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I was born in September of 1976, in the USSR, Kiev City that now is the capital of Ukraine.  I’m the oldest of my 3 siblings.  1970s were the years of Christian persecution.  I don’t remember the 70s much, but I do remember mid 1980s, with Gorbachev coming into power as the time of more freedoms for the Christians, especially the late 1980s that saw public preaching in the streets. 

As fate would have it, my parents were very active in the Evangelical Baptist church.  My dad was very close with the Senior Pastor and my mom sang in the choir.  Those of you from the US may not appreciate the church life in the Soviet Union compared to the US.  Church in the USSR was a church on steroid.  We are talking a typical of four services a week, each service being close to the 2 hours in length.  There were two services on Sunday (AM and PM) and two services during the week.  However, if you were a choir or a band member you would have to attend practices that typically took place during the other days, when there was no church.  So the church literally consumed your life, in addition to your job and other activities.

 

Unlike the American church, where the pastor preaches the only sermon for the service, the Soviet Baptist church service included at least 4 sermons by various lay preachers.  Neither the pastors nor preachers had a formal education, not everyone was a skilled orator but that didn’t matter.  Disciples of Jesus were also not very educated.  This resulted in everyone, including kids that were present during the service to learn about doctrines that are probably buffered here in the US, doctrines like eternal hell punishment for everyone who disobeys God, a very confusing doctrine of salvation (i.e. what’s required to be saved?  Repent?  Believe?  Be baptized, do good works, etc…?). So I remember my childhood as being fearful.  Fearful of God’s wrath, eternal punishment, fear of committing an unpardonable sin, adultery (yep, looking at women was a sin).  And much of this theological understanding came from my own processing of information.  My dad was busy at his job, providing for his family, putting food on our table, and also spending lots of time in the church.  He didn’t really have time for us kids, except maybe to discipline us (discipline was spanking, and, lets just say …I was very disciplined).

 

So, religion was associated with fear for me.  I developed OCD like symptoms where I’d stop at random places and pray for God to forgive me.  There was no security of salvation for me.  God was judging my every thoughts and deeds and punishing me eternally, if I were to die before repenting of my sins.

 

IMMIGRATION

 

In the summer of 1991, we were fortunate enough to be granted a refugee status and immigrate to the US.  We came as refugees due to religious persecution we experienced.  Coming to the US was a very joyful experience for me.   I would escape the atheist Soviet Union and immigrate to the Christian US that has been so richly blessed by God.

I was around 15 years old, soaking in the English language along with listening to the Christian radio stations, mostly the Moody radio, that I listened to virtually non-stop, soaking in sermons from preachers like Dr Tony Evans, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Dr Jeremiah, etc…  A common theme among these preachers was eternal security for the believer.  This subject gave me a little bit of a reprieve until I realized that the eternal security is not uniformly supported by the Bible passages.

 

IMMIGRANT CHURCH IN AMERICA

 

Although we were an immigrants in the US, we did not join an American church.  We joined a fellow immigrant community that welcomed us with open arms.  Most of these older immigrants arrived here after WWII and so became a bit Americanized, but my dad’s immigration changed them back.  Instead of 1 Bible reading and 1 sermon, we were at 2 sermons on a Sunday AM service and 2 sermons in the Sunday PM service.   There was one weekly service with 2 sermons.   As I grew older, I started preaching in my church.  Most of my sermons were ideas gathered from the Moody radio preachers. 

Before Sunday AM Service, we had an adult Bible study (apprx 45 mins) which basically allowed for theological debate/arguments back and forth.  It’s during these debates that I have obtained experience and knowledge about issues with eternal security.  I’d go back home and study the “problem” passages, usually struggling in the process as any doubts would bring me back to the turbulent times of my childhood.  I remember thinking to myself..”Why did God not provide a clear path out of Hell?  Why do we need to study the Bible and dig for answers?”

