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Christianity &Islam &Rationals Thomas on 21 Dec 2009 12:05 am

Common atheist argument: “No one could enjoy heaven knowing that billions are tortured in hell.” It is an invalid argument. The reason- it happens on earth every day and no one cares.

You may have heard this common argument that atheists use when talking about Christians in heaven:

“No Christian could enjoy heaven knowing that billions of people are being tortured in hell.”

Here is a typical example of the argument’s use:

Those old Pearly Gates:

The point is this. How can anyone enjoy Heaven, knowing that while you have eternal bliss there are people experiencing eternal suffering? Unless you belong to an insular religious community or a cult, it’s almost certain that you know someone – a friend, a relative, a loved one, an idol who inspires you – whose religion of choice is different than yours, or who has no religion at all. How will you be able to enjoy Heaven in the certain knowledge that that person is, at the same moment, suffering the torments of the damned? What if it’s a spouse, a parent, a best friend, a child? (Some theists claim that watching the damned suffer is one of the rewards allotted to those who reach Heaven. About this no more will be said.) How can Heaven be any sort of reward at all if it means eternal separation from the people you care about, all the more so if those people must suffer without release while you are powerless to help them? And will you, a saved soul in Paradise, be content to kneel and worship the same god who, elsewhere at that same moment, is pouring out the flames of his wrath upon your lost loved ones?

That paragraph is reinforced here.

Another example: How can my mother enjoy Heaven, knowing that her atheist son will be tortured forever in the fires of Hell?

Another example: Why The Christian God Does Not Exist – “you and your child go to Heaven, but your spouse does not. They are burning in Hell, being tormented by demons and constantly reminded of their loved ones being in Heaven and they can never see them again. How terrible! Are you going to be able to enjoy eternal paradise, while the love of your life is being tormented in Hell fire for eternity? Of course not, unless your sick and demented!”

The atheist wonders how a Christian could live knowing that such suffering exists.

This is an invalid argument. The reason it is invalid is because every American – Christian, Jew, Muslim and Atheist alike – happily lives with these conditions each day without any problem. Across planet earth, approximately half of the population are living on less that $2 per day. Approximately one billion people are living on $1 per day. They live, obviously, in wretched, miserable poverty. Tens of thousands of children die each day of starvation. This video summarizes the contrast:

The fact is that Americans can happily live their lives while billions of people live in rudimentary shacks, starving, without any medical care. These impoverished people are experiencing hell on earth, while those living in America, by comparison, are experiencing heaven on earth. Even the poorest poor in America, living on welfare, food stamps and Medicaid, are a hundred times better off than someone living on $1 per day.

You would never hear anyone say, “It would be impossible to live happily in America knowing that billions of other people are tortured by starvation and disease every day.” That is silly. American’s are quite happy with their opulence.

How can Americans happily live in their opulence while billions suffer through hell on earth? It’s easy. It’s called “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”

33 Responses to “Common atheist argument: “No one could enjoy heaven knowing that billions are tortured in hell.” It is an invalid argument. The reason- it happens on earth every day and no one cares.”

  1. on 21 Dec 2009 at 1:31 am 1.jake said …

    You can live in heaven and not be happy about it.

  2. on 21 Dec 2009 at 1:44 am 2.jake said …

    I’m not knowledgeable about debate but this seems like a straw man argument.

    The best thing you can do for starving people is to eat vegan.

  3. on 21 Dec 2009 at 4:01 am 3.Bleu said …

    Strawman how?

  4. on 21 Dec 2009 at 5:29 am 4.Bzero said …

    An argument can be made that there’s a difference between knowing that strangers somewhere are suffering, and knowing your son/wife/parents are being tortured for eternity.

  5. on 21 Dec 2009 at 12:28 pm 5.skeptic7 said …

    this is the world we live in now because either a)this is the condition of the natural world, or b)this is the world your imaginary asshole god inflicts upon us with his infinite wisdom and love.

    the world is a harsh place. suffering and terrible things happen everyday. nature happens everyday. there is no god(s). it is all superstitious bullcrap. there is no heaven and hell.

    you are correct about one thing, “out of sight, out of mind”…just like your imaginary friend in the sky…

    “the invisible and the nonexistent look very much alike”

  6. on 21 Dec 2009 at 1:59 pm 6.Boz said …

    We have the strawman here since the facts dictate otherwise. We have Americans who like to put down America rather than acknowledge her greatness. America is almost always the first to respond to a world disaster, America is the most generous nation in all the world. Prez Bush gave more aid to Africa during his administration than any POTUS in history or any country in history. Look at the record. It could be the rest of the world is not doing their part.

