How to deal with doubt

Hi I have been on this forum for a couple of months and I have read many wonderful books on science and faith such as Language of God and Language of Science and Faith by Francis Collins, Can Science Explain Everything,and just finished Sy Garte’s book the Work in His Hands and currently reading Gregg Davidsons Friend of Science Friend of Faith. But my first issue is that I have completely read those books (besides Davidson’s) and the info doesn’t seem to stick. I think the reason is because making myself aware of atheist books such Viktor Strenger or recently Trevor Treharne and youtubers like CosmicSkeptic, and Armored Skeptic and websites like Rationalwiki make it hard to focus on the books with an open-mind as I can’t seem to see their flaws or their mere existence clouds my mind. This may sound stupid but it is my only reason keeping me away from Christianity or at least the biggest one and thoughts?

Look only to Jesus, in Him you will find TRUTH. Read His words, trust what He did by giving His life in our place. Love and obey Him and you will know God. It’s not a religion you need to join, it’s a person you need to come to know.
May God open your understanding of Him, for in knowing God is eternal life and salvation from sin.
God bless you in your search for Him.

It does seem to disturb us to know that very smart people out there disagree with us and continue to, with a triumphant, victorious spirit, put their counter-arguments up against any fledgling faith you may wish to fan into flame, making you feel stupid for even entertaining such notions. Does any of that capture at least part of what you’re feeling?

Keep in mind, such victory as they wish to be seen possessing is in a very circumscribed arena of their own specification - and they wish you to believe it is the only arena that exists (or if not that, then at the very least, the only arena worth caring about.) Take a wider view that all wisdom is known by its fruit, and then watch people’s lives. This isn’t to lead you to expect that all so-called Christian lives display good fruit, or that all so-called atheistic lives must consistently lack good fruit - far from it, in fact! But don’t be too quick to leave your skepticism behind when you see great debaters and word smiths honing their craft on you. Just as I hope you keep a wary spiritual eye on what you hear from people here (including my own words to you here right now), so also don’t stop asking questions and observing with spiritual sensitivity when others claim to know that empirical science is the only real game in town when it comes to matters of life, the universe, and everything.

Don’t stop reading widely of respected authors. I also think there is no substitute for finding a community of people who at least have some respect for any faith-questing or explorations of yours. Not all churches may honor your quest in healthy ways - just as many deliberately secular communities too may have their own philosophical blind spots. So if you find a friend or two (or small community) to journey with you as true friends, hold on to them like family!

As a believer myself, I believe God has a way of sending human connections and opportunities our way, often from surprising places. It is not an idle fancy that we are taught …“wherever two or three are gathered …”

-Merv

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I guess I’ve never been upset by the fact that it sounds silly because it does sound silly. If I did not have faith I would not be a Christian lol… xd. It’s why I don’t really try to argue science as s reason to believe in God. To some they think why would you believe in it then and to me it’s a useless question. We can’t scientifically prove angels exist or aliens. We can’t prove Jesus came back from the dead and we can’t prove life will continue on after it. Yet most of us here all believe that.

This is just one aspect of the character of Jesus. He looks for the lost and rejoices when they are found.

Luke 15:3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Read Isaiah 53, it is God foretelling the future coming of Jesus. See how it lines up with what Jesus did for us by giving His life for us. A God who foretells the future and the one who fulfills it are worthy of all our trust.

I do feel that these objections are God’s way of strengthen my faith and you did capture how I’m feeling in terms of feeling stupid and those anti-theist,atheist,and naturalist have such

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Hi Noah,

One thing that’s interesting is that the books you mention by Collins, Garte, and Davidson are primarily by scientists. Whereas the atheistic content you mentioned is primarily philosophical in content Cosmicskeptic etc.

It may be useful to read some more philosophically oriented books. I would recommend Alvin Plantinga’s books Warranted Christian Belief and Where the Conflict Really Lies.

What helped me most when I had a lot of questions was trying to understand who Jesus is/was. Along these lines N.T. Wright, Dale Allison Jr., Martin Hengel, and Richard Bauckham have been helpful.

Remember it’s okay to ask questions. Don’t stop being critical in your thought.

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Do we think that science, rational argument and reason is all you need to live a fulfilling and meaningful life? I’m not a Christian but it isn’t for any of the reasons I’ve heard anti-theists cite on discussion forums. I’ve never read any atheist themed books and neither am I interested in doing so. Being against something is easy. But saying what you’re for takes guts. What is best about our humanity is not deducible from from science or philosophy. To discover what it is requires some humility and openness, and to claim it requires risk. That is something I admire about Christianity. It isn’t the only way, but it can be a fine way.

