I’ve struggled with religion and faith my entire life. My studies began early and continue today. It started before I can remember as my Parents dropped me off at Church. Some of my fondest memories are those in a little Baptist Church as a child. Sunday school, church plays, and of course the plethora of Southern banquets featuring some of the finest dishes Grandmothers from around the county could muster.
Religion and the church community gave to me what everyone desires in life. An absolute truth, the warmth of love and affection, family, the kindness of a stranger smiling at you from a few pews away, and of course belonging. In a word: Comfort.
But from the time I can remember “believing” was always difficult. I would constantly struggle with the nagging feeling religion is make believe. I felt out of place and wondered how everyone else seemed to believe so whole-heartily and so easily while I struggled with my faith constantly.
I didn’t give up. As in life, the things that didn’t come natural to me (faith), I worked twice as hard as the next person to achieve. So I prayed daily for God to help me “believe”.
“Dear God – Please help me with my struggles in faith. Please help me find the evidence I need personally to find strength in my faith in you. I am sorry for my lack of faith and I am working hard to find it. Please put me on the right path. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
So my days would go from about the ages of 12 – 18. There were even times I believed strongly that God was there. Sometimes my hard work seemed to be paying off – though my doubts were never far behind.
Search for Faith
When I first arrived in college I decided to get serious about religion. I started watching videos that I hoped would strengthen my faith. I met a “preacher” who taught young people. And so intense self-indoctrination began – seemed to work – but eventually failed.
At one point I was ready to testify to my fellow college students on campus. I had almost convinced myself it all made sense. I painted an almost clear picture of what I had come to believe. But what I found mostly radicalized me and I saw in myself the symptoms of any individual induced to delirium.
Most of what I found I could not reconcile with my own personal thoughts and feelings. Everything seemed overly radical, lacked evidence, and seemed almost loony. Though I learned many good lessons – those lessons were not independent to Christianity and proved nothing.
There were young earth creationist, those that claimed religion was about faith and not proof, those that claimed man and dinosaurs roamed the Earth together, and worse. Even those whom I admired failed in their efforts to provide reasonable evidence.
So, as a college student I decided to seek knowledge the best way I knew how. I enrolled in a few religion classes and finally I found what I was looking for, but not what I expected to find.
The scholarly approach to Religion was exactly what my personality craved. I learned about the history of the Bible, I found evidence of scholarly research, and was surrounded by people seeking the same information I desired. I had Christian Professors, Professors of different faiths and belief systems, and Professors with no beliefs at all. I was truly left to gather the evidence and for the first time decide for myself rather than be told what I should believe by a Spiritual/Intellectual leader.
My Decision in Faith
I have become comfortably Agnostic. I’m an Agnostic because after years of searching for the information to strengthen my faith in Christianity, after giving it all I have to feel the right emotions, and after an entire youth spent in the indoctrination process of religion – it all failed. I still came out hopelessly unable to believe.
I’m an Agnostic because I am a Scientist of sorts. Not a Rocket Scientist, of course, but a Scientist in logic and methodology. I am open to new evidence, new ways of thinking, and new interpretations. For or against religious belief. Thus far all evidence points toward the non-existence of a God – especially the one described in Abrahamic religions.
I’m an Agnostic because for the first time in my life I feel like I am not lying to myself. I’m not struggling to force myself to feel a certain way or to believe a certain idea because that’s what I’ve been taught is right. I think that’s something I can live with.
* I have written in length on religious topics on this blog. You can check them out here.