|Preach to the choir|
|Crux of the matter|
|Speak of the devil|
|An act of faith|
“”If this is hell, it looks a lot like Margate.
|—Alfred Solomon, “Mr. Jones”|
“”I am the god of hellfire and I bring you…
Fire, I'll take you to burn
Hell is a small village in Nord-Trøndelag, Norway, as well as a town in the Cayman Islands. In Scandinavia, it is considered quite polite to wish someone hell (in Swedish or Norwegian) or held (in Danish): luck.
Pat Benatar tells us that Hell is for children. There is even a music video.
Hell is four-fifths of the way to saying "hi" to someone (except in Kleberg County, Texas).
On an LED calculator 7734 spells hELL upside down.
You can also find foreign Hells all over continental Europe, or even Spanish Africa. In Germany and Austria, many places are called Hölle, the direct translation of Hell. Some Germans and Austrians created horrific worldly imitations of Hell, but there is no indication that those murdered in such places went to Hell after their deaths. Should there be an afterlife, then it is unwise to end up where the souls of Nazis are. Stalinists were remarkably similar, although their "Hells" often literally froze over during the winter due to the extreme winter cold of most of the Soviet Union.
A homophone "Hel" is the name of a Norse goddess, who is said to be the ruler of a place also called Hel.[note 2] Poland has a town named Hel, a town that became a fortified naval base and where the Polish armed forces of World War II held out against the demonic Third Reich longer than almost anywhere else, giving the Wehrmacht a taste of the Hell that it was inflicting upon Poland. Paradoxically, this community is largely a resort now. For central Europe, it has a moderate climate that is anything but Hellish.
In the United States, if someone tells you to "go to Hell", they probably mean the village in Livingston County, Michigan. Hell is located just north of the Washtenaw County line, about 15 miles northwest of Ann Arbor and about three miles southwest of Pinckney, the nearest town. In January 2014, due to some unusual meteorological processes, this Hell literally 'froze over'. Alternatively, they could mean Los Angeles. There is also a Bumpass Hell in California's Lassen Volcanic National Park, which smells as sulfurous as you might imagine Hell to be. In New Jersey, "Camden, New Jersey" is often used as a substitute when there is a (rare) desire to be polite. A possible four-letter word for which the clue "a very bad place" is not only "Hell" or "slum", but possibly "Gary", as in Gary, Indiana.
California had a small community named Hell between Indio and Blythe in the Mojave Desert on what was US 60 and US 70 (then the same highway). It was a roadside business consisting of a service station and beer tavern; it had (surprising for its name) a good supply of water. It was abandoned with a relocation of the highway. As befits its name, it had a hot desert climate. The location was abandoned after the replacement of the highway with the Interstate 10 freeway, California preferring to buy out the location to building an interchange to serve the business. The site was demolished and its remains burned in a fire; no traces of it exist except on topographic maps of a certain vintage.
Is there anything else special about hell? Read on…
Okay, so you wanted to know what Hell is. Hell is also an effective mechanism of control developed in its present form by human beings about 2,000 years ago. You know, "Believe and do everything I tell you to or your soul will burn for all eternity in Hell, until the heat death of the universe." Fortunately, the soul and all forms of the afterlife are most likely just human constructions used as revenge fantasies to deal with unpunished enemies and/or as a scare-tactic of control to spread religions by threatening non-believers with eternal punishment for not following said religions. So as scary as hell may sound, the odds of a particular religion’s version of it actually being real are infinitesimally small. Nobody's going to hell when they die.
The hell meme developed from Gehenna, which is traditionally considered the name of the Jerusalem city dump, but it's actually a place where pagan rituals up to child sacrifice were practiced in Old Testament times and that was considered unhallowed when they were abolished. Gehenna was constantly smoldering with spot fires which never went out, and Jesus taught several parables about the worthy going to see Abraham after they died while the unworthy were thrown into Gehenna. Fundamentalist preachers, seeing the real power of the fear motive, have interpreted these parables as reports about actual conditions in the afterlife. Numerous religions have their own version of Hell, but not all were a land of punishment.
For example, in Norse mythology, people who died as the result of old age or disease rather than in battle went to Helheimr, the under region of Niflheim, the land of ice and snow. Interestingly, the Norse heaven of Asgard and all those in it are to be destroyed in Ragnarök, but those in Helheimr will survive to reclaim and rebuild reality after Ragnarök. Many elements of the Norse religion were used in the formation of Star Trek's Klingon religion, with Sto-vo-kor becoming the Klingon Asgard and Gre'Thor becoming Helheimr, with the idea of Purgatory from Roman Catholic Christianity thrown in (acts of heroic sacrifice by a family member can redeem someone in Gre'Thor). Likewise, and as noted further down, Sumerians believed everyone with no distinctions of any kind save those who did not receive a proper burial or had their bodies destroyed who simply ceased to exist went to the same Underworld, known by them as Irkalla, with similar ideas existing in other cultures of the area.