  7. on 21 Dec 2009 at 2:38 pm 7.BrianE said …

    The question involves how people can enjoy heaven with LOVED ONES suffering in hell. The answer just completely drops this part of the equation! So the argument isn’t invalid – the answer is.

  8. on 21 Dec 2009 at 3:23 pm 8.Fabiooltje said …

    But ARE you truly fully happy now, knowing that people all over the world suffer?
    If you are a true christian, you shouldn’t be happy. And you should do whatever is in your power to stop the suffering.

    For example, support UNICEF!

  9. on 21 Dec 2009 at 7:18 pm 9.Boz said …

    “How can Americans happily live in their opulence while billions suffer through hell on earth? It’s easy. It’s called “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”

    The final question is listed above. It is the one I answered Brian. When I get to heaven I’m sure I’ll be told what I should do then. I don’t participate in those useless debates.


    If you a truly compassionate human being you shouldn’t be happy and you should do whatever is in your power to stop the suffering. Christians shouldn’t be the only ones expected to act.

  10. on 21 Dec 2009 at 10:07 pm 10.hemantisafool said …

    Looks like your website is under attack from supernatural forces…


    you really need to add comment moderation to your blasphemy…

  11. on 22 Dec 2009 at 10:07 am 11.TheGreatHairyOne said …

    I think it’s a little different from a faceless, unknown person somewhere “over there” to a loved relative.

  12. on 22 Dec 2009 at 11:08 am 12.Dan said …

    Here’s a question for you: why is anyone deserving of “eternal paradise”? If God is all knowing and all powerful, then we are all a product of his divine will, as are all of our actions. If I am an atheist, it is because he decided I was to be one. For god to be omniscient, he must have absolute information on every aspect of the universe; NOTHING can be unpredictable for him, otherwise he is no longer all knowing he’s just very clever. If he is all knowing, but was unable to create a world in which we are all able to come to the conclusion that he exists and wants us to be good and avoid suffering etc, then he is not omnipotent. On the other hand, if he is omniscient and omnipotent, then the world is precisely the way he intended it, with a very small percentage of human beings living well and the rest suffering in poverty.
    Now, what is more likely, that this kind of God exists, or he was simply invented by men who did not understand the origins of the world they lived in and could not conceive of meaning in a life that did not have rewards in an “afterlife”.

  13. on 22 Dec 2009 at 7:19 pm 13.Severin said …

    Dan #12
    Religious people, including those debating in this Blog, usually do not accept any logical arguments.
    Your arguments are excellent, but they do not accept them.
    So called “free will” which “god gave” to humans, and the “god’s plan” are totally contradictory, but religious people use both as arguments, depending what you claim, making contradictory claims of themself.

    However, it is not bad to discuss on these pages!
    Some young man/lady under pressure of religious surroundment and religious education may have some doubts thanks to his/her common sence. Debates like these ones can help them to get out of poisonous world of religion before they get brain washed.

  14. on 22 Dec 2009 at 10:00 pm 14.Epicurus said …

    One small problem with your strawman argument is that suffering in christian hell is eternal, while suffering on earth ends when you die. So suffering for a finite period on earth due natural forces or to the unfortunate circumstances of your birth is not even remotely the same thing as suffering for all eternity in hell due to the direct action of your supposedly all-loving father figure.

    A strong argument can be made that the christian god, if it existed, would be directly and ultimately responsible for all human suffering on earth, as well as (obviously) human suffering in christian hell. This is the problem of evil (theodicy), which your post completely fails to address. If your christian god exists, and it is omnipotent/omniscient, then it is ultimately responsible for all evil and suffering in the universe. Period.

  15. on 01 Jan 2010 at 5:29 am 15.Breckmin said …

    God is a God of Order. It is not logical for Him to give a sign other than the sign of Jonah (which is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead). All miracles performed by the Holy Spirit as a result of prayer would expect to be personal in nature in the church age that we now live in.

