Doubting Thomas? Crisis Of Faith


#1

I am interested in hearing stories of fellow Catholics struggling with doubts about their faith. What were the deepest of these doubts? Why did these doubts develop? How were they finally overcome? What do the doubters believe were the principal reasons why, in the world we live in, these doubts came into play?

Thank you so much for any contribution you care to make.

God bless,
Gilbert


#2

Since your screen name is Gilbert Keith, I thought I would give you a quote as an answer…it’s from G.K. Chesterton (Gilbert Keith), and it’s about faith and doubters :slight_smile:

[list]At least five times, . . . with the Arian and the Albigensian, with the Humanist sceptic, after Voltaire and after Darwin, the Faith has to all appearance gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases it was the dog that died.

{The Everlasting Man, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1925, 254}

[/list]It’s one of my favorite quotes from him :slight_smile: By the way…there have been many great saints who had doubts :slight_smile: It’s natural.

God bless,

Gracie


#3

[quote=Gilbert Keith]I am interested in hearing stories of fellow Catholics struggling with doubts about their faith. What were the deepest of these doubts? Why did these doubts develop? How were they finally overcome? What do the doubters believe were the principal reasons why, in the world we live in, these doubts came into play?

Thank you so much for any contribution you care to make.

God bless,
Gilbert
[/quote]

1000 Difficulties do not amount to one doubt. It’s important to keep in mind the difference. The existence of mystery is a condition of humanity’s limit scope of vision and not reason for despair. Is there a reason you ask the question? Are you looking for famous or non-famous Catholics?


#4

I doubted everything including the existence of God, the resurrection of Christ, the whole thing.

Then I returned to the Church after years away.

For me, the answer was from proverbs: the beginning of Wisdom is FEAR OF THE LORD.

I became convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was absolutely dependent on God who brought me into being, and that it was literally comic that I thought my little arguments amounted to a hill of beans in the scheme of divine revalation.

There is a big, BIG difference between thinking you know it all, and actually knowing it all. We humans - especially Americans, are very good at thinking we know it all. But isn’t it interesting that we are also deathly afraid of standardized tests like the SAT? We are terrified of public speaking, and any other situation where our knowledge and understanding will be judged.

I don’t know if this is coherent. I’m just saying that I snapped out of my unbelief not from counter-arguments, but by the insight I had through the grace of God that I was being a fool for thinking I knew it all. It was time for me to shut up and listen. Ironically, I have come to richness and depth of understanding I never dreamed possible.

Today’s reading from Acts has Philip asking the Ethopian if he understood the scriptures he was reading, and the man said how can I unless someone explains it to me? Throughout scripture, the recurring theme is that we have to seek, ask, petition for knowledge. We don’t take it. People who say “I read the Bible one night and it’s all nonsense” reveal not how smart they are, but how ignorant and impoverished they are.

My two cents.


#5

After I came back to God and Church (having spent decades as a non-believer) I had a brief period of doubt. Was this all just a made-up security blanket? That very week I happened to go with my family to a local animal park, and there they had a butterfly house. Walking among the butterflies I saw an explosion of beauty and a delight in the very act of creation, something that nobody will ever convince me is the result of natural selection via random mutation. No, this was beauty for the sheer joy of beauty, and on top of that, somehow I had the capacity to recognize it as such.

End of doubts, thanks to a room full of butterflies.


#6

DeFide

1000 Difficulties do not amount to one doubt.

Agreed.

I think God allows these difficulties to persist, sometimes in a nagging way, so that we may be open to continuing our search for Him. He is, after all, very much a hidden God who wants to be found, but wants us to make the requisite effort to find Him.

Likewise, I think God opens the door to doubts, real and serious doubts, for the simple reason that God gives us the freedom to choose between faith and unbelief. God always gives us the choice … but how would we have choices if it were not possible to doubt because our beliefs were ironclad convictions from which we could not budge? A friend of mine recently opined that John Paul was incapable of doubt. I’m not so sure. I think he was capable of doubt, but did not choose it.

On another note, I have known several people who have left or have considered leaving the Church because they find the sacrament of the Eucharist simply unbelievable.

Has anyone here had similar doubts, or does anyone know how this doubt in particular might be countered other than by reassuring reference to scriptural passages?


#7

So…you are doubting your faith, huh?

Just exactly what part of the Roman Catholic Faith are you doubting? It would help us to answer if we knew that.

Are you believing all the easy stuff and denying the stuff you dont like?

Holy Mother Church has been for 1900 years the best Psychiatrist there ever was. She knows what makes you tick, she knows what you need!

If you buy a Honda car and it breaks, who will you go to to fix it? Will you take the Honda to the Ford Dealer? Why not take the Honda to the people who built it - they know best how to fix Honda’s.

WHO MADE YOU? I think God made you. So if you are broken or need fixing you should go to the one who made you to be fixed! Just ask the Holy Ghost twice a day any question you may have. He will let you know!


