getting over the fear of hell

marshalltenbears
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getting over the fear of hell

I have very recently renounced christianity as my faith. There are many reasons I have decided to do this. I will list a few.

-One is I had a very hard time imagining a god of love who could send a peaceful person to hell just because they never accepted jesus. What about people who never get to hear of him, and what about someone who has been brought up in a different faith all of their life. It would have been like a Hindu trying to convert me. It just didn't seem fair.  Also, if god knew before I was born that I would go to hell, why even bother letting it happen, what is the point. If you were a father, would you let your child burn in hell if you had control over it. No matter what my child did, I could never send them to hell forever, what kind of love is that?

-Another is why would god go to such great lenths to hide himself? If he would have once just said, "Hey marshall, hows it going" That would be enough for me to keep my faith.

-As far as christianity goes, how am I supposed to know which bible is correct. There are so many versions, and even the King James Version was created in 1611. Many books have been taken out and there is no way of knowing what was originally written. And most of the bible was written way after christ anyway. We all know how much a story can change when it has been passed by word of mouth.

-The times in my life when I have been most miserable are because of the guilt I would feel from "sins". Now that I don't think like that anymore I am much more stress free and happy. I can still be good to my fellow man, and help those in need (things I still strongly believe in) without having to wonder if their lifestyle is correct according to what the bible says. I can still be christlike without religion.

There are many other reasons I have renounced my faith but I don't think everyone wants to read them.

My biggest problem now is a fear of hell that I have been indoctrined with since I was a child. Once you renounce your faith, how long does it take to get over that fear. I am 25 and have been raised christian my whole life. I think it should be normal for anyone to still have the thought of hell in the back of your mind. Anyone have any input I would like to hear it. Thanks.

 

Marshall Tenbears.

 

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


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marshalltenbears wrote:There

marshalltenbears wrote:

There are many other reasons I have renounced my faith but I don't think everyone wants to read them.

You'd be surprised. I suspect many of us here would like to hear them, if you would like to talk about them.

I can't help with the fear of hell. I have never really believed in god, so I never went through withdrawals. I imagine it'll be like any other irrational fear -- it might be with you your entire life. Or, perhaps it'll be more like a broken relationship, and the fear will fade after a year. I think as long as you realize it's an irrational fear, you can face it.

Congratulations on chosing rationality over peer-pressure mythology. And welcome to the forums. I look forward to your contributions and interactions.

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marshalltenbears wrote:I

marshalltenbears wrote:

I have very recently renounced christianity as my faith. There are many reasons I have decided to do this. I will list a few.

-One is I had a very hard time imagining a god of love who could send a peaceful person to hell just because they never accepted jesus. What about people who never get to hear of him, and what about someone who has been brought up in a different faith all of their life. It would have been like a Hindu trying to convert me. It just didn't seem fair.  Also, if god knew before I was born that I would go to hell, why even bother letting it happen, what is the point. If you were a father, would you let your child burn in hell if you had control over it. No matter what my child did, I could never send them to hell forever, what kind of love is that?

First off welcome. 

This is a good start in tossing hell into the Land of Never Was.

marshalltenbears wrote:

-Another is why would god go to such great lenths to hide himself? If he would have once just said, "Hey marshall, hows it going" That would be enough for me to keep my faith.

Exactly. It goes to show you that people have fantastic imaginations.

marshalltenbears wrote:

-As far as christianity goes, how am I supposed to know which bible is correct. There are so many versions, and even the King James Version was created in 1611. Many books have been taken out and there is no way of knowing what was originally written. And most of the bible was written way after christ anyway. We all know how much a story can change when it has been passed by word of mouth.

As all are built on the Jewish myths none are based in the real world. As to the NT claims of Christians it can't be even shown Jesus was anything more than literature or fiction.

marshalltenbears wrote:

-The times in my life when I have been most miserable are because of the guilt I would feel from "sins". Now that I don't think like that anymore I am much more stress free and happy. I can still be good to my fellow man, and help those in need (things I still strongly believe in) without having to wonder if their lifestyle is correct according to what the bible says. I can still be christlike without religion.

