I've had thoughts on why many cling on to religion, even after constant debunking and debating. I think I may have a possible reason why some do not give them up.

Most religions all have some system of an afterlife. People practicing the religion believe that, if they follow their specific book and appease to their specific God, they get to go to a magical place where nothing bad happens and they get to live out their wishes and desires that were either impossible in their mortal life, or there life was too short to live it.

When someone suddenly suggests that such a concept does not exist, the believer becomes defensive. Death is a bitter result of life. We dread the day we where we breathe our last breath, or if our life was suddenly cut short. To us, the concept of an after-life is comforting, a God protecting us like a Dad telling his son everything is going to be alright, even though he knows the bitter end is near.

I think, while not the sole reason for many that hold on to their faith, a denial of a mortal death being a permanent death is what keeps them from swallowing the bitter pill of reality that life is not fair, and that shit happens and you may not get to do everything in life or you could drop dead the very next day.

I was born in Mississippi, and raised Baptist, although, my family was mostly lazy Christians who only went to church on around the Holidays. I had the hope as a small child to go to Heaven and be with Angels and no kids there would ever be mean to me again. The thought that I couldn't have any of that would probably have scared me back then.

I came to realize that it's for the best that there is no afterlife. Imagine what exactly you would be doing in an afterlife. As the eternity went on, you would grow tired of the same mundane things. Would you truly want to spend your mortal life appeasing some God, only so you can appease him the rest of your life? I can't think of anything else that would be so...well, boring.

In a way, I feel more confident in this life. It won't be okay if I skip out on opportunities, because I may not get the chance again. This is my one shot, and I don't want to blow it on wishful thinking.


How about you? If you were once religious and now Atheist, how did you overcome the hurdle of accepting there is no afterlife? Or, do you not believe in an afterlife, but in some way, wish/hope there is one? Has any of this changed your perspective on how you live your life than how you lived your life beforehand?

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Being insulted is not a fact. It's your response to something, so YOU are then responsible for being insulted, not the other person. When someone insults me, I go "Whatever!"

I'm glad to say I'm not like you. Anybody who wants to fuck with me is going to know they've fucked with the wrong person.

Practice your Jesus impersonations on somebody who's easily impressed.

You'd expect more from an atheist member than such childish threats. What he said wasn't offending at all. Where do you come from that "I doubt it" is offending and warrants a beating? You remind me of another member here, who when I told him that people who have too many babies are a problem, told me he would have punched me if I told him this in real life. And apparently he's a police officer. What's it with you people getting offended and throwing threats over absolutely nothing?

I didn't threaten anybody. A threat must portend some possibility of harm. I did, however, let him know the level of offense I took at his insult.

Sounded like a threat to me. You overreacted. You've done it before and shown a tendancy to get very angry when your opinion is not accepted or shown to be inconsistent.

"Anybody who wants to fuck with me is going to know they've fucked with the wrong person."

Did I stumble onto the set of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie and not realise it? Mayme attitudes like this are why some don't give on religion.

Sounds like sour grapes to me, John.

Not at all. As @KOrsan observed, it just sounded like a childish threat in response to the most benign of comments. Why not apologise and move on rather than give the tough guy speech?

I slightly agree, when you just give facts and theories they become skeptical of them and cling to their faith harder. I have had my best results by getting THEM to agree with a couple premises and then have them answer a question and then show them how it applies to their beliefs. Ex. is god all knowing? YES!. That means that he knows who is going to hell before they are born? YES!. So how can you have freewill? HMMMM...   By "best results" I just mean that I have had people tell me they look at things a little differently afterwars, or that they never thought about that. Is not a deconversion but that is expecting too much...it shows they are at least listening. Is hard getting theist to listen and consider in the first place.

DOH! Makes sense, and yeah I was a thick one that didn't get it. Do now.

I have helped deconvert several Theists over the years – or more correctly - I have been involved in the process of helping Theists to challenge their own beliefs honestly and to break the stranglehold that irrational belief has on them. In my experience it is always something that people do for themselves. A bit like addiction where you can only guide an addict but they must come to realise that they have been in denial for themselves. No facts or figures or scare tactics about ones health have ever done the trick.

