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Does It Ever End?


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(Sorry but this is going to be a ramble).

 

Does it ever end? One week I'm pretty sure I believe, the next, I'm pretty sure I don't. The next week...

 

I've been a 'believer' to one extent or the other for almost all my life (I'm 42 years young by the way). Part of me believes beacuse I believe I've experienced 'spiritual' things. I won't go into detail, I don't think it's important. Suffice to say none of them were earth shattering. Just a few fleeting visions in my mind's eye, and the usual warm fuzzy feeling when watching a certain film or reading a certain piece of literature.

 

If I'm to be totally honest with myself, there's 4 main factors here:

 

[1] I genuinely do not know either way. I don't mean 'know for definite', but I don't know enough either way to make a stance either way

[2] I'm very wary of not wanting to believe just to try life out so to speak. Kind of like a 'Oh the grass looks greener on Atheist Park' syndrome. Yes I will readily admit right now that I believe I'd be a lot more happier and 'feel' free without Christianity.

[3] Fear. I don't believe in a literal hell fire, but there's always that what if I am wrong about hell? But generally just an all round fear of being wrong. I've heard all the reasoning about 'what ifs', but it still remains. Death bed confessions impress no one.

[4] If ever I do make a decison, or rather, whenever I swing this way or that, to such an extent that I feel I've all but made one - it doesn't feel right. Either way, it feels wrong.

 

I try to look at the evidence, and I'm not sure there is any. Apart from the fact that we are indeed here. There seems to be a counter statement to every counter statement made by atheists and theists.

 

I've read the God Delusion, Misquoting Jesus, Godless, and one or two books on science. I've watched more vids by the usual suspects on youtube than I care to mention. And I've been in many debates on atheist and theist sites. But I'm still at a crossroads. I just don't know.

 

And the biggest factor of all, I'm not sure what it is I want to believe. I'm still unable to make a decision either way. People tell me don't fret, that I don't need to make a decision. But personally I do. This is the one life I have, and I'm scared of living a lie either way. I want closure, and I need closure.

 

Thanks for listening to my ramble.

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Bro, don't be too hard on yourself. This is a major decision you are making. I can understand wanting to decide one way or the other, but don't make the mistake of putting a timetable on this decision.

 

The way I approached the question ultimately was to study the bible and nothing else. My reasoning was that the bible is the foundation of the christian religion and for the religion to stand or fall it must stand or fall on the veracity of the bible. I specifically began with the four gospels and read them carefully. I read no commentaries, but decided to let the gospels speak for themselves since that is the way they are supposed to work. I read each one of them independently and then I read them horizontally. In other words, I compared the stories as told in Mark with the same story as told in Matthew with the same story as told in Luke and if it was told in John, I compared them with John's version also. I was greatly surprised at what I found. I did this by using the word processing program Microsoft Word and made table with four columns and two rows. Then I labeled each column using the first row of cells with the name of the book (Mark, Matthew, Luke, John). Then I went online to find an online bible and cut and pasted each book's version of the same story into the cell beneath the corresponding book. Here is a good online bible you can use for this purpose.

 

http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/New-International-Version-NIV-Bible/#booklist

 

Oh, and list the books in chronological order as follows: Mark, Matthew, Luke, John.

 

When you do this you will then see how the stories are manipulated, changed, and reworked with each book. It is done the same way that the author of a work of fiction does to his or her story. I came to see Mark as the first draft, Matthew as the second draft, etc. This will really open your eyes.

 

You should also look at the various promises made by Jesus in the gospels to see if they really hold any weight and if human history for the last 2000 years and your personal experience have borne out what he promised. For example, is the following promise one that has been shown to be trustworthy:

 

12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

 

John 14:12-14.

 

So the question here is whether anyone in all of history has done greater miracles than jesus was purported to have done? Then the question is whether it is true that you may ask anything in Jesus' name and he will do it? If not, then how trustworthy is the bible.

