What Nightmares May Come

Question from Chelsea:
Besides disrespect for the planet and a willingness (or even eagerness) to die for a religious cause, what are other negative consequences of maintaining belief in an afterlife?

Answer by SmartLX:
Well, don’t belittle those two points for a start, because they can cause a whole lot of damage all by themselves. But we’ll cover a few more things.

Most people don’t go as far as being eager or even willing to die, but the idea that there’s another life can make people more accepting of death – usually not very much their own, but the deaths of others. When we hear of tragedies and atrocities, the religious may comfort themselves with the idea that the victims are now in heaven, and in some cases that can sabotage the public will to prevent these events from recurring. Famine in Africa is a good example; some may think all those poor kids are better off dead, which isn’t conducive to donations. 9/11 was a bad example, as the mad rush to fight the perceived Islamist threat sprang from the American people’s fear that they were now personally at risk.

If you think someone you love is just the other side of the proverbial veil, you may start thinking you can reach them somehow. Self-proclaimed mediums all over the world can make a good living by exploiting people desperate for one more chance to hear from their late parents, or their late children. Some people have seriously hurt themselves financially by essentially becoming addicted to the faint hope of restoring a lost connection or mending a broken heart, when in fact this pursuit can poison and prolong the grieving process.

The most commonly and directly harmful aspect of belief in an afterlife, though, is the fear that it may not be a good one. Children are evidently and routinely traumatised by direct and indirect threats of hellfire and God’s permanent disapproval, in some cases to an extent comparable with sexual abuse. Several people have written to ATA about the fear they continue to feel for months or years after they stop believing in God, so deep has it burrowed into their psyche. (I call this “faithdrawal”, and it fades but very slowly.) Anytime I can spare a child from this potentially lifelong ordeal, I will regard as among my best deeds in life.

2 thoughts on “What Nightmares May Come”

  1. It is not the belief in an afterlife that causes people to do some of what some people do to achieve it. It is the misconceptions that have been accepted about how they can achieve that afterlife. And believe it or not, usually those misconceptions are not the only things that are wrong, especially when Christianity is concerned. Mans misconceptions about who God is, is the primary reason we may or may not believe in God. And this affects the way we look and accept life. But when we actually see that God created Man to have a vibrant and eternal life with Him, and that, although Satan made God to initiate the “plan 2” to be able to fulfill that over plan of God, He is carrying on with that plan. Man does have a say in that plan. Individually. God would never force His will on any of His free willed endowed creation. But He does need to allow them to see the bigger picture. Since Satan, exercising his freewill, rebelled against God and accused God of being unfair and arbitrary, God needed to allow Satan the time to disprove his own accusations. Thus earth was made the place to allow the universe and Man to see and judge whether or not God was as loving as He said He was, or just pulling the wool over the eyes of His creation. So, Satan after deceiving Eve, and causing Adam to distrust the Being, who not to earlier had brought Adam into being and who loving gazed with love on His creation, began to show just exactly what was the reason behind the accusations made against the God who created Him. And so Satan has showed that since he is the one who has caused all the misery and strife on this earth, by living contrary to how God would have wanted us to live which would not have happened if Satan had not been given the earth by Adam. And by offering up Himself on the cross, God has shown that Man and the rest of His creation means more to God than His own life, God has proven that Satan’s accusations were false and that God is all that He said He is and more than we can comprehend. Now it is up to Man to decide their fate. Whether to believe God and live as He has created us to live or to distrust Him and give up the life God is offering us. God does not take back what He has offered. He simply allows us to decide if we would love to be with Him or would rather deny the gift of life He offers us.

  2. Just a quick list of things Gerald mentions in the post above for which there is zero empirical evidence or data for:

    Creation by a god (mentioned multiple times)
    Free Will (which can’t possibly exist, by the way, if the claimed god is all knowing)

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