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SeaJay

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SeaJay, you may want to take a look at this book, which I found to be very valuable at an early point in my deconversion:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/50-Simple-Questions-Every-Christian-ebook/dp/B00CGHRBZW/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1493807967&sr=1-1

 

Rather than being a head-on attack on Christianity, which would have rubbed me the wrong way at the time, it respectfully asks probing questions about all manner of Christian beliefs.  It was probably the single most influential book that I read during the whole process.  I think it could help you too.

 

 

 

 

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Thank you, I shall look to buy it in the near future

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Alright SeaJay. So your last (or current?) church didn't believe in hell but you hung onto your own hell nevertheless. Your hell sounds like none I've ever hear of. Do you know anyone at all that you could say with confidence is going to escape this hell that you envision? A church wouldn't promote a hell that's virtually inescapable because so very few would want to join up. Of course anything is possible but a real god whose interest is clearly in torturing his creations eternally after scaring them half to death throughout their brief lifetime is not a god you're ever going to make a get out of hell bargain with. But what are the odds of this actually being the case? Just because no one knows what happens after we die doesn't mean that every idea put forth has validity. If someone is convicted of murder based a 1 in 30 million DNA match with their fingerprints on the murder weapon and having committed the crime in full view of many witnesses with the entire murder captured on videotape there is nevertheless still a chance that this person is innocent. There is a possibility that your hell is real and waiting for us all. But it just isn't practically worth anyone's time to consider "possibilities" with such low probability. Being this cautious is counterproductive and immobilizing and even worse the possibilities are endless.  

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2 hours ago, DanForsman said:

Alright SeaJay. So your last (or current?) church didn't believe in hell but you hung onto your own hell nevertheless. Your hell sounds like none I've ever hear of. Do you know anyone at all that you could say with confidence is going to escape this hell that you envision? A church wouldn't promote a hell that's virtually inescapable because so very few would want to join up. Of course anything is possible but a real god whose interest is clearly in torturing his creations eternally after scaring them half to death throughout their brief lifetime is not a god you're ever going to make a get out of hell bargain with. But what are the odds of this actually being the case? Just because no one knows what happens after we die doesn't mean that every idea put forth has validity. If someone is convicted of murder based a 1 in 30 million DNA match with their fingerprints on the murder weapon and having committed the crime in full view of many witnesses with the entire murder captured on videotape there is nevertheless still a chance that this person is innocent. There is a possibility that your hell is real and waiting for us all. But it just isn't practically worth anyone's time to consider "possibilities" with such low probability. Being this cautious is counterproductive and immobilizing and even worse the possibilities are endless.  

 

I am betting you have never attended a true evangelical minded church in the south eastern United States then? I have heard about a torturous, everlasting, fiery hell my whole life. But here is the kicker. EVERYONE is destined to that hell because of original sin through Adam n eve. 

      The only way to escape this hell is by accepting the gift God has given us. His son Jesus who was tortured and died in our place. According to the bible one or the other is going to happen. Either we get tortured for eternity or we accept Jesus as our Lord who took the punishment for us. 

     And according to the bible, there is no other way of escaping this fate. Apparently the all powerful God of the bible has no power over this fate other than his gift of Christ. It is just the way it is. Like the law of gravity, pie, or E=MC(2 squared). Sin = torture and death in some way. It is all very well outlined in the bible. It shows us how much he loves us ??? ironic huh? But that's OK because it is apparently EVERYONE'S! FAULT! that Adam and eve ate a forbidden fruit that gave them the "knowledge" of good and evil. So apparently because humans were instilled with a sense of right and wrong we should go to hell. But before we knew right from wrong it was all good.... we could run around naked, steal, shit on the neighbors yard, piss on his roses, and fornication with his daughters and it would have been good, as long as we didn't know right from wrong. That's right we weren't taught right from wrong by our parents...... our earliest ancestors ate a fruit and it was magically bestowed upon us. 

     I'm starting to wander why I had to spank my kids and tell them not to do the bad things they did as baby's.  They should have known not to do all those things because of gods magic fruit that sends people to hell....... ya know...... why put it in the garden in the first place? I figured out quick if I didn't want my kid to get something I had to keep it out of their reach so they didn't get hurt. Wow I guess that makes me a better father than asshole bible God huh? I protected my children. He tempted his then sends them to hell and tortures them. What a messed up sadistic narcissistic sociopath he is huh?

       Ugh sorry for the rant..... I'm just a tiny ? bit upset about believing in hell most of my life, fearing said hell, and now finding out two n a half months ago it's bullshit. I went through a similar period in my childhood as sea Jay has had. I thought I had sold my soul to the devil, I was also having intrusive thoughts, (mostly laughter and voices making fun of me) I think it stemmed from watching some horror movies at a young age, Coupled with the biblical indoctrination on Sundays. Either way I may go into detail on what was going through my mind at some point but I'm not ready for that. I just know bible God is a sick and twisted fuck. 

 

DB

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Here's a question, if a Christian turns away from the faith completely, can they return to Christianity or not?

 

Some say yes, some say no, and that once you leave you don't get to change your mind and come back. 

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If you are talking about biblically. I would say yes other wise the parable of the Shepard that left the 99 sheep to find the one is false. To be a sheep in the first place you have to have accepted Jesus. 

       This would also go along with the story of the prodigal son. Who had recieved his inheritance, leaves to live in sin, then returns. In this instance God would rejoice more over the one that left than the one that stayed.

      But if your talking about whether or not you could see the truth  that the bible is false, and return with any true conviction I would have to say, "I don't see how you could". Now that I see the bible from a different perspective and have read studies on origins of the bible, re-translations, forgeries, and falsification. I don't see how I could ever return to the church and truly believe. It would be a waste my time and only fuel my contempt for Christianity. I don't want to be that guy that is the exact opposite of what I once was and argues with christians every chance I get. We have freedom of religion in this country so I respect that.

 

DB

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Thanks for the reply DB

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4 hours ago, DarkBishop said:

 

I am betting you have never attended a true evangelical minded church in the south eastern United States then? I have heard about a torturous, everlasting, fiery hell my whole life. But here is the kicker. EVERYONE is destined to that hell because of original sin through Adam n eve. 

      The only way to escape this hell is by accepting the gift God has given us. His son Jesus who was tortured and died in our place. According to the bible one or the other is going to happen. Either we get tortured for eternity or we accept Jesus as our Lord who took the punishment for us. 

Sorry about being unclear here Dark Bishop. Whenever I think oh great here I have said so many things with such an economy of words I find that I have skipped over something. I was raised in this kind of evangelical church so I definitely understand the slippery slope to hell that they present. Nevertheless these churches attempt to highlight how simply this can be avoided by accepting Jesus as your savior (whether or not some more thoughtful paritioners may have difficulty understanding how to be certain they have accomplished this "simple" task). SeaJay's hell is different in that thought crimes play a significant roll in getting a person into hell. Now there is no way for any of us to get outside out own body and mind to experience exactly what another person experiences but it is pretty widely accepted that the human brain is bombarded with all manor of thoughts than can and do simply go pinballing through the human brain unbidden at any moment. SeaJay has connected thought crimes and unpardonable sins into a kind of hell that is virtually inescapable in my view. When I was about 5 years old I can remember repeating "let Jesus come into my heart. Amen" over and over trying to concentrate on the words to the extent that other thoughts had no chance to penetrate (having varying degrees of success with this as my mind would still sometimes drift). But my thought in doing this was that perhaps I would get lucky and Jesus would come back just at a second (no man knows the day or the hour) when this desperate plan was working and the only thought I would have had at that second was this pure plea for Jesus to come into my heart so I would meet the strictest criteria and therefore almost certainly escape hell and get into heaven with the rest of my family.(not get "left behind"). It seems to me that SeaJay has a hell of this kind that practically speaking no one could escape because the escape route Jesus provides mankind is too tiny. No actual living breathing human would escape whether or not they basically believed in Jesus dying for their sins.    

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3 hours ago, SeaJay said:

Here's a question, if a Christian turns away from the faith completely, can they return to Christianity or not?

This is my point SeaJay. You focus on the unpardonable sin and the error which can never be corrected. Humans can not pass tests of this nature. We can not truthfully control our thoughts to the extent that we wipe out any possibility of certain thoughts or even certain chains of thoughts. Even considering what thoughts to avoid puts a person dangerously close to thinking those thoughts and putting those thoughts together in the forbidden wayat least for a split second or two.

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3 hours ago, DarkBishop said:

If you are talking about biblically. I would say yes other wise the parable of the Shepard that left the 99 sheep to find the one is false. To be a sheep in the first place you have to have accepted Jesus. 

       This would also go along with the story of the prodigal son. Who had recieved his inheritance, leaves to live in sin, then returns. In this instance God would rejoice more over the one that left than the one that stayed.

      But if your talking about whether or not you could see the truth  that the bible is false, and return with any true conviction I would have to say, "I don't see how you could". Now that I see the bible from a different perspective and have read studies on origins of the bible, re-translations, forgeries, and falsification. I don't see how I could ever return to the church and truly believe. It would be a waste my time and only fuel my contempt for Christianity. I don't want to be that guy that is the exact opposite of what I once was and argues with christians every chance I get. We have freedom of religion in this country so I respect that.

 

DB

 

DarkBishop is correct.  As the parables he mentions suggest, there is a sense in which one could fall away and return later.  Plenty of Christians become apathetic and drift away from their religion for various reasons, only to return to the church later.     So why does Hebrews 6:4-6 warn about apostates being unable to return?  The writer of Hebrews was not inspired by a god, rather he knew some things about human nature.  Religious faith requires not asking too many questions.  Start asking questions and one question leads to another.  That is what DarkBishop and I and most of our members here did at some point in our lives.  The writer of Hebrews knew that this could lead to a point of no return and was trying to scare Christians into not asking too many questions.  Many believers start questioning but then become scared and turn back to the comfort of the church.  DarkBishop and I reached a point of no return, where we saw that the Emperor had no clothes and the spell was broken.  DarkBishop likened it to swallowing the red pill.  Our friend Joshpantera refers to this point as becoming Intellectually Immune to Christianity.  It has lost its hold over us, a hold it acquired - in most cases - through childhood indoctrination.  Once you reach this point of intellectual immunity to theism, you can move forward with a free and peaceful mind.  Every day I enjoy the satisfaction of being free of theology and religious dogma, and of having a mind that has finally reversed the indoctrination.

 

 

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SeaJay, I don't think you need to worry. If a God exists, then that God is love. So, if you leave Christianity completely and then at a later stage want to go back, God will accept you. Otherwise God is not love. Jesus is said to have come to save sinners. He is reported to have said that not even a sparrow falls out of the sky without god knowing and caring about it. And therefore if you leave the fold and later want to return, Jesus will accept you, otherwise it is false that he came to save sinners. If he cares about sparrows, he must surely care about you.

 

You can't force yourself to believe something you just don't believe anymore. (I know. I tried so hard to do that.) You can pretend to believe. You can try to believe. You might even convince yourself you believe. But if the belief is gone, it's gone. If there is an invisible sky god, then that god gave us a brain, an intellect, and a will. What was the point, if we are condemned to burn in some mythical hell unless we are robots with no freedom to think for ourselves? It's all BS as far as I'm concerned of course, and there's no going back for me this time. But if you are wavering and scared, you don't have to worry because you are still covered by the promise that if you later regain your belief you will be accepted back into the fold like the Prodigal Son. You have to be true to yourself first. That's why I'm here really. I was in a church that had us reciting the Nicene Creed every week. I would recite it and know that I didn't believe a single word of it. I was living a lie and that ate me up. What does this god want? People who live a lie and pretend to believe something they don't, or people who are true to themselves? 

 

'This above all: to thine own self be true.'

 

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2 hours ago, DanForsman said:

Sorry about being unclear here Dark Bishop.

 

No problem Dan. I just assumed you may have been in a church that didn't define hell like the churches I went to. I apologize again for my rant. I was deeply indoctrinated after my salvation experience and used to preach against churches that didn't teach that heaven was real and Hell was hot. But now I wish I could take back every word I ever said that played into the churches fear mongering propaganda. 

       But whats done is done. Just gotta move on.

 

DB

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8 hours ago, SeaJay said:

Here's a question, if a Christian turns away from the faith completely, can they return to Christianity or not?

 

Some say yes, some say no, and that once you leave you don't get to change your mind and come back. 

 

SeaJay, since I commented on your question earlier, it occurred to me to ask why you asked this question.  Are you afraid that you are on a path that could cause you to be 'locked out' of Christianity?  Or are you looking for exactly that to happen, to get away once and for all?  You are obviously ambivalent about Christianity at present, seeing reasons to abandon it and also seeing at least one reason (fear of Hell) to stay.  Or are you just curious about Christian/Biblical teaching on the matter?

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6 hours ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

 

SeaJay, since I commented on your question earlier, it occurred to me to ask why you asked this question.  Are you afraid that you are on a path that could cause you to be 'locked out' of Christianity?  Or are you looking for exactly that to happen, to get away once and for all?  You are obviously ambivalent about Christianity at present, seeing reasons to abandon it and also seeing at least one reason (fear of Hell) to stay.  Or are you just curious about Christian/Biblical teaching on the matter?

 

 

The trouble with me wanting to not believe due to fear is complex. I have come to realise I can't force my belief either way, so I am simply going to keep studying and see where it takes me. I do know that I want a safety net of sorts, that if I decide none of it is true, there is a way back into the fold. I keep thinking, what if I proclaim I am an atheist, only to find out later, I was wrong.

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See, because there are a multitude of ways to see Hell such as even making an account here, you're screwed either way. But as quoted by LogicalFallacy. .which one? With a culmination of stories were you, like us, met with not only bullshit, but pressured ways of change from others who've experienced something called 'backsliding' and 'defying the will of god' and yet, when you're asking how exactly are you still facing very little in terms of validity. While having these fears my good sir, start to wonder where god is at this point, y'know? Wonder about why he hasn't stepped in through the midst of your current phase on reassurance, as i'm sure he could have with others who 'fear' this concept still. Because in likeness to him is there absolutely no Hell. See, look at it from this side of spectrum, that you've already joined alongside us with good reasoning and decision-making. These denominations have shown their means of presenting all certainties of wrongdoing in variants that, in attending or even researching nearly each one are you left in this state of very strong confusion once you've reached a point of expansive thoughts toward how ridiculous this all can be. Pestering, can it be though also opposed with even the most sensible such as this being the absurd existence of Hell. With time do they become excuses used against you should the christian feel a sense of well-worded threats but in the end is it to your benefit since even these people haven't a clue where they're going.

 

In church have I learned that with ignorance comes a limitless growth in idiocy and with it only on that stable increase is it all the more laughable that in you finally walking away is it to their losses on how much time they're wasting, but how they're also unable to see past the fables in their own book. Consider your mental journey to be very minor with little to truly ponder on when really it's not you, but them.

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1 hour ago, SeaJay said:

I have come to realise I can't force my belief either way, so I am simply going to keep studying and see where it takes me.

 

This is the best approach. We should never just blindly follow what we wish to be true, but rather follow the evidence where it leads. I wish you the best as you work through it all.

 

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Hi, SeaJay, and thanks for sharing your story.

 

I have the same fear of hell and eternal sin and blasphemy of the holy spirit as you do. And like you, I experience intrusive thoughts as well.

Although the content of these thoughts can sometimes be terrifying, such as ideas about hell and damnation, intrusive thoughts in themselves are a very common and recognizable phenomenon that many people experience.

For some people, it results in something as benign as an excessive concern with hand hygiene. In fact, the current illustration picture at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OCD is a person washing their hands!

For others, it results in more serious fears, such as a fear of hell.

 

The fact that seemingly random thoughts pop into your mind from time to time is quite understandable. The human mind has a fantastic ability to piece together mental images, sounds and experiences to form new ones, which we need both in order to form and recall memories, and in order to plan for the future. Some of the thoughts that pop into our mind will seem very random, like "trombone" or "Arizona". Other random thoughts might be very pleasant, and yet others might be very frightening.

Perhaps the fact that you're more conscious of where your mind is wandering than most people, coupled with a propensity for anxiety, can combine to make the frightening thoughts in particular seem especially significant.

 

When a thought that occurs to us causes a sensation of panic, it can sometimes cause a self-reinforcing chain-reaction – The thought can seem to impose itself on us against our will, and demand our attention to an extent that can be difficult to cope with, which in turn increases the fear, which in turn causes the thought to seem more imposing, and so on.

However, these thoughts are just as natural to us as a fear of heights or a phobia of spiders. And just as with phobias, it's possible to train oneself, little by little, to get better at coping with the fear, and escape the subsequent chain reaction of emotions that otherwise might have come after.

 

You mention feeling like the thoughts are coming from outside yourself. However, I would say that it's your difficulty in controlling these thoughts that's making it feel like they're not coming from you. Afterall, the brain's functioning isn't entirely voluntary, and there's no reason it should be so. If you hear a song you know well, for instance, you'll quickly remember what song it is, and can't easily choose to remember something else. People with psychosis can even have very complex and vivid experiences that are coming from inside their own mind, yet still feel as if they're coming from the outside, so your thoughts are not that unusual in that regard.

 

You also mention noticing strange coincidences like thinking of a white horse and then seeing a white horse. This I would say is an example of the http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Blue Car Syndrome , also known as the https://www.damninteresting.com/the-baader-meinhof-phenomenon/ . After thinking of the white horse, your attention will be shifted so that it notices white horses to a greater extent than before. Not only that, but you may be noticing coincidences to a greater extent than before, even though by statistics alone, we should expect to experience a large number of chance occurences every day. Richard Dawkins mentions this briefly in his series Growing Up in the Universe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHoxZF3ZgTo#t=49m18s

 

 

I hope that with time and practice, you'll find it easier to cope with these fears. As you do so, you may also find that the fears themselves lessen over time.

