Today's Guardian (yes the paper that is obsessed with religion) reports, Dr Eric Stoddart of St Andrew's University is doing a fascinating piece of academic research on the implications of belief in Hell. Here's an extract:
Dr Stoddart is interested in how belief in hell affects everyday life and is keen to hear from ordinary Christians as well. He said: "I'm interested in how people handle their belief in hell. If you believe (or are told you should believe) your grandmother is going to hell because she is not a Christian, how do you deal with that? Do you dehumanise her or psychologically distance yourself in order to accept her fate? How is it possible to go about daily life while believing that a loved-one has entered eternal suffering? When most hell-believing Christians are likely to encounter the death of 'non-Christian' loved-ones it is striking that it is a subject rarely tackled. No one talks about this aspect. There is something of a conspiracy of silence."
It's a good question. I've often wondered if Christians really believe this stuff. Do the Christians that I know well (yep, we've got serious religious folks in the family) really think that I'm going to suffer in Hell for all eternity? If so why aren't they doing more to save me and the other atheists in the family? Surely social etiquette wouldn't be reason enough to stop them if they really believed. I can only conclude that in their heart of hearts they don't.