Religion is frustrating

There are several religions that teach that disbelievers will go to Hell. As they are mutually exclusive, you can't possibly follow them all, so there's always SOMETHING to fear. You just can't win. This frustrates me greatly. What should I do?

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  • Not even that they teach that you go to hell, but in some of the religions (i.e. Christianity) they don't even really agree what hell is, what the duration of it is, who all goes there, etc.

    Studying the history of hell is probably one of the most therapeutic things a person who is afraid of it can do, because it shows you just how much people have always disagreed about its nature, and just how much bullshit has become attached to it over time.

    I can't say it will work for you, but what worked for me is leaving organized religion altogether. They can't all be right, but they can certainly all be wrong. Hell is just a way to keep the tithing plate full and to keep everyone in line.

    If you fear hell, that implies that you think it's real; why?

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    • Technically Hell is for eternity, if it's temporary then it would be something like Purgatory.

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      • that's the catholic understanding of it, but you still have (and have had) other ideas amongst christians. The concept of universal reconciliation used to be fairly common amongst christians, with father basil of caesarea having once claimed that it was the most common belief in his time (4th century ad)

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      • Do you think it's fair for anyone to burn forever? I sure don't. No finite deed warrants infinite punishment.

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        • It's not for me to judge, but honestly if someone is an evil person who makes no effort to ask God for forgiveness, or change his, or her evil ways then that person has kinda brought it on his, or herself. All a person has to do to avoid eternal damnation is to accept Jesus as their Lord, and savior, and repent of their sins.

          If you're afraid of Hell then maybe you ought to rethink your beliefs, because you sound awfully afraid of a place that atheists don't believe exists.

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          • But what if someone was a kind person who simply saw no evidence of God?

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          • "if someone is an evil person who makes no effort to ask God for forgiveness, or change his, or her evil ways then that person has kinda brought it on his, or herself."

            I'm not evil, but it seems to me that even people who ARE evil, still don't deserve infinite torture for finite crimes. That just doesn't make sense. Speaking of evil, do you know who creates it according to the Bible? God. Just read Isaiah 45:7.

            "All a person has to do to avoid eternal damnation is to accept Jesus as their Lord, and savior, and repent of their sins."

            So, if you don't accept Jesus, you'll be damned, huh? That seems like pure blackmail to me. Also, what if Christianity isn't the answer and there is some other God? How would they respond to you?

            "If you're afraid of Hell then maybe you ought to rethink your beliefs, because you sound awfully afraid of a place that atheists don't believe exists."

            I've come to realize that there is just as much (or as little) reason to fear the Hell of Christianity, than it is to fear all the Hells of all the other religions. In any case, God can't expect me to believe in him, if he doesn't provide any evidence. I'll just try to be a decent and kind human being and that should be enough if it turns out there is a God.

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          • Well, I'm not an evil person. While I've done some really shitty things, I think I'm generally a kind person. Even IF you are truly evil, though, I STILL don't think you deserve eternal torment. Temporary, yes, but not eternal. Finite deeds don't warant infinite punishment.

            I've tried very hard to believe, but I just can't. I honestly think Yahweh (were he to exist) is a vile monster. One of the MANY examples of this is the story of the Egyptian firstborn in Exodus. I can't possibly worship such an utterly disgusting bully. My conscience and morality simply won't allow it. I don't see how anyone can worship this celestial thug. If I were to believe, it would be exclusively out of fear, which wouldn't, of course, be sincere in the least.

            However, weird as it sounds, I, as an atheist, am indeed awfully afraid of Hell. A lot of atheists actually have this fear. Why? The guy in the following video explains it very well.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrfBFZggqhg

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            • Well, the only solution I have to get rid of a fear of Hell is to have faith in Jesus Christ, and accept him as your Lord, and Savior. Jesus loves you! We're all children of God, and made in his image.

              You are free to believe in whatever you want to believe in, if you can't bring yourself to believe in a Judeo-Christian God at least try to be the best person you can be.

              I know you don't want to pray, because you're an atheist, and all that but you could always pray for the willingness to be willing. It literally takes only a few seconds to pray for that!

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    • I don't necessarily think Hell is real, but you just don't know.

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  • religion was supposed to be for faith and hope, but now it’s just scaring people until they feel forced to believe in it.

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  • OP, I am so sorry. From the internet you tend to get cacophony of conflicting voices and no way of telling the character of the person they come from. I think irl interaction might be necessary - with perseverance.

