Todays question is from Bishoy who asks…
Message: Well, this will be long but please bear with me as my life is based upon this:
First off a historical background of me, I’m 20 year old guy, have been raised and baptized as Coptic orthodox Christian and I became an atheist when I was 15 because I saw one of my friends being persecuted for being a christian and I asked god why didn’t he defend him and I found no answer, and I stayed an atheist for 3 years because of this moral question, why doesn’t god protect innocent people.
But then when I became 18 years old I entered college and I read about Nick Vujicic (a motivational speaker and a preacher who was born limbless) and I thought that god doesn’t interfere in free will and then rewards or punishes people based on there deeds and I went back to church.
after about a year in church I started reading on the internet about if god exists or not and the reasons with or against that scientifically, and i found the big bang and evolution more convincing than creation (even though I find the big bang and evolution especially evolution imaginary a lot) so I was convinced with atheism mentally, but then i found a void, an emptiness, and also a fear from the christian hell which takes people who doesn’t accept Jesus, So I went back to the church just to fill the void, and to heal my fear, I also joined a course to be a deacon (a priest’s helper or something) but now I just don’t feel it’s right, I mean i just saw a movie about trains that get destroyed in poor areas, the movie showed stories for many train passengers and then the train was destroyed because some people stole the train bars, the movie bonded me with the characters and in the end they all died, and I thought, that happens in real life, those people are not numbers when you hear “100 persons were killed in a train wreck” kind of news and I thought that the world is totally random and if it’s random then there’s no creator nor a preserver for this universe.
I don’t know what to do, I mean should I stick with the church and ignore my mind to fill this emptiness (spiritual emptiness p.s. Buddhism didn’t help I studied it for about a month and was meditating but it didn’t help) and to eliminate my fear of hell, or should I stick with atheism even though I’m not sure 100% that god doesn’t exist just to stop accusing god of causing suffering (and it’s like accusing a unicorn of steeling your wallet, I mean you use invalid and imaginary excuses)
P.S. Sorry if I confused you but English is not my native language, please respond asap I’ve been looking for an answer for 5 years.
Hi Bishoy. Thanks for the question, and by the way your english is fine.
From what I understand from reading your email. your problem boils down to uncertainty and fear. On one hand you look at the injustices in the world, and as a compassionate empathetic human you ask yourself how a god who is supposed to be superior to humans, doesn’t seem to have the same compassion and empathy that you have? Then because of your relationship with christianity which teaches you to fear not believing in it’s god or spend eternity being tortured (which is neither compassionate nor empathetic) you feel a mixture of fear and guilt for not believing. In other words, your mind is telling you one thing, but your emotions are telling you another.
The first thing I want to tell you is to take a deep breath. What you’re feeling is very normal and a lot of others have felt the same way you do. The good news is that there are ways to overcome your fears and accept uncertainty.
First understand this, the reason you fear hell, is because that’s what you’ve been conditioned to fear. Do you fear traveling down the river Styxs and spending eternity at the whim and terror of the god Hades? No? Why not? Is it because you don’t believe in the Greek gods? Is it because you weren’t raised in that religion? Of course it is. Because you were never indoctrinated into it, you have no reason to fear it. Religion, and christianity especially has perfected over hundreds of years the art of motivation by fear. “You better believe or else” has been the war cry of religions since it’s inception. It’s how they keep people coming back.
The way I’ve found to overcome this is to first remember that whatever you have learned, you can unlearn. If you learned to be afraid of hell, you can learn to be unafraid of hell. For me, my fear of gods and their retributions left me when I studied the history of different religions and realized how impossible their gods were. For example when I realized that the christian god is so full of contradictions along with the obvious borrowing from other religions, I came to realize that the christian god didn’t exist. So if there’s no christian god, there’s no reason to be afraid of it is there?
Uncertainty is a good thing. I’m 99.9% sure the abrahamic god doesn’t exist, but I still leave room for error and new information. Now is there a reason to fear this god based on a 0.01% chance that it exists? You have better odds at winning the lottery then that. Do you fear losing the lottery? Of course not! Education is the answer to fear. We fear what we don’t understand and when we understand something we have no reason to fear it. There are a lot of great books and websites out there to help you educate yourself. If you think you’re smart enough, I recommend George H Smiths book, “Atheism: The case against god” as a great way to learn all of the arguments for and against gods. It’s not a light reading by any means, but it IS the closest thing to an atheist bible that you will ever find. Get it, read it, and you will find your fears and uncertainty start to fade away.
I hope that helps. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below. Thanks for stopping by!