Heaven and Hell

Edited by K. Mitch Hodge (Amarillo College, Masaryk University, Academia.edu)
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Summary

Although the English words “heaven” and “hell” are used to describe similar ideas in numerous religions and various philosophies, in philosophy of religion, they usually refer to eternal post-mortem spiritual realms in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic theological traditions.  Heaven is a permanent, eternal divine reward reserved for those who lived (in their Earthly life) morally upright, whereas Hell is a permanent, eternal divine punishment for those who have committed moral transgressions (commonly called “sins”) and have remained unrepentant.  In Catholic theology, a third spiritual realm is added called Purgatory in which the souls of those who have committed some (perhaps minor) moral transgressions can be purged of sins for some period of time and then allowed to join the blessed in Heaven.  It is often held that a soul with any amount of sin cannot be rewarded with a heavenly existence, since this existence is believed to be in the immediacy of God’s presence.  It is generally believed that any repentant soul can be completely forgiven by God; thus, no matter the moral transgression, if one were to repent prior to their death, she would be rewarded by being allowed to enter Heaven.  Heaven and Hell in these traditions are parts of philosophical/theological theodicies which aid in addressing the problem of evil.

Numerous philosophical problems arise from the doctrines of Heaven and Hell.  First, is it just for a divine being to punish infinitely (i.e., eternally) an individual for a finite sin?  Second, when coupled with the St. Paul’s doctrine of the resurrection of the body, how is the reward or punishment meted out to the actual individual rather than a replica (see the entry on resurrection concerning the replica problem)?  Third, would it really be just for someone who (most would believe) was an “evil” person (e.g., Hitler, Ted Bundy) to go to Heaven simply if they chose to repent immediately prior to their death? Fourth, is it just for a divine being to eternally punish an individual for a sin he was unaware he committed (for instance, a Buddhist who never believed in, or heard of, Jesus, which is required in Christianity)?  Along with these, many other problems concerning the Heaven and Hell have been discussed in theological and philosophical literature.

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  1. Hell and the God of Justice.Marilyn McCord Adams - 1975 - Religious Studies 11 (4):433 - 447.
    Christians have often held that on the day of judgment God will condemn some persons who have disobeyed him to a hell of everlasting torment and total unhappiness from which there is no hope of escape, as a punishment for their deeds up to that time. This is not the only way that hell has been or could be conceived of, but it has been the predominant conception in the Christian church throughout much of its history and it is the (...)
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  2. Universal Salvation: A Reply to Mr. Bettis.Marilyn McCord Adams - 1971 - Religious Studies 7 (3):245 - 249.
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  3. Universal Salvation: A Reply to Mr Bettis: Marilyn McCord Adams.Marilyn Mccord Adams - 1971 - Religious Studies 7 (3):245-249.
    In his article ‘A Critique of the Doctrine of Universal Salvation’, J. D. Bettis criticises the argument that all men will be saved because ‘God's love is both absolutely good and absolutely sovereign’ . I would like to argue that either some of Bettis's criticisms are confused, or else that he is not using ‘love’ in anything like its ordinary sense. I will not attempt a full defence of universalism here, however. In particular, I will not try to defend it (...)
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  4. All Philosophers Go to Hell: Dante and the Problem of Infernal Punishment.Scott Aikin & Jason Aleksander - 2014 - Sophia 53 (1):19-31.
    We discuss the philosophical problems attendant to the justice of eternal punishments in Hell, particularly those portrayed in Dante’s Inferno. We conclude that, under Dante’s description, a unique version of the problem of Hell (and Heaven) can be posed.
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  5. Hell Can Be Good for You.Najwa Al-Tabaa - 2012 - In Tracy Lyn Bealer, Rachel Luria & Wayne Yuen (eds.), Neil Gaiman and Philosophy: Gods Gone Wild! Open Court.
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  6. Streitfall Hölle. Zur Neueren Problem of Hell-Debatte.Christoph J. Amor - 2012 - Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophie Und Theologie 59 (1).
