Woodcut by gustave doré. Dante's "inferno".

The end of Hell

I remember the day I knew it was happening. I was going to witness during my life the end of Hell. And by Hell I mean what is known in conservative Christian circles as "Eternal Conscious Torment".

It was sometime at the beginning of 2011 when the Megachurch pastor Rob Bell released a promotional video for his book called "Love Wins". In it he publicly challenged the idea of billions of people being condemned to eternal hell. All hell broke loose after that. From that point on it was obvious that hell was doomed to death.

The idea of Hell is not exclusive to Christianity —it's found on all major religions and on all ages— but the idea of an Eternal Conscious Torment is. Contrary to common belief amongst Christians, the modern version of Hell is not based on The Bible, but almost exclusively on Dante's "Inferno"and the imagination and work of centuries of religious art. Hell has been greatly enhanced by our own creative powers.

Hell as the idea that represents human torment, separation and pain will not go away anytime soon. Humanity needs such a term, and it serves it's purpose well, as it has for thousands of years. It's a reminder of the depths of despair that we are capable of inflicting on ourselves and on others. But literal Hell is going away.

Fast forward two years. Today Pope Francis publicly said that all people will be redeemed by God. Atheists included. Bad people included. Non-Christians included. The Pope said this.

It's not going to be that easy to get rid of such a belief as a place of long lasting punishment. Humanity doesn't let go of such nightmares easily. Many will fight for it with all their strength, others will defend it in the name of God, but it's been oficially said by the most powerful man in Christianity: "Hell, bye bye."

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