Is the Catholic worldview too dark, considering the doctrine of an eternal hell?

As a Catholic, I feel depressed and sad for the Catholic worldview, considering its doctrine of an eternal hell. Is the worldview too dark?

People are forced to enter the world, to try to be saved and fight with temptations, sins and difficulties, with the risk of going to the eternal hell throughout their whole lives. And, perhaps many of them eventually go to the hell. Is it too cruel? Considering this, how can we be sincerely happy for everyone’s birth?

I wonder how many people would have chosen to enter the world if they had been asked to choose either to enter the world with the risk of an eternal hell or to “stay in nothingness” for all the eternity.

I even wonder whether died infants are more fortunate than adults, for they no longer risk going to the hell. Maybe they directly go to the heaven. Even if it is worse, they go to the limbo, where they spend their eternity with “natural happiness” and perhaps little pain. Considering this, how can we have sincere wish to save ill infants from death?

I know that there can be no real answer to this question, for the eternal hell is a doctrine of Catholicism, which cannot be changed. I just feel depressed and sad, and want to get some help.

Dark? Rather, truth enlightens. Our freedom to choose should eliminate consternation over our eternal fate. God in no way makes it impossible for us to achieve salvation. Are there those who choose hell? Some apparently do, but that is their choice and God respects their freedom - as He did with the angels in the beginning. He calls us to love, and it is when the self triumphs over love of God that trouble enters in.

However, we need not obsess over this. Pondering the Beatific Vision can do nothing but draw you nearer to it. That is a huge comfort. At mass this weekend, we hear Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration (Chapter 17). That was light and glory, a vision of eternity in the temporal world. Consider focusing on that.

In the final analysis, hell is as simple as “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

Not being sarcastic when I say the secular world view is too corrupt, evil, and hedonistic by anyone’s measure, let alone the Christian one. This world is completely indefensible.

Hmm… interesting question.

For starters, hell is not just a doctrine of the Catholic religion. Its basically in every religion, except maybe not in the form that we know as ‘hell’. Take for instance the teachings of karma and reincarnation… if you did bad in one life, you will have to pay for it in the next… This is still a form of hell. Or purgatory. (There is such a thing as good karma too, but this isn’t the thread ot discuss it) So, to say its just Catholic, is not really correct. To me, if Catholicism seems ‘dark’, its only because it is the only religion that has the starkest contrast. If you know about art- contrast is very important to really make something POP, grab attention, suck you in. … in other words, … its powerful. Another thing is it is sharply defined. Balance is another word that comes to mind.

Now, maybe its just me, but I would think if you had to choose a religion- that is, something that you know would encompass all the help you will need to get through a life with the least amount of suffering, you would choose that which is most powerful, most sharply defined, most balanced- meaning, it would probably be very daunting. The beauty of a painting with stark contrast is this: You don’t have to choose to focus on the dark parts, but focus on the brightest part.

The rules of the Catholic church are not what you should be following. You follow Jesus Christ. The rules show the dark parts, remind us of the sins. The light part is Jesus. Heaven. >>>> ALL THAT IS TRULY GOOD. Focus on that. Holy Scripture even reminds us of that. Focus on redemption. Focus on His Glory. Focus on what is good. The rules are there to deliberate and help guide us, not to bring us down. Rules are there to keep us safe and keep things fair for everyone. No one in sport moans about the rules- they know its there for a good reason. If a player makes a foul move… he doesn’t mope in the corner thinking how unfair it was… he owns up to it, he moves on. He continues to play for the team to win. If someone else shines instead of him, he’s happy, because he’s still part of that team. The team is not about him. Even if he’s not the star athlete, he’s happy to support because its about the win for the team.

About the infants… we dont’ know why God does what he does and why he allows what he allows. We are told to trust that God is in control. Why would you want the infants chance at glorifying God nixed and forfeited? Do you not believe there is anything in life that makes it worth living? That feeling of having a true friend? The moment you accomplished a difficult goal? That movie you enjoyed and laughed throughout? That family dinner that became a good memory… When Peter was walking on water, when he took his eyes off of Jesus, he started to sink. Seek Jesus… the real one, not the sappy saccharine stuff they have out there for the masses to try and ingest. Sometimes its ok to sit in sadness with Him. He’s got something to share with your heart.

Would you rather a lighter view that is false?

The Christian concept of hell came from pagan cultures/religions, including Greek philosophy.


