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Kat34

Recurring fears

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I don’t know if anyone can help but I’m in a very confused place at the moment... for a few years now I’ve felt there are intellectual and moral difficulties with Christianity being true and with it being untrue. 

 

I was brought up by a mum who was a born again Christian and a dad who thought being a Christian was about a certain kind of behaviour and when asked if he was one said he “hoped so”. My mum explained the difference to me and I prayed every night he would become a Christian; I was terrified of him going to hell. He did become one a couple of years before he died when I was 12. 

 

I started to lose interest in Christianity until age 15 I suddenly (I can remember the moment) developed an intense fear about the concept of eternity and then about the end times, second coming and hell. I renewed my commitment to Jesus based on these fears and worried constantly about the eternal fate of others. Despite lots of desperate praying at this time and subsequently, I never felt God for myself.

 

Over the next few years I went through phases of being more and less interested in Christianity. I’d manage to forget my fears for months at a time and then they’d return. In my early 20s I read A Severe Mercy, which I found incredibly moving and hoped was the start of a path back to God. A little later I read The Evangelical Universalist and The Inescapable Love of God, which I felt began to address some of the problems I’d always had with the concept of original sin and hell. I had continued to have a huge fear of the second coming and for the eternal destiny of my then partner; these last two books gave me some hope. 

 

In the last few years I began to doubt for the first time the truth of Christianity at all, based on increasing life experience and understanding of other fields and helped by a friend who’d been a Christian firebrand at university but who had lost his faith. The consequences of this new way of thinking were a huge sense of freedom and peace and the ability to look at “controversial” issues (homosexuality, abortion, transgenderism etc.) in a new way. They were also a markedly increased awareness of my own mortality (now that people might not live forever) and of health anxiety and a fear of dying young and a loss of the sense that ultimately all will be put right, of the many atrocities that have taken place over the ages being addressed. I’ve always believed if punishment is to have any purpose it must be rehabilitative rather than vengeful and books like The Inescapable Love of God had fitted in my with feeling that people needed to be brought to an understanding of the impact their wrong actions had on others (rather than being physically or mentally tortured forever). If there was no God, people like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc. would never face any kind of accountability for the suffering they had inflicted on millions. The source of morality was also gone - if there was no God, why did I care about such things?

 

While I have continued to lean towards the idea that Christianity isn’t true, those questions remain. However what disturbs me most is the lingering fear that it could still be true after all. I get moments of terror now and again thinking about the second coming happening and hell being real. Having my second baby a week ago has triggered existential questions and fear; after my first baby I only feared what could happen in this world but now I’m constantly worrying that hell is real and if it is my children could end up there. This is the most horrific thought imaginable and I keep fixating on it and feeling fear, rather than being able to enjoy my new baby. 

 

I’ve read through the other threads on fear of hell and I empathise with a comment someone made about it almost being hardwired into our brains in childhood. I just don’t know how to find peace because ultimately, however unjust and awful we think hell sounds, we cannot know for certain what the truth is about what happens when we die. I just want to be free of this fear.

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I really appreciate you all for taking the time to reply. I’m thinking carefully about everything that’s being said. I’ve spent most of today reading Marlene Winell articles. The Christianity she describes is in many ways more extreme than I experienced but I very much relate to what she says about fear of apocalypse, damnation, hell etc. I once told my mum how frightening it had been for me as a child to think about hell and how scared I’d been of dad going there and how I felt that was a lot for a child to cope with. Her response was but it’s true (hell), that my prayers had helped (because my dad became a Christian) and that I had some very sentimental ideas about childhood. 

I’m aware that I must have a sensitive disposition; I find it interesting that none of her 3 children have pursued with the faith yet I’m the only one that appears to have any trauma around it. I know I am/ have been extremely influenced by my mother’s judgements generally, however. I am considering seeing if I can find a secular counsellor to discuss some of these fears with, though somebody from a previously Christian background would be the ideal as they’d understand my fears from the inside. 

 

I’ve ordered “Christian Delusion” by John Loftus and it felt really odd to be ordering such a book when in the past it would always have been Christian apologetics I was ordering (and I always found those made Christianity sound more appealing than the Bible ever did for me). One thing that throws me is that while there are a number of academics who have gone on to reject their faith, there are also plenty of equally highly educated and intelligent people that have studied Christianity in depth and found it convincing. 

 

Again, I’m very thankful for this community.

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31 minutes ago, Kat34 said:

I really appreciate you all for taking the time to reply. I’m thinking carefully about everything that’s being said. I’ve spent most of today reading Marlene Winell articles. The Christianity she describes is in many ways more extreme than I experienced but I very much relate to what she says about fear of apocalypse, damnation, hell etc. I once told my mum how frightening it had been for me as a child to think about hell and how scared I’d been of dad going there and how I felt that was a lot for a child to cope with. Her response was but it’s true (hell), that my prayers had helped (because my dad became a Christian) and that I had some very sentimental ideas about childhood. 

I’m aware that I must have a sensitive disposition; I find it interesting that none of her 3 children have pursued with the faith yet I’m the only one that appears to have any trauma around it. I know I am/ have been extremely influenced by my mother’s judgements generally, however. I am considering seeing if I can find a secular counsellor to discuss some of these fears with, though somebody from a previously Christian background would be the ideal as they’d understand my fears from the inside. 

 

I’ve ordered “Christian Delusion” by John Loftus and it felt really odd to be ordering such a book when in the past it would always have been Christian apologetics I was ordering (and I always found those made Christianity sound more appealing than the Bible ever did for me). One thing that throws me is that while there are a number of academics who have gone on to reject their faith, there are also plenty of equally highly educated and intelligent people that have studied Christianity in depth and found it convincing. 

 

Again, I’m very thankful for this community.

👍 If you found Winells articles helpful you will certainly benefit from her book. I hear you on the being sensitive part. Unfortunately parents aren't always attuned to these kinds of characteristics in their children, particularly if they are adept at covering them up. That was me, and continues to be today. So many people tend to view sensitivity as a negative thing. I certainly did until I read Elaine Arons book on highly sensitive people, and things clicked for me. Your moms dismissal is unfortunate. It doesn't invalidate the impact that had on you. Therapy is an excellent idea, that helped me a lot. 

 

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34 minutes ago, Kat34 said:

I’ve ordered “Christian Delusion” by John Loftus and it felt really odd to be ordering such a book when in the past it would always have been Christian apologetics I was ordering (and I always found those made Christianity sound more appealing than the Bible ever did for me). One thing that throws me is that while there are a number of academics who have gone on to reject their faith, there are also plenty of equally highly educated and intelligent people that have studied Christianity in depth and found it convincing. 

 

Good, dive right in. 

 

As you can see, most of the regular members have gained strength of mind by way of personal study and research. Many of us lost faith due specifically to our respective apologist's. For many of us, seeing highly credentialed and well educated people like, for instance, William Lane Craig make such untenable claims and arguments, was enough to second guess the entire thing. As an SDA I saw many holes in the apologetic's of our denomination. And the more I thought on it, the more I began to realize that the whole thing was built up from sand foundations and I began to see it crumble and topple over in my own mind. 

 

Adults, playing make believe with one another as if they were still small children. And feeding off of one another in this adult level game of make believe...

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9 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

Many of us lost faith due specifically to our respective apologist's. For many of us, seeing highly credentialed and well educated people like, for instance, William Lane Craig make such untenable claims and arguments, was enough to second guess the entire thing.

Thanks Josh, would you mind giving some examples of the kinds of claims you mean?

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13 hours ago, Kat34 said:

Can I ask for some examples of the claims you mean? 

 

Genesis is literally true, here are the facts. 

Noah's flood is historical, and here's the evidence. 

Moses and the Exodus really happened, here's the proof. 

Jesus rose from the grave, here are the witnesses. 

Prophecy has been fulfilled, look at this historical timeline. 

 

For instance, each one of these claims are epic failures when analyzed. Many of us have gone down the line of apologetic claims analyzing them and finding their flaws. The Kalam argument of William Lane Craig (highly educated and credentialed) tends to show how unintelligent christianity can make someone who is otherwise well educated and highly credentialed: 

 

 

So where this type of thing red flags christianity and it's apologists can come from wondering why in the world, if this is not only true but gods absolute truth, is it so hard for the bible and it's apologetic proponents to ever get a leg up one way or another? Like dominoes, their arguments and claims tend to fall one by one down the line when addressed head on. And when they try and incorporate science into their apologetic's, they only manage to dig themselves deeper into the hole. 

 

In short, arguing for the bible usually ends in further discrediting the bible. 

 

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So playing devil’s advocate here, should we necessarily assume that *every single* aspect of Christianity should be independently verifiable? I mean I’m anticipating hearing views that teachings central to the faith ie the Resurrection ought to be but I’m just thinking maybe there is an element of mystery? I mean my mum’s argument was always that you can never have all the answers but show a little bit of faith and take a step towards God and then more and more comes. And that maybe the opposite is true - reject God’s call and you then have less and less 

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Oops that wasn’t finished... less and less and you will continue to reject God.

