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Effect of the concept of hell on children - Comments

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 1 by Agrajag

You have my compliments and respect for starting to think about this at your young age. I never had this fear, though I am the grandson of a Presbyterian minister, so I can only give you this observation: a "loving god" would not make it so easy to get put into an eternal barbeque pit, nor would he (or she) give punishment so out of proportion to the supposed offense. If the bible and all the "believers" can be wrong about god's loving nature, then they can be wrong about god's existence. Personally, I don't give it a second's thought.

BTW, look up the difference between "affect" and "effect"... your title should include the latter. Just saying. ;-)


Mon, 23 Jul 2012 13:14:03 UTC | #949888

Aguazul's Avatar Comment 2 by Aguazul

First you need to recognise that the fear was created by manipulation by your religious teachers -- but I think you already understand that. The fear was not created by any divinity, it has not come from anywhere apart from programming produced by humans.

The next problem is how to clear it out. This is similar to overcoming a phobia of spiders, or a fear of falling. Your religious teachers have created in you an emotional response to a possible scenario, e.g. simply thinking of getting off the approved path triggers this fear that they have implanted in you.

This is not something that can be defeated with reason alone, although you will need your reason to guide the process. You need to face the fear, feel it in full, and let it dissolve. It is hard to give specific instructions, but facing it and putting full attention on the feeling of the fear, and letting it unravel are the basic steps. Look on it without reacting to it, feel it in full, and observe it. Become a neutral observer of your state of mind and your emotional feelings, and gain a full understanding of the sequence of events that have lead to you having this reaction. Somewhere in that thread of experience you will be able to release something which allows the whole 'program' to unravel. Good luck with it!

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 13:26:13 UTC | #949890

crucialfictionofjesus's Avatar Comment 3 by crucialfictionofjesus

Congratulations- I cannot imagine what fear of hell is like since I was lucky NOT to be fully indoctrinated; in addition to the other useful comments may I say this fear will subside with age and knowledge. I believe it is an extension of the natural fear of death which at your age is possibly at its peak.

It makes me angry that parents (and others) who supposedly love their children can subject them to emotional torture but that's the way religions operate... Always remember- there's not a SHRED of evidence for ('faith' in) imaginary god(s) and this has been true throughout all of human history.

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 16:03:27 UTC | #949899

marycat's Avatar Comment 4 by marycat

I attended a Catholic parochial school and believed that the Catholic Church was the true church; They instructed me so. I was taught by a Jesuit priest who called me his little pagan becaue I asked a lot questions that he could not answer .I never truly believed, but this was my community; I had to belong.

I am so grateful to Richard Dawkins and his works. I don't fear much, not even death. I am commited to learning about evolution: It is not easy reading for me, but I plod along, and feel good about what I am learning.

The universe is so magical to me now, and this entity I call "I" is quite the survivor. Why should I take myself seriously anymore. I am an old woman just now free and happy.
There is no heaven and no hell; be sure of it! . There is only one reality: the present moment. Thoughts about the past or the future are illusions(not real).

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 16:28:11 UTC | #949901

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 5 by SaganTheCat

long before i started to question catholicism i had a fear of going to hell, used to have nightmares that were really strange, nothing inherently scary other than the knowledge that the devil had my soul. years of horror movies and heavy metal records cured me though. soon realised hell's the cool place.

the thing is, when you think of hell as the place the worst sort of people go, you'd imagine a place where tyrants and the worst sort of criminals go to be tortured even though you know you're not like them. your crime is to question what you've been told. if god sends people like that to hell would you really want to end up in heaven?

it was people who told you about hell, the same people who were wrong about everything else and the same people who need you to not question your and by extension, their faith. these are the people who believe an eternity of bliss awaits the most hateful people who say the right things just before they die. if christianity is true heaven is a seething mass of murderers, child abusers, wife beaters, racists and everyone else who takes it upon themselves to judge other people against their own shortcomings. these people spend eternity singing, not rapping mind you but singing, like you had to learn in school, songs about how brilliant the leader of this realm is. for ever.

hell is full of questioners, the devil doesn't threaten, he tempts. you're on this earth for a short time and those who teach about heaven and hell tell you not to listen to temptation because you are not strong enough to decide for yourself if such temptation will lead to bad things or not so you spend your time on earth avoiding living your own life for the sake joining those pious people who tried to run your short life on earth. in hell, if you believe what they say, you'll spend time with those who rejected living the way their grandparents did, you'll find people cursed for failing to say what the were told to say, and along with every other curious type, lots of cat's (i'm guessing). in short it will be full of humans that god created, gave freewill to then had a tantrum because they used it

you already question your beliefs, when thoughts of hell bother you, think what it means. reasoned thought has got you where you are now, and it'll destroy any fear of some unknown horror that someone devised to make sure you behaved as they wanted

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 17:35:19 UTC | #949904

ColdThinker's Avatar Comment 6 by ColdThinker

Childhood indoctrination is a powerful thing. If I told my four-year-old that there are invicible dragons in our garage, she'd believe me and would fear them. If the people she trusts kept telling her about them throughout her childhood, she'd certainly have trouble letting go of that fear and as an adult she might subconsciously prefer to park her car on the driveway, even if her intellect and knowledge of biology ruled out the existence of carnivorous garage dragons.

What makes the religious indoctrination even more powerful is the insidious idea that being a good human being is tied to your religious belief. So, in your early childhood you have been beguiled to believe that your religion equals ethical life and morality, and letting go of religious belief means letting go of the good, moral and ethical life. 

But is your belief in god even ethical? Is the idea of hell and eternal punishment fair, moral or decent? You may think about how unreasonable the idea is. 

First of all, how can you be sure that believing in the god of catholic Christianity will save you from hell anyway? Remember, there are thousands of gods that people have believed in. Most of these religions promise salvation for believing in their dogma and damnation for everyone else. They can't all be right. According to most muslims, belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ means eternal hellfire. So, if it is Allah who really is the only true god, as hundreds of millions of people believe around the world, you'll burn in hell for being a devout catholic. Are you sure your particular god is the right bet? A lot of catholic priests condemn all protestants to hell. A lot of evangelical protestants return the favour. Most people on this planet must have died believing in the wrong god, according to the catholic church. Whatever god you believe in, there is a holy man somewhere ready to condemn you to hell. 

I, for instance, do not believe in any of these gods, not even the Christian god of my own cultural tradition. I have never committed a crime, I have tried (and fairly well succeeded) to be a good person. And yet, according to a priest, after my few decades of decent living, I would burn in hell for billions and billions of years, for all eternity. For the simple reason of not believing the same thing as this priest. No matter what evil a person has committed, no matter how great a philanthropist a person has been, all that matters is what kind of supernatural beliefs this person holds at the time of death. And then this burning hell goes on for millions of years, even trillions, for eternity, even after the last star has died, the last black hole in the universe has evaporated...

Does the idea of hell really sound like the law of a benevolent creator of the universe? Or perhaps more like an ancient trick to keep primitive people obedient and submissive, originally invented by some ancient tribal sages and then sophisticated through centuries of organized religion, popes and imams, sultans and monarchs? Well, you'll have to think these questions through for yourself.

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 17:43:31 UTC | #949905

Jonathan Dore's Avatar Comment 7 by Jonathan Dore

Once we're alive we find it hard to imagine not being alive, so religions invent ideas based around the notion that you will somehow continue to be fully conscious even after death. This is laughable. All that happens once you're dead is that you'll return to the state of not being alive, just as you were before your birth. Mark Twain put it well: "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."

Obsessing us with thoughts of an "afterlife" is also a mechanism that religious authorities have always used to stop us focusing on what's actually happening in this life, the only one we'll ever have. And simply to be alive provides as great a source of wonder as anyone could wish for. As Richard Dawkins wrote at the beginning of "Unweaving the Rainbow":

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 17:48:11 UTC | #949907

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 8 by ZenDruid

I'll expose my prejudice right away: Catholic mothers.

I remember occasions as a weekend house guest to various friends as a youth. What stands out in my memory are those friends' families who are Catholic. When Sunday morning rolled around, their mother would demand my participation in church. Not invite, but demand. My friends would quietly and earnestly ask me to play along, with no regard to my own preferences, just to make Mother happy and keep the peace.

