4 'To you my friends I say: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.
5 I will
tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has the power
to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, he is the one to fear. Luke 12:4,5 (NJB)
The above scriptural passage is just one of several threats to humanity in the bible. And although to a non-believer such as myself and others that read my blog; this threat is both harmless and empty, it is not so for the fundamentalist. As a former believer it was this threat and others like it that kept me in fear for so long, and this was the last and toughest vestige of religious indoctrination that I had to overcome.
My deconversion as some are now calling it took me about six years to be complete simply because of the power of indoctrination and fear. Every day I sought for ways to explain away what I believed to have been supernatural experiences in my ministry that I had not just witnessed but on some occasions was a part of. I looked for every possible alternative explanation in psychology, psychiatry, and even read up on hypnosis and the techniques used by its practitioners.
Many of my atheist friends who have not been on the other side do not understand this irrational fear and cannot even begin to know how real it is for those that are still trapped in mental hell. Religions that debase you and make you despise this world for an imaginary life of eternal bliss if your good or torment if you are bad are nothing but mental institutions/prisons. This is what we are up against when we try to convince some believers of the error of their beliefs.
How was it that with my spoken words or even a simple stare people would be "slain in the spirit" right before my eyes? I later came to realize that this was just a combination of indoctrination and emotionalism. My many subjective experiences during those years in the ministry made my leaving the faith double hard. I couldn't just walk away till I had answers to explain away each and every one of those experiences.
It was these subjective experiences combined with indoctrination that at the same time fueled my fear of the biblical God and what he could do to me for denying he ever existed as I do now. Every single day I wondered to myself "what would happen to me if I was to die today without the Lord?" In those days hell was as real to me as this material world we reside in now and the very thought of going there terrified me for years.
I can honestly say that the doctrine of eternal torment and hell is what kept me chained to the absurdity that is religion, especially my religion of choice; Christianity. All those horrible thoughts and nightmares of what God would do to me for rejecting his so called "gift of life" haunted me for years. Of course I realize now that it was an irrational fear, but at the time I was still learning how to be truly rational. I still did not understand nor see the concept of free thought or thinking for myself clearly.
I don't think that this situation is unique to myself, I am convinced that the deeper your indoctrination and your convictions regarding your beliefs, then the harder it is for you to get out from under the chains and bondage of religious ideas and beliefs. I see atheism as a sort of liberation of your mind as Morpheus stated in 'The Matrix' regarding being unplugged from the matrix. I don't exactly recall when it happened for me but when it did I do remember the feeling of having a huge burden taken off of my shoulders.
In the book of John 8:32 it say's that "32 you will come to know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (NJB) No words have ever been truer but not in the sense that Jesus is made to say but rather objective truth. The truth that comes from educating yourself and facing your fears and pushing forward slowly but surely breaking the chains of bondage and ignorance and freeing your mind. Learning to think reasonably about all things, and as I like to say recognizing and calling bullshit when you see it.