 

The final straw for me, against the Eternal Security view, came with realization that Bible clearly shows a God who is changing one’s mind.  He’d make a promise and then renege on it.  The clearest one is

1 Samuel 2:30  “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘I really did say that your house and your ancestor’s house would serve me forever.’ But now the Lord says, ‘May it never be! For I will honor those who honor me, but those who despise me will be cursed!

If you go to the original promise that was given to Phineas,

 

Numbers 25: 10 The Lord spoke to Moses: 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites, when he manifested such zeal for my sake among them, so that I did not consume the Israelites in my zeal. 12 Therefore, announce: ‘I am going to give to him my covenant of peace. 13 So it will be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of a permanent priesthood, because he has been zealous for his God, and has made atonement for the Israelites.’”

And then later the Lord went back on his promise, saying that behavior is pretty important too.  So a promise that had no conditions ended up having a condition.   This left me shaken in my assurance and I started looking at the Bible differently, as a book written by humans rather than a consistent being.  And it brought back the fear of Hell and feelings of uncertainty that were so familiar to me from my childhood.

FINAL STRAW

 

As part of my Christian life, I would strike up conversations with people, mostly at work about their faith.  I wasn’t an overzealous preacher but was genuinely interested in why people believed what they did.  I had some very good conversations with my Muslim co-workers and I was amazed at how sure they were about the existence of their God (Allah) who was a false God in my worldview!

 

A good friend of mine was someone who was an Agnostic but who was brought up in the Hindu tradition.  During one of my conversations with him about Jesus and evidence for the Resurrection, he pointed me to a www.GodIsImaginary.com website.  He asked me to address the arguments.  And I was floored after viewing that site.  It summarized in a very logical fashion why God of the Bible cannot be a true and living God.  This was the final straw for me.  Coupled with my doubts and fears, I remember feeling a bit liberated at the realization that God is imaginary.

 

MY LIFE NOW

 

I wish I could say that all is well with my soul.  Life has thrown a few curve balls at me, including a diagnosis that made me face a a real possibility of death.  My Christian family has risen up to encourage my return to the faith and I am returning to the familiar feeling of uncertainty and fear about death.  I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I am now convinced that our psyche is responsible for these fears and our mind is very creative in being able to come up with reasons to keep us suffering.  So the fear of Hell is now replaced with existential dread, and fear of stopping existing.  This is something I’m still working through and hope to get better at with time.

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Welcome! Life is throwing curve balls at a lot of us right now. But having spent most of my life devouring the scriptures and then finally seeing through the lies, going back to fearing the myths isn't even slightly interesting. The god of the bible is evil, self-absorbed, blood thirsty, and insane.

 

I do find my mind bringing up a lot of Christian songs sometimes, and I have to manually change the channel to many of the jazz songs I learned after deconverting. 

 

I'm also facing a ton more emotional turmoil (anxiety) that has no basis in situation, so I'm learning to recognize it and deal with it as a chemical thing. The mind and body are so dependent on the right balance of chemicals that even a slight imbalance can make the mind or emotions go bad. 

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7 minutes ago, Fuego said:

Welcome! Life is throwing curve balls at a lot of us right now. But having spent most of my life devouring the scriptures and then finally seeing through the lies, going back to fearing the myths isn't even slightly interesting. The god of the bible is evil, self-absorbed, blood thirsty, and insane.

 

I do find my mind bringing up a lot of Christian songs sometimes, and I have to manually change the channel to many of the jazz songs I learned after deconverting. 

 

I'm also facing a ton more emotional turmoil (anxiety) that has no basis in situation, so I'm learning to recognize it and deal with it as a chemical thing. The mind and body are so dependent on the right balance of chemicals that even a slight imbalance can make the mind or emotions go bad. 

Thanks, I do agree with you.