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  7. Tuning Out Hell's Harpists.Scott Atran - unknown
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  8. Christian Beliefs About Life After Death.Paul Badham - 1976 - Macmillan.
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  9. Believer in Hell.Wesley C. Baker - 1968 - Philadelphia: Westminster Press.
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  10. Towards a More Biblical View of the Resurrection.R. Robert Bater - 1969 - Interpretation 23 (1):47-65.
    “Discussions of the Resurrection have never been biblical enough.”.
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  11. Annihilationism, Traditionalism, and the Problem of Hell.Shawn Bawulski - 2010 - Philosophia Christi 12 (1):61-78.
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  12. Geoffrey Rowell. Hell and the Victorians. Pp. 242. £4.85. [REVIEW]Brenda C. Beamond - 1976 - Religious Studies 12 (3):393.
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  13. Survival: Death and Afterlife in Christianity, Buddhism, and Modern Science.Carl Bradley Becker - 1981 - Dissertation, University of Hawai'i
    Survival is the theory that some significant part of man continues after the death of his physical body. This dissertation studies philosophical argumentation of Christians and Buddhists, and analyzes the latest available empirical data, to determine which if any forms of survival are most probable. ;Part I finds insuperable difficulties in the purely materialistic resurrection theory, and in survival of disembodied minds as pure process. To make sense, resurrection must postulate either invisible bodies as conscious carriers of personal identity, or (...)
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  14. A Special Place in Hell.Ophelia Benson - 2014 - The Philosophers' Magazine 65:18-19.
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  15. The Formation of Hell.Alan Bernstein - 1993 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
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  16. Heaven: A History. [REVIEW]Alan Bernstein - 1991 - Speculum 66 (1):200-202.
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  17. Esoteric Theology: William of Auvergne on the Fires of Hell and Purgatory.Alan Bernstein - 1982 - Speculum 57 (2):509-531.
    Esoteric knowledge, reserved for a few specially trained thinkers, as opposed to an exoteric faith disseminated to the masses, is not usually associated with scholastic theology. It is therefore interesting to find that William of Auvergne, longtime theologian at the University of Paris and bishop of that city from 1228 until his death in 1249, applied the concept to his account of the fires of hell and purgatory. Because he considered the infernal and purgatorial fires as deterrents to antisocial acts, (...)
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  18. A Critique of the Doctrine of Universal Salvation.Joseph Dabney Bettis - 1970 - Religious Studies 6 (4):329 - 344.
    Three basic attitudes toward human destiny have precipitated out of the modern theological mentality: double predestination, Arminianism, and universalism. Of the three, Arminianism and double predestination have been unacceptable to a large segment of modern protestantism. The result is that universalism, in one form or another, has assumed wide popularity in recent years. The doctrine has become what might be called an article in the popular creed. But since the influence of universalism has come about largely through default, its explicit (...)
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  19. The Essentials of Bhagavåan Mahåavåir's Philosophy Gaòndharavåada : A Treatise on the Question and Answers Between Eleven Brahim Scholars and Mahåavåir Bhagavåan Relating to the Soul, Karmas, Panch Bhuta, Heaven, Hell, and Salvation.Bhuvanbhanusuri K. Vijay & Ramappa - 1989 - Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.
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  20. The Essentials of Bhagavān Mahāvīr's Philosophy: Gaṇdharavāda: A Treatise on the Question and Answers Between Eleven Brahim Scholars and Mahāvīr Bhagavān Relating to the Soul, Karmas, Panch Bhuta, Heaven, Hell, and Salvation.Vijay Bhuvanbhanusuri - 1989 - Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.
  21. Proverbs of Hell.William Blake - 1974 - In Houston Peterson (ed.), Essays in Philosophy: From David Hume to George Santayana. Pocket Books.
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  22. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.William Blake & Geoffrey Keynes - 1994
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  23. A Hypothesis on the Eternity of Hell.G. Blandino - 1991 - Miscellanea Francescana 91 (1-2):226-231.