Thanks once again for sharing, and good luck with your journey.

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Thank you for your reply Rounin 

 

The rational side of me agrees with everything you say and Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon does seem to accurately describe what I experience

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20 hours ago, SeaJay said:

 

The trouble with me wanting to not believe due to fear is complex. I have come to realise I can't force my belief either way, so I am simply going to keep studying and see where it takes me. I do know that I want a safety net of sorts, that if I decide none of it is true, there is a way back into the fold. I keep thinking, what if I proclaim I am an atheist, only to find out later, I was wrong.

 

Hi SeaJay

 

It seems to me that you have been stuck between belief and unbelief for some years now, and that is evidently not a happy place.  In my opinion, your happiness and peace of mind require that you either go forward to a full deconversion or back, if not to traditional Christianity, then maybe to some other kind of god-belief.  Personally I suspect you would be better off making a full break from gods, heaven and hell.  But I could be wrong and in any case I suspect that the deconversion journey is one that you may be unable or unwilling to make. It concerns me that you want to maintain a safety net, an option to go back.  It's not that you have to decide now whether you will believe in god or not. But going forward involves using reason to examine the evidence, and going back requires faith. And just about everybody here will tell you that going down the path of reason is usually fatal to a god-belief.  It's not that god changes the locks when we leave the house, but rather at some stage we reach a conclusion that cannot be reversed without lying to ourselves.  Let me ask you: could you bring yourself to believe that the Earth is flat in exchange for an offer of eternal life, or a billion dollars, or 72 virgins?  Surely not.  You could convince somebody else that you believed in Flat Earth but you wouldn't convince yourself. 

 

So I think you should ask yourself if you are willing to accept the outcome if you continue to study and ask questions.  If the answer is Yes then we are here to help you on the journey that we ourselves have taken.  Most of us will tell you that, though the journey can be difficult, the destination is worthwhile, especially after the passage of time.  If you are not able to go down this road then maybe you should look for a belief system that you can accept without being torn and in turmoil.  

 

It doesn't matter to me which direction you go.  I do hope you reach a point where you have the peace and happiness that I think you deserve. 

 

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Thank you TABA

 

I'm ok with deconverting, totally. What I meant to say was, I don't want to be a non believer only to find out I was wrong. I understand what you say though, for example, there's no way I can look at Santa Claus and think 'Oh shoot! I was wrong all the time!' It's just my anxiety I may find out I am wrong some time down the road. That's my phobia of hell, it colours everything and I am forced to think of the consequences of perhaps being wrong 1, 10, 30 years down the line. I realise there are no guarantees, but I am hoping to cover as much research as I possibly can. If I arrive at the point where I just cannot carry on believing, then that's how it is. 

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SeaJay, your last message helped me to understand your position better.  Look, if you were to examine the evidence and reject Christianity (even if you declared yourself an atheist - an optional step you should only take when you're ready) and then later either reexamined the evidence or found new evidence that convinced you were wrong, and you sincerely came to believe again - you could do that!  That is the message intended by the story of the prodigal son: a just, loving god would not condemn somebody who sincerely returned.  At the same time, it is very rare to change one's mind after such a deconversion (we generally become MORE convinced, not less) and the Hebrews writer knew that.  But not impossible.  I call myself an agnostic atheist: I don't believe in any god, but I'm not CERTAIN there is none.  If convincing evidence appeared, I could conceivably cease being an atheist.  Extremely unlikely at this point, but not impossible. 

 

So I would encourage you to move forward with reading, studying and asking questions.  We may be ex-Christians but we're not working for Satan (he doesn't exist), trying to convert people to atheism come what may.  But if you're ready to move forward, we're here for you!

 

 

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I'm not able to like a post yet SeaJay but I am really behind the last two posts of ThereAndBackAgain. I deconverted at 15 and am now 69. Only since coming onto this site in 2013 have I become aware of how unsubstantiated the claims made in the bible actually are but even so at no point have I ever seriously considered becoming a christian again. That would take evidence that has not yet surfaced. I saw that in the questions area you posted the question of whether Jesus thought he would return in the lifespan of his contemporaries.You quote William Lane Craig in that section and I just wanted to mention that you should think about the quality of the arguments he presents not just in terms of logic but in how plainly and directly they address the question at hand. If Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Spirit had anything at all to do with revealing itself to mankind through the bible then would it allow the repeated misstating and mistranslating of words and passages that are crucial to getting it's desired message across .   

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