What is it with these women? My conjecture is that their priests have managed to blackmail them into a very non-nurturing, indeed non-motherly, role. My guess, puff of logic, is that your mother has habitually threatened to disown you if you fail to play the game.

The Vatican Sexually Deviant Narcissistic Boys' Club have over the centuries become experts at enslaving children by forcing fear, guilt and shame onto them, and to further this end they have found ways of poisoning the most elemental and essential family relationship: the mother's care for the child.

So then, Catholic mothers, What Is The Deal? How did that sexually deviant narcissist manage to twist your sensibilities to that extent?

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 18:46:15 UTC | #949910

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 9 by DocWebster

I'm gonna get pounded for being crass about this but here goes. You don't need to worry about going to hell, you're already there. Walking out of hell is hardest easy thing you'll ever do, you just have to decide that you want to do it. Thousands do it every day, they give up the need to have a Hell around to keep them in line to just live their lives without hurting anyone. Like Hitchens said about heaven "Not only are you invited to the party but you have to stay forever and you have to have a good time. Sounds like hell to me". Paraphrase, but it catches the gist. If that is all you have to look forward to besides Hell I don't think you have much to lose.

Mon, 23 Jul 2012 19:12:53 UTC | #949913

papa lazaru's Avatar Comment 10 by papa lazaru

Sounds like what you are experiencing is nothing more than the traumatic result of years of brainwashing and indoctrination.

Personally, I don't get it. The concept of heaven and hell are utterly ludicrous, so self-serving and clearly made-up human constructs.

  • First who are suppose to go to Hell. Non-Believers? So that makes what, 75% of the earth's population, you'll be in good company already.

  • You have to have faith first and foremost, and ask for forgiveness and you will be forgiven. How bloody convenient. Now ponder about the morality of that. Do you really want to side with such crass self-serving nonsense? The middle ages want their morality back.

  • What is hell anyway. You will suffer the most horrible tortures forever and ever and ever! Seriously? Funny how that sounds exactly like the kind of story one would make up to keep everyone in line.

  • What is heaven then. Eternal bliss. The best thing ever, and also, forever and ever and ever. ever. Yeah right, give me a break... Besides who'd want to spend an eternity with Christians while constantly on coke, forever. No thank you...

  • It's hogwash, plain and simple. Religions are viral diseases.

    Mon, 23 Jul 2012 19:51:39 UTC | #949915

    Premiseless's Avatar Comment 11 by Premiseless

    The brainwashing of emotions and thought gets you trapped in cycles along the lines of the following: (It would be good for everyone to share what thoughts used to derail rationality for them)

    1) I am a loving person and if I even let myself begin to doubt a loving person/god made me this way I have begun to feel it will be like betraying my own love.

    2) I have been told god has endless love for me so how could anyone doubt such an individual? It will be like the most loving person got dumped.

    3) I love my family and doubting that the same mind put us here feels like deserting my whole family - especially if there is this after life.

    4) My family are even expressing bereavement at me if I dare doubt being with them after death. I don't know how to escape this mental trap.

    5) I don't even know whether I half believe due the fears or believe because I think it's true. This split emotion-split thinking conundrum actually stops me being able to see the hard facts and look at things in a healthy sensible frame of mind. ( The brain really cannot process rational thought due this god filter derailing the brain and causing it repetitive collateral damage and anxiety)

    6) If I don't believe in Santa he may not bring me presents, plus now there is an evil place for all none Santa people. Maybe I should just act it all out?

    7) If the final curtain opens and makes me look a complete failure, how will I explain myself as anything other than evil since they all warned me about it.

    Mon, 23 Jul 2012 20:30:13 UTC | #949918

    StephenH's Avatar Comment 12 by StephenH

    concur especially with comment #10

    It's worse than the fear of spiders, because unlike hell, at least spiders are real.

    People are able to overcome their fear of spiders by confronting them (for real)

    Once people realise that hell is just something that has been made up by other people, it doesn't take long to realise it's rather silly to fear it, i know it's been drummed into people over a long period of time, and it's not easy to let go of those emotions

    Think of the childhood fear of the dark, or monsters hiding in closet.

