Sunday, January 14, 2007

The devil you say


I don't believe in hell. At least I don't believe in hell, the place. Well, I do believe there is a town in Grand Cayman called Hell. But you don't go there when you die. You go there when you are on a Caribbean cruise. That is an important distinction.

Not believing in hell bothers some people. One, it doesn't mean much when they tell me to go there. It's kind of like calling your parent's bluff when they say they are going to count to three when they are trying to make you do something. Though my mom generally only got to two before I caved. I never really wanted to find out what happened after she counted to three. My father never counted. He just smacked you.

But I digress.

Not believing in hell conversely means I don't believe in heaven either. So, I'm really messing with some people's punishment-reward motivation concept in controlling behaviour. But if punishment-reward motivation worked, we wouldn't have so many prisons now would we? So what good is hell and heaven in controlling morality?

I'm amazed that there are people who can't accept that heaven and hell aren't literally, physical places that people go to when they die based on which side of the moral ledger they end up on. If anything, heaven and hell are metaphors for the states of mind we can reward or damn ourselves with.

Isn't that a hell of a concept?

7 comments:

Kindness (disarms the difficult) said...

It is one hell of a concept, tim id!

feel free to sing along:

"heaven... heaven is a place... a place where nothing... nothing ever happens..."

Hayden said...

Heavens, tim! The devil you say!

THE Michael said...

You've been talking to Bob, haven't you?

anna said...

After my grandmother's death (when I was 15 years old) I felt like I HAD to believe in heaven because it bothered me to think that she had simply ceased to exist. I still "felt" her presence, her soul. The thought of never seeing her again was even more difficult, actually impossible, to accept. So I found comfort in believing she was in a wonderful place and that I would join her after I had died. The only problem with that is that it made me care less about living and made me look forward to dying.

Now I believe I still "feel" her presence because of the impact she had on me throughout those fifteen years. The memories I have of her will live on as long as my long-term memory stays intact.

Sometimes the thought of not seeing her again becomes too painful all over again and I feel like the only way to ease that pain is to believe in an afterlife where we'll be reunited. I know, I know... a little pathetic, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Wonderful post, by the way.

Tim ID said...

Kindness,
I'm singing...

Hayden,
The devil is in the details.

THE Michael, What's Bob spelled backwards?

Anna, I struggle with the thought of life just ending and that's all there is. So although I don't believe in the Christian heaven and hell, I do want to believe that, as John Lennon said "all shine on" in some way. Maybe that is reincarnation or karma or soul progression. So I don't think your believe in an afterlife is pathetic at all.

Miss Cellania said...

Most of the Christian concept of heaven and hell is not strictly Biblical anyway. The "up" and "down" and flames and harps and things were added after the canon. Some of the imagery in the Bible is due to the difference in Eastern and Western thought (and writing), where Eastern writers gave words to the awesomeness and ghastliness of concepts, and Western readers expect words to mean literally what they say. Careful reading leads one to think of heaven as unity with God, whereas hell is the concept of separation from God.

Tim ID said...

Miss Cellania,
Very interesting observation. It reminds me in a way of advertising copy. You expect Amazing Sea Monkeys and you get brine shrimp. It's all in the presentation and interpretation.