If there is a place of eternal separation from God, then God is not omnipresent. There must be a place, then, where God is not. I don't believe that.
I definitely live part (most?) of my life "separate" from God, in that I focus on my own selfish desires and stuff that isn't even remotely important, worry about stuff I have no control over (directly ordering some of the most beautiful and reassuring words of Jesus,) judge people, who are also children of God, etc. etc. rather than focusing on God. I also definitely live part of my life in communion with God, and my desire as I grow spiritually is more of the latter and less of the former!
FWIW, I used to "take the Bible literally" as we've been discussing, and it was during that time where I began to believe in universal salvation.
On the subject of hell, which is fascinating, can someone tell me what gnashing of teeth looks like?
I also have read, and this makes sense, that this idea of heaven and hell was a product of a belief that heaven is above, and hell is below, which makes sense if one believes the earth is flat, but kind of falls apart with the knowledge of a round globe. I definitely always wondered about that as a kid! Is hell in the center of the earth? Is God like a donut and we're in the middle? Is Jesus roaming around in this donut-shaped heaven that surrounds the Earth? That's what my kid-brain did with the ideas of heaven and hell. (If heaven is "up above" it has to be up above for us as well as for China!) We can say that these things exist in the spiritual realm, but then I return to my first point in this post, and that is how could there be a place in the spiritual realm where God is not?
And if I have the tiniest bit of compassion towards other people, and I do, how could God not be even more compassion? How could I have a characteristic like compassion and God not have it?
Hmmmm.... yes it's 3:20 in the morning. Some times I can't fall back to sleep after being woken up!!!!!!
I guess the question is this. If creatures with free-will decide to reject God, reject Truth, what can happen to them? Some have argued that they are simply snuffed out and exist no more, because without God they are nothing. Others say no, they have an eternal immortal soul which God gave them as part of their nature. There is no way to change that fact. So they must continue to exist.
I think this is what Dante is saying in his inscription. Hell is not a place where God is absent entirely - it is still built on the laws of all creation, the unchangeable that are part of God. But as much of possible is removed, all the things we consent to with our free-choice are gone. To compare it to free will while alive, we are free to do evil, but not free to ignore gravity. God is there even when we do evil. In Hell, we must exist according to our nature. But those things which we have chosen to reject - love, justice, hope, etc, are absent. We just didn't bring them with us.
Here is the whole inscription - of course it is literature, but Dante's literature was about as close to theology as you can get.
|THROUGH ME THE WAY INTO THE SUFFERING CITY,
THROUGH ME THE WAY TO THE ETERNAL PAIN,
THROUGH ME THE WAY THAT RUNS AMONG THE LOST.
JUSTICE URGED ON MY HIGH ARTIFICER;
MY MAKER WAS DIVINE AUTHORITY, THE HIGHEST WISDOM, AND THE PRIMAL LOVE.
BEFORE ME NOTHING BUT ETERNAL THINGS WERE MADE, AND I ENDURE ETERNALLY.
ABANDON EVERY HOPE, WHO ENTER HERE.