The Spiritual Nature of Doubt

The Spiritual Nature of Doubt March 3, 2015

“The Thinker” by Auguste Rodin

When religious paradigms break apart through critical analysis, it is natural for believers to experience doubt. The spiritual distress that accompanies uncertainty can be incredibly painful. And this is a problem, since as humans, we have been endowed with a natural aversion to pain—even the emotional kind that accompanies religious doubt.

In this situation, it is only natural, therefore, to want to ease that discomfort as quickly as possible by finding simple apologetic solutions to our questions. Thus, rather than truth, we may find ourselves seeking answers that offer immediate comfort from our distress. Yet much like a sugary snack, apologetic solutions often fail to provide lasting nourishment.

As believers, we should neither embrace apologetics, nor fear religious doubt; for doubt by itself is neither good nor bad. We should doubt that which is not true.

True, coming to doubt our religious convictions can be a painful ordeal. But rather than seeking quick “sugary” solutions, I believe that there is power in allowing that struggle to reshape our views. From this angle, the discomfort we endure by doubting is simply part of the refining process. The pain, in a sense, causes our childish perspectives–forged by our own ego–to burn away as dross. Struggling with doubt can help overcome the pride that leads believers to shape scripture and divinity in their own image, after the manner of their likeness and expectation.

Scripture is an inspired resource to access divinity, but it should never be used as a handbook by which we define divinity. It is God and our relationship to Him that should constitute the supreme religious authority in our faith.

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