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dustmouse
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I am copying and posting this from Lisa's thread because she suggested it!

 

As for me I need to get past the if-I-turn-away-from-christ-I-am-going-to-hell bit that is ingrained in my head. 

 

:sigh:

 

That notion has been pushed into my head for 24 years now... and I have been a Christian, been an Ex-Christian, been a Christian, been an Ex-Christian, and have been a Christian now for 2 years and almost 6 months. 

 

And I think the whole thing with the leaving-comingback-repeat is that I can't get the going-to-hell out of my head.

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Welcome, Dustmouse! Many of us here struggle, off and on, with the reality of the FEAR of the existence of hell and the possibility of ending up there. Whatever notion one might have about hell, the fear is real, very real.

 

I'm in the middle of dinner preparations and probably won't be able to get back to you until tomorrow but I thought I'd leave you with a little bit of reading material, here: To Hell With Hell

 

Please note that this is an archived discussion, so our posts are there but the bells and whistles are missing. After some brainstorming, Lokmer and I started this thread together. (At the time I was still a Christian.) Working together on this made for a very interesting format and provided a most congenial platform for Ex-Christians (and Christians) to talk openly about hell and the fears we live with.

 

A most significant post was made by Loren in which he identifies this implantation of the hell doctrine, deep inside us, often when we were mere children, as neurological sabotage. You said it was ingrained and that's the truth, isn't it? That was the plan, after all. The fear of hell enslaves many people who never depart from the church and its religion for that reason alone. I'm sure Loren will show up here, as well as Lokmer, among others to participate in this discussion. It's one of the most frightening issues we deal with when we exit Christianity and we know that.

 

Make yourself at home; we're glad to have you with us.

 

Reach

Ex-Christian Atheist

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Thanks Reach, I am glad to be here!!!

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Yeah, that was one of the nastiest things that I dealt with when I left, and I'll admit, even years after leaving, every once in a while, that thought comes back to haunt me, never as strong as it once was, but a fear that deeply set into you, is really hard to remove. It is one of the harder side-effects of christianity to hack out of one's head.

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No kidding!

 

Dustmouse, I came across this quote Fwee posted on another thread and just wanted to add it here as I think it fits the topic at hand.

 

The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was fifteen years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean, sweet breath again this side of the grave. - Mark Twain

 

As much as is possible, I make the effort to maintain an optimistic hope rather than this dismal view but Twain's experience was that exposure to the Bible is a foul thing, the toxins of which are never thoroughly expurgated, nor dispelled. That being the case, we must use an antidote.

 

 

Note: Loren was here and will post later. :)

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Yeah, that was one of the nastiest things that I dealt with when I left, and I'll admit, even years after leaving, every once in a while, that thought comes back to haunt me, never as strong as it once was, but a fear that deeply set into you, is really hard to remove.  It is one of the harder side-effects of christianity to hack out of one's head.

 

Which is exactly why I'm always floored by the survivers that come here.

 

I can't imagine what it's like to overcome that.

 

Merlin

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Guest JP1283

Hi Dustmouse,

 

I am dealing with similar fears. I have dealt with the fear of hell, fear of having committed the unforgivable sin, fear of the Rapture/end of the world, even a general fear of God existing. I'm coming to terms with all of these and I owe a lot of that to these forums. If you're going to hell, so am I, and believe me, we'll be in good company. Enjoy your stay at the forums. If you ever need someone to talk to, feel free to send me a private message.

 

JP

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No kidding!

 

Dustmouse, I came across this quote Fwee posted on another thread and just wanted to add it here as I think it fits the topic at hand.

 

The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was fifteen years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean, sweet breath again this side of the grave. - Mark Twain

 

As odd as it may seem, the writings of Mark Twain played a large part in helping me get rid of my fear(s) of hell. (and a lot of other theological baloney)

 

After reading The Diary of Adam and Eve, The Mysterious Stranger, Letters from Earth, Christian Science, and other works of his that I can't recall at the moment, I realized what magic was actually in his writings.

 

There were times when his words made me laugh until I was in tears. While other times, they took me right into the tears without the laughter. If there is one thing that I learned from Mark Twain, it is the absurdity that is religion.

 

Below, I'm posting an excerpt from Christian Science. Read it slow, and pay close attention to the main character. :HaHa:

 

Book I - Chapter I

 

 

VIENNA 1899.

 

This last summer, when I was on my way back to Vienna from the Appetite-Cure in the mountains, I fell over a cliff in the twilight, and broke some arms and legs and one thing or another, and by good luck was found by some peasants who had lost an ass, and they carried me to the nearest habitation, which was one of those large, low, thatch-roofed farm-houses, with apartments in the garret for the family, and a cunning little porch under the deep gable decorated with boxes of bright colored flowers and cats; on the ground floor a large and light sitting-room, separated from the milch-cattle apartment by a partition; and in the front yard rose stately and fine the wealth and pride of the house, the manure-pile.

 

That sentence is Germanic, and shows that I am acquiring that sort of mastery of the art and spirit of the language which enables a man to travel all day in one sentence without changing cars.

 

There was a village a mile away, and a horse doctor lived there, but there was no surgeon. It seemed a bad outlook; mine was distinctly a surgery case. Then it was remembered that a lady from Boston was summering in that village, and she was a Christian Science doctor and could cure anything. So she was sent for. It was night by this time, and she could not conveniently come, but sent word that it was no matter, there was no hurry, she would give me "absent treatment" now, and come in the morning; meantime she begged me to make myself tranquil and comfortable and remember that there was nothing the matter with me. I thought there must be some mistake.

 

"Did you tell her I walked off a cliff seventy-five feet high?"

 

"Yes."

 

"And struck a boulder at the bottom and bounced?"

 

"Yes."

 

"And struck another one and bounced again?"

 

"Yes."

"And struck another one and bounced yet again?"

 

"Yes."

 

"And broke the boulders?"

 

"Yes."

 

"That accounts for it; she is thinking of the boulders. Why didn't you tell her I got hurt, too?"

 

"I did. I told her what you told me to tell her: that you were now but an incoherent series of compound fractures extending from your scalp-lock to your heels, and that the comminuted projections caused you to look like a hat-rack."

 

"And it was after this that she wished me to remember that there was nothing the matter with me?"

 

"Those were her words."

 

"I do not understand it. I believe she has not diagnosed the case with sufficient care. Did she look like a person who was theorizing, or did she look like one who has fallen off precipices herself and brings to the aid of abstract science the confirmations of personal experience?"

 

"Bitte?"

 

It was too large a contract for the Stubenmadchen's vocabulary; she couldn't call the hand. I allowed the subject to rest there, and asked for something to eat and smoke, and something hot to drink, and a basket to pile my legs in; but I could not have any of these things.

 

"Why?"

 

"She said you would need nothing at all."

 

"But I am hungry and thirsty, and in desperate pain."

 

"She said you would have these delusions, but must pay no attention to them. She wants you to particularly remember that there are no such things as hunger and thirst and pain.''

 

"She does does she?"

 

"It is what she said."

 

Does she seem to be in full and functionable possession of her intellectual plant, such as it is?"

 

"Bitte?"

 

"Do they let her run at large, or do they tie her up?"

 

"Tie her up?"

 

"There, good-night, run along, you are a good girl, but your mental Geschirr is not arranged for light and airy conversation. Leave me to my delusions."

 

Mark Twain... no one, and I mean nobody can ridicule, and bring out the absurdity in religion and superstition the way that he did.

 

May God give rest to his soul. :wub:

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Thanks you guys! I don't have time to read now (only skim) because I am already gonna be late to work if I don't get my rear in gear here... but I will be back late tonight to read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Thanks!

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Hi, and welcome, Dustmouse!

 

After you read the Hell thread in that link Reach provided, would you mind giving us a little better idea of what the Hell stuff puts you through? We could address things that are more specific to you, instead of just talking generally.

 

Looking forward to having a good, fruitful discussion with you about all that godawful Hell shit.

 

 

Loren

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I have been looking back through the old hell thread and attempting to come up with something fresh to say on the subject. But, truth to tell, there isn't a lot new to say in the abstract.

 

In the concrete, I can tell you that I know the fear and the pain it causes, and encourage you from the bottom of my heart to learn as much as you need to about how the idea came to be, and why it isn't even viable Christian doctrine (let alone real in any concrete sense).

 

My heart goes out to you, Dustmouse. Courage and fortitute, combined with curiosity, will take you far down the road to recovery. And I, like the others who have responed, am here if you need more. Particular questions pondered, support, reactions, or spirited discussion are yours for the asking.

 

Hugs and smiles to you - it does get better

-Lokmer

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What helped me with the whole hell thing was plain and simple logic. If the Bible is fiction, then hell must be also. I cannot believe in an alternate dimension (which has never been proven to exist, btw) made up of fire and brimstone, where people, including children and babies, are tortured for the crime of not being a member of the Christian religion. That is what the Bible says. That is what you are supposed to swallow as a Christian. How people can worship and love a being who would do something like that is beyond me.

 

It is naturally a human thing to want your enemies severely punished, but come on...to say that people who are Jewish or Hindu or Muslim or something like that deserve eternal punishment for growing up in another culture is nothing except sheer bigotry. It is bigotry disguised as false love, which is the worst kind. I say false because the Biblical god only loves those who bow down to him and obey his every command, like a human tyrant. That's not love, it's fear.