 

You can see why engaging with counter apologists seems dangerous territory for me.  

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3 hours ago, Kat34 said:

So playing devil’s advocate here, should we necessarily assume that *every single* aspect of Christianity should be independently verifiable? I mean I’m anticipating hearing views that teachings central to the faith ie the Resurrection ought to be but I’m just thinking maybe there is an element of mystery? I mean my mum’s argument was always that you can never have all the answers but show a little bit of faith and take a step towards God and then more and more comes. And that maybe the opposite is true - reject God’s call and you then have less and less 

 

That's good. Let's look at it. 

 

Like in the video I posted, we really should first address the god claim. It's unverifiable. So the central tenant of theism is founded on an unverifiable assertion. Kalam fails, all philosophical arguments have failed in terms of they do not verify the existence of god(s). So we can start out by applying the element of mystery to this first premise. As far as I know, your mom is correct about not being able to have all the answers. But then she adds to show a little faith and more answers will come. 

 

We really should hold right here until we find some answers. Because it's the foundation stone to everything else thereafter. Some one claims that an eternal god with no beginning or end, infinite and eternal, immanent and transcendent, omni - everything, created the universe, earth, and ourselves. How does anyone know this? That's where the bible comes in. But the bible comes in very late in the historical record and didn't come anywhere close to making the original assertion that a creator god exists, nor the attributes associated with a creator god. It simply came up out of the pagan world long after many previous mythological traditions already existed, and already made the initial claims of the existence of god(s). 

 

When I left the church I believed and had faith in the truth seeking process itself - that if I held steady and stayed on course, many answers would continue to unfold accordingly and continue to be revealed down the path. I had no idea where the path would lead, I just blindly set out on it leaving the church behind because I realized that the church didn't have the truth and that if I were ever to find it, it would require venturing out on my own to find it. It took a long time, but I eventually came across Joseph Campbell and comparative mythology and religion. This is relevant to our question about god and about "mystery." 

 

I had been doing a lot of thinking about god, the attributes and claims about god, and began to come to the conclusion that (1) the church largely contradicts itself in the process and (2) that if you take the claims and attributes at face value, then god must be a reference to something unbound, all-present, without limitation, and infinitely small and large at the same time. That's what infinite and eternal, immanent and transcendent, and omni-present mean. But the church contradicts itself by then speaking of a god who is basically the totality of existence itself, everywhere and everything necessarily, as if it were a fixed being in a particular image living in one particular place named heaven, which is not everything (omnipresent) but rather far away where we can not see it. My big realization, god is equal to existence itself as the totality, the whole if you take the claims about god seriously. And the church contradicts itself in the process of making claims about such a god. Their god is claimed to be infinite and eternal, but then taught about as if god were finite, an image rather than image-less, emotional like a human being, with an ego full of jealousy and contempt. There's nothing to be jealous of or anything to hate when you are the totality of existence itself, everything, everywhere - the only game in town so to speak. 

 

Enter Joseph Campbell's scholarship on mythology and religion. I was amazed as I read through book after book (Thou Art That, Myths of Light: eastern metaphors of the eternal, Heroes Journey, Flight of the Wild Gander, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: metaphor as myth and as religion, etc., etc.) basically verifying the insights I was having previously by simply applying logical deduction to the situation of god. As it turns out, many eastern mythologies do consider god to be infinite and eternal, and they don't contradict themselves in the process. Instead they allow the logical implication to play out from there and view god as the whole, as some type of absolute factor which is present everywhere and in everything. This I found much more enlightening than the haphazard contradictions made in christianity that don't line up and which are inconsistent. Still, there's no evidence that Brahman exists, for instance, but it's much more internally consistent than what has been present as YHWH in the west. This is philosophically sound as far as a philosophical tradition goes. An infinite and eternal absolute factor is necessarily the totality of existence itself, everything that exists everywhere with no point where it would stop, and continue no further. God there , but god not here. 

 

So what is the mystery involved with god? 

 

According to these internally consistent myths, their supreme god is a place holder symbol that represents the mystery of existence, not just the totality of existence, but the mystery factor involved in contemplating the totality - no beginning or end, eternal existence, etc. These are the masks of god, YHWH, Brahman, etc. Those are something that can be thought of, conceptualized, and conceived of which point to beyond themselves to where no thought can occur, concepts stop, and no more conception can take place. That is what transcendent means. It's referred to as, "the mystery of the metaphor." 

 

Gods are metaphors for the mystery underlying the existence of existence itself. 