More modern versions of Hell have done away with the fire and brimstone of Christianity for a more personalized punishment.
For example, in The Twilight Zone episode "Nice Place to Visit" and the Theater Five radio story "The Land of Milk and Honey", you have a person who believes they have gone to Heaven, as they have everything they ever wanted in life, but quickly get bored and ask to go to The Other Place (Hell) and find out that they are already in the other place.
In Night Gallery's "Hell's Bells", a hippy goes to Hell and, after spending time in a waiting room, is let into a room with records as far as the eye can see, but they are all of music he finds "square". He then find a farmer who quickly bores him, then a couple appears with their 8,500-strong collection of their Tijuana vacation slides. Exasperated, the hippy demands that the Devil show up and explain this. The Devil appears and explains that the exact same experience can be found in Heaven, but for the hippy, this is Hell, and then leaves the hippy to his very personal Hell.
In the Twilight Zone episode "Judgement Night", Kapitan Lieutenant Carl Lanser experiences the last hours of the ship he sank with no warning over and over again. As Geordi La Forge said in the "Time Squared" episode of Star Trek Next Generation, "Sounds like someone's idea of hell to me."
Steven Brust's 1984 To Reign in Hell is another version of Hell where it is a third stronghold against a wave of raw chaos (cacoastrum) formed out of political fallout regarding the cost (the lives of at least 1000 Angels) to create the second stronghold of Earth.
In the Etgar Keret novel "Kneller's Happy Campers" and the film of the book "Wristcutters: A Love Story", the hell for people who commit suicide is the same as this world, except everything is slightly worse. But they do have beer, pizza, and dogs, so... swings and roundabouts, we suppose.[note 3]
The fairness of Hell
“”Infinite torture can only be a punishment for infinite evil, and I don't believe that infinite evil can be said to exist even in the case of Hitler.
“”SOME time ago a Clergyman was proving to me by arguments many and strong that hell was right, necessary and just; that it brought glory to God and good to man; that the holiness of God required it as a preventive, and the justice of God exacted it as a penalty, of sin. I listened quietly till all was over and silence fell on the reverend denunciator[.] … [A]ll I found to say in answer came in a few words: "If I had not heard you mention the name of God, I should have thought you were speaking of the Devil."
|—Annie Besant, The Theosophical Writings of Annie Besant|
“”地獄の沙汰も金次第 (Jigoku no sata mo kane shidai)
|—A Buddhist proverb, translated as "Money buys your fate in Hell." in Akira Kurosawa's film The Lower Depths|
One can, quite rightly, argue that the entire idea of eternally punishing people for something they did while mortal is inherently evil. Think about what eternity means: it doesn't mean 100 years, or 1000 years, or a million years, or even those ludicrously big times cosmologists talk about when discussing the future of the Universe (but constant torment for such a meager amount of time is still quite harsh for some sins). Even the most sadistic mass murderers in human history have caused only a finite number of deaths, which is literally naught in comparison with their eternal punishment. Plus, it doesn't matter if you caused the death of one, tens of millions, or even no people at all, you still get the same sentence. Add to this that practically everyone goes to Hell, and you're looking at a very unfair concept indeed.
Plus, some Christians believe that after the Rapture, people will be able to be "saved" before they die. However, the people alive after the Rapture would be living in an age of definite proof of God's existence, unlike the people who were damned before the Rapture — us poor folks have to rely purely on faith.
In response to the above, Answers in Genesis says that "the eternal, never ending nature of the sinner’s punishment is directly related to the infinite and eternal nature of God… When you sin against an infinite God… you accrue an infinite debt." The foundational premise of this is that the more powerful the entity offended, the greater the punishment for the offense. This is akin to saying that if you steal the same apple from a rich man and a poor man, you should[note 4] be punished more for taking the apple from the rich man because he's richer and more powerful. Unfortunately, this means Answers in Genesis as well as Christianity in general supports, simply worded, might makes right, one of the very things they accuse evolutionists of advocating.
Also, there is another even more problematic error in the whole infinite crime thing. As has been pointed out by Answers in Genesis, when you sin against God, you accrue an infinite debt. This, however, causes a problem. If a sin against an infinite and eternal God translates to an infinite and eternal sin, an infinite and eternal debt owed, and a requirement for infinite and eternal punishment, then such a debt can never fully be paid. For there will never be a time when you will have paid your debt and justice been successfully done. You could be roasted in hell for all of eternity, long after the real Universe had gone heat death, but you will never have paid your debt, there will never be a moment when your fuck up will have been atoned for, and there will therefore never be a moment when justice will have been successfully carried out. Therefore, God's infinite nature makes it impossible for him to truly deliver justice, since people never ultimately successfully pay for their sins! You can kiss justice goodbye, mate.
