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.

Sister Lynn Prays for My Conversion

I have a chronic illness (bipolar disorder) that required a short hospital stay recently. I have been battling a bout of severe depression that sent me to the Providence Psych ER four nights in a row and then to an inpatient hospital for a couple days after that. I am much better now, and a couple of days ago or so I published this status update to Facebook:

Feeling well enough to publicly bash religion again. Not everybody will be happy about that, lol… but I am happy to still be here to be able to piss religious people off and, perhaps, get them to THINK too. Glory!

Sister Lynn, who is evidently unaware of my status an ex-Christian anti-theist atheist, replied with the following comment:

Well Jeff I’m keeping the faith & continue praying for your recovery. I will also pray for GOD to open your eyes and all other atheists. Without him the world would be a worse off place! Now that I know your atheist your name will be forever on our church’s pray list for you conversion! God Bless

My response to Sister Lynn was as follows:

I am not just an atheist. I am EX-Christian anti-theist atheist. I got sucked into the fundamentalist Christian cult when I was 19, and I didn’t FREE until I was 34. My suffering from then undiagnosed bipolar disorder was made much worse than it had to be by doctrines such as sin and trying to please an imaginary god who never gave me any feedback. I spent 15 years of my life worrying about pissing Jesus off and worrying that my family and friends might be going to Hell. NO WAY IN HELL will I EVER be returning to that kind of mental slavery to fear-based doctrines and ancient myths and lies.

You are welcome to pray for me and to put me on all of the prayer lists you care to. I can tell you right now that it will not do one bit of good. Prayer has no power whatsoever other than making the person doing the praying feel good.

You can pray for me all you like, but you are not likely to convince me again that the world is the way that it is because a talking snake convinced two obviously mythical people to eat magic fruit from the magic tree that god ordered them not to fuck with. I’m also not likely to believe again that god had to sacrifice himself to himself to save us from himself due to such a ridiculous alleged event.

There is not a shred of credible evidence that a god of any kind actually exists. God never says, thinks, or does anything at all in the real world, except in the minds of believers. To me, that is a huge clue to his actual nonexistence.

Religion is the greatest tragedy to ever afflict mankind. The world would be MUCH better off without it. Without religion, the world would not have the history that it does of Inquisitions, Crusades, religious wars, and religion-based terrorism (such as Christians bombing abortion clinics or Muslims bombing just about everybody). The world also would be much more scientifically and socially progressed if the tragedy of religion had not occurred, because there would not have been the religion-based resistance to social and scientific progress.

Atheists do not need to have their eyes opened. We already accept and deal with the world as it actually is. Religious people DO need their eyes opened, and they need and deserve the opportunity to be FREE from religion and religion-based fear, guilt, shame, and ignorance (the four driving forces behind fundamentalist religion).

Sorry if that’s not the friendly response you were hoping for. It’s nothing personal. I have had a very rough time lately and I’m really not in the mood to discuss religion or the associated ancient myths and legends in a very friendly manner at the moment.