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So I am new at all this. I am going through a phase where I am unsure if I am still a Christian or not. I don't believe in the bible but I believe in a higher power... I just so happen to stumble across this and was curios. I always thought that atheist were the ones who worships the devil and wore black and danced around at night casting spells on people. That is what I was taught. Boy was I wrong. I have been friends with an atheist for like 10 years and just found out LOL.

Anyways, I have 3 amazing children. They are not baptized because I want them to make that decision for themselves. Yes, it did throw a big rock in the water when I put my foot down on that. But they believe in God and Jesus. When asked how babies are made I told them God took a little of mommies heart and a little of daddies heart and made a baby and put it in my belly. When my nephew died 1 day shy of being 3 months I was asked, mommy why did he die? As hurt as I was I said well sometimes God needs baby angels. So every year we write messages Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, etc. on balloons and let them go in the sky so he can see them in Heaven.

Now that I am on the fence on if I am still a Christian or not, I have no idea what to do about my children. Do I pull them away from it all? We don't go to church because I don't believe I HAVE to go to a church to praise God. But how do I interfere with what my children believe? Should I just keep doing what i'm doing and let them decided when they get a little older or what? My whole family are Christians and God comes up a lot. My family stays out of religious discussions with me because I always have something to say to contradict what they are talking about.


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Hello Savannah! Full disclosure, I'm a Catholic Christian, and only an occasional guest here. I think it's a fine and good thing to have doubts, and to be "on the fence" sometimes. I expect if I lived in the south where people in some areas seem to be subject to the worst of our fundamentalist evangelical brethren, I might be on the fence, too ! They are tiresome. As Pope Francis says, the only people who don't have occasional doubts aren't really Christians.

I'm sorry someone told you atheists are doing strange dances in the woods. That's a bit silly.

As far as your kids go, you have to judge for yourself their maturity, but I don't think it ever hurts kids to see adults model being good adults. That includes letting them see that you have questions, and doubts, and yet also still have strong convictions. I think we want adults who have strong convictions, but also have a sense of questioning and doubt... A sense of humility.

I might be on the fence, too!

Bob, be careful where you do your guesting, or in a few years you will be one of us.

You first have to deal with a contradiction; Catholic humility allows neither questioning nor doubt. I dealt with it and today can look into a mirror and see a bit of atheist narcissism.

Hi @Tom.   I'm always willing to be convinced.  Catholicism is hardly without its institutional inanities and its long history of corrupt or corruptible individuals and leaders. 

To be convincing, though, you can't begin with statements like "Catholic humility allows neither questioning or doubt."  That's just nonsense.  Questioning is a fine thing.  Doubt is a normal thing.  Both are deeply imbedded in Catholic literature and tradition from Jesus' cry of "Eli Eli lama sabachthani?" and Peter's denials on. 

Bob, thank you for acknowledging the institutional inanity of:

  • the nun who told the kids in her religion class that doubt is a mortal sin, and
  • the nun who described in detail what the fires of Hell do to human flesh.

They and a few more who told less exciting stories made lasting impressions.

Years later I opined that the Church takes women who need psychiatric care and gives them rooms full of children.

BTW, what is it about atheists or atheism that brings you here so often?

Nope, doubt is not a mortal sin.  The nun just got that wrong.

I hope the fires of Hell burning human flesh at least made for a good campfire yarn.

BTW, what is it about atheists or atheism that brings you here so often?

Periodically when I have a few minutes of loose time I visit interesting sites of different communities.  That helps keep me from being myopic, and perhaps it helps others to hear an authentic perspective that differs from their own.

Bob, your adult mind talks of getting doubt wrong and campfire yarns. Parochialism limits its reach and you ignore the effects of nuns' errors and yarns in kids' minds. In short, Catholicism has left you with as much empathy as a stone.

What brings me here?

I quit Catholicism for agnosticism in the 1950s when there were no supports such as that offered by sites like this. Studying math and science helped me free my mind of the superstitions an RC education had implanted. I found work I liked that also paid well; was happy and felt no need for an encyclopedic knowledge of agnosticism. My life experience supports my conclusion that religion succeeds only when believers are unhappy.

I have the company of hundreds of veterans but few are agnostics/atheists/etc. TA is a source of information and discussion here provides some of the mental stimulation I find necessary.

I was once as rigidly Catholic as you are and don't buy your explanations. Catholicism and myopia, if not synonyms, are synonymic.

No, I actually don't ignore the effects of that one nun's errors on kids.  I find that reprehensible.  In a few cases where such things have lingered I've taken the nun/priest/lay person to task.  In two cases I had the person removed from their youth ministry position.  In all cases, I've worked with the kids to correct the error.

