In my many debates, the most disturbing prospect I've come across is the idea that Hell not only exists but is justified as a creation of the judeo-christian God. A place where people suffer for an eternity, never to be redeemed. How can people imagine enjoying the prosperity of Heaven while thinking that anybody will suffer unearthly pains for an eternity with no chance to repent? To believe that suffering is allowed on Earth by a God that is powerful enough to end it is one thing, but to think that God willingly and thoughtfully crafted a place for people to suffer greater pains for an eternity crosses a line for me that makes me suspect that some of these people are deeply disturbed or even sadistic. There isn't even a utilitarian use for Hell- a God who could bring these people around at any point leaves them to burn for an eternity in a torture chamber of his own design. Am I alone in this feeling that such a belief borders on indefensible? Is there a defense for people who believe this? Am I putting more thought into the subject than even the believers do?
The way I had it explained to me from the standpoint of a left liberal Christian was that there isn't any hell in the traditional sense, but that hell was eternal separation from God. Funny thing about that, the way I see it now is that, if there is life after death, then we're all gonna have one hella long party celebrating *not* having to be cooped up with that narcissistic tyrant for all eternity. Can anyone else say "Partyyyyyy!!!"
Hell is anything but moral, and theists know it. Apologist had to devise a way that made it our fault to take away the apparent cruelty that an all-loving being could not do. They spun it so that we're choosing to go to Hell. It's a load of kaka. It never stops to surprise me how far people will go to maintain their belief in this fairytale.
I agree. It's indefensible. You wrote: "but to think that God willingly and thoughtfully crafted a place for people to suffer greater pains for an eternity crosses a line for me that makes me suspect that some of these people are deeply disturbed or even sadistic."
I was in a debate with a guy about this very subject, also pointing out the horrific behavior recorded in the bible. He's a Calvinist. Here was his reply:
"God, that is, THE God, who in the beginning created the heavens and the earth, is Himself the standard by which ALL things are measured. That means when he commands Joshua to kill every man, women, child and beast in Canaan that that is PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good. It means that when he causes Israel to eat their own children as reported in Jeremiah 19 that that is PERFECTLY holy righteous, just and good. It means that if He has decreed all of the horrific human misery, suffering and death in all of history that that is PERFECTLY holy righteous, just and good.
It means that if He has decreed the existence of billions of human beings for the expressed purpose of casting them into the lake of fire in judgement for sin that He also decreed that that is PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good. It means that if He has purposed that everything we consider to be bad, immoral and unthinkably terrible shall be so ordered by divine mechanisms known only to Himself, to His own glory for reasons sufficient unto Himself that that is PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good.
It also means that His not caring one bit how you (or I) feel about that is most assuredly PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good. I sleep like a baby knowing that every time I hear about some gut wrenching blood curdling act of barbaric depravity, that my Father God has from eternity seen fit to assign purpose to it that is PERFECTLY holy, righteous, just and good."
The only way I can think to wrap my brain around a moral reasoning for believing in Hell is as a deterrent. Essentially, the idea is that if believing in Hell prevents people from doing some great evil, then it's had a morally good effect on society. Essentially, a grown-up version of Santa's naughty list. Of course, this relies on having an "ends justifies the means" mindset, which is a moral debate in-and-of itself.
And yes, I think you are putting more thought into the subject than the vast majority of believers do.