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.

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!