Fighting the fear of hell and eternal torment

December 9, 2008 at 12:01 am 184 comments

Different visitors to this site are at different points of their de-conversion journey.  However, I’ve been noticing an increasing number of people at the point where their fear of Hell and eternal condemnation is keeping them from getting any further.

This isn’t a point that everyone reaches. For some, the same arguments which cause them to doubt the existence of a god (problems with scripture, the existence of multiple religions with contrasting views, logical problems with an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent deity creating a world where evil happens, simple lack of evidence, etc.) also keep them from being able to believe in a hell enough to fear it.

For others of us, it was studying the contradictory and confusing Biblical descriptions of Hell and how to avoid it that helped us realize that the hypothesis of God made no sense. By the time we came to doubt God, we already had lost our fear of hell.

But when you wake up at two in the morning from a nightmare inspired by Sunday school depictions of eternal torment, not everyone finds logic and reason to be persuasive enough to chase away fear. Some find, at times like these, a story can bring more ease than a rehearsal of facts.

For de-converting (or even faithfully believing) Christians troubled by thoughts of Hell, I like to recommend two books. Both were written by believing Christians. Both operate on the premise that God exists and is benevolent. I don’t expect either to be of any help or interest to atheists or agnostics (though I could be wrong), but fears need to be faced where you are, not where you’d like to be or where you think you’ll be ending up. I’m writing this post under the premise that some de-converting Christians might need to face their fears about de-converting as Christians before they can let go of their Christianity.

The first book is The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. It’s a story of those residents of Hell who take the gracious opportunity to leave Hell and enter Heaven. The story goes to great lengths to show that those who reside in Hell are there because they choose to be and discard any choice to leave. The afterlife is portrayed as a continuation of this one, on a different field. Life is still all about coming into closer union with God, but how to do so is much clearer.

The second book, Good Goats- Healing our Image of God by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Matthew Linn. It’s a very short book that is easy to read and works off the premise that God loves us at least as much as the person who loves us most. They look carefully at biblical depictions of Hell, and consider that the word “eternal” does not mean “forever” but “outside of time” or (as they put it) “in God’s time”. Hell is not forever, but only for as long as the being who loves you most (and has your best interests in heart) feels is necessary.

Both of these books helped me past my fear, allowing me to get to the point where I could actually question their basic premises- but others have written posts on what scriptures and soteriology (salvation theology) imply about God’s morality and what the world around us tells us about the likelihood of God’s existence. I won’t repeat them here.

What I will repeat is a re-telling of a Bible story that may aid those still struggling. I don’t present this as a substitute for facts or reason, but as an aid for those it might help, so that they can reach the point where they can objectively view and accept what their reason tells them.

A re-telling of Luke 10:25-37.

One day, a theologian decided to challenge a street preacher. “Preacher,” he asked, “what must we do to be saved?”

“What is written in the Gospels?” the preacher replied. “What do you read there?”

The theologian answered answered: “It is through Jesus that we are saved. We must believe in Him.”

“You have answered correctly,” the preacher replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But the theologian wanted to justify himself, so he asked the preacher, “And who is this Jesus that we must believe in?”

In reply, the preacher said: “A man was walking downtown, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stole everything, even his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him to die. After he died, Jesus came to him, wearing a frayed loincloth and a crown of thorns. Blood dripped from his hands, feet, brow and side. He was beaten but not broken, and there was a fanatic gleam in his eyes when he raised his head to snarl,

“Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” (Mt. 25:41b-43)

Again, Jesus came to him, blond and blue-eyed with a sad smile and a pure white robe. He sat in the midst of quiet children and clean sheep and gently told the man,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Mt. 7:21-23)

A third time, Jesus came to him, almost unrecognizably: a young, Jewish man with traces of sawdust on his faded blue jeans. When he saw the man he took pity on him. He went to him and healed his wounds, tears of compassion falling down his face. Then he took the man up in his arms, and carried him to our Heavenly Father. “Look after him,” he said, “I have paid for any debt he may owe.”

“Which of these three do you think was a saviour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The theologian replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

The street preacher smiled, “Go and do likewise.”

- Quester

Entry filed under: Quester. Tags: , , , , , , .

Crazy for God (a must read for the de-converting) My Conversion and De-Conversion Story

184 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brian Hodges  |  December 9, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks for the book suggestions Quester. I’m a pretty intelligent guy and the cognitive dissonance over the utter ridiculousness of hell SHOULD make it pretty for me to discard the idea. But there’s always that nagging thought in the back of my head, “What if you’re wrong. WHAT IF?” Because who knows, maybe God is a God of utter ridiculousness. Who are we to say that He isn’t. After all, where were we when He created the platypus (BA-ZING!)

    So you’re right, getting over the idea of hell, for me anyway, needs to come from within the mindstruct of Christianity before I think I’ll be able to not worry about it from a rational point of view. Thanks again for the book suggestions. I’ll definitely check them out.

    The guys who thought up hell really knew what they were doing didn’t they?

  • 2. SnugglyBuffalo  |  December 9, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Because who knows, maybe God is a God of utter ridiculousness.

    What if God was like Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince (demi-god, basically) of Madness, from the Elder Scrolls games?

    “I once dug a pit and filled it with clouds….or was it clowns…. come to think of it, it began to smell… must have been clowns. Clouds don’t smell, they taste of butter. And tears.”

  • 3. 23five23  |  December 9, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    I’ve got to say it must be really difficult being indoctrinated into a religion as a child and trying to break free. I was not raised religiously but I dabbled a bit in high school with Baptism and Bible study. It took me a single year to realize the sheer lunacy of it all. Since I had not been indoctrinated it was easy to transition to atheism. I’m happily atheist, and I can’t understand why anyone would believe such nonsense but this opens my eyes a little that for some people raised within a strong religious family, breaking free could be difficult. Good luck to everyone de-converting. It’s wonderful not having the fear of god in you.

  • 4. Quester  |  December 9, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    The guys who thought up hell really knew what they were doing didn’t they?

    They did, Brian. Best of luck!

    …but this opens my eyes a little that for some people raised within a strong religious family, breaking free could be difficult.

    It can help to see from another’s perspective every now and then. Glad I could help, 23five23.

  • 5. Jason  |  December 9, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    I’m happily atheist, and I can’t understand why anyone would believe such nonsense

    Funny, that is how I feel about every other religion. Especially the ones where the gods look like Elephants. Yet somehow I just can’t break free of my own.

    I don’t fear hell yet for myself, not quite. I mean, at one time I was a totally committed on fire born again believer who totally relied on the imputed righteousness of my risen Lord,Amen! I though you couldn’t lose that. But then I again I fear if I were to totally come out and admit straight out in public I was atheist (or at least agnostic), that would be that and if I was wrong then I would receive my punishment.

    But I do fear hell, for my children. I don’t want to be wrong and screw this up for them. If I can trust God for one last thing, it is to take my children to heaven, even if I simply can’t believe and am destined for hell.

    I tell my children about Jesus, God, prayer, the afterlife. I have decided that even if I’m wrong, those are very comforting and reassuring concepts. My wife and I do not ever talk about hell though, we will not scare our children this way. I’m not so hesitant to talk about Jesus, my friends are still keeping up the myth that Santa is real, or the tooth fairy, and I figure it is much more likely that Jesus is real and more valuable to boot. My problem is trying to drill into them that the Bible is this perfect book. I totally accept evolution, and I totally find Genesis 1-11 to not be history. But I (secretly) also find early Isrealite history to be against every discernible piece of data, internally and externally; I don’t know what to do with my children when they reach that point.

    Whoops, I slid pretty far from hell. I’ll sum up. I might be de-converting, but I haven’t totally yet, and am not sure where I will end up. I tell my children about Jesus, both just in case and also because I don’t find it terribly harmful for them, at age 6 and 4. I do not tell them about hell. I keep my mouth shut about Moses.

  • 6. 23five23  |  December 9, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    I guess for me fearing god wasn’t an option for a different reason. I constantly buck authority. I did it as a child, I did it in the military, and I’m doing it still at work. The fear factor involved in Christianity always provoked me to buck God’s authority too.

    Before I was atheist, and I was looking into my own heart about religion, a large part of me felt that if God was really the kind of god that I read about in the Bible, then I don’t want to follow him. As a teenager, Christianity’s view on god and how we have to worship him, never question him, certainly never complain about him, etc., only made me want to go against him more.

    At that age some people asked me if I was Satanic simply because the way I spoke about God. But I’m not satanic, that would still show a belief in the Christian God.

    For me, the call to follow unquestionably was something that I couldn’t do. And that, as well, was a factor of my upbringing. I tried to question my pastors about passages, about quotes from other religions or religious leaders, and every time it was met with horror. How could I question something I was already told? they seemed to say. Well, I question everything.

    It pains me to see children brought up in strict religious households. It’s brainwashing through and through. I remember stories about the Boogey Man, but I was never expected to believe them. I remember being told about Santa but it never seemed like I was really suppose to think there was some guy up in the North Pole. I think lots of churches are more subtle then that. Many may even have a laissez fare attitude about teaching children. For the ones that do take it seriously, it seems like a criminal practice to do that to children.

  • 7. 23five23  |  December 9, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Now I’m beginning to question whether Jesus even existed. That’s probably too much for a lot of people. But seriously, I can’t find any evidence except that of the Bible.

  • 8. Quester  |  December 9, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    I can’t say if I know what I’d teach kids, if I had them. The hell fear would probably kick in again, but which of the several contradictory doctrines of salvation would I teach? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll be more secure in my lack of faith before such an issue comes up.

  • 9. orDover  |  December 10, 2008 at 1:33 am

    I tell my children about Jesus, God, prayer, the afterlife. I have decided that even if I’m wrong, those are very comforting and reassuring concepts. My wife and I do not ever talk about hell though, we will not scare our children this way.

    You and your wife might never directly talk about hell, but your children will hear about it. They’ll hear about it at church, at school, from their friends. They’ll read about it in books and hear about it on TV. Hell is a concept deeply embedded in our society. If you really want to give your children comfort, why teach them about an afterlife that leaves open the possibility for hell? My parents never talked to me about hell, but that didn’t stop me from spending 18 years of my life enslaved by the fear of it.

    I plan on comforting my children by explaining REALITY to them, telling them that they do not need to fear death, because when they die nothing bad will happen to them because nothing will happen at all.

    I don’t know about you, but if I was faced with the choice to live on in an after life where I have a 50-50 chance of ending up in a pit of fire and being tormented for the rest of eternity, or to just cease existing when I die, I would pick the latter.

    If death is looked at critically, there is no reason to believe in an afterlife, and thus no reason to say that what happens after death is unknown. I think one of the main reasons that the concept of death is so scary is this element of the unknown. Religious people can never really be certain if they are going to heaven or hell. Even the most devout believer must be trembling at their deathbeds, praying that they won’t be one of the ones who Christ turns to and says, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” I am not afraid of dying. I don’t want to die, but I am not afraid of it because I know, based on evidence, what will happen. To quote Bertrand Russel, “…when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive.”

