V0017388 An angel leading a soul into hell. Oil painting by a followe

I’m sorry to break this to you, but many people are not inherently good.

I know it’s a surprise — it’s not what has been drummed into you since kindergarten. People are all inherently good, we are told. Sorry, but that is just wrong; some people are evil. And a significant number of evil people — even if it’s just 20% — can cause a lot of harm to the rest of us.

The concept of hell is one of the inherited wisdoms of Christianity. Although we are told that the concept of hell is old-fashioned, it served a purpose for centuries — if you were bad, you would go to hell forever. Well, now that most people don’t believe in a hell after death, we’re instead living in hell while alive. Why do I say this?

We live in a society where people will lie, cheat and steal with absolutely no compunction. False accusations, dodging responsibility, cheating, and stealing other people’s work are all in a standard day for more and more people. As long as it’s legal — or you’re unlikely to get caught — or maybe just unlikely to “do time” — then “all’s fair.”

This is the beginning of the breakdown of society. Even if you believe in social contract theory, at least half of all people are unable to think ahead to such consequences and are therefore unlikely to be swayed by such considerations. Therefore, you are likely to be the only honest person in a transaction, which turns out badly for you, which breaks the social contract and leaves one more person not following it.

When no one can count on the basic honesty of people, a society is doomed.

At least there was a potential for pause when most people were worried about everlasting punishment if they died having lied, cheated and stolen their way through life. When this was based on the actual events — as known by God — and could not be “spun” on judgment day, it had real power.

So, it turns out that hell really does exist — it results from people having no moral boundaries. Unfortunately, we’re all being thrown into the blazing furnace, and there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:50).

If we could but put that genie back into the bottle, we could rescue ourselves and our civilization. But who among us, having not been brought up to fear hell, will instill that fear into our own children? Very few, I’m sure.

And so we see the gradual disappearance of the very fabric of our society. The very values that we take for granted have become a noose around their own necks. Within 50 years, there will be nothing left. As with previous great civilizations, ours will implode, bringing violence and chaos with it, then totalitarian rule, and then the process will begin again.

What the hell?