Falling apart

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Dragonfly's picture
Falling apart

Hello, I'm new here and looking forward to getting to know you all.

My story: I was raised in a very fundamentalist Christian church, went on to reject it 14 years ago when I converted to Judaism, but the fear of Hell has always been there. Now I have been on a reading binge and am seeing all religion as manmade efforts to give life meaning, help deal with the uncertainties of life, and give society order. Despite the fact that my rational mind believes all of these things are false, they are like a shadow that clouds everything.

I feel like someone who has bought an expensive toy, like a boat, and it's become a burden, but I hang onto it out of guilt. Am I too invested to change? I'm 50. Religion has been a major part of my life. Have I wasted my life?

How do I deal with the belief that I'll never see my family again after we die? That's so profound and devastating.

I find myself vacillating between Christianity because of fear, Judaism because it's at least something to believe in, and Atheism because my rational mind says religion is manmade. I feel like I'm falling apart and having some kind of breakdown. Am I strong enough to be without religion? Has anyone experienced this kind of crisis upon losing their faith? I'm terrified to try to navigate life without God.

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watchman's picture
Greetings Dragonfly

Greetings Dragonfly
….and welcome...…..

Re "Hell" ……. There is no Hell...….. the Bible introduces "Hell" only when translated into "The Gothic" bible in the 4th century..... the original (source texts) refer to either "Gehenna" or "Sheol" ….. these were the original destinations for the dead... but they were NOT Hell...…

Gehenna..... was an actual geographic place ….. " ...… a small valley in Jerusalem. In the Hebrew Bible, Gehenna was initially where some of the kings of Judah sacrificed their children by fire." …… latterly considered to be a place of punishment ,but not originaly…..

Sheol …… was a concept …… akin to a Jewish version of the classical Greek "Hades".

"...… the King James Version of the Bible usually translates both with the Anglo-Saxon word Hell. "

" Early Judaism had no concept of Hell, although the concept of an afterlife was introduced during the Hellenistic period, apparently from neighboring Hellenistic religions. It occurs for example in Book of Daniel. Daniel 12:2 proclaims "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt."
Judaism does not have a specific doctrine about the afterlife, but it does have a mystical/Orthodox tradition of describing Gehinnom. Gehinnom is not Hell, but originally a grave and in later times a sort of Purgatory where one is judged based on one's life's deeds, or rather, where one becomes fully aware of one's own shortcomings and negative actions during one's life. "


If you choose to follow up on the links given you will see that the "modern " construct of Hell is a late addition to the mythology of the Abrahamic faiths.... based on a corruption of the original concept.

Hope this helps....

Check out this thread....


Dragonfly's picture
You said: "Early Judaism had

You said: "Early Judaism had no concept of Hell, although the concept of an afterlife was introduced during the Hellenistic period, apparently from neighboring Hellenistic religions. It occurs for example in Book of Daniel. Daniel 12:2 proclaims "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt."

Interesting. I knew that early Judaism had no concept of Hell, but that the Talmud (and maybe other writings) does mention it. This is the first I've ever heard that this occurred during the Hellenistic period and was influenced by neighboring Hellenistic religions. How do we know that Daniel's words can't stand on their own without having been influenced?

It does help, so thank you. I think mine is very much a brainwashing thing, and that my acceptance of religion was mostly out of fear. When I start exploring or hear someone say "write down your own beliefs," I have verses popping into my head (there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." When I think about having denied Jesus at my conversion to Judaism and now my deconversion from religion as a whole, I get the verse that if you deny Jesus, he will deny you as you try to enter Heaven. It's just a mindfuck. I am trying to deconvert, and the way I'm reacting very much seems like brainwashing. I just hope I can eventually arrive at some place of peace.

When I try to access the link to Atheist Republic, I get an Access Denied error. Any idea why?

CyberLN's picture
Dragonfly, you asked, “When I

Dragonfly, you asked, “When I try to access the link to Atheist Republic, I get an Access Denied error. Any idea why?”

Because that post is in the Atheist Hub. The Atheist Hub Room is accessible only to those who identified as atheist.

Sheldon's picture
" The Atheist Hub Room is

" The Atheist Hub Room is accessible only to those who identified as atheist."

Is that why Breezy's profile states (mendaciously) he's an atheist?

He does often piss and moan that he hates debate, and that he never disagrees with anyone. Though of course those are both duplicitous claims as well mind. Perhaps I'm overthinking this one.

arakish's picture
Welcome to our little corner

Welcome to our little corner of godless heathenism. The only advice I can give is why fear something that was created by megalomaniacal psychotic sociopaths. They only created "Hell" because it was part of their agenda in order to enslave all of humanity to their level of beliefs. Just remember, "Hell" did not exist until about 400 years ago.

Here is a good video: The origins of Hell Part 1. Only problem I had was the last 90 seconds of music was irritating, but that is likely due to my hyper-acute hearing.

Anyway, just try to remember that "Hell" is completely made up fiction by loons.


arakish's picture
Damnit. Forgot. Here is

Damnit. Forgot. Here is part deux.

The Origins of Hell Part 2


Dragonfly's picture
Thank you for both links. I

Thank you for both links. I've added them to my Atheism watch list.

SeniorCitizen007's picture
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading - treading - till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through -

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum -
Kept beating - beating - till I thought
My mind was going numb -

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space - began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race,
Wrecked, solitary, here -

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down -
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing - then -

Emily Dickinson.

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
'Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –

Emily Dickinson

xenoview's picture

Why are you giving quotes about death and dying to a person that needs support.

Step away from the pipe.

Dragonfly's picture
Love it! I've read this a

Love it! I've read this a couple of times, and like most poetry, it seems like it's going to require a good bit of analysis to fully understand.

Sheldon's picture
There was a young lady called

There was a young lady called Tuck,

who had the most terrible luck.

She went in a punt,

and fell over the front,

and was hit, in the leg,

by a Duck.


xenoview's picture
Welcome Dragonfly!

Welcome Dragonfly!

I'm an atheist. I live free of the Christian beliefs. I'm free of the guilt of sin and fear of Hell. Religion is a manmade construct. Humans made up the gods too help explain the unknown.

There is life after religion. When it comes to morals, it's all subjective. I treat people how I want to be treated.

Dragonfly's picture
Yes, as I'm moving closer to

Yes, as I'm moving closer to atheism, I keep thinking, "Oh no, I'll become hedonistic and go do horrible things!" and when I thought of the most horrible thing I'm likely to do, I couldn't think of anything. Maybe drink a strong drink? It still wouldn't be anything that hurt other people. Kinda funny some of the fears that arise.

Sheldon's picture
Hedonism and theism are not

Hedonism and theism are not mutually exclusive. You don't have to turn to the dark side, so to speak, to become hedonistic.

"most horrible thing I'm likely to do," "Maybe drink a strong drink?"

Horrible? Unless it's neat Absinthe or Tia Maria it's unlikely to be terrible. Have you considered a mixer?

SeniorCitizen007's picture


They're not about "death and dying" ... in the literal sense ... they're about the fear of it brought on by doubts about one's faith.

Sky Pilot's picture


"Falling apart"

Welcome to the arena.

All religions have the concept of some type of heaven, paradise, or happy hunting ground and some type of place such as the underworld or hell where bad people are punished. But when it comes to Christianity it seems that most people actually believe in the Islamic version of hell rather than the New Testament biblical version.

In the NT version when you die you either go to the sea, death, or to hell. The good news is that all three are temporary and everyone makes bail on Judgment Day. And just because you were in hell it won't prevent you from getting into the golden cube called New Jerusalem if your works were good enough and if you can get through one of the twelve gates dedicated to the twelve tribes of Israel. After Judgment Day the sea ceases to exist, death and hell are tossed into the lake of fire and so are the souls who fail their final exam.

In the Islamic version when you die you stay dead until Judgment Day and then you get resurrected and judged by your works. If you pass you get sent to your own private paradise with a herd of cute boys and a couple of tall translucent women creatures and some ordinary women. You may be able to intercede on behalf of up to 70 of your buddies so that they won't end up in hell. In the Islamic version most of the people in hell will be women.

In the Jewish Babylonian Talmud rabbis won't go to hell because even if they are really despicable people their good works will offset their bad deeds.

So remember, you only spend eternity in hell being tortured forever if you end up in the Islamic hell. If you're a Christian you might go to hell but it's temporary and you could end up n the golden cube. But in the Christian version it's everyone for himself based on his own works. There's nothing about children or families going to heaven. Kids can go to paradise in the Islamic version.

Dragonfly's picture
Hmmmm. I'm not sure I agree.

