s a hell, since they deny that there is a God. Agnostics suspend judgment on both questions.
      • Some theists argue that these non-theists will go to hell. If these non-theists can make a case for universalism, i.e., argue this – if theism is true (esp. Christian theism), then Universalism is true – then perhaps it doesn’t matter so much whether they believe that God exists!
        • Matter how?

Interesting Background Issues (see Stairs Ch. 13, Life After Death and next semester’s metaphysics class):

  • Can we survive death? If so, how? If we can, what are we essentially? Immaterial Souls? Or might we be some material part of ourselves that God uses to “re-create” us in an afterlife?
  • Would it be desirable to live eternally?
  • Do we have libertarian, indeterministic free will? (See Stairs). If we don’t have free will, or free will is compatible with determinism, what difference does that make for these issues?

Reasons to Accept Separationism, from Davis and Adams:

Reasons to Accept Universalism, from Davis and Adams:

What seems to make most sense, given everything else we reasonably believe about what God is like (or would be like, if God exists):

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