Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Damnation Curse

Tristan over at Advocatus Atheist just wrote a very eloquent piece at why the idea of an afterlife is absurd. This has inspired me to write why I reject the very notion of an afterlife, especially the Christian hell and what believing in these mythos' did to my psyche.


Before I begin I would like to address some information on subject of hell. I was raised in an Assemblies of God church. If you do not know already the AoG church is an evangelical church who believes hell is a literal place. It is a literal place of fire and torment. They believe it will last forever and from which there is no escape. This is not to say that some AoG churches believe to the contrary that hell is a place of "separation" from God because some do but this, however, was not the way I was raised. I was raised in a belief of the former. So this is the hell I will be dealing with.

From the age of five I was coerced and compelled into believing there was an afterlife. They expounded on the idea that the only way to experience said afterlife was to come to accept Jesus into your heart. I was also sold on the idea that if I rejected Jesus and did not ask him in that I would be cast straight to hell. Being the age I was I immediately accepted Jesus as my savior although I would have to admit that being at the age of five I really didn't understand why I needed to have a savior. I mean really what did I need to be saved from? But I was reassured that this was a matter of life or death or something to that extent.

So, notwithstanding, I continued on my walk with Jesus all the way up until my twenties. It was not till then I started researching the idea of hell. I couldn't explain it, something bothered me about the idea of an afterlife, especially hell. I searched and searched for answers until I was hoodwinked on the idea that hell wasn't eternal after all. I bought into the idea of Universalism. The idea of Universalism never really fixed my problem with hell, it really only put a band-aid on the festering hole I had. There was just something I could not put my thumb on. Even with my now liberal view of hell it still had so many problems. I could not reconcile hell in my mind. It made no logical sense to me. There were thousands of unanswered questions about it. Here are just a few that plagued me for years.

If God supposedly knows everything before it happens, then why would he create mankind knowing that most, if not all, would "choose" eternal hell?

What is the purpose of hell?

If the purpose of hell is just a punishment for sin, don't you think that one nanosecond of hell would be enough for us to learn our lesson?

How is a finite experience of sin, immorality, and rejecting Jesus equal to an infinite experience in hell? I implore you to find the reason and logic in that.

Also if hell isn't forever what is the purpose?

If hell isn't forever and its purpose is to make you learn then why be good?

The more and more I explored the idea of hell the more and more I found it to be illogical and absurd. These questions can also be turned onto the idea of heaven also. So it does go both ways. But just because I found it absurd and illogical didn't mean that hell wasn't real because after all Jesus did talk about a place where this supposed punishment would take place. So for me there was no escaping it. I just had to accept the idea of hell and that was that. But this wasn't the only problem I had. If hell was real so was Satan and all his minions. Satan and his demons is something I struggled with my whole Christian, God fearing life. They drove me more nutty than squirrel poo.

Satan and demons riddled my dreams for years. They would pester me in my sleep. I would wake up and just know they were in my room just waiting for me to look at them and then they would possess me. They terrified me so much that I became an insomniac. I wouldn't fall asleep. I made my self stay awake till I saw dawn approaching. It made me feel like some one was always out to get me. It drove me straight into depression. I wouldn't sleep, I constantly wanted to end my cursed existence and I was paranoid. This led me straight to deathly scary anxiety attacks. It got to the point where I would pull over my car and vomit on the side of the road. I couldn't go to work and I was irritable all the time because of the lack of sleep and the fact I thought every human being was conspiring against me.

I finally decided to try medication. The meds really didn't help much, all they really did is make me feel like I was a damn zombie. Plus the demons never went away. They were always still there. In the back of my mind when I was awake. In my dreams when I slept. So since I never slept much I decided to do alot of reading to try and ease my mind. I would read about the Bible and why demons attacked and haunted people. I would just try to fill my mind with so much Jesus the demons would have no choice but to go away. I would spend hours crying and praying to God to take this affliction away from me because it was driving me to end my life and I wanted to live. But the demons never went away.

