Hell is for Children

Whichever version of hell you consider, it is supposed to be vile, and it is supposed to be permanent (except for those who believe in reincarnation, for whom it’s just a sort of sadistically harsh military boot camp, designed to correct your flaws in preparation for the next life[1]). It is also designed for the “bad” people, who most notably are those who don’t believe in some particular doctrine or take some particular action.

Focusing on the so-called monotheists[2] (I dispute that Christianity is a monotheism, but that issue is for another blog), let’s take Roman Catholicism as our example, because it’s the largest single religious denomination. And let’s assume that everyone who is considered on some measure to be or have been Roman Catholic is going to get salvation, and this includes Adolf Hitler[3] by the way. To be saved, you need to believe in the salvation of Christ, be baptized, have the Holy Spirit enter into you, confess your sins and ask for forgiveness, and whatever other nonsense qualifications that have been espoused from time to time. All sins can be forgiven EXCEPT rejecting or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit[4] (who obviously is seriously lacking a sense of humor…).  But the key element from its foundation is that Roman Catholics go to heaven[5] and everyone else goes to hell[6]: which is why you should be Roman Catholic and not some tree hugging Druid, a heart ripping Aztec, a parasitic begging Buddhist, a cow piss drinking Hindu, or a happy go lucky wine-quaffing orgy-happy pagan – not to mention their biggest competitor for souls and tithes, those Mecca pointing Muslims.

OK,” you’re saying, “I know all that, but what about the children?”

Well, consider this. For all of recorded history up until very recently, the highest death rates among humans have most likely occurred during the early years, sometimes arbitrarily classified as the pre-pubescent years. Infant mortality has always been very high, and many cultures even abstained from naming children until after a certain period had passed when there was some certainty that they were likely to live.

It’s a common mistake of people today to say that the life expectancy of earlier cultures was lower than our own. It should be stated that this is the average life expectancy, and by far the biggest factor has been the reduction of infant and childhood deaths largely due to infection and disease. Children are also more vulnerable in times of food shortages, natural disasters, and forced migrations. And children with physical defects were often killed at birth or left to die of exposure[7]. Some religions also featured child sacrifices[8]. Until quite recently, most cultures didn’t even list children or record their existence unless they had passed puberty and become adults, unless they were members of the royal or privileged families.

So, it’s very likely that a large percentage of all the people who have lived since homo sapiens evolved as a separate species about 200,000 years ago died as children and infants, and as non-believers, they are all going to hell.

Roman Catholics, as a percentage of the world’s population are probably at the highest percentage it has ever been. Yes, they had more of Europe back before the Reformation, but they had virtually nothing in South America, Asia and Africa then. Right now, they probably account for about 16% of the world population[9]. This is very generous, as those worthy of salvation have never been at a higher number and for most of human history it would have been a pathetically small number[10].

The followers of the “One True God” before about 500 BC are pitifully small. Just remember, at 500 BC[11], the pyramids were already 2,000 years old. Civilizations far more influential on human development had risen and fallen before there was a single circumcision mad shepherd in the Promised Land (which encompassed the area from the Nile to the Euphrates[12], and which, while often promised, remains undelivered to this day). Humans had developed writing, metallurgy, pottery, animal husbandry, agriculture, fermentation, legal systems, long distance trade, animal domestication, and had produced the grand cultures of Egypt, Mohejo-daro, the Shang and Zhou dynasties in what is now China, and the City States of Sumer, just to name a few.

All those peoples, like the people who drown during the Hebrew’s imaginary flood, are going to hell. The number who could be counted as among the chosen few are miniscule in the extreme, and are not worth numbering. We are talking about a few score or at most hundreds among millions.

So what percentage of people are going to heaven? Must be less than 1%, even if you agree on a 6,000 year old earth. What kind of a creator makes 100 pots, only to throw away 99 of them? Of course, when I’ve raised that argument with believers, they agree that god is choosey and isn’t it wonderful that he is giving you/me the opportunity to be saved. Everyone else died without the hope of salvation, but you and I have it. That is when I bring up the children.

So maybe as much as 50% of all dead humans died before the age of puberty. We can’t know for sure, but it’s not an unreasonable guesstimate, even 30% is huge. And we are talking about billions of people. The Population Reference Bureau has the following to say about this:

“According to the United Nations Determinants and Consequences of Population Trends, modern Homo sapiens may have appeared about 50,000 B.C. This long period of 50,000 years holds the key to the question of how many people have ever been born. …

In any case, life was short. Life expectancy at birth probably averaged only about 10 years for most of human history. Estimates of average life expectancy in Iron Age France have been put at only 10 or 12 years. Under these conditions, the birth rate would have to be about 80 per 1,000 people just for the species to survive. …

Infant mortality in the human race's earliest days is thought to have been very high—perhaps 500 infant deaths per 1,000 births, or even higher. Children were probably an economic liability among hunter-gatherer societies, a fact that is likely to have led to the practice of infanticide. Under these circumstances, a disproportionately large number of births would be required to maintain population growth, and that would raise our estimated number of the "ever born." … [there is then the discussion of how they make the calculation – the guesstimate]

This semi-scientific approach yields an estimate of about 108 billion births since the dawn of the human race.”[13]

And most of them died as infants and children. The Roman Catholic Church has an out; they can place the “innocent” in purgatory, and save the babies and wide eyed toddlers from the everlasting terrors of flaming torture, but what about the kids? And the teenagers? At what time do you lose the “innocent” designation?

