Matthew

Anyone else that just doesn't know?

71 posts in this topic

Most people on this site seem to be pretty confident in their religion, or lack thereof. I'm wondering if there is anyone else in my situation: directly on the fence between theism and atheism. (Warning: what follows is a lengthy personal account and some venting)

So first some background on myself: I was born and raised in an Independent Baptist family (my dad was a pastor/children's pastor for many years). This means that I was taught to take the Bible very literally and to believe it exclusively (as in, nothing extra; nothing less). I was taught that the only way to heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, accepting his sacrifice for my sin. I made a profession of such faith at about five years old, but was secretly plagued with doubt my entire life. I prayed "the prayer" probably thousands of times, equally sincere each time and often in tears. To clarify, there was no doubt in my mind that the Bible was true, only that I was really "saved". Toward the end of high school I finally admitted this doubt to my youth pastor. He gave me some advice and I felt secure for a few months, but the doubt returned. Then, halfway through my senior year of high school and directly after my youth group's attendance at a missions rally (missions being worldwide evangelism, for those who don't know), I stumbled upon an atheist's youtube page and extensive website denouncing the Bible and outlining what he called "contradictions and atrocities" in the Bible. Given my weak faith, I was quickly dismayed by what I read and didn't stay long. I was utterly freaked out, as for a brief period I was convinced the Bible was false and thus was everything my life and family and future were built on. After talking a little with my youth pastor, a little of my faith was restored, but only to the point where I felt the Bible could be true or false. I slowly grew numb to the subject, and just went about my business of playing baseball, finishing high school and getting into college.

Since then, I've gone through periods of earnest seeking but longer periods of laziness/apathy (though, in my defense, school keeps me pretty busy and mentally tired). I've read a lot of material and watched a lot of videos from both sides of the God debate. I feel now as if it is impossible for me to fully believe in a god or fully disbelieve, as there is so much information on either side. One person advised me to "come to God with my doubt" and just "believe", and though I tried that, it just seems ludicrous. How can I believe something that remains unproven to me? How is it fair that, if there is a God, he appeared or spoke directly to so many in the past but has left us in the present, with science explaining more and more that used to be attributed to the supernatural, to just have faith in the reports of people that died centuries ago?

Anyway, this is more about getting this stuff off my chest for once than it is a cry for help (though if you know some specific material that might help me, I would welcome it). There is still lots of information I need to delve into. There are compelling arguments on either side and I'm not sure anything new can be added to the debate. I just want to know if there's anyone in a similar place, or someone who used to be but has since decided for him/herself what to believe.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everyone encounters doubt at some point - and it can last for a long time if you dont do anything to ckmbat it. Ihave the same issues you're having. But look a little closer... how do you think you are able to read tis right now, breaths, think, feel? This is what gives me a small grip on my faith. Also, its very easy to go back and forth from a convincing atheist and a convincing Christian. Investigatee it for yourself and draw your own conclusion. Check out answers in Genesis.org.

The bible may not be 100% verbatim, but I believe it preserved all the main ideas. When's the last time you read it? Truly prayed(try asking him for help)? Volunteered and experiencd Gods hand at work? What do you think you have been blessed with? There are many big and even more small ones. What do you want to believe? Sometimes there are things you just cannot explain other than, at the very least, a higher power. The first one I think is my issue, and that might Apply to you as well.

Hope I helped and didn't add to your confusion :-) I feel like I forgot some stuff but I'll add as I remember them.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I am an atheist and as a child and teenager, I frequently shifted from agnostic to atheist to agnostic to atheist, etc. Never once did I ever believe in God, but there were definitely times where I thought, "could it be true?" But you know, the ONLY reason I ever doubted atheism was because religion was so widespread that I felt alone in my beliefs and I figured that if so many people believed in God, there HAD to be some truth in it. Makes sense, right? I couldn't really see how billions of people could be wrong. I was very young, too young to truly form my own opinions. But now I am 19, and I am back to being an atheist. I would never say "I know God doesn't exist," because I can't give solid, 100% proof. But I can say, "I believe God doesn't exist," or "I feel that God doesn't exist." Religion - all religion - is fictional to me. But will I ever "know"? No. Those are just my personal beliefs, thoughts, and opinions.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It may be difficult for you to believe but I know what you mean! I am also plagued with doubts and often times I feel like my fear of being wrong and going to hell is what is keeping me from abandoning my faith. But faith and a relationship with Christ should not be about fear. And I am reminded on rare occasions that there is more to it then the fear. I've had spiritual experiences and I've seen things that cannot be explained.

Unfortunately, I am human and I err and time passes and again I forget those things and I doubt again. It has been a constant battle for me. College has only made it worse. A lot of people seem intent on changing your beliefs there.

