A scary thought

I am about to describe a problem I have been struggling with lately. We live in a multi-cultural world and just because someone is not an atheist like me I should not assume they are any less of a human being than anybody else. I have had discussions with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Pagans and in all of these religions I have found people who’s company I have quite enjoyed.
I am aware that this problem does not include every one of these, just a few of the religions and even then not all of the subscribers to those faiths but it is quite a common theme in at least two of the big theologies.

I, like most native Europeans, have had the most experience in dealing with Christianity. The other day, when talking to a friend of mine who is a Christian, something struck me and it made me feel uneasy about being near this person and indeed, it made me feel uneasy about every Christian I have ever met.

There I was, chatting with a person who was smiling, laughing, being relaxed while in the back in his head he truly believes that when I die I will go to hell. I will be tortured forever. When I have endured suffering and torment beyond that of human comprehension for millions of years, I will still have an eternity to go and I will not even have death to look forward to. This will be my punishment for not boosting the ego of a supreme being.

This person, who is currently enjoying my company and calls me his friend, is perfectly fine with this. He thinks this is the way it should be. He can look at me and think “Yes, this is a nice guy, but he will be tortured forever and ever, and this is good.

I am sorry, I am trying hard to accept people from all walks of life but this is a frightening way to look at the people around you. I mean, what a frigging A-hole.

And yes, I know that some Christians claim to find it tragic that some people go to hell, but they still worship the deity that put this system in place so no, you will not be spared the A-hole label just because you can shed crocodile tears.

I am a bit shaken up actually, to think that so many people are in favor of eternal torture for what is essentially a thought crime makes me fear for humanity. I don’t mean to be this hostile to any one religion but I am having a hard time letting this one go. Someone please help me figure this out, in my mind the world is suddenly full of monsters.

One last thing. If anyone wants a good definition of the word evil… this comes pretty close.

11 Responses to A scary thought

  • greyeyed says:

    Some comforting words: I don’t think most christians really believe that.

    or maybe that’s just me wanting to believe that they don’t really believe that.

    who knows? In any case, christians are just one group of people who think bad things should/will happen to atheists after death. others think we deserve death immediately, so there’s that, lol. at least christians hold off on our horrible torture until after death.

    • Peter
      Peter says:

      I DO think most Christians who aren’t really closet atheists believe it. They might try to surpress it, but the idea that non believers go to hell is a pretty universal one.
      Heh yea but you forget that until death we have to suffer their judgement.

  • nude0007 says:

    as an ex-christian I remember thinking that it was their fault (the non-believer). indeed, on many forums that seems to be the stance they take. that’s also why some claim the non-believer is sending their own self to hell.
    The other response is to just ignore it. kinda like “oh well, god knows what he is doing. i can’t worry about them, i made the right choice”

    they never consider that god is all powerful and omniscient and supposedly totally good, so either he is too stupid, stubborn or mean to change the punishment (definitely not good), or he is unable (not all powerful). no christian will ever admit god has any flaws. that is the real problem. it must be us who is wrong.

    • Peter
      Peter says:

      To say that the non-beleiver is sending themselves to hell is so wrong on so many levels, but I guess you already know that. ;)

  • TerBear
    TerBear says:

    I can completely empathize with the awkwardness and uncomfortableness of being around people that wholeheartedly believe you are going to go to hell for not being a christian. Personally, I use to let it get to me and make me worry. At one point, I avoided a lot of people because I did not want to be judged. It is scary. But over time, I learned to take it in stride. You have to remind yourself that their beliefs are theirs and you should not let anyone portray that onto you. Just tell them politely that you have your own thoughts on afterlife and they have their own, you can agree to disagree or do not be friends because it is a personal topic. Being a personal topic, it isn’t their place to judge. Real friends aren’t judgmental.

    • Peter
      Peter says:

      It’s not just that they “judge” me, but just knowing that they think I am going to hell and worshipping the entity that makes it so makes them more of an enemy than a friend.

  • Mrskathiest says:

    Yes, this can be a tough one. I have found that the more time passes since my deconversion, the harder it is for me to remember how I would have seen various issues from a christian’s point of view, so I’m not confident that I could give an accurate description of how a christian thinks and how they justify a friendship with someone they believe is going to/deserving of hell.

    I tend to think that the first comment on this post is truer than you think. That is to say, “I don’t think christians really believe that”. Sure, I think they THINK they believe that, but I think deep down somewhere, they can’t really, truely, completely believe that. Don brought up the idea a few episodes ago that christians’ actions and professed beliefs often contradict each other. I think this is just another example of what he was talking about.

