Hell is said to be a wicked place of suffering and a place where unrighteous souls are punished. In the Christian Bible Hell is described as a place of fire and brimstone. “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The son of man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” (Matthew 13:40-42, quoting Jesus). This passage describes how evil people who act unmorally and sinful will be picked out and discarded into the fiery depths of Hell.
Most modern Christians would see Hell as the eternal punishment for unrepentant sinners, as well as for the Devil and his demons. Fundamentalists believe that evil doers and non-religious people would go straight to Hell. Most modern Christians would believe that Hell is a spiritual notion of physical suffering or material fire. They believe many biblical images of Hell are non-literal and Hel is more a state of separation from God. Although not all Christians would agree with this modern view.
Fundamentalists believe the Bible to speak the absolute truth and take the descriptions and images of Hell told in the Bible as the truth. Therefore they would believe all non God believers would go straight to Hell and anybody who isn’t a believer would not be saved, as Jesus stated in John’s gospel, “I am the way the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the father, but by me.” (John 14:6). This would mean a relatively small number of the population are to be saved.
Exclusivist Christians follow a similar view to fundamentalists although exclusivist Christians are much stricter in there views. They believe anyone who doesn’t follow the Bible would be sent to Hell. Therefore everyone who isn’t Christian and also some Christians who take the modern view of the Bible. This would mean an even smaller population would be saved.
Various interpretations of the torments of Hell exist, ranging from fiery pits of wailing sinners to lonely isolation from God’s presence. In Islam Muslims believe in Jahannom (resembles the versions of Hell in Christianity). In there holy book the Qur’an there are descriptions of a fiery Hell, and in contrast a garden like paradise which resembles Heaven.
Another religion which has a different view of Hell and Heaven in Hinduism. In Hinduism there are many contradictions as too whether Hell exists. This is because Hindu philosophy is concentrated on reincarnation, which is the disembodied soul casting out one body and taking on others. The process which decides the nature of this is karma and the deeds that are preformed in this life will influence the next incarnation. Therefore most Hindus believe in Hell being a metaphor for a conscience, although there are versions of Hinduism which do believe in the concept of Hell. They believe people who commit ‘paap’ (sin) will go to Hell to go through a series of punishments are reborn according to their Karma.
Richard Dawkins is a British ethologist, an evolutionary theorist, and an established writer. Dawkins is an Atheist and in his book the God delusion; he attacks religion and the existence of God. Dawkins concentrates on the teaching of Hell in two main religions Christianity and Islam in a television documentary the ‘root of all evil’, he likens the teaching of Hell as to child abuse as some churches such as the one he visited in America scared children into believing they would go to hell if they didn’t believe in God and follow the bible word for word.
He also interviewed an Islamic extremist who explained that the main aim of the terrorist attacks which take place were because young Muslims believe they will die a martyr’s death and receive the ultimate prize after death which is to reach paradise and have all there desires and needs met as a reward. Richard Dawkins explains how he believes that this is indoctrination and dangerous for people to believe in. Karl Marx also had a similar view to that of Richard Dawkins. Marx suggested that religion and the idea of Hell was used as a kind of social control over the people to keep them in there place morally.
John Hick is a contemporary British philosopher and theologian. Hick is a liberal Christian who is against the concept of Hell. He argues that the idea of Hell is something that Humanity could achieve on earth without the need for a reality in the next world. Hick believed that life is a journey towards death but the journey does not stop there but continues after death as does the divine purpose to make us more perfect.
Another argument which is brought about is the conflicting ideas that you could be evil and religious all your life and on your death bed repent and get into heaven, which is unfair when there are non-religious people who live morally good lives and are told they wouldn’t get to heaven because they weren’t religious. Immanuel Kant said there is no justice in this world. Kant said that people desire the Summum Bonum which is to achieve where virtue and happiness could coincide. Therefore God and the afterlife must exist to bring about the Summum Bonum and you need the existence of Hell to bring justice in the universe.
In conclusion taking in all these accounts what you personally believe can be dependant on many factors such as, what your parents believed, your family background, where you live for example in Europe there is a higher proportion of Catholicism and Christianity than in the Middle East where Religion such as Islam are practiced. Therefore in answer to the question concepts of Hell make no sense, depending on your faith, the strength of that faith, the beliefs of people around you and where you live your opinions may vary on the idea of Hell.