Hmmmm. I'm not sure I agree. In the NT version, I know there is Hell and the Lake of Fire. I've never heard of going to the sea. I've also never heard that these are temporary or that you can go to the golden cube of New Jerusalem or that works will be worth anything whatsoever if you haven't accepted Jesus as savior.

I have read/heard that the Islamic version of Hell is even more brutal than the Christian hell. Not sure whether that's true or not.

Sheldon's picture
"if you haven't accepted

"if you haven't accepted Jesus as savior."

Well what evidence can you demonstrate that Jesus was a deity?

"I have read/heard that the Islamic version of Hell is even more brutal than the Christian hell. Not sure whether that's true or not."

That's like comparing apples to oranges really. Are there any circumstances under which you think torturing someone in any way, is morally acceptable?

David Killens's picture
Welcome Dragonfly.

Welcome Dragonfly.

You fear that you may not see your family after you die. So that simple answer is that today and every day you are alive, see them, love them, do not take them for granted. Give them your time and love today and every day you are alive. That action is not contrary to any religious belief or dogma.

Presently you are caught in the middle of a very emotional process, one driven by conflicts and angst. Please do not rush, take your time and think things through very carefully. Please make your decisions based on rational thought, do not make any decisions based on fear.

Dragonfly's picture
The tough thing is that my

The tough thing is that my parents and only sibling are extremely fundamentalist Christian. They are very vocal that I'm going to hell. They also live across the country from me. My last visit to them was several years ago. My parents are 79. I know I will not have much longer with them, but visiting them is so painful. I know I'll have regrets whether I do or don't. :(

Cognostic's picture
@ Have I wasted my life?

@ Have I wasted my life? Life is a process and not a thing. You can not waste it. You just live it. What once gave your life meaning is now meaningless and it is time to move on. How many times can a person climb the same mountain before they look for another adventure? You have climbed to the top of the mountain, looked about, and then done it again and again and again, and now you do not see things as you once did. The mountain is just not as big as you once believed it to be and the scenery is not as magical. The question to ask is "Now what?" What's next. What adventure awaits you around the next corner?

@ "seeing all religion as man-made efforts to give life meaning, help deal with the uncertainties of life, and give society order. "

That seems to make perfect sense to me. Human beings are group animals. We cam together in small family clans and invented morals and rules for living with one another. We created Gods to explain our fears in the things we did not understand. As our cognitive functions evolved so did our morals and our ideas of gods.

@ Am I too invested to change?
Ha ha ha ha .... what choice do you have? You are not the same person you were when you were 6 years old. You are not the same person you were when you were 10. You are not the same person you were when you were 14, 16, 20, 25, 35, 45, and tomorrow you will be different than you are today. THAT IS A FACT You will change whether you want to or not. The real question is..... "What direction is that change going to take." You can choose the direction or you can wait and see what happens. In either event..... YOU ARE GOING TO CHANGE.

My favorite explanation of Hell is the Jesus knock knock joke. So easy to remember and so accurately true.

Jesus: Knock knock
Human Being: Whose there.
Jesus: Jesus
Human Being: Jesus who?
Jesus: Just open the door.
Human Being: Why?
Jesus: So I can save you.
Human Being: Save me from what?
Jesus: From a special place called hell that I have crated for you where you will be burned and tortured for all eternity if you do not open this door.

RELIGION IS BULLSHIT. First they create the problem. Then they convince you that the problem is real. And finally they sell you the only cure. BULLSHIT!

@ And last but not least "I'm terrified to try to navigate life without God."
You have always navigated your life without god. Believing in god was just a choice you made. Believing a magical being loved you no matter what and cared about you was just a decision you made and nothing more. It served a purpose for you at that time in your life and it is no longer fulfilling the purpose it once served. Perhaps it will again, perhaps it wont. In the end, if your god is real and if your religion is true, how could it possibly be afraid of critical inquiry, examination, or questioning. If it was real, why would it invent torture and sin to make you fear the world around you and stop you from questioning and exploration?

Life is a journey and not a thing. Enjoy the journey. If you are not enjoying yourself, you are doing something wrong.

Dragonfly's picture
Regarding too invested to

Regarding too invested to change, you make a great point that I'm going to change no matter what. I lost my meaning in Judaism when I stopped believing the Bible was literal. Then I wondered if I could return to Christianity, but now I just feel like I'm starting to see through it. I've been watching debates between Christians and Atheists, and the Christians seem to be committing logical fallacies right and left while the Atheists for the most part have been logical and using science to support their beliefs.

