5
What can I do about my fear of hell?

I want to abandon Christianity but my fear of hell doesn’t let me. Are there any ways you can recommend for trying to escape this fear?

Posted: December 19th 2009

Mike the Infidel www

For me, it helped me to realize that if Christianity were false and any of hundreds of other religions were true, I’d be facing punishment under their system, so sticking with the fear of punishment under the first religion I happened upon didn’t really make a lot of sense.

Sometimes I do still feel that old fear come around again, but I just remind myself that I don’t really have any reason to believe that what I used to believe is actually true, any more than I ever believed other religions were true.

Posted: January 22nd 2010

See all questions answered by Mike the Infidel

Eric_PK

Most christians were told about hell when they were children, before they were able to make rational decisions. That means that the belief is buried deep in the subconscious and is hard to deal with.

So, don’t feel bad that you still fear hell. Don’t dwell on it, and over time it will fade.

Posted: December 28th 2009

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

Reed Braden www

I got over my fear of Hell by doing exactly the opposite of what most people would do: I read as much about Hell as I could.

I was halfway through Dante’s Inferno when I stopped shuddering and started giggling. The more you read about what people think Hell is, the more hilarious it becomes.

Think about it: It’s a place with a bunch of different levels where you will burn forever while being issued certain specific punishments. The torture and fire will never ever ever ever end ever. Why? Because you trusted the Earth, which God created, to look as if God created it. When the evidence taken from the Earth shows that God didn’t create it, God burns you for ever and ever and ever.

It’s as if George hands you a globe and tell you, “It only took me 6 days to make this.” Then, when you look at the bottom of the globe, you find a price tag from JCPenney. You peel that off to find the words, “Made in Taiwan,” engraved over Antarctica. When you start cutting into the globe for core samples, you see it is made out of materials George doesn’t have. The arm that the globe is held on is engraved on the bottom, “Made exclusively for JCPenney by Globe Manufacturers LLC.” The next day, you confront George about this evidence and George douses you with petrol and lights you on fire.

The fact that anyone can believe that story, and, not only believe it, but call it a, “wonderful, beautiful truth,” is freaking hysterical!

Posted: December 27th 2009

See all questions answered by Reed Braden

logicel

Focus strongly instead on the positive reasons why you are in the process of leaving Christianity. To effect change, you need to keep these reasons in your awareness daily.

Post them near your computer, on the wall next to your toilet, on your fridge, etc. Just find private places in which you will encounter the positive elements of why you are leaving Christianity. A reason could be as simple as you would like to spend the time that you are now doing to worship to do other things, like studying, like getting to know someone, like staying in bed on Sunday morning. Or the reason could be more complex like you want to hone your critical thinking skills. Don’t be shy with these reasons, get them all out.

In addition, spend a few minutes daily, feeling the negative sensations associated with your personal experience with Christianity. You need to do this also, so you will keep in your awareness why you want to leave Christianity. We often do not effect change because we lack will power, but because our awareness of our desire to change ebbs. You need to keep your motivation to change alive and kicking.

Emotions, like anger and disgust, are great motivators for change. For example, you could feel anger because you are not allowed to think freely. Or you could feel disgust at how outsiders are regarded. Keep this time short, just a few moments daily or even just weekly. Have something calming planned following these brief emotional sessions.

After a while, when your fear of hell surfaces, your flexible brain synapses will be ready to re-align, so to speak. You will replace the irrationality with rationality and that gnawing fear with an healthy, balanced, emotional understanding of what it is to be human. You will eventually reorder those brain pathways to a state where the fear just will no longer be triggered. Or if the fear does surface, it will not last more than a few moments. In my case, I just have a hearty laugh when it does. Nasty, demented, little, former mind habit begone, I say to myself. And I have been an atheist for many decades!

Depending on how much your personal integrity has been violated by your particular experience of Christianity, you may find you will need professional assistance (via a medical professional with knowledge of cognitive therapy) to lay this irrational fear to rest.

Take your time and be gentle with yourself. This re-wiring of your head is a process. It is great that you have identified what your stumbling block is. If you can do that, you can do the rest, eventually getting that fear monkey off your back and be who you want to be.

If any of these suggestions do not feel right to you, do not do them. There is no reason why if you choose, that you can’t remain Christian. You could just modify your particular Christianity, by embracing a kinder and gentler Christian sect.

Posted: December 26th 2009

See all questions answered by logicel

SmartLX www

Hell is only frightening if you think it’s there. Unfortunately, lifelong Christians are conditioned to assume it’s there on an almost subconscious level. Your best approach is most likely to continue to examine what beliefs you have and why you have them. The less solid other tenets of Christianity appear, the less real Hell will seem.

Of course what scares a lot of people is not the certainty of Hell, but, “What if it’s true?” This is based on a false dilemma, because those who worry like this are only considering two options: no Hell, or the Christian Hell with entry conditions as laid out in Christian doctrine.

Most other religions have some equivalent of Hell, and the purpose of its purported existence in each is the same: believe in this particular god, or you’re going there. Believe in Zeus, or Hades will torment you. Believe in the Buddha or you will be reincarnated as an earwig.

As you realise, they can’t all be right. In fact there are so many alternative Hells (and Heavens, of course) that choosing to believe in any one of them without firm evidence which establishes it as the real one is choosing against ridiculous odds. In the final analysis, it’s not even worth worrying about.

Posted: December 26th 2009

See all questions answered by SmartLX

 

Is your atheism a problem in your religious family or school?
Talk about it at the atheist nexus forum