But this is not all. If this good old infinity argument stands, then the whole doctrine of sacrificial atonement goes out the window. In the Old Testament, God says to the Jews: "Hey, you know… if you sacrifice a goat to me for your sins, your debt is officially paid." If you sinned and accrued this infinite debt that Christians argue for, you could simply pay it by making a mess of sheep, goat, bird, and other ("clean") livestock blood on the altar at the temple. Do this and you were as good as new. Now the whole thing was based on the idea found in Leviticus 17:11. Basically, the blood is to be used to make atonement for the soul. Exactly how does the blood of a goat pay off an infinite debt that a billion years of suffering cannot pay off (according to the argument, anyway)? Soon enough, God gets tired of drinking goat blood and decides to send Jesus to pay off everyone's debt. Great, right? The doctrine teaches that Jesus took upon himself the guilt and debt of everyone's sins and hence, took the punishment. Now, exactly how does Jesus pay off the infinite debts of the entire human race? By taking a couple of strokes of the whip, getting hung up on a cross, dying for a day and a half (not three days as is believed), and resurrecting in a haste. The Jesus who was "sacrificed" is supposed to be currently chilling in heaven. Apparently, Jesus paid off our debt by dying our behalf. But this assumes that the punishment for sin would be death and not eternal barbecue time. If the punishment for sin is eternal hell, and Jesus was to receive our punishment, then it would be logical that he suffer eternally in hell (or, conversely, that if Jesus went to Heaven everyone would go to Heaven then similarly to what Universalists believe.)
Obviously, something isn't right somewhere. Romans 6:23 gives a statement that is consistent with what had been taught throughout the Old Testament and in some instances of the New Testament as the all-time favorite John 3:16 — that the wages of sin is death. This is to be seen in the fact that in the Old Testament, the punishment for breaking God's law (which has been called an accrual of infinite debt by our infinite friends) was plain death! An end to your life! And that was just about all! God was done with you. No mention of an eternal debt owed or infinite punishment deserved. And it was on this logic that the doctrine of Jesus' sacrifice was based: we owed a debt… Death! Jesus came and paid this debt for us by dying on our behalf and that was it! So whence the whole yarn about infinite debts and infinite crimes? Obviously this doctrine of infinite punishment is based on a couple of verses which do not really jibe with the core idea of Jesus' atonement for the sins of the world, moreso considering that Annihilationism and/or Universalism seem to have been much more extended in the early days of Christianity.
Smart money says this whole thing about infinite debts is another element in a long heap of attempts by Christians to rationalize away claims in the Bible that don't quite make sense and the problems that come with them, and/or of course something to keep the sheeps in and have them not questioning their beliefs.[note 5]
There is finally the idea that "All crimes are equally heinous", with said "Crimes" being the Sins referred to by a theistic system, as in "What a particular religion simply declares to be good or bad regardless of how one or similarly valid religious systems might view it". That makes the "Judgment" aspect of said punishment all the more absurd. If all sin is equally damnable, then over-indulging in pastries bought and paid for at a pastry shop at is as sinful as committing a robbery-murder of the owner of the pastry shop for the contents of the cash register. A capitalist community such as Texas that has capital punishment recognizes the over-indulgence in pastries for which one bought and paid as a normal business transaction and the robbery-murder as a crime for which capital punishment is a possibility.
It seems inevitable to conclude that anyone who seriously believes in Hell should just abstain from procreating, as it is immeasurably reckless and unethical to bring into existence a new soul with even the slightest chance of suffering an eternal fate worse than death. Surprisingly, this fact does not seem to deter many religious people, even those who believe that most humans are damned to end up there, with at best some of the latter just saying it's unfortunate so many people will wind up in Hell without (of course) bothering to elaborate futher.
Long story short: there's a damn good reason that the Catholic Church came up with the concept of Purgatory.
The problem of division
Christian hell also suffers from another problem. Christian theology says that every person will eventually end up either in heaven (where they will be infinitely happy) or in hell (where they are unlikely to be so). This means that there is some objective way to compare the deeds of any person to see where that person will ultimately end up. So we can imagine all people on Earth aligned to this "object standard of deeds" — people on one side are morally more perfect than those on the other side. Because everyone is going to go to hell or to heaven, at some point in this queue, a line can be drawn which would separate people going to hell from those going to heaven. Such a line would always have to be placed between only two people who (because they are next to each other and all people are set in relation to deeds) are morally almost no different. One of them could only say one more f word. Yet, one of these people will rejoice in infinite glory and the other will be in a place of "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 8:12) for eternity.
