Why I Refuse to Fear Hell

I was forced into a conversation I didn’t want with a Christian friend last night, so I am going to share some thoughts. I am not out to upset my religious friends who may visit this site. But, I cannot and I will not share your fear of Hell. And here’s why…

Hell is… NOT REAL. As is the case for, well, all religious claims. There isn’t even the tiniest shred of evidence to back up the claim that Hell is real, and that holds true for all other religious claims, whether they are pleasant or scary.

Back in my very religious days, I once believed in Hell. I thought it was real because, like most religious people, I engaged in circular reasoning. Hell was real because the Bible said so and the Bible was the Word of God because it said so and I was assured that that was the case by people I trusted at the time. But they too engaged in the same circular reasoning for the same reasons I did. It’s a never-ending cycle, and it’s one of the reasons religion continues to survive despite the fact that the Bible has been thoroughly debunked online now for many years.

I no longer believe in or waste a moment of my life worrying about or fearing Hell, for the following reasons.

1) Hell is a morally reprehensible concept
2) There is exactly ZERO evidence that Hell actually exists
3) I cannot and would not worship a God who would create such a place or who would burn anyone for any reason for even one second, because such a God, by definition, would be EVIL. Such a God would, by definition, be a MONSTER!

According to the Bible, Hell is a flaming torture chamber where human beings are barbecued forever with no hope of reprieve and where human beings are tormented by demons non-stop, forever, with no hope of reprieve.

Does such a terrible place actually exist? NO, of course not.

If a human parent burned their child for even one second for ANY reason, we would quite rightly consider that parent to be a monster, and we would remove that child from their care immediately. But… millions of people enthusiastically worship a God who not only burns his children for seconds, but for all eternity! And this monster of a God gets a free pass, and we are assured that this God is Love and that he has good reasons for barbecuing his children for all of eternity with no hope of reprieve. We are told that this God is holy and that he cannot tolerate sin, and that if we don’t accept Jesus as our savior so God can wash away our sin and see us through the blood of Jesus, we are filthy sinners who deserve to be punished infinitely for finite sins.

But… THINK ABOUT IT. Can a God who burns his children for ANY reason be considered holy or righteous or even good? NO, OF COURSE NOT. Even if we are not his children but children of the devil if we don’t accept Jesus, is it right to burn us? Is it ever acceptable to burn anyone for ANY reason? OF COURSE NOT! When Christians had the political power to do so, was it ever right or acceptable for them to burn people at the stake? NO, OF COURSE NOT!

And, of course, it is not right or acceptable for a God to burn anyone for even one second for ANY reason… such an idea is monstrously evil, and such a God would be monstrously evil…

I reject belief in God primarily because there is not a shred of credible evidence that the Christian God or any other god actually exists. But if the Christian God did exist and Hell was real, I would reject that God on moral grounds and I would quite rightly consider him to be monstrously evil…

If you would not burn your child for any reason, no matter what they did, then why are you worshiping a God who supposedly burns human beings forever with no hope of reprieve?

And I’ll say this too… some Christians recognize the morally reprehensible nature of the doctrine of Hell, and they try to soften the concept by saying that it just means separation from God… as if that was something awful. But I will say this. I have had more peace, more joy, more happiness, and more contentment since I walked away from belief in God than I ever did when I was religious. And, I value myself and my life far more now than I ever did when I was religious. If separation from God is Hell, then I have to say that I am not suffering for it at all. Not one bit…

My 2 cents… which I hope will break the cycle of circular reasoning in my religious friends and get them to THINK about what they profess to believe… Carry on… 🙂

When Your God Dies

Posted this to Facebook and thought I would share it here too. Glory! 🙂

Those of you who have been friends with me on Facebook for a while know that I used to bash religion – a lot, and usually I wasn’t nice about it at all. But back then I was still stuck in the “anger” phase of de-conversion. Walking away from 15 years of devout religious belief was not just a matter of me shrugging my shoulders and thinking, “Oh, well, that sounded nice but it’s not actually true” and moving on unscathed by the experience.

There are phases to religious de-conversion that closely correspond to the stages of grief. They are essentially the same. The five stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Most of the time now I find myself in the acceptance stage of grief, but for a long time I was stuck in anger and also in depression.

God

When your God dies, that is an event of major importance! We all grieve when a human or animal loved one dies. But when your God dies? That’s far worse, and it’s just as painful as a human death is, if not more so. Because when your God dies, so does the hopes you had for an awesome and eternal afterlife and your hopes of being reunited with lost loved ones at some future date. And what also dies is your hope that at some future date your God will dispense righteous judgment, right all wrongs and wipe away all of the suffering associated with this life.

When your God dies, so does everything supernatural associated with that belief. What dies too is belief in angels, demons, heaven, hell, and activities such as prayer that require a supernatural component to actually work. When your God dies, what you are left with is what is actually real and that we know actually exists — the natural world in all of its grandeur and beauty — the vast cosmos consisting of billions of galaxies, of which our solar system and our beautiful planet are but a very small part.

When your God dies, what dies too is the belief that you were specially created to serve and worship this God. What dies too is your belief that you are special to this God and that He loves you and cares about what happens to you. When your God dies, you realize that you are not the special creation of a God, but rather the product of millions of years of biological evolution, and you realize how amazing it is that you are here at this moment in time and you realize how precious and incredible and amazing this life is.

My God died almost 17 years ago, in early 2000. It was a death brought about by doubts and questions that had plagued me for years that I never found satisfactory Christian answers for. It was a death brought about by a great deal of thinking, reading, and research. It was a death brought about by seeing just how easily people on the skeptical side of the fence dismantled my cherished Christian beliefs not with ridicule and derision, but with solid, credible evidence and verifiable facts.

My God died a long time ago, and I have lived quite happily free from the fear, guilt, shame, and ignorance that so defined and drove the fundamentalist religion that I was once so deeply involved in.

So… when your God dies, that is a life-changing, life-defining event of major importance. When your God dies and everything that you believed was real dies along with him, it takes a long time to process and to come to terms with. It takes a long time to rebuild the framework that defines your reality. But it is possible to come out on the other side of the grief and all of the processing of it through its various phases complete and whole and happy and grateful to be alive.

If you want to know more, I wrote an article describing what it’s like to make the journey from Christianity to Atheism a few years ago. You can read it here:

http://smokeyinthebox.com/journey-christianity-atheism/

I can only speak for myself and my experience, but I hope this gives you a better understanding of me and what it was like for me to experience the death of my God all of those years ago.

Christianity – A Clear and Present Danger

Christianity is not a benign or positive belief system. The reality is that it is a clear and present danger to everyone who encounters its teachings, and particularly to those who have the misfortune of getting sucked into the cult. Christianity is a toxic and harmful set of teachings, and the potential for significant psychological harm is great.

christianity defined

Christianity is an absurd and hilarious belief system, but it’s not so funny, considering the harm that it causes not just to individual believers, but to the world as a whole. On an individual level, Christianity causes all kinds of needless psychological suffering — a tremendous amount of fear, guilt, and shame — none of which has any basis in reality. Christianity is damaging to the world as a whole not just because of the psychological damage is causes, but because it teaches and promotes the hatred of entire groups of people (such as homosexuals), and it teaches that all non-Christians are destined for an eternity of endless suffering in a flaming Hell.

