Does the Coherence of Hell Necessitate Free Will?

This article gives three reasons that hell’s existence is coherent, or logically defensible, even on determinism. Note that I am not suggesting determinism is the case. Rather, I’m arguing there is theological room for all schools: determinism, non-determinism, and compatibility, within Christianity writ large.

This article is mainly non-theological. For a theological discussion of determinism, review this hardly new theological idea called predestination. Refer also to the traditional debate between Calvanism and Armenianism.

For the extremely uninitiated, hell is where unrepentant sinners go in the final judgement of Christianity. This article doesn’t assume a stance on annihilationism vs torment.

This article is mainly a response to Rationality Rules’ comment that “Most religious concepts of morality and retribution, such as heaven, hell, karma, and samsara, necessitate libertarian free will.”

Here are three popular arguments for the moral value and logical coherence of hell:

  1. God “doesn’t force anyone into Heaven against their will
    1. This could hold whether or not such will is deterministic.
  2. God’s absence is hell, and God may not like to hang out with sinners, whether or not the status of sinner is arrived at freely.
    1. There’s no free will behind food rotting, but I still prefer to throw it out.
    2. Even in a deterministic reality, God’s preferences amount to moral requirements according to divine will theory. So God’ actuated preference is a good thing even without free will.
  3. Hell punishes sin.
    1. Does sin deserve to go unpunished because it is deterministic? Think about this seriously. If human action is fully deterministic, does this mean we should not arrest rapists or murderers? As a matter of well-being, of course we should continue to punish evil action, even if the evil is heavily or even fully naturally determined.
    2. Hell acts as an incentive for moral behavior. Without this incentive we would expect less frequent moral behavior, whether action is free or not. As a matter of moral optimization, we should continue to punish evil action, even if the evil is heavily or even fully naturally determined.

Concluding Remarks

*cough* I’m a compatibilist check out pinched free will *cough*

Related Links:

  1. Is The Christian View of Hell Coherent?
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