Doubt, existential crises, and choosing faith.

I suck at having faith. I joke to myself that I am one step away from being an atheist; if it’s not the gods of Egypt, it’s no gods at all. I disguise the seriousness of that feeling by calling it a joke — but it’s 100% truth.

I don’t know how I got to this point, honestly. One day I went to bed full of wonder at the Unseen world that surrounded me;  in the night I was gripped with terrifying doubt that left me disturbed for days straight. I shook it off, only to face it again a few years later, this time so intensely that I became physically ill for weeks, unable to eat or sleep as I grappled with the question of what happens after death.

Eventually I became distracted enough with the demands of daily life that my angst faded into a quiet hum of “what if” in the background — but it never dissipated, and I doubt it ever will. I consider myself a scientist at heart, and I am constantly trying to break my beliefs against what can be measured and tested in the lab. The evidence for atheism is strong. The chemicals released in the brain at death are the right ones to induce the feeling of religious ecstasy reported by so many people who have near-death experiences. All signs point to no. And yet I still practice. Why?

It’s a choice. If I live my life serving the gods and there are none, what have I lost? Perhaps time spent kneeling before Their shrines — but is time spent in peaceful reflection really wasted? If there are no gods, then the purpose of life is what we make of it, and I have chosen to dedicate my life to seeking moments of peace and awe, and to helping others. I have chosen to do something that makes me feel better now, instead of dwelling on what might come later.

5 thoughts on “Doubt, existential crises, and choosing faith.

  1. I often struggle with this as well: When I see the vast universe laid out by the Hubble pictures; When I look at the enormity of my family tree, and know that I’m only skimming the foam on the top of the wave; When I hold the remains of an animal, cold and stiff and empty. I’m always questioning. What I’ve come to believe is that we are so small as to be like the atoms of a cell in the body of God. *sigh*

    1. That is an incredibly beautiful description, “like the atoms of a cell in the body of God”. I’m going to have to remember that one.

  2. I think I’m in the same boat. I’ve been contemplating it a lot in the past two years or so. Exploring atheopaganism helped me to better organize my thoughts, but like you I still practice. I get so much out of it. While I accept that science may say “no”, I’ve had subjective experiences of wonder and awe and beauty with the universe (and Netjeru) so that I don’t mind allowing myself the luxury of my religion…I figure I can give myself that, the ability to allow myself to take to heart what I feel I have experienced.

    But, I think the dose of doubt is healthy.

  3. I’ve come to pretty much the same conclusion. Regardless of what it does for the Gods (if there even are any), my practice fulfills me and brings me happiness. And that’s enough reason for me to continue on.

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