by David Briggs, American Religion Data Archive, Christianity Today, 2/3/19.
“And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness.” – The Westminster Confession
Hell matters to a lot of us.
Editor’s note: Last year, a LifeWay Research survey similarly found that just 45 percent of Americans agree hell is a real place. Pew Research Center reported that a vast majority of highly religious and somewhat religious Americans (at least 8-in-10) believe in hell, while barely any non-religious Americans do (fewer than 5%). In the Pew study, each group was more likely to professor a belief in heaven than hell.
Earlier research into supernatural evil such as hell, Satan, and demons has found both positive and negative outcomes.
Belief in supernatural evil has been linked to results such as increasing religious resources and promoting greater cooperation and less selfish behavior.
And warnings about hell and Satan have been shown to be helpful for many people seeking to live up to divine standards in areas from cultivating lasting relationships to avoiding harmful addictions.
In one recent study, a team of researchers from the Netherlands reviewed 15 cross-sectional studies on moral objections to suicide, especially the conviction of going to hell after taking one’s own life. They found each study supported the idea that moral objections and fear of hell exerted a restraining effect on suicide.