Why I Believe
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05-04-2017, 05:40 AM (This post was last modified: 05-04-2017 08:11 AM by SeaJay.)
Why I Believe
EDIT: Thanks all very much for the considered and (quick!) responses. I am sorry that I cannot reply to every one of them fully or even at all (I think I'd go mad Smile ) but I do appreciate them, and I read them. I also copy/paste posts and/or certain parts of posts into a word document too.

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Hi all

Thanks again for the welcomes (from here: http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...d1164883), it's much appreciated.

unfogged asked me why I believe there is a god and why it is the Christian God. I like that; straight to the point. I'll try and answer here (you might have encountered this post on another atheist website).

Fear is the key. Not sure if anyone expected that answer, but it's true. For the most part fear is the key. I mean, it's not just fear, I do have a belief it is true. But here's the situation:

I have major issues with Christianity, from slavery, brutality, misogynistic practices, the need for a human sacrifice, the threat of an eternal agonising afterlife for some, the need for any of this. But I am scared of being wrong. I have a real phobia about going to hell. I feel trapped and as I see it, there are only two ways out for me.

1. To be convinced there is no hell (not possible – as we cannot say either way for sure)

2. To, not believe. All I will say is that I have major doubts. I'm having a real crisis of faith.

I ask myself, if my thought processes were not inhibited by fear and anxiety, would I still believe? Well, having a Heavenly Father sounds great to me. Someone to love and care for you, and having the biggest and strongest Dad in the world is what every child inside us wants. Someone to pick you up every time you fall down, someone to tell you everything is going to be ok.

All that said, if I could push aside all concepts of Christianity and have a mind unfettered with Christian tradition and influences (all of them), would I still believe it was all true?

Truth is, I’m too anxious to even ask myself that, which in itself speaks volumes. I can relate to Pascal’s Wager.

I ask myself, why does an omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing) creator, feel the need to create a torture chamber, where the wicked are sent to spend an eternity in unspeakable, unthinkable agony? Why not just utterly annihilate them? Not enough punishment? Ok, but why does there need to be any punishment in the first place? Surely an omnipotent and omniscient creator could just show us the error of our ways, teach us so we know why we did the things we did, and then we can all live in peace?

I see no point in it, but here is my problem:

Even if I do not see any point in it at all – it doesn’t mean it is not true. Sure it doesn't mean it is true, but that's where I am right now.

Do I only believe out of a fear of punishment? It’s probably not the ‘only’ reason, but it is a major part of it. Truth be told, I am not in a position to really answer that question yet.

I very probably will ask questions concerning biblical verses and such, but I assure you it is not to force my beliefs on anyone. As I always say, I really have no axe to grind and certainly have no agenda I want to push on anyone.

The reason for my questions (and questions to subsequent answers I may receive) is to really test what I believe, and why I believe. If my questions stand up to scrutiny, if I cannot have my faith torn down, then I will remain a Christian. Conversely, if I end up not believing because my beliefs cannot stand up to scrutiny, then I will seriously question what I believe, in fact, I may not have that option because regardless of what I want to believe, the truth is the truth.

Thanks all

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” ~ Oscar Wilde
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05-04-2017, 05:48 AM
RE: Why I Believe
I should probably add that I am in therapy and have been since 2010 due to my fears of eternal punishment. I have been diagnosed with Complex PTSD (due to an emotionally abusive childhood), Borderline Personality Disorder, Severe Anxiety (social focused) just missed out on a full diagnosis of o.c.d (so I have it, but it is not as severe as most people with o.c.d), and intrusive thoughts.

I'm ok though, I am stable, I'm not about to go off the deep end or anything, it's under control so please don't feel the need to use 'kid gloves' with me. Not sure why I supply this information but I think it might be important somehow. It may shed light on certain situations or it may not. I think it explains why I think the way I do, why I cannot tolerate uncertainty, why I am like a dog with a bone when I pursue answers to questions. Either way it's out there now.

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” ~ Oscar Wilde
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05-04-2017, 05:57 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 05:40 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  1. To be convinced there is no hell (not possible – as we cannot say either way for sure)

So what evidence is there for hell? Zero, nada, zilch.

What evidence is there for a story, made up by people to scare you into believing?

Quite a bit:

Hell -
This Wikipedia entry is just a start, there are numerous resources that will break down how hell was created and how it evolved over time. The Old Testament version is much different than the New Testament version.