 

Let's look back at judeo-christianity. 

 

It's an immature spiritual tradition in comparison to other traditions that are much older, more sophisticated, with a lot more depth involved in their comprehension. In a way, you can have faith and believe in the mystery. Because existence is grounded in an unfathomable mystery. But faith and belief that that incomprehensible mystery underlying existence itself IS a being of some type is misguided. It's not anything you can wrap your mind around, not a being, not a mind, not anything that you could possibly imagine in your mind or conceive of. The minute you say the mystery is this, or the mystery is that, you've lost it and it's no longer the mystery that you're speaking about. The creation myths, in this way, according to Campbell, are metaphors for the actual mystery of origins. We don't know the answer, the ancients didn't know the answer. And the creation myths can only point to the mystery of origins as metaphors, they do not solve the mystery of origins in any way. And they do not reveal the mystery of origins in any literal sense. Even then, as metaphors, many people have a problem with creation myths. The bottom line is that there's nothing there to have faith or belief in, not in any literal sense of it. 

 

Quote

I mean my mum’s argument was always that you can never have all the answers but show a little bit of faith and take a step towards God and then more and more comes. And that maybe the opposite is true - reject God’s call and you then have less and less

 

By the above standard, what is god? And what exactly would god's call be? If it's a call from the mystery factor behind existence itself to come to truth, then I've answered the call and found what I was looking for all along in doing so. But it required identifying the inconsistencies and contradictions of the bible and churches in order to get there. And to discover that whatever god is supposed to mean, the attributes point in the direction of pantheistic philosophy, not monotheism. And instead of understanding less and less about god, the opposite happens, I've understood more and more about god by rejecting inconsistent and self contradicting claims made by men and organizations of men ABOUT god. 

 

So at this point in my own truth seeking path, I understand the 'lower rung status' of christianity on the world mythological and philosophical sophistication and internally consistent scale. That goes into one factor involved in my becoming immune to ever returning. I know to the fullest extent of where knowledge can take me that christianity is (1) inconsistent, (2) self contradicting, and (3) just plain wrong from the outset about it's very ideas about god, which, are the foundation stone of the entire belief system. 

 

 

 

 

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Wow. I’ve read that a few times and I think I’ve grasped a fair amount of what you’re saying but there are parts I’m confused about. You have far more knowledge than I do of other religions and philosophies and I should think you have much greater knowledge of the bible than I do too so this may be why I’m struggling to grasp exactly what the inconsistency is that I think your answer hinges on? I always thought the bible did describe god as being everywhere and in all things... I’m not sure I follow why it is that god should be described as image-less or why human attributes couldn’t be ascribed to an infinite god; not that they are the sum total of that god but as a way of explaining that god wants to be in relationship with us? Isn’t that what makes Christianity unique, the idea that god wants a personal relationship with all humans and became man to achieve that? When you say that Christianity is “plain wrong from the outset about its very ideas about god”, I’m unclear what you’re basing this judgement on? Surely (whether we believe them or not) it’s for Christianity to state what its ideas about god are, even if this puts it out of kilter with other traditions? 

 

My mum was clearly not factoring in the need to firstly establish the existence of god and was suggesting I needed to show a bit of faith and draw near to the Christian god (through prayer presumably) and that god would then reveal more of himself. I guess her view was that you can pray to a god even if you aren’t sure of its existence. She firmly believes that all who genuinely seek will find, but perhaps she is assuming it’s the Christian god that one is seeking. I’m only guessing but I think her answer as to why she believes the bible to be the word of god would be largely based on personal experience and prayer and that he has revealed himself to her. She definitely feels she has had real encounters with god and has audibly heard his voice and experienced little miracles etc. 

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2 hours ago, Kat34 said:

I always thought the bible did describe god as being everywhere and in all things... I’m not sure I follow why it is that god should be described as image-less or why human attributes couldn’t be ascribed to an infinite god; not that they are the sum total of that god but as a way of explaining that god wants to be in relationship with us? Isn’t that what makes Christianity unique, the idea that god wants a personal relationship with all humans and became man to achieve that?

 

The bible does, by omnipresent assertions which amount to just that. Here's the thing about an omnipresent god though, you can't draw a circle around it. You can't isolate it away from the whole. It's everything, not any one thing in specific. It's omni. 

 

If god is everything, omnipresent, then we are not something OTHER or different than the god who is everything and everywhere. We can't be. Otherwise the god is one thing but not another, in one place but not another. This probably sounds good to you. The bible says that anyways, no big deal, right? 

