Skip to main content

What the Hell?

By Daniel out of the Lion's Den ~

Now that I’m out, I’m finding that I must going through an out-processing of sorts. There was the talk with the pastor who wanted me to know that I was no longer welcome to play with the worship band (I told him I didn’t have a heart for it anyway with my new worldview and was looking for an out). My wife interviewed me and made notes concerning the tenets of Christianity with which I disagreed (“All of them” was not an acceptable answer). Then there was the well-meaning adult Bible class teacher who wanted to do lunch to find out what was going on in my head. Upon deconverting, I had no idea that I would have to generate my own set of ex-Christian apologetics, but that is exactly what I had to do in order to not come across as petty and shallow.

I’m concluding that there are major tenets of ex-Christianity, such as the mortal Jesus (who died and stayed dead just like everybody else), Old Testament mythology (Adam & Eve, Noah’s Ark, Tower of Babel, etc.), and the non-divinely inspired compilation of writings known as the New Testament. While these are all very important topics to come to terms with during deconversion, one of the pivotal areas of thought that underscored my deconversion, and most all of my fellow apostates on this website based on my observation, is the doctrine of Hell.

My wife has told me that she is grieving for my soul – as if I have already died. I feel somewhat like Patrick Swayzee in “Ghost”, where I can be in the same room with my wife, but she goes about her business as if I’m not even there. She has not been able to sleep well and goes though periods of sobbing, thinking about how I am bound for eternal torment. So, let’s take a brief look at Hell (this topic can get long and dry, so I’ll keep it short and wet.)

Throughout history, the concept of Hell has evolved over time within the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Hell, as taught to us who were in Christianity, does not exist in other world religions. Most early civilizations which developed an idea that there is some sort of existence after death aligned with the idea of an underworld where everyone goes after death, such as Hades in the ancient Greek. The ancient Hebrews had the same idea, referring to it as Sheol. To a great extent, the Hell we envisioned during Christianity was an invention of Jesus. He redefined it as the place of eternal punishment for not believing in him. Christians make a big deal that Jesus spoke more about Hell that he did about Heaven.

From as far back as it can be traced, this place called Sheol, Hades, or Hell was thought to be subterranean – an under-world. At some point, the powers that be determined it was located at the center of the Earth. The reasoning behind this was that since it was believed that the Sun (and indeed the entire cosmos) all rotated around the Earth, and since Heaven was somewhere out there, then Hell had to be as far away from Heaven as possible, which was at the center of the Earth. This was put forth by Augustine in his City of God (c – 410). It was solidified in classical art in Dante’s epic poem Inferno (c-1300), as well as many paintings based on his work. Even after science proved that we exist in a heliocentric planetary system, Christians still believed that Hell was physically located at the center of the earth as recent as the early 1900s.

One of the main blows to my faith was the deep consideration given to the doctrine of Hell, and how unreasonable it is. When trying to qualify which souls get sent there (based on mental belief systems?), and to quantify the number or percentage of souls sent there, the entire system becomes something that cannot be divinely created. I go back to my histograph of world population to show that Hell becomes part of Christian elitism (the few privileged will enter Heaven, the rest are sentenced to burn in Hell). Of particular interest on the graph is the sub-protestant population, which can represent one of any protestant denomination which believes they are the one true church and all others are going to Hell. For me, it was the Calvinistic Christian Reformed Church, who believe that if you don’t believe in predestination, then you are not predestined to be one of God’s chosen… in other words, you are predestined to burn in Hell. More generally, Protestants are sure that all Catholics will burn in Hell. Catholics are sure that all Protestants will burn in Hell. Hell, there are many Protestants that think most Protestants will burn in Hell! Islamists are sure that all Catholics AND Protestants will burn in Hell. What the Hell?!?!?

