Neil Carter Explains “Hell 2.0”

Love this new post out by Neil Carter (Godless in Dixie) which discusses the evolution of a new kind of Hell which has gained traction among certain Evangelical Christians:

Hell 2.0: Same Eternal Punishment, Now With Fewer Flames!

Personally, I couldn’t care less if popular notions of Hell today stray from the biblical language to which the concept owes its existence in the first place. I just don’t. But I do care about being told that I deserve everlasting punishment because I am somehow choosing to work my way into it willingly. There’s a fundamental misrepresentation happening there, and that’s why I’m taking the time to write about it.

For Lewis and for those most influenced by his ideas, it is crucial that Hell be seen as something which its inhabitants willingly choose. Being forcefully thrown into such a fate against their own wills as the Bible portrays it simply won’t do for most modern Christians.

Afterlife Reflection

I’m not worried about the afterlife. My eternal fate doesn’t keep me up at night.

I’m not worried about endless fiery tortures, repeated mutilation of my resurrected flesh and the horrid sounds of billions of other sinners crying out in pain, anger and fear.

I’m also not worried about the lighter version of hell now being preached by some Christians. To some hell means “eternal separation from God” and does not entail literal physical pain. I’m not worried about such an eternal solitary confinement. I’m not worried about an endless abandonment in the cold and the dark.

Maybe hell is just a place of regret though. Maybe it’s a long period of mourning before our light is snuffed out. I’m not worried about such a place either.

I believe that life ends when I take my last breath and the neurons in my brain stop firing. Then there will be nothing. The “me” that existed before will no longer exist. My song will end, but the story will continue (for how long? I don’t know).

“no hell below us
above us, only sky.”

Imagine, by John Lennon

It’s been over two years since I deconverted. Heaven and Hell are utterly unreal abstractions to me now. I feel no need to be “saved” from one or lovingly embraced in the other. To want to be in Heaven would be an unnatural want for me, like wanting to taste a mountaintop or to have 30 fingers. I understand that these concepts do still provide joy, comfort and meaning for billions of believers (Christians, Muslims and other religions with similar concepts). If belief in such things makes the hardships of your life more bearable, and if belief in such things motivates you to be a better person and to avoid murdering, raping, stealing and oppressing others…then please, continue to believe. But, don’t expect that your motivation in this regard must be shared by others. Don’t expect that others feel that Heaven and Hell are as real as you feel them to be when you worship or when you meditate on your Holy Book. The world is a strange place, and the ten thousand things are wondrous indeed.

person jumping

photo credit: Joshua Earle

Religious Non-Believer

“It is our goal to separate religion from superstition. Religion can and should be a metaphorical narrative construct by which we give meaning and direction to our lives and works. Our religions should not require of us that we submit ourselves to unreason and untenable supernatural beliefs based on literal interpretations of fanciful tales. Non-believers have just as much right to religion—and any exemptions and privileges being part of a religion brings—as anybody else.”

Lucien Greaves