Rec'd from email chain

HELL EXPLAINED BY CHEMISTRY STUDENT

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term.

The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. ''' Since there is more''' than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

  1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
  2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."

THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY "A"

The History of Hell
Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment

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Lucky Scheppf — 12 February 2008, 13:30

I am not a religous person but I am spiritual. "HELL EXPLAINED BY CHEMISTRY STUDENT" borders blasphemy if not in fact. Shame on you!

Brent — 12 February 2008, 15:56

I suppose blasphemy is in the eye of the reader. I would use a similar label for myself, not religious but spiritual, and I found this piece funny. I don't feel ashamed of that; you think I should. Where do we go from here? Probably just ignore each other. Or we could explore why you feel this is blasphemous...or perhaps we should begin by defining blasphemy.

Lucky Scheppf — 29 February 2008, 09:46

At first glance, I concede, it could be construded as "funny". But we (as a society) must look deeper into why someone would think this is "funny". You have the "right" to feel it is funny" if you choose. You live in American and have that right. We have fought and shed our blood (as maybe your parents and relatives have done also)to defend your rights to believe or not to believe and to protest.

The "shame on you" is relative to being insensitive to the religious and spiritual faiths of all other communities that believe in God as a Supreme Being and is not a "shame on you" for your belief.

Defining blasphemy? I think we both know what borders blasphemy and what does not and is determined by one's own interpretation.

The shame is that, however creative the "student" was in his story, this talent could be best served in helping serve the world community in way creative ways to eliminate world hunger, find a cure for cancer, and ease the pain and suffering of humanity instead of finding humor on the feelings and backs of people of faith.

Thank you Brent for excerising your right to differ and keeping an open mind in a civil manner.

Lucky Scheppf

Brent — 29 February 2008, 10:40

Oh, that's sooo cool that you commented back. Good points all.

I've been struggling with the question of how much we should "respect" others' beliefs. Indeed, until recently, asking such a question would have felt blasphemous.

I suppose "respect" isn't the right word. My point or question is:

How much should let we the religious beliefs of others go unchallenged or unquestioned? Where do we draw the line and step in and question a person's religious beliefs?

Does this work? "Until their religious beliefs lead to actions that hurt others."

Or is this better? "We never question religious beliefs."

Though it's taboo, I believe never questioning religious beliefs is foolish because beliefs lead to behavior, and if the behavior is harmful, those beliefs NEED to be questioned.

Problem is, religious beliefs are a matter of faith, which means they carry no objective evidence.

As an example: Suppose a child needs a blood transfusion to treat a terminal disease. If the parents are of the Jehovah's Witness religion, they will refuse to give the lifesaving procedure to their child.

Here we have a situation where a religious belief can lead to the death of a child. What to do? Do we challenge the belief or respect it unquestioned?

(PS--Oppologies for the crappy commenting system. I need to integrate something more useful for comments, something that emails you when a commment is made to a particular page. In time.)

Lucky Scheppf — 29 February 2008, 14:44

Your Comment: "Though it's taboo, I believe never questioning religious beliefs is foolish because beliefs lead to behavior, and if the behavior is harmful, those beliefs NEED to be questioned."

My Reply: I agree with your concept in that we can question various religious belief's and concepts. I agree 100%. Why? Because this makes sense. It is called "common sense." We must find balance between respect vs. disrespect.

Your Comment: "How much should let we the religious beliefs of others go unchallenged or unquestioned? Where do we draw the line and step in and question a person's religious beliefs?

Does this work? "Until their religious beliefs lead to actions that hurt others."

Or is this better? "We never question religious beliefs."

My Reply: I am 56 years old and I am an educated man (greduate engineer) and an avid supporter of human rights and civil rights although I am a conservative. Protest is the American way and is how our Country was founded. I support religious freedom. But that is balanced with the rights of other to feel and believe the way they wish without persecution from other members of our society or the government. My rights end where the next persons rights attach. Example? Someone believes in a religion that killing people is ok according to his religion because they do not believe as their religion. That person has a right to believe this, however he does not have a right to act out his belief. If this is the case, then we will go back to the Witch Trials that were conducted by Christians in Winston-Salem and burn people at the stakes. We cannot allow this, no more than we can allow radical muslims to behead people who do not believe in Islam. People certainly have the right to believe what they want and to think what they wish, but when it comes to harming others in effort to carry out their agenda and destroy property and create anarchy in the streets of America where innocent people will be harmed, they they do not have the right to do this. This is called "common sense." Unfortunately, some people and religions do not have this type of balance and humanity. To that end, we must keep vigiliant and not be "asleep" when they come. If more than one peoson believes like this, and they discuss plans to carry out their belief's, that is called a conspiracy. Two or more people must be involved. We cannot allow this to happen. When good men stand by and do nothing, evil will flourish.

