I have been a non-christian for 5 years, a non-theist for approximately 2 years, and have not believed in Hell for at least 7 years. Still, though, I have residual fears of eternal punishment left over from my stint in the Southern Fundie Baptist world back in high school. I still have these nagging thoughts of "well, WHAT IF I am wrong and they are right?" even though logically I think it is highly unlikely that any sort of afterlife exists at all.

How do the rest of you handle these sorts of thoughts, other than by telling yourself that it's all just make-believe? I have so much fear and guilt associated with leaving my family's faith, but at the same time, I think they're all a little daft for being fully grown adults and believing in what are obviously fairy tales. How do you deal with feeling guilty and afraid over not believing?

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Hmmm... fear of hell just hasn't been a big one for me. Now that I don't believe it, I can't go back and *make* myself. But this lecture series from the Atheist Community of Austin (they do the Atheist Experience TV show) may be helpful. The odds, even within the Biblical lore, of Baptists being "right" about hell are slim to none.

Guilt? Well, since I'm still so pissed off they brainwashed me, I don't feel much guilt for waking myself up. And I feel immense pride in keeping my own son out of church. Just find the things that feel life-fulfilling to you and embrace them. Guilt is just an emotion - it goes away on its own with time.
Thanks for the link; I'll definitely check it out.
I think you need to continue your efforts at deprogramming yourself, Maria. Keep reading things that challenge the doctrines you were brainwashed with as a child. Keep honing your critical thinking skills. You've accomplished so much already. You're almost there.

I have no residual fear or guilt. However I suffer from "What do I do now that the sole reason for my existence was shown to be a fantasy?" syndrome. :)
I guess the episodes of worry and guilt are becoming fewer as time goes on. My brain is quite good at re-hashing questions like this one ad nauseum, though, and sometimes in a particularly bad flashback, I don't feel I can trust myself to remain intellectually honest; I worry that I might just throw my hands up and say, "Fine, Christians. You win." Maybe I should work on having faith in myself to replace the faith I used to have in a sky fairy.
Having always questioned the idea of heaven/hell(though never to anyone), when i finally threw off religion it was never that worrying to me. Though i still do have a slight tremor when I'm at home alone at night thinking "what if its all true". But that has happened less and less as time has gone on.

The only advice i can give is to just think about the reason why these things can't exist. The thought that any being(real or imaginary) could actually sentence anyone to an eternity of "hell" is so laughable that it shouldn't even cross our minds. Just keep telling yourself that, and things should be ok.

It's hard for me to understand how my parents could have lied to me and brainwashed me.

It is probably because the were brainwashed and lied to. It seems that indoctrination in the church is a generational thing. I am glad you overcame it.




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