One time during my time of doubting I was struck by a lyric in a song. Idk if it would help you but it said, "I'd rather be wrong than be deceived to thinking that I believe that I can stand to be here on my own."

Through all my doubts, I still choose to believe because of the things I have experienced and the things I have felt. I'm not saying I know I am correct about this but I am happy with my choice and it seems right and once in a while it seems I get rewarded for that. I suppose we may never know for sure or maybe we will all know one day.

I could say pray and read the scriptures, since it does seem to help me, but this is a personal thing and sometimes you must discover this on your own or with God. That doesn't mean you can't seek counsel of course, but when it comes down to it, you must be the one to make the call. That's all I can think to say at this time but I will say a prayer for you. Whether it works or not, it can't hurt, right? :)

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Idk I always feel awkward when people say that cause I never have doubts about God existing just doubts that he actually loves me..... but idk I think we might be able to help you to an extent, but I would recommend talking to a man you know that has a good relationship and sit down and talk with him make sure he is understanding and not awkward to talk to. I hope you find faith my friend, I really do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's an exercise for you Matthew. Try closing your eyes and thinking about why you have faith. Got it yet? Good. Now, do you want to believe or not? Because there's no real difference between the two. It's more of a "Would you like to go to a social gathering once a week and at certain times of the year or not?" type of thing, or if you have faith it's something your entire life can become based around and where your eternal soul hangs in the balance. Not too big a difference really.

Now based on your answer go look up arguments on that side of the argument. If you try and hear both sides of the argument while you doubt yourself you will only continue to doubt yourself.

A man with one watch is always certain of the time. However a man with two will be forever unsure.

- I don't remember who.

If you're having doubts, it's up to you to either shore up your beliefs and stop the doubting. Or to let the doubts smash the dam you've built. Do you truly believe that Jesus is your saviour, that the bible is the truth and that your eternal soul will be damned to hell alongside mine? Or do you think that maybe all us other heathens that have lived good lives, many without ever hearing of God and the bible are right? It's your choice, and no one else can decide for you (Yes that was cruel of me, you're asking for help. However it is true and it's something you obviously must face).

PM me if you want to hear some arguments for atheism. Cou/redyellowblue is a baptist and the most fanatic religious people on this site would be Nicole, Dasboy, Jegsy, and Kendra.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cou/redyellowblue is a baptist and the most fanatic religious people on this site would be Nicole, Dasboy, Jegsy, and Kendra.

Mirage, why do you have to go making absurd assumptions towards people? Simply adhering strongly to a faith does not make someone a fanatic, it makes them devoted. To say they are fanatics implies that they follow their faith blindly without question and they are without reason. I've come to know to know the people you mentioned and they are are not fanatical in the least. They are kind, caring and reasonable people.

8 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll come back to this later cuz there's a few things I wanna share with you Mathew.

Some very good things my best friend told me; as well as some personal words.

:)

Edit: I decided to pm. :)

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think, like people have said already, everyone goes through times when they have doubts/questions about what they believe, so don't worry, you're not alone.

 

Honestly, I don't think I'm very good at giving advice, but you can PM me if you'd like to ask me questions about my faith, what I believe and why, and whatnot, because I love answering questions! Probably because I'm such a fanatical Catholic... :P

 

xxx

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am going to amend my position. I believe in God, however, I believe that because God endowed us with with Free Will that he expects us to make choices. Pre-determination is a false idea because if why should we even try if our life is already written. In fate exists why leave your house, in theory everything should come to you.

My honest opinion and I have said this before is people need to believe in religion but also have a open, well-rounded opinion of what the world is. You need to question religion because not all of it makes sense. Some people take the Bible WAY TOO literally. This is the same book that endorses killing your slave in Exodus. If the Bible stated that you must wear a tutu and dance to the funky-chicken dance every day at 4:00PM or God would consider you a sinner, would you do it? Religion is a system, like politics, it has it good parts as well as bad. How we navigate life is by making choices, but how can we make informed decisions if we have one book as the only source of reference? We have Free Will, and as God believes we are made in His image, He has to believe that most of the time, we want to be good.

Please understand folks, I don't hate religion or God, no of course not. I am merely stating that as adults we have to recognize that we have the ability to make informed decisions and choices without taking the Bible or God exceptionally literally. Furthermore, God means different things to different people. Catholics and Christians are very similar religions, but telling the story with minor differences.

My advice matthew is you have to live your life. And you should live it well because in X amount of years it ends and you die. Sorry to be so verbatim but that is true. So live your life, and along the way you may discover things that push you in one direction or another, but you should never feel forced to believe in God. That was not his intention. Henceforth that is why it is called FREE Will.

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cou/redyellowblue is a baptist and the most fanatic religious people on this site would be Nicole, Dasboy, Jegsy, and Kendra.

