The doctrine of Hell is reprehensible and both Christianity and Islam, the two largest religions in the world, teach this doctrine. The Gospel of Matthew describes Hell as a place of fire and darkness where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. According to the Qur’an, it is a place of “scorching wind and scalding water” and, in agreement with Matthew, “blazing” fire. In both religious traditions Hell is created by God (Yahweh/Allah) to house the souls of the unholy for the purpose of torture and torment.
In Islam the fate of every soul was foreknown by Allah before the creation of the universe, and nothing has or will ever happen outside his divine will, thus all damned souls are so damned within and by the will of Allah. The omniscience of God in Christian orthodoxy denotes a near identical, fatalistic scenario. Despite the feeble and amusing attempts of Christian apologetics, divine omniscience would necessitate God’s foreknowledge of every possible potentiality. Therefore, unless God is viewed as something less than all knowing, everyone that is damned to agony in Hell is done so by and/or within his will. And if humanity is innately unholy we all are innately damned.
For self-identified holy Christians and Muslims the reward of their holiness is not only the joys of Heaven but also escape from the fires of Hell. In this sense holiness is less of a virtue and more of a guarantee. Many times I’ve heard from religious adherents that the substance of religion is service to God, but I would submit that a much more potent motivation is self-preservation. To be unholy is to be destined for Hell. To be holy is to be pleasing to God. To escape Hell one must be pleasing to God, one must be holy. Serving God would only be a pure motivation if it was free from retribution. When an all powerful deity asks his creation to serve him or face the consequences, the creation’s motivation is the fear of those consequences.
Placing the burden of eternal consequences on the actions of other human beings is an act of hatred. We’ve all heard the adage “love the sinner, hate the sin”, but if mankind is innately sinful and unholy then to hate sin is to hate mankind’s natural state. For a Christian or Muslim to claim holiness they juxtapose themselves to the unholy, the unbelievers, and often to each other. Hell was created so religious belief could be rewarded and disbelief could be punished, and human beings became disposable objects in a grand scheme to justify faith. Degrading the value of humanity in the service of religion is an act of hatred.
The doctrine of Hell is reprehensible and both Christianity and Islam teach this doctrine. How can any person of faith, let alone thousands upon thousands of Christians and Muslims, adhere to this doctrine and consider themselves humane? How can a doctrine that so degrades the human condition possibly be justified?