 

Continue this kind of study of the gospels and then branch out to the remaining books of the New Testament. Once you have done that, then go to the old testament. Look at the creation story and see if it makes sense. See if you are able to see the fact that there are actually two, not one, but two different creation stories melded together and see how different both of these stories really are. Ask youself if any of it really make sense in light of modern science.

 

Then move on throughout the entire bible. When you do then you will have a really good feel for how trustworthy it really is. If the bible can't stand on its own, without apologists making excuses for the problems, then that should tell you something of paramount importance.

 

Try this and see if it won't help you make a decision. It demonstrated to me that the Bible is not trustworthy and therefore the christian religion fell along with its book of mythology.

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For me, I didn't really sit on the fence either way for very long. After months & months of going through hell for various reasons I just realized one day that I didn't and couldn't believe anymore. Once I came to that realization there was no way I could go back to believing.

 

The only thing I can say is if there really is a god then he would know exactly why I lost my faith, etc. At that point if he sends me to hell then he send me to hell.

 

For now I am just going to LOVE my life in the here and now not worrying about the stupid things I used to worry about being a christian. I am the same person I was before. I still give money to worthy organizations and would help anyone if they needed it. I really am at peace.

 

Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

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My advice is look at the Bible itself. Look at the real history and not the neat-o made up stories you get in church. Read Bart Ehrman's books on the early 1st and 2nd century Christians and their beliefs and where the doctrine came from. You will understand that this New Testament Bible story is just one of many competing stories and is not necessarily the gospel truth, but one way of looking at the world - and a damn good philosophical sales job too.

 

Next, read the New Testament in original Greek. You must understand that all translations are corruptions - even a scholarly corruption like the King James. So when you are stuffing that English biblical text down your gullet, you are imbibing somebody else's ideas. Not the original authors. Those non-original authors had agendas. Try to figure out what those agendas are or were. When you are down to reading the Greek, and since this is what it is all about, figure out what the friggin' LOGOS is...as metaphor....as reality....as whatever. People have been trying to do that one out for 2,000 years. I'd bet for sure that it ain't your invisible all powerful feudal lord up in the sky.

 

After you can read Greek, go back and check out the pre-Bible old timers like Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, the sophists, etc...compare them to what you find in the bible. Next check out India, since so much of Western culture originally comes out of there. Then check Egypt. Egyptian history, Egyptian mythology. Now you are cookin'

 

Get the picture? Don't be satisfied with the jello you get spoon fed in America's so-called churches.

 

Good Luck and be careful out there.

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As it has been said above the validity of the Christian Faith rests on the veracity of the bible. A couple of good books I have read on the subject are :

 

The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible. By Robin Lane Fox.

 

This analyzes the Old and New Testaments for a) Historical accuracy, B) Internal Consistency

 

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel By Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman

This matches up the old testament to archeology

 

Another very interesting book is

 

Life After Death by Alan Segal

 

This examines the ideas of life after death in the ancient Near and Middle East and examines (in part) the development of Christian Ideas of Heaven and Hell from previous Jewish ideas and other influences.

 

 

It is worth realizing that there was no concrete reference to life after death in the OT until the book of Daniel (~150 BC) The development of Jewish ideas of afterlife judgment really developed during the interstamental era. Ideas of original sin and substitutiary atonement were developed much later

 

The Christian Faith seems like a pack of cards, it rests on the Original sin of one man, Adam - who never existed. "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor 15:22)

 

If there were no Adam - as seems certain based on fossil & Archeological evidence - then what need for Christ?

 

I may be falling into a literalist trap here - but if were are to read the bible as being metaphorical then in what sense is it true?

 

I'm still struggling for certainty myself - however this may be an impossible thing to achieve.

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I know how you feel. I was only in that state a few months ago. Even now I am not completely out of it (I still suffer somewhat from the "What if I'm wrong? Syndrome") but I know intellectually speaking that there is no reasonable case for Christianity.

 

I can't think of anything that I could say that would help sway you one way or the other as it is a personal journey for each and every person but I remember coming across the blog of an ex-Christian pastor who said that once you begin to walk on the trail of doubt you won't get off until you get to the other side. In other words, once you doubt you will lose your faith, it's just a matter of time.

