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Bad day today, really bad. I started worrying that I might have caused someone to lose their faith in Christianity or, stop them from returning to the faith if they had left. It's horrible because if true, that could mean I am going to hell. This is the worst I have felt for years. 😟

 

Matthew 18:6 "but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

 

I believe the 'little ones' doesn't just mean children, but anyone of the faith. I cling to the verse where Jesus says:

 

Matthew 12:31 "Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven."

 

On first glance it seems that even if I have caused someone to fall away from the faith (or if they had already fallen away, to stop them from returning to the faith), that I can be forgiven, but two things worry me (1) There is only one thing worse than dying and that's dying and not finding peace because you are in hell. I know some people would say there are worse things than dying (so it doesn't necessarily mean hell fire) but I worry this is what was meant in Matthew 18:6. (2) I have read online material and some of them say the penalty will be hell fire. 

 

I was doing very well these last few years, but today I feel I am back to square one. I feel terrible. Sorry. Just needed to tell someone about this. 

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I understand your problem is that your anxiety is getting the better of your intellect on some occasions, and that truly sucks.  I do encourage you to contact Recovering from Religion as their counsel

“Whoever seeks other than Islam as a religion, it will not be accepted from him, and he shall be in the Hereafter among the lost” - The Quran, 3:85   So Christians and all other non-Mus

@SeaJay,   Sorry to hear about your bad day but...it's just a day and tomorrow is another. Watch a funny movie. Talk to a friend.   The Bible was written by ancient contr

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Whoever seeks other than Islam as a religion, it will not be accepted from him, and he shall be in the Hereafter among the lost

- The Quran, 3:85

 

So Christians and all other non-Muslims are going to be lost.  Does this make you convert to Islam?  If not, why not?  It says it right there in God’s holy book!  

 

Do do you have good reason to believe the Bible over the Quran?

 

If you decide to trust the Bible, a careful study reveals that the modern concept of Hell evolved throughout the Old and New Testaments, which points to Hell as a concept that humans developed over the course of centuries, as opposed to being something real.  In the Old Testament, the dead don’t go to either Heaven or Hell at all, but rather exist in a kind of shadowy underworld called Sheol.  To this day, Jews don’t at all share the Christian concepts of Heaven and Hell.  Why is this?  Why have they come to quite different conclusions while having access to the same information?

 

SeaJay I understand you are prone to anxiety, but I hope you will think about what I’ve said here.  There are some good videos about the evolution of Hell through Judaeo-Christian history, if you are interested.

 

Its good that you’ve been doing better for a while, but SeaJay buddy, you can’t go around reading religious propaganda.  Not with your mind being prone to fear.  It’s fucking you up.  You’re recovering from religion the way an alcoholic is trying to heal: you can’t take a drink now and then and expect good results.

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Hello TABA

 

Thank you for your response. You make good points and I have pondered them and watched a good few videos on the evolution of hell. As for the point about other religions, the trouble is that everyone thinks their faith is the right one. Anxiety makes it more difficult because it thrives on the uncertainty. 

 

Today is a bit of a shock; I never thought I'd feel this bad again. 

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@SeaJay

 

Sorry to hear you are having a rough time. I know you struggle of what to do with Christianity as a whole and I know how debilitating it can be to think that you are going to be punished forever. I think @TABA provided some good insight and what is going to help you is to have your mind do a paradigm shift so you are able to think about this in an appropriate way that will not trigger anxiety. Any time emotions take over, it is difficult to get them back in control.

 

One way I look at hell is this, if it is real, it is honestly out my control to do anything about it. Any being that would create hell is not good (as we use that word) in any sense. Nobody deserves to be punished forever, not even Hitler. At some point in time, enough is enough. For that to go on forever, then at some point, the punishment has been served and whoever is perpetuating the punishment is now the antagonist.

 

If eternal punishment is somehow true, and there is not sufficient evidence to believe it is true, then the being in control of that is not even halfway decent....they lack any compassion, mercy, or empathy. If that is the kind of god who is in control of the universe, then let us be frank, nobody has any idea how to please them. The best comparison you could get would be a dictator or an abusive, narcissistic parent that will only reward you for doing exactly what makes them happy all the time, in any particular moment. And even if that is what you were inclined to do to avoid punishment, there is no way to know what that is. Just think about all the different ideas in Christianity ~ Messianic Jews, Seventh Day Adventist, Holiness, Wesleyans, Amish, Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, Baptists, Charismatics, Pentecostals, and on and on and on and on we go. There are thousands of different denominations all claiming to have the truth with a capitol 'T,' and they cannot agree on who God is or what he wants.

 

Think about the different teachings of Jesus, have you ever stopped to really think about what they even mean? For example, how in the world do you give up all you have and follow Jesus? What does that even look like in 2020? How would you even know what to do? How does Jesus want you to spend your money, what should you do about that homeless person you see on the highway, how much should you give of those who ask, is violence ever justified? The ambiguity is endless. Nothing is clearly defined in the Bible. Nobody ever asked follow-up questions of Jesus to figure out what he was really demanding. Without you actually meeting Jesus, you have no idea what he wants, and neither does anyone else. And this is me granting a lot, I mean a lot of assumptions about the veracity of the historical accuracy of the Bible.

 

At the end of the day, I do not think the evidence bears out the Bible was inspired by any kind of god. All evidence points to a collection of writings by people who were not there to witness any kind of events first hand, and there is no way to demonstrate or show that any of the claims of the Bible are remotely true (just like every other religion, surprise surprise). I want you to think about your methodology for believing the Bible is true, and I want you to apply that same methodology to every other claim, religious or otherwise, and see where that would lead you. You are not being fair if you lower the standard for this particular pet belief, but then raise the bar for everything else outside of the Christian religion. I would almost guarantee that if you applied your same methodology to your Christian beliefs, you will find that you could just as easily be a Muslim, Hindi, Buddhist, or believe in ghost, goblins, aliens, NWO - or whatever global conspiracy you want to choose from, antivax, and any other baseless assertion with insufficient evidence to back it up. Could you imagine living life that way? It becomes a world where nothing is off the table, every bold assertion carries this weight of plausible instead of just possible - and that is just not the reality of the world we live in.

 

I will tell you what helped me through all this, I stopped believing in things that could not be supported without sufficient evidence. It will just drive you crazy doing otherwise. Do I know a god does not exist? No, of course not, nobody knows that answer. But what I do know is that there is insufficient evidence to suggest one exist. Now, I will say this, I know we have enough evidence to demonstrate evolution is a biological fact. We have multiple lines of evidence to show that there was NOT a global flood, plain and simple, the evidence is overwhelming that it did not happen. I think it is demonstrably true that a "loving" God is not in charge of the show. It is impossible that anyone with a shred of decency would stand by and watch the overwhelming amount of horrific suffering that occurs on a daily basis and do nothing, especially when they have the power to do so. I have a thought experiment, imagine you are powerful enough that you can see every incident happening around the world at any moment and could do something about it. I do not know about you, but if I had the power to manipulate the universe however I pleased, I would not stand by while people killed and ate their own children because they are starving, or watch the rape, pillage and mutilation of man, woman, and, child. I am taken back whenever I see lions and hyenas tear the ass out of a pregnant zebra and carry off its unborn offspring ~ really the brutality of the natural order is fairly depressing. Per the Bible, I am fallen, evil, wicked, and all those other sweet adjectives, and I would do something, all the more reason a "loving" god would not stand for it.

 

Evidence strongly supports there are multiple forgeries in the Bible where authors wrote in the name of someone else (definitely 2 Peter and the pastoral letters), which means the Bible as we have it is in error and therefore the idea the Bible is inerrant, infallible, blah blah blah is bogus. So if there is a god behind the Bible, they made zero effort to effectively communicate a message to us, which means they are completely apathetic to the human condition.

 

I could go on and on for all the reasons I find the Bible, and the notion of anyone or anything that is omni-omni in charge of the show is just not possible, but I have droned on enough. I know it is difficult, but you will not be able to quell this anxiety until you are able to think about Christianity differently. I know it is hard, there are years of indoctrination stored away in there. I encourage you to follow the facts, wherever they may lead.

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3 minutes ago, SeaJay said:

 

As for the point about other religions, the trouble is that everyone thinks their faith is the right one.

 

 

Which is a good sign that they’re all wrong, they’re all human inventions, by people who had much less knowledge about the universe than we do, people struggling to make sense of everything.  But you might say, couldn’t one of them actually be right?  To which I respond:  if there really was a good, loving god who cares about his children, would he allow all these competing messages to flourish, allowing those who latched onto the wrong religion to be lost, or damned for eternity?  Would you treat your own kids so callously?  No you wouldn’t.  Because you’re better than this vengeful god that you still half-believe in.

 

SeaJay, I really think you need some specialized help with this.  You’ve been struggling with fears of Hell for a few years now and still experiencing these terrifying setbacks.  I’d strongly suggest you call Recovering from Religion, which is present in the UK.  Their number is listed as  + 44 20 3856 8791.  I believe that since you’re inside the UK, you dial 020 3856 8791.  I think they could help you in a way that we are not equipped to do.  But you gotta stay away from the drinks cabinet.

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Thanks both again for your replies, they are helpful. I feel I should respond with more than 'thank you' 'thank you' thank you', but I don't I always know what to say.

 

What your replies do, is slow down the emotional roller coaster I am on and give me space so I can think. When I'm like this, my mind gets in such a state, it's like I can't think rationally for myself. Reading comments here helps me slow down. 

 

I didn't even know there was a recovering from religion hotline. And it is true that I have been struggling with this for a long time. Since November 2010. Even though for the last few years I have been well, the fear has still be there, sort of lurking on the periphery. Today, I don't know if it is the Covid19 lock down getting to me in ways I am unaware of, but today I have had (I guess you would call it) a relapse.  

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14 minutes ago, SeaJay said:

Thanks both again for your replies, they are helpful. I feel I should respond with more than 'thank you' 'thank you' thank you', but I don't I always know what to say.

 

What your replies do, is slow down the emotional roller coaster I am on and give me space so I can think. When I'm like this, my mind gets in such a state, it's like I can't think rationally for myself. Reading comments here helps me slow down. 