I would hardly call them "fanatic." I don't think anyone on this website is "fanatic." There are definitely members here that are passionate about their beliefs (or in my case, lack thereof,) but fanatic religious people are pretty crazy. I think everyone here is sane (I hope.) The members you mentioned are definitely a far cry from being religious fanatics.

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the replies! Your interest and desire to help/relate really means a lot. When I made this topic I was in a rather frustrated state and needed to vent. I actually tried to delete the thread soon after posting but wasn't allowed to. Lol

 

I apologize for the imminent rambling and for not taking the time to reply to each of you specifically. Just know that each of you made points/statements that I can appreciate and/or relate to and have given me some things to consider.

 

To clarify/update on my position,  I am closer to atheism on the spectrum at the moment, though that is subject to change. Like Nicole said, the fear of Hell plays a big role in keeping me from completely giving up on religion. Real or not, a very fearful Hell was ingrained in my mind as a child. Also, there is the situation with my family. Were I to become atheist and come out with it, there are two possible outcomes: if they (parents, siblings) die first, they die thinking I am on my way to Hell and that they will never see me again; if I die first, I die with them thinking I went straight to Hell. My desire to spare them this heartache also keeps me from giving up. All of these things are some reasons why I disagree with Mirage on the seriousness of the issue (I apologize if I misunderstood). If God/Heaven/Hell are not real, I believe it to be a terrible atrocity to be raising children to believe in them. If they are, it is an equally terrible atrocity not to be telling everyone one can about them. This is why I can’t simply decide whether to believe or not based on trivial things like when/where I want to socialize, or whether I want to believe. Belief is not a decision; it is a compulsion (thought courtesy of DarkMatter2525). If I believe, it is because I am sufficiently convinced the Bible is true, to whatever extent (or at least that there is a higher power); If I don’t believe, it is because I am not convinced. My desire varies, anyway. Sometimes I want to believe, other  times I hope there is no higher power. But regardless, what is true has little to do with what I want or what sounds good/bad.

 

Now based on your answer go look up arguments on that side of the argument. If you try and hear both sides of the argument while you doubt yourself you will only continue to doubt yourself.

A man with one watch is always certain of the time. However a man with two will be forever unsure.
- I don't remember who.

 

Yes, I have found this to be true in my life. Picking a side without first being convinced which side is right just seems irresponsible, but it seems it may be the only option other than never picking a side at all at this point.

 

If you're having doubts, it's up to you to either shore up your beliefs and stop the doubting. Or to let the doubts smash the dam you've built. Do you truly believe that Jesus is your saviour, that the bible is the truth and that your eternal soul will be damned to hell alongside mine? Or do you think that maybe all us other heathens that have lived good lives, many without ever hearing of God and the bible are right? It's your choice, and no one else can decide for you (Yes that was cruel of me, you're asking for help. However it is true and it's something you obviously must face).

 

Not cruel at all. I agree completely that it is up to me to figure this out on my own. I have spoken with a youth pastor and my very religious/wise father on the matter in the past, only to get nowhere. My purpose for posting wasn't to ask for help, though maybe I made it seem so. I appreciate your frankness, though.

 

PM me if you want to hear some arguments for atheism.

 

Thanks for the offer! Do you find yourself agreeing with Christopher Hitchens and/or DarkMatter on things? (They’re the main atheists I watch/listen to at the moment).

 

Cou/redyellowblue is a baptist and the most fanatic religious people on this site would be Nicole, Dasboy, Jegsy, and Kendra.

 

I know and/or have talked with each of them. Like others have said, I wouldn't  say "fanatic." That implies unquestioning devotion. I'm sure each of them has questioned (several have said so here) and tested their beliefs.

 

Honestly, I don't think I'm very good at giving advice, but you can PM me if you'd like to ask me questions about my faith, what I believe and why, and whatnot, because I love answering questions! Probably because I'm such a fanatical Catholic... :P

 

Thanks! If in the near future I come to believe in the Christian God, I may take you up on that offer, as I will definitely consider Catholicism as a possible path, and, being raised a Baptist, I have some preexisting biases against the church xD. Haha.

 

My advice matthew is you have to live your life. And you should live it well because in X amount of years it ends and you die. Sorry to be so verbatim but that is true. So live your life, and along the way you may discover things that push you in one direction or another, but you should never feel forced to believe in God. That was not his intention. Henceforth that is why it is called FREE Will.

 

I appreciate your perspective. I fully plan on not letting my belief/unbelief affect my happiness. I just really don't want to be wrong, especially if the Bible is true. Which brings up another problem I have: belief in God being the only path that doesn't result in punishment doesn't really seem like freedom to me.

