Why don't God punish people in hell for a finite time and then destroy them?


I’ve thought that maybe it’s because they want to exist. That existence is the only good of God they will. God not violating their will, sustains them. Just a thought

It seems to be unlikely. I cannot imagine how someone in hell wants to exist.


Perhaps the same reason why sane parents don’t kill their kids when choose a life of sin.

Is it better to exist and suffer or to not exist at all? For me, I would rather exist - which is motivation to seek heaven


Every possible thing about God concerns the laws of logic. Logic in the supernatural sense is Truth. God is Truth. Logic is truth.

Some philosophers and theologians have argued that God cannot do the illogical. The reasoning follows as such:

Just as God is the essence of love and good, He is the epitome of reasoning and logic. Human logic is one part of being made in His image.
God is honest and never contradicts Himself: Hebrews 6:18 “It is impossible for God to lie.”
If God acts illogically, He is contradicting His very nature.
If God were to contradict His nature, He would no longer be a just and moral God.
Therefore, God cannot act illogically.


I think maybe existence takes on a new value if it is a new possible last thing. So to speak?


Aquinas says that non-existence is actually worse than Hell, and I tend to agree with him, so it is actually an act of mercy on God’s part that He does not destroy the damned.


So in other words God in his mercy sends sinners to Hell for eternal suffering?? Aquinas says non-existence is worse than Hell. The first statement is simply ridiculous. Aquinas statement is an opinion and a poor one at that. Given a sample of experience between Hell and non-existence. I’m sure even Aquinas would choose non-existence.


Clarkgamble –

What you are saying is that it would seem, or feel, worse to suffer forever.

However, nothing can “seem” or “feel” like anything, if you don’t exist. To know, to feel, to have thoughts, are all good things.

Similarly, you couldn’t “choose not to exist” if you didn’t exist. To exist is to have preferences and individuality.

You wouldn’t have anything good if you didn’t exist. So of course it is better to exist than not to exist. To exist is to have some good.

Finally, though, I think you are wrong if you think that souls in Hell long to cease existing. The demons are also in Hell, and also suffer the loss of all their old happiness as angels as well as most of their powers and intelligence. Yet the fallen angels don’t long to cease existing. They scrabble hard to exist, because they long to drag down more of us humans to Hell. The damned souls are probably just as avid to keep existing and get company, but aren’t as able to mess with us.


Why is it better? How can a soul that no longer exists benefit from not existing?


You cite Aquinas’s statement as just an opinion. So is your statement, and Aquinas is a thoroughly trained theologian, an expert in his field. Do you have any training in theology or philosophy? If not why should I take your opinion over his?

And God in His mercy gives us every chance to attain heaven and avoid hell. There is no soul in hell that does not thoroughly deserve to be there.

a sample of experience between Hell and non-existence.

How can what does not exist experience not existing?

I’m sure even Aquinas would choose non-existence

Even though he said otherwise, in print, for publication.


Of course!

Unless it involves eternal suffering in the fires of Hell! Get real here!

Silly speculation based on no logical evidence at all. How in your arrogance can you possibly think you know what the fallen angels think, or the suffering souls think?


How can you possibly think you know these things? What makes Mintaka’s words silly speculation and your words worth listening to?


If the demons were resigned, depressed critters who stayed home and longed for nonexistence, Peter wouldn’t have had to say: “Your adversary the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Jesus wouldn’t have been tempted by the Devil. You wouldn’t have had demons possessing people (or pigs). And so on.

So why would damned souls, who can’t get out of Hell, be in a more passive mood than demons, who occasionally can? Wouldn’t they be more frustrated and angry?

I don’t insist on the point, but I know human nature is ornery!

UPDATE – I just remembered some Scripture that agrees with me!

Jesus warns us several times about those who will be thrown out into the darkness outside, “where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Obviously those wailing or weeping are feeling sadness or remorse. But “gnashing of teeth” or “grinding of teeth” is a Biblical way of expressing frustrated anger. Basically, people want to bite something but they can’t, so they grind and snap their teeth together.

So yup, the damned souls are royally torqued off. Partly at themselves, but probably at God and everybody else, too.

And when someone is angry, he isn’t longing for non-existence. He’s longing to make other people cease existing!


I have no idea what the poor souls or the demons think! I’m just amused by those who think they do.


We have evidence.
We have the teachings of the Church over 2,000 years. We have Scripture, as shown by Mintaka. You --no disrespect intended to you-- have your own opinion, unsupported as far as I can tell.

We have reason for our position, beyond just “I think so.”


His statament was based in logic. For an existent creature, existence is good. Therefore non-existence is bad. For those in Hell, their existence is good.

Some people would rather die than suffer pain. They are disordered. I would not be surprised if the people in Hell are similarly disordered.


I have stopped worrying about other peoples’ punishment. I just try to do the best I can for myself and my family.


souls in hell increase the glory of the blessed in heaven (cf St. Thomas, St Augustine etc.), and the glory of God itself.
If God destroys his souls, it will diminish his glory and those of the blessed and this would be at the same time against justice, against mercy and against the liberality of God


Eternal joy in heaven must have a negative equivalent. It is a matter of God’s perfect justice - which man cannot comprehend in this life.


Why does God not forgive them and not punish them at all?


They reject forgiveness. They will not repent.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.