An Open Letter To Those Who Doubt or Deny God

To those who have been faithfully reading my blog thank you very much. Take a day off, this one isn’t for you. Today I am writing to the doubting Christian, the agnostic, and the militant atheist. Today, this one is for you.

Read:
The Doubting Christian - If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. - Rene’ Descartes
Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith, it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich

The Agnostic - Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, He must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. - Thomas Jefferson

The Militant Atheist - Man is manifestly not the measure of all things. This universe is shot through with mystery. The very fact of its being, and of our own, is a mystery absolute, and the only miracle worthy of the name. - Sam Harris

Relate:
The Doubting Christian – I get you. I’ve been there. I think the only people who have not had doubts are either liars or fools. Even now I believe God is calling me out to take a step of faith that I just cannot take. I have bills to pay, and if I were to obey, where would the money come from. But that’s a small doubt, that’s not where you’re at. It’s not where I’ve been. When my sister died with her newborn daughter at 24, when my cousin had a fatal heart attack at the same age, when my dad died after bumping his head playing basketball… That brought some real doubts. Doubts if God was real and, if He was, whether He was good. I’ve known moments in my life where blind faith just would not cut it. And I’ve known how difficult it was to express these doubts to my pastor, to my church, to my friends. I’ve been there.

The Agnostic – I can sympathize with your doubt. We have a cosmic horizon of about 46 billion light years in every direction. This is only a small fraction of the real universe and anything beyond it is, and always be impossibly beyond our understanding. Even within that sphere we know next to nothing about so much of it. 95%, dark matter and dark energy, are at this time simply beyond our understanding. Even on this one small ball rotating one small sun in one small galaxy, there is still so much more for us to discover. There is simply so much more that we simply do not know. How dare we have the audacity to claim to know God?

The Militant Atheist – That claim to know God has done so much damage. Because I claim to know, and he claims to know a different God. So we fight it out. The institutionalization of religion has done so much damage throughout time. It has been the cause of so many wars, and so much oppression. How can a good God exist if this is how His followers are gonna act?

React: 
The Militant Atheist – It is in the nature of most of humanity to want to live for something greater than themselves. It is in our nature to be followers. Evil men have used religion to lead many down evil paths. But this is the fault of evil men, not of God. Evil men have led others down evil paths without God just as easily. Just look at Stalin. Look at Pol Pot. Science and humanism are not barriers to oppression. They never have been and never will be. Eradicating this “evil” will not end tyranny. All it will do is eliminate one of the greatest motivators for doing good.

The Agnostic – We will never be fully sure of anything. There will never be a subject about which we have complete knowledge, but that doesn’t stop us from acting. You sit down assuming the chair will be there. Every now and then you might miss, or some idiot pulls it away, but does that stop you from sitting in the future? Will you ever be standing on the fear that you might fall? Why not put God to the same test? Albert Camus wrote, “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, and live my life as if there isn’t and die to find out there is.”

The Christian Doubter – As a lover of, and leader in the Church, I apologize for the environment that has so often been created that discourages doubt. I apologize on behalf of everyone who has pretended that they have it all together when they don’t. I hope you won’t be that same person to someone else who might be having doubts. I would encourage you to express those doubts to a fellow believer. If you have tried and been silenced or given the old, “I’ll pray for you”, know that my (metaphorical) door is open. I promise a judgment free dialogue if you would email me at bj@tworiversassembly.com

Respond:
The Militant Atheist – I don’t want to argue with you but I would love to dialogue. Please respond here or, if you would rather, email me at bj@tworiversassembly.com Greater minds than ours have gone back and forth on the existence of God. What I am more curious in knowing is why you believe that religion must be eradicated. Why have you chosen a fundamentalist approach to your atheist beliefs?

The Agnostic – Doubting is good. I’m glad you have chosen to withhold judgment on the existence of God until you have more information one way or the other. Some doubts will never be answered and will require a leap of faith. Others, however, might be walked through. I would love to hear from you in comments here or at bj@tworiversassembly.com. Share your doubts. I’ll share a few of my own. Perhaps together we might walk towards a greater understanding.

The Christian Doubter - 

313 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Those Who Doubt or Deny God

  1. I have always been taught to ask questions. By asking questions (about faith, beliefs, assumptions, etc.) you either find you don’t really believe, or your faith, beliefs, assumptions, are further strengthened. Life is a spiritual journey!

