River Wissey Lovell Fuller

April 2007 CofE Newsletter

April 2007

Keith examines the reality of Heaven and hell

A Chemistry Student at the University of Washington recently filed the following answer to a question in his mid term exams. (If you have no idea what the question means, please stick with it to the end of the answer!). The question was:

Is Hell exothermic [gives off heat] or endothermic [absorbs heat]?

Most of the students gave answers/proofs based on Boyles Law (about the expansion and contraction of gases exposed to or deprived of heat). The following answer was, however, uniquely different.

"First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion [although readers may enjoy reading or re-reading 'The Life of Pi', where this assumption is questioned], we can expect ALL souls to go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentionally.

Now, we need to look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand exponentially as souls are added.

This gives two possible outcomes:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls are entering Hell, then the temperatures and pressure will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my freshman year that "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you" and then take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.

The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is, therefore, extinct. . . . leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being."

Some of the logical leaps seem a little dubious. Moreover I last studied science before they split the atom, so I am unable to comment on the validity of this 'proof'. However, it is interesting to be able to access one particular strand of thinking as to how Hell is populated. (And the certainty that there may be many ways in, but there are no ways out again!)

It is not normal nowadays for British Christians, including our leaders, to talk about Hell. It was not always so. The Puritans were very concerned about eternal perdition and 'Hell Fire and Damnation' was a constant theme of some of the fiery preachers of Victorian times. Not so now. Also, we tend not to be as simplistic as they were in earlier times. At least, we think we are more sophisticated and they are not here to contest the point.

During March we remembered the 200th Anniversary of the ending of the slave trade in Britain. Slavery has always been a deplorable practice, but many slaves have led reasonable lives - some clearly have (and do) not. However, the slave trade itself was almost always incredibly cruel and nasty. The slavery that exists in Britain today (sex slaves imported from Eastern Europe, for example) is horrible. This is Hell on earth for those condemned to it and the people who control it all are real Devils. 'Hell Fire and Damnation' may be a poor image of what Hell is, because, in reality, Hell is usually dressed up as an ordinary place and the Devil and lesser Devils are usually handsome, well behaved and well dressed. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and all the other demonic TV series like to paint pictures of devils, who are ugly and scary, living in and returning to fiery furnaces. No way! They live among us, largely unrecognized, recruiting their victims with glittery promises of worldly success and fortune.

The Christian vision of Hell is of the earth peopled by the sort of men who capture young girls and transport them around the world as sex slaves, the sort of people who drive thousands of helpless villages form the homes and drive them into the desert (cf Darfur and Chad), the sort of people who beat up helpless pensioners and rape them and steal from them. This is Hell at work and Boyle's Law has nothing to do with it.

So where is Heaven then? Well it is on earth also, in the Christian view. Heaven is God's creation at work. The difference is that whereas Hell is where one finds Hatred and Indifference, Heaven is where one finds Love and Compassion. Heaven is where underpaid careworkers change the nappies and bed linen of incontinent, mentally incompetent patients, with or without spoken complaint, but with no real complaint. Heaven is where Mother Teresa brought hope to the hopeless and helpless. Heaven is where little children run and laugh and play. The Christian Bible is quite explicit that when God comes to claim his own, there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth, when God will dwell with men and men with God. At that time Hell will be extinguished and only Heaven will remain.

Keith MacLeod

Licensed Lay Minister

Keith McLeod

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