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I don't know how to start but I was a  devout Christian for over 30 years. I would go to church every Sunday, ask forgiveness for my sins every night and pray to god and I even read the four gospels of the bible. But a few years ago I came across a YouTube channel called A voice in the desert. This channel preaches that in order to become a Christian and be saved you must sell all your possessions, quit your job, and preach the gospel day in and day out. When I first heard of that I was very shocked and was very confused. So in order to confirm that this channel wasn't lying I decided to read my bible over again and boy was that channel right in what they were preaching. So from there on I decided to keep praying to god and ask him for guidance on how should I do it. But I never ended up getting an answer from him just like all the other times I've prayed. This teaching played a big role in my deconversion as I didn't want to leave my family or friends for a god who can't even answer my prayers or doesn't have an effect on my life. I also became depressed as a result of this teaching and have been ever since. I haven't found true happiness in the entire  time that I've deconverted from Christianity. Right now I am in the middle of believing in a Christian god and wanting to become a full on atheist but it's been hard for me to move on because of my fear of hell that's been crippling me. I come to this website for help and guidance on what should I do now and how can I make my life better. 

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Welcome, Mrjukes.  I'm glad you've found us.  I know you're in a tough spot right now; but let me say, up front here, that this, too, shall pass.  Everything is impermanent, including your confusion and depression.  Give yourself some time to heal.  There's no need to become a full-on atheist right now; and there's no reason you can't keep believing in the christian god, even if you don't exactly trust him right now.  It is enough right now for you to simply be.  You don't need to fix a label on yourself and you don't need to have all of the answers.  For now, just be.  What, who, and how you will end up becoming will come in time.  In the meantime, take a look around our forums, read our testimonials, and make a friend or two (not me, though; I come across real nice at first, but I'm a major asshole 😆 ).  Again, welcome.

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@Mrjukes21,

 

TheRedneckProfessor is right, no need to rush into labels right now. Always continue learning and I hope that some of the testimonials you find on this site can help you.  Deconversion is never an easy process, especially when your entire identity was wrapped up in a specific worldview that has now crumbled around you.

 

Let us know if there is anything we can do or questions we may be able to answer for you - or least help you navigate.

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Welcome, you're in the right place.

 

You don't have to decide what your label is today, or ever. Atheism isn't a goal, it's a conclusion someone reaches after failing to find adequate reason to believe in gods. As you critically examine your former beliefs and teachings you were exposed to you may get to that point, or you might not. My personal guide is to believe that which has evidence and dismiss the unsupported myriad claims people make. Discerning which is which becomes easier with time.

 

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Welcome MrJukes21

 

You'll find many here have been in similar positions.

 

3 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

But a few years ago I came across a YouTube channel called A voice in the desert. This channel preaches that in order to become a Christian and be saved you must sell all your possessions, quit your job, and preach the gospel day in and day out. When I first heard of that I was very shocked and was very confused. So in order to confirm that this channel wasn't lying I decided to read my bible over again and boy was that channel right in what they were preaching.

 

There are many such interpretations of the bible. Christians have been arguing about the right way to interpret and believe since the inception of Christianity. Entire wars have been fought over the right way to become a Christian and be saved. Martin Luther's reformation was over this very thing.

 

3 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

So from there on I decided to keep praying to god and ask him for guidance on how should I do it. But I never ended up getting an answer from him just like all the other times I've prayed.

 

Yeah, me neither. As I told my parents, either God is ignoring me, or is unable to answer me, or doesn't exist. Regardless of which one it is, the final result to me ends up looking like God not existing. 

 

3 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

This teaching played a big role in my deconversion as I didn't want to leave my family or friends for a god who can't even answer my prayers or doesn't have an effect on my life. I also became depressed as a result of this teaching and have been ever since. I haven't found true happiness in the entire  time that I've deconverted from Christianity.

 

True happiness is an elusive thing to find regardless of your beliefs, or worldview. Sometimes one needs to let go of the pursuit of happiness and instead just do what makes them happy.

 

3 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

Right now I am in the middle of believing in a Christian god and wanting to become a full on atheist but it's been hard for me to move on because of my fear of hell that's been crippling me. I come to this website for help and guidance on what should I do now and how can I make my life better. 

 

Like others have said, don't worry about attempting to attach labels or become something. Life is a journey, not a race. Fear of hell is a common hindrance to those attempting to leave religion.