From where did Augustine and Dante get their ideas about a never-ending suffering in store for sinners? Is it biblical? It’s true that by the time of Christ, Judaism had incorporated related concepts into its belief system, though in earlier times it did not teach that an ever-burning hell was to be the fate of the unsaved. Nor did the early New Testament Church teach it. The doctrine has its roots elsewhere.

Dante’s guide through the netherworld was Virgil, the first-century-B.C.E. Roman poet. In his epic poem Aeneid, the hero, Aeneas, is also taken on a tour of hell. Virgil’s graphic depiction of the dismal and macabre place profoundly influenced later artists and writers.

But the concept of hell as a place of torment predates Virgil as well. A number of ancient civilizations, including those of Mesopotamia, India, Egypt and Greece, held as part of their mythology the concept of an underworld—the realm of the dead. The first-century-B.C.E. Greek geographer and philosopher Strabo discussed the value of such myths, noting that “the states and the lawgivers had sanctioned them as a useful expedient.” He went on to explain that people “are deterred from evil courses when, either through descriptions or through typical representations of objects unseen, they learn of divine punishments, terrors, and threats.” In dealing with the unruly, reason or exhortation alone is not enough, wrote Strabo; “there is need of religious fear also, and this cannot be aroused without myths and marvels… . The founders of states gave their sanction to these things as bugbears wherewith to scare the simple-minded” (Geography 1.2.8).

With the rise of Western philosophy at the hands of Socrates and his intellectual heirs Plato and Aristotle, concepts of life, death and the hereafter took on new dimensions. In the East, too, the afterlife continued to stir the imagination. Strabo remarked on a group of Eastern philosophers who “weave in myths, like Plato, about the immortality of the soul and the judgments in Hades and other things of this kind” (Geography 15.1.59).

Plato (ca. 428–347 B.C.E.) became a key figure in the development of these ideas. His name appears frequently in the writings of Augustine, who noted that the Greek scholar had “perfected philosophy” and that he “is justly preferred to all the other philosophers of the Gentiles.” Though the bishop by no means endorsed all of Plato’s ideas, he did hold a number of his philosophical opinions in high regard—“opinions sometimes favorable to the true religion, which our faith takes up and defends” (City of God 8.4).

The result has been of immense importance to traditional Christianity. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which describes Augustine as a “Christian Neoplatonist,” remarks: “One of the decisive developments in the western philosophical tradition was the eventually widespread merging of the Greek philosophical tradition and the Judeo-Christian religious and scriptural traditions. Augustine is one of the main figures through and by whom this merging was accomplished.”

One of the key tenets of Neoplatonic thought adopted by Augustine was that humans possess an immortal soul. This was a critical step in his developing the idea that unbelievers could be made to endure eternal torment in hell.

Pagan cultures and philosophies have contributed greatly to modern concepts of hell. But what does the Bible itself say on the subject?

Think of all the people who made it to heaven after considering this “dark world view”.

The darkness is over and now they have light and happiness.:slight_smile:

Good try but the Bible mentions hell more than it mentions Heaven I see that you were visited by some Jehovah’s Witnesses. I think you should try to argue with someone on this with someone who actually hasn’t read the Bible since I have read it cover-to-cover and am Fairly familiar with the New Testament I think maybe you shouldn’t post where I can. I think I shall start giving you some verses. by the way I hope you know that the Pagan views of the afterlife are not the same as the Christian one including the doctrine of hell. Anyway I’m going to sling some verses your way. Luke chapter 8 verse 31 Revelation chapter 9 verses 1, 2; 11:7, 8. Matthew chapter 10 verse 28 John chapter 5 verse 29 Matthew chapter 7 verse 13. 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 verses 10 through 11, Matthew chapter 8 verse 12 Matthew chapter 22 verse 13 Matthew chapter 25 verse 32 Peter chapter 2 Peter verse 4 ,Jude 6, Matthew chapter 25 verse 41, 46; Mark chapter 9 verse 43, 48, Jude 7; Matthew chapter 3 verse 10, 12 Matthew Chapter 5 Verse 22 through 29. Revelation chapter 21 verse 8 and that’s just a few of them. But you know the Bible doesn’t talk about hell.

"Hell" Is Not an Old Testament doctrine:

Popular myth : Hell is an established Biblical doctrine that is in the Bible from start to finish. This is not true! Two thirds of the Bible (the Old Testament) does not mention Hell at all. (“Sheol,” the Old Testament word that is sometimes translated as Hell, only means “grave” by definition, and it is where everyone in the Old Testament went when they died–good or evil, Jew or Gentile). Thus the Old Testament does not contain the concept of Hell!

