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creating sickness | recovering from religion [cc]


Recently, an individual I’ll call Troy sent
me a message saying he feels like he’s stuck between atheism and theism. He identifies as an atheist
but continues to lapse back into theism. These lapses are prompted by accidents
like denting his car or twisting his ankle. He experiences a strong guilt response, believing he’s being punished by a supreme being and finds himself reciting prayers. Lately, he’s started to feel like he’ll never shake the idea that he’s being watched and judged
as defective by a supreme being. I relayed Troy’s story to my patrons and asked if any of them experienced similar episodes. In a straw poll, 20 out of 70 individuals registered that they did experience temporary lapses. Several folks registered that the concept
of lapses didn’t apply to them because they’d always been atheists. Some folks said they used to have lapses,
but they didn’t last. Some described more fleeting experiences of detached reflection that had no big emotional impact. Some said they had lapses,
but in response to other stimuli like coincidences, choral music or when they find themselves in a group practicing communal prayer. But for others, their episodes — like Troy’s —
were about anticipating punishment and judgement. I want to drill down into this notion of an
all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent judge and look at why, if it existed this so-called ‘supreme being’ should
be apologising rather than judging. This is not going to be a list of divinely
perpetrated atrocities cited in religious scriptures — tales of divinely sanctioned
subjugation, persecution, genocidal bloodbaths. That list is long and the atrocities are as
callous and sadistic as it gets. But you don’t have to subscribe to any specific
religion to find this hypothetical judge guilty. The charges go deeper than scripture, to the essential
nature of the judge and the theological foundations of the concept of ‘evil’. But first, I want to say something about these
persistent anxieties some folks feel about being punished and judged
by some all-seeing presence. In my psychological work, I’ve spoken with men
and women involved in abusive relationships and it didn’t take long to spot theistic echoes. In a session with one of my very first clients a man I’ll call Ben who presented with depression I was struck by the sense that the partner
he’d been describing didn’t sound human. She sounded like some omnipresent entity,
seeping into every moment of his life scrutinising his every move, anticipating every thought — and wielding the power of ultimate judgement over him. I shared this with Ben and commented that it was as if he was talking about a god rather than a human being. After a cavernous silence, gazing up at the ceiling he wryly remarked that
he’d swapped one tyrant for another. At first I wondered if he was referring to
a previous relationship. He explained he was talking about a god and spoke about the struggle he’d had extracting himself from the religion he’d been indoctrinated into as a child. As we compared these divine and human dictators and how both of them had taken a hold of him,
some parallels emerged. Both of these abusive regimes had substantially
diminished Ben’s capacity for independent thinking by conditioning a range of reflex
responses into him. When Ben first encountered unreasonable ideas and behaviour — in both his religion and his relationship — there was an explosion of thinking on his part. His brain went into problem-solving mode as he tried to figure out what was going on
and how to respond. He tried various strategies — using logic and reason, appealing to fairness, offering compromises — gradually giving away more ground. But
authoritarian regimes aren’t big on compromise and, in both his religion
and his relationship the conflict only ended when
Ben admitted he was wrong. The next time he encountered
unreasonable ideas and behaviour he again tried to think through a considered response but put up less of a defence
before admitting he was wrong. He said it was like a hole opening up behind him that became easier to fall into each time. Soon he’d learned to admit he was wrong immediately, with no intervening period of thought. This unthinking response to a stimulus
is known as a reflex. And abusers can build up a range
of these reflexes in their target, so eventually the target can be played like a puppet,
twitching mechanically to various cues. When targets begin to see these reflex responses they can begin to reintroduce
the missing element of conscious thought. For instance, targets who realise
they always robotically obey certain orders like getting their partner a beer can begin to think about this reflex response and
to consider and implement different outcomes. In many cases, the ultimate outcome
will be a parting of the ways. When targets of abuse start thinking for themselves
and rebuilding their eroded sense of worth impossible ideas can become possible,
including the idea of leaving. People recovering from abusive religious,
pseudoscientific and socio-political ideologies that’ve instilled a range of reflex responses in them
— reflex compliance, reflex guilt, reflex fear — sometimes have to do similar work to reintroduce the conscious thought
that’s been conditioned out of them. Something else that can aid recovery is taking
a good long critical look at the abuser. Ben noted that, in relation
to both his partner and his religion he became so consumingly preoccupied trying to meet the superhuman standards they set for him and feeling anxious and fearful when he failed to do so that he didn’t stop to consider how well
they matched up to those standards themselves. When we turn the spotlight on abusers we repeatedly find not only that they come
nowhere near the standards they set for others but that they operate on
a completely different set of rules one that shields them from all the hardships
their targets were expected to endure. We have no control over the circumstances of our birth. Throughout history, we humans’ve found ourselves randomly born on parts of the Earth’s land mass where a substantial percentage of the population
has happened to follow a particular religion. Many of us will’ve found ourselves being
labelled members of that religion from birth and taught to accept its mythology uncritically as truth. We’ll often be taught that the purpose of
our life is to serve one or more of thousands of mythical beings
proposed by humans over the centuries and made to attend regular worship services
in religious temples dedicated to these entities. In some cases, the entity concerned
will be conceptualised as a single all-knowing, all-powerful,
omnipresent creator. But this nebulous concept
is difficult for little minds to grasp. To make it seem more personal and relatable some religions humanise it
by claiming that we were created in its image implying that we share significant characteristics with it. This personification might be underscored
with anthropomorphic language. The creator might be pictured walking around a garden or enjoying the aroma of animal sacrifices which would seem to require legs
and a nose of some description. There might be references
to friendly face-to-face conversations. Other more obscure parts of its anatomy might
be mentioned, like its back side. Well, thrones are built for arses, and various
religions — including all the Abrahamic ones — speak of a divine ceremonial chair. Polytheistic deities can be humanised
by adding family members. Ancient Greek religion was
overrun with divine siblings and offspring, including a slew of demigods — products of numerous dalliances between the gods and the mortals. The concept of family might seem
off-limits to monotheistic religions. But Christianity famously manages to have it both ways. Or more accurately, three ways. In Christian mythology, the creator Yahweh had a son
— the Christian messiah Jesus — who, according to a Christian prayer called the Gloria, sits at his father’s right hand. Presumably, space is reserved
at Yahweh’s left hand for the holy spirit which, after Yahweh and Jesus, forms the third prong
of what Christians call ‘the Holy Trinity’ a mathematics-defying celestial equation in which
one plus one plus one equals one. All this humanising language and
physical imagery can go a long way towards making the cloudy concept of an all-knowing,
all-powerful, omnipresent creator feel concrete, relatable, accessible, personal. In particular, using intimate forms of address like ‘Father’
can make it so easy for children and adults to project onto that cloudy concept all their
fantasies of a supreme parent arousing all the infantilising feelings
associated with those fantasies. Feelings of implicit trust, loyalty, deference and respect. But none of this humanising language
and imagery holds up. And when we begin to get to grips
with just how utterly inhuman this god concept is it becomes clear that if this alien
character had created us it would have more to answer for than any human. The phrase ‘created in its image’
has various interpretations. It’s been said to refer to ‘physical image’,
‘emotional image’, ’moral image’, ‘intellectual image’ and, maybe most obscure of all, ‘relational image’. Even allowing the progressively
swollen poetic licence behind these interpretations all of them fail. But they do provide a handy framework tor presenting the charges against this divine judge. The idea that our bodies bear any physical resemblance to an all-knowing, all-powerful,omnipresent creator is one relatively few folks seem
keen to defend these days. As our knowledge of biology and physics has increased we’ve come to appreciate that
the physical form of a being is intimately connected to the specific
environmental conditions it inhabits. Wings come in many shapes and sizes. But we’ve learned those shapes and sizes are constrained by factors like drag, thrust, lift and weight. And we’ve realised that
some of the mythical winged characters humans’ve dreamed up over the centuries from Icarus with his wings of feathers and wax
to the Biblical six-winged seraphim would simply never get off the ground. Likewise, we now appreciate the absurdity
of a vast naturally humanoid god possessing depth-perceiving forward-facing eyes
with nothing external to see stereo-perceiving ears with nothing external to hear agile limbs with no external space
through which to move — and so on. The most common view I’ve encountered
from folks proposing a mythical creator is that it has no physical form at all. So why do we? Expanding on those four words why do we have a physical form