    • Al-mighty Allah (God) who is only one and has no family.God injected in Every humen’s hart about his knowledge that he is his master at the time of creation(As per holy Qurran) therefore,it is necessary to every humenbeing he think about his creation andas well the universal

  2. OK, I’ll bite. Your first few paragraphs, when you spoke of those close to you dying and you said it brought some real doubts to you, doubts about whether or not God was real and whether or not he was good. I have to wonder at your doubts. Did you doubt God was real because people you love died? That seems odd to me because we are all going to die, one day. You, me and all those you and I love. That is a fact and I don’t understand what that has to do with whether or not God is real. Perhaps you could explain this in more detail? And whether God is good? Because people die means God is bad? Or is it how they died that makes you think God is responsible? I have so many beliefs that it would be a very lengthy dialogue to write them here, but, to me, God is all things, everywhere, not exclusively a person, a being, but all things. So, to say God is responsible for someone’s death is to say the stars caused them to suffer that way, that rock was responsible for their death. It just doesn’t make sense to me to say God is responsible. No, I believe WE are responsible, each of us, individually. Our choices are not good nor bad, they just are. We have free will and I believe we choose how we live and how we die. But I don’t believe we “die”, but we simply lay down this vehicle called a body that we use to negotiate our way on this earth, and when we are finished with being here, we simply transition back to spirit. But, each of us has our own belief systems that work perfectly for us, and it makes it right for us. And I believe that one day we will all be able to see the beauty in individual belief systems, and love and honour each other for the diversity that brings to this world.

  3. I believe in that for which I have evidence. The rest is a mystery. The problem with the question about belief in god with a capital G is that there are a million of different opinions of what God is. How can you answer a question, one way or another, about the existence of something which cannot be defined? The meaning of life, the universe? These are mysteries, let them be. God believers and religion take away the mystery by filling it with pure speculation, often quite ludicrous and prejudicial to human values. Why am I a militant atheist and anti religion? If you are unaware of all the grief and suffering that organized relgion has caused in human history, then there is nothing I can say to you. To be honest, we atheists are technically really agnostic, since how can you be against something that cannot be defined? We are really outraged at the violence and hate which is preached and practiced by fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc. I have no problem with ordinary believers — to each her own — but a big problem with the bigotry of so much organized religion. Where organized religion is a force for good, as with liberations theology, worker priests, etc., God bless them.

    • Roger, Christ never asked that we be involved in organized religion; he asked that we have a relationship with Him. Many people understand your perspective on organized religion. I would never asked that you become religious; but, I pray that you become spiritually involved with Christ.
      Belief and knowing are two different concepts. I believe in Christ; I know pine trees grow in my backyard. It doesn’t worry me that I cannot prove Christ exists; after all, that is what a belief is about.

  4. Really enjoyed your blog. A long, long time ago one of my teachers—a nun actually–told the class that anyone who did not doubt God or their faith, never really owned their faith. It seemed like such a heretical statement at the time. But, as time has marched on, the truth underlying that statement hits me more and more each day. What an exciting God we have that He/She is open to constant dialogue and eager to take on the challenges of our issues, questions and concerns!

  5. You will never understand Atheists if you don’t open your heart a little and think of them as loving people just like you. Capable of leading simple, humble lives of kindness. You said: “What I am more curious in knowing is why you believe that religion must be eradicated.” This is very offensive and painful to me, and I can’t understand why a Christian who professes to be open to discussion would lead by going on an attack like that.

    Never never in my life have I wished ill on any believer because of their faith. I think religion MUST exist, and I would never deny the joy and power it holds in the lives of my friends and family. But I do not believe. And I am not so arrogant as to travel door to door, or country to country, spreading the “word” of Atheism, because I believe faith is up to each individual, and no one else’s business. You do not seem to be genuinely open to discussion if you open the discussion with an attack.

    • Militant atheist is not an all encompassing group. Based on what you said in your comment I am guessing that you aren’t the type of atheist I was talking to.