So like I said I filled my time with reading and praying. A friend of mine gave me one of his books to read to fill my time with. This book blew my mind. It was Dr. Bart Ehrman's book Misquoting Jesus. I was hooked. For the next year I spent all my time immersed in textual criticism and textual credibility. Which led to other books, which led to more books. So after two years of immersing my self in this debate of reliability and criticism I came to the conclusion that the Bible just couldn't be trusted at all. Which led me down the road of atheism. On the way I encountered the problem of suffering, the argument of creationism vs. evolution, and the most important thing if God even existed. After years of reading, researching, and searching for the truth it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was an atheist. I could no longer believe or reconcile any of what I use to know as truth. It was truly liberating.

This of course led me to believe that there was no life after death. This was it. All those complicated questions before that couldn't be answered made sense to me now. They really couldn't be answered because there really was no answer to them. It all was subjective presumptions and speculation. Nothing was objective. The more I thought about the idea that so many people had so many different versions of what hell was made even more sense. It was because first and for most the Bible can't be trusted to be reliable because it was written by humans and we are human.

A year or so passes by and I start to realize I am having less and less dreams about demons. I could actually sleep. I was free. A huge burden had lifted from me. Life became more important than ever before. Life seemed all to real. I didn't have to look at it through the lens of heaven and hell or Christianity anymore. This made me value the life I had so much more. My anxiety became almost non-existent. God never healed me like I had prayed for. Like he said he would in the Bible. I had healed my self. The actual problem was God.

This is why I reject the notion of an afterlife. It is illogical and an absurd fairytale. It can't be tested scientifically because once your dead there is no turning back. Your dead. This is why I reject religion in any form. It fills your head with nonsensical, incongruous, and ludicrous ideas. Ideas that can lead to pure insanity. This is why I reject and hold contempt towards people who indoctrinate their children with such idiotic fables. Beguiling your children into believing worthless twaddle is detrimental to your children's mental health.

I know I do not have emirical data or "real" evidence to support my claim. What I am trying to do is show you how pernicious the idea of an afterlife can be. I came to reject an afterlife because to me it just seems illogical and a little more than wishful thinking. Yes life is short but that is why we should be trying to get the most out of it while we can; not filling our brains and our childrens brains with ineffectual and meaningless rubbish. There is so much more to life then racking your brain over pointless bunk. It leads to a fruitless, repressive life.

Theres my two cents, for what its worth.

13 comments:

  1. What you just told me is your testimony Devin. Your experience. I too have a testimony. My experience. I was raised without God in my life. Without a savior. I was raised without the knowledge and the reality of hell. I too was tormented, but not by demons, by this world and the hardship of living in it. I was in complete control of my life and still I had no peace. I was living in constant turmoil and brokenness. What changed this for me was trusting God in everything. Not getting saved. I got saved and I was still a mess. It wasn't until I surrendered my life, my heart to Him that I found peace in this life. I mean actually trusted Him, with everything. With heaven and hell, with my husband and my son. With my job and my finances. With my life. That is where I found my peace and freedom from insanity in this world.

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  2. D-

    You are pretty eloquent yourself. This is a great insight into one of the catalysts for your deconversion.

    My main catalyst was my unhealthy views of sex, and the "sin" of pre-marital sex. When I met the woman of my dreams, who wasn't a Christian, I had to make the choice between my genuine love for her, and my love for Christ.

    And as a person of the utmost piety... I was seriously considering choosing Christs. And then something happened... I realized that Christ was not there to love me back. Maybe he was all about loving me forever and ever... but I was lonely, and my best friend and companion was there for me. She completed me in every way, she is my better half. I eventually would marry this woman, but the ball was already set rolling, and I chose real love over infatuation and admirable veneration.

    When people ask why I became an atheist, my short answer is always, "Because I learned how to love."

    It frequently perplexes them. But those who take the time to get to know me and my story learn that the absence of theism actually makes a lot of sense, once you get past the misconceptions and stereotypes.

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  3. I am always bewildered by Christians who think that God's "love" is perfect. It really sickens me to hear them say, "God loves me so much!". I never experienced any of it. How could God love me and let me experience all the horrors of my youth? I just couldn't see it. But people insisted on his love being more real and more powerful than human love.

