I've just decided I'm an Atheist

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Well, over the past few weeks I've noticed religion really isn't that big in my life anymore. I also came to realize more and more that there is literally no proof of any God. I know there's no way to disprove any Gods either, but why did I believe in the Christian God but not Zeus or Shiva? Or any other of the thousands of Gods? They all have the same amount of proof of their existence: none. The only reason I believed in the Christian God was because I was born Christian, and I was told from a young age that the Christian God was the only god who existed. Well, to be fair my parents weren't exactly super religious. We only went to church on Sunday and said grace before dinner, nothing more. Anyways, I'm trying to keep back thoughts of my old religion, but I'm really worried about one thing. Even though I never believed in Hell as a Christian since the only references to any place after death are to Heaven and Sheol, which is described as a state of "blackness" and similar to sleep, I can't help but worry if Hell does exist and I'll be tortured for eternity. But then I think about why I'll be tortured. If a Christian never gives a cent to charity, is rude to everyone and gets into fights, will he go into Heaven if he simply believes that the blood of Jesus will wash over his sins? The Bible is really vague about how much sinning will disbar entry to Heaven. Could a murderer get into Heaven if he's a Christian? What about Adolf Hitler? The only sin that supposedly disbars entry from Heaven is denying the Holy Spirit. So, what prevents murderers from gaining entry into Heaven? Is there a "sin limit" that when exceeded, will deny you entry to Heaven? It's all very confusing to me.

And even if Heaven is real, my Grandma will probably be in there. She was a firm believer until her death. Just before she died, I promised her I'd see her in Heaven soon enough. If I go to Sheol or Hell or wherever, that means I won't be in Heaven with her, and I will never be for all eternity. What would God do? Would he create a false image of me to fool my Grandma into thinking I'm there with her? That would be a pretty dickish move. Not just her, but all of the people that I love will be disconnected from me for eternity. Assuming they still had their free thought, would they be upset and grieve? Would they think I "deserved it" for not being a Christian and continue having an eternal party? Or would God just remove all negative thoughts from their mind so that they don't grieve over the people that didn't make it in? All options are equally horrifying to me. Of course, Heaven could just not exist and we all go to the dirt after death, but the possibilities still worry me.

I'm still being open to the possibility of converting back to Christianity later in life, but for now I've decided that there are no Gods for me. Can someone please give me some advice and comfort on the problems that I'm facing with my new outlook on life?

I'm not sure, nor do I care, if Christianity agrees with me, but when people ask things regarding entry to Heaven, the story of Jesus, the prostitute, and the Pharisees (sp?) is what comes to mind. Jesus ultimately spares her punishment by telling her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go now, and leave your life of sin." Believe in God, and don't focus your life on shit he doesn't like. People fuck up, sin happens. Ask forgiveness, and actively work to not do it again.

Advice... belief comes from within. Listen to all the rhetoric, logic, sermons, and Bible readings you want, but don't let anyone make the decision for you. Trust your instincts.

I've found logic to be a pretty good companion.

Istvan:
I've found logic to be a pretty good companion.

I find Logic to be a tool of the Lord (Catholic Deist Here).

OT: If you feel like you can't believe in God, then you might as well not. I believe in God and I can't think of a universe without him/her/it/them.

Either way, Congratulations! I hope you find happiness being an Atheist. Just, don't be a jerk about it.

Black Arrow Officer:
I can't help but worry if Hell does exist and I'll be tortured for eternity.

Don't worry about it too much. What if it turns out heaven is real... but it's the Islamic heaven, and therefore you're not allowed in? Or God is real, but He's the angry God of the old Testament, and he condemns you to Hell for eating shellfish and working on a Sunday? What if it turns out the Vikings had the right idea, and you miss out on being allowed into Valhalla because you didn't die in battle? And so on and so forth.

With the utmost respect to your deceased relatives and the memories you have of them - I think an afterlife probably doesn't exist and death is probably the end for us. The idea that consciousness can exist a) outside of the (living) body and b) independently of a brain, isn't supported by any credible evidence and sounds mostly like wishful thinking.

