Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Worshiping Doubt



In practice of law, there is a threshold of proof that must be demonstrated in order to prove someone guilty of a crime. Guilt requires that the available evidence demonstrates criminal offense “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That means that if a jury of reasonable people can be convinced that there is reasonable doubt as to guilt, a verdict of innocence is appropriate. It is reasonable to assert that since this is a solid foundation for determining the guilt of individuals regarding criminal offenses, this threshold should also be met in areas of determining philosophical truth (at very least). But, in today’s culture, more often than not, less than reasonable doubt is exalted to the throne of reasonable. Insufficient doubt is glorified to immunity from doubt itself.

Doubt is defined as the uncertainty about the truth or factuality or existence of something. It is the state of being unsure of something. Doubt should simply represent what we don’t know. But, if what we don’t know is not more compelling than what we do know, then what we don’t know should not be exalted above what we do know. In other words, like faith, doubt should also not be blind doubt. Do Christians wrestle with doubt about what is true? Yes. But, what we know as true is so much more compelling than what we don’t know. Our faith fills in the lesser gaps of what we don’t know. And, the larger body of what we do know confirms our smaller gaps of faith. That is far more than what can be said of Christianity’s critics today.

Does reasonable doubt exist for the basic foundation of Christianity? Does reasonable doubt exist for the basic foundation of atheism? Does it seem like Christianity’s critics avoid this comparison between those two questions? For example, is there reasonable doubt that everything in the universe was created by nothing? The answer is yes, and beyond yes. Exalting doubt is the lowest form of pursuing knowledge. And, lazy doubt is no better. Further, doubt that desires not to move from doubt is arrogant doubt. The only thing worse than that is stubborn doubt. But, in all its forms, doubt is not an optimal mental residence. To this point, Romans 1:20 says, "For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."

There are many examples of doubt in the Bible and how God graciously interacts with us when we doubt. Probably the most famous are John the Baptist and Thomas. And, in both of these cases Jesus responded (as should we) by confirming what we already know. He confirmed what we know in order to show that what we know is greater than what we don’t know. And, for those of us today, the Bible gives us fantastic advice in James 1:5-8 which says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” This passage may be speaking about the narrower doubt regarding a specific request made of God. But, the framework of our interaction with God should work the same as this in most if not all circumstances.

First, if we are in doubt about God, we must re-review what we already know. If what we know is more compelling than what we don’t know, we should demote doubt to its proper, lowest place below knowledge. Then, we should begin a discipline of daily reminding ourselves of what we already know in order to avoid the temptation to doubt in the future.

If however, what we know is not compelling to us in the moment, then we should ask God in faith for the specific wisdom that we need. Asking for what we spiritually need in faith means that we ask without doubting that God will supply that spiritual need. Asking for spiritual wisdom in faith is asking in hopeful expectation. Whenever this is done, God has yet to fail His children. After all, 1 John 5:14-15 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” And, we know for a fact that imparting His wisdom in our spiritual time of need is probably in our Perfect Father's will. This is good news to the one who genuinely wishes to overcome doubt.

Christian, don’t let doubts reign exalted over more compelling knowledge. Compare what you do know with what you don’t know and ask yourself which is more compelling. Doubt should never be exalted above knowledge and faith. As the young poet Joseph Solomon put it, “Before you doubt God, doubt your doubts.”

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.