that can be damaged or destroyed by other humans, predators, microbes, poisonous materials and natural disasters that frequently attacks itself
with debilitating and deadly cancers and that quickly perishes without
adequate food, water or oxygen or if its core temperature falls or rises
by just a few degrees Fahrenheit. A form that — if it survives these hazards — can look forward to incapacitation
and decay before its inevitable death. Why are we subjected to these sufferings
by a creator that’s immune to them? When I was a Christian I was told human suffering was a result of being endowed with the most precious gift from Yahweh. The gift of free choice. The reasoning went like this: Yahweh created us with free choice to do bad or good. That meant people had to be allowed to do bad things even if they ended up hurting
— or even killing — countless others. Preventing them from doing bad things
would take away their free choice. In effect, they would be forced
to be good against their will. So Yahweh couldn’t interfere either by restraining an abuser or protecting the abuser’s target. The meagre consolation offered to us
was that all abuse would eventually be punished. In regard to the other hardships we endured
— diseases, predators, natural disasters — these were all presented as extensions
of the same principle. The first humans had been given a paradise to live in. But because they disobeyed their creator they were expelled to the world we now live in,
with all of its dangers. So even these forms of suffering were
ultimately down to human free choice. When I was a Christian, I found this
reasoning persuasive for a time. It didn’t stop me resenting the suffering
we had to endure but I could appreciate that the alternative of forcing everyone to be good was also extremely undesirable. In fact, the lack of freedom entailed by forcing people
to be good could itself be seen as a form of suffering. Given the option of free choice plus suffering or no free choice plus no suffering I could see the appeal of option one. I later realised I’d fallen for a false
dichotomy the presentation of two alternatives as the only alternatives, when in fact others exist. The clue that this was a false dichotomy was
staring me in the face — albeit, in a non-physical way. It was Yahweh. And this demonstrates another parallel
with human abusive relationships in that we spend so much time
absolutely focussed on these dictators and yet not seeing them at all. Here, supposedly, was a being that enjoyed total free choice with full knowledge of good and evil but experienced no suffering. It was impossible to harm this being. To do so would be to diminish its greatness
in some way, violating its divine incorruptibility. So free choice and suffering weren’t inevitably paired. You didn’t have to either accept both
or reject both — not if you were incorruptible. So why weren’t we created in this incorruptible image? Why are we down here in these bizarre, fragile bodies being infected, beaten, starved,
raped, tortured and murdered while this supposed creator enjoys
an existence devoid of suffering? It’s been put to me that the creator
couldn’t create beings like itself. One reason offered is that its creation
might then overpower it. First, how could it overpower its creator? They would be like two perfect chess players able to anticipate every one of their opponent’s moves. The only possible outcome is stalemate. Second, wouldn’t a desire to overpower its
creator indicate some deficiency? If the creation was a copy of the creator, this deficiency would have to exist in the original. If you’re arguing that a copy
of the creator could go rogue you’re arguing that the original could go rogue. A Christian undergrad student I once knew suggested that a god-like creation
might abuse its power in other ways for example by creating less powerful beings
and subjecting them to torture. She didn’t realise she was describing her own god. We have to look at things from the perspective
of an all-knowing, all-powerful creator. Vulnerability, hardship, abuse, pain, distress, fear
— it has no experience of these things. It would have to design beings utterly unlike itself in order for them to be capable of experiencing suffering. In designing those beings, it would bring these previously non-existent phenomena into existence. The theological implications are clear. It created suffering. It created torment. It created sickness. Some claim we were made
in the ‘emotional image’ of a creator. It can have a profoundly humanising effect when
we imagine we were created by a being that experiences all the feelings we do. But the emotional landscape
we experience becomes incoherent when applied to an all-knowing, all-powerful creator. Just like wings, emotions only make
sense under certain conditions. We use emotions in dealing with our lack
of control and our lack of foreknowledge. To a creator that has total control and total knowledge, the human emotional landscape is meaningless. This creator can’t feel fear. Fear is a response to real or perceived threat.
An all-powerful being experiences neither of these. It can’t feel disappointment. Disappointment is a response to
the non-fulfilment of hopes and expectations. An all-knowing being doesn’t hope — it knows —
and its expectations are never wrong. Does it feel anger? Religious scriptures
are full of scenes of divine rage. But the characters they describe have the same stagy feel as the Great Oz from Lyman Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz whose overblown theatrics are
designed to impress and intimidate. In fact, these scriptural tantrums
make no sense whatsoever. Anger is a response to provocation. While human dictators are often easily provoked because of their flaccid egos a truly all-powerful being would have no such weakness. Anger’s also a response to things not going our way. An all-knowing, all-powerful being knows
every outcome before it sets any plan in motion. Everything goes its way. Does it feel sorrow? Sorrow is a response
to regret and misfortune. Both of these indicate a desire that things had happened differently. Such notions are incompatible
with an all-knowing, all-powerful being whose plans could not be improved on. Which brings us to an emotion that this creator
should feel — in abundance. Guilt. A response to the sense we’ve done wrong,
specifically that we’ve caused harm. An all-knowing being would be aware of all the unnecessary harm it’s brought into existence by creating us with such excessive
capacity for suffering. But guilt is the one divine emotion we never hear about. Some claim we were created in the ‘moral image’
of an all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent creator. Again, this only draws attention to our polar differences. Morality is intrinsically grounded in knowledge. It’s only through a comprehensive knowledge of relevant factors that sound moral decisions can be made. An all-knowing creator would have that knowledge. We don’t. And that puts our moral images worlds apart. Aside from making us instantly vulnerable to deception — something to which an all-knowing
creator is impervious — our lack of knowledge makes us
vulnerable to all kinds of errors. We still misinterpret harmless
human variation as sick and sinful leading us to pathologise and punish
countless healthy, innocent people. We misinterpret sickness as divine curses,
leading us to abuse the ill. We misinterpret sickness as divine blessing. In Jeanette Winterson’s brilliant autobiographical novel ‘Oranges are not the only fruit’ she describes a period
in her childhood when she became deaf and her Pentecostal evangelist mother — who yearned for the apocalypse and whose favourite song was ‘God has blotted them out’ — declared her daughter to be in a state of rapture. Thanks to external intervention, Jeanette was taken
to hospital for a vital operation. Because of our lack of knowledge,
we twist the very concept of harm. Some of us cry harm when others point out the flaws
in our ideas, or merely express disagreement. Valid criticism is twisted into an immoral,
harmful act on a par with physical harm merely because we don’t like
having our fallacious ideas challenged. On the flipside, actual physically harm
gets twisted into therapy. Savage, gratuitous beatings are reframed
as ‘tough love’ and ‘moral guidance’ — a sadism justified with
the false analogy of unpleasant medicine that’s horrible to take but makes us better. Without the essential ingredient of knowledge we label all kinds of bad ‘good’,
and all kinds of good ‘bad’. Maybe most ironic of all, because of our lack of knowledge there are times when we want to help
but simply don’t know how. It could be anything from wanting to cure a disease to wanting to rescue someone who’s been
recruited by a harmful group. Here, the urge to help is palpably there but our lack of knowledge holds us back. Here, we are the reverse image of a creator that knows the cure to every sickness and the solution
to every problem — but declines to help. Some folks claim that, as reasoning, logical beings,
we reflect the ‘intellectual image’ of a creator. But this creator has no use for reason or logic. We use reason and logic to lever our way out
of ignorance and uncertainty into knowledge. We use logical syllogisms to work out that
if idea one is true and idea two is true then logically idea three must be true. An all-knowing creator already knows
if idea three is true without having to work through any logical process. It also knows when either of the first two
ideas are false — something we often fail to recognise,
leading to unsound conclusions. An all-knowing creator is immune to the scores
of logical fallacies to which we’re vulnerable. There’s an appealing irony in the fact that,
if this creator existed it would be listening in on all the fallacious arguments some people make for its existence like appeals to ignorance,
where a god is presented as true just because the individual
can’t imagine any alternative. An all-knowing creator never has to learn. Learning and reliance on an imperfect memory
are burdens exclusive to its creation. And let’s not forget the burden of faith, 
which requires the suspension of our critical faculties further diminishing our already severely diminished intellectual capacity in the service of religious beliefs. An all-knowing being is incapable of faith. It will never have to believe something
for which it has no evidence. And it will never experience the dissonance that results
from finding out its faith was misplaced. In Josh and Sean McDowell’s
