Wednesday, December 1, 2010


A friend of mine, who we shall call Xantos (and whose blog can be found by following this link),  asks a few questions in his post entitle “GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!” that I’d like to look at from a Catholic point of view.

I am assuming the existence of God. There are some reasonably compelling arguments for this position, not the least of which, and aside from person experience, are Anslem’s Ontological Argument and C.S. Lewis’ Argument from Desire. Moreover, Xantos comes to the conclusion, by himself, that God exists.

The first thing I’d like to tackle is the question of what happens when we die. In order to do this, it is seemly to define death. Aquinas writes that the soul - the immortal part of the human being - gives life to the body. This soul is akin to (but not the same as) our mind, in that it is what allows us to think freely and rationally. That is not to say that people - humans - who are unable to act freely or rationally no longer poses a soul. This conclusion is self evident. Firstly on the basis that free, rational actions require free, rational thought, but the reverse is untrue. (You can see, for example, that a parent may freely and rationally desire to care for their children; however, the parent may not be able to provide that care.) Secondly, since having a soul is what makes the human body alive and, thus, a person. People who do not act freely are still people by definition.

I digress.

Bodily death occurs when the immortal soul leaves the human body. The soul, being non-physical, does not have need of a physical place to go to when it leaves the physical body. It does not stay on Earth. The pre-resurrection heaven in not physical because there is nothing physical to inhabit it. God, the angels and human souls are all immortal, non-physical beings; they are all spirit.

God is Love. God cannot do that which is not love. This includes forcing us to do something that is against our individual wills. All who freely and consciously deny God, freely and consciously deny entry into heaven. If there is even one person in the entirety of human history has done this, heaven is not where all humans dwell after death.
Animals and plants lack free will because they are without souls. Since, for these, death is not the leaving of the soul from the body - plants don’t even have bodies! - there is nothing left of them to go anywhere upon death. There are no animals in heaven.

Since God is infinite, heaven - the place God dwells - must also be infinite.

Post-resurrection - when human bodies and souls are miraculously reunited with God - our bodies will be in a state of perfection, “we will become like Him.”* ^ We will not be moving slowly. Indeed, we will be outside time and space, just as God is, always has been and ever shall be.

Hell exists. It is total and complete separation from God.
Hell is not a nice place.
God is Good, The Good; God is Light, Truth, Life, Love, Mercy, Joy, Compassion.
Hell is total and complete separation from God.

But surely a loving God, a God who is Love, cannot, would not, will not consign us to Hell?
God doesn’t. We choose it.
By denying God, we deny our own entry into heaven; we separate ourselves from The Good, from Light, Truth, Life, Love, Mercy, Joy and Compassion.

For people whose upbringing has lead them down a non-Christian path, God cannot, will not and would not consign them to Hell because Hell is the choice of the individual. When the individual comes before the One who Is, who Was and who Is To Come, and if they chose that One, God, being Mercy, will be merciful to them. Woe to those who have the tools to choose God now and who refuse!

Using our tools of logic alone, it is perfectly reasonable to believe in One, Omni-present, Omnipotent, Omni-benevolent, Creator God. The same cannot be said of Hinduism.

Dear Xantos,

The above answers are poor. They do not fully address the questions you pose because you ask about the infinite. Language, being finite, and me, being a finite user of it, are, even combined, unable to fully address your ponderings. Moreover, I am faliable, as you well know.

Peace and sleep well, Xantos!


*For those who recognise this quote from the New Testament, my reason for changing the wording is mostly because God, being spirit, is neither male or female.

^ Changed back on April 10th to how it's meant to be, for 2 reasons,
1. I'm no longer trying to be a feminist.
2. I realised that St Paul was talking about Jesus who is God and who is male.
3. I'm no longer trying to be a frminist.


James Berger said...

In what way could the same not be said of Hinduism?

Kelly said...

Hi James. Sorry that it's taken me so long to get back to you.
Firstly, and as a kind of preface, re-reading this post from the end of my first year of theology, more than 3 years ago. I can't but shudder at the theological mistakes I've made.
Now, I'm not sure whether to answer this from eighteen-year-old Kelly's perspective, or from mine now. Perhaps I'll look back in another 3 years and wonder anew what I was thinking.
I'll say this:
The god/s of Hinduism are not, in a strict sense, creator/s. My understanding is that Hinduism is essentially - in its essence - pantheistic: the belief is held which states that all that is, is divine. The Abrahamic belief that God is Creator and created ex nihilo precludes the possibility of pantheism.

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