If a person is compassionate, law abiding, kind, loving, considerate and leads a good personal life, but doesn’t believe in God, would he really go to hell?
If we seriously analyse the interpretations given by staunch believers in Abrahamic religions (particularly Christianity and Islam), we will have to painfully conclude that a kind, loving, considerate, compassionate and law abiding person will have to end up in hell because he has not accepted Jesus Christ/God/ Creator.
WHAT CHRISTIANITY SAYS:
From whatever I understood from the explanations/ interpretations available on Bible scriptures (here in Quora and a few other sites) I gather the following ideas (knowledgeable Christians can correct me if there are mistakes in my understanding):
- When a person dies, this physical body perishes but soul remains as if in sleep.
- The soul remains in this state of suspended animation till the ‘Day of Judgment’.
- There is an alternative interpretation available (again based on quotes from Bible) that the souls of those believers in Jesus Christ, immediately upon death, end up in heaven and remain there blissfully, but without their bodies. (both good people as well as sinners, who are believers, end up in heaven).As per the same alternative belief, the souls of non-believers (be it sinners or good people) end up in hell, suffering in blistering fire/ in darkness etc.
- ‘When the day of Judgement’ comes, (God only knows when), those believers of God will get their buried bodies resurrected and they will reach heaven (with a body) to remain in eternal joy in the presence of God for ever. It includes both sinners and good people. Sinners are cleared off all their sins purely based on their faith on Jesus Christ. He had already shed his blood on their behalf and that blood purifies the sins of all the believers.
- On the day of judgement, those who are alive too will be judged the same way — Are you a believer or not believer? Your fate is frozen accordingly.
- In case of non-believers, on the day of judgement, they too get the body resurrected, but they continue to suffer eternally in hell.
- Man gets only one birth/ chance to live in this world. Soul lives for ever and it is either in heaven (in case of believer) or in hell (in case of non-believer, irrespective of whatever good qualities he possessed). So, better believe in Jesus Christ while you are alive! You are NOT entitled for any more chance.
WHAT ISLAM SAYS:
From whatever I understood from the explanations/ interpretations available on Koran scriptures (in a few other sites) I gather these ideas (Knowledgeable Muslims can correct me if there are mistakes in my understanding):
- When a person dies, their body perishes but soul remains as if in sleep
- Those souls who have done good deeds and have faith in Allah are taken royally to the heaven, and will enjoy being there till the day of judgment
- Those souls who have done evil acts and have no faith in Allah will be painfully dragged out of their bodies and they will end up in hell to suffer
- The souls with a mix of good and bad deeds remain in the state of suspended animation till the ‘Day of Judgment’, but in the grave they will undergo suffering for their evil deeds , waiting for the day of judgment.
- On the day of Judgment, Allah comes to the rescue of those locked in the grave yard. If the person had sinned but has faith in Allah, he is saved by Allah’s grace and sent to Heaven. For a non-believer, the fate is sealed. He has to suffer eternally in hell. His acts of good are of no avail to him.
- People of all other faiths who worshiped any other God (other than Allah) are also doomed. They are all cursed to live in Hell.
- Man gets only one birth/ chance to live in this world. Soul lives for ever and it is either in heaven (in case of believer) or in hell (in case of non-believer, irrespective of whatever good qualities he possessed). So, better believe in Allah while you are alive! You are NOT entitled for any more chance.
WHAT HINDUISM SAYS
- Every human being is potentially divine. Only problem is people don’t know it (unless they go deep into practical spirituality) because of maya and ego.
- Lured by maya and deluded by ego, man does lots of acts (karmas) which may be good or evil. A man naturally does both in varying proportions.
- Every Karma creates a Karma phala (fruit of karma) which one has to enjoy or suffer. A bad karma’s effect does not cancel out a good karma’s effect or vice versa. Accounts of good and bad acts have independent existence.In this specific case, the man who is “kind, loving, considerate, compassionate and law abiding” has really accumulated good fruits (called Punya) because all these are essentially qualities that are part of Satva guna (pure and auspicious qualities). These qualities will be for his benefit irrespective of whether he is a believer or not.
- Human birth does not end in one life. It is a continuous on going process : birth-live-die-next birth-live-die and so on. It is called Samsara. It is there because you have to enjoy or suffer whatever good or bad that you keep doing till you settle all your accounts.
- It is by God’s will that the next birth takes place with a specific load of fruits of one’s previous karmas (from the total account done across may previous births). While the person enjoys or suffers by exhausting his previous fruits of karma, he keeps engaging in fresh karmas (good or bad, prompted by his likes and dislikes) too in this birth that will start adding to his karma loads leading to future births!
- In between two births, the soul may also undergo a stint in Heaven (to enjoy the extraordinary punyas acquired in previous births) or in Hell (to suffer the extraordinary sins acquired on account of outright evil acts committed in previous births).
- But it has to return to earth in any case to continue the process with the balance loads. Unfulfilled desires on account of all the experiences keep on goading the souls to to hopelessly engage in karmas and getting caught in the samsara cycle.
- But where is the end to this maddening cycle? There are two ways – Bhakti or Gnyana. Understand the futility of samsara, understand the hopelessness of running behind fulfilling desires, shun the deluding maya, shun your ego — surrender to God. When the surrender is total, God saves you out of compassion on you from samsara and takes your soul to his eternal abode. This is the path of Bhakti.
- In the path of Gnyana, you inquire: Who am I? Am I this perishing body? Who is true the enjoyer or sufferer? Is it the body, mind, ego, soul or what? I am atman; the witness; imperishable. This way, the soul further realizes that it is none other than the Almighty (Brahman), but getting all along deluded by maya and ego! When this self-realization happens (after many births), there is no more desire to fulfill. There is no fear of death. ‘I am eternal. There is no more birth and death for me.’ “Aham Brahmasmi” (‘I am Brahman”).