This also applies to the bible as a whole, who wrote it and why? The answers are quite interesting, but can you really accept it? The answer can ultimately free you from the fear of hell.




Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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05-04-2017, 06:04 AM
RE: Why I Believe
Thank you very much for the information and the video

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” ~ Oscar Wilde
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05-04-2017, 06:12 AM
RE: Why I Believe
Seajay wrote:

Fear is the key. Not sure if anyone expected that answer, but it's true. For the most part fear is the key. I mean, it's not just fear, I do have a belief it is true. But here's the situation:

I have major issues with Christianity, from slavery, brutality, misogynistic practices, the need for a human sacrifice, the threat of an eternal agonising afterlife for some, the need for any of this. But I am scared of being wrong. I have a real phobia about going to hell. I feel trapped and as I see it, there are only two ways out for me.

1. To be convinced there is no hell (not possible – as we cannot say either way for sure)

> Your mistake here is accepting the idea that we cannot say either way whether or not hell exists. This idea is irrational. It is not your responsibility to prove there is no hell. The onus of proof lies upon those who claim it does. There is no rational reason for you to fear hell merely on some proponents' unsupported claims. What proof do they offer that it exists? Do they fear the Muslim version of hell because certain imams claim it exists?

> "That which may be asserted without evidence may also be dismissed without evidence." (Christopher Hitchens)

> Also keep in mind that religious teachers ingrain their students/followers with the element of fear to keep them from thinking for themselves. This tactic was common in Catholic schools and I was frequently subjected to it during my youth.

> “He who endeavors to control the mind by force is a tyrant, and he who submits is a slave.” (Robert G. Ingersoll)
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05-04-2017, 06:15 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 05:40 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  Hi all

Thanks again for the welcomes (from here: http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...d1164883), it's much appreciated.

unfogged asked me why I believe there is a god and why it is the Christian God. I like that; straight to the point. I'll try and answer here (you might have encountered this post on another atheist website).

Fear is the key. Not sure if anyone expected that answer, but it's true. For the most part fear is the key. I mean, it's not just fear, I do have a belief it is true.

That is probably the most honest response I've ever gotten to that question. I think fear drives a lot of religious belief.

Quote:But here's the situation:

I have major issues with Christianity, from slavery, brutality, misogynistic practices, the need for a human sacrifice, the threat of an eternal agonising afterlife for some, the need for any of this. But I am scared of being wrong. I have a real phobia about going to hell. I feel trapped and as I see it, there are only two ways out for me.

1. To be convinced there is no hell (not possible – as we cannot say either way for sure)

2. To, not believe. All I will say is that I have major doubts. I'm having a real crisis of faith.

"Hell" is a very late invention based on some passing remarks in the NT and later writings like Dante. You should read up on the evolution of Hell as a start but fear of hell seems to be one of the last things people lose when they stop believing. Even searching this forum you'll find plenty of posts from people who have lost faith but still have a nagging fear of hell. It's a powerful image.

The offocial Christian view doesn't make a lot of sense though... a loving god created billions of people that he wants a personal relationship with while knowing that most will not measure up and will have to be tortured forever because they were given bad information or recognized that believing on faith is irrational. Rather than stepping up and making things clear he "allows people to send themselves to hell"... yeah, right, now tell me about the bridge you have for sale.

It makes MUCH more sense when you see hell as a powerful indoctrination technique, especially when you can instill it in young children. Adults can later rationalize it as "separation from god" or something else that is less horrifying but at the core that sulfur and brimstone image remains controlling them. Teaching children that they will be tortured forever if they don't accept what they are told without question is child abuse.

Quote:I ask myself, if my thought processes were not inhibited by fear and anxiety, would I still believe? Well, having a Heavenly Father sounds great to me. Someone to love and care for you, and having the biggest and strongest Dad in the world is what every child inside us wants. Someone to pick you up every time you fall down, someone to tell you everything is going to be ok.

Does that really sound good to you? I appreciate having friends that I can count in when I need them but the last thing I want is an eternal parent figure taking care of me. I prefer to stand on my own two feet.

Quote:All that said, if I could push aside all concepts of Christianity and have a mind unfettered with Christian tradition and influences (all of them), would I still believe it was all true?