One of the benefits of understanding is the realization you have made here. Sin is a product of religion in order to control the believers. Sin exists only in the context of a god. No god, no sin, and no hell.

 

marshalltenbears wrote:

My biggest problem now is a fear of hell that I have been indoctrined with since I was a child. Once you renounce your faith, how long does it take to get over that fear. I am 25 and have been raised christian my whole life. I think it should be normal for anyone to still have the thought of hell in the back of your mind. Anyone have any input I would like to hear it. Thanks.

As another ex-Christian I understand. You already have made a good start. Realize that the whole concept of hell is poorly supported even in Jewish myths. Satan or Lucifer is not even shown to be the complete evil one as Christians claim but is rather god's prosecutor. See threads here on how many God killed versus Satan for an example.

 

Have fun and enjoy your time here.

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You might find this old book

You might find this old book helpful: http://www.tentmaker.org/books/OriginandHistory.html (386k)


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thanks, a little more detail on my decision.

thanks for the response. My rationalizing process goes back to maybe six months ago when I got out of the Navy. I just started looking at the hypocrisy of churches. I grew up baptist and was forced to go to church almost every sunday until I was a teenager, about 14 years old. But something happened one year when I was ten at vacation bible school. No I wasn't molested and no pastor put his hand in my pants, but what they would do is take the older children, being about 10 years old, and would then tell them about hell, and how serious it was, and that now we are old enough to have to make a decision. Now of course being ten and not able to think for myself I of course accepted jesus as my savior. My mother was so happy and I remember when I went in front of the church and told everyone publicly about my decision she said "do you realize what you have done?" Of course I said yes, but I was 10 freaking years old. Of course I didn't really know what I was thinking, I just did it because I thought I was supposed to.

I started looking at Richard Dawkins videos on you tube. And one video was called "The Root of all Evil". And he goes on to talk about how we indoctrinate our children, and how it is wrong. And I could totally relate 100% to what he was saying. Now Mr.Dawkins was not the final reason for me renouncing religion, but I do think it helped. A child is not able to think for itself, and will always believe what its culture tells him to. Think about it. If I had been born in India I would most likely be Hindu. It really has nothing to do with faith at all. We are programed.  Then I thought about times when a child, like myself, would stand before the congregation and confess that he has accepted jesus. Well some of these children were about 5 years old. Think of the hypocrisy. If this is supposedly the most serious decision of your life, how seriously is a 5 year old supposed to take it. He really has no idea of what he is thinking, his parents just convinced him to do it. Plan and simple, that is it.

Then I thought about something else. How is it that out of 6.5 billion people on earth, we baptist got it right. Our version of the bible is the right one and everyone else is wrong? I guess I was really lucky to be born here in this small town of Louisiana. The rest of the world will most likely burn in hell forever, no matter how peaceful, unmaterialistic, loving they my be (most of these attributes are found in greater numbers outside of America) because they don't believe jesus died for your sins, rose after three days etc.

Then I looked at the elaborate buildings we had our services in. When I was young a part of our church was struck by lighting and burned down. Of course this was a sign from god that we needed to build a bigger (much bigger) building. So the church builds this huge complex. Now the church is always in debt. Electricity bills are around 10,000 dollars a month. But we were expected to help pay this out of our pockets(tithing). Now why would jesus want us to build huge buildings that cost so much money that most of us only use one hour a week? Ridiculous. If these church leaders were true believers they could have helped so many people in need with 10,000 a month. The reason behind it all is that churches are like a business. The bigger it is the more customers hear about it, and the more money you bring in. Making money off of god really bothered me. These are the reasons I stopped believing in the church. But I sill believed in christianity. And the list in my initial post were the major reasons I left the faith of christianity. I still think, whether or not he actually existed, that jesus's teaching about morality and kindness, forgiveness are great things to live by, and I still intend to.

Now I wouldn't call myself atheist. I don't know what I would call myself. I don't want to call myself anything. I think when you start identifying yourself it starts to become sort of religious all over again. I simply do not know. I humbly admit that I truly do not know how the world came into being and what happens when we die. I don't know. Nor does anyone. 

 

It feels good to vent. Any responses would be greatly appreciated. Especially anyone who has been through something similar to my experience.

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


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thanks

thanks for the responses. I appreciate your time. I posted some more details on why I left the CHURCH. Maybe you can relate to some of them. laterssssssssss

 

marshall

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


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Awesome posts man. There are

Awesome posts man. There are a few things you mentioned which were the core of why I never bought into the idea of religion in the first place. Though I had an advantage in that my parents didn't force any religion on me.  What little religion was successfully forced on me in my youth by others made no sense, so I simply discarded it until I was old enough to truly understand the concepts at work.

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thanks

thanks for the comment. This took me alot of thinking and pondering. I feel so liberated now that I can have a life without always being worried about this stuff.

"Take all the heads of the people
and hang them up before the Lord
against the sun.” -- Numbers 25:4


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Welcome

Welcome Marshall,

It seems like we have some things in common.  I was raised a baptist in east texas.  Went to church every Sunday and wednesday night.  Accepted Jesus as my saviour when I was 7.

Like you I was in the navy.  I was in from the age of 22-28.  And I started to lose my belief in god and christianity while I was in the Navy though I didn't completely finish and call it rubish until I was 30 years old.

Hell used to terrify me.  I remember shaking in my bed at night terrified of the possibility of going there.  And actually, in a lot of ways, that fear is what led me to question my faith and ended up with me eventually calling myself an atheist.

I mean lets face facts.  If your eternal soul could possibly spend an eternity in torment if you get this religion thing wrong, you better make damn sure that you are correct.  So I started to analyze things in the religion I was raised in very critically.

The bible was little help since it alluded to the possibility of once save, always saved as well as falling from grace.  Talk about stress!  I've got to figure this stuff out.  Bible is no help, lets use our "god given" logical brains to figure out what seems right.

Well that's the beginning of the end right there.  Once you begin to apply logic to religion it starts to unravel.  However, for most of us deconverts, our belief in hell falls apart well before we finally stop believing in god.  The very idea of hell is ridiculous.  If it is true then god cannot be an all-loving god as we were raised to believe, now is he?  And well...if god is all-powerful then who is telling him that hell has to exist?  It doesn't make any sense.  None of it does.

Like you I thought along these lines:  God loves me, right?  Well what if I had been born in Saudi Arabia where their constitution is the Quran?  Most likely I would be Muslim and remain so for my entire life.  Just like most people that live there.  So if god loves me (and I presume them), and we have to believe in Jesus to avoid hell, well...wait a minute...

Wow!  I lucked out being born into a small southern town and being forced to go to a tiny baptist church.  Whew!  That was close.

I mean c'mon.  This is just too stupid.  World wide flood?  Not enough water, if we had that much water the greenhouse gasses would burn us alive with retained heat from the sun as well as the density of the atmosphere squashing us like bugs.

Evolution is a fact, toss out Adam and Eve.  Talking Donkeys?  An all powerful god that has to cheat to win a wrestling match, can't conquer a people because they have iron chariots, knows everything but keeps asking everyone questions like he doesn't know the answer.  Loves his faithful but makes bets with the Devil that he can't fuck up Job's life so bad he turns away from god?

Oh, no big deal that Job's wife and kids get slaughtered for the bet.  Cause he gets new ones later.  So its no big deal right?  Seriously?

*sighs*  My mother, who is very intelligent and is very educated, honestly believes that it never rained before Noah's flood and that humans did not evolve from an ape-like ancestor. 

I have no fear of hell, the bible is obviously fiction.  I couldn't believe it if I tried.  Read up on how the old testament is actually a bastardized version of a previously polytheist religion that was altered to become a monotheistic one.  Then reread the old testament.  It reeks of polytheism.  Harry Potter is more believable.

Eh.  I used to be pissed about it all being brainwashed like that growing up.  Now I just find religion depressing.

