Author Topic: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either  (Read 430 times)

EllieWinters

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This is a long, slightly emotional post, so I apologise in advance; basically, I'm losing my faith in God, but I'm not so happy about it. I guess I'm one of those people who wants to believe. However, if I cannot find a reason to keep my faith, I'm obviously better off without it, and this is the mindset I have managed to get myself into recently.

I suppose I'm currently agnostic, desperately trying to cling onto the last wisps of faith, but I don't want to be stuck in the stage I'm currently in - doubt and confusion, and still wanting God to be real and give a damn.

I keep praying for faith or for guidance; for some kind of sign that I cannot ignore. I don't think I'm asking God for much, I'm not asking for miracles, or healing, or something drastic, just faith. The bible tells us that if we seek God we will find him, and I have been seeking for a long time. I used to be an atheist, then discovered Judaism was far more interesting than I believed and spent about three years studying with the intention to convert, before being side-tracked and thinking maybe God wanted me elsewhere, so I began looking into Christianity and since then my belief in God has just been flailing - my doubts have been going wild: in Jesus as messiah, as divine; in the validity of the New Testament and the way it can contradict the Old (and if I accept the Old, which I did, how can I accept the New Testament?)

as you can probably imagine, when I ask religious people about this they advise that I keep on praying. But when I pray, I just think how there is someone else out there praying ten times harder, for a loved one to recover from cancer, and when they pray there is someone who is starving to death begging for help. If God won't help them, why would he help me? And he won't give me something as simple as faith, what is the point in him? How can I even know if he's there?

I know that most of you guys are atheists, and are probably rolling your eyes at my continued efforts despite my disappointments, but please be kind. Not everyome who comes to atheism does so happily, I suppose.

When searching for something, how long is it sensible to wait? How many times should I ask before I stop asking? What is a sensible sign to ask for, and in what time frame? How can I know either way (to the extent that I am comfortable and secure in my stance)?

Any suggestions, help, or personal experience really is appreciated, as are any reading recommendations.

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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2017, 08:20:53 PM »
Most of us are pretty mild tempered I would think. Others are more high spirits. I'll try to help you the best I can by helping you think your way through this. And I will try to be as nonjudgmental as I can. So let's begin:

So you are unhappily losing your faith in your God and you are praying for guidance. And the thought of worse off people don't get their prayers answered so why would you, is tormenting you. You were athiest once and went to judiesm to Christianity and now you're Agnostic. And when you looked into Christianity, you started having more doubts. What about Christianity made you begin doubting?

Quote
When searching for something, how long is it sensible to wait? How many times should I ask before I stop asking? What is a sensible sign to ask for, and in what time frame? How can I know either way (to the extent that I am comfortable and secure in my stance)?

Some questions may never be answered. For instance, I ask myself alot how do I know what's​ real? It's a question that makes people uncomfortable, or they don't understand the thoughts leading up to it and give a write off answer. But what you are thinking (or asking) is something people have pondered for hundreds of years, so you're not alone. It's okay to be uncomfortable here, many people have had these thoughts and feel the same way you do. I will show you some videos on the subject for you to look at and hopefully they help you get some ideas on how to resolve your crisis.

https://youtu.be/IV-8YsyghbU
https://youtu.be/MLKrmw906TM

Don't worry they aren't very long and aren't some dead pan lecture from some old man but they are very informative and give a lot of information.
But, uh...well there it is.
"Nothing's a struggle, but everything is a challenge"-Anon
Hate Is Weakness

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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2017, 12:33:17 AM »
This is a long, slightly emotional post, so I apologise in advance; basically, I'm losing my faith in God, but I'm not so happy about it. I guess I'm one of those people who wants to believe. However, if I cannot find a reason to keep my faith, I'm obviously better off without it, and this is the mindset I have managed to get myself into recently.

I suppose I'm currently agnostic, desperately trying to cling onto the last wisps of faith, but I don't want to be stuck in the stage I'm currently in - doubt and confusion, and still wanting God to be real and give a damn.

I keep praying for faith or for guidance; for some kind of sign that I cannot ignore. I don't think I'm asking God for much, I'm not asking for miracles, or healing, or something drastic, just faith. The bible tells us that if we seek God we will find him, and I have been seeking for a long time. I used to be an atheist, then discovered Judaism was far more interesting than I believed and spent about three years studying with the intention to convert, before being side-tracked and thinking maybe God wanted me elsewhere, so I began looking into Christianity and since then my belief in God has just been flailing - my doubts have been going wild: in Jesus as messiah, as divine; in the validity of the New Testament and the way it can contradict the Old (and if I accept the Old, which I did, how can I accept the New Testament?)

as you can probably imagine, when I ask religious people about this they advise that I keep on praying. But when I pray, I just think how there is someone else out there praying ten times harder, for a loved one to recover from cancer, and when they pray there is someone who is starving to death begging for help. If God won't help them, why would he help me? And he won't give me something as simple as faith, what is the point in him? How can I even know if he's there?

I know that most of you guys are atheists, and are probably rolling your eyes at my continued efforts despite my disappointments, but please be kind. Not everyome who comes to atheism does so happily, I suppose.

When searching for something, how long is it sensible to wait? How many times should I ask before I stop asking? What is a sensible sign to ask for, and in what time frame? How can I know either way (to the extent that I am comfortable and secure in my stance)?

Any suggestions, help, or personal experience really is appreciated, as are any reading recommendations.

Hi Ellie

I can say with a high degree of certainty that none of the members here are rolling their eyes. I know that quite a few have been right where you are now and I expect that some will join in here. I'm a never-theist atheist. I have never believed. I was brought up by a Christian mum and atheist dad so I got taken to church but it worked more like an inoculation than indoctrination. You are most welcome to discuss your situation were for as long as you like in as much depth as you want and feel comfortable with.

And you are right in saying that not everybody comes to atheism either happily or quickly. I know people who took decades to arrive at an atheistic world view and who like you took a long and round about route to get there. It is quite common to move from religion to religion to religion and back again.

Take your time. Ask your questions. Whatever you end up doing you'll be welcome here.

Regards
Chris
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“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett

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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2017, 03:42:21 AM »
Hello Ellie

No eye-rolling; many here have wrestled long and hard over the issues surrounding belief, loss of belief and general uncertainty. Your post has a wistful quality to it which I'm guessing is in conflict with your reasoning side. I don't know how this will pan out for you, but I can say that after fifty-odd years as a Christian, now an atheist, I feel more comfortable in my own skin and stronger than I ever did before. You might be surprised at your hidden strength. Maybe you don't need that crutch. Good luck with your search and I hope you keep us posted. Good to meet you.
ESs
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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2017, 06:11:37 AM »
Ellie, no, your post didn't make my eyes roll, it made my eyes tear up. Because I know the pain and confusion and loneliness of losing my faith, and I know how it feels to pray so hard and so frequently for God to DO something, either to show me an answer or make me feel something in my heart or something.... but that rejected feeling of silence and inaction.... God, it hurts. Until you realize that there is no God, and that's why you aren't getting anything.
I could write a book on my Christian life and my deconversion, but all I will say in this post is that I was a strong Christian for 35 years, and despite knowing as much as anyone on this earth the eternal danger I was putting my soul in, I finally came to the sad (at the time) conclusion that I simply could not believe in any god or Jesus any longer.
And truly, I'm so happy I made that transition! There are no regrets. I am freer than I've ever been, I can believe in myself and my own goodness, I can love others so much better and without restraint. It's like a whole new world of peace has opened up to me, by ditching the horrible, constricting belief system that was my foundation for so many years.
My short recommendation to you is to read the online website Why Won't God Heal Amputees? www.whywontgodhealamputees.com   but, here's a little tiny warning label, they used to have a forum like this attached to that site...don't go there. My experience with them was pretty harsh, and maybe it's changed, but just brace yourself if you participate in their forum.
There are also great things to find on YouTube that will help with your logical thinking in these matters. I just love Matt Dillahunty's videos, and Richard Dawkins is interesting.
Anyway, there's lots of resources online--the Internet is the "searcher's" best friend  :thumbsup:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~ Plato (?)

