The "what if I'm wrong" feeling
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08-09-2013, 06:47 PM (This post was last modified: 08-09-2013 10:22 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: The "what if I'm wrong" feeling
Take a class in Comparative Mythology, or just watch Joseph Campbell's videos.
Start with "The Hero with a Thousand Faces". Humans have cooked up countless iterations of religions, over the millennia. Many people who really look into the origins of religions can no longer take them literally/seriously. It's why the % of atheists (many keep their mouths shut for employment reasons), in seminaries and academic institutions which teach serious Biblical studies, and Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Languages, is so high. If you took a poll of the number of believers in Divinity schools, you'd be flabbergasted by the results. Tongue

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein Certified Ancient Astronaut Theorist
The noblest of the dogs is the hot dog. It feeds the hand that bites it.
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08-09-2013, 10:04 PM
RE: The "what if I'm wrong" feeling
Oh, sweety, you are just a babe in non-christ..... Just kidding!

The "what if I am wrong" thought is not only completely normal, it is an incredibly positive thing. Think about it. That is what brought you to where you are today in the first place. The constant idea that your thoughts and feelings may be, to varying degrees, mistaken is what will continue to drive your own personal growth and the expansion of your world for the rest of your life.

What you are probably experiencing right now (at least from my experience, which could be completely wrong...) is the trauma of moving from the relative stability of having a tidy box to drop back in to. You have just fully accepted that wisdom is really not thinking outside the box, it is the realization that there is no box. It comes with a sense of floatiness that is tough to adjust to. It is likely that you will continue to experience the more paniced versions of that question from time to time. You have to keep reminding yourself to be rational and not let the emotional reaction to uncertainty overwhelm you. Once you put some time under your belt it will get easier and, as some point, you will look back on that level of fear and uncertainty and hardly recognise yourself.

In a nutshell, what if you are wrong? What is the solution? Keep doing what you are doing. Research, study. Take a step back, change your perspectives and look again. Find some people that were never a part of a religious group and talk to them. I found that the explanations of my old self sounded so silly when I would try to put them in words that it was hard to take the old me and his beliefs seriously at all! Keep questioning. After all, you might be wrong!
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08-09-2013, 10:43 PM
RE: The "what if I'm wrong" feeling
The "what if im wrong" feeling is completely normal. We arent 100% we are right of almost everything. If the feeling is more like "what if im wrong and burn in hell?" consider that the chance of being right is very small,considering the huge amount of gods
http://www.godfinder.org/ <-- list of most present and past gods

KC IS A LIAR!!!! HE PROMISED ME VANILLA CAKES AND GAVE ME STRAWBERRY CAKE Weeping
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09-09-2013, 02:05 AM
RE: The "what if I'm wrong" feeling
I believe one of the major attractions of religion was the validation and sense of certainty it brought me. Sure, it was a pain in the ass always having to "seek the will of god", but the idea of an eternal destiny within something greater than myself was cool. And having those powerful feelings constantly reinforced by a strong, structured community of fellow believers made it easy to "keep the faith".

After my deconversion, I lost both my Xianity and the support system that kept it afire. That left a vacuum in my life -everything I thought I "knew" about life and reality was smashed. No mind-reading god keeping tabs on me, no spiritual warfare to fight, no reunions in heaven, no grand destiny for me to live out. That's a pretty big paradigm shift - one that I'm still dealing with six years later.

As you've discovered, it's not easy being freed from the Matrix. There's no way you can instantly create a fully-formed belief system (complete with support structure) to replace the one you lost. It took me awhile to make the jump from agnostic to atheist, and I experienced a similar torrent of rough feelings throughout that process. I had some bitterness about Xian authority figures, so I was (and still am) wary about falling into a similar situation with the atheist equivalent.

In fact, I'm not excited about community based on any belief system (or lack of one) of any sort, even now. Perhaps it's like being married for decades, only to wind up divorced and back in the unfamiliar waters of the singles' scene. It's only in the last year or so that I finally ventured into the online atheist community, and like anything involving people it has has its ups and downs.