 

I'll ask you the same question I ask anybody who says they fear the biblical hell: Do you fear the Greek Hell, the Norse hell, the Egyptian underworld, the Islamic hell, or the many other hell's you've never even heard of that humans have made up over time? If not, and I'm assuming you don't, then why fear the biblical hell?

 

Stick around, and all the best.

LF

 

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Also if you guys don't mind what do you guys think of the people who say the world is a stage and are anti vax, believe in  predictive programming, and that celebrities are part of illuminati? these things are big factors into why it's hard for me to be full on atheist. I would really appreciate some advice on this stuff

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2 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

Also if you guys don't mind what do you guys think of the people who say the world is a stage and are anti vax, believe in  predictive programming, and that celebrities are part of illuminati? these things are big factors into why it's hard for me to be full on atheist. I would really appreciate some advice on this stuff

 

Well I have one word for all of that: Bullshit.

 

For the anti vaxer's I encourage them to not vaccinate themselves then expose themselves to the many disease for which we have vaccines for. That would thin the herd rather effectively. You will not find sympathy for those people from me. That's what I think of them.

 

On predictive programming - basically a modern day version of people seeing shapes in the clouds and thinking it means something when it doesn't. In this case they think there are messages in media when there isn't. Now that's not to say there is no messaging in media - there is, but not in the way the conspiracy folk think.

 

On the Illuminati - are they sure it's the Illuminati and not the free masons, or the Bilderberg group? The problems with these conspiracy theories is that they require world leaders to be conditioning us. The problem is for much of the western world the leaders keep changing as they are elected in and out of office. So do these secret groups manage to brainwash each and every new leader? Maybe you've heard of agenda 21 in your travels? I've read large parts of it and nowhere does it actually say what conspiracy nuts say it does. What happens is you get one lose cannon saying xyz blah blah, then the rest of them take his/her word for it and don't check things out for themselves. 

 

Heard of the 9/11 conspiracy? The towers cannot have come down because jet fuel burns at around 1600 degrees, but steel won't melt until 2700 odd degrees? Take a piece of 1/2 steel and try and bend it. You can't. Now heat the middle of it to 1600 and try again. It will bend like playdough. So much for that conspiracy theory. 

 

In the end my advice is that life is far to short to go down the rabbit trail of the deluded. Its a long deep hole and if you start down that path you may waste your life looking at every crackpot conspiracy theory on the globe. It's not worth it. 

 

Also atheism has nothing to do with these things. Either you believe god exists or you don't. If you don't then you're an atheist regardless of the truth or lack thereof of any conspiracy theory. 

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I look at conspiracy bullshit a lot like I look at the existence of god: even if it is true, it doesn't seem to be affecting my life much and there's not really anything I could do about it.  Anti-vax is a bit different because that actually could affect me or someone I love.

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Hi Mrjukes21, and welcome to the community!  This place has helped a lot of us to get through the deconversion process and emerge happier and more at peace than we had thought possible.  I hope you have the same kind of experience!   And it IS a process: realizing that so much of Christianity just doesn’t add up is just the beginning.  I learned a lot more after I had already declared myself an ex-Christian, and certainly benefited from being part of this group of supportive people.  You’ve already been well advised above to let the process unfold naturally as it it typically did for most of us here.  You gradually gain a comfort level with your post-Christian view of the world and if you're like many of us, you will be happier in the end.  There can be rough patches along the way though.  That’s why we’re here, to help and encourage you.  Sometimes people need professional help from a secular counselor, or even from those who specialize in recovery from religion.  We recommend “Journey Free” https://journeyfree.org/

I see they are offering a Religious Recovery Bootcamp starting next week https://www.ex-christian.net/announcement/9-journey-free-is-offering-a-religious-recovery-bootcamp/. They also offer a free 20-minute consultation. 

 

Fear of Hell of course is a common experience, unfortunately.  I was lucky in that I had stopped believing in Hell before I deconverted, so I never really had that to deal with.  But to be honest I was amazed when I realized later on that the basis for actually believing in Hell is so weak, even though so many Christians and others take it for granted.  And you only have to look though the Bible itself to see that Hell (and Satan too) show all the hallmarks of having been made up as they went along, so to speak.  Hell and Satan both clearly evolve through the course of the Old Testament and into the New.  The following article provides a good summary about Hell...

https://listverse.com/2015/10/03/10-biblical-reasons-why-hell-might-not-exist/

If you want a lot more information on how Hell and Satan were made up by various cultures through history, I’d recommend the following book.  It was recommended originally by a member here who experienced horrible fear of Hell for a while before happily overcoming it.  

https://www.amazon.com/Birth-Satan-Tracing-Devils-Biblical-ebook/dp/B00OO199EY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

Again, welcome  - and congratulations on the progress you’ve made so far.  Hang in there, continue to question, and tell us more about yourself as you feel ready.  Feel free to send me a direct message if you want to chat...

