Obviously, it is my strongly help opinion based on the complete lack of evidence and compelling counter-evidence that the entire Christian mythology is fiction. While I am fond of spreading the real “Good News,” that Hell is imaginary too, I think just talking about the concept of Hell is a win for atheism.
The idea that all non-Christians and some Christians who are not “True Christians” will be tortured not just for five minutes or five years, but for all eternity without the possibility for reprieve or parole, is a pretty hard pill to swallow. When Christians insist that this is God’s divine justice, they start to move to an indefensible position. They are essentially saying that they support the eternal torture for anyone of a different religion or no religion. They are saying that eternal torture equates to perfect justice.
Let’s be real here for a moment. The Bible was written by bronze-aged sheep herders. They didn’t know what Justice was. For them, might makes right and so their deity was the mightiest and therefore the most right. I would say that we have come a long way since this time period in the field of ethics, but the truth is that this was backward thinking even then. The Athenians had a much better developed sense of morality and justice 500 years before Christianity.
Christians today fall into largely three camps on the concept of Hell. Note that there are probably other positions too, but I am breaking it down this way. The first camp is the fundamentalists who still hold to the concept of Hell as eternal torture for anyone they don’t like. For them, might still makes right and God is justified in doing whatever he wants to whoever he wants purely because they believe he can. They have no problem with the concept of Hell and will continue to defend it despite the fact that it is horribly immoral.
The second group of Christians are on the exact other side of the fence. These are the ivory tower Christians who insist that no “real Christian” actually believes in Hell. They agree with atheists that Hell is imaginary and they even might agree that Hell is an immoral concept. But they are under the very mistaken opinion that almost every Christian is just like them and that there are only a small handful of vocal wackos who still believe Hell to be a literal place.
Finally, we have the third group in the middle. They believe in Hell, but they like to play verbal gymnastics and change the definition of the term to make it more palatable to our modern sensibilities. They insist that Hell isn’t a place of eternal torture or Hellfire at all. It is just a small handful of those crazy fundamentalists who believe that. These Christians will often claim that Hell is just a separation from God or the absence of God’s love or something. As if that makes it any better to say that Hell isn’t eternal torture, it is just the equivalent of a Dementor’s kiss for the Harry Potter series.
So we have two groups of Christians claiming that only a small handful of Christians believe in Hell. Where is the evidence for this? According to the Harris Interactive Survey in 2009, 61 percent of Americans believed in the concept of Hell. Keep in mind that it isn’t 61 percent of Christians, but rather 61 percent of Americans. It is safe to say that most of the 20 percent of non-Christians Americans probably don’t believe in Hell. Plus, Christians in other parts of the world (particularly in developing nations) probably do believe in Hell more literally than some of the ivory tower and liberal Christians do.
I should also point out that Hell isn’t a concept from the Old Testament that can be so easily cast aside. Hell is a concept that came from Jesus in the New Testament. It was Jesus who first “warned” about the eternal torture of Hell. He’s the good cop in the Bible and yet he is the one who advocates the most morally indefensible concept in the whole mythology.