 

I didn't even know there was a recovering from religion hotline. And it is true that I have been struggling with this for a long time. Since November 2010. Even though for the last few years I have been well, the fear has still be there, sort of lurking on the periphery. Today, I don't know if it is the Covid19 lock down getting to me in ways I am unaware of, but today I have had (I guess you would call it) a relapse.  

 

I completely understand. I struggled with what you are going through. Every now and then the idea pops up that I could be wrong about my current conclusions and there is eternal punishment waiting, it easily spirals out of control. I have to remind myself of the rational conclusions I already came to terms with and when I do, the anxiety and fear subsides.

 

As I said before, my biggest help is knowing that even if there was such a place, I am helpless to avoid it. Seriously, I would not even know what to do about it. Unless I could meet the god who runs it and ask him exactly what I have to do and believe to avoid it, no way to know whether or not it will be in the cards. It becomes one of those things where it is a waste of time to worry about something out of your control. Also, if there was an eternal fire, I figure I could spend an eternity training my mind to ignore the pain - just like those monks who self-emulsify without wincing. It sounds cheesy, but you have to put this whole thing in perspective.

 

I really want you to remember this: Every time you read something from a Christian stating that X or Y will send you to hell, first and foremost they do not know. I mean that, they have no damn clue. Their working hypothesis is just that, speculation. It is not tested, it is not vetted, no scientific rigor was applied to it, it is merely a mountain of assumptions. Moreover, if there is a hell, these apologist are just as likely to end up there as anyone else. There is no way to test the supernatural, even if it did exist. There is no way to know how to interpret the Bible, even if it was authoritative. There is no index explaining what is myth, what is literal, what is a parable, etc. 

 

William Lane Craig is the poster child of Christian intellect and do you know what his ultimate evidence is? The inner witness of the Holy Spirit. That is it, that is the best they can come up with. Come off it, that is lousy evidence. Because conviction is not a method by which we can evaluate what is true. You know that Muslims feel the same way, why does WLC reject their conviction. The Christian's method for coming to any kind of truth is a mess and unreliable, and they reject the same methodology used by people to come to different conclusions.

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1 hour ago, Hierophant said:

 

I completely understand. I struggled with what you are going through. Every now and then the idea pops up that I could be wrong about my current conclusions and there is eternal punishment waiting, it easily spirals out of control. I have to remind myself of the rational conclusions I already came to terms with and when I do, the anxiety and fear subsides.

 

As I said before, my biggest help is knowing that even if there was such a place, I am helpless to avoid it. Seriously, I would not even know what to do about it. Unless I could meet the god who runs it and ask him exactly what I have to do and believe to avoid it, no way to know whether or not it will be in the cards. It becomes one of those things where it is a waste of time to worry about something out of your control. Also, if there was an eternal fire, I figure I could spend an eternity training my mind to ignore the pain - just like those monks who self-emulsify without wincing. It sounds cheesy, but you have to put this whole thing in perspective.

I have also thought along very similar lines. Thinking that with eternity you hopefully could get used to anything. 

 

1 hour ago, Hierophant said:

I really want you to remember this: Every time you read something from a Christian stating that X or Y will send you to hell, first and foremost they do not know. I mean that, they have no damn clue. Their working hypothesis is just that, speculation. It is not tested, it is not vetted, no scientific rigor was applied to it, it is merely a mountain of assumptions. Moreover, if there is a hell, these apologist are just as likely to end up there as anyone else. There is no way to test the supernatural, even if it did exist. There is no way to know how to interpret the Bible, even if it was authoritative. There is no index explaining what is myth, what is literal, what is a parable, etc. 

 

William Lane Craig is the poster child of Christian intellect and do you know what his ultimate evidence is? The inner witness of the Holy Spirit. That is it, that is the best they can come up with. Come off it, that is lousy evidence. Because conviction is not a method by which we can evaluate what is true. You know that Muslims feel the same way, why does WLC reject their conviction. The Christian's method for coming to any kind of truth is a mess and unreliable, and they reject the same methodology used by people to come to different conclusions.

Thank you for the reply Hierophant. 

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@SeaJay,

 

Sorry to hear about your bad day but...it's just a day and tomorrow is another.

Watch a funny movie.

Talk to a friend.

 

The Bible was written by ancient control freaks - not by some deity. Even believing xtian Bible scholars admit men wrote the books and most are not quite sure each supposed author was even one person or the author credited with authoring. This would indicate that what we have is a collection of ancient myths passed by word of mouth over 100's of years. Perfect precipice for accuracy, eh?  </sarc>

 

Those authors, and those wishing to use the Bible as a tool, wrote in the "if you don't believe" and "if you blaspheme" sections as they noticed people were calling bullshit on the whole thing and were desperate to real some of them in as well as to threaten the rest of the flock.

 

The affect the frig'n books have had on you is why I maintain that preachers should be licensed and audited and if they screw with someone's head the church should be held financially liable.

 

 

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@SeaJay

 

Any time, brother. I know the struggle and I know how much it can help to get some feedback from someone who understands and has been there before. This site was a big help in my deconversion.

 

Before I deconverted, I told myself I would only read material written by former Christians. There is that special insight I was looking for that Dawkins and the rest would not be able to deliver because they were never in the game so to speak. It really helped me step back and reevaluate all the propaganda you hear from clergy, church members, and Christian websites.