Think about it…

If Hell is real, why didn’t God make that warning plain right at the beginning of the Bible? God said the penalty for eating of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was death- -not “eternal life” in fire and brimstone.

If Hell is real, why wasn’t Cain warned about it, or Sodom and Gomorrah , or any of those who committed the earliest recorded “sins?”

If Hell is real why didn’t Moses warn about this fate in the Ten Commandments or the Mosaic Covenant consisting of over 600 laws, ordinances, and warnings? The Mosaic Law simply stated blessings and cursings in this lifetime.

If Hell is real, why are its roots in paganism, rather than the Bible? Many nations surrounding Israel in the Old Testament believed in Hell-like punishment in the afterlife, for they served bloodthirsty and evil “gods,” while Israel simply taught the grave (sheol) and a hope of a resurrection. If Hell is real, why was the revelation of it first given to pagan nations, instead of God’s covenant people? Did God expect Israel to learn about the afterlife from the Pagan Gentiles? If so, why did He repeatedly warn Israel to not learn of their ways?

If Hell is real, why did God tell the Jews that burning their children alive in the fire to the false god Molech, (in the valley of Gehenna ) was so detestable to Him? God said that such a thing “never even entered His mind” (Jer. 32:35). How could God say such a thing to Israel , if He has plans to burn alive a good majority of His own creation in a spiritual and eternal Gehenna of His own making?

**FACT: The King James Bible erroneously translates the word “Sheol” as Hell a total of 31 times in the Old Testament, thus setting a foundation for that doctrine in the New Testament as well as the majority of Bible translations to follow the KJV. Even so, most new translations have completely eliminated Hell from the Old Testament, as honest and better scholarship has demanded. The Jewish version of the Old Testament (the Tanakh) has no concept of Hell in it.

*Not that I find this website as a reliable means of truth, but he does raise some interesting questions.

I fear you are probably right. Ive always found all the depictions of hell in art, literature, etc to be more of a hell for the human body/ human world rather than a hell for the spiritual world.

Example, most depictions of hell show people being tortured by demons, its dark and bleak, smoky, little light, lots of suffering, etc. but all of that is primarily a hell for the physical body, we are spirit once we die, so a hell like this would not be practical for a spirit. (also, we do not receive ‘glorified bodies’ until after the second coming, so people in heaven/ hell right now, have no bodies, to experience suffering or pleasure in the physical sense).

Its only natural that humans try to depict hell and heaven using scenes and terms they are familiar with, Id say in reality, hell and heaven are probably NOTHING even remotely close to any human depiction, its just something we have no reference point for, even to attempt to depict it.


Then I’d say you have a badly screwed up worldview as well as that of Catholicism. Hillaire Belloc expresses his worldview this way.
The Catholic Sun

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s laughter and dancing and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!

People are forced to enter the world, to try to be saved and fight with temptations, sins and difficulties, with the risk of going to the eternal hell throughout their whole lives. And, perhaps many of them eventually go to the hell. Is it too cruel? Considering this, how can we be sincerely happy for everyone’s birth?

You don’t sound like you have read much of the Bible and especially the New Testament. I suggest that you begin today.

I wonder how many people would have chosen to enter the world if they had been asked to choose either to enter the world with the risk of an eternal hell or to “stay in nothingness” for all the eternity.

Bad assumption here…you assume that we exist in nothingness prior to birth, but you can’t know.

Personally I don’t know and really don’t care because I am here now and I am happy to be so. Even on my bad time books like Ecclesiastes always pick me up.

I even wonder whether died infants are more fortunate than adults, for they no longer risk going to the hell. Maybe they directly go to the heaven. Even if it is worse, they go to the limbo, where they spend their eternity with “natural happiness” and perhaps little pain. Considering this, how can we have sincere wish to save ill infants from death?

Again, you assume a Limbo and yet that has never been an authentic Catholic teaching…only a pious theory.:shrug: It seems to me that you would be better off focusing on your own life and faith and doing something good with the days that you have. At worst it is a positive lifestyle, and at best it may help you realize just how not useless you are and that there is much good to be done to and for one another in this world. Otherwise…you just give up which never improves anything in life.

I know that there can be no real answer to this question, for the eternal hell is a doctrine of Catholicism, which cannot be changed. I just feel depressed and sad, and want to get some help.

Are you by chance in some kind of therapy? I only ask because you seem to be using clinical terms like “depressed”. Life is sometimes difficult, often hectic, and mostly unpredictable, but dark and sad…not so much .

Here; take a piece of advice from Sir Winston Churchill.
"If you’re going through hell, keep going."

