Atheists won’t go to Hell

For some this was considered as good news but for others this was quite an obvious statement and almost an irrelevant one. From an atheist point of view, considering that atheists believe in neither heaven nor hell, the last option should have applied. Being irrelevant might as well it be ignored. As in the case of most statement Pope Francis makes, even this one has stirred up some debate.

Although criticized by some of patronizing, the Pope’s statement focused on a positive note which does not always strike immediately. Let’s find a meeting point in ‘doing good’. In other words let’s focus on doing what is good for all of humanity. Everyone is capable of that – the Pope continued – goodness is not a prerogative of Christians.

In order to understand in depth the claim made by Pope Francis I propose two keys. The first is to see oneself as a person before seeing oneself as pertaining to any religion. The point of departure is that every one of us is a human person and only subsequently a believer in a God or a believer in none.

By analogy that’s why for example human rights are applicable to everyone no matter whether you are in your country of origin or whether you are a member of the majority – first and foremost we are human beings. That means that we have something in common – we are one at the same time that we are many.

Some claim, and I feel confident in claiming so, that we all desire to have a good life. Whether we manage or not is another story. As Aristotle would claim, living a happy life – a fulfilled life – means to aim towards what is good, seeking it and doing one’s utmost to achieve it. As humans we try to achieve what we consider as being good. The crux of it all is precisely this; what is ‘the good’ and where are we to come together as humans? To put it as Pope Francis did: Where do we find this ‘meeting point’?

However I feel the Pope is not just passing a hand of friendship towards non-believers but he is also passing on a message to believers. This is the second key; being baptised is not enough. It is not enough to warm the pews, but it is essential to warm one’s heart. This has been his constant call, even before his election to the Papacy.

Earlier this week he spoke about hypocrisy and how this contrasts with truth. Pope Francis is calling on everyone, especially on Christians not to be hypocritical; professing one thing and doing another is living a lie hence why hypocrisy is so scandalous. Hypocrisy is an antagonist of love and good; the latter is the ultimate call for all.

He is encouraging everyone to seek this good. We, and here I mean everyone without distinction of faith, cannot simply focus on ourselves egoistically and see ourselves as the one and only measure of goodness. There is something more profound which is a common good that must be respected; it is not simply the best for the most, but rather the best for each one and all, a good which brings out the best and fulfils our humanity not in its egoistic sense but in its fulfilled meaning. It is a view on life whereby we focus not on what we do but on what we are to become.

6 thoughts on “Atheists won’t go to Hell

  • Reply xmun 18th June 2013 at 4:36 pm

    This new portal is very welcome. This tiny island ‘village’ badly needs a platform from where one is free to discuss the otherwise untouchable subject of the supernatural. Having said that, this exercise will only be worth undertaking if both sides of the argument are tackled in an intellectually honest manner and without any kind of prejudice.
    One main clarification with regards to what constitutes an atheistic point of view is neccessary. I do this because there are many misconceptions floated about on atheism, some through ignorance on the subject and others through deliberate misinformation.
    Atheism is simply a point of view that refutes the idea of the existence of a supernatural entity such as the one you may call god. It is not in any way a religion. It has no dogma. It has no scriptures or any kind of directive or edict to direct or lead it’s members. It is not another belief system. It is simply the state of not accepting that which a believer accepts as the fundamental truth. What is ironical is that all the monotheistic religious are atheists themselves because although they live in a world that is teeming with gods of all descriptions they choose to refute all gods but one. An atheist simply goes one god further.

    • Reply Anton D'Amato 18th June 2013 at 11:23 pm

      thanks xmun for your encouraging comment, it’s really appreciated.

      However I differ on the last part of your comment where you describe monotheistic religions as being atheists because they refute all the other “gods” except for their God.

      Actually all 3 monotheistic religions believe in the same one God even though these differ on certain crucial points – yet it is the one same God. Yet you cannot call them atheists because from the term itself, a-theism (as you described it yourself) is the refuting of the idea of any supernatural entity; these in fact do believe in One.

  • Reply Toni 25th June 2013 at 9:02 am

    The title is very eye catching and hope for some, I believe that if God sent his one and only Son to die for our sin then he has done it for nothing if everyone goes to heaven!

    John 3:16
    For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

    You are not saved by works but through putting your faith in what Jesus did for you on the cross. Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.

    Then can one sin?

    Romans 6 (read on, no space left here)
    1Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

    If we say that we are saved by good works then we are removing the power of the Cross! It’s by putting your faith in Jesus Christ you are saved.

    The Pope is talking about if you think you are saved by being baptised by water then you are wrong too, if you put your trust in Jesus the like the apostle Paul says in Romans – you have died to sin therefore you are not slave to sinful desires.

  • Reply Toni 25th June 2013 at 9:09 am

    I did not have enough room to finish up in my last comment…so what I wanted to end with is this.

    Then do we have to be perfect to enter heaven? the answer is Yes – then one should answer back, then it is impossible to enter heaven.

    Remember that it’s by putting your faith in Jesus Christ you are saved.

    Be blessed, and thanks for the article Anton

    • Reply Pawlinus 8th July 2013 at 8:28 am

      “Remember that it’s by putting your faith in Jesus Christ you are saved.”
      This is not what the Pope said. In fact the Pope insisted that goodness and other positive virtues are not the prerogative of christians alone.

  • Reply Anton D'Amato 28th June 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks Toni for your comment … I didn’t actually mention works to be done to achieve heaven … this is not a competition with prize.

    Yet it would be utterly hypocritical to claim to be a Christian or to claim that you are a good man/woman and at the same time despise, ignore etc… those around you. For how can you claim to love and believe a God you cannot see and despise men you live with?

    That is my whole point and this applies both to believers and non-believers!

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