As far as fear of navigating life without God, it's wild--I'm 50, and I feel like I'm collapsing without my crutch of religion. It colored *everything*. I don't know how to think critically. I haven't developed a sense of my own strength to trust my own opinions and judgments. There's definitely a lot of room for growth.

@Now what? I fight to look at the hourglass as half full. They were my PRIME years, and they're gone. I have to find some way to accept this. It's really depressing me. I'm not sure of the answer to the "now what" question. I am 50 and don't work due to health reasons. I long for a cause or project to throw myself into but haven't been able to find anything that feels right so far. I'm working on it.

Thanks for your post!

Cognostic's picture


@ "I haven't developed a sense of my own strength to trust my own opinions and judgments. There's definitely a lot of room for growth."

You have always used your own strength and trust to form your own opinions and judgments. You just did it at the bequest of the religion you belonged to. You cherry-picked your way through the religious texts like every other good believer. You forgave ----- NO ---- You ignored the god who butchered pregnant women and tossed their unborn babies onto rocks. You ignored the god who butchered the first born male child in all of Egypt because a King would not do his bidding. You ignored the plagues that killed innocent men women and babies when they had nothing at all to do with slaves in captivity. You ignored the drunken sod that God chose as the only pious man on earth. You elected not to notice that he lived to be 900 years old, that there was no way in hell he could have built an ark and you missed the fact that he killed off all the clean animals in a great BBQ at the end of his journey because God like the smell of Burnt Offerings. There are a million things in that book of horrors that you have trained yourself not to see and not tho think about,. It takes amazing will power and control to do such a thing. And now do you have the will power and control to read it again and see what it is you have intentionally missed?

You have not wasted your life. You followed a path that was a lie and nothing more. We all follow those paths.. Think of a rich man who owns nice things and property. He tells himself he is important. But then he loses his job, can not pay his taxes, and the government swoops in and takes everything he owns. No one is exempt from the fantasy of being better than human. Some manage to make the journey from beginning to end without facing facts but death is the great equalizer. I don't care what you do, what you own, how great or how poor you have been, you die alone. It is a journey you take alone. The goal I have is to look back on my life and simply be happy for the life I have had.

Look at your life. Look at the things you have done. Granted many were done for religious reasons. Trying to bribe your way into heaven or avoid hell. But you also did them because you wanted to be a good person. The only person that can decide if you are good or not is you. Yes, religion took advantage of you but it did it by convincing you that it was the only path to being a good person. Now you know this is not true. You are good independent of religion. You are good independent of its' promise of heaven or threat of hell. You are good because that is the person you have always wanted to be. You are good because you have finally arrived at that which you have sought for so long. You are good because you are good and not because of a threat or a promise. You are here. You have arrived. You have become the wonderful person you have always wanted to be and you did it with your own strength and determination. Good for you!

Dragonfly's picture
My apologies to everyone who

My apologies to everyone who posted in this thread! I thought it had been on another forum, could never find it, and only just now discovered it was here. I'll be leaving more detailed replies to your comments as I have just discovered them. Thank you for taking the time to post!

Tin-Man's picture
Hey there, Dragonfly. Welcome

Hey there, Dragonfly. Welcome to the AR. My apologies for the late arrival to this party. This thread must have slipped past me with all I've had happening lately. Whoops. Well, better late than never, I suppose. *chuckle*

One thing that caught my attention about your OP is that you expressed your concern about being 50 and feeling like you have wasted so much of your life on religion. If you don't mind my saying so, you are looking at it from the wrong perspective. I am also 50, and it has been less than a year since I totally escaped from my religious bonds. And let me tell ya, these last few months have been the absolute best months of my life, despite some of the usual life crap I have dealt with along the way. Come to think of it, not having the burden/anchor of religion tied around my neck these past few months is actually what has helped me deal with my situations far more effectively. That and the support and advice from so many of the fantastic folks on this site. (You know who you are out there.)

Yeah, it is easy to get annoyed and frustrated at the thought of having wasted so much time and effort on all those years of religious indoctrination. I do understand. However, the best thing you can do now is start enjoying your new-found freedom and take advantage of how wonderful it now feels without the pressure and fear of heaven and hell constantly hanging over your head. It's quite liberating, to say the least. Looking forward to seeing you around more often. You have found a great place here.

