Encouraging ex-Christians!De-conversion stories and articles for ex-christian, former Christian and de-converting Christian readers.This blog exists for the express purpose of encouraging those who have decided to leave religion behind.It is not an open challenge for Christians to avenge what they perceive as an offense against their religious beliefs.
I don’t believe in hell. After studying the Bible thoroughly on the concept of hell and discovering that it has no consistent, cohesive description of this “place”, I concluded for myself with a high degree of certainty that it doesn’t exist. It saddens me that so many people, including atheists, are tormented daily by the very idea, thinking “what if?”
So let’s suppose there is such a thing. Then there are questions that need to be asked:
1. What is it? Is it “outer darkness”? What is the outer darkness? Is it space? Is it a fiery pit under the earth? Is it a fiery pit in outer darkness (which makes no sense whatsoever)? Is it a physical place? Or is it a “spiritual” place of torment beyond time and space? One would think the imaginary God would think enough of us to explain this shit.
The hell concept has more holes in it than the streets of Chicago.2. What happens there? Do people just burn forever? For what intelligent reason? What burns? The “soul”? If there is a soul, how does the soul burn if the soul is immaterial? Does the body burn? The gospel of Matthew indicates that God can destroy both soul and body in hell. This so-called destruction of the physical body implies a physical place where it is destroyed, doesn’t it? So where is this physical place.......with this physical fire? How does one “destroy” the soul? Even more, how is it possible for the body to be destroyed in a place called hell, when we all know the human body at death (meaning void of life) is either buried and gradually decomposes in the ground, or is creamated to ashes? Then God destroys it.......again........in hell? Wait........what?
3. If hell exists, who is actually sent there? Look carefully at what the scriptures say. It is not even clear on that. And the Old Testament is completely silent on it.
The hell concept has more holes in it than the streets of Chicago. When a Christian tries to push it in your face, consider asking them these questions. Chances are they will not be able to give a coherent answer. Their only answer will likely be, “God chose not to tell us everything for our own good.” Then that god is a jackass because he is really insulting our intelligence.
Now, many raised to believe in the “spiritual” will find themselves perplexed or insulted by that idea. They are taught almost from infancy, that a Great Spirit or Creator beyond the constraints of physics brought the Universe into existence. They have no idea where that Spirit concept, living in Its own spiritual environment, originated from. Neither do they consider the possibility that the “spiritual, mystical, revelational, transcendental,” experiences, the foundations of religions, probably originated from the effects of psychedelics found around the world. Simply put, their effects on the brain. The more one investigates that idea, the more sense it makes. Indeed, one researcher said it's likely psychedelic plants have been used in religious ceremonies for seven thousand years. They are still used in religious ceremonies. (The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 or RFRA, is cited by the religious right as the right to practice untouchable prejudice against and denial of the rights of others. This law originated with a suit brought against the U.S. Government by Native Americans because the government banned their traditional use of peyote in their ceremonies!)
Many, especially those practitioners of religious ceremonies, and researchers involved in trial testing of the effects of psychedelics, will say I have no right to speak about the connection between psychedelics and religion. They could dismiss me by quoting, ”A little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” meaning I must have little knowledge on the subject. I won't agree of course. Besides, sometimes a little is all you need to get the big picture. For instance, if just one member of a cult realizes the members are on the road to being abused and enslaved, he might escape to be a whistle-blower and free those members. A little knowledge, in this case, would be a great thing! Sort out the details later on, from a safe distance. I've been told by believers initiated into the mysteries of the spiritual, “You just don't understand,” which is laughable. I have studied all sides of religious beliefs, pro and con. Let's try a different quote to illustrate the majority of believers we know: “He who knows only his own side of a case knows little of that.” John Stuart Mill, 1859. When it comes to beliefs, believers know little of their beliefs, the origins of those beliefs, or reasons why those beliefs persist.
My journey of discovery began with “The Doors of Perception” (1954) by Aldous Huxley. He describes his experiences on a psychedelic trip. (For those who don't know this author: he died on the same day as JFK, from cancer. At his request, he was given LSD as he died.) Huxley, after some trips, left off LSD because, he said, he was becoming separated from other people.
