Why I Believe
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05-04-2017, 07:34 AM
RE: Why I Believe
In all the Torah, "The Books of Moses", there is no mention of hell at all. No mention of an afterlife, no warnings about eternal torment. Hell is a concept grafted on the Judaism much later. It was a pagan idea, found among the Greeks and Egyptians, but not the early Israelites. Surely, if God created Hell and eternal torment, God would have told Moses and the Israelites about it. But despite numerous instances of God supposedly interacting with Moses and the Israelites, he doesn't bother to tell anybody about all of that. If you are going to believe in God, then believe in the hell free early Jewish version of God.

When I shake my ignore file, I can hear them buzzing!

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05-04-2017, 07:35 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 07:03 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  Does anyone know if there is a verse saying the Pentateuch was written by Moses? It's been a while since I looked.

No, that's an extra-biblical tradition.
start here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torah

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05-04-2017, 07:35 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 05:40 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  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.
I was a very committed / involved evangelical fundamentalist from my conversion at the age of not-quite-six, into my late 30s. To the point that I have a year of formal post high school study in theology.

I have never had this fear, but have encountered plenty of people who do. It appears to result from some combination of nature and nurture (like anything else of course) but I am just pointing out that it is not automatically present in all fundamentalist Christians, not even those of the more hellfire-and-brimstone related denominations.

When I was a Christian, these people (or at least those in enough pain to be open about their fears) would present as lacking "assurance of salvation". Now I don't know your exact church background, if it is the typical "once saved always saved / eternal security of the believer" variety or the holiness types with their doctrine of "eternal insecurity" so to speak. We were the former, and let me tell you, folks like you were a real puzzler for us. No matter what "facts" we quoted from scripture about how god has forgiven you and you are forever secure in him, it bounced off these folks; we simply couldn't reach them. Every time there was an "altar call", they came forward. Typically they experienced a few minutes or hours or days of feeling subjectively forgiven, but it never lasted.

Usually we just ended up telling them in exasperation that when they were tired of suffering and willing to believe the Bible on this matter, come back and see us.

Some of my fellow unbelievers here may be surprised at the irony that people peddling religious faith had more or less the same challenges as do empiricists, trying to convince the hell-obsessed that they needn't be. While such folks were reliable in attending / participating, they really weren't that functional (or that easy to be around). And they tended to drift away in search of relief somewhere else if they didn't get it from us, so they were seldom what you would call "pillars of the local church".

SeaJay, I think you are approaching this correctly, through theerapy and probably medication. Your obsessions / fears may happen to be mediated by religious ideology, but they have to be dealt with the same as someone struggling with the fear of germs or the fear of open spaces or even far more objectively ridiculous fears.

My guess is that your therapist is telling you that only practicing new thought patterns will gradually replace the old.

Others have remarked the little-understood fact that typical concepts of hell are not scriptural and originated largely with Dante's Inferno and similar works. Indeed, even the scriptural teachings about hell are largely based on mis-translations. The place for example where the fire / worms are never quenched is just a cultural reference of Jews of Jesus' time, to the garbage dump outside Jerusalem where refuse was burnt. It is more a suggestion of placing judgment on the totality of your earthly life as a complete waste of time, than suggesting that you would literally burn in an actual torture chamber of some sort.

Indeed, there are a not insignificant number of Christians who believe in Universal Reconciliation, that ultimately all souls will be reconciled to god. So if you're thinking that hell is some integral component of Christianity, you'd be mistaken.

Then of course there are the Catholics and others who have non-binary concepts of the afterlife, that is, not just heaven and hell, but purgatory and (at one time anyway) limbo. Which basically argue that at least some wicked people will still be subject to non-eternal punishment, that god's penal system, like some of man's penal systems, has as its object, rehabilitation, not sadistic torture.

If Christians cannot agree on the existence and purpose of hell, that tells you something quite striking: there is really no clear basis, even scripturally, for the concept of eternal perdition.

All of this of course speaks to your rational mind, not your irrational subconscious that is trying to override your rational mind. But perhaps it helps a tiny bit, anyway.
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05-04-2017, 07:36 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 06:54 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  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 ?
No

(05-04-2017 06:54 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  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.
Not at all

(05-04-2017 06:54 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  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.
The Bible teaches God is kind, loving and merciful so nothing about hell makes any sense to me. I find it repulsive on more than one level

(05-04-2017 06:54 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  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.
No

(05-04-2017 06:54 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Is any of this ringing a bell ?
It's a religion built around abuse & fear.
There can be no love when there is fear.
Agreed. I've often wondered how many more Christians there may be if there was no fear of punishment. Perahps one more, none, a billion more, I don't know. I do know that I'd be a lot happier.

(05-04-2017 06:54 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Lastly do you turn to your torturer to protect you from the torturer ?
No

“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, 07:37 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 07:16 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  
(05-04-2017 06:51 AM)julep Wrote:  How certain do you feel that you've chosen the right god? There are other gods, other damnations.
A good question. I'm sure the other gods are fictitious

Why are all the others fictitious? Why is your god real?

