I’m An Atheist Who Is Afraid Of Death. And That’s OK.

I’m an atheist who is afraid of death, and that’s OK.

No, my fear of death didn’t begin when I became an atheist, although it changed; I was more apprehensive about death when I was a Christian than I have been as an atheist.  When I was a Christian, I thought that hell existed.  This thought had two direct consequences to my psyche — one is that it made me want to make sure I got my theology right so that I didn’t end up in hell, and another is that I was afraid for all the billions that would be there.

When I stopped believing in hell, I felt an incredible sense of relief.  Yes, I wasn’t going to heaven anymore, but no eternity of bliss made up for the image of people burning in hell.  In addition, as the smoke cleared from my break with religion I came to see the God of the Bible as such a monster that I said I preferred almost any fate to spending eternity praising him.

Although I did feel that sense of relief, the fear, although it changed, continued to remain after I left Christianity.  For starters, upon leaving Christianity I was only an agnostic; I only knew Christianity was not true, and didn’t know what to think in its place.  So, for all I knew at the time, there might still be an afterlife.  I looked up several Near Death Experiences (NDEs) then to see if they had answers, and had mixed feelings about them being all over the map.  For one, the fact that any religious experiences people tended to have in NDEs coincided with religions they had experienced in life showed me that the stories of people dying and going to heaven or hell were no validation of any particular religion  — which, at the time, was, honestly, a relief to me.  The other thing I saw was, at first, somewhat discouraging — the experiences were due more to changes in the brain during the transition to death than an actual or real perception.  And so I was left, at the end of watching dozens of videos and reading several articles, with the thought that what happened after death was probably absolutely nothing.

I found quick backlash when I expressed this fear among atheists.  Most atheists I talked to outright denied that they had a fear of death and seemed to pity my own.  Most Christians who remotely suspected I had a fear of death thought it was a sign that, deep inside, I knew God was real and that I would be facing judgment (and the admission that I would prefer not to spend eternity with God anyway fueled the belief that I somehow “chose” to go to hell, so they would say my fear of hell was proof that I was afraid of that choice).

I’m writing this, though, because I think the best thing one can do with a fear of death is explore it.  I have written elsewhere that Christians should explore, rather than dismiss or feel ashamed of, their fear of death, because doing so is the first step towards a serious appraisal of the concept of hell.  I think the same about atheists.  If we make atheism a place in which the fear of death is off limits for exploration, in which it’s not socially acceptable to have a fear of death, what we imply  is that those who have a fear of death aren’t “real” atheists.

That’s not true.  There are two reasons an atheist can absolutely be afraid of death.  One is a concern over what happens after — whether there will be an afterlife.  The concern over whether there will be an afterlife can drive one to actually investigate what an afterlife will mean, what it will look like, how consciousness works, what it means to be “you,” and so on.  The worry over an afterlife, especially if it’s unfounded, can be productively assuaged by exploring it.  Ignore it, and it may become a more intimidating, like a concern over the color green does when I say, “for the next five minutes, don’t be concerned about the color green.”

Another concern lies in the arena of what happens afterwards to everything that made you, “you” — your reputation, as well as the people and impact you left behind.  This fear makes plenty of sense — contrary to what some might say, it’s usually not a selfish fear.  Often, the concern about your legacy and what you leave behind is very centered on how your death will affect other people who were invested in an image of who you were (you won’t care, because you’ll be dead).

What I like most about my life is what I’m able to observe, understand, and ponder. I would argue that even some of the most unhealthy sentiments and actions are conceived in desire to be connected to and thus defined by a person or experience one doesn’t have.  In that sense, then, one manifestation of the fear of death is rooted in a desire to protect and enrich the experience of life that you had on earth, as well as the effects of that experience.  And that desire is not completely selfish, because the experiences it is connected to involve people and objects outside of you.

So I guess I’m afraid of that, to an extent.  I’m afraid that my death will end the positive impacts I could have had on people and situations I care deeply about.  I’m afraid of missing out on the joyful experience of life, as well as the sadder aspects that make me feel more intimately connected to the world.  I’m afraid, deeply afraid, that I won’t be able to empathize with anyone, that I’ll never again hear someone say “me too,” that all the stories in my mind will die with me, untold.  I’m afraid of the story that will go on without me and of leaving the next generation to experience it themselves without my being there to contribute to and enjoy it with them.  I’m afraid of dying, to make a long story short.  I want to stick around.