 

But then we enter the claims of the bible and christianity against this all encompassing view of god.

 

God is jealous of OTHER gods. What other gods? All of the various parts and pieces of itself that make up the whole? What does that even mean? Imagine if you were jealous of sub atomic particles within your own body. What sense would that make? Is there some relationship between you and the parts of your body that you must insist on? No, it's all just you. The relationship stands regardless of what any one part thinks of the whole. It stands whether or not one part of the whole believes or has faith in the whole or not. The notion of christianity being unique in the idea of claiming god wants a personal relationship with all humans and had to come down to earth and become a man in order to achieve that, flies in the face of everything we're talking about concerning the whole, unity, interconnected totality, and god as, most importantly, infinite, eternal, transcendent, immanent and omnipresent. 

 

God in this way wasn't ever NOT man. God has no personal relationship to establish with parts and pieces of itself, which have always been itself all along. 

 

I'm drawing you into the contradictions. Do you see how christianity talks of god as absolute, but out of the other corner of it's mouth goes on to speak of god as if it were something in the image of man, but greater than man. And dwells far off away from here somewhere else called heaven. Looks down at the earth. Hate's things like sin or the devil. Brings wrath on people who are not designated his "chosen" few. Acts like a jealous ego. 

 

Does it seem to you like it's possible that christianity is a man made organization of human beings who are projecting their ideas about god, not speaking on behalf of the god they are projecting? And with man made concepts and ideas, being very contradicting and inconsistent between claims made and following those claims all the way through to the logical conclusions?

 

God sounds more like a mouth piece for the bronze age priests and scribes who wanted to have their ways and opinions listened to by others, declaring, 'God said such and such!' This is how someone can take a philosophical concept like God, dealing with the absolute factors of life and existence, and then personify that into something people can wrap their minds around and humanize the concept. And they can then make suggestions about the personified god wanting this or that, liking one thing but hating another, justifying wars, justifying slaves, justifying in house prostitutes, asking that offerings and money be brought to the priests, and all variety of bronze age social issues. 

 

Between the two concepts of god, one the symbolic and philosophical metaphor and the other the tribal warrior god of one nation, one tends to cancel out and consume the other. Because the god which is everything IS literally light and darkness, all peoples, all animals, all plants, all planets, all stars, all space, all possible universes and anything that may continue to exist beyond our conceptual ability. It dwarfs the tribal war god concept, which is what the biblical YHWH amounts to. That hardly even counts as god when you really think about it. And this actually leads into things like the old Gnostic's and their beliefs about a "God above the God." The lower level stuff, is the stuff you get with mainstream orthodox christianity. The point being, the god of christian faith is nothing more than a mask of god, a lower level concept based on presenting something conceptual that people can think of and which they can fear the possible wrath of for social and political reasons. 

 

This is about your fears based on theistic beliefs of the christian mythology. 

 

If god is everything as you seem to understand, what are you if not part of what is god? And why would the god who is everything, which includes you, want to torment you for eternity for any reason? That makes zero sense. 

 

Put it this way, when people say, "god is love," just think about that for a moment in the context of god being everything. That actually makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? What's there to hate, and why? God would literally be tormenting himself for eternity by tormenting you or anyone else. That sounds much more like a man made concept being written down by political / religious priests and scribes in the bronze age, which we know is where the bible comes from along with it's content, claims and opinions. Not so much a real time, divinely inspired work of perfection that lays out in detail the answers to life's mysteries - the origins of life, what really happens after death, etc. 

 

 

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Okay so i think where the confusion lies is that I never understood omnipresent to mean that god IS everything, just that he is present in all places at all times. 

 

I can certainly see how it could be argued that people at the time were projecting their ideas about god, I’m just not sure I see the contradiction that you are arguing - is this just because we have different working definitions?

 

https://www.allaboutgod.com/omnipresence-of-god.htm

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2 hours ago, Kat34 said:

Okay so i think where the confusion lies is that I never understood omnipresent to mean that god IS everything, just that he is present in all places at all times. 

 

To be present in all places, requires being in all places. The only thing that qualifies as present everywhere, is existence itself. Present in the microcosm, present in the macrocosm, present everywhere all at once. You couldn't go anywhere at all where existence itself, the primary essence of everything as a collective whole, is not present. Do you see where this is going? All places at all times. All presence = all things. This is something that people don't usually focus in on. When they do, it leads towards what is referred to as "enlightenment." 

