Answering “Questions Christians Can’t Answer” #16 Eternal Torment?

This article is one in a series, each addressing the article “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer” by R. E. Pucket – one question at a time.

A variety of the Christian views that Pucket attacks in these questions are held by a very specific sect of Christian believers, and by no means characterize the whole of Christian views. The questions also occasionally make broad statements which either mischaracterize Biblical teachings, or are backed up with no supporting evidence. Where these mistakes are made, the responses are largely aimed at correcting these mischaracterizations. This is not to say that the attack has no merit, but the attack would need to be re-worked to fit a proper representation of that belief.

One of the important things that the Pucket list teaches is the danger of dogmatism. If a system of belief stands or falls on every minute doctrine or teaching within the system, then disarming one of these causes the whole thing to fall.Christianity has undergone inspection by hosts of intelligent and thoughtful people over its 2000-year history. Some, like Pucket, have come to the conclusion that it was untenable. Many more have explored different ways of thinking about and applying Christian ideas that do not involve abandoning the system. The very fact that Christianity is a system of thought that allows individual thinkers to explore it, rather than to blindly embrace it, at least suggests that it is not a system of intellectual tyranny.

This author suggests that many of things about Christians popularly believe may be found faulty without the entire system being destroyed. For Christianity to be untrue, it would have to be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that either humans do not require some sort of salvation from evil and suffering, or that no such salvation has been provided.

The answers provided to the questions in this series may not always be punchy rejoinders, magic bullets, or truth bombs. They may be far from convincing to a skeptic; however they do show that Christianity is at the very least internally consistent and existentially plausible.

Finally, it is worth noting that the questions are sometimes phrased in highly emotive or sarcastic forms. These articles will attempt to respond to the fundamental objection being raised, rather than the tone in which they are presented, however the questions themselves will be presented in their original form.

Nervous system

Source

16 – We know that we feel physical feelings through electrical impulses that send information to our brains through our nervous system. Once we die, we no longer feel pain due to the lack of a physical nervous system and, oh yeah, a brain.  How could we ‘feel’ the excruciating flames of hell for eternity? Does God make you feel this torment for all eternity out of pure malice because you wouldn’t worship him?

Disregarding the obvious symbolism of the concept of Hell and its fiery torment, one fairly easy answer to this question can be found in John 5:28-29, which reads:

“…for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

According to this, all people will be resurrected bodily, then judged. Allowing any future punishment to be felt through their newly resurrected nervous system.
There are two theories about the torment one feels in hell. One is that hell involves eternal separation from the Creator. Since the Creator is the embodiment of all that is good, separation from this same creator means eternity without the good, which would be pure agony. This would be suggested by verses such as Matthew 7:23 which states:

“And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

And Matthew 8:12 which says:

“…while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The other theory is that the pain one feels in hell is a result of an imperfect, corrupted person being exposed to the pure holiness of a perfect God. This is supported by such passages as these:

Isaiah 6:5
“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Matthew 10:28
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

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