Hell

X: I sometimes wish that I believed in a hell where I could condemn all these self-righteous, judging, arrogant believers. And then I realize why prophets invented hell, and where this need to believe in it comes from: from the desire to punish the people who reject and ridicule you, from the desire to have the ultimate last laugh.

Comments

Butters said…
Nietzsche said something like that too.

I don't know entirely where the idea of hell comes from, but a couple of factoids:

1. The ancient Greeks had some sort of hell they called Tartarus. There is also mention of Hades in the Bible, which is obviously the Greek influence. There is no mention of hell in any part of the New Testament that I have read so far.

2. The word Gehenna (and the Urdu word Jahannum, which I'm guessing you're familiar with) meaning 'hell' comes from the ancient Hebrew word 'Gi-Henna' which means 'the valley'. This was a specific valley outside Jerusalem where babies were burnt alive as a sacrifice to the pagan God Baal. It was also a dumping ground for deceased criminals and outcasts, and for the (literal) garbage of the city.
Uni said…
If you can't prove it .. doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Also, if you can't prove it, you can't disprove it either.

Either way, the argument is void.
Awais said…
It's not a pure argument of logic; it's more of a psychological hypothesis.
Uni said…
lol, give it whatever name you wish, it doesn't make sense to disprove something completely, simply because no material proof has been seen yet.

If it defies logic, then the hypothesis doesn't hold.
Awais said…
@ Uni

What are you talking about? It is not a metaphysical argument to disprove hell. It doesn't seek to accomplish that. That's a separate debate. The statement is made in a certain philosophical background. That's why it is framed as a dialogue. It doesn't even talk about "disproving" or "material proof". Don't make the post about what it is not.
Awais said…
And the hypothesis does not defy logic.
Uni said…
It doesn't even talk about "disproving" or "material proof". Don't make the post about what it is not.

No it truly isn't. The post talks (ironically) about belief

And then it talks about a realisation. So yes, even if its a dialogue, the structure is such that you (or X -- whatever), made a wish, then realised something, and thus concluded something. If these are not the elements of logic, then what are?

And thus, I made a comment about logic, and used a common argument which people do.. who don't believe in well, anything.. and that is, that no material proof exists.

Hope thats clear.
Awais said…
The elements of deductive logic are two premises and a conclusion, with the conclusion being a logical consequence of the premises. The deductive conclusion is either valid or invalid (not true or false).

This is clearly not a case of deductive logic.

Inductive logic also has premises and a conclusion, but it moves from a set of specific facts to a general conclusion, in which the premises should provide some degree of support for the conclusion, where such support means that the truth of the premises indicates with some degree of strength that the conclusion is true.

This is also not a case of inductive logic.

These are the elements of logic.

In fact, any attempt to formulate the dialogue in terms of a logical argument, whether deductive or inductive, would be to miss the spirit in which it was written.
Uni said…
Lol again

You just gave two convenient forms of logic (I am certainly not denying them), but you merrily ignored the countless definitions of logic, and what is actually covered by each and every definition..

Since you restrict yourself to convenience, obviously the inference you draw seems to be correct to you.

The statement is made in a certain philosophical background.

And philosophy, are you saying, has no connection with logic?

(its a stupid argument. You're just hell bent on not introducing any element of logic here, because then, whatever you say, becomes a little senseless.
Awais said…
Convenient forms? Deductive logic and inductive logic are the only two recognized kinds of inference in Logic. If you know of other kinds (the non-convenient ones), please illuminate me :)

Philosophy employs arguments, and logic is the study of making valid arguments. That's how they are related.
Awais said…
Like i said in an earlier comment, it is more of an hypothesis. A hypothesis is a plausible explanation of a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to not defy logic, it only has to be devoid of internal contradictions and has to be logically possible (not logically necessary), which my hypothesis is.
Awais said…
And given that it is a hypothesis, the only defendable position you have is to say: "I do not agree with this hypothesis." or "I do not believe that this hypothesis is correct." And i would respect you if you say this.

But to say "the argument is void", "it defies logic" "it is senseless"... well, that is simply not true.
Uni said…
Deductive logic and inductive logic are the only two recognized kinds of inference in Logic.

Check my comment. I said types of logic, not types of inferences.

http://www.rbjones.com/rbjpub/logic/log001.htm

This should be enough proof.