For some comic relief, look up on youtube for videos by Christians who are telling other Christians that many Christians are going to Hell, and Christians who have been shown Hell by Jesus as a warning (their name is Legion, for they are many…) Funny stuff! Here are a few to get you started:

Christian telling Christians they are going to Hell

Christian taken to Hell and back by Jesus to warn others

Christians will refer to the Book of Acts and talk about how the Berean Christians acted nobly and used reason to investigate whether the things that Paul was teaching were true or not. Ironically, when I did the same thing and concluded that the teachings were not true, I get criticized for “leaning on my own understanding”. When you remove the circular reasoning that “Hell exists because it says so in the Bible; the Bible is true because the Bible says everything in it is the true word of God”, then Hell only becomes a mythical place used by clergy to instill fear into their parishioners, starting with Pastor Jesus.


Popular posts from this blog

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our

So Just How Dumb Were Jesus’ Disciples? The Resurrection, Part VII.

By Robert Conner ~ T he first mention of Jesus’ resurrection comes from a letter written by Paul of Tarsus. Paul appears to have had no interest whatsoever in the “historical” Jesus: “even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know him so no longer.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) Paul’s surviving letters never once mention any of Jesus’ many exorcisms and healings, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus’ virgin birth, and barely allude to Jesus’ teaching. For Paul, Jesus only gets interesting after he’s dead, but even here Paul’s attention to detail is sketchy at best. For instance, Paul says Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4 ), but there are no scriptures that foretell the Jewish Messiah would at long last appear only to die at the hands of Gentiles, much less that the Messiah would then be raised from the dead after three days. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—an event Paul never mentions in his lette

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo


By David Andrew Dugle ~   S ettle down now children, here's the story from the Book of David called The Parable of the Bent Cross. In the land Southeast of Eden –  Eden, Minnesota that is – between two rivers called the Big Miami and the Little Miami, in the name of Saint Gertrude there was once built a church. Here next to it was also built a fine parochial school. The congregation thrived and after a multitude of years, a new, bigger church was erected, well made with clean straight lines and a high steeple topped with a tall, thin cross of gold. The faithful felt proud, but now very low was their money. Their Sunday offerings and school fees did not suffice. Anon, they decided to raise money in an unclean way. One fine summer day the faithful erected tents in the chariot lot between the two buildings. In the tents they set up all manner of games – ring toss, bingo, little mechanical racing horses and roulette wheels – then all who lived in the land between the two rivers we

Why I left the Canadian Reformed Church

By Chuck Eelhart ~ I was born into a believing family. The denomination is called Canadian Reformed Church . It is a Dutch Calvinistic Christian Church. My parents were Dutch immigrants to Canada in 1951. They had come from two slightly differing factions of the same Reformed faith in the Netherlands . Arriving unmarried in Canada they joined the slightly more conservative of the factions. It was a small group at first. Being far from Holland and strangers in a new country these young families found a strong bonding point in their church. Deutsch: Heidelberger Katechismus, Druck 1563 (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I was born in 1955 the third of eventually 9 children. We lived in a small southern Ontario farming community of Fergus. Being young conservative and industrious the community of immigrants prospered. While they did mix and work in the community almost all of the social bonding was within the church group. Being of the first generation born here we had a foot in two

Morality is not a Good Argument for Christianity

By austinrohm ~ I wrote this article as I was deconverting in my own head: I never talked with anyone about it, but it was a letter I wrote as if I was writing to all the Christians in my life who constantly brought up how morality was the best argument for Christianity. No Christian has read this so far, but it is written from the point of view of a frustrated closeted atheist whose only outlet was organizing his thoughts on the keyboard. A common phrase used with non-Christians is: “Well without God, there isn’t a foundation of morality. If God is not real, then you could go around killing and raping.” There are a few things which must be addressed. 1. Show me objective morality. Define it and show me an example. Different Christians have different moral standards depending on how they interpret the Bible. Often times, they will just find what they believe, then go back into scripture and find a way to validate it. Conversely, many feel a particular action is not