But - if it turns out that I'm dead wrong and God exists, I'd like to think that he wouldn't hold against me the fact that I didn't believe in him. As the old saying goes, if God exists, why did He make me an atheist?

Istvan:
I've found logic to be a pretty good companion.

Mr. Spock, you're the most cold-blooded man I've ever known.

Black Arrow Officer:
snip

Well, right after becoming atheist and asking myself the same "what if I'm wrong and there is an afterlife" question, I decided that if I led a moral life but was sent to hell just because I didn't believe in or worship God, then he really wasn't the kind of guy I could respect enough to sincerely worship anyway. The more I thought about it the more I realized that it made God sound like a jerk, and was probably just a ploy by the church to keep people from leaving the flock. I really don't see why God would care what I do one way or another. He's got a universe to run that's far larger, more complex, and more interesting than I am. And if he did, it seems ridiculous that he would value belief in him over morality.

Besides, for a guy who wants people to believe in him on pain of eternal damnation, he sure did a thorough job of covering his tracks and making it look like he never existed. Which makes him even worse if the hell for nonbelievers thing is true.

So if I'm wrong and there is an afterlife, I'm not worried, because any good God would either let me into heaven or just let me sleep forever. And if he does send nonbelievers to hell because they used the sense, reason, intellect, and free will he gave them to interpret the false evidence he planted, then he's a dick, I wouldn't want to worship him, and I can't imagine that going to a heaven ruled by a guy like that would be an enjoyable afterlife anyway.

In any case, that stuff has such a strong odor of marketing about it that I think if God exists he's probably nothing like the one in the Bible or any other scripture anyway.

And that's how I abandoned faith. I'm open to the idea that there may be something beyond the laws of physics at work, but like the physics we've discovered in the 20th and 21st centuries, I think the reality of God would be far more different, strange, counterintuitive, and wondrous than anything imagined so far by humans.

Many good points in this thread.

When I'm worried about hell, I remind myself of this:
Mathematically speaking, atheists are less likely to go to hell than Christians. Seriously; if Judaism, Islam, or the Westboro babtist church are correct, then atheists are less likely to go to hell than [mainstream] Christians. Also, even if God wrote the Bible, he probably wrote it to test our gullibility, meaning that atheists are more likely to go to heaven than Christians.

I really try not to get all excited about all the fire and brimstone nonsense. The modern conception of Hell is relatively new and really didn't take hold in Christianity until the Middle/Dark Ages and it was utilized more as a tool to instill obedience in the people.

(Using fear to control people. I wonder if that still goes on :/)

I kind of had sort of the same dilemma you're having. I was raised in an atheist household, but later on in life I decided to give religion a try and started going to catholic mass and did all the necessary steps and all that. After a while though I realized that I really didn't believe in it with my whole heart and soul, because there really /IS/ no way to prove or disprove any of it. It's much too uncertain for me.

After I got out of the church I too was faced with the idea of what'll happen if, when i die, the Christians were right. What I've kind of resolved to is this. One, the idea of Hell, as you see it, from my understanding, is something the church took on from The Divine Comedy. I find it a method of fear tactics to keep people in the church. Anyway, the second point that I've found is that if God is real, and the Christians have it right, then there is the belief that God is all-forgiving, and I personally believe that if that's true, then really none of us should have any fear in going to Hell. If we find God after we die, and he's there, then we can apologize and in theory be allowed into heaven.

*shrug* That's just me, though. Maybe it'll help you too, though.

Mr.Mattress:
Congratulations! I hope you find happiness being an Atheist. Just, don't be a jerk about it.

Coming from another [very-loosely termed]Catholic, this is basically my response.

My faith is somewhat slowly recovering from years of neglect thanks to a theology class, but alas I'll need to make this choice soon enough.