I know a lot of people, especially atheists, have a problem with this fear.  But I think the fear is healthy, because it drives me.  It makes me appreciate life more, and it enables a greater awareness of all the connections I have to experiences in my life that make me, me.  It causes me to treasure people more, to write more, to talk more, to enlarge my experiences more.  It’s not just a motivating factor; it makes life something I enjoy.  And this enjoyment feels connected to something secure and concrete, because these goals are actual tangible ones that can be sought in the real world — not mirages like heaven.  Fear of death has given me valuable definition, understanding, and practical direction in life.

And, to tell you the truth, the fear of death has also given me an awareness that has made me feel more connected to existence and, paradoxically perhaps, a state of nonexistence than I would have if I had avoided that fear.  Facing squarely the knowledge that I will disintegrate into ashes has made me feel more a part of the universe, which has given me, personally, a kind of comfort.  I think sentiments like this one from Zora Neale Hurston put it best:

I know that nothing is destructible; things merely change forms. When the consciousness we know as life ceases, I know that I shall still be part and parcel of the world. I was a part before the sun rolled into shape and burst forth in the glory of change. I was, when the earth was hurled out from its fiery rim. I shall return with the earth to Father Sun, and still exist in substance when the sun has lost its fire, and disintegrated into infinity to perhaps become a part of the whirling rubble of space. Why fear? The stuff of my being is matter, ever changing, ever moving, but never lost; so what need of denominations and creeds to deny myself the comfort of all my fellow men? The wide belt of the universe has no need for finger-rings. I am one with the infinite and need no other assurance.

But I want to make it clear — I am still afraid of death.  I think I am about as afraid of death as when I began the inquiry as to what happened after death upon first leaving Christianity.  However, this fear has been productive for me in positive ways, and it has been assuaged not by my ignoring it, but by my embracing and investigating it honestly and openly.  The goal is not to get rid of the fear; the goal, for me, has been to seek to understand it and figure out why it means something to me and how it means something to me while I am alive, a goal that has proven to be productive for me on a personal level.

I think that’s what people mean, to a major extent, when they talk about spirituality.  How do we deal with the fact that we’re going to die?  Perhaps a large part of the fear comes from a need to preserve a separation between who we are and who “they” or “that” is.  We want to preserve a separation, a distinction, possibly — and the fear of that separation being violated may be a fear of death.  Emily Dickinson explores that concept in this poem:

There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
’T is the seal, despair,—
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ’t is like the distance
On the look of death.

But if, as Carl Sagan said, we are star stuff, and if “the meaning” of us is “the meaning” of all existence, and if that “internal difference” is collapsed because there is no “cathedral tune” of God to say that we’re fundamentally divorced from all the rest of existence, and if the “seal, despair” is one that is only there if that separation is preserved, and if you step out of the “certain slant of light” that tells you your existence is fundamentally different from the rest of existence…then being familiar with the “look of death” can be a reason for you to feel connected to nature, to others, and even to yourself in a less segregated way.  And this can help one live a more peaceful, deeply joyful life.  Or, at least, that’s what it’s done for me.

And, finally, I want to reiterate that I’m not wagging my finger and saying you have to be afraid of death.  Many people I know aren’t and that’s OK.  But, at the same time, many are, and that’s OK, too.  I’m putting this as a painting of a perspective some may identify with, not as a preacher at a podium angrily wagging his finger.  If it helps you or you find it useful, that is good.  And if all it does is help you see a portrait that is different than your own, that’s OK, too.

Hopefully that makes some sense.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Lucius

    “Of all the wonders that I have heard,
    It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
    Seeing death, a necessary end,
    Will come when it will come.”

    “Julius Caesar” (Act II, Scene 2) William Shakespeare

  • http://wateringgoodseeds.tumblr.com/ Shira Coffee

    A couple of years ago I had some health scares — 6 months of testing with the possibility that the tests would turn up serious, life-threatening cancers, followed by two operations to resolve the issues. (Fortunately, the worst-case scenarios did not arise!) As a daily meditator, I’m used to monitoring my emotional state regularly, and I did notice that, while I wasn’t consciously frightened, I was rather absent-minded and tense during that time.

    One practice that I adopted then that stood me in good stead, and that I still use sometimes, is called the Five Reminders. Basically, it involves meditating on the fact that certain unpleasant states — aging, illness, death and loss of what we hold dear — are part of the nature of life. They are inevitable, and however we try to avoid them, our success is only temporary. But it is the fifth reminder that makes this more than an Eeyore list: we are inescapably responsible for the consequences of our actions. We need to choose our actions carefully, and then observe and adjust the results of our actions, because that is the only means we have to affect reality.

