One of the main things we want to do at Mind and Soul is support the importance of spirituality, and especially Christianity, in our mental health. There is a huge amount of evidence that this is good for both mind and body - not to mention soul! However, what do you do if you don't believe in God or are not sure if you do, or don't want to? This blog post is for the agnostics and atheists.
The same dilemma was faced by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. They had tried many, many things to try and deal with their alcoholism, but had ultimately come to see that only a spiritual solution was going to work. They knew they were alcoholics, they know they were unable to help themselves, the only solution was to 'turn themselves over to a higher power'. Those who chose this path saw amazing freedom and change, but there were also many in the groups who wanted to believe but couldn't.
Some were hot and aggressive atheists, turned off church by previous bad experiences of church or life events for which they blamed the God in whom they did not believe. Some were cool and logical atheists, unable to believe because of the lack of any available evidence and the seemingly contrasting claims of science to hold answers to life's big questions. Some were unsure agnostics, not really knowing where to turn or what was right, but neither able to believe enough at the moment in anything they might turn their lives over to.
However, if you are an alcoholic who has tried everything else going and can see others getting better using a spiritual route, this is rather galling. As AA put it, "To the one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster! To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not easy alternatives to face. Read more from the 'Big Book here: http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/BigBook/toc.htm - Chapter 4.
Yet, it is this false dichotomy that gets so many people into difficulty. They can?t believe in God as they think He has been portrayed, so they don?t believe in Him at all. Yet, this is not how we approach any other relationship. I trust my mother much more than the man I just me on the train because I have known my mother for much longer and found her to be trustworthy. I give the man on the train as much trust as he deserves - he seems a nice chap, but I don't know any more than that. Yet, I might trust him for some stuff - the time of day, directions from the station, comment on today's news.
I wonder (if you have been burnt by church, offended by Christians, unwilling to believe 100% or just plan unsure), if you might be able to trust God a little bit with your spiritual, physical and emotional health. Many give testimony to His power and no-one is asking you to dive in completely. The Bible says, 'Taste and see that the Lord is good.' [Psalm 34v8] Just a taste. The rest is between you and Him. There are many of "we agnostics" who have done so and have come, slowly, to believe.
Rob Waller, 19/06/2009