Most ex-theists, when they look back, are seldom ever able to point to one fact or “thing” that broke the spell. It is usually a process that has been ongoing because they have questioned their doubts honestly rather than a single “white light” moment. Using the word “Atheist” about oneself is probably the end of the process and most will realise that they have actually lost their faith or not believed for a period of time before the words “I am an Atheist” have any real meaning.

Now that they have reasoned themselves out of faith they need to look for answers to the bigger questions in life elsewhere. This is where logic and critical thinking get started. They are acquired skills and need development. But that comes from making the effort to learn. Once we strive to acquire knowledge (a very human trait) and broaden our minds we will only want to use reason and logic. Faith will never be good enough again. In fact it can be almost embarrassing to recall having it. I can remember cringing to myself that I had fallen for the god trick but it was not my fault as everyone around me was doing it. It does not matter as it is so far in the past to be meaningless to me.

I have never known of an occasion where logic did it for a Theist. Faith alienates reason from the brain and religions continue to exist because it plays on our fears - death, hell, being shunned by family etc. They get used to this fear and even become secure in it so some will run when doubt appears but the brave ones analyze the reasons for their doubts and eventually free themselves.

Anyway there is no afterlife as far as I am concerned. My death is meaningless to me - at least it will be so when it happens. I have no interested in going to a giant theme park for eternity after this life (thanks Hitch for that one). This is a more mature view of life. I don’t need or want a sky daddy. I would even say that once I came to terms with this reality that I gained a greater appreciation for everything and a greater sense of empathy for others. I will be probably die sometime within the next 30 years unless science moves faster than I think it will. I have no dread or fear about that. In the meantime I intend to enjoy as much of it as I can.

Worth a look

That was a great video, Reg.

As for your comment, I think that many (most?) moderate Christians mentally compartmentalize their faith. Their powers of observation and scrutiny can be fully developed where religion is not concerned -- or more precisely, where THEIR religion is not concerned.

Whacko fundamentalists are a different story. Most of them seem to have completely abandoned critical thinking.

Unseen believes that, "In practice, theists as a rule don't give up religion because you showed them a fact or made a strong argument.", so I'm wondering how you deconverted people without the use of facts or strong arguments.

@Blaine,

I agree that people don't normally surrender their faith easily: to fact or strong argument or anything else. But I wouldn't tell Reg that I doubt he deconverted anybody if he says he did. That would just be asinine. Period.

Without a freethinker to bounce questions off of, turning from religion can be a slow laborious process even when a person is ready to scrutinize their beliefs. We know this from the countless deconversion stories on this site. Even with a freethinker as a sounding board, a believer needs to want the truth. If he's earnest, and you're there for him, then you've been privileged with the opportunity to turn a brainwashed person to reason.

There have been many discussion on this site about how best to work with a believer seeking answers. Some people favor a confrontational style that attempts to "force" the believer to face the facts. Some people, like me, prefer a less confrontational style that still delivers the best arguments and answers questions honestly. Still others believe you should sugar-coat your approach and coddle the believer slowly and patiently.

There was a believer here a few weeks back who really wasn't ready. He was more of a warrior for Christ. Most of us gave him the straight dope without pulling punches. I'd characterize the bulk of the exchanges as firm but not overtly confrontational . . . although there were some confrontational exchanges as well.

He dropped out of the discussion and couldn't be cajoled or taunted back. Did we change his mind? Who knows? But we certainly gave him a lot to think about. And if he ever does deconvert, our exchanges with him will have played a role. Maybe minor; maybe major. Facts and strong arguments will have contributed to his deconversion . . . only, we'll probably never know about it.

And that's the way it should be. We don't need believers to capitulate before our very eyes. It's good enough that we sow seeds of doubt without ever seeing the harvest. Ex-believers come from somewhere and the Internet is becoming a huge source of deconversions. All the freethought sites and reading material and atheist discussion forums are having an effect.

If Reg says he deconverted people, I see no reason not to believe him.

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