    I find that this focus on action, on this single point of contact between my models of reality and reality itself, is very liberating. Not only does fear retreat, but doubt does as well, because I am not trying to evade what is or control what is beyond my control.

  • Martin Hughes

    Thank you for that message. Oftentimes, it seems difficult to observe the results, because sometimes accepting responsibility is painful. But I have been finding your words true — action and a realistic outlook calms fear.

    Thank you again, Shira.

  • Kaveh Mousavi

    Thanks Peter for this article. I expressed a similar sentiment in a blogpost of mine:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/marginoferr/2014/03/05/how-as-an-atheist-i-deal-with-death-to-be-honest-i-dont/

  • Martin Hughes

    Thank you for sharing, Kaveh! It is a pleasure and a privilege to be blogging alongside you here.

  • Kimberly Carver

    Peter– you are so inquisitive about yourself, and about the meaning of life, and what truth is, and that translates into a quiet vitality that is electrifying in your writing. I so enjoy reading all of your blog posts because they are intelligent, honest, and unique. I hope to see you on an even bigger platform someday. The world would benefit from it.

  • Martin Hughes

    Thank you, Kimberly, that means a lot coming from you. The portrait I have of your writing is that it is vibrant, intelligent, and deeply engaged. I have a deep respect for the expression and content of your thoughts and actions and, as you know, think more should (and will) hear from you, as well.

  • jennifer braz

    I’m an atheist and I’m afraid of death too…only the actual death….will it hurt? I know it’s selfish and stupid but that’s how I feel….I think after death is like before birth…..don’t know don’t care….good article.

  • Martin Hughes

    Thanks for the feedback. I don’t think that’s selfish and stupid! I relate, and I think embracing those feelings as human as opposed to being ashamed of them is healthy. Emotions provide you with an opportunity to understand yourself, I’ve found — often in very fruitful ways.

  • RonnyTX

    Jennifer,you’re neither selfish or stupid in what you say here. For no person can like the thought of their dying,being painful. And for some it is and for some it isn’t. And we just don’t know till we get there,whether ours will be or not? My Granny died of a stroke and it was good to hear the doctor say, that she must of gone quickly. An aunt of mine,she had bone cancer and at the last,that was way painful for her. :-( Her doctor was giving her morphine;but that wore off too quick. When she asked for more,he said he couldn’t up the dose,as such might kill her. She said,so what! Since you’ve already told me,I have less than a week to live! Personally,I think he should of give here more;but one thing that probably kept him from doing such, was the fear it might kill her and he could be sued. Then my Mom,she had Alzheimers for several years,before she died. Several years at home like that. The she fell and broke her hip. :-( Operated on,put in a nursing home; but never walked again,so had to stay there. Which made me feel guilty at first,as I thought I should still be taking care of her,at home. But it did finally dawn on me,that I was no longer able to give Mom the care she needed. Not even with nurses coming in,twice a week or so. I came to see,that what my Mom needed, was around the clock care,which I couldn’t provide. And I came to see, that the employees in her nursing home,were caring people. :-) And when Mom was dying,I was there;but I simply could not stay there that night, when the doctor told us,Mom would die. An older brother of mine stayed; but I couldn’t. It simply wasn’t in me,to actually be there,to witness my Mom’s death. And I don’t know,how easy or hard it was,her actual dying? Well,with a person with Alzheimers,you don’t even really know,about their living? You know they don’t know much;but over Mom’s last few years,I simply couldn’t tell,even if she had a glimmer of her old self left or not? But the good and best part is,I will see her again. :-) Is that a false hope? No;but it’s a true and living hope,for all of us-none excluded! :-) And I know I can’t prove this to you or to anyone;but I want to put down here,how it’s best said,in this old song. :-) “When we all,get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus,we’ll sing and shout the victory!” :-) And that’s a promise and not a threat to it,for anyone! :-)

  • SoSueMe

    Much like morality can be achieved without the oversight of religion, the positives you gain are achievable without the burden of fearing something that is inevitable.

  • ArloPlinthJr

    For me, a childhood Catholic who REALLY feared Hell, and adult atheist who does not, death means two things. First, the pain of the final descent is indeed a fearful thing. This fear I work to alleviate by remembering I have endured many painful things, and this will be just one more, and that there are ways to alleviate the pain. The second thing is merely the disappointment in knowing that my consciousness will come to an end. Curiosity is great. I want to see what happens 50, 100, 1000 years from now. I want to see if humanity has the collective wisdom to deal with the problems of today, and the creativity to do new and wondrous things.

    I do not fear death, but I do resent it.