  • 10. Jeffrey  |  December 10, 2008 at 2:14 am

    “I won’t mind being dead, as I was not alive for billions of years before I was born, and it didn’t inconvenience me one bit.” – Mark Twain

  • 11. Josh  |  December 10, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Thanks for the post. I have to fess up first and admit that I’m not a decon, though I do read most of the posts on this site and find them very engaging. When I read this post I was struck by the fact that most people who claim to be Christians don’t spend as much time thinking about hell as many on those on this site. If they claim to believe that hell exists and all those who do not believe as they do are destined to eternal torment they should worry. Worry that they don’t get it wrong and end up in hell and worry over their friends and family who don’t believe as they do. I mean the Bible is clear that many will stand before Christ at the day of judgment with certainty that everything is on the up and up and Christ will say to them, away from me you workers of iniquity, depart into eternal torment. (I think it goes something like that) Why don’t they worry about it? Where the angst? The apparent lack of concern makes me wonder what people really believe. I’ll bet there are many more out there who would deconvert if they spent any time thinking about their beliefs. it’s just easier to go through life without thinking about anything. Go to work, come home and watch tv, get up go to work. They are stuck in a rut. I’d rather sit up all night worrying about the implications of my belief then go through life in a tv induced coma. (that may be a bit harsh, but I do think this sometimes)

    Anyway, thanks for sharing.

  • 12. Kat  |  December 10, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Before I de-converted, I’d already had a different idea of hell, thanks to one of my college philo professors. He said something like, “God is everywhere, so if hell were a place, God would be there, too. Now, isn’t that absurd? Heaven and hell must be states varying according to our closeness to God, not actual places.”

    I only reverted to the hell-is-a-place-to-be-feared-and-feared-greatly idea when I was de-converting, when all these Bible verses about the lake of fire kept popping up in my mind. Crap, I kept thinking, what if I’m wrong?

    I had to remind myself that part of the reason behind my de-conversion was that I doubted the Bible.

    I’m just a hopeful agnostic now. I hope God’s there, and I hope he’s as good as I was brought up to believe, but I’ve come to the point where I refuse to let worrying about his existence and about eternity stop me from doing my part in the present.

    A lighter read would be “Good Omens,” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I can’t say much without spoiling it, except that it was nice to have a laugh at the expense of the book of Revelation.

  • 13. orDover  |  December 10, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    I’d already had a different idea of hell, thanks to one of my college philo professors. He said something like, “God is everywhere, so if hell were a place, God would be there, too. Now, isn’t that absurd? Heaven and hell must be states varying according to our closeness to God, not actual places.”

    Not to put a damper on your philosophy, but I’ve always heard hell explained from a Christian perspective as the one place in creation where God is not. God is not in hell. Hell is complete separation from God, and that’s why it is so terrible. Or so say the evangelists.

  • 14. Quester  |  December 10, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    Heaven and hell must be states varying according to our closeness to God, not actual places.

    I heard the same concept in seminary and other places, sometimes following from the oft unspoken premise, “if Heaven and Hell were actual places, how can we explain how science fails to find them?”

    And Good Omens is my absolute favourite novel, hands down.

  • 15. Ubi Dubium  |  December 10, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    OrDover

    Not to put a damper on your philosophy, but I’ve always heard hell explained from a Christian perspective as the one place in creation where God is not. God is not in hell. Hell is complete separation from God, and that’s why it is so terrible. Or so say the evangelists.

    Ahh, but how does god manage to “not be” somewhere?
    If he’s omniscient, then he knows everything that happens there. and if he’s omnipotent, then he could affect what happens there, if he chose. How is that different from his “being there”? So does god “choose to ignore” that place? He has knowledge and power there, but pretends like he doesn’t? This sounds like the old “can god create a rock so heavy he can’t lift it?” line.

    I think Kat’s professor certainly had a more reasonable stance than your evangeilsts. Not that I agree with him, but he seems to have arrived at a conclusion that a thinking person could live with (as long as they didn’t think too hard about it).

  • 16. Anonymous  |  December 10, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    A short and interesting article touching upon this theme may be of general interest and can be found here:

    http://www.ubyssey.ca/?p=5624

  • 17. Jason  |  December 11, 2008 at 2:39 am

    orDover,

    I don’t disagree with what you wrote. Indeed, even as I wrote my own response, I was fully aware of such alternates. So let me address them one by one.

    You and your wife might never directly talk about hell, but your children will hear about it.

    I agree with this, and this is a problem. They will hear about it in church. When we talk to our children about death, we always emphasis that they will be in heaven. We don’t include the “if you believe”, though if pressed that would be assumed in the background. Yet, I recognize this as a real problem. My wife, who grew up in a very strong dispensational background, always feared she would be left behind from the rapture.

    I plan on comforting my children by explaining REALITY to them, telling them that they do not need to fear death, because when they die nothing bad will happen to them because nothing will happen at all.

    I agree with you on this, at least for myself. I’m not sure a 6 and a 4 year old can comprehend this. To make my situation worse, I’m not exactly on the same page with my wife. My wife struggles with two irrational fears, her own death and that of her children. And one of the only things that gets her through this is that when they die they will see each other again (I say irrational, not because it is irrational that they will die, as this is inevitable, but she fears it at any moment, despise the fact that we are all healthy young careful people). Sadly, my wife or my children may die soon, from a freak accident or yet unforeseen illness. And eventually we will all go to the grave. So there is no use saying such things are impossible. And for now, trying to add some rationalism is not best for my family, at least for the sake of my wife.

  • 18. Kat  |  December 11, 2008 at 3:25 am

    The comment by Shirley Phelps-Roper on the ubyssey article is quite scary and sad.

  • 19. Quester  |  December 11, 2008 at 4:07 am

    Wow. I’d figured that was anonymous spam and hadn’t clicked on the link. I’d read the article before, but that comment on it takes the cake.

  • 20. LeoPardus  |  December 11, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Just s note on hell being where God is not:

    The Eastern Orthodox Church (which has a consistent connection all the way back to the start of the Church and happens to actually know Church history, unlike the P’s and most C’s)) does NOT teach that hell is a place where God isn’t. There are two main reasons for this.
    1-God is omnipresent, therefore “a place where he is not” is simply oxymoronic.
    2- The ancient Church did not teach the “hell is a place God isn’t” doctrine. That’s an evolved doctrine from late Catholicism and early Protestantism.

    The EOC teaches (consistent with the ancient Church) that those “in hell” are in God’s presence as much as anyone else. They simply reject Him. I.e. don’t acknowledge Him as God/Lord/Master/etc.

    Of course it’s all a moot point, since it’s all fantasy anyway. But I though some of you might be interested to know that the Church didn’t always teach the view of hell that most of us know so well.

  • 21. Josh  |  December 11, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Damn.

  • 22. Josh  |  December 11, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks :)

  • 23. orDover  |  December 11, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    Leo,

    Do the EOC still teach that when Jesus died he was completely separated from God? At my fundamentalists school, that is what was explained to us as the most torturous event he endured, and an exampled of what hell is like.

  • 24. LeoPardus  |  December 11, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    orDover:

    I actually wasn’t sure about that one at first. I was pretty sure they did not teach the “separation” bit because the EOC insists that the Godhead is inseparable. Didn’t take me long to check though. And I was right.

    What is mind-boggling is that anyone believes the “doctrine of separation”. (Yes, I was taught it and believed it.) But then being in the EOC for any length of time will show you scads of passages that blow holes in Protestant doctrine. (It’s funny that the P’s always talk about taking the Bible literally, but the O’s actually do it.

    So to the “separation/forsakeness” thing. How about just reading what is said in the gospels????????? Yes, he asked, “Why have you forsaken me?” Now keep reading (something P’s don’t do once they find their “proof text”).

    Just a little before you read him saying to the penitent thief, ““Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Does that sound like a lost/damned/separated deity???

    And then, right after the “why have you forsaken me?” bit, he said … WHAT? … “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.” OOPS!

    Got any more P doctrines you want shot full of holes? Just read the Bible.
    “Salvation by works/faith”? Nope. That one falls apart.
    “The bread and wine are just symbols/memorials”? Nope. Up in flames it goes.

  • 25. Josh  |  December 11, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    “Of course it’s all a moot point, since it’s all fantasy anyway.”

    Its like WoW for mature adults in the real world. I was a level 70 fundamentalist Protestant Tank before I got bored and tired of paying the monthly fees.

  • 26. Black Sheep  |  December 11, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Josh,

    Your comment above made me laugh. I wish my 15 yo son, who lives in WoW world as much as possible, would get bored and tired of the fees. LOL.

  • 27. Carol  |  December 12, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Great post.
    2 years ago, This American LIfe had a show entiltled “Heretics” and it featured Carlton Pearson- a Pentecostal minister who stunned his church by announcing that he didn’t believe in Hell anymore. I can’t recommend it enough – and here is the link.

    http://thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=304

    Since then, he’s written a book called “God is Not a Christian” and it has been very helpful to me as I have begun my post-Christian life.

  • 28. Kat  |  December 12, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Anyone here remember this essay? I got the link to it from d-C several months ago. “Why We Need Hell” by Frederica Mathewes-Green: http://www.frederica.com/writings/why-we-need-hell.html

  • 29. LeoPardus  |  December 12, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Kat:

    Thanks for the link. Frederica did a good job of explaining the EOC view of hell there. As can be seen, it’s VASTLY different from the P or C views.

    One of the reasons I think I was able to hang on to the faith a bit longer is because I joined the EOC. At least they make some sense within their Christian worldview framework; unlike the Ps.

  • 30. Barbara  |  December 12, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks, this was very helpful. I still find myself slipping back to the fear of hell, the “what ifs”.

  • 31. LorMarie  |  December 13, 2008 at 7:49 am

    I’m in the process of fighting the fear of hell myself. I’d have to say it’s working. My turning point came when this irrational fear showed up during one of the most difficult times in my life. I thought, how shallow would it be for a God to pass on such a fear during such a terrible time. I flat out faced the fear and rejected it from taking root at that moment. It was a huge victory. I still face it now and then. Each time it rears it’s ugly head, I shake it off.

  • 32. Quester  |  December 13, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Bravo, LorMarie!

  • 33. mikespeir  |  December 13, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I really didn’t go through a long period of fearing Hell after my deconversion. I suspect that’s because the silliness of the notion of Hell was major in causing me to lose faith in the first place.

  • 34. Rover  |  December 13, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    As a Christian, it is not the fear of hell that frieightens me. It is the fear of eternal separation from those I love. The greater fear however is the fear of the loss of community I would experience in this life. It is comforting to be able to sit in a room full of people who have similiar beliefs and concerns. One of the things that scares me about deconverting is the lack of homogenaity in the atheist world. You probably see this as freedom. My community of faiths provide me with security and stability knowing that there are others who believe what I believe. Is this a good reason to accept the faith I adhere to- no. Does it make it hard to de convert. For me it does.

  • 35. labczar  |  December 14, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Rover, I remember hearing James Dobson say, ‘ The only thing I can take with me is the people I love, my family especially. I do not want to go through eternity without all my family members being there with me. As believers, I know that we will all be there, and it gives me a great deal of comfort.” (Paraphrased)

    We have many fears and circumstances to overcome as human beings, and the Christian faith is like a 12-step program to overcome a lot of those fears and circumstances. Fear of hell. Fear of nothing our own mortality, and that when we die, that’s all there is. Feelings of insignificance and insecurity, hence the lack of community that you fear if you leave the faith. I am going through that. I am the only non-believer in my family and I have pulled the common ground out from under the relationship I had with my church friends and family.

    The lack of a place to find community in the non-believer world is definitely a disadvantage and can cause a sadness. It has for me, but I cannot deny how completely I disbelieve what I formerly did. I still have many of the same values and moral views that I did as a believer, but no place to go to “church” and share my world view and serve in a way to try and make a difference.

