Tag Archives: hell

The Problem of Hell

It is often touted by believers that if you do not believe in their specific version of Abrahamic deity, then you will perish forever in unending agony for your suspension of belief. Something I’ve often wondered, especially as a child, is how would an all-loving, omnipotent god be able to exist at the same time as a place of unending torment (created by that same god)? That question, while still a valid question that no apologist can give a succinct answer for, has paved the way for other questions. For example, why is the concept of Hell, a place of eternal torture, socially respectable? Why are people who hold such a primitive, distressing, and retributive view hailed, rather than criticized?

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Hell, after all, is a horrifying construct. Hell is portrayed as a place of everlasting torture, where non-Christians and nonbelievers (but not Christianity’s greatest mass murderers who “accepted” Jesus, such as Hitler) can be tortured and burned eternally simply for sincerely believing the “wrong” religion. Even innocents who may never have heard of Jesus, under traditional doctrine, cannot avoid this fate far worse than death. Some believers even go so far as to smugly declare that nonbelievers deserve to be tortured forever for not having the same imaginary friend, all while relishing in this idea of eternal punishment for others.

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Despite the fact that this hell would be preferable to worshiping, praising, and idolizing a celestial dictator in heaven while being surrounded by self-righteous pricks, there are other issues with this concept of hell.

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First, if an eternity of unending suffering for others makes you feel comforted, then you should not be described as “righteous.” I think “immoral psychopath” is a much better fit. The problem with finding pleasure in someone else’s eternal misfortune is believing that they deserve the misfortune. Seriously, people that have beliefs in hell and the punishment for pure evil are more likely to support violent retributive policies such as capital punishment and the use of torture (Campbell & Vollhardt, 2013). People who believe in a literal Satan and Hell are also more likely to be intolerant of homosexuals and generally more prejudiced against minorities (Wilson & Huff, 2011). This makes sense when you understand the in-group bias, us vs. them, nature of religion and how determining that they (everyone that does not share your belief) are destined for hellfire makes them less of a person or more deserving of prejudice and punishment.

Second, Hell is not a biblical concept, at least not in the common depiction of hell. The King James Version of the Bible has 54 references to Hell. However, it is not the Hell that Christians preach, but they are all mostly mistranslations (or intentional ones). The English word Hell is translated from the following three words.

Tartaros/Tartaroo – “The deepest abyss of Hades”

This word is the closest resemblance to the English depiction of Hell, but it is only used once. 2 Peter 2:4 is the only location where it is used and it still doesn’t coincide with the common perception of hell because the Bible says “the angels that are there are to be reserved unto judgment”, explicitly stating that this place is for angels and with no mention of this place being reserved for man.

Sheol/Hades – “grave” or “the world of the dead”

These words simply meant a place where the dead dwell. There is no suffering mentioned nor is it understood to be an actual physical realm. If you substitute “grave” or the “world of the dead” in everywhere these words are used it becomes apparent that the Bible is riddled with mistranslations.

Hinnom/Gehenna – These words refer to a literal valley outside of Jerusalem where animal carcasses were tossed and burned. This is also the place where the Jews sacrificed children in their idolatrous days. The mention of the valley of Ben-Hinnom was usually to scare children back onto the right path. Because it was basically a garbage dump, there were always flames burning and worms (maggots) feasting on dead flesh.

With the proper etymology and translation of these words, it is easy to see that the majority of the references to hell are mistranslations. Most likely they are intentional ones, since the idea of Hell as a place of eternal suffering was added much later as a part of Christian doctrine and fan fiction. As it usually happens, artists and writers took the ambiguous descriptions of hell and transformed them into the hell we know today. In fact, there are two primary culprits responsible for the current concept of hell: Dante Aligheri with his Divine Comedy and Hieronymus Bosch with his fantastical paintings of hell.

“I have no respect for any human being who believes in hell. I have no respect for any man who preaches it. I have no respect for the man who will pollute the imagination of childhood with that infamous lie. I have no respect for the man who will add to the sorrows of this world with the frightful dogma. I have no respect for any man who endeavors to put that infinite cloud, that infinite shadow, over the heart of humanity.” — Robert G. Ingersoll

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Campbell, M., & Vollhardt, J. R. Fighting the Good Fight: The Relationship Between Belief in Evil and Support for Violent Policies.

http://psp.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/08/30/0146167213500997.abstract

Wilson, K. M., & Huff, J. L. Scaling Satan.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11577971


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Atheists Believe in God and They’re Going to Hell!

