Whatever Happened To Hell?

Hell used to be a central part of Christianity, playing as big a role as Heaven. Yet growing up as a practicing Catholic and even as an altar boy, I don’t remember ever hearing anything about Hell. It is as though priests are embarrassed to mention it and would rather forget all about it. In some places Hell as been down played to the point of merely being the absence of Heaven. Yet the thing about religion is that you can’t throw any of it away and the threat of Hell still simmers on. It still exercises a grip of fear over many believers and revulsion among non-believers.

It isn’t hard to see why many people would want to forget about Hell. It is without a doubt the most horrific concept ever developed by the human mind. A place of eternal agony and torture where people are burned in excruciating pain. It a repulsive and disgusting thought. It has done nothing but terrify people for centuries. Generations of children and adults have been scarred by nightmares of the punishment that is supposedly awaiting them. Who deserves that kind of punishment? Most people are a mixture of good and bad, with even the worst people having some redeeming features. Pure evil exists only on TV. If Hell was real, in all probability, some of your friends and family would go there. That’s something must priests would like to ignore. We have all at some point in lives stolen, lied, cheated, fought and been cruel. Some people more than others, but all of us have shown love, friendship, compassion, kindness, friendliness and charity towards others. Can we be comfortable knowing these people will burn for eternity?

But what sort of God would create Hell? Why would a supposedly all-loving, all-forgiving being create a place of pain and suffering? What possible benefit could come from it? If God created us all, couldn’t he have created us without capability for sin and evil? Why not correct people when they have broken the rules? Some might say the Church does this, but if there is an all-powerful being who cares about our actions, it would have chosen a better medium than the discredited Church. What if God appeared to sinners and told them to repent, instead of leaving them to go wrong and torture them for eternity. What about forgiveness? Isn’t God supposed to be full of mercy? Wouldn’t he just forgive everyone instead of sending them to Hell? Doesn’t limitless forgiveness contradict eternal damnation? Didn’t Jesus die for our sins? Doesn’t that mean our sins are forgiven, so no one is going to Hell?

The simple fact is that religion has so many petty rules that it is impossible not break them. We have all worked on the Sabbath, taken the Lords name in vain, disrespected our parents, had sex outside of marriage and masturbated. What about homosexuals? Is it right that they should suffer for being who they are? What about people who commit adultery or get a divorce (according to the Bible, the two are the same)? Or people who eat shellfish? Keep in mind that the rule book that decides who goes to Hell justifies genocide, homophobia, sexism, racism, slavery and anti-Semitism.

The greatest injustice of Hell is that all non-believers will automatically go there no matter how they live their live. If you are a Catholic and believe only Catholics go to Heaven, then you automatically condemn 85% of the world’s population to eternal suffering just because they were not born into a Catholic family (After all, almost no one changes their religion so it is in effect merely a question of which family you were born into). However, a Catholic must believe this, as if non-Catholics could go to Heaven, there would be no point in being a Catholic and following the Church’s teachings. If you are Protestant the situation is even worse as you must believe that about 95% of the world’s population is going to Hell. Even people like Gandhi who did great things in their life, but belonged to the wrong religion are going to Hell.

I’m sure most moderate religious people would object at this point, but the Bible is clear. There are numerous quotes which clearly state that you must believe in Jesus to go to Heaven (though there are various contradictory passages stating what else you need. For example some parts say you must be born again, others faith alone and still others faith and good works. You’d think the Bible would be clear on a matter as important as this.) Only believers in the “true” church (read whichever one the believer was born into) can go to Heaven. No matter how good a life you lead, if you are the wrong religion, then you are going to Hell. Likewise no matter how big a jerk you were during your life, so long as you were born into the right religion you are saved. And some call this system just. Some would still object saying that God will reward you if you live a good life regardless of what religion you are. But this cannot be true. If it was then Atheists could go to Heaven. If this was true then organised religion would be completely pointless and meaningless and following its rules would officially be a waste of time. This is the bind I discussed in a post last week, either religion is cruel and condemns billions to eternal torture in Hell or it admits itself to be irrelevant and rules not worth following.

How could anyone sit comfortably (even in Heaven) knowing others are suffering unimaginable pain? How can anyone call the creator of such a place a loving, merciful God? Considering this it is easy to see why even religious people are reluctant to speak about Hell. It has become an embarrassment like a racist uncle. Yet try as they might to ignore it, it is still there lurking at the back of people’s minds. Many people have squashed doubts about their religion, just in case Hell is real. The risk of torture is such a terrible thought, that few are willing to risk it. It is this suppression of free thought, this narrowing of the mind and restraint of ideas that is the true damage of the myth of Hell. We need the thought of Hell to disappear for good so that we can think freely without fear of punishment. We need to throw off the shackles of the mind and embrace freedom of conscience.