#8

[quote=Exporter]So…you are doubting your faith, huh?

Just exactly what part of the Roman Catholic Faith are you doubting? It would help us to answer if we knew that.

Are you believing all the easy stuff and denying the stuff you dont like?

Holy Mother Church has been for 1900 years the best Psychiatrist there ever was. She knows what makes you tick, she knows what you need!

If you buy a Honda car and it breaks, who will you go to to fix it? Will you take the Honda to the Ford Dealer? Why not take the Honda to the people who built it - they know best how to fix Honda’s.

WHO MADE YOU? I think God made you. So if you are broken or need fixing you should go to the one who made you to be fixed! Just ask the Holy Ghost twice a day any question you may have. He will let you know!
[/quote]

Hello ole friend.

I loved your post here and never heard the part about asking twice a day any question one has. Maybe I will try that. Thanks for the insight.

Peace…


#9

Exporter

Just exactly what part of the Roman Catholic Faith are you doubting? It would help us to answer if we knew that.

Why don’t you read my posts all over, take a deep breath, and try again.

I did not say I was struggling with doubts. I’m trying to get opinions about dealing with doubts in order to help others who are dealing with their doubts. I gave you a specific question. Do you have a specific answer to offer about the Eucharist?

Thanks,
*Gilbert


#10

From C.S. Lewis:

"Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods “where to get off,’ you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion.”

I remember from biographies of Lewis that he struggled to hold on to his faith after the death of his wife. I wonder how many people, especially adolescents, lose their faith after the death of a parent or sibling. Many of the atheists I have known seem to suffer from anger toward God, and I can’t imgaine why unless they are blaming God for the death or long lasting suffering of loved ones.


#11

[quote=Gilbert Keith]From C.S. Lewis:

"Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods “where to get off,’ you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion.”

I remember from biographies of Lewis that he struggled to hold on to his faith after the death of his wife. I wonder how many people, especially adolescents, lose their faith after the death of a parent or sibling. Many of the atheists I have known seem to suffer from anger toward God, and I can’t imgaine why unless they are blaming God for the death or long lasting suffering of loved ones.
[/quote]

Gilbert,

(I’m a non-Catholic by the way), this quote from Lewis really is indicative of my spiritual journey the past few years. I haven’t figured out when to say when to my reasoning. That’s such an awesome quote that is really needed for me in my life now. Thank you for sharing that with us.

At some point, even after all the evidences and testimony has been weighed, one has to make the choice - to believe or not believe. And, for me, struggling between atheism, agnosticism and Catholicism, I’ve yet to find the distinguishing line between faith and reason and balancing those in my life. For the genuine skeptic (like me) there is not enough evidence in the world to convince me - if I don’t want to be convinced. One must be open to the possibilities presented.

Truly, if one thought of the many things that are bothersome about religion (and Christianity specifically) one could become clinically insane in a short period of time. I’ve let things like evil, hell, sin, etc. so fill my waking moments that I have craved sleep if nothing but to end the ceaseless barrage of doubts and fears. It’s good to see that any sane person has doubts about aspects of their faith. It’s better to see that they have struggled and overcome on a daily basis those nagging doubts. I’ve yet to reach that point.

Thank you so much for beginning this thread. Blessings and peace to you…


#12

ahimsaman

Blessings and peace to you…

Et cum spiritu tuo.

I’ve known of people who left the Church, returned, then left again.

Mood swings? I wish there was a way you could sit down with such a person and gently reason toward the cause of that everlasting pendulum swing. Yet I suppose that even making such an effort can sometimes result only in entrenching the doubter more deeply in his doubts. We cannot all be so winning as Jesus was when he showed the first doubting Thomas all his wounds and so gave incontrovertible proof.

Perhaps prayer, more than talk, is the avenue to take.

I suppose that’s one reason I’ve recently decided to discontinue efforts to talk people out of their doubts … or even their atheism.

This is not a repudiation of apologetics, so much as an effort to understand and admit its limitations.


#13

Speaking of limitations, Pascal’s Wager argument is both an argument that appeals to reason and at the same time an admission that the “reason” of the heart is superior to the “reason” of the head. I wonder how many people in doubt have finally resolved those doubts by agreeing with Pascal that it is better to gamble on God than to risk losing everything.

This seems to me a selfish kind of reasoning … yet perhaps that is the way reason always begin … selfishly defending its own interests until it begins to grow beyond selfishness toward true spirituality … the love of God for God’s sake rather than our own?


#14

Can someone help me reconcile the last three quotes?

“Man is capable of nothing, it is God who gives everything, who gives man faith.” Soren Kierkegaard

“Ultimately, faith is the only key to the universe. The final meaning of existence, and the answers to the questions on which all our happiness depends cannot be found any other way.” Thomas Merton

“It is love makes faith, not faith love.” John Henry Newman

“For Faith is the beginning and the end is love, and God is the two of them brought into unity. After these comes whatever else makes up a Christian gentleman.” St. Ignatius of Antioch

“There is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither hope nor love without faith.” Saint Augustine


#15

[quote=Gilbert Keith]DeFide

1000 Difficulties do not amount to one doubt.

Agreed.

