Stupidity is not faith. Superstition is not religion. Asserting that we believe what we have never taken the trouble to inquire whether we believe or no, is not piety, but cant. Persuading ourselves we believe what we dare not investigate, for fear of discovering that we disbelieve, is not orthodoxy, but hypocrisy. Professing that we believe what we see to be contrary to reason, and therefore essentially unbelievable, proves not our regard for religion, but only our indifference to truth. - Alfred Williams Momerie (1848-1900), Congregational minister, professor of logic, metaphysician.
I had questions about my faith and plenty of them. Some things just "didn't add up," at least in my thinking. Things I had been taught to believe did not seem to match the reality surrounding me.
For a long I searched for answers. Indeed I found possible solutions to many of my intellectual difficulties. Others I placed on a shelf in the back of my mind and determined to keep an open mind.
However, it was the emotional aspects of my disappointment with my religious faith that finally turned me. Oh, not at once. But that back shelf of unresolved problems now had the added weight of my disappointment and I soon bowed out of religious faith altogether.
That isn't to say I didn't feel the occasional pull of God from time to time. But once I had committed myself to a godless outlook, it wasn't long before I equated religious faith with stupidity. With that it wasn't long before I was looking down my nose at simple believers, including close friends and family members. My own inner turmoil was spilling out.
For nearly thirty years now I have earned my living by supervising workers. Living as I do in America's Bible Belt, the majority of these folks have been people of faith (even various faiths) - of varying degrees, to be sure. Of course I've also encountered unbelievers and those some place in-between.
From experience I can say that it really does seem to matter what worldview a person embraces. Also along the way I learned to listen a little better. My emotional reasons for leaving my faith were countered by the emotional reasons for others hanging on to theirs.
There remained the intellectual problem for me to grapple with. And grapple I have over the years. I admired my faithless friends, so unemotional in their thinking - until it came to attacking those who questioned their lack of belief. Then I saw plenty of emotion!
I was fortunate to have an atheist coworker and friend who took a lot of time to help me understand basic science better. That had always been one my weaknesses in school. Why not - I was taught it was very often in conflict with my religion?
But as I continued to study the matter over the years I became impressed with the role that the human religious impulse played in both science and philosophy throughout history. I came to appreciate how all of it revolves around the basic fact that existence seems to be reasonable and understandable - intelligent, in a word.
It now occurs to me that one can have a reasonable faith. That back shelf of my unresolved intellectual difficulties is now bigger than ever, but that's okay. I only wish more believers would enlarge theirs - it would help things along considerably. Religious extremism remains a big problem. It is a perversion of faith.