A.D.E.P.T. Debate Message Board › "God does not send anyone to hell, they choose to go there"

"God does not send anyone to hell, they choose to go there"

Tom W.
user 14564690
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 2
this is a common, and one of the more difficult to rebut, declarations that many people will hear in religious discussion. here are some of my thoughts on this particular theist claim...

please feel very invited to comment or add your own ideas...

"God doesn't send anyone to hell, we send ourselves there"


This is one that I have heard, many many times in my life.
and is often accompanied with " it is your choice".

when I was younger I usually responded with...

" then I choose not to go " ( followed by a large smile )

sometimes my declaration of choice would result in a
familiar I-got-another-convert look, often followed by
the beginning of their new-membership procedure. -or-
they would simply say it's not that simple and start
explaining why.

I would let them go on a bit, before interrupting with....

" I don't have to do anything else, I just now chose not to go,
and since it's my choice and I just now made it, deal is done"

I tried many times to educate people about proper use of their native
language in that "Choice" by definition, is something like,
"the mental process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one or more of them."

and that what they were describing was more consistent with the
definition of "trade" , "Exchange" or "Deal" . One of the principles of
"choice" is that it is an "INTERNAL thought process" involving more than
One available options, and is independent of conditions or limitations,
and often only involves the Chooser".

We have very good words in our language that clearly indicate
a "trade" of one thing of value for another, and "choice" is not the best
of them. but getting people to use their language properly,
( or "Honestly" ? ) is a difficult job when persuasion is afoot.

after their next explanation, usually involving the conditions
that must be met to receive the offered reward.... I usually
responded with " so, it's a trade ?" ...

as I got older, I realized that a better goal would be for me
to inspire new thoughts in people.


in fifth grade I got a copy of a book on Zen philosophy from
the church school library I was attending, and became fascinated
with the power of questions, and the ability of proper questions
to create specific imagery and thoughts.

from that point on, I sought to formulate inspirational questions
to use as my responses to religious discussions.

My new responses to the declaration that God does not send
anyone to hell , we send ourselves there, ( choose to go ).
went more like the following...

" what if I pretend to be the person I would
have to be to get the reward ?"

nearly always their response was some form of...

" pretending does not count, God can see into your heart and
thoughts, he will know if you're faking"

now my response is more along the lines of...

" do you believe sincere behavior can be bought through greed
or forced through threats ?"

" is the five-year-old child, who is following a behavioral script,
and expecting to be rewarded by Santa for it, actually a GOOD child ? "


this puts them in the position of either having to say yes or no.

if they say yes, they've just declared that some behavior is sincere
regardless of the attachment of any reward or threat. it is a free
country ( supposedly) and they can of course say and think that.
though, nearly all people I meet and ask that question outside
the context of religious discussion, usually say, that truly sincere
behavior is behavior unconnected to threats or bribes. and I happen
to choose to believe in, and practice this policy myself.

if they say no, they have created a seed of doubt, concerning
the existence of sincerity in their behavior, in the presence of
the dual threat and bribe conditions of their religion.

regardless of the outcome at this point, I usually state my policy
that in regards to sincere behavior in my life, I insist that I do not
get paid, for any good deeds that I might do. doing any good deed
with foreknowledge of a follow-up reward as a result of the good
deed, transforms the entire process into a business deal.
exactly as if we get a paycheck every Friday for behaving in very
specific ways, Monday through Thursday.

when I was very young and was allowed to read the "Reader's Digest"
magazine , as one of the very few nonreligious text I was allowed to
have access to, I always read " quotable quotes".

one of them that became permanently added to my thought
processes was the following...

" there is no such thing,
as a good deed paid for "

so I began telling theist who were trying to, convert me to their
way of thinking, that it would be against my sense of morality, to
accept the reward of heaven, in exchange for any good behavior
I had performed earlier... I do not believe that I can own the reward
along with my good deeds, and I valued my good behavior more
highly than a possible spiritual paycheck in exchange for them.

and at some point I would usually insert the declaration that
" my good deeds are not for sale, to anyone, for any reason".


and now one of my favorite responses to, ...

" God does not send us to hell we choose to go there"

...is that, I do not believe that extortion or blackmail should be
tolerated on any plane of existence, and I refuse to endorse or
enable it by participating in it. to do so would be beyond the
moral policy I choose to live by, regarding blackmail, extortion,
or the sincerity of my deeds and behavioral choices.

if a heaven exist, I "might" choose to go there, if anyone
was allowed in, regardless of their behavior...

after that I usually like to playfully add,

" oh wait, I almost forgot, that is kind of true now isn't it ?"
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