And given that it is a hypothesis, the only defendable position you have is to say: "I do not agree with this hypothesis." or "I do not believe that this hypothesis is correct." And i would respect you if you say this.

Lol.. so you think that just because I didn't say it, I believe in it?

Logically incorrect again :P

Of course I don't believe in it. But since I'm talking to YOU, who scoff at the very notion of BELIEF, why would i use THAT statement? Or even assume that you'd respect me for it.

You're the great propagator of logical reasoning, and philosophical knicknacks... why in heavens would I want to argue with you on the basis of belief..

If you believe in belief .. then we have absolutely nothing to argue about.

I reiterate.

The conslusion of that dialogue is logically incorrect.
Awais said…
@ Uni

The fact that there are many logical systems does nothing to support you, because you are talking about making a correct inference/conclusion, and the method for that remains deduction and induction.
Secondly, you didn't use the word 'types of logic', you used the word 'forms of logic', which incidentally has a separate meaning of its own.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logical_form


The conclusion of that dialogue is logically incorrect.

And that is where you are wrong, which i have been trying to tell you but you have been persistent in ignoring me. This is not a conclusion. It is a proposed explanation, a hypothesis. And there is no strict method of hypothesis making. One can use intuition to aesthetics as one's inspiration for a hypothesis, like i used a psychological realization. And the nature of this hypothesis is such that neither you nor me can judge its validity on pure logic. The dialogue is not a conclusion moving from a desire to a realization to a conclusion. It simply shows the progression of a thought, arriving at a hypothesis.

If you can't even appreciate what a post says, why do you even bother commenting on it.

And if you still reiterate that my dialogue, against all my intentions, presents a conclusion (which raises interesting questions of deconstruction of a text, btw) then i challenge you to present my dialogue to me in the language of a logical argument, and tell me what type this logical argument is of, and what logical fallacy i am making in it. And saying so, i repeat once again: the dialogue does not present a conclusion. It presents a proposed explanation.

P.S. I do not scoff at every notion of belief, nor do i disrespect belief as a matter of rule.
tahir said…
The structure of the argument is like...It says:

Person X feels the wish to have believed in a certain hell, for a certain reason...

And then, lo and behold, it generalizes this and even goes on to suggest that:

Prophets (and consequently the believers) invented/believed in hell...because of the same kind of feeling/desire...

Which maybe true or may, quite possibly, not be true.

So, why isn't it the case of inductive logic?

And apart from this...On the dialogue itself:

Put it other way, this jewel which you've quoted, if I understood correctly, conveys...that:

Prophets/Believers "invented/believed in" hell to "counter" the frustration associated with they being rejected and ridiculed.

Now, why is this person "X" unable to do the same and attain "peace of mind"?

Simply and chiefly because you can't have the "peace of mind" THIS way...The way depicted by the argument.

Things like:

The idea seems insanely illogical to him...

He hasn't seen hell yet. Or the proof of its existence (which, of course, doesn't mean it can't exist, as Uni said.)...

Are a bit separate stories...


God sends His signs...which are open/clear and can't be matched and gives the people a fair chance/an open invitation to match His signs as well.

And it's up to the people to recognize and believe in His open/matchless signs, hold on to them and believe in and follow the God Who sent these and Whom they haven't seen. OR to reject the TRUTH.

Prophets and believers recognize and believe in those signs and the God, Who sent them.

That's why they believe in the Concept of Hell which God told them about. They don't do so out of, some kind of, evil desire of theirs or something.

And your blog is Hell Interesting...:P
Uni said…
*grin* Sometimes, I'm really glad people like Tahir exist on the planet..

You know what Awais.. I won't argue with you further. Just confirm one thing, and I'm off.

And then I realize why prophets invented hell, and where this need to believe in it comes from: from the desire to punish the people who reject and ridicule you, from the desire to have the ultimate last laugh.

Do you, or do you NOT agree that this realisation of this person MAY be wrong?

It is NOT conclusive?

If you say yes to that, alright, I have nothing to argue about. But if you adamantly say that this realisation is a conclusion person X reached, then we have a continuing argument.

About forms of logic, and types of logic.. I wasn't aware of their difference. I used the word "form" and I surely intended it to be a synonym of "type"
Hope that's clear.
Awais said…
It isn't a case of inductive logic, because in Induction you move from a set of specific facts to a general conclusion. For it be a genuine induction, there has to be more than one instance of fact, and secondly, there is no proper generalization here, because i am not talking of "All people who believe in Hell". I am talking specifically of Prophets.

