I honestly think the "fear of nonexistence" is a stronger motivator of fear for me than a "fear of Hell". I feel that if God is good, he wouldn't send people to Hell who try to be good people (I personally don't think anyone should be sent to hell period and purgatory would do, but that's besides the point), and I try to be a good person and have other people be happy (admittedly to my own detriment sometimes). But the thought of there being no "me" after death is something I find absolutely terrifying, especially if, say, there's stuff that I want to do in the world (and I'd always want to see new innovations that people do and such) and I wouldn't be able to experience it. Or anything.
You're right, if God is good, and loves us, why would he torture people eternally who don't believe Jesus was a super-human hero 2,000 years ago who died for us, came back, and we love him for it?
Believers will then say... "Wait! Because Adam & Eve got tricked by a talking snake into eating fruit before they knew good from evil... we all deserve to be tortured eternally, and only because of God's love, does he forgive those who trust that an impossible thing happened 2,000 years ago!"
But read that sentence a few times. Seriously!?!?
We all know, spelled out for what it is, there's zero chance the Biblical proposition stated above makes sense. Granted, believers try to put it differently.
Believer - "Heaven is a gift, but, you can only receive that gift if you believe in something totally unbelievable and unproven."
You - "So, I should believe that Thor was real, and he might join the Avengers someday?"
Believer - "No! Not obviously false stuff like that! Believe that God is the ancient Israeli God of War named YahWeh, and he came to us in the form of his magical son who walked on water and came back from the dead!"
You - "How do you know that's real and the other stuff is fake?"
Believer - "Umm... The Bible... the Holy Spirit... vague nonsense?"
But I agree with you Crystal, and, that's another reason why I'm not afraid of being wrong. If there is a God with 1,000,000 my empathy and emotional intelligence... why wouldn't he understand and forgive why I don't believe in him?
However, in the Bible, and according to many denominations, good works and a good life aren't enough... Catholics are, to my thinking, often the closest to atheists of most of the denominations.
For Catholics, largely... it's - Live a good life, confess your sins, try your best, and come to church, and you should be ok.
Catholics that I know live just like I do, except go to church on Sunday. They do believe that good works matter. This is why more literal Biblical translating denominations, like evangelicals, think that all Catholics are going to hell.
Vain repetitions, praying to saints and Mary (actually not, but asking them to intercede is what Catholics actually do... "Mary, say a prayer for me to Jesus or God ok?"), graven images...
A lot of denominations say Catholics have it all wrong... baptizing infants before they can decide to follow Christ.
Here ya go... another "true Christian" explaining why all Catholics will go to hell.http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Roman%20Catholicism/fools.htm
I don't mean to be unkind by saying that Catholics are going to Hell; but rather, to speak the truth and warn you of the judgment to come (2nd Thessalonians 1:8-9; Revelation 20:15). The modernistic idea that we should all refrain from criticizing anyone else's religion is a completely evil New World Order philosophy. I'm going to speak the truth of God's Word, even if it offends you. I am going to warn you that you are on a wrong road, headed for the bottomless pit, even if you hate me for it. I am telling you the truth. Catholicism is a manmade religion that cannot save you. There is NO salvation in the Catholic Church; only idolatry, worshipping of the dead, heathendom, rituals, vain repetitions and doctrines of devils (1st Timothy 4:1). Salvation is NOT found in any religion; but rather, in a Person, the precious Lord Jesus Christ!
In other words, God can't forgive Catholics.
And frankly, since the Bible is so contradictory, screwed up, and can be translated so many ways, they can back up what they're saying with actual scripture.
I saw this happen in my own family for years. I've attended funerals where the evangelicals in the family worry over the passed Catholic in the casket 10 feet away.
Do you understand why religion and faith makes me so angry? Do you see the damage this fear does to people?
If that guy who wrote what I quoted is right, even if you go back to church full blast, with your best effort and pray Our Father and Hail Mary daily, I'll still meet you in hell someday, with the other 99.999% of the people who have ever lived.