So then, you’d rather have God make the choice for you? Say that you should never be born?

Remember it wasn’t God that sent us to this type of life. We were made for heaven, for the garden of eden. It was our choice that brought us to this world. We wanted to know what God knows, we wanted to be like God, and now we know, now we understand suffering, death and despair. Remember the saying be careful what you wish for…

We choose this and we must try to get through it, because God wants us back in heaven, He wants us to be apart of His kingdom.

No I disagree, this is the most merciful thing possible. To not exist is incomprehensible to me, I reject that. For God to chose for us, that contradicts His will. No, our ability to come home is the most merciful thing God can do for us. He could have ended us when we first cut Him, when we first disobeyed, at our first rejection. However, knowing our sin, knowing our evil tendencies, He decided to give us the chance, He decided to suffer for us Himself. He is mercy.

You say it is a dark world, you are correct, but God is not the darkness, rather He is the light, and He is calling you brother. He loves you, He wants you to come home…

The one who offers us salvation is the one who told us about heaven of which a few get there and hell where the rest go In Context
admittedly that IMV is the scariest passage in scripture.

The Catholic Church is being faithful to the Gospel and to the one who established her #34

All people have to do is obey Him. Problem is, as He said, few do that.

FWIW, I asked my priest if “massa damnata” was true and he told me yes. He also said that “extra nulla salus” is valid as well.

I left kinda sad :frowning:

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around eternal damnation. I cannot comprehend it.
At the same time, when I try to ponder Heaven and eternal bliss, my human mind can’t quite understand that either! Perfection and perfect bliss keep meshing with boredom in my mind. That’s just my human mind trying to think about these big questions.

But as for eternal damnation…I sometimes wonder if that’s where everyone I know is going because the Catholics in my family don’t even go to church. They are not religious in the broad sense. It is a pretty sad view. But I don’t know the answers about where anyone is going.

We wouldn’t even know it was for real if we didn’t have revelation from God through scripture, and Tradition, telling us it is true

IOW we need faith in God. We aren’t capable of figuring everything out for ourselves.

Do you know why deliberately missing mass on Sunday is so great a sin?


From the lips of the one who saves
In Context ,.In Context

Jesus did what was necessary to save us. That doesn’t mean Jesus will force us to be saved. It doesn’t mean that we can live a life we want, yet opposed to what Jesus wants of us and think things will be okay.

Your post reminded me that we are coming up on the 100th anniversary of Fatima, and what The Blessed Mother said to the 3 children @ Fatima


"The sins of the world are very great … If men only knew what eternity is, they would do everything in their power to change their lives. " "Fly from riches and luxury; love poverty and silence; have charity, even for bad people. " "More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason. "[1] "Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much. " "Woe to women lacking in modesty. "[2] "The Mother of God wants more virgin souls bound by the vow of chastity. " "Confession is a sacrament of mercy and we must confess with joy and trust. " "Many marriages are not of God and do not please Our Lord " "Our Lady can no longer uphold the arm of Her Divine Son which will strike the world. If people amend their lives, Our Lord will even now save the world, but if they do not, punishment will come. " "People must renounce sin and not persist in it, as has been done until now. It is essential to repent greatly… "

To your point, and the point of the thread,

With reference to what the Blessed Mother warned, and her Son warned, I don’t think it takes too much analysis, to see we in this world, aren’t paying NEARLY ENOUGH attention to the need to live holy lives consecrated to God. For so many people, THAT is not even on their radar screen. Too many people ignore the consequences of the next life that we know is there. For one not to repent and live right according to the revelation we have been given by God, is pure stupidity

The one who will do the judging has already told us in advance what is ahead

Mt 13: 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.

IOW, They neither fear God, which is the beginning of wisdom, (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10, Sirach 1:14 ) nor do they fear hell. Revelation 20:15

That’s why the one who judges the living and the dead told us in advance, few go to heaven and the rest go to hell
In Context , In Context

I would suggest that point is not getting through to way too many people

I have some questions whether hell really is forever. The very popular Christian writing, The Apocalypse of Peter, says at the end, "My Father will give unto them all the life, the glory, and the kingdom that passeth not away, … It is because of them that have believed in me that I am come. It is also because of them that have believed in me, that, at their word, I shall have pity on men… " Some believe the reason this text is not in the Bible is for this simple statement, that in the end God will not leave people in hell.

If some idea goes against the grain, then it is rejected. Tradition and Church authority decides the outcome.


The Muratorian canon ~170 a.d.

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