Well, obviously there isn't a hell, so presenting the query as a "What if?" makes it an impossible question to answer.
But I tried to suspend my disbelief and pretend to be a Christian; how would I respond to the question in that case? Well, I was still a bit incapable of answering the question. From a Christian perspective, there 100% is a hell -- there is no debate. It is mentioned numerous times in the New Testament (although not in the Old Testament, as Jews don't believe in hell). So, the question becomes: "What if Christianity is False?," and that just brings me back full-circle to, "Well, duh."
The Time article is all about Evangelical Pastor Rob Bell's crazy idea that everyone goes to some form of heaven, and that there is no hell. The idea is entirely unfounded, biblically, and because it's coming from the pastor of a 7,000-member megachurch, it's causing a bunch of controversy.
Erm, or how about Christianity is bullshit, Sherlock?
Bell's revelation really is very funny to me, because I've used that exact argument as a "Gotcha!" when debating Christians for quite some time:
"The Bible says that you must believe in Jesus to enter heaven, correct?"
"And if you don't get into heaven, you go to hell, right?"
"So then Gandhi is in hell?"
"Uh ... yeah, I guess so. Right."
But First, Some Asides
Of course, I'm just using Gandhi as a general example of someone who is a good person and does profoundly good deeds, but is not of the correct religion, simply because that's how people think of Gandhi. Let's set aside the fact that Gandhi may not have been such a stellar example of goodness. (Racist, misogynist, and ... pedophile?)
While we're setting stuff aside, I suppose we also have to set aside the fact that The Bible doesn't agree with itself on how you avoid hell:
Believe in Jesus, Good Deeds Be Damned
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. -- Mark 16:16and
A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. -- Galatians 2:16BUT
Just Kidding, Good Works are the Ticket!
I the Lord ... give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. -- Jeremiah 17:10and
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. -- John 5:29
It Hurts Your Brain Because It's Wrong
All of this comes back to my fundamental argument against smart people believing in the BS of The Bible -- if you have to continuously make excuses for your holy book, ignore the things that make your brain hurt because they're horrible, ignore the things that make your brain hurt because they're obviously contradictory, and interpret things in ways that differ from how they were explicitly written ... can you please just admit already that you aren't really a Christian?
Of course it sucks to think that otherwise good, amazing people who are nonreligious or of the "wrong" religion are going to spend eternity in incredible torment. That fact is especially irreconcilable with a belief in a merciful, just, loving God. (Of course, you can find plenty of things in The Bible that demonstrate God is anything but merciful, just, or loving.)
Please, please just be honest with yourself. Stop practicing cognitive dissonance to believe in God simply because you want to believe in God, or because believing in God is all you know how to do. Read The Bible as a rational adult who knows what a fable is, how primitive knowledge led to creation stories, and just how ludicrous it is to believe in The Bible literally.
And if you're a moderate Christian who doesn't take The Bible literally ... your beliefs make even less sense. Read my previous blog if you want to know why being a moderate Christian doesn't make sense.
-- Atheist Apologist --