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помнишь, однажды, когда мне было около семи или восьми лет, в церковь пришел миссионер.  Были два типа миссионеров, которые приходили в церковь моих родителей: были те, кто приходил рассказывать чудесные истории о Божьей любви и просить денег; и были те, кто приходил рассказывать чудовищные истории о человеческом зле и просить денег.  Именно этот миссионер пришел, чтобы рассказать ужасные истории.  Так как коммунисты все еще были у власти в Советском Союзе в детстве, многие из ужасных историй, которые я слышал в детстве, были связаны с ужасным положением христиан в России - их заставляли плюнуть на Библию, их церкви конфисковывали правительством и превращали в зернохранилища, и любое другое злодеяние, о котором можно было бы подумать.  Однако история, рассказанная этим миссионером, до сих пор вызывает у меня мурашки по коже.  Он утверждал, что ходить в церковь в России было запрещено, и что христиане должны были тайно встречаться, чтобы правительство не нашло их и не посадило в тюрьму до тех пор, пока они либо не отвергнут Христа, либо не будут отправлены в какой-нибудь ГУЛАГ в далекой Сибири.  По ходу истории одна из таких общин имела печальное несчастье быть обнаруженной, и в середине их церковной службы маршировал отряд солдат Красной Армии, вооруженный до зубов.  Солдаты оттащили всех детей от родителей и выстроили их перед церковью.  Затем они спустились вниз по линии, приставив к голове каждого ребенка пистолет и требуя, чтобы родители каждого ребенка встали и отвергли Христа; в противном случае они рассеяли бы мозг ребенка на куски больше, чем даже Бог может сосчитать.  Естественно, не так уж много детей наслаждались воскресным ужином со своими семьями, когда история заканчивалась - свидетельство удивительной силы веры, в самом деле.  Последние десять лет я была замужем за русским из Одесской Украины.  Когда я впервые рассказал своей жене эту историю, она засмеялась и сказала, что ничего подобного в России никогда не происходило; она также заметила, что христиане и коммунисты часто используют одни и те же виды пропаганды.  Но когда она спросила меня, почему я так напуган этой историей, и почему я до сих пор смущаюсь, когда думаю об этом, мой ответ шокировал ее.  Я сказал ей, что меня не пугала ни мысль о том, через что прошли эти бедные родители, ни трепет невинных людей, терпеливо ожидающих своей судьбы.  Я был в ужасе, потому что в возрасте семи или восьми лет я знал, что если бы что-то подобное когда-либо случилось в церкви моих родителей, они бы первыми встали, указали на меня и моего брата и сказали солдатам, чтобы они пошли и покончили с этим, потому что мои родители никогда не отрекутся от Христа, даже не спасут нас.

 

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15 minutes ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

помнишь, однажды, когда мне было около семи или восьми лет, в церковь пришел миссионер.  Были два типа миссионеров, которые приходили в церковь моих родителей: были те, кто приходил рассказывать чудесные истории о Божьей любви и просить денег; и были те, кто приходил рассказывать чудовищные истории о человеческом зле и просить денег.  Именно этот миссионер пришел, чтобы рассказать ужасные истории.  Так как коммунисты все еще были у власти в Советском Союзе в детстве, многие из ужасных историй, которые я слышал в детстве, были связаны с ужасным положением христиан в России - их заставляли плюнуть на Библию, их церкви конфисковывали правительством и превращали в зернохранилища, и любое другое злодеяние, о котором можно было бы подумать.  Однако история, рассказанная этим миссионером, до сих пор вызывает у меня мурашки по коже.  Он утверждал, что ходить в церковь в России было запрещено, и что христиане должны были тайно встречаться, чтобы правительство не нашло их и не посадило в тюрьму до тех пор, пока они либо не отвергнут Христа, либо не будут отправлены в какой-нибудь ГУЛАГ в далекой Сибири.  По ходу истории одна из таких общин имела печальное несчастье быть обнаруженной, и в середине их церковной службы маршировал отряд солдат Красной Армии, вооруженный до зубов.  Солдаты оттащили всех детей от родителей и выстроили их перед церковью.  Затем они спустились вниз по линии, приставив к голове каждого ребенка пистолет и требуя, чтобы родители каждого ребенка встали и отвергли Христа; в противном случае они рассеяли бы мозг ребенка на куски больше, чем даже Бог может сосчитать.  Естественно, не так уж много детей наслаждались воскресным ужином со своими семьями, когда история заканчивалась - свидетельство удивительной силы веры, в самом деле.  Последние десять лет я женат на русском.  Когда я впервые рассказал своей жене эту историю, она засмеялась и сказала, что ничего подобного в России никогда не происходило; она также заметила, что христиане и коммунисты часто используют одни и те же виды пропаганды.  Но когда она спросила меня, почему я так напуган этой историей, и почему я до сих пор смущаюсь, когда думаю об этом, мой ответ шокировал ее.  Я сказал ей, что меня не пугала ни мысль о том, через что прошли эти бедные родители, ни трепет невинных людей, терпеливо ожидающих своей судьбы.  Я был в ужасе, потому что в возрасте семи или восьми лет я знал, что если бы что-то подобное когда-либо случилось в церкви моих родителей, они бы первыми встали, указали на меня и моего брата и сказали солдатам, чтобы они пошли и покончили с этим, потому что мои родители никогда не отрекутся от Христа, даже не спасут нас.