    Go for the lowest common denominators. God and people. On your own, in all sincerity, and understanding that gods are not to be trifled with, address God and tell him that you want to find out who he is, and ask him to send people your way who can help.

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  • I'll try to answer your question in general.

    For the Judio/Christian religions the Torah & Bible does not discus Heaven or Hell. The do discuss that there is a place where our souls existed before entering out body (at 1st breath) and then return to (at last exhale). That's about it.

    The concept of Heaven & Hell actually originates from reports of people who had "near death" experiences that remember them (only a fraction of those who have near death experiences). Medical and other people who care for the very injured, sick, or dying report that at times it seems that a person may have died and then they come awake again.

    Some of these people talk about how peaceful it was, long lost friends and family waiting for them, and some speak of seeing a light that they could walk to (or started towards) before being pulled back.

    The other reported reaction is that the people have the look of utter horror on their faces, and talk of what horror awaited them. These people virtually always suppress this memory in less than a minute and assume a normal face and talk about life in general.

    These occurrences are common and exist all over the world regardless of specific religious belief.

    So there is evidence from all cultures across thousands of years that at least some of us actually have a pleasant place with long lost friends to go to after we die, and others are headed into terror after death. The real roots of Heaven and Hell. It does make sense that religions would talk about this and that how you live determines the outcome.

    Given that the evidence is worldwide across all religions... its a bit presumptuous to claim that only 1 religion offers an option for Heaven.

    However, fear is a powerful motivator; and quite effective unless you know the truth about this worldwide phenomena of near death experiences. In my opinion, most religious organizations are more about power and control for which fear is a very effective tool, than about actually teaching and living good life practices based on truth.

    I hope this helps you understand,

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    • This was very interesting. However, I do have some questions. Here we go:

      "the Torah & Bible does not discus Heaven or Hell."

      Then what about the references to Hell listed here?
      https://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/hell.html

      "The concept of Heaven & Hell actually originates from reports of people who had "near death" experiences"

      Do you think these experiences are reliable? Personally, I have my doubts. It seems plausible to me that your brain can play all kinds of tricks on you when you're about to die.

      "Given that the evidence is worldwide across all religions... its a bit presumptuous to claim that only 1 religion offers an option for Heaven."

      Do you think that (generally) compassionate and kind atheists can go to Heaven?

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  • Over the centuries, religions that taught there was a hell for disbelievers got more followers than those religions that didn't teach this. Religious ideas undergo Darwinian selection over time. If you fear hell, you will do as you're told. Your good behavior may make society function better to a certain degree.

    Cultural anthropology is a study of this process. You could always study why people do what they do. Then, you'll be more informed before you do anything.

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  • I think you really dont get judged by god. He gave us free will, made whores a thing, and made some of us suck at math. What the heck did you expect some of us to do?

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    • Freewill is a thang, because God wants people to freely choose to do the right thing!

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      • A lot of scientists claim we don't have free will.

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        • I'm not familiar with that assertion. In what way do they say we don't have freewill?

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          • Just search on YouTube. There are lots of videos there debunking the concept. Here are a few (although not by scientists, but pretty bright guys nonetheless).

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwaXqep-bpk&t=14s

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4Oyi1T-HmU&t=5s

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            • Yeah, I don't really see the need to research something I don't necessarily believe in like the idea that we don't have freewill as I'm one to believe that we do in fact have God given freewill.

              I will, however, say that a person with a gun to their head, and or one who has a serious psychiatric, or neurological disorder certainly has less freewill than say a perfectly healthy person who has no psychiatric, or neurological disorders, and does not have someone pointing a gun at their head.

              I don't think this stuff is as absolute one way, or another as some people might claim.

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    • Many scientists, etc. say we don't have free will at all.

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      • Do you speak of multiverse thoery? Since if not you have free will. You can do whatever you want. Someone can put a gun to your head and say speak and die and you can still tell them to go to hell. There is always a choice. Even if the deck is stacked. Everything is a choice.

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        • "Do you speak of multiverse thoery? Since if not you have free will."

          How's that?

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          • You said science said we do not have free will. I have not seen this argument anywhere unless you speak of multiverse theory. Which is the idea that for every action there is a polar and opposite reaction and outcome which is possible. Which would mean there is tons of universes which are believed to differ by a single outcome. However, the creator of the theory I believe at one point came out saying this was misunderstood such as many misunderstand evolution. That the theory means there is a number of different outcomes that can branch off into sort of like the show, "Future Diary". If one believes there is a universe where they differ by one outcome that means that every other universe has to have a different outcome and so the action was not a choice but really a default. The fact you do not know this theory proves that you are speaking out of thin air. If you know a legitimate scientist or theory stating "No free will" please state it. If not you are a liar.

