July 26, 2020

Doubting Your Faith?

doubt faith

If you are a Christian experiencing some doubt over your faith, you are going to receive a lot of advice from your fellow Christians. You will be told about how doubt will strengthen your faith and bring you closer to some sort of god. I'm not here to argue with that or to tell you that such a perspective is wrong. I just want to point out that there is another possibility you should at least consider. What if the doubt you are experiencing is a healthy sign that your rational mind is trying to break free from a tradition of superstition?

Tradition can be a reassuring source of comfort in the dark times when we long for familiarity, but this does not necessarily make it worth retaining. Consider the person raised in a home filled with racist attitudes. Racism may feel familiar, even comfortable, but that does not mean that the individual cannot and should not leave it behind. This would be true even if his or her family continued to cling to it. That you were raised in the Christian tradition is no reason to maintain your belief. After all, I expect that are other aspects of your family's belief system to which you are no longer bound.

As we mature, we often begin to doubt many things we never used to question. There might have been a time when you believed in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. I'd guess you set these beliefs aside long ago. And why did you set them aside? After all, you cannot prove that there is no Santa or Tooth Fairy. You set them aside because your rational mind realized there was insufficient evidence to suggest that they were real.

Belief in a god (or gods) is similar in the lack of evidence but different in that such belief is far more likely to have negative consequences. Maybe you have heard your religious relatives condemn others for not adhering to the same religious beliefs. Maybe you have seen them behave in a manner inconsistent with the religious values they profess. Or maybe you've just grown tired of the endless religious violence, the pedophile priests, the anti-LGBT bigotry, the holier-than-thou routine, or the utter hypocrisy of it all. In other words, religion is worse than Santa because it divides people and contributes to great suffering.

Perhaps it is time to explore the possibility of a life where meaning is derived from what is - rather than from fantasies about what one wants it to be. I know it is scary to imagine your life without religion. After all, it may be all you've ever known. The doubt you are experiencing might even feel like a part of your very self is at risk. But do not be so quick to dismiss your doubt. Your rational mind is trying to communicate with you.

Right here in your own country, there are millions of atheists. Maybe you have been taught that we are monsters, but we are just like you minus the god belief. In fact, many of us are ex-Christians who know at least some of what you are going through. Many of us are happy, well-adjusted people who find great meaning in our daily lives. Many of us experience an invigorating sense of stimulation and freedom that comes from living in the real world without having to maintain the suspension of disbelief required by religion.

Resources For the Doubting Christian

If, like many Christians, you are curious about atheism and would like to learn more about it and what a life without religion might look like, I've compiled some resources to get you started below:

For many ex-Christian atheists, the transition from believing Christian to atheist was not an easy one. Some of us had to make it with little information, few models of what it looked like, and plenty of negative reactions from the Christians around us. We managed to do it, and you can too. In fact, your path is likely to be easier than those of us who did it several decades ago simply because information on atheism is now widely available.

An early version of this post first appeared on Atheist Revolution in 2008. It was revised in 2020 to fix broken links and add some additional resources. If you come across any others you think would be helpful, let me know.