“I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin… I’m a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.” –The Operative, Serenity
What if you sacrifice your soul—by condemning yourself to Hell—in order to save other people from going to Hell?
It’s a nearly universal truth—held by the religious and non-religious alike—that to willingly sacrifice your life to save the lives of others is commendable, even possibly the greatest of all moral acts. But I can’t say I’ve ever heard the same logic applied with regard to Hell.
Consider if someone subjects themselves not just to death, but to an eternity of torture in order to save others from meeting that same fate. Isn’t that at least equally commendable as someone sacrificing their life? Perhaps even infinitely more commendable, considering that Hell is infinitely worse than death? (One obvious question is whether a “just” God would even send someone to Hell for doing so, but for purposes of this discussion let’s assume he would).
In my last post I discussed how the absurd premises of Heaven and Hell—as traditionally understood—lead to equally absurd conclusions when taken to their logical conclusions, and essentially lead to the inescapable conclusion that the ends ALWAYS justify the means when it comes to “saving souls”. And infinitely so, meaning that ANY act, no matter how evil, is perfectly justified—even morally obligatory—if it saves just one person from Hell.
Of course, the obvious counterargument would be that God wouldn’t WANT us to lie, kill, steal, etc. in order to “serve him”, even if the goal is to save souls. After all, how can someone specifically violate what is forbidden by God in order to serve God? Well, this is exactly why.
Let’s say God disapproves of you doing so, and punishes you with Hell (perhaps even a special level of Hell). That doesn’t change the inescapable reality one iota that you are still doing an infinitely greater good by disobeying God, providing that doing so results in even one soul being saved. Which means that lying for Jesus, or even The Inquisition, are logically justified and perfectly rational given those initial premises of traditional Christianity.
But just as you’ll never hear a follower of traditional religious systems admit to it, I’ve never heard anyone describe the notion of “sacrificing ones soul” as being commendable, much less on par with the sacrificing of one’s life to save others.
And this isn’t a purely theoretical exercise with no real-world implications. Thankfully, as is the case with almost any religious doctrine whereby virtually nobody takes them as seriously as they should if they truly believe them, virtually nobody takes the infinite nature of Heaven and Hell to its logical conclusion and operates according to the logic I’ve outlined above, and thankfully so.
But some do.
Consider Christian terrorists and their attacks on (even murders of) abortion providers and those affiliated (or in some cases, simply present at) them. These murderers rationalize their acts to be the morally justifiable saving lives of “children being murdered”, and fully sanctioned by their God. Or, as in one recent case, they can use their belief in “once saved always saved” to ensure they’re still going to Heaven regardless of whether the murders were wrong.
Either way, their fate in Heaven is fully assured.
The same goes for Islamic terrorists, who rather than going to Hell for murdering innocent people, claim they will actually be rewarded in the afterlife for it.
At the top of the page I quoted the movie Serenity because of its incredibly rare example–in fiction or in reality–of someone admitting to committing evil in order to serve a greater good (without that evil somehow “becoming” good). It’s about as clear cut an admission of willingly “sacrificing one’s soul” as you will ever see, as opposed to those who typically try to rationalize and justify the evils they commit, thereby rendering them no longer “evil”.
Unfortunately, in the real world, I have yet to see anyone being so honest about this gaping flaw in their theological beliefs.