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            • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7t_Uyi9bNS4&t=2s

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      • I don't buy that one. Much ado about nothing.

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        • Suit yourself. It's pretty smart people claiming it, though.

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      • I disagree with that. I know a great many scientist, and not a one of them think that people don't have free will.

        What is the source of the "theory" that people don't have free will. Please cite it.

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        • Just search on YouTube. There are lots of videos there debunking the concept. Here are a few (although not by scientists, but pretty bright guys nonetheless).

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwaXqep-bpk&t=14s

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4Oyi1T-HmU&t=5s

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          • So, the person from the first video is effectively playing a game of "find the original cause". He's suggesting that, since an effect has to have a cause, and a choice is both effect and cause, the choice must have a cause. However, the cause must have a cause as well. So, using that logic, you can go in an unending chain of causes and effects until you reach the first cause.

            This person is arguing that, since there is cause for your actions that you did not originally create, your actions are not your choice, but are rather predestined by the previous causes and effects that have acted upon you. It's honestly a pretty fancy way of saying "predestination".

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          • I think you have no idea how to judge intelligence.

            The 1st video has arguments discussed in any college introductory class of philosophy.

            The 2nd video... presents part of what is known about brain processes, and then claims that part shows there is no "free will".

            Here's the rest of the story: No serious scientist that I am aware of claims that free will is based in your consciousness. But in your brain and some add soul as well. Present your brain (& possibly soul) with a problem, and it can chose a solution. It then tells your consciousness what that solution is.

            Likewise; a computer determines the answer before sending it to the out put device (computer screen, printer, etc.).

            By not telling the full story... they can present a false conclusion; which is not in my opinion very intelligent at all.

            Overall; both videos are in my opinion at the level of an incoming college Freshman. Anyone who has taken College Level "Introduction to Philosophy" should be able to present counter arguments and equally, and perhaps more, valid theories.

            I suggest you get a copy of the textbook used for college level introduction to philosophy if you are really interested in moving ahead with these kinds of issues.

            Also note, both videos only present theories; and there are alternate theories. Nether video came anywhere close to debunking the concept of Free Will (even if someone says they do).

            Please develop yourself and keep pursuing questions. It would also serve you better in the future to present things as "Theories" versus facts when having philosophical discussions.

            Have a great day,

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  • Are you one of those atheists who is afraid of what if Hell exists?

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  • My belief is that many religions are mostly different interpretations of the same thing. Of course, I can't tell you if that is 100% correct or not, but that is my personal belief.

    Another personal belief of mine is that what matters most is that you're the best person you can be throughout your life. I don't think a loving god would damn someone to hell who was a genuinely good person throughout their lives, and was merely confused and frustrated about religion. Religion is definitely confusing and hard to understand, and I don't see how anyone wouldn't be able to see that, including any reasonable deity.

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  • Walk with love and compassion. I think that is the core of most belief systems and what enlightened ones have tried to teach us. It just becomes perverted by humans over centuries.

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    • I indeed try to walk with love and compassion. I don't always succeed (I've done some really shitty things that I honestly regret), but I think I'm a kind person in general. Do you think that's enough, regardless of beliefs? I'm terrified...

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      • I'm so sorry that you feel this way, and I feel for you. I wish you could know that Christ is for you, and that he came to make you safe and to give you a better life. I know I sound like another corny evangelist when I say this. It just pains me to see someone struggling in this way. 💙

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        • Thank you for your kind words. They are greatly appreciated. I've been a convinced atheist for many years, but now that I'm getting older, I'm starting to have doubts. I've even prayed for the first time since many, many years. My friends would laugh their asses off if they knew. I truly wanna believe and, obviously, NOT go to Hell. I'm just not convinced by Christianity (or any other religion for that matter), though, and also have major problems with its teachings. I really wish I would get a sign.

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          • You're so welcome. It's a privilege to feel helpful some way :). In discussions about faith on the internet, I think people sometimes forget they're trying to communicate with actual people. I sometimes do, myself. If you feel so inclined, could you ask for a sign? History is replete with people who have done, and the Bible is too. Sadly, I don't know if other religious texts are.