Black Arrow Officer:
Anyways, I'm trying to keep back thoughts of my old religion, but I'm really worried about one thing. Even though I never believed in Hell as a Christian since the only references to any place after death are to Heaven and Sheol, which is described as a state of "blackness" and similar to sleep, I can't help but worry if Hell does exist and I'll be tortured for eternity.

And Pascal's Wager makes a resurgence. Of course, Pascal's Wager has a couple of major pitfalls. First, it assumes that God is vindictive enough to judge people on whether or not they cowtowed to it, judging worth based on how much you personally attempted to flatter God rather than your nature as a person. Amusingly, the proposition also relies on the idea of 'tricking' God, proposing that going through the motions "just in case" but not truly holding the belief is good enough and God will treat the half-hearted equally to the truly faithful. Additionally, it has a rather limited proposal, giving only the options of "God exists and will strike you down for not kissing its feet" and "God doesn't exist and there's no afterlife to speak of" as the only two options. Unfortunately for the argument, this is a false dichotomy, presenting two possibilities as the only existing options when in truth the possibilities are innumerable. To create a true model, EVERY religious perspective - past and present - must be accounted for, must be adapted to account for the possibility of all ranges of benevolent, malevolent and indifferent deities. Mind you, this is without even going into the idea that true religious knowledge was either lost or never known to us. Again, despite the implication of Pascal's Wager, there are far more than just two possibilities, and that it only acknowledges two is perhaps its single greatest failure as a logical proposition.

Though if you must think of the issue on Blase Pascal's terms, then a popular counter is the Atheist's Wager, which Marcus Aurelius [ostensibly] expressed thusly:

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones

Faith is a journey not a destination. Always keep an open heart and an open mind on matters of the soul. The rituals of the church are nothing compared to a one on one relationship with God.

Yes I am protestant, unorganized religion ftw.

The existential, lonely period happened to me and it sucked, but I eventually got over it. If you're ever feeling a little lost, there's plenty of stuff to read on the subject of morality and philosophy (more broad) and religion/counter-apologetics (more narrow). In particular I'd recommend reading up on secular humanism, which is a great philosophy for any atheist to hold.

Good luck with your life, man. I hope you do well for yourself. It can be challenging and you'll probably feel a little lost at times, but there are always resources and support for anyone willing to seek them.

I don't believe one's religion is too big of a deal as long as their not waving it in other's faces. As long as you have some reason for backing up your religion, it's fine.

Black Arrow Officer:

I'm still being open to the possibility of converting back to Christianity later in life, but for now I've decided that there are no Gods for me. Can someone please give me some advice and comfort on the problems that I'm facing with my new outlook on life?

All of these things are pretty standard for a huge conversion like this. Here's the fun part: since you chose to be an atheist, your beliefs will naturally conform to your beliefs. You said yourself you were only a Christian because you weren't offered anything else. It is hard to shake off those natural knee-jerk reactions (pondering Hell/Heaven, etc) when you first turn atheist, but honestly it feels like the weight of the world is lifted when you get rid of those nagging feelings. Doing good things feels better when you are doing it for its own sake rather than to appease doctrine.

If you still need solace, then ponder this Thomas Jefferson quote: "Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear".

The_AC:
Also, even if God wrote the Bible, he probably wrote it to test our gullibility, meaning that atheists are more likely to go to heaven than Christians.

God didn't write it. He dictated it to his prophets and they wrote it down. This is why I advocate the letters DNR (in that order) to be at the end of every holy script.

Losing your faith is never an easy thing to come to terms with. You have my sympathies. However, by examining your own beliefs, and discarding those which do not stand up to scrutiny, you have demonstrated intelligence, critical thinking and emotional maturity. If you are still on the fence, by all means do read on! Theology in general is a fascinating topic, and reading up on it helped me make sense of my place in human history, post-faith.

Best of luck.

Aside of my child hood religion which I was indoctrinated in, I looked at one other religion before I grew up and arrived at atheism. For me it was not a painless process considering my family was die hard believers in the talking snake Christians. It got quite interesting when your supposed loved ones screams you in the face telling you you deserve to burn in hell. You seem to have been more lucky with your family, or at least your parents you mention.