Justice requires that similar cases be respected in similar ways, yet here extremely similar cases are respected in extremely different ways.
This can be resolved by assuming that there are more than just two places that everyone will end up. You can say that there is a "middle hell" — a kind of eternal purgatory. But then two lines would separate extremely similar moral people into not so extremely different groups (but still significantly different). Thus one can add another kinds of hells with different levels of suffering. One for each person. It is still worth noting, however, that however small the suffering felt, its sum is (because it's eternal) infinite and therefore the same, both in the case of the "somewhat painful hell" and in the case of the "damn painful hell".
It can also be argued that extremely morally similar people go to the same place. However, this means that if there is a heaven, there is no hell, and if there is a hell, there is no heaven. This is because no matter where the line is, it always separates two morally almost indistinguishable persons. This is also a good example of a slippery slope.
In other religions
In Buddhism, you have the realms of Deva-gati (Heaven), Asura-gati (Titans), Preta-gati (Hungry Ghosts), Naraka-gati (Hell), Tiryagyoni-gati (Animal), and Manusya-gati (Human). Nothing is eternal in any of these realms and all distract one from the true goal of achieving Enlightenment. However, it is only in the Manusya-gati realm that one can escape The Wheel of Samsara and achieve Enlightenment.
Hell in Abrahamic religions
The idea of hell as an eternal torture chamber dates back to about the age of Jesus. However, it seems to have been a fringe idea since Paul does not mention it at all and considers sinners would simply cease to exist (Romans 6:23), which together what is noted further suggests it was not a central element of early Christian literature.
Hell could hardly be called a main focus of the Bible: references are few and far between, usually in passing, and there is no direct description offered of what it is like, where it is, or who goes there. In fact, what is called "Hell" by modern Christians due to the translation of the words "Sheol" (meaning grave in Hebrew and representing in early Judaism a generic afterlife where everyone went that was a sort of place between existence and non-existence), similar to other concepts in nearby cultures as Irkalla for the Sumerians or Hades for the early Greeks,[note 6] "Tartaroo" (a variation of "Tartarus", a part of Hades in Greek mythology where Titans were being held and tortured after having been overthrown by the Olympian gods, and used only in 2 Peter 2:4 in reference to the fate of angels who had sinned), "Hades" (a term used in the same manner as Sheol, and is also name of the Greek god of the Underworld[note 7] whose domain ranged from the Fields of Punishment, Fields of Asphodel, Vale of Mourning, Elysium, and Isles of the Blessed; strangely, the last two were regarded as Heavens in the Greek and Roman religions), and "Gehenna" (the aforementioned valley where pagan rituals were practiced).
Thanks to different terms being translated as "Hell", just what the original allusions were is somewhat of a jumbled mess with the first references appearing in Mark, and Luke and Matthew adding in more details even if in John there's no mention of it, only the "not perish" bit in John 3:16 for example which points to annihilationism. A few examples of what the Bible has to say are:
- James 3:6 says:
- And the tongue is a fire.[no — this is not a porn piece, so just relax, okay?] The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members staining the whole body. setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by Hell.
- It goes on to say some more fun things about tongues, but no more about Hell.
- Jesus is reported to have said "It is better for you to enter into life maimed than to keep both hands and go to Gehenna (presumably Hell) and the unquenchable fire. And if your foot is your undoing, cut it off; it is better to enter into life a cripple than to keep both your feet and be thrown into Gehenna. And if it is your eye, tear it out; it is better to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into Hell, where the devouring worm never dies and the fire is not quenched." Mark 9:43
- Matthew 13:42 states:
- And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
- While this is as specific and non-acid-inspired as it gets, it seems to refer to the Lake of Fire, which is different from Hell.
- The Book of Revelation is where most details are given completing the picture and rambles about a fiery pit that sinners get thrown into. However, most sensible scholars take Revelation as a complex web of metaphor and symbolism. Richard Carrier equated it to a "five hour acid trip" in one of his lectures. On the other hand, that's the most sensible position to take in respect of the whole Bible, so it's hardly a reason to especially ignore Revelation.
The apocryphal Apocalypse of Peter (probably written between 100 and 150) takes the reader on a tour through a fiery hell, matching different sins with punishments. A typical passage is "And there were also others, women, hanged by their hair over that mire that bubbled up: and these were they who adorned themselves for adultery; and the men who mingled with them in the defilement of adultery, were hanging by the feet and their heads in that mire."