            I feel for you in your discomfort. It is part of our life journey but it is horrible. I'm only 31 and have never given birth, but in our tradition we think of some things as a kind of birth pain - an agony of something in progress. Processes of internal questioning can be like that. There are things that make it easier: kind people and beautiful things. Be kind to yourself as you keep pushing on. I hope that you find God as he truly is, and that you will have the relief that he gives.

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      • I think it is generally good to reflect on our behavior and where the behavior may stem from. I've noticed a lot of poor behavior from individuals tends to stem from something, whether life experiences or some sort of mental malfunction. It can also be frustrating because kindness is not always returned and may be taken advantage of, but the alternative, to live with nastiness and revenge in your heart, is a worse alternative.

        No mortal has any right to tell you where your soul is destined. That's between you and any creator.

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  • Secular Humanism is what I subscribe to which is a form of atheism, plus a deep belief in science and ethics.

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  • There is nothing to fear. There is only one true religion, so why would you fear of anything else? If you believed in Mohammedanism, why would you fear a Christian Hell? If you believe in atheism, why would you fear any Hell?

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    • The reason to be afraid is because you can't possibly ever be sure, no matter what religion you follow. What makes you so sure Christianity is the answer?

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      • Faith makes me sure.

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        • Good for you, but you can believe literally anything on faith, which means it isn't a pathway to truth. What is your faith based on?

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          • What difference does it make? I'm not here to try to convert anyone, and I certainly feel no need to justify my faith in God to anyone.

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            • I was only asking a question out of genuine curiosity, you know...

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      • I believe because I was told to believe. I tried to believe, and I did. I haven't been convinced to believe anything else, and unless that day comes (it won't), I will continue to believe. What I don't get, is, how do you not believe? How is it logical not to believe anything? Even from a bet-hedging standpoint, like LloydAsher claims to have, how is it logical to not believe? If you do believe, and you are correct, nearly every religion claims to have a reward for you. If you do not believe, and are incorrect, nearly every religion has a punishment. If you choose to believe, and are incorrect, most religions have the same punishment, so wouldn't it make sense to choose one to believe? You seem to have chosen to reject all religion, either that or you have chosen not to choose, but those don't really make that much sense to me.

        Something I've never understood is people using the quote, "That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence," by Christopher Hitchens. That quote has never made sense to me, because if you dismiss purely based on lack of evident evidence, you might just be dismissing the truth. If someone went back in time and started explaining quantum physics to people, and the people believed Hitchens's words to be true, they would likely reject such claims, due to them having no proof, and, due to the technology of the time period, the person explaining would not be able to prove the truth.

        Would not the scientific way be to attempt to prove the claim oneself, rather than relying on the person making the claim to prove it? If someone says something, and there's no evident evidence for it, it is either false or true. If it is true, to dismiss it without first disproving it would be bad from a scientific standpoint, would it not?

        To believe something that cannot be disproven makes sense to me, is what I'm saying. I don't get why it wouldn't make sense. After all, you cannot prove it false, so to reject it as not true is not possible, since it is plausible. You might as well pick one of the plausible options and stand with it. If you really want to choose the plausible option that you believe to be most likely, but has the worst outcome, go ahead and be my guest, but I don't get why you would.

        I realize that this was a terribly long rant.

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        • I read your long rant anyway. It made me think of nuclear physics, where the degree of plausibility can be quantified by using the branch of mathematics known as Statistics. There are phenomena in theoretical physics that cannot be disproven, but the consequences conflict with results that have been observed in particle colliders.

          In empirical science, at least, theoretical possibilities often suggest hypotheses that can be tested. But, the quantification of plausibility (standard deviations, et all) is needed to drive the experimental research effort on the most likely plausiblities first. My personal interpretation of Hitchen's caveat is that he was arguing for procedural rigor in research methods.

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          • What you have said makes quite a bit of sense. However, so many people use that quote to dismiss things as false that could be true, which is incredibly unscientific. I agree that research should be spent trying to either prove or disprove the most likely option first, but that does not mean that people should totally dismiss the "less likely" options as false until they are proven to be true.

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  • Yeah. That pretty much it.

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  • Hell is very real, we see it alot right here on earth. There is only one way to not go to hell. It's about Relationship, Not religion. You have to accept Christ, and be forgiven. We are all sinners, but only one has the power to forgive.

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    • Do you have any evidence for your claim? If not, it's just another totally baseless assertion. Given what's supposedly at stake (your eternal soul), it's only reasonable to expect good evidence. Also, literally nobody deserves to burn forever, as finite deeds simplly do not warrant an infinite punishment. It's beyond disgusting that you apparently think otherwise.

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