Always question what others seems so eager for you to believe. I wasted many years not doing that, but as of now I am as happy as can be.

Black Arrow Officer:
I also came to realize more and more that there is literally no proof of any God. I know there's no way to disprove any Gods either, but why did I believe in the Christian God but not Zeus or Shiva? Or any other of the thousands of Gods? They all have the same amount of proof of their existence: none. The only reason I believed in the Christian God was because I was born Christian, and I was told from a young age that the Christian God was the only god who existed.

I think this is a very important realization, the fact that God did not choose you, but God was chosen for you. It's always seemed strange to me that God would 'punish' you for being born in the wrong circumstances, in which you are forced to choose the 'wrong' religion and not be lucky enough to be born into the 'right' religion. I think it's also a good step to realize that believing in something with the same amount of proof as something you don't believe in is kind of a double standard.

Well, to be fair my parents weren't exactly super religious. We only went to church on Sunday and said grace before dinner, nothing more. Anyways,

Believe it or not that's actually considered very religious over here in the UK (or at least I would deem it so), not much relevance to the topic, but I thought that's quite interesting that very religious here is a bit religious in other countries. Also, I lost my faith very gradually and never thought anything of it (although I never thought much of Christianity in the first place, I just said I was Christian because I was raised Christian), I guess it's a bigger thing over in the states/for people who used to be more religious?

My view on the afterlife is that it's a fairly safe gamble to think that there is likely nothing there, and that's a rather appealing thought in itself. If I do no longer exist, I can't really feel anything, no regret, no pain. Perhaps my psycic presence will become one with the noosphere or whatnot, but it's still likely that I won't be aware of myself anymore at that point.
If I've been wrong all the time and I do end up to be judged by Yahweh all the same, then I hope I will retain my dignity. I've got free will, after all, and I'm certainly not going to bow before that tyrant.

And what's interesting about spiritual tyranny is that it's got nothing to intimidate me with anymore. I'm not particularly worried about the theoretical existance of a hell. You see, it might be horrible the first few thousand years, but sooner or later, you will just get used to whatever they can throw at you. It'll most likely end up with the poor demons in charge of the torturing crying themselves to sleep. Also, I'm sure hell will have some interesting people to talk with. Always wanted to trade cooking-tips with Göbbels.
Not even the I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream blob-variant of hell isn't very frightening. I'll most likely just end up swaying in tune to whatever song is on my mind.

Also, faiths who threatens with reincarnation is even less of a bother. I'm not done with life yet, I'm in no hurry to break free. Even if I am reincarnated as a dungbeetle or an anthill (as I believe ants have a collective mind of sorts, it's complicated), it's still life. Not much to loose there.

Of course, I'd like some sort of heaven-ish afterlife to occur, I certainly wouldn't complain. Were it up to me, it'd be like passing an airport-check, with Anubis giving you a brochure and a welcome-drink, like in a sappy tourist-resort. It's just that it's rather unlikely. But even if that doesn't happen, I still think I'm "winning" the afterlife-roulette whatever happens. Nothing there and I just croak? No worries, won't bother me since I'm dead. Yahweh is real and is very cross with me? Fuck him, his intimidation-plans got huge logical holes in it. The hindus were right and I come back as a Brazilian goliath-spider? Chirp, chirp birds om nom nom!

You can only win.

hardlymotivated:

Istvan:
I've found logic to be a pretty good companion.

Mr. Spock, you're the most cold-blooded man I've ever known.

So says the militarist who needs to get his picture into an encyclopaedia entry for rape-face.

"If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life's exciting variety, not something to fear. "
― Gene Roddenberry

Well, I'm not upset about my Grandma anymore. I realize that she was probably comforted by my "Heaven" statement when she died and went off smiling and comforted. Even though she went to the ground and saw nothing but blackness, at least she doesn't know of her predicament, since she can't know anything. That kind of helps me face the possibility that there is no Heaven or Nirvana of any sort when I die. When you think about it, at the end of a long day you can't wait to go to sleep. At the end of your life, you'll be wanting to enter that sleep again, this time with you not waking up. Sounds horrifying, but remember again, you won't even know you're dead.