How can all of that change not be kind of traumatic? How could you not wonder if it was better to remain where you were, or feel like you might have made a mistake by leaving - especially with eternal consequences supposedly at stake? What you are going through is normal. Time will help - as you learn more about the rational life and meet other atheists, you'll make a new life. Validation will come, but certainty? That one's out the door - it's all on you now.

Still...six years later I lament losing friends and alienating family members by deconverting. Today, when my mother and brother gave me static yet again about my atheism, I felt bad yet again that I have upset them. But to quote others, my atheism was not a choice, but a realization - and come nostalgia or conflict or emotional turmoil, I can't take it back. In the end, I'd rather live a difficult truth instead of a comfortable lie, and I can't fake a life in order to please others. I don't think that would work for you, either.
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09-09-2013, 02:42 AM
RE: The "what if I'm wrong" feeling
Honestly, i think its a pretty good thing to be skeptic of your own logic when becoming an apostate. The skeptic part of the brain isn't exactly used a lot when you're apart of a religion, so its normal to feel it running a bit wild when you distance yourself from your former belief system.

I'm sure 99% of people (including me) felt just like you, so you're not alone at all. It's completely normal and the more you become more comfortable with your critical thinking and skepticism you'll feel better, just let it run its course.
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09-09-2013, 04:11 AM
 
RE: The "what if I'm wrong" feeling
So many answers. Thank you all for your advice and support.

(08-09-2013 04:34 PM)PoolBoyG Wrote:  Thor is a fun a rambunctious god, but he's also a drunk and jealous god. I do not envy your eternity of hammer blows to the groin.

Oops... That sounds even worse than being burnt in a fire... Shocking

(08-09-2013 06:23 PM)Anjele Wrote:  I didn't ever fully buy into the Catholic thing I was forced to participate in. Was stunned to find that there are people that see the Bible as literal accounts...even as a young, young kid I didn't thing the Bible stories were real. Well over 90% of the people around me were Catholic but I don't recall seeing anyone read the Bible...weird, huh? But I was well aware of the whole heaven/hell/limbo thing.

This is common in Catholicism - the Bible is used only to support a stance on something (and it can be used to support anything), but overall it's not considered very important. That's, in my opinion, even worse, because it enables the present day clergy, not just the ones until the 4th century, to fabricate spiritual reality.

As for the stories, I never took them for granted as a kid either. And neither do other Catholics I know. They say that Genesis was symbolical (read: mythical), yet the very foundation of Christianity, sin, originates there. Without sin, there is no need for a savior.

I first heard of creationism when I was 19. Outside America, it seems to be very uncommon.

(08-09-2013 06:23 PM)Anjele Wrote:  If you are 'wrong' what fantasy are you going to miss out on?

The issue is not missing out on something, it's being struck in the groin by Thor's hammer (as PoolBoyG wrote), Big Grin or burnt in a lake of fire, etc., etc.
I don't need, or want, heaven or eternity. I realize that we were built to be finite beings.

(08-09-2013 10:43 PM)Lightvader Wrote:  The "what if im wrong" feeling is completely normal. We arent 100% we are right of almost everything. If the feeling is more like "what if im wrong and burn in hell?" consider that the chance of being right is very small,considering the huge amount of gods
http://www.godfinder.org/ <-- list of most present and past gods

The list is very extensive, but I couldn't help noticing that it doesn't include His Noodliness the FSM.

[Image: 180px-FSM3d.gif]

(09-09-2013 02:05 AM)Atheist_pilgrim Wrote:  Still...six years later I lament losing friends and alienating family members by deconverting. Today, when my mother and brother gave me static yet again about my atheism, I felt bad yet again that I have upset them. But to quote others, my atheism was not a choice, but a realization - and come nostalgia or conflict or emotional turmoil, I can't take it back. In the end, I'd rather live a difficult truth instead of a comfortable lie, and I can't fake a life in order to please others. I don't think that would work for you, either.

