Fear

Question from Emma:
I am not sure if I am brave enough to be an atheist. I am pretty cowardly and I fear death, however the only logical explanation I can reach is that God doesn’t exist, at least not in the way people think. Are most Christians only Christians because they are scared?

Answer by SmartLX:
If you’ve reached the conclusion that God doesn’t exist then you’re an atheist, whether or not you like it or you think you’re brave enough. Nobody said atheists had to be happy about the absence of gods; some actively wish there were a god, while others are relieved that there apparently isn’t.

Some Christians really are Christians because of fear, or at least they continue to believe in God because they want God to exist. They don’t consider that this isn’t a good reason to believe something, or that it makes it no more likely to be true, because they have become emotionally dependent on the idea of a personal god. I know this from personal experience – not my own former beliefs, really, but the beliefs of some of those close enough to me to admit the nature of their belief. (It’s simple enough to ask, “Why do you believe that?” but someone might need to be very open to answer it truthfully.)

Of course it’s not as simple as belief assuaging one’s fears and atheism leaving one defenceless. Christianity is itself as much a source of fear as any religion. The adjective “God-fearing” is usually meant as a compliment, for crying out loud. The idea of nothing after death isn’t the only reason to fear it; fear of Hell is part and parcel of the core doctrine of Christianity, and the Church’s main method of keeping and controlling its adherents. This is why so many ex-believers feel a huge sense of relief when they let it all go.

If you leave your religion, your fear of death probably won’t change much. Your real worry will be guilt, and the added fear of retribution by God, during and/or after your mortal life. It’s an irrational fear for someone who doesn’t think there’s a God, but it happens all the same. It’s a symptom of what I call “faithdrawal”, the psychological fallout of the loss of faith. Believe me, it fades over time.

Finally, you’re not cowardly just because you’re afraid of something. Bravery is about facing and overcoming fear, so if you weren’t afraid you’d have no way to be brave. You’re well on your way to courage if you’re delving into this issue, working to make your peace with the concept of death.

2 thoughts on “Fear”

  1. There are no real Christians in whom the Holy Spirit abide that went to God out of fear. The NT clearly defines “God fearing” as something no Christian really has.

    Jesus didnt speak about hell to coerce people to believe–he simply was stating where unbelievers were going. If God wanted to scare you into loving him he would be on TV right now.

    Just picture if you were handcuffed to cop your whole life–would you ever reveal yourself? God is not looking for pretenders.
    Real Christians turn to God in love when they hear of the beauty of Christ nature. The message is designed to expose the human heart. People would follow the Devil to avoid punishment.

    God knows your thoughts. People dont get into heaven by some charade to escape death. The problem is people dont actually want God as their Father. They think Christ is ickky. Love thy neighbor…yeah right they say.

    You find God as HE intended by going to him and asking him to place the truth in your mind. You go to God. I dont know a single real Christian that doesnt have the *Fact of Christ placed directly in their minds by God. Its not a matter of a leap of faith at that point. The faith in the NT is equivalent to “Knowing”. We dont pray to someone we think *might be there. People who fall away never gave themselves directly to God..in some way they were pretenders.

  2. Jim, here’s a more or less complete list of passages in the Bible that refer to fear of God, nearly all with positive connotations. Suffice it to say that it does not end with the Old Testament.

    Even if the authors of the Bible didn’t intend to make people afraid, which it looks like they did, the fact remains that millions worldwide are afraid as a direct result of their Christianity. If not for themselves, they’re afraid for their families and their “unsaved” friends. They love God and Jesus, sure, but they know what they’re capable of and want to spare everyone from their wrath by working constantly to please them. What kind of relationship does that sound like to you?

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