Don't fear hell.  If god thinks we need to be punished for using the brains he gave us, then we are screwed no matter what we do.  Only a sick creature would pull a mindfuck like that.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


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marshalltenbears wrote: My

marshalltenbears wrote:

 

My biggest problem now is a fear of hell that I have been indoctrined with since I was a child. Once you renounce your faith, how long does it take to get over that fear. I am 25 and have been raised christian my whole life. I think it should be normal for anyone to still have the thought of hell in the back of your mind. Anyone have any input I would like to hear it. Thanks.

 

I don't think the time it takes would be the same for everyone. I was born and raised mormon and it took me a few years to fully accept my atheism. There were a lot of inbetween phases where I would tell myself that I believed in god yet I thought that this part was wrong, or that part was wrong. Obviously during these inbetween phases comes the "what if I'm wrong" phase. That would be the one that lingers. All I can tell you is to continue to educate yourself in science. The quicker your able to debunk religion the quicker you'll move out of the "what if I'm wrong" phase.

Free your mind.


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Quote:My biggest problem now

Quote:
My biggest problem now is a fear of hell that I have been indoctrined with since I was a child. Once you renounce your faith, how long does it take to get over that fear. I am 25 and have been raised christian my whole life. I think it should be normal for anyone to still have the thought of hell in the back of your mind. Anyone have any input I would like to hear it. Thanks.

A lot of us have gone through the same thing.  I don't know if this will help because nobody said it to me when I was in your position, but it does get easier.  Your mind is still dominated by your indoctrination,  and it's going to take time to relearn how to live in a completely different universe.  As you continue to think freely, you're going to discover a lot more things about Christianity that are patently absurd.  I've been out of theism for approximately fifteen years now, and I have reached the point where I can't even remember why I felt compelled to believe any of it.  I literally can't put myself in a frame of mind where hell makes any sense at all.  It is literally impossible for me to even work up a "what if" scenario and have it carry any force in my brain.

Bear in mind, when I was a child, I was taught (at a retreat, no less) that if I allowed impure thoughts to enter my head, I would be possessed by demons, and it would be nearly impossible for me to avoid going to hell.  I spent weeks causing myself sleep deprivation because I couldn't help thinking of sex and girls when I let my mind wander before sleep.  I literally inflicted mental torture on myself as a result of my very real fear of hell.

Knowledge is power.  The more you learn, the easier it will be to dismiss Christianity from your life entirely.  If you check my RRS Author Page, you'll find several articles that might be helpful.  I recommend For New Atheists: Is This Really All There Is? and Free Will: Why we don't have it, and why that's a good thing. as good starters for changing your brain over to a natural scientific worldview.  You'd probably also enjoy my other blog where I have more articles about evolutionary psychology and what it means to be human in a world without god.

Good luck, and welcome to life as it really is.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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marshalltenbears wrote:Now I

marshalltenbears wrote:

Now I wouldn't call myself atheist. I don't know what I would call myself. I don't want to call myself anything. I think when you start identifying yourself it starts to become sort of religious all over again. I simply do not know. I humbly admit that I truly do not know how the world came into being and what happens when we die. I don't know. Nor does anyone.

The first step in becoming a free thinker is admitting you don't have all the answers. So, congratulations.

I just want to warn you that it is possible to get stuck in the 'I don't know' trap. I call it the Nihilistic Pit. "I don't know anything, and nobody else does either."

"I don't know," is a very important and valuable thing to admit to yourself. It's about being honest with yourself. "If I don't know, then I don't know, and there's nothing wrong with that." This is healthy skepticism.

There are many people I've met who've gone on to make "I don't know" into a kind of dogma. It morphs from "I don't know" into "Knowledge is impossible and/or meaningless and/or all relative anyway." These kinds of people say things like, "Well, that's just what you believe" in response to scientific evidence. Or, they defend other's crazy beliefs with "Well, that's true for her, even if it's not true for you." Or, they dismiss all of science with claims like, "Well, nobody really knows, one way or the other, so why argue about it?"

This is the land of the post-modernists, and the new-agers, and the wannabe-nihilists. This is unhealthy skepticism.

The fact is, we do not have Absolute Knowledge, and we most probably never will.... But we *do* know some things. We know that gravity exists, that babies don't come from storks but through sexual reproduction, and we know that evolution occurs, and we even know how it occurs.