No matter how you look at it, hell will be overflowing with kids, whose only crime was to have failed to have some water dripped or rubbed on their forehead while some priest intoned platitudes to a god who preferred to condemn his creations to eternal torment rather than educate them, inspire them, or comfort them in their ignorance.

Yes, hell will be full of children, unless someone has found a new commandment that everyone under 18 is exempt from hell. Maybe the Mormons have a spare gold plate some place with that written on it?


[1] I recall a friend of mine who is a Thai Buddhist monk showing me pictures of the terrors of hell in one of the Buddhist Temple compound buildings. I asked him where the hell is and how long it lasts. He tapped his head, and told me (more-or-less): “It’s only in here. It just reminds people how they will feel about themselves when they do evil to others.”
[2] There is no hell in most versions of Judaism, although that has not kept the Talmud from putting Christians in eternal torment (Rosh Hashanah 17a), and of course Jesus is in hell boiling in excrement and semen (what an odd mix) (Gittin 57a). You won’t find this in any politically correct web site however, and many versions of the Talmud now censor this and some other passages (about spitting on non-Jews, for example). And the Muslim’s 72 virgins in paradise has nothing on the Jews’ 2,800 gentile slaves per Jew promised by YHWH (Shabbath folio 32b). Citations are from “The Babylonian Talmud” The Soncino Press, London, (1936 and 1938). Some of these are listed at a rather biased site. Don’t trust politically correct Wikipedia on this sort of issue, go to the original source.
[3] I am breaking my own admonition. See here.
[4] Mark 3:28-30; Matthew 12:30-32; Luke 12:8-10 (all from the New International Version of the Christian Bible).
[5] Despite the fact that they have no idea what they will get there: See http://www.atheistrepublic.com/blog/deandrasek/5-things-you-might-miss-h...
[6] I suppose I need to note here that not all Christian’s believe in hell, some believe in heaven and non-existence, including significantly the Church of England since 1995 and the Seventh-day Adventists.
[7] Unless they were going to be someone’s king, and were rescued by a wandering shepherd, goatherd, floated down the river into the arms of a princess or gardener, or were adopted by wolves.
[8] The Carthaginians are reported (by the people who hated them the most, the Romans) to have sacrificed children, as did the Incas in South America. There are a number of other cultures where this was practiced, including perhaps the early Hebrews, which we see reflected in the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to YHWH. No one seemed to think it was an extreme thing at the time, as there is really no explanation of it in the original text – although later Jewish authors have gone into contortions to justify this inexcusable crime. If you can handle illogical self-gratifying mental gyrations, try http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Bible/Torah/Genesis/The_Binding_of....
[9] http://www.pewforum.org/2013/02/13/the-global-catholic-population/
[10] Before about 300 AD, there is little case for them being a significant portion of the world population at all. Assuming that the Roman Catholic church takes a more generous position on its Jewish forefathers, and puts them in heaven or purgatory instead of hell, this gives us about 700 years of minor kingdom status for the Hebrew States and a growing number of Christian followers in the still largely pagan Roman Empire.
[11] Why do I only take the Jewish states back to 500 BC? Because before the Babylonian exile, there is every indication that the Hebrew peoples (who were not descendants of the Chaldeans; a status they claimed for their founder Abraham) were not monotheists. That’s right, YHWH was just one god amongst the usual Canaanite pantheon (the Hebrew’s are, on every known measure, a Canaanite people). Everything before this time is even smaller and more tribal than what comes after the return to Jerusalem under the rule of that Jewish Messiah, Cyrus the Great of Persia. The alleged “Kingdoms” of David and Solomon are myths, and the recorded “millions” in the Exodus stories are patent nonsense.
[12] Exodus 23:31 and Deuteronomy 1:8 of the Hebrew Bible. This would encompass parts of Egypt, all of Jordon, parts of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Obviously, YHWH is not very good at keeping His promises…. The current State of Israel is far larger than any historical State of Judah or Israel, even combined, would have been based on archeological evidence. See: “Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel” by Israel Finkelstein and Amihai Mazar (2007).
[13] http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLived...

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