    To me Christians only love God out of fear because most of them can't even answer the simple questions of what is god or who is god. They answer with, "Oh, it's a mystery!". It's mind boggling how people can love someone they don't even know anything about. Thats why I say they love him out of fear, the fear of hell.

    I just don't see how that could be better than our human experience of love. Most of us humans love in spite of our differences and try and take care of the helpless. It just makes me think that God's love is only available for those who can afford his love. I mean I can't imagine God loving me more than say the people who starve to death everyday. Why am I so much more important? But they insist that God loves every one the same....what vile rubbish.

    I am glad to see that you chose the love of your wife! It makes me happy to see that people do stand up for reason and what is right.

    Cheers,
    DevinWL

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  4. Julie, I trusted God my whole life and all it did was lead me down a path of selfdestruction. God was never there for me and after I realized that it was easier to let go. This world isn't horrible. Yes there are horrible things that happen in this world but we Americans have a wonderful life. We Americans have a chance to have a great life. We can just walk away from all the bullshit and start something new.

    We, as humans, make our own destiny. If our life is filled with unhappiness and sorrow it is only our own fault. We have all the tools right in front of us to take control of our lives. There are somethings out of our control like the loss of loved ones or getting ill but we still have the power to overcome the greatest of obsticles with out invoking a God.

    It wasn't till I was free of the bondage of God that all the unhappiness and depression went away. There was no solace in God, he never helped me get rid of my affliction. I did. God never healed me like I prayed for for years and years. I never recieved the comfort he promised in the Bible. There was no God shaped hole in my life. I was already complete. So by adding something that wasn't real I hurt myself.

    Just for the record, I never deconverted so I could go on living an immoral life. I am the same person I used to be as a Christian. I haven't change who I am all that has changed in me is that I have found greater meaning in life apart from God and I am happier because of it. My marriage is healthier because of it and I finally decided on a future that actually means something. So Julie How does God love everybody equally but let's people like me almost commit suicide or let's thousands of children die each day from starvation or let's thousands be raped and get infected with HIV? Some of these people also have Jesus in their lives. How can you find solace in that sort of God? How can he choose you over the people how can't help themselves? Why doesn't he intervene? That would make me believe again but I know God is not going to intervene. How could you trust a God with everything you prescribed who lets this all unfold? Why isn't your trust in people who actually care for your well being? This is why I can't ever be a Christian again let alone believe in god.

    Cheers,

    Devin

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  5. Devin, I was merely responding to your testimony. You are saying that because we live in America that we have the power, right inside of us to live a hurt free pain free life. While that may be true for you, in your life and be your testimony - it is NOT mine. Mine is quite the opposite! Without Christ I was in complete control of my life. If you listened to my brother, he would tell you how in control I was of ME and EVERYTHING around me! BUT I WAS SUICIDAL! I had NO PEACE! I was in complete control and it looked good to others, but insides I was a mess. So, while your testimony is that you were miserable WITH Christ, I am just saying that I was MISERABLE WITHOUT CHRIST!

    As far as pain and suffering go, I trust God. I know in my heart that God is GOOD! I searched out many facts before I realized that faith was a big part of it. For me it all came down to a decision of faith. Would I believe in FAITH or not? I looked at what I DID know. Which for me is GOD’S CREATION! I could never deny His existence just by looking at His creation. I am saying that I first believed that He existed, because I looked at the sky and saw the stars, at the sea, at the mountains, at the universe, at you and at me and my birdies and my doggies.  It’s because of His creation that I decided to believe that He really does exist. How can I understand the mind of a God that created all of this? I know that I can not. That I will never know all of the answers and I am ok with that. Why? Because I trust Him. Why? Because I know that He is good! So when I look at pain and suffering, I still trust Him and know that He is a good and He has a plan and while I do not understand what is going on in it, I could never understand the mind of a God that created all of this.

    I read the book Jesus Freaks. It is chocked full of people who suffered and died for the very name of Jesus Christ. It was a really crazy book to read. At any given time all these people had to do is deny the name of Jesus and their suffering would be over, their lives spared. But they never did deny him. Why? Can anyone answer that question? Why? They must have known something that we don’t know. I personally think that they had a peace that we will never understand. That God was with them in it and gave them the strength to do it.