I'd say the most important thing is not to feel too hurt about it, or to take it out on religious people in general. (this is exactly what I did after becoming atheist.) Secondly I'd recommend you get your hands on some secular philosophy, Carl Sagan is good.

The one disadvantage is that you can expect a few squabbles with super-religious extended family (I'm pretty much cut off from relatives in Ireland for this reason). If it looks like you're about to lose a friend, ask them if your new belief has anything to do with it, and ask them what's really changed about you. These claims should be easy to refute...there generally aren't any good grounds for this.

Black Arrow Officer:
Well, over the past few weeks I've noticed religion really isn't that big in my life anymore. I also came to realize more and more that there is literally no proof of any God. I know there's no way to disprove any Gods either, but why did I believe in the Christian God but not Zeus or Shiva? Or any other of the thousands of Gods? They all have the same amount of proof of their existence: none. The only reason I believed in the Christian God was because I was born Christian, and I was told from a young age that the Christian God was the only god who existed. Well, to be fair my parents weren't exactly super religious. We only went to church on Sunday and said grace before dinner, nothing more. Anyways, I'm trying to keep back thoughts of my old religion, but I'm really worried about one thing. Even though I never believed in Hell as a Christian since the only references to any place after death are to Heaven and Sheol, which is described as a state of "blackness" and similar to sleep, I can't help but worry if Hell does exist and I'll be tortured for eternity. But then I think about why I'll be tortured. If a Christian never gives a cent to charity, is rude to everyone and gets into fights, will he go into Heaven if he simply believes that the blood of Jesus will wash over his sins? The Bible is really vague about how much sinning will disbar entry to Heaven. Could a murderer get into Heaven if he's a Christian? What about Adolf Hitler? The only sin that supposedly disbars entry from Heaven is denying the Holy Spirit. So, what prevents murderers from gaining entry into Heaven? Is there a "sin limit" that when exceeded, will deny you entry to Heaven? It's all very confusing to me.

I quite like this quote, misattributed to Marcus Aurelius, but still good nonetheless.

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."

It's a rather good antidote to Pascal's Wager, which is what you seem to be veering towards here. I realise it's not comforting to everyone, but if you value your integrity over comfort ultimately, then I think it's rather apt.

And even if Heaven is real, my Grandma will probably be in there. She was a firm believer until her death. Just before she died, I promised her I'd see her in Heaven soon enough. If I go to Sheol or Hell or wherever, that means I won't be in Heaven with her, and I will never be for all eternity. What would God do? Would he create a false image of me to fool my Grandma into thinking I'm there with her? That would be a pretty dickish move. Not just her, but all of the people that I love will be disconnected from me for eternity. Assuming they still had their free thought, would they be upset and grieve? Would they think I "deserved it" for not being a Christian and continue having an eternal party? Or would God just remove all negative thoughts from their mind so that they don't grieve over the people that didn't make it in? All options are equally horrifying to me. Of course, Heaven could just not exist and we all go to the dirt after death, but the possibilities still worry me.

What you feel about something is not necessarily relevant. What is relevant is whether the notion of heaven is (among other things, like plausibility etc) compatible with the qualities of the associated deity.

I'm still being open to the possibility of converting back to Christianity later in life, but for now I've decided that there are no Gods for me. Can someone please give me some advice and comfort on the problems that I'm facing with my new outlook on life?

Keep exposing yourself to both sides of the debate. Don't give up now that you've settled on what seems like a more sensible answer. In many ways, your search is only beginning. You will need support from other atheists as they are most likely to know what you are going through, but do not let this become an echo chamber where you aren't exposed to any contrary views.

I'm done with the days of hating on all religion, the only pro's I can see from it are the reduction of fear for death. Only fundamentalist ideas entertain me these days.

