So there is a question that has been going through my mind for the last few weeks..For all the people here on thinkatheist who used to be a part of any religion...What things religion stuck in your head and made it so hard for you guys to let it go?

Personally..despite the fact that i left religion for many years ago,i still have the fear inside of me of hell and eternal torture..I still have something in my head that keeps telling me that i will live for ever in a place where i would scream and cry and beg for ever and ever and ever! I know that sounds pretty weird..but that is really in my head again,do you have something that religion stuck in your heads and how you got rid of these negative things?

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Hi mate. The one thing that has always assured me that there's no such thing as a 'personal god' is the sheer size of the Universe. There are more stars in our galaxy, than all the grains of sand on our planet. That's just our galaxy. Get on to YouTube and search for videos showing relative sizes and distances. Once you can wrap your head around that, the entire concept of a god crouching over our little dust particle of a planet, demanding we do or don't do stuff becomes rather silly.

I understand this very well :) but the thing is..i am still scared of all this silly hell thing haha..dont know why though

It'd be an awfully tiny weenie teeny hell though, really. Not enough flame to light a bloody Rothmans, I'll bet :)

"i am still scared of all this silly hell thing haha..dont know why though

- how about religion + clinical depression.  I guess you've grown up with the idea of hell.  But think of this:  what could you possibly do that is worth that punishment?  I always think, if hell exists it consists of one's conscience torturing one forever, that's the only thing that has real power, if there is an afterlife.  So do things you can feel good about. 

There are more stars in our galaxy, than all the grains of sand on our planet. That's just our galaxy.

Uh, no.  What I usually see is there are more stars in the entire universe, than grains of sand on all the beaches of the world, and even that probably isn't true.  (Note that even if it is true, it includes only sand on beaches--and most isn't.)  Regardless, the universe is freakin' big.

The usual numbers given:  100 billion stars in our galaxy, and 100 billion galaxies in the universe.  Both subject to revision; I keep hearing the stars in our galaxy qualified and sometimes even increased to 400 billion.

But let's take a billion.  There are a billion cubic millimeters in a meter (1000 x 1000 x 1000).  Figuring grains of sand can be much smaller than a millimeter on a side, there are surely more than a billion of them--MUCH more--in a cubic meter of fine sand.  A hundred cubic meters of sand beats out our galaxy.  In fact, fine sand would only need a hundred grains of sand in a cubic millimeter (average size, cube root of a hundred or 4.64 particles put together are a millimeter across) to be comparable to the stars of our galaxy.

Nevertheless:  Compare one grain of sand to a star.  Realize that the stars are so far apart the galaxy is mostly empty space.  Our own sun is 100+ times the diameter of the earth, 1,400,000 kilometers across or so. and the distance to the nearest other star is 60 million million kilometers.  Quick division shows that distance is about 40 million times the width of the sun.

To figure how empty it is, you have to cube that number, getting 64,000 million million million times as much empty space as sun.  That cubic meter of fine sand needs to be widely dispersed...and you're still comparing something you can barely see to the sun, which is 100 times as wide (and a million times the volume) of the earth.

And THAT is just one galaxy out of a hundred billion.

Step outside at night.  Look up.  Unless you happen to catch a meteor ("shooting star") or see a satellite or airplane, there are exactly FOUR things up there you can see with your bare eyeball that are smaller than the Earth:  The moon, Mars, Venus and Mercury (and Mercury can be hard to find).  EVERY other one of those tteny looking dots is larger, most much, much larger, than this big thing you're standing on which you might be tempted to think of as "the entire world."  And everything you do see is (with one or two exceptions that you'd have to hunt for) is within THIS galaxy.

I loved Bill Nye's video on the distance between planets using sports balls and a bicycle. He couldn't make a video comparing the distance between the stars and some reference on Earth. But the ping-pong ball does it. If our sun is a ping-pong ball sitting on the spike of the Empire State building....the closet star (Alpha Centauri A) is a ping-pong ball sitting on top of the tip of Big Ben in London. This helped me a lot.

P.S. here is the beloved video:

I thought you were wrong and YOU WERE!

There are more stars in the universe (not our galaxy) than grains of sand on all the beaches of the planet. 

Still, pretty amazing. 

BTW, it's even more amazing according to more recent estimates:

To put it another way, there are 10 stars for every grain of sand, eleven times the number of cups of water in all the Earth's oceans, ten thousand times the number of wheat kernels that have ever been produced on Earth and ten billion times the number of cells in a human being!

This is a staggering number- and it's most likely a very, very low estimate because the number of galaxies filling the Universe is thought to be much larger than those the Hubble can see! (source)

I like this thought.  The natural Universe is too big for a doG. Haha

i will live for ever in a place where i would scream and cry and beg for ever and ever and ever!

I never believed, although I did wonder about belief, and was well aware of that specific belief (above) that gets implanted early into every kid's brain.

I think what you're feeling is a similar sentiment to why and how religion was started In the first place. Humans have questioned death since they were cognitive of mortality and I think religion has always been a coping mechanism to deal with the inevitability of death in a "hopeful" way. It's obviously morphed into moral institutions and promotes ideas of hell and heaven in the Christian tradition which essentially is aimed at scaring believers into moral action. That is the worst reason to act morally. Right action should be done for itself because it is right, not out of fear of hell of eternal death. Just remember that religion likely began out of fear and operates on fear to control those who buy in. Don't let yourself be manipulated by fear. Just my opinion

When you look at the rather bland notion many Christians seem to have regarding life in Heaven, one has to ask if it's possible to commit suicide in Heaven?


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