What is hell?

In many Christian religions, hell is the place of punishment where people go after death if they have not lived good lives and followed the rules of thought and behavior set forth by God in scriptures (sacred writings, like the Bible) and in the teachings of churches and religious leaders. Hell is believed to be a horrible place because it is the opposite of heaven; hell is a place where a person’s spirit will forever be deprived of the presence of God. To never know the joy of God’s presence, believers feel, is so painful that it is compared to burning in fire forever, one of the most awful things that can be imagined. Just like with heaven, people have tried over the centuries, through paintings and writings, to create images of hell, a place of enormous suffering. And as heaven is thought to be located above, hell is said to be down below. Satan, or Lucifer—who, according to the Bible, was a favorite angel of God’s until he disobeyed God—is the ruler of hell. In many Christian religions, Satan and his wicked angel followers (devils) are thought to be the cause of evil in the world, always tempting people to be bad. Many non-Christian religions also teach of a place like hell where people who have led bad lives on Earth must go after they die. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans (who lived before the development of Christianity) believed in an underworld, a place where people traveled to after death. Good and bad people lived in different places in this ancient underworld.


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