Wednesday, 19 December 2012

John C Wright on Hell


John C Wright has posted a particularly fine example of the kind of usefulness that (we) recent converts potentially have in Christian apologetics - for me this was a very clarifying piece of writing and thinking.

there are many telling points made in the course of this thesis; here are a few excerpts:


Cruel logic says that there are only three general possibilities of what happens after death: oblivion, reincarnation, and resurrection.

Or, to put the matter the other way, the three options are endless nonbeing, which means the obliteration of human nature; the endlessly continuation of human nature and its flaws; or the endless perfection of human nature.

If those in truth are the only possibilities, then even God Almighty could not design a universe with something other than one of those three results, any more than He can make a four-sided triangle.

If oblivion is our fate, there is neither hope nor justice in this world, for every suicide bomber, or successful criminal, or bloodthirsty tyrant, who died comfortably in bed mocks even the idea of a just retribution.

Justice is not even possible, for if the victim of murder cannot be made to live again, then the injustice of murder is as infinite as the span of nonexistence into which the murderer plunges his victim. The murderer himself, when he dies, whether on the scaffold or comfortably in bed, is placed in the same dreamless oblivion as his victim, as all heroes, no matter how heroic, as all villains, no matter how wretched, as selfless saints and sadistic madmen, all, all, all come to nothing in the end.

In this worldview, all human fears and ambitions and hopes and wars and commotions come to nothing and mean nothing. Life is hopeless, and the best one can hope for is a certain small amount of personal comfort and selfish pleasure, a love affair or a family or money or fame, and then everything is swallowed by the dragon of nothingness.


Buddhism sounds like one of those forgiving teachers who keep letting you re-take and re-take the test until you get all the answers right. To the best of my admittedly limited understanding, that is not what Buddhism says.

I am assuming here that the possibility that mankind will find perfection after a sufficiently large number of reincarnations, and know the difference between good and evil and choose the good, to be too small a possibility to contemplate. No one familiar with the natural selfishness of human nature, the indifference, the lack of charity, the hate, infinite human capacity for self-adoration and self-deception, will be so sanguine as to think a few billion kalpas of extra lives will allow us all to learn to live as saints.

Again, this is not my field, so anyone more well studied in the teachings of this ancient and profound theology is welcome to correct me—but Buddhism speaks of the annihilation or absorption of human nature back into the original godhead. Nirvana is not paradise, but an undisturbed state indistinguishable from oblivion. The word means ‘no wind blowing’ that is, the unruffled.