 

-TABA

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thanks for the great advice guys really appreciate it. here's the thing though if hell doesn't exist then why did jesus mention it so many times and always warn about it. remember the story of lazarus and rich man where the rich man was sent to hell forever and ever and was burning? it doesn't make sense why hell wouldn't be real. but then again even if it is what can we do since god obviously doesn't want to interact nor speak to us. so it's his fault for us going to hell since he keeps giving us the idea that he doesn't exist. it just pains me that people actually want people to burn in hell forever and ever. its like Christianity took away those people's humanity from them and turned them into mindless slaves. lastly what do you guys think about a voice in the desert?

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How do we know that jesus said those things?  Because some unknown authors wrote about it decades later?  That seems a shade suspicious to me.  The fact is, if  jesus even existed, there are still simply no first hand, eyewitness accounts of anything he said or did.  Why?

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2 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

 here's the thing though if hell doesn't exist then why did jesus mention it so many times and always warn about it. remember the story of lazarus and rich man where the rich man was sent to hell forever and ever and was burning? it doesn't make sense why hell wouldn't be real. but then again even if it is what can we do since god obviously doesn't want to interact nor speak to us. so it's his fault for us going to hell since he keeps giving us the idea that he doesn't exist. it just pains me that people actually want people to burn in hell forever and ever. its like Christianity took away those people's humanity from them and turned them into mindless slaves. lastly what do you guys think about a voice in the desert?

 

2 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

 

 

Hi Mrjukes. I'm so sorry you are feeling so bad right now. Take your time.  I want you to know how much I understand what you are going through so I will post my testimony that I posted when I first arrived here at Ex. I hope you will understand that this letter I wrote speaks for many, many new people who come here. We understand what you are going through. Take your time. Do a lot of research. There are hundreds and hundreds of articles that our intelligent folk have presented to us as to why the bible is such a fuck up. It's not that it doesn't contain some points of wisdom from the ancient writers.... it's when the bible has been taken and preached to us as if it is a whole story book. Not so. The books have been written at different times with different cultures and tribes of people throughout hundreds of years. These are just a few of the things you will learn if you keep reading.

 

You don't have to stop praying or talking to god right now. You keep doing what is comfortable for you. Nobody will make fun. We understand. Breathe, take your time....you will learn what you need to 'unlearn'' in plenty of time. I wish you well on this somewhat bumpy, exciting ride. The excitement will be when you are convinced there is no hell and that alone will start to bring back some happiness in your life. Hang in there! Ex-c got your back.

 (hug)

 

 

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Margee, you've got they special touch!  

 

3 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

 

its like Christianity took away those people's humanity from them and turned them into mindless slaves. 

 

That's exactly what the doctrine of original sin,  and the church of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and later, wanted.  The writers of those myths didn't want people who questioned their control.  All cults practice mind control.

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Thanks margee but I don't pray anymore as I see it as a waste of time since I used to do that for years and got no answers. sure christians could say that maybe god might have a right timing but it also says in the bible that whatever you ask in my name youll receive it. why would god take so long to answer my prayers if he knows that ill lose faith. at this point im just in limbo and my fear of hell is the main reason why im in this limbo

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14 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

here's the thing though if hell doesn't exist then why did jesus mention it so many times and always warn about it. remember the story of lazarus and rich man where the rich man was sent to hell forever and ever and was burning? it doesn't make sense why hell wouldn't be real.


It makes sense when you look at other  things “Jesus” said that turned out to be wrong, and you realize that Jesus was just another man, or maybe a composite figure made up of several apocalyptic figures.   When you read scripture without the rose-tinted glasses of Faith (this is God’s word so any apparent errors or contradictions must not really be so) you start to see the failed predictions, the bad history, etc.  It seems clear Jesus thought he or another messiah figure was going to return to earth right there in the 1st century to overthrow Rome and other earthly powers and establish God’s kingdom for all time.  Spoiler alert: it didn’t happen. 
 

14 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

but then again even if it is what can we do since god obviously doesn't want to interact nor speak to us. so it's his fault for us going to hell since he keeps giving us the idea that he doesn't exist.


