Eternal Punishment: Is it EVER just?
I was listening to another of Dan Barker's debates, and he discussed the idea of divine justice. I'd like to expound.
Is it EVER just to condemn someone to "hell" or even human prison for an eternity?
I would argue that it is NOT just to condemn someone for eternity, and I will use Hitler as an example, since he is considered the most evil person ever to exist.
1. REHABILITATION AND FAIR JUSTICE. The human justice system relies on rehabilitation. Granted there are some crimes for which we condemn people to death, but I would argue that only the most extreme cases, ie mass murderers like Saddam Hussein deserve such a fate. If God has the ultimate means by which to rehabilitate someone, his goal should be the same. I would contend that even though Hitler orchestrated the deaths of millions of people, and we sentenced him to 100 years in prison for each of the 6 million people that he killed, that would still be 600 million years. That is NOT eternity. And I am inclined to believe that after 600 million years, EVEN Hitler would be rehabilitated and will have served his time. Snuffing out his soul altogether or giving him "eternal" punishment is unjust, yes, even for Hitler. If he can be rehabilitated, there is no reason to banish him for eternity.
2. MENTAL PROBLEMS / BAD CHILDHOOD ENVIRONMENT. Many criminals, including Hitler, I will argue, are either mentally insane or mentally disturbed in some other way. Who is responsible for the mental derangement? Well, it could either be a genetic problem (which is God's fault), or it is an environmental problem (which is not out of God's grasp to change). Of course, some will argue that one can actually choose to commit a crime without any fault on anyone else. I accept that. But for those individuals, the rehabilitation point above applies. In any event, when a mentally insane person such as Charles Manson goes to the eternal realm, will they still be mentally insane? And is it just to punish someone for eternity for something that is not completely in their control? Why not fix their mental derangement (that relies on the physical structure of the brain) with magic wand or use a God-created rehabilitation program for those who owe their derangement to their environment?
-- And on a tangent, I have stated before that I do not believe in a soul, and only in the brain. I cannot understand how a "soul" could interact with a human brain. If you die and go to a spiritual realm, do you keep your brain? If you are an Alzheimer's patient, do you keep your Alzheimer's brain, or do you reclaim the pre-Alzheimer's brain that is "YOU"? If you're mentally insane, do you get a new non-insane brain? If you have a stroke and lose your ability to speak, do you regain speech in heaven? These are all serious problems for the theist.
In conclusion, it is NEVER just for ANY human being to be tortured in "hell" for eternity; not even Hitler. This is because bad people either A) owe their "badness" to a poor environment or poor genetics or B) they can be rehabilitated in a finite period of time (even if it is hundreds of millions or even billions of years.
AND; even if one is not rehabilitated in 600 million years, the "parole board" can extend another 600 million years.
In any event, God ALREADY KNOWS whether the person will be rehabilitated or not. I have a hard time believing that all the people sent to hell, with God's forethought, deserve eternal punishment. God would have to already have known that NO ONE in hell could be rehabilitated, so they all will suffer for eternity.
Are we to believe that the short time, at most 100 years, on Earth is the ONLY time for which we will be judged? No chance for rehabilitation after life? How is that just?
Finally, if you can conceive of eternity, EVEN a number as high as 1 trillion years is INFANTESSIMALY smaller than eternity. 1 trillion years will be like a POINT on an infinite timeline. The concept of eternal punishment is completely insane.
As Dan Barker says, "If the Christian God exists, I will PROUDLY go to hell. The Christian God is morally bankrupt."
REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM.