Hell and God's Omnipresence

I have a quick question regarding Hell and God’s omnipresence. Now, supposedly, God’s presence is necessary for the existence of everything. Otherwise, the contingent entities not experiencing his presence would cease to be. But I’ve heard many here state that Hell is a place where God is not. If God, the necessary being, is not there, how can Hell maintain its existence? If you disagree with this idea of Hell as it was presented to me, don’t present another, elaborate on this one.

Hell is the place and state of seperation from God. But this dosen’t mean God is seperated entirely. The state of hell is an eternal state which the soul already enjoys when it is in mortal sin. Now, a soul in mortal sin is still alive, because God, who is everywhere, sustains its existence. The same goes for the demons and the damned: He sustains their existence. But the damned and demons do not get to enjoy His Presence or see His Face, for He is not there in the same sense that He is on Earth and in Heaven. On Earth, the soul can experience His Presence, and, in Heaven, the souls sees His Face. Both cases are a case of joy and peace, mercy and love. Hell, on the other, is devoid of all joy, all peace, all mercy, and all love. So the damned and demons do have God, but only because He who created them immortal sustains their existence.

Perhaps “separation” was a nice way of saying that you cease to exist?

Or perhaps we are in hell, and this world is the God created self-sustaining place for us to kill ourselves over and over again :smiley:

Do you believe in evil? Do you believe in justice? What do you believe? (Then we can analyze how consistent you are! :coffeeread:

Since the theology of hell is the result of pure conjecture and seems to be alterable whenever it seems neccessary to make god seem less like a monster, then I suspect that even a good answer to your question is of little value. Purgatory is an example of what Christians will come up with to de-monsterify their god while maintaining their belief in hell, limbo is another example. It’s only recently that Christians started to describe hell as a non-physical realm of non-punishment. For centuries hell was a literal physical realm where the pain was quite physical.

I have a few confusions, here. First off, I don’t believe purgatory is considered to be hell. Hell is a place of everlasting deprivation of the Beatific Vision; since purgatory is a place of waiting for the Beatific Vision, it can’t really be considered a place of ‘everlasting’ deprivation. In fact, since the souls in purgatory have certainty of the attainment of God, it’s considered part of heaven.

The question of physicality has come up before; I believe that an examination of the teachings of the Church will reveal that it’s been consistently maintained that a) hell is a real, physical place; b) the primary suffering in hell is non-physical, that of deprivation of the Vision; and c) There will be accompanied physical pain, at least following the general resurrection.

The ‘theology’ of hell is composed of several distinct parts. There are things held by the Faith, such as the existence of hell, and then there are things which are conjectures based on such things. There is a difference, right, between ‘pure conjecture’ and a reasonable assumption based on what we know of God? The belief of the precise nature limbo, for example, is a product of the consideration of the Justice and the Mercy of God. What exactly it is, is not precisely defined by the Faith, whereas its existence is; if you think that God is, and that God is good, however, the consistently upheld belief seems appropriate.

As far as the original question goes, I think it’s already been said, that hell is a place of separation from the supernatural knowledge which one obtains in the Beatific Vision.

God bless!

I agree with some of the other posters, as to the potential solution to this dilemma.

To state it a different way:

There are different senses of “being present” that must be considered (there are also different senses of being, but that would be a topic for a different thread).

One can be present in communication, or one can be present in thought, one can be present physically… or all three. There are other senses of “being present”, but we can consider these.

A person who is in a telephone conversation is present in communication; a person who is talking face to face is present in all three senses, and a person I am thinking about is present in thought.

So God, from the standpoint of a soul in hell, may be present in thought (constant hatred of God for putting me here), or present possibly in effect (the effect being suffering, or that love which burns) without being personally present.

These are speculations, but as they are possible, they are technically solutions to the dilemma.

Indeed. And it looks as though even a good answer of little value would exceed the expectations I’ve come to have concerning Christian theology. :smiley:

I see what you mean. However, I thought God could only be present one way (spiritual contact, I guess). I mean, if God were present physically, he could not be immaterial. If he were present personally, he could not possibly be everywhere (omnipresent). I suppose I’ll have to accept that Christians will always keep the idea of Hell alterable, as severntofall said.

And if any one doubts the truth of that last statement, they need only read Father Furniss’ (apt name indeed !) description of hell for little children.

Look into this little prison. In the middle of it there is a boy, a young man. He is silent; despair is on him . . . His eyes are burning like two burning coals. Two long flames come out of his ears. His breathing is difficult. Sometimes he opens his mouth and breath of blazing fire rolls out of it. But listen! There is a sound just like that of a kettle boiling. Is it really a kettle which is boiling? No; then what is it? Hear what it is. The blood is boiling in the scalding veins of that boy. The brain is boiling and bubbling in his head. The marrow is boiling in his bones. Ask him why he is thus tormented. His answer is that when he was alive, his blood boiled to do very wicked things.

