A response to “A Case for Hell” by Ross Douthat in the New York Times.
Sean Carroll in Cosmic Variance:
This enthusiastic stumping for the reality of Hell betrays not only a shriveled sense of human decency and a repulsive interest in pain inflicted on others, but a deplorable lack of imagination. People have a hard time taking eternity seriously. I don’t know of any theological descriptions of Hell that involve some version of parole hearings at regular intervals. The usual assumption is that it’s an eternal sentence. For all the pious musings about the centrality of human choice, few of Hell’s advocates allow for some version of that choice to persist after death. Seventy years or so on Earth, with unclear instructions and bad advice; infinity years in Hell for making the wrong decisions.
Hell isn’t an essential ingredient in humanity’s freedom of agency; it’s a horrible of invention by despicable people who can’t rise above their own petty bloody-mindedness. The thought of condemning millions of people to an eternity of torment makes Ross Douthat feel good about himself and gives him a chance to indulge in some saucy contrarianism. I tend to take issue with religion on the grounds that it’s factually wrong, not morally reprehensible; but if you want evidence for the latter, here you go.