I agree. And I'm well aware that some people's relationships (have) suffered because of religious beliefs, or lack thereof. I'm not one of them, so I guess it makes me fortunate. Where I live you can go through life without ever needing to talk about religion (well, most of the time), so there is a high probability that your atheism may not be discovered at all. And since I've never had a habit of talking about it anyway, I'll keep on doing as before. We'll see how it works out.
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09-09-2013, 05:05 PM
Re: The "what if I'm wrong" feeling
I spent 30 years as a Baptist/non-denominational but have been an athiest for just over one year. Every once in a while I get that same feeling, but I just take a good, hard look at what that god is supposed to be and what (if he's real) actually is.
I've got a longer list now of why I don't believe than I ever did for why I believed in the first place.
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10-09-2013, 04:01 AM
 
RE: The "what if I'm wrong" feeling
(09-09-2013 05:05 PM)Godless Ute Wrote:  I spent 30 years as a Baptist/non-denominational but have been an athiest for just over one year. Every once in a while I get that same feeling, but I just take a good, hard look at what that god is supposed to be and what (if he's real) actually is.
I've got a longer list now of why I don't believe than I ever did for why I believed in the first place.

30 years is longer than I've been alive - no wonder you can't fully erase the effects. I was in the "system" for only 3 years (+nominal upbringing), so I guess it will be somewhat easier for me to detach.
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10-09-2013, 06:59 AM
Re: The "what if I'm wrong" feeling
Probably already been said in one form or another (I think the first few replies might qualify) but this will occupy my mind for a minute or two while I prepare to the a quiz.

What if I am wrong? I love that question. I love that there is a nagging piece of my brain that never let's me go a day without asking that question of myself. If I am wrong, that means the information necessary to demonstrate it should be out there and I must be missing it (or interpreting it incorrectly). If so, my views can be amended and my positions changed. That is the great thing about the beliefs I try to hold now (some things may be less likely to go than others but one can't be so skeptical about oneself that you lack conviction). I could not honestly say that as a Christian. I might have been able to say it when I was going through my deist/spiritual phase, but that led to atheism so...yeah.

If I am wrong, I want to know. So I constantly ask myself that very question. It keeps me on me toes!

Is this place still a shithole run by a dumbass calvinist?
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10-09-2013, 04:40 PM
RE: The "what if I'm wrong" feeling
(08-09-2013 03:26 PM)Philosoraptor Wrote:  There is one other thing that troubles me - confusion. When I was a believer, I was certain that I was right. Yet now that I look at what I used to believe in, I understand that I was deluded. So how can I know that I'm right now? I've become aware that emotions play a role in the formation of a person's worldview. I want to think objectively about religion, but I feel (not think) that I lost trust in my cold, INTJ-like neutrality that used to help me so often in life. I want to be sure that emotions will not lead me to another delusion.

I'm looking for some advice from those who left religion. Did anyone have experiences similar to mine? Did the "what if I'm wrong" feeling go away and when? How to resist emotional influence on objectivity?

Thank you in advance.
When I was a little smartass boy, I was afraid of Hell. I think what helped me, was the realization, this is not how it really works. This has nothing to do with justice, things like eastern religions with karma and reincarnation make much more sense than that. If I was God, I'd do it that way, because this is more perfect and God is perfect, so that's how it is. These people just got it all wrong. All I needed was something for comparison.

Now, I didn't care much about the science and natural world back then, but you do. Realize, any pain or pleasure you feel, can be made to disappear by a simple injection of a dentist's anaesthesia, or sitting on your leg for too long. All that you feel is the flesh of nerves and all the flesh will rot at your death - sometimes sooner. If you had enough drugs to disrupt the electro-chemical pathways, or burned out the right spot in the brain, you would not care about flames of Hell, nor gold-paved streets of Heaven. Even God almighty could not make you fear, if the brain rots.

The reality is so different, that the religious notions do not even make sense in it. It's not a question what if I'm right or wrong, they're wrong by default by making incoherent claims on how the world works. Their side of question does not even make sense. It's like saying that the sun rises or the sun sets down - it just doesn't. The sun is there all the time, it's just Earth that is turning. And Earth will probably go sooner than the sun.

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