This is one of my major gripes with the Christian religion. Their concept of punishment. Granted though this concept of punishment I will be blaspheming is not held by all types of Christians, but most from the conservative, evangelical persuasion do. I've probably briefly mentioned this in a previous post, or perhaps in the comments section, but this is an expansion of that point.
To put it bluntly, hell is horrendously horrific. The belief that a being known as god, loves people and condemns many to burn forever in an unending flame shocks me to my core. Many Christians believe that god is omnipotent and can know future events before they happen, we'll ignore the omni-max logical contradictions and focus on the ethical issues for now. You may have heard it said that 'why would a loving god create someone knowing they would go to hell?' and to answer that, a loving god wouldn't send anyone to hell to begin with. It is quite frankly immoral and unethical to torture anyone at all, let alone for eternity.
There are many problems with the concept of hell, one being that Jewish theology does not believe in hell as the Christians conceive it. Hell in Jewish tradition was known as Sheol, which is viewed as the resting place for ALL of the dead, the good and the bad. In fact believe in the afterlife didn't arise until quite late in the history of Judaism. Within Judaism today there are many divergent views on the afterlife, ranging from no afterlife to concepts of heaven which is sometimes referred to as Olam Ha-Ba.
Another problem is the ethical issue I have already raised. Is it right to torture for eternity? Is it right to torture at all? ever?
One serious problem in my mind is the schism of belief between Jesus' teachings on how to treat others and gods treatment of humans in the afterlife. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Does that sound familiar? If god expects us to follow that rule, and then goes off and tortures people for eternity, he would be a hypocrite, a sadistic hypocrite at that.
On top of all of that, what I cannot fathom is how god would create humans (read: allow humans to evolve) with the ability to sin, write laws knowing that they would be broken by all (because they are impractical and moronic), then establish punishments for those 'sins' that end in eternal torment. It's not only that god would create humans knowing they would go to hell, it's like he created them so they would go to hell.
If you purchased a robot that occasionally went and murdered people and committed crimes, you wouldn't blame the robot, you would blame the programmer. Likewise, if humans break laws and kill people, (assuming we were intelligently designed lol) would you blame the person or the programmer? Many humans are genetically predisposed to certain activities, their brains are wired in certain ways. For example, some people are wired up to be analytical thinkers, some people are wired up to be homosexual, some people are wired up to be sociopathic killers, some people are wired up to be unquestioning followers, some people are wired up to be compulsive sex-addicts. Can you spot which of the previously mentioned 'wirings' will not result in punishment in hell? If you picked 'unquestioning follower' you were correct and you deserve a cookie (I'm not giving you one though, buy it yourself). All of the other wirings will land you in hell, which doesn't seem just to me. Just like it wasn't the robots fault that it committed crimes, it was the fault of the programmer, and in this case it is the fault of whatever caused them to be that way.
I applaud the more liberal christians who do not believe in the masochistic hell of the evangelicals for taking a step forward in ethics. Even the Jehovahs Witnesses do not believe in hell, they believe that the wicked are 'annihilated'. This detestable doctrine has been used by many gleeful fundy's to try and scare people into believing. Unfortunately for them, the only effect it has on most people is to pity their pathetic attempts at trodding all over other people. Among other things, this is one of the beliefs that simply has to go. It isn't even well supported in the bible, yet it is so widely held by fundamentalists and many other christians.