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  24. Hans Urs von Balthasar's Theodrama. Block - 1996 - Renascence 48 (2):153-171.
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  25. The Heaven of Invention.George Boas - 1962 - Philosophical Review 74 (2):263-266.
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  26. Odysseans of the Twenty-First Century.James T. Bradley - 2007 - Zygon 42 (4):999-1008.
    In his book Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies—and What It Means to Be Human (2005), author-journalist Joel Garreau identifies four technologies whose synergistic activity may transform humankind into a state transcending present human nature: genetic, robotic, information, and nano (GRIN) technologies. If the GRIN technologies follow Moore's Law, as information technology has done for the past four decades, Homo sapiens and human society may be unimaginably different before the middle of this century. But (...)
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  27. "Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?" A Reply to William L. Craig.Raymond D. Bradley - unknown
    Some Christians do in fact think of the question euphemistically, like this. And some like to suppose, further, that when the children find that Hawaii is a bit like hell - it's far too hot and the locals are giving them a hard time - Father will relent and welcome them to his mansions on high.
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  28. Can God Condemn One to an Afterlife in Hell?Raymond D. Bradley - 2015 - In Keith Augustine & Michael Martin (eds.), The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case Against Life After Death. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 441-471.
    This paper argues that God is not logically able to condemn a person to Hell by considering what is entailed by accepting the best argument to the contrary, the so-called free will defense expounded by Christian apologists Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig. It argues that the free will defense is logically fallacious, involves a philosophical fiction, and is based on a fraudulent account of Scripture, concluding that the problem of postmortem evil puts would-be believers in a logical and moral (...)
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  29. Many Dimensions, All Hallows' Eve, and Descent Into Hell. By Charles Williams.Charles A. Brady - 1949 - Renascence 2 (1):61-65.
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  30. Black Ship to Hell.Brigid Brophy - 1962 - Secker & Warburg.
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  31. No Heaven Without Purgatory.David Brown - 1985 - Religious Studies 21 (4):447.
    If Purgatory is given a role at all in modern conceptions of the after–life, it is likely to be at most of the kind found in Hick and Rahner, in providing a second chance for those of whom it might be argued that they have had no proper opportunity in this life. Apart from its intermediate character, however, this account has very little in common with the traditional conception, whereas it seems to me that philosophical reasons, partly conceptual and partly (...)
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  32. The Rigvedic Equivalent for Hell.W. Brown - 1941 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 61 (2):76-80.
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  33. Escapism, Religious Luck, and Divine Reasons for Action: Andrei A. Buckareff & Allen Plug.Andrei A. Buckareff - 2009 - Religious Studies 45 (1):63-72.
    In our paper, ‘Escaping hell: divine motivation and the problem of hell’, we defended a theory of hell that we called ‘escapism’. We argued that, given God's just and loving character, it would be most rational for Him to maintain an open-door policy to those who are in hell, allowing them an unlimited number of chances to be reconciled with God and enjoy communion with Him. In this paper we reply to two recent objections to our original paper. The first (...)
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  34. Escaping Hell but Not Heaven.Andrei A. Buckareff & Allen Plug - 2015 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 77 (3):247-253.
    Benjamin Matheson has recently critiqued the escapist account of hell that we have defended. In this paper we respond to Matheson. Building on some of our work in defense of escapism that Matheson does not discuss we show that the threat posed by Matheson’s critique is chimerical. We begin by summarizing our escapist theory of hell. Next, we summarize both Matheson’s central thesis and the main arguments offered in its defense. We then respond to those arguments.
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  35. Hell and the Problem of Evil.Andrei A. Buckareff & Allen Plug - 2013 - In Justin McBrayer & Daniel Howard-Snyder (eds.), Companion to the Problem of Evil. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 128-143.
    The case is discussed for the doctrine of hell as posing a unique problem of evil for adherents to the Abrahamic religions who endorse traditional theism. The problem is particularly acute for those who accept retributivist formulations of the doctrine of hell according to which hell is everlasting punishment for failing to satisfy some requirement. Alternatives to retributivism are discussed, including the unique difficulties that each one faces.