31 thoughts on “Whatever Happened To Hell?”

  1. Maybe hell is self-imposed, for whatever reason, a total separation from all that you love, including self, family, or whatever supreme being that you believe in.

  2. The Christian writer C.S. Lewis said that all that is necessary for Hell is eternal life and human nature as it is.

    Nice try — but I still don’t think a loving Heavenly Father would condemn anyone to this.
    As the old Universalists said, how can anyone in a finite lifetime do anything worthy of eternal punishment?

  3. Great post. Indeed one would be hard pressed to explain at what point god created hell. Was it at the beginning of time which would mean he had destined others to go there, if later it means he couldn’t alter how a man acts and thus not all powerful and if he will do it at the end of time[whatever that means] then he can’t be all loving.

  4. So the promise of everylasting life is made to all, eh? Everyone gets to live forever, the only difference is place of residence? Not only that but almost all Christian religions condemn people of other denominations to Hell. My protestant sister thinks all Catholics are going to Hell. So everybody is consigned to Hell by some Christian sect. Hell of a religion!

  5. There’s so many statements in this article to take issue with that it would probably take days to repond to them all..This articles Author is obviously a Liberal ,and Scoffing and Mocking Christian beliefs ,but i have to agree that the prospect of an Eternal Hell is not in keeping with Gods character … There must be something we are missing in interpretation of Scripture..In any case we have to trust that God will do the Just and Merciful thing in regards to the Wicked and Evil..

    1. “There’s so many statements in this article to take issue with that it would probably take days to repond to them all.”

      Do you want to start with explaining at least one problem you have?

      “This articles Author is obviously a Liberal”

      Guilty as charged.

      “but i have to agree that the prospect of an Eternal Hell is not in keeping with Gods character”

      So you agree with me?

  6. the only issue I have with this article/post is this.

    “”Why would a supposedly all-loving, all-forgiving being create a place of pain and suffering?””


    But no where does the bible say that Yahweh or Jesus is all loving and all forgiving.

    Exodus 34:6 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

    Jesus in the new testament says only forgive someone the same offence 7×70 or 490 times. that is a lot but it is still not unlimited forgiveness.

    Still does not square at all with any concept of eternal torment. Something I don’t think the god of the old testament would ever do. the guy was a hard ass dick but not a total douche-bag.

    1. Ok.. well.. to contradict myself…

      So he did down every living thing on earth for being totally unable to control his own angel population letting them rape, kill, murder and plunder humanity so bad that he was left with no choice but to kill every single thing on the face of the planet.

      Pretty much epic douche-baggery.

      But still not quite at the level of eternal torture.

  7. Hasn’t the Church of England come out and stated that Hell does not exist?
    And the Catholics have abolished Limbo.

    Good grief…the times they are definitely a’ changin’.

  8. I guess you do not live in America but hell is all evangelical Christians talk about over here.

    Here is the problem with heaven and hell being used as a carrot on a stick.
    Sin is selfishness. When one is selfish they feel bad when they don’t get what they want. This means it produces negative feelings. Negative feelings are hopelessness which is Hell.

    The opposite of sin is Love. Love is never selfish.
    It is impossible for people to realize the freedom and free will of selflessness by trying to convince them using their selfishness like staying out of hell or going to heaven.

    The fact of the matter is, if you can not be happy on earth what posses anyone to think they will be forced by God to be happy in heaven.

    Heaven and hell are real. They are where your spirit goes when you choose to be selfish or Love. Spirits are emotions. Emotion is a feeling. Feelings are states of mind. States of mind are either happy or unhappy. Happiness is balanced. Unhappy is imbalance.
    When you do not have Love you live in an a state of imbalanced psychological neediness. This means when you lack love you need love. People who do not know love think love is selfish desire. This is not love and any happiness they get is fleeting and superficial and they are cast into torment and unhappiness when they become needy again.

    When you have love you give love. This means when you dont get what you want that is ok because all you need is love. This means your happiness is not dependent on materialism money or wants your happiness is dependent on true riches of Love or which no value can be placed and can not be bought because it is unlimited value. This is why heaven is paved in gold.
    When you believe this you become a blaze of passion that can never be quenched or put out. This is the passion that Jesus exuded and taught. If you want to go to psychological heaven you have to believe in what Jesus taught.

    If you do not you will always go to psychological hell which is the neediness and torment of negative pessimistic hopelessness a feeling bad fire that can never be quenched. This will happen eternally of which is all of your existence if you continue to believe that selfishness is the way to happiness.

    Only Love can set you free.

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