‘Bible Handbook of Difficult Verses’ when addressing the difficult verse in Genesis that speaks of the Christian creator making us in its image the authors skip every other kind of image so far mentioned and go straight for ‘relational image’. They claim we inherited from their god ‘the ability to communicate our thoughts,
intents and feelings to others’ and cite the repeated scriptural phrase ‘God said’ as evidence that relationships mean
communication to others. But what kind of communication? One of my first teachers was always complaining:
‘You can’t talk to a book!’ She was expressing her frustration as a reader at being unable to ask authors about their intended meaning. Change one word and we have the problem with
divine communication: ‘You can’t talk to a god’. The being claimed by some
to be the most important in the universe with the most important message for humanity doesn’t take questions. Instead, it’s claimed to use two of the most
error-prone kinds of communication possible. The first is scripture, open to multiple
conflicting interpretations with no way of verifying which ones are valid. The second consists of signs
in the form of arbitrary life events including coincidences and odd physical sensations. Here, the recipient first has to somehow determine
that the sign is a sign rather than just a random event. The recipient then has to determine
its meaning, again with no divine verification. It’s a recipe for chaos. And chaos is exactly what we see with religious groups clashing, often violently,
over competing interpretations. Thankfully, human communication doesn’t follow
this inferior one-way relational image. Our relational image goes both ways employing the revolutionary concept of dialogue. This allows us to check with each other
for errors in our understanding. It also allows cooperation and negotiation — two more concepts conspicuously
lacking in the creator’s image. The McDowells also claim that taking care
of the poor and defending human rights find their basis in each of us because we were
purposely created in their god’s relational image — with value, dignity, and worth. But if we had been made in the relational
image of this supposed god we’d show no compassion and offer no help. We’d stand by, watching
and doing nothing, just as it does passively permitting every kind of suffering. We might try to shield ourselves
from harm in an ultimately vain attempt to emulate a creator that’s
conveniently shielded from all harm. But there’d be no taking care of the poor,
and no defending of human rights. The reason we support and fight for others is because we’re not made in this creator’s relational image. The concepts of competition and worship are also absent from the creator’s relational image. Meanwhile we’re forced to compete
for limited resources just to survive and we’re threatened and deceived
into worshipping false icons. The more we try to pin down what it might mean to be created in the image
of an all-knowing, all-powerful being the more fundamental differences
we expose on every level — physical, emotional, moral, intellectual and relational. All of these fundamental differences reflect burdens
we endure that this mythical creator does not — even the positive ones. If we were all-knowing, we’d have no need for dialogue. If we didn’t suffer, compassion would be redundant. As creators ourselves, we constantly model
our creations on our own image from service robots to video game characters
to remotely operated avatar androids like the Telenoid, created by Japanese roboticist
Hiroshi Ishiguro, endowed with arms for giving hugs. We’re drawn to interact with human-like creations
— it’s what we understand. But, as we begin to explore the possibilities
of creating actual artificial life artificial consciousness, artificial intelligence should we instead follow the example
of our mythical creator and make our creations completely unlike us? Should we impose new forms of suffering on them? Dream up new kinds of vulnerability? Should we introduce them to a range
of environmental hazards unknown to us? Should we invent a collection of distressing emotions for them that we were incapable of experiencing? And should we threaten terrible punishments if,
after all this, they declined to worship us? If you’re feeling squeamish
about any of these suggestions you’re showing how different you are
from a hypothetical all-knowing, all-powerful creator who’s willing to do all of the above. Wanting worse for others than for yourself
is no indication of greatness. On the subject of artificial life …. In Isaac Asimov’s short story ‘Runaround’ engineers Mike Donovan and Gregory Powell
travel to Mercury with a robot called Speedy to restart a mining station. Finding that the life-support system is running low on
selenium Powell and Donovan send Speedy out
to a selenium pool a few miles away to obtain some. Hours later Speedy hasn’t returned, despite the fact
he hasn’t stopped running the whole time. In ‘Runaround’, Asimov introduces
his famous three laws of robotics three laws embedded in the programming of all robots
designed to maximise safety for humans and robots. Law one: a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Law two: a robot must obey the orders
given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict
with the First Law. Law three: a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict
with the first or second Laws. Eventually, the engineers venture out onto
the boiling Mercury landscape in search of Speedy and find him running in circles
by the selenium pool. It doesn’t take them long to figure out what’s happened. Speedy’s become caught
between law two and law three. There are unexpected corrosive gases around the pool. This activates law three which directs Speedy to protect his own existence and run away from the pool. But when he’s far enough from the pool,
the danger subsides and law two kicks in, directing Speedy to obey his order to collect selenium. So Speedy runs back to the pool. He’s stuck in an endless loop — one that will soon have life-or-death
consequences for Donovan and Powell. Later on, Speedy’s depicted offering endless
apologies and feeling scared about being judged. But he’s told that it wasn’t his fault — he wasn’t responsible for his flawed programming. Just like Speedy, we appear to come
hardwired with deeply flawed programming that obstructs our ability to process reality — with substantial consequences for us
and those we interact with. One of many intriguing and unsettling lines
of research in this area concerns the human tendency
to infer personality traits from faces. Absurd as it seems, based solely on
the physical structure of people’s faces we instinctively score them on
a range of psychological characteristics — including likeability, trustworthiness,
competence and aggressiveness. And we make these judgements within
as little as 100 milliseconds. This has huge implications
for human relationships of every stripe from choice of life partners
to the political direction of nations. Research by Todorov and his colleagues suggests that inferences of competence that
occurred within a one-second exposure to the faces of electoral candidates
could predict the outcomes of elections. Short of having clones run for each political party it’s not clear how this kind of facial
prejudice could be cancelled. Todorov has commented: ‘We decide very quickly whether a person
possesses many of the traits we feel are important such as likeability and competence, even though
we have not exchanged a single word with them. It appears we are hard-wired to draw these
inferences in a fast, unreflective way.’ His research with Engell and Haxby
using functional magnetic resonance imaging suggests that the amygdala
automatically codes faces according to features associated
with untrustworthiness. And this is just one example
of a hardwired human bias. Psychologists have identified dozens of biases — involving memory, visual recognition, decision-making and social perception and behaviour — all operating outside of our awareness,
and therefore outside our conscious control all actively distorting the way we process reality introducing errors that directly contribute
to delusions and injustices of every scale. It’s only through our own meticulous study that we’ve learned about these hidden psychological glitches. And it’s only through learning about them
that we’ve begun to be able to look out for them and to try and compensate for the errors they produce. So. In theological terms, who’s to blame
for this flawed programming? We’re not talking about random cases of birth defects that might be put down to environment accidents. We’re talking about errors resulting
from normal brain function. In Asimov’s ‘Runaround’, Speedy’s creators step forward and acknowledge responsibility
for his flawed programming, reassuring him he’s not to blame. If we were designed by some creator,
shouldn’t it step forward and do same? Instead, we’re left in the same guilt-ridden, apologetic state Speedy was in before his creators’ reassurances — anxious about being judged as defective by a creator that, if it existed, would be
directly responsible for those defects. Many of us — including myself — have spent a number of years looking up to some imaginary divine dictator in awe of its greatness. The very phrase ‘God is great’ has become
a mantra for some religious groups. But being great isn’t an absolute property,
no more than being large or being fast. It’s a relative property. The word ‘great’ indicates that something
is substantially above average. If this mythical creator had created beings in its own image it would be considered entirely
unexceptional by its creation. In theological terms, the greatness
and power of this mythical creator rests purely on its decision to make its creation
so small and powerless relative to itself. What do we think about those who have
to diminish others in order to feel great? Like recovering from domestic abuse,
recovering from religion can take time. Even when we’ve realised on a rational level that we have no reason whatsoever to believe in any gods our imaginations sometimes take a while to catch up. We sometimes have to contend with
persistent negative thoughts deliberately encouraged by our indoctrinators, designed
to make us feel bad, defective, small, miserable. One of those images is that of a mythical judge,
meting out sentences and punishments from its bench. But if it existed, this judge would have
no place sitting on the bench. Its place would be in the dock on a charge so wicked that no earthly criminal
could hope to come near it. The charge of creating sickness.

