Thursday, March 6, 2014

Another Argument For Annihilationism

Here is an argument for Annihilationism which might be used to try to avoid denying the following love principle:

L:  Any action of God's towards someone S who can be loved must be consistent with that act being an act of love towards S.

And the argument also tries to avoid the problems I've mentioned in the previous posts with annihilation being an unloving [non-loving] action towards someone (by adopting premise 7 below).

1. There is someone S who God knows would forever reject him.
2. If God knows S would forever reject him, at some point S becomes incapable of receiving God's love.
3. If 2 and 3, then at some point S can in no way be loved by God.
4. Thus, at some point S can in no way be loved by God. [from 1, 2, 3]
5. But if at some point S can in no way be loved by God, then God could act towards S in a way that is unloving.
6. Thus God could act towards S in a way that is unloving. [from 4, 5]
7. The annihilation of S would be an action towards S that is unloving.
8. Thus God could annihilate S. [from 6,7]

The first thing to say about the argument is that it doesn't go on to say that God would annihilate S.  One could argue that God would because he does on Scriptural grounds, but I find the Scriptural arguments for annihilationism no stronger than arguments for either universal salvation or the traditional view of everlasting punishment.  And I'm not interested in debating that here.

One might be able to get to the "would" from the "could" on utilitarian grounds, but utilitarianism is false, and I don't want to argue about that either.

I think probably the thing to say is that justice simply demands it, but I wouldn't know how to argue for that in such a way as to rule out the live possibility of both universalism and the traditional view without giving up the above argument.  (Of course one could also reject 7 in the argument, but I've previously said why I think that is incoherent).  So let me just talk about the two premises that I find problematic.

Why think 2 is true?  It seems to confuse the temporal with the modal.  For why couldn't it be the case that someone forever freely chooses to reject God all the while being capable of accepting God?

Premise 3 is also highly suspect.  Why think a deep, unrequited love is not possible?  


  1. Yeah, I agree that (3) is especially suspect. But, it is available for a person to deny (1) as well. Open Theists might say that God doesn't have the sort of knowledge that (1) seems to attribute to him.

  2. JS,

    (1) was intentionally vague enough not to exclude Open Theism. God knows what S would do because God knows that S actually (and presently) becomes incapable of receiving love (right before God zaps him). Of course it's still questionable whether God could ever presently know that one has become incapable of being loved.