I was a passionate believer in Christianity, and I unwillingly dismantled that belief a thousand times before giving in. When it comes to the Christian faith, I have no doubt. I can never believe again. But could there be some other definition of God? Can’t I, too, look around and imagine that all of this was by design? That possibility does not move me the way it moves others, but I can imagine it.

I have come around to believe that belief in God is beneficial. Not for everyone, but for some of us. And maybe not forever, but for now. I know plenty of atheists who would disagree; but I cannot ignore the countless discussions I have had with believers who cannot fathom a world without a higher power and a divine plan. It gives them hope it never gave me. It helps them in ways I cannot relate to, and I accept that knowing it can’t be real would hurt them even more than it hurt me.

Losing faith was difficult, but I came out of that journey into a world that made more sense. It doesn’t work that way for everyone. Many who are able to move beyond Christianity will simply adopt a different belief system which requires just as much faith. I love examining the mysteries which surround us, but I do not love the act of faith. I am drawn to the holes in a story, and I would rather find a little joy while awake than have an abundance of it handed to me in a dream. And that extends to every part of my life.

I am surrounded by people who have fallen in love with the idea that the dream might come true, and it sustains them. It doesn’t trouble me or make me angry. If it makes them happy, I want that for them; and our differences in that way do not make either of us better than the other. Most of my friends and family are believers.

What troubles me is when belief becomes dangerous. Fundamentalism is dangerous. The part of Christianity which holds up doubt as something to be feared and destroyed is dangerous. I will always fight against those destructive ideas, and I suppose I will always be seen as the enemy.

I call myself an atheist because there is no definition of God I find acceptable, and I see no reason to call myself an agnostic in the meantime. Christians accuse atheists of being narrow-minded. How can we look around us and proclaim we know there is no God? They attempt to battle us on a more even playing field by pretending it’s an argument between creation and evolution. But all that is irrelevant.

I look around and am certain only that there must be at least a billion scenarios we have not even thought of yet…so how can I settle on a conclusion with so many holes in it? It’s the least possible thing I can imagine. And if a god exists, I can hardly begin to even define it as god. I want to know for sure, but I also enjoy the mystery of endless possibilities. To some, the thought is actually devastating. They cannot understand it. Which would be fine, if only they could accept that it makes perfect sense to me.

I write about lost faith in Christianity because there are people who desperately need this message. And, because I believe doubt is something worth embracing. In every church there are those who have doubt, and labeling it a weakness is not the answer. We are all different. Doubt should be examined and discussed openly, without judgment. Those who carry doubt but need to believe will have to search harder for a church which supports them. Often they end up somewhere that doesn’t quite fit. And I will forever have a soft spot for them, even if I will never fully understand.

I love conversations about faith, and God, and the unknown. But Christians are not supposed to discuss God without a biblical filter. I find myself stuck in conversations with fundamentalists time and time again who only want to discuss how I am wrong and they are right. They cannot even accept that I am not using the same filter. It matters to them in a way it can never matter to me, because I don’t have a book which defines them as enemies of my God. Their belief means nothing to me. Nothing at all. I only care about their dangerous inability to accept the existence or validity of other beliefs.

Most Christians aren’t battling atheists, just like most atheists aren’t battling Christians. The vast majority on both sides of the fence are quietly living out their lives with indifference. Most people we know are not interested in the topic of religion, are unfamiliar with any of the common arguments, and have no passion for either side. They believe, don’t believe, don’t know…but which category they fall into still says something about what helps them feel at peace with life. I guess that leaves plenty of room for doubt. And while this is sad news for the fundamentalist Christian, it is perfectly fine with me.