I think God allows these difficulties to persist, sometimes in a nagging way, so that we may be open to continuing our search for Him. He is, after all, very much a hidden God who wants to be found, but wants us to make the requisite effort to find Him.

Likewise, I think God opens the door to doubts, real and serious doubts, for the simple reason that God gives us the freedom to choose between faith and unbelief. God always gives us the choice … but how would we have choices if it were not possible to doubt because our beliefs were ironclad convictions from which we could not budge? A friend of mine recently opined that John Paul was incapable of doubt. I’m not so sure. I think he was capable of doubt, but did not choose it.

On another note, I have known several people who have left or have considered leaving the Church because they find the sacrament of the Eucharist simply unbelievable.

Has anyone here had similar doubts, or does anyone know how this doubt in particular might be countered other than by reassuring reference to scriptural passages?
[/quote]

You don’t overcome doubts by sitting on them. If you’re afraid there’s a monster under your bed, don’t fret about it or wish it away, LOOK! God gave us a will and an intellect for a reason, and we will be accountable for using them. There’s no reason to stop at scriptural passages. The Eucharist is also backed up by the say-so of the Church and Chruch Fathers:

catholic.com/library/Christ_in_the_Eucharist.asp

Further, it might help to see the reasons why we trust the Catholic Church and her Scriptures (in that order):

catholic.com/library/Proving_Inspiration.asp
envoymagazine.com/backissues/5.3/nutsandbolts.htm

Further, it might help to have reasons for our faith in God:
peterkreeft.com/featured-writing.htm

The Church rightly points out that we can come to faith through reason. (CCC para 156-159) Faith and reason are allies. Faith is not based on the various comings and goings of emotion.

"1. Reason is the friend of divine authority, which can neither deceive nor be deceived, but not necessarily of human authority, fads, and fashions

  1. Reason is the friend of faith in this divine authority, but not of naivete. Thus reason leads to the faith and away from the cults.

  2. Reason is the friend of hope, but not of human wishful thinking.

  3. Reason is the friend of agape (love) but not of eros (selfish passion)…"

From the Handbook of Chrisitian Apologetics, by Peter Kreeft

Do you have this book yet?


#16

DeFide

Do you have this book yet?

Not yet.

I am reminded that Saint Thomas had doubts and overcame them. It is not the doubts that are sinful … but the failure to overcome them with trust (faith) hope and love.


#17

The eucharist is a matter of faith. Without faith, it is impossible to understand it rationally because it is beyond human understanding.

But think for a minute about all of the things in life that you accept as true. . . many things beyond your understanding. For example,you might read about a geographical place in a textbook and you accept it as true because you believe in that writer’s expertise. You have never been there or met the writer,but you accept it as true. We constantly believe what we hear on the t.v. news and read in the newspaper. Right now I am listening to “breaking news” and hearing of a car accident. I believe it happened, even though I am not there as a witness.

We are quick to believe what other people tell us without proof, because we feel they are trustworthy. Now think about what Jesus tells us about his body and blood. Should we accept Jesus’s teaching or require proof after proof?

Now think about all the facts and knowledge that we do know. Should facts be a reason to doubt? Maybe if the facts conflict with our faith, we should reinterpret the facts, not our faith.Too many people make faith the servant of reason, and not the other way around.

Sometimes I have doubts, but I look at the complexities in the world around me to reaffirm my faith. Think of the complexity of the human body and how all of our body systems work together. Or consider how each human being looks different…
what an amazing thing! Just look up in the sky and admire the white billowing clouds or gaze at a rose for a minute.

I constantly pray that God will give me more faith and will teach me more each day.

:shamrock:


#18

I think that doubts are a part of taking one’s faith seriously.
Once I lost my faith – I forget what book I was reading, something about ancient art or mythologies-- which seemed to prove that Christianity was merely one among many superstitions. I was walking as I came to that decision . . .about half a block later I wandered into an open door, and there was a pastor talking to a group. He pointed straight at me and said, "And YOU, hold fast to what you have believed --"
That was no coincidence. It got me back on track.

Lately I’ve had a hard time reconciling the recent brutal murder of a child with my faith. I know we have free will, and that God can’t go around repairing our sins and blunders constantly or our free will would be meaningless, so the murderer had free will and chose to misuse it. But I keep coming back to – God could have saved her – they were searching for her and came so close. Why didn’t He?
The only answer I can find is that I really don’t understand death. That child is now with God.
Does anyone have any better answers?


#19

Viki

Does anyone have any better answers?
How could there be a better answer? If we could all have the same answer!!!


#20

Smilnirish

The eucharist is a matter of faith.

It is that purely and simply, and perhaps the one thing that turns so many outsiders off to Catholicism … people, that is, who have put their own “wisdom” before the wisdom of the Lord.


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