 

I think the guys here have given you some excellent recommendations and hopefully you find your way through to the other side of this period of doubt.

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I know how you feel. I was only in that state a few months ago. Even now I am not completely out of it (I still suffer somewhat from the "What if I'm wrong? Syndrome") but I know intellectually speaking that there is no reasonable case for Christianity.

 

I can't think of anything that I could say that would help sway you one way or the other as it is a personal journey for each and every person but I remember coming across the blog of an ex-Christian pastor who said that once you begin to walk on the trail of doubt you won't get off until you get to the other side. In other words, once you doubt you will lose your faith, it's just a matter of time.

 

I think the guys here have given you some excellent recommendations and hopefully you find your way through to the other side of this period of doubt.

Yes I agree, there's some sound advice here from everyone. I thank you all for that. A lot of my trouble, is that theists seem to have an answer for everything. Prophecy of Tyre? Sorted, Contradictions? No problem, Historical inaccuracies? Don't be silly...and so on.

 

Take the prophecy of Tyre for example. I studied this in great depth and I'm not so certain it didn't happen just as the bible said it would. I.e. Tyre was destroyed and was never found again. Apparently there seems to be adequate evidence that King Neb and Alexander did destroy Tyre, and 'original' Tyre, here's a bit of a play on words perhaps, was destroyed, and can't be found, because 'original' Tyre is now located under Greek and Roman ruins.

 

Sorry, that's a summary, but my point, is that I'm not sure if they are barking up the wrong tree.

 

Incidentally, the worst argument I've ever had for non failure of prophecy is where King Neb lays Egypt desolate for 40 years (and the prophecy definitely means desolate in the strictest sense). The rebuttal is basicslly: "Can you prove that it didn't happen?" That's just ridiculous reasoning by theists. I'm sure the Egyptians would have recorded that.

 

Still, I'm more at peace with everything right now. After sitting down and thinking about it all, I have a hope this will be resolved sooner rather than later.

 

Thanks again all.

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Hi bro - you seem to be wanting to find some sort of definite answer, something to point to and say, thats proves beyond a doubt that there is no god. For me, it was never about the inconsistency, or the horrors of what the bible says, it was the sudden realisation that 'god' had never once answered my prayers, that the personal god that christianity teaches about did not exist. Then the house of cards just fell down, bit by bit.

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Hi bro - you seem to be wanting to find some sort of definite answer, something to point to and say, thats proves beyond a doubt that there is no god. For me, it was never about the inconsistency, or the horrors of what the bible says, it was the sudden realisation that 'god' had never once answered my prayers, that the personal god that christianity teaches about did not exist. Then the house of cards just fell down, bit by bit.

You are right, I am looking for some logical evidence that proves the bible to be unispired by its own admission. That's why I tackled the prophecy angle. If what the bible says is true (in as far as that word is used in context), then one failed prophecy for me what be strong evidence that the bible is man made.

 

As for prayers, that's a murky one for me. I've had quite a few that haven't been answered as far as I can tell (but that's the pronlem isn't it?) But I can't say for definite that I've not had a sinlge prayer answered simply because of the presence of coincidence and chance. I.e. was an answer to a prayer from God or was it merely coincidence? I can't be sure. Even prayers that haven't been answered can fall into the 'Wait a while' category as far as default Christian answers to prayer go: "Yes", "No", "Wait a while".

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To answer your title, yes, it very well might end. I waffled for many years until I eventually was totally free. Some do it in a day, some in a month, it sounds like you and me like to drag things out a bit. But take heart, hang in then, take some time off from thinking about it or caring too much, watch some football.

