January 17, 2008

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 your 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 no 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 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 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.

If you'd like to learn more about atheism and what a life without religion might look like, I've compiled some good places to start below: