I haven't backslid and I don't plan on it, but sometimes the thought of heaven and hell and my soul being eternally damned enter my mind. Since I'm an new ex-Christian my mind has been branded with the "word of god". Does anyone else have these types of thoughts and what do you do about them? How did you erase the nonsense of Christianity from your mind for good?

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A favorite line in Mirror Reversal is "I know a good God couldn't send me to hell because I refused to abandon reason."

This heaven and hell stuff makes no sense at all. One dividend of leaving religion is you escape all the devil nonsense along with it. And that goes for ghosts and vampires.

It only shows how gullible people are.
You just keep reminding yourself that those kinds of catch 22's are exactly the snares that keep people in religion and prevent them from having the courage to think for themselves. I swear I was atheist since I was ten years old, but the Catholic guilt that was instilled in me overrode my own thinking most of my life. Deep down that little voice kept saying it was all bullshit, but I had bound and gagged it out of fear.
I think the figure of fifteen years to full recovery that people have mentioned here is about right. I'm about twelve years into my non-Christianity and I still have to fight my superstitious urges at times. When I first became an atheist I knew my decision was right. I knew it was based on facts. I knew I was correct. But that didn't stop a little voice in the back of my head from saying "But what if you're wrooooooooong?" from time to time. Up until last weekend there was still a little part of me that feared hell.

My advice would be to treat religious panics like any other anxiety attack. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself. Try to step back and look at the situation objectively. Remember why you became an atheist in the first place and how that realisation applies to the current situation.

Of course, I'm in a far more fortunate position than most former Xtians when it comes to recovery. I was Anglican and found out two days ago that the Church of England has abolished the concept of hell. My relief doesn't come so much from the thought that even if they're right, I'm safe. It's more the utter ridiculousness of the situation. The fact that they can change their minds about the core beliefs of Christianity is firm proof that religion is created and directed by men*, not some Great Big Sky-Pixie of Doom.

*I use 'men' instead of the more gender-neutral 'people' because the Anglican Church, like most others, is literally run by men.
It's natural to have this fear, especially if you were raised by an orthodox family. In the Root Of All Evil, (on Youtube) Dawkins shows how fanatic and strange believers can get. One believer's job was to visit member churches and scare the crap out of the kids with horror movie images.

My defense is to realize how ridiculous the whole concept is. Eternal fire is the invention of early Christians, as no society ever produced such a sick image beforehand.

Also, a line from my book Mirror Reversal is comforting. "No good God could ever punish me for refusing to abandon reason."


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