To the editor:
Writing to defend “hell” against those of us who oppose the idea, who passionately condemn the teaching of it to children — or to anyone — Richard Smith displays irrefutable logic, given his assumptions and priorities. His treasured hell certainly is a place to be feared, and any decent person would wish to defend children from it. I wish to.
His sermon shows how an argument, while logically sound, can be factually wrong and morally repugnant.
Indeed, neither Smith nor anyone else has reasonable evidence to support belief in such a place, and that is the best of all possible news. The idea of hell is certainly the most vicious, appalling notion to emerge from the dark side of the human psyche. It inspires nearly every form of evil done in the name of religion, from the Inquisition, to the Crusades, to centuries of sectarian war in Europe and the deadly conflicts we see today in the Middle East.
When you’re “saving souls” from hellfire, there is no brutality you cannot logically justify. And morally? To fantasize complete suffering and eternal isolation for mere, fallible humans is the most gross perversion of proportional justice and sincere love imaginable — but imagined it is, with a blind fervor that defies contradiction.
So no, children, do not fear hell. It’s not real. Fear those who believe in it. They are its inventors and advocates, and may logically abandon every decency to “save” you from it. They have and will.
Bruce S. Springsteen,