What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Doubt and Faith

So even if you don't know a thing about philosophy (or get queasy just thinking about the subject) you've probably heard the credo "I think therefore I am." This was put forth by a guy named Descartes. His goal was to answer the critics of religion who claimed that faith was not rational. So he began his work by doubting everything and then building from his own reason to the life of faith and the existence of God--he wanted to especially exclude revelation (i.e. Scriptures).

In doing this exercise, Descartes unwittingly put doubt at the center of knowledge. And thus began the enthronement of doubt as the supreme arbiter of truth.

This has taken deep root in our culture. The cynical smirk is the fixture of our t.v. and movie heroes. If an idea or concept can be doubted, it is presumed, then that must be the most true thing about that thing. Doubt has the trump card. Faith or belief is foolish if it can be proven that there is possibility for some sort of doubt about what you believe in.

This of course, simply leaves us paralyzed to do much of anything. All of life requires faith commitments. Even the belief that doubting and skepticism is a more realistic way of viewing the world is itself the product of faith commitments.

But what if doubt and skepticism isn't automatically a more "realistic" way of looking at our world? What if doubt isn't the primary premise of how we should understand how the world works? What if doubt is simply one way to understand the world and faith is an equally viable way of understanding the world? What if doubt wields unfortunate power over us in such a way that it robs us of the ability to see much of anything clearly? How would it change things if doubt and faith were given equal footing and credibility in the explanation of the cosmos?

For the Christian trying to grapple with a deeply pluralistic and skeptical culture on the one hand and the Scriptures on the other, this is a critical question. Doubt is an important part of the life of any and every believer. And there are times when those doubts close in on you and seem to choke out any certainty of anything having to do with God. This is simply part of the journey into Life, for reasons that God has seen fit to ordain.

But that does not mean that doubt gets the last word. Life does. Faith does. Hope does. Hope wins. But we seem to be fixated on doubt and skepticism in place of faith, hope, and love. Hang around people who doubt everything--not a whole lot of fun, actually. Radical skepticism as a lifestyle breeds the fruit of existential angst that leads to death. There is no joy in it. What proof do we have of skepticism and doubt being a more congruent way to understand our world? All it leads to is sorrow.

And so our culture spins more and more deeply into its' own self-made despair, doubting everything, even its' own existence, as it free-falls into hopelessness.

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