The core teaching of Christianity is that mankind has fallen from grace and needs a savior, and that savior is Jesus Christ. As the mythical story in Genesis relates it, God created mankind perfect and sinless, but because of the influence of a lying serpent (the devil), Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God, and their rebellion caused the spiritual deaths of all of mankind that would follow. A savior is promised in Genesis 3:15, and Christians believe that Jesus is that savior and that he was manifested to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

Christianity teaches that all men are born into sin and that without a savior we deserve to burn in Hell forever. As John 3:18 puts it (speaking of Jesus, of course):

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And consider Isaiah 64:6:

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

With such a warped and false view of mankind — that we are filthy sinners deserving of Hell — how are believers supposed to develop a healthy sense of self-love? If, as a believer, I believe that I was born so bad that I deserve to burn in Hell forever, how am I supposed to feel good about myself? Or, as I asked myself in writing a few years ago:

With this kind of belief drilled into me for years, how can I be expected to honestly feel good about myself? How can I possibly really love myself and see myself as worthy of love with this kind of toxic garbage still infecting my thought processes and my sense of self-worth? How can I possibly have a healthy sense of self-esteem having believed this of myself for so long? I am fully aware now intellectually that “sin” is a religious concept with no basis in reality but after so many years of fearing and hating my supposed sinfulness and asking God often to forgive sins both of commission and omission and so often feeling judged and condemned and not forgiven and disregarded or forgotten by God, how do I overcome those toxic beliefs and find healing? How do I go from the “sin consciousness” that was drilled into me by the Christian cult to accepting and loving myself as I am – a flawed and imperfect but basically good and loving human being? Hmmm… I am indeed imperfect as everybody is, but am I really “flawed”? Such is the pervasiveness of toxic teachings, even after years away from the church.

Christianity is false and dangerous because it gets the basic facts about human nature horribly wrong. Contrary to what Christianity teaches, humans are not born evil or depraved, and we certainly are not born deserving to be barbecued forever in a flaming Hell. The truth is that, as a species, we are basically good. Most people in this world are good people who want what is best for themselves and for those that they love. Most people, given the opportunity, will enthusiastically do what they can to help others and do what they can to leave the world a better place than they found it. I have lived on this earth almost 50 years, and while I have encountered a few genuinely evil people, the vast majority of people I have encountered have been good, well-meaning folks.

From the tragic error regarding human nature, we get the doctrine of sin. Sin is usually defined simply as “missing the mark”, and in Christianity it means failing to live up to the supposed holiness and perfection of God. How much needless human suffering has this one religious concept caused? Christianity teaches that mankind is lost in sin and that our very nature is offensive to a holy God. Despite the fact that sin is a religious concept with no discernible basis in reality, millions of good human beings down through the ages have suffered needlessly from guilt and shame caused by this false and toxic teaching. How many genuinely good people have been trapped in mental religious prisons of guilt and shame from which they may never escape? Christians celebrate the freedom they supposedly enjoy in Jesus, but how free can you really be when you view your own basic nature through a warped religious lens and you spend your days constantly monitoring and censoring your thoughts and actions in an effort to please God? How happy can you be when your whole existence consists of trying desperately not to piss Jesus off? Christians spend their lives trapped in a tragic cycle of believing they have sinned and angered God and then having to ask forgiveness for that sin. What an awful way to live life! It is impossible to enjoy life when you live it constantly worried about pissing Jesus off!

There are two religious concepts that Christianity teaches that are extremely toxic and harmful — the doctrine of the sinfulness of mankind and the doctrine of eternal conscious torment. The doctrine of of the sinfulness of mankind constitutes an egregious basic error concerning human nature. What Christianity teaches about human nature is diametrically opposed to the actual truth. The foundational lie that the Christian religion is based on is that mankind is basically evil, while the truth is that we are basically good.

Eternal conscious torment? That’s what Christianity teaches is in store for all non-Christians. Depending on denomination, Hell is either a flaming torture chamber of fire and brimstone or simply “separation from God” (not biblical, but proposed to make the concept of Hell more palatable to civilized, modern minds). It’s what Christians live in fear of for themselves and those that they love and what they believe we are born deserving. If there is a teaching more morally reprehensible and egregiously wrong than the doctrine of sin, this would be it. This has got to be the most evil and demented concept ever dreamed up by mankind. Religious belief warps the moral compasses of men beyond recognition. Can you imagine a future more awful for the billions of good, decent, loving, caring, compassionate, well-meaning people who have lived their lives as non-Christians? According to this teaching, every atheist, agnostic, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, and everyone else who failed to put their trust in Jesus as Savior is destined to be tormented consciously forever, without any hope of reprieve. I personally cannot think of a more heinously evil or morally reprehensible and repugnant teaching than that of the eternal conscious torment of nonbelievers.

So… in Christianity we have a religion that gets the basic facts about human nature egregiously wrong and a religion that locks believers into endless cycles of religious fear, guilt and shame (think you’ve sinned/repent, think you’ve sinned, repent, think you’ve sinned/repent, endlessly, always living with the fear that you have sinned and angered God), a religion that teaches that we are born deserving Hell, and a religion that teaches the eternal conscious torment of all nonbelievers. I can’t think of any religion that I would run the other way from faster than Christianity for my own mental health, peace, happiness, and sanity.

It is Not Okay!

I just lost a friend over on Facebook over religion, and I posted this rant:

Just lost another online friend over religion. She couldn’t handle my outspoken atheism, she accused me of hating her god, and then she unfriended me and blocked me. Good riddance, I guess. I don’t apologize for being outspoken about religion. Religion causes tremendous harm in the world to the world as a whole and to individual believers. It’s not something that I can or should be silent about. I don’t really give a shit what people choose to believe privately, until they try to force it on everyone else. And hatred — hatred is NOT OKAY. I don’t give a shit what your ancient holy book says, hating gays is not okay! Oppressing women is not okay. Threatening children with Hell is not okay. Teaching ridiculous ancient myths in our schools in place of real science is not okay. Bombing abortion clinics is not okay. Murdering children is not okay.

If you are offended by my outspoken atheism, tough shit. Accept me and love me as I am, warts and all, or get off of my friends list. I am NOT going to change to make anyone else happy or comfortable. I agree to disagree with plenty of my friends about politics and religion and other things as well, and I expect the same consideration in return.

I will post whatever the hell I want and I’ll be as blunt and “in your face” as I want as well. I am doing my part to make this world a better place, and I will not apologize for doing that. If you decide to no longer be a part of my life, don’t let the door hit you in the ass. Plenty of people love and accept me exactly as I am, and I’ll take them any day over people who want me to change to make them happy or people I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around… Enough said…

I would like to expand on that a bit. Other things that are not okay include faith healing and crediting God with healing instead of hard-working doctors and nurses. And prayer… prayer accomplishes ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I am sick and tired of hearing about the alleged power of prayer. Prayer has no power whatsoever other than making the person doing the praying feel good for accomplishing NOTHING.

It is not okay for faith healers to bilk gullible religious people out of millions of dollars. It is not okay for Pat Robertson or some other religious nut to blame gays for natural disasters. It is not okay to advocate murdering gays so that we can have an AIDS-free Christmas.

It is not okay to condemn all non-Christian people to an eternal flaming Hell where they will be consciously tormented forever.

It is not okay to accuse atheists of “hating God” because we don’t share Christian religious beliefs.

And the list goes on and on and on… Christopher Hitchens was absolutely right when he said that religion poisons everything. Religion is the greatest tragedy ever to afflict mankind.

Has the Christian Doctrine of Hell Become an Awkward Liability?

Hell is a morally reprehensible concept that cannot be reconciled with a belief in a loving God. Here, my friend Valerie Tarico shares her thoughts:

Three years ago, my sister, who had long struggled with mental illness, hit her limit and jumped off a freeway bridge. She lived.

She was rushed to the county trauma center, and by the time I arrived from Seattle she was hooked up to an array of life support technologies and monitors. Brain trauma made it hard to know how much she understood of her situation or our conversations, and to know whether she would survive.