Glenn Chapman

100 Comments

  1. being able to do bad things was CREATED by god. what, people think humans created doing bad things? we are gods now? if god hadn't made it possible then we wouldn't do it. and we wouldn't feel trapped bc we wouldn't even have the capacity to know that we aren't able to do bad things. people who believe in god haven't actually given what they believe much thought most of the time…

  2. 36yr old Atheist, Apostate from the Christian religion. Growing up the son and relative of Preachers I grew up gay in an overwhelmingly oppressive and psychologically abusive home from birth. This set me down a long painful and fearful path of self loathing, denial, and eventually a mental break down that manifested itself as mental illness and deep and harmful psychosis. When I could not clearly change my attractions or God saw unfit to do so himself, despite all the steps taken…. I allowed myself to be roped into compromise and modification of Dogmas by myself and others. ''You can be gay and Christian '' says one priest. Yet, whenever someone who is otherwise a good person becomes a religious victim themselves, they can often become the victimizer themselves… unconsciously of course. Yet, after a time of space allowed I find myself an Atheist. I simply have no belief in either Christianity's claims or those of any other religion. After years of study, observation, personal experience, and conversation… I can honestly say that all religions are inherently wicked and nothing more than methods of ruling the masses, and setting those in power into very comfortable and often wealthy lives. My solution was as it always had been when faced with relapse, my ability to dig in my heals and simply make up my mind on something. That and as you said, once you know how the magic trick works it doesn't work anymore.

