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I wasn't sure where to post this so I chose this forum. I hope it's ok here. I just need somewhere I can turn to say what's on my mind, somewhere I can post things that might not fit anywhere else. A sort of online 'diary' if you will. It'll be a mish-mash of thoughts and feelings that go through my mind. An online diary of sorts, that's a good example of what I'm trying to describe. Feel free to comment of course. 

 

Firstly, thank you all, very much, for the patience and support you have given me. It's massively appreciated and has helped my a lot. Sometimes I don't know what I'd do without you all. Honestly. 

 

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11-August-2017

Really sucks on times. One day I feel free, the next I might be so low as to be in tears (I'm not being overly dramatic here). The fear is incredible on times. It's not like a panic attack, it's like a cold wave that grips me, a grip so strong I can't function. Somedays I sit in my chair and I cannot even lift my head of the head rest. It's that bad on times. It knocks me sideways. And all due to my fear of hell, a fear that goes beyond any normal fear.

 

As I've said, this is psychologically based fear and that's why I am in therapy and have been since November 2010. But therapy hasn't really helped because, let's be honest, what therapist out there can prove to me there's no hell? None. Nobody can prove that. Yes we can look at the evidence and weigh it up (and that is what I am doing by coming here) but nobody can prove to me hell doesn't exist. That's why I hit upon the idea "I know! Perhaps if I destroy my faith, I'll be free!" Of course that brings its own guilt and fear, as even doubting is considered a sin. I get comfort in knowing that, if God does exist (and I speak from the point of view that nobody - theist or atheist- really knows), then He knows I am only doing this out of fear and not out of rebellion. 

 

I feel stuck. I can't leave the faith and I feel I can't stay in it (not if I want to 'get better' as it were). And what's worse, is that I genuinely do not even know what it is I believe. Someone asked me once (online) "Surely you know if you believe or not?" No, I don't know. I've read a lot and watched a lot and I honestly do not know what I believe. Not 'if', I believe, but what I believe. 

 

Do I believe but hope it isn't true?

Do I not believe but fear it may be true?

 

I don't know. But going by the above two questions and using the:

 

Richard Dawkins’ Belief Scale Scoring Rubric:

 

1 Strong Theist: I do not question the existence of God, I KNOW he exists.
2 De-facto Theist: I cannot know for certain but I strongly believe in God and I live my life on the assumption that he is there.
3 Weak Theist: I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.
4 Pure Agnostic: God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.
5 Weak Atheist: I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.
6 De-facto Atheist: I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there.
7 Strong Atheist: I am 100% sure that there is no God.

 

Am I a 3 or a 5? I'd have to say a 3.

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Hi Seajay

 

I'm truly sorry you are going through this and finding the struggle much harder than many of us did.

 

Reading your post I couldn't help but ponder to myself whether you are uncertain but inclined to believe god, OR (And this is what I think based on everything you have told us thus far) you are uncertain but inclined to believe in hell.

 

I think you are right that no one can prove there is no hell. We also cannot prove that Anubis god of the underworld won't judge us, or that unicorns don't exist. I think long term that its going to come down to your acceptance, or lack thereof, of not having absolute certainty. I think once you can say you are ok with not knowing you'll be able to move forward.

 

So perhaps instead of trying to refute every claim, or prove every claim work on a way to become comfortable with 'I don't know'.

 

By the way there is a problem with Richard's belief scale - he's inserted a position on knowledge in there at 4, not a belief. Number 4 should be "I don't care". The term agnostic in no way implies that you have an equiprobable belief in something. Numbers 2 through 6 are all agnostic positions. PS I'm a 6 on that scale. 

 

Keep in touch, and fire those questions at us. So far nothing you have pointed out from apologists have come close to making me stop and think.... unless it was "man that's a crap argument from an apologist"

 

LF

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Thanks LF

 

This struck a chord with me "I think long term that its going to come down to your acceptance, or lack thereof, of not having absolute certainty. I think once you can say you are ok with not knowing you'll be able to move forward."

 

This is so on the money it's mad. I'm going to ponder on this for a while. 

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Yes, nothing is 100% airtight certain. There COULD be shape shifting alien lizards. Anything is possible, technically, but we live by probability.

 

The bottom line, is there enough  credible evidence to support the extraordinary claim made by Christianity? Do they have better evidence than the Muslims? Better than Nostradamus? Better than Voodoo? People make cases presenting "evidence" for all these things, but use your critical thinking. How low is your credibility bar set?

 

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@SeaJay,

 

I am sorry that you are having such a tough time with this. Stories like yours make me want to petition the 'da gubmint to put warning labels on the front of all churches. "Warning: Contents may cause depression, confusion, adherence to irrational beliefs, and potential loss of financial security!"

 

Look at it this way. You have made every possible effort to "believe". It's not that you did not want to. It's that you could not make your brain grasp an incredible concept. So, if god is the loving, all-knowing, forgiving being that the xtian doctrine claims then he/she/it will understand were you are coming from and grant you a pass.

 

Now, go outside and play! Get some exorcise!  :3:

 

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I know I have mentioned this in your fear of Hell post, but I have absolute certainty that the God as painted in the Bible does not exist.  And I used to be terrified of Hell for years.  I used to have hallucinations about these things due to my manias and hypo-manias (bipolar disorder).

I have a couple of sure fire reasons, but the one that takes away any doubt is my brief study of the brain.  Christians say we have a spirit and a soul that is separate from the brain.  Hell many in ancient times believed you think and feel with your heart.  Let me not digress.  Everything.   And I mean everything that you think and feel is in your physical brain.  As you learn the structure of your brain literally changes.  Everyone has a uniquely wired brain.  Science shows this beyond a doubt.  If the brain is responsible where is the soul and the spirit?  How can there be an afterlife?  How can there be a hell or a heaven?  Think about it.  This is one reason that gave me certainty.  Now there may be a initial cause to the universe, that may be discribable as a God.   But the God of Christianity is a no go.  Another reason I believe only in a possible deist God is that, after briefly looking into astronomy and cosmology, the universe after the big bang evolved according to scientific processes and did not need a God to build it.  The Bible with its anthropomorphic God is a laughing matter.  After more study I realize the tale of hell has evolved from  previous myths.  The Bible is full of errors, contradictions and inconsistencies.  Literally tons of them.  Could a perfect God inspire such a mess?  Is this the word of a perfect God?   Of course not.  

I had a long and traumatic break with Christianity.  Now that I am away from the indoctrination and brainwashing it dawns on me more and more how ridiculous Christianity is.  Distance yourself from it and keep on questioning and reading intellectual secular arguments.  Hang in there...  It is not easy, but it is possible to have certainty.

 

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I'm experiencing so much Cognitive Dissonance 

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2 hours ago, SeaJay said:

I'm experiencing so much Cognitive Dissonance 

And that's what it is SeaJay....cognitive dissonance...so acknowledge  out loud to yourself that your brain is 'fighting'. Don't fight it. Just acknowledge  that this is what's happening. Just calmly accept that you have cognitive dissonance right now.   When you stop fighting so hard, answers will come easier. I went through exactly what you are going through. Go to the pinned  testimonies  and read my, 'Please Forgive Me' letter  that I wrote to God when I first arrived here at ex-c. If there is a living, loving god, I figure that he will see the struggle he has put apon us by making 'himself' so invisible. Just read it slowly and you will see the agony  I was in. You are not alone. Some of us have a harder time letting go. I was one of them. Let those tears flow. Tell the goddamed invisible god how scared you are. Then allow yourself to get angry at such a god who would cause you soooooo much confusion. Keep posting.  Keep talking. At some point you will start to become less afraid. I have instructions with my hubby to lay my 'Please Forgive Me' letter on my body when I die. It will be my last attempt  at asking God for forgiveness for my doubting  him. (But I do not believe the christian god exists-its just something I want done when I die to show how sincere I was in my searching) I am one that will go to my grave, 'not knowing' and belive it or not, I have become comfortable with it. I am hoping that someday you will feel the same my friend. Go and do something nice for yourself today and when your brain starts to torture you, tell it out loud to Stfu. My therepist told me that when you talk to your brain out loud, you are actually giving commands to it. Give it a try. Big *hug * for you today.