    It should be something that you 'grow out of'

    Most important to me is that i'd like to see people switching their focus from what is not real, to what is real

    We've only got the one life, there is a lot to get excited about concerning reality.

    Mon, 23 Jul 2012 20:42:49 UTC | #949920

    Corylus's Avatar Comment 13 by Corylus

    Anxiety can be lowered not only by calming, but by diversion.

    For example, for the hypochondriacs amongst us, if you ever find yourself imagining that a part of your body is swelling/shrinking/changing colour/ dropping off etc... just look at a different body part and ask yourself if it is doing the same.

    Go on, get yourself all worried about it. Right, now look back at the original body part and compare and contrast. Not seem so bad now? Great!*

    It is the same with hell. Worried about Catholic hell? Spend some time looking at Islamic Hell... Now look back at Catholic hell - doesn't seem so worrying does it?

    * In the unlikely event it still looks like it is dropping off, a visit to the doctor might actually be a plan.

    Mon, 23 Jul 2012 21:59:03 UTC | #949925

    Thea Popi's Avatar Comment 14 by Thea Popi

    Puff of Logic,

    Congratulations on your "awakening"!

    As for your comment, "I am struck with intense fear of hell and how my skepticism and freethinking will put me there." You probably wouldn't have had that reaction had it not been for endoctrination.

    Don't be afraid of questioning or learning...Your journey in life will be that much more enriched!

    Best to you - Looks to me as if you're on the right path. :)

    Mon, 23 Jul 2012 22:06:05 UTC | #949926

    Dave H's Avatar Comment 15 by Dave H

    Speaking as an ex-catholic, I can confidently say that the concept of hell was the single biggest black cloud over my otherwise happy childhood. It is also the single biggest reason that I still hold a grudge against the fuckheads who put the idea into children's heads in the first place.

    Once I distilled away all the bullshit from the faith and found nothing left, it became patently obvious that the purpose of the concept of hell is to use fear as a weapon. The church found a way to get people to follow their improbable doctrines: just bump up the consequences of not following them, either through direct physical violence or the threat of violence in the hereafter. The more flimsy the evidence for the idea, the more you need to increase the threat to make it stick. Hence the concept of hell. (If you want a Dennett-style Darwinian explanation, those doctrines that didn't have the concept of hell tended to fade away, and those that had it tended to survive because the threat works on some people.)

    Teaching the concept of hell to children is child abuse, pure and simple. In my case it ultimately backfired on the church, because it turned me from a passive atheist to an anti-theist who is actively opposed to religion because it does a lot harm. I don't spend a lot of time railing against religion, because I feel like defining my own projects instead of letting my enemies define my projects for me, and I've got better things to do. But thanks to their putting a damper on my childhood with the concept of hell, I'll now cheerfully cut religion to pieces whenever and wherever it crosses my path.

    Mon, 23 Jul 2012 22:25:42 UTC | #949929

    cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Comment 16 by cynicaloptimistrealist

    As someone who had a Catholic upbringing, but never actually believed my advice may not be up to scratch. Think about what you have been taught, if the Catholic upbringing is as standardised as I suspect you should have been provided with some psychological insulation against other religions, particularly new religious groups. In my childhood I often heard stories about groups which once they had a person in their grasp refused to let go, then I heard devout Catholics uttering "once a Catholic always a Catholic" when hearing that someone had jumped the fence for another group. I began to see it less as "something most of the adults seemed to believe" and more as a cult.

    Then there's the message about accepting Christ equaling an afterlife in heaven and the alternative. If you go back enough generations in your family you'll find people who either never heard of Christ or rejected him. For people of northern European origin it's around 1,000 years or a little more, for most people of Sub-Saharan African or Asian origin it's no more than 400 years at most. So all those people, your ancestors, who never heard or Christ are cast into a pit of eternal fire for never having heard of him? What would you think of a prime minister or president who wandered the country with a group of soldiers executing those who hadn't heard his name or those who thought there were flaws in his policy? I think if you honestly make the comparison between an all loving, all forgiving being and an earthly psychopathic dictator, who are both are basically acting in the same way, then you will reach the conclusion that God is a psychopathic dictator in reality much closer to the Stalin, Hitler or Mao. Or, you will reach the conclusion that the whole thing has been made up. Not by one man, but by a committee. There is a saying "A camel is a horse designed by committee" - if you look at how badly the New Testament fits the old, how the 4 books in the new do not tally with each other (huge differences) and how the 4 books you think are the Gospels are actually about 4 of 40 that were chosen by a committee. Not to mention the fact that Christianity took three or four hundred years to decide that women had a soul.

