Hell is a real place ruled over by the Devil where evil-doers are punished for all eternity. Demons and angels wage spiritual war over individuals and nations every second of every day. To deny that they exist is to give them your soul for all eternity.
Are these the ravings of a tattered scroll? No, these are the conclusions announced by the leaders of the Southern Baptist denomination in America during their 2011 convention in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2010, demands for exorcism hit an all-time high. Earlier this year, earnest young representatives of the Jehovah’s Witness sect placed in my hands numerous magazines which insisted that demons, the Devil and eternal damnation in hell are real.
Welcome to modern America, where baseless superstitions sway millions and thoroughly annoy millions more.
Welcome to the Scam
Imagine if you made a new friend and suddenly this new friend told you about a terrible disease that you didn’t know you had. It’s such a new disease that most doctors don’t even know about it. You are showing absolutely no symptoms, but your earnest new friend insists that showing no symptoms is the symptom that you have contracted this deadly disease. And, lucky for you, your new friend just happens to have the cure. For a price.
If this happened to you, you’d just laugh in your friend’s face and show him the door. Your new friend would soon be a new enemy.
And yet this is the scam pulled by organized religions such as the Christian denominations of Catholicism, Protestantism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Southern Baptists and Evangelicals. Since their followers never find out that the whole notion of heaven and hell is scam until after you die, the scammers never get caught.
Why Christianity Needs Hell
Organized religions preaching hellfire and brimstone have millions of followers and get millions — perhaps billions — in tax free donations. But Christianity isn’t the first religion to talk about Hell or a Devil. Only the mystical sects of Judaism even touched on the topic, referring to a finite Hell that acted more of a temporary prison. Christianity most likely borrowed the idea of a Devil from the Zoroastrians. The universe, to them, was a constant struggle between the god of light and the god of darkness.
The idea of angels verses demons appealed to many people as this was a good story that, at the time, seemed sensible. People, according to the late Carl Sagan, are “significance junkies.” People need to see the “why” of everything — including why we get sick, where the universe came from and why the wicked go unpunished.
Belief in invisible spirits was a world-wide phenomenon. Evil spirits caused illnesses, natural disasters and infertility. In one sense, our ancestors got it right — the causes of these things cannot be seen with the naked eye.
But now we have found the reasons for these things. Illnesses and infertility can be dealt with through medicine and lifestyle changes. Natural disasters can sometimes be predicted and prepared for. So why does Christianity need demons? In order to bring in new followers (with their money) and to keep a hang onto the older members (and their money).
The idea of evil spirits has been with our species for so long, that demons have become archetypes in our collective subconscious. We are scared to let go of this notion, even though there is no evidence to back up the existence of demons. Organizations such as the Southern Baptist Church even use the excuse of trying to save souls from hell in order to terrify people about hell.
And the idea of eternal damnation for those who hurt you is just too good to resist. One of the Church Fathers, Tertullian, noted in De Spectaculis, Chapter XXX “At that greatest of all spectacles, that last and eternal judgment how shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice …”
“A History of God.” Karen Armstrong. Ballantine Books; 1993.
“The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.” Carl Sagan. Ballantine Books; 1996.
Jehovah’s Witness Official Website. “Who Are the Demons?” http://www.watchtower.org/e/201008a/article_01.htm
TIME.com: “Religious Rebuttal: Southern Baptists Resolve that Hell is Real.” Alexandra Silver. June 20, 2011. http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110620/us_time/httpnewsfeedtimecom20110620religiousrebuttalsouthernbaptistresolvethathellisrealxidrssfullnationyahoo
CNN Belief Blog. “Meet America’s top exorcist, the inspiration for ‘The Rite’.” Tom Foreman. March 8, 2011. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/07/the-real-exorcist-no-sympathy-for-the-devil/