Переведено с помощью www.DeepL.com/Translator (бесплатная версия)


That's a pretty cool story and translation.  Only one typo that I noticed 🙂

Последние десять лет я женат на русском.  It's actually incorrect unless the person is married to a man.  In Russian, there are different endings for male, female and plural.  So this highlighted bit makes it look like the story teller, himself a male is married to a Russian man.  Correct translation would be a Последние десять лет я женат на русской.

 

As far as persecutions go, I think it depended on the local authorities in a large part.  I know of some Christians who moved to Estonia or other Baltic republics, that although were part of the USSR, did not persecute their Christians too much.

 

My in-laws are from the Eastern Ukraine and they have not been persecuted to the same degree that my parents were persecuted.   They were allowed to bring children to services where as my parents risked fines in bringing us to church and allowing participation in the church (i..e poem or a song).

The story in your post could be true, but I doubt it.  If true, it would mean the person in charge was a total nutcase as the worst thing that coulld happen to my parents was a 2-5 yr prison term, not death penalty.

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I'd reckoned it was a lie later on in my life; but it still made a detrimental impact on an impressionable young boy.

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Hey SuperBigV, welcome to our community - and welcome to life after Christianity!   And a special welcome from me as a fellow-immigrant to the United States!  
 

The fear of Hell is pretty common after leaving the faith, sadly.  Have you satisfied yourself that there is no good reason to believe in Hell?  Meaning, are you familiar with the fact that both Hell and Satan evolved gradually through the pages of the Bible, showing very clear signs of being man-made concepts? 
 

Of course, knowing that something doesn’t make sense doesn’t keep it from causing fear and distress.  That mostly just takes time.  There are many people her who have gotten past those fears.  Being part of an ex-Christian community is one way to get more and more comfortable with life after religion.  I hope you’ll read around, participate, ask questions etc.  

 

Again, welcome!

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On 2/11/2021 at 2:58 PM, SuperBigV said:

good friend of mine was someone who was an Agnostic but who was brought up in the Hindu tradition.  During one of my conversations with him about Jesus and evidence for the Resurrection, he pointed me to a www.GodIsImaginary.com website.

 

I had not yet run across that site. It's full of goodies.  Thank you for sharing and welcome!

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1 hour ago, Krowb said:

I had not yet run across that site. It's full of goodies.  Thank you for sharing and welcome!

Thanks, if I may ask, how do you guys like and react to posts?  I figured it's a feature I have to either earn or purchase, right?

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9 minutes ago, SuperBigV said:

Thanks, if I may ask, how do you guys like and react to posts?  I figured it's a feature I have to either earn or purchase, right?


No purchase necessary!  Terms and conditions apply.
 