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Thank you for sharing that Margee. I can empathise with your 'Please Forgive Me' letter. I've considered saying one last prayer and asking God to forgive me for not believing any more. Crazy that isn't it? Praying to something because you no longer believe in that something but praying anyway in case that something is real. A final prayer in an attempt to find some sort of closure. It wouldn't be so bad if I knew I could return to the faith (even though as someone put it, it doesn't really work that way). Some say you can alway go back (prodigal son returning), some say no way. 

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I can't let go - not because I still want to believe - but because of the fear of being wrong and finding out there is a God and a hell. This is a fear I have felt mentally and physically since November 2010 at various times, and it is a truly terrible mind numbing feeling. It's so overpowering it's literally scarred me mentally. I once read that we learn to fear the actual feeling of that fear, as much as the thing causing that fear. 

 

It doesn't help that I have been diagnosed with BPD and severe anxiety. Still, who knows what the future will bring. 

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When you get to the point you realize you already live in hell, your fear of being sent there diminishes.  And then you can find the strength to get the hell out of there and to a better place.

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SeaJay some people simply need a God in their lives. You may be one of those people. If so, then hopefully you can find a version of Christianity that works for you, that isn't some form of fundamentalism. 

 

I have come come to realize some folks just can't make it through the day without God. If you are one of those people then hopefully you can find a benevolent God to believe in.

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He doesn't need a god.  His fears are incapacitating him.  He fears God is going to punish him if he doesn't show faith.  

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2 hours ago, SerenelyBlue said:

He doesn't need a god.  His fears are incapacitating him.  He fears God is going to punish him if he doesn't show faith.  

 

Ah yeah, that's why I told him that "maybe" leaving the faith isn't the thing for him to do at this point in his life. I guess one would have to ask themselves, in this kind of situation, am I more afraid of God as a believer or an unbeliever. Is it better to fear that I'm not doing enough for God, not living a good enough life, and I will be punished for that, or is it worse to believe God is out to get me and if I don't repent and return to the fold God is doing to do unimaginably horrible things to me and my loved ones.

 

If you find yourself in that situation you have to make a decision. The third option is to study more and get that religious bullshit out of your head, but for some people that is easier said than done. Indoctrination runs deep and it is not easy to overcome it.

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I'm taking the 3rd option Geezer. Still studying and questioning 

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9 minutes ago, SeaJay said:

I'm taking the 3rd option Geezer. Still studying and questioning 

 

I think that is the better option. We can all relate to how difficult it is to leave your faith. We were all indoctrinated so we know how difficult it is to get that stuff out of your head. I wish you well in your journey. 

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I just can't fathom how ex Christians get over the fear of being wrong and the prospect of hell. I feel trapped. Sometimes I feel like screaming my lungs out 

 

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God, Satan, heaven, hell, fear, anxiety all live in the brain. Deity, fairies, goblins, monsters live in the part of the brain that produces imagination. The brain is changeable - plasticity - neuroscientists term it. Your brain - your mind can literally be changed through replacing negative thoughts and images with postive ones. Fear, and anxiety can be replaced with calmness and a sense of wellbeing, through Cognitive Behavior Therapy and/or medication depending on how severe the anxiety is. Google and YouTube Dr. David Eagleman's study of the brain. Also watch neurologist Sam Harris's YT videos about brain function

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30 minutes ago, SeaJay said:

I just can't fathom how ex Christians get over the fear of being wrong and the prospect of hell. I feel trapped. Sometimes I feel like screaming my lungs out 

 

 

After 10 years of Christianity I was tired of the fear. I told God he'd just have to deal with me having some thoughts that were unbiblical. God never replied. Hell didn't seem to take root in my mind too strongly as it was kinda like "If I go there, I go there, but I'm not dealing with this fear of God and apologizing to God all the time for my thoughts." I've had a few fearful thoughts since then that Satan would 'get me' during some physically vulnerable time...driving the car, taking a shower...but it helped to visually imagine destroying Satan as well as reminding myself that I was the CEO of my life, not God.

 

 

 

For what it's worth.

