You all know how much I love tests. Well, Andrea—as Nice Atheist Girl—sent me to the Dante’s Inferno Test. Now, being one of the few people I know who has actually read The Divine Comedy, I feel I should point out that it is not what we in the Jesus biz call canonical. Dante was just having a bit of fun with the Catholic ideas of hell, purgatory and heaven.
What’s more, the writers of this test don’t seem to have read The Inferno themselves. I say this because the results of the test include the category, “Virtuous Non-Believers.” This was the ultimate Christian apologist’s get-out-of-jail-free card. Christians at the time loved the Greek Philosophers, most especially Aristotle. These were noble men. But they couldn’t go to heaven, now could they? Can you say “Original Sin”? I knew you could! Jesus wasn’t around to cleanse their sins. So the “Virtuous Non-Believers” circle is for virtuous people who were around before Christ. Or, I suppose, people who have never heard the word about Jesus. But for a person like me who has heard that Jesus washes away all my sins and still says “What a crock of voodoo!” will not make it into the “Virtuous Non-Believers” circle.
Here’s a little aside. Don’t you think that it at least kind of sucks that God waited all that time to send Jesus down to save us? And don’t you also think that it would have made a lot more sense to send Jesus down somewhere really populated and well-documented like China, perhaps? Even if you are a Bible literalist, God waited 4,000 years to let people just rot without the saving grace of Christ’s blood. And if you aren’t a biblical literalist, he waited at least 100,000 years before it occurred to him that he ought to do something to save men’s souls. There are only two possible conclusions. Either, God is an idiot, who certainly doesn’t deserve to be worshiped. Or God is evil, in which case he, I don’t know, doesn’t deserve to be worshiped.
I know what my good Christian friends will say about this. “I’ve given up trying to understand him; I just accept his love.” But I don’t think I want to accept that kind of love. As Richard Carrier said in The God Who Wasn’t There, he couldn’t be happy in heaven, knowing that his non-believing friends and family members were being tortured forever in hell. So my take on the Christian God, should he exist, is that he’s like Santa Claus: he talks tough, but in the end, all the kids have been good enough. Or, he’s an evil mother fucker who is going to torture us all for eternity, so why even try?
But these are minor issues! What could be more fun than to find out which level of Dante’s Inferno one will end up in! So I took the test. Of course I took the test! I believe in tests! I believe that if you understand a test, it will tell you something about yourself. For example, I think the IQ test might tell us something about ourselves, if only we understood the tests. And we do not understand the tests! And whether we understand the Dante’s Inferno Test, is an issue that I will come back to. But first, here’s how I came out on the test:
|Level||Who Are Sent There?||Score|
|Purgatory||Repending Believers||Very Low|
|Level 1 – Limbo||Virtuous Non-Believers||Very High|
|Level 4||Prodigal and Avaricious||Very Low|
|Level 5||Wrathful and Gloomy||Low|
|Level 6 – The City of Dis||Heretics||Moderate|
|Level 8 – The Malebolge||Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers||Moderate|
|Level 9 – Cocytus||Treacherous||Low|
Take the Dante’s Inferno Hell Test
Let’s be clear here. God is not going to look at my list and say, “Well, he scored highest on ‘Virtuous Non-Believers’ so let’s send him there!” He’s going to say, “This man has some real violence issues!” If he’s at all reflective, God will then wonder if that doesn’t sound like someone he knows really well. And then he will say, “To the 7th level of hell to you!”
But I’ll take the first level of hell! Frankly, I’d much rather be there than in heaven! It would be interesting to hang out with Aristotle. I’ll admit, Socrates might be a bit hard to take. And the fact that Dante put Julius Caesar in this level does not speak well of middle-age thinking on spiritual matters. But whatever. Dante talks about how wonderful the first level of hell is and the only thing that makes him want to leave is how grand it will be in heaven. Having read the Paradiso, I can tell you: he was wrong. Hanging out with Socrates sounds much better.
As for the test itself: I really couldn’t figure it out. I spent a lot of time putting in answers that I thought modern Christians wanted to hear. And I did indeed get an “extreme” score on “Purgatory,” a “very high” on “Virtuous Non-Believers,” and a “very low” on everything else. Except: “Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers.” On that, I only got a “low.” And try as I may, I could not come up with a combination that would give me a “very low” score. Now it is possible that the coding for the test is just screwed up and there is no way to get a “very low” score on that. But it is just as likely, that I don’t understand the modern Christian mind. And that means that I don’t really understand this test.
And look at the results anyway. I don’t think this is a good representation of me. I don’t think a low score for gluttony is right for me. I like food a lot and when I did drugs, I like them a lot and in large quantities. I’m certainly not wrathful but I’m very gloomy—on many days anyway. But how the hell did I get a high score on “violent”? I am absolutely not violent. Similarly, I don’t think that I’m malicious and I am certainly not a panderer. But I am a fraud. So there’s that.
If anyone else wants to take the test, please let me know. I realize that my readership is made up of a bunch of people who this test will think belong in hell. But if you are very lucky (and I think that’s about all it is), you may get to hang out with Socrates and me. And if that’s the case, you can hold him down. And I’ll put the muzzle on him!