I have a fear of Hell
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28-12-2012, 04:50 AM
I have a fear of Hell
Hey,

I have been an atheist for about a year and a half. I wasn't
heavily indoctrinated or raised religious but I did believe in god
for the first 16 years of my life. I always believed in a hell but
I thought that only murders and people like that went there.
It wasn't until I went through this like 6 month religious phase
that I learned all the rules and that a lot more things can get
you sent to hell then I thought. During this time my anxiety and
ocd got really bad. Now I am an atheist but I still suffer from
a fear in hell.

I get negative thoughts about satan and hell and I don't believe
in god but I worry "what if I'm wrong?". It's really frustrating because
I feel like a hypocrite that I don't believe in god but I keep getting
worried and anxiety about what if I'm wrong.

I was just wondering if any of you feel the same thing I do or
any tips on how to get over it.

Thank you.
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28-12-2012, 05:04 AM (This post was last modified: 28-12-2012 05:20 AM by Vera.)
RE: I have a fear of Hell
Hey!

Can't say we have a particularly similar experience, but here goes. For me, one of the things that contributed a lot to my deconversion, was the idea of hell. I never really believed in it, not even when I was religious. The idea of a benevolent, all-loving (or even indifferent) god and eternal torture was just something my brain couldn't wrap itself around. If the idea of condemning anyone to eternal suffering, beyond anything we can imagine, is inconceivable to a mere, flawed (and, according to this all-loving god, inherently evil) human being, how can it be acceptable to a perfect being?

You know what used to scare me beyond belief, though? Eternity? Not eternity in hell. Just eternity Even a blissful one. No end. Ever. Ever. I've said it before and I'll say it again, human beings are finite and as much as this might be a scary thought, it is also an immense comfort. We are not made for infinity (well, we are not made to begin with, but that's a whole other story).

Also, I have OCD, too (and it did have some religious overtones, too), so I'd recommend you look for a way to deal with that, as it is quite probably the OCD that's at the root of the problem - it just seems to have taken the form of an obsession (in the technical sense) with hell in this case.

Don't know how coherent this was, am kinda hungry right now. Might get back to it after I've eaten something Smile

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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28-12-2012, 05:11 AM (This post was last modified: 28-12-2012 05:16 AM by Vosur.)
RE: I have a fear of Hell
I doubt that there is anything I can tell you that would get rid of your fear in hell, but I'm going to try my best anyway.

My fear of spending an eternity in a place of torture and torment vanished along with my Christian beliefs when I thought about them critically for the first time in my life.

All it took was asking myself: "What evidence is there to support the existence of hell?" Suffice to say that it didn't take very long to find out that there is absolutely none.

I concluded that the fear of something for which there is no evidence is highly irrational and should therefore be disposed of. That's really all there is to it.

-

Oh, I'm German by the way, that ought to put things into perspective (efficiency and all that). Wink

[Image: IcJnQOT.gif]
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28-12-2012, 05:15 AM (This post was last modified: 28-12-2012 05:28 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: I have a fear of Hell
Hope this helps...

Fear of Hell

The fear of hell is one of the most insidious, ingrained, and evil aspects of Christianity. The very existence of such a place means God is a sadistic, petulant, evil, nasty dictator.

The Christian is told that his life is to be judged in the next. The Purpose-Driven Life, written by Rick Warren, is a very popular Christian book in Evangelical circles, with over 30 million copies sold. He writes,

“One day you will stand before God, and he will do an audit of your life, a final exam, before you enter eternity…he will ask us two crucial questions…First, ‘What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?’…Second, ‘What did you do with what I gave you?’…the second question will determine what you do in eternity…At the end of your life on earth you will be
evaluated and rewarded according to how well you handled what God entrusted to you. That means everything you do…has eternal consequences.” Imagine how that affects people’s peace of mind! He’s sourcing this idea directly from the ubiquitous Paul:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10, KJV).

“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom. 14;10, KJV). Paul even taught God could read people’s thoughts:

“We are not trying to please men but God, who can read our inmost thoughts” (1 Thess. 2:4, KJV).

Paul presumed life was a mere prelude to the big judgment. No wonder he was so anxious. His spiel was entirely manufactured from his own agitated imagination.

Jesus threatened people with hell too.He warned them to be ever on their guard, as the end of time, when everyone will be judged, could be just around the corner:

“And this know, that if the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not” (Luke 12:39–40, KJV).

He warned people that all their secrets would be made public in the afterlife:

“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:2–3, KJV).

