Before we answer this question (if it can be answered) we must first consider something that happens during our life here on earth that we all witness to varying degrees every day; that is, that God already allows untold suffering (albeit temporary though for some it is extremely prolonged) to people that are both innocent and guilty of crimes and injustices towards others, to children and old people, evildoers and saints alike.
So at the outset – the idea that a good god would not allow eternal suffering falls down straight away because by this argument, if he was truly good, then he would not allow any suffering at all – at least not the amount and sort we witness every day and may well one day visit us wether we are deserving or not 9the rain falls on both the just and unjust). After all we must face the fact that we regularly hear reports of people burning to death, falling under buses or dying in the most painful ways imaginable.
And let’s not forget that throughout much of history people were tortured and and burned as heretics for what today we would consider minor offences – reading the Bible is one example. Indeed one of the problems is that today in the cozy western hemisphere we are very much shielded from the kind of suffering that God clearly allows to go on all around the globe daily.
So we cannot come at the argument from a desire that virtually infinite suffering already occurs under God’s watch of both the innocent and guilty. This would indicate that there is far more to suffering that just punishment of
Now consider if God allows this kind of terrible torment to the righteous, people who do not in most people’s eyes deserve such siffering, is it not possible that at the very least an evil person will at the very least suffer as much as the righteous have? And yet if this is the case – would this be justice? Perhaps it would; and eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth most likely comes from this concept.
So it would appear that understadably this debate comes about like may others in the Bible that we just don’t want to be true because quite frankly it scars us to death and is frankly too horrible to contemplate. But none of this proves or disproves wether hell lasts forever – it merely gets some things out in the open we don’t like to think about. So now we can look at what the Bible says and see if a) we can makes sense of what it says in different places regarding hell b) whatever it says is just.
One thing the world does is equate the numbers of people that suffer with the amount of suffering itself, when it is obvious that a single person can only suffer so much as stated in the Bible – and that suffering is not ‘multiplied’ simply by numbers of people involved. Each life is of the same value and can potentially and broadly only suffer the same amount. as we so often want to call one despot worse than another because he killed 10,000 people while his brother killed 100,000 – they are both as bad as each other since every life is of the same infinite value and one life taken in murder is by reason alone as bad as 10,000, and the Bible makes it clear that God’s eyes see suffering in this way.