The Harrowing of Hell is an idea present in some branches of Christianity as Catholicism, the Orthodox Church, and some versions of Protestantism (for others, Jesus either went back to Heaven or spent that day and a half dead until being revived by the Holy Spirit) in which Jesus, after His death on the cross and before resurrecting, descended there to
to chew bubblegum and kick ass defeat both Satan and Death once and for all and save the souls of everyone there. Of course one of the problems of this is why people who were unable to have known of Jesus, having lived very far away in time and/or space of Him, ended up in Hell in the first place and with this including most people mentioned in the Old Testament despite being in Yahweh's side.[note 8]
Many of the more liberal branches of Christianity have either rejected the notion of Hell, or as even some Fundies who prefer not to talk about such fate are very quiet about it. The Unitarian Universalist movement is explicitly universalist, believing nobody goes to Hell; some universalists have suggested there might be temporary torment for sinners after death, but everyone would get into Heaven eventually. "A just and fair God wouldn’t give us eternal punishment, with no hope of parole, for only 100 years of sinning." The Church of England has suggested that annihilation awaits those who reject God: "Hell is not eternal torment, but it is the final and irrevocable choosing of that which is opposed to God so completely and so absolutely that the only end is total non-being." Similarly, the US Anglican Church defines hell as "eternal death in our rejection of God". The Church of Scotland believes in the Harrowing of Hell, and a 2005 survey found most clergy believed in a Judgment Day while differing on whether the damned faced annihilation, physical torture, or sitting in the dark thinking about what they'd done. In contrast, historian of religion David Bentley Hart has suggested that most eastern Christian churches are universalist.
Mormons believe in a temporary Hell for most sinners where even the dead can repent and choose God; a permanent hell, called "outer darkness", awaits the "Sons of Perdition" who completely reject God, including Satan and his angels and some human beings. However, the supposition is that very few people will wind up in the outer darkness, where they will face unimaginable suffering in the total absence of God, alongside Satan, Cain, and everyone on the cover of your heavy metal albums. Jehovah's Witnesses reject Hell, believing in physical resurrection, with the chosen among the resurrected going to Heaven, and almost everyone else living in an earthly paradise with the most unlucky ones getting annihilation.
The Islamic hell is called jahannam, and it is given a literal description in the Quran. Jahannam is quite a horrifying place (very similar to what is shown in The Apocalypse of Peter), in comparison to the contemporary "Christian" image of Hell (since the torture chamber described by Dante Alighieri isn't in the Bible). Of course, the Qur'an supposedly was written by God himself, who would be better at describing anything than a human would be. The similarity is probably a result of Islamic and Christian beliefs both coming from the same sources. Hell in Islam is described as a pit of fire so deep that if you dropped a rock from the top, it would take 70 years to reach the bottom.[note 9] The fires of Hell are 70 times hotter than those of Earth, and one scholar described Hell as a demon pulled by 70 thousand reins — see a pattern here? (The Bible uses the number 40 in a similar fashion.)
Baha'i scriptures also speak of hell; however, it is seen as more of a symbolic thing as opposed to a literal place.
Do you go to hell after you die?
Almost certainly not. You simply cease to exist. Your life ends with brain death. No need to worry about getting burned for all of eternity.
Of course, there's also countless other possibilities among unfalsifiable beliefs in punishment after death, and if any of them were actually right, what's to say that it would be an Abrahamic religion?
Fundamentalists and Hell
Christian fundamentalists and other religious conservatives place a very heavy emphasis on Hell, as the ultimate destination of anybody who does not adhere to their very precise interpretations of doctrine and morality, being quite telling of them how casually, even joking or between laughs, they often talk about people being condemned by default to go there and how many people will wind up in Hell in their views, of course sometimes followed by at least the former asking for donations to attempt to save as much people as possible. Some, like Andrew Schlafly at Conservapedia, claim that Jesus Christ emphasised Hell more than Heaven, and lament that Hell is not mentioned enough times in modern Bible translations. Interestingly, the fundamentalist concept of 'hell' seems to be based on Dante's Inferno more than anything else (in nerd terms, imagine the Bible as the first edition source book, and Inferno being the unofficial third-party expansion pack that covers Hell). Others divide it further out adding parts described above as for example Tartarus, ignoring their contexts, and/or elaborate further the fate that awaits to
us, filthy heathens unbelievers mixing liberally Biblical verses and schadenfreude, claiming they will end (or ended until Jesus went down there and saved some of them, as noted in the "Harrowing of Hell" above) in either Sheol or Hades[note 10] as Hell is currently empty and having there a taste of their fate until Judgement Day, when even if they'll bow their knee and accept Jesus as Lord, Satan included, will be thrown to Hell together with the latter and his angels and the false prophet, after having been judged, while believers will go to Paradise first and after having been judged to Heaven instead.
