It’s common for apostates to have a looming fear of hell even long after they stop believing in it. People who were raised in deeply religious circles have essentially been branded with the idea that hell awaits them should they step out of line.
The concept of hell is a traumatising, inexcusable mess, so it’s no surprise they struggle so much. The christian faith has always been able to thrive in society despite it conflicting so dramatically with scientific research. Similarly, christian principles stick around long after followers abandon the church itself.
But there’s one other burden that ex-religious individuals carry around with them in life – a fear of the so-called “abyss”. Let’s take a minute to discuss accepting mortality, the lasting effects of being convinced of an afterlife, and the uphill battle that is coming to terms with reality.
The Ex-Evangelical Baggage
Studies have show time and time again that the human brain is exceptionally good at blocking out the intuitive fact of its mortality. At some point in human evolution, it became impractical to be painfully aware of our impending doom.
If we’re brought up in an honest, healthy environment, death is slowly but surely introduced to us as a concept in our younger years. Death remains a terrible, tragic thing, and yet passivley remains as a peaceful thought in the back of our heads; a reminder that all pain is limited.
However, if we’re instead first introduced to the idea of an afterlife, hidden away from the realities of death the way young children are hidden from the truth about Christmas, it can be a disheartening blow to realise that no such paradise exists.
Many apostates are plagued by feelings that their actions have little or no significance. With no “reward” at the end of the line, life itself must be satisfying enough. When you’ve been chasing a carrot on a stick for years, finding out it’s made of plastic is unsurprisingly heartbreaking.
So how do apostates deal with the realities of death? How do you go from believing you’ll live an eternity in heaven, to spend it with your family, your heroes; any and everyone who was saved by Jesus Christ – to the belief that soon after your passing, you will be nothing but dust and ash?
Fear of the Abyss
The christian position is bolstered by the dramatic change that can be drawn from believing in an afterlife. They can dictate to followers how they are to live in order to get into heaven, because they claim absolute knowledge of good and evil. They can mould the world to their ideaology. Leaving religion is so difficult because it’s designed to be difficult. Leaving one’s family, friends, entire life behind can feel like one is going completely against what’s right. But what positive change comes with turning away from baseless claims about death?
Well, for starters, they can allow themselves new freedoms. Previously limited by the christian frame of morality, apostates can now begin to express themselves and live their lives in ways they had once seen as detremental to their salvation.
There’s also a destinct value in living in reality. Nobody can retain a healthy rational perspective while also turning a blind eye to some of the most weighted and crucial questions of the modern age. Either slowly veer off into delusion, or abandon the idea of a God until someone gives you some actual evidence.
Whatever emotional or psychological benefits religions bring are widely overshadowed by the toxic systems they’re built upon. Christianity is oppressive, deceptive and demanding by design. By leaving the church, you open the doors for other members of your commune to glimpse a ‘way out’, and should you ever have kids, they could be given a choice you never were. In essence, you’re not the only person who can benefit from your secularism.
In truth, this isn’t a crusade. People will vehemently defend their faith untill there is nothing left. Just make sure you have good reasons for what you believe. Especially if you intend to share it with others.