You just have to have a minimum number of posts, but sorry I don’t know the number.   All the more reason to participate!

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4 hours ago, Krowb said:

I had not yet run across that site. It's full of goodies.  Thank you for sharing and welcome!

I saw that I can't edit my posts, so I'll add that the same author for www.GodIsImaginary.com also created www.WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com site.  He used to have chat forums as well.  I like his style of arguing for Gods being imaginary.  Of course, these arguments only work for Gods that make promises to answer prayers or otherwise intervene in human affairs.

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Well, if you were a baptist in Ukraine you had a doublewhammy - christian and non orthodox. I also think that the govt feared denominations that had origins in the West because they thought they could more easily contact the West.

      And I know the fear of Hell pretty well. Funny thing is, me being in the Orthodox church I thought the sects - name for non orthodox or catholic denominations- were, in a way, the worst of all - heretics.  And that heresy is an invention of one of the most powerful demons ( the demons of knowledge , or Hell's theologians) and that the heresy was the product of the hardest to heal form of pride,  the passion of the mind.

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On 2/11/2021 at 2:58 PM, SuperBigV said:

I was born in September of 1976, in the USSR, Kiev City that now is the capital of Ukraine.  I’m the oldest of my 3 siblings. 

 

I was born in south Miami, 1976, this side of the cold war. Very interesting. I'm also the oldest of 3 surviving siblings. Welcome aboard! 

 

On 2/11/2021 at 2:58 PM, SuperBigV said:

MY LIFE NOW

 

I wish I could say that all is well with my soul.  Life has thrown a few curve balls at me, including a diagnosis that made me face a a real possibility of death.  My Christian family has risen up to encourage my return to the faith and I am returning to the familiar feeling of uncertainty and fear about death.  I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I am now convinced that our psyche is responsible for these fears and our mind is very creative in being able to come up with reasons to keep us suffering.  So the fear of Hell is now replaced with existential dread, and fear of stopping existing.  This is something I’m still working through and hope to get better at with time.

 

Going into my mid 40's I have noticed that the reality of mortality has been more up front and present. But I have long since made my peace with fears of mortality. The ego wants to live forever without end. That's the way I understand it. There's different perspectives. The material that makes us up was never really created and never will be destroyed in any absolute sense, regardless of the ego conscious experience of a life span. There's deeper factors what we truly are. I've made peace with the whole living and dying and accepting the natural order of existence issue. But I stopped believing the myth of god and christianity 30 years ago. So I've had a lot of time for contemplation and acceptance. At some point it can become a non-issue after revisiting over and over again until it's not a fearful thing to face the void or any of that. 

 

Christians want their current ego consciousness to survive the grave and life forever, that's what it seems to boil down to. And the bible serves the human ego in that way. And makes a materialistic conception of an afterlife with material gold and jewels and the rest. It offers rewards that are of a very materialistic bent. Crowns and all of that. Streets of gold. It's a very materialistic conception of the afterlife. 

 

Here's the main point. All of this human ego consciousness, god, heaven, and the whole bit, is NECESSARILY a product of the imagination. 

 

Because if even if we were to entertain the notion that any of it is true, what is found in the bible and other scriptures are human, ego based, 'imaginations' of things that are supposed to be transcendent of time and space. Things that are transcendent of time and space can not be described or even envisioned directly from within the realm of time and space. What ever someone says it is, rest assured, that's NOT what it would actually be. It would be something 'beyond' any ability to describe or conceptualize. You couldn't tell people exactly what it is through myth and religious writing. Or verbally, for that matter. 

 

This is something that Joseph Campbell hammered home. It's not even possible for these myths and religions to describe anything at all without it being 'imaginary.' And it pissed a lot of people off when he said that!  

 

He'd talk about god as 'a figment of people's active imagination that they've place up in the sky.' Well that exactly what they've done, regardless of the separate issue as to whether or not god exists. This is a big point here. Even in the event that a god does exist (which has never been established of course), the bible and other religious writings can only bring an imaginary god to the table! There's literally no other way for them to operate. So it has to be metaphor and allegory. Indirectly speaking about things. Then the question is metaphor for what? You can't even say without making something beyond time and space, a product of time and space in the process. 

