Would a Loving God Send Us to Hell?

For the sake of discussion, let us assume there's an able god.  By "able", I mean that god is capable of doing anything that does not violate the rules of logic.  For instance, it can create the universe, but it cannot create a square circle because a square circle is logically impossible.  

Next, let us assume that god unconditionally loves all of creation, including each one of us.

Is that scenario logically possible?

Well, I think it is possible. I would not account it very probable. It's not something I'd bank on.  But possible?  Yes.

Now, let us assume the same two conditions -- an able god and that god's unconditional love -- plus a third condition.

The third condition is there exists a hell that is a part of creation and to which people are sent after their death if they disobey the god.

Is the new scenario logically possible?

I do not think so.  Instead,. I think the new scenario involves a logical contradiction and consequently cannot exist.  That is, it cannot be real.  But what is that contradiction?

Well, how can you logically have an able god that loves you unconditionally and also causes you to go to hell if you disobey that god?

So far as I can see, you cannot.  An unconditionally loving god would neither impose a condition upon it's love ( i.e. if you do not obey me, I will not love you) nor would an unconditionally loving god, if it were able to prevent it, allow it's beloved to come to harm (i.e. if you do not obey me, I will cause or allow you to go to hell). 

But what do you think?  Is it an amusing logic puzzle?  Or have I just had too much caffeine again?


  1. I have a hard time believing in hell, and also struggle with the concept of heaven. If there is a God, and he created us with imperfections, I would think he would also be forgiving of our mistakes. I think truly evil people are sick, and create their own hell on earth. Thank you for giving me something to think about!

  2. This is one of those essential points I wish more people of faith would meditate on.

  3. Counterpoint: maybe it's not just a question of love. Would a just God send us to Hell?

  4. Michael, I think possibly. But could such a just god be an unconditionally loving god?

    And in the grandest sense of "justice", is there any justice in the act of an unconditionally loving god creating a system or reality in which some are or will be sent to hell?

  5. Quote Angela: "If there is a God, and he created us with imperfections, I would think he would also be forgiving of our mistakes."

    Good point! It's hard to conceive of an unconditionally loving god that would not be a forgiving god.

  6. No, it's a valid question, caffeine intake notwithstanding. It simply doesn't make sense to attribute unconditional love to a deity, then attribute eternal torture to the same deity. It's just not logical.

    You could use this as a springboard to the wider theodicy question -- why would a supposedly loving god allow so much suffering and evil to exist in the world?

  7. Two justice-related issues:

    1. Human justice generally presumes that the punishment should be proportional to the crime. What sort of crime is proportional to eternal torture?

    2. If God created us imperfectly, is it just to condemn your creations for behaving the way you built them to behave?

  8. I agree this could be broadened out, Ahab. That's a good point.

  9. Would I, as a father of two boys condemn them to eternal punishment if they did something I didn't approve?Of course not,that's a stupid thought and I'm far from being a God.That should answer the question!w

  10. Excellent point, Pjevs! If a human father would not condemn his children to eternal torment, how can we expect a heavenly father to do so?


Comments Welcome -- but no flaming. If you wish, you can email me at paul_sunstone@q.com