  • RonnyTX

    Arlo,there is coming a day,when death will be no more. :-) And when death is no more,the only thing left,will be life. :-)

  • ArloPlinthJr

    RonnieTX, That is very good news indeed. I would dearly love to see your actual, rational, empirical evidence that “death will be no more” – perhaps a technology that will allow the transfer of my mind to a much longer-lived platform than an organic brain – and that it will happen within my lifetime. But please don’t bore me with Pollyanna magical thinking, or with quotes from third-rate renditions of bronze-age myths.

  • RonnyTX

    :-)

    Now Arlo,you got me grinning and nearly caused me to spit my drink,on my computer keyboard! :-( LoL And I don’t have magical thinking,though I certainly believe,you would think other wise. :-) And one thing,I really like about your post,is your bluntness! :-) And in the here and now,we know we are mortal,we know,will die. But,we will be raised and we will be made,immortal. :-) Can I prove that to you? No,I can’t. But that part,still doesn’t stop me from telling you and others such. :-)

    Ah Arlo,if you and someothers observed me at times,you would surely think I was insane! :-) Like when I walk my little dog past part of a local cemetery and as I do,I don’t sing,as we used to sing in church-When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there. But instead,now I sing,When the roll is called up yonder,we’ll all be there! :-) And when I say all,I mean absolutely every last one of us! :-)

    OK Arlo,put down that straight jacket,with all those straps! Better or I might be tempted,to throw a rock at ya! :-) LoL

  • Laurance

    Hello, Arlo…I remember Christopher Hitchens saying something about having to leave the party.

    And then he continued – The party will go on without me!!

    I think, Awwww, man…I won’t get to see just how far computers evolve, or what science does, or what wonderful stars and galaxies are discovered, or any of that great stuff…

  • ArloPlinthJr

    Yes, that is exactly the sad part: I will not get to see or participate in all of the wonderful (or perhaps disastrous) things to come. That is hard to accept.

  • Laurance

    Oh wow! This one pushes my buttons!

    See, I’m a third generation unbeliever. (Third generation via my gently unbelieving Dad and grandfather, and second generation via my radical atheist mother.)

    But here’s what happened. When I was six, and then seven years old my little school friend invited me to Vacation Bible School, and then to the Presbyterian Sunday School.

    And my mother let me go! That was the mistake of a lifetime! That was the absolutely worst thing my mother ever did! I suspect she said I could go with my little friend because she didn’t want me to stand out and be a weirdo and be rejected by the other children.

    I came home from Sunday School and told my mother, “Jesus died for our sins.”

    My atheist mother was indignant. “That’s horrible! I am responsible for my own behavior!”

    And I came home from Sunday School and said, “It’s so wonderful! They stoned Stephen to death!”

    And my atheist mother retorted, “That’s a HORRIBLE thing to teach to children!”

    You can bet I got no support at home. And when my Dad was a kid he also wanted to go to Sunday school with his little friend, and his dad, my Grandfather, wouldn’t let him out of the house till he (Grandpa) had read to my Dad from Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason” as an inoculation against conversion.

    I never ever believed in god. I never ever believed that Jesus was the son of god. For that matter it was this “son of god” nonsense that got me out. The nice Sunday School Teacher told us, “Next week you are going to be confirmed. The minister will ask you if you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of god, and you will say ‘Yes’.”

    I was nine years old then, and I couldn’t deal with it. I didn’t believe that Jesus was the son of god. I didn’t believe in god. I said to my Daddy, “I don’t want to go to Sunday School any more.” He answered, “You don’t have to.”

    And I never went to Sunday School again.

    But holy sh*t!! What happened next?

    I had the symptoms of a person who is escaping from a cult. I’ve done some work looking at cults and the mentality of someone who makes an escape. Oh wow! There it was! I was terrified that I’d be out on the street and a car would pull up beside me and the Sunday School Teachers would drag me in and take me back to Sunday School. I was terrified that something unspeakably awful would happen because it was Sunday and I wasn’t in church. I was terrified that, that, what will happen?, I was terrified…I was terrified…

    It was that pretty grey stone church on the corner, that mainstream respectable Presbyterian Church, but there I was with cult victim symptoms. At age nine. No, the Presbyterians aren’t in airports selling flowers and the Bhagavad Gita or chanting Hare Krishna, they’re solid citizens and totally respectable, but I was behaving like a terrified cult escapee. What the h&ll happened???

    I’d absorbed all the FEAR!!! I didn’t believe in god or Jesus, never did, but I’d absorbed via osmosis, all the TERROR, all the HORROR, all the FEAR, the HIDEOUS FEAR, that underlies religion. Religion is a horror show, but so many people don’t see it! They’re thanking god and Jesus, and they have blinded themselves to the horrid threat, the unspeakably horrid threat that underlies religion.