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Take the prophecy of Tyre for example. I studied this in great depth and I'm not so certain it didn't happen just as the bible said it would. I.e. Tyre was destroyed and was never found again. Apparently there seems to be adequate evidence that King Neb and Alexander did destroy Tyre, and 'original' Tyre, here's a bit of a play on words perhaps, was destroyed, and can't be found, because 'original' Tyre is now located under Greek and Roman ruins.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb6IaFPbNq0

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Take the prophecy of Tyre for example. I studied this in great depth and I'm not so certain it didn't happen just as the bible said it would. I.e. Tyre was destroyed and was never found again. Apparently there seems to be adequate evidence that King Neb and Alexander did destroy Tyre, and 'original' Tyre, here's a bit of a play on words perhaps, was destroyed, and can't be found, because 'original' Tyre is now located under Greek and Roman ruins.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb6IaFPbNq0

Thanks for this Citsonga. This was one of the very first rebuttals of the Tyre prophecy I saw, and it set me on my way to a whole barrel full of research. Unfortunately, it isn't as formidable a case when you throw it up against the theists. The problem was however, not so much what the vid said, but what the theists said to counter it.

 

It's very difficult to accept any case against theistic beliefs because they seem to have an answer for everything I've ever thrown at them. And the answers all seem plausible.

 

Again though, it's a brilliant vid, and I'm now going to watch it again.

 

Thank you

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The only "proof" xians have of anything is the wholly babble which has more holes than Paris Hilton and a warm fuzzy feeling. Not a lot to worry over when you really think about it. Wendyshrug.gif

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Thanks for this Citsonga. This was one of the very first rebuttals of the Tyre prophecy I saw, and it set me on my way to a whole barrel full of research. Unfortunately, it isn't as formidable a case when you throw it up against the theists. The problem was however, not so much what the vid said, but what the theists said to counter it.

 

It's very difficult to accept any case against theistic beliefs because they seem to have an answer for everything I've ever thrown at them. And the answers all seem plausible.

 

Again though, it's a brilliant vid, and I'm now going to watch it again.

 

Thank you

 

Well, I personally haven't studied the Tyre issue too much. On the surface, the video looks really good.

 

What I did study (and what solidified my disbelief after a period of questioning) was the NT claims of fulfilling OT prophecies. Time and time again the gospels take OT texts completely out of context in order to fabricate prophetic fulfillments. If they really had a true story worth believing, then why would they resort to such underhanded tactics?

 

As far as theists having "answers" for everything, well, a lot of their so-called "answers" are excuses, stretches and circular reasoning. For example, the apologetics "answer" for what I just mentioned about the fabricated prophetic fulfillments is that the OT texts were supposedly "dual prophecies." That is completely unrealistic, though. First, none of them claimed that they would have dual fulfillments, one of which would have nothing to do with the direct meaning within the context. Second, several of them were not even prophecies to begin with. Third, some of them were even reworded by NT authors to suit their purposes. Apologists arguing for "dual prophecies" with these would NEVER accept that very same argument from anyone of any other faith. It's nothing more than a ridiculous attempt to weasel out of a very serious problem with the bible.

 

I would suggest (as others have) studying the bible on your own without the influence of commentators and apologists. After spending a lot of time looking at the text reasonably and without outside bias, then look at the apologetics claims again. I am confident that you will view many of those christian "answers" in a very different light after doing so.

 

At any rate, I understand where you're coming from. I went through a similar period myself, unsure whether there was truth to christianity or not. I didn't want to stop believing, but the more I studied the bible (in an effort to strengthen my faith) the more I had trouble believing. After studying the NT's alleged prophetic fulfillments I just referred to I realized that the gospels were concocted on serious misrepresentations. Thus, I could no longer view the bible as a reliable source of information, and therefore the very foundation of christianty crumbled before my eyes.

 

Anyway, good luck on your search. And, remember, it should not be about wanting to believe or wanting to not believe, it should be about wanting truth, regardless of where it leads.

 

Enjoy the journey ahead of you....

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Well, I personally haven't studied the Tyre issue too much. On the surface, the video looks really good.

 

What I did study (and what solidified my disbelief after a period of questioning) was the NT claims of fulfilling OT prophecies. Time and time again the gospels take OT texts completely out of context in order to fabricate prophetic fulfillments. If they really had a true story worth believing, then why would they resort to such underhanded tactics?

This actually is my next plan of action. To study the prophecies concerning Jesus from the point of view of the Jews. I've had a book recommended to me and hope to start real soon.