    The fear of hell is natural if they got to you, don't worry some silly idea gets to everyone for a while and some unfortunately for life. Have a good look at the world religions, note the techniques used to insulate them from new ideas, from Jesus telling Peter "Whatever you bind on earth, will be bound in heaven" to Muhammad explaining to his followers that he had revealed the perferct word of Allah which was final and could not be altered (Seal of prophets). Look at how the Roman Empire survived as the Catholic church, with the same level of bloodshed, immorality and persecution as before. Apologists will counter "Oh they were the bad popes", but "whatever you bind in heaven.." means that if a Pope was helping himself to the wives of others or defiling corpses that was fine by God.

    If I was to attempt to sell you a ferry ticket to Atlantis, I think you would correctly ask me to provide evidence that Atlantis existed and that a ferry company actually went there. You would check independent sources, you certainly wouldn't accept the information in my brochures at face value. Look for evidence of hell, not in the holy books (they're my collection of Atlantis brochures with happy smiling people enjoying the advanced technology and insatiable Atlanteans), is there any evidence elsewhere? I think you will find none. Do not take the word of people who threatened a man with death for discovering the Earth revolved around the Sun. I wish you well on your journey, if I ask you to think about anything it is this: When asked to spend money, you require evidence, when asked to judge a person, you require evidence, when diagnosed with an ailment or ilness you are provided with evidence, evidence is not just something you are told, it is something you can verify from multiple independent sources, why should you give your heart and mind to an idea without the same evidence you demand when parting with your cash?

    Mon, 23 Jul 2012 23:39:09 UTC | #949937

    DocWebster's Avatar Comment 17 by DocWebster

    I forgot the most important part of the hell thing, you're already going to someone's hell when you die. It doesn't matter which one either, there are a thousand different hells so you can't stay out of all of them no matter how faithfully you believe.

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 00:16:13 UTC | #949942

    Aguazul's Avatar Comment 18 by Aguazul

    Comment 15 by Dave H : I don't spend a lot of time railing against religion, because I feel like defining my own projects instead of letting my enemies define my projects for me, and I've got better things to do. But thanks to their putting a damper on my childhood with the concept of hell, I'll now cheerfully cut religion to pieces whenever and wherever it crosses my path.

    I think this is important. "They" may have done unforgivable things to you (the OP) as a child -- indoctrination or whatever -- but you would be wasting your time and energy by indulging in unnecessary emotion. Falling into bitterness or anger means they continue to have a hold over you and continue to mess up your life. If there is anger, keep it in reserve, and use it to give you determination to go beyond the problem. Put your energy into something productive. From my perspective that means clearing out the 'damage', so that it no longer affects me and I am free of it. For some people, focussing on other positive activities works (although this never worked for me).

    The core of it is getting a hold of your unconscious and making it work for you instead of getting in your way or working for your childhood religious teachers. At the end of the day it all boils down to the same thing -- unwanted unconscious reactions that need examining, understanding, dismantling and eliminating.

    Whether Catholic hell exists or not, I don't know. Whether you've been indoctrinated to react in a way that suits the Church and works against your own interests -- that's 100% certain. I, fortunately or unfortunately, am unable to live with that kind of knowledge without trying to do something about it. I'm not going to be anyone's slave. Even if everything they said were true, I'm still not going to be their slave.

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 01:28:26 UTC | #949950

    Premiseless's Avatar Comment 19 by Premiseless

    If it was all hell I don't think it would so easily infect the emotional confusion. It's the fact that it conjures love as that which is all powerful and will then smack you if you don't repay in kind. It plays on all the Santa stuff with a sting in the tail. The brain is faced with a perfectly evolved meme to disable a significant element of its development.