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D.M. Murdock said, in one of her video's, any religion that threatens punishment for unbelief or failure to follow all their rules is a cult. I realize people argue and debate over the definition of what constitutes a cult, but I think she's right. I'm convinced, based on my personal experience, that all fundamentalists versions of Christianity meet the definition of a religious cult. If you can't just walk out the door, without retribution or threats of punishment or expulsion, you were in a cult. Don't just walk out the door run like hell....and don't look back!   :fdevil::wave:

 

 

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55 minutes ago, midniterider said:

 

After 10 years of Christianity I was tired of the fear. I told God he'd just have to deal with me having some thoughts that were unbiblical. God never replied. Hell didn't seem to take root in my mind too strongly as it was kinda like "If I go there, I go there, but I'm not dealing with this fear of God and apologizing to God all the time for my thoughts." I've had a few fearful thoughts since then that Satan would 'get me' during some physically vulnerable time...driving the car, taking a shower...but it helped to visually imagine destroying Satan as well as reminding myself that I was the CEO of my life, not God.

 

 

 

For what it's worth.

I just said a prayer that paraphrased what you said above. 

 

Thanks for the tip.

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1 hour ago, Geezer said:

D.M. Murdock said, in one of her video's, any religion that threatens punishment for unbelief or failure to follow all their rules is a cult. I realize people argue and debate over the definition of what constitutes a cult, but I think she's right. I'm convinced, based on my personal experience, that all fundamentalists versions of Christianity meet the definition of a religious cult. If you can't just walk out the door, without retribution or threats of punishment or expulsion, you were in a cult. Don't just walk out the door run like hell....and don't look back!   :fdevil::wave:

 

 

I just don't understand the need for such an unimaginably terrible punishment. Someone once said "it's so terrible - it must be man made." Meaning, if you, I, or a billion other people sat down and thought about the very worst punishment we could imagine, I'd bet it would come down to some variation of never ending suffering. And would probably involve fire somewhere down the line. Just look at fire; we've been terrified of it ever since we formed the first spark. 

 

So what if your children are misbehaving? Sure, discipline them by all means, perhaps make them live out their life time and time again until they get it right, or show them eternal life, show them what they are going to miss, and then annihilate them, or punch them in the face for a century!

 

Surely it is better to discipline that person, teach them and correct them by showing them the error of their ways, than to just throw them on the bonfire and let them writhe in agony forever.

 

It's so terrible it has to be made by man. 

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Think about this SeaJay, both the reward (heaven) & the punishment (hell) are things that cannot be proven to be true or not true. That is brilliant and clearly something human beings thought up. Rewards and punishment are mandatory for all religions. The promised reward sucks people in and the threat of a horrific punishment keeps them obedient. It's an absolutely brilliant formula. Now add God to the mix. This all powerful overseer is invisible and exists only in an inaccessible place where humans cannot go. And this all powerful deity can even read your mind, so you can't lie or conceal your sins from this super spy! And then command the believer's to give 10% of their income to support and empower this scam.

 

What an incredibly simple and effective concept that clearly was created by humans. Who would believe something like that? Apparently billions of people.

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9 hours ago, SeaJay said:

I just can't fathom how ex Christians get over the fear of being wrong and the prospect of hell. I feel trapped. Sometimes I feel like screaming my lungs out 

 

God, Satan, heaven, hell, fear, anxiety all live in the brain. Deity, fairies, goblins, monsters live in the part of the brain that produces imagination. The brain is changeable - plasticity - neuroscientists term it. Your brain - your mind can literally be changed through replacing negative thoughts and images with positive ones. Fear, and anxiety can be replaced with calmness and a sense of wellbeing, through Cognitive Behavior Therapy and/or medication depending on how severe the anxiety is. Google and YouTube Dr. David Eagleman's study of the brain. Also watch neurologist Sam Harris's YT videos about brain function

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On 8/15/2017 at 1:56 AM, SeaJay said:

I'm experiencing so much Cognitive Dissonance 

 

This is a sign of a healthy brain, at least one which is aware of different perceptions.  The fact you are torn between two opposing viewpoints is certainly better than denying and hiding from one or the other.

 

9 hours ago, SeaJay said:

I just can't fathom how ex Christians get over the fear of being wrong and the prospect of hell. I feel trapped. Sometimes I feel like screaming my lungs out 

 

 

Perhaps you could approach this from a different starting point.  In order for a hell to matter, you must have some form of life after death.  Put another way, if you were comfortable with the idea that there is no life after death, then your fear of hell may melt away.

 

Why do you believe there is life after death?  

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