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Hey everyone I’m pretty sure some of you might remember me from my previous post.  For the past few days I’ve been having recurring fears of hell and doubts about being an atheist and whether or not I tried hard enough or searched hard enough for the truth. This has been killing me for the last few days I feel like going insane and at sometimes even thinking of taking my life because of how terrible it has become. If anyone here can please give  advice it would help me a lot and go a long way. This website is the only thing that makes my day great and keeps me from going back to Christianity. Also the teachings of a voice in the desert have been hardwired into my brain so good that I don’t know how to get rid of them as every-time something bad happens I always remember them or I’m always tempted to watch them when I have free time. Please if anyone can please help me with all of these problems I can’t bare to stand this anymore. 

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Hi @Mrjukes21! I've been there (I grew up in a fundamentalist Calvinist family that was really into obsessing about hell, and in particular the theologian Johnathan Edwards, who is known for "Sinners in the hands of an angry God"). Honestly it took me about a decade to really waft through the fear of hell that my parents implanted in me. It took a long time but I'm over it now and I sometimes know calm and serenity I could have never known at a time when I believed in the abusive bullcr*p I was raised on. Anyways, understand that it can be a long process because it's really about recovering from trauma.

 

There's a lot of things you can do but as for me I think a big part of my journey was reading scripture and religious/philosophical literature from a lot of different religions, writers, and perspectives. If you do that you'll realize how much the world's religions share their language and description of hell/afterlife/whatever, and how any one religion's picture is not really as unique as it likes to claim to be. At least for me this really helped me accept that Christianity is really unoriginal and any possibility that I had somehow un-fortuitously rejected the "one true religion" is ridiculous. Interestingly, a lot of accounts of hell/heaven/afterlife echo contemporary accounts of psychedelic trips or psychotic episodes of the mentally ill. Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of Perception" and "Perennial Philosophy" talked a lot about this. Anyways, long story short the idea of hell you have is a completely un-unique thing, and is probably a record of someone's chemically or hypnotically(meditation/fasting) induced trip, being conveniently bastardized or re-interpreted by an authoritarian person to scare people into submission. The idea that any religion has a monopoly on the expression or understanding of these experiences is ridiculous. I think you probably already know this in your head, but doing the research on it and watching the evidence mount up really helped me reassure myself emotionally, I think.

 

Dunno if that helps but I hope it does!

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Mrjukes, it is sad that you are still struggling, but we have replied to you multiple times already, and given support and suggestions.  Have you followed through?  We are concerned, but there is a limit as to what we can do.  Go back and read our responses.  Call the suicide hot line if needed. And please CALL THE LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH CLINIC.  You have a problem that needs professional help.  HANG IN THERE!

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Thanks guys and yeah by reading your responses it really helps give support. It's just that the fear of hell always holds me back

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@Mrjukes21 I’m glad that reading our responses does help.   You may need to re-read them every morning if that’s what it takes.  I hope you’ll read either the book I recommended (“The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil’s Biblical Roots”) or else “Heaven and Hell” by Bart Ehrman.  You gotta fight this fear, and one tool is knowledge.  You may feel better for a while but then it will creep back up on you.  You can overcome it in time, but you may also need professional help.   

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Would you continue to eat food you thought might be toxic And was making you feel sick?  And others confirmed your your suspicion.

 

Stop eating the religious "food" for a while and try another diet.  If you You dont feel better in a few months, you can go back to the old diet.  And you may need a supplement (professional help) to get you over the "hump".

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We are not mental health professionals and we are not trained psychological counselors.  We are just ordinary lay people who have been where you are.  We can help you only to a certain extent.  Beyond that, you need to speak to a qualified professional.  Especially if you are having suicidal ideations.

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Another thought before I go to work.  For decades under the "spell" of religion, i was depressed and anxious, and took antidepressants.   After leaving religion behind, antidepressants have not been needed, and I have an inner peace not known since early childhood, before being told I was a depraved sinner.

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Weezer I had the same thing when I was little. Before I became religious and forced myself to believe I had a better life but after all the indoctrination and forced belief now its hard living normally especially with all that a voice in the desert crap. Back then i hated church and  saw it as boring but after forcing myself to like it now all of a sudden when i try to leave its like I'm stuck to it like a glue and i don't know how to get out. if it wasn't for this website i probably wouldn't know what to do since this and the atheist experience are the only places i know that have people who share my life experiences.

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 Mrjukes21,

 

Oh my goodness gracious, I can so relate with you (you can find posts on here where I battled with this same fear several years ago) and I PROMISE YOU this gets better. You just have to stick it out, you've been indoctrinated, other humans have told you things that they have NO WAY of verifying until they die and find out for themselves. Remember that. Anyone who claims to have an answer to this is full of shit.

 

1) I comforted myself a lot, in the beginning of my deconversion, by reminding myself that "If I really was saved, I couldn't go to hell by seeking the truth." I was just trying to "Seek and Find," here, not trying to blaspheme! I would start to freak out and then remind myself, "If I died right now, I will tell God straight up that I have never wavered in trying to find him and if he is going to send me to hell for that, then I will walk myself down there."

2) I also comforted myself with the reminder that, growing up, I was taught "God is NOT a spirit of fear, but of peace."

3) JEWS DON'T BELIEVE IN HELL. That helped me a lot, I realized that this fear of hell was to keep my behavior in line.

4) No one knows. Literally no one. This is part of our fear of death, as both a species and the potential for spiritual beings. When you listen to near death experiences, which helped me, MOST stories recount peace.

5) Remember to breathe and rationalize yourself through panic attacks, this is a biological response to your stress and it will pass. Talk yourself down and breathe.

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On 1/5/2021 at 11:39 AM, Mrjukes21 said:

Thanks guys and yeah by reading your responses it really helps give support. It's just that the fear of hell always holds me back

 

The thing is, questioning atheism and the rest is largely due to your current lack of depth of understanding all the issues involved. You're new at it. You can't possibly have the experience to navigate all of the contributing factors involved. So it seems wide open. That can all be narrowed down over time to where it's much less mysterious and much more cut and dry, though. 

 

I can try and fast forward you through some of it. Many of us have contemplated god to the point where it finally boils down to some very glaring conclusions. That end with us coming to peace with it all. 

 

Encouraging struggling ex christians is WHY we're here!!!

 

1) No one can prove god exists. It's not possible. If they claim they can prove it, you can challenge them to make good on the claim and they will always fail. No one else HAS to prove god 'doesn't exist.' It's not up to anyone to prove that something 'doesn't exist.' God, santa, the easter bunny, or anything similar. It's up to the people who claim that things DO exist to 'prove the claim.' 

 

2) That leaves us with an agnostic (not knowing) conclusion about the existence of god. Can't prove it, can't disprove it. As to knowledge, we can understand clearly that we do not have conclusive knowledge that a god does exist, and that it's out of range to obtain that sort of conclusive knowledge. 

 

3) Now it comes down to belief. What do we believe about the existence of god? We understand at this point that it's beyond knowing with certainty. Do we believe in god anyways, even though we can never know for sure? Some people take that position. It's called, "agnostic theism." They are honest with themselves and others and admit that they don't know absolutely that god exists, they just believe that a god exist's anyways, despite not having the certainty behind the belief. And it's their right to believe as they will, without the evidence. 

 

But the other option is, "agnostic atheism." This is where many of us tend to arrive.

 

We understand that it's beyond proving. We realize that we can't know for sure with certainty. And we're ok with that. But based on the available evidences that do exist showing how people created gods, mythology, and religion, and the lack of evidence supporting the claims of gods existence (the years of research and learning part), we are 'very comfortable disbelieving' the claims of gods existence. We are good with the decision. We feel that it's 'well researched' and gels best considering all of the evidences on the table. We don't know if any gods exist, but we don't believe that they do exist. Because we've seen no good reason to believe that gods exist going on the arguments and evidences. 

 

4) Let's assume for a minute that maybe a god does exist??? Is this something that we find worthy of praising, bowing, or cowering down to? Mostly, the answer by this level of consideration is a strong no!

 

If there were a god, all of the horrible things that go on in the world are not flattering towards this god. A god who knows the future, allows everything that happens, knowing full well in advance every bad thing that will happen. At some point, after all of this consideration (which can go on for years and years), a lot of us have a "fuck you" attitude towards the possibility that an omni-god does exist. It's a narcissistic type of god. 

 

 

And by the end of this line of consideration we are not shaky, or wavering in our decision to leave christianity, or doubtful about our lack of belief in god. There's no sense of, "what if." All of the "what if's" have been considered and we're no longer confused or moved by questioning it. I'm so far past believing in god right now that I couldn't return to believing even if I wanted to. It's completely settled in my mind.