    It’s a difficult reality to deal with, especially in my evangelical family who mostly have no idea that I am no longer a believer. I sometimes feel trapped. What a breath of fresh air it would be to be able to go and meet with like-minded people, or if there was only one person in my family to share my heart with who would really understand, and maybe even agree.

    I wish you the best on your journey

  • 36. Rover  |  December 14, 2008 at 8:15 am

    labczar,

    thank you

  • 37. Brad Feaker  |  December 14, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Rover, labczar,

    I have found a lot of other like minded people via meetup.com (note – I am in no way affiliated with the meetup web site). You might be surprised at the number of people who share the lack of belief :-)

    At the first meet up I attended I introduced myself like this…Hi – my name is Brad and I am a recovering Christian…broke th ice very well. You are not alone – keep trying to connect with local people or start an atheist/humanist/free thought group yourself. Best of luck and hang in there…

  • 38. orDover  |  December 14, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Just to echo Brad, the atheist community is much bigger and more organized than it seems. Aside from the multitude of atheist/agnostic/skeptic websites out there, there are books to read, podcasts to listen to, and meetings to attend. I’m going to go to one this coming Saturday, in fact. I think that no matter where you live, you could find an atheist/skeptic meeting near you. You just have to know where to look!

    My community of faiths provide me with security and stability knowing that there are others who believe what I believe.

    You can have that as an atheist or agnostic, Rover. And I don’t want to seem mean here, but doesn’t your status as a skeptical Christian mean that you don’t really believe what others in your church believe? Or if nothing else, you are struggling and having doubts while they are continuing to believe with no problems.

    The first time I went to a skeptic meet-up it was such a great feeling to know that I could talk about not being a Christian and not believing in ghosts and not believe in psychics without fearing that I was offending someone. Atheists and agnostics want that sense of belonging too.

  • 39. Brad Feaker  |  December 14, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    orDover,

    The first time I went to a skeptic meet-up it was such a great feeling to know that I could talk about not being a Christian and not believing in ghosts and not believe in psychics without fearing that I was offending someone. Atheists and agnostics want that sense of belonging too.

    Exactly – the brand of Christian in my neck of the woods (West Tennessee) are pretty hardcore and I get tired of the arguments. Finding fellow skeptics and atheists give me the same sense of community that the church once did.

  • 40. Jon F  |  December 14, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    It was not until I seriously began my deconversion journey that I realised just how much fear is expolited and used by the church machine. “What if you are wrong?” and all that. The deal was finally sealed for me with the realisation that any appeal to fear as a motivation to “get right with a god of pure love” was fundamentally flawed and obviously man-made. That said, it still takes an awful long time to really shake off at a deep level that little nagging voice “but what if you are wrong”. As someone said further up “whoever dreamt up this hell idea really knew what they were doing” Touche. It is interesting to note that Islam has an almost identical idea.
    Jon

  • 41. Carol  |  December 15, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Jon F,

    When I began studying the concept of Agape, I lost my fear of offending god. I was taught that god was love – specifically in the form of Agape- which is unconditional, unceasing, and non-judgemental. According to a verse in 1 Tim, love and fear CANNOT co-exist. By that definition alone, I understood that if the idea of hell, or Arageddon, or the 2nd coming could scare the crap out of me, it didn’t have anything to do with god. From there, it was just a series of blocks falling down.

    Carol

  • 42. Kristopia  |  December 15, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    I also found that sense of community with like-minded individuals the most difficult thing to give up (aside from fear of hell, which took a long while, even after de-conversion commenced in full).

    I found that sense of community in the same place listed above – I looked for it on meetup.com in my area, and found an atheist/agnostic meetup group. It’s a social group, so it’s not all about being an activist or always discussing why you don’t believe or why religion is wrong, etc. That gets old, too. We get together just to socialize, play games, have picnics, etc. I live in a relatively urban area of North Carolina right now (bible belt is alive and well here), so there are over 300 members of this group – that is ACTIVE members. There are way more than that who are not active.

    I would check out what’s in your area first, if I were you – if there isn’t anyone, maybe finding a universalist/unitarian group would help you find de-converts and a new sense of community as well.

  • 43. LeoPardus  |  December 15, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Carol:

    There are some problems with your personal exegesis.

    First of all, it’s personal. Sure you can find some people to agree with you; but you can also find scads of folks to tell you what you said is heretically wrong. So why lean on your personal interpretation? (For that matter of course, why lean on any other interpretation?)

    Next:
    I was taught that god was love – specifically in the form of Agape- which is unconditional, unceasing, and non-judgemental.

    So when you, or those who taught you, come across passages that clearly show BibleGod judging, you do what?

    According to a verse in 1 Tim, love and fear CANNOT co-exist.

    Read it again. (It’s in I John, chapter 4 by the way.)
    First off, it says (in verse 18) that “There is no fear in love; but perfect love drives out fear” So your contention that fear and love can’t coexist isn’t supported. Only “perfect love” (of which humans are incapable) could drive it out.
    Secondly, the verse right before it says, “In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment.” Oops. Problem with that non-judgmental bit again.

    I understood that if the idea of hell, or Arageddon, or the 2nd coming could scare the crap out of me, it didn’t have anything to do with god.

    Well, here I actually do agree with you. It has to do with what you are taught.
    If you’re taught a fairly standard, fundy deity, then you’d think it had everything to do with God.
    If you’re taught a cuddly granpa like you were, then it won’t scare you.
    If you realize that it’s all just make believe, then it’s just mildly amusing and certainly not scary.

  • 44. SnugglyBuffalo  |  December 15, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    I think that no matter where you live, you could find an atheist/skeptic meeting near you. You just have to know where to look!

    No such luck in Bozeman, yet. There doesn’t even appear to be an atheist group at the local college campus. I might have to start expanding my search to surrounding cities, though it would be a bit of a commute to reach them (hooray for living in Montana).

    I think there is a UU church in the area, though; I might have to check that out.

  • 45. Brad Feaker  |  December 15, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo,

    Have you considered starting a group? Might be a hassle if you are not totally open though.

    Best…

  • 46. Brad Feaker  |  December 15, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Snuggly,

    Sorry – just read the above and realized it might sound condescending. What I meant was ‘totally open as an agnostic/atheist’.

    Brad

  • 47. SnugglyBuffalo  |  December 15, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    I’m not sure what you mean by “open as an agnostic/atheist.”

    Anyway, I’ve considered starting such a group, but quickly rejected the idea. I’m horribly introverted, and the thought of trying to start and organize a group of any sort with people I don’t already know terrifies me.

  • 48. Brad Feaker  |  December 15, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo ,

    Hang in there and best of luck…hang onto your online friends for now…it might just keep you sane :-)

    Brad

  • 49. Facetious_Badger  |  December 16, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    I think the following article (found in an earlier d-C post) is helpful because it attacks the very theological underpinnings of there being a Hell:

    http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/ifhellisreal.htm

  • 50. exapologist  |  December 17, 2008 at 6:52 am

    read The Inescapable Love of God, by Thomas Talbot. I promise you, that’ll do it if you have those sorts of worries.

    For my part: my own honest view is that if I’m wrong and there’s a hell, the morally appropriate thing to do would be to reason with God to persuade him out of his immoral views re: his treatment of others. Siding with God in this case seems to be akin to siding with a mob boss out of fear of the repercussions: you know that they’re a very bad person, but you side with evil out of fear of being on the wrong side of arbitrary power.

  • 51. LeoPardus  |  December 17, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Facetious_Badger:

    That page you link is rather rife with error. I think the author simply put together a bunch of info he/she got from various places. He/She does not appear to have read the ancient sources cited though.

    For example: In the section on “the Ancient Church” the author says that Clement supported universalism; that Epiphanius didn’t condemn universalism; and implies that Origen was a great early Father who supportee of universalism. Trouble is: Clement didn’t support or expound universalism; Epiphanius didn’t support it either; and Origen was condemned as a heretic.

    The doctrine of hell as a place for the “unsaved”, as an unpleasant fate, was always part of Church doctrine.

    Of course that really doesn’t matter, since the whole Church is propped up on the untrue premise that there is a personal, involved, concerned deity.

    There ain’t a God, there ain’t a hell, there ain’t a heaven. There’s just this life, then you’re dead. So to hell with hell.

  • 52. Kristopia  |  December 17, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Snuggly – here is the Bozeman MT link for the Atheists/Skeptics/Freethinkers meetup group. There are 8 active members:

    http://www.meetup.com/search/?keywords=skeptics&radius=25&country=us&locationPickerRef=0&dbCo=us&dbOutsideUsLink=&dbZip=27705&zip=59715&submitButton=Search

    they appear to have a regular monthly meeting. :)

  • 53. SnugglyBuffalo  |  December 17, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    *GASP*

    Looks like it just formed last month, which explains why I hadn’t found it.

    Thanks, Kristopia!

  • 54. Gentle Wisdom » Who is this Jesus that we must believe in?  |  December 18, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    [...] at Jeremy Myers’ blog this retelling of the story of the Good Samaritan, apparently taken by Quester from a book: One day, a theologian decided to challenge a street preacher. “Preacher,” he [...]

  • 55. edwinhere  |  December 19, 2008 at 8:48 am

    I disagree with CS Lewis’ lies. See what Abraham tells the rich man in hell in “The Parable of Lazarus & the Rich Man” about hell’s security mechanisms:

    “…between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.” Luke 16:26

    Jesus himself makes it clear that hell is not a state of constant rebellion.

    I used this very idea of eternal torment as a clear indication that the Christian deity is morally inferior and not worthy of worship even if it exists, which by the way is highly unlikely.

  • 56. Kristopia  |  December 19, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    No problem, Snuggly. :) I was overjoyed when I found my group.

  • 57. Quester  |  December 19, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Edwinhere,

    So you disagree with Lewis’ lies because they are contrary certain passages in the Bible, though you also don’t believe the Bible?

  • 58. edwinhere  |  December 21, 2008 at 9:25 am

    Quester,

    I was laying out my thought processes that led to my de-conversion.

    There were other experiences too.

  • 59. theist  |  December 21, 2008 at 11:56 am

    An Atheist Professor of Philosophy speaks to his Class on the Problem Science has with GOD, The ALMIGHTY.
    He asks one of his New Christian Students to stand and . . .

    Professor : You are a Christian, aren’t you, son ?
    Student : Yes, sir.
    Professor : So you Believe in GOD ?
    Student : Absolutely, sir.
    Professor : Is GOD Good ?
    Student : Sure.
    Professor : Is GOD ALL – POWERFUL ?
    Student : Yes.
    Professor : My Brother died of Cancer even though he Prayed to GOD to Heal him.
    Most of us would attempt to Help Others who are ill.
    But GOD didn’t.
    How is this GOD Good then ? Hmm ?

    ( Student is silent )

    Professor : You can’t answer, can you ?
    Let’s start again, Young Fella.
    Is GOD Good ?
    Student : Yes.
    Professor : Is Satan good ?
    Student : No.
    Professor : Where does Satan come from ?
    Student : From . . . GOD . . .
    Professor : That’s right.
    Tell me son, is there evil in this World ?
    Student : Yes.
    Professor : Evil is everywhere, isn’t it ?
    And GOD did make Everything. Correct ?
    Student : Yes.
    Professor : So who created evil ?

    ( Student does not answer )

    Professor : Is there Sickness ? Immorality ? Hatred ? Ugliness ?
    All these terrible things exist in the World, don’t they ?
    Student : Yes, sir.
    Professor : So, who Created them ?