    Asking God to grow limbs as some sort of ridiculous sign is not only foolishly putting God to the test..but it stands in the face of scripture that says it is an
    evil generation that seeks a sign.

    Cancer, internal injuries, tumors….things of this nature are much more logical to heal because they are personal miracles for God’s purposes.

    The greatest miracle since the Resurrection of Jesus is the God healing a hard heart and transforming a person into a believer. This is the miracle of salvation.

  16. on 01 Jan 2010 at 5:47 am 16.Breckmin said …

    “If your christian God exists, and it is omnipotent/omniscient, then it is ultimately responsible for all evil and suffering in the universe. Period.”

    Omniscient is an accurate English word. Omnipotent doesn’t deal with what is “logical” for God to do.
    If it is illogical for God to prevent inevitable evil
    because of choices and because sin and disobedience
    are a potential byproduct of choice (so that love can exist) then God will not prevent the inevitable if salvation is the greater good.

    Yes, God is responsible for allowing evil and suffering to exist for the greater good of the eternal glory of LOVE which will exist in heaven forever with His Only Begotten Jesus Christ and His adopted children (by His grace – which is absolutely “unfair.”)

    There are multiple reasons why suffering exists..but often we do not know which ones apply in each instance of personal suffering..but we can look at the logical
    possibilites of what the Creator is doing.

  17. on 01 Jan 2010 at 5:53 am 17.Breckmin said …

    Omnipotence and “all powerful” are incorrect words to use when encompassing all possibilities of illogical or
    self-contradicting occurances. In Christianity we have
    this statement regarding God being able to create a rock too big to move, or this sort of thing. “Nonsense is nonsense, even when you try to apply it to God.”

    Omnibenevolence and “all loving” are also incorrect words to try to apply to our Holy Creator. God does not love satan nor his demons, for example.

    Omniscience and Omnipresence are accurate words which do not encompass meanings which result in hyper-technical contradiction.

  18. on 01 Jan 2010 at 5:58 am 18.Breckmin said …

    “before they get brain washed.”

    Perhaps some Christians realize that their brain needs washing. This can be accomplished by Jesus Christ through the Power of His Holy Spirit alone.

    It starts with logical humility (you are a finite being and God is Infinite – you are incredibly weak and God is infinitely strong (logically strong to do logical things)).

    Humility and the fear of the Creator are the beginning of wise brain washing.

  19. on 01 Jan 2010 at 6:10 am 19.Breckmin said …

    It’s called “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”

    Eternal separation and logical punishment for exact transgressions (which is multi-faceted and can not be isolated on the premise of eternal torture)is NOT going to be out of sight, out of mind in heaven. It is what is VERY REAL that you are going to be saved from – by God’s Grace and by God’s Grace Alone. Hell will probably be visible forever in heaven if what the scriptures say is true. The fact that hell is unfathomable, and unthinkable and beyond any of our worst nightmares that we would not wish on even our worst enemy (including Hitler) does not take away from the joy of salvation and those who know they “deserve” (imperfect English word in this context) to go there also based on their trangressions against the Holy Nature of God. You can be happy for someone to be saved from it while at the same time in this lifetime
    be saddened by those who do not get saved…It depends on your moment of focus. When you understand the logical reasons for those who are perishing in this temporary creation and their role in God’s Perfect Plan you can rejoice in those who DID get saved.

    Whether one person must go to eternal separation and judgement…or whether or not 50 billion must go..both are eternally unthinkable. and unfathomably horrible.

    BUT logical.

    Question everything. It just might lead you in the right direction. But “when” you question…pray for

  20. on 21 Jan 2010 at 11:42 am 20.Krista28 said …

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  21. on 01 Jun 2010 at 1:08 pm 21.Flxy said …

    I think that what everyone can do to help eradicate “hell on Earth” is to actually do something with your bare hands. Rather than just going to church and saying prayers for them, DO SOMETHING that can be seen, felt, and has immediate effect. Help others in need. Have you been to heaven or hell before? No. So while we are all still human beings and living on Earth, why not just be nicer and help other human beings more, NOW, instead of thinking about how it will be after death. LIVE IN THE PRESENT.

