Doubt is bad, certainty is good … Really??


Sitting here watching the Commonwealth Games in Australia, I see athletes who have focused everything, who have trained long and hard, who invest much time and energy, who strive to be the best, who are the best, and who believe … what exactly?

And from an article on the BBC news website I saw this yesterday: “Doubt is important to personal development. It’s doubt that keeps you asking questions and broadens your beliefs.  Certainty closes doors. Doubt deepens faith.“

Reading many Christian blogs I see those who focus on the bible, train in theological colleges, invest much time and energy, who strive to be the best, who may be the best, and who believe … what exactly?

From those with qualifications I see ever longer theological words of a language I don’t know.  And from the qualified and non-qualified I see a  certainty I do know.  A creed of certainty.  Just as from a clique of anti-religious faith believers I see the same certainty of belief.  A “creed” of certainty.  I see ALL believing that “doubt is bad certainty is good” that doubt is a dangerous virus to be avoided.

I doubt.  I see no virus.  I see no reason to fear.  I see questions.  I have passion.  I have curiosity.  I desire change.  My change.  My journey of exploration.   My meander with others and their doubts, with their certainties, with their knowing and with their  asking.

“Certainty closes doors. Doubt deepens faith.“

I think compromise is necessary.

But when compromise becomes one-way that is not compromise – that is capitulation.  That is a dynamic of “relationship” I call unhealthy – that is “belief and behaviour” (on all sides) I would name as toxic. And yet reading these posts I see more and more that certainty is good and that doubt is bad.  That doubt is to be avoided.

And doubt has required me to move me from “one camp” to another – from one “relationship” to another.  Yet the reality is that I am disallowed entry to any camp (or relationship of belief) until I agree with their certainty – until I capitulate – until I stamp out doubt.

And I cannot find it in myself to stamp out questions, curiosity, doubt.  And here is why.

I love my wife, our children, and our grandchildren.  I love our family.  And unless I continually meet each “where they are” … unless I seek those changes each of us makes all the time time little by little … unless I invest time not in certainty but in curiosity (my other word for doubt) – I give little and take everything.  I expect them to capitulate who they are just to keep my love – my approval.  And with “unspoken words” I tell them the “membership rules” and just where they are in the “pecking order”.

Because with “certainty” of love and absence of “doubt-curiosity” I think we each capitulate “what we could be” to “what we must be”.

Look around.

The established church is NOT family.   It is a belief “camp” with rules and expectations of behaviour and certainty.  Just as the clique of anti-religious faith believers is not a family either.  It is another belief camp with rules and expectations of behaviour and certainty.

And then in walks the bible – and a character we call Jesus.

I don’t care for “proof”.  I have little time for “language” explaining something I don’t understand.  I am curious.  I am curious about how this story changes me.  I am curious about whether it changes me at all.  Curious as to whether the changes are permanent or temporary.  Whether I apply these changes to those who disagree with me (or only those who do).

I am curious whether this story of love can apply to me as well … whether I have it in me to be as gracious, as kind, as accepting, as open, as healing as this Jesus (now my God Soft Hands Jesus who is of no camp at all) … whether I have it in me to doubt myself and to keep seeking love, kindness, acceptance, healing in all and of all.

And the more I am curious/doubtful I find the more I can.

“Certainty closes doors. Doubt deepens faith.“

What about you?

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3 thoughts on “Doubt is bad, certainty is good … Really??

  1. The willingness to travel from one to the other, since certainty may be doubted and doubt arrive at something of which we are temporarily sure. Certainty is never set in concrete because that leaves us stranded within truths that become lies. Doubt keeps us moving and questioning and each question a step toward God in whom no one can doubt,and in whom no one is certain.

    I am what I will be, a journey from here to there.

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