I’ve recently just read up on the equivocation fallacy and now I am wondering if there is not some kind of fallacy with regard to why many conservative Evangelicals believe that anyone who does not believe in Jesus is going to hell? An often cited justification for this position is a passage in Romans 1 that essentially teaches that wicked people, anyone not trusting in Jesus, suppress their knowledge about God in their unrighteousness.
In such a view humans are left without excuse because what can be known about God has been shown to them. Even His eternal power and godhead. The clear implication here is that people naturally turn away from the God they somehow know about. They knowingly go after false gods, false religion, false ideologies and their goal is to worship sin and to remain unaccountable to the one true God.
There’s just one problem here. We, as human beings, are all born into this one world. A very, very diverse world, mind you. Within this one world, especially depending upon one’s own region and culture, religion is vastly different. What is considered sacred, holy, and true is totally different and varied depending upon where we are born.
So, what we have are hundreds and hundreds of competing religions, many of which claim to be exclusively true, and they are all vying to be treasured within our minds and our lives. If the majority of human beings do not claim to have special revelation and knowledge from God, then what justifies the notion that human beings deserve hell due to external factors that prohibited them from believing in the “true” religion?
For Christians, the Bible is the only source in this world that tells them, “Salvation is exclusive to those who believe. Period.” Well, considering that this is a very diverse world, and considering what can actually be known from a human vantage point, there are countless other theories about salvation, about God, about truth, and about whether or not one or more gods even exist!
It all comes down to this notion of special knowledge. Do Bible believing Christians truly have special knowledge and authority from which to discern the ultimate fate of the human race? Considering the arguments in my previous post, I think the most sensible answer is, no. Christians do not have such knowledge.
From what so many admittedly confess with regard to their lack of knowledge about God’s existence, I think a case can be made that human beings do not have some kind of internal knowledge about the true God that they actively suppress. Only one source is saying this while all other evidence about how people gather knowledge seems to point strongly to the contrary.
While the Bible as a whole may have many verses that teach that Jesus is the only way, we live in a world that contains a vast amount of counter examples both within and outside of other religions. If the vast majority of humans that exist don’t have special, immediate knowledge of God, this is reason to rethink our source of authority when it comes to judging our worldwide fate.
Why should we think that anyone has a corner on the truth? It makes the doctrine about hell less believable because this teaching fails to account for the world predicament we find ourselves in.
It appears that I am turning this into a series of blog posts, so, stick around as I still have more to say about why belief in God and hell is truly problematic with regard to what people know. Human knowledge and human suffering appear to be two big problems that find no resolve within the framework of many conservative Christians.