If you haven't already you should look into the outsider test for faith. You are probably able to look at Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and other god beliefs and see them all clearly as mythologies. If you can trun that clarity of vision on your own indoctrination you may see that it offers nothing more.

Quote:Truth is, I’m too anxious to even ask myself that, which in itself speaks volumes. I can relate to Pascal’s Wager.

Methinks it may be too late... and that's a good thing

Quote:I ask myself, why does an omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing) creator, feel the need to create a torture chamber, where the wicked are sent to spend an eternity in unspeakable, unthinkable agony? Why not just utterly annihilate them? Not enough punishment? Ok, but why does there need to be any punishment in the first place? Surely an omnipotent and omniscient creator could just show us the error of our ways, teach us so we know why we did the things we did, and then we can all live in peace?

I see no point in it, but here is my problem:

Even if I do not see any point in it at all – it doesn’t mean it is not true. Sure it doesn't mean it is true, but that's where I am right now.

No, it doesn't mean it is not true, but that's not the right starting point. Does the fact that you can't disprove alien abduction claims mean that you should believe them? How about bigfoot, leprechauns, or the Loch Ness monster? You can interview people today who will swear up and down that they have personal experience with any of those as well as other outlandish claims.

The time to believe something is when there is actual evidence that supports the claim and not a second before.

Quote:Do I only believe out of a fear of punishment? It’s probably not the ‘only’ reason, but it is a major part of it. Truth be told, I am not in a position to really answer that question yet.

I very probably will ask questions concerning biblical verses and such, but I assure you it is not to force my beliefs on anyone. As I always say, I really have no axe to grind and certainly have no agenda I want to push on anyone.

Ask away. Questions about the bible are not anything to fear. From my persepctive it is a collection of campfire stories created by semi-nomadic bronze age tribesmen that were revised and edited over centuries. Much of it was written for essentially politcal reasons as the various priests and kings vied for power and the fortunes of inter-tribal warfare played out. It's a useful book for studying the psychology of the time and place but of very litle value for anything else.

Quote:The reason for my questions (and questions to subsequent answers I may receive) is to really test what I believe, and why I believe. If my questions stand up to scrutiny, if I cannot have my faith torn down, then I will remain a Christian. Conversely, if I end up not believing because my beliefs cannot stand up to scrutiny, then I will seriously question what I believe, in fact, I may not have that option because regardless of what I want to believe, the truth is the truth.

Thanks all

Fair enough, although I still think you have it a bit backwards and should be looking for things that demonstrate your beliefs are true instead of trying to find things that demonstrate them to be false. It's still a good start if you are willing to look at these things rationallly.

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05-04-2017, 06:26 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 05:48 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  I should probably add that I am in therapy and have been since 2010 due to my fears of eternal punishment. I have been diagnosed with Complex PTSD (due to an emotionally abusive childhood), Borderline Personality Disorder, Severe Anxiety (social focused) just missed out on a full diagnosis of o.c.d (so I have it, but it is not as severe as most people with o.c.d), and intrusive thoughts.

I'm ok though, I am stable, I'm not about to go off the deep end or anything, it's under control so please don't feel the need to use 'kid gloves' with me. Not sure why I supply this information but I think it might be important somehow.

This is a big part of why I despise religion. Even in its most gentle and banal forms it teaches children to accept claims without evidence. In more virulent forms it instills fear in order to control.

Quote:It may shed light on certain situations or it may not. I think it explains why I think the way I do, why I cannot tolerate uncertainty, why I am like a dog with a bone when I pursue answers to questions. Either way it's out there now.

Uncertainty is always uncomfortable and it took me a while to come to the realization that my comfort level literally didn't matter. If I did not know something I could accept some claim without evidence *cough*religion*cough* and simply pretend I had an answer or admit that I didn't know and be uncomfortable. If the discomfort is high enough then let it spur you to investigate the claims to try to find the real answer but settling for something that sounds good is not a path to truth.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
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05-04-2017, 06:51 AM
RE: Why I Believe
I appreciate your honesty. A historical perspective on how the idea of Hell developed over time might be useful, at least intellectually. Eventually, I hope you can process your fears.

How certain do you feel that you've chosen the right god? There are other gods, other damnations.

I personally don't find appealing the prospect of spending eternity worshiping a god who sends any creature to hell. Also, since the Christian god makes even thoughts a sin, I'm not sure Pascal's Wager is even a possible solution to the problem. God will know that you don't really mean it, so he might send you to hell anyway.

