Seven Hells: An Incomplete Survey of the Afterlife

Self-inflicted Hell
Dante and Virgil Encounter Lucifer in Hell by Henry John Stock (©Corbis)

Freewill often plays a big role in theological discourse, so of course it pops up in arguments over the problems of Hell. This vision of the Inferno kind of amounts to a legal loophole by which God remains the good guy and not the architect (or at least the landlord) of eternal suffering.

Hell is endless, Hell is painful and there's no escape from it -- but, legally, you put yourself there by choosing the life you lived. This vision of Hell bleeds over rather easily into others, but it defines the afterlife as the final stage in the free-willed development of a psychic entity. We just happen to spend out formative years fully fleshed.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.