Gary, Do You Still Fear Hell?

Image result for image of hell

When I deconverted from Christianity in 2014, I still feared hell. I really feared hell. One of the principal reasons for this blog was to deprogram my brain from the indoctrination of fundamentalist Christianity, indoctrination which began when I was a very young child. And the most important teaching of fundamentalist/conservative Christianity which I knew would be the most difficult to deprogram was the Doctrine of Hell. I decided to use this blog as therapy to overcome my fear of hell.

It worked. (And it was a hell of a lot cheaper than a therapist!)

I can honestly say I no longer fear hell. Not one bit.

But for months and even years after my deconversion, there were many times when the following thoughts would suddenly pop into my consciousness: What if you are wrong??? What if the Bible is true! What if hell is real and your decision to abandon Christianity will cost you eternal torture in hell?

These thoughts were very disturbing, to say the least.

Something that really helped me to overcome these thoughts was to read accounts from other ex-believers who had experienced the exact same thoughts and fears of hell…and these people were ex-Mormons and ex-Muslims! Reading these accounts helped me to realize that many religions use fear of the the unknown, the unknown of what (if anything) happens after death, to intimidate people to remain in the religion. After studying the issue, I came to see that Islam and Mormonism both got their concepts of hell from Christianity, which got its concept of hell from Judaism, which got its concept of hell from the Greeks, who got their concept of hell from the Egyptians.

Hell is the invention of ancient, scientifically ignorant people. No modern, educated person should fear this place. It does not exist…except in the imagination of the superstitious.

These realizations helped me to counter the fear-invoking Christian admonitions that my nagging thoughts of “have I made a mistake” were nothing other than the Holy Spirit convicting me of my error. No, Christians. Those nagging thoughts were not the result of the magical powers of some spirit (holy or otherwise), but the natural reaction of my brain to years of fear-based indoctrination.

My name is Gary, and I was a member of a cult. And the name of that cult is: Christianity.

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End of post.

7 thoughts on “Gary, Do You Still Fear Hell?

  1. Interesting to contrast the cultural differences of the conception of Hell. I remember a documentary on temperature and the concept of absolute zero – I think it was by Nova.
    The opening scene was a very low angle shot just on top of the water- maybe from a small boat like a Kayak. It was in the Arctic, and the water seemed black and cold, with icebergs in the background. The narrator described the Norse version of Hell, a cold, isolated existence, below the black icy water. Funny how a desert tribe’s idea of Hell is a lake of fire, and a fridgid landscape dwelling people’s is ice.

    Since leaving Christianity, it hasn’t been Hell that worries me so much, it’s the idea of a cold uncaring universe, where we are just a blip that will come and go and mean nothing in the big picture. I have to admit, on those dark winter nights, when you wake up at the witching hour and can’t get back to sleep, but your mind isn’t fully with it, that’s what feels like a form of despair – staring into the black void without the comfort of the make believe stories of religion.

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    1. Re my previous comment, I tracked down the documentary, linked below – the icy scene shot is at the 2:08 mark. However, upon watching it I realised that as it’s been many years since I’ve seen it, I’d embellished it by making up the part about the narrator talking about Nordic hell, as that does not occur, at least not in that scene. But for years I’ve had those two as linked together. I must have heard about the icy water hell somewhere else, and my mind put the two together. I suspect that’s how big chunks of stories about Jesus got told and embellished – faulty memories blending and exaggerating.

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    2. I understand where you are coming from, but offer this alternative perspective:

      While theists wait on their gods to one day change the world for the better, we atheists—knowing that no superhero with magical powers is coming to our aid—are obliged to roll up our sleeves to make that change occur ourselves. The defeat of Evil and the victory of Good is in the hands of human beings alone. No malevolent demon or capricious god has any say in our fate!

      To me, that is liberating.

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  2. But for months and even years after my deconversion, there were many times when the following thoughts would suddenly pop into my consciousness: What if you are wrong??? What if the Bible is true! What if hell is real and your decision to abandon Christianity will cost you eternal torture in hell?

    These thoughts were very disturbing, to say the least.

    Indeed, they can be disturbing. I still occasionally experience them, even though I haven’t considered myself a Christian in over 20 years and haven’t practiced my former religion in over 30. On the bright side, as time goes on they tend to come at me less frequently, and with considerably less intensity and duration.

    This seems like a small price to pay to not be forced to live my life according to a set of superstitious ideas. I know that there are many in the world who have to worry about being killed if the wrong people find out they no longer believe.

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    1. Your persistent thoughts related to “hell” was somewhat behind the question I asked in one of my recent posts — Your Final Thoughts. I’m not sure that those who were active in the evangelistic type of church ever completely overcome that teaching — although many think they have.

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