    ( Student has no answer )

    Professor : Science says you have 5 Senses you use to Identify and Observe the World around you.
    Tell me, son . . . Have you ever Seen GOD ?
    Student : No, sir.
    Professor : Tell us if you have ever Heard your GOD ?
    Student : No , sir.
    Professor : Have you ever Felt your GOD , Tasted your GOD , Smelt your GOD ?
    Have you ever had any Sensory Perception of GOD for that matter ?
    Student : No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.
    Professor : Yet you still Believe in HIM ?
    Student : Yes.
    Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist.
    What do you say to that, son ?
    Student : Nothing. I only have my Faith .
    Professor : Yes. Faith . And that is the Problem Science has.
    Student : Professor, is there such a thing as Heat ?
    Professor : Yes.
    Student : And is there such a thing as Cold ?
    Professor : Yes.
    Student : No sir. There isn’t.

    ( The Lecture Theatre becomes very quiet with this turn of events )

    Student : Sir, you can have Lots of Heat, even More Heat, Superheat, Mega Heat, White Heat,
    a Little Heat or No Heat.
    But we don’t have anything called Cold.
    We can hit 458 Degrees below Zero which is No Heat, but we can’t go any further after that.
    There is no such thing as Cold.
    Cold is only a Word we use to describe the Absence of Heat.
    We cannot Measure Cold.
    Heat is Energy.
    Cold is Not the Opposite of Heat, sir, just the Absence of it.

    ( There is Pin – Drop Silence in the Lecture Theatre )

    Student : What about Darkness, Professor ? Is there such a thing as Darkness ?
    Professor : Yes. What is Night if there isn’t Darkness ?
    Student : You’re wrong again, sir.
    Darkness is the Absence of Something.
    You can have Low Light, Normal Light , Bright Light, Flashing Light . . .
    But if you have No Light Constantly, you have Nothing and it’s called Darkness, isn’t it ?
    In reality, Darkness isn’t.
    If it is, were you would be able to make Darkness Darker, wouldn’t you ?
    Professor : So what is the point you are making, Young Man ?
    Student : Sir, my point is your Philosophical Premise is Flawed.
    Professor : Flawed ? Can you explain how ?
    Student : Sir, you are working on the Premise of Duality.
    You argue there is Life and then there is Death, a Good GOD and a Bad GOD .
    You are viewing the Concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure.
    Sir, Science can’t even explain a Thought.
    It uses Electricity and Magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one.
    To view Death as the Opposite of Life is to be ignorant of the fact that
    Death cannot exist as a Substantive Thing.
    Death is Not the Opposite of Life : just the Absence of it.
    Now tell me, Professor, do you Teach your Students that they Evolved from a Monkey ?
    Professor : If you are referring to the Natural Evolutionary Process, yes, of course, I do.
    Student : Have you ever observed Evolution with your own eyes, sir ?

    ( The Professor shakes his head with a Smile, beginning to realize where the Argument is going )

    Student : Since no one has ever observed the Process of Evolution at work and
    cannot even prove that this Process is an On – Going Endeavor,
    are you not Teaching your Opinion, sir ?
    Are you not a Scientist but a Preacher ?

    ( The Class is in Uproar )

    Student : Is there anyone in the Class who has ever Seen the Professor’s Brain ?

    ( The Class breaks out into Laughter )

    Student : Is there anyone here who has ever Heard the Professor’s Brain, Felt it, Touched or Smelt it ? . . ..
    No one appears to have done so.
    So, according to the Established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that
    you have No Brain, sir.
    With all due respect, sir, how do we then Trust your Lectures, sir ?

    ( The Room is Silent. The Professor stares at the Student, his face unfathomable )

    Professor : I guess you’ll have to take them on Faith , son.
    Student : That is it sir . . .
    the Link between Man & GOD is FAITH.
    That is all that Keeps Things Moving & Alive.

    NB:
    I believe you have enjoyed the Conversation . . . and if so . . .
    you’ll probably want your Friends / Colleagues to enjoy the same . . . won’t you ? . . .
    Forward them to Increase their Knowledge . . . or FAITH

  • 60. enigma  |  December 21, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Hello theist,

    There is something terribly ironic about a Christian arguing against the premise of dualism(good vs. evil; God vs. Satan). If God is omnipresent how can there be an absence of Him; If he is all-powerful and omniscient how could evil have escaped his grasp.

    I must admit It is an excellent propaganda piece. Portraying the worldly professor as the antagonist who is silenced by his subordinate Christian student. The writer of the story cleverly constructs an background where he can put the straw man arguments in place. I know it is fictionalized because I have heard this story, and parts of the story many times with slightly different details. For example, one version in my denominational newspaper claims that it was Einstein as a student talking to his physics professor.

    Cheers

  • 61. enigma  |  December 21, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    “Student : Is there anyone here who has ever Heard the Professor’s Brain, Felt it, Touched or Smelt it ? . . ..
    No one appears to have done so.
    So, according to the Established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that
    you have No Brain, sir.”

    We can observe the Professors brain via empirical standards. We can xray it, open it surgically(or not for that matter). We can use deduction by observing his behaviour and infer that he has a brain because of previous research on the brain/behaviour relationship.

    The author tries to convince his/her reader that belief in the professors brain is just as far-fetched as belief in a God. However, the existence of the professor’s brain is verifiable- whereas the belief in God is not.

  • 62. Quester  |  December 21, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    For anyone wanting to read the responses given the last time theist wasted our time by pasting this drivel on this blog, read comments 54-59 over in this thread: http://de-conversion.com/2008/11/06/moving-beyond-de-conversion/

  • 63. SnugglyBuffalo  |  December 21, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Since he’s basically just spamming the blog, can we get an administrator to delete those posts? Or at least the anonymous one…

  • [...] (The Parable of the Good Samaritan) From Peter who got it from Jeremy who got it from Quester. It’s a poignant retelling of the tale of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). One day, a [...]

  • 65. Frida Halliday  |  July 12, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Great comments all around. I am still struggling with a lifelong fear of hell and the lake of fire, eternal suffering. At the age of 48, I stay home and live in fear. It’s pathetic. The atheists I know are content and happy go lucky. The Christians don’t fear hell because they think they are going to heaven. Am I the only neurotic mess who fears hell? Any advice or comments will be greatly appreciated.

  • 66. LeoPardus  |  July 12, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Frida:

    All I can is, “It ain’t real.” If there’s a deity out there so nasty that he sends people to eternal punishment for temporal sins, and saves some on the basis of whether they picked the “right” religion or did the “right” things, or some other such capricious grounds, that deity is NOT worth worshipping or even paying attention to.

    Live life well and enjoyably. It’s the only life you have and know. Screwing up this life for a possible, and frankly doubtful, afterlife is just plain foolish.

    Get up, get out, quit bothering with imaginary boogie men.

  • 67. Quester  |  July 13, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    If the story in the article doesn’t help, Frida, do try to read the books I mentioned. They both helped me.

    A fear of hell makes perfect sense, once one has decided to believe in certain biblical depictions of God. You’re not alone. You’re not insane. You’re reaching sensible conclusions from the premises you’re starting with. It may be time to start questioning those premises, though. If the words in the Bible that are attributed to God, were spoken by God, then God has put you in a situation where you can not win. There is no way to be confident that you will not be punished eternally, unless you conveniently ignore certain verses while clinging to others.

    But why trust the Bible? Why believe God exists? At 48, your faith is causing you more trouble than benefit. It may be time to question why you believe, and if there’s really any reason to think that there’s anything supernatural to believe in.

  • 68. Joe  |  July 13, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    test

  • 69. Joe  |  July 13, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Oh well—-tried twice to type a response to Leo’s about fear of hell. Disappeared into nothingness. Too tired to try again. :>)

  • 70. orDover  |  July 13, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Joe, I think the spam filter has been really sensitive lately (at least I’ve been having problems with it). It caught a post of mine because it had a few unusual characters in it, a < and a 3, to be exact. It looks for stuff like that. It will also catch posts that have links in them. Try again, making sure you avoid links and non-letter symbols.

  • 71. Frida Halliday  |  July 14, 2009 at 8:00 am

    I wake up every morning in fear. I have no hope. I have sinned against God. I did not repent when I had the chance to. I am going to hell and I don’t want to go there. All is lost.

  • 72. Brian  |  July 14, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Frida, the thing that ultimately helped me was putting it all into perspective from a Christian standpoint. As a Christian, did you ever fear Muslim hell? or Hindu hell? Did you worry about the Norse god Odin smiting you? Of course not, because you knew those religions to be false. You can’t fear the consequences of something you don’t think is real. If you believe in Christianity, then of course hell is real. If you don’t believe it’s true though, then its consequences are of no more concern to you than a hardcore Muslim telling you Allah is going to punish you.

  • 73. Quester  |  July 14, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Seek counseling, Frida. There’s no shame in doing so. When you are dealing with thoughts inside your head, it can be hard to see the hope that you can find by speaking a problem out loud to someone who is listening. And sometimes properly prescribed medicine can help give you the foundation you need for perspective.

    We all need help, sometimes.

  • 74. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Frida—

    From a Christian perspective—all is not lost. The very fact you fear and believe there IS a hell, and don’t want to go there is actually a very good sign. The very fact you desire to return is proof God is still seeking for you. “For you Lord have not forsaken them that seek you”.

    When we need to fear is when we hit a place where we can say “eat, drink and merry for tomorrow we die” as one of the posts above says in advice to you. When we hit a place of absolute rejection, mockery, and unbelief that is when we should fear—unfortunately, when one hits that place they have no fear any more–and that is a most terrible thing.

    The fear is designed to “drive” you back to God. God calls in mercy, but sometimes he has to use fear to get our attention and turn us around. As much misery as you are in Frida–believe it or not, you are in a good place. Ask God to help you with your fears—-and look up the myriad of verses that show that God is more ready to forgive you than you are to sin. Start with 1 John 1:9—–it is a promise that if we confess our sins in sincerity we WILL be forgiven.

  • 75. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Frida—

    By the way, I went through a period of about 5 years where I sincerely believed I had committed the “unpardonable sin”. It was extremely excrutiating—horrible. I couldn’t sleep, and days were constant darkness and grief.

    But in the end I learned the infinite depth of God’s Grace—as horrible as the experience is, it can work to bring you closer to God than you ever were before. I know that is little comfort now, as you experience this feeling of condemnation.

    But remember—that is exactly what it is—-a “feeling”. It does not have it’s basis in the Word of God—-the Word tells you that God will forgive “all manner of sin and blasphemy”. You have not committed unpardonable sin—because if you had your sin would not bother you at all. You would have no “desire” to repent, because the desire to repent comes from God himself through the Spirit. I wish I were able to sit down with you and just look at all the comforting verses there truly are——I truly feel for you—-having been there myself in the past. All I can say is that you will get past it.

  • 76. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Just so you know Frida, Joe is just one of those guys who cannot and will not “get it”. He’s so sure he’s absolutely, infallible, that he can’t and won’t ever think there is another point of view, let alone try to understand it.

    Of course we all hope he’ll wake up some day.

  • 77. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Leo—

    Please note the beginning of Post 74—-I said “from a Christian perspective”. You choose freely to give your perspective–and that’s fine. I am just giving a perspective that comes from being a Christian.

    So I am not sure what you mean that I cannot and will not “get it”—if you mean that I will not accept YOUR interpretation of things—yes, that is true–I think you are incorrect. But I am far from infallible, and never state that. I was simply telling Frida that I have been where he/she is, and if she/he intends to remain a Christian, it can be tough to go through self-condemnation. That was my whole point.

