Monday, February 4, 2013

Is there a hell?


Here's some very good news for all Christians.  Not just good news, but REALLY good news.  THERE IS NO HELL.  That's right.  It doesn't exist.  It's all one big fairy tale, to scare children into behaving; and likewise those oodles of grown-up children who need the threat of punishment to keep them on the straight and narrow path of righteousness


So how can we be sure Hell doesn't exist?  After all, our immortal soul is at stake here.  What if we make the wrong bet and spend our eternity in Hell?


What proof is there that hell doesn't exist?  Indeed, if we had to vote for one place that we would prefer didn't exist, it would probably be Hell; so you'd think if there was any proof it didn't exist, somebody would have found it out by now.   Unfortunately no-one has ever found it.  There is no such proof because no-one has ever come back to tell us one way or the other.

So how about extra-terrestrials.  No-one ever sees them, but people still believe they exist.

So if your rationale for believing that hell exists is that there's no proof it doesn't, then you should also be a believer in ETs; and likewise you're right up there with the OJ Simpson jurors, who, when confronted with the evidence that the only footprints at the scene of the murder were OJ Simpson's, chose to believe that some other being that trod the Earth without leaving footprints had murdered Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.


For those who want actual proof (and believe that OJ Simpson was guilty), the question becomes: what proof is there that Hell does exist?

Let's go to the bible and look there for the answer.  Let's even go one step further and agree that if the bible says it's true, then it's true (even though we might hate to beg the question like this.)

Let's take that as our starting point:

What does the Old Testament say about Hell?

No, seriously, what does it say?

Does it say Hell exists?

Does it say anything about Hell?"

Does it even mention Hell?

The answer is a huge NO.

There is no mention of "Hell", and there is no mention of the possibility of suffering after death anywhere in the Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament.


It all comes down to a misinterpretation of the hebrew word "Sheol", which is given the meaning "Hell" whereas it really means "the grave".  How do we know this?  Let's take some examples where Sheol is mentioned and for the moment give it the meaning of "Hell" (an inescapable place of suffering where God is absent.)

(1) King David said that if he made his bed in Sheol, God would be there with him.

    - God in Hell with David - hardly.  But in the grave, yes.

(2) Job asked to be hidden from suffering in Sheol.

    - the grave as a place where a man can finally hide from his sufferings in this life.  Hell would not have served that purpose.

(3) The sons of Korah said that God would redeem them from Sheol.

    -they would have asked for redemption to be granted them in this life, to be saved before they had died and gone to Hell.

(4) The prophet Ezekiel and the apostle Paul agreed that all Israel would be saved, and yet Israel himself said that he would be reunited with his son Joseph in Sheol.

    -would it make sense for all of the nation of Israel to be saved and yet for Israel himself to be living with his son Joseph in Hell?   Yet a father grieving for the death of his favorite son would wish to be reunited with him in the grave.  In each case Sheol clearly means "the grave" and cannot be interpreted as "Hell".

This has been confirmed by conservative Bible scholars because there is no mention of the word "Hell" in the Old Testaments of the New International Version (the best-selling Bible), the New American Bible Revised Edition (published by the Roman Catholic Church), the Holman Christian Standard Bible (published by the famously literal Southern Baptist Convention), or most other modern translations of the Bible.

Where did Hell come from?
What is Heaven?

Stay tuned.