Is It Humane to Believe in Everlasting Punishment?

 

I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those who would not listen to His preaching — an attitude which is not uncommon with preachers, but which does somewhat detract from superlative excellence. You do not, for instance find that attitude in Socrates. You find him quite bland and urbane toward the people who would not listen to him; and it is, to my mind, far more worthy of a sage to take that line than to the the line of indignation. You probably all remember the sort of things that Socrates was saying as he was dying, and the sort of things that he generally did say to people who did not agree with him.

You will find that in the Gospels Christ said, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell.” That was said to people who did not like his preaching. It is not really to my mind the best tone, and there are a great many of these things about hell.

— Bertrand Russell, “Why I Am Not a Christian”

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