I am always sad when people give up on religion at the same time they stop believing in God. Atheists have not lost their reverence for life, only in one symbol of that reverence. They are still enriched by sharing reverence in community regardless of the names they use or don’t use.

The symbol “God” is like a compass pointing to a mysterious power behind things. The power is not in the needle. In fact, the invisible magnetic field to which the compass aligns us, can only be discovered if we remember the symbolic nature of a compass. Symbols wear out as do compasses, which isn’t a problem if we remember that the symbol is only a contact point to a larger truth that never goes away.

Doubt is an indispensable aspect of faith. It is the refining fire which purifies our beliefs and prevents them from becoming dogmas. Paul Tillich used to say, “Serious doubt is confirmation of faith. It indicates the seriousness of the concern, its unconditional nature.”

When a symbol loses its meaning it is important not to pretend to still believe. It is equally important not to make a belief system out of your doubts. Turn doubt on itself and it will take to you the same radiant mystery the religious symbol was originally pointing. The real problem in life is not belief or doubt, but our lack of trust in life, in ourselves, and in others. In the life of faith, belief and doubt are equally important.