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Saturday, August 01, 2015

A Short Parable

I like science fiction. I particularly like Isaac Asimov's idea about science fiction. He held that the genre itself isn't of particular value, but it can be quite useful when used to get across an idea regarding the human condition, thinking, etc. Here's just such an attempt.


Dr. Gimble was the sociologist officer aboard the starship. His job was to examine the social structures of the cultures the ship would discover on its trek to unexplored worlds. So when they actually discovered an alien culture on a planet in another solar system, Dr. Gimble was eager to go to work. Employing the powerful translation devices at hand, he set out to talk with the leaders of this alien world to discover how their society worked.

As it turned out, these beings were friendly and glad to share information. Dr. Gimble spent days discussing every topic he could imagine. Sex, religion, family, political structures, values, just about anything. Eventually he got around to their penal system. How did they enforce laws?

"Oh, we have a carefully defined justice system," they told him. "All laws include specific penalties for violation."

"What kinds of penalties?" he asked.

"We believe in a justice system, so the penalties match the violation. We have everything from fines to public service to incarceration ... in extreme cases for life."

"So, incarceration is the highest penalty?"

"Well, no, there is one higher. We have invented 'The Machine'."

The way they said it sounded ominous. "What is The Machine?"

"The Machine took us decades to devise and perfect. It is a device for inflicting continuous pain. A person placed in The Machine will be sustained for the duration of the experience; The Machine provides for all requirements of sustenance and everything. But for the duration of the experience The Machine also produces various degrees of constant torment, always changing so as not to allow the person to become accustomed to it, always varying in intensity and type so as to make the experience one of sheer and constant pain. The Machine can do this uninterrupted for up to a year."

"My, that sounds horrible!" Dr. Gimble observed. "What type of crime would earn that penalty?"

"What type of crime? Oh, no crime. We know of no violation that deserves that penalty. It might be possible that a violator might choose it, but it is not something we ever require."

"Wait ... a violator might choose it?"

"Sure. We allow free will."

"And you spent all that time and effort to create a system to provide a penalty for a crime that doesn't exist?"

"Sure, why not? Just shows how kind we are, right?"


There are those who argue that Hell does not exist. Never did. Everyone goes to heaven. It was all a misunderstanding brought about by the Roman Catholic Church. Relax. We've figured it out now.

There are those who argue that Hell never existed. Not everyone goes to heaven. Some do, and the rest just cease to exist.

There are those who argue that Hell does exist. It is the eternal torment set aside for sinners. We have this good news called "Salvation" where the penalty for sin was taken by One who deserved no penalty on our behalf and if you trust in Him, you can be saved from the justly deserved wrath of God against sin.

There are those who believe what these aliens believe. Hell exists. Oh, it's not actually for anyone. It would be unjust of God to actually send anyone there because that penalty exceeds any crime. But if they want it, God won't prevent them from going.

In only one of these possible viewpoints do we find the biblical correspondence of text to the penalty for sin, of Scripture to the purpose of Christ's death, of God's Word as to the meaning of salvation. Anything else makes God out to be pretty nice, just not very wise or just. After all, He sent His Son to die for no real reason at all. And the last one? God is so unjust as to actually send people to Hell because they want to go even if it violates justice. Strange people, these aliens.

1 comment:

Stan said...

Dan Trabue, I'm deeply sorry about your learning disability. I assume you think you are making cogent points and piling up real logical arguments. What you seem to be unable to figure is "I will now block any further comments." You keep commenting.

Rest assured, I can't see them. A line or two is visible, but I delete them without reading them, so it's irrelevant. Save yourself the time and effort. "I will now block any further comments" means they won't be seen or read. Do yourself a favor and stop reading blogs that irritate you with no means of response. Probably be far better for you in the long run.