UI – Part 266 – I Doubt, You Doubt, We All Doubt
To doubt is to be aware of your mind. It works. The mind is a processor that is free to explore that which it perceives, questions and studies.
Have you ever doubted? In life we doubt with each step we take. The decision making complex that is encased in our skulls raises doubts with each choice made. We make a decision wherever, such as walking and about to cross the street – do we wait for the light to change, looking right and left for traffic, is it safe; is there time before a vehicle passes to make it to the other side. Simple, but part of the process of responding to doubts. We make greater life-decisions as well, such as to marry or not, is she/he the right one, and where/when as to ceremony or not. We face temptations and decide; should I do it, I want to, but is it wrong. It is wrong, Oh my, what to do. What would God say? What if I do it and I’m discovered? Who would know? We consider forgiveness – a choice, often a hard one, can we forgive – from debts, to accidents, broken hearts and broken pieces. Who is at fault? Does it matter? Someone needs to pay, to be punished, is it me or the other? And life goes on.
Is Religion a Choice?
Born into a culture that is of a dominant religion or ideology has consequences, potentially good and the reason for God[i]. But a religion may have faith in God, or it may not. Culture matters. In the Middle East and many other Muslim countries, in Southeast Asia for instance, Islam dominates. The map shows the Muslim world where over 90% of the population is Islamic.
The United States, Canada, Latin America, Mexico and much of Europe are considered Christian (Catholic included) nations, the persons there born into families with history linked to Christianity. Where you are born is your starting line and the faith of your mothers and fathers a foundation, a platform, from which you can (if you choose) launch your own path. Breaking out of or away from the culture of your parents, the society in which you are raised, and the governance that you have experienced, is a challenge. It is both intellectual and personal. But can anyone reading this blog say that they never considered, What If? or Is there another option? Doubts as to who you are, why you were born, where you were born, your purpose, the path on which you were placed (not your decision) and how you will go forward in life is normal.
Religions take all forms. Dominant religions are Christianity, Islam, Hindu, and Buddhism. But we cannot exclude atheism as a religion. The no-God sect is certainly a group who believes, just not in the Supernatural. There are many other forms of religion. Everyone may be born into a religion, but it is safe to say that not everyone stays with the religion that embraced them at birth. Thinking evolves and change takes place.
In his book, The Reason for God,[ii] Tim Keller writes, “A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic.” He continues with a suggestion that is most insightful[iii], “Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts – not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive.”
Accept the freedom of thought you enjoy and no one can take away. You are free to think. You are free to doubt. Now in some circles your doubts may have to be kept to yourself, but there is no reason not to explore and find answers. My guide is The Eraser Rule.
The Eraser Rule
In my book, Wake Up!, Wake Up!, The Testimony of a Layman[iv] I offer an approach to dealing with and considering your doubts. I was born a cultural Christian. The day came when I questioned my faith. Did I understand? Do I really believe and what do I believe? Am I going about life blindly? There was and is a need to understand the path you follow. Exploring my doubts, my faith, only made my Christian faith stronger; it made my faith my own as well. It is what I believe, not what I was told to believe. The following is excerpted from the book:
“Picture a large blackboard, a slate with chalk, available to write down each doubt you have. List them all. On the same ledge with the chalk is an eraser. Your doubts will be different if you are a Buddhist, Muslim, Islamic Fundamentalist, Jew, Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, or simply a believer in Jesus Christ and the Word, and so forth. But list your doubts – include concerns and questions. Then do research, study, go beyond the text of the religion and confirm the historical evidence. Go beyond the statements of the leaders, the teachers, and conduct your own study. Even look at the texts of opposing beliefs. Study history, the timing of written evidence, obtain background on the writers, both those close to the situation and removed. Seek answers to questions you have, and feel free to inquire even further. Listen to the Apologists for your Faith. Be open to the Apologists for other Faiths. Seek the truth. Explore your faith. As doubts are eliminated, grab the eraser, erase them from the blackboard. If new doubts arise, grab the chalk, add them to the blackboard. Yes, apply the ‘eraser rule’, eliminate through study, exploration, digging, dialog, research, and whatever means available, doubts.
If the doubts remain, or even increase, then your faith may remain ‘blind.’ But as you may start with one eye open, the objective is to end up with both eyes open, and open wide and wider. If that is not possible, the doubts persist, indeed even that one open eye may close to one’s Faith. But it is possible also that the one open eye may begin to see the light of another Faith, and the doubts of that Faith may be ‘erasable.’
“But, if the doubts persist and grow, then it’s time to think about another avenue to pursue, and that avenue may be a new road, a new faith, a faith that you may even discover in your research and study, a faith that via the development of ‘proof’ rids one of doubts, wipes the blackboard clean, and provides an open view to God….
“Blind Faith can be Enlightened Faith, can be a brightly Illuminated Faith. Each piece of evidence provided is as a floodlight switch being flicked on, the light shining on the truth, and as more evidence is uncovered, more floodlights beam forth, those floodlights clearly illuminate the truth, the Faith. With proof, proof is the beacon, the multitude of floodlights, the blackboard with few doubts remaining, the doubts erased, one’s convictions will fall on the truth, a true faith, a faith in a real God…. Oddly enough as the doubts are erased, the helping hand on you will be the Spirit of God filling your heart. Try it for yourself and you will, I am confident, wipe your slate clean of doubt and be a companion believer with me.
“I am a Christian. I have doubts. I have fewer doubts today than I had in past years. Each day another doubt is erased from my blackboard. Occasionally a new doubt is added. But my faith is not ‘blind’ for I now see so much more, my eyes are open wider, and I believe more than ever in the reality, the direction, and just how much the Triune God has done for me. I am hungry too, hungry to learn more, know more, my eraser in hand, prepared, ready, to erase the remaining doubts on my blackboard. Most importantly I know that God loves me. God has provided for me a great family, a home, food for our table, wonderful in-laws, fantastic grandchildren, churches that have been an inspiration, church leaders that have been caring and forthright, and so much more. There have been trials, obstacles, and tests of my faith. I have sinned. I have asked forgiveness. I have been forgiven. Each day I struggle with my humanness, but knowing how much I am loved by God, how much I am guided by the Word and my faith, and that God listens to my prayers, I find I am comforted. And that comfort is confirmed in the ‘proof’ of God’s existence, of His Son living and dying for all mankind, His Son bearing the burden of sin for all man, the ultimate sacrifice, the resurrection, and the Spirit that remains in the hearts of those that understand, and that intercedes on our behalf. Those that believe in the Triune God, that have Faith, that have taken the time to study and have seen the truth illuminated, have a clean slate for a future in God’s Kingdom on Earth.”
Beware of Those That Deny Your Freedom to Believe for Yourself
Many religious leaders work hard to suppress the ability of their constituents, those they insist remain faithful to them, to them as their someone in whom to have faith, out of fear, fear that the doubts will not be erased, the ‘eraser rule’ will not be applicable (also knowing that the doubts cannot be erased as the proof does not exist), and that another leader, that of Christ, may find their hearts. Death to the Infidels is the cry of those that fear the Truth. But why death, if it is life that is offered by Christ. A new life in a belief, in Faith, that has so much proof to offer and not so much to prove.
Your Path. They are Your Doubts. Have Doubts. Explore. Find the Answers. Know What you Believe.
It is good. It is healthy. Doubt. Do not fail to explore, to search, to study, to research and answer the questions your doubts raise, if you can. The scales from my eyes have been removed. I now have a relationship with God. You need to begin mining your thoughts and doubts. The discovery you make may be the most precious of treasures ever found.
Thanks Be to God.
Grace and Peace.
[i] Also the name of a book by Tim Keller – The Reason for God – referenced later.
[ii] The Reason for God, Tim Keller, Dutton Publishing, NY, NY, 2008, pg.xvi
[iii] Ibid, pg. xvii
[iv] Wake Up, Wake Up, The Testimony of a Layman, Thomas W. Balderston, Tate Publishing, Mustang, OK, 2009, pg. 153