    Frida is free to accept whatever view she wants to take Leo—I hope you don’t believe yours is the only valid one!

  • 78. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Leo—

    Just to clarify (not to battle with you)—Frida sounds like someone who still believes, but is self-condemned. Saying “Oh, don’t worry about it Frida, there’s no God anyway” just isn’t going to solve the problem for them—one cannot simply cast away a belief in God that easily.

    So, from a “christian perspective” I am trying to offer some help–as I too have lived through self-condemnation in the past. Frida can accept it or reject it.

  • 79. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    You do a fine job of illustrating what I said. You just don’t get it. EVERYONE on this site already KNOWS the “christian perspective”.

    SHEESH!

  • 80. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Now awaiting the reply, “If you knew the christian perspective, you wouldn’t have left the faith.”

  • 81. paleale  |  July 14, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Does this activity count as ‘preaching’? Is Joe going to have to change his user name again? It’s pretty obvious that he just hangs around waiting for opportunities like this.

  • 82. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Leo—

    The “christian perspective” I was giving was for Frida– not everyone who already “knows it” on the board. Leo—seriously, whether you are in the faith or out of it is your own personal business. I don’t expect you to have that perspective at all. All I was addressing was Frida’s apparent self-condemnation—and thought I might be able to help a bit since I have experienced that myself.

    I was addressing Frida on this point, not you Leo. If He/she decides to leave the faith—that’s their business. It just appears they still believe, but are in a place of torments of sorts, which is not fun at all. I know what that is like–and another believer will help more in that situation than an unbeliever will. As I said saying “there is no God” is not going to bring Frida out of self-condemnation, because Frida obviously believes there is one. Just trying to help is all—-as ineffective as that might be—that was my whole purpose in posting.

  • 83. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Paleale—

    Geez. OK—I won’t try to help Frida if you think I am preaching. I was just trying to help someone who is apparently suffering very much. If you are going to jump on me for that then I will stop.

    Sorry.

  • 84. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Paleale—-

    By the way, I haven’t changed my user name ever. Back in 9-2008 I “used” two other names because I was accused of being a troll. I haven’t used them since. (that was a year ago) Why the hostility and accusation?

    Re-read my posts—I think you are misunderstanding where I am coming from. I gave a “perspective” for Frida who appears to be a believer– that was all. I didn’t mean to knock a chip off of someone’s shoulder. Sorry about that.

  • 85. paleale  |  July 14, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Joe,

    I guess I’m just a little concerned regarding your purpose for being here in this forum. You are not a de-convert, nor do you have any intention of de-converting or even giving the possibility the remotest chance of a fleeting thought. You are a dyed-in-the-wool evangelist. There are other Christians who post consistently in this forum whose opinions are well thought out and not overly dogmatic. Not so with you. You continue to shout the party lines and your point of view is so narrow that Jesus should have the space between your eyes as an example for the camel to go through instead of the eye of a needle.

    Frida comes to this site, a DE-CONVERSION site, asking for our points of view. She/he has apparently heard all the Christian rhetoric. She/he needs help, has been there done that looking for help from Christians. So, if she/he wanted more help from people who think the way you do she would have come knocking on your virtual door and not ours.

  • 86. paleale  |  July 14, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    And then there are days when you wish you could ‘unsubmit’ something.

    That was entirely too harsh and I feel like an idiot, Joe. I’m really sorry for that.

  • 87. Quester  |  July 14, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Paleale,

    If you’re feeling particularly bad, go back through the archives and read some more of what Joe’s felt fit to share here. It’s hard to balance the need to not encourage Joe by responding to him (he does a good enough job encouraging himself, but you might notice that when someone actually does respond to him he ends up providing two or more responses) with the need to let newcomers know that Joe is not speaking for the rest of us. It’s not easy. He pounces on the newcomers and seems so reasonable until you attempt to have an exchange with him. I was fooled many times last year, taking way too long to catch on.

    You spoke clearly, Paleale, with legitimate concerns and valid points. Don’t beat yourself up for that.

  • 88. Frida Halliday  |  July 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Sorry folks, I didn’t mean to start an argument. I deeply appreciate all comments.

  • 89. BigHouse  |  July 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    +1, Quester.

  • 90. paleale  |  July 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks, Quester. Well put.

  • 91. paleale  |  July 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    And Frida,

    PLEASE don’t feel like you caused anything here. This is an old situation that hit one of its inevitable peaks. The last thing you need is to take on any guilt over a silly thread in an internet forum. :-)

  • 92. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Frida:

    You didn’t cause an argument. Joe will use any excuse, or none for that matter. If you cause a troll to snake to start hissing just ’cause you walk by, is that your fault?

  • 93. Quester  |  July 14, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Frida,

    As Paleale says, this is an Internet forum. We argue on it sometimes, and some of the arguments are a tad silly. The above is simply part of a long-running argument many of us try to avoid but still have sometimes. It’s not your fault at all.

    I wasn’t kidding about the counseling, by the way. When I was convinced that I deserved nothing but hell, fearing it and condemning myself at the same time, seeing a psychologist helped. I went ten times, then five years later had to find another counselor for another ten sessions. The first counselor was a secular counselor, the second a Christian counselor. Both helped give me the equipment I needed to face my fears and look at things from a different perspective. I also recommend borrowing and reading your local library’s copy of CS Lewis’ Great Divorce. It’s from a Christian perspective, sure, but one that might help you let go of our fears.

    I realize I’m repeating myself, here, but I remember all too well facing the kind of hopelessness you’re describing.

  • 94. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Unbelievable. I did not do what you some of you are saying at all. I sincerely was offering help to Frida as I (I swear with all my heart) went through 5 years of self-condemnation. I came through it and thought I could offer help from the perspective I come from. Wow–feel like I walked into a pack of hyenas. LOL

    I’ll go over to the pet thread instead. :>)

  • 95. Ubi Dubium  |  July 14, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Don’t worry, Frida. Just ignore Joe. He’s best viewed as a reminder of why we all left. I think that having to spend eternity with people like him might be worse than any hellfire and damnation they preach.

    I think the rest of us are very glad you are here. I hope we can be of help. If you believe in a god that created you, then he must have created you as you are, flaws and all. Why would a god create you with flaws, and then send you to eternal punishment for being exactly who he made you to be? Back in my church-going days, the kids were often reminded that “god don’t make no junk”.

    And now, from my non-theistic point of view, you seem to feel that you have done something really bad. I don’t know enough about you to know whether you actually have done something terrible, or whether you are obsessing about something small. You seem to be suffering terribly from it, whatever it is. I concur with Quester, seek counselling.

    And do what you can to take responsibility for your life. If you can make amends for a wrong you have done someone, then do it. You’ll feel better for it, god or no god. As we say in our wager, “you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place.” I can’t imagine any god worth worshipping who would discourage that.

    If there are specific things you want to talk about, come over and post on the community site. If you need to, you can just get stuff off of your chest. I’ts a pretty safe place to rant if ranting will help.

  • 96. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Frida—-

    I won’t be able to help you with the condemnation you feel at this site. As you can tell they are far more interested in launching judgement against me than actually helping you.

    I would be glad to share my own experience with you regarding fear of hell and condemnation, fear of apostasy, and all of that stuff that can so horrify us.

    Sincerely, I have helped others through that misery as I know full well how it feels. I walked in darkness for over 5 years in a state of misery—-truly feeling I was beyond hope. I can share more with you if you’d like. I really would like to help if you are interested. Feel free to e-mail me and I can share my own experience. I truly was only trying to offer help and consolation because I know how it feels. It can be terrible, because not many around you will not understand spiritual feelings of dread—-they think you’re crazy for feeling that.

    It can help to talk with someone who has been through it too. I sincerely offer my help.

    js5510@yahoo.com

  • 97. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Frida—

    One last thing. I contribute frequently to a site that was set up to help with victims of spiritual abuse. That abuse, through means of legalism and “using” the Bible to get people “into line” can literally lead to the condemnation you have confessed.

    It might help to visit there also (I can give you that web address) and listen to some of the testimonies given. Part of the reason I visit this site is because people can become so hopeless due to spiritual dread brought on by other people, that they literally begin to lose their faith.

    What I am saying is you don’t have to talk to me. There are others who would gladly share with you also. One can attempt to get rid of guilt by just saying “there is no God” :LOL or one can face the issue and see what lead them into the state of condemnation they are feeling. Hope to hear from you.

  • 98. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 14, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Joe, the problem is that you come across as trying to hijack this thread for your own agenda, whether or not that was your intent. This is not a forum for the Christian perspective, but you feel compelled to give it here anyway. You don’t see any of us responding with the “atheist perspective” to people asking Christians for help; and I would hold anyone who did such a thing with similar disdain.

    At the very least you could have asked if Frida wanted a Christian perspective, since she is requesting advice from an explicitly ex-Christian source.

  • 99. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    “You don’t see any of us responding with the “atheist perspective” to people asking Christians for help; and I would hold anyone who did such a thing with similar disdain.

    Snuggly–

    No “atheist perspective”?—-see post 66 which basically started this whole thing. LOL

  • 100. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Snuggly—

    Quester, a deconvert offered this in #93:

    “I also recommend borrowing and reading your local library’s copy of CS Lewis’ Great Divorce. It’s from a Christian perspective, sure, but one that might help you let go of our fears”

    Can I ask why it is OK for him to offer help from a book with a “christian perspective”, yet because I am a Christian it is not OK for me to offer the same perspective? I don’t get it. Enlighten me.

  • 101. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    :>) I feel like I’m on a precipice surrounded by a mob with torches, chanting “push the Christian off! Push the Christian off!”
    LOL

  • 102. LeoPardus  |  July 14, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Well, after telling us earlier about his efforts to not be a troll, Joe then hijacks a whole thread. He doesn’t get it. He won’t get it. It may be time to pull up the old “Troll” post again to remind us all what a troll is and how they “feed”.

    I think it’s also time to seriously take under consideration simply barring Joe from the site. There are Christians who have behaved and shown decorum around here. Joe is NOT one of them.

  • 103. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    LOL. Here we go again. Leo’s mantra. Ban people. Call them trolls. You know—I watched this site for almost a year, not posting, and I have seen Leo and a group of others do this time and time again. A small core group.

    Read the threads. There is one small core group of de-converts who immediately jump on anyone who disagrees with them. I posted today (go back seriously and read my first posts carefully) —they were not posted in any way to provoke argument or attack. Read my post 75—THEN read Leo’s post 76—you will see HE is the one who ATTACKED—not me. Seriously—you can hear the venom and sarcasm in his posts—–and mine were not posted in that way at all.

    Administrator—– you banned me once before at Leo’s behest. If you feel that is that right thing to do then so be it. Throw me off the precipice! LOL

  • 104. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Please read 74-79 that’s all I ask. Read it honestly.

  • 105. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Sorry—74-82—I go back and read it myself and see that I was really trying NOT to battle with anyone here. This site is very strange indeed. I guess I keep hoping it will change but it doesn’t–same protagonists, same end. They say the definition of insanity is “performing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result”. I MUST be insane. :>)

  • 106. bluecelt  |  July 14, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    If you dislike this site so much and feel so persecuted (Oh no! People are disagreeing with me!) why do you remain? And then post multiple times in a row? Seriously 103-105 are the same three posts just reworded.

    I’ve been lurking this site for a year and I can see that you still don’t understand what others say, you just want to preach and feed a persecution complex.

