So everyone else would accept eternal damnation rather than submit to the most powerful thing in the universe? And in fact the creator itself? You would go against the universe itself? Just to be stubborn? Frankly, I don't believe it.
I think either the actuality of the consequences have not set in or you're not treating the question seriously.
I remember, concerning waterboarding, when one news reporter was incredulous about "how bad it could be". He didn't last 10 seconds. And that's not burning in hell fire without respite for all eternity.
In fact, I don't think its even possible for any human to grasp just how terrifying hell really would be.
If God existed, I believe there would be no dissenters. ZERO. It would be impossible. The whole universe would beat to a single drum.
Since we're presumably talking about the god of the Bible
, rather than the god of "orthodox" Christian theology (they are not
the same), there are some "facts" you are not taking into consideration:1. Yahweh is not the only god, and some of the others are comparable in power.
The Hebrew Scriptures make frequent references to other gods as real entities. The commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" presupposes the existence of other gods. In the Book of Daniel, there is an account where an angel comes to deliver a message to the prophet in response to prayer, but he was held back for 21 days by "the Prince of Persia" (Daniel 10:13). This situation continued until "Michael, your prince" (spiritual "prince" of Judah) arrived with reinforcements. The battle with the Prince of Persia continued, and would continue "until the Prince of Grecia (Greece) comes" (10:20). It is the most basic element of strategy that one does not engage an enemy in pitched battle if the enemy has overwhelming superiority. If that is the case, you employ hit-and-run guerrilla tactics. The very fact that Yahweh needs messengers, and they can be interdicted, is proof that he's not invincible.
In the 27th and 28th chapters of Ezekiel, Yahweh sets himself against the city of Tyre and its "covering cherub" (spiritual patron deity). He promises that Nebuchadnezzar will loot and destroy the city. When this fails, he promises Nebuchadnezzar "the treasures of Egypt" as his "wages." See Ezekiel 29:17-20. Nebuchadnezzar also failed to conquer Egypt. So, the guardian of Tyre, and the gods of Egypt both managed to foil the alliance of Yahweh and Babylon.
In the New Testament, Paul makes several references to warfare against "principalities and powers in heavenly places." Note the plural here. He is not referring to warfare against a single Satanic principality
in the underworld. Paul's "spiritual warfare" was ongoing, centuries after the events in the Book of Daniel.
So here we see that according to the Bible, there are other spiritual powers that can meet Yawheh head-on in battle, and even defeat him. And no catalog of Yahweh's vincibility is complete without this one:
And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.
So, not only are there rival spiritual powers who can match Yahweh, fairly rudimentary human technology can do so as well. Yahweh's "theopolitical" situation is not actually very strong. He's at war with multiple adversaries, at least some of whom are peer competitors, and has a long-running insurgency
within his own realm. Then there's nuclear-armed humanity...2. Humans are stronger than Yahweh's worshipers would like to admit.
In the Garden of Eden, Yahweh's worry after humans ate the Fruit of Knowledge was not that they would die as he claimed, but that they wouldn't.
If they partook of the Tree of Life, they would complete their ascent to divinity, so he was forced to drive them out of the Garden. Right at the start, Yahweh came within a hair's breadth of being completely pwned. In the 11th chapter of Genesis, Yahweh fears the potential exhibited by the scientific, mathematical, and engineering capability inherent in an astronomically-aligned mud-brick ziggurat. He says, "Nothing they set out to do will be withheld from them." To prevent this, he scrambles human language (which would later prove to be a major hindrance to his "spread the Gospel of Jesus" plan). Today, we have far more impressive technology than the king of Shinar. Not to mention the rapid development of natural-language translation software which threatens to defeat Yawheh's curse in the context of a global human family united by instantaneous communication.
It is even possible that a physically fit man may be as strong as Yahweh. In the Book of Genesis, chapter 32:24-30, Jacob wrestles with Yahweh all night long,
and Yahweh could not prevail. He had to "cheat" by using his powers to dislocate Jacob's hip. Then he asked Jacob to let him go because it was daybreak,
Indicating, perhaps, a limit on the time he could remain in corporeal form, or some other sort of vulnerability that made an escape from Jacob imperative. Jacob still refuses to release him, and is able to extort a blessing even with his dislocated hip joint. Yahweh actually admits defeat
in verse 28!3. Yahweh may already be defeated.
Yahweh is clearly a lousy strategist and tactician. Like most other supervillains, he likes to brag about his Big Plans before he's accomplished them. It is abundantly clear in the New Testament that Yahweh intended to hold the Battle of Armageddon within the lifetime of the generation of Jesus and his disciples. Every NT author who writes on the subject of eschatology claims, often repeatedly, that it's all due to happen Real Soon Now. The Book of Revelation was not written to modern Americans. It was written to seven churches in Asia Minor that existed around 90 C.E. Says so right there in the opening chapters.
Yahweh's Big Battle Plan was to appear at Megiddo with a massed cavalry force, to face Roman legions and cavalry. If he were to employ such tactics today, against modern armored infantry, air power, precision-guided munitions, drone aircraft, and nuclear weapons, he and his minions would be massacred.
However, the main thing to think about here is that Yahweh's plan for Armageddon failed.
For some reason, he was not able to open the dimensional portal and bring his forces through in time for the High Priest Caiaphas to "see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64). The Bible obviously does not offer us an explanation for this, beyond the feeble "explanation" offered in II Peter 3:8. The author goes on, in the next few verses, to re-emphasize that the eschaton is at hand, that his readers should "look for" Yahweh's predictions to be fulfilled. Even here, believers are not told that it will be thousands of years, so it's time for Christians to start building enduring institutions and planning for a long future.
One possible explanation would be that Yahweh is actually constrained by his Prophecy Checklists, like a wizard trapped in his own spell. He could not, for example, predict a Battle of Armageddon (the Valley of Megiddo), and launch his attack at Smyrna or Byzantium. If this is the case, then if his Prophecy Checklist is stopped, then he is stopped. Jesus predicted that the Jewish Temple would be destroyed, that "not one stone would be left upon another." If this hypothesis is correct, then any spiritual opponent of Yahweh could have defeated him simply by whispering in Emperor Tiberias' ear, after the conquest of Jerusalem in the Jewish War: "See that wall of their Temple there? Leave it up." The continued existence of the Wailing Wall is a failure of Jesus' prediction concerning the Temple, which was part of his eschatological scheme.
Now of course, the whole Christian prophetic scheme has been demolished so completely that Evangelical prophecy-mongers have to postulate ridiculously absurd scenarios to try to make Yahweh's plan work out. Now there has to be a "revived Roman Empire" with a leader who abolishes all religions but worship of him, while simultaneously rebuilding a Jewish Temple and re-instituting Jewish sacrifices to Yahweh, so that a mere three and a half years later he can defile said Temple
in imitation of Antiochus Epiphanes. Meanwhile, in reality, the Jews have had 2,000 years to "move on" from the whole animal sacrifice thing, and couldn't re-establish it if they wanted to, due to the existence of the Dome of the Rock. Europe is going bankrupt rather than rising toward world domination, there are whole continents full of people and a nuclear-armed superpower that the Plan doesn't even account for, and nobody uses horse cavalry anymore.4. It is not likely that Yahweh can send anyone to Hell before his post-eschatological "Last Judgment."
The Bible is notoriously murky and self-contradictory when it comes to what happens after death. In the Hebrew Scriptures, there are almost no intimations of any afterlife, good or bad. In the ninth chapter of Ecclesiastes, we find an explicit rejection of the notion of an afterlife, or any reward after death (9:5-6). In the New Testament, people are only condemned to Hell after the Last Judgment, which occurs after all of the other items on the Prophecy Checklist. The only indication to the contrary is the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)
, which is given as part of a discourse with other parables, and is thus likely to be a parable itself, rather than a description of real events.
So, if it is the case that Yawheh has already been defeated, or he has been constrained by the failure of his Prophecy Checklist, it follows that Hell is not an inescapable consequence of opposing Yahweh. Since there are other gods, it is possible that by allying with them, we could end up in one of their hereafters, or (if Yahweh somehow has a monopoly on afterlives now) for all practical intents and purposes, none.5. Heaven isn't what it's cracked up to be.
The very choice that you consider to be impossible--rejecting "Heaven" and facing the prospect of Hell by rebelling against Yahweh--is one that was ostensibly made, on an informed basis, by Lucifer and a third of Yahweh's angels. Unlike us, they have more than a book to go on. The sixth chapter of Genesis tells us of a second angelic rebellion. "Sons of God" (a term used for angels every other time it appears in the Hebrew Scriptures) find human women attractive, and defect from Heaven to marry them and settle down on Earth. Considering that the human society at this time was supposedly extremely violent and barbaric,
it would be astonishing for these angels to prefer it to the sublime perfection of Heaven, if Heaven were such a flawless Utopia. Nor can we argue that the angels preferred Earth because they wanted to be savages among savages. The act of settling down, marrying, and raising children (as opposed to just running around, raping and murdering at will) presupposes a desire for stable, civilized life.
In the Book of Revelation, we are told that after Armageddon, Satan will be confined for a thousand years, and Yahweh/Jesus will rule the Earth directly. At the end of that time, Satan will be released. This causes the entire world to rise in revolution, so that "the camp of the saints" is surrounded at Jerusalem, at which point Yahweh rains fire down from Heaven to destroy the rebels. This is actually quite an astonishing claim, coming as it does from one of Yahweh's own propagandists, as a prediction. After a thousand years of Jesus' "perfect" governance, the governed can be expected to rise in rebellion at the first opportunity? Really? These people would know
that Satan had been defeated before, yet they rush to join him as soon as he's freed, and follow him into battle. Such a scenario can only be the desperate act of an oppressed people willing to seize any chance for freedom.
Yawheh's own propagandists are repeatedly forced to admit that his "kingdom" is far from glorious and blissful. Angels and humans with direct experience of Yahweh his regime rebel, and are expected (predicted) to rebel, whenever the opportunity presents itself. Putting all this together, the time to fight is now
, when we have a global technological civilization armed with advanced weaponry, when the "spiritual warfare" against other spiritual "principalities and powers in heavenly places" (i.e., potential allies for humanity) still rages, and Yahweh has yet to subdue an angelic insurgency, despite his forces outnumbering the rebels two to one.
Another thing to consider is the fact that now there would be many thousands, if not millions of people currently in Heaven who have experience of living in free societies (i.e., Western Christians who lived from the decades prior to the American Revolution
to the most recently dead). While these people surely entered Heaven
as loyal followers of Yahweh, the angels were also initially loyal, and they
never knew freedom. In a war against Yahweh, we should not dismiss the possibility of an allied fifth column within Heaven itself.