You are a decent person, you work normally and don’t do anything bad to anyone. In your free time you play computer games and watch TV series. You think that ending up in hell for living a wrong life is complete nonsense. Is there any reliable evidence of the existence of hell or God?
Maybe there is a God, but you never really believed in all this, and you are unlikely to believe it now. Is there any reliable evidence for the existence of hell or God? You are convinced that this will happen at the end: You will die, they will bury you in the ground or cremate you and there will be no heaven or hell for you”.
The question of proof is secondary
How would you prove to a person who was blind from birth that there is a multi-colored rainbow, especially if this person was firmly convinced that constant darkness is true reality, everything else is fantasy? It would be another matter if this person trusted your words that there is something different, more beautiful than his usual darkness. And he would really like to at least somehow, even at the level of imagination, join this other reality. And if there was even one chance in a million to get rid of blindness and see the rainbow for himself, he simply would not leave you alone and would be ready to risk everything in order to be healed and see the rainbow with his own eyes.
And if you personally have not seen or touched a giraffe, then what will be proof of its existence for you? Most likely, trust in scientists and those people who saw a giraffe, described it, filmed it, etc. It is assumed that you trust the witnesses to the existence of the giraffe, which cannot be said about your trust to the witnesses to the existence of God.
In one of the stories from the series “The Martian Chronicles” by R. Bradbury, an expedition of earthlings finds life on Mars that is almost identical to that on earth. An attempt to convince the residents of the village nearby which their ship landed that they came from Earth ends with the entire crew being placed in an insane asylum. There they convince the doctor to come look at their ship. The doctor agrees, feels the ship with surprise and gives a verdict: such a strong hallucination, which transmits tactile sensations to other people, is incurable and very dangerous. After that, he kills all earthlings. But the ship does not disappear. The psychiatrist decides that he himself has contracted this incurable disease and kills himself.
The question of proof is secondary. His decision directly depends on whether a person is looking for the Truth, whether he needs It, or whether he can live without It. Truth is not a set of logical formulas or even revealed dogmas and the only proof of the existence of God possible for a person is the experience of personal communication with Him. The experience of faith is much more reliable than the knowledge that reason and senses provide us.
But the vast majority of people do not feel the need for personal communication with God. This is true both for atheists and those who consider themselves believers. The former are convinced that they can obtain everything they need for earthly life on their own, while the latter “involve” God in this work, Who is considered exclusively as a supplier of earthly goods. An indifferent attitude towards God in spiritual language is called lukewarmness. And it is much more terrible in its spiritual consequences than an outright atheistic rebellion.
A rebel fights against God, i.e. acknowledges His existence and enters into communication with Him. But a lukewarm person simply doesn’t care whether God exists or not. If a person does not want to communicate with God at all, God will never reveal himself to him or show him any signs.
God, whose name is Love, will not impose Himself on anyone. He will not respond until you somehow ask Him about it. He loves you in any way you are and respects your freedom.
Lewis, in his fairy tale “The Chronicles of Narnia,” very expressively depicted the fate of people who in earthly life are concerned only with their own fate. At the end of the Narnian world, these were the dwarves. Among others, they passed through a kind of portal in the form of a dark, dirty barn and found themselves in the Narnian paradise. But they didn’t even notice it! There is a Garden of Eden around them, next to them stands the Narnian god – the lion Aslan, but they are completely confident that they remain in a dark barn. And when the compassionate Lucy asks Aslan to help them, he replies that he is unable to do it. Then she herself hands one of the gnomes a wonderful fruit from paradise and in response hears abuse, saying that not only are they locked in the barn, they are also poking her in the nose with all sorts of nasty things.
If you are quite satisfied with a comfortable life for yourself according to the principle “I am good, but I have not done good to anyone,” most likely, during your lifetime the Lord will protect you from living in heavenly or hellish states. You won’t notice them in other people either. You explain the difference between good and bad people by upbringing, living conditions, and psychological characteristics.
