Since childhood, I had the fear of going to hell pushed down my throat. I was taught about how it is non stop torture and everything unpleasant. I was a devout believer for a long time until about 5 years ago. It took a lot of research and knowledge before I would even play with the idea that God did not exist because not believing in God is the only unforgivable sin and even thinking it was a one way tickett to hell.
I remember the day clearly when I decided to question my faith. It is the strongest memory I have because it was the biggest risk I have ever taken. ( Just in the sense that if I was wrong I was going to hell for all eternity.) I am now comfortably an atheist and I believe the chances for their being a God are very very slim and if there is one, I am 100% confident it is not the Christian God.
Now to the question/problem. Do a lot of people have the issue of fear of hell still? I have read a lot about brain development and how our minds create constructs of the world when we are little, the same time "baby christians" are having hell shoved down their throats. I often feel like I have conflicting software in my head which causes a brain loop that is frustrating to say the least. I think "What if I am wrong and I am going to hell and it is as bad as they said it is?" The old fear creeps up and I experience a mild terror. Then my brain runs through all of the data I have collected about God and comes to the conclusion that it cannot be real and I shouldn't worry about it. I then question if Satan has tricked me in some way, then I dismiss that fear with another thought process involving thinking about the data again. Double checking my answer in a way. Almost every time I discuss anything that deals with God not being real this process happens. It always quickly resolves itself. It is getting better, a lot better, but I wonder if my automated response of the fear of hell will ever go away without having to logically dismiss it.
I have heard that there are actually people who offer therapy for this very thing to people who are not coping with it well. Because of this I get infuriated about religion being taught to young children. Especially the fire and brimstone religious views that I was raised on.
Do others who were devoutly religious at one time experience this same thing? Did it ever go away?
I don't think I ever bought into the hell concept, but I was very curious (in my childhood) with the concept of limbo, but the nuns wouldn't talk about it.
Ohhh, yes, I can relate. Growing up Protestant made me feel like I'd go to hell for my doubt and my bisexuality. My fear of hell/God's wrath is so ingrained, I still have a phobia of thunderstorms that originated from it.
As for it going away, not quite yet. It's about 50-70% improved. But I'm young, so it might have a lot better still to get.
Hell, for me, never felt like a very powerful concept. When I have been 'curshed to hell', it has been when I ask an embassasing question, when I was a stupid kid, when a friend called me on the phone suggesting that if I did not come to his church-I would go to hell, when I suggested that Christ was a philosopher and not the son-of -god, that I accidently cut someone off while driving, I expect that I have been cursh-to hell, mostly in absentia, by people who felt more safe not dealing with me directly. I think most people need 'hell' as a way to bail themselves out, thinking that 'god' will do their dirty work for them.
Sadly, Sartra's play 'No Exit' seems about right, just add 7 billion more people, minus the folks who don't believe in hell.
but you know christians will come up with something like ''well god will give you a new body so that you will still be able to feel'' how corny is that? and i have heard a couple of them actually come up with this ridiculous concept of new bodies and shit like really man logically it just wouldnt work.
the idea pops up in my mind every now and then, but then i shake that shit off and keep it moving. but for me its like if i watch enough horror movies, which i love horror movies btw, i might start having thoughts like damn what if that shit is real. but i know that it was made out of some persons vivid imagination to try and scare people. thinking about it now just the very concept of hell is ridiculous. i mean come on torture me for not believing in a narcissistic, egomaniac of a god who shouldn't even be called a god if he is experiencing the emotions of us mere mortals. that whole concept was redundant from the beginning and i hate that i didnt realize that earlier on in life, but here i am now and the very thought of being sent to hell no longer depresses me.
I was raised Catholic and understand where you’re coming from. I’m also a recovering alcoholic, and see a parallel between shaking indoctrination and addiction. The old gut-level feelings still come back now and then, but get weaker as time goes by. The trick, at least for me, is to focus on all of the good things that leaving both of those things behind have brought me.
It goes away eventually, I can relate to that fear. I just said "fuck the holy spirit" every time the fear creep-ed in. Which is very bold blasphemy and unforgivable according to the bible. I felt better afterward because it reminded me there was nothing to fear. I chose that method since "exposure" is one of the ways to get rid of phobias. Now I laugh at the concept of hell and when someone threatens me with it I remind them that I dont live in bondage anymore.
Religion is shackles that feel and look real, but disappear as soon as you realize they are a mirage.
I guess in a lot of ways I'm kind of lucky. I was taught to believe there is no such thing as Hell (and also that normal, everyday people don't go to Heaven, either). So, Hell has never scared me. However, I have had a lot of people TRY to scare me with Hell, claiming that my disbelief was going to result in me going, or some other horrible, oh-so-sinful thing I was doing was going to result in my eternal damnation in the fiery pits of Hell. But, this never bothered me. More than anything, I always felt really sorry for the people who believed that bull. They live their lives in constant fear over some fairy tale dungeon of agony in the center of the world. That must be a really frustrating and scary way to live...
Yeah, the hell concept sure stuck with me for a long time. I really hate the fact that every Christian I meet says that the details of hell are never taught to children - I have wondered, at times, if the teaching was unique to my family but I've found, time and time again, that when asked, Christian children will tell me all about burning in hell. It's despicable.
I was definitely taught about hell, and so was every other kid my age that went to my church which was a large well heeded, Baptist church in Michigan. It was the kind of hell you burned in eternally, begging for water yet being denied even one drop on your tongue. It scared the crap out of me. I had nightmares about furnaces chasing me. Shudder.
I was Catholic and I believed in hell. The day I admitted that I was an atheist I also dropped the whole idea of hell, it just doesn't make sense and I accepted that. From then until today the concept of hell has not bothered me at all.
How you feel is completely understandable though. I'll use a small example in order to make my point:
Did you know that until recent times (1940's), the colour pink was associated with boys and the colour blue was associated with girls. Because of social conditioning it is probably hard for most people to be able to make sense of this. Of course a colour is just a colour and no colour identifies more with one sex than the other but social norms have an immense impact on our views and they are often very hard to shake.
If something as silly as what colour clothes are associated with which sex provokes such strong feelings, it's easy to understand how something like religion, especially something as threatening as hell has left it's mark.