    Maddening TERROR, but no Jesus to save me from a god who doesn’t exist!

    Now I’m an old geezer of 73, and I still have a residue of that fear. I know better, but of course I can’t prove that hell doesn’t exist. Like so many atheists nowadays, we don’t believe because we don’t have enough evidence, but we don’t know for 100% sure. 95%, 99%, but not 100% sure.

    And it’s that tiny little not-sure fraction that gives religious FEAR the space to slip in.

    My thanks to Madalyn Murray O’Hair. My grief at the way you and and Jon and Robin died. Even if you may have been an obnoxious woman who grabbed all the glory over the Schempp Decision that took prayer out of schools, I still love you. And I love the so-called New Atheists, and all the blogs we have now.

    I still have to work on this last residue of FEAR that still lurks in my mind.

    I agree with Richard Dawkins that religion is child abuse. It sure was for me, and it has a lasting effect. Even though I didn’t believe in god or Jesus, the FEAR, the TERROR came through to me.

    And you can bet your bottom dollar that I made every effort to shield my daughter from church and religion!! I sure don’t want her to suffer the way I did!

  • RonnyTX

    Laurance:
    (snip) I never ever believed in god. I never ever believed that Jesus was the son of god. For that matter it was this “son of god” nonsense that got me out. The nice Sunday School Teacher told us, “Next week you are going to be confirmed. The minister will ask you if you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of god, and you will say ‘Yes’.” (snip)

    Ronny to Laurance:
    Laurance,it boggles my mind,that any denominational church, Presbyterian or other,would tell a nine year old child,they had to say something like that! Why would they tell such a child,they had to say they knew something, when the child wouldn’t of know such,as a fact?! Adults who do such as that,just boggle my mind! For when I was 9 years old,the main thing I knew, was that my Dad and Mom loved me :-) and that I loved playing out in the dirt,with my little plastic cowboys and Indians! :-)

  • RonnyTX

    Laurance,I can tell you truthfully,there is no such thing,as a Jesus Christ created hell of eternal torment. And yes,I was brought up in church and taught there was;but then in time God,taught me better. :-) And this I can tell you too,that God/Jesus Christ loves you,me and every last one of us. And there is no threat behind that;but just pure love. :-) And yes,there will come a time,when we will all come to repentance towards God;but no,that is not a bad thing. It’s a painful thing;but needed and only for our own good. And when God does that for each of us,then right after that,we learn of just how greatly,God/Jesus Christ does love us. :-) But till God does that for you,think on this. If hell was really real,then why isn’t it recorded in the Bible,where Jesus Christ created such? If hell is real,then why didn’t God warn Adam and Eve about such? Or Noah or Moses? The thing is Laurance,hell was added on to the Bible and it was not there,in the Bible, as it was written in the Hebrew and Greek languages. The teaching about a hell of eternal torment,that came from pagan religion. Then later on,it was added on to the Bible,through Roman Catholicism and from there,to most of Protestantism. Why was it added on? To try and control the masses of people,by fear. And that is of man and not of God/Jesus Christ. I hope this helps you,I really do. For I don’t want you to even have a 1% bit of fear,in that which is not of God/Jesus Christ.

  • Laurance

    Hello, Ronny…I do appreciate your kindness. I think you do want to offer comfort, and you do want to reassure us that the bible doesn’t really say that we’re condemned to hell. Bible talk about fiery furnaces, lakes of fire where the worm dieth not, punishment of eternal fire, everlasting fire, and a pretty scary Jesus in Revelation who comes with a sword in his mouth as a conquering king is, well, god and Jesus love us and the bible doesn’t really mean what it says, it actually means something else.

    I appreciate your good intentions.

    But I don’t believe in the bible. To me it’s just stories, that’s all, just stories, no more true than Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Your trying to tell me that the scare stories aren’t really scare stories doesn’t address the problem.

    The problem is that there is real FEAR hiding behind all the halleluia stuff. Even if I never ever came to believe the stories and the god and Jesus story characters, those Sunday School teachers did induce of fear.

    And there’s another one I didn’t mention yesterday, and that’s Original Sin.

    I don’t believe in Sin, original or otherwise. Yes, I am well aware that people can do really horrible things, and right now we’re reading the news that an atheist did a really horrible thing to Muslims0. But horrible things are not what I understand by Sin.

    To believe in Sin one has to believe in god as well, because the way I understand it, Sin is an offense against god.