A loving God gives each person what he wants most. The only trouble is that not everyone is happy about it. For a Buddhist, He gives relief from conceivable suffering through the destruction of one’s own personality; for a Muslim, He gives boundless sensual pleasures. And if you want there to be nothing for you after death, it is quite possible that this will happen. Or rather, there will be no one for you.
If you devote your earthly life exclusively to the consumption of surrounding objects and people for the sake of your pleasure, then in eternity the soul will endlessly consume itself alone. This is called hell. As one of Dostoevsky’s heroes said, hell is the ultimate impossibility of loving, of loving sacrificially and unselfishly.
St. Isaac the Syrian describes hell this way: “I say that those tormented in Gehenna are struck by the scourge of love. And how bitter and cruel is this torment of love!” A self-sufficient person in hell suffers from the inability to bear God’s love for himself and respond to it.
“We think too abstractly about the torments of hell, as a result of which we forget about them. The world has completely forgotten about them. The devil has inspired all of us that neither he (i.e. the devil) nor the torments of hell exist. And the Holy Fathers teach that betrothal to Gehenna, just like the beatitudes, begin on earth, i.e. sinners, while still on earth, begin to experience hellish torment, and the righteous – bliss… with the only difference that in the next century both will be incomparably stronger” (St. Barsanuphius of Optina).
Many people experience hellish states during their lifetime. It is very painful, much more painful than any physical pain. Even hatred of others, who are seen as the culprits of all troubles, fades into the background. You don’t need anyone and it hurts you very much that someone is trying to love you, you, so vile, disgusting and worthless. Thus, demons suffer forever from God’s love.
People live in a kind of heavenly state. Most often this is associated with religious experience, but sometimes it occurs in the form of a meeting with a holy person, or even with a completely ordinary person, who suddenly, for unknown reasons and at the expense of unknown resources, acts in a way that a person in a similar situation cannot do. For example, without any exaltation, resentment or benefit for oneself, he does not return blow for blow, insult for insult, turns the other cheek after a blow to the first.
You must have a certain level of boldness for thinking about God at any level. And by asking your question, you have already embarked on this path. One man, who considers himself a believer, could not believe in the existence of demons. One day he exclaimed in his heart: “Let the demon appear to me, then I will believe.” The next morning he woke up gray. The meeting with the demon took place. So this is an extremely serious matter. You will not be able to limit yourself to any external information at the level of consciousness.
Look into your heart. Are you as peaceful and joyful as you would like? Don’t you really need more than the pleasures you listed? Are you ready to joyfully die for what you live for? Start looking for answers without regretting or reassuring yourself. And God will answer you.
It is not possible to prove the existence of God, because He is the One who is felt, experienced, and heard. Only a heart of stone is incapable of realizing its own existence and is unable to see Him around it. God is more experienced than spoken.
The entire universe was created so wisely, precisely, and powerfully that any denial of the Creator is the absence of intelligence in that person. The human body is amazingly and very intricately created, so that many scientists still call their research theories, because it is not possible to study man to the end, it is an amazing creation of God, where man is made up of three different substances, but in an amazing harmony incompatible things are combined, such as the physical flesh, the living soul with its emotions, experiences and feelings, and the eternal spirit.
And what is surprising is that a person is a person, only in three parts. Take the spirit out of the body and the body will become dust. Only one thing is capable of such a thing, and that is God.
At a minimum, think about the words of the wise philosopher Blaise Pascal:
“If there is no God, and I believe in Him, I lose nothing. But if God exists, and I don’t believe in Him, I lose everything.”
This question is thousands of years old. And the dispute between atheists and believers is just as long and just as senseless. For neither one nor the other can present such evidence of their rightness that would satisfy the enemy. Therefore, let’s live together and respect each other, atheists should understand that there are things that are simply inexplicable from the point of view of scientific materialism, and believers should remember that they cannot be forced into “heaven“. God himself will decide who goes where.