 

It's only logical to assume that since the Bible was written by humans, it falls into the category of fiction, and not very good fiction at that. It's filled with gaping plot holes and contradictions that reveal themselves if you read the whole thing from start fo finish. If you only memorize a handful of verses and think that's what is in the Bible, it's like looking into a dark room and seeing one speck of light on the wall, but ignoring the darkness all around you. But that is what so many people do.

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Just wanted to pop in and say that I am not ignoring this thread... I've just been incredibly busy with long hours at work!! I have off Monday (FINALLY) so hopefully I will be able to go through everything then!

 

Thanks so much for everything so far!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Well I have really enjoyed this thread and all the caring I see going on here. That's great! You guys are such a comfort!

 

Basically, for me, finding out the many of the biblical "truths" are actually older Paggen beliefs did it for me.......

The whole virgin thing had already been done prior

The God coming to earch thing had already been used prior

Going to "hell" had already been used prior.....

 

There are so many more!

 

But also, I had decided if I couldn't believe the bible, or believe in Jesus, then the heaven/hell thing must be false as well.

 

I agree so much with what everyone has posted here.

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Ansacht !! You're here!

 

Its good to see you! Yes..the fear of hell..I remember that..

Even when I went back briefly though, I chose to not believe in hell. Its just too...illogical. Not that many other things are not illogical, just that that was one thing I could not accept any longer.

 

My fear comes in more from..what will god do to me if I don't believe it all? Like..will stuff start going horribly wrong in my life? If something bad seems to happen..I will wonder..and want to "repent"..and then reality sets in.

 

I know you got "here" here before me..but..welcome!

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I don't think I'll have a big problem with the 'hell' issue since I haven't believed in hell for over a year now.

 

But you never know when fear will raise it's ugly head and wrap itself around my brain again.

 

 

 

'Be gone from me, for thy name is FEAR?' Sorry, that thought just came to me. I have had strange thoughts like that lately. Things like that and that the church is the anti-christ and thus only fights with itself.

 

As I've said, I'm newly deconverted and I am trying to reverse certain concepts that have been deeply rooted. Surely there is a better way though, but I feel like my mind is a little 'bent' right now.

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Ansacht !!  You're here!

 

Its good to see you!  Yes..the fear of hell..I remember that..

Even when I went back briefly though, I chose to not believe in hell.  Its just too...illogical.  Not that many other things are not illogical, just that that was one thing I could not accept any longer.

 

My fear comes in more from..what will god do to me if I don't believe it all?  Like..will stuff start going horribly wrong in my life?  If something bad seems to happen..I will wonder..and want to "repent"..and then reality sets in.

 

I know you got "here" here before me..but..welcome!

 

 

I'm more afraid of the reactions of real people then any so called God or Hell.

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You know what is really funny not-like-funny-haha-but-funny-like-shake-your-head-pathetic-funny?

 

I am already over my hell-thing.

 

 

Because I sat down and thought.. you know, even if I put myself through misery trying to force myself to believe in something I don't really believe in, I am going to hell anyway, according to most scripture interps because of the throwing-salvation-back-in-his-face-is-blasphemy-the-only-unforgiveable-sin thing. And I had already been there done that and so my 'return' to Christ was, according to Christianity, fruitless anyway.

 

So why suffer if according to that I am going to hell no matter what I do?

 

 

Why not believe what I really feel connected and tied to instead of a bunch of jabber that puts me in the fiery pits anyway??

 

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You know what is really funny not-like-funny-haha-but-funny-like-shake-your-head-pathetic-funny?

 

I am already over my hell-thing.

Because I sat down and thought.. you know, even if I put myself through misery trying to force myself to believe in something I don't really believe in, I am going to hell anyway, according to most scripture interps because of the throwing-salvation-back-in-his-face-is-blasphemy-the-only-unforgiveable-sin thing.  And I had already been there done that and so my 'return' to Christ was, according to Christianity, fruitless anyway.

 

So why suffer if according to that I am going to hell no matter what I do?

Why not believe what I really feel connected and tied to instead of a bunch of jabber that puts me in the fiery pits anyway??

 

 

 

Yeah, on the other hand, on that route of thinking, there is the OSAS.......

 

I think the important thing in the process, what has helped me most was the research and coming to understand it was all false......

I know its hard...and even seems shocking at first.

 

Anyhoo, I'd love to see you here more, my friend! :grin:

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Welcome dustmouse...

 

ExC is a cool place to help placate those deeply set fear of eternal fire and damnation..

 

No easy answers, no *blue pill* to take, nothing but the help, care and even support of folks who are where you are at, or Been There-Done That...

