I’ve got one more burst on this conversation about doubt and faith to follow up my last post. This all started with an article I recently read at Sojourners in which the author described his journey through and with doubt. I was encouraged to read how he has been able to find a place for doubt without abandoning faith.
I have this occasional “problem” of over-sympathizing with atheists. I will sometimes read atheist forums or will be especially interested in following conversation threads in which the most foundational beliefs I have are questioned in very astute ways. Perhaps I do this because at some point I also have critiqued almost every belief I was handed down. Faith is no cakewalk; this stuff is tough to wrestle with. I understand the struggle and I don’t think the answer is to fabricate a narrative about how atheists are out there waging a “war” on Christians. That kind of perspective on the conversation only results in loud talking and no listening (something it would be just as well to do in a room by yourself).
I view my tendency to critique as a good thing. The last thing I want is a naive faith, in which I mindlessly swallow whatever I’m told, especially when it’s someone’s interpretation of the Bible. That approach doesn’t work very well when discussing a document that is thousands of years old, written by many different authors in a wide range of contexts, and being interpreted by millions of different people, all with their own unique contexts.
However, I want to acknowledge that there are too many areas in which I’ve been left with a theological vacuum. I’ve critiqued and deconstructed, but have struggled to rebuild. I won’t go into all those areas here, but I’m still working to fill that void with something more than questions and doubt. This period of theological deconstruction has been ongoing for a while now and I’m ready to start building something.
I’ve got a few friends who are good to ask me what I’m doing to move forward, out of a cyclical pattern of doubt and criticism. Along with great conversations with friends via the internet or in person, I’m also reading Brian McLaren’s book, A New Kind of Christianity, as a guiding support for this rebuilding. It’s an excellent read, highlighting a lot of the foundational questions that we must wrestle with if we are to stay engaged through times of questioning our faith.
The hardest part of all this is to continue to engage, even with it becomes exhausting and I just want to sit back in my theological la-z-boy chair and think through something easy.
But as usual, the hard stuff is what the most rewarding life is made of.
6 thoughts on “Atheist Sympathizer”
Thank you, great inspiring blog, i’m so looking forward to start reading and discovering what you write on here.. 🙂
Wouldn’t it be easier to drop the faith stuff and go about believing what can be verified. You can leave room for god if evidence ever comes to light. The problem you are facing is cognitive dissonance. Maybe ask yourself honestly why you have to struggle so hard. It’s very freeing to be an atheist.
Thanks for your thoughts. I think we all live with certain levels of cognitive dissonance in various respects, but in this case it’s a matter of the unknown and unproven vs. the realm of things I can verify with my five senses (so far). I chose to continue to believe in God because I like to live life driven in some respect by what is possible, side by side with what is verifiable. I also recognize that such an approach may sound borderline insane to some.
A huge part of the rebuilding, I think, is preconscious in the sense in which one’s horizon has been moulded by the “deconstruction”. It’s prepatory and yet also constitutive. The rebuilding is the articulation of this ever-changing horizon, according to which one feels more honest, more authentic, more connected to a concern that has waned in its original articulation. I think you’ve given me the subject-matter for my next blog! In any case, thanks for sharing and for your courageous transparency!
I’ve not thought about the deconstruction process as constitutive, but that really makes sense. And that “core concern” is something I’ve been wondering about.
Thanks for your comments. Insightful!