At Eternity spent apart from God is a modern definition of Hell in some protestant groups: Hell is not a place of eternal torture, but simply a total lack of God and all that he stands for. If you believe that people are innately evil, and that all good comes from God, then the worst place to be would be away from God!

I heard this story describing hell at a church:

Imagine a room of people seated around a table full of the most wonderful food imaginable. Everyone is dying of hunger, so they try to eat. But, the only utensil they have are 6 foot long spoons, so can't manage to get anything into their mouth. This goes on forever, and that's hell - being tempted by wonderful food but never being able to get it.
Heaven, in contrast, is the same situation, except the people there are feeding each other.

The point is that the concept of hell has changed from a burning wastland of torture into something slightly more acceptable to modern views - not torture explicitly, but it works out the same way, because life is innately torture without God.
Ever get the impression that the more modern theology is, the less sense it makes: trying to shoehorn old beliefs so that science does not directly contradict.

God is omnipresent, says the Old Testament. So how can He be absent from Hell. Except of course, He is omnipotent too, and after all He made Hell, Heaven and the Universe, and physics and maths too, so He can call the shots. If He wants to be omnipresent with exceptions, he can just adjust the mechanics of creation to suit.

Occam's Razor has never seemed to tempting.

Not to belittle anyone's religion, but I can't see how that can be the definition of hell.

I used to believe in God very strongly. I was even a Catholic priest for twelve years.

And I suffered. I experienced too much intolerance. I lived among extremely judgemental people. I have never seen anyone trying to control me all the time as much as I did during those twelve years.

It hurt. It was painful. Now, that was hell.

Then I embraced Buddhism. That was ten years ago. I did not really know much about it at the time, except that I was instictively drawn to it, and that I really liked the little I knew about it.

Naturally, having been a "professional religionist" (priest) before, I studied my new religion very intensively. I had not been aware of its nontheist nature. I gave it considerable thought before I embraced that part of Buddhism. But what liberation that was! No longer being under a constant supervision of God's whim was not hell. It was heaven. It was ecstasy. It was the kind of happiness I had never experienced before.

The blissful ecstasy lasted for a year or so. After that, it was gradually replaced by inner peace and balance.

No, an eternity apart from God is not hell. It is peace. At least for me - as I said I don't mean to belittle anyone else's beliefs.

for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain
Torments him

John Milton's Paradise Lost, Book I

According to Milton, Hell is truly Hell because of the lost glory of Heaven. Imagine, even if you don't believe in God or an afterlife, that after your death, you were given a glimpse of perfection: a place without sadness, need, hunger, illness, pain, death, murder, lust, greed, rape, or sin. Now imagine having that taken from you. Your perfect world does exist, but you may never have it; for all eternity you will spend your days in a place far from God, far from perfection, even if not in a burning lake. Now, you might argue that peace and contentment is in the mind alone, but what if it were revealed to you that the only place you could attain such a state of mind was in this perfect world? Hell is eternal torture, the vast expanse of time and space and mind apart from contentment, apart from everlasting joy, apart from neverending love.

Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace 
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all

John Milton's Paradise Lost, Book I

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