What are we to make of Hell?
If language is the operating system for the human mind, then we might consider religion a data-management program we install to provide us a certain view of reality. But just as your latest Adobe install may tack on an undesired antivirus program, religion often comes paired with a problematic theology of Hell.
Scare tactics and supernatural revenge fantasies aside, what does it all really accomplish? What sort of faith vitally needs a nether realm of endless rape and torture?
In this article I'd like to look at seven different ways we've come to view Hell. This is by no means a full exploration of Hell theology, but rather a brief overview featuring terrifying works of art. For more, I recommend the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on the topic and Alice K. Turner's "The History of Hell."
In the end, I hope you'll ask yourself which of the following views works best in your mind -- or if Hell seems an outdated and barbaric belief all together.
Robert Lamb is a senior writer and podcaster at HowStuffWorks, where he co-hosts Stuff to Blow Your Mind with Julie Douglas. He has a love for monsters, an aversion to slugs and a hankering for electronic music.