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.