There are many similar passages in this book. Commenting on it, William Meagher, Vicar-General of Dublin, states in his Approbation:

“I have carefully read over this Little Volume for Children and have found nothing whatever in it contrary to the doctrines of the Holy Faith; but on the contrary, a great deal to charm, instruct and edify the youthful classes for whose benefit it has been written.”

Immediate source: http://www.seesharppress.com/20reasons.html

“Charm, instruct and edify ?” That tells one all one needs to know about how Irish Catholicism could bring forth the scandals that have recently been exposed. Such commendation then of such vile literature fully explains how children in more recent times could be treated with such vile cruelty. This kind of Catholicism is deeply sick & perverting, a menace to society.

You are correct. Eternal damnation is the price of sin, but not all sins seem damnable. Certainly, early theologians thought, telling a lie is far less evil that rape or murder…but certainly all sins have a price. Theologians, from pure conjecture, developed the concept of purgatory knowing how absurd it would be for a person to be tortured eternally for telling a single lie. Thus the concept of venial verses mortal sin was developed. Venial sins were paid for by the temporary misery suffered in purgatory while mortal sins are a debt that can never be repaid following death.

Do you believe that a punishment should be commensurate with the offense? Do you believe it is justice to punish a person in a manner that is a hundred billion times more severe than the crime? A god that would allow, let alone create, a realm of infinite suffering is the definitional opposite of merciful and all-loving.

Incorrect. Crimes against the infinite deserve infinite punishment. Eternal separation from God, is separation from mercy, and so, instead, justice balances out the crime of sin, instead of redemptive sacrifice.

It’s simple mathematics. Something has to make up for the weight of sin, the weight of the crime. Some kind of reparation has to be made, for a crime against infinity. Either the infinite sacrifice of God is accepted, or rejected.

Rejected and justice comes in to play.

We as human beings all have a sense of justice, we are all born with it. We know that every harm done, deserves its equal opposite in just reparation.

But God, in His mercy, came to us and taught us to grant each other mercy and forgive – this forgiveness was taught because -there truly is something to forgive-. But there is no ultimate forgiveness without repentance, we can only delay justice a little while. . .

Once a person is fixed and determined to always commit a crime, that person cannot be left unpunished eternally. It would be a crime itself, against God to leave it so.

Besides those in Hell are truly despicable, they hate everyone and desire no one’s love, but only destruction for all people. You would not like to meet a single one of them.

It seems like a reasonable conclusion, does it not, that, given a good God, and given the existence of a place of eternal separation from God, (i.e., hell), that someone who does small things which are wrong, but we might say is overall a ‘good fellow’, wouldn’t be subject to this place?

Yet, it is also revealed that only the pure can see God. If one takes these two things, firstly, that some people who are not perfect, (and no one is perfect :slight_smile: ) will someday see God, and secondly that only the perfect can see God, then there must be a period of purging, where the imperfect are cleansed of their impurities.

That doesn’t seem like wild conjecturing. Granted, it’s based on Faith, but given the Faith, I think purgatory must be.

God bless!

Purgatory is wonderful.

My grandmother had a wonderful quote. Once she was watching television and a (quite wrong) priest came on and said, 'Purgatory? We don’t believe in that anymore."

My grandmother turned to my aunt, quite dismayed, ‘But I was counting on Purgatory!’

can only delay justice a little while." Please do not imply that God’s justice is similar to ours…

“The most necessary condition for the remission of any sin, and therefore also of venial sin, is contrition. So long as a man is attached to sin and does not detest it, God cannot forgive it, for He is infinitely holy and just.” - Theory and Practice of the Confessional

You are assuming free will can disappear even though it is a gift from God which entails sharing in His power.

The souls in Hell lack the grace to perform morally good acts due to their separation from God. Before in this life, they could at least perform naturally good acts, and so might have appealed to us because they did naturally good things to us for their own selfish motives. In Hell it is different. Everyone can only feel negative emotions, and only hate. Everyone hates everyone else, they are deprived of the graces needed to do morally good acts.

Their will moves, but only to moral evil.

They also are tormented by punishments such that there is no longer any true freedom. Certainly their will moves, but all their faculties, memory, understanding, imagination, senses, are in a torment that is unbearable. The demons punish them. The damned punish each other. They do not behave rationally, their minds are addled as if by the worst bad acid trip. There is screaming, flailing, raving and yet there is not madness because this is an escape – the soul always knows however disordered its mind that its punishment is just, is always aware in agony.

The soul knows it betrayed God, and hates God forever unceasingly, and is continually punished for this, just as are the fallen angels and Lucifer.

"they hate everyone

and desire no one’s love, but only destruction for all people.“Where is the evidence that such persons exist?”

The saints speak of these people, it has been revealed through their history. It is also a theological fact, this is how Hell works, what with the spiritual life deprived of the last graces.

I suggest listening to the audio talks entitled ‘Hell’ in the links below.

We must soberly contemplate this place, and consider that we might go there and others too… . and repent. Before it is too late. Tomorrow, an hour, a minute. . could be too late.

