I haven't backslid and I don't plan on it, but sometimes the thought of heaven and hell and my soul being eternally damned enter my mind. Since I'm an new ex-Christian my mind has been branded with the "word of god". Does anyone else have these types of thoughts and what do you do about them? How did you erase the nonsense of Christianity from your mind for good?

Tags: atheism, backsliding, christianity, religion

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Does anyone else have these types of thoughts

I used to have them years ago.... It gets better. If you have grown up indoctrinated into xianity, your gut feeling or intuition is that it is true. I have learned that my gut feelings tend to be more a product of training and transient emotions than anything else.

"Feeling" true and "being" true are so very different. Humans have a natural tendency towards xenophobia. They have the gut feeling that, "People who look and talk like me are good and eople who look and talk different from me are suspicious." Racists honestly "feel" that their position is truth. Every religionist of every faith has the same intuition that their beliefs represent truth.

I don't put much stock in my gut feelings. Gut feelings are subjective and ever changing. I try not to make big decisions based on intuition or gut feelings. Logic and rational thought remain the same regardless of my neurochemistry of the moment. Gimme logic over intuition any day of the week.
If you were indoctrinated from birth, you are defeating some pretty hard-wired ideas to make this transition. Imagine how hard it is to quit smoking or a drug addiction. This is very similar.

Starting about three months after I quit smoking (and that is about when you can expect you have succeeded) I started having a recurring nightmare where I was in a mundane situation with a light cigarette in my hand. I would wake up in distress - to be relieved it was a dream. But I have never picked up a cigarette since.

The same with atheism. My mother recently died and, while I worried a bit that I had lost this 'crutch' - I couldn't bring myself to pray, since I no longer had a heart for it. Neither did I curse god - something a religious person might do. I was also rather amazed that I found a very strong solace in my atheism as I progressed through my grief. No deal making. Less anger.

It seems that 'the truth shall set you free' is a wise quote after all. Knowing that my mother's life could only retain value by those of us she touched honoring the positive effect she had on us; focused me on the postive effect she had on me. Suddenly, I felt tremendously 'blessed' (ironic word, I know) that, in 15 billion years of this reality, I was one of the few that got to really know the singular and amazing consciousness that was my mother. And I carry some of her genetic code and all she had taught me and shared with me and have passed some of it to my daughter and she may, in turn, and on and on. It was truly far more spiritual an awakening than I had ever had as a 'religious' person.

You see, I discovered at a very visceral level that the temporary nature of life makes it that much more unique and rare and, therefore, precious.
I suppose that one can never fully erase anything from the mind including a faith tradition you were raised in. However it's possible to explore a full range of freethinking, as a way to counter act latent thoughts of religious folly.Non believing novelist,philosophers,filmmakers,psychologist and others in the arts and sciences are extremely helpful in this regard. And when you do think of the those religious thoughts,they will only have the power of a warning,you'll be free, to never return there.
I grew up as a Jehovah's Witness and I can tell you that long after I was out, I was still having those feelings. I was so branded. So brainwashed. It took 15 years for me to even get the courage up to question those feelings. But once I did, I immersed myself in debunking websites. Sites that actually rationalize the bible and help you see the contradictions and falsehoods. I also immersed myself in the Anti-JW sites to find out how others who had come out were doing. They were a very enlightening bunch. Through their words and experiences, I learned that what I was feeling was normal and part of the process of letting go. I often had to physically stop thinking certain things. You know, when you are suppose to think that you are doing wrong, or because something bad happened, it must be your punishment. It took a while, but I don't think that way anymore. Also a turn around in general thinking is important. Realizing that THIS life is the one you are suppose to LIVE. We aren't here just waiting for another life to kick in. What a sad existence. Waiting for a completely different life. Why would you get two? huh? why? THIS is your life. THIS is MY life. It's time to live it. Once you figure that out, everything else sort of slides away. You are much more thankful for the experiences of your everyday life. Much more thankful for the people in your life.
That is how it's been for me at least.
I hope it turns out that way for you too.
The scare of religious dogma are finally going away for me. I too was raised in a dominating, hell-fire, holy spirit moving religious child hood. I continue to remember and think of the religious nonsense and see that none of it is true. When you get that itch, scratch it with memories of offerings, useless services, unanswered prayers and pedophile preachers who take your money. That will fix and backsliding problem. Also think of that the ancient book that was written by ignorant, bronze age goat herders who thought the earth was flat. No need to ga back to that, enjoy your life.
Chris Hitchens said that "manacles of the mind are the hardest to break". How very true. I also fill my time with positive material. I am completing my BA & in my spare time I read anti religious material or watch deabtes on Youtube. Thank god for youtube! Pun intended. It may be years before we are ever really clear from the dogma that dominated our lives, but i enjoy the journey of free thought.
I havent seen this series, but I will certainly check it out. Thanx
History. Look at the Bible as exactly what it is; a 2000 year old text of myth that is constantly revised to fit the needs of those in power or wanting power. Start reading more about the history of the Bible, the changes made, when it was written down and by whom, the books that were thrown out.
How can a body of fallible humans do all this to the "word of god?" To Paraphrase a GREAT SERIES on Youtube, called Fundamental Falsehoods of Creationism, that not only refutes creationism, but really talks about the Bible a lot "If it truly is the word of God, then it would be so full of truth and wisdom that it would be unquestionable and there would be NO sects of religion because it would be universally true." To paraphrase...poorly.
Time is a great healer. I left my parents´ church when I was 18, and it took me maybe 15 years or longer to undo the brainwashing, but it was well worth the trouble! The nonsense of religion disappears from your mind when you read and study: history, other religions, evolution and everything else that attracts your attention - it replaces the ´one truth´ that was forced on us with sound scientific information.
I have never been so scared as when I lived in my parents´ house - their god was a sadistic spoiled child that gave everyone hell. Now I feel at peace with myself and that is a wonderful experience - I really feel that I´ve gained freedom.
Thanks for sharing this. It sounds like what I hear from many people as I travel the country. It us just unfortunate that the brainwashing takes so many years to get over. I am not sure there are any shortcuts, but I continue to look for some.
It really can (and must?) take years to re-wire, re-boot, Courtney. Religious addiction can lead to a long recovery process. The "Nature Chaplain" may help: "Religious Addiction," " "Life After Faith" "Frederick Douglass" or other videos in the series. Hang in there. Keep hope. All the best.
Ask yourself a few questions and follow the trail of answers, starting with "Why did you believe in Christianity". Eventually (for me), the answers lead to "Because the bible says so (or at least I think it does...)" Next step, research the bible. Read it critically, as well as some scholarly criticism of the bible. Anything by Bart Ehrman is a good place to start. After making a logical case for christianity as a bronze age myth, then the nonsense just dissipates.

Also, if you haven't already, read a few books like "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins, "God is not Great" by Christopher Hitchens, "The End of Faith" by Sam Harris, and "Breaking the Spell" and "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" by Dan Dennet. Lots of good ideas to ingest.
I just want to say that these are some great responses to Courtney's question. This is a problem for anyone leaving any religion - whether Islam, Christianity or a cult. The deep programming is designed to keep you in doubt and fear so that you do not stray. Fred Werther's comment of Dec. 28 is quite remarkable because it speaks to the emotional needs that religion tries to fulfill. Even non-believers have emotional needs and longings. These need to be met in some fashion. How do we meet those needs without going back to religion?

Thanks to all of you for your great comments.
Darrel Ray, author, The God Virus

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