  3. Do we know that people's facial feature biases are a "glitch" rather than a feature? How accurate are they? Surely a person's facial features CAN be reflective of their psychology, e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/07/new-artificial-intelligence-can-tell-whether-youre-gay-or-straight-from-a-photograph

  4. During my time of being a Christian, I was constantly scared that my religion might be false and there was nothing after death. Now that I left, I came to terms with nonexistence and am no longer in panic because of it, yet now I am scared that Christianity might be right. This channel and especially this video helped me a lot with my transition, thank you so much.

  5. I just realized Mormons try to reconcile this Supreme God with the idea of being created in his image by saying that God used to be like us, and that we can become Gods ourselves. I hadn’t noticed that’s what the story was before. And it really is a very entertaining story. Ever since I discovered Mormonism I’ve realized they’ve probably got the most entertaining version of Christianity. It’s almost like a videogame, or something akin to that.

  6. Me: Watches atheistic videos

    Youtube ads: HAVE YOU PRAYED TO JISES?!

  7. your video are soo grim and dark , the choice of music , the animation and models , every thing , is as dark and brutal , i fucking Love it , its as objective as reality can be , its like its okay to see the world for what it really is , and its okay to not think you are fucked up , religious people give this sense that every thing is perfect and as it should be , god is perfect and this is the best there is i should be thankful , but this is not what reality shows me , ironically , its not even showing me a god i can like

  8. That opening statement or poem, or whatever it was- it had a line, "created sick, and commanded to be well".
    Christopher Hitchens used to say that line A LOT. No I know where he got it. Cool.

  9. You don't understand what Scriptures actually say.
    You are referring to Yaldobaoth, not God the Father of Truth.

  10. "Yahweh?"

    I say- "NO WAY!!!"

    Also, what a stupid fucking name. You'd think the all powerful creator of the universe would have a cooler name. 😎

  11. I believed my epilepsy was a test from God.

  12. 21:09 "God has blotted them out" is referring to the persons transgressions, not blotting out people lol. The clue is in the song "I'll turn to Isaiah and see…Chapter 44, 22 & 3…"

  13. You make some valid points and I have enjoyed watching your videos. You have to keep history in context too though. Christianity was taken over by feudal Europe and alot of the stupid stuff that Christians of the dark ages did were framed as religion but was just common feudal bs that was there even before christianity.

    Meanwhile during the european Dark Ages there was a renaissance ongoing in 10th century arabia and a lot of discoveries were made thanks to Islam's focus on R&D. Sadly though there is rampant feudalism still ongoing today in most third world countries around the world. Growing up in Pakistan I saw feudal lords use parts of Islam that they completely twisted to achieve their means. Very much like what the feudals of Europe did to Christianity.

  14. Atheism? Sounds very scientific, right? Or maybe you could be one of those "Everybody gets a medal" types. So spiritual – whatever that means.

    Christianity is not as popular these days, as it used to be. The Bible says that would happen. Christianity still offers a map with directions that say, 'do this, and you can get to your destination.' The Bible, understood through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, is the closest to whatever is, is actually happening.

    Most of us understand a three-dimension world; but try to imagine a two-dimension world, or a four-dimension, or a nine-dimension or even an 11-dimension existence. God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Ghost understand(s) how those different dimensions work and how to control them.

    It is said – by some – that the book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible. That makes sense to me because the book of Job is a story of a lover's argument between God and Job. The problem of sickness? Sickness is part of being a being. Job was sick. Job got better. Doris Day didn't get better yesterday. She died at the age of 97. That's a good span. And other people did not have such long lives. But ask yourself this question: would you have created the world using other laws? Being a human being requires some way to power your brain. Your need for running your own personal physical power supply governs things like sickness and decay. Without decay and death, the Earth would be a very strange place.

    Your brain requires a certain wattage to run properly. A ball of gas at an average of 92,955,807 miles away from us acts as the fuel to provide that wattage. To my understanding, that requires a level of complexity behind it all, and thus that makes my brain believe intellectually that there is God. My heart had already told me that God is there when I was baptized at the age of nine.

  15. Religion is just a homing missile called "guilt trip" headed toward your core.

  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PKx3kS7f4A
    @theramintrees, the philosophical concept of having to guide a new intellegence towards a human compatible ethical system is a great tangent to have taken, thanks for that link, here is another in return 😀

  17. Your religion has nothing on any other. Too stupid to realize you are in a cult.

  18. Atheists are Arrogant, belligerent ,obnoxious , aggressive,wicked ,filthy ,disruptive,egocentric ,defiant ,narrow minded subhuman .

  19. TheraminTrees Thank you for sharing your perspectives and ideas about theology and the creator. Your hard work is very much appreciated. Do keep up the good work.

  20. I looked at image of the almighty from India in recent paintings in a magazine I got while in town centre yesterday from a Hare Krishna devotee.The painting depicted a young handsome man in the bloom of youth forever who is blue namely Krishna.. Now how is that related to any living human? I know Jehovah is an old guy with beard but this fresh youth image does seem more potent but it in no way is ever going to relate to your average spotty human who applying is face cream or is worried about grey hairs. No. God in whatever manifestation is not in the image of us limited humans.

  21. So many gems here in this video. It would be morally wrong of me to not say: Thank you Theramin Trees

  22. I would be interested in your thought on the supernatural, evil spirits and whether or not you believe they are real. Because if they are, wouldnt that mean good spirits and god exists?

  23. This video beautifully expands on what I've been saying since I was a child: the only being that truly deserves to go to Hell is God.

  24. This should be translated into spanish, there's so many spanish speaking people that need to hear these words. BTW, great job doing this videos!