    My bible tells me that All have sinned. Not some, but all. There is no one, no, not one, so my bible says, who is righteous. We’re all doomed. No matter how good we try to be, no matter how much we want to do the right thing, we are doomed to fail. Without Jesus, so the bible says, we’re nothing.

    While I never ever came to believe in Sin or Jesus, I did absorb that idea that I’m never any good, never good enough. I’m a failure, no matter how hard I try.

    I found Sunday School very destructive and dangerous. And telling me that god is love and that Jesus loves me disgusts me. Being loved by god or Jesus is like being loved by a wife beater and child abuser. No thank you. God sounds more like the violent and brutal father of my Sweetheart. A
    violent and brutal father who “loves” his children. How can anyone
    believe in this god?

    How can anyone believe this? If god is so loving, why are little tiny children starving horribly to death? No, don’t tell me it’s “free will”. That’s baloney! Little babies don’t will to die in pain from malnutrition. Why do so many people die in fear in a tsunami? Why must animals suffer in the wild? Why so much death and destruction from this supposedly “loving” god?

    As I said, allowing me to be exposed to Sunday School was the worst thing my mother ever did, and it left lasting scars. I agree with Richard Dawkins that it’s child abuse to try to indoctrinate children in religion. Even though I never came to believe, I did suffer the consequences of abuse.

  • RonnyTX

    Laurance to Ronny:
    Hello, Ronny…I do appreciate your kindness. I think you do want to offer comfort, and you do want to reassure us that the bible doesn’t really say that we’re condemned to hell. Bible talk about fiery furnaces, lakes of fire where the worm dieth not, punishment of eternal fire, everlasting fire, and a pretty scary Jesus in Revelation who comes with a sword in his mouth as a conquering king is, well, god and Jesus love us and the bible doesn’t really mean what it says, it actually means something else.

    I appreciate your good intentions.

    Ronny to Laurance:
    Thank you Laurance. :-)

    Now that part about where the worm dieth not. That’s referring to Gehenna,which was a valley just to the south/southwest of Jerusalem. Gehenna is the Greek word for that valley. Later on,as the Bible was translated to other languages,some Bible translaters changed the word Gehenna,to hell. But the same word in the Hebrew, it was changed to the word hell,by Bible translators.

    The lake of fire? Yes,that’s in the book of Revelation. Interesting thing,in scripture we’re told,Jesus Christ will be there. And that’s good. :-) And the only torment I can see there,is a temporary torment and that meant for peoples good. For not only is God pure love;but God is also a consuming fire. But that’s a good thing. :-) For whatever needs burning out of us,God will burn out. In this age,God does that,for the ones presently born of God. I’ve experienced it and while it’s not fun to go through,it’s always been a good thing for me,once I’ve gotten to the other side of such. :-)

    As for the eternal and everlasting fire parts? That’s from the Greek word aion and those similar to it and should never of been translated eternal,forever,etc. Why not? Because the Greek word aion,did not mean everlasting or eternal;but instead meant,for an age. An indeterminate length of time,with a beginning and an end.

    Lots of good stuff about this online,from people who have studied such for years. And one of my favorites,is pictures of “hell”. That’s that Gehenna,the valley to one side of Jerusalem. Horrible things happened there,in the past. Even people sacrificing their infant children,to the pagan god Molech. :-( But nowdays,it’s a park,where children can play. :-)

    Laurance to Ronny:
    But I don’t believe in the bible. To me it’s just stories, that’s all, just stories, no more true than Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Your trying to tell me that the scare stories aren’t really scare stories doesn’t address the problem.

    Ronny to Laurance:
    Laurance,what I’m telling you is that the scare stories are lies. And that they were added onto the Bible by some people and that with the expressed purpose of simply controlling people through fear.

    Laurance to Ronny:
    The problem is that there is real FEAR hiding behind all the halleluia stuff. Even if I never ever came to believe the stories and the god and Jesus story characters, those Sunday School teachers did induce of fear.

    Ronny to Laurance:
    Then what they did Laurance,was sin against you as a child,as they taught you to believe lies. And I think some have their mind so twisted,by those man made up lies,that they actually mean well,when they try to scare younger or older people with them.

    It just amazes me Laurance and yet,it’s not so amazing at all. That is,that we’re in church and taught lies. In church, taught to be fearful. In church and taught to look up to some people,mostly some men,as if they were God or a god,between all the rest of us and God. Rather amazing, what sins go on in the local church,independent or denominational. I used to be a part of that too,till God graciously allowed me to escape such. :-)

    And I do want to add this Laurance. Most of what goes on in all of these churches,has nothing to do with God/Jesus Christ. So much that goes on in them,is of some men and not of God.