The dialogue does not say:

I wish to believe in hell for this reason.
Therefore.
All prophets must believe in hell for the same reason.

This is not a case of a valid induction.

Though i now realize that the dialogue may be construed in this way, and if so construed would be a case of weak induction("over-generalization").
However, 1) it was not my intention, which i clarified early in my comments
2) Owing to the fact that idea was put forth in the language of a dialogue, there remains an essential ambiguity. The fact that the progression of thought tends to mimic induction, but lacks some of the elements of a genuine induction can lead one to falsely assume that it is a case of weak induction.

The situation is like:

You: It looks like a induction, but lacks some elements, hence it is a faulty induction.
Me: It lacks these elements because it is not meant to be an induction at all.

And unless you believe like Derrida that 'the author is dead', i believe that the intention of the author counts.
Awais said…
@ Uni

Do you, or do you NOT agree that this realisation of this person MAY be wrong?

It is NOT conclusive?

If you say yes to that, alright, I have nothing to argue about.


That is what i have been saying all along :P I said it is meant to be a hypothesis. A hypothesis refers to a provisional idea whose merit requires evaluation. I never claimed that the idea presented is CONCLUSIVE. It is a proposed explanation. It may be right, it may wrong. But it requires certain observational evaluation to determine the validity. So, yes, i am saying Yes to it all the time.
Awais said…
@ Uni

If you had realized that early, you would have realized that you have nothing to argue about.
Uni said…
Maybe I got misled by the "realisation" of X, because it certainly sounded conclusive..

But if not, then fine.

And nope :) I don't regret the argument. You see, however much we differ from the other party, we ALWAYS learn something or the other from an argument.
Awais said…
we ALWAYS learn something or the other from an argument.

I can't disagree with that :)
tahir said…
I felt that it can loosely tend to fall in the inductive logic form.

And I was mainly interested in figuring that out and asking your opinion on that. And not in, basically, how strongly or purely it is doing that. And so I edited the word, "loosely" :S

And Thanks for SUCH a nice explanation on why the dialogue, if somehow, interpreted, more carefully, in that way, would only be a weak induction.

..And that, firstly, and I agree, the intention of the sayer and the situation has to be kept in mind and it all matters. I had gotten this point of yours in previous comment btw.

Um, One little question I want to ask.

The arguments WHICH, as conclusion, give us something genuinely new. Something that is not already present in premises. And something that has with it only a certain (neither nil, nor 100 %..right?..) probability of being true based on premises, IS termed as inductive reasoning? and NOT deductive, cuz the act of deduction differs from the act of induction in this very way?

And ..*confused, uneasy and humbled* Uni, wish I were or become someone like that.
Awais said…
That is true, induction only gives us a probability, and not a certainty.
tahir said…
One more little thing I wanted to ask but just didn't :S

If you had been presented with things like:

Sea parting in front of you, staff becoming a serpent and not only that but

swallowing up all the fake show, dead being raised, lifeless becoming alive...etc.

Claimed to be from God as a clear sign to you to believe in them and the God who sent them.

WHAT would you have done?

Believe in it? Be a little doubtful but appreciate the supernatural quality of events? Or anything else?

These events/signs I mentioned above are time-limited and may not have the power to convince the people of all times and places.

And, yes, it's very hypothetical but even then I would request you to rather do a forced simulation, requiring shifting in time and place, and somehow answer. The best you can.

PS: I'm referring to these past events/signs that happened for simplicity. And am just curious to know your response to that.
Awais said…
@ Tahir

Owing to my philosophical background, my first response would be skepticism. That it is some illusion or that there is some trick involved. If the act of miracle turns out to be genuine despite attempts to disprove it, i would humbly accept that the matter is beyond my understanding, and that there is very likely some supernatural phenomenon involved. And if there is some Prophet who is performing these miracles and claiming them to be the will of God, and presenting to me an entire revelation as God's, then i would seriously give that revelation a study. However, the truth of the miracle is only the truth of that individual act... it says nothing about the truth of the revelation. Hence, i would judge the Prophet's message on its own merit, and accept it only if i find it reasonable and convincing. If revelation is valid, it should hold the scrutiny of a skeptic... it shouldn't have to rely on a miracle to show its truth. That's what i think.
Awais said…
I didn't reply to something you had written before because i was focusing on a different strand of discussion then.

