Yesterday morning I sat in my living room eating a bowl of cereal and listening to my husband talk to his brother about doubt, faith, and tolerance. Since his brother was on speaker phone I got to hear the entire exchange. To paint a picture of my husband's brother *Kurt, he is a belligerent, super-conservative, Christian blowhard who gets along with no one, although my husband treats him with a great deal of patience and love. Kurt is not remotely tolerant of others and expresses his disgust/disdain of others on a regular basis. Dude won't even go see Deadpool because he convinced himself it looked terrible and it doesn't matter how many good reviews of it there are, he thinks we have all been fooled. He doesn't change his mind and heaven help the stranger who is rude to him. Did I mention he has been in the military for twenty years?
So anyway, there they are talking about doubt and all I could think as I listened was that these two guys don't have a clue. Not. A. Fucking. Clue. They talked about doubt as if it was just this little tickle in the back of your mind and if you have enough faith, you can easily overcome it. As a kid I heard my mom often speak the same way. See, doubt is this cute little word that Christians think means to struggle a little bit with whether God actually heals people or not. It is fine to "doubt" in this context because it means your are a thinking Christian who considers the deeper philosophical and theological issues of their faith. And that doubt is fine as long as you end up still a Christian. Heaven help you if it leads to a loss of faith though. And that is how it felt to sit there and listen to my husband and his brother bullshit their way through what doubt means. Real doubt, I discovered is when you question everything you have been taught. When you realize that there is no evidence of Joseph and Moses and slaves in Egypt and there is a very real possibility that those two people didn't exist. And then realizing that the person who you deem as God, Jesus himself, did believe they existed. It is not just struggling with the idea of whether God heals or not, but wondering that if he did, whether he is actually a monster. And if he doesn't exist, how much more sense bone cancer in babies makes.
They continued on with their conversation and discussed tolerance for a bit. Kurt, of course thinks that tolerance is a politically correct buzzword that means that Christians should just allow things they don't agree with. My husband thinks tolerance means that we all have to live on this planet together, but the predominant religion should have more control and atheists take cheap shots of Christians because they aren't "dangerous". I think tolerance means you let people live their lives as long as it isn't hurting anyone. My atheism doesn't hurt anyone. It bothers my husband because he likes the idea of us sharing common beliefs, but it doesn't hurt him. If you have read this blog at all you will see that he has actually been fairly tolerant. More so than most of the Christians I grew up with and around.
I just think it is funny when my husband talks about doubt because in my mind (and perhaps uncharitably so), real doubt leads to some very dark places. Scary places. It is so much bigger than wondering if God really cares about the minute details of our lives. It is wondering if there is a god out there at all.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.