The reason is because I cannot stand the idea of a God. What a cruel-hearted twat. If "He" exists, why give us intelligence and free will only to hold hostage the idea of a pleasant afterlife, blackmailing us to serve as his pawns? It's just ludicrous. What about those thousands of other intellectual, advance species whom it's almost certainly possible that they exist? What's his influence over them?

Like I said, ludicrous. My life is my own, my morals and decisions are my own, I determine my own fate and the good I do for this world is off my own back; not this "God" I hear about. He hasn't done shit for me, but chance has. So, since I'm here I'm going to do my best as an individual, a human being, to not impede the lives of others around me and to enhance that of those who come after me. I am not a puppet or planned creation of some deity[s], I am myself. I fear death, who doesn't, but at least I'm not living my life assuming I'm the subject of some "test".

Besides, life can be so much more interesting when you disregard most of religion fundamental ideas and crave logical answers to the things that surround us.

Where are you from where weekly church attendance isn't considered fairly religious? I consider weekly attendance to be a pretty darn big time investment, and I think that qualifies someone as "super committed" to something, whatever it may be.

I personally focused on the claimed nature of God and faith based salvation. How could an all caring and all loving being condemn such a large portion of the population to eternal torment for such an irrelevant thing as belief? I mean, decent people come from all faiths and creeds, if there was a God who would allow the torture of them for all eternity, I'd call that a malevolent God. This would mean, if theists are correct about the nature of God, that he'd likely be more concerned with what you did than what you believed.

I have a couple of things to add here, if I may.

First, OT, I've thought about this a lot myself (I'm atheist, but I find the concepts of heaven, hell and religion highly intellectually stimulating) and I've reached a couple of conclusions. The first is the standard "if god(s) are just then a good life is enough, if they are unjust then you should not worship etc".

Second, which I also quite like, is that everyone except the fundamentalist nutters say that god is loving of all his people, and I don't think this is really compatible with hell at all. Punishment is one thing, but torture and suffering for ETERNITY? I think those two things are mutually exclusive. I would not condemn somebody I HATED to torture forever, and if god really does love us how could he possibly bear to do that to us?

Thirdly, I work with the idea no mortal sin can be worth an immortal punishment. No crime or evil, no matter how bad, could EVER justify suffering forever. Murderers, rapists, paedophiles, all undoubtedly evil, all deserving of punishment, but for a literal eternity? No, I don't think so. Let's get some replies to this out of the way now, though I hate to use him in examples because I think it's way too overused, no, I don't think Hitler would deserve an eternity of suffering. He was evil beyond a doubt, a person who ordered crimes that are beyond the power of words like horrific or monstrous to fully describe, but eternity? It's just too much for a sin with (despite how large, wide and terrible they must be) only lasting, mortal consequences.

Fourthly, as a student of law, I can tell you that things like prison and fines, punishments in general, are not just to make people suffer for what they've done. The bigger and far more important part of punishment is to rehabilitate; if a justice system is doing its job properly, it spends minimal time on retribution and as much time as possible working out WHY people have committed these acts and what can be done to ensure they are not committed again. A system like heaven and hell, based solely on retribution and vengeance, is simply not just.

My second point (for those of you wondering why I said two and then had four) is off-topic, but it may comfort you in your new-found atheism (and it's also a relatively new idea - for me, anyway - so any scientists feel free to contradict me). I've been thinking about post-death, and I've realised that without the spiritual, we don't need to assume that we have one life and then nothing forever.

This is because, according to science (as it currently stands) everything in the world is composed of two things; matter and energy, there is no more and no less in the universe than this. It is also a principle of science that matter and energy cannot be created nor destroyed. What this means, is that everything that makes up you, your body, your mind and your consciousness (what a theist or a cartesian dualist might call the soul) is made up of these things, and it can never be destroyed. In turn, what this means, is that every single part of you, me, and everybody out there in the world is immortal in the deepest, purest, most incontrovertible sense, existing for eternity with the possibility that it might, one day, gain another life. Since everything exists eternally, that means it has an infinite amount of time for this to occur, and since the possibility of any occurrence in an infinite amount of time becomes 100% that means that not only will our 'bits' live forever, but we have an infinite number of lives of all shapes and sizes spread out before us. Reincarnation made science.