So, you're not comfortable labelling yourself at this point? Good. That's fine. Be honest with yourself and let yourself discover your own position. But don't get stuck in the land of "I don't know" forever. Dare to know! Take this opportunity to learn about reality. You've been stuck in fantasy for so long, you'll find it very refreshing to find out that we, as human society, have actually learned a great deal about the universe of which we are a part. If your former religion is not true, then discover what is! And of course, you will find that often the answer is "We don't know." But there is always an unspoken "... yet."

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Welcome and

Welcome and congratulations.  It's always nice to meet someone else who is able to learn from and break from their past.  For the fear of hell part of what you wrote - I remind myself that fear is not always rational.  I remember being scared of shadows in the closet when I was a child.  My fear of hell is the same.  I can rationally be totally certain hell does not exist.  Mention the word to me and there is still that tiny bit of fear in me that I can feel though.  It doesn't really matter though.  Mention Mordor to me and I get a little afraid too.  I'm sure if I had been taught to fear Mordor as a child then the fear response would be greater.  That I fear both does not mean that either place is real, just that both are scary concepts.  

Just keep reminding yourself why you know hell is nothing more than an idea and the level of fear you have will lessen with time.  Changing a world view as ingrained as what you get from childhood indoctrination in religion takes time - so be sure to give yourself plenty.  (Note:  For context's sake, I broke from christianity about 15 years ago at around age 18.  )

"I am that I am." - Proof that the writers of the bible were beyond stoned.


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 I wrote something for

 I wrote something for you:

Escaping the Threat of Hell

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Quote:-Another is why would

Quote:
-Another is why would god go to such great lenths to hide himself? If he would have once just said, "Hey marshall, hows it going" That would be enough for me to keep my faith.

Hey Marshall, how's it going? Eye-wink

 

I have never had the displeasure of believing in a deity, but from an objective outside perspective this looks like it should be a means towards a speedy recovery:

Consider that, as you admit above, God never spoke to you (which makes sense, given that imaginary beings cannot speak), that God never once answered any prayer you made (again, makes sense, given that God is imaginary). So your peers and pastors have been lying through their teeth this whole time; anyone who ever told you that God did this or that for them, or they saw this or that apparition, or they had a near death experience and saw Hell, was just fabricating a story to get attention or make you buy into their framing of the world.

Think about that. That dude who stands in front of the pews every Sunday morning, gesturing towards the ceiling and talking about magical places and beings? He's just full of shit.

 

Sometimes, people are just a little too polite when it comes to the stories other people tell us - and that leads us to lend more credibility to some ideas than they ever deserve. Remind yourself on a regular basis: Christians are just liars. They lie to themselves and to others, for a variety of different reasons (mostly to have their own slice of the 'look how special I am!' pie).

Hell is a lie. Not one story about it is true, just like not one story about a prayer being answered or Jesus appearing before anyone or God speaking to anyone is true.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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Kevin R Brown wrote:So your

Kevin R Brown wrote:

So your peers and pastors have been lying through their teeth this whole time; anyone who ever told you that God did this or that for them, or they saw this or that apparition, or they had a near death experience and saw Hell, was just fabricating a story to get attention or make you buy into their framing of the world.

Eh...I don't completely agree. Many people really have had such experiences. The trick is in understanding that the experiences occurred in their heads. Not reality. You will never convince someone who had a sufficiently real hallucination that it was a hallucination.

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Hey! I had a somewhat

Hey!

 

I had a somewhat similar post a year ago, except i was more in the deconversion phase and I didn't have my head screwed on as well as you.

Don't worry about the fear of hell... Its just natural at your stage.

For a few months after admitting to myself that I had no reason to believe in God I had a subliminal fear of hell... Despite reasoning I still felt scared.

on top of this i would sometimes catch myself in a quick prayer or I would catch myself thinking "Why did this happen?"

My heart naturally warmed when I saw a cross and I still had bible morals and verses ingraved in my head.

As long as your head is on straight all of these things will go away with time.

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