There you go.  You see what’s going on here.  Like I said, deconversion is a process, not a moment, and you’ve already passed the point where you know it doesn’t add up.  Over the past few years I’ve seen many people, myself included, go through the process.  And I’m confident you’re past the point of no return because of what you’ve already figured out.  And that’s good, very good!  Now it’s a matter of resolving some lingering questions and letting your mind get used to this new view of the world.  Don’t worry about whether you can or should become an atheist: that will resolve itself.  
 

So I’d say to you, be glad for how far you’ve come, hang out here, reading and asking questions.  Take care of your mind and body: meditation, exercise and a good diet work better than prayer.  And read books: as well as the one I mentioned above about the origin of Satan, read Bart Ehrman. Many of us had our eyes opened by his various books.  I’d recommend “Heaven and Hell” and “How Jesus Became God” in particular.  
 

Man, you’ve got this.  You’re on your way to a better life without the guilt, cognitive dissonance and other bad stuff your old religion produces.  Time, knowledge and a support group are what it takes to get there, all of those are now available to you. 

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17 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

(Oops, I clicked on the wrong spot)

I wanted to tell you that I sent you a PM (personal message) inviting you to read my Testimony which is the story of my questioning, and the journey out of christianity.  But I notice you haven't read the PM.  I think it will help you to see the phases you go through in the process, and help you to "gell" some of the excelent observations you have made.  The testimony is called, TRUTH, A GRADUAL AWAKENING  

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       On a strict theological view and analysis of the Gospels. Leaving aside the issue of divine inspiration, of there being four Gospels, plus Paul s interpretation of the teaching of Jesus, plus that the man himself wrote nothing nor is there ANY command in the Gospel - write this stuff down, et. so leaving aside all that, which is already a lot.

          I want to tackle another sweet and sour subject - translation and cultural context. Jesus spoke Galilean Aramaic, commenting on Scriptures written in different form of Hebrew over thousands of years, and his words were preserved in koine Greek(commom greek of the era that is) of the first century. And then, you have it translated in latin centuries later, and then into some forms of English, and then other forms of English, and then some manuscripts from original Greek started to be avaibale in the west, and then King James version, and then after numerous translation in other languages, manuscript discovery, critical editions, ant then a version in modern English. You have AT least three four ancient languages in different stages of evolution - Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin , and different stages of English. 

          You have 2000 years of MASSIVE cultural change. MASSIVE. The fact that I am writing this on a PC tranmitting it through electromagnetic means should be proof enough. You would not have the time in your life to actually read all the cultural transformation that the world in which Christianity evolved, grew, decreased and sometimes dissapeared went through. 

          HOW can you be sure of ANYTHING that Jesus said is properly understood by you? How do you know that he used the world Hell, or that concept even existed in first century Palestine? He uses Sheol, Gehenna, and others which are translated Hell. What was the word for everlasting - there is a well known scholar Illaria Ramelli whjo literally wrote a book on the Greek words used for eternity in the Bible, especially Gospel -she is a Classica expert, so she has a pedigree to talk about it. Her opinion is that Jesus NEVER used the idea of everlasting in the Gospels, but that word aionos - meant something like pertaining to this age, or an age, a period of time, etc. 

        PLEASE read the physiology of trauma. Basically, our brain has two reaction modes - the reflective mode, and the reactive mode. The reactive mode, which bypassed the prefontral cortex, is activated by the limbic system and sends messages and informs actions immediately. You see a bear, you just run, you don  think about - should I run, or should I get my hand out of a burning fire, etc. Any massive threat does it, and it is healthy. The Threat of Hell, if done in an intense enough manner it can get you stuck in the fear response. Do not move, ffight.flight/freeze/fawn/dissociate. It basically hijacks higher thinking. Do not get alarmed, with proper methods - certain types of therapy ( by therapy I mean anything that can help you with it), it can and does decrease. But just know, it probably is a side effect of strenghtened neural pathways in your brain - If I leave the Church, I will go to Hell. If something is repeteated enough times, and is intense enough, it gets stuck and strenghtened. It is like learning a sport, or an art. Or a language. If, for example, you decide, after 5 years of playing the violin, ok I am done with it, the muscle memory still remains, and ca remain there for a long time, altough it does decrease. Or riding a bike. 

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Hi MrJukes21 and welcome to Ex-C. I can totally relate to your trauma about the fear of hell. It was something ingrained into me from ever since I have memories. The fear of hell becomes a mental rut, and is literally the lens through which we see life. I tend to see leaving Christianity as life-changing as it was for astronomers to finally know that the earth is round - not flat, and that the earth revolved around the sun, not the opposite. Hell seems to be nothing more than a creation of man's imagination that has evolved over the centuries. As a result, those varying concepts show up in literature in predictable ways, including literature that some view as being given to us by God. Studying into the history of hell was very helpful for me. But yes, moving away from the fear of hell is definitely a process in which there are days better than others. I'm hopeful for you that you will find a place of peace.

