Do Most Christians Believe in Hell?

Few Behave As if They Do

Jack Vance
Deconstructing Christianity
3 min readNov 23, 2023

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Neon question mark at the end of a dark hallway
Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Do most Christian adults believe in hell? Most will claim that they do. Many seem to enjoy talking about it an awful lot. Some will even threaten strangers with it in public places. None of this means they believe in it, though.

I don’t know whether most Christians believe in hell. The surveys I’ve seen suggest that most say they do. What I find most relevant here is that many don’t behave like they believe in hell. That leads me to question the sincerity of much of what they claim to believe.

Punishing the Sinners

How would someone act if they believed hell was real? Suppose a Christian believed in a deity powerful enough to punish people with hell. Not only does this god have the power to do this, but it has the requisite knowledge. That is to say, this god knows who deserves hell and who does not. Wouldn’t someone who believed in such a god be content to let it do its thing without meddling?

Few Christians seem interested in leaving punishment up to their preferred god(s). They want to tell people they are heading for hell as if they knew. But how can they know? Do they see themselves as gods?

Why would someone who believed in hell have any interest in punishing others at all? I can see why they’d want jails and prisons. But this would be about separating those they regarded as evil from themselves. It would be about their own safety. The punitive part wouldn’t be necessary. These people were going to get what they deserved. God(s) would see to that.

Any concept of hell I’ve encountered sounds infinitely worse than the worst prison. It sounds worse than execution or even torture. Each of those punishments is time-limited. Hell, as it is often described, never ends.

Christians who attack scientists for “playing god” don’t seem to think this applies to them. But if they are passing judgment and dispensing punishment, how does it not?

It might be a stretch to suggest that earthly punishment (i.e., that which occurs in this world during someone’s life) interferes with divine plans. But doesn’t it seem trivial in comparison? It would be for those who believed in hell.

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Jack Vance
Deconstructing Christianity

Blogger @ Atheist Revolution (https://www.atheistrev.com/). I write about atheism, humanism, skepticism, freethought, and other topics of interest.