    P.S.
    Just wanted to say too,good to meet you and some other folks here. :-)

  • RonnyTX

    Laurance to Ronny:
    And there’s another one I didn’t mention yesterday, and that’s Original Sin.

    Ronny to Laurance:
    Yes,there was the origional sin. Where Adam sinned and because of that,we all died. But that’s,just the first part of the story. :-) Or as it puts it in scripture,in Adam all died,in Jesus Christ all are made alive. :-) Not just some;but all.

    Laurance to Ronny:
    I don’t believe in Sin, original or otherwise. Yes, I am well aware that people can do really horrible things, and right now we’re reading the news that an atheist did a really horrible thing to Muslims0. But horrible things are not what I understand by Sin.

    To believe in Sin one has to believe in god as well, because the way I understand it, Sin is an offense against god.

    Ronny to Laurance:
    Yes,I can surely see where sin would be an offence against God. Or one definition I like of sin,is simply missing the mark. And that being,when we don’t always love ourself or the other person,as we should. So,we miss the mark,we are not perfect. And that goes doubly so,for the Christian,who selfrighteously looks down on,”those sinners out there.” (ha)

    Laurance to Ronny:
    My bible tells me that All have sinned. Not some, but all. There is no one, no, not one, so my bible says, who is righteous. We’re all doomed. No matter how good we try to be, no matter how much we want to do the right thing, we are doomed to fail. Without Jesus, so the bible says, we’re nothing.

    Ronny to Laurance:
    True,we’ve all sinned,we all sin. But no,we’re not all doomed. Far from it! :-) For as another scripture puts it, already we have been reconciled back to God the Father, by way of Jesus Christ and the cross. :-) So no,no one is doomed. And anyone,going by the name Christian and saying otherwise,they simply don’t know what they’re talking about.

    And no Laurance,we aren’t nothing,according to the Bible. But in scripture we’re told,we are the offspring/children of God. And the truth is,we’re each worth more to God/Jesus Christ,than we could ever humanly imagine! :-) God/Jesus Christ,loves us all,just that much. :-) And no,no strings attached to that.

    Laurance to Ronny:
    While I never ever came to believe in Sin or Jesus, I did absorb that idea that I’m never any good, never good enough. I’m a failure, no matter how hard I try.

    Ronny to Laurance:
    Laurance,the worst of the worst failures are the selfrighteous religious and especially those who are that and go by the name Christian. Those who look down on others,as they use that,to elevate themselves and think of themselves,as better than. But as I well know by experience,God will burn that out of them too. And that,for their own good and the good of others,as well. But in the meantime,we have to put up with such,to a degree. :-( LoL Personally,I try to stay away from such people;but when I can’t,I sometimes remind such people,that they aren’t near as good,as they obviously think they are. :-)

    Ah and no way do I understand adults,who would instill the belief in a child,that that child is no good. :-( And no, little children aren’t perfect;but their certainly a lot better,than any of us adults! And when some go on about children like their something horrible,it would be good to remind them that Jesus Christ said that to enter the kingdom of God,one much become as a little child.

    Thinking of my little great nieces and great nephews here and getting a smile on my face. And thinking about when I was a child and my parents love me,both in word and deed. And they love me,as Ronny. Well,God/Jesus Christ loves us all too :-) and that,with all our imperfections. And as a I sometimes like to put it,I’m not where I want to be,where I will end up;but I thank God,I’m not where I used to be. :-) Why am I not still there,like in my selfrighteous looking down on so many? Because God burnt that out of me and taught me better! :-) And that is why today,I can look at every person and be happy. :-) Happy for them and happy for me. :-) My,we’re all going to have a grand old time,getting to know each other! :-)

  • RonnyTX

    Laurance to Ronny:
    I found Sunday School very destructive and dangerous. And telling me that god is love and that Jesus loves me disgusts me. Being loved by god or Jesus is like being loved by a wife beater and child abuser. No thank you. God sounds more like the violent and brutal father of my Sweetheart. A
    violent and brutal father who “loves” his children. How can anyone
    believe in this god?

    Ronny to Laurance:
    Laurance,what I can tell you on this,comes from my own personal experience with God. And that’s simply,that a person comes to love God/Jesus Christ,when they first learn directly from God,just how greatly God/Jesus Christ, loves them. :-) And that comes for each of us,as we’re being born of God/born again. This is when a person learns,that God is pure love and that coming,as the love of God,is being poured out upon you. :-) And Laurance,this isn’t just for one person or a few;but for every last one of us. :-) And no,I don’t expect you to believe or understand that. You can’t,not until you’ve experience such. And that you will; :-) but at the time of God’s choosing.

