Sunday, April 28, 2013

Why Would We Invent Hell?

Many theists have brought up the question from time to time that if heaven can be explained because it bares the hallmarks of wishful thinking, then it seems at odds with human desire why we would've invented hell.

Dinesh D'Souza made the following argument in a debate with Christopher Hitchens:

I can totally see why in a wish fulfillment world we would invent heaven...I don't think I would have made up hell. Hell is more severe than diabetes. It's a little tougher than death. So why would [the] wish fulfillment inventors of religion come up with the rules of self denial and so on that make our life more difficult, more sacrificial?

Hitchens has at another time responded to this by saying that hell is the place we've conjured up where we'd desire people that we don't like to go to. I agree. When we're full of hateful emotion towards someone, we tell them to go to - hell. Right? Hell is where we wish those we don't like can spend an eternity being tortured. It comes from the sadistic side of the human personality to enjoy the torments of others, and religions like Christianity and especially Islam, capitalize on it very well.

But also, on the flip side to our sadism, we're also sometimes masochistic. We want to be abused and punished and humiliated for our shortcomings. Religion aptly capitalizes on this side to our personality as well. If you look at virtually every religion, it enjoins the believer into thinking that they're a subhuman, filthy, wretched, worm, who's not even worth of the life they didn't even ask for. You see this in every religion. You see this amongst Christians and Muslims flagellating themselves; you see this amongst Jews forcing themselves to live according to absurd rules and regulations. Religious belief is partly a manifestation of sadomasochism.

I can almost guarantee you that many of the writers of religious doctrines that bare masochistic tendencies would be the kind of people paying to be whipped and beaten if they were alive today.


  1. Exactly, to me Hell was invented as a form of control over the masses
    IE: Buy into this worldview or go to hell for eternity. Fear based control.
    Death could be seen as a freedom from the pains of existence back in earlier periods
    therefore death was no longer sufficient motivation for converting the masses to a prescribed belief system or to suppress natural tendencies toward cruel behavior.

    in other words it's one thing to say if you steal; we kill you vs. you steal; you will go to hell.

    the concept of hell is what de-converted me from my former christian beliefs.
    IN no way could I reconcile an almighty benevolent being with a desire to torture his creation.

    I appreciate your blog.

    1. Thank you for your kind words.

      It's also interesting that hell can be used as an economic engine. The Catholic church for years allowed believers to buy their way out of purgatory. What an awesome business model! Even now the new Pope says if you follow the Vatican on twitter you can get time off from purgatory.

  2. OMG...that is hilarious

    reminds me of the press release about a year or two ago by the vatican saying
    it was ok to believe in UFO's....



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...