One night, while she was in this state, I said to her, “Katha, I don’t know if you can hear me, but we all want for you whatever you want for yourself. If you want to fight this thing and try again, we want that. If you are sick of fighting and ready to be done, that’s ok too.” While I spoke to her, a nurse was doing record keeping at a computer terminal near the foot of her bed. Some time later when I got up to leave, he approached me and said, “You know, if your sister dies right now she will go to hell.”

I was too flabbergasted to respond—incredulous that he would say this to me in a public taxpayer-funded hospital; even more incredulous that he would say it where she could hear, if she could hear. I thanked him for his concern and left.

The Lake of Fire, Everlasting Punishment, Perdition, Gehenna, the Inferno, the Abyss, Outer Darkness Where There Shall be Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth . . . . Hell has many names and conjures many images—all of them aimed at triggering a sense of horror. Some of these names and descriptions arguably can be found in the Bible—the Christian New Testament at least—and threats of eternal torture used to be a fine way for Christian ministers and missionaries to win converts or keep “the faithful” faithful.

Famed Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards (“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”) waxed eloquent on the topic, elaborating why simple annihilation was insufficient punishment to satisfy the demands of divine justice. Two hundred years later, Billy Graham drove tent revivals across America by pounding pulpits about the threat. Anglican author C.S. Lewis, beloved of modern Evangelicals, said, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next” (Mere Christianity).

Read the article in its entirety here:

http://awaypoint.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/has-the-christian-doctrine-of-hell-become-an-awkward-liability/

Glory!

Aggressive Atheism is Becoming the New Extremism

Saw this posted to Facebook a few minutes ago, from the folks at Ultimate Atheism:

atheist extremism

My response on Facebook:

Exactly. In this country (the USA), it is perfectly okay to indoctrinate children with fear-based ancient myths, legends, and lies and it is perfectly okay to threaten them with the morally reprehensible concept of Hell. It’s also perfectly acceptable to publicly damn gays to Hell and suggest that they should be stoned to death. It’s also perfectly okay to damn atheists to Hell and ignore everything reasonable that they have to say. And, of course, it’s perfectly okay to insist that your ridiculous religious myths get “equal time” in the science classroom. It’s also perfectly okay, if you are a Republican believer, to vote against your own interests (if you are female or happen to be poor) and to legislate and discriminate against gays, women and the poor.

But, somehow, it’s not okay to publicly call religion out for the harmful mythological bullshit that it is and somehow it’s not okay to stand up for reason and science. And, of course, somehow, it’s not okay to stand up for gay rights since an ancient book written by ignorant ancient goat herders says it’s a sin worthy of death.

I make no apologies at all for being an outspoken atheist. I am doing my part to try to make this world a better place, while religious believers are busy hating on entire groups of people and blowing people up by the thousands and flying airplanes into buildings. And, of course, they are busy too damning everybody who doesn’t believe the right ancient bullshit in the correct way to eternal torment in a flaming Hell.

I am SO happy to be FREE, and I will continue to share that FREEDOM openly and publicly, and I will continue to call religion exactly what it is — ANCIENT BULLSHIT THAT HARMS THE ENTIRE WORLD, as well as individual believers. If you think that is extreme, tough shit. I’m out to change the world for the BETTER, and I won’t be shut up by people, well-meaning though they may be, who take ancient myths about talking snakes and magic fruit from magic trees seriously… and who call an ancient collection of books full of shocking brutality the “word” of God…

From Atheism to Christianity – A Review – Part 5

This is Part 5 of this glorious series responding to this article.

As Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity, the difficulty we face as fallen human beings, whether we realise it or not, is that we are alienated from our Creator because the moral imperfection we have inherited from our rebellious ancestors – our wrong thoughts and motives, as well as our bad behaviour – inevitably separates us from God. This may seem unjust, extreme, and hard to believe, since we are accustomed to being a mixture of good and bad (‘nobody’s perfect!’ we say), and cannot, in our fallen state, altogether help being imperfect. But the problem is that our Creator God is not only Love, but Goodness and Justice personified, and therefore infinitely ‘holy’ – to use the language of the Bible. This means that He cannot overlook our moral failings and be united to us in love, since His perfect character is repelled by our sinfulness. His justice demands that the human race should bear the full destructive consequences of turning away from Him and flouting His will. We personally may not have rebelled against God at the dawn of history, but like all human beings since that time, we have been morally and spiritually damaged by the severance of that spiritual umbilical cord between God and Man which used to exist in the Garden of Eden. God’s love and goodness and joy can no longer flow unimpeded through us, because our human nature has been corrupted and we have become broken vessels that cannot retain the water of divine life. That is to look at our situation from God’s point of view. If we examine it from our own human perspective, the problem doesn’t get any easier. In order to be reconciled to God, the debt owed to Him by our wrong-doing must be paid, but we are morally and spiritually bankrupt. Reconciliation with God also requires perfect repentance, but it takes a good person to repent since repentance involves not only eating humble pie and saying sorry to God, but also surrendering our lives to Him. If we want to reconnect with our Creator, we must abandon our self-centredness, but the problem is that the worse we are, and the prouder we are, the harder it is for us to do this.

An entire paragraph of religious nonsense written by a man clearly unfamiliar with the Old Testament or even with the unpleasant and brutal parts of the New Testament. As I have pointed out before, the God of the Bible is not loving and he is certainly not moral or holy. He is a murderous, genocidal maniac who makes Hitler look like an awesome guy by comparison. Goodness, Love, and Justice personified would not order or directly commit mass murder and genocide on multiple occasions. Goodness, Love, and Justice personified would not kill billions of people in very unpleasant ways (see the book of Revelation, if it were to come true in today’s modern world) simply for failing to believe the right things about the correct god in the correct way. Goodness, Love, and Justice would not send even a single human being to a place where they would be tormented endlessly without any hope of reprieve, forever, for ANY reason.

Fallen human beings? That myth is based on an absurd ancient creation myth involving two obviously mythical people, a talking snake, magic trees, and magic fruit! Mankind is not “fallen”. We simply are what we are as a result of millions of years of biological evolution, and like every other creature on this planet, we have evolved to be suited to our environment. Otherwise, we would not be capable of surviving. We are not perfect, but there never was a time when we were! Human nature is not broken or corrupted. I have been on this earth for 48 years now, and yes I have met some bad people in my time, but the vast majority of the people I have met have been good, whether they were religious or not. And, it just so happens that I have many friends online at http://www.ex-christian.net who, like me, used to Christians. We are not bad people because we don’t believe in God and we don’t believe in Jesus anymore. The people I know over there are all good, kind, decent, moral, loving, caring and compassionate. And they almost all are now atheists! Glory!

Given this dilemma, what did God have to do to resolve it? How could He reconcile His justice with His mercy? How could He save the human beings He had created in love from the consequences they had brought upon themselves by the misuse of their free will? How, in other words, could God save us from death and separation from Him in eternity? And let’s be clear what this involves, however upsetting it may be. To be separated from God in eternity, means to be consciously and forever separated from the source of all life, all love, all joy, all truth, and all beauty. That is an indescribably terrible fate, about which Jesus spoke with real horror in the Gospels, but it is what we all risk if we refuse to accept God’s rescue plan for ourselves. So what, then, is God’s rescue plan? How can we be reconnected with our Creator?

The God of the Bible is not just and he is not merciful. God did not create us. Like all other living creatures on this planet, we are the product of millions of years of biological evolution. If I remember correctly, the earliest hominid species is approximately two billion years old, but don’t quote me on that… Consequences because two obviously mythical people ate magic fruit from a magic tree because a lying talking snake talked them into it? Gimme a fucking break… The God of the Bible is not life, love, joy, truth, or beauty. READ YOUR OWN DAMN HOLY BOOK and rip those damn Jesus Goggles off when you do it, and you will see that for yourself! The words which Jesus allegedly spoke were put into his mouth decades after he allegedly lived and died by anonymous authors who most certainly were not eyewitnesses of the events portrayed in the Gospels. It’s been a while since I actually read any of the Gospels, but I’m pretty sure it was Jesus who introduced the morally reprehensible concept of Hell to scripture. If he would send me or any other human being there for ANY reason at all, then he is not good, loving, or holy and he is not worthy of worship. God’s rescue plan was to sacrifice Himself to Himself to save us from Himself, which is absurd!

