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September 22nd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Different Takes: Should we abandon idea of hell?

Editor’s note: The new documentary "Hellbound?" explores Americans' ideas about hell. We asked two prominent Christians who featured in the film to give us their very different takes on hell.

My Faith: The dangerous effects of believing in hell

Editor’s note: Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times bestselling author. His latest book is "Crazy For God."

By Frank Schaeffer, Special to CNN

Is it any coincidence that the latest war of religion that started on September 11, 2001, is being fought primarily between the United States and the Islamic world? It just so happens that no subgroups of humanity are more ingrained with the doctrine of hell than conservative Muslims and conservative Christians.

And nowhere on earth have conservative Christians been closer to controlling foreign policy than here in the United States. And nowhere on earth have conservative Muslims been more dominant than in the countries from which the 9/11 extremists originated – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

What a pair George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden made! On the one hand, an American president who was a born-again evangelical with a special "heart" for the state of Israel and its importance to the so-called end times, and on the other hand a terrorist leader who believed that he was serving God by ridding the Arabian Peninsula of an American presence and cleansing the "defiled" land of Palestine of what he believed were “invader Jews.”

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So whether you're an atheist or not, the issue of who's going to hell or not matters because there are a lot of folks on this planet – many of them extraordinarily well-armed - from born-again American military personnel to Muslim fanatics, who seriously believe that God smiles upon them when they send their enemies to hell.

And so my view of "hell" encompasses two things: First, the theological question about whether a land of eternal suffering exists as God's "great plan" for most of humanity.

Second, the question of the political implications of having a huge chunk of humanity believe in damnation for those who disagree with their theology, politics and culture, as if somehow simply killing one's enemies is not enough.

What most people don't know is that there's another thread running through both Christianity and Islam that is far more merciful than the fundamentalists’ take on salvation, judgment and damnation.

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Paradise, which Muslims believe is the final destination of the society of God’s choice, is referred to in the Quran as "the home of peace"

“Our God,” Muslims are asked to recite, “You are peace, and peace is from You.”

Since Christianity is my tradition, I can say more about it. One view of God - the more fundamentalist view - is of a retributive God just itching to punish those who "stray."

The other equally ancient view, going right back into the New Testament era, is of an all-forgiving God who in the person of Jesus Christ ended the era of scapegoat sacrifice, retribution and punishment forever.

As Jesus said on the cross: "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

That redemptive view holds that far from God being a retributive God seeking justice, God is a merciful father who loves all his children equally. This is the less-known view today because fundamentalists - through televangelists and others - have been so loud and dominant in North American culture.

But for all that, this redemptive view is no less real.

Why does our view of hell matter? Because believers in hell believe in revenge. And according to brain chemistry studies, taking revenge and nurturing resentment is a major source of life-destroying stress.

For a profound exploration of the madness caused by embracing the “justice” of “godly” revenge and retribution, watch the film “Hellbound?”

The film shows how the "hell" of revenge thinking, and the resulting unhinging of some people’s brains through their denial of human empathy, leads them to relish the violent future of suffering that they predict awaits the “lost” in hell.

Do we really want to go back to a time of literalistic religion. Wasn’t 9/11 enough of an argument against retributive religion?

We need “hell” like a hole in the head. It’s time for the alternative of empathetic merciful religion to be understood.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Frank Schaeffer.

My Faith: Hell is for real and Jesus is the only way out

Editor's Note: Mark Driscoll is founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

By Mark Driscoll, Special to CNN

As a pastor, my job is to tell the truth. Your job is to make a decision.

When controversies over biblical doctrines arise, it’s a humbling opportunity to answer questions about what the Bible teaches without getting into name-calling and mudslinging. Near the very top of the controversial doctrines is hell.

What happens when we die?

Human beings were created by God with both a physical body and a spiritual soul. When someone dies, their body goes into the grave and their spirit goes into an afterlife to face judgment.

But death is not normal or natural—it’s an enemy and the consequence of sin.

Think of it in this way: God is the source of life. When we choose to live independently of God and rebelliously against God it is akin to unplugging something from its power source. It begins to lose power until it eventually dies.

The Bible is clear that one day there will be a bodily resurrection for everyone, to either eternal salvation in heaven or eternal condemnation in hell.

Christians believe a person’s eternal status depends on their relationship with Jesus and that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Our lives are shaped by the reality that “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

What does Jesus say about hell?

Jesus was emphatically clear on the subject of hell. He alone has risen from death and knows what awaits us on the other side of this life. A day of judgment is coming when all of us — even you — will rise from our graves and stand before him for eternal sentencing to either worshiping in his kingdom or suffering in his hell.

The Bible could not be clearer: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

These are not just obscure Bible verses. In fact, Jesus talks about hell more than anyone else in Scripture. Amazingly, 13% of his sayings are about hell and judgment, and more than half of his parables relate to the eternal judgment of sinners.

Keep in mind that Jesus’ words come in the context of the rest of Scripture, which says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Furthermore, he “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

God is far more loving, kind and patient with his enemies than we are with our enemies.

What does the rest of the Bible say about hell?

The Bible gives us many descriptions of hell including (1) fire; (2) darkness; (3) punishment; (4) exclusion from God’s presence; (5) restlessness; (6) second death; and (7) weeping and gnashing of teeth in agony.

A common misperception of Satan is that he’s in a red suit, holding a pitchfork at the gates of hell. But Satan will not[j1]  reign there. Hell is a place of punishment that God prepared for the devil and his angels, and it’s where those who live apart from God will, according to Revelation:

. . . drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb [Jesus Christ]. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night.

At the end of the age, the devil will be “thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Hell will be ruled over by Jesus, and everyone present — humans and demons and Satan alike — will be tormented there continually in perfect justice.

Jesus says, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. ... And these will go away into eternal punishment.”

Is there a second chance after death?

The Bible is clear that we die once and are then judged without any second chance at salvation. As one clear example, Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

We live. We die. We face judgment. Period.

How long does the punishment last?

Some argue that the punishment of sinners is not eternal, a view called annihilationism. This means that after someone dies apart from Jesus, they suffer for a while and then simply cease to exist.

Annihilationism is simply not what the Bible teaches. Daniel 12:2 says, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Jesus speaks of those who “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Grammatically, there is no difference here between the length of time mentioned for “life” and that for “punishment”; rather, there is simply eternal life and eternal death.

Am I going to hell?

The good news is that the closing verses of the Bible say, “Come!” Everyone is invited to receive the free gift of God’s saving grace in Jesus. Jesus is God become a man to reconcile mankind to God.

He lived the sinless life we have not lived, died a substitutionary death on the cross for our sins. He endured our wrath, rose to conquer our enemies of sin and death, and ascended to heaven where he is ruling as Lord over all today. He did this all in love.

The stark reality is this: either Jesus suffered for your sins to rescue you from hell, or you will suffer for your sins in hell. These are the only two options and you have an eternal decision to make.

My hope and prayer is that you would become a Christian.

Have you confessed your sins to Jesus Christ, seeking forgiveness and salvation?

If not, you are hellbound, and there is no clever scholar who will be of any help when you stand before Jesus Christ for judgment. You’re not required to like hell as much as you need to believe in it, turn from your sin, trust in Jesus, and be saved from an eternal death into an eternal life.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Driscoll.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Devil • My Faith • Opinion

soundoff (7,963 Responses)
  1. Ben

    "Is Hell for real?"

    No.

    Well, that was easy. Next question.

    September 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  2. Debbie

    If you're on a road heading toward a cliff, and everyone is warning you to turn around or die, and you ignore them–whose fault is it?

    September 25, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Huebert

      False analogy. According to your own mythology, or theology if you prefer, god is the one who set man walking toward this metaphorical cliff.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      This is a terrible analogy......so the people who do not heed a warning deserve to suffer their mistake for eternity? The people giving the warning have no first hand knowledge of the danger and all give differing views of it. I could go on and on but this should be enough to show your error.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • ME II

      However, if someone says I'm about to drive into a giant invisible wall put there by their invisible friend, I probably won't get too worried.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      Debbie: Dumb analogy....you don't know for sure that there is a cliff there or not

      September 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So what do cliffs, which are real and potentially dangerous, have to do with a place for which there is no proof, that you can only reach when you cease to exist?

      September 25, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Ben

      Who builds roads that lead off cliffs? This is the worst metaphor ever.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • The Truth

      You vote for President Obama who's the only one who can steer us clear of going over the cliff...

      Oh, wait, you were talking about heII, that non-existant destination everyone is afraid of going to but no one you know has ever been there... Well if you are talking non-existant places then vote for Mitt Romney, he'll promise you a first class ticket to Kolob to get elected...

      September 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Duh

      Obviously Debbie was a bit to busy doing Dallas to study much...

      September 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      I think I smell a disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer" (Debbie of course).

      September 25, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • The Truth

      I would love to see some of the fortunes an evangelical fortune cookie would contain. Messages like "You'll find Love @christiantinlgedotcom"

      or "Prayer is Healthy for Children" ...

      September 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Flip

      Its Jesus' fault because he didn't reveal himself to you and let you know the truth.But he won't ...cause he can't...cause he don't exist

      September 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • OTOH

      Sure, Debbie, and they are all telling you "Don't believe that guy, he's leading you to the cliff! Follow ME!"

      Solution: Proceed carefully, keep your eyes open watch your own damn step.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • TR6

      “If you're on a road heading toward a cliff, and everyone is warning you to turn around or die, and you ignore them–whose fault is it?”

      If there is no detectable evidence of any cliff. If the only people warning me have also been warning that “the world will end any day now” for the past 2000 years”. If everything these people have told me about roads and cliffs have always proven wrong for all the over 50 years of my life. If ignoring their warnings has always proven to be a good idea then, I will continue to ignore them

      September 25, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  3. SEO

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I found your site accidentally, and I am stunned why this accident did not happened in advance! I bookmarked it.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  4. BobbyG

    Why haven't there been any more modern day prophets which hold water? Why wern't the messages more detailed and not open for interpretation?

    September 25, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • sam stone

      Because they have morphed from prophets into profits

      September 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • The Truth

      Without modern day profits, how would the Catholic Church been able to pay over $2 billion to victims of priest abuse?

      September 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  5. Hector Rosales

    Would you rather live your life as of Hell is not real and finding out at the end that it is real, or live your life that there is a hell and it "not really being there"

    September 25, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • midwest rail

      I'll just live my life, thank you.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Huebert

      Pascal's wager is an awful, and erroneous, argument for belief. It is awful because the only motivation it gives for believing is fear. It is erroneous because it as.sumes that the only options are no god exists, or my god god (usually christian) exist. What if it is the Norse pantheon who controls the universe, or maybe it is the Hindus, or maybe lord Xenu is in control of everything.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      The problem with Pascal's Wager is that it presents a false choice by only offering two of many possibilities.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Threats of eternal punishment betray a weak argument.

      Not to mention your "all knowing god" would surely figure out that you are only believing on the chance it could be true and would damn you for not being a true believer anyway. This also makes your god a version of a "mob boss" in that if he doesn't get his payment (worship) he will break your legs....nice guy.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • wearewritingchuck

      The other problem with Pascal's wager from a Christian perspective is that it does not produce saving faith. In all likelihood a person who "believes" as a result of Pascal's wager, does not really believe Jesus died for his or her sins. They believe in the possibility of hell, but they do not truly believe in the reality of Christ's death for sins, only the possibility of the reality.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • gluonspring

      That great philosopher Homer Simpson addressed this flaw quite succinctly in giving Marge his reasons for not going to church every week: "What if we picked the wrong religion? Every week we're just making God madder and madder."

      September 25, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • ME II

      I would rather not waste my limited time in this life on things that are unlikely to be true.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      hector: your post implies you know that way to avoid "hell". that implies that you know which god to worship to avoid hell. i prefer to live my life on my feet, not on my knees

      September 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • sam stone

      "There's no such thing as a soul. It's just something they made up to scare kids, like the boogeyman or Michael Jackson." Bart Simpson

      September 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Ben

      I have my own converse of Pascal's Wager. Basically, I figure that, in the vanishingly unlikely event that there actually is an omniscient and benevolent God, He'll be fine with, "Hmm. OK, I stand corrected." And if He's not benevolent and reasonable enough to accept that, then we're all screwed anyway and it never mattered what anyone did in the first place.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Flip

      So if I really don't believe, then I can lie about it and still go to Heaven?

      September 25, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • MK

      OR! I could just live my life like the good person that I naturally am and be happy instead of fearful of things that other people or some book say will happen.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • MK

      OR! I could just live my life like the good person that I naturally am and be happy instead of blindly following the fear of things that other people or some book say will happen with zero proof.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  6. thecollegeadmissionsguru

    Hell can't exist IF you believe that god is omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent. For hell to exist, god can not exist, the paradox is simple IF you think about it. I'm not going to waste time explaining it to the fundies, I just hope that people will one day open up their minds and look for the truth. It is out there, and it is NOT in the bible or in religion.

    September 25, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  7. Zulqarnain

    Child: I don't believe the earth is round because I haven't seen it.
    Adult: No you idiot, you BELIEVE the earth is round because you TRUST the great scientists that went into the space and took pictures and showed it to us.
    Child: So why do we bash religious people that TRUST ther great Prophets of God about believing in afterlife and doing good deeds.
    Adult: Because as Atheists, we have to be hypocritical and intolerant of other peoples beliefs. Remember we have no laws and no morals. We worship our limited intellect and our religion is whatever WE want it to be. We are great people.

    September 25, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • midwest rail

      Nonsense. But you already knew that.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • sam stone

      Atheists have no morals?

      Get back on your knees, b1tch

      September 25, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Hitoribocchi

      Except, you know, scientists do things like provide actual empirical evidence to disprove null hypotheses.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Zulqarnain

      Child: Sounds good. Can I be a f@g when I grow up?
      Adult. Sure its your free will.

      ..Sorry..had to mention that...

      September 25, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • tallulah13

      Given that you can't tell the difference between scientific discovery, which is observable, replicable and can withstand the scrutiny of peers, and "prophecy" which is nothing more than supernatural claim, I'm not surprised that you are utterly ignorant about atheists.

      I'm sorry that you fear your own mortality and feel as though you have to be good in order to earn some unsubstantiated eternal life. Of course, a lot of religious "good" has very little to do with human decency and more to do with church dogma, putting your "good" firmly in the eye of the beholder.

      When I die, I'll be dead, and all that will remain is a memory that will fade sooner than later. Oddly enough, that fact doesn't make me want to take advantage, or hurt others. I don't need threats or rewards to be a decent human being.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Huebert

      @Zul

      So you are not only anti-intellectual you are ho.mophobic as well. What a fine example of the christian tradition you make.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Zulqarnain

      Hitoribocchi,
      I've heard that Atheists are still waiting for some evidence. They don't deny God, but they don't except the idea either. Unfortunately, time is of the essence and it will be up the moment we die. The trick is to be just a little bit more sincere in seeking the truth. There is more than enough evidence out there to believe in the existence of the One Creator. And no, I am not talking about Jesus, he was a Prophet of God and not God. Instead of making fun of religions, hurting peoples feelings, wasting time watching movies, video games we must put some effort in learning the truth. Like I said, we have to make that first step before our souls are pulled out of our bodies.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      This is utter babble, and I am amazed that someone who has the ability to turn on a computer wouldn't have more intellect than this. You make no sense at all.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Zul is the same bozo who thinks the only way one can 'know' that what scientific experiments have shown is to have performed them oneself. In other words, it's a dolt.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Edit: "that what scientific experiments have shown is accurate or true.."

      Really, Pule, are you that dumb?

      September 25, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Pule says: They don't deny God, but they don't except the idea either.

      It's ACCEPT, ya doofus.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Zulqarnain

      tallulah13 and Huebert,

      When you die, you won't become dust. You are not an animal. Thats what will happen to animals. You will be accountable for your beliefs (free will to choose from right and wrong).

      I am not a Christian. Christianity was a true religion until people followed the true teachings of Jesus. I am a Muslim.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Zulqarnain

      Tom,

      Sorry for the wrong spellings. English is not my language and I don't mind you making fun of me.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • ME II

      @Zulqarnain,
      "When you die, you won't become dust. You are not an animal. Thats what will happen to animals."
      What exactly leads you to think this?

      September 25, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      @Zul, YOU do realize that Humans really ARE just animals, right? We are not special because of god, we are special because we were fortunate enough to evolve into the thinking Animals that we are today. Evolution, baby, that's all there is, all that you speak of is from centuries of brainwashing by individuals who benefit from people like you, "believing" the message. I encourage you to actually look at the bible in a critical manner, listen to those atheists you seem to hate so much, and keep an open mind.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Also @ Zul – Your definition of atheists is all wrong. We are not the hateful individuals you make us out to be, we are not much different than you. We work, we struggle, we love, we eat, we laugh, we are happy and sometimes sad, we want our children to grow up and be successful and happy, we are no so different. We simply do not have a belief in gods, nothing more or less

      September 25, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • sam stone

      zul....please, enlighten us on how tolerant Muslims and Christians are of others' beliefs

      September 25, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Huebert

      @Zul

      Humans are animals. We are the only surviving member of the Hominidae family. I'm curious, do you believe that the other hominids, such as Neanderthal, had souls? If they didn't what makes us so special?

      September 25, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Zulqarnain

      @thecollegeadmissionsguru

      "YOU do realize that Humans really ARE just animals, right?"

      No. I think there is a huge difference. How can you speak such nonsense?

      "we are special because we were fortunate enough to evolve into the thinking Animals that we are today."

      Unproven theories based on assumptions is not worthy wasting your time on. My forefathers were not monkeys nor apes.

      "all that you speak of is from centuries of brainwashing by individuals who benefit from people like you"

      Trust me, I am not brain washed. I don't believe in blind faith either. Why do we have this preset notion in our heads that everthing new is good and right. What old stuff are you talking about? I am reading things in the Qur'an that were proven by science just recently. I read things in the Qur'an as if it was revelaed just yesterday to us. It all really boils down to the intention of human beings. If a person has made a firm intention not to believe, you can never convince him.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • ME II

      "Unproven theories based on assumptions is not worthy wasting your time on."
      Not that science deals in "proofs", but I always find this kind of thinking confusing. Why do believers dismiss evolution as "unproven" when their own hypothesis is not only "unproven", but un-provable.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Zulqarnain

      @thecollegeadmissionsguru

      "Your definition of atheists is all wrong."
      This is a common proble, Because there is nothing that defines an Atheist. Atheism is just something to stick to if you don't want to follow the laws of God. In reality, we live in this world goverened by laws. We should be ashamed that we submit ourselves to man-made laws so easilt, but have issues with laws from our Creator.

      "We are not the hateful individuals you make us out to be, we are not much different than you. We work, we struggle, we love, we eat, we laugh, we are happy and sometimes sad, we want our children to grow up and be successful and happy,"

      Its good to know that. In mu experience, I've seen them curse, hate, swear, bad-mouth, mock etc. which really turns me off from Atheism. This is not a way to invite to your belief system.
      I've seen Atheists who want their children to grow up and be f@ggots. Again, there are no guidelines on what is good and what is bad.

      @sam stone

      ", enlighten us on how tolerant Muslims and Christians are of others' beliefs"

      According to Sharia laws, you are not allowed to harm innocent people (of any faith), nor destroy relgious places, not burn flags, nor hurt women and children. People of other relegoins are allowed to practice in the privacy of their temples and homes. Rights of people are more important than rights of God, because on the day of judgment they will get you back with worse. Shari'a laws calls for the protection of life, honor, property in dignity of every human living in an Islamic state.
      Now, its a whole another story if so called Muslims are not following Islam. Which is the real problem present day. uslims have left the Sharia and its been over 400 years of downfall.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Huebert

      @Zul

      Do you realize that "animal" is a biological classification with a concrete definition? Humans are a member of the kingdom Anaimalia, that is not debatable.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • ME II

      @Zulqarnain,
      "In mu experience, I've seen them curse, hate, swear, bad-mouth, mock etc. which really turns me off from Atheism. ...
      I've seen Atheists who want their children to grow up and be f@ggots."

      I hope you see the blatant hypocrisy in your own statements.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      Zulqarnain. "Unproven theories based on assumptions is not worthy wasting your time on. My forefathers were not monkeys nor apes."
      You must know that there is no proof for creationism and a mountain of evidence for evolution. Evolution is a scientific fact – some of the details are still being resolved, but it is a fact. Older species are simpler and are found in the older rocks. There's more but you won't listen. Humans are animals – closest relatives being apes but mammals and fish are in our evolutionary past.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • gluonspring

      Adult: Because in ten thousand years the prophets didn't cure a single frigging disease or do one thing to make anyone's life better. Not one thing. And they still don't. And, unlike the scientists, they didn't leave any photographs of their subject. Or even any insights that weren't bloody obvious to people in the iron age. Abject ignorance is all they ever had to offer. But I don't blame you for falling for their chain-letter style mind games, after all, you're only a child.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Notagod

      Adult: Why are you putting your orange juice in Fluff's bowl?
      Child: So she will have vitamin C and won't get sick.
      Adult: Honey, Fluff's body can make plenty of vitamin C on its own. You need to drink orange juice because human bodies, and guinea pigs too, can't make vitamin C, so we have to get it from fruits and vegetables.
      Child: Why won't God let us make vitamin C like Fluff does so we won't get sick?
      Adult: Because God isn't real Honey, its just a made up story designed for people that lack the ability to be honest.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      "According to Sharia laws, you are not allowed to harm innocent people (of any faith), nor destroy relgious places, not burn flags, nor hurt women and children. People of other relegoins are allowed to practice in the privacy of their temples and homes."

      Are you claiming that there are no attempts at conversion?

      September 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • The Truth

      "Unfortunately, time is of the essence and it will be up the moment we die. The trick is" how to seperate as many people from their money in the short time they have, because, let's be honest people, you can't take it with you...

      September 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Kel

      Ridiculous. Science is based in reason and evidence. Religion is based on faith and the supernatural. I don't care if people believe in God, but logic is not your side. Don't make rational arguments because you'll never win. Talk about it in terms of spiritual benefit, and then you make it into an argument you can win.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • OTOH

      The Truth
      " The trick is" how to seperate as many people from their money..."

      Yes, for some of them that is the aim - and others are on (conscious or unconscious) power/control trips, satisfying their egos and self-righteousness by collecting followers who regard them as wise and 'holy' and life-saving. Others still are truly delusional, but the bossy, "I am right... do as I say" also applies.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • MK

      Atheists don't need morals. They are smart enough to know how to act like a decent human being without a list of rules or a book to tell them. Also, we could just follow this one rule (uttered by all great leaders):

      “Do unto others what you want done unto you.”
      ― Confucius

      September 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Momof3

      Zul – They don't deny God, but they don't except the idea either.

      I except god in that I don't acept him...

      September 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  8. Biff

    Not a single person here can actually say what hell is without ranting on about metaphors and viewpoints and mindsets. Nobody can describe the place. How can everyone believe in something they can't even describe? Not a single one of you thinks hell is what the next dude thinks. All you fundies can fight among yourselves over that one. Perhaps someone can try to describe hell, using your own words?

    September 25, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Arthurrrr

      try asking the thousands of people who DIED, went to Hell, then came back into their bodies to live again. If you google Near Death Experiences there are hundreds of detailed accounts of what these people saw, felt, smelled and experienced.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • tallulah13

      Events similar to "Near Death Experiences" have been reported by perfectly healthy pilots and astronauts training at high Gs. It's amazing how the brain will react when it is under stress.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Arthurrrr

      If you don't believe in heII or the afterlife then just watch Ghost Hunters, they prove on a weakly basis that spirits and heII are real...

      September 25, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Biff

      So in other words, you got nothing... If you watch scooby doo you might see that ghosts are always the caretaker who "could have gotten away with it..."

      September 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Athy

      Arthurrr: You're right about one thing, Ghost Busters presents their so-called "proofs" on a "weakly" basis.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Arthurrrr
      Neither Ghostbusters nor The Exorcist are docu/mentaries.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Arthurrr

      No way, Ghost Hunters is all true, they use green spirit capture cameras, I seen it.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Arthurrr

      This proves it – http://www.noob.us/humor/you-will-never-guess-what-this-ad-is-about/

      September 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  9. Notagod

    All preachers of all kinds will go to Hell. Be they christian or muslim or any of the other gods, they will all go to hell. It is written, so will it be.

    September 25, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  10. fiftyfive55

    Eternal suffering and d amn ation,gee,I just described the middle east

    September 25, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  11. kalo

    People will never stop believing in god nor hoping there is punishment for actions that are outside of the social acceptance level. There is no argument against faith, it does not follow the same rules as logic and fact. In Science, logic and facts make the laws; in faith the laws make the logic and 'facts.'

    There will never be a time when someone doesn't want all the answers to be given, no time in human history or future will "I don't know, and no one else does either" be considered ok for the majority of folks. Most people want the all knowing father figure up on high like they were when they were a child, and everyone wants answers...Only Atheists and Agnostic people can have the mental capacity to cope with knowing there is no plan, there is no certainty, there is only you and everyone around you. Make earth yours and your brother's heaven and stop making it hell for others.

    It might be a pipe dream but until people can move past the bronze age thought of evolution isn't real, that the Catholic church is acting like the Jewish council that killed Jesus (Abusing power), science should dictate the rules of the physical world and people should keep the soul out of numbers and life; I truly do fear when a person can 'hear' god and press the big round button in the oval office to make hell on earth for another group of people. This happened with Bush and Iraq, god told him to do it; for better or worse this means that faith dictated the logic which is a very scary president.

    September 25, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  12. Matt in Oregon

    Mark Driscoll- "As a pastor, my job is to tell the truth."

    Sorry. Wrong. A pastor's job is to tell a highly biased and highly questionable version of "truth". In short, they are professional BS slingers.

    September 25, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • tallulah13

      I think the operative word his is "job". Driscoll's "truth" is a matter of opinion, but the "job" is how he makes his fortune.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  13. dave

    Now Jesus rules Hell?? Come on - so Jesus believes in eternal punishment - doesn't sound like my kinda guy. I believe in repenting and forgiveness. If I can't get it from Jesus, then I will get it from myself.

    September 25, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • JamieL

      dave
      The Bible writers wanted to frighten people into joining Christianity right away, and you con't do that if people were allowed to think that they could get away with converting after death. The "system" wouldn't work otherwise. People wouldn't be going to church, or paying their t.ithes, and that just wouldn't do at all, right?

      September 25, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Hector Rosales

      Hey Jamie,
      I was very interested when i read your comment. It is a good argument, but you using scripture to disprove scripture would be impossible if everything is taken in context and if it was ACTUALLY God's word. Even though there is some truth to what you say it cannot be the full truth. Almost all the converts described in Acts; that is the book that explains the birth of the church got converted not out of fear of some punishment, but instead God's immediate intervention into peoples lives, by opening their heart or grabbing their attention some other way. The one who spoke more about hell then any other individual in the bible is Jesus Christ. And he proved that what He said was truth when He rose from the dead. So you see it is not a matter of JUST fear that brings a individual to Christ, it has to be the power of God. You can't serve God with just fear you also need love :), and that is what the believers had. The bible also proclaims, "Love cast out fear." Love is a better way.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Madtown

      is not a matter of JUST fear that brings a individual to Christ, it has to be the power of God
      -------
      Hector, many humans in this world will never hear of Jesus, through no fault of their own. They were born to a place in the world where it's not practiced, or known. You can certainly have a notion of God, but christianity is not the 1 and only right way to believe. It can't be, so many people don't know about it, and those people are equal to any christian in terms of human value.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  14. Truth

    Watch Zeitgeiest on Netflix.

    September 25, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  15. Ting

    ConsiderIng that hell exists only on the island of Make Believe, dropping the idea of it might be a good thing.

    September 25, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • The Truth

      "hell exists only on the island of Make Believe" ... and Michigan...

      September 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  16. Maverick

    A woman sits next to a little boy on a plane. As the craft takes off the woman sees the boy is reading a book on angels and she leans over to ask, "little boy, you KNOW angels aren't real."

    He looks at her and asks "How do you know?"

    She smiles patiently, as one who has had many discussions like this and replies, "because God isn't real."

    The boy closes his book and asks, "Lady, what do you know about cow dung?"

    She looks puzzled, "Uh, nothing. Why?"

    "What about dog poop?" Again she shakes her head, "What about bat droppings?"

    "What does that have to do about there being no God?"

    He looked at her with saddness in his eyes, "Well, how can you tell me there is no God when obviously you don't know shi?"

    September 25, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • BU2B

      Nice wordplay, that has been used before. Of course it has nothing to do with the actual debate.

      September 25, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Matt in Oregon

      Funny... irrelevant, but funny.

      September 25, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Amniculi

      Actually, not funny. I don't know a single atheist that would do that. I have, however, been approached by a Christian while reading Hitchens in the Denver airport who told me that she would pray for me because the path I was on "would only lead to perdition".

      September 25, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • saganhill

      Since "god" is sh* then that guy is perfectly knowledgeable about the myth of "god".

      September 25, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      As an atheist, I would NEVER speak to a child in that way for two reasons. First is that the child is not my own and secondly because it simply is NOT what an atheist is all about. We are not into spreading the word of atheism, there simply isn't a doctrine to spread. Instead, we simply do not believe in gods, any gods... that's it..

      September 25, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Jamie

      *sigh* Actually, it's pretty likely that certain atheists could tell you all about various types of poo. Most scientists are atheist, agnostic, or non-religious. So, if you want to talk to a scatology expert, you'll probably end up talking to someone who is not religious.

      September 25, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      And if she'd said, "Well, I grew up on a farm," he would have accepted her explanation, right? And here you go again with claiming atheists are out to convert everyone to the Church of Atheism. Tell us about how you can't tell the difference between atheism and paganism again, that's always funny. Or the one about how Hitler "was an atheist" so all atheists are Hitler. Pretty nasty insults from the Religion of Peace.

      September 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  17. The One Who Knows

    Does hell exist...hmmm.

    The Kardashians, Jersey Shore, American Idol, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez...sure doesn't sound like paradise to me.

    September 25, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • truth be trolled

      Well that's quite enlightening. lol. lame!

      September 25, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  18. Cybersoldier

    And atheist ( which is not a religion) are going totally into the igronance. When i have read all yours comments , i'm so surprised about you guys. Because you guys got da same beliefs as the ignorant people of ancient era.

    September 25, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • truth be trolled

      "Because you guys got da same beliefs as the ignorant people of ancient era."

      Now see – that's why they let you go from the
      Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co..
      You can't put stuff like that in a cookie fortune, dopey.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  19. Tom Paine

    Once a samurai came before Zen Master Hakuin.

    "You're supposed to be a great Zen master," he said. "so I want you to tell me the truth about heaven and hell. Do they really exist?

    Without a moment's hesitation Hakuin responded. "What, even such an ugly and untalented man as you can become a samurai? Amazing!"

    Immediately, the proud samurai became angry and drew his sword. "I'll kill you!" he roared.

    Fearlessly Hakuin said, "This is hell."

    The samurai paused and grew thoughtful. His face softened from its angry scowl. Sheathing his sword he put his hands together palm to palm and bowed before Hakuin.

    "And this," said Hakuin just as calmly, "is heaven."

    September 25, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  20. Cybersoldier

    Those who do good deeds wil go to heaven and those who do bad deeds or sin wil go to hell. And after get punishment wil go to heaven , if people believes that there is only ONE GOD. And he has no son daughter or father. He is alone in His oneness.

    September 25, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • truth be trolled

      I think I smell a disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      September 25, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • BU2B

      Those who do good deeds will get nice presents from Santa, and those who don't will get lumps of coal.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      The fortune cookie insult was funny twice. Maybe only once.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • Athy

      Actually, it's funny every time. Just a clever way of saying this poster writes like a sixth grader.

      September 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.