  • 107. Joe  |  July 14, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    bluecelt—it’s actually the other way around. A few people here cannot stand disagreement with their stand. I’m not going to argue the point any more. This is really sad.

    Paul—-

    My apologies for what happened here. You were nice enough to allow me to post
    here again. I have actually been fine here for a couple of weeks. I’ve posted without
    problem. Today I let some sarcasm and meanness lead me into a “scuffle” which was
    never my intention. There are certain people here that I can converse with without
    problem–but there are a couple of others I can never seem to have a cordial conversation
    with at all—-it results in insults and calls for bans, etc.

    That kind of closed-mindedness is just ridiculous. It really is. The whole tactic these people
    use is “bait and switch”. Insult or respond sarcastically to a sincere post (BAIT), then when
    the person seeks to protect themselves or respond to the sarcasm attack them for “hijacking” the board or “preaching”. (this is the SWITCH). It happens all to often. Turn it around on them.

    I am just not able to deal with those sort of tactics. Once again, my apologies—I sincerely did not mean to turn a thread into some sort of “back and forth”—the tactic worked and I failed once again.

    My apologies. I’m not very good at responding to attacks and sarcasm—that shows for sure. Thanks for letting me post again here for the short time I was able.

  • 108. Quester  |  July 14, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Joe,

    You’ve been fine here for weeks for the plain and simple reason that everyone who remembers you from last year has been ignoring you and hoping you will go away again.

    Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t be speaking for anyone other than myself. But let’s look at what you have to say about yourself.

    “Part of the reason I visit this site is because people can become so hopeless due to spiritual dread brought on by other people, that they literally begin to lose their faith.”

    Part of the reason you’re here is to save people from the dreadful fate of deconverting. What a sweetheart you are. I’m not sure if it’s arrogance or ignorance that allows you to make statements like that, then wonder why people don’t want you around.

    As far as I’m concerned, your self-appointed mission to tell people about your imaginary friend in order to save people who visit deconversion.com from the imaginary problems of deconverting is both inappropriate and unwelcome.

    Please, Joe, go away.

  • 109. paleale  |  July 14, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Wow, speaking of wishing that I could un-submit something, I wish I could un-submit my apology.

  • 110. Brian  |  July 15, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Okay I feel compelled to come to Joe’s defense here. Granted I’ve only been on this site for 8 months or so, so I have no idea what these incidents were from last year that gives everyone such a kneejerk reaction to everything he says, but come on, he’s not being belligerent. He’s not being a whack job like Lucian. His only “fault” as near as I can see (on this thread anyway) is having a view that’s different from the majority of people on here. I really don’t see anything ban-worthy. I don’t even see anything worthy of calling him a troll. We’re all giving our opinions on what we think of Frida’s situation and he is as well. At least he’s coming at it from a position of (at least perceived) compassion and not just spouting Bible verses or nutso websites at people.

    Can’t we all just… get along? :-)

  • 111. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 15, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Oh, he was far worse than Lucian back in the day. Though, to be fair, I haven’t really had a problem with his comments up until this thread.

    Anyway, to Joe,

    You completely missed the point of my last comment. Frida came to an ex-Christian source for advice. I said we aren’t going around offering the atheist perspective to those asking Christians for advice. If Frida came to your blog (assuming for the moment you have one) asking for advice, I would not jump in and offer an atheist perspective. Post #66 is giving an atheist perspective because Frida came to an ex-Christian source for advice.

    As for your comment regarding Quester mentioning a book with a Christian perspective, I’d say there’s a difference between mentioning a helpful book with a Christian perspective is different from the preaching you put in your comment. If all you had done was recommended a helpful book with a Christian perspective, I would have been perfectly fine with it.

    Am I making sense here? I ask genuinely, because I know I frequently have problems communicating my thoughts clearly and your misunderstanding what I meant (or at least my perception that you’ve misunderstood me) could be entirely my own fault.

  • 112. LeoPardus  |  July 15, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Quester:

    For my part you were right. I was ignoring him hoping he’d go away. Unfortunately he’s utterly clueless and doesn’t even know where to rent one.

    I don’t think any of us go to Christians sites and pester them non-stop with the “atheist perspective”. (Someone can tell me if I’m wrong.) But that sort of decency and respect doesn’t apply the other way. Every damn “christian” troll on the net thinks they have a god=given right to come onto our sites and “set us straight” or “save us”.

    Most of the Christians who’ve been around here have been respectful and they’ve taken the hint when they step over a line. Not Joe. He has no respect for others and never takes a hint or even a direct STFU. For that kind only a ban works. (Until he starts sock-puppetting again of course.)

    I have to admit that he is an utterly pathetic human and I almost feel sorry for him. ….. Almost.

  • 113. paleale  |  July 15, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I just feel terrible that poor Frida got hosed so badly. Frida, if you are still watching this thread, you are welcome here. None of the firefight was your fault. It’s like the end of Caddyshack when Bill Murray gets so fed up with the gopher that he blows up the golf course. Joe is our gopher.

  • 114. Jason  |  July 15, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    You know what is funny about this back and forth is that the language hasn’t blown out of proportion, you guys are actually somewhat tactful. Its almost like a real life conversation, instead of normal internet arguments.

    Joe — I understand your position. I understand what it is like to KNOW the truth. I understand everyone needs to hear it and there are no boundaries and inappropriate moments to reinforce the gospel. But for all the other posters here, you’re wrong, and not only wrong but your way of thinking was harmful for them in the past. This blog has open comments, that’s by the grace of those who set it up, they could limit any comments to just “the small core” but they don’t. So come, say your peace, and let it be. They all know what it is, they were there once but they let you say it anyway. But going on and on and on, then yes, it becomes inappropriate. Let it go. Trust God, the one with infinite supernatural power, love, and mercy to accomplish whatever he would with that. Its not all on you and you are way past the diminishing returns here.

    I completely agree with them concerning Frida. She came and posted on this forum. There are a bazillion Christian blogs/forums/sites out there she could have posted, and she probably posted on a few of them as well. She’ll get all the Christian answers to her heart’s content. But she also posted here, at a de-con site, and its natural to let the de-con “core” say their peace. Of course YOU disagree, but why do you feel you need to make some comment about every reponse they give. This is the de-con site, what do you think Frida was expecting when she posted here?

    And finally, drop the persecution complex. This happens ALL over the web. Of course the most active contributers on this site are de-cons, its the de-con site. If you go to a Christian site, it has Christian accolades, and the few atheists or Muslims or JWs or Mormons who dare to stay will be outnumbered and get harsh treatment. That’s the way it works on every contraversal subject on every corner of the internet. No one is going to throw you over some precipice, and when I say that, I mean literally no one is going to harm you. If you don’t like how they respond to you here, then leave. Just leave. What’s so important about being here anyway.

    Frida — I swear if your a male I am sooooo sorry. I just can’t type he/she forever or leave it as they. It sounds like a female name to my American ears so I just had to go with it.

  • 115. Frida Halliday  |  July 15, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I appreciate all the comments on this website. I appreciate all of you, too. I’m not seeking help from Christian websites, because I don’t believe God will ever forgive me. That’s why I came to the de-conversion website to learn more. It’s really that simple.

  • 116. LeoPardus  |  July 15, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks for a bit of clarification Frida.

    Obviously you still believe in a god. Unfortunately it’s a rather nasty one. One that won’t forgive you. I can say that that is not the sort of deity I learned about or believed in during all my years as a Christian.

    Perhaps you can tell us why you believe in a god at all. Then maybe why you believe in an unforgiving one.

    Meanwhile, I don’t know if you’ve looked at some of the archives here, but some of them may be helpful. I can recommend your looking at some of the ones that explain why most of us here no longer believe in any personal or involved deity. Just about anything with the word “reason” or “reasons” in the title would fit.

    Happy reading and happy hanging about here.

  • 117. DSimon  |  July 15, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Frida, thanks for sticking around. I hope you find whatever kind of help you need.

    Although I am an atheist, I don’t feel that giving up Christianity is necessarily the only way for you to return to a happy life. You need to reconcile your beliefs with getting up every day and enjoying your life, and that will include some critical self-examination. That might lead you to atheism or agnosticism, or it might simply lead you to a different perspective on Christianity or some other religion. The important thing is to keep updating and examining your own beliefs, since staying where you are is clearly not doing you any good.

    As part of that, you might want to check out the skeptical community, particularly the podcast “The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe”. Skeptics are people who apply scientific thinking to everyday life, for example to bust people selling quack remedies and snake oil inventions. Skepticism is not the same thing as atheism, and some skeptics are religious. By trying on the skeptical way of thinking about the world and seeing if it fits you, you might have an easier time examining your own beliefs with an objective eye. It helped me a lot, anyways, when I ran into problems a little bit like yours.

    Finally: strongly consider seeing a doctor, as your problem might have a physical component. I suffered moderate depression for a long time, and just recently talked to a doctor and got a prescription for mild antidepressents. Please see a doctor and find out if the same thing is happening to you.

  • 118. Quester  |  July 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I think we’ve given you all the advice we can, now, Frida. At least without knowing more of your story. If you have a blog of your own with a post that will tell us what exactly you are fearing and why, post a link. Some of us will drop by. I also invite you to visit our community site, and make a post as descriptive as possible about what you believe and where you have lost your hope. I think someone else made the same invite, but after a quick skim, I can’t see who. But you can find a link to the community by scrolling up to the top and looking in the top, right-hand corner under “Featured Link”. Many of us have been pastors, preachers, Bible scholars and theologians of all sorts of backgrounds, and many of us are scientists, philosophers, scholars and, well, people of many and varied experiences. But we need something to go from, or we can make only the most generalized of responses, like recommending counseling, or offering a book or two which may speak to your situation.

  • 119. Jason  |  July 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    “It may be time to pull up the old “Troll” post again to remind us all what a troll is and how they “feed”.

    LeoPardus ,

    Can you post a pointer to this thread. I would be very interested to read it.

  • 120. LeoPardus  |  July 15, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    That post is nowhere right now. A decision was made to pull it and then repost it in the future if necessary. I may be able to find the text and post it as a reply here.

  • 121. Bruno  |  July 15, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Hallo. I am Bruno. I heard about this site from a recent visitor to our “Lovers of Masochism” Blog. He mentioned that I could find some vonderful abuse here. He said I simply need to say I am a Christian, and to quote a verse or two, and I would quickly have several bloggers heaping vonderful and painful abuse upon me and my masochistic teutonic mind.

    So, here goes. Please vait a moment. I am putting my helmut on first to protect my eyes and ears, but I have absolutely no protection for the rest of my hot Austrian body. OK, ready now, here goes:

    I am a Christian. Really. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and za life…” I am so ready for your vunderful abuse now. Please start immediately. I hope he was right. I want like 8 of you to heap abuse upon me. No, 9, yes 9. I am so ready.

  • 122. Frida Halliday  |  July 15, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Hi Bruno, I don’t want anyone to abuse you. I like your accent. Take care. Oh, by the way, I’m the one that’s terrified of hell. I can’t enjoy life and I went to the mental hospital (lunatic asylum) many times. Fear is a bad way to live. Maybe I’ll be chased by a spirit of fear for all eternity. I really am mentally ill.

  • 123. Quester  |  July 15, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    For those of you playing along at home, the answer is yes. Bruno is posting from the exact same IP address as Joe.

    Please, Joe, go away.

  • 124. Bruno  |  July 15, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Quester—

    Vat? Eminem had a better sense of Humar than you. You must have vun beeg chip on your shoulder. One post drives you more crazy dan Frida says she is. You should learn to live a leetle my friend. You are just too serious. Relax. Have fun. Live a leetle.

