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    March 29th, 2012 @ 4:16 pm by Kevin

    And now for the long(ish) version:

    I first encountered British philosopher John Stuart Mill in my Political Science 101 class, where one of my assigned texts was On Liberty. He didn’t mention hell in that book, but he certainly had some harsh words for it in his autobiography.

    Like many people today, Mill saw a logical contradiction between a loving God who  also “could make a Hell: and who could create countless generations of human beings with the certain foreknowledge that he was creating them for this fate.” When confronted by such an image of God, he asked, “Is there any moral enormity which might not be justified by imitation of such a Deity?”

    Seeing as Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the father,” and considering that both Jesus and the New Testament writers urge us to imitate Christ, this is a point worth pondering.

    Mill continued, “I will call no being good, who is not what I mean when i apply that epithet to my fellow creatures; and if such a being can sentence me to Hell for not so calling him, to Hell I will go.”

    Powerful stuff.

    By the way, Mill inherited his distaste for hell from his father, who also struggled with the apparent logical contradiction it represents. All of which forced Mill to conclude, “The time, I believe, is drawing near when this dreadful conception of an object of worship will be no longer identified with Christianity; and when all persons, with any sense of moral good and evil, will look upon it with the same indignation with which my father regarded it.”

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