 

I can tell you, until you are really past this, and I mean way past it, I do not recommend any Christian websites. Unless you have trained your mind to deal with apologetics, that is, train your mind to think more rationally, they will do nothing but cause you an extreme amount of unrest. The arguments sound good prima facie, but once you dig in, you realize none of them hold weight. I think Matt Dillahunty (though he can be a bit short-tempered and crass) does a really great job of dismantling theist arguments - he cuts to the quip about why they are so unreasonable and untenable. You have to get good at spotting the weaknesses and absurdities yourself, because otherwise, fear and unease will get you every time ~ they will always open this gigantic door of self doubt.

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23 minutes ago, Hierophant said:

 I can tell you, until you are really past this, and I mean way past it, I do not recommend any Christian websites. Unless you have trained your mind to deal with apologetics, that is, train your mind to think more rationally, they will do nothing but cause you an extreme amount of unrest.


I absolutely agree with this, SeaJay and I hope you’ll take it to heart.   We’re not suggesting you turn a deaf ear to Christian arguments for the rest of your life: you need to open up some distance between you and religious claims for now because you’re having trouble evaluating them without experiencing this awful anxiety.  Hierophant experienced similar anxieties but he’s in a much better place now and you would do well to follow his advice.  

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Thanks all, I very much appreciate the feedback. 

 

I decided many years ago that I wasn't going to read/watch any more Christian media. Not out of rebellion, but because it fuels my fear. I've also read the bible about 3 times, not including the years of bible study, so I like to think I am not being biased either way. Sort of like, ok, I've experienced both sides of the argument, let's now look at it all. 

 

One of the biggest problems I have, is believing the Christians have good answer for every question posed by non believers. Honestly, I have read so many rebuttals to Christianity, but the infuriating thing about anxiety, is that it takes control of your thought processes and says "No. You're going to focus on this and not that." What I mean is, it makes me, if not discount, then put aside all the rational arguments non believers have, and forces me to focus on "the fearful" aspects of it all. 

 

It doesn't help that, when I was going to Church, that I'd have all these questions addressed. If only I could remember the details I could post them here and get replies to them, but there's no way I can remember 2% of them. 

 

At the end of the day, for every question about a particular topic in the bible, there's a heavy dose of "Yes, but...". There is always doubt. Anxiety hijacks my thought processes and leaves me feeling - pretty much unable to move forward. 

 

I've watched a lot of the Atheist Experience among other Youtube videos, I watched/read Dawkins, watched/read Hitchens, watched Sam Harris, watched/read Dan Barker, and many others, but nothing seems to stick. 

 

EDIT: It's been so long that I cannot even remember the Christian apologetic replies I received. All I have is a memory that the replies I got were plausible. It's confusing because I can't question a plausible memory, only the apologetic reply I got. But I can't remember them. I should have questioned their replies there and then but I wasn't really in a position to do so. 

 

EDIT 2: Another problem is when non believers tell me things like Adam and Eve were never real people, the flood did not occur, Evolution is how humans came about, the earth is 4.5 billion years old, etc, I can find at least one Christian denomination that agrees. That is, they tell me Adam and Eve is just a parable (maybe not a parable, but I'm not sure what it might be called). Another Christian denomination believes Evolution was how we came to be here. Another denomination (or perhaps the same one, i'm not sure) believes the earth is 4.5 billion years old, and so on. If there was just one Church then maybe I could sort it all out. 

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I understand your problem is that your anxiety is getting the better of your intellect on some occasions, and that truly sucks.  I do encourage you to contact Recovering from Religion as their counselors have skills and training that we do not, plus it helps to have a live conversation over the phone.  It may be that your anxiety cannot be managed using either counseling or medication alone, but may require some combination of the two, at least until you can get to a certain point.  

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@SeaJay

 

As I said before, I completely understand. Here is a point to be made, wherever your head is, the heart will follow. This is what you are doing now, intellectually you think there is merit to apologist arguments, or maybe it is better put that you are not able to completely discount them, and therefore your heart soon follows.

 

I am going to make a fair and objective statement. It is possible, possible, that Christianity, broadly speaking, is somehow true. All the ridiculous arguments apologist make could possibly be true. Somehow, someway, it could all of actually happened and it is legit. For that to be the case, we are talking about one miracle after another for the Bible to be remotely vindicated.

 

That is the rub, it may be possibly true, but in all fairness, I give it less than 1% chance. I am not kidding, while possible, I find it highly improbable.

 

You made a good point, you have read the Bible, went to Bible studies, and you feel you are in a place to weigh the claims. But before you do, I want you to take account for the past 100 years of biblical criticism and add that to the equation. And maybe you have, but in my opinion, you are hung up on the "what ifs." If so, then you need to be thinking about the "what ifs" of every other religion threatening you to an eternal hell.

 

At the end of the day, where do you think the evidence really rests? If you think it rests with Christianity, well I would be very interested in hearing your case because I do not want to go to hell either. If you can construct a very solid argument that can withstand history and science, well then you will convert me back to the faith. I would like to hear what you find so convincing that the threat of hell looms over your head.