    I believe that our existence is not all about our time here on this earth, but rather about our eternity. We are only here for a little while, our eternity will be forever. So, while suffering REALLY SUCKS!!! And it does! I think that there is SO MUCH MORE TO IT, and I know that I will NEVER FULLY UNDERSTAND IT.

    Christ suffered. He came here to suffer. Please do not ask me to explain torture, molestation, rape and murder, because I can not. I hate it! Still, while I can not explain the bad here on this earth, I can not fully explain all the good that surrounds us either.

    This is my testimony. This is what gives me peace in a horrible world that I can not wait to get out of! I am sharing my heart with you, just like you have shared your heart with us.

    Love ya!

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  6. Julie I know I can not invalidate your personal life and your experiences and I would never do such a thing. What I am saying is though we, as humans, can break through the toughest things in our lives with out invoking a God. Im not saying that God is bad all the time what I am saying is, how come it worked for you and not me when I asked for the same things and nothing happened for years? Where was God?

    To say I was not patient enough God would have healed me is dubious because no one knows what the future holds. I didn't care what the future was because I was suffering at that moment. God had ample time and opportunities. But God never came to my rescue. I prayed and asked for healing for years Julie, years! Explain to me why God only helps certain people but not all.

    So when I say that its our faults as Americans for the lives we live please don't think I am devaluing yours. What I am saying is we can overcome anything if we put our minds to it. Look at me, I overcame all obstacles of my depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendancies. Not God but ME!

    Peace,
    Devin

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  7. Devin, I can not pretend to know why God does the things that He does. He is so much greater than I am; His mind is so far beyond anything that I could ever grasp. I first learned about this God that I serve when I as 22 years old. I did not surrender my life too him until I was 29 years old. For these seven years I had relationship with God, but was still living in what I would call torture! I call it torture, because to me the situation was more than I could bear. Do you want to know what haunted me the entire time? Job. The book of Job. I hated that book! I would try to read it, but I hated it! It really bothered me that that book was even in the Bible! Here, in the Bible is this book about this man that was righteous before the Lord. The Lord was pleased with him. Still, when Satan approached the Lord and asked if he could test Him the Lord says, “Sure.” What the heck? I could never read the entire book of Job. Can you believe that? I kept starting it, but could never finish it. To me, it was just horrible. I was having a hard time with the character of God, because of this book. So I stopped even trying.

    I can not tell you why God has allowed me to feel peace in my life and not allowed you too. But I can tell you I am not in constant peace and what I have learned is that if I am in control, I have no peace. I go right back to that place of fear and anxiety. Then, when I let it all go, and surrender it all back to Him, the fear and anxiety all goes away. Is it all just that easy? NO. I am a control freak. You know me! And since you know me, you have to know that about me. Everyday, when I wake up and I have a choice to make. Who will I serve today? Will I be in control of my life and do things my way or will I surrender my life to the Lord today and live for Him. I do both, but the days that I choose the Lord’s way, His will be done, those are the days that I live in peace no matter what is going on in the world around me.

    As you already know, I have been laid off for a year and my husband just went back to work after being laid off work for a year. When we first got laid off I thought that we were going to loose our brand new house that we had just finish building. I was holding on to that house with both hands. NO GOD, you CAN NOT HAVE THIS HOUSE!!! Example of me living in control of my life and for myself. I had no peace and I was living in complete fear of loosing our house. It wasn’t until I said, “You know what Lord, if you don’t want us to have this house then so be it. It is yours. I give it to you.” Then the peace came.

    I don’t know if Job ever had peace in it. But I finally did read to the end of that book just a couple of years ago. lol. I was entirely blessed to know that Job was more blessed in the end that he was in the beginning. Does that make the entire story ok? No. But the book is in there and I think that God is using this story to show us that it is not about being blessed and happy here on this earth. If it was then this place would be called “Heaven”. This is not our destiny, our eternity. Love of this world is hate towards God. We are not supposed to like it here. And it blows my mind to think that if this place, this beautiful place that we call earth is nothing but a fallen place to God. I can’t imagine what His best is.

    continued...