I will fully admit that I am a post-Vatican II Catholic, having grown up in the renewed Church.   My experience with nuns in that environment was entirely different than what you describe.  They were, as a group, both more caring and far better educated than my lay teachers.  In fact, as those nuns faded my younger siblings occasionally had lay teachers who got somewhat goofy.    I was actually taught computer programming in the early 70s by a nun who also served as an associate professor at the local college.

I have run into the occasional odd adult Catholic in your age range who was the product of something like what you describe.  Folks for whom a pedantic, shallow version of the Baltimore Catechism became Holy Writ for some reason.  Perhaps "indoctrination".  So I don't discount your experience, I'm sure it was genuine.

It was, however, not normative.  Most of the adult Catholics in your age range that I know are ordinary folks with much the same opinions and notions as what I share here.  In fact, the more contact that they had with Catholicism (ex. attending a Catholic college) the more they tend to be what I would consider genuinely faithful and knowledgeable.  So I'll admit that within some elementary schools (and no doubt some families) we didn't do a good job.  I will fully admit that in a Church as large as ours we have some nutters, some failed teachers, some bad eggs, some embezzlers, some arrogant pricks, some pedophiles.

They're just not the norm, nor do they accurately represent the teachings of the faith.

I will fully admit that I am a post-Vatican II Catholic, ....

Perhaps wrongly, I understand Vatican II as having begun in the early 1960s with John 23.

Unless a successor has announced Vatican III, you can claim to be a post-Vatican II Catholic, provided that you ignore John 23's successor's "closing the window" and the present Vatican's response to the Nuns on the Bus.

In fairness, the present Vatican did recently scold two Congressional Republicans, Paul Ryan (for his budget) and Speaker John Boehner. They appear to have ignored their scoldings.

Vatican II was a council, not an epoch.  It was convened in 1962 and ended in 1965.

So doubt is only ok if you come back to Jesus?

If doubt leads you away from Christ, then it is not ok or healthy.  

This makes no sense at all.

God punishes you for using your reasoning faculties while at the same time, hides himself and demands that we believe without evidence.

For if there was substantial evidence, there wouldn't be so much doubt going around.  Or so many passages in the bible discussing doubt

Come to the dark side, Dr. Bob.  Things make more sense here.  No rationalizations or acrobatic apologetics necessary.

If doubt leads you away from Christ, then it is not ok or healthy. 

Why would you say that?  Doubt is doubt.  God doesn't punish you for using your reasoning faculties.   At the same time, all of us as individuals and groups often think we are using our reasoning faculties when in fact we are just getting things wrong, or not fully understanding, or not aware of other data, or are just caught up in our own biases or desires.

So there's a balance.  It's good to use one's reasoning faculties.  It's good to question, and doubt, and explore, and investigate.  It's also good to be humble, to listen to others, to build on the knowledge of the community, to doubt our own reasoning as much or more than the consensus of many good and intelligent people over time.  

My own reasoning wouldn't lead me to General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics.  I absorbed those things over time in prolonged study within a community.  It required that I set aside my own reasoning and "common sense" a fair bit, in order to take up and fully appreciate what the physics community meant by those things, rather than just dismiss them as fairy tales.

It's true, there's an extent to which religion in general and Catholicism in particular emphasizes respect for and being part of a community as much or more than individualism.  I think that's because we've had a lot of experience on how individual rationality isn't always that rational.  There's a lot of just plain nutters out there, who would benefit if they set aside their own "doubts" about climate change or other things long enough to actually listen to and understand what the scientific community or others are saying on the topic.  Instead, they seek out odd blogs and small echo-chamber groups as "evidence" for their own idiosyncratic views.  

I see that sometimes within my own faith; I see it a lot within our fundamentalist brethren.  My question is whether you recognize any of that here?

Well, first, we'd have to know if you believe in Hell.  If you do, then nothing you said makes any sense about doubt or reasoning.  

If you don't believe in Hell, then what you said doesn't matter either way because it is exactly what an atheist would also say.  

"Catholicism in particular emphasizes respect for and being part of a community as much or more than individualism."

Catholicism also harbors child rapists, do not forget that.  The sense of community is a sense of their OWN community, not that of others.  I could go on and on but nothing you could ever say about Catholicism - nothing at all - can make up for the disgusting and atrocious behavior it exhibits in regards to it's own internal child rapists and molesters.  It's a cult of secrecy and weird practices.  With funny outfits and immoral teachings on all things.  


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