So, it has been a while since I last came here and read or posted. The reason is that I began to find it unhelpful, causing me to struggle in my faith and I needed time to look inside and think about whether I am being honest.
There have been a number of points during the time I have been away that I have strongly considered leaving the church. Many such times have been occasioned by a desire to not be a hypocrite, to not claim to believe at the times I question whether I truly do or not. Currently I am still in, but hanging on by a thin thread. I thought it would be interesting for folk to hear about how the forum made me struggle and how the interaction may sometimes affect people like me.
One of my main problems kicked in as a I saw arguments abounding that just seemed to be based on a misunderstanding of science. How can I say that there is a misunderstanding… well the fact that these have often been based on zero academic study in the relevant field was a good clue in many cases. The next reason was that when pushed on key parts by credentialed scientists it just seemed that the initial argument was held to more firmly, allowing no flexibility or nuance, the argument just had to be won and no concession given. Without an ability to deal with the science on its own terms, sincere misunderstandings just seemed to be pushed as evidence.
This experience of watching it over and over again just made me question how much of what I believe are good reasons for my faith are actually just more of that. Things I assert without knowledge, believing they are correct, whilst not allowing counter-arguments to filter through and change my mind. Without realising it, I was listening to fellow christians outside the forum making statements with sincere confidence, and just found myself wondering whether there is any truth to these either.
I don’t think that it is a problem of poor reasoning in some arguments by some Christians alone that made me struggle. It became more interesting to watch the arguments and the discussions as a form of entertainment than it was to actually engage with my faith on its own terms. I have other struggles beyond the subjects on this forum that I don’t need to go into, but certainly it isn’t just an issue of science and evidence that is causing me to question.
Whilst some of the interaction from the atheists here has also caused me some struggle, largely it has been in a reasonable way of actually wanting to see evidence for things which often times I cannot
Mix in a healthy dose of repeated depression and the above just led me to need time away. Dealing with complex topics or heated debate doesn’t work well with me at such times, my ability to process information and attitudes is basically stripped away so life becomes a tad harder.
So, I am back for now and hoping to catch up on things but likely to try to take it slow and visit infrequently. But a question comes out of all of this…
What is the honest thing to do when struggling to work out whether you believe? Head down, repeat the arguments you have heard that were convincing before and hope they stand up to scrutiny? I am guessing not many would affirm that this is the correct response.
Or do you question everything and start from the bottom and try to see what stacks up and what doesn’t. How do you even consider doing that when you just know that you don’t have the knowledge or the skills to evaluate properly a lot of the arguments and the supposed evidence? Again, I am guessing many won’t advocate this as the best course of action, but I would bet that a larger proportion of the atheists would be more likely to approve of it than the theists.