Dragonfly's picture
Were you very involved in

Were you very involved in religion up til age 50? You don't ever have thoughts of "what if I'm wrong and am going to burn in Hell for all of eternity?" I just can't seem to shake that one. I'm also fearing that I'm leading astray others who might have a chance at choosing religion and escaping hell. What doesn't make sense is that I can fear these things, yet my logical, rational brain says they don't make sense. How were you able to overcome a lifetime of conditioning? I fear I'll never be able to break free as you have.

I have had some fun imagining losing the belief that there are a throng of people in heaving watching me in the bedroom. Having my grandparents watching always puts a damper on things!

Cognostic's picture
I think it helps to know

I think it helps to know where this "burning in hell" idea comes from. It is a teaching that was not in the Old Testament and it became a core teaching in many (but not all) New Testament faiths.


The history of God is the history of hell. The concept of a good god and a bad god came from ancient Babylonia. So to is the concept of hell. In the oldest Hebrew books Satan is God's right hand man. He is a prosecutor of sorts who argues against people but there is no hell. The Hell you know is a New Testament invention and NOT ALL CHRISTIAN CHURCHES BELIEVE IN IT.

Knowledge is the enemy of religion.


Tin-Man's picture
@Dragonfly Re: "Were you

@Dragonfly Re: "Were you very involved in religion up til age 50? "

Hey there, Dragonfly. Great to see you back with us. Even better to see you asking questions. That is the key. Learn learn learn. As others have already said, knowledge is your best friend. And there is much knowledge to be gained here in the AR. Now, to answer your question, the short answer is, "No, I really wasn't very involved in religion/church during much of my adult life." That being said, the tentacles of religion still maintained a tangled hold on me, regardless. Please allow me to explain.

I was raised in the Bible Belt in a Baptist/Methodist family. (My Mom and Granny were steadfast Baptist and one of my Uncles was a Methodist preacher.) Church every Sunday morning, sometimes Sunday evening, and Wednesday evenings every now and then. Then a week or two of vacation bible school during the summer thrown in for good measure. On top of that, I grew up in a small town where everybody pretty much knew everybody and everybody's business, if you know what I mean. So, yeah, the indoctrination process was basically quite strong. *chuckle*

Despite being raised in such a religious environment, however, none of it ever made sense to me. Even as a little kid as young as 7 and 8, I always noticed inconsistencies and contradictions in the Sunday school bible stories. And I noticed that most people acted/behaved differently on Sundays at church than they did on other days away from church. But, being a kid and having been taught to obey and trust the adults, one just sorta went with the flow. Besides, even when questions were asked, I always got the standard/patent, "Well, the Lord is mysterious and we should never question His wisdom," crapola. Unfortunately, the one thing that DID stick in my young brain during that time was the threat of the Devil and Hell. That was the absolute one thing that kept me "in line" and afraid to question too much. And that is the one thing that stuck in my mind over the following decades even after I stopped attending church regularly. Nevermind the fact the logical part of my brain kept telling me, "Dude, the whole religion gig is a bunch of nonsense." Because the one dreadful question that always came forward was, "But what if I'm wrong? Hell would suck." So I continued believing "just in case". It wasn't until I joined this site that I learned that is called Pascal's Wager. Any questions or doubts I may have had before then vanished, and it has been smooth sailing ever since.

So, believe me, I understand that fear you are struggling with concerning that ever-present threat of hell. And in your case, I imagine that fear is multiple times worse than what mine was. The good news, however, is that fear will fade more and more with each day and with each new piece of knowledge you gain. Hang in there, little lady. It does get better. *grin*

David Killens's picture
Please think this through. it

Please think this through. it is fear that is driving your thoughts and decisions. This fear is an artificial construct created by men who desire to maintain control.

You have to put this fear thing in it's proper place.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Welcome Dragonfly

Welcome Dragonfly
I am one of those fortunate souls where the religious/societal conditioning just did not take. I cant tell you "i know how you feel" but enough good friends (and some not so good friends) have been through what you are going through.
Best I can say I empathise, losing your faith is like losing a cruel, arbitrary parent, but , nonetheless one you loved deeply. It is grief you are feeling, it has stages and will pass. The community here is diverse and all are human, most will help you through this. Give them a chance!

Best luck


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