Your comment: "As an example: Suppose a child needs a blood transfusion to treat a terminal disease. If the parents are of the Jehovah's Witness religion, they will refuse to give the lifesaving procedure to their child.

Here we have a situation where a religious belief can lead to the death of a child. What to do? Do we challenge the belief or respect it unquestioned?"

My Reply: We respect their right to believe as they desire. That is what we do. We also, with respect, balance that right to believe with the right of the child to live. The child, because he/she is a child, does not automatically lose their right to have a say. Certainly,we as a society have a right to question that belief, BUT, we should do with with respect. I personally disagree with that position and support the transfusion BUT I respect their right to believe that way, and I would question it too, but with respect of their right to believe.

You are obviously an intelligent young man and I encourage you to continue your deep and sustained thought process, and always balance it with empathy and I am sure that you will do the right for the right reason the first time. Please remember this, few of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love. Mother Theresa once said this and it has left an inspiring mark on my life.

Lsstly, we have to be careful Brent about what we puslish. Why? Because young children are easily influenced. We see this in the school shootings, drugs and ect. We need to lead by example and I am sure you are one of this young men based on your previous correspondence and questions. I am sure that your mom and dad are proud of you. Just a bit of advice. Whatever you do in life, ask yourself, what would mamma think if she were watching. If you were a girl, it would be, what would dad think if he were watching. You will always make the right decision.

Thank you for the very thought provoking dialogue.

Lucky Scheppf Tennessee

Brent — 01 March 2008, 06:18

Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply, Lucky, and kind words of advice.

It's such a struggle, this question of accepting (respecting) beliefs and not accepting the behavior which is derived from those beliefs. Again, while much of my life has been guided (in part) by the principle of "respecting others' beliefs," I find myself at a crossroads. I continue to butt against beliefs that I feel harm the world. I think you're right when you state or imply that in a free society, we must accept and respect the beliefs of others, no matter how much we disagree; but when those beliefs lead to violate human rights, then we intervene. I'm sure this is correct, or the best we can do if we do if we hope to maintain a free society.

For me, part of "respect" has always meant to avoid questioning a person's beliefs. This is where I find myself changing. I now want to question those beliefs, again because I feel some beliefs are very harmful. The struggle is to remain respectful in that process since one person's respect is another person's disrespect. I had an unfortunate situation many years ago when I questioned the belief of a man (a fairly close friend from college) who came from another culture. I thought I was being polite in my inquiry, but the man felt quite different. He never spoke to me again. This experience solidified the equation that respect equals not questioning, at least until recently.

Thanks again for your thoughtful, compassionate replies. You live by your words, and I appreciate your advice and wisdom.

Lucky Scheppf — 01 March 2008, 07:08

Your Comment: "For me, part of "respect" has always meant to avoid questioning a person's beliefs. Again, while much of my life has been guided (in part) by the principle of "respecting others' beliefs," I find myself at a crossroads. I continue to butt against beliefs that I feel harm the world. I think you're right when you state or imply that in a free society, we must accept and respect the beliefs of others, no matter how much we disagree; but when those beliefs lead to violate human rights, then we intervene."

Your Words = "... but when those beliefs lead to violate human rights, then we intervene."

My Response: Yes, you are is 100% correct and on target. We can go a step further. We as a civilized society have a responsibility and are duty bound to intervene not only when human and civil rights are violated, but to do so before they are violated, otherwise waiting for the act itself would shock the conscience of a civilization and society.

We can do this and not infringe upon the delicate right to believe or free worship or lack thereof. And we must be free to worship as we choose and yet find balance and harmony in the next persons right to do the same. Please remember, and you are 100% on target, we must be vigiliant and not allow this to get "out of control" to a point where people and institutions are threatened.

Your Comment: "For me, part of "respect" has always meant to avoid questioning a person's beliefs.

My Reply: Oh Brent, there is a difference. We can question a person(s) or a society or a religion(s) beliefs, and you have that right which is connected to a Divine and Constitutional Right, and a Human Right. (My Thoughts). Do not ever let anyone trick you into telling you differently. "Respect" does not equate to "not questioning" so long as we treat that person with dignity in the manner in which we question the belief. We can and should raise questions in order to understand. Understanding does not mean "agree with".

Never "... avoid questioning a person's beliefs" or feel that you should. Winston Chirchill said this during the dark and devastating days of WW-II.

"Heros are born in the moment of crises, and some of the greatest deeds of inspiration emerge under the circumstance if the heart and will possesses the determination and strenght."

You may ask: Lucky, where are you going with this?

My reply: Continue to question, in a professioanl and gentle manner just like you have conducted yourself during this continued dialogue, and your deeds or actions will greatly inspire others as they have inspired me.