    • Amen, sister! I see our host has read your reply and has graciously granted you an exemption from his “militant” category of atheists. The evidence you presented of your own experience did not support his theory of atheists. So he changed his theory to fit the new evidence? No! He changed his terminology, moved his goalposts. The irony is exquisite. First we are lectured on the god-given right to doubt… told that he has doubted the very existence of god… But his understanding of you and of me (and of everyone else who is not “blind-folded with fear”) is so complete, so omniscient… so breathtaking in its arrogance.

      Well, BJ, I am most definitely “the type of atheist you were talking to”. And forgive me if this response is less polite than you would like – but your pretense of “wanting a dialogue” with those who do not share your beliefs is just so screamingly false.

      Here’s a theory for you: Your own vaunted faith in god is as certain as the flame of a candle in a hurricane. It makes you feel stronger in your faith to spend so much time tearing down others who won’t play along with your imaginary friend. How sad. I am quite comfortable in my beliefs. Nor do I make it my business to challenge you in yours – unless you fling poo at me from inside your cage. As you have done here.

      Since you opened with some quotes, let me close with one: “Remember, Christians are atheist when it comes to nearly 3000 other gods.” – Ricky Gervais

      • As I have said many times above, not all atheists are militant atheists. It has nothing to do with “changing the terminology” or “moving the goalposts”. I was, I am, speaking to a specific subset of atheists who don’t just chose to ignore the truth of God’s existence but then make it their mission to try and convince the world that theirs is the only rational choice. They are like a blind child telling the seeing world that their sight is nothing but hallucinations.

  6. Inside every heartfelt Christian lurks an agnositc just waiting for you to have a bad day….we’ve all been there. Faith is a gift from God, a tool to use on those ‘agnostic’ days when life is not all fluffy clouds and perfect rainbows…

    • Sharon, I disagree with your comment that in every heartfelt Christian lurks an agnostic. In my 66 years of life I had many, many unpleasant (read rotten) experiences. They have made me turn to God not away from him.

      • I never said agnostics turned away from God. I actually said that during those ‘agnostic’ moments of doubt one draws on one’s faith to see you through….no mention at all of turning away from Christ….You’ve put words into my comment that aren’t there..

  7. When my sister died with her newborn daughter at 24, when my cousin had a fatal heart attack at the same age, when my dad died after bumping his head playing basketball… That brought some real doubts. Doubts if God was real and, if He was, whether He was good.

    This caught my eye, as I felt this way when my dad died when I was 9 year old. I wondered if God was real or even out there. Why would he take my dad away when I was so young. I may never know, but I came to believe that God also did not let my dad suffer anymore through his cancer. It may be different from what you went through, but the feelings and reactions may be the same. Thanks for your post.

  8. Thank you for ‘liking’ my post this morning. It brought me to your site and now I plan to visit frequently. I’m pretty sure Someone other than wordpress directed me to you. Thanks!

  9. Thank you for your perspectives. I have a basic faith in God knowing three things for sure;
    1 God is there
    2 When God intervenes in my life just hold on and try to work it out at the end
    3 Jesus made my awareness of 1 and 2 possible
    I don’t feel the need to subject myself to church services where people with various levels of emotional dysfunction including myself meet.
    DS

  10. i have the picture of “The Man” taken from the sky, and it’s clear. If you go to my blog. It’s there for all to see. I am trying to make sure people become aware of the fact, God is real, and that the prophesies are coming through. It’s not fashionable to be God Loving, but in the interest of those who suffer abuse, fear, or are threatened, it would be helpful for those who carry out harm to understand that there day is done, amen, pass the image on, it will save lives

  11. Well, well. Strong sentiments here. My all time fav sentence is, “I may not agree; but I will defend to the end your right to your opinion.”
    I have moved from being non-believer to open-minded. I experienced that something more than medical science was deciding which patient survived or didn’t, even if they were medically in the same condition.

  12. Reblogged this on A Christian Warrior and commented:
    ‘An Open Letter To Those Who Doubt or Deny God’
    For those who are not sure there is a God or are quite sure they is not one.
    I believe I pray that this may help you do as well.
    With thanks for Two Rivers

  13. What I am more curious in knowing is why you believe that religion must be eradicated (who is saying this? No atheists I know.). Why have you chosen a fundamentalist approach (thanks for assuming you already know my approach is correctly identified as ‘fundamentalist’; we can skip this part of the ‘respectful dialogue’ you pretend to want to have) to your atheist beliefs? (There’s no such thing, but thanks for imposing on me a set of non belief beliefs you again presume I have)

    As a ‘militant’ response to your non-militant presumptions and impositions in the name of respectful dialogue, what I really want to know is when did you stop beating your wife?

