A year ago I wrote a piece about doubting the existence of God. It received quite a bit of traffic for a while as it seemed to hit a chord.
Many of us who have been part of an overly concreted doctrinal system of belief have struggled to acknowledge doubt. It is almost as if any small incorrect belief would form a crack in the whole edifice of faith that might bring the whole thing tumbling down. To avoid this apocalyptic end to everything we have built our lives upon we contort ourselves into all sorts of defensive positions.
In my case, this involved two main strategies-
- Do not go there. When you feel the approach of doubt, turn in the other direction. It is better not to ask the difficult questions as the answers might be too much to cope with. Distract yourself with narrower, safer issues.
- Dishonesty. Better not to talk about doubt as this might infect others as well as yourself. You also might find yourself ostracised by the fervency and inflexibility of others.
Eventually of course something has to give or we become like stagnant pools, unable to flow, unable to sustain any kind of life. Faith fixed and defended becomes something else called religion. And religion belongs in the text book not in the soul.
I was reminded of this again after listening to this from Giles Fraser;
For my own experience of faith is that belief and unbelief commonly nestle alongside each other. Indeed, I cant make any sense of a faith that doesn’t include unbelief as a powerful element. “My God, why have you forsaken me” is, after all, the cry of Jesus at the very centre of the Christian drama.
As with much that is of the soul rather than the brain, faith and doubt finds voice in poetry. Giles quotes a poem he read that forms part of a memorial for Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, murdered by a religious man because he sought peace.
From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.
The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.
But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.