 

The only god that I can imagine existing at this point is a pantheistic idea of god, where god is everything and the whole of existence itself. So god is you, me and everything else in existence. And that kind of god existing makes no difference whatsoever about whether or not I believe in the mythological and religious theistic claims and concepts. It wouldn't matter one bit if I believed or didn't believe. It would just be what it is, regardless of any belief or disbelief. 

 

Man made mythological concepts like "hell," don't even factor in to any of it. 

 

Well, in any case, there's some information to try and take in and digest. But I've condensed years and years of personal exploration and experience into one post. I don't know if you can look at that and catch on right away or not? Kudo's to you if you can!

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1 hour ago, Joshpantera said:

I've condensed years and years of personal exploration and experience into one post.


Tons of truth and wisdom in that one post.  I wish I’d written it!

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Fear of hell can still affect people who have long left the faith of Christianity.  Christians may well argue this proves the validity of the Christian faith, because you are still believing it partially.  However, a perfectly better explanation would be that the doctrine of hell is a form of psychological terror inflicted on the Christian population often from birth til death.  For those who have the luxury of asking questions and skepticism, the doctrine of hell is one of the main components as to why we should be skeptical in the first place.  The basic contradiction of praising a "loving" god and yet that god created hell and sends people there on a daily basis.  This conflict has caused so much distress in the Christian church because deep down, we all know it is immoral to believe such a doctrine.  We preach and shout how Jesus is the "savior of the world" and yet most of the world will go to hell often for something as small as being born into the wrong geographical area and religion never hearing about Christianity.  This is why some who struggle with this problem end up becoming annihilationists or universalists.  They want "their cake" and eat it too.  They want to use the bible and stick with Christian traditions, but remove the nasty side of it all, which makes perfect sense.  

 

I can tell you that you are not alone in this dilemma.  Death is a topic that irrationality persists even in atheists.  This is why Christians exploit supposed stories of atheists recanting on their death beds (of course without a shred of evidence for it).  It is a reinforcement of this psychological abuse being justified to those still in the cult of Christ.  What can give you hope it is completely false is realizing you were lied to, realizing that the only "source" for it is a corrupt organization like the vatican or the inaccurate and ignorant bible which also tells you to believe in talking blood, talking snakes, tiny stars in the sky, a flat earth and so on.  They are all ridiculous ideas, so why shouldn't this doctrine of hell be as absurd?  Eternal punishment for finite "sins" makes no sense.

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On 1/5/2021 at 2:30 AM, Mrjukes21 said:

Hey everyone I’m pretty sure some of you might remember me from my previous post.  For the past few days I’ve been having recurring fears of hell and doubts about being an atheist and whether or not I tried hard enough or searched hard enough for the truth. This has been killing me for the last few days I feel like going insane and at sometimes even thinking of taking my life because of how terrible it has become. If anyone here can please give  advice it would help me a lot and go a long way. This website is the only thing that makes my day great and keeps me from going back to Christianity. Also the teachings of a voice in the desert have been hardwired into my brain so good that I don’t know how to get rid of them as every-time something bad happens I always remember them or I’m always tempted to watch them when I have free time. Please if anyone can please help me with all of these problems I can’t bare to stand this anymore. 

Not sure if the following will help but I too have struggled with the fear of Hell.  It sucks because it's the 'perfect' fear. I.e. you can't see Hell, but based on the childhood conditioning, you need proof it's not real, and it's impossible to prove a negative.  So, our worried mind latches on it as a perfect reason to keep worrying.  
 

Here is what you can do.

Pray to God to send you to Hell right this second.  Nothing will happen, I guarantee it.  If you want, pray for him to send me to Hell first.  I'll update you on my status.

 

Secondly, what I have is a notepad, there is now an app for Ipad were you can scribble stuff.  In my notepad, I wrote a short prayer to God, in case he is real, that I basically tried everything to be saved, I don't want to go to Hell and if he is willing to save me.  That's it.  That's a Christian version of a Pascal's wager.  Cover your bases so your mind can be at ease as you've done what most Christians would say is sufficient to get out of Hell.

 

Third, think about what is it about Hell that scares you?  For me, I realized that the fear is psychological, because I feel at wase about Hell if I know that my family will be there too.  Now, why would that calm me down?  I think it's due to anxieties having roots in our childhood and when we have adult family around us, we feel safer.  

Hope this helps.  One last thing, there is a website, called whywesuffer that argues that we have an inner passivity in us that is responsible for most of our suffering.

https://whywesuffer.com/basic-principle/

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