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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2017, 06:16:26 AM »
Hi Ellie,

Nice to meet you. I hope you like it here. Lots of good people...

I was raised Roman Catholic, and slowly lost faith in Christianity. Over time, I've studied many other religions. Many have good points and bad points, but all seem to be based in either myth, superstition, or control of the masses.

Full disclosure: I don't consider myself an atheist. I'm one of the few Agnostic Theists here (if there are any others ;-) )
What that means to me is that I admit I don't know if there's a higher power, afterlife, etc. In fact, I think it's beyond our ability to know. Nobody knows... But that's intellectual knowledge.

Belief is another matter for me. I believe there is something more. Proof? I have none. Just a feeling, and what I believe is a fair amount of doubt that there's nothing else.

So, for me the key was recognizing that it was Religion that I was leaving, not belief. It's the very defining of god that gets people into so many mental gymnastics trying to prove the unprovable.

As for the bible, it's a book of mythology and convenient stories the priests used to keep an ordered society. Some of it is useful, some of it is not, and some is dangerous.

I'll be following this thread from time to time. Please post if you have questions. The most important thing may be knowing you're not alone on this journey ;-)

Cheers,
JoeActor

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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2017, 07:14:34 AM »

I'll be following this thread from time to time. Please post if you have questions. The most important thing may be knowing you're not alone on this journey ;-)

Cheers,
JoeActor
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Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~ Plato (?)

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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2017, 02:56:18 PM »
Hello Ellie, :wave hi:

I sympathise with you, even though I have never been through your situation myself. I hope that however things turn out for you, you find peace.

Take your time. Ask your questions. Whatever you end up doing you'll be welcome here.


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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2017, 05:05:49 PM »
This is a complex topic and there's a lot to it. In short, there really isn't a right or wrong answer to any of your questions. I suspect in time, they will answer themselves. When the time comes to stop searching - one way or another - it will be because you have arrived at a place you are content with.

I am also a "never theist" in that I was raised in a secular household and never truly had faith in anything, however in absorbing the dominate culture in the area I thought I was supposed to have a religion for many, many years. I tried on many different religious hats, from having God as imaginary friend when I was a child, to various Paganisms in my middle school years. It wasn't until I was 15 or so that I met someone openly atheist and realized that simply not following any of it was an option. I never looked back, because this is how my brain is wired. I can't just have faith. I can't believe something simply because I want to believe it. There has to be evidence for me.

In this, I've learned a few things. One is that religion is not synonymous with God. Toward the end of my search I had more or less come to "God is whatever we want them to be; Worship is whatever we make it." In short it was my way of dealing with all the contradictions of various religions, both within a single ideology and between ideologies. To this day I believe there are many people in the world uncomfortably claiming to be atheist when they simply don't agree with religion. You can believe in God(s) and think it's total bullshit that they're hanging out on the top of a mountain in Europe, or sent His son who is also Him to die and come back to life and then supposedly come back again but we've been waiting 2000 years for that so...

One of the others is that the religious view of the world is quite different than the atheistic view. On this note, I hope you will spend time and interact here. I think that a large part of the difficulty in separating oneself from ideas like having a God to support you unconditionally, and a heaven to build toward is that the overriding message in society is that we need and are incomplete without those things. Over time, I've come to feel that I have myself, and friends and support systems I have built here. I don't need to rely on a God to save me. After thought, the idea of eternal life seems more a curse than a gift. And so forth. But these are things you will come to (or not) on your own time.

