I haven’t been an atheist for long, really.
Back at the beginning of 2008, on an old (and long-since-defunct) blog of mine, I posted the following. It was one of the last things I wrote publicly as a believer, and I was barely a believer at that. I was on a lot of online forums, arguing with devout believers about the things they believed that didn’t make sense to me.
It’s interesting to look back on it now and see myself struggling with different ideas. I’ve overcome the challenges I faced then and become a much more content person, but this little glimpse into the past could provide some helpful insight, I think, to people who wonder what it’s like to go from believer to nonbeliever. (By April of the next year, I’d posted about why I was an atheist. Somewhere in the middle of that, I’d lost the last dregs of my faith.)
Without further ado:
I’m in another crisis of faith.
“Wait a minute, Mike has faith?” Yes, very funny, ha ha. I know, I argue against religious people all the time, but you’ve got to realize, I’m not arguing against God, I’m arguing against dogma. I believe in God. But the more I delve into my desire to rationalize everything, the harder it becomes for me to give myself a reason to keep believing.
I want to believe. I want there to be mystery and miracles and wonder. I feel like digging into the pettiest details of everything and explaining it away makes the world less exciting and more mundane. But I also feel like I have to do it. My mind forces me to come up with explanations for everything, but my soul aches for something I can believe in without having to give up my rational faculties.
I can’t believe blindly. I wish I had the strength of faith and will to be able to believe in something without having to analyze it logically. In some ways I admire the people I mock; at least they’ve got the courage to stand up for their convictions and believe what they believe despite people like me. Then again I can’t admire them, because they’re so often abandoning their God-given ability to reason in exchange for thoughtless obedience to doctrine and books.
What do I have to do to convince myself it’s all right to have faith?
I’ve been raised in a Christian tradition, though it has by far been a liberal version of it. Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with interpreting the Bible and Christian theology to fit your own needs; on the contrary, I think it’s absolutely essential, if you want to truly adopt the philosophy and the faith as your own. But I’m so tired of it. I’m tired of figuring everything out on my own. My mind is too stubborn to simply accept what someone else tells me, but the longer I keep to myself, the more I turn my examination of faith into a science rather than a journey of the soul. I’m nitpicking at the details of God rather than basking in the glory of His fullness. I can’t see the forest for the trees, and there seem to be more and more trees every time I look.
It’s becoming harder and harder for me to come up with explanations for why I believe, or what I believe. I’m really not sure what I do believe anymore. My mind’s mixed up and fighting against itself here; part of it says “go with God” and another part says “get over God.”
All I know is I want to have something to believe, and I want to have some reason to believe it.