Prophets/Believers "invented/believed in" hell to "counter" the frustration associated with they being rejected and ridiculed.

Now, why is this person "X" unable to do the same and attain "peace of mind"?

Simply and chiefly because you can't have the "peace of mind" THIS way...The way depicted by the argument.


Well, i don't know about you, but i find it very easy to imagine how a victim of persecution can find psychological comfort in the notion that his persecutors will burn for an eternity in hell. It fits it with the human psychology. Of course, the response of different people will be different, but it is one of the possible and likely scenarios, and i don't think there is, psychologically speaking, anything impossible and self-contradictory about it.

Secondly, psychological defenses are involuntary and unconscious/subconscious mechanisms, and a psychological defense that one person might adopt might not necessarily work for another person. The reason why X cannot derive any comfort from it is that he has become aware of this psychological defense, and hence it loses most of its potency by entering into the conscious mind.

I would not use the term 'peace of mind'... first of all, its vague. second, its implies something different from what i wish to imply.
Awais said…
...Prophet's believed in the concept of Hell which God told them about...

It might be so. But this is something which is 100% a matter of belief. It is not even remotely testable. The hypothesis that under persecution the idea of Hell can be comforting to a person, it is at least a hypothesis that i can conceive to be potentially testable, if proper conditions for such a psychological experiment can be made available; but the idea that Prophets believed in Hell because God told them, there is no way at all to prove or disprove it. Either you believe it, or you don't. And the burden of proof is considered to be on the person who makes the claim; the burden is not on the skeptic to disprove it.
tahir said…
Alright.

Okay...

So, for example, the Prophet performs such miracles and provides you with a revelation as well, claiming this all to be from God.

And that revelation exhausts all your arguments and holds the critical study and reasoning of yours from every angle*.

1. What will you do then?

*Humans are not Absolute in their knowledge and understanding of everything.

They may investigate all things. But they don't know everything as yet. That is they don't know the bigger picture--the absolute one.

I term it circumstantially-limited understanding. There may be or can be a fundamental limitation to how much and how well we can know all things... That's a different thing.

So, it can be that therein exists something, say a law, that you're not feeling like implementing/agreeing with or even reconsidering purely objectively because of your circumstantially-limited (or otherwise) understanding but may HAVE the potential of solving the problems in the best possible way if implemented.

2. What then?

Instead of re-considering it and re-evaluating your own self and implementing the law and seeing whether it works the best...

You'll suspend your opinion on belief and on that statement until you figure out/discover the supremacy of that law or whatever?

You'll hold on to the sign/miracle and trust God and believe that this particular law or whatever is the best among all other alternatives humans can come up with. And my understanding may be limited, as yet?

Or out-rule it. Reject it...?

PS: Hope I'm not annoying you.
Awais said…
And that revelation exhausts all your arguments and holds the critical study and reasoning of yours from every angle.

If you are talking of Islamic revelation (or even of any other religion), actually it doesn't exhaust all my arguments and it doesn't hold my critical study and reasoning from every angle.

Humans are not Absolute in their knowledge and understanding of everything.

Yes, true. And philosophy (including science) in 20th century has frankly admitted its inability to tell us about "absolute reality" ("the bigger picture"). But limits of philosophy are the limits of human reasons. And that's as far as we can go. (With the possible exception of mystic experience; i don't have much knowledge to comment on that.) The best we can have is a working model of the universe that explains all that we observe.

I don't believe that revelation is from God. There is nothing in revelation that would convince me of that. For me, it is yet another flawed product of man's mind, and hence all suffers from all the limitations.

because of your circumstantially-limited (or otherwise) understanding but may HAVE the potential of solving the problems in the best possible way if implemented.

But why just Islam? Because you were born in that religion? A christian can (and does) use the same argument for Christianity. A Hindu for Hinduism. A Jew for Judaism. A Bahai for Bahai faith. ANY religion MAY be actually true, but none of them seems to be so in THEORY. So why should i put my stakes on Islam and not on Zoroastrianism?

And Islam itself is not a homogenous set of beliefs... it comes in variable and often contradictory interpretations, ranging from the mystic sufi version to heretic's like Ghullam Ahmed Perwez. Why should i go for the sunni interpretation or whatever interpretation you have in mind?