Hell truly represents how terrible sin is. Once we understand how terrible sin is to a God so loving, beautiful, so infinitely perfect… Then we willingly, when we die, plunge into the fires of Purgatory, said to be comparable to that of Hell – simply out of love of Him, because we know we deserve it and could not bear to be in the sight of perfection while ourselves imperfect.

And in this life, we try to do our purgatory, rather than the next, out of love for Him, and because our sufferings and sacrifices merit us a greater place in Heaven with Him, and aid those on earth the more greatly. The saints and holy men in this life achieve great things by their prayers, while those who are lukewarm or halt their spiritual progress scarcely above a state of grace achieve little. We have something to strive for! The cross and the love of God. :slight_smile:

Those in Hell have run as far as they can from God’s wrath, but they cannot completely escape. He is there. . however absent. . because God is God.

‘All souls in hell are there because they did not pray. All the saints sanctified themselves by prayer.’

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
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Aww…poor God! He’s always badgered by that invisible law of justice! How can he possibly expect to meet its demands without making people suffer?

All this makes God sound innocent, as though he wasn’t the one to create the law of justice (“the crime must be balanced”). However, he did. He is the one that deems the suffering necessary, not some kind of invisible, likely imaginary law.

Likewise, all the sacrifice of Jesus amounts to is God using his infinite power to demand atonement (create a problem) and then using that same power to solve said problem (by crucifying Jesus). That’s not heroic, it’s a being creating a problem and then cleaning up its mess.

This notion that the punishment for an offense should be based upon the size of the offended rather than the size of the offense is absurd, and certainly not justice. Ultimately, it cannot not be denied that an individual who would create a reality in which those who fail to love him to the measure he demands should be therefore tortured eternally is at the very least not a merciful being (the definitional opposite of merciful). God could have created a reality in which nobody would ever need to be eternally tortured, yet he opted to go with the realm of torture. Hell’s existence is god’s will and a part of his design…and it didn’t need to be. This doesn’t prove that god doesn’t exist, but if true does prove that God is evil (the perfection of it).

This god has far more in common with a Stalinist dictator than a benevolent loving being.

youtube.com/watch?v=B6S8l4CJnsk&feature=channel_page
DO not view if a couple of curse words will ruin your day.

[quote=Oreoracle]Aww…poor God! He’s always badgered by that invisible law of justice! How can he possibly expect to meet its demands without making people suffer?

All this makes God sound innocent, as though he wasn’t the one to create the law of justice (“the crime must be balanced”). However, he did. He is the one that deems the suffering necessary, not some kind of invisible, likely imaginary law.

Likewise, all the sacrifice of Jesus amounts to is God using his infinite power to demand atonement (create a problem) and then using that same power to solve said problem (by crucifying Jesus). That’s not heroic, it’s a being creating a problem and then cleaning up its mess.
[/quote]

While, of course, one shouldn’t think of God as constrained by Justice, it is even more problematic if one thinks of him as arbitrarily determining Justice.

Justice is determined by God, but not arbitrarily; it follows necessarily from His nature. It’s not as if God randomly decided that, “today, I will declare murder evil”; rather because of who He is, (which he cannot change), murder must be wrong.

[quote="servantofall]This notion that the punishment for an offense should be based upon the size of the offended rather than the size of the offense is absurd, and certainly not justice.
[/quote]

Doesn’t the, so to speak, ‘size’ of the offended come into the offense at all? I mean, it is considered a worse thing to hit one’s father than to hit one’s brother. (I mean, I used to hit my brother all the time, but I wouldn’t ever have dreamed of hitting my father. :slight_smile: ) Insulting one’s mother is more offensive than insult one’s neighbor.

Unfortunately, one has to say that ‘our’ Justice is a derivation from God’s Justice; God is the standard by which we call things right or wrong. (Not, of course, that we always interpret things rightly!)

God will be consistent with true Justice, because he is true Justice. Whatever God does will be just, but not as if it’s good merely because He does it; it might be truer to say that He does it because it’s good.

In order to make sense of God’s actions, in whatever way we can, one is going to have to accept the existence of objective truth: there is an actual standard of Justice, which God cannot change any more than He can change His own nature, since it follows from His nature.

The Catholic concept of hell comes from two significant parts; first, Divine Revelation, (i.e. the Bible) and secondly, logical conclusions based on those Revelations and reason.

We know by Faith that there will be some form of everlasting fire. (and the worm that never dies…)
We know by Faith that it will constitute everlasting separation from God, and thus the loss of all hope. (“Only the pure of heart will see God, etc…” “He will be thrown into Gehenna, into the everlasting fire that awaits the wicked…” rough paraphrase. :slight_smile: )

The rest comes from considerations of what these could mean, and various visions of the saints. I think St. Augustine says, in the City of God, that the worm that never dies is significant of the never satisfied, and never to be satisfied desire of the soul for God, since in hell all hope is lost.

Obviously, much of what we hold is based on Faith. But then, we are Catholics, and Catholicism is a religion. :thumbsup:

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