    Please, Quevster, go away. No, on second thought stay. I love the abuse you can give me. I need much more to satisfy my Austrian libido.

  • 125. Bruno  |  July 15, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Vell, I will be going now. It is time for my evening bath in melted vax, and a beating with wet spaghetti tied into rope form, and wielded by a a large Hungarian woman with one arm in a sling. The welts it produces are mahvelous. Much better than what you can receive here.

    After dat I am going to put on “Predator” and watch my favorite actor, Arnold. A Dutch Librarian with a drinking problem told me dat it is the only movie with two governors in it—The mahvelous Arnold, and also starring Jesse Ventura. I am going to put on my pink bunny slippers with matching boa and enjoy a festive meal of Swanson Salisbury steak and a glass of good German bier.

    Quester, you bore me. Try swallowing some Dexatrim with a cold Coca cola and take a cold showah. Toodles.

  • 126. SnugglyBuffalo  |  July 15, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    *face-palm*

  • 127. orDover  |  July 15, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Um. I think his name is “Brüno,” not “Bruno.” Der Umlaut ist alles.

  • 128. Jason  |  July 15, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    For those of you playing along at home, the answer is yes. Bruno is posting from the exact same IP address as Joe.

    As if that needed to be confirmed, lol

  • 129. Frida Halliday  |  July 16, 2009 at 7:59 am

    I was in the hospital for psychosis at the age of 23. It was torment. I saw a man with no fingers smoking a cigarette. I saw a dead woman. One man tried to rape me. My family visited me–the same family that had raped and tortured me. Yes, I’m mentally ill. Anyone ever experience torment?

  • 130. Frida Halliday  |  July 16, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Has anyone had the experience of torment?

  • 131. paleale  |  July 16, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Frida, I’ve never experienced the kind of torment you describe. I’ve battled depression and sought professional help as you have. If I were you I would continue to get help from counselors and mental health professionals. You have a difficult challenge but you can overcome, Frida.

  • 132. Joe  |  July 16, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Frida—

    As I was atttempting to explain before the sidetrack, I did experience torment. As they say, fear has torment, and the fear was so great that I almost wound up in the hospital as a result. I would wake up each morning with such a deep feeling of dread I did not want the day to continue, and at night I could not sleep. It was a circular trek of daily torment and it truly was excrutiating. I followed that path for about 5 years—so I really feel for what you are saying.

    paleale is correct in that you should continue to get as much help as possible from counselors. And I apologize if I misread where you were coming from.

  • 133. Joshua  |  July 16, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    “paleale is correct in that you should continue to get as much help as possible from counselors.”

    The Holy Spirit is broken again?

  • 134. Joshua  |  July 16, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    “That kind of closed-mindedness is just ridiculous. It really is. The whole tactic these people use is “bait and switch”.”

    Imagine catching the same fish over and over again, but finding that it is never worth eating. I’d bait and switch every time.
    :)

  • 135. Joe  |  July 16, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    Please note in all sincerity here. Post 132 is to Frida–a one paragraph admission that I have suffered torment in the past–nothing more. #133 and 134 are attempts to get the whole scuffle going again. I really don’t want to scuffle any more, do you? The post was for Frida. Take it or leave it–or just ignore it if you don’t agree. It’s all good.

  • 136. bluecelt  |  July 16, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Now you want to play nice, Joe? Why should she believe you, or should anyone really? You’ve consistently demonstrated that you’re here for your own enjoyment and to cause problems.

    I know, I know. Stop feeding the troll. I’m out.

  • 137. Joe  |  July 16, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    133, 134 and 136–the good old “bait and switch”–lol.

    Fell for it yesterday–not today. Fight amongst yourselves.

    Frida—

    Just out of curiosity, how did you see a man smoking a cigarette without any fingers? #129 Was he using his feet? How long were you in the hospital?

  • 138. Quester  |  July 16, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    I know, I know. Stop feeding the troll. I’m out.

    Thank-you, bluecelt.

  • 139. Joe  |  July 16, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    #110 I forgot to thank you. Eight months on the board huh? Then you’ve seen a lot. I guess it’s hard for people to forgive what happened over a year ago—they’re having a hard time. :>)

  • 140. Joe  |  July 16, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I’ve got to go for the evening but did want to say something. I did a bad impression of Bruno last night to try to be tongue in cheek about this. Yes-terday was the first time I have had a problem on this board for over a year.

    I allowed a couple of “baits” to get hold of me—jabs made at a post for Frida, and it devolved into a gang attack of sorts. I understand this—as you are basing this all on some events from over a year ago. Today, I posted one simple para-
    graph to Frida, and almost immediately received two jabs, and was called a “troll” and not to feed me. Actually, by saying not to feed the trolls you ARE feeding the trolls by the way, because you are just offering more bait. LOL

    Come on guys—seriously. Were you ever the poor kid on the playground that the other group of kids decided to “shun” as an “undesirable”? Were you ever banned from friendship with some “clique” because the leader decided it must be so, and they all followed suit? They wouldn’t let you “play in their reindeer games”? LOL

    I found myself trying to defend myself from people attacking me from events that happened over a year ago–and being “labeled” as though I am a continual problem here which is not the case at all. Deconverts, really, of all people, should know what it is like to have a group of church members descend on you with accusations, contempt, and name-calling–of wanting to ban you because you don’t agree with them.

    Listen—if you want to call me a troll, and hold me liable for mistakes made last year–all well and good. One person is calling me a troll here who has most likely (except for yesterday) never seen any problems before—one person said they had been here for 8 months and this is the first time
    they had seen a problem. I don’t remember any others for a long time.

    It truly does bother me and hurt a bit—-as I am not coming in here and posting myriads of Bible verses, or trying to “convert” Frida—–all I said—and you can read my post—is that I had suffered the same fear of hell “as a christian” and that was really about it. I offered help, counseling and an e-mail address.

    I am just asking if you can cut me a break here. I really do not mean to be a problem. Where I have a problem is taking the bait. I almost took the bait about the Holy Spirit in paleales post—-I’m sure that would have led to more mayhem. LOL Please—-can you cut me a break here, and give me some slack? I really do enjoy the conversations here, and the laughs at times also. I sincerely am not coming here to cause trouble, or you would have seen far more of it by now don’t you think?

    –Joe

  • 141. Joe  |  July 16, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    correction from post above-=Sorry—not paleales post, Joshua’s concerning the Holy Spirit (133).

  • 142. orDover  |  July 16, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    I sincerely am not coming here to cause trouble

    Why are you here?

    Come on guys—seriously. Were you ever the poor kid on the playground that the other group of kids decided to “shun” as an “undesirable”?

    Here’s the different: a playground is a place open and welcoming to all. This isn’t a playground. This isn’t a site for an open back-and-fourth dialogue between Christians an atheists. This site isn’t called christian-atheistdebate.com, it’s de-conversion.com This is a site for former Christians. How many times does this have to be explained?

    So what is your purpose? Are you genuinely interested in learning about the de-conversion experience? Are you have doubts about your religion? Then we welcome your comments.

    Are you here to offer an alternative (Christian) perspective to the skeptical or de-converted Christians who come here looking for support or advice? Then you are not welcome. Have you come to attempt to change some minds, to “plant a seed” of Christianity, to be a voice of reason? Are you trying to “save” us? Do you feel like God has called you to reach out to us? Then you are not welcome.

    To put it frankly, this isn’t a place for democratic discussion. This place is exclusionary. It has a specific purpose and a specific audience.

    Would you ever go to a blog about the difficulties of being gay in order to offer the straight perspective on things, or to explain how being straight is better (even if just in your eyes), or even worse, to try to convince gay people to become straight? I’d hope not. Can you not see the rudeness in such an action? Can you see how such a place would be an inappropriate forum in which to divulge your straight opinion?

    We are open and accommodating to almost all Christian commentors, especially those who are honestly curious about the de-conversion process or those who contribute positively in some way to our discussions here. Those that come to preach or offer the Christian perspective on a situation (which we all already know, by the way) or to attempt to “help” skeptical Christians by leading them back to God are not accommodated.

    The problem isn’t that we don’t want to play with you, it’s that you refuse to recognize what game we’re playing. You came to our soccer field to play basketball. Take your basketball elsewhere. Perhaps to a nice Christian basketball court where you can offer Christian advice and perspectives to an audience who actually cares to hear it and may even be seeking it out.

  • 143. Joe  |  July 17, 2009 at 11:45 am

    #142 orDover—

    Once again, I think you are basing this on many of my posts from over a year ago. Yes—at that time I came in here and “preached”, filled my posts with Bible verses, and got into a lot of arguments. It so happens that on Tuesday I made a post to Frida, mentioning a personal experience I had regarding fear of hell. I thought Frida was coming from a “believing” perspective and tried to offer a bit of advice in that direction.

    I was not “preaching” at her, or anyone else. If you have a chance go back and read the original post. I really did not mean to cause a “stir” by this—and will refrain from offering that type of advice in the future.

    I must say that I have visited this site for a year (after I stopped posting) and many, many Christians have visited here since then. It is a deconversion board, yes, but many Christians headed in both directions (away from belief or towards greater belief) visit out of pure curiosity.

    I come here because I am still trying to understand the “process” all of you have gone through. I am not here to cause problems, but do make mistakes at times, forgetting that I need to tread carefully here—many react very adversely to any mention of the Bible, or when they feel someone is attempting to “preach” at them.

    But I do enjoy the conversation, and although I am a believer, much of what is said can be very thought-provoking. I do not regard this place as a playground either—-and was only using the playground example when referring to the ostracism children can sometimes impose on others for some supposed fault or error they may have made.

    I have made errors here and admit that for sure. All I was trying to say is that much of the reaction is due to year old antagonism—-I have learned much since then—and intend to be as cordial as possible when visiting this blog.

  • 144. Joshua  |  July 17, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    “I sincerely am not coming here to cause trouble

    Why are you here?”

    orDover, that question is sheer genius.

    One cannot take an un-cordial purpose and make it cordial by softening their words. Come to think of it, that’s basically what witnessing is. You have to give a really shitty, nasty message, so the key is to butter it up by sounding nice. But once people figure out what you are doing, they will just get pissed off and never want to listen to you ever again. And then the witnesser cries “persecution”…

    Lame. Lame. Lame!

  • 145. Quester  |  July 17, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Please, Joe, don’t repeat yourself a fifteenth time. Just go away.

  • 146. Joe  |  July 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Why do you insist on throwing out more bait, and being in attack mode? I sincerely don’t get it. I’ve tried to explain myself–if you don’t want to accept it, that’s cool. I will just add my thoughts when I feel so led. This is just a blog—not a courtroom for Pete’s sake. :>) Go play with your G.I. Joes. LOL

  • 147. paleale  |  July 17, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Joe

    I don’t know what happened a year ago. I was just beginning to dip my toe into the waters here. I’ve seen you post fairly often in recent weeks, however, and much of it came off not as curiosity, but as willful belligerence and that you were amused by it. Yet I do appreciate your apologies and take them seriously.

    I second OrDover’s remarks and concerns, however. The ice is quite thin here for one such as yourself and while I don’t make any apologies for that I must say that we have our reasons for it being so. Many of us have suffered greatly at the hands of Christianity. Some of us were victims of spiritual abuse, verbal abuse and some were victims of physical abuse. Some of us are just tired of hearing that same old rhetoric that we left behind being thrown out in front of us time after time after time.

