How do you counter doubting thoughts?


I’m 19 years old from the UK and I am searching for some advice from you kind people. So let me get to the point as of late doubtful thoughts have been making appearances into my mind. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t want these thoughts here, and I’ve prayed to make these thoughts go away but as I saw on another site when searching how to counter such things, they said that it’s a funny thing with the human mind the more we don’t want a thought to happen the more that thought appears.

Comments made by some people (the aggressive atheist types) are saying such things like all major religions are just an indirect form of Pagan or Satan worship. In which that statement shocked me, I find the idea ridiculous given our Baptismal Promises ask us if we reject Satan and his works and empty promises, but just the sheer zeal such people seem to posses in their views are genuinely unsettling. How do you counter those statements from personally effecting you?

Adding to this is I am at University, just completed my first year and while I am used to having atheist friends in the past I have also had other people my age that were Catholic or at least Christian. But now at University I seem to be surrounded by atheists including many of the lecturers it seems, and there are few that mock the faith or seem to not have respect for it. (I’m studying history so when the religion is brought up it seems to be that it is lectured upon in a rather mocking tone). Now I’m thinking that maybe because at University I am exposed to the barrage of atheist comments some of it is slipping through to my mind, even though I don’t want it to.

So that’s why I’m asking you good people how do you counter doubts? As soon as those doubtful thoughts slip into my mind, I say “Get out of my head” to myself. I recite the Apostle’s Creed. And state the fact that History dictates that Jesus was a real person, there are records of his Crucifixion and I also bring in arguments that I know from studying theology, the cosmological argument for example.

So I ask again have you people ever had doubtful thoughts, and if so how do you counter them? Should I just ignore them and not even entertain them by opposing them in the hope that they just disperse or? I’m not searching to be lectured on this, it must be said the doubting thoughts are not constant but occasionally spring to mind. I’m just asking for kindly, constructive advice.

Thank you in advance, God Bless you all


(I will re-post a post I posted before about general aspects)


All sorts of thoughts can happen to us out of the blue…(not sought etc)

Be they impure, against God etc

The fact that a thought happened to one- does not mean per se there was any sin.

And for mortal sin one needs not only grave matter, full knowledge and deliberate (complete) consent…

Just cause a thought happened to you does not mean there was any sin. Let alone mortal sin.

Just calmly turn to something good…


For the next few moments --try real hard NOT to think of an Apple.

then scroll down.

What did you think of?

An apple.

Even though your will was against it (you did not want to think of an apple!)

Now back to unwanted thoughts…

The more you fear and try hard not to have them…the more they will likely come and bother you.

The best thing to do with such thoughts is not to fight them directly --not fear that they will come—simply do not consent and simply and calmly turn to something else…(or it may be best to keep doing the good thing one is doing…like they come out of the blue when your at work …keep working…keep praying …etc)

There is a story from the desert of the early Centuries of the Church where a younger hermit when to an older one with the problems of thoughts happening to him all the time…the older hermit told him to go outside open his cloak and catch the wind.

The younger hermit said such is not possible…

the older hermit replied --neither is it possible to stop all the thoughts that can come to you…(then basically he said his task was not to consent…if they should happen…hence I would add one would turn to something else that is good…).

Ignore such unwanted thoughts like one would ignore a* hissing goose or a barking dog*. One does not stop to *argue *with a hissing goose or a barking dog does one? No one keeps on walking…

(as noted above the image there comes from a Carthusian Monk from centuries ago…)

Ignore such unwanted thoughts and do not fear them…just calmly turn to something good.

Temptations against Faith can come…the best way to fight against such is more by flight then by fight. (such is the age old advice --same with the temptations against the virtue of chastity). (other temptations the way is “fight” - like opposing the temptation with the opposite virtue etc in an active way).

Most “temptations of thought” are are better to “ignore”…(see long post above)

And the great Catholic Philosopher Josef Pieper noted sometimes one has to even to simply stand fast as a kind of martyr in silence holding fast to ones Faith…in the midst of temptations against faith…even in the the midst of ones own involuntary feelings or thoughts --that assail one like arrows…(not consenting).

or as St. Therese did… simply say or write “Credo” (I believe).

Or silently make the sign of the cross…(as ones profession).

Hold fast to Jesus of Nazareth

In him is true life!

“A Still Small Voice”

by Father Groeschel.

A really good advice, thank You! :thumbsup:

Do understand that God loves infinitely, this dogmatic truth alone, will approve that God is love Himself. Without a supposition of this, this a devil’s intelligence.

Are you active in a parish or campus group? Are you part of a ministry or Catholic social group?

This seems highly spurious at best…clearly any atheists willing to conflate such diverse forms of worship are not giving the topic much clear thought…further, the atheist who claims religion to be a net detriment to society is not fairly considering its positive impact both throughout history and as a cultural echo…

For the opinion of a guy who has had more doubt than he can count :slight_smile: me…

Learning works for me… but the key is to learn the source material. I enjoyed reading the catechism in favor oof what someone told me the church teaches. Sometimes you may need help in clarification etc but remember there is a hodgepodge of assorted alternate views out there, and their take on what christianity is varies. So you may here “this catholic teaching is crazy” and you might agree, but is it really catholic teaching?

IMO some stuff gets really confusing, like when statistically “alot of catholics _____” okay… but do they HAVE to? Is it a actual teaching? I like church teaching, not so much what alot of catholics/christians say :frowning:

Then many atheists can confuse you further (especially if you lack epic knowledge of complex theology) by “dissproving” protestant ideas. Which are already disproven to you (as a catholic) so you logic center may mix these obviously (to you, no offense to my prot pals) wrong ideas in with the church. And then think since those were disproven the atheist points on other things must be good… ehhh

I dabbled in atheism for a time, and the thing is 99% of what I knew made faith wrong… did… because it want what the faith is o.O

If you have a doubt, seek an answer. :slight_smile:

One thing that you will discover as you get older is that just about any objection you can ever run across has already been addressed in one form or another. Ad nauseam. Most objections and arguments are simply an exercise in flogging a dead horse.

Not everyone, of course, will find the answers compelling, because grace does play into this. But you can at the very least feel confident that you can find a perfectly intelligent, reasonable, and educated answer to any question you can raise.

I would also encourage you to seek out some Catholic friends your own age so you can balance out the influence that secularists might have on you.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit