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Supacase's avatar

Why does the idea of hell still scare me so much?

Asked by Supacase (14543points) November 23rd, 2010

I consider myself agnostic. Even if God does exist, I’m doubtful that the Protestant doctrine I have grown up around is the one true path or whatever that saying is. I think the fire and brimstone, eternal damnation and misery hell is a bunch of hooey made to scare people into believing. So why does it bother me so much?

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30 Answers

josie's avatar

You are uncommitted to your professed beliefs. That makes you sort of a coward, if I can say that without it being insulting or confrontational. I don’t really mean it that way.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It is possible that you were fed the hooey at an integral point in your development (young age, for example) and that it was a much more intense conditioning than would happen at this point in your life, for now – you might have a visceral reaction (physical, emotional) even if logically you get it’s bs because when it was fed to you, you consumed it on an illogical level.

wundayatta's avatar

Why do you ask us? We don’t know anything about your psychology. Asking us to give you a good answer is like asking us to hit balloons hanging on the wall of a completely dark two hundred foot diameter cave with a dart. Like finding a needle in a haystack.

But I’ll give it a go. Maybe you have some very strong associations with those images. Maybe you have repressed memories of childhood abuse associated with those images.

Did I hit any balloons? ;-)

BarnacleBill's avatar

It could be argued that we are all in hell right now.

FutureMemory's avatar

Excruciating pain and torment for all eternity is a terrifying thought. That’s the genius of religion though – follow our rules or you will suffer the most horrible suffering imaginable – forever.

Cruiser's avatar

You tore that tag off the couch cushion and you know the fate that awaits you!!! I pity your soul!

gondwanalon's avatar

Fogetaboutit! It is nothing. Life is so short to worry about something that does not exist. Death and an unforgiving future are real things worth considering with your time.

Mariah's avatar

Because the thought of burning forever is scary as shit and you can’t be certain it’s not going to happen. That’s why!

Blackberry's avatar

You were conditioned to believe such things. We are impressionable at young ages, and shitty parents turn kids into unintelligent drones. Some break free, and some don’t.

wundayatta's avatar

Jesus, @Mariah. You can’t live your life on things that you can’t be certain won’t happen. You know, there’s a giant ice factory floating in space out near the Orion Nebula, populated by green elephants who tickle us mercilessly after death.

You can’t be certain there isn’t. Shit! I could come up with endless numbers of extremely unlikely things that you couldn’t be certain didn’t exist. And whose not to say that as soon as I think of something (or anyone does) it doesn’t pop into existence somewhere?

There’s no evidence to support the existence of hell, no matter how it is defined. So it is equally as likely or unlikely as any other fantasy I come up with.

By the way, I went to hell and brought back a few souvenirs. I have hairs from the devil’s tail, as a matter of fact. I can sell them to you cheap, but you have to be careful, because the Devil is out looking for those hairs. He can’t find me, because I have protection. But you? Anyway, those hairs will give you a lot of power. A LOT of power.

You can’t be certain I don’t have those hairs.

Paradox's avatar

Because religious zealots hijacked the true meaning of what God wants from us and what happens when we pass, (but I won’t state my opinion here from my own research). Just like back in the days when priests used to hide inside of statues to have their religious followers actually believe it was God talking to them, this way they could control the masses for their own evil intentions. Inventing an “eternal hell” was another way religious zealots kept the masses in line. This is why “hell” scares so many, even those who have doubts because this was the original intention of the churches and it seems very effective even today because these ridiculous teachings have followed over with the times.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Your mind has been messed with is why. You just need to remind your self of how insane the idea of hell is. Just take a look at the Hubble deep field image, and ask your self, if there is a god that did create all that, will he really send you to a special place to be tormented by a red guy with horns for the crime of eating lobster and coveting your neighbours ox.

ucme's avatar

In common with most agnostics, myself included….....you are exhibiting the classic what if prose. A good place to be I reckon.

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FutureMemory's avatar

@Evilsteve We do our best to keep some semblance of community on this site. If you are eager to flame people, this is not the place.

That means assholes are not welcome here.

Evilsteve's avatar

That sounds like censorship, you’re welcome word Nazi.

FutureMemory's avatar

Oh god, not that censorship shit again.

Go make your own website if you don’t the guidelines of this one.

Evilsteve's avatar

I’d rather torment you on “your” website. God bless you!! and may Santa bring you lots of toys too!!

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Personal attacks are not permitted, and have been removed. Let’s get back to the topic, please.

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poisonedantidote's avatar

Getting back “on topic”. Some people are very militant, they like to think that they are right about everything, and that they alone hold the absolute truth on things. It is people like that, that tend to push and propagate the idea of hell, there is just something about them that makes the idea seam plausible.

Supacase's avatar

Thank you to those who have been helpful. Your answers make sense – thinking about it, I live much of my life in “what if” frame of mind. Rationally, I know that it is a man made tactic to scare people into believing, but I have heard it all of my life and it is hard to let go of it. I believe it is coming to a head at this point because we are beginning to go through these things with our daughter in a religiously divided family and I have been thinking about such things a lot.

Many others have been quite rude. I’m not sure why you bothered to respond. I wasn’t looking for a firm answer as though you are inside my mind – I was asking for theories. I am sure I am not the only person who has this question or has ever felt this way.

Paradox's avatar

Did I miss something?

Mikewlf337's avatar

I am a Christian and I see 2 ways people teach religion. There is the right way and the wrong way to teach any religion. The wrong way is to use scare tactics. I do believe in Hell but that doesn’t mean I live in constant fear of it. I see God as somebody to turn to. People who use scare tactics tend to tell people that they should fear God and fear punishment in Hell. I use to go to a church that only used scare tactics. I learn more on how to go to Hell than I did on how to go to Heaven. So I left that church and then I joined the Catholic Church and the priest there never used scare tactics and was such a great speaker that he made every church service entertaining. I now consider myself Non-Denominational. I found out that teaching people about love and acceptence and not judging other people is the best way. The main problem with people who use fear and scare tactics to teach religion is that they are usually the ones who created the most judgemental Christians and the ones who discriminate against others the most. The talk so much about Hell to scare people into obedience. They forget that the Bible says “All sins shall be forgivin” and my favorite ” Judge not lest thee be judged yourselves”. As for you being agnostic. I’m sure you know that means you neither confirm or deny the existence of a deity or deities. I can’t really anser that question for you because I don’t know you as a person. I can only assume someone tried to teach you religion using scare tactics.

FutureMemory's avatar

@Paradox Did I miss something?

Yeah, a noob troll acting like a complete asshole. His tirade began with “Because you’re unintelligent blah blah blah”. We shut him down pretty quickly though <gives poisonedantidote a high five>.

@Mikewlf337 I really respect your post. Pigs can fly, apparently.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because it’s very difficult to unlearn things and thoughts and experiences. The concept of hell is not part of European Protestant denominations, so I didn’t grow up with this. But I got bitten by a dog when I was a kid. So even as an adult there’s this feeling, hey nice dog, but you never know. But the feeling is getting weaker.

The idea of hell is a human belief, not a fact. And humans can choose not to believe in it. Stick with your choice to reject the concept. And every year the dogs will look even nicer.

Paradox's avatar

@FutureMemory It looks like that account is deleted now. I guess I missed it all.

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