  25. The authority found creation intact and, first, claimed credit.

  26. Im 13 and my Dad is a pastor, when I became an athiest. I was 11, I was convinced by videos on youtube. I thought I could debunk all their debates. but it did not work. When I told my parents, I was 13. I broke down, and for many reasons, they go along the lines of, what they'd think of me, what they would do and wether they'd understand me..

    My mom is a radical christian who calls herself a prophet. Yep, those people.. And with that, you know my dads' a pastor. Now I'm forced to go to church because, "You're a minor and you cant stay in the house by yourself." Yet when its convinient for them I can stay home alone, makes much sense.

    Every time something bad happens to me she's like, "Thats because you're one of those athiests." In my opinion, if you look for the positives you get them and vise versa. My mother always keeps sledghammering religion into me and my dad does not agree with that. She jams her opinons onto others and spreads them like the plague. If they disagree, your day is ruined, yet the bible says not to force it onto others, well I guess she only cherry picks her parts.

    Some say Im doing this out of rebelion. if I really thought christianity was real, I would never try to change my opinion just to mess with them. I'd be too scared of that special place in hell for me. Since they wont change their mind about my "rebeliousness." I'll embrace it, every time she metaphorically slams me with her bible facts, Ill draw a jesus cross. (You can guess where I'm going with this) Ill flip it upside down, and put it on my walls, thats a counter for everytime she goes against that specific verse in the bible about forced religion., mabye too overboard(more like totally overboard), but I like my ears not being deaf after her "Jesus" seshes.

  27. Perhaps all of us humans will have these questions posed in this video answered after death.

  28. Have you considered that God, being all-knowing, would have intimate, first-hand knowledge of all suffering everywhere? This leads to the idea that God must face the consequences of any disease, disaster, or degradation that God allows – does that change your thinking at all with regard to this hypothetical creator, and if so, how? I am genuinely curious.

  29. An all-powerful supreme being may have no human emotions of its own but, since it is all-powerful, surely that need not preclude the capacity to comprehend or experience such human emotions by eavesdropping on them.

  30. I have never understood free choice/will. Decisions are made by mechanisms. Those mechanisms have some logical capacity and some noise in the system. So their decisions will be somewhat rational in theory but perturbed by noise such as to be somewhat erratic in practice. Which is what we experience. As for our sense that 'we' have made each of our decisions, how else could it feel, when the machinery making the decisions, most of it in the subconscious, is within our own heads, and what pops up into our consciousness is inevitably assumed by us to be our own thinking because it is not someone else's.

  31. If the brain evaluates people based on their faces then there has to be a reason that such behaviour evolved. It does not have to be a very good reason. It might just be something that tips the odds slightly. But enough for it to have been reinforced over generations by evolution if it increases survival and reproduction chances.

  32. This is exactly how I started questioning my religion. It was the last abusive relationship I left

  33. At the 20 minute mark you claim that Hod should feel guilty for all the unnecessary suffering he allowed. Can you answer how you know it was unnecessary? Can you track the cause of events to their ends and all of the causes that occur as a result of that person interacting with others along the way? You make bold claims with nothing but uour assertions to back them up. You claim that having knowledge of future disobedience would cause God to not feel anger. You must not have children. I know first hand how letting your children stray far enough that they fall. You can only tell children who dont believe your words not to fo something for so long before you have to let them figure out the hard way.

    You claim god could make copies of himself able to have free will but not have to suffer. He already has that in the trinity. And once again you claim to have even the slightest clue what that would mean is laughable. You claimed as every toddler claims when they dont get ther way that you could do better. Lol. You cant even do a fraction of a fraction of what God can so how could you possibly do or know better? Your really good at building strawmen and knocking them down though.

  34. This is the only channel that show me my thoughts like a mirror

  35. My English teacher had a thought that I find interesting. He said that it was absurd for God to expect Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and bad. The fact that they did not have that knowledge in the first place meant they did not know it was bad to disobey God and God only set them up to fail.

  36. Free choice means means that humans were originally created with the same attributes as the creator, i.e. eternal life w/o suffering but at some point chose to depart from that original state of being (the paradise) hence the fall, you stupid. What you seem not to understand is that what you're rebelling against is a stupid viewpoint of some religious paradigm which it was your misforrune to be born under. The opinion of this presentation is actually attacking a type of strawman, you misinformed idiot.
    Yeah there are problems with religion in any form but attacking strawmen is not making your position credible. Among the "good points" (haha) of religion is giving people a like-minded community that can support it's members through the vagaries (despite it it's ceazy beliefs rather than bcz of) of life which is something atheism is incapable of, you disinfranchised acolyte

  37. "Wanting worse for others than for yourself is no indication of greatness". Well said, my friend. Sums it up very well

  38. I was a christian for 45 years before finally admitting that it was a total load of horseshit. With Atheism I found such peace at last. Not a single of my former friends from church ever spoke to me again. I learned so much about how christians really act.

  39. Since becoming a Mormon "apostate" and abandoning the mythology called religion, I've lived a fuller, happier life. Religion is the favorite tool of those who think they were born to tell others what to do. The longest con.

  40. That moment when you realize H. P. Lovecraft probably created the most realistic depiction of what gods would be like

  41. Kept on singing this one popular Christian Rock Song, and my gosh it sounds good as a melody… only… i always looked away from the screen lyrics. Sang without thinking of the lyrics.

  42. This is a better argument for anti-natalism than I could ever come up with.

  43. "Thrones are built for asses…" 

    A majestic quote indeed, thank you!

  44. Abrahamic "monotheism" is ALSO rife with family members/gods.  God the father, God the son, God the holy ghost, Satan, Mother Mary…who else wants on board?  Lots of places.  Demons, angels…even saints can all be prayed to, paid, propitiated, and worshipped.

  45. Atheism is surrounding yourself with people as pathetic as you’re to avoid staring your sins in the face.fuck you all .

  46. I love my mother and it's really interesting to see her meet and exceed my expectations of parenthood, but somehow the all knowing and powerful god has failed every single time. This isn't to say she is perfect, but she's one of the best examples of parenthood I've ever experienced. The day god is one-tenth as kind and giving and self-sacrificing as my mother, maybe that day I'll consider religion again

  47. Fulke Greville's passage makes me wonder if Christopher Hitchens (erudite as he was) picked up on the phrase "created sick and commanded to be well" (sound) which he used to good effect on many occasions.