    Laurance to Ronny:
    How can anyone believe this? If god is so loving, why are little tiny children starving horribly to death? No, don’t tell me it’s “free will”. That’s baloney! Little babies don’t will to die in pain from malnutrition. Why do so many people die in fear in a tsunami? Why must animals suffer in the wild? Why so much death and destruction from this supposedly “loving” god?

    Ronny to Laurance:
    True,it’s not from free will. For none have that. Not until they’re born of God. And even then,it’s a limited thing,as God teaches us better and conforms up more,to Jesus Christ.

    As for the baby dying from lack of food? Well,thse who call themself Christian,should be there on the spot,helping such. Feeding the poor,etc. But instead,so many times, we’re simply feeding out own gut and eating more than we need. Or we’re going to church on Sunday morning, thinking how good we are in doing that and then going home to eat and watch a football game,etc,etc. So,we’re selfish and uncaring. And when we act and do like that, we’re doing just the opposite,of Jesus Christ.

    But there is also a side of pain and hurt in our life,that is good for us. Speaking from personal experience here and by no means,saying I have all the answers. But the bad that has come to me in my life,out of all of that,God has brought good. God had used that to help me and the bad, makes me appreciate the good,all that much better. And I can’t tell you all the hows of how God will do this;but I have no doubt,that every bad every person suffers in this life,will be vastly repaid and or returned as good,in the next life. For God is the one,that can and does,bring good out of all evil. :-)

    Laurance to Ronny:
    As I said, allowing me to be exposed to Sunday School was the worst thing my mother ever did, and it left lasting scars. I agree with Richard Dawkins that it’s child abuse to try to indoctrinate children in religion. Even though I never came to believe, I did suffer the consequences of abuse.

    Ronny to Laurance:
    I agree with you Laurance,that such is abuse. But I can tell you this too,God will yet bring good out of it and that both for you and for others. But it bothers me too,a lot,that anyone should abuse a child. Especially so,when the’re supposed to be teaching them,in the name of God/Jesus Christ.

  • RonnyTX

    I was brought up in church,taught that when a person died,the saved one went to heaven and the lost one went to hell. Then in the last 5 years,I found that isn’t what is taught in the Bible.

    “5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” Ecclesiastes 9:5

    And in some places in the Bible,what we call death or dead,is simply called sleep. So what I’ve come to see,is that when any of us die,we next simply go to the grave and know nothing. That is, our body goes to the grave;but our spirit goes back to God,who gave us such. And what is referred to as our soul,that is simply a combination of our God created body and the spirit/breath of God. Those two combined,produces what is called our soul,in the Bible. So when we die,our body goes to the grave and the spirit goes back to God. And we rest/sleep. We do that,till God resurrects us. And that is a good thing,for all of us. :-) For the next life,is gonna be great,for all of us! :-)

    And Peter,you don’t have to fear death. There is nothing to fear in that. It’s simply like sleeping/resting. And you’re a young man,so I can easily see,why you don’t want death to come to you yet. And I felt the same way,when I was your age. Now I’m near 60 years old and I can tell you,that sometimes death/ resting,seems very good to me! :-) Well,the older you get,the more your body wears out! (ha) The older you get,the more you have aches,pains and some illnesses. I had a pretty severe illness last fall and I can truthfully tells you,that at the worst of such,death didn’t seem bad to me,at all! (ha) But just as certain,there are the times I’m not sick,still feeling my age; :-) but would still like to hang around,a bit longer. :-) Why? Because of things,I would still like to do and people I would like to help. Plus and a great big plus it is,is that it would be so nice,to get to see my little great nieces and great nephews grow up! :-) And in the hear and now,it is a blessing to me, when I get to be around some of them,at times. :-) Three of them were here at my oldest sisters,just a few days ago and the two younger ones,3 and 5 years old,they wore great uncle out; :-) but it was way past nice,just to be around them! :-) And their 8 year old sister,she reminds me so much of myself, when I was younger! For just like her,I also loved to read! :-) And I love going to garage sales,to find toys and books,for these kids! :-) They light up my life :-) and at one and the same time,they wear out my now older body! :-) LoL

  • katta

    It is normal to fear death. We are hardwired through evolution to fear the unknown. It was (is) just nessessary for survival. And as death is the ultimate unknown….
    I think – no l belive – that every person who denies this fear is just lying to himself. If death was so great why not end the suffering of life? Why being against abortion?