 

As far as theists having "answers" for everything, well, a lot of their so-called "answers" are excuses, stretches and circular reasoning. For example, the apologetics "answer" for what I just mentioned about the fabricated prophetic fulfillments is that the OT texts were supposedly "dual prophecies." That is completely unrealistic, though. First, none of them claimed that they would have dual fulfillments, one of which would have nothing to do with the direct meaning within the context. Second, several of them were not even prophecies to begin with. Third, some of them were even reworded by NT authors to suit their purposes. Apologists arguing for "dual prophecies" with these would NEVER accept that very same argument from anyone of any other faith. It's nothing more than a ridiculous attempt to weasel out of a very serious problem with the bible.

Yup. This is pretty much what I've encountered over the years too. A lot of square pegs and round holes.

 

I would suggest (as others have) studying the bible on your own without the influence of commentators and apologists. After spending a lot of time looking at the text reasonably and without outside bias, then look at the apologetics claims again. I am confident that you will view many of those christian "answers" in a very different light after doing so.

Whilst I'm not prepared to start reading the bible cover to cover right now at least, I've started to read what I come across with an open unbiased mind.

 

At any rate, I understand where you're coming from. I went through a similar period myself, unsure whether there was truth to christianity or not. I didn't want to stop believing, but the more I studied the bible (in an effort to strengthen my faith) the more I had trouble believing. After studying the NT's alleged prophetic fulfillments I just referred to I realized that the gospels were concocted on serious misrepresentations. Thus, I could no longer view the bible as a reliable source of information, and therefore the very foundation of christianty crumbled before my eyes.

I'm hoping I'll find closure as well. I've read all the theist point of views, now I'm going at it from an atheist point of view.

 

Anyway, good luck on your search. And, remember, it should not be about wanting to believe or wanting to not believe, it should be about wanting truth, regardless of where it leads.

Agreed.

 

Enjoy the journey ahead of you....

I'll try.

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As far as theists having "answers" for everything, well, a lot of their so-called "answers" are excuses, stretches and circular reasoning. For example, the apologetics "answer" for what I just mentioned about the fabricated prophetic fulfillments is that the OT texts were supposedly "dual prophecies." That is completely unrealistic, though. First, none of them claimed that they would have dual fulfillments, one of which would have nothing to do with the direct meaning within the context. Second, several of them were not even prophecies to begin with. Third, some of them were even reworded by NT authors to suit their purposes. Apologists arguing for "dual prophecies" with these would NEVER accept that very same argument from anyone of any other faith. It's nothing more than a ridiculous attempt to weasel out of a very serious problem with the bible.

Yup. This is pretty much what I've encountered over the years too. A lot of square pegs and round holes.

 

In addition, consider the fact that other religions have their apologists as well.

 

For example, check out the following video by a Muslim apologist, and take note of how he's just as good as Christian apologists at using slick arguments that continue to persuade the already convinced.

 

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As far as theists having "answers" for everything, well, a lot of their so-called "answers" are excuses, stretches and circular reasoning. For example, the apologetics "answer" for what I just mentioned about the fabricated prophetic fulfillments is that the OT texts were supposedly "dual prophecies." That is completely unrealistic, though. First, none of them claimed that they would have dual fulfillments, one of which would have nothing to do with the direct meaning within the context. Second, several of them were not even prophecies to begin with. Third, some of them were even reworded by NT authors to suit their purposes. Apologists arguing for "dual prophecies" with these would NEVER accept that very same argument from anyone of any other faith. It's nothing more than a ridiculous attempt to weasel out of a very serious problem with the bible.

Yup. This is pretty much what I've encountered over the years too. A lot of square pegs and round holes.

 

In addition, consider the fact that other religions have their apologists as well.

 

For example, check out the following video by a Muslim apologist, and take note of how he's just as good as Christian apologists at using slick arguments that continue to persuade the already convinced.

 

You are right. I watched this guy about two years ago and thought he was brilliant. I watched the older guy too, Deedat or something. He was even better.