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 01:29:57 UTC | #949951

    nicksg's Avatar Comment 20 by nicksg

    As Voltaire said,I wouldn't mind ending up in Hell but the problem is I would have to share it with all the bishops..

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 01:47:54 UTC | #949954

    QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 21 by QuestioningKat

    I was raised Catholic and I know exactly what you are going through. First of all --- there is no devil. Yep that's right. Satan does not exist. Everything good or bad that is going to happen to you will happen during this lifetime, not after death.

    Catholics have Sunday School? Say what?


    Start to watch people. Notice how bad choices in behavior lead to unrest, problems, strife, challenging relationships with other people? Notice what is considered "evil" by other people. Usually "evil" ends up being mentally ill, extremely stressful events during childhood, selfish behavior, and bad choices among other things. People blame the devil because it takes them off the hook for taking responsibility for their actions. Can you tell me one example of something "evil" that cannot be traced back to one of these causes? I'd be interested if you can come up with one.

    Also, Where is Hell? In the Bible, it is stated as Heaven is above, so is Hell below. Literally taken, that means Hell is deep beneath the surface of the earth. OK, your Catholic, so maybe Hell is in another realm. Have you ever had surgery? Maybe had your wisdom teeth taken out....? Where did you go during the anesthesia? If doctors can mess with your brain or memory or maybe remove a section of your brain, you will never regain that ability. If this were to happen, now who are you?

    There was a time when I was clinically depressed and had the most terrifying night terrors (worse than nightmares.) Without going into detail, I thought I was "hellbound." Year later I started to notice that I would only get these night terrors when I was under extreme stress and depressed. I certainly dreamed Hellish stuff, but it was all the creation of my mind in an unhealthy state. Strangely, after medication and therapy, I didn't have these dreams. Scientifically reasonable methods, instead of religious beliefs brought about healing.

    Start keeping track of what people think is caused by Satan. Then, go about finding the actual cause.

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 03:05:49 UTC | #949962

    OHooligan's Avatar Comment 22 by OHooligan

    My RC upbringing taught me this Absolute Truth: ALL OTHER RELIGIONS ARE FALSE.

    In fact, it isn't just the RC religion that teaches that. Every one I've heard of says so.

    Therefore, it must be a Universal Truth.

    Combining this into a single belief, and taking a majority opinion where there's contradiction, I come to the startling Revelation that the OTHER was an unnecessary limitation on an otherwise splendid statement:


    There, I've proved it. That was easy. (Though, really, it took me a while.)


    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 03:08:13 UTC | #949963

    CdnMacAtheist's Avatar Comment 23 by CdnMacAtheist

    I salute your bravery, looking at and investigating those troubling questions that arise in a faith-filled brain.

    The comments here demonstrate some of the feelings shared by the freethinkers on this site, many of them having made the difficult, but so very worthwhile, journey into enlightenment from the grip of faith memes.

    I could recommend many books that would help you clarify the areas you are rightly concerned about. Apart from the well known authors, including the wonderful and interconnected writings of Professor Dawkins, there are other less known but valuable books explaining what faith is, how it emerged, evolved and is spread, and what it does to humans - who are all born as innocent, information-seeking, non-theists.

    A recent on-line purchase by me from Store was: The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture, published in 2009, for US$15.95. Author is Darrel W. Ray Ed.D.

    I hope you find many ways of curing, and vaccinating yourself against, these dangerous mind infections.

    I wish you the best on your journey to being a fully functioning adult, without those big religious blinkers restricting your view of this wonderful existence, in the one life we are all fortunate to have.

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 05:08:42 UTC | #949967

    DaisyD's Avatar Comment 24 by DaisyD

    Cheers on taking an interest in science. I was raised as a Catholic, and I only got over the fear of hell when I denounced everything supernatural. It wasn't easy of course, and I am not going to lead you on to think that the process is easy. The best you can do now is to keep studying, keep asking questions about the world and about your religion (as well as other religions). The more you learn, the less you will fear.

