The life of a religious skeptic

I guess doubt has always been in me. I got a flashback of my early years doubt (a flashback that has lasted for three days) from a recent conversation with my son. He was telling me about his skepticism of religion and I remembered how at his age I was not only skeptical of religion, I was very much against it. I sat in the back of the chapel in school every week during our obligatory weekly mass and cavorted with the other skeptics, agnostics and the occasional evangelical christian who was stuck in a catholic school with the rest of us.

These days I consider myself an agnostic though if you question me hard enough you might think I am a hard core atheist. But it was not always like that... or was it?

As a young boy I got through the usual cathecism classes and the first communion preparation and all that. I do remember vividly how I always thought how come those wonderful miracles you read about in the Bible were never around for me to see. Why did they happen in ancient times and not in modern times, when I could be around to see them? Seas parting, walls crumbling, huge floods and thunder and big voices coming from the clouds. It would have been great to witness such an event. Why did they not happen anymore?

My conversation with my boy echoed those same memories. Everything came back, together with the lingering doubt, a doubt that grew given the spectacular lack of evidence of any divine entity.

It was a long process that took 40-plus years. I have reflected before on how difficult it is to renounce your belief when you are indoctrinated (oh yes Mr. Dawkins, you are right!) from such a young age. Or is it not renounce your belief but rather accept your lack of?

As a child I could not do it. Parental wisdom and indoctrination prevailed. As a young adult, I got carried away by my friends and the vision of a pretty young girl (who is now my wife) into a "conversion" to the "new man" and a renewed encounter with catholicism, which lasted all of 4 or 5 years. Even in the deep side of my encounter with faith I doubted - I remember clearly thinking if this was all really worth it as I was being asked for sacrifices I really did not want to make. And the truth is I never got around to making those sacrifices. (So much for conversion to the "new man"). But I did get involved and it took me a long time to get out of the mess I got myself into.

For some people belief or disbelief is just not important. For others, like me, it is of the utmost importance. My son seems to be on the last group. My advice to him and others like him is that anything that you settle on (either belief or lack of) must come from a strong reflection and the conviction of one's own ideas. No one should impose them on you - and definitely, juvenile indoctrination should not be allowed

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