 

Here is some food for thought, have you ever considered what an argument from apologist really is? Maybe you have even done it yourself, I know I have, it is normally some ad hoc answer to get out of a tight spot ~ this are not intellectually rigorous arguments. All of them are riddled with one fallacy or another. For example if we say God cannot be loving because of all the shit going down every day, and no good father would let that fly, your standard answer is "freewill." Freewill, WTF does that have to do with anything. Try tying someone down to the details of that answer and watch the squirming. It is ridiculous. I could write a book on how freewill either does not exists, or is a completely ridiculous and is essentially invalidated whenever God steps in to do something, which means he is overriding the freewill of someone. Point is, apologetic arguments are skin deep, they have no meat and they have damn near zero explanatory power, they are just ad hoc excuses to provide paper thin buttresses to the preconceived beliefs of Christians. It is an exercise in pseudo-intellectualism.

 

I bet I am so good at apologetics, go ahead and pose your objection, I will answer it with a standard Christian apologetic, and then proceed to take that argument down. Just to show you that those arguments are not good. And my overall thought on that is if there was a god and he wanted us to know him, it would just be obvious. You wouldn't need Joe Blow preacher telling you about a god, you would just know yourself. It would be obvious for everyone to see and know. You would not need to speak 30 dead languages and need to have some esoteric knowledge to figure out what this god wanted, especially if this god had an ounce of concern. The whole idea to me know is just ridiculous.

 

"uhh, hey, God here. Yeah, I really want you to know me and follow me, but I am not really going to do anything to actually help you. Actually I am going to mess with your head by giving these barbarians some visions and I hope they write it down correctly, but if not, oh well. I know I keep saying that humans are wicked, but I decided to pass my message along via humans, so you know, it probably will not achieve its goals, but whatevs. I could actually write something myself and then make sure every human gets an un-corrupted copy when they are born....nah, that would give them too much of an edge, I want them to really suffer through this trying to figure it out. And if they fail to figure it out, boom, I am going to cook that ass and take no responsiblity. LOL - AWESOME SAUCE!"

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1 hour ago, SeaJay said:

EDIT 2: Another problem is when non believers tell me things like Adam and Eve were never real people, the flood did not occur, Evolution is how humans came about, the earth is 4.5 billion years old, etc, I can find at least one Christian denomination that agrees. That is, they tell me Adam and Eve is just a parable (maybe not a parable, but I'm not sure what it might be called). Another Christian denomination believes Evolution was how we came to be here. Another denomination (or perhaps the same one, i'm not sure) believes the earth is 4.5 billion years old, and so on. If there was just one Church then maybe I could sort it all out. 

 

EXACTLY! This does not strengthen their argument, it weakens it! So what they are doing is deciding they (the interpreter) is the authority over these religious writings. That is why I cling more to biblical criticism, because it has way more explanatory power than any pastor I ever knew. And let me ask you, who are they to say that Adam and Eve were not real people? Who are they to decide that the original author did not intend for it to be read literally? These are really just children of the enlightenment who realize the Bible does not hold up to scientific realities and are then reinterpreting the Bible to match modern science. They are like the Protestant rationalist who denied all the miracles and wanted to explain the Bible stories within the confines of physics.

 

Let me ask you, why do you think the Bible is authoritative in any way shape or form? What do you think gives it any credence that there is a god behind it and this god also has power over your life?

 

Also, have you read any books related to biblical criticism? Once I had the tools that undermined the authority of the Bible, everything else crumbled.

 

Edit: Here is a reading list I think you should definitely check out - http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/study_list.htm

And I agree with TABA and Weezer, I think it would really help if you could see a secular psychologist/psychiatrist. Even better if they had the same kind of background. I saw one for PTSD that manifested in religious obsessive compulsive disorder and helped me think about some things differently.

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Jay, I believe you have issues beyond the religious ones.  We're you motivated by fear, emotional, or physical abuse by parents?  Threat of abandonment? Or actual abandonment? Etc?  GET PROFESSIONAL HELP!  For some reason the fear is very deeply ingrained, and is being projected onto "god".

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47 minutes ago, TABA said:

I understand your problem is that your anxiety is getting the better of your intellect on some occasions, and that truly sucks.  I do encourage you to contact Recovering from Religion as their counselors have skills and training that we do not, plus it helps to have a live conversation over the phone.  It may be that your anxiety cannot be managed using either counseling or medication alone, but may require some combination of the two, at least until you can get to a certain point.  

Thanks TABA. I've been in therapy for my issues, and it has helped. I've been on Citalopram 25mg for about 8 years (this all started 10 years ago) and I've been on Dothiapen for nearly 30 years. 

 

I'm not sure if I can phone Recovering from Religion because I haven't left Christianity. Would they even speak to me? Things are so messed up with me it would take at least an hour to summarise. 

 

EDIT: I could not agree more with the underlined. Very true. When anxiety is spiking, I may as well say goodbye to trying to think rationally. 

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@SeaJay I am sure they would. I never understood it to mean you had to be detoxed from the faith to use them. They are there for people who have left and for those who are doubting and need some assistance.

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1 hour ago, Weezer said:

Jay, I believe you have issues beyond the religious ones.  We're you motivated by fear, emotional, or physical abuse by parents?  Threat of abandonment? Or actual abandonment? Etc?  GET PROFESSIONAL HELP!  For some reason the fear is very deeply ingrained, and is being projected onto "god".

