The Deep Hole of Religious Indoctrination

Sarah Bowman
Sarah Bowman, Writer & Researcher, volunteer at Atheist Secular Humanism

I’m not sure I know what you mean by simultaneously being an atheist and in a deep religious hole. I will assume you mean that you struggle with fear of hell and other similar concerns despite not believing them. You are not alone. The intellect and emotions do not always work in tandem.

We can know intellectually that something is not true but our emotions linger behind, sometimes many years, due to the indoctrination of fear. Fear is an emotion. Some of us find release through research, thereby strengthening the intellectual knowledge of our right decision to the point where the emotions trust it. Others of us find release by talking it through with another understanding person. I think for all of us, time is an important factor. Healing takes time, sometimes many years, but it does get better.

If it is any consolation, all the fear and confusion I went through by deconverting was nothing compared to the swirling inconsistency of religious claims and burning of unanswered—and unanswerable—religious questions. In other words, believing the unbelievable under threat of hell is a horrendous hell itself.


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