 

Some apologists like to say the holy spirit is how this works. But that doesn't solve anything. If god is one, then where ever the spirit is so too is god and we're right back to square one. The spirit has to be everywhere, god is everywhere. You can't be everywhere without being everything, that's what's required to be everywhere. Again, if we're talking about existence itself this doesn't pose any problem. If we're imagining it as a sort of primary substance out of which everything has it's base, or origin, or true identity, then there's the way in which something can be everywhere via being everything. That's one way to imagine it. 

 

Better yet, why don't you present a devil's advocate about how god is infinite, eternal, immanent and transcendent, as well as omnipresent all at the same time and yet, god is NOT everything. Let's try that route. 

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1 hour ago, Joshpantera said:

You can't be everywhere without being everything. Otherwise you're present somewhere but not present somewhere else. 

I don’t see why being present at all times and in all places means actually being everything... 

 

My only trouble with this is it would mean that, as Charles Spurgeon said in the quote the website I linked to used, god is in hell... not sure what to make of that thought. 

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On 10/10/2018 at 2:25 PM, Kat34 said:

Does anyone actually think, but what if I die and meet God?

 

Kat, I'm going to bring this letter to my grave that I wrote to god back in 2011. I've got it printed off and have told one of my friends to put it in my coffin with me. Not joking....

 

Print it off yourself hon. If there is a god and he is 'love', he surely will understand our questions.

 

Big ((hug))

 

 

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Margee, that is so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. It made me cry. 

 

For the last few days since joining this forum and embarking on this research, I’ve been talking to god and asking him again, if he is there, to let me know. A bit like your reference to Job, today I started worrying, what if he does that by giving me an illness that takes me away from my children. Or something worse. 

 

I hope you found some peace after all, Margee x

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29 minutes ago, Kat34 said:

 

 

 today I started worrying, what if he does that by giving me an illness that takes me away from my children. Or something worse. 

 

 

 

Honey, this is your mind playing fear games with you. I have had some wonderful things happen to me since I joined this site and not so wonderful. This is the normal human trip in life. When I was 'serving' the lord, I had so many horrible things happen in a period of 11 years that I was diagnosed with Complex-ptsd because I did not have time to get over one thing (grieve) before another horrible thing would happen. And this is when I WAS serving the lord??????

 

If you get sick or something, it is because your body got sick. Period! (so take care of yourself!!) Why would we have fear towards a god who would put us under so much fear and stress and punishment simply because we asked hard questions about his invisibility??? It does not make sense at all.

 

I asked god to kill me. He didn't.

 

Go be happy tonight. ((hug))

 

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3 hours ago, Kat34 said:

 

I don’t see why being present at all times and in all places means actually being everything... 

 

My only trouble with this is it would mean that, as Charles Spurgeon said in the quote the website I linked to used, god is in hell... not sure what to make of that thought. 

 

Exactly. That's what omnipresent means. God could not be absent from anywhere. Now you can see why christians back peddle away from the implications of an omnipresent god. When it suites their purpose, he's present everywhere, sees and hears everything. Only until the implications start running contrary to other theological positions, which contradict the omnipresence. Then back peddling ramps up, apologetic's start flying, and the rest is history. 

 

You're still struggling with the how being present everywhere, requires being everything. 

 

Put it this way, how can god be present throughout the entire vastness of space itself, the sub atomic realm of particles, atomic realm of matter, and the elements, and everywhere basically, and NOT be everything in the process? How can it NOT be that way? Try explaining.

 

Everything is made up of space and matter. To be present throughout space, means being present within each and every atom in your body and the atoms of all of the elements of earth, all life, all plants, and everything that exists, basically. Present everywhere = both present within and outside of everything. If something is present both within and outside of everything, it amounts to everything in the process. 

 

This is something that when you catch it, it clicks. 

 

None of this is an argument for god btw, this is just analysis of god belief on it's own terms. It's not to suggest hell exists, I don't believe for a moment that a personal god or hell really exist. I'm just humoring the assumption of what if they did. What are the implications. 

 

 

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Thank you Margee ❤️

 

Josh, I think I’m understanding more of where you’re coming from. Metaphysics really isn’t my strong point 😆😆

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About the fear of hell...

 

Knowledge trumps fear.

 

British Airways runs a course for people with a phobia of flying. Almost everyone who completes the course is able to subsequently board a plane with little to no fear. The participants are armed with knowledge about the science behind flying; how wings, not the engines, enable a plane to fly, how wings are designed to flex, how planes are inherently self-righting during turbulence, etc.

 

I armed myself with knowledge about the origins of hell and Satan, and my fears eventually fell silent.

 

And perhaps ask yourself these questions:

 

1. Are you afraid of the muslim hell? Why not?

2. Why didn’t god warn people about hell in the old testament?

3. Would you ever abandon your children because they didn’t praise you?

4. How could a person be “blissfully happy” in heaven knowing that their atheist child is suffering in hell?

 

Hell just doesn’t make sense...

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8 hours ago, Kat34 said:

Thank you Margee ❤️

 

Josh, I think I’m understanding more of where you’re coming from. Metaphysics really isn’t my strong point 😆😆

 

So the only point being that the god idea is an all encompassing one. The hell aspect was tossed in as a political means of socialization. Do this or else. It's designed to push people in a desired direction by the priestly class who invented it. It was invented as LostinParis is saying. It came onto the mythology scene late in the development and that is evident from studying about it. It doesn't make any sense against the all encompassing god concept at all. And the big issue is that an all encompassing god is just an ancient way of personifying the mystery of existence into something you can think about and imagine, something a human being can try and think about. 

 

You know why Genesis has us created in the image of god? That was in your link. But answer was not in your christian link. The answer is that Genesis reflects an older time when the Jews were polytheistic, before monotheism had become a thing. The Elohim were a pantheon of "gods" something like in Greek Mythology. Humanoid figures from up above that created man in "their" likeness according to their humanoid mythological image like Zeus and his pantheon. And they made man as a worker to work the garden down on earth. These "gods" carry through right on through the OT. They become upset because men try building the tower of Babel - "let us go down and confuse their language..."

 

This is mythology through and through. In a later period, for political reasons, the other "gods" were pushed aside in favor only worshiping the national tribal god, YHWH. And then the scriptures were glossed over during translation in the christian era to read "lord, lord of hosts, god almighty," and other designations the cover over the original names of these other gods and make read as if it were talking about one god the whole time. Christians tried to back read the trinity into the old texts to account for the pluralism of the "gods," but that's just bad apologetic's which scholars have found to be incorrect. 

 

 

There are a lot of members who are among the most hardened when it comes to things like wavering between what if any of this turns out to be true. I'm one of them. I understand that if there's anything to god, it doesn't make sense as a threatening entity separate from myself wanting to judge me for questioning or not believing. That just doesn't wash at all. The bible is not authoritative and I know this. No one else's mythology is authoritative either and I know that. I don't believe that personal god concepts are anything other than man made ideas that have no leg up over any other man made ideas, like Santa, the Easter Bunny and so on. There's no good reason to see a personal god as any different. And hell and damnation go out the window too. 

 

We shouldn't have to be forced or scared into being decent human beings. That doesn't work anyways. The most religious nations in the world rank among the highest murder rates and are crime ridden. The fear tactics don't seem to work, and in some cases, like with the catholic priest scandals, it seems to do the opposite. Saying not to do something apparently creates a situation where that's the very thing people gravitate towards doing. Regardless of the threat of hell and damnation. These are some more things to think about. And it takes time. You can't digest all there is to digest overnight. But you can stay the course and keep searching and looking for answers. 

 

 

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I understand it will take time - maybe a lifetime? (please no) - to get any kind of clarity but I just feel so despairing. This latest crisis has come at the worst possible time; I’m sleep deprived and hormonal and facing challenging behaviour from my little boy who’s struggling to adjust to his new sibling and I just want to be able to focus on him and my baby. My husband knows something is wrong but not what and he just wants to be able to help me. In the past I’ve wished many times I’d never been born and while it’s hard to say that now I have children, I really do feel totally desperate.

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3 hours ago, Kat34 said:

I understand it will take time - maybe a lifetime? (please no) - to get any kind of clarity but I just feel so despairing. This latest crisis has come at the worst possible time; I’m sleep deprived and hormonal and facing challenging behaviour from my little boy who’s struggling to adjust to his new sibling and I just want to be able to focus on him and my baby. My husband knows something is wrong but not what and he just wants to be able to help me. In the past I’ve wished many times I’d never been born and while it’s hard to say that now I have children, I really do feel totally desperate.

 

How else can we help? 

 

We've all struggled, shifted back and forth, wavered over issues, many have suffered and do suffer depression and related issues. I know I hate hearing that you're having such a bad time. I wish I could do or say something that might shift your mood or awareness. I've tried jarring that a little. Sometimes when people hit a eureka moment, it can be powerful and change their lives for the better. And it sounds to me like you have yet to gain that type of experience. Almost like you're in a limbo between full on blind belief and disbelief and don't feel a thrust of zeal one way of the other. 

 

As bleak as non belief my seem to you right now, it doesn't have to be that way. It isn't for me. I'm very content with living out this life experience to the fullest. I go on trips all the time. I've started my own business which finances the life style. I don't want to waste years waiting for retirement to live life to the fullest. I've found that having your mind in the right place is central and key to everything else. Believing in yourself I've found is very important. I do my best to maintain positive emotions. I have no fear at all about dying and finding myself in some unfavorable frame of consciousness and existence. Does talking to confident ex christians help you along in any way? 

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Thank you Josh, I do really appreciate your care and concern. I think you’re right that I am in a limbo here and swaying between what seems most likely. 

 

Non belief doesn’t actually seem all that bleak to me. It is in effect what I experience in between these crisis points and that is when I’m usually happiest and enjoying life. The fear is that just because I’m not attracted by Christianity doesn’t mean it isn’t true. 

 

It is definitely helpful speaking with you ex Christians, I’m grateful for the site as don’t have anyone I can talk to in “real life”. I guess I worry that whoever I talk to (Christian or non) I have the potential to be swayed, precisely because of my uncertainty and how vulnerable I probably am at the moment due to circumstances. The other thing is I’m very conscious that many of you were devout believers who have left very conservative, fundamentalist backgrounds and that’s not the position I’m in. A lot of people here I think were really mistreated by other Christians perhaps. I’m not in any Christian community and when I did go to church it wasn’t of that ilk at all. My mother is probably the most conservative Christian I know and I expect that’s the root of quite a bit of my difficulty. But part of me wonders whether if I was currently part of a progressive, liberal church that focused on social justice (and there are plenty about in the UK) whether I’d be happy or not. I guess it would depend on their teaching about hell, whether I felt any personal encounter with Christ (I don’t feel I ever really have up till now) and whether I could get to grips with the doctrine of original sin... always one of the greatest stumbling blocks for me. I suspect those would continue to be obstacles for me, as they have been for almost 20 years on and off. In the past I’ve read authors who have made the case for universalism and that’s made me feel a bit better. Only really now am I seriously contemplating whether I can confidently say actually no interpretation is likely to be true. 

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1 hour ago, Kat34 said:

The fear is that just because I’m not attracted by Christianity doesn’t mean it isn’t true. 

 

That's good logical thinking. Your opinion doesn't make it true or false.

 

But fear not, in this case your personal opinion lines up with all of available evidence on the matter. In this case it just so happens that christianity is wrong on it's own accord, based on it's own poor claim making and contradictory character. And you happen to not be attracted to it. Whether or not you find it attractive doesn't really change anything with respect to an epic fail on the part of christianity. So I've been giving you a taste of some of the epic fails. 

 

1 hour ago, Kat34 said:

Only really now am I seriously contemplating whether I can confidently say actually no interpretation is likely to be true. 

 

I will confidently say that NO interpretation is likely to be true without giving it a second thought.

 

Genesis starts off contradicting itself. It reflects a time before they realized that day light is caused by the sun. They thought that days took place independent of the sun. So you find in Genesis 3 days taking place before the sun, moon and stars were made on the 4th day. I once argued an apologist for 40 pages about this on another forum. The more he tried to remove the contradiction, the deeper the hole he dug for himself. Green grass growing on dry land on the 3rd day before the existence of the sun. It's a mythological creation story, borrowed behind other similar near eastern creation myths which are much older. 

 

The literal interpretation starts out epic fail. 

 

The symbolic or liberal interpretations fail just as bad. 

 

If the days are symbolic for eons, that's even worse. Then you have eons going by with the earth existing before the sun, moon, or stars, which are obviously all of the other solar system centers through the universe. The bible starts off this way, epic fail by both conservative and liberal directions. No interpretation of the bible in a belief based sense has any shot at ever being true. And in fact, the more they try and force fit the bible to be true, or at least seem kinda sorta true, the worse it becomes. It's like trying to get yourself out of a finger trap, actually. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

Genesis starts off contradicting itself. It reflects a time before they realized that day light is caused by the sun. They thought that days took place independent of the sun. So you find in Genesis 3 days taking place before the sun, moon and stars were made on the 4th day. I once argued an apologist for 40 pages about this on another forum. The more he tried to remove the contradiction, the deeper the hole he dug for himself. Green grass growing on dry land on the 3rd day before the existence of the sun. It's a mythological creation story, borrowed behind other similar near eastern creation myths which are much older. 

 

 

I hadn’t thought of this before. Wow, 40 pages debating that...! It’s been pointed out to me in the past that the genesis story has sin and death entering the world after Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit but dinosaurs suffered and died way before humans were on the scene. 

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