Help for the living. Hope for the dead. ~ R.G. Ingersoll

Freedom offers opportunity. Opportunity confers responsibility. Responsibility to use the freedom we enjoy wisely, honestly and humanely. ~ Noam Chomsky
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05-04-2017, 07:40 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 05:40 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  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.

It is perfectly possible to be convinced there is no hell. I was convinced of this by what I read, and I believed we had immortal souls for most of my adult life

There's all sorts of scientific evidence that the mind is entirely dependent on the brain. No operating brain, no mind. Therefore there can be no afterlife.
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05-04-2017, 07:42 AM (This post was last modified: 05-04-2017 07:52 AM by mordant.)
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 07:34 AM)Cheerful Charlie Wrote:  In all the Torah, "The Books of Moses", there is no mention of hell at all. No mention of an afterlife, no warnings about eternal torment. Hell is a concept grafted on the Judaism much later. It was a pagan idea, found among the Greeks and Egyptians, but not the early Israelites. Surely, if God created Hell and eternal torment, God would have told Moses and the Israelites about it. But despite numerous instances of God supposedly interacting with Moses and the Israelites, he doesn't bother to tell anybody about all of that. If you are going to believe in God, then believe in the hell free early Jewish version of God.
Indeed, there are verses in the OT that state that when you die, you cease to exist and have no more thoughts. Ecclesiastes, I think. It portrays the grave as eternal oblivion, for everyone. Which is what most of us here believe. It's actually comforting to know that whatever personal suffering is yours, is finite and has an endpoint. The flip side of course is that whatever personal happiness is yours, is finite and also has an endpoint. But as creatures of time, we need stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. Much of what passes for happiness in life is based on satisfying story arcs, and those can only exist if they are finite. Death is part of life, and it's a good thing.

One thing the OP may be helped by is dealing with the fact of their own mortality apart from whether that could involve bliss or punishment. Some of the fear people have of things like hell are simply subconscious deflections from the fear underlying the fear: the fear of accepting their mortality.

It also may be productive to ask yourself, why would you be more likely to fear eternal punishment, than to look forward to eternal reward? Many, arguably most, do the latter. Many like myself do exclusively the latter while they are in the faith, because they believe their salvation to be a "done deal". Why can some people feel one way, some the other? It is certainly not down to anything associated with reality. It is just what emotions and beliefs you are personally predisposed to believe.
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05-04-2017, 07:43 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 07:40 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  It is perfectly possible to be convinced there is no hell. I was convinced of this by what I read, and I believed we had immortal souls for most of my adult life

There is a hell and its name is pain. Allow me to show it to you.




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05-04-2017, 07:47 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 07:37 AM)Fatbaldhobbit Wrote:  
(05-04-2017 07:16 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  A good question. I'm sure the other gods are fictitious
Why are all the others fictitious? Why is your god real?
This is perhaps the most concise and cogent question in the thread so far.

EVERY believer of EVERY faith and denomination and sect believes THEIR version of god is the CORRECT one. Without exception. And it somehow doesn't bother them that this makes it highly unlikely they are correct and highly likely they are at least partly and significantly WRONG.

Psychologically speaking this is probably because of our strong hypersocial need to identify with and be persuaded by and conformed to our own tribe. But empirically it makes less than zero sense.

Study comparative theology and comparative religion even a little, OP. It is an eye-opener and then some.
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05-04-2017, 07:50 AM
RE: Why I Believe
(05-04-2017 07:36 AM)SeaJay Wrote:  The Bible teaches God is kind, loving and merciful so nothing about hell makes any sense to me. I find it repulsive on more than one level

No, the cherry-picking, modern religions teach that.

The god of the bible is anything but.

Does a loving god...
order acts of genital mutilation?
allow genocidal soldiers to rape virgins?
reward Abraham for murdering Isaac?
(Yes, god stopped him. But he rewarded him because he was going to do it.)
drown the entire fucking world?
murder all of the Egyptian firstborn?

Does any of that sound "loving"?

Ask your priest about Limbo and the dead babies.

There has been centuries of controversy over what happens to the souls of babies who die before baptism. Technically, they should be in hell, since they were unbaptized and not part of the body of Christ, part of the church.

However grieving parents tend to get pissed when you tell them that their dead baby isn't going to be in heaven with them, or worse is in hell. So a couple of sadistic fucks in the middle ages dreamt up the idea of Limbo.

Limbo, where the dead babies get to wait, not in heaven, until judgment day. That sucked, since you would still be separated in the afterlife. But, if you bought enough masses and paid enough tithes, you could buy your baby a ticket to heaven. Of course, once they stopped that practice, you just got to sit on the edge of heaven and look at your baby in Limbo.

Still sound like a loving god?

Like I said, ask your priest. Current catholic teaching basically amounts to "we don't know for sure".

Another "divine mystery" I suppose.

Help for the living. Hope for the dead. ~ R.G. Ingersoll

Freedom offers opportunity. Opportunity confers responsibility. Responsibility to use the freedom we enjoy wisely, honestly and humanely. ~ Noam Chomsky
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