The same conservatives are predictably outraged by the use of "hell" or "damn" as casual curse words. In 1997, Kleberg County, Texas, officially declared the nonsense word "HeavenO" to be the county's preferred form of greeting, in preference to the hellish "hello". In fact, "hello" is not in any way etymologically related to Hell; it is actually etymologically related to the German and Dutch word hallo (those two and English all being Germanic languages), which means the same thing.
This attitude is perhaps best historically characterized with the 1741 sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, which suggested a kind of afterlife brinkmanship that has persisted as an ideological undercurrent ever since.
People who might be described as the most fundamentalist racists created their own simulacra of Hell in their concentration-camp system as shown in the title The Theory and Practice of Hell (Eugen Kogon). People went to such places as punishments for slacking off at work, political dissent, resisting Nazi cruelty, or simply having Jewish ancestors. If one was not killed quickly, one was worked to exhaustion on starvation rations and killed once one was no longer able to work. Stalin's Gulag system was similarly dehumanizing, if not always as lethal. Ironically, such judgment often came from people who are not Christians by the standards of Fundamentalist -- or any other -- Christians.
Hell and recent Popes
After decades or centuries of leaving Hell alone, Pope Benedict XVI decided to reinstate the doctrine of a real Hell (not abstract or metaphorical) and to eliminate limbo, thereby condemning every non-Catholic to perpetual torture in the fires of Hell. The justification for this is that Limbo was "just a theological hypothesis". This has the very practical effect of reducing the standing of all men and women that are not under the Pope's authority to the category of damned souls, unworthy of treatment as equals and clear candidates for the missionary efforts of the Pope and his sycophants. It's unclear how many people responded to this with "jerking off" hand signs.
The notion that unbaptized babies (and aborted fetuses) will be punished in hell for eternity is not one of the more popular pieces of Roman Catholic dogma, and therefore the Vatican has come under pressure to be a bit nicer, not least because if you are the poor African parent of a dead baby looking around for a new religion, you want consolation, not insult, and these days faith is a buyer's market. In 2007, the Vatican suggested that there may be a path for unbaptized babies to escape eternal torment, though they wouldn't give further details. You might extrapolate from this that there are other ways of escaping Hell than being baptized and remaining in good standing with His Popeliness, but the Vatican is very clear that this is not what it wants: "none of the considerations proposed in this text to motivate a new approach to the question may be used to negate the necessity of baptism".
Gone are the times when Pope John Paul II sat side by side with representatives of every major religion in the world and talked about Hell as a state of mind. JPII said in 1999: "Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy." In contrast, Ben is quoted as saying hell "really exists and is eternal, even if nobody talks about it much anymore". Pope Benny's infernal flip-flop followed a poll of 2,455 U.S. adults taken from Nov 7 to 13, 2007, which found that 62 percent believed in a literal Hell. Only 42 percent of those surveyed said they believed in Darwin's theory of evolution.
In 2018, there was a minor scandal when Pope Francis I appeared to say in an interview that Hell doesn't exist and damned souls would be extinguished rather than tortured, but the church rapidly denied this.
The Well to Hell
Rumors have circulated since 1990 that Russian scientists had drilled a hole down into the Earth and literally broke through into Hell. Supposedly they lowered a microphone and were treated to the screams of the damned. Of course the claims should have been laughable off the bat: Hell isn't located below the Earth any more than Heaven is in outer space; why would scientists have a microphone with a miles-long cord readily available on a drilling project; etc. But in case you need more, it's an admitted hoax. Some of the story has been traced back to a Californian Messianic Jewish publication Jewels of Jericho, although it was greatly added to in subsequent retellings, with a Norwegian schoolteacher, Åge Rendalen, partly responsible. He heard the story mentioned on Trinity Broadcasting Network and decided to have some fun, adding details of a bat-like apparition rising from the hole and providing other easily-falsifiable references.
The grain of truth behind the legend, if you like to think of it that way, was the Kola Superdeep Borehole. It was done by Soviet (not modern Russian) researchers, it wasn't in Siberia (it was in northern European Russia), and they stopped drilling because the increasing heat from approaching the mantle was softening their drill bits to the point where it became impractical to continue drilling. You can find numerous YouTube videos playing audio footage supposedly from the Well to Hell, which are actually clips from Italian horror maestro Mario Bava's movie Baron Blood (1972).
Views of Hell
Hell on Earth
Gatehouse to one of Man's closest imitations (Auschwitz-Birkenau) of any theological Hell.
A conveyance to the hell of slavery in the New World, but also Hell in its own right.
Lingchi torture in China, 1905.
A British soldier carries a wounded comrade during the WWI Battle of the Somme.
Atomic devastation of Hiroshima.