 

5 thoughts on “Belief In God Can Be Beneficial

  1. Excellent post as always LAD. I guess I came to a similar conclusion. The only caveat I would say is that even though a belief in God can be beneficial, it doesn’t necessarily exclude the possibility that other worldviews might be equally or more beneficial. Is a believers inability to fathom a world that wasn’t designed something that isn’t a product of years of conditioning and indoctrination? Is it possible that it is borne out of some untreated traumatic event in their life that had caused them to cling to a story and pretend it’s real? Is it because they have a strong death anxiety? It’s difficult to know. I would say I guess simply that for many the die is already cast, and for the most part all we can hope is that they analyze their beliefs continually in a way that is good for others as well as themselves. And this part does seem to be the difficult bit, because even if you get some feeling of elevated spirituality from your belief system, is it fair to pass that down to their children? Can we have religion compartmentalized to the individual such that we truly recognize the right of self-determination of our own children to choose the worldviews that gives them the most spiritual satisfaction? I think this is where I have the most trouble. I can be very glad that someone else’s belief system makes them happy, but to indoctrinated children into it seems immoral. And I’m not saying that you are necessarily doing them harm, but our worldview’s are important and I think that it’s important and it’s better if these can develop more organically. You can teach them important values like empathy, courage, patience, without all that other stuff, but people who are religious don’t particularly do that without attaching their own particular story to it. Religion has always seemed like an adult choice to me.

    1. Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful response 🙂

      I agree with you completely, and at the same time can find no solution for the fundamentalist. In their eyes there is no possibility of being wrong, and in that reality they absolutely must indoctrinate their children. Sure, we can say “isn’t it better that they come to an understanding themselves and follow God out of free will?” But what lengths would I go to, as a parent, to make sure my child did not suffer a fate worse than death? And, is it even possible to carry that much certainty about the Bible and not indoctrinate the children you raise?

      If they were more open to fair discussions on the topic of doubt, their children may bring their doubts to them and have a spiritual connection that is more than blind trust and fear. Fundamentalists believe doubt is caused by a secular world, and their answer is to paint that world as an enemy. They are teaching a literal belief in the book of Genesis and urging parents to keep their children away from secular education. And worse, they have lumped millions of other Christians who do not follow this path into the same boat with atheists.

      To an outsider, it’s ridiculous and self-destructive. But to them this is a war for God, and they believe they are doing something of great importance. And they believe that raising soldiers for Christ is the most important job they have been given. It’s frightening, and also difficult to solve.

      1. Very true. The problem of the fundamentalist is harder to solve, but I think it’s only solved by working away at the middle. Our desire for community will perhaps pull us away from feelings of great isolation, but geographically the Earth is big enough to keep people in a bubble I suppose. But I generally feel that if you tug at the middle the rest will follow even if somewhat reluctantly.

        I guess though that I feel that it’s even a problem for the moderate or liberal Christian to indoctrinate their child. Even if statistically speaking the likelihood of that child turning out fine was relatively high, I don think that giving a child a sort of a priori premise that there is a God, and that the idea is something to disprove, concerns me. Because it means we grow up believing that things of which there are no evidence for are their to disprove and not the other way around. Maybe that’s not a big deal, but the scientist part of me thinks that it is. lol

        1. For the moderate or liberal Christian, I believe things are going in the right direction. It cannot happen overnight, but progress toward less indoctrination is happening. Slowly.

          And I do not think it takes much for a certain personality type. For example, my husband was raised by fundamental Christian parents, and I was raised by very liberal parents who never attended church. Yet I managed to find belief, and he manged to lose it. At some point we were both influenced by others, and it was bigger than the foundation on which we were raised. What does it mean about us, that we could change our minds so easily while others cannot?

          I know what the fundamentalist would say…

          1. “What does it mean about us, that we could change our minds so easily while others cannot?”

            This is a great question. One I’m still trying to understand. Evidence would seem to indicate you are much more the exception than the rule. I am sure there are many factors that might lead to the answer as to why you might be the exception than the rule. And perhaps that there are societies or communities that promote following that freedom more than others. I shall continue to ponder this question. 🙂

Leave a Reply