 

Well, my upbringing was one of verbal abuse (not really physical, but then, I did grow up at a time when parents would give their child a smack now and again). My mother was bi-polar and it was pretty terrible. On times. Not all the time. Not every day. But the trouble is, when you fear someone and that someone is a parent you can't get away from, even when they are acting reasonable on any given day, you the child, are still wondering when is Mam going to start screaming at me and my sister again.  

 

I could say some stories but I won't. I've told therapists and one of them said almost exactly what you said Weezer. They said every time you are begging God for forgiveness, you are really begging your mother. She died a few years ago; not sure when exactly, but I think  it was before 2010 November (when all this started). So yep, it was pretty scary at times. 

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1 hour ago, Hierophant said:

@SeaJay

 

As I said before, I completely understand. Here is a point to be made, wherever your head is, the heart will follow. This is what you are doing now, intellectually you think there is merit to apologist arguments, or maybe it is better put that you are not able to completely discount them, and therefore your heart soon follows.

 

I am going to make a fair and objective statement. It is possible, possible, that Christianity, broadly speaking, is somehow true. All the ridiculous arguments apologist make could possibly be true. Somehow, someway, it could all of actually happened and it is legit. For that to be the case, we are talking about one miracle after another for the Bible to be remotely vindicated.

 

That is the rub, it may be possibly true, but in all fairness, I give it less than 1% chance. I am not kidding, while possible, I find it highly improbable.

 

You made a good point, you have read the Bible, went to Bible studies, and you feel you are in a place to weigh the claims. But before you do, I want you to take account for the past 100 years of biblical criticism and add that to the equation. And maybe you have, but in my opinion, you are hung up on the "what ifs." If so, then you need to be thinking about the "what ifs" of every other religion threatening you to an eternal hell.

 

At the end of the day, where do you think the evidence really rests? If you think it rests with Christianity, well I would be very interested in hearing your case because I do not want to go to hell either. If you can construct a very solid argument that can withstand history and science, well then you will convert me back to the faith. I would like to hear what you find so convincing that the threat of hell looms over your head.

 

Here is some food for thought, have you ever considered what an argument from apologist really is? Maybe you have even done it yourself, I know I have, it is normally some ad hoc answer to get out of a tight spot ~ this are not intellectually rigorous arguments. All of them are riddled with one fallacy or another. For example if we say God cannot be loving because of all the shit going down every day, and no good father would let that fly, your standard answer is "freewill." Freewill, WTF does that have to do with anything. Try tying someone down to the details of that answer and watch the squirming. It is ridiculous. I could write a book on how freewill either does not exists, or is a completely ridiculous and is essentially invalidated whenever God steps in to do something, which means he is overriding the freewill of someone. Point is, apologetic arguments are skin deep, they have no meat and they have damn near zero explanatory power, they are just ad hoc excuses to provide paper thin buttresses to the preconceived beliefs of Christians. It is an exercise in pseudo-intellectualism.

 

I bet I am so good at apologetics, go ahead and pose your objection, I will answer it with a standard Christian apologetic, and then proceed to take that argument down. Just to show you that those arguments are not good. And my overall thought on that is if there was a god and he wanted us to know him, it would just be obvious. You wouldn't need Joe Blow preacher telling you about a god, you would just know yourself. It would be obvious for everyone to see and know. You would not need to speak 30 dead languages and need to have some esoteric knowledge to figure out what this god wanted, especially if this god had an ounce of concern. The whole idea to me know is just ridiculous.

 

"uhh, hey, God here. Yeah, I really want you to know me and follow me, but I am not really going to do anything to actually help you. Actually I am going to mess with your head by giving these barbarians some visions and I hope they write it down correctly, but if not, oh well. I know I keep saying that humans are wicked, but I decided to pass my message along via humans, so you know, it probably will not achieve its goals, but whatevs. I could actually write something myself and then make sure every human gets an un-corrupted copy when they are born....nah, that would give them too much of an edge, I want them to really suffer through this trying to figure it out. And if they fail to figure it out, boom, I am going to cook that ass and take no responsiblity. LOL - AWESOME SAUCE!"

 

I've copied and pasted this into my growing Atheist folder of documents. Thank you for taking the time to post the above. 

 

Here are a few questions I have heard rebutted by Apologists (this in reply to your request above). 

 

If there is a God - why is there so much nastiness on the earth, why doesn't He stop it?

It's because of the fall. Sin is in the world and sin is why everything is so bad. We had the chance to choose God's way but we chose our way. This is exactly how things are supposed to be until the second coming. 

 

We only have 75 years or a little more if lucky - so eternal punishment is unjust. 

Because the sin was committed against an eternal God, the punishment is eternal. 

 

"Why did God harden Pharaoh’s, heart?

Pharaoh hardened his own heart a good few times before God did so and God gave him warnings too.

 

The above are good examples of the frustration I find when I look into the bible. For every negative claim against the bible, there seems to be a good response. Not all the time, but most of the time. At least in my thinking. It's as I say above, they don't have to be iron clad, just plausible. 

