Crisis of faith - please talk to me

(102 Posts)
CrisisOfFaith Sun 24-Feb-13 19:54:41

Have namechanged.

I was raised C of E, plenty of clergy in the family, constant religious discussion etc. My brother's an atheist so noone was bullied into it, but it all felt very natural to me, perhaps because I refused to ever really ask myself the most difficult questions.

For the past few years I've been struggling . I can't stop thinking about the fact that the churches of the world seem to be hotbeds of lies - paedophilia, sexual aggression etc. I know the media has mostly focused on Catholicism but even if the C of E isn't directly implicated I feel like they're not shouting loudly enough that it's wrong. I also feel that the debates about homosexuality, gay marriage, gay priests, female priests etc are just ridiculous. I know that the church has always had its black sheep, I know there were Popes with mistresses, I know the C of E is bound to have weirdos go into the clergy but I have always felt that fundamentally, despite all their flaws, the C of E (and the Catholic church for that matter) have God at their heart and are foundations for good. But now I don't think I believe that anymore and it's breaking my heart.

Sometimes I feel like if Jesus were to arrive back on earth nowadays the first thing he'd do would be ransack the churches, just like he did the Temple!

I was talking about this to DH recently and explaining that I don't feel like the church represents me and I don't want to be associated with their bigotry. I explained that in my view God/Allah/Mother Nature/Spaghetti Monster are all the same thing - a force that was there at the creation of the universe and somehow responsible for it - an energy, or something. (I don't have this all figured out.) I worship in the sense that I am thankful to that thing for my existence and the existence of the world, and I am humble to be alive. I feel that everybody has a purpose on this earth as evolution over millions of years has resulted in each of us as an individual, and everybody's purpose is important whether it's to help others, be kind to the planet, etc etc. The trouble (apart from the fact that lots of Christians would probably think this is a load of crock) is that I have always believed that Jesus is the Son of God, but now it strikes me (!!) that if God is an 'energy' then how can he be made incarnate?

Fuuuuuck.

DH says that he reckons my views are liberal to the point of not being Christian, and that lots of people who agree with me that there was some force responsible for the creation of the universe call themselves atheists. I suppose the question is whether that force is GOOD or whether it just IS...??

I feel so sick every time I read anything about the corruption of the people who are supposed to be leading the world's Christians. If God is good, would he want to be associated with that?! And if he's not good, if 'he' is just energy, or something, then is the whole notion of religion pretty bloody flawed anyway?

I know I could go to church to talk to a vicar about this (or call one in the family) but I just feel like if I talk about it face to face with someone I'll cry and I'm absolutely petrified of asking these questions and finding that the answer is that I've been wrong - and so have millions of other people for 2000 years - and there's no God. I was about to type that it's not there being no God that I'm petrified of, but that it would mean I wouldn't know what to believe, but I realised while typing it that actually I think it is there being no God that scares me.

Please don't take this as an opportunity to bash the naive Christian, I'm falling to pieces over this.

How's it going Crisis - hope you are feeling more peaceful.

EllieArroway Sun 03-Mar-13 17:58:25

Crisis God Is Not Great is a good book - but something more accessible that answers immediate questions (without the Dawkins confrontational style) is Atheist Universe by David Mills.

And good for you for questioning & thinking. Nothing wrong with that.

EllieArroway Sun 03-Mar-13 17:51:41

Ellie - saying there are a few religious scientists is incredibly ignorant. Science doesn't just exist in the secular West

Indeed not. Science is worldwide. There are statistically far fewer religious scientists than there are religious people within the general population of any country. When you focus on the "life scientists" there are fewer still. Focus again on the very elite scientists, those that are very highly educated & have reached giddy heights in science then the percentage of religious believers is very tiny.

Like it or not, the more educated a person (particularly in science) the greater the tendency to atheism. Don't like that - tough. But kindly don't call me ignorant for being more clued up than you. Thanks.

(This does not mean there are no religious scientists, btw. I shouldn't have to point that out, but some people on this thread are not inclined to see what I'm actually saying).

amillionyears Sun 03-Mar-13 13:36:25

Ideally it would mean much to everyone.
Sadly, it doesnt.
I would be very happy indeed if it meant something to you.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 03-Mar-13 13:33:18

Why should a claim of that scale mean more to one person than another? If it's true, then it should matter to everyone, if it's not, then it shouldn't matter to anyone.

Either way, it should be quite clear that a text who's only claim to truth is that it says so within itself is a fundamentally flawed argument with circular reasoning.

amillionyears Sun 03-Mar-13 12:19:03

"All scripture is inspired by God" matters to the op.
I agree that it will not matter much to you at present.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 03-Mar-13 10:34:11

God Is Not Great is a fabulous book by the way. Hitchens was one of the greatest journalists, intellectuals and debaters I've ever had the pleasure of reading and listening to. A sad loss to humanity.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 03-Mar-13 10:30:40

"All scripture is inspired by God"

That clearly settles it then. Whilst we're on the subject though I'd like to point your attention to the Book of Pedro which I have right here which clearly states that all my posts are inspired by the Purple Snuff-goblin which orbits the Earth just behind the International Space Station.

So that means that everything I post must be true, I guess....

You'd always get a warm welcome (I hope !)

Many people have described finding Friends (or Quakers) as like "coming home" - but then most faiths make welcoming invitations and encouraging noises to seekers I guess wink

CrisisOfFaith Sat 02-Mar-13 20:27:17

I've got a few books on the Quakers that are next on my list-I like the look of them and their openmindedness a lot. They seem very grounded compared to some other religions!

CrisisOfFaith Sat 02-Mar-13 20:25:22

I thought that about D o'B too, but I think it's a myth! (Sadly, I rather like the idea.) He did study Maths and Physics at UCD though.

I see a couple of posters have mentioned the Quakers to you as a group that could be interesting or helpful to you ATM.

I found the Quakers in my twenties (having been C of E'ish growing up !)

You'll find they value the christian tradition from which they originally grew (in the 17th century), and yet there's plenty of space and support to explore very freely ... following "the promptings of love and truth in your heart" - from the first of our "Advices and queries")

I'd just say see it all as part of your life and spiritual journey. There doesn't have to be any abrupt ending or loss of anything, you can just continue on your path of exploration of love and truth and see where it takes you !

Wishing you peace, courage, and every blessing thanks

CoteDAzur Sat 02-Mar-13 20:22:40

"Science ignores or does not take into account feelings. Yet we as human beings know we have feelings. So science can never be the whole picture of everything."

The science of feelings is called Psychology.

technodad Sat 02-Mar-13 20:20:45

Dara O'Brien has a PhD in Particle Physics (or something like that). He is a credible scientist.

It does go on a bit towards the end I admit, but the first 10 mins really says a lot to me.

CrisisOfFaith Sat 02-Mar-13 20:13:22

thegreenheart that is a fascinating blog-thank you so much for the link. I looked at the title and immediately thought 'Oh God, not evangelism!' (the whole playing tambourines and dancing kind of praise has always filled me with horror I'm afraid to say, as does the telling atheists they're going to hell bollocks that some evangelicals I've had the misfortune to meet have been rather keen on) so I was interested and relieved that actually it's nothing like that at all!

CrisisOfFaith Sat 02-Mar-13 20:09:19

I did, though I confess I got bored about halfway through. I was rather struggling to see his argument. Science is important in lots of ways...I don't think anyone would disagree with him! It also seemed an odd message for a room full of scientists (and, randomly, comedians). I'd have been more interested if he was saying 'these are the challenge facing scientists today and here's how I think we should face them', or 'these are the areas we most urgently need to fund and why' or 'this is how we could get young people interested in science'. An 'argument' that 'science is important' just seemed a bit unnecessarily obvious!

technodad Sat 02-Mar-13 18:53:22

Hi Crisis

Did you manage to watch the video which I posted the link to at 8:10 ish this morning. I highly recommend it.

I don't know if this website might help CrisisofFaith as finding other people on the same sort of journey can be helpful.

http://evangelicaliberal.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/stages-of-spiritual-development/

amillionyears Sat 02-Mar-13 18:36:38

Hi op.
There is a verry important verse in the bible that says "All scipture is inspired by God". I dont know if you know that verse.
I think it is in the book of Timothy.

CrisisOfFaith Sat 02-Mar-13 18:32:33

Hi everyone, I'm still here smile I'm reading everyone's responses and finding them really interesting, if a bit hard to take at some points. I'm reading 'God is Not Great' at the moment which is fascinating (and much better written than anything by Dawkins in my opinion) and in turns making me go 'of course he's right! There's no God!' and 'of course he's wrong! There's a God!' So overall I'm not sure it's helping me come to a conclusion but at least it's fuelling the discussion between Christian me, confused me and sceptical me...

I can't respond to everything everyone's posted, but to answer some questions, yes I'm praying about it (at the same time as wondering if there's anyone listening) and I'm also trying to read as much as possible. I think somebody suggested reading one of the Gospels but I'm struggling a lot with the fact that the gospels seem quite contradictory of each other, and wondering whether anything in the Bible can really be claimed to be representing God/Jesus' words/ideas as it was written by men, usually well after the event, with bias, etc etc.

So far I think my best bet is talk to God direct, even while feeling cynical about it, ignore the church(es), read on the matter from Christians and atheists alike, and try not to worry about it. The last one might be less easy to achieve!

This thread is helping though, even when it dissolves a little bit into 'I believe this/why/why not/you're wrong/no I'm not'! It's really good to get other people's perspectives, so thank you all for that, I appreciate it a lot.

IWantATowel Sat 02-Mar-13 18:08:55

Hi op, are you still there? my faith in God is not based on how people in church choose to behave but on my personal relationship with Jesus Christ; when I am struggling I go to God by reading His word and crying out to Him in prayer. It's hard when people at the front say contentious things but remember, that's all they are, people. People get it wrong.

amillionyears Sat 02-Mar-13 17:42:37

technodad, with respect, you twisted my words there. Not sure if you meant to or not.

Yes, I do know a bit about scientists.
My son works with other scientists, and he is one, so hence "I know a bit about scientists".
I didnt say I know about all scientists, Nor did I mean that.

technodad. sorry I cant remember if I have talked about evidence with you before on here or someone else.
On a couple of other threads, I have said that no, there is not physical evidence. Because faith is all about believing something that cannot be proven.

My son is a Christian scientist btw.
If his career came into conflict with Christianity[though I cant see quite in his case how it would] then I very much hope that his faith would win out, no matter what the consequences.

nightlurker Sat 02-Mar-13 17:30:32

I think the whole scientist religion thing is a moot point. I can't speak for others, but I would be in a very difference place if I were an atheist. I probably would have pursued a job as a professor in order to be on the cutting edge of research.

If others are like me, it makes sense to me that a higher percentage of professors would not believe in God, when compared to the general population. When professors do not believe, they can pass that bias on to their students, more especially in fields such as psychology, history, and anthropology.

I don't think you can pin down any definite cause and effect in this matter. There are too many factors that go into what we ultimately become.

technodad Sat 02-Mar-13 16:22:42

amillionyears - One of my sons is a scientist. I know a bit about scientists!

No you don't, you know a bit about a scientists, it doesn't mean you know about all scientists.

niminypiminy - I stand corrected, you said that the percentage of the population of scientists who have faith is smaller than the percentage of the general population who have faith. You still asserted it, though. And it doesn't change the substance of my post, which I notice you have chosen to ignore.

I didn't asert it at all in that first post, you are seeing thinks when they don't exist.

I didn't respond to your post because I don't really know what you are trying to say. If you are infering that athiesm (scientists) are creating their own belief system, then you are talking bollox and don't understand (or choose not to let yourself understand) the scientific method. If you are saying that science can't replace religion because it doesn't act as a moral compass, then I would ask, why do we need religion as a morale compass in the first place.

amillionyears - The start of the Chrisitan faith is seeking the truth.
When you have found the truth, the things stated in the bible are found to be correct.
So for Christians, it becomes far from guesses.
The kingdom of heaven is described as being like a merchant who found one pearl of great value. He went and sold all that he had and bought it.

These are just baseless meaningless words, written in a confusing circular argument. They don't further the discussion at all, because you don't provide any form of evidence. Just because stuff it written in an old book, it doesn't make them true.

BonfireOfKleenex Sat 02-Mar-13 13:11:13

Niminypiminy - you say "At present, atheism and science have very compelling narratives that have captured people's imagination -- with the help, as Glaser shows, of the language of religion."

Does religion have a monopoly on wonder and awe? Science presenters have (for many years) expressed wonder and awe at things which actually exist - is this morally suspect? They are also providing credible, verifiable, educational information about those things - is that somehow impertinent?

I agree that the media selects charismatic science presenters - but then that's showbiz, innit. You also get charismatic TV chefs, interior designers, talent show presenters and contestants etc. Oh and charismatic priests - maybe there really is a connection there.

Don't find that Guardian article convincing, sorry. Some of the comments underneath point out some of the intellectual gaps, if you have time to read them (I haven't read through them all).

As an example, she writes "To the popular neuroscientists, our minds are not tools of lofty reason but nerve cells in a lump of meat." confused Does she really think that 'popular neuroscientists' believe that human brains are NOT capable of 'lofty reasoning'? She just comes across as a bit muddled and paranoid about people trampling on what she seems to think is 'gods territory'.

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