Days When I Feel Like an Atheist

I have this strange occurrence every 6 to 9 months it seems. Sometimes I feel discouraged or depressed. Other times I am seriously troubled by an intellectual or emotional argument that I can’t produce a satisfactory response to. I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what brings these “moods” on but when they do but it’s an explosion of internal emotions.

Anxiety Fear. Sadness. Anger. They come in seemingly paradoxical waves.

Needless to say I’m not enjoyable to be around. I’m grumpy, withdrawn, short tempered, selfish and arrogantly dismissive to others. The affects of this “condition” are intensely strong for a day or two and then dissipate after about five days or so.

AtheismBigBangIn those times I really begin to question myself and my “inner atheist” comes out.

“Am I insane? Do I really believe that a person came back to life 2000 years ago? What in the world around you points to this supernatural reality?”

“How can you believe Christianity is true given the massive splintering within the Church”?

“Who even qualifies to define what it means to be Christian or interpret the Bible to arrive that definition?”

“Look at all the evil in the world how can God be truly good and allow these things to happen?”

“Look at some of the things contained in the Bible can you really attribute them to God and think that He is good?”

In the midst of these internal thoughts, doubts and struggles I know there are answers. I know there are smarter people than I who have wrestled with these things and provided helpful responses. But its not so much intellectual doubt as an emotional struggle. I can’t “make” myself feel differently (I’ve tried) it’s just my state of being at a given time.

Some people may be there right now. Really struggling, doubting and wondering things about God.

Here are the five ways that I work through days when I feel this way and I hope they are helpful to people. Some of these I have adopted from Michael Patton’s post on doubt contained here.

5768035531_cebf6c3c0b1)  Remember that Christianity has been around for 2000 years and you’re not the first person to deal with these things

This is true in the apologetic sense (in terms of dealing with the intellectual substance of an argument) and in dealing with the emotional difficulty that comes with living in a fallen world. It helps me to not feel alone and overwhelmed with whatever I’m struggling with.

2) Talk with someone whom you respect, trust and know has a heart for God

My wife has been such a gift to me in this area. Her clear thinking, wise counsel and patience has been invaluable to me in working out my “atheist days”. I know this can be difficult in some church settings but work to find people who will listen, can empathize (no give “quick answers” to difficult questions), and who will point you back to Jesus in truth and love. They do exist and are worth the search.

3) Don’t leave those internal thoughts to fester

Jonathan Edwards once said, “the heart cannot accept what the mind rejects.” I am convinced of this reality. Yes there is mystery within Christianity (the Trinity for example) but those kinds of mysteries are rational given the kind of Being God is. However, if everything in the Christian religion is “mysterious” in the sense it cannot be comprehended (and thus not needed to be explored) then it has little to no value to human beings. When we allow those internal thoughts, struggles and doubts to fester we give them an opportunity to spread into other areas of our lives like a cancer. We need to deal with them honestly and this usually means seeking help.

4) Take your heart to God even if you aren’t convinced He will hear/is there at that time

The thoughts that frequent my mind during my “atheist days” are “God doesn’t care”, “How do you know God even exists to hear your prayer?” But God has said He will give us what we need when we ask Him (Matt. 7:7-11). Additionally the Psalms and the book of Lamentations are filled with people crying out to God from the depths of their being because they realize He is their only hope in the midst of despair and difficulty.

Doubt should not be the reason for turning from God but an opportunity to run to Him. He is not surprised or disturbed by it (He knows you better than you know yourself). He is allowing you to experience it so that you can experience a deeper sense of His grace and love in knowing more and more your desperate need for and dependence upon Him.

armor-of-god-classic-720x5405)  Realize you are in the midst of spiritual warfare

Originally my list had only “4 things”. However after writing this blog post and reflecting on it much of my symptoms appeared to be the kind of the things the Enemy would whisper in my ears. I’m not saying this necessarily happens each time but that it’s a possibility given the kind of deceiver and liar he is. That being said we need to be aware that we are in a battle and use the weapons that God has given us (Eph. 6:11-17)

How about you? What do you do or how do you respond when you experience doubts or have struggles with God?

 

 

 

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~ by simplesage on December 20, 2013.

2 Responses to “Days When I Feel Like an Atheist”

  1. Emotions convey information.

    Part of self knowledge is understanding the information that emotions are conveying to us.

    Emotions give value to things and ideas and thus enable us to focus our efforts and attention on what is important to us.

    We suffer when we act out our emotions because that is to misuse them.

    Regarding Christianity…

    Christianity was one religion for 1500 years.

    It is the Reformation that in violation of the very specific teachings of Jesus Christ, sundered the unity of the Church.

    I only lasted 6 weeks as a Protestant because its basic doctrines are a violation of both reason and holy scripture.

  2. Totally agree Silence of Mind as a therapist once told me emotions don’t necessarily tell us truth about reality, they just tell us truth about how we are feeling. Both Augustine and Calvin are helpful in understanding the importance of “double knowledge” (knowledge of God and knowledge of self).

    Since you see the church united for 1500 years prior to the Reformation where do you see the Eastern Orthodox Church fitting into your paradigm?

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