 

Just goes to show, you can spin it any way you want

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For me, it is not about science or anyone else's ideas but my own. My doubt started over watching christians treat people badly, and then having them treat me badly. I was a true believer, in the sense that I believed I had a very close relationship with god. Coming from a pentecostal position, I had believed from reading the bible that we are supposed to become progressively more christminded the longer we were christians. After 36 years as a christian though, I began to realise that the whole thing was more about social conformity to the church group, and not about being transformed by god at all. The alleigance was always to the religious group, even when they were clearly wrong, and the decisions they made hurt people.

 

Now I don't know what I believe, and even more importantly I don't care. I have become progressively more loving and kind over the fifty years I have been alive, but I don't know why. Its probably just my personality :) I don't believe anyone can know whether god exists or not, and I don't know why people twist themselves inside out about it. Eighteen months out of christianity I am still the same person I have always been except now I have sex, say fuck and I no longer obsessively beat myself to death for not being better than perfect. If there is no god, I still sleep at night because I treat others the way I want to be treated and that is who I am. I no longer really believe in an afterlife.

 

If there is a god, and the fact that I have sex with my partner means I am evil, I am happy to wear it. What really matters to me is that the principles I initially learned from the bible that make me a moral and caring person are still part of who I am. What matters is do I add to the world or take from it? That has ALWAYS been my concern, and it always will be.

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For me, it is not about science or anyone else's ideas but my own. My doubt started over watching christians treat people badly, and then having them treat me badly. I was a true believer, in the sense that I believed I had a very close relationship with god. Coming from a pentecostal position, I had believed from reading the bible that we are supposed to become progressively more christminded the longer we were christians. After 36 years as a christian though, I began to realise that the whole thing was more about social conformity to the church group, and not about being transformed by god at all. The alleigance was always to the religious group, even when they were clearly wrong, and the decisions they made hurt people.

 

Now I don't know what I believe, and even more importantly I don't care. I have become progressively more loving and kind over the fifty years I have been alive, but I don't know why. Its probably just my personality :) I don't believe anyone can know whether god exists or not, and I don't know why people twist themselves inside out about it. Eighteen months out of christianity I am still the same person I have always been except now I have sex, say fuck and I no longer obsessively beat myself to death for not being better than perfect. If there is no god, I still sleep at night because I treat others the way I want to be treated and that is who I am. I no longer really believe in an afterlife.

 

If there is a god, and the fact that I have sex with my partner means I am evil, I am happy to wear it. What really matters to me is that the principles I initially learned from the bible that make me a moral and caring person are still part of who I am. What matters is do I add to the world or take from it? That has ALWAYS been my concern, and it always will be.

Excellent post, though I'm reminded of a saying; 'Don't judge Christ by his Christians'. Another was 'The Church is perfect - the people ain't'.

 

I hear what you are saying though, if they had the spirit which they claim they do, why do they act no differently and in some cases worse than the godless.

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I would like to address the Fear or "what if I'm wrong". What kind of life do you think you will be living if you finally give up religion?

 

I live without any guilt at all, I treat others with respect, I know right from wrong, I help those who need it. I lead a good and moral life. I don't need a figure to threaten me with eternal damnation or fire up my ass to know how to live a good life.

Just because I don't believe in god doesn't mean I can't be wrong, but if I am, so what. I have led a good life and if that is what we are judged upon, I have nothing to worry about. If the criteria to get into "heaven" is to live with guilt and fear, give my money to some hypocrite every sunday and to judge everyone that is not like me....shit! I'm not getting in and I don't want to spend the rest of eternity with those that do.

 

"Christians" really do hate us, they are envious of the way we live. We don't carry around the guilt, hate, and prejudices that religion says we are supposed to. I don't believe in a book that tells me to hate gays, therefore I don't hate gays. I don't believe in a book that tells me to treat women as second hand citizens, therefore I don't treat women as second hand citizens.....and so on. The biggest group of folks that try to instill fear are the ministers and priests. Think about it, their only job is to convince us that they can save us from a place that doesn't exist. Without their flock, their profit margin goes down. Take the money out of religion and we will have a place to house the homeless for there will be countless empty churches.