Exploded 4th reactor during the Chernobyl disaster.
Collection of skulls from the Rwandan genocide. The skulls attest to mass death.
Ground Zero two days after 9/11.
Artistic rendering of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius upon helpless people in Pompeii, AD 79
The summit of Mount Washington (New Hampshire, USA) is dangerously cold, snowy, and windy.
Dallol, Ethiopia, possibly the hottest place on Earth, whose surface is yellow due to the presence of much sulfur (a/k/a brimstone).
Centralia, Pennsylvania, where an underground fire has been burning since at least 1962 and shows no signs of stopping.
Hell in space
Jupiter's moon Io, whose chaotic surface demonstrates heavy volcanism; a cold, thin, and nearly water-free atmosphere largely of sulfur dioxide, and intense radiation from Jupiter.
A rigid object falling through the photon sphere of a black hole would be destroyed in the extreme, radioactive heat or by having its matter tidally stretched past any breaking point.
Places named Hell
Hell, Norway: There's a lovely little church by the side of the road
Hell, Michigan — Today's forecast: hot!
Bumpass Hell, California
- Addiction and alcoholism
- Antarctica (some visions of Hell are of a very cold place)
- Apartheid (for non-whites).
- Birth as a Grave Misfortune
- Black hole
- Bobby Mackey's Music World — bar with a portal to Hell in the basement
- Confederate States of America
- Congo Free State
- Earth as the sun expands into a red giant (and possibly much sooner).
- Hell House — how fundamentalist Christians celebrate Halloween
- Human trafficking
- Hungary under the Arrow Cross regime
- Infant damnation
- Iraq under Saddam Hussein
- Japan (as the core of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere)*
- Japan if one is a criminal (otherwise, largely pleasant)
- Khmer Rouge
- Ku Klux Klan
- Kuwait (climatic reference for extreme heat and humidity)
- Last Judgement
- Myanmar or Burma, whichever, under military dictatorships
- Nazi Germany, especially occupied Poland
- North Korea
- Ottoman Empire during World War I
- Pascal's Wager
- Radiation sickness
- Roko's basilisk — a reinvention of Hell from
guanofirst principles by materialist atheists
- Rwandan genocide
- Taliban, especially for women
- The Universe just after the Big Bang.
- Thermonuclear war, and war in general.
- Types of people that go to Hell
- Torture chamber
- Uganda under Idi Amin
- Essay:Believers in Hell should not procreate, and should embrace antinatalism
- Where in hell might YOU be going?
- Don't forget Wonko's
- What the Hell is Hell? a Universal Salvation view of Hell
- Chapter 16 — Hebrew and Greek words mistranslated to mean Hell the reasoning behind Universal Salvation
- Pompeii 24 August, 79 CE, simulated on YouTube
- The Danakil Desert, a desolate, hot, volcanic, toxic terrain that well fits an image of Hell on YouTube
- Named after a priest, Maximilian Hell, no less! Talk about nominative determinism!
- Still, Hel is a cold place, so people may have a choice of climate.
- Whatever the hell "swings and roundabouts" means.
- Notice that we don't say "would". The rich man would have the means to punish you more than the poor man could, by virtue of his power (here money), but that tells us nothing about the morality of such an action.
- More reasonable Christians hold the position that the only way to truly be condemned to eternal torture in hell is to be completely incapable and/or unwilling of ever feeling remorse for one's sins. According to these people, the eternal torture of the damned would end as soon as they felt true, unrestrained, genuine remorse for their sins against God, humanity, life, etc.; the only thing that keeps the damned in a state of damnation is their own hubris and insolence. (In short, it's the difference between being sorry that you did something wrong, being sorry that you got caught, or not being sorry at all; only the formermost is actually acceptable.) However, in practice, if someone refuses to ever feel remorse for an action, it is virtually always either because they are genuinely convinced that they actually did the morally right thing (which, given a non-misanthropic point of view, heavily implies either a warped yet genuine moral code or being in a situation where all of the conceivable options are repugnant) or because they have some sort of mental illness, such as sociopathy or narcissism, that renders them literally incapable of grasping the concept of remorse, let alone feeling the emotion. Either way, it still seems unfair to subject someone to eternal torture for either doing something awful that was actually the best thing they possibly could have done in an awful situation, doing something awful that they didn't realize was awful, or having a mental illness that makes them incapable of properly making moral decisions.
- Read for example Odysseus' journey to the Underworld in the Odyssey.