According to Lewis, God could only save us by becoming a human being and dying on our behalf, because only in this way could He enable us to go through that process of dying to self without which true repentance and reconnection with Him is impossible. Just as we are enabled to think because God created our minds and nurtures our intelligence, so, argues Lewis, we can now repent of our sins and give ourselves to God, because the capacity to die to self is now part of God’s divine nature in Jesus, and can therefore be communicated to us through our union with Him. Our ability, if we choose, to be reunited with God, was also won for us by Jesus because, as Man, and therefore our representative, His death on the cross paid the debt owed to God’s justice by human sin. Like a judge who imposes a fine on his guilty son and then takes off his judge’s robe and pays that fine himself, so Jesus, God the Son Incarnate, suffered the penalty of sin in our place. But since He was and is divine as well as human, He overcame death and rose from the grave on our behalf, having torn down the barrier separating fallen human beings from their Creator. That is the meaning of the Atonement and the Resurrection.

Stories of dying and rising gods were around long before the time in which Jesus supposedly lived and died. This is yet another paragraph of mythological and ridiculous religious nonsense. God did not create our minds and he does not nurture our intelligence. Our brains and our minds evolved over a period of several million years, as did our intelligence. Vicarious substitutionary atonement is a barbaric doctrine that has no place in our modern civilized world, yet it is embedded within our common Western psyche as being something good and holy. I wrote recently on the subject, and here’s the link:

http://religionisbullshit.me/doctrine-substitutionary-atonement/

This video from Christopher Hitchens on the same subject is also good:

This concludes Part 5 of this glorious series. Part 6 is coming soon! Glory!

I Just Don’t Know Anymore about Christianity – My Response

Yesterday a young woman posted on the ex-Christian.net forums asking for information critical of Christianity. This was my response:

The best sites I can recommend to you are http://www.christianitydisproved.com and http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net. Spend time really thinking about what you learn at those sites and I think you will come away convinced that Christianity can’t possibly be true. They are good places to start, anyway.

Hell is an evil myth created by the Catholic Church centuries ago to control the masses through FEAR. Hell is not and cannot be real. Think about it. If there is a loving God, can there really be a place where human beings whom he claims to love are tormented forever without any hope of reprieve? I don’t think so…

There is no dilemma within Darwinism. The evidence for biological evolution is simply overwhelming! As far as irreducible complexity goes, that’s an idea that has been shown to be false for some time now. Relevant link:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200.html

Did you know that 2 Thessalonians is a known forgery? It’s doubtful that Paul actually wrote it. Should you really be concerned or fearful about what an ancient anonymously-written book has to say? Relevant link:

http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/authornt.html

In fact, several books in the New Testament are known forgeries! See the link I posted above for more info. We don’t even know who wrote the Gospels, and they are the only record we have of the life of Jesus! Speaking of the Gospels, we now know that they are myth. I highly recommend spending the time to watch this video. Dr. Carrier shares a great deal of very interesting information. His lecture starts at 27:45. Just click the link in the red box in the video and it will take you there.

The earth may be the only place we currently know of that supports life as we understand it, but it’s not fine-tuned for life, and neither is the universe. Relevant link:

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CI/CI301.html

It is true that the religion a person believes in depends a lot on where they were born. Religious belief is very much geographically determined!