  22. on 16 Aug 2010 at 9:12 pm 22.loans said …

    Buildings are expensive and not every person can buy it. However, credit loans was created to support different people in such hard situations.

  23. on 21 Jan 2013 at 9:21 am 23.Breckmin said …

    Decades ago, there was an Augustinian/Calvinist theologian by the name of John D. Gerstner who is quoted as telling his students that they would “rejoice in heaven” that their loved ones are judged in eternal separation from God’s glory and logical judgement (exact consequences for exact actions) BECAUSE it will bring glory to God by displaying God’s Perfect Justice (forever).

    Perhaps this is a perspective that only holy angels and believers can “begin” to grasp.

    The fact is that God is glorified by putting His Perfect Justice on display for giving consequences for actions of disobedience…

    and there will be NO logical argument against God’s Perfect Justice. Question everything (especially why it is pure NONSENSE to say that eternal hell is an infinite punishment for a finite crime/action).

  24. on 21 Jan 2013 at 11:46 am 24.alex said …

    dead thread alert. hows that?

  25. on 21 Jan 2013 at 5:06 pm 25.The messenger said …

    No one stays in hell forever.

    Eventually their sentence will be paid off.

  26. on 16 Feb 2014 at 2:10 am 26.Breckmin said …

    Born-again Christians, when they get to heaven will not make idols out of their loved ones here on earth before a Holy God. Their perspective will be one of understanding God’s Holiness and God’s Justice in such a way as to see God glorified through displaying His Holy verdict. They will know that they can not
    argue with Justice… they will also know that they have been shown incredible mercy/grace (and be awestruck for eternity).

    Sin will be the great evil that they are delivered from. The consequences of this evil would have eternally separated them from God’s affectionate fellowship.

    Eternal Hell should never be called eternal torment.
    Neither should it be referred to as merely the “traditional view.” The reason for eternal hell is
    multifaceted and we can not look at its never ending
    existence without looking at the nature of sin – and how sin is itself eternal in the historical record, the reason for separation from heaven (God’s Holiness), the eternal effects of sin (how each choice affects eternity in some way), the eternal existence of humankind and how we are created in God’s Image, and the differences in punishment that people will receive in this state based on their deeds/works.

    People will joyfully worship God in heaven because of multiple reasons. Being saved from eternal hell is one of those reasons. Such a reason can not be isolated from all the other aspects of heaven, hell or the temporary creation we live in now. Question everything.

  27. on 16 Feb 2014 at 2:20 am 27.Breckmin said …

    The messenger said, “No one stays in hell forever.

    Eventually their sentence will be paid off.”

    How can an imperfect sinner ever provide perfection? and reach perfection?

    How can a sinner pay off their sentence when the effects of their sin were eternal??? (with other people).

    Were these sins against a Perfect God? How does
    one work toward reaching/achieving perfection?

    How does one not create more debt by being in
    a place that is hostile to the Holy Creator?

    How does one keep from sinning in hell?

    Again, how can an imperfect being ever reach such perfection that is equal to Jesus dying on the Cross?

  28. on 16 Feb 2014 at 5:16 am 28.DPK said …

    But god created man to be sinful. Therefore god is not perfect. A perfect being would not create sin.
    And, if god were perfect and heaven is a place of perfection and holiness, then why were there rebellions and wars fought there, and why did so many of the angels that god also created, decide to rebel against god?

    Your idea of perfection is very very odd.

  29. on 16 Feb 2014 at 11:33 am 29.alex said …

    “How can an imperfect sinner ever provide perfection? and reach perfection?”

    quit the bullshit already. eternity, perfection, omnicience, omnipotence, unimaginable, unbearable, infinity, bleh, and more fucking bleh. these are ridiculous notions, so stop the pswedo, intellect shit.

  30. on 28 Aug 2014 at 8:22 am 30.Crip said …

    “If your christian god exists, and it is omnipotent/omniscient, then it is ultimately responsible for all evil and suffering in the universe.”
    Is it logical to state that the above is what Jesus exactly did? Took responsibility for all? In essence, you seem to believe in Jesus and not even know it.

  31. on 28 Aug 2014 at 5:17 pm 31.alex said …

    “In essence, you seem to believe in Jesus and not even know it.”

    just like i believe in allah, zeus, and the rest of the imaginary gods?

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