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  8. Paul was given a torn in his flesh; he called it a messenger of Satan and said that it tormented him. He prayed three times that the Lord would take it away from him. But God’s answer to him was this:
    "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
    Ouch. In other words Paul, your only freedom from this is to find my peace in it. But is that a bad thing really? Not when he found it. The very next sentence is Paul boasting about his weakness, because of the strength of God that he finds in it.

    And what about the Jesus Freaks? They too must find God’s strength in an extremely painful situation or they would just deny the name of Christ and it would all been over. It is hard for me to think that a man in his own strength could endure that kind of pain. They say that when a soldier of war is captured and tortured, he always surrenders the information that his torturers are trying to get out of him. That a man can not hold up under that extreme of situation. So how could these Jesus Freaks stand strong to the end, unless they have strength that this world can not understand?

    I am really glad that you have found a place of peace in this world Devin. I would love to say “What ever works for you”, but I can not. I love you and I am praying that God will give you peace in all of your questions, just like He has given me peace in mine.

    Once again, I Love ya! Julie

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  9. Well I just spent an hour responding to you and Blogger decided to take a crap so I will try and post a response later. Sorry.

    Peace,
    Devin

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  10. Julie-

    I am not asking for you to pretend you know why God does the things he does. I am asking for your opinion. I want to understand your thought process. My question was posed to you, not God.

    I am not saying that I didn't feel peace in other areas of my life that I attributed to God. Because I would be a liar if I said I didn't. But once I was plagued with a depression so deep God could not get me out of, I quickly realized that God wasn't there in my past either. Even then it was all me. I am glad I found out sooner than later that the power resided in me all along. Once I relied on myself my problems evaporated. In a way Julie you are experiencing the same thing. Except you attribute it to God, I attribute it to nothing. Here is a great quote that might help you understand where I am coming from a little more.

    "We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already." — J.K. Rowling

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  11. Julie-

    I do have one problem with your idea of Job. It is when you say, "...Job was more blessed in the end that he was in the beginning."

    So having his first family murdered and then replaced with different second family is blessed?

    This would be like God letting satan murder your family so God could win a bet with satan God already knew he would win and then replacing your family with other people and giving you a bigger house and more property. And you call that blessed? I would forever curse God till the day I died if God took my family from me and tried replacing it with a surrogate family. I would never serve a God who thought that would be better.

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  12. Julie-

    I used to think I was like Paul. I used to say that verse over and over again. It was my mantra. I would pray for God to help me find peace. But peace nor God never came. He never came to my rescue like the song says.

    Also if my only way of freedom was to find peace in my affliction, I would have found peace in death. I would have committed suicide. If it wasn't for Mike Lakey giving me that book, I probably would not be here.

    It truly saddens me that you cannot tell me "whatever works". This is exactly what I can say to you. Julie, whatever works for you and makes you happy is fine with me. It just hurts me to see people who care more about their God than people.

    The reason why I write about rejecting Christianity is because it has only brought me pain and suffering. Nothing good has come out of it for me. NOTHING! I don't write these blogs to "convert" people to atheism. I write them so people will question what they have been told is truth. I also find the people who say they held their beliefs up to scrutiny haven't really done so. Or if they have they looked into it a little and used biased resources to help them understand. You see people are quick to rationalize anything away that makes them uncomfortable instead of honestly holding their beliefs up to higher criticism and bracing themselves for what they might find.

    I also write these blogs because I want there to be an outlet for people who want to know the other side. I hold contempt for people who indoctrinate kids and teens alike into thinking there is only one side to this debate. I find it absolutely imprudent and asinine that pastors and clergymen around the world dismiss the other side because to them there is no other side. Simply dismissing or wishing the problem away does not make it disappear. Also, lying to kids saying there is only one side only makes the pain worse later in life for those kids who do deconvert. Or better said like this, "Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it." — J.K. Rowling. And Julie I promise you some of the kids will deconvert. Look at me.

    I am not asking you to come to the dark side. I am asking you to be honest with yourself and look at the problems objectively with an open mind that you might be wrong. I do this everyday and you get past alot of bunk real fast.

    For what it is worth,
    Peace,
    Devin

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