Living a fulfilled life without God
In our day and age in the US where confidence is drilled into you from childhood, it’s not everyday that you hear someone encouraging you to doubt yourself. You’re taught to believe in yourself and to be confident. While I agree that there are times for this attitude, I personally find so much more gratification out of doubting myself. I find that I learn so much more about every aspect of my life when I stop and realize that I haven’t figured it all out. I use this attitude in my business life, in my abilities as a husband and dad, and in every other sphere of my life. Doubting this last year has led to one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done… I left my faith.
I know to people who belong to a faith wouldn’t understand this, but I was bound in my faith more than I ever realized. It wasn’t until I left the faith that I realized how liberated I would feel. I no longer had to feel that I wasn’t meeting up to God’s standards with the amount of time I spent in prayer, the ability to hear God’s voice, or the ability to determine God’s will. By allowing myself to doubt I learned things about the origins of Christianity and questioned things that didn’t seem to make sense to me about the faith. I discovered enough things about the faith that allowed me to walk away. It all started with a little doubt.
This brings me to one of my greatest criticisms of Christianity. The religion is designed so that people are made to feel inferior for doubting. So this thing that I find so rewarding in life (doubting) is something strongly discouraged in Christianity. “Doubting Thomas” was criticized for not believing until he saw the nail-scarred hands. It was said that those who don’t doubt were even more blessed. The book of James criticizes those who doubt as being “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” It goes on to say that the doubter shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord and that they’re unstable and double-minded. In the book of Jude, the writer is less harsh, but still takes pity and urges people to be merciful to those who doubt. Clearly doubters are inferior within Christianity.
If the God of Christianity is so real, then why would anyone be scared of people doubting? Why all these warnings against doubt? Is it perhaps that when people think critically about it that it’s easy to walk away? Shouldn’t God be stronger than our doubt if he is real? Think about how you would treat any other subject. If any other subject or person was introduced to you as something you had to believe without questioning, wouldn’t you question anyway? Can you think of any other example where this would be acceptable? Just because it’s something many are taught since they’re children, why can’t it consistently survive skepticism if it’s real? Why would God be so offended by doubters? Why would he not just reveal himself to people?
I just really don’t like this aspect of Christianity. As Christopher Hitchens has said, faith is the most overrated virtue. I don’t like that doubt is considered such an inferior stance when I see it as one of the most important things we can do. It keeps us humble. It keeps us learning. It keeps us on our toes. If I had to pick one message to leave with humanity (with whoever would care to hear what I have to say) I would say to doubt yourself more. Consider that your perspective could be wrong. I say this to believers and nonbelievers alike. I’ve found that even people in the nonbelieving community can be dogmatic about things without reason. I’m trying hard to remember this in my journey. Some days I’m better at this than others. I just like the freedom I have to embrace doubt.
“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.” Voltaire