  48. It's interesting to me that the term 'Trinity' (9th minute of the vid) is never mentioned in the New Testament. It must have been introduced much later and subsumed at the  Council of Nicea (325) to be part of the 'Nicean Creed' as the early Catholic church got it's act together.

  49. Satan, Satan's free will, and Satan's influence on our state of affairs is neglected here. As far as the image of God is concerned, God rules, and has appointed us in positions of authority, including the ability to be creative. And God is love, and hates sin, as we are intended to be.

  50. For me, God is simply the reality that meets me and that I experience as in some way different from myself. Religions are all man-made, but that doesn't make me an atheist. Surely if I'm a person, the other who is so much bigger is a person or superperson.

  51. Your videos are amazing. Beyond amazing. I really have to conclude that theists, among many things, aren’t intellectually sound people. When you break down every aspect of an All knowing, All present, All powerful entity, and compare and contrast such an idea with humans and life and how the world is today. Then your likely conclusion is either that god doesn’t exist or is a psychopath who enjoys human suffering

  52. God is REAL. No religion honors God completely. They don't want to do the very hard work and sacrifice it would take to actually be real with God. God doesn't condone gray area. Either you make the decision to be obedient or you don't. Many people will put the things of this world first. They don't realize that there IS God, and He wants people to be authentic. Many who claim to be "Christian" for example, they aren't. They judge people like anyone else, maybe just with a nicer front. They wouldn't really have their hands dirty. They would never actually take what they have and give it to the poor, etc., etc. To be a true follower of God, means having His protection. But, it means you have to genuinely stop lying, stop being unforgiving, stop getting distracted from helping others by not spending time with God, and watching lots of t.v. instead. Those are examples. It's hard to be a follower of God. It can be downright painful at times, and takes tremendous courage in some cases. But it's the only way. I wish people could see God for who He truly is. I'm still learning, but now that He has shown me that He is real, He IS listening, I know I am not alone now.

  53. "A character can only be as or less intelligent as it's creator, not more"
    So the creator of the bible and christianity must be a complete idiot.

  54. I've often wondered that if an alien fleet landed here on Earth and, for some reason, had to pick one of our religions, which one would they pick.

  55. Interesting videos, but you are making some flaws. You seem, from your videos, open to discussion. First, you assert than non binary sexuality is only variation not illness, without any sort of evidence. But you accuse religious assertion without evidence of imposing personal or collective views of truths without debate or argument. Psychological ilness, you must know already, is something very tied up with cultural norms, and it does not have an unified theory of health, only general intuitions , and this at best. Most schools of thought in psychology have various disagreements on this issue. Second, there are interpretations of the Christian Scripture that explain the emotional characterizations as metaphors for easier understanding. Two texts I know are the Dogmatical exposition of Saint John Damascene – short text, and Saint Anthony The great, the Philokalia. And Saint Isaac the Syrian. This is not coming from a comitted believer, by the way. As you said, me pointing some things in your argument does mean 1 I think all of your argument is wrong. 2 I know and subscribe to a form of Christian theology.

  56. Why believe in Gods?
    Believe in something that exists.
    Like the universe.
    It exists and doesn't care you exist.
    It doesn't care what you do.
    It just exists.

  57. I was heavily indoctrinated as a child, my entire family is still Christian, even though I have now escaped from the box the brainwashing will always haunt me.
    It will never go away. It's just something that we have to learn to deal with. Things like this video are extremely helpful.I've already watched this video several times and I am now watching it again.
    You know what's really funny? In case you didn't notice,my name is Troy, the same name that they're using in the video and it is describing me absolutely perfectly. I'm not stuck anymore I'm free, but this is describing what I went through in the past absolutely perfectly. Actually if I think about it and I want to be perfectly honest with myself here, I still go through what you're describing with Troy once in awhile even after all these years. Like I'll say again once you're brainwashed it will always haunt you.

  58. I was taught to be terrified of God ever since I was a child. Demons, the rapture, burning in hell, the mark of the beast, speaking in tongues, Armageddon, the whole kit and caboodle with the kitchen sink thrown in just to put the icing on the cake.
    I was absolutely terrified my entire childhood. I can remember hiding in the closet with my mother out in the living room attempting to cast out demons from all the local teenagers. When I look back on it now it was absolutely insane and ridiculously petrifying for a child.
    Even though my mother meant well, looking back on it now I would have to call it a form of child abuse. I'm not angry at my mother for it though, not at all, she was a victim of indoctrination just like I was.

  59. "Why do we" in reference to the fatherhood of God makes little sense, but in reference to the sonship of Jesus does. For we were made in the image of God according to the scriptures. Now if we say in what way, we first can look the the son of man, Jesus, to make sense of this. Jesus had a physical body and man was given the same. He had 2 legs, 2 arms, eyes to precieve creation for creation has a physical form. It was always intended to and after the return of Christ will have a different physical form. We were given punishment for the end purpose of eternal life. Without the "microbes, cancers, food, water, oxygen" needs and threats, we would live eternally. That's what we see, in the presence of threats or the lack of things to sustain us, we die. Exactly as Genesis predicts. What we also see is that these bodies which seem so suseptible to death now were intended to last forever. Implying that what we see now and the thought that evidentially the death we see will always be true, won't always be true. Once we die, we get our eternal bodies. Jesus was not immune to these sufferings.

    Now on the idea of free choice. That's a hard thing to defend based on His sovereignty. Though this seems fatalistic, I would advise you to choose the next liquid you would like to drink. You have the will. Or we seem to. That's the harder question in my opinion.

    Does the Lord bring suffering, yes. What's the issue with that if good is defined by what He does and what He does serves His glory. To describe good as what serves humanity in some way inheritly ties itself to the existence of humans and is no longer objective so I wouldn't say God does bad or evil for beinging justice on those who don't do right by Him. We all defy our conscience, none of of our guiltless in our own eyes. That's one proof that none are good. I wouldn't blame the judge for doing his job. Neither would I blame God for being the executioner.

    Made in the emotional image of God, what? Who told you that. We certainly exhibit logic, God has that, we experience emotion. Jesus did that. But that doesn't mean the spirit does or the Father does. So I don't know if God does. Interesting question though. That's definitely worth exploring.

    I would throw the fruit of the spirit in the mix. Love, hope, righteous anger all exist because justice exists in God. How does God love vacuously. In the community of the spirit. Good one with guilt. Jesus did not experience guilt because he never sinned. But being a human had the capacity for it. Sorrow I think so.

