The myth of hell

David Mills, in his famous book, The Atheist Universe, discusses the logicality of hell existence assuming for the purpose of discussion that the Abrahamic god exists.

We shall assume, for the purpose of discussion, that a god does exist. Common sense tells us that God would create Hell only if He had a reason to inflict this punishment. In other words, God would not have decided arbitrarily that He would enjoy torturing humans and have created a hell on that basis, for this scenario would imply that God behaved sadistically and brought this lake of fire into existence to satisfy his desires to perceive suffering and to hear screams of pain.

So We propose that punishment has a reason for implementation only when it produces some kind of real or potential benefit for someone or for some larger group. Otherwise, the use of punishment degenerates into primitive and pointless revenge, whose sole and sadistic purpose is to inflict human suffering. Moreover, we may speculate what reason, if any, might have motivated God to create a hell. We have discovered no such reason.

In fairness, however, we should emphasize that Christianity (and Islam) never claimed that Hell was created for rehabilitation of “souls.”

What, then, is the reason offered by Religion for punishment in Hell? Historically, (Christianity and Islam), whether Catholic or Protestant, has consistently maintained that human beings are punished in Hell “because they lived in sin and rejected God.”

Did you notice the words “lived” and “rejected”? They refer, as you can clearly see, to the past tense. In other words, this fiery punishment is directed,exclusively at the offenders’ past, and is not intended to have future beneficial effects. Punishment in Hell is therefore an end in itself, admittedly implemented for no beneficial purpose.

To put it simply, when Religion’s defenders say that God punishes “sinners” in Hell “because they lived in sin and rejected God,” these defenders of the faith are saying nothing. Their arguments do not present a good reason for Hell’s existence. Nor do they present a bad reason. Religious defenders have presented no reason or purpose whatsoever for God’s torturing human beings.

The unavoidable conclusion is that the “reason” for Hell’s torture is simply to torture—as a purposeless, vengeful end in itself. To claim that God is “forced” to torture humanity because of their sins is to deny God’s omnipotence and ultimate authority. To claim that God wants to torture humanity is to deny God’s benevolence. In either case, there is an irreconcilable doctrinal conflict.

As a last-straw argument, religious leaders claim that we

humans are foolish to question God’s Master Plan.

If God created Hell to punish humans, then He definitely had a good reason to do so.

The obvious fallacy in this “logic” is that it blindly assumes

the conclusion that it sets out to prove. If you begin your argument by assuming (1) that God exists, (2) that He is the God of the Bible/Quran (rather than a Greek god), (3) that He always behaves fairly, (4) that He is omnipotent and omniscient, (5) that He created the universe, Earth, mankind, Heaven and Hell, and (6) that all of His actions are purposeful, then of course your subsequent, “logically deduced” conclusions will identically parrot these premises, which you have already accepted uncritically by blind faith.

Such “logic” is identical to “proving” Batman’s existence by citing the eyewitness testimony of Robin, the Boy Wonder. One’s conclusions are meaningless if the “supporting” premises are themselves articles of faith or figments of the imagination.

Finally, Religion totally overlooks the crucial question of

proportionality of punishment: Does the punishment fit the crime? The U.S. Constitution specifically prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, regardless of how grotesque the criminal offense committed by the perpetrator.

This means that even serial murderers and child molesters cannot be tortured or physically abused while incarcerated. For God, however, no amount of torture seems sufficient to satisfy His lust for vengeance. “Sinners” will be fiendishly roasted forever—not merely a thousand years, or a million years, or a billion years, but eternally.

Think about that. Let’s suppose that, during a person’s particularly mischievous lifetime, he commits a sum total of 100,000 sins, each of which God avenges singularly through fiery torture.

If a “sinner” were sentenced to one year of uninterrupted torture for each sin he committed—an unimaginably sadistic judgment— then his punishment would be over in 100,000 years. But, according to Christian doctrine and Quran, the torture continues forever (خالدين فيها أبدا – قرآن), so the penalty must be more than one year of uninterrupted torture per offense. If God tortured a “sinner” 100 years

for each “sin” he committed, then the punishment would be over in 10,000,000 years, but Hell continues longer. A mere 100 years of torture per sin is therefore insufficient punishment. Even a million years of torture per offense would be a light sentence compared to everlasting torture.

So if you stare too long at that girl in the bikini—or that rock musician—then you will be tortured more than a million years for this single ungodly act. If you were reared by Hindu parents and adopted their religion instead of (Islam), then you will be tortured more than a million years for your theological error.

Although God, if existent, would obviously transcend and supersede U.S. Constitutional authority, Hell’s torture would be considered cruel and unusual punishment by any sane analysis.

Would you, as a loving father or mother, torture and burn your children at the stake for misbehaving?

I hope and trust that your answer is no. What, then, is our conclusion?


This conclusion means that God would rather torture humanity than to forgive humanity unconditionally. This conclusion carries the charge that God created Hell for no reason other than to inflict suffering.

In this case, as Thomas Paine noted, the Bible (same applies to Quran) could more accurately be called The Word of a Demon than The Word of God. If we proceed under the assumption that God does exist, then I firmly believe that He would be insulted by the blasphemous assertion that He created a hell.


This conclusion means that God chose not to inflict sadistic and pointless torture upon the souls He created. This conclusion carries the charge that man, not God, created Hell. In my estimation, this conclusion is the more probable. As Robert Ingersoll stated, the myth of hell represents “all the meanness, all the revenge, all the selfishness, all the cruelty, all the hatred, all the infamy of which the heart of man is capable.” God was indeed created in man’s own image

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