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Challenges to Moral and Religious BeliefDisagreement and Evolution$
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Michael Bergmann and Patrick Kain

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199669776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669776.001.0001

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Theologies of Hell and Epistemological Conflict*

Theologies of Hell and Epistemological Conflict*

(p.119) 6 Theologies of Hell and Epistemological Conflict*
Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief

Charles Mathewes

Oxford University Press

What should one do when the evidence of our received—or naïvely assumed to be ‘prima facie’—moral intuitions conflicts with the confession of long-standing convictions based on one’s religious tradition? Is one’s religious confession trumped by the non-religious evidence of moral intuition, or vice-versa, or something else? The chapter explores this question through the fraught topic of the Christian view of Hell (and concomitantly the ultimate nature and destiny of evil and sin). Using a broadly Augustinian approach to understandings of ontology, agency, and psychology, it argues that we should think of Hell not as a place, but the condition of sinners being before God (which, on the Christian tradition, is where everyone ends up, after all) but not wanting to be there. Conceiving of Hell in this way may not only relieve the tension we feel to some degree; it may also reveal Hell’s connection to other doctrinal matters in ways pedagogically efficacious for the faithful.

Keywords:   Hell, Augustinian, agency, psychology, ontology, evil, sin

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