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  36. Escaping Hell: Divine Motivation and the Problem of Hell.Andrei A. Buckareff & Allen Plug - 2005 - Religious Studies 41 (1):39-54.
    We argue that it is most rational for God, given God's character and policies, to adopt an open-door policy towards those in hell – making it possible for those in hell to escape. We argue that such a policy towards the residents of hell should issue from God's character and motivational states. In particular, God's parental love ought to motivate God to extend the provision for reconciliation with Him for an infinite amount of time.
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  37. Escapism, Religious Luck, and Divine Reasons for Action.Andrei Buckareff & Allen Plug - 2009 - Religious Studies 45 (1):63-72.
    In our paper, ‘Escaping hell: divine motivation and the problem of hell’, we defended a theory of hell that we called ‘escapism’. We argued that given God’s just and loving character it would be most rational for God to maintain an open door policy to those who are in hell, allowing them an unlimited number of chances to be reconciled with God and enjoy communion with God. In this paper we reply to two recent objections to our original paper. The (...)
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  38. Le Passage de l'Hell'enisme au Christianisme = de Transitu Hellenismi Ad Christianismum.Guillaume Budâe, Marie-Madeleine de la Garanderie & Daniel Franklin Penham - 1993
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  39. The Problem of Hell.Joel Buenting (ed.) - 2010 - Ashgate.
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  40. Paradise Understood: New Philosophical Essays About Heaven.T. Ryan Byerly & Eric J. Silverman (eds.) - 2017 - Oxford University Press UK.
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  41. The Bride of Christ Goes to Hell: Metaphor and Embodiment in the Lives of Pious Women, 200 - 1500.C. W. Bynum - 2014 - Common Knowledge 20 (2):366-367.
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  42. Metamorphoses of Hell.R. Caillois & M. Burnet - 1974 - Diogenes 22 (85):62-82.
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  43. Why I Am Unconvinced by Arguments Against the Existence of Hell.James Cain - 2010 - In Joel Buenting (ed.), The Problem of Hell: A Philosophical Anthology. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 133-44.
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  44. Is the Existence of Heaven Compatible with the Existence of Hell?James Cain - 2002 - Southwest Philosophy Review 18 (2):153-158.
  45. On the Problem of Hell.James Cain - 2002 - Religious Studies 38 (3):355-362.
    There is a conception of hell that holds that God punishes some people in a way that brings about endless suffering and unhappiness. An objection to this view holds that such punishment could not be just since it punishes finite sins with infinite suffering. In answer to this objection, it is shown that endless suffering, even intense suffering, is consistent with the suffering being finite. Another objection holds that such punishment is contrary to God's love. A possible response to this (...)
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  46. A Season in Hell: The Defence of the Lucknow Residency.Raymond Callahan & Michael Edwardes - 1975 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 95 (1):158.
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  47. After Hiroshima—Between Hell and Reason.Albert Camus & Ronald E. Santoni - 1988 - Philosophy Today 32 (1):77-78.
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  48. The Kingdom of Heaven.G. K. Chesterton - 1995 - The Chesterton Review 21 (3):288-289.
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  49. Time in Zionism: The Life and Afterlife of a Temporal Revolution.E. Chowers - 1998 - Political Theory 26 (5):652-685.
  50. God is Great, God is Good: Medieval Conceptions of Divine Goodness and the Problem of Hell.Kelly James Clark - 2001 - Religious Studies 37 (1):15-31.
    Medieval views of both divine goodness and the doctrine of hell are examined and shown to be incompatible with our best understandings of goodness. The only manner in which God could be good to those in hell – by permitting their continued existence – is not sufficient to outweigh ‘the dreadful pains of eternal fire’. One might claim that God is good to them in the retributive sense; but I argue that retributive punishment is inadequate justification of eternal torment. The (...)
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