Keith seems to think that atheists spend a lot of time thinking about hell and that atheists are going to suffer the most for mocking his deity. He claims that atheists do actually believe in a god, but that they are afraid to believe because they do not want to give up things in life. He personally believes that not believing in a god is the “easy road” and this is why we deny the existence of a god. Finally, he mentions the age-old classic that if we didn’t believe in gods we wouldn’t spend all this time talking about them.

Let’s address some bullshit. Do I think about going to hell? Nope. Not even once. In fact, even as a Christian I was unable to reconcile the fact that people that I loved went to hell with their being no tears in heaven. How can you enjoy yourself while everyone you love and most of the people to ever be born are suffering unending agony at the hands of a careless dictator? Needless to say, I didn’t require much philosophical introspection to toss hell out of my theology. Hell isn’t even a biblical concept—it is actually Christian fan-fiction. More on that in a future video.

We don’t talk about gods because they exist or because we think they exist. However, the fact that you are so insecure in your own belief that you have to seek out my videos and leave comments like this demonstrates that you are really internally struggling with disbelief. We talk about gods because theism exists. In a perfect world we would not have to talk about superstitious beliefs, but we live in a world that is held captive by them. Just because I don’t believe in any gods and I am not part of any religion doesn’t mean that there is something contradictory about discussing religion — analyzing what it is, critiquing whether it is rational, and discussing what it means.

Religious beliefs, with rare exceptions, are not simply dormant little thoughts that sit in a glass case in someone’s mind like museum pieces. People act on their beliefs, they behave in ways that are informed and influenced, or even dictated, by their beliefs. Nearly every belief has an impact outside the individual.

Finally, you are the one that does not want to give up the ease of discarding personal responsibility on a scapegoat nor do you want to accept the finality of life. It’s safe to say you are the one who is afraid of reality because you would have to give up far too much and lack the maturity, critical-thinking skills, and the human decency to take the “easy road.”


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Heaven or Hell? An Eternity Doing Anything Would Be Hell

Ultimately, doing anything for an eternity will eventually be hell.

Here are a couple topics I presented in the video.

  1. We all have a sense of self-preservation.
  2. Accepting the finality of life gives life a value because it is temporary and all you have.
  3. Consciousness has never been observed outside of the brain.
  4. The Bible does not say much about the afterlife or “the new earth.”
  5. There is no sin in heaven (Rev. 21:27).
  6. There is no eating in heaven (Rev. 7:16, also if there is no death in heaven; there is no requirement to eat or drink).
  7. There is no marriage, which means no sex, in heaven (Matt. 22:30).
  8. There are no tears in heaven (Rev. 21:4).
  9. If god created hell, then he is ultimately responsible for anyone there.
  10. If god could create a place where there is perfection and no sin, then he should have done that in the first place.
  11. Hell as a place of suffering for humans is not a biblical concept.

Indoctrinated Christians are going to say that Hell is real and it is in the Bible. That is true, the King James Version of the Bible has 54 references to Hell. However, it is not the Hell that Christians preach, but they are all mostly mistranslations (or intentional ones). The English word Hell comes from 3 words.

Tartaros/Tartaroo – “The deepest abyss of Hades”

This word(s) is the closest resemblance to the English depiction of Hell, but it is only used once. 2 Peter 2:4 is the only location it is used and it still doesn’t match up because the Bible says “the angels that are there are to be reserved unto judgment.” Meaning that this place is for angels and there is no mention of this place being reserved for man.

Sheol/Hades – “grave” or “the world of the dead”

If you are very familiar with Greek mythology you will able to understand that these words simply meant a place where the dead dwell (no suffering is mentioned or that is an actual physical realm). If you substitute “grave” or the “world of the dead” in everywhere this word is used it becomes apparent that the Bible is riddled with mistranslations.

Hinnom/Gehenna – A literal valley outside of Jerusalem where animal carcasses were tossed and burned.

This is also the place where the Jews sacrificed children in their idolatrous days. The mention of the valley of Ben-hinnom was usually to scare children back onto the right path. It was basically a garbage dump and there were always flames burning and worms (maggots) feasting on dead flesh.

From the understanding of these words we can understand that the idea of Hell was added much later as a part of Christian doctrine.