- That despite so many pop culture works that depict him as a Satan expy was actually one of the nicest Olympian gods, being (in at least modern works) often even depicted as compassionate towards his denizens even if once you checked in there you (almost) never checked out (his wife, Persephone, on the other hand…)
- In Canto IV of Inferno, Dante Alighieri wrote that a mighty angel would have descended there to save some of them, with others claiming Jesus instead took them to Heaven with other people, of course without addressing both who were also beamed up as the Bible says nothing and why such people wound up in Hell. Some have claimed using as proof Romans 1:20 such people born before Jesus would have received some sort of vision/warning and the like from God/Jesus (up to several of them, in fact) to convert them to their side thus saving them, even if it does not explain why Christianity did not appear in other regions, nor what about people from cultures where its tenets would have been more or less alien (ie, among many other examples a Bronze Age Sumerian/Minoan/Mycenaean/whatever priestess, a Greek sorceress worshipper of Hecate in times of Alexander the Great, an Irish druid in Julius Caesar's times, or a Japanese Shinto (or its equivalent) priest in the early Middle Ages), who could have interpreted them in different ways or even outright ignore it.
- Assuming a terminal velocity of 2.2 m/s, this brings us to a distance of over 16 light seconds! Some (Christian!) Fundies are known to have stolen descriptions of this one to describe their version of Hell.
- It seems that consistency is not a virtue for them, nor do they seem to care about what and who were Hades in the Greek mythos (presumably other denizens of the Greek Underworld as Persephone, Hecate, Zagreus, Charon, Melinoë, or Cerberus would not be present there, nor there would be endless fields of asphodels) or (again) the context in which their texts were written down.
- Time mark: 0:50
- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - Fire - 1975 YouTube.
- South of Stjørdal across the river
- NW of the West Bay area North of Georgetown.
- The Most Famous Thing Jean-Paul Sartre Never Said by Kirk Woodward
- Les Enfers (the hells) In the Jura canton of Switzerland
- Les Enfers (the hells) in France
- Piekło in Poland
- Garganta de los Infiernos (Gorge of Hells) y otros Infiernos de España
- Here is one at the Canary Island
- German-language places called "Hell/Hölle"
- Here is the google map for it. You might want to zoom out a little bit. Or the OpenStreetMap
- http://www.nps.gov/lavo/planyourvisit/hiking_bumpass_hell.htm No, really! It was named after Kendall Vanhook Bumpass who plunged his leg into the boiling mud in 1865.
- Isaac Asimov: A Memoir (1994) Doubleday. ISBN 0385417012.
- The Lower Depths by Akira Kurosawa (1957) IMDb.
- What if all of my family and friends do not accept Jesus before the rapture? (Internet Archive)
- What Kind of God Would Condemn People to Eternal Torment?
- The exact statement: "Five hour acid trip so bizarre if you actually made it into a movie, it would actually outdo Eraserhead for the title of 'Most Annoying Weird Movie Ever Made'. It's basically the ramblings of a guy who has an hours long conversation with the dead spirit of Jesus who appears in the form of fucked up mutant that makes John Carpenter's The Thing look cuddly." And in case you are wondering, yes, somebody did make it into a movie — several of them, in fact — with one of them adding the Uncanny Valley of CGI to the already off the wall bonkers story.
- The Apocalypse of Peter (Did Dante have a copy that he plagiarized?)
- The No Hell Church, J. Mark Worth, Harvard Unitarian Universalist Church, 2016
- Church of England Commission Says Hell is Same _ Only Different, AP News, 1996
- Statements of the Church's faith, Church of Scotland website, accessed April 26, 2022
- Hell in Scotland, St Andrews University press release, Dec 5, 2005
- The Devil is in the Details: On Hell and other Doctrines for a Future Methodist Church, Firebrand (United Methodist magazine), June 15, 2020
- Hell, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Guide To The Scriptures
- What’s Hell Like for Mormons?, Slate, 2012
- Jehovahs Witnesses: Beliefs, BBC Religion
- Comment here.
- As outlined here. See also Conservapedia:Bible rewriting project.
- Catholic Doctrine on Limbo and Baptism Revisited
- Vatican Considers Consigning Limbo to Oblivion, Ian Fisher, New York Times, Vatican Considers Consigning Limbo to Oblivion
- "The hope of salvation for infants who die without being baptised", International Theological Commission, The Vatican, April 19, 2007
- General Audience, John Paul II, 28 July 1999
- Vatican scrambles after pope appears to deny existence of hell, The Guardian, 30 Mar 2018
- See the Wikipedia article on Well to Hell hoax.
- The Well to Hell, Snopes, 31 Dec 1998
- No 666 to Hel: Polish bus route drops ‘devil’s number’ after Christian protests: Operator announces route to town of Hel has been redesignated as No 669 – a change that has prompted public outcry by Lisa O'Carroll & Tomasz Oryński (14 Jun 2023 13.06 EDT) The Guardian.