There’s no place to hide from the celestial dictator. He knows what you’re thinking, he’s watching when you go to the toilet and close your bedroom door, and one day he’s going to tell everyone what you’ve been up to. God’s going to be busy spreading gossip, and he’s got all eternity to do it. I imagine it might be titillating to hear what one’s neighbors got up to for the first, oh, day perhaps...but after that, the novelty might wear off.

To imagine one’s under constant surveillance, always being judged, must be an unpleasant experience, and for some people is a source of anxiety and paranoia. One of my Christian patients once handed me a fake one million dollar note with this printed on it:

“The million dollar question. Will you go to Heaven? Here’s a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain? Have you looked with lust? Which is the adultery of the heart in God’s eyes. Will you be guilty
on Judgment Day? If you have done those things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous adulterer at heart. The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell. That’s not God’s will. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you. Jesus took your punishment upon himself: God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Then he rose from the dead and defeated death. Please repent (turn from your sin) today and trust in Jesus, and God will grant you everlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it.”

I didn’t laugh because, for her, this was very serious. The sad thing wasn’t that she insulted my intelligence, but that she believed god was watching her that closely. I thanked her for her concern, wrote a repeat prescription for her
anti-anxiety pill, and put it in her trembling little hand. I was doing my best, but had long ago concluded I couldn’t help her realize she was OK. I was pitted against fifty years of preaching from the pulpit.

A dog is content with a full stomach. A baby is happy if warm, fed and loved. Both are able to enjoy the present. Many Christians find it hard to do that because they’re too worried what will happen when they die.

Just why a hypothetical omniscient god would care about the behavior of his own creation, and then judge it, is never adequately explained in Christian circles.

Corrupt autocrats concocted threats of hell to control commoners. For centuries churches have used the horror of hell to profit from people, and is one reason why they’ve been so successful for so long.


There’s no judgment after life, just a sublimely peaceful non-existence.
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28-12-2012, 05:38 AM (This post was last modified: 28-12-2012 05:50 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: I have a fear of Hell
Threats of Hell

Jesus said,
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!...woe to you, blind guides…You blind fools!…You
blind men!…You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (Matt. 23:13–34, NJB).

“Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will
send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth” (Matt. 13:40–43, NJB).

“Next he will say to those on his left hand ‘Go away from me with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’’’ (Matt. 25:41, NJB).

Jesus was convinced of the reality of hell, and got great gratification out of threatening people he disliked with damnation.

His threats raise four key issues:

First, he would’ve had no need to intimidate people if he’d made a convincing case for himself. The implication that those who offended him would incur retribution (argumentum ad baculum, or literally an “argument with a cudgel”) doesn’t mean that what he taught was true. He resorted to intimidation after he’d failed to convince them. I think biblical authors were browbeating people who balked at joining their new cult.

Second, Jesus claimed that the love of the divine arbitrator was only granted to those who behaved. Most people today say that true, real love, such that a parent has for a child, is unconditional. In Jesus’ scheme, God is a petty, vindictive dictator who threatens his own creation, hardly the loving character he’s made out to be.

Third, these quotes confuse Jesus’ doctrine. He advised people to love their enemies, bless those that curse them, and forgive seventy times seven times, so hardly set an example by blackmailing people with threats of hell.

Fourth, one wonders on what basis God decides who goes to hell? There must be borderline cases. Some Christians claim that individuals choose hell by “rejecting Jesus.” What does that mean? What about those who’ve never heard of him?

Some state we have to “accept Jesus” to avoid hell. “Accepting Jesus” means being compliant. Church people know how to create, then calm, newcomers’ fears—mention hell and then convince them to embrace Jesus and conform.

Many church people still preach hellfire to vulnerable children. This is psychological bullying, nothing less than child abuse. Some adults still have vivid childhood memories of being terrified by the immense, unending pain in hell.

In the past, churches used hell to justify terrible behavior. They thought it gave them license to burn any helpless
person they didn’t like; claiming they were just beginning the roasting, on earth, that Satan was to continue for all eternity.

The concept of eternal punishment is immoral. It’s quite rightly an embarrassment to many modern Christians, who choose not to talk about this ancient/medieval mandate any more.
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28-12-2012, 05:39 AM
RE: I have a fear of Hell
"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before
I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." --Mark Twain

Suggest you read Elaine Pagels' (Princeton) "The Origins of Satan".
Nothing like a few historical facts to debunk the whole ball of crap. You DO know (I hope), the Hebrews did not believe in immortality, and even St. Paul did not, for everyone.

There is no mechanism for your brain to continue consciousness, when your sensory input stops referencing the genetics and molecular systems of your brain. The ONLY reason you are conscious is because you have a functioning, oxygenated brain.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein Certified Ancient Astronaut Theorist and Levitating yogi, CAAT-LY.
Yeah, for verily I say unto thee, and this we know : Jebus no likey that which doth tickle thee unto thy nether regions.

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28-12-2012, 05:59 AM
RE: I have a fear of Hell
Imagine there is a religion which states that anyone who does not die in glorious battle will be sent to a place of punishment for all eternity. Do you also fear that if you don't die in battle, you'll be sent to this place? Of course not. Before now, I doubt the prospect has ever entered into your mind.

Now consider that such a belief is rooted in Norse mythology, in which the only way to get into Heaven is to die in battle. And still, you do not fear that if you don't die in battle, you'll go to Hell.

The fact is that you don't fear the Norse equivalent of Hell because you've never had a reason to. And even now, it's unlikely that you'll fear it, because you realize how stupid a concept it really is. It's precisely the same with the Christian Hell - the only difference being that you've been exposed to it.

Fear is a powerful thing, but the reality is that you're not going to burn in Hell. Whether you feel this or not, you must simply know that your fear is pointless.

(I'm more logical than I am emotional, so I apologize if this doesn't really help. I just wrote what would help me, personally)

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
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28-12-2012, 06:30 AM
RE: I have a fear of Hell
(28-12-2012 04:50 AM)JackDaniels Wrote:  Hey,

I have been an atheist for about a year and a half. I wasn't
heavily indoctrinated or raised religious but I did believe in god
for the first 16 years of my life. I always believed in a hell but
I thought that only murders and people like that went there.
It wasn't until I went through this like 6 month religious phase
that I learned all the rules and that a lot more things can get
you sent to hell then I thought. During this time my anxiety and
ocd got really bad. Now I am an atheist but I still suffer from
a fear in hell.

I get negative thoughts about satan and hell and I don't believe
in god but I worry "what if I'm wrong?". It's really frustrating because
I feel like a hypocrite that I don't believe in god but I keep getting
worried and anxiety about what if I'm wrong.

I was just wondering if any of you feel the same thing I do or
any tips on how to get over it.

Thank you.

The fear you're experiencing is something I experienced so severely for about 6 years that I developed an anxiety disorder.
During my teenage years I spent a lot of time in the Emergency Room trying to figure out what was going on.
I was scared of everything.
Every time I heard someone say a curse word I would pray in my head "Dear God please forgive me!" (Because I couldn't help but repeat the curse word in my head when I heard someone else say it).

I am now happily over my fear of Hell and, consequently, my anxiety problems.

It's sort of a long story how it happened for me..
Just to sum it up -
I got away from my seriously religious family and started to do my own research while I was in the military. This research consisted of anything and everything about reality that I could learn. I studied Philosophy, religion, Science and History among other things.

Basically I went on a search for the Truth.
What I learned is that human beings are basically ALL on a journey to learn what the Truth is!

If there is a God, why should He fault us for being on a search for the Truth?

I know it may sound like I'm not a Theist, but I'm trying to explain my position more clearly here.
I didn't completely give up the belief in God during my search for the Truth, and I still was able to drop my fear of Hell.
I trust that if a God does exist that did in fact create the Universe we live in, then He is just a bit smarter than me..

Anyways, the reason I don't fear Hell is because if I end up going there myself, I'll take it. The reason is because I am doing the only thing I think is reasonable and that is to BE reasonable.
If God expects me to be irrational and believe things that are hard to believe - then send me to Hell. I'll go there with the best of them.

“What you believe to be true will control you, whether it’s true or not.”

—Jeremy LaBorde
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28-12-2012, 06:35 AM (This post was last modified: 28-12-2012 09:23 AM by Vera.)
RE: I have a fear of Hell
(28-12-2012 06:30 AM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  If God expects me to be irrational and believe things that are hard to believe - then send me to Hell. I'll go there with the best of them.
What makes you think we'll want you there? Jeez! You theists just won't leave us alone. You'd even go to hell, just to annoy the crap out of us Dodgy

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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28-12-2012, 06:49 AM
RE: I have a fear of Hell
(28-12-2012 06:35 AM)Vera Wrote:  
(28-12-2012 06:30 AM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  If God expects me to be irrational and believe things that are hard to believe - then send me to Hell. I'll go there with the best of them.
What makes you think we'll want you there? Jeez! You theists just won't live us alone. You'd even go to hell, just to annoy the crap out of us Dodgy
All part of the experience my dear Tongue
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