The Dominion of Doubt
There is news circulating in the world of Christianity that a significant number of young people leave the church because of doubts about their faith. Some experts point the finger of blame at the church for failing to tackle tough philosophical questions about our faith. Their argument goes that the church offers too many trite answers and a simplistic Christianity. Others blame secular culture and academics for tearing down religion by claiming that faith is incompatible with reasoned thought and science.
One common question that incites some people to abandon or reject faith is this: How can a loving God permit such terrible events and suffering in the world? This question is used by many as evidence that God does not exist. For some people this question is an escape mechanism to avoid God because a relationship with God will change who they are and, often, the way they live. Others have sincere doubts.
Christians and would-be Christians can get a better understanding of why terrible things happen in this world of green grass and sunshine by reading Genesis 3:1 through 6:5. In these chapters it is clear something has gone awry with the way God originally designed the world. Even today, just look around and you can see imperfections in everything. Even our DNA has flaws.
The older I get, the more often uncomfortable questions materialize in my noggin. Fortunately, these nagging conundrums seem, somehow, to strengthen my faith. (Yes, I know, it’s a paradox.) Here’s the point: Mystery lends excitement, adventure, and contentment to life. Do you need an example? Here it is—fish. As an amateur ichthyologist (which really means my knowledge of fish is limited to bait and seasoning), I love fishing. All kidding aside, I have acquired some impressive knowledge of certain species of fish. I absolutely love the mystery of fishing. It’s the wonderful anticipation of catching what lurks beneath the surface of the mysterious world of water. An angler could spend a lifetime learning everything that science, lore, and Stan’s Bait Shop staff can teach about fish . . . and it still wouldn’t be everything there is to know about fish. Really, who can know the mind of a fish? The unknown doesn’t diminish my love of fishing. If I figured out how to make a fish bite with every cast, fishing would soon lose its allure.
That’s sort of how it is with God. In this life we will never know the entire mind and purposes of God. Yet it feels right to continue pursuing God. After this life we may know more about God, but even then I doubt we will know everything. I’m okay with that. Much about God is a mystery. A literary mystery is described in the dictionary as: “A novel, short story, play, or film whose plot involves a crime or other event that remains puzzlingly unsettled until the very end.” Well said!
You see, doubt has been with us since the beginning. Eve was enticed to doubt God. Eve wanted more knowledge, to be like God. She wanted answers. She wasn’t content with some mystery about God and her place in God’s designs.
Doubt can be healthy. Doubt can keep us out of cults. It can help us avoid scams. But doubt, to be used effectively, requires a little faith and a good measure of wisdom. I have to be cautious with doubt because it can doom me to the mundane. I might do great things in this world of the mundane, but I would lose something eternal.