USA—A new study reveals that most Christians are getting their theology regarding Hell not from the Bible, but from a popular comic strip created by Gary Larson.
The Far Side, a single-panel comic which ran in newspapers from 1980-1995, and in legally-questionable Geocities websites from 1996-2003, was known for its frequent comical depictions of Hell, insects, quirky scientists, amoeba, and quirky scientists in Hell (where they belong).
In the study, conducted by William Jessup University, participants across the nation were asked to identify whether they were Christians, and then answer a series of multiple-choice questions regarding Hell.
“Honestly, we threw in The Far Side references as a joke,” explained lead researcher Alicia Vanderdancer. “We didn’t expect they would actually be the most commonly-selected answer!”
In one question, participants were asked to describe Hell. An overwhelming 93% of Christians selected “A dark, cavernous landscape with random flames popping up here and there and a VHS library of nothing but copies of Ishtar.” Only 4% selected the more biblically-accurate “lake of fire,” and those individuals appeared to just be randomly zig-zagging on the multiple-choice bubbles.
Another question asked what The Devil’s primary role would be in Hell. Again, only 2% chose the correct answer—that Hell was created as the eternal punishment for Satan and the rest of the demons—while 97% chose the answer depicting doughy-looking demons with large noses handing out accordions, serving cafeteria food and leading aerobics classes.
The survey ended by asking participants to review a list of books, and select the ones that they felt were most influential on their understanding of Hell. The list included famous works such as “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis, Dante’s “Inferno,” “Erasing Hell” by Francis Chan, and the novelization of “DOOM.” The number one choice? “Cows of Our Planet” by Gary Larson.