 

Come on in, pull up a sit, best place to spend on.line, on.ass time for your mind..

 

n

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I deal with the same thing too but what gives me comfort is the fact that I keep an open mind and an open heart with sincerity so if the bible is true I will discover it. The other thing is that if Christianity is not meant to be a religion of fear, then hell should not be the reason why I believe, love and truth ought to be.

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Hey Dustmouse.

 

I understand the fear. We've all gone through that. I thought maybe, just maybe the way I got through it might help you.

 

First, make sure you have some time to yourself. I mean it. Like a full day if possible.

 

Remove all distractions so you can focus on one thought. Namely the fear of hell. Go ahead and feel the fear. Experience it as much as you can. (sounds nutty, but trust me on this).

 

When your mind comes back from the fear (it has to, you can't sustain panicky fear without something tangible to cause it), ask yourself, is there PROOF of hell? I mean real proof. The bible is not proof, that is a book. Book doesn't mean proof. And ask yourself who benefits from your fear of hell?

 

Now it's time to go through a different fear. This is actually more frightening than it sounds surprisingly. Realize that NO ONE absolutely knows what happens when we die. IF you really think about this, it IS scary. But also remind yourself that no one has ANY real verifiable answers when it comes to our purpose, the meaning of life, or anything at all about where we stand in the universe. They only have opinions.

 

Now that you're tingling from the fear coming from the fact that no one, not even you has any real answers and the sense that no one can help you....ask yourself where needing answers to these questions fall in terms of the quality of your own life? What is the real priority of these questions? Is your live and how you live it changed by NOT knowing what is going to happen?

 

And is not knowing the answers really all that frightening in light that you have a life to get on with that has questions and problems of it's own that are actually ANSWERABLE?

 

Think of your life. All the things you want to do. Goals you want to achieve. The potential happiness you're striving for. Realize that all the fear you've gone through just now serves absolutely no positive influence on your life. Especially as that fear is really just hyped up worry. True fear has a tangible cause and cannot be sustained. Worry however, can last a Loooong time and come out of seemingly nowhere.

 

Ask yourself if it's worthwhile to WORRY about intangibles your whole life.

 

What are you waiting for? Get on with your life!

 

Lastly a nice little thing that a very smart writer, Frank Herbert came up with.

 

The Litany against Fear:

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see it's path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

 

Good luck, hugs and kisses.

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For me studying the christian belief of universal redemption and universalism in general got me over the fear of hell. Universal redemption is where everyone eventually gets into heaven. Some believe there is a hell in between but it is remedial and temporary, others believe differently but all agree hell if it exists doesn't last long. There are plenty of verses that show this, along with seeing christian history apart from the bible. From what I see the universal redemption belief became corrupted and twisted by later christian leaders who wanted to use fear to control their flocks (and empire).

 

In any case, the eternal hell belief is most illogical anyway. There is no good purpose to it. It's proponents can not justify it without looking utterly foolish and hypocritical. Universal redemption on the other hand makes more sense, and the bible does come out more coherent then it did prior. Also the "fruits" of those who believe in eternal hell differ greatly from those that believe in universalism from what I see.

 

All that doesn't mean that the bible is true and that god exists though. Most universalist christians tend to be just as dumb as fundies on things like creationism and obsessions with eschatology. All I know is that I see the eternal hell belief wrong on all levels and reasoning. Stuff that'd helped me research:

 

Spirit of the Word

Has tons of articles and all the links you can handle. Particularly the online book it has Universalism: The Prevailing Doctrine Of the Christian Church During Its First Five-Hundred Years is quite interesting.

 

Martin Zender

I love this guy. He's funny as all hell. He's a christian who doesn't believe in hell and the whole church institution. He wrote a book that I bought, "Martin Zender Goes to Hell" were he kicks the shit out of the whole hell belief. He has free writings and audio clips online. Most of all the info on universalism or universal redemption you need is all accesible for free over the internet. So buying books isn't necessary. His books are a fun read though.

 

Though I studied all about christian universalism, I never really reconverted to it (though it is tempting). Christianity still has a few issues to say the least. It could all be myth as people say for all I know. But again, the eternal hell believe is beyond twisted. It doesn't even work in their own bible. Look also at what the belief causes people to do. I think examing what it does to people, and what non-hell beliefs do is a real eye opener. :scratch:

 

Don't worry so much about it all. Though I'd say it is the largest obstacle to overcome. I really don't think any god would be that mean and stupid.

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My husband and I were talking about this the other night and he told me (finally) that he believes in universal redemption....!! That really suprised me as he was born and raised catholic to the point of he had once planned to go into the priesthood....!!!!

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