Friday, March 6, 2009

Asking those tough questions part 2

This time I wanted to talk about doubt, and I've been thinking about it trying to come up with a way of saying things that didn't make me sound like a moron or a lunatic.
There aren't too many ways of going about that. Aside from looking at how Ray Comfort writes and striving for the opposite of that. I'll do what I can though.
One of the problems with faith is that sometimes religion leaves no room for doubting your faith. You can have faith in all kinds of things, faith in the kindness of strangers, in gods, in dieting, etc. Heck, I know people who have faith in the Flying Spagetti Monster. Hee! Faith and religion can be, and probably should be, separate things.
However, not every religion allows that separation, and so they are faced with this problem of how to address doubt. Just like everyone has faith in something, everyone doubts too. We're all human here, it happens.
When the kid was born I had grave doubts about pretty much everything. I had an emergency c-section, and when I was in recovery they came in and told me that she had collapsed both lungs and needed to be taken to a NICU in a different hospital. I was staying where I was to recover. I was exhausted and they were taking my baby far away from me. The next day, before my mother came to visit me, and before my grandmother had called to kick me in the ass and stop me from feeling sorry for myself, I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself and my kid. I was all by myself, and this guy comes into my room. He was the hospital's pastor and the first thing he asked was where my baby was. I was stunned, and told him my baby was in another hospital's NICU. I then said I guessed he wasn't there to talk to me about that. Apparently this guy's job was to visit the new mothers and offer whatever services a church would offer to new mothers (forgive me, I'm sketchy on this. I haven't been to church for a while and the guy never actually told me why he showed up). Now, he is presented with a new mother, all by herself, her baby is in a NICU and she can't get to the baby because she is recovering from surgery. Quick! Say something comforting!
This man then tells me that they never tell him about things like this, offers some kind of "I'm sorry" and leaves.
I was floored.
I had spent a good amount of time up until this point bargaining with every single God I could think of. I offered to devote my life to any of them that made my kid better. Rash bargains, to be sure, made by a exhausted and upset woman. I thought for a moment maybe this pastor was a sign. If he was, he was a pretty crappy one.
Then I wondered, what if this was all for nothing, what if my kid would just die. What if, what if. It was not the best time. I got visitors, the most important was my kids god parents, who gave me a framed picture of my child. I will always find it amusing that they actually met her before I did, I had seen her for less than 5 minutes total since she had been born. My mother drifted in and out, my grandmother called me, which was what actually motivated me to talk my way out of the hospital just to see my kid. I had done enough sitting around, time to get going. Two days had gone by. That was enough.
Eventually, after I had seen the kid and I was sure she wasn't going to die right at the moment or anything, and then got her home and realized I wasn't going to kill her by accident, I started to regain some faith. In me, in my gods, in everything in general. It wasn't a loss of faith, but it sure was a time where that faith was under a lot of strain. And I can see where that strain could lead to that loss, eventually. What kept it from being lost was probably that I never stopped actually believe in my gods, or people being good, even while I lost my faith in them and felt a bit abandoned.
There is an arguement used by people who seem to particularly hate atheists (Hi Ray!) called the "No True Scotsman" arguement. It boils down to if you really know Christ you can never stop believing in him, so a Christian can never lose faith and become atheist. Leaving aside for retarted that sounds, how can that be true? Of course you can lose faith, no matter who you believe in. It can start with a doubt, like mine and probably thousands of others. Sometimes, like mine, it goes back to the beginning, you regain faith. Sometimes you lose it completely. It happens. And there is nothing wrong with that, it doesn't hurt anyone. People get all up in arms about losing your faith, like you lost an arm. I imagine it has to do with their ideas of the afterlife, the religions with a more casual, less Hell-like, afterlife tend to not give a crap is you don't believe in what they believe in. It's all good. They also tend to give you room if you doubt, because it happens.
So, doubting happens with any faith, it really does. You doubt? Good, you're human. However, to all those big old religions out there, maybe you want to take a step back when a follower starts to doubt in you god. Be comforting, not like that idiot I got stuck with after my kid was born. But not too clingy, or put too much pressure on the person, because that's not going to help at all. Think about why you are doing that, and then remember that whole free will thing. You can do it! And most of all remember, ultimately it is their choice, getting angry at someone who choses to not believe in your god isn't going to help anyone. And it certainly won't get them back.


  1. That was really deep. Really, really deep.

    I'm pretty bad in situations like that because I'm afraid of saying something that would upset the other person. I would absolutely be bleeding for you, but afraid to show it. And yet, I still would have done better than a random comment on procedure and then abruptly leaving. (Heck, offering to get you a glass of water would have been better.)

    I think the doubts of others upsets those people so much because it raises the spectre that at some point they themselves may doubt. Which is silly, because of course you will. I doubt myself- I am sure to occasionally doubt people, god or the universe in general.

    There is nothing wrong with doubt. It is as human as love or lust or laughter. To supress doubt is to ascribe too much importance, too much power to it.

    Or, as my mother says, "This, too, shall pass."

  2. I'm also really bad at these kinds ofd things, but man, I'm better than that. And he was a spirital advisor. I've often wondered if he was having a day bad enough to rival mine at that point, and that was the reason for his terrible reaction.
    Doubting is so natural that when I read things saying that doubt is bad I'm always suprised. Bad? How else do we learn?
    Oh right, learning is bad too. Silly me!


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