Continue to live by your principles which are your core values. This does not mean you will have misjudgments of error. It does mean that you will recognize them, and never - not ever - hesitate to say "I am sorry or I apologize if I offended you." You can do that and still maintain your principles. Do not compromise or question your valuies or your principles on any position. Stick to your guns. It is part of your DNA and is what defines you as you.

Again, you are on target.

Have a great day! Lucky Scheppf State of Tennessee

Chromeangel — 05 March 2008, 06:37

@ Lucky and Brent... I thoroughly enjoyed reading your conversation. Brent, you and I parallel in our general approach to this issue. And I fully subscribe to Lucky's advice on approaching one's inquiries with respect. Your dialogue is refreshing.

Jamneely — 08 March 2008, 13:22

Pleasantly surprised to find this conversation/blog whilst randomly looking for something else. Nice to see consideration and thought unblinded by the passion that turn so many similar 'discussions' into fist fights. I don't have a personal God, but still enjoy the advice Lucky.

Brent — 09 March 2008, 11:30

It's been a great discussion! I'm very glad so many people are getting the point--that people with different views can still have constructive, civil discussions.

Lucky Scheppf — 17 March 2008, 21:56

I agree with Brent in that, " It's been a great discussion! I'm very glad so many people are getting the point--that people with different views can still have constructive, civil discussions."

We all came away with something positive and was a great learning experience for this 56 year Tennessee conservative.

Let's take Jamneely 08 March 2008, 13:22 for example. He stated that "I don't have a personal God".

I do. His name is Jesus the Christ. However, I respect Jamneely's right to not have a "personal God." I do not agree with him, but I respect his right to believe as he chooses. Our soldiers fight and sometimes die for him to have his belief and for him to have the freedom of expression to state that and although I do not agree with him, I would defend his right to believe what he does. This is what America is suppose to be about. Jesus died for our salvation. (My Thoughts). U.S. soldiers die for our Freedom. (My Belief).

Happy everyone enjoyed the dialogue.

Lucky in Tennessee

Greg — 30 March 2008, 03:51

I have a very strong core of beliefs. I am a Christian. I thought this article was hilarious. If I can find it funny being a Christian then there's no reason someone should be a ashamed for doing it themselves. There was nothing blasphemous about it. It was a ridiculous answer to a ridiculous question, nothing more. Now to respecting someone's religion. There is no greater respect of a anyone's religion then to take an interest in it. Even if it doesn't sway your beliefs, doesn't matter. There was something I was once told about religion. "Religion defies all logic." Even with my faith I can admit that. So if your friend was offended. Then he needs to check his beliefs. They're not as strong as he thinks. On the child thing, a person life is always more important then someone's beliefs. No matter what country you live in or what rights a person has in that country. There are three laws that are universal, you do not kill, you do not rape, you do not steal or any variant thereof of them. Nothing supersedes those, not even religious freedom.

Bob Staggart, Ph.D. — 30 March 2008, 07:33

I am a Christ also. I read the article and found it interesting as a retired UCLA professor. The article may have been harmless but the responses were valid by all parties. Had the article protrayed the Islamic Prophet Mohammad, there woyuld have been riots in our streets. The fact Brent and Lucky agreed to discuss was a move in the direction of tolerance. The problem with religion and extremism which includes Christianity, likened to Islam, sometimes our "strong" core "belief" tend to overshadow our sense or good reason and common sense. This of course, leads to Christian anarchy and the "beliefs" described as "strong" tend to unjustly demonize more moderates and people of free thought. To quote "Lucky", he is correct in that this contributes to "witch hunts" as did our Christian brethren in Winston-Salem and such as the murder of talkshow host Allen Berg in Denver, Co., by extremeist Christians who held strong core beliefs.

I wish to commend all for excerising their freedoms of expression and caution those that may unjustly demonize others for their beliefs and their expressions and caution against overt racism and extremism under the giuse of a "strong" core "belief" process.

Bob Staggart, Ph.D.

Bob Staggart , Ph.D. — 30 March 2008, 07:49

Corrections.

I am a Christian also. I read the article and found it interesting as a 81 year old and retired UCLA professor. The article may have been harmless but the responses were valid by all parties. Had the article protrayed the Islamic Prophet Mohammad, there would have been riots in our streets. The fact Brent and Lucky agreed to discuss was a move in the direction of tolerance. The problem with religion and extremism which includes Christianity, likened to Islam, sometimes our "strong" core "beliefs" tend to overshadow our sense or good reason and common sense. This of course, leads to Christian anarchy and the "beliefs" described as "strong" tend to unjustly demonize more moderates and people of free thought. To quote "Lucky", he is correct in that this contributes to "witch hunts" as did our Christian brethren in Winston-Salem and such as the murder of talkshow host Allen Berg in Denver, Co., by extremeist Christians who also held "very strong core . . beliefs." This is alarming and troubling.

