Layers of Atheism

 am reading a rather fantastic book at the mo called ‘God of Surprises’ by Gerard Hughes. It’s a fairly old one so I suspect lots of Christians have a copy knocking around on the theological bookshelf… I did not expect to enjoy it. It’s on the diocesan reading list and it was given to me in a box of books from a friend, so I started reading it as a ‘tick off’… So I was myself rather surprised to find it’s actually very good. I usually read quite fast but this one is taking me a while because it keeps causing me to stop and think!
This week I was struck by this passage;

‘There are layers upon layers of consciousness within us and on our journey towards God we are constantly discovering areas of atheism within us, provided we dare to look. These discoveries are signs of progress, not of failure…’

 what a relief then….;)

It is really interesting as Christians seem to take two forms in this respect: Those who question, embrace doubt and learn from it; and those who push it all under the metaphorical mental carpet, and refuse to acknowledge it, mainly through fear.

On the one hand I respect the idea that if we give in too deeply to doubt that it can consume us, and after all faith is a mystery, we cannot have all the answers that we desire. BUT… I think to ignore doubt, questions, or anxieties within our faith just ignores the problem, that will surely bite one on the bum at a later stage. The bible talks about our faith being built on the rock, not the sand, and to me, not addressing these things that come up is like piling everything onto sand, bound to come crashing down when something really challenging comes along. So I positively embrace this passage from Hughes. I like the notion of pockets of atheism hidden amongst the layers, I like that I can seek it out, or address it when it rears its head. I like that it is something that means I am progressing in my faith. I like that he says this is a positive thing not negative.
I embrace doubt!

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1 Comment

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    July 8, 2011 at 11:14 am

    So glad you've discovered Gerard Hughes, Red. I first read this book when a friend gave me a copy back in the 80s. I've treasured it ever since and still go back to it at times. Everything I've read by Hughes has been worth reading and pondering and if you come across any of his other titles, do read them. I agree entirely with what you say about doubt here.

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