Saturday, July 12, 2008

Yielding to Doubt

Great post by Kevin Parry of Memoirs of an ex-Christian:

I recently received an email from a Christian struggling with uncertainty, and his anguish was something that I could completely relate to. But what struck me most about his email is that his doubt in God was followed by a form of self-abasement. The question “Does God really exist?” was followed by “What is wrong with me?” The feeling of guilt that accompanies doubt is, I believe, a result of two general Christian beliefs: the first, that doubt is undesirable; the second, that God is perfect, and thus cannot be blamed for an undesirable situation. In other words, doubt is a problem; and if we doubt, we are to blame.

As a doubting Christian, I also believed there was something seriously wrong with me when I tried in vain to get some sense of God. But the one thing that I slowly realised is that the problem didn't lie with me at all, but with Christianity (or with God, if he exists). I couldn't for the life of me understand why a loving God would hide himself from me, and cause me so much anguish through the doubt I was experiencing. One day I came to the conclusion that a hidden God is no different to a God who doesn't exist. If there is no difference, I reasoned, then why waste energy and time – and experience so much anguish – believing in him.

When I finally gave up Christianity, doubt no longer remained an issue. No longer did I have to expend so much mental energy trying to believe in invisible demons, virgin births, parting seas, and people rising from the dead – things that seem so contradictory, incredible, and counter to everyday experience and common sense. I felt a strange sense of relief when I finally changed to a worldview that seemed more consistent with what I plainly observed in the world around me.

I now view doubt as an opportunity for change, no longer as a threat. Questioning my own beliefs has lead to growth as it has enabled me to discover problems in my thinking. In the words of Dan Barker in Losing Faith in Faith, I conquered doubt by totally yielding to it, and I think – for me at least – I am better for it.


CyberKitten said...

Doubt is good.

asher said...

You really have to read this thing twice to see what he's saying. He's saying by giving into the fatality of every day life, to believe there is no point to it all, that there is nothing behind it all, that the world is just ramdomness, he has become releaved. This great sense of relief of knowing that the world makes no sense, that morality is a personal decision, that we all are not judged for our actions, that there is no consequence to anything...this brings relief?

What is wrong with me?

CyberKitten said...

The way I understood Kevin is that he's saying that understandable, reasonable doubt for a believer is very painful. Once you give into doubt (i.e cease to believe) the angst obviously goes away.

Another way of saying it is that once you come to your senses you don't have to bend over backwards all the time to accommodate a belief system that obviously clashes with reality on a daily basis.

Comrade Kevin said...

Though I am a believer and am a person of faith, I have never believed in a kind of theology that was specific for anyone other than me.

Why I believe what I believe just makes sense to me, but I am certainly open to those who don't have theist conceptions. Anti-Theism I don't object to, but anti-moralism I certain do.

CyberKitten said...

Comrade K said: Anti-Theism I don't object to, but anti-moralism I certain do.

That's interesting - What do you mean by anti-moralism?