Then there came a Life magazine article about magic mushrooms (1957). Two men went to a village in Mexico, where they participated in a sacred mushroom ceremony conducted by tribal members who called the mushrooms “flesh of the gods.” (Is it any wonder Spanish conquistadors tried to destroy their religion, considering Catholicism's similar dogma,” this piece of matzah is the living body of Christ”?)
John Allegro's “The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross,” makes the case all religions originated with a chance discovery of a mushroom, which, when consumed, can be lethal, but in small doses is capable of opening one's being to mind-bending and overwhelming awe, visions, and fear far beyond the comprehension of normal experiences. In time, this power was exploited by shamans who administered the settings and doses sufficient to impart mystical effects. They were thereby able to control the already superstitious and hyper-suggestible. (As they do today without the drugs.) This is not to say those shamans themselves weren't absolutely convinced they had discovered and experienced “the greatest realities, the meaning of everything.” Quite the opposite. (Compare them to their descendants, the priests, evangelists, cult leaders, clergy of faiths too numerous to mention: “The only people who are NEVER converted to spiritualism are conjurers.” George Orwell, 1954.)
Gore Vidal's historical novel, “Julian,” describes soldiers in the Roman army using a psychedelic in their ceremonies to give them access to the Mysteries of Mithras, eternal life, etc. ( It is a fact that psychedelics administered in controlled settings and communal ceremonies will eliminate the fear of death in the individual: a powerful conviction for a soldier or terrorist to have.) This book led me to investigate these ceremonies. Vidal's source was Franz Cumont's 1911 book, “Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism.” In practice before Christianity, the Mithraic religion went on to compete with the Christian religion, for 125 years. Recently, I read the book, “Blue Dreams,” by Loren Slader. Not only does the author lay out a short history of psychedelics, she includes tranquilizers and other mood balancers, some of which she's taken for over 35 years, as prescribed by her psychiatrists.
Over decades, I've come across many, many, studies which support a conclusion: “spiritual, mystical, transcendental, revelation” experiences are due not just to psychedelic plants, but include many other extremes of stress or relaxation affecting the brain, material factors. Among them are oxygen and blood flow deprivation, sleep and sense deprivation, fasting, and trauma due to blunt force blows to the head. What prompted me to write about this subject after so many years is a 2018 book, “How to Change Your Mind, “ by Michael Pollan. The subtitle, “What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence,” gives a good indicator of what you're in for. It refers to some of the sources I've mentioned. When you read the first person accounts of mystical, awe-inspiring, out-of-body experiences under the influence, you can see the connection between them and the “revelations” of prophets past and present, the holy men and saints who speak for God or gods. (Timothy Leary once said the Book of Revelations was written by a man on drugs; and he would know.) Reading the first-person testimonies of psychedelic-trippers is like reading scriptures.
But I strongly object to many of Mr. Pollan's conclusions. For one thing, he ignores the fact other animals besides us have a sense of self and perceive the minds of others. He and the researchers see a positive future for humanity exposed to psychedelic trips, one reason being they want us to freely relinquish our egos by opening up our minds to experiencing whole new realms of possibilities we never knew existed. This is not good. We must object on the grounds evolution has made our egos necessary for survival. Our sense of selfhood and our relationship with others in our surroundings determine our survival and maneuvering in reality, our personal awareness of real dangers and opportunities in regard to ourselves and others, and our ways of separating the real from the imaginary.
On page 193, Mr. Pollan sort of warns us: “It is one of the paradoxes of psychedelics that these drugs can sponsor an ego-dissolving experience that in some people leads to massive ego inflation. Having been let in on a great secret of the universe, the recipient of this knowledge is bound to feel special, chosen for greater things.” This might explain the power exerted by shamans, prophets, mystics, and other “holy” spokespeople for God and the gods, their absolute convictions. I can see how very intelligent individuals can be taken in by them - if they grew up in a society where religion surrounded them, and therefore, a presumption of, “there must be something to it. Until now, I have not been exposed to those who have experienced it.”
Then there's the problem of toxicity: LSD is synthesized from ergot, a fungus which causes temporary insanity. Psilocybin, another toxic substance, is the active ingredient in sacred mushrooms. From the tone of this book, the author and researchers often seem convinced the “transcendental, spiritual and mystical” experiences are accessed by, and not caused by, psychedelics. What all those who've had experiences under the influence of psychedelics describe as “evidence” are experiences of very intense feelings. But they’re merely describing feelings, which may have no anchor in reality. Their fMRI's reveal wide-ranging alterations in the brain's perceptions due to the influence of LSD, psilocybin, etc.
They are ways to have mind-expanding, awe-inspiring experiences which involve neither drugs nor damage to the brain. Consider the series, “Blue Planet” parts I and II, the images from the Hubble telescope, DNA and other evolutionary evidence, the close-up views and information from planets, etc., and your place in all of it. I find the Universe awe-inspiring and wondrous in itself without fantasizing a mind creating it. If you're looking for real evidence for a reality “greater than yourself,” you don't need to “abandon your ego.” Look to Science. You'll find new discoveries and how to make them, new ways of looking at things, ways unknown or forbidden for thousands of years. What more could you ask for?
Are the sources of all religious experiences aberrant manipulations of the brain, and/or purposeful alterations of normal brain functioning using sensory input? Aren't the “absolutely mind-convincing access to understanding the oneness of nature” feelings only wishful thinking exponentially expanded? Has Nature evolved organisms to play tricks on the brain, already known to lie to itself? And isn't that what religion is about after all, playing tricks on the brain?
As I move further away from my Christian beliefs and feel the freedom to question the unquestionable persona that was presented to me as God, I seem to stumble across what I call real and better truth. As I deconstruct the inner ideas about life that were forced upon me by the belief system I was conditioned in, I can see myself more realistically, and I discover that many of the dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors I exhibited were from a dysfunctional family in a dysfunctional world reinforced by a dysfunctional religion. As I face down the monster of criticism, judgment, anger, hate, and punishment (all the main qualities of an overbearing controlling dictator who cannot tolerate dissention) I find myself feeling more free and even more loved and loving.
After leaving Christianity I could admit that my inner emotional complex was a mess. In the church I could not be honest when trying to appear to be without sin and avoid the resulting disgrace, so impossible to heal.
Since embracing psychology and the intelligent approach of studying, observing, cataloging, and reverse engineering my own system of emotions, I am discovering a person in me that I really like, value, and embrace. I didn't find a god or Christians that could do that for me. Even though there are scriptures that seem to indicate that is what the invisible god wants, the fact that this invisible god is invisible and silent seems to say that I am on my own, so I might as well figure out how best to love myself and find happiness in a world where I have been abandoned. I am discovering the science of emotions and strategies of self love and relying less on magical thinking that some loving being will intervene and make it all good if I wait long enough. I waited 45 years and that bus never came. How sad that is...
The history of most early religions formulated a dualistic split between spirit and body. This split put us above the Animal Kingdom.
It made us superior to other creatures in Nature.
This superiority of humans led to an anthropocentric view of humans. This dualistic split lead to the natural bodily instincts of humans as being inferior. This horrendous vilification, desecration, denigration, and contamination stance against human nature is due to a religious fear of human instincts.
This anathematic fear led to the demonization and dehumanization of us as being sinners.
For some virulent inflammatory religions there is the ugliness, cruelty, and abomination of the Doctrine of Original Sin ---> humans are corrupted by sin at birth.
Isn’t there something unthinkable, repugnant, and drastically wrong to sanctimoniously preach babies are born sinful? Please, for one minute think about this ----> original sin is based on Adam and Eve disobeying God and eating an apple. And, now the 108,000,000,000 people who have ever lived are born with original sin ----> incomprehensible.
The number is based on a 2017 population estimate by the Population Reference Bureau (PRB).
Many religions are dismissive towards science, learning, and women's rights. They employ obscurantism in their opposition to any intellectual advancement that remotely interferes with their beliefs. Fearful religions create troublesome inconvenient unpalatable truths that contradict scientific established facts (eg. Creationism in place of Darwinism). Invective religions antipathetic indoctrination infringement against Nature has sadly done a lot to throw humans off balance ---> often permanently. #Balanceology.blog