“It might not solve the problem entirely…”
I think that’s a serious understatement of the problem which annihilationism poses for itself. It doesn’t solve the overall problem at all. For even assuming that it solves one side of the problem (which I only assume for the sake of argument), it leaves another side of the problem untouched.
“…but I would much prefer to know that my damned loved ones were out of their misery than to know that they were suffering unending conscious torment.”
The connotations of somebody being “out of their misery” are person-variable”
i) A pet-owner may find it preferable to euthanize a beloved pet rather that see it suffer. Yet he may always miss his beloved pet. He can’t go back to the way things were before he had his beloved pet.
ii) If a loved one is dying of some excruciating illness, and we have reason to believe we will see him (or her) on the other side, then it’s a relief to see his earthly suffering come to an end, even if the separation, while temporary, is an irreparable loss in this life.
If, on the other hand, we have no reason to think we’ll see our loved one again, then we have radically different feelings about his demise. He (or she) isn’t going to a better place. And the pain of separation is unremitting–precisely because it is so hopeless. The survivor feels his own loss, as well as feeling for the loss of his loved one. A double loss. A loss to him, and a loss to his lost loved one. Moreover, the loss to his loved one accentuates the loss to himself.
“The sadness over being deprived of some good is in no way commensurate with the sadness over the infliction of pain and suffering.”
i) I don’t know how you begin to measure such a thing.
ii) Sounds like the sort of thing a young man would say. Very noble sentiment.
However, people can be inseparable in this life. When they lose a loved one, their grief may be inconsolable.
In addition, this can have a cumulative effect. The first loss might not hit as hard. But survivors can reach a tipping point where they’ve lost the people who make life worthwhile. They were able to get by for a while, but one more loss is one loss too many.
What is more, at that point each loss is weighted with every other loss. There’s a delayed effect. What was bearable the first time it hit them circles back and hits them with unbearable force on top of every succeeding loss.
Again, I’m just responding to the annihilationist on his own grounds. Annihilationism raises an emotional objection to the traditional doctrine of hell. Yet annihilationism is subject to emotional objections no less weighty.
iii) Of course, the annihilationist might say that there will be compensations in heaven. God will work it out somehow.
Yet that appeal is equally available to orthodox Christians who uphold the traditional doctrine of hell.