In fact, your posts indicate that you're morally superior to the god you believe in...that poses quite the problem.
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05-04-2017, 06:54 AM
RE: Why I Believe
Hi SeaJay.

I will not be out to call you down or shout you out! I have questions and I hope you will look into thinks and see how well you do!
Fear, is a constant weapon used by the teachers of faith and it is used to keep you in line! And its fantastic you can see the fear machinimas!

Yes, the questioning the nasty stuff is a good way to see if the faith holds up to humanity or is it just the best people can doing at the time! After all slavery was only a good idea for the churches then it was legal to do so, then changes its mind after the laws was passed banning it!

You will find plenty of people hear who still have that problem of going to hell! Its something that was driven in to them and the fear trap was sprung and some are still dealing with it! You may find forum hear talking about this even now!

I am surprised you can only come up with 2 possibilities regarding hell! In Christianity there are other interpretation's of hell!
Hell a separation from god!
The nasty one to burn for ever!
Judgment and eternal death and that is nothing ness.
Just death with no ability to master time so you do not know you are dead but its just the same state you had before you where born.

You stated your health problems. So who got you back on your feet. Heath professions', medications' talking therapy by real people! And the best person who will fight for you to get better is you!

As to Pascal's Wager, it only works if, you have only one god to talk about. Yet you could play the same game with all faiths! It's a thought experiment that quickly fails when you have a wider platform! Put all the gods you can think of, passed gods work just as well and see how it can work for all of them! Then ask yourself does it work.

You used the word truth a lot in your statement! First work out what truth is when its talking about science! See how truth is pursued. Science can only chase down knowledge but will never came to know it all.

The one thing science can not do is state there is no god as science can not test for a god! To test something we will need something from a sprit realm to look at and basically hit it with a stick to see what happens. Until then it remains untestable

However we have other reasons to think there is no god but that is going to take a lot longer to explain! And you will need to do a lot of homework to figure it out for yourself!

I hope this helps you in some way!

K:

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05-04-2017, 06:54 AM (This post was last modified: 05-04-2017 07:02 AM by Rahn127.)
RE: Why I Believe
My first question would be, why don't you fear the other hells from other religions ? If it's all about fear and uncertainty, why are you so certain that a Christian hell awaits you ?

If fear is your main driver, then you should be a believer in every religion that has ever had a hell.

Do you believe that a being of love is capable of torturing other people who simply don't believe ?
And not just a day of torture, but an endless torture without any reason to torture. Torturing people for the fun of it. Is this what you believe a loving being would do ?

Could you torture someone you loved for years ?
Hold them in your basement in chains and burn them every single day hearing them scream out for you to stop.

What kind of monster would do that ?
A loving monster ?
A monster who watches over you and protects you while torturing others every single day.

Why would you believe that this monster wouldn't torture you too ? Is it because you're special ?
Is it because you believe he won't ? How does believing he won't actually stop him from torturing you ?
After all, you deserve to be tortured right ?
Just like all the children in India and the middle East and in Europe and everywhere people hold a different religion or who hold no religious beliefs.

What if I believe wholeheartedly that you are destined for Hades. Your very soul is bound to the underworld and it will not let you travel to any heaven you have in mind. Thick roots are already intertwined in your soul. No other gods can prevent it. You will be dragged under ground straight to Hades. There is no one who can save you. This is a certainty.

Does the certainty of going to Hades make you believe in Zeus ? Belief in the truth of Zeus won't stop you from going to Hades.

Belief in a god won't stop you from going to hell.

The only thing that prevents hell is when you stop believing all this fucking nonsense.
It's only when you realize that Zeus and God are both myths. They are both equally false. There is no truth in any religion.

They are all con games meant to scare you, to control you, to rob you of your sense of reason, compassion and your money. They rob your time. They rob your thoughts. They rob your sense of right and wrong when they get you to believe that someone who abuses you also loves you.

He's torturing you out of love.
Your mind is in an abusive state of mind.

"Why do you make me hurt you like this ?"
"You know how much I care about you. All I ask is that you love me but I can tell you don't. I see it in your wicked eyes. You love someone else. You are a sinner. You must be punished because you don't love me."

Is any of this ringing a bell ?
It's a religion built around abuse & fear.
There can be no love when there is fear.

Lastly do you turn to your torturer to protect you from the torturer ?

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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