    Good grief, but this bigotry you impose on me right off the bat won’t even put a ding in your smug religio-armor of humble piousness, will it? I suspect you won’t – even for amoment – consider just how indoctrinated you have to be to come at having a dialogue with someone you’ve already filtered in your mind to be a caricature of your own making and then applied to me by the fiat of arrogance you assume is respectful. News flash… it isn’t, at all, in any way. That’s why the response you earn from people like I am – an atheist – deserves ridicule and derision because you don’t want a dialogue to understand, to respect, to appreciate; you want ammunition to keep your own doubts vilified and at bay.

    • This is a circle gone around once or twice already in the comments above. Not every atheist is a militant atheist. I recognize that. If you aren’t one then I wasn’t speaking to you. I apologize for not being more clear in that regard from the outset.

      • You miss my point: why use the term if you know from the outset that it’s pejorative and a misrepresentation of atheists who are at most equivalently vocal as theists but who do not advocate anything comparable to the very real militancy we find in religiously basic – i.e. fundamental – sects? You’re creating a caricature and passing it off as if reasonable. It’s not. It’s deceitful.

      • I readily agree that not all atheists are militant atheists. But there are militant atheists. It is not a caricature. I’ve spoken at length with those who would claim religion is a cancer that must be eradicated. I’ve met people who would become angry at the very mention of who I am and what I do. Fundamentalism comes in many forms and atheism is no exception to this rule.

      • I, too, think religion is a product of a way of thinking that is broken, that does not produce knowledge but protects and elevate and privileges ignorance. I see religion as the main engine promoting and supporting and justifying legal inequality. I, too, think that the world will be a better place without its pernicious effects that are all too common. But not for a moment would I support the reduction of your legal equality rights to believe what you want and speak about them. In fact, I – along with New Atheists everywhere – would be the first in line to defend your legal equality rights from anyone or any organization that would try to reduce or eliminate them. That’s why I suspect your understanding of atheism in general and New Atheism in particular is very skewed. I think, because of the inaccurate terminology you apply to atheists and atheism, your perception of them is problematic enough to indicate why you believe your caricature is actual when it’s not. And that’s why it’s important for people to challenge this kind of terminology every single time it is encountered: because it’s not true.

      • “I, too, think religion is a product of a way of thinking that is broken, that does not produce knowledge but protects and elevate and privileges ignorance. I see religion as the main engine promoting and supporting and justifying legal inequality.”

        To have a dialogue, we would need to come to an understanding of terms. When I speak of religion, I am using the definition as found in the book of James, “To look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep from being corrupted by the world” Basically, living a pure and compassionate life. I believe you are using “religion” as I would use “religiousness” or “legalism”. In that case we would have much agreement. The harshest words Jesus had for anyone in the Bible were against those who had co-opted true “religion” and turned it into a form of “religiousness”. Jesus wasn’t a big fan of “religion” as you use it either.

        “I see religion as the main engine promoting and supporting and justifying legal inequality.” To my knowledge the Ten Commandments was the first and only legal code to even acknowledge women. In a patriarchal world, to have the very first social command to be one of honoring mothers as well as fathers was completely ahead of its time. Over and over again the Bible is far ahead of its time in regard to equality. Per capita, Jesus’ honoring interactions with women is far higher than with men. As Paul writes, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.” This flew in the face of the typical Roman social system of patrimony. Throughout the ages men like William Wilberforce and Martin Luther have used their grounding in their love of God as a motivator for equality. Have we arrived? No. Do men still twist and distort? Yes. But I would hate to see how repressive and dysfunctional society would be today were it not for Christ and His Church.

        “I think, because of the inaccurate terminology you apply to atheists and atheism, your perception of them is problematic enough to indicate why you believe your caricature is actual when it’s not.” I think this dead horse has been beaten plenty. I have already acknowledged that I am not speaking of all atheists and to continue to imply that I am doing so is disingenuous. There’s over three hundred comments above. Feel free to read some.

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