 

If anyone is interested, http://www.reasons.org/  is a group of Christian scientists giving “reasons to believe”. I have several books of theirs, though I haven’t gotten around to reading them yet.

 

I am done venting on the matter and feel much better at the moment. Thanks again for the replies!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just wanted to say I wish you well on your "quest." I was raised Catholic and went through a period of questioning my faith, but it didn't last long and I never questioned whether God is real, more just Catholicism. I am sorry that you have had such a fear of Hell put into you, I mean I am scared of Hell, but I feel that the Catholic Church looks at Salvation very differently than other Christian denominations. To us, we have been saved and we continue to be saved, it's a process. If you would like to learn a little more about it here is a link (since you mention looking into Catholicism) :):

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/assurance-of-salvation

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the offer! Do you find yourself agreeing with Christopher Hitchens and/or DarkMatter on things? (They’re the main atheists I watch/listen to at the moment).

 

 

I know and/or have talked with each of them. Like others have said, I wouldn't  say "fanatic." That implies unquestioning devotion. I'm sure each of them has questioned (several have said so here) and tested their beliefs.

I have actually only found DarkMatter recently (I have a thread about him in this forum) however I agree with much of what he says. He's got some very strong arguments, and I just don't find that the people who oppose him have come up with any arguments powerful enough to oppose him.

Fanatic is just a word which means "heavily devoted". These are all people who are heavily invested in their respective religions, even more so than the rest of the religious on here (which is something like 80% or higher of this site).

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You shouldn't be afraid of hell, that's why God is there so it's just a speck.

A speck? A speck of what? A speck of doubt? Fear? Hell-goers? You'll have to elaborate here Dasboy, your post is just too confusing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You shouldn't be afraid of hell, that's why God is there so it's just a speck.

 

Huh?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hullo fellow agnostic!

 

I like you am also on the fence between theism and atheism. Though I am quite comfortable with where I am. I'll explain to you why. I was raised in a Catholic family, go to church every Sunday, Catholic school, etc. However, I always disliked religion class for the reason of not truly being able to write my opinion on tests; I couldn't just go writing why none of this even made sense. And then in gr.12 I took a philosophy course instead of religion. When we came to the unit on Does God Exist?, I found a couple of philosophers that I could really relate to:

 

St Thomas Aquinas - God, being the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient being that God is, must have everything that humans have as God is perfect. Therefore, since humans exist, God exists.

Counter: Plato - perfection cannot exist, perfection exists only in ideals. Nothing ideal however can exist in the same way humans do. Humans live in a plane of existence that is ever changing. It is impossible to draw the ideal square, make the ideal sphere. For to exist is to be imperfect. Hence, if God is perfect, he can not exist as that would be a contradiction of existence in and of itself.

(I personally agree with Plato. Keep in mind I used each of these philosophers ideas to form these arguments. However with what Plato says, this merely implies God is an ideal. Continuing on...)

 

Soren Kierkegaard - religious beliefs are not open to objective thinking as it involves a relationship with God; confrontation with the unknown, not something knowable. (Basically, our beliefs are subjective.)

Tillich - God cannot be viewed as a being rather being in itself (ding an sich): "God above God", "Ground of all being", transcends theism and dissipates anxiety of meaningless. God is "depth", depth of one's life, source of one's being, of your ultimate concern, what you take seriously without serious reservation. "God" is just what we name this. 

 

I am someone aspiring to become an astrophysicist, to study the stars, find out what's beyond. It's perfectly fine to doubt. If humans didn't doubt, we wouldn't be able to progress. The world would still be flat, earth would still be the centre of the universe... well you get my my point. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Asryll Whisper-This is a little off topic, but I like philosophy so I had to comment. I believe Plato believed in God, so I'm not sure how his argument would go against the existence of God. He believed in a literal realm of perfect forms, so my guess is he placed God somewhere above this. Also, the piece about Tillich was interesting. I'm pretty sure he was a Christian, so I wonder how he works his defintion of God into Christianity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Asryll- The philosophy bit is interesting. I've always wanted to read Aquinas and Plato and some others but have never gotten around to it. Really challenging material. Also, the founder of the site I linked to (reasons) is an astrophysicist, I believe.

 

Oh, and I can't believe I never once used the term "agnostic" in all of what I wrote..since that's pretty much what I am.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@wny - Plato was Greek; he therefore believed in the Gods ie Zeus, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hera, Hermes, etc. And I was merely using his idea of the ideal form world to work into my own argument. I am writing my own with merely their names as references. 

 

@Matthew - it's a very interesting topic. And yup, agnostic would be the right word to use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, okay. I thought you were saying that that was what Plato believed and it didn't sound right to me. I don't know if he believed in the Greek gods, though. I thought he often criticized the Greek gods as being works of fiction who were too immoral to provide a good example for human beings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now