I wish to commend all for excerising their freedoms of expression and caution those that may unjustly demonize others for their beliefs and their expressions and caution against overt racism, sexism, religious extremism and intolerance under the giuse of a having a "strong" core "belief" thought process that fails to reach and surpass the civil threshold of tolerance and understanding.

Bob Staggart, Ph.D.

amazed that ppl would waste so much time on this — 30 April 2008, 18:36

you guys are ridiculous

Brent — 30 April 2008, 21:58

Ha! Well, it's all about what interests you. I find these discussions quite enriching, though I was surprised they were sparked by this piece, which I took as just a funny story. Other's disagreed and found it offensive, which intrigued me, and a wonderful discussion ensued. You never know where something will lead, which is part of the wonder and joy of life.

SSGT. Jack McPherson, USMC — 24 May 2008, 12:17

To All:

I am SSGT. Jack McPherson, USMC, and I am stationed at Camp Liberty in Iraq. This is my 2nd tour (by choice). Some of the guys (male and female soldiers) were reading this "Wanderings" just to pass some time. This article provoked responses that were very interesting.

Although we (Here in Iraq That Were Reading and Discussing This Article) all had different opinions and our had our individual takes on it, it was amazing at how the dialogue evolved between Brent and Lucky Scheppf.

Also, it was enlightening to see the various "post" regarding other opinions in the respectful and civil manner most people have demonstrated. We were all amazed at Dr. Bob Staggart's guidance. What an amazing professor!!!!

One day, maybe we can acheive our mission here in Iraq and people here can set down, however different and opposite their feelings and belief's are, and freely communicate like Brent and Lucky Scheppf did and during the "proving of each of their points", find common ground and become friends in a small way for the short time we pass through this world and life.

Mother Therese said something that struck a common thread in is here. She said something like this: "We cannot all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love." Brent and Lucky, we thank you both for a thought provoking dialogue.

Please remember, neither of you can please everyone. Don't try. There will always be critics. They do not count. Why? Because those are the ones whose faces are not marred with sweat and blood, and have chosen to be critics, and that have never lifted the unliftable cause and have never fought in a fight for nything worthy that was just and good, and will never know, not ever, the pains of defeat and the glory of victory.

Semper Fi!!!!

From Camp Liberty Iraq SSGT. Jack McPherson 1st Btn. Charlie Company

Robin in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — 24 May 2008, 12:28

TO: "amazed that ppl would waste so much time on this 30 April 2008, 18:36 you guys are ridiculous."

YOU HAVE JUST ENTERED THE "NO SPIN ZONE".

If this is so ridiculous, and you critize the people who have the freedom to express themselves, and claim to be "amazed that ppl would waste so much time on this", then why did you feel it was so important to respond and waste your time on something so "ridiculous".

You are a jerk and a pinhead!!!!

Me and my friends enjoyed the exchanges and you are a jerk-off freak. Pinhead!!!

Jenni - In The Big Apple — 24 May 2008, 12:37

I agree with my deep south Dixie Belle sister Robin in Louisiana. This guy is a pinhead, actually more head if you get my drift!!!!!!!Goooo Girl!!!!!!!!!!

Jenni in New York

Brent — 25 May 2008, 09:03

Thanks Staff Sergeant McPherson! Very kind of you to take the time to comment. You are so right about there always being critics and not to try to please everyone. That's a fool's errand.

However, I think the critics can be important because they force you to examine your own view more carefully. Let me explain.

I don't believe in objectivity or an unbiased point of view. We all carry our own bias. That's a given. But if we are satisfied with that bias and ignore critics we miss out on improving or view. (of course some critics are just assholes with nothing to add, but that's another story).

The critics force us to examine our own bias and to improve our view. If we are closed to criticism, we are closed to potential growth. This is NOT to say we should be pansy's, changing our view with every critic. No, I'm just saying we need to have some openness to the critic. They may have something constructive to add in our never-ending journey toward...truth?

That said, I totally agree with you that the talking-head (bobble-head) critics who haven't endured or fought for their own freedom have little understanding of the real issues involved. Hence their words reveal enormous ignorance. Problem is, those same people can have enormous influence, and that's what's so scary.

Jessi in Georgia — 26 May 2008, 07:52

Happy Memorial Day Everyone!!!!!!!!

We (my friends and me) are just sssssoooooooooooooo glad we have the right to freedom of expression and that we don't get our heads cut off for having a different religious belief. We all have the RIGHT to believe what we want and to express it without being offensive because we do not want someone doing that to us. Let's be thankful and remember our dead heros who have given their all to us and to America when we hacve not. THANK YOU SSGT. JACK MCPHERSON and tell the guys that "Jessi" from GA said hello!! and we love you. Bye.

Jessi