To shift gears a bit, as far as faith and signs go, my more sensible deeply religious friends will all tell you will never find these signs. Faith is just that - faith. If we have proof it is no longer faith. Thus God will never answer a prayer to reveal himself. You believe because you do, and that's that.

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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2017, 07:18:09 PM »
What is it exactly that is hindering your desire to believe?

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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2017, 08:08:53 PM »
Altho my realization that I was atheist was painless, even after a conventionally and very conservative religious upbringing, I have known people who've had a very difficult time of it.  In their case they were losing something of great value, comfort and meaning to them, and had nothing of equal value, comfort and meaning to replace it with. 

I would say don't push it, don't try to be absolutely this or that.  You may always exist in a grey area theologically and there's nothing wrong with that -- life's mostly grey area after all.

You mentioned asking religious people for advice, and now you're asking atheists -- have you asked advice of any people who are already comfortable inhabiting the middle ground of belief?  You've stumbled on one here with our own Joe Actor, but what about internet groups and in-person groups where you are?  They'd probably be the most help to you.
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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2017, 11:35:12 PM »
I would echo those who say "look for a middle ground". As a humanist I am very definitely an atheist but humanism gives me an "external" moral structure that has similarities with christianity - just no supernatural content, mankind alone is responsible for mankind's actions, individually and as a species. But it does represent a kind of non-religious belief system.

That means it actually comes with more personal responsibility and less "pastoral care" or "group therapy" in terms of church gatherings. Local meetings, if there is a group, and forums are the only options.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2017, 11:52:57 PM by Gloucester »
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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2017, 09:09:11 PM »
I too came from a deeply religious background.  I was raised in a very strict almost cult-like version of Christianity and I was nearly 30 years old before I even began to openly question things.

I had been having doubts for a few years and what tipped the scales for me was the whole faith healing thing.  I was taught my entire life that god answered prayers for the sick and healed them.  Of course my entire life I also watched sick people either 1) recover at about the same rate as those who didn't pray or 2) die anyway.  It was after a particularly bad example of this that I finally came to terms with the fact that if there was a god up there, he certainly didn't intervene on behalf of humans down here.

One thing led to another with my questions.  After all if I was going to question one part of the bible, why not question everything else in it as well?  Now just a few years later I sit here a solid 6 on the Dawkins scale, meaning I believe the probability of a god existing is very low and I live life under the assumption that he is not there.

For 2-3 years after I came to this conclusion, I would still catch myself worrying about being wrong.  After all, I had been brainwashed into this belief from birth and that dies hard.  Several years later, I still have twinges of doubt sometimes.  You can't undo 30 years of brainwashing overnight.

You are definitely not alone here.  I am one of many who started out religious and eventually reverted back to my original state of non-belief that I had before it was decided for me.

I hope you stick around and post more.  Of course we are biased here, but I assure you that you won't be treated with anything other than kindness and respect.
The certainty with which I know another man's religion is folly makes me suspect my own is also - Mark Twain

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Today we safely brought a man back from outer space, while you shot a child in the face for wanting to go to school.
Sincerely,
Science

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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2017, 06:02:54 AM »
^^^Skeptic, did you crawl into my brain to write that post?   ;D
It sounds awfully familiar to me!
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~ Plato (?)

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Re: My faith in God is almost gone, but I can't seem to shake it either
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2017, 12:35:15 AM »
No eye-rolling here. I went through much the same thing during my deconversion process. The way I handled it probably won't work for everyone - I stopped thinking about it for several months. I simply refused to do so because it was stressing me out so much. During that down time, I was still purchasing magazines, both Catholic and skeptical - I just stuck them in a drawer without reading them. Finally, I decided it was time again to try to work through it. The religious magazine made no sense anymore. The skeptical one did, however. That was when I realized that I was an atheist. On a subconscious level, I had worked through the conflict without even realizing it.

Like I said, that may not work for everyone. However, you are free to post here to work out your thoughts and feelings. We will listen and help as much as we can.
Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of the astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.~Carl Sagan