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So what is it?

That I admire about Christianity? That it aspires to something and Calls the shot. Doesn’t mean everyone will sink the shot of course. Still it is so much easier to stand on the side, never admit to holding anything dear and then laugh at those who do.

Aspires to what? Calls what shot?

Boy for someone who sometimes reads like James Joyce you’re not as receptive to metaphors as one might expect. If you’re asking me to spell out what it is that Christians hold dear I’ll defer to someone who should know better than I. Not that there is much chance of hearing it the same way twice if you ask any ten Christians. But my point is that Christianity wears what it holds dear on its sleeve even at the risk of ridicule. Sure there are pockets of shallow thinking, group think spewing Christians but even a good idea can go wrong if handled badly. My real point is that the anti-theist crusaders with books to sell don’t have anything like that to offer on the other side.

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If you don’t know what Christians hold dear that they have to offer better than Dawkins, then they’re doing a lousy job.

I know what a few Christians hold dear. I don’t know about Dawkins. Is he forthcoming on that score?

Here are a few things that this Christian holds dear: Love - for things, especially living things, and most of all people outside myself and even outside my family and tribe (and even prudent, often tough love of self, family and tribe to the extent that this is required for me/us to effectively love others). Truth - the conviction that objective truth exists and matters. Hope - without which no one long survives; a hope that there is an ultimate love behind, and indeed the Creator of everything and everyone. A hope that we will all one day be free of our sin and rebellion against all that is true and good. Trust: trust that what Christ did opens up that way of hope and love for us, showing us that we need to let go of what we so desire to possess … so that we can finally possess that which actually matters. [Recently read somewhere around here I think: “He is no fool who exchanges what he cannot keep for what he cannot lose.”]

And finally: Christ himself, who freely gave himself, and shows us all of the above, who opened that door and showed us how to go through it.

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I don’t think this sounds stupid at all. In fact, I think the way you’re describing your struggle shows you’re paying attention to your own thoughts and feelings. In my view, this is the first – and probably the most important – step in building a relationship with God.

What you’re noticing about the logical arguments of atheist books and videos is that they’re, well, logical. The reasoning is based on algorithmic, either-or thinking, and the attacks on Christianity focus only on the doctrines of Christianity that also rely on algorithmic, either-or thinking processes. They’re using arguments that appeal strongly to the System 2 networks of your brain, and they try to hide, minimize, even deny any arguments that might trigger an insight via the System 1 networks of your brain. (You can google Dual Process Theory if you’re not already familiar with the brain’s two distinct but equally important ways of processing data.)

Logic and reason are important, of course, and you don’t want to stop thinking logically. But faith – not religion, but faith – is a holistic experience, one that’s so complex you need to use your whole brain (i.e. System 2 plus System 1), not just the abstract reasoning and logic of System 2. The wonderful thing about Christianity is that when it’s done right, it pretty much always balances System 2 with System 1. There’s reason, but there’s also deep love and forgiveness. There’s respect for scientific advances, but there’s also the empathy needed for social justice advances. There’s methodical observation, but there’s also creativity and intuition.

What a militant atheist will never tell you is that the human brain can be tricked into ignoring input from the System 1 circuits of the brain. People assume – wrongly – that the brain wouldn’t and couldn’t function properly if the System 1 networks weren’t up and running at full strength. But the brain can work around all sorts of different deficiencies (which is part of the reason neuroscience is such a fascinating field).

If you pay close attention to the algorithmic arguments that are driving you crazy, you’ll see they usually stay far away from the challenging, non-linear emotions like love, forgiveness, intuition, emotional transformation, emotional healing, and the feeling of God’s presence which so many mentally healthy individuals have experienced despite the insistence on the part of non-theists that such an experience isn’t possible. These non-linear emotions lie at the heart of Jesus’ teachings (differential calculus, not algorithms), so you can’t go wrong there.

Faith needs reason, but faith transcends reason. Faith allows you to see Creation in colour instead of black-and-white. Again, the core of Jesus’ teachings.

Anyone who tries to use philosophical arguments basely solely on System 2 logic is either consciously or unconsciously trying to cheat you out of all the other amazing tools your brain has its disposal. I personally think there’s no excuse for that.

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