Some Thoughts on Hell
by Stephen McAndrew
John Lennon asked us to imagine there’s no heaven. I’ve tried, but all I come up with is hell.
Many things occur on this planet that demand judgment and punishment, but many go unpunished. If there is no certainty of punishment, there is no reason not to play the system to get as much an advantage as you can. That is not to say that you can get away with everything but rather that not everything will be punished. So, if you can get away with it, go ahead. You might respond that our moral standards will keep us in line, and while I certainly hold to the reality of objective moral standards, the problem is that if detours from these moral rules are not punished, there is no justice.
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Moreover, experience and history tells us that humanity doesn’t keep to an honor code. We may know that certain acts are wrong but we are also plagued by the thought that some people get away with it. If everyone else is doing it why can’t we?
Lennon was right that everyone would be living “just for the day” if there is no heaven or hell, but I think it would be rather more grim than he suggested.
Lennon’s rejection of hell is widely held (probably more than his rejection of heaven), but increasingly, the idea that bad behavior should be punished is prevalent in the form of the universe will punish bad deeds or karma is going to sort you out…
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