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 09:33:12 UTC | #949974

    phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 25 by phil rimmer

    Teaching the reality of Hell to kids is child abuse pure and simple. It is abuse that can last a lifetime. Hearing of a friend's mother near to death and delirious with the fear and prospect of it and inconsolable shows me that the RCC and its ilk have the morals of a psychopathic tyrant prepared to use the biggest sticks against their own . Unleashed and with the nurturing of faith it is a self fulfilling prophecy of the wickedest kind.

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 12:28:12 UTC | #949980

    notany's Avatar Comment 26 by notany

    Questioning Cat, I had a similar experience with night terrors. In times of depression I would be haunted by the idea that I was the devil's spawn. I started getting spooked over slamming doors and other "unexplainable" events. This was after many years of atheism.

    One of my favorite RDF posters posted an article he wrote about The Loadstone. This led me to consider how early people must have been spooked by its invisible powers and how later the loadstone became useful.

    One night I had a dream that the devil was writing on my arm using derma-script. I could feel the fear rising, but I was able to stay with it because of curiosity. Then a sinister voice said, "The answer is on a game show." I could hear the Jeopardy theme song! I started giggling and woke up laughing.

    The second post advising you to face the fear, feel it in full and let it dissolve, is excellent advice.

    So far, I have found it to be very freeing to not have those vestiges of my former christian beliefs haunting me.

    Also there are atheist groups dealing with recovering from religion.

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 12:45:46 UTC | #949982

    The Jersey Devil's Avatar Comment 27 by The Jersey Devil

    Puff of Logic, thanks for the very good topic.

    The whole concept that hell awaits the skeptics is ridicules to me. Look at it this way:

    There is an all powerful supreme being that cloaks itself in mystery just to severly punish any person who doesn't believe.

    What kind of dysfunctional, co-dependent god do people believe in? Think it through for yourself, it makes no sense.

    What's more likely:

    1) That god eradicates all evidence of it's own existence for the sole purpose of punishing people who doubt it's existence.


    2) There is no god. Threats of damnation are just a way to intimidate people into conformity.


    On a related point, if there is one true omnipresent god, how exactly does one pray to the wrong god? How would that even be possible?

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 16:00:43 UTC | #949988

    stuhillman's Avatar Comment 28 by stuhillman

    Actually, "effect" is just fine in the title. Although child abuse does have an affect on people later in life.

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 16:03:15 UTC | #949989

    Ben H's Avatar Comment 29 by Ben H

    I myself was very young when I began to question religion and faith. Around grade school age actually. I was taught about Jesus and what not in preschool and believed what I had been told. Years later I just couldn't believe that all other religions had to be wrong and that only Christianity was correct. That alone got me thinking. Anyway while pondering the validity of it all I was constantly afraid of being punished by an angry god. Being Struck by lightening was the most scary to me. But nothing ever happend so I kept thinking for myself ever since. My life has been great thus far and I devulge into all things science that have shown me beyond doubt how laughable such concepts as heaven and hell really are. Philosophy came later and also reinforced my atheism for a great many reasons. By seeking answers for yourself and connecting to people who share your concerns you've begun the journey into a much greater world. Welcome to the club!

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 17:48:39 UTC | #949990

    darwinanika's Avatar Comment 30 by darwinanika

    If there is a god, it isn't going to send you to hell. Think about it, it's one of the biggest problems with the doctrine of Christianity. Why would a loving god punish souls for all eternity for their philosophical position? He wouldnt, plain an simple. In my experience, most "Christians" find the reality of hell very hard to swallow anyway The most they can say is "god works in mysterious ways," which of course isn't really an answer at all. Now days I even find myself trying to convince "Christians" that Jesus really did promise hell and damnation for us non-believers. They just dont seem to understand this central and essential principle of the Christian faith. This is because moral and rational human beings are finally beginning to realize how absurd hell really is. It's too ridiculous to be anything other than man-made. So take heart, when we die we experience only nothingness. Anything else is mere wishful thinking. To assure yourself of this, bring yourself up to date on modern neuroscience; that should help you understand what to expect upon your death.

    Tue, 24 Jul 2012 19:38:08 UTC | #949998