These are just my thoughts, anyway, and, as per usual, my post has turned out to be about eight times longer than I originally intended, so I'll leave it here for now. A pat on the back and something nice from the cupboard to those that make it all the way to the end.

Everyone needs to decide for themselves on what is best. The thing you need to remember is to not force this view on anybody. Really goes for everyone who believes in a higher power, or doesn't. Basically just cringe when a bible thumper would come to my door. Almost have a passive view of god and I don't really think about it to much. Little rude to come to someones door and bother them with something like this. They never just leave when you say no thank you. I had one guy follow me to my car as I was leaving for work. Eventually I just blared porno in the backround when they would come a knocking. Really a refreshing change of pace when they are the ones that want to get away from you.

Dags90:
Where are you from where weekly church attendance isn't considered fairly religious? I consider weekly attendance to be a pretty darn big time investment, and I think that qualifies someone as "super committed" to something, whatever it may be.

depends on what religion and then depending on that specific religion, what branch or subgroup. i know some churches that have events 3 or 4 times a week and your not a good member unless you catch most of those or devote more time then just the sunday sacrament. my cousin and his family go to church for eight hours on sunday, due to all of the different activities and sermons. now thats a fucking waste of time.

You want a cookie? Another atheist on the internet, it's like a dude going in the "meat eater's society" and loudly proclaiming "I ATE A COW!"

drmigit2:
You want a cookie? Another atheist on the internet, it's like a dude going in the "meat eater's society" and loudly proclaiming "I ATE A COW!"

Yea what is this atrocity. A guy sharing his experiences in a debate forum and asks for views. Where will this end.

Black Arrow Officer:
I'm still being open to the possibility of converting back to Christianity later in life, but for now I've decided that there are no Gods for me. Can someone please give me some advice and comfort on the problems that I'm facing with my new outlook on life?

I don't know what type of community you used to frequent, but it's quite possible you get people from there trying to guilt-trip you into returning and those try to make you feel bad over it.

As for the heaven/hell thing, if a being exists that hands down judgement so rigidly that doing good and meaning well without worshipping it is bad, then would anyone stand a chance at getting its heaven? Probably not, so it's pointless to try.
On the other hand, if whatever good one claims to be true is indeed just, then doing right without worshipping should be plenty okay too and there's nothing to worry about.

Besides, speaking from a Christian background, what did Jesus say about love? He was rather scornfull about conditional love, and advocated unconditional love. Would that same man then be very conditional loving and only approve of you if you appeared at a certain building to pray at a certain time? No, he wouldn't, so it looks a lot like just being a good person is the only demand being set.

drmigit2:
You want a cookie? Another atheist on the internet, it's like a dude going in the "meat eater's society" and loudly proclaiming "I ATE A COW!"

Except people who eat meat don't feel things like guilt because all of religion is based on a guilt/punishment/reward complex, and meat eaters aren't harassed, looked down on, persecuted and sometimes even assaulted, and atheists are, sadly.

I think the concept of hell, or the "non-heaven" option is misconstrued for most folks.

Think of it this way:

You're throwing a party. You've invited all of your friends, and anyone who wants to be your friend. You've put directions to the party out there for everyone. So, anyone who is your friend, and who follows the directions can come to the party.

Are you responsible if people don't follow the directions and don't end up at the party? Are you responsible if people who aren't your friends, or who openly hate you aren't allowed into the party, even though they followed the directions?

No. You aren't.

Hell isn't a punishment. It is what happens when you don't make it into the party.

If you have friends or family in the party, they are sad that you didn't make it. The host is too.

If you are certain in your disbelief, however, this shouldn't concern you. If there is no God, there is no party, only oblivion, so live your life as you see fit. If you do believe, on some level, then you should worry about making it to the party.

Either way, you need to make up your own mind about it.

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