974. From where does the theory of eternal fire originate?
“An image that has been taken literally, like so many others.”
a) Nonetheless, can this fear lead to a useful result?
“Look around you and see whether there are many who are restrained by it, even among those by whom it is preached. If you teach what contradicts reason, the impressions you make are neither long-lasting nor advantageous.”
Human language is unable to express the nature of this suffering. Therefore human beings have been unable to devise a comparison for it, one that is more appropriate than that of fire, because fire is both the most excruciating torture and the symbol of the most energetic action. This is why the belief in eternal fire has existed since the dawn of reason and has passed down by successive generations to the present day. Likewise, this is why all nations speak of “fiery passions,” “burning love,” “burning with jealousy,” and so on.