The idea of Hell is a very good thing to use when keeping ancient, superstitious people in line. But humans these days have mostly grown out of it – at least the atheist population. You have probably heard the various claims by the religious, such as ‘be with us or burn’. But threatening an atheist with Hell is about as effective as a hippie threatening to punch your aura!
The original concept of Hell was most probably dreamed up as a way to both keep people in the faith and convert new people. It isn’t enough that if people do worship they’ll go to Heaven, so the ancient people who wrote the Bible added a bit of negative enforcement – the idea that you will be punished if you don’t believe.
Religion itself has started to grow out of the concept of Hell, not only because the thought of an all-loving God burning his creations is illogical and malevolent, but because it doesn’t seem to work anymore. Nowadays many refer to Hell as just a place where you are separated from God, and that’s fine by me! God is about as influential in my life as the Flying Spaghetti Monster! God used to be everywhere in the Bible, but nowadays we hear nothing from him, so a separation from God is probably somewhat similar to earth.
If you think about it, the ‘new’ idea of Hell makes sense, those who believe in God get to go and spend eternity with him, while the rest of us don’t have to put up with him. It would be a bit of a stretch to say that without God there would be no happiness, because that doesn’t seem to be true. Not to mention all of the great people who would be in Hell, like George Carlin, Christopher Hitchens, Gandhi, and tons of other scientists and moral people.
Another idea is based off of John 3:16, whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have eternal life – if people were in Hell then they would also have eternal life! And Romans 6:23 supports this idea, saying that the wages of sin is death, not Hell – unless Hell is now a metaphor for death, but it appears that people who aren’t Christian don’t actually have that much to lose if they are wrong, and rightly so, due the severe lack of real, scientific evidence. Maybe if God sent Jesus back down to earth he could convince more people.
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