On “Universalism”

I’ve spent five hours cooped up in my favorite corner of Art Six, hammering out my final Philosophy project that you all will have the privilege (or something) of being a part of (or something). Lovin’ the ambiguity of that sentence. Thursday will start that series of posts which I’m excited about, I guess. I’m pretty sure my sleepiness is catalyst of my evident apathy towards all of this right now. I really am excited and I hope you guys will enjoy reading it as I’ve spent and will spend a large amount of time and care writing it. Tonight, I’d like to share with you a reflection I wrote after attending a Philosophy conference a couple of weeks ago. Ready, set, go. Sorry if this is too lengthy, boring, etc. It’s kind of something I very much care about right now, so DEAL. Please ignore my capitalization inconsistency: “Hell/hell” “God/god” “His/his” etc. It gets a bit sticky. Thanks for reading.

I attended a session titled “On Religion and the Religious” hearing three papers; “A Refutation of the Augustinian View of Evil,” “Universalism: An Apology of Sorts,” and “The Dissolution of the Conflict Between Science and Religion.” I wish to reflect specifically on the second paper, which was of greatest interest to me. This speaker outlined the basic principals of Universalism, stating that all people are under the consideration and love of God. He discussed various types of theists and their differentiating beliefs regarding the existence of a hell or eternal damnation. The existence of Hell is inconsistent with the belief in an “all-good” God, he stated. He refuted the belief in this existence with arguments referring to God’s omnipotence, God’s divine love, the existence of evil, and our free will. He states that many of their beliefs are contradictory. For example, the conservative theist believes that God’s divine love means he loves all but still consigns individuals to an eternity in hell. Moderately conservative theists, he says, believe that it is the individual that rejects God, and that God does not reject the individual; he refutes this belief by questioning God’s divine love and why and all-loving all-powerful creator would allow the ones he loves to subject themselves to that eternity. Many problems that arise go back to the fundamental issue of mankind’s freewill and the belief in God’s predetermination; how some are consigned to an eternity without God and why or how He would allow that if everything (including our salvation) were predetermined and how free will mixes into that equation. He also argued that an all-loving God could not make the entry into His grace conditional.

All of these arguments serve to disprove the existence of Hell within the Christian theistic view of God. The Universalist belief regarding this topic is an appealing one in that it negates any fear or guilt regarding our actions in this life affecting our well being in the next. He brought up an excellent point in that this doesn’t mean the decisions we make fail to affect us though, as we do face the consequences on a daily basis. The conclusion that I have come to, amongst a significant amount of confusion and uncertainty, is that it’s difficult to argue against religious theology with arguments based from logic and reason, which I think is what this speaker did. While it may be unreasonable and illogical to believe that Hell exists while holding the belief in an all-loving, omnipotent God, many arguments about theology do just this, yet people still choose to believe. Basic principals of faith often call for individuals to believe unreasonable and illogical things and using reason and logic to disprove them doesn’t accomplish much. I’d like to conclude my reflection with the remarks he concluded his paper with that I hold true as well; “All evil in this world is outweighed by the possibility of infinite good in the next.”


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