DiaBlogue: The Tao of Hell (or perhaps vice versa)

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Alan has very kindly and patiently answered all my questions, but appears (understandably) somewhat concerned whether this conversation is ever going to converge:

I am just trying to address Ernie’s wondering, and I hope that Ernie will be responding soon with some more details about how he sees these issues.
Fair enough. I have decided to lay all my cards on the table and attempt to be painfully explicit about:
a. What I believe justly deserves hell
b. The basis for those beliefs
c. How they apply to him

He may not agree — which is fine — but hopefully we can at least meaningfully dis-agree! Click [Read more] for the essential points of my belief in God, justice, and Hell.

I believe:

1. There exists a universal, transcendent standard of virtue — what C.S. Lewis called ‘The Tao‘, and Jews call ‘The Law.’
2. All individuals, societies, and religious traditions intrinsically posses some meaningful knowledge of that Tao (even if they differ on details, or don’t associate it with a specific deity)
3. Every individual faces a moral struggle between serving Self and serving The Tao (however they understand it).
4. Our choices (as well as our circumstances) impact our ability to know and follow the Tao (and indirectly impact other’s)

And in the end, we will all be judged according to multiple dimensions:

i. how we treated other human beings
ii. how well we responded to the Tao we knew
iii. whether we submit to the Tao or demand that it submit to our Self

But ultimately, if any individual chooses to ignore the Tao they’ve received in order to serve Self at the expense of others, they deserve hell (in fact, God would be unjust not to carry out that sentence). In fact, such a hell seems a logical necessity if a) choices have real consequences, and b) souls persist after death. This hell-worthy behavior could include:

* denying the existence/personal relevance of the received Tao
* defending an imperfect Tao against a superior one (to preserve Self-ish loopholes)
* refusing readily-available divine assistance to fulfill or honor the Tao

Further, I believe I can justify — and would willingly attempt to defend — this position:

* scripturally
* historically
* anthropologically
* psychologically
* philosophically

Is that concrete enough for you, Alan?

I am not saying that you need to accept the Bible (or even Christianity) as inerrant, literal, or fundamental — any more than I treat my physics textbooks as inerrant, infallible, or unbiased. Rather, I merely trust that they describe a genuine reality in a mostly reliable and honest way, as the starting point for my personal observations. I don’t even think you need to accept my starting point, as long as you’re willing to start somewhere (versus refusing even to try to find The Tao).

Which brings me to my final question, Alan, and something that has long puzzled me. I totally understand why you decided to reject the fundamentalism of your youth as you learned more about the Bible and justice. However, I just can’t figure out why that also led to your rejecting all Christianity (including, say, the milder but still robust British evangelicalism practiced by C.S. Lewis) — much less (as far as I can tell) all of theism and deism. To me, that would be like rejecting all of physics upon discovering that Newton was wrong, which sounds more like spite than logic.

After all, if it is merely the eternal-ness of hell that bothers you, there seem plenty of alternate hermeneutics that would still “fit the data” while avoiding that particular philosophical problem. Yeah, it is a bit ad hoc, but so is an awful lot of science, when you get right down to it.

I can’t help but feeling that there’s more going on here than I realize. So, what — if anything — am I missing?

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