Jesus and Horus and many of the ancient pagan savior-gods share many of the same attributes. Check out this site:

http://www.pocm.info/

If Jesus is real as depicted in the Gospels, then why does he rate so high on Lord Raglan’s Hero Pattern Scale? Relevant link:

http://department.monm.edu/classics/courses/clas230/MythDocuments/HeroPattern/default.htm

This article that I wrote several years ago might be food for thought, too:

http://religionisbullshit.me/brainwashing-and-fear-the-tools-of-the-church/

Hell: Established 500 A.D.

I found this information on a now defunct website about ten years ago.

The earliest records of ancient religions in Israel, Babylon (now Iraq), and Greece all refer to a place where the souls or “shades” of people who have died go to stay. This was often depicted as somewhere deep underground. But the idea that this land of the dead was reserved to punish wrongdoers didn’t arise until some time in the first millennium BC, in tandem with the belief that this subterranean world housed an infernal (lower, inferior) god.

Initially, this underground world was sometimes a place where greater gods banished lesser gods. The anti-god Ahriman, for example, of the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism (7th-6th century BC), took up residence beneath the Earth in the House of the Lie, amid every sort of filth and stench, after being defeated by the supreme god, Ahura Mazda. Ancient Israelite religions depicted Belial, a demon god, as Lord of the Abyss, an undersea pit. Likewise, Moloch, a god to whom child sacrifices were made throughout the ancient Middle East, was Lord of a subterranean kingdom of flaming lava.

Eventually most of these devil-realms were combined with Sheol (the “Grave”), making this Near East concept of a depository of ghosts a place of torment. The Old Testament describes Sheol as a dark and dusty city with high, impregnable walls and barred gates–a place of no return for both good and bad souls. Not until the 6th century AD did Catholic Christianity modify the Sheol concept, articulating a vision of Hell (an Old English word meaning “covered place”) that has endured to modern times: A place where the sinful are sent to burn in eternal fire.

The Bible lacks any explicit statement about Satan ruling Hell, however. It was other early Christian writings that assigned him the role of Hell’s warden.

Thinking Through Religious Fears

FEAR is one of the primary driving forces behind fundamentalist religion, the others being ignorance, guilt, and shame. Religious fears, for those who have them, are very real and hard to overcome. But recovery from religious fear is possible! Let’s think through some religious fears so we can discover that in reality they are baseless.

FEAR: There might be an angry, vindictive God who will punish me for sins.

REALITY: Although God is often portrayed as angry and even evil in the Bible, there is no evidence that such a God actually exists, and therefore there is no rational reason to fear such a God. Sin is a religious concept with no demonstrable basis in reality.

FEAR: There might be a real Hell that I will go to if I don’t believe.

REALITY: Most of the major world religions have some version of a Hell that unbelievers supposedly go to. There is, however, no evidence that any of these hells actually exist, and therefore there is no rational reason to fear them.

FEAR: Demons might be real, and I fear demonic activity or being deceived by them.

REALITY: There is no evidence that demons or lying spirits or any kind of spirits at all actually exist. Fearing their activity or deception is, therefore, not rational. Knowledge obtained through reliable means (such as science) is not something to be feared but knowledge obtained through unreliable means (such as ancient error-ridden holy books, prophecy, fortune telling, astrology, etc.) should be avoided.

FEAR: I am afraid of what will happen to me after I die.

REALITY: Nothing can or will happen to you after you die. Death is simply the end of your life and the beginning of your nonexistence, and there is nothing to fear in it. There is no heaven to gain but there also is no hell to fear.

As Carl Sagan famously said,

“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

It is indeed far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in religious fears and delusion. You can and will be free once you see religion for what it really is — a pack of ancient myths and lies with no basis in reality.

Carl Sagan also said,

“Personally, I would be delighted if there were a life after death, especially if it permitted me to continue to learn about this world and others, if it gave me a chance to discover how history turns out.”

I feel the same way, but I’m not optimistic that an afterlife of any kind actually exists. It all boils down to the evidence, and for religious beliefs, there simply is none that will pass critical scrutiny.

Religious fears can be powerful and very real to those who experience them, but in reality they are baseless, and once you see that you will be free!

Glory!