 

For this and myriad other reasons, god IS imaginary by default regardless of whether someone is a theist, atheist, or agnostic...

 

 

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Я дважды ехал ночным поездом из Одессы в Киев с типичными колбасами, сыром и хлебным ужином в багаже и приличным количеством водки. Туалеты в поезде, как американец, предназначены «только для стоя». Однажды мне действительно нужно было сесть; но решили дождаться приезда в Киев. Оказавшись на вокзале, я быстро пробежал до общественного туалета, быстро заплатил и побежал внутрь, едва обнаружив дыру в полу. Когда я заканчивал свои дела, мне пришло в голову, что я забыл заплатить за любую бумагу ...

 

Когда я вернулся на улицу, Ольге потребовались билеты на поезд, потому что туалеты должны были быть бесплатными для пассажиров с билетами, и ей действительно нужно было пойти. Я сказал ей, что могу вернуться и забрать их; но она, вероятно, не хотела бы их трогать.  😆

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1 hour ago, Joshpantera said:

Going into my mid 40's I have noticed that the reality of mortality has been more up front and present.

You know, I can be calm thinking about my own death, but if I see it on the horizon or if docs start telling me I only have X months/years to live, then the fear becomes more intense.  

 

1 hour ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

Я дважды ехал ночным поездом из Одессы в Киев с типичными колбасами, сыром и хлебным ужином в багаже и приличным количеством водки. Туалеты в поезде, как американец, предназначены «только для стоя». Однажды мне действительно нужно было сесть; но решили дождаться приезда в Киев. Оказавшись на вокзале, я быстро пробежал до общественного туалета, быстро заплатил и побежал внутрь, едва обнаружив дыру в полу. Когда я заканчивал свои дела, мне пришло в голову, что я забыл заплатить за любую бумагу ...

 

Когда я вернулся на улицу, Ольге потребовались билеты на поезд, потому что туалеты должны были быть бесплатными для пассажиров с билетами, и ей действительно нужно было пойти. Я сказал ей, что могу вернуться и забрать их; но она, вероятно, не хотела бы их трогать.  😆

lol.  I left USSR when I was a teen, but I can't believe people of older ages survived without functioning bathrooms, especially the females.  Public restrooms were very rare.  For example, I don't remember there being a bathroom in Kiev Metro.  If you had to go, you'd have to get out and find something quick.  Maybe that's why the underground passageways often smelled like a clogged bathroom.

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7 hours ago, SuperBigV said:

You know, I can be calm thinking about my own death, but if I see it on the horizon or if docs start telling me I only have X months/years to live, then the fear becomes more intense.

 

I live in a retirement based region, and I have customers who always make comments about 20 year, 30 year, or lifetime warranties. Saying they won't be around that long. That sort of thing has caused me to think about it in terms of a count down clock. At a full range natural life you and I have 20 or so years till retirement. If we're lucky, another 20 or so years till natural death. I've had the anxiety flare up if I get caught dwelling on the count down clock. I had mentioned that to a few of my friends here recently. Like in moments waking up or before falling asleep. Just briefly. 

 

I just engage it if it flares up and try pushing back anxiety feelings with logical thinking about it. It's worked so far. I also don't let myself dwell on it. And the moments of anxiety go away. But I'm sure it's different for everyone. The main thing is that I keep it in context in my mind as just natural and perfectly good and fine. Living and dying is what it is. There's no way around any of it. Can't stress about it. 

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4 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

I just engage it if it flares up and trying push back anxiety feelings with logical thinking about it. It's worked so far. I also don't let myself dwell on it.

 

I'm doing that a lot lately, though with no real basis for the anxiety other than COVID-time isolation. I cook a lot more now, and try to stay engaged with my friends online. I know to stay away from the cliff of depression. I'm aware of it being there, just not toying with it and doing what I can to head the other way. 

