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Looking for help figuring out my thoughts about God

I have been a pastor’s kid all my life, and just now at 25 I am questioning if I was taught a belief or fact. I feel there is no God, but I am still so torn. I need help figuring this out. Lately I have found myself leaning towards the “there is no God” theory.

Posted: August 28th 2011

George Locke

A recent post by Richard Wade deals with a similar issue. Richard advises “Erik” on how to deal with his religious family, which may or may not apply to you, but the main thing that I think you could take away from it is that there’s nothing wrong with being undecided. Given that you don’t expect eternal damnation for your indecision, a lengthy deliberation costs you little.

Being social animals, we all like to identify ourselves and each other with some group, some recognizable persona. If you’re living in a community where religion is a big part of the social glue (not to mention your family), you may be especially uncomfortable. Some people might expect you to explain why you’re not in their camp, but, as Richard points out, you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone.

So, you needn’t be anxious about coming to a decision, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to find a place to plant your feet either! I’d recommend a book like The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan. It’s a good read, and while Sagan doesn’t deal explicitly with the theism versus atheism question, he does a great job of explaining the difference between justified belief and science on the one hand versus superstition and self-deception on the other. (There’s a lot in the book about public policy concerning science and education, so if that doesn’t interest you just skip those chapters.)

Michael Shermer’s Why People Believe Weird Things is another guide to identifying bunkum. Maybe you would enjoy some histories of the great discoveries — that kind of thing can give you a sense of the kind of evidence you need to prove in the incredible possible. A good book to check out in that area would be The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments.

Atheist and theist tracts are also relevant, clearly, but I’d recommend caution when reading explicitly partisan work. When you do read this kind of thing, I suggest looking online for commentary from neutral parties, where possible, and checking for responses from the opposing side. (Of course, Shermer and Sagan are hardly friends to religion, but they’re not trying to convince you of anything more than the need to be careful in what you believe.)

Posted: August 30th 2011

See all questions answered by George Locke

Eric_PK

I am also a PK, though 20+ years older than you.

My advice is to do a lot of research. Read books both by atheists and by apologists, and see waht you think.

For most of us, we were indoctrinated in our religion before we could make a logical decision ourselves, so the belief is buried at an emotional level. It takes time to get over that feeling and to feel comfortable in non-belief, and for some people who belonged to strict religions, it may take therapy.

You might be interested in the atheist experience show (out of Austin), and in ex-christians.net.

Posted: August 30th 2011

See all questions answered by Eric_PK

Galen Rose www

So, how does one tell the difference between simple beliefs and facts? In every single area of life, except religion, we look to the evidence. Religions typically tell us that we should first believe, whatever we have been told, and then the evidence will show itself to us. Obviously, if we are able to believe before we have the proven facts, then whatever “evidence” we see will be biased and tend to confirm that belief, whether that evidence is our feelings, unexplained events in our lives or those of others, or whatever. Muslims will tell you that they feel Mohammed in their hearts, and Hindus will tell you they have seen the evidence of Ganesh in the coincidences of their lives. Their experiences, like those of Christians, in their minds tend to confirm what they expect to see and what they wish to be true (or what they fear is true).

If one is able to approach the problem of the existence of god free of biases, he never finds the proof he seeks. If you’re a Christian, then what you “learned” about god came directly or indirectly from the writings of the bible. But should you expect to find profound truths in a book with a cast of characters like witches, wizards, sorcerers, spirits, ghosts, giants, dragons, sea monsters, satyrs, and unicorns? They’re all in there. Should you expect to find the important facts of the universe in a book with a talking snake, a talking jackass, a talking bush, 900-year-old men, a man whose super-human strength resided in his hair, and a corpse which stood up and walked away after three days in a tomb? How could you possibly tell if there were any actual facts in a book of such preposterous claims? If you read such claims in any other book, you would label them myths and lies without giving it a second thought.

And, anyway, if anyone had a really good proof of the existence of god, then wouldn’t we all know about it by now? Would we still be debating it? If a being created the universe and continues to interact with it through our lives, shouldn’t we have some pretty solid evidence by now? You’re on the right track. Stick with it.

Posted: August 28th 2011

See all questions answered by Galen Rose

 

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