Ah, intelligent discussion! *rubs hands* I love it. Let’s go!
OK, so I'm assuming you're a lovely person who feels empathy for others. My point is that unless that empathy is stripped out, you cannot be happy while imagining the infinite pain and suffering underneath you. Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another - and imagining that infinite pain isn't going to be pleasant by definition (since pain is unpleasant). So we have ourselves another conundrum:
If you have the capacity for empathy, you can't be happy in Heaven. It follows that the version of you that eventually makes it there is missing some of its original parts - I would argue the parts that are vital to your sense of self. So whatever warped resultant entity is strolling around with the angels, it's not you. Not you as you could recognise yourself. That, to me, is a terrifying thought - and it's why Heaven holds no appeal for me. It isn't me who's going there, after all. Perhaps it looks like me - perhaps it sounds the same. But it is simply a bright machine.
But this entirely conflicts with your statement: ‘God does not follow a different set of morals: morality is ultimate and does not change with time’. If there are universal moral concepts – i.e. shoving someone in an oven is wrong – it doesn’t matter who breaches them. If I push someone into my oven and turn the gas up all the way – and don’t repent – I’m going to Hell. If a demon then shoves me into his oven and turns the gas up even higher on God’s orders, that’s justice. Unfortunately, it’s also hypocrisy.
Bottom line: I would have absolutely no problem with a God who did not hurt those who do not 'love' him. But since he promises to do so… how is this Father any different to the domestic abuser who punches his children because they no longer worship the ground he walks on? How is that reconcilable with any definition of morality as we know it?
This is circular - as you know, I think, but see no problem with. 'God knows what is right because he knows what is right (in other words, he's omniscient and knows everything).' And, I mean, that's fine - far be it from me to tell people what they can and can't believe. I certainly wouldn't torture those who hold a different worldview. But if you're prepared to accept circular logic – broken logic - I literally cannot argue with you because there's no hope of either of us being convinced. We're just spinning our wheels. It's exactly the same as me saying, 'a cat is a cat' and you saying 'a cat is a dog' and just having to agree to disagree because we don't share logic as a means to reaching a conclusion.
But only to the most minimal extent possible. And this is where I cannot comprehend the Christian mindset. To extend your analogy, the judge sentences his child to prison. Prison. Not death. Certainly not everlasting torment. To do so would be ridiculously disproportionate and unfair – it would be unjust. To make the argument that failing to believe in something for which there is no reasonable basis – i.e. Superman – deserves eternal torture directly and absolutely conflicts with morality as I see it. Although your point is relevant and well-made, to me, it still doesn’t answer the question.
…Perhaps rather than continuing to miss one another, we should agree to stand by certain statements. (If I am unintentionally straw-manning, please do correct me!)
1) I believe that no crime is so great as to deserve everlasting torture. This is because I believe in fairness, in justice – I believe that no crime deserves disproportionate retribution. (Or indeed proportionate – Christians no longer believe in ‘an eye for an eye’, am I correct? We have to be better than the sinners. We can’t sin alongside them by punishing them. If murder is wrong, murdering the murderer – whether you’re God or human - is just as wrong. One follows from the other entirely logically.) Thus Hell is unjust.
2) You believe that failing to believe in God deserves everlasting torture. Thus Hell is just.
If we agree to stand by these statements, it’s self-evident that our definitions of morality miss each other completely. Thus it’s futile to argue over who is right – because we don’t agree what ‘right’ even is!
…Whoo. Okay. Deep breaths.
Again, sincerely, thank you for replying and arguing so politely. And please don’t take this as a personal attack – believe it or not, I’m really enjoying this discussion and would like nothing better than for it to continue! (I’m especially interested in your perspective on the sixth point I put to droomph – ‘How can the entity in Heaven be, in any meaningful sense, the same as the entity on Earth and thus provide some sort of consistency (which is required if salvation/punishment are to be justified) if it is missing vital parts of the original persona?’)
EDIT: Reading this back, I feel I ought to make one thing clear - I'm really not trying to hold myself up as this supremely moral entity who's courageous enough to face Hell for my beliefs. I mean, I don't actually believe in God, so any moral stand I take is hypothetical at best - it's all 'what would I do if I was certain that God, Heaven and Hell existed', you know? Drop me in front of an eternity of flames and torture and who knows how I'll react. Perhaps I'll sacrifice my integrity to get into Heaven. If I'm being brutally honest with myself, I don't think I'm anywhere near brave enough to face punishment like that. I'm no Gandhi, no Luther King. (Obviously.)
The key point here is that it wouldn't be honest of me to repent in that scenario - I'd be abandoning my morality. And that's the problem. To me, it doesn't matter that I couldn't lead by example. The fact that I, personally, don't have the courage to face down Hell doesn't make Hell itself any less wrong.