 

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It's not death that bothers me, though I sometimes worry about the dying part.  I'd prefer it not to be some god-awful hideous and painful event.  What bothers me, though, is knowing all of the places I'll never get to see, the things I'll never get to do, the thoughts I'll never get to think, and ideas I'll never get to have.  The life I'll never get to live.  Experiences... and all of that will still be going on while the conscious "I" just lays around being dead.

 

I do still plan on being the last person to die during my lifetime, though.

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I do tend to look at the larger potentials, though. 

 

One thing that I can't seem to get away from is the possibility of repetition. Like the idea of infinite replication paradox. We just have no idea whether or not the history of the world is taking place in multiple locations, happens over and over again, or anything spanning out to scales that large. This could well not be the first time any of this happened. Or the last time for that matter. These are all unknowns. If whatever exists now will repeat itself when you turn to infinite scale, that automatically places every one of us into the infinite scale reality as players here, now, but also in the context of whatever potential repetition could be taking place. 

 

There's so much to the issue. 

 

The other way is that this is a complete one off event. And that's it. But that doesn't tend to gel with the bigger pictures coming from cosmology and theoretical physics. Not that it changes much of anything concerning an afterlife. But it would change the idea that we're experiencing a one off event. We wouldn't have an experience of the repetition, I think each event would seem as if it were a one off event, when, the reality would be that it wasn't. 

 

Anyways, there's a lot going on in terms of unknowns and potentials. So I never treat it as a cut and dry issue in my own mind, because it clearly isn't cut and dry. 

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On 2/12/2021 at 6:58 AM, SuperBigV said:

A good friend of mine was someone who was an Agnostic but who was brought up in the Hindu tradition.  During one of my conversations with him about Jesus and evidence for the Resurrection, he pointed me to a www.GodIsImaginary.com website.  He asked me to address the arguments.  And I was floored after viewing that site.  It summarized in a very logical fashion why God of the Bible cannot be a true and living God.  This was the final straw for me.  Coupled with my doubts and fears, I remember feeling a bit liberated at the realization that God is imaginary.

I looked at this God Is Imaginary site, and noted the overview text stating:

 

Quote

Billions of people attend millions of churches around the world to worship God. Yet the God they worship is completely imaginary. Their belief represents a delusion. It is easy to prove that God is imaginary. Start at the beginning with Proof #1, or try these five all-time favorites:

  1. Analyse prayer
  2. Imagine heaven
  3. Notice your church
  4. Understand delusion
  5. Think about science

This well summarizes why traditional Christian belief and its associated institutional churches is in a state of collapse as far as compatibility with rational knowledge is concerned.

 

As I have argued in a few threads, the solution in my view is not to abandon religion, but to shift the basis of religion from belief to knowledge.  That is a quasi-Buddhist approach, recognising that any literal beliefs are essentially a form of what the Bible calls idolatry, making graven images.

 

The God of the transcendental imagination is a cultural construction, but the nature and value of this construction should be up for debate.  Worship of God can represent a coherent statement of what it means to engage with the mystery of being.  It is not necessary that worship of God represents a delusion, as claimed by the God is imaginary site.  It is entirely possible for enlightened people to understand that the act of worship treats all positive claims about God as purely symbolic, representing deep mysteries of existence that we cannot otherwise explain. 

 

Literal belief is an ignorant, corrupted and degraded popular form of enlightened spirituality, and is suitable only for comforting emotional fantasy, not for understanding.  Unfortunately supernatural beliefs have largely crowded out any rational philosophical analysis from conversation about theology.  False deluded beliefs include the absurd conventional ideas of salvation, heaven and hell, which in their literal form are hyper-individualistic and selfish. These wrong beliefs fail to understand that their metaphorical meaning only makes sense at a social level.  Furthermore, these beliefs conflict with underlying ethical priorities of the Gospels, generating severe incoherence for anyone who studies them logically.

