Heaven and Hell are two basic concepts of religion that account for a large amount of good behavior during many people’s lives. The fear of going to Hell, a horrible place (yet with all the fun card games), after death and the desire to go to Heaven, a wonderful oasis, motivates people who believe in this version of the afterlife to do good things during their life. Although, did you know that the word “Hell” has been more popular than “Heaven” in literature ever since 2000? Don’t believe me? Look at this graphic from google Ngram:
In this line graph, the y axis represents the percentage of books that the searched words have been in during the last 200 years (between 1800 and 2000). The red line represents hell and the blue line represents heaven, and the percentage of books the word has been in over time. One flaw with this graph is that the x axis (time) only goes up to 2000, which is a significant while in the past. Despite the lack of modern information on Google Ngram Viewer, important observations can be concluded from this graphic.
One important thing to notice is that in the year 2000, “hell” is in a higher percentage of literature than the word, “heaven”. That is fascinating since it suggests that people are more curious about hell than they are about heaven. Another thing to notice is that the line for hell has a more consistent slope that the heaven slope which starts high and continues downward. This observation suggests that perhaps books have been written about hell at a steady rate (at a consistent percentage). In contrast, the word heaven appears in a lesser percentage of books over time, suggesting that heaven is less popular in literature than it was 200 years ago.
Why is heaven less popular in literature compared to 200 years ago? My hypothesis is that with major events of advancement, scientific discovery, and technological innovations, heaven has been written about less because there are more interesting things to write about. To that point, most people already know what they need to about heaven, and it isn’t a very dynamic or complex topic since nobody has come back from heaven and told people about it. Also, with the advancement of science, more people have been becoming agnostic or atheist, since science and faith don’t coexist very well. The reason they don’t coexist is basically due to scientific ideas such as assuming something isn’t real without visual evidence. Overall, heaven may have lost its popularity due to science apposing the idea of heaven, and the natural desire to write about more interesting and new concepts over time.
Why is hell more popular than heaven now? There aren’t many reasons for this, but some reasons may include that hell has more of a presence in fiction now than heaven. Dante’s inferno is a great example of a fictional book which portrays how fun hell can be to conceptualize. Ignoring this reason, there isn’t a great reason why hell is slightly more popular than heaven. Another issue is that hell is only slightly more popular than heaven, which creates some doubt as to whether or not the statistics are significant enough to draw more serious conclusions.