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thank you all for yuour support. also theres one more thing keeping me up and that is a voice in the desert. what do  you guys think oftheir context and luke 14:33

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as well as what do you guys think of those videos that show someone has a message from god and has seen hell and are trying to warn us? those things also tend to keep me up at night

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5 minutes ago, Mrjukes21 said:

as well as what do you guys think of those videos that show someone has a message from god and has seen hell and are trying to warn us? those things also tend to keep me up at night

What about all the videos of people claiming to have been abducted by aliens? 

 

There are a million (probably literally) crazy, outrageous claims. You concern yourself with Christian mythology due to where you happened to be born. You could also fret over the claims of Islam, Voodoo, Scientology or Mormonism. It's a big world full of crazy people - don't listen to them. They all can't be right, but they can all be wrong.

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1 hour ago, Mrjukes21 said:

thank you all for yuour support. also theres one more thing keeping me up and that is a voice in the desert. what do  you guys think oftheir context and luke 14:33

 

They are a cult.  Preying on insecure people.  Run in the other direction as fast as you can. 

 

If you need to talk to someone, contact Recovering from Religion website. And while you are here, go back and re-read all the replies posted above.  HANG IN THERE!

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3 hours ago, Mrjukes21 said:

as well as what do you guys think of those videos that show someone has a message from god and has seen hell and are trying to warn us? those things also tend to keep me up at night

Well it is hard to generalise. 

      There are NDE. Near death experiences. Those are to be taken with great reservation at the start. We are talking about people whose brains are in a damaged state. It is like trusting someone unconscious. There is a great variety of NDEs. Some are religiously connected, some not. It is actually hard to form a pattern out of them outside some arbitrary constraint. What WE do know and can easily experience is that a brain in damaged state easily loses perception of reality - get drunk, high, or really tired or really hungry or thirtsty and you can see it for yourself  ( Although I would not recommend it unless in severly controlled environment)  People see Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, etc. Why would God even choose people in a state of neurological damage to show his mysteries while other people could easily say they are hallucinating shedding a doubt on his word? 

      Secondly, certifiably psychotic/epileptic people. You can search temporal lobe epilepsy. It is a proven disease apparently. Psychosis can appear in many forms, one of which can contain religious undertones. The daughter of my godfather is a psychiatrist and told about mystical delirium cases she heard and saw, from people getting messages to mutilate themselves or kill others etc. These people are to be pitied. Mental ilness is very hard and often stigmatized, especially in the religious world.

    Thirdly , people who have mystical xp after practicing hypnotic tehniques. There are many trance inducing techniques. I already said a few. Some hallucinogenic substances with a long tradition of religious use east and west (cannabis, opium, peyote cactus, san pedro cactus, ayahuasca drink, psylocibe mushroom, amanita muscaria mushroom, ibogaine, etc)  some newer like LSD , various derivates of DMT etc. Prolongued single concentration like in certain prayer forms and meditation. Prolongued group chanting, prolongued physical exercise. Sense deprivation ( sitting in a dark cave alone for a lot hermit style) sense hyperstimulation ( large noisy crowds, experiencing vastness in space) . Extreme awe xp - earth from outer spaves, touching a blue whale in the wild, etc. For the latter search youtube videos of Yuval Laor.

       Fourth. Con men and liars. Pretty easy to undersrand here. Most want attention, power, money. Fake miracles were regular part of Jim Jones shows. Most of the - do what I will say or go to Hell must be taken with high degree of skepticism. Many people enjoy power trips.

        And any combination of the above.

       I AM NOT EXCLUDING that some people may have had real messages from higher beings, but I have not seen, so far, one to present a methodology to distinguish him from the cases above.

       So if God really cares about you, he will not leave your fate depending on whether you believe some guy from Kentucky who makes a youtube video and tells of a fantastical alice in wonderland story in an agitated fiery way.

     So, by the way, this is how I sometimes calm myself. An omnipotent omniscient omnibenevolent being will find a way to " save" me and show me the truth somehow in a very clear uncertain manner perfect for me. So no worries, tge ball is not in our court. 

       You may research universalism. Illaria Ramelli and David Bentley Hart are two modern writers, one a historian the other philosopher both Christian, that recently wrote books on the subject. 

        

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