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Welcome SuperBigV -  thank you for sharing your story.  I'm sorry about the health issue you are battling right now. I understand what you mean about that existential anxiety.  

 

I definitely experience that from time to time.  Something that helps me a little bit is reminding myself that Christianity conditioned me my entire life to be fearful of death - as that is a big selling point of Christianity.  If we can be convinced that death is scary and bad then there is more impetus to follow Christianity and it's solution to the "problem" of death.  I try to remind myself that it is completely normal and nothing to be afraid of.  I just try to focus on each moment and the miracle of being alive.  

 

I can't remember who but someone was quoted as saying I didn't mind being not alive for all of the millenia prior to my birth so I likely won't mind being not alive again...

 

I imagine that we simply cease to exist but I'm also fascinated by the remote possibility that we could re-emerge again somewhere, sometime.

 

I figure if the odds were greater than 0 that we would have ever existed at all, maybe they are greater than 0 that we might exist again... Or not...  

 

I wish you all the best - for good health and peace of mind.

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Recognising that God is imaginary does not necessarily mean God is not real, since imagination is real, as one of the main things we use to construct culture.  However, shifting our understanding in this way does change the attributes we can reasonably assign to such an imaginary God.

 

  1. ·       The most essential attribute for an imaginary God is consistency with observation. 
  2. ·       A God who is inconsistent with scientific observation cannot be real.  Even Saint Augustine and John Calvin accepted this basic premise.
  3. ·       However, if we imagine God as a personal intentional entity, along the lines of conventional faith, we find no observational support for such a supernatural hypothesis. 
  4. ·       It makes more sense to read the Bible as arising from human imagination than from divine revelation.
  5. ·       One way to sort through this problem is to separate the conventional divine attributes of omnipotence, omnipresence, eternity and omnibenevolence from the old myth of God as a personal entity.
  6. ·       These divine attributes can be seen as supporting cosmic order, in the sense that the laws of physics and broader laws of nature are reasonably inferred to be all-powerful, universal and permanent. 
  7. ·       If we imagine God as working through natural selection and the laws of physics, it can make sense to speak of God as the underpinning order of the universe. 
  8. ·       That of course entirely excludes miracles of divine intervention as supernatural events that break the laws of nature.
  9. ·       Omnibenevolence is a more complex idea, involving the reasonable observation that the universe is anthropic, meaning that the laws of nature enable human existence and are therefore good.
  10. ·       This model is known as the soft anthropic principle, unlike so-called hard anthropism which involves an intentional designer God.
  11. ·       Omnibenevolence can be understood usefully at planetary scale as a basis to imagine God as the natural evolutionary conditions that support sustained human flourishing. 
  12. ·       That means heaven can be imagined as a planetary condition of universal peace and grace and high complexity, while hell is a planetary situation of simplicity, with Venus and Mars as cautionary examples.
  13. ·       My view is that the underpinning ethics of the Bible support this vision of God as supporting complexity, with the apocalyptic imagery serving to warn of the risks of a collapse into planetary simplicity.
  14. ·       For example the line from Rev 11:18 that the wrath of God is against those who destroy the earth only makes sense if we view God in imaginary terms as the ecological conditions needed for us to flourish in the long term.
  15. ·       It is entirely possible to revise our reading of the New Testament to accord with this imaginary framework, for example seeing the parable of the wheat and tares as representing the clash between knowledge and belief as frameworks for social organisation.
  16. ·       The challenge is to imagine Jesus Christ as presenting a vision of social evolution that accords with natural selection, removing all the corrupting dross and retaining a kernel of vital truth.
  17. ·       My view is that this complex natural vision was the original intent of the authors of the Gospels, but their vision was suppressed by the imperial takeover of the Jesus story, especially its idea of a personal connection between the world and eternal truth. 
  18. ·       Christendom distorted theology to serve political security interests, dumbed down to a simple supernatural salvation story that is now damaging and obsolete.
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