 

As a whole, we are educated, moral, thinking individuals. Most of us lead a life that is rewarding right now and if we are wrong (ha) we really have nothing to fear from the hereafter either.

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I would like to address the Fear or "what if I'm wrong". What kind of life do you think you will be living if you finally give up religion?

 

I live without any guilt at all, I treat others with respect, I know right from wrong, I help those who need it. I lead a good and moral life. I don't need a figure to threaten me with eternal damnation or fire up my ass to know how to live a good life.

Just because I don't believe in god doesn't mean I can't be wrong, but if I am, so what. I have led a good life and if that is what we are judged upon, I have nothing to worry about. If the criteria to get into "heaven" is to live with guilt and fear, give my money to some hypocrite every sunday and to judge everyone that is not like me....shit! I'm not getting in and I don't want to spend the rest of eternity with those that do.

 

"Christians" really do hate us, they are envious of the way we live. We don't carry around the guilt, hate, and prejudices that religion says we are supposed to. I don't believe in a book that tells me to hate gays, therefore I don't hate gays. I don't believe in a book that tells me to treat women as second hand citizens, therefore I don't treat women as second hand citizens.....and so on. The biggest group of folks that try to instill fear are the ministers and priests. Think about it, their only job is to convince us that they can save us from a place that doesn't exist. Without their flock, their profit margin goes down. Take the money out of religion and we will have a place to house the homeless for there will be countless empty churches.

 

As a whole, we are educated, moral, thinking individuals. Most of us lead a life that is rewarding right now and if we are wrong (ha) we really have nothing to fear from the hereafter either.

Hello Scruggs.

 

Personally I'm not affiliated with any Christian denomination, so I don't get told stuff by a priest of minister. I also don't pay a tithe.

 

Guilt? Fear? To a certain extent, but I don't view them as negatives. I see them more as a warning that I'm getting 'off track' to coin a phrase. Keeps me on my toes and I get a lot of practice to control my baser instincts. It's character building, helps me keep my emotions in check. In fact, I'd go as far as saying it helps me chill out. But yes, not all days are the same.

 

I'm a go it alone at home believer, and I like it that way. I play by the rules, I read the bible (actually re started today), and I'm feeling good about it all.

 

What I'm saying is that I don't feel a need to jump through man's hoops, I'm free to practice my faith as I wish and it's good. I don't feel oppressed, and all heavy. It gives me motivation and a goal as well.

 

Sorry if this sounds like I'm trying to prove I 'sound happier than you'. That's definitely not my intention. For all I know you are miles happier than I'll ever be. I'm just attempting to show you there are different perspectives.

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I went through a similar path as yours, which amounted to uncomfortable waffling.

 

I finally realized that I am different from believers in one key and substantial area. I'm a skeptical person who requires evidence before I can wholeheartedly accept claims of any sort; otherwise, I might as well believe in fairies, trolls, vampires, Big Foot, zombies, alien abductions, Santa Clause, Easter bunnies, and so on.

 

I'm a skeptic and truth seeker, and my world view is based on evidence and reality, while religious people obediently follow a belief system that requires faith because it is based on ancient, cherry-picked tales, patched together with usage of "the god of the gaps" and/or silly statements, such as "god works in mysterious ways." Their defense of Christianity grows weaker and weaker as science and human knowledge grows ever stronger. For many of them, they find comfort in religion and do not require proof and do not have a desire to seek real truth as it makes them unsettled.

 

Additionally, I studied up about the brain and realized that much of what I thought I'd seen or felt was nothing more than the power of my own brain, and there was nothing "spiritual" going on. I also think "wish thinking" is what the believers are doing: They wish (and pray) so much that god will guide them or say something to them, that they believe it happened or that they "felt" him.

 

Anyway, I'm a skeptic about all religions or about any gods until there is clear and convincing evidence that can stand on its own and doesn't require "faith" to believe it. It hasn't happened in 2000 years, so I'm not holding my breath.

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