There is a real hell; an existence without God. There are those who don't want to be answerable to the God who created them. They want to be God in His place. They sing songs about "I did it MY way."
It's as though God lets such people have what they want. They want to live forever without Him in their lives so He says to such people, "OK, Here it is. You can have it."
Existence without God. Cut off from the true source and origin of all life. Alone with one's self. All restraint gone. No grace or goodness. Left to be consumed by selfishness, bitterness, and unrepentant pride.
Yes, there is a hell. and I'm not convinced it ends in some kind of annihilation...
It's not so much about fire and endless smoke, whatever horrible reality those images point to. It's about life apart from God. Seperated from the source of all love and goodness and kindness and mercy. It's about choosing to live that life apart from God and worshiping the idol of "self".
And I'm not going to get into debate about non-believers who never had a chance to hear the Gospel or any of that. And I don't pretend to know who specifically will nessecarily end up in hell. God can worry about that without my help... He's better at that then I am anyhow. But this I know and believe; there is a hell.
I want to be with God. I want to live with Him. I want to see the face of Jesus and fall on my face before Him. One look at Him... That's all I want. One look at Him... and nothing else will matter... There are times I can hardly wait...
~ The Billy Goat~
Recommended Reading: "The Great Divorce" by C. S. Lewis and "Deadline" by Randy Alcorn