    My family is catholic and I’m pretty sure if they 100% believed that I was going to fire-and-brimstone-tortured-forever hell, there would be more efforts to save my soul in place. Their acceptance of me since turning from christianity and lack of preaching to get me back in the flock suggests that they either don’t love me enough to care if i am tortured or that there is something else going on in their thought process.

    I understand why some non-believers use the term “free-thinkers”. It wasn’t until after my deconversion that I noticed how much effort it took to think like a christian. I didn’t notice all the mental compartmentalizing, the contradiction ignoring, and the irrational justifying I was doing until I didn’t have to do it anymore. It was tiring to think like that (if you can really call it “thinking” I would say its better explained as “making an extreme sport out of coming up with excuses”). I am pretty sure the “hell” thing falls somewhere in this category. I wish I could explain exactly how one compartmentalizes and ignores the moral inconsistencies away, but I think I’ve lost the “skill” of thinking like a christian.

    I know it probably doesn’t help much. They are either monsters or hypocrites. I think the best advice I can give would be to try to see it for the brainwashing it is. Know that your friends are good people that have been poisoned with horrible ideas. They could have used their christianity as an excuse to treat you poorly and hate you, but they don’t because they are good. They are better than the god they believe in. Try not to hold their indoctrination against them. Its powerful stuff.

    Hope that helps even a little.

    • Peter
      Peter says:

      Yeah, that does help. I guess most of them, though claiming to believe it, can’t *really* believe it. It is calling them hypocrites instead monsters but I guess it is a step up.
      Maybe some of them are even being as nice as they are hoping to set a good example in order to make me want to be saved. I must say I prefer that as a conversion tactic than door knocking.

      On the topic of “what can they really believe”, I wonder how much they believe that they actually believe something. My grandmother has a few stories she tells of experiences she has had and I could understand why she would tell them to me as a child, but she is still doing it as an adult and they are such obvious lies but she claims it is all true. This is awkward because that makes her either a liar or.. completely insane. I think I will make these stories the topic of a coming blog post.
      Thanks for your comment!

      • Mrskathiest says:

        Yeah, I have struggled a lot with trying to understand the inconsistencies between professed beliefs and actions. I noticed this a few months ago when my grandmother died. I found an odd inconsistency and If it wasn’t such a difficult time for them, I might have brought it up to get them to think about it, but I wanted to ask them “How is it that you are just as, or more upset than I am? You believe this is just a temporary separation and that you will see her again in 50 years or so when you join her in afterlife, but for me, I see this as a permanent goodbye? Shouldn’t you be celebrating her trip to heaven while I am uncontrollably upset?”

        I look forward to reading the coming blog post. That does sound interesting.

  • Mrskathiest says:

    Found this video on youtube and thought of you. It’s called “if heaven really existed” and it demonstrates my point that how Christians act is not consistant with what they claim to believe.


  • HannaA says:

    This is a very interesting topic that I like to discuss when I have opportunity. I guess most Christians I have encountered have developed strategies to avoid dealing with it, just as Mrskathiest describes.

    Many seem to think that the bible is metaphorical when describing hell. That eternal damnation and torture just means that one simply won’t go to heaven, and that in comparison to paradise this nothingness is as bad as burning for ever – because heaven is such a wonderful place.

    Others seem to totally ignore the bible and decide for themselves that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell, regardless of their belief. God – being fair and heavenly – will decide who goes where. What they personally think is therefore of no significance as it is beyond their comprehension. When they die they’ll know, but it is of no meaning trying to understand it.

    Another view I’ve encountered is that hell is what you suffer when you die and look upon your worldly life as “enlightened”. I think this means that when one dies one inevitably sees the truth (aka God) – and if one has lived a life very far away from that truth it will be agonizing because one will also realize how one’s life should have been led. One will feel and regret the discrepancy indefinitely.

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses does not believe in hell at all – and as they come to visit me sometimes I have discussed the matter at length with them. They think the notion of hell is Satan’s – the great slanderer’s – invention trying to turn people against God. Unbelievers simply cease to exist at death whilst believers remain in death until the resurrection. That thought is kind of fine with me – as you I consider the thought of paradise about as troublesome as the thought of hell – and I have no problem with people thinking that I will just cease to exist when I die. That is what I believe myself and I am very content with that thought – although the Witnesses sometimes seem discontent with me saying so.

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