I am very perplexed why religion has such a hold on our mids. I have read The God Gene and many other books which say that religion plays some sort of genetic or evolutionary force, but so do a lot of other things that I can CHOOSE TO LIVE WITHOUT.

I have chosen to live without religion but it is like a mental illness. I still find my self praying and I can only blaspheme like a mad person to stop it.

It is mental illness. I have PTSD from my experiences in the church and if religion were not just the norm, any shrink would ALSO consider this nuts.

I know you are all dealing with this in one way or another, but why is this like OCD? Why can't we get it out of our heads? When we leave a relationship it can be bad for a while but if it goes on for a year or more we know we need mental health care. I have borken up with God. Why can't I get over him, especially when he is not even there and never was?!!!

It scares me that my mind could go here, to be obsessed with a thing that is not there. Perhaps I am more prone to being psychotic because of this.

I have know recovering people whose religion DID make them psychotic. GAD this is poison!!!!

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Rachel, As a victim of some rather severe religious indoctrination and abuse, I can fully appreciate what you are talking about.  I have had PTSD and anxiety/panic disorder since about age 8 and it came to a head at about age 26.  I was having phantom heart attacks and become agoraphobic.  All this after I had intellectually rejected religion years earlier, but was still operating under a tremendous psychological and emotional burden.  That said, here are the things which have been a tremendous help in my journey out of bondage:

1)  EMDR Therapy.  This stands for "Eye Movement Densitization Reprogramming".  I can hardly emphasize this enough.  It has changed my life.  I used to wake up screaming and lashing out with trauma dreams.  After 6 months with an EMDR Therapist, I had only 2 episodes.  After a year, I have not had any at all.  The fear, pain and guilt are gradually receding.

2)  Mindfulness.  This is the practice of checking in with your body and mind, to see the degree to which are you tensing/relaxing, breathing/breatholding, etc.  It is also just noticing when your assumptions clash with reality and making a note of it.  Even after years of readjustment, I am still having little epiphanies about assumptions I was raised with, which have turned out to be false.

3)  Make gods into humans.  Learn the history of how our "sacred texts" and gods were formed, so that you can really see the human invention in all of it.  I have found the books and lectures of Bart Ehrman particularly helpful in this regard.

4)  Find good role models.  Over the years, I have adopted very dear friends who now take the place of the healthy father, mother, brother I never had.  This has been tremendously healing and helped me to feel more normal than just about anything else.

5)  Follow some deconversion stories.  You are not alone and hearing the experiences of others which mirror your own is an incredible relief.  In particular, I commend your attention to the YouTube series by Evid3nc3.

My background includes Jehovah's Witness, Presbyterian, Mormonism, Buddhism, New Age Spiritualism and Fundamentalism (the most recent and for over 20 yrs).  I began questioning several years ago, and when I couldn't find answers that made sense to the questions I had, which were based on plain old critical thought...finally in 2010 I officially shed the last of theistic beliefs and declared atheism. 

 

Deconversion has been a process.  I do understand the issues mentioned in the original post and subsequent replies. One thing that helped me was understanding that "apologetics" is the theological way of glossing over the unsavory parts of the character of (what I had been taught to believe was) "god"...as portrayed in the bible, while credulously accepting the wonderful attributes at face value.  I mean, it's very easy to adore and worship a god who does great things...that is, of course, when you're not thinking about all the tyrannical, horrible things that god has done...or the tyrannical control that god exerts over your own life (for instance, it's nice to think there's a personal god on your side when you need help...but how often do theists stop to think that the same god is listening to their thoughts and judging them every time they think about sex, or being angry at their spouse, boss, kids, neighbor, etc.)  Most don't stop to put 2 and 2 together.  Why does "god" get credit for all the wonderful things in the world, but not the blame for all the bad?  When you get a raise and can buy a bigger house that you don't really need, it's "Praise God!" (never mind that 13% of the world's population doesn't have enough food).  But when 250,000 people are killed in a tsunami, it's just an act of nature and you can't blame god (even though "god" supposedly created the earth and nature").  Eventually, you start to see that the emperor is naked. That's when you are labeled a heretic and chased out because you are under the influence of demons (anyone who has been a fundamentalist or pentecostal will understand what I'm talking about here).

 

I realize that the bible and Christianity aren't the only representations of the concept of deity (or even that fundamentalism and Pentecostalism aren't the only representations of Christianity), but I had already resolved the issue that many religions claim to be the "only" truth so it's one word against the other.  Mormons are convinced that their church is the one truth.  Muslims are convinced that the Koran is the one truth.  Christians are convinced that Jesus is the one truth.  Jews are convinced that they are "god's chosen people".  The list goes on.  Sincerity is no guarantee of truth, neither is the size of the group of believers, or how fast it is growing, etc.  An unsubstantiated belief held by millions is still an unsubstantiated belief, nothing more.

 

People also tend to make up the god they want based on how their experiences happen to coincide with their information, regardless of the theology they follow.  Since each person's experience and information are both different and subjective, and since there are over 6 billion people on the earth, there are most likely over 6 billion different concepts/definitions of "deity".  They may overlap in areas, and be very similar, but they will ultimately be as unique as a snowflake...no two exactly alike.

 

 

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