With all the posts that I've been writing recently, I've been thinking a lot about the role of doubt. Between reading Mr. Dawkins' forthright attacks on religion, and rethinking the role of faith in my own religious beliefs, I suppose it is only natural that I should think also think about doubt.
It started as I was reading Mr. Dawkins book and I began to ask myself, what if his arguments are convincing? What if he is able to make a convincing argument that God never existed, or that Jesus never rose from the dead? Would I receive such evidence? If, after a thorough examination, his argument proved to be sound, would I renounce my faith?
Yes, is the only answer that I can reasonably give. I cannot go on believing that something is true if I know for a fact that it is false.
Of course, I'm very doubtful that Mr. Dawkins will be able to make such an argument, but there's a chance that I might be wrong about that. And that's the point. There's always a chance that we might be wrong. That's why we have doubts.
Recently I've been experiencing some doubts of my own. I've doubted whether or not God is really as good, as loving, as faithful as I believe him to be. This doubt isn't based on reason, but rather on my own fears and insecurities. I'm not persuaded by this doubt, but I acknowledge that it does exist.
I can see doubt at work in other Christians as well. It looks a little different for everyone, but I suspect that most Christians struggle with doubt from time to time.
As an example, there's a woman I know. She goes to church regularly, she prays, she reads the bible every day.
She's also a victim of sexual abuse.
Understandably, she has a lot of struggles. She has a hard time believing that God is really good. She has a hard time trusting that God will take care of her. I don't think anyone can blame her for this.
Doubt is a reality for many. How we face our doubts is a question that needs to be considered.
As a final example, I'll talk about an online discussion I participated in recently. The discussion was about the early chapters of Genesis. Quite a few people in the discussion were young earth creationists, who favored a strongly literal reading of Genesis. One person argued that if we hold a non-literal interpretation of Genesis, then we're questioning the reliability of God's word.
Ignoring the whole creation/evolution issue for now, I want to consider how this person is responding to doubt. Clearly, doubt is the enemy. Indeed, doubt is a powerful enemy. Questioning their interpretation of just one part of the bible threatens to unravel their whole belief system.
I don't think that's a healthy way to respond to doubt. We need to allow for the possiblity that we might be wrong. If we don't allow ourselves to ever experience doubt, then we won't ever be able to learn when we're wrong.