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1 hour ago, SeaJay said:

 

I'm not sure if I can phone Recovering from Religion because I haven't left Christianity. Would they even speak to me? Things are so messed up with me it would take at least an hour to summarise. 

 


I’m sure they’d speak to you.  Even if you don’t think of yourself as having left Christianity, part of you (your rational brain) has done so.  Your fears are holding you back.  I’m sure they’ve met people in your situation.  That’s why they’re there.  I didn’t need RfR because I didn’t have severe anxiety to hold me back when I saw that Christianity didn’t add up.  But many people do.  You’re not alone. 

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@SeaJay

 

Hey, thank you for providing a few examples. I will do one at a time because each one is a lot to unpack, and if anyone else wants to jump in, please do so.

 

If there is a God - why is there so much nastiness on the earth, why doesn't He stop it?

It's because of the fall. Sin is in the world and sin is why everything is so bad. We had the chance to choose God's way but we chose our way. This is exactly how things are supposed to be until the second coming.

Before we get going, I am guessing we mean a "loving" or “good” God exists, a deistic God or even a malicious God does not really matter here.

Great, we have the apologetic. "The Fall,” implied this means that God is not responsible for all of the terrible stuff going on, he is going to get a free pass in all this. Somehow he is not responsible, even though he created everything and is supposed to be in control of everything, but sure. Conveniently, the blame is going to get passed to Adam and Eve, the humans are going to get it with both barrels so Yahve is somehow not responsible for any of the nastiness now, or in history.

I want to speak a bit about this before going after it, at the end of the day, this is a possible explanation. And there is definitely a way to tease this out of the Bible, so at least it was not made up out of whole cloth. I mention this because you stated you get hung up on the what-ifs. Essentially, this argument will make you pause because in your head, there is some cogency to it. I think it helps your mind because in the western world, we are taught at an early age to fear and respect the Christian God, so we do not need too much convincing to turn the other cheek so to speak. At the end of the day, this is not going to break Christianity. But I think we can tease out a few ideas of how the whole “Fall” demonstrates there is not a loving God behind it.

First off, I am just going to attack the Bible. There is no reason to believe Genesis remotely speaks to a literal sequence of events in the past (past being what really happened in our world). I just do not buy it, matter of fact, @Joshpantera just made a post about all of the problems with a literal reading of Genesis. I recommend you go over there and review the videos because it would take me 40 pages to discuss every topic those videos cover. I am going to smack the larger nails sticking out.

I would ask you this, who exactly do you think wrote Genesis? I can tell you scholars do not believe it was the earliest book written, it definitely was not written by one person (you normally hear “Moses wrote it”….no way). Genesis 1 and 2 are definitely different authors telling a similar, but different story. Check this out, we know, for sure, there is not a “firmament” above the earth holding back water, nor are there a smaller light and a larger light affixed to it. To me, end of story. I did not have to make it past the first page before I found an error, and I do not believe that is even the first error I came to, it just happened to be the one I use the most often because it is so obvious that whoever wrote Genesis 1 thought the earth was flat, there was a dome that had windows to allow it to rain, and the sun and moon are affixed to it (flat-earthers believe this). There is nothing about Genesis 1 that would lead me to believe the author was being “symbolic.” It reads as if the author is literally telling a story as if they thought that was the literal history of the universe and planet.

Evolution is an established fact, there was no time in history where there just happened to be the first modern human male and female (what I mean here is that there were always these stages of transition and multiple individuals in the population would have similar traits and all that. It is not as if one day two of our ape-like ancestors just happened to pop out a modern male and modern female at the same time, in the same location). Evolution does not work like that. I constantly hear arguments from this woman in my office who is a vegetarian and thinks there was this ideal period where everyone and everything just ate plants. As Ken Ham or Kent Hovind, one of those fools says “T-Rex used those big teeth to eat watermelons.” GTFO. Nope, never happened and there is just no way. And if T-Rex did do that, which is impossible, it does not account for all the microorganisms that die and are processed when you eat fruit. Point is, this world is a constant cycle of life and death and always has been. Multiple science disciplines demonstrate life evolved over time and death was very much a part of life way before humans came on the scene. It is absurd to think that Adam and Eve ate some fruit and all of a sudden all these animals start morphing into carnivorous  beasts that start slashing each other up….come on.

The tree was called the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” well, does that not imply Adam and Eve did not even know what evil was, i.e., if evil is disobeying God, they did not even have the mental faculty to even know that what they were doing was “bad.” And as Joshpantera mentioned in his Genesis post, this was a total setup! Think about all the steps this all-knowing God went through. He knows what is going to happen if he puts this tree on earth, yet does it anyway. He tells these humans not to eat it, but he knows they have no idea what disobeying is. He could have made humans without the capacity to sin, or rather disobey (and yes, that does mean we still would have been free, just free to only make good decisions – and who gives a shit about freedom if it means it can end up in eternal torture?).

Imagine if I did these kind of things to my son? Look at this from the aspect of a human parent acting like this. Each and every time you are going to conclude that it would be wrong to treat your child like this. You are simply setting them up for failure and then pissed off when it happens.

Where in there do you see love, or even rational thinking? If there is anyone to blame for human sin, it is God himself. This is his party, he designed it this way, so what is he so pissed off about? He got exactly what he designed to happen.