    It just gets OLD, man! So sometimes our tempers get short. Our frustrations at having to address the same issue over and over and over in a space that is supposed to be safe for us tend to wash over into threads that perhaps are unwarranted. Sometimes we read things into posts that perhaps the author didn’t intend.

    All that to say, if you want to remain a welcome presence here in the de-con forum, you have to keep all of that in mind every time you post or you might wake up the bees.

  • 148. Joe  |  July 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    paleale—

    Very well put. I appreciate your candor. I was beginning to picture a couple of the people here with little square black moustaches on their lips, pounding the table, and busting veins in their foreheads shouting “You vill obey every rule, and you vill not be forgiven if you break one!! Listen, or we vill Ban you!!” LOL

    I will sincerely try to listen more than post. I am interested in seeing what you and others have to say regarding Dev’s post on “10 reasons atheists are more moral…” I’m going to stay out of that one! :>)

  • 149. paleale  |  July 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Honestly that whole thread just annoyed me and smacked of “reasons why Kirk is cooler than Picard” or something like that. I posted a couple of wisecracks but basically stayed out. That sort of post just invites fire.

  • 150. Joe  |  July 17, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    palelae—

    Well actually Kirk is cooler than Picard. LOL

  • 151. paleale  |  July 17, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    At LAST!!! Something we agree on, LOL!

  • 152. Joe  |  July 17, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Spock is the coolest of all though. To this day I only eat vulcanized food (food blessed by a Vulcan). lol

  • 153. CheezChoc  |  July 17, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    Darn right…..Kirk would never just sit down and have a discussion with someone over a conflict. He’d get in a shirt-ripping, bloody fight until the mess was settled and he was the last one standing.

    There. That’s settled! :)

  • 154. Frida Halliday  |  July 18, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Hi there. I’m still struggling with horrible fear day and night. My stomach hurts. My head hurts. My chest hurts. I can’t rest. Maybe I need a sedative.

  • 155. bluecelt  |  July 18, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Well Frida I’d just echo some posters above. I’d go seek some help, possibly some medication to help with the anxiety, and I wish you the best of luck.

  • 156. LeoPardus  |  July 18, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Yes Frida. The level of fear/worry/etc you are describing demands professional assessment. Find a good psychiatrist and let them analyze what’s going on. They would know the best way to help, whether is be a sedative or other therapy.
    Seriously, if you were having chest pains to the level of the fear you’re describing, you’d want to see a cardiologist or pneumologist, so don’t dink around. Let a specialist help.

  • 157. CheezChoc  |  July 19, 2009 at 1:29 am

    I will second what Leo said. The emotional pain is what’s causing the physical pain; both need to be treated ASAP.

  • 158. Frida Halliday  |  July 19, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Thank you for all the wonderful advice. I have no money.

  • 159. LeoPardus  |  July 19, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Then contact a psychiatristry clinic and tell them you are broke but have these problems and ask them to direct you to resources to help you with that. There are state aid systems (like Medicaid), and there are free clinics, and there are philanthropic aid systems.
    If the first clinic doesn’t know where you can get help, call another. Or call your state’s Medicaid office.

  • 160. Roy  |  August 6, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Come on guys. Frida is obviously yanking your chains!

  • 161. Frida Halliday  |  August 19, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Thank you for your website.

  • 162. Roy  |  August 19, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    So Frida. Are you on the up and up?

  • 163. Frida Halliday  |  August 19, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Hi Roy, Yes, thank you, I’m doing much better now. I took everyone’s advice and I’m seeing a doctor and taking medication. I’m also attending 12-step meetings every day and it’s very helpful. I’m also volunteering at our state hospital.

  • 164. Roy  |  August 20, 2009 at 1:24 am

    Frida,

    I’m glad to hear it.

    I actually meant: Are your comments the comments of a real person or a persona?

    Should I be cryingor laughin with you?

    I’m just not buying that there is anybody that messed up by religion.

  • 165. Frida Halliday  |  August 20, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Roy,
    I’m messed up because I was sexually abused by both of my parents and their friends. I was battered and raped and tortured during my formative years. I have been “insane” or “mentally ill” all of my life. Religion didn’t mess me up. My mother and father messed me up. President John F. Kennedy closed all the insane asylums so there is no place for a person like me. I’m living with two men in Texas. One is 82 years old. I’m tired and I’m getting old and I wish I had someone to take care of me.

  • 166. Roy  |  August 20, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I’m sorry to hear that.

    But you didn’t answer my question.

  • 167. Frida Halliday  |  August 20, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Yes, Roy, I am a real person. My pain is real. It’s your choice whether to laugh or cry.

  • 168. Roy  |  August 21, 2009 at 6:05 am

    If those comments reflects the real experiences of a real person, then my heart goes out to you.

  • 169. Frida Halliday  |  August 21, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Many thanks Roy. I haven’t slept for 2 days because I’m having new memories of my childhood.

  • 170. carmen  |  August 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Frida Halliday. I know what you are going thru with the whole fear of hell thing. When I believed it I almost went insane. But them somebody showed me how the word hell got mistranslated many times in the bible. I’m NOT trying to convert anyone into christianity. But if you want to feel better about it then look up the word Gehenna Fire. These are the words that the Jesus in the bible spoke about. Seriously. Google Gehenna fire and you will be amazed at how the false doctrine of hell came into being. Spend some time going thru several websites. Don’t just look at one. I know its been a year since you have been on here. I really hope you get this.

  • 171. Frida  |  December 29, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Hey, I’m back.

  • 172. CheezChoc  |  December 31, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Hi, Frida. How are you doing?

  • 173. Frida  |  February 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I’m still alive. I’m still struggling with despair.

  • 174. Dan  |  March 7, 2011 at 5:03 am

    Im not sure if Quester still checks this, but this post is amazing and just in and of itself helped me reconfigure the way I think about myself and my relationship with God. It has always been a deep-seated hurt within me that something wasnt right with this fear and cold unreachablity of a deity I am supposed to love. I feel that everyone reaches God in the ways and times that God feels is right and best for them to find Him/Her. Reading this unexpectedly touched me deeply and brought me there. Thank you.

  • 175. Quester  |  March 8, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Glad you were able to get something from this, Dan. Best wishes on your journey!

  • 176. JK  |  May 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Hi all, so glad i found this site. I left a born again christian church a few months ago, i was going there for 9 months and left because i didn’t believe a lot of the bible.

    Ever since i’m plagued with anxiety over hell and fiery lakes. I wake in the night barely able to catch my breath and have panic attacks.

    This isn’t good for my mental health as i’ve suffered from depression. The christians told me that i was under demonic attack and spiritually oppressed and satan wanted to cut me off from the church and take me to hell. The church hounded me with text messsages for 7 weeks after i left….saying i was out in the wilderness and was backsliding…

    I really need to lose this fear of hell and eternal damnation…

    Thanks all i’m enjoying reading

  • 177. Quester  |  May 11, 2011 at 12:36 am

    JK,

    I’m not sure how often this site is updated, these days, but feel free to read the archived posts. You may find them very helpful.

    I am not a psychiatrist, but a church that hounds you with threats of hell is a more likely cause for your nightmares than Satan. I hope you are able to get past this fear. Let me know if there’s anything particular you’re getting stuck on.

  • 178. JK  |  May 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Quester,

    Thanks for replying. I suppose I’ve always been searching for something more…but maybe that”s just the human condition? I’ve gone to buddhist retreats, did lots of meditation and my last venture was the christian church where i did bible studies, went to worship nights etc.

    I’ll admith the ‘experience of religion’ made me feel better for a time but when i sat down to think about what i was believeing in and the contradictions in the bible and in christianns themselves – i had doubts.

    Most of these people would call to me and say that the lord had spoke to them, the holy spirit urged me to tell you this, or god put it in my heart to tell you this….???

    Lots of them got revelations from god that they were to set up new churches and that they were going to be pastors of a church for 1,000s of people.

    Speaking in tongues i found disturbing to be honest. And also the way some would flick pages of the bible like a deck of cards and read whatever page it opened on – whatever was on the page was a message from god(their belief not mine)…

    I could write for an hour about the experiences i had.

    I know it’s possible to live a good life without pentecostal churches, but I am obsesssing a bit about hell and punishment for my wrongs. I come from a life of drug addiction – I’m clean 15 years now – but i do have regrets about my life….

    Hope all is well in your world ….

  • 179. Ubi Dubium  |  May 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    JK,

    They’ve spent a long time drumming the fear of hell into you, it may take a long time and a lot of clear thinking to get beyond it.

    I’ll try to give you a little help.

    The Christians claim that theirs is a loving god. What sort of loving god would create beings with built-in flaws, knowing that they would mess up, and then condemn most of them to eternal torture for being exactly the way he made them? Is this what a benevolent god would do? How about all the people on earth who never had an opportunity to hear the “right message” because of where or when they were born? Would a loving god torture them for that?

    Isn’t it more llikely that this whole idea of “hell” was created by men, as a way of controlling other people, and maintaining power over them?

    I recommend reading more of the articles on this blog, and also over on exchristian.net.

    Recently, my brother-in-law told my husband that he had nightmares about him burning in hell. My husband replied “If I was taking a medicine that was giving me nightmares, I’d stop taking it. Just sayin’ ” I recommend staying away from ALL churches at least until you get over this fear, because they will not do anything to improve matters. (Actually I recommend staying away from all churches forever, but you might not be ready for that yet.)

  • 180. JK  |  May 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Ubi, thanks so much for your reply. What you wrote really helped. I know the turning point for me was one day i was reading the bible and i read a story about the ark of the covenant being carried out of a house and it was about to fall off the cart and a young boy went to support it and god killed him.

    After that i began to question the bible. I asked in bible class whay that happened and i was told that god didnt need anyone to support him and that’s why he killed the child??? It sounds insane.

    I’m listening to http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/304/heretics and it’s helpful…

    I know what thay taught me got into my head and will probably take time to de-convert.

    Thanks for exchristian.net i’ll definitely check it out…

    many thanks
    JK

  • 181. Frida  |  December 19, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    How is everyone doing??

  • 182. mrawlinj  |  July 15, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    I made this website because I was religiously abused. If anyone feels it will benefit someone they know, pass it on. http://www.youarenotgoingtohell.com

  • 183. cag  |  July 16, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    mrawlinj, take the next step. Just as you have no belief in the thousands of gods that are accepted as the product of human imagination, why believe that there is an exception? The Romans believed fervently in their now discredited gods, as did the Greeks, Egyptians, Norse, Aztec, Mayans and a multitude of others. There is nothing unique about your god or jesus, just another set of mythological beings. There is no god, and so the dominoes fall, so there is no jesus, no heaven, no hell, no angels, no devil, no spirits, no soul, just our imaginations.

  • 184. Alexandre  |  December 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    What a timely word of wise eeanurcgoment. I so often forget to really be thankful and appreciate all the small things. Doing life with small children, my friend and I were just lamenting how hurry and scurry our dinner time hour seems to be, and what a frantic crazy mess our sweet men walk in to. We tried to think of it from their perspectives, and agreed to try something simple to calm our hearts, and welcome them home. (your pretty house photos just reminded me of all this) We agreed to try some soothing music, light a few candles, and set our tables- even if dinner was no where near ready or even thought of. AND greet our husbands at the door with some sort of appreciation for him being home!! (I know, novel idea) I am reminded again what a lovely thankful atmosphere in a home can do not only for me, but for our husbands so thankyou for the post and great eeanurcgoments. It was just the push I needed to get going. Blessings,Sasha

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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