At what level does the existence of heaven justify the existence of hell?

Would the existence of heaven be justified if only a small number of people actually ended up there?

Would it be justified if only a thousand people ended up there?

Or a million?

How many people does it take to justify the existence of hell?

Who ever postulated that heaven or hell were justified by people, or their choice, to begin with? Not Catholicism.


God doesn’t have to “justify” his creations and decisions to us.
He’s God. And we’re not.


You are in a six star luxury hotel with hot and cold running servants providing every imaginable amenity. You have earned this room in the hotel by loving your neighbours as yourself. All your neighbours.

In the basement of the hotel, some of those neighbours, whom you love, are being horribly tortured. Their tortures are endless, with no remission and no end. Eternal torture. Some of those being tortured may even be your own family, not merely neighbours.

Are you happy in your luxury hotel room?


Is God in my luxury hotel room? Am I in his presence? Then yes, I’m happy. Nothing else matters at that point.


It’s a philosophy question.

So your answer is, that the required number of people is one…so long as that one person is you.

Hell is simply the rejection of God-and the consequence of living totally apart from Him. From the big picture Adam rejected God in Eden but was given a reprieve, so to speak, with which to sort of work this thing out, his choice, having the possibility of “wising up” here on earth which is sort of half way between heaven and hell, where we experience life apart from God-and the evil that prevails when goodness does not totally overwhelm and exclude it. Here we decide by our choices and actions which one we want.


That’s the Catholic teaching, but it really doesn’t address the question.

If one were to consider with sufficient depth both the nature of God and the nature of the human person, then a future state of neverending-conscious-torment-and-suffering would be excluded. It is highly unlikely that anyone having pondered such things would guess that a state like eternal-Hell might possibly exist. The Western church generally convinced itself of such a possibility in its early days, based on what was thought to be revealed in the New Testament. But such a state of existence as an eternal-Hell would not naturally arise from considering God and humans. It has to come from elsewhere.


Why not? People choose evil all the time. Should heaven be theirs? Should they be forced into heaven? Is it better that they cease to exist at all, or is existence always inherently superior to its alternative? Should evil or injustice be ignored? Maybe some people would still prefer existence as long as it’s existence apart from God.

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What do you mean by justify? How do you justify something that is simply a reality?
How do you justify the sun coming up tomorrow?

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But now we’re forced to conclude that the existence of hell is justified even if there’s nobody in heaven.

We’ve reached the Repugnant Conclusion, hell is preferable to heaven.



We” being some set of rational philosophers. You are not required to include yourself in that set.

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Gotcha, the hypothetical “we”. Is the hypothetical we a consensus then, which lends some rational gravitas to the Repugnant Conclusion?

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Absolutely not. The Repugnant Conclusion is simply the unavoidable consequence of a specific line of reasoning, but there’s absolutely no requirement that anyone must accept that that line of reasoning is correct, or even preferable.

So we can set it aside if we so choose. But the question still remains. At what level does the existence of heaven justify the existence of hell?

I admit I’ve never been able to take this approach. If I’m wrong, please help me out too. It just doesn’t sit right with my personality and my understanding of the Gospel. How can we say we are in the presence of God if we don’t love our neighbor as our own flesh? I can’t pretend to love God if I don’t love the creature he was crucified for. And if my own sibling in Christ, my own flesh, is suffering in hell, even if it’s their choice, how can I not be moved with boundless sadness?

I find this a very difficult question.


There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.
C. S. Lewis, Great Divorce


One. The sheep are the faithful humans and the goats are the unfaithful humans.

Matthew 25

31 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. 32 And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

41 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.

46 And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

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