    I wouldn't agree that criticism is something that I avoid thought some might. Or that we shouldn't disagree with sin's existence because you disagree with a particular definition. Or that God is unwilling to help. Now that is a huge question that seems skimmed over.

    Faith is not the abandonment of our faculties. Take for example the word confidence. I would say you likely think faith and confidence are far from similar. As confidence is based on what we can observe and deduce. But the roots of confidence are con and fide, with – faith. It means trust more than it means blind trust. That's an oversimplification of the idea of trust and how we trust in truths but the idea that God doesn't experience things that we do I believe I have addressed with Jesus being man. And God being Jesus means that through Jesus, God has been those things rather than God beging distinct from them. He has experienced them. Also, the fruit of the spirit examples, God is faithful. So God being faithful and thus experiencing faith. I don't quite follow your deductive reasoning.

    Also let's have an email list of scripture and it's idea of falability. And how signs are reduced from miraculous signs to your definition. Being realised from the dead is a certainly a little more than a feeling. Which there are more than 4 accounts of in scripture as signs. Dialogue with God I would describe as prayer and reading scripture. Maybe I'm wrong.

    "Passively permitting every kind of suffering" assumes that He only allows suffering and doesn't bring the ability to suffer. That is not correct as God holds all things together, which is an activity.

    I have to apologize now because I'm sorry that I did not give this response the though and effort that you have. I've spent a single hour making this response whole you've taken much more time. Understanding this I don't expect a response from you but if you would, I will take more time to respond to any further comments from you TheraminTrees. Also, excuse typos please. I am trying to have a rational conversation rather than a gotcha and reductionist argument. Feel free to return with rational arguments or rebuttles on how I have failed to follow my arguments rationally.

  60. Me too. I still lapse into theism because I was so indoctrinated as a child and adult. When I see something good that happens out of no where, I have a tendency to lapse back. It goes to prove what mind control as a child can do to you as an adult.

  61. I think as atheists we need to group together and start a worldwide campaign to remove all religions from tax free status. The extra tax will benefit every city and this may lessen the pressure churches have been putting on people. If they cannot get rich so easily it will be a deterrent to all but the most committed scammers.

  62. I have fleeting episodes of this when something bad happens and I've been an atheist for 3 years. I was Christian for just over 2 years (partially at 13 and fully 14&15) but was exposed to religion a lot before as well, just never necessarily identifyed with any particular religion fully. It left its consequences

  63. I come back to this video alot, sometimes my superstitious tendencies outweigh my rational side, I was always that person that assumed everything around me is sentient and so being religious was a given, I've had quite a struggle letting go, and I sometimes have to pause and think about why I am an atheist now, I recognise that indoctrination is one of the reasons I'm finding it hard to be rational but sometimes when I'm not thinking I fall back into my default settings of being religious, this video has really helped me and I find I'm falling back into my default settings less and less, so THANK YOU Theramin trees

  64. Polytheism isn't a problem, unless it's taken literally. Monotheism is the problem, one God who is both good and evil could only ever be at odds with itself. When a likeness is made of the divine, he/she represents a specific virtue. A god of war, a goddess of love, etc. When virtues come into conflict a choice is made. When Polytheism is taken literally, the result is Demonology – contracts with specific entities.

  65. Instead of asking "what would Jesus do?", we should ask… "what DOES Jesus do?" answer… nothing.

  66. Thank you for the encouragement… Im having all these feelings, you addressed them all. In my head, I know this is right. But my heart is bleeding. I know Ill get over this.

  67. Because a perfect being would dent your car because he was jealous. Religion needs to be outlawed, and those who cling to it need their genes eradicated from the gene pool.

  68. Hi Theramin Trees, I've got a bit of an odd question. I hope you don't mind me asking. Why do the people in your graphics all have their heads separated from their bodies? Is there some meaning behind this, or is it just a creative choice? Many thanks!

  69. The cure for religious guilt and fear is non existence.
    Once you accept the fact that you are going to sleep from which you will not awaken, there is no one left to meet a god, or spend eternity in heaven or hell.
    It's called losing self importance.

  70. I conclude that the creator(s) of this realm is beyond us but hardly infallible. All of the creatures here may have been designed just for the sake of creation. This realm if seen from above with huge eyes is no more than a terrarium not unlike an ant farm or lawn full of all kinds of little crawly things. Make the best of life while you're alive is my approach. We may never know who or what's behind ALL of this. My 3 favorite words: humility surrender & acceptance. Best wishes to us all

  71. The painting on the ceiling is not correct because Adam has a belly button. Was he born of a woman?

  72. I'm a recovering New Age-aholic. I may not have been indoctrinated into one of the mainstream religions but I sure brainwashed myself on YouTube mainly.

  73. I’ve been watching these videos, and I have learned so much. Really, thanks for sharing.

  74. All your videos are brilliant and this might be my favourite. It cuts right through and gets to the essential absurdities

  75. Only reality is Love. God is Love it is not a religious thought it is reality we accept or not. We could be filled with hate, anger or Love we create our own reality. God 💘💘💘💘you.🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸💘💘💘you

  76. "He works in mysterious ways" is what you will hear them say. I say he works in delirious ways

  77. My temporary lapses back to theism is caused by more of a need for meaning in the world. I am heavily depressed and am a very existentialist person. When I "lapse" it's not that I believe, but that I want so desperately /to/ believe in something. Just anything that can give my life direction to pull myself from depression. I'm sure it will go away as I age and go through therapy and find my own worth through my abuse and loss of self confidence.. but at my heart I simply no longer believe no matter how much I crave to be safe in an illusion

  78. I don't have episodes where I feel like a creator is judging me, but whenever I think about death I feel lost and longing for my prior belief even though I know I never will believe again.

    Knowing that, in all likelihood I will die and no longer exist. All my memories, my joy, my life…gone and something I can no longer experience…I am getting chills now and I know I will hardly sleep tonight.

    I hope for any afterlife. I know there is no reason to believe in one, so I hope.

  79. If god is truly omniscient, then free choice cannot exist, for he would correctly predict every choice ever to be made.

    The best analogy that I can possibly think of for god creating earth with some "plan" is when a writer creates a work of fiction. At first, there is nothing. Then, they create the world, everything and everyone, and subject them to hardship, (possibly) knowing from the beginning everything that would ever happen in their world, killing people off when they could easily save everyone.

    The question, then, is why? Writers do it to entertain others, either for fun or profit. If god was originally alone, the only being in the universe, what is the purpose of our story? Who would he share it with?

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