Human understanding is limited, and i embrace its limitations... i embrace UNCERTAINTY as a component of human existence... i accept that there will be things we will probably never understand... and that "ultimate reality" (whatever it means, and if it exists at all) will remain elusive.

P.S. No, you are not annoying me :)
tahir said…
You didn't get and answered precisely what I was asking.

My question was WHAT should happen that would make you start believing in God? Anything other than seeing Him directly. That's one important condition.

What's your set standard, if any?

What will make you believe?

That was the point.

It seems that even if you see the miracle, say, something like sea parting in front of you, and even if you don't find any inconsistency in the scripture the Prophet provides, you won't believe. And you won't, until you see the God Himself--violating that interesting condition for belief.

Plus, you hinted that if the mosque right close to the place I live at, were a Church instead and I would've used to go there and were a usual Christian instead, in a Christian Environment. I would've been talking in the same manner about Christianity. That this religion is the best etc etc.

Yeah, my words. Right.

True.

I like to start with trivialities/outlooks instead of starting with twists and tangles.

Have you pondered over the names of these religions? Who named them? What kind of names they are?

Just one for example. Zoroaster was a person/being. Zoroastrianism is the religion...

A system of Zoroaster? Or was Zoroaster more important than their god himself who sent the religion? Or did their god forgot to name the religion in a proper way or any other appropriate way (um, if he did anyway)?

Same goes for every ism.
Awais said…
The issue is not "God". I perhaps do believe in some sort of an undefined higher force.
What you mean to ask is, what would make me believe in Islam and Allah, the Islamic God.

Well, i don't need any miracles or stuff. I just need Islam to make logical-metaphysical-ethical-aesthetical-political-epistemological-scientific sense to me; i need it to appeal to me; i need it to survive my doubts and skepticism; i need it to give me peace of mind. That's what would make me believe. And Islam doesn't do any of that for me. It doesn't. That's why i left it.

The names of religion do not prove their metaphysical truth. Zoroastrianism is an English term which is used by us. The Zoroastrian name of the religion is Mazdayasna, which perhaps can be translated as Mazdaism... the worship of Ahura Mazda, the God of Zoroastrianism.
tahir said…
The names of religion do not prove their metaphysical truth.

Ya, of course it doesn't.

I was just saying that, though it's almost unimportant, I would even then be a little interested in knowing what the followers of certain religion say about who named their religion...Just a little thing.

Khair..

That's what would make me believe.

But whatever you said in that paragraph doesn't have anything stringent that would make the thing you would believe in, unique, and unparalleled, bearing a fingerprint of God, assuring us that it is this thing that can give us perfect and best solutions and enabling us to trust in it, believe in it and meaningfully follow and implement it.

There can be multiple systems having all those qualities, that you mentioned, and appeal to you...:S

And besides what apparently can seem to us aesthetic (maybe cuz our understanding is limited or maybe cuz we haven't reached that level of understanding and consciousness), may have far-reaching negative, damaging implications...Can't it?

And can you please, elaborate a little...why Islam doesn't do that all for you?
Awais said…
That's because i don't think any such stringent criteria exist... for me, at least.

The choice of a belief is never entirely a rational matter. All philosophies and religions involve accepting assumptions which cannot be logically or scientifically proved. This means that there will always be a personal bias in whatever we consider to be the right theory.

True. "Truth" doesn't have to be aesthetic. There is no necessity. But aesthetics appeal to humans, and hence forms one of the psychological factors for what we choose to accept. George Santayana, for example, was an atheist, but used to call himself an "aesthetic Catholic" :)

The possibilities, the potentialities are endless. Maybe we are all part of some crazy computer experiment. Maybe life was implanted on earth by aliens. Maybe human reason is as limited as the thought-process of mice trapped in a maze but are arrogant enough to think that they can figure out the great mystery of life and universe. Maybe "external reality" or "truth" doesn't even "exist". Who knows?

And can you please, elaborate a little...why Islam doesn't do that all for you?

That would entail an exhaustive critique of Islam, a review of countless perspectives of philosophy and a bit of my own personal life. It is a project of grand magnitude, which i do not intend to undertake currently on this blog :)we can carry on in Q & A format about it on email, if you wish.