This only makes sense if we are dealing with a God who is not all-powerful and is not all knowing. A God that makes mistakes and later realizes some of the blunders they made and decide to do things differently in the future. Good luck getting that to pass muster in the Christian community. There are some who adhere to it, it is called open theism, but by and large, it is considered heresy.

At the end, where do you think the better argument is laid out? With the apologetic or with my anti-apologetic? At the end of the day, nobody knows for sure, you have to weigh the arguments and decide which one makes more sense or you find more convincing. Personally, I find the apologetic falls flat on its face once you really think about the premises built into “The Fall” theology.

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42 minutes ago, Hierophant said:

 

If there is a God - why is there so much nastiness on the earth, why doesn't He stop it?

It's because of the fall. Sin is in the world and sin is why everything is so bad. We had the chance to choose God's way but we chose our way. This is exactly how things are supposed to be until the second coming. 

Hey, thank you for providing a few examples. I will do one at a time because each one is a lot to unpack, and if anyone else wants to jump in, please do so.


Good answer from Hierophant to this and it deserves to be read and re-read.  I’m going to jump in as he invited and come at this from a different angle...

 

EVEN IF the Genesis story were true, and suffering entered the world because of the sin of the very first humans, and we must all therefore pay the price in various kinds of suffering (from grown adults down to a famine-stricken baby in some miserable corner of Somalia, covered in flies, waiting for death to end its suffering) think about this scenario: a baby elephant elsewhere in Africa, slowly dying from drought, suffering horribly for hour after hour, day after day.  What did this creature or any elephant ancestor do to deserve this?  Any humans present would do whatever they could to save the little creature.  But a supposedly loving, all powerful god fails to lift a divine finger to help, or even to put it out of its misery.

 

This just doesn’t fit at all with the idea of a loving god.  Or at least a loving god with the power to do big things.  
 

I read a news story a few years ago about some man who was having a big fight with his girlfriend.  I guess it was Splitsville.  But in an act designed to hurt her as much as possible, he grabbed her little dog and threw it out into traffic, where it was run over and killed.  It broke my heart.  Now the vast majority of human beings would be appalled at what he did: even if she were the Ultimate Bitch, what a cruel thing to do to anybody.  And what terror and pain that innocent little dog must have experienced in the final moments of its life!  But if an all-powerful god exists, how is he any better than that man?  If there exists a powerful god that is that cruel, are you going to worship him or cower before him?  Because I’m not.  He’s nothing to me. 

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Another thought I had on "The Fall." What exactly is sin? Have you ever really heard a cogent thought on sin? It is almost this word that gets defined from intuition, never really strictly defined, you just kind of think you know what it means. How is sin defined as "missing the mark" of what God expects, but yet it is also something that permeated the earth whenever Adam and Eve ate the fruit. That does not make any sense to me. I would like to hear that idea flushed out because you hear sin get defined differently in different context. In the case of "The Fall," it sounds like divine punishment of some kind. Paradise lost to sin...in that context, sin just sounds like God manipulated the code of the universe so now the "suck function" gets called every time something takes place. And it is more of a random number generator in that you are not sure how bad it is going to be when that function gets called (this makes a lot more sense if you are familiar with programming languages).

 

Also, does Genesis even mention "sin" entering the world? I thought it was death that entered the world, not sin, i.e., people now die because of the fruit, but it does not account for all of the terrible stuff going on. Best you could do for that would be say now humans had the knowledge of what was good and evil, however you define those terms. If I am not mistaken, sin entering the world was a NT idea.

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29 minutes ago, TABA said:


Good answer from Hierophant to this and it deserves to be read and re-read.  I’m going to jump in as he invited and come at this from a different angle...

 

EVEN IF the Genesis story were true, and suffering entered the world because of the sin of the very first humans, and we must all therefore pay the price in various kinds of suffering (from grown adults down to a famine-stricken baby in some miserable corner of Somalia, covered in flies, waiting for death to end its suffering) think about this scenario: a baby elephant elsewhere in Africa, slowly dying from drought, suffering horribly for hour after hour, day after day.  What did this creature or any elephant ancestor do to deserve this?  Any humans present would do whatever they could to save the little creature.  But a supposedly loving, all powerful god fails to lift a divine finger to help, or even to put it out of its misery.

 

This just doesn’t fit at all with the idea of a loving god.  Or at least a loving god with the power to do big things.  
 

I read a news story a few years ago about some man who was having a big fight with his girlfriend.  I guess it was Splitsville.  But in an act designed to hurt her as much as possible, he grabbed her little dog and threw it out into traffic, where it was run over and killed.  It broke my heart.  Now the vast majority of human beings would be appalled at what he did: even if she were the Ultimate Bitch, what a cruel thing to do to anybody.  And what terror and pain that innocent little dog must have experienced in the final moments of its life!  But if an all-powerful god exists, how is he any better than that man?  If there exists a powerful god that is that cruel, are you going to worship him or cower before him?  Because I’m not.  He’s nothing to me. 

 

Great points. I think deep down Christians are terrified of their God, but it is too unnerving to face that all the time and it turns into this constant excuse of trying to paint God in the best possible light. Entertaining thoughts of how much Yahve is really cruel might just get you into hot water.

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