Faith and Philosophy 28 (2):152-173 (2011)

John Lamont
Australian Catholic University
The paper considers the objections to Christianity raised by David Lewis, which accuse Christians of immorality on the grounds of their worshipping a monstrous being who punishes finite evils by the infinite punishment of hell. It distinguishes between the objection that God is a monster because such punishment would be unjust, and the objection that even if damnation is just, God is a monster because he wills or allows the dreadful evil of hell by creating beings that can be justly damned. It asserts that Aquinas’s defence of the traditional Christian doctrine of hell provides an answer to this objection. The traditional doctrine is that those who die having committed serious sins for which they have not repented will be punished by endless mental and physical suffering in hell. Aquinas argues that the endless punishment of the damned is just because the damned endlessly and freely choose evil, and that it is good because the punishment of impenitentsinners, while bad for the sinners, is good absolutely speaking. The basis for his claim that the damned freely choose evil forever is his understanding of practical reason as ultimately motivated by a choice of a particular kind of life to live, and his view that all motivations that are independent of practical reason have a physical basis. The basis for his claim that the punishment of the damned is a good thing absolutely considered is his teleological view of good and evil. The paper defends these bases and their application to the question of damnation.
Keywords hell  arguments against theism  David Lewis  Aquinas  teleological conception of goodness
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0739-7046
DOI 10.5840/faithphil20112822
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 57,077
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Hell, Justice, and Freedom.Charles Seymour - 1998 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 43 (2):69-86.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

On the Problem of Hell.James Cain - 2002 - Religious Studies 38 (3):355-362.
On Choosing Hell.Charles Seymour - 1997 - Religious Studies 33 (3):249-266.
Aquinas, Hell, and the Resurrection of the Damned.Michael Potts - 1998 - Faith and Philosophy 15 (3):341-351.
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.
Hell and the Goodness of God.Wilko van Holten - 1999 - Religious Studies 35 (1):37 - 55.
Divine Foreknowledge and Eternal Damnation: The Theory of Middle Knowledge as Solution to the Soteriological Problem of Evil.Rik Peels - 2006 - Neue Zeitschrift für Systematicsche Theologie Und Religionsphilosophie 48 (2):160-75.
Hell and Vagueness.Theodore Sider - 2002 - Faith and Philosophy 19 (1):58--68.
A Craigian Theodicy of Hell.Charles Seymour - 2000 - Faith and Philosophy 17 (1):103-115.
Thomas Aquinas on God and Evil.Brian Davies - 2011 - Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
200 ( #46,738 of 2,411,341 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #86,500 of 2,411,341 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes