This is just an essay I have done, on my thoughts about doubt.
When we think about doubt as religious people, one of the first thoughts come to Doubting Thomas, and how Jesus rebukes him for his disbelief. We cringe each time we too feel the sting of doubt, and pray to God for help for faith, as well as for the erasure of doubt. We see it as an evil thing, and for those who can not erase it from their life, they feel sorrow, confusion, and anger, which at many times they can not reconcile with the faith. Why is this?
One point is that the world as it is today mainly worships at the alter of doubt, putting it up as a pseudo god. When one doubts, it is glorified as a person who is "finally" breaking the "shackles" of "enslavement" and opening the door to "enlightenment". People are taught to doubt, taught to hold onto it as the ultimate "truth" which will erase all situations of slavery. But the problem here is that it does keep a person slave, especially when it becomes the all. When it does, then it stifles our ability to advance. It closes the door to accept … unless something can be "seen".
Does this mean that doubt is an evil thing, though? Does it mean that it is the tool of the devil or arrogance? It can be used by both, that much is a fact. But is it ultimately a dark thing? The answer, is no. In fact, one can say without blinking an eye, that doubt is a gift from God.
But how does something, which can make one doubt God, or His Church, be used by God? First, remember, that the Divine Lord can make even the bitterest of all evil things do show His good. As sickening as the Holocaust was, it work us up from our pride in thinking people were too advanced to either do the things that the Nazi's did, or to at the very least, allow it to happen. Even now, we continue to learn just how willing the Allies were in turn a blind eye to the plight of the poor victims. Look at 9/11 and New York. Sixty years passed, and again we rejected that evil could be amongst us, we again smirked and decided humans were too advanced to believe that viciousness and evil existed. And again, we paid the price. And why? Because we allowed doubt to be the all, the final answer. But in reality its not the final answer.
It is, in all reality, the first answer! When we are small children, we accept with blind faith what is told to us, by all. After all this is how we learn, and how we grow to accept the reality of the need for authority. So we trust our parents, our pastors, or teachers, etc. We are in all truth … students. But as time goes by, we slowly begin to think and reason, using the skills we are born with and are trained for. This thinking for ourselves is the first seed of doubt. We want to know why, how, when, and where. We want to have it shown to us at a greater level. This is natural.
This is where two great paths are reached. In one, our leaders, parents, pastors, etc. ask us to either just accept, or repeat the same things they have said all along. This is a sin on their part, although it might not be a major one; for example… Those we look up to may not have the answers we seek ourselves, never being shown them, or fearing for looking for them for despair that doubt would drown them. Those who do know the answers, but keep them, are truly committing the sickest of sins. They properly stop becoming our authorities, and are seen as they are… tyrants. How can we know the difference? For one thing, a person who doesn't know the answer, and is not so prideful that they wish to keep you in the same ignorance will accept the duty to find out, as the old saying goes, "To become smart, learn, but if you wish to be wish to be wise, teach." Both of you break the walls of ignorance out of your way.
Those who do know the answer, might not be able to put them in the right words, and may even instruct you to certain other people, or books. This is the other path, a purer path. One modern person might snarl and say, "But we're kept in the same line of thinking!" Well, duh, before a person should leave one boat for another in an ocean, he or she should at least first know what it is they're leaving behind! How would you like to leap for "safety" from a sinking to ship, to another one passing by, only to find out you've landed on a ship either sinking faster than the other one, or that the first could have been saved, where this ship your own now can not! Think, reason, research, and then make the action.
You see, by doubt filling our minds we cease being children, looking up at the authority figures, and have now become students or acolytes if you wish. We now take it upon ourselves to find the ancient masters, and learn from them… in another aspect I suppose that makes us archeologists. We look to see if these ancient masters felt the same way, we are taught to feel today. We look to see how they acted and thought, and look to see if it matches what we are taught to act and think, or even if it matches what our authorities say. And we needn't dig so far back, although as any good archeologist would feel, stopping at only point Z, when we've got the entire alphabet to dig back into, why not do a full search? Once we have a good understand of our past, we can move on…
We can then look at what our opponents or neighbors claim, and why they act and think the way they do. Do they think and act like those of the past? Why, or why not? Compare the philosophies, side by side, whether it be religious, political, etc. The doubt moves us on and that's the point… once we understand our family's, religious community's, or government's past and present, we should at first doubt the reality of what our neighbors and opponents claims that do not match our own, until we can further the study. Remember, doubt should never be the final answer. Again, it's the point, doubt keeps us moving, never stalemating us into keeping still.
Once we compare, we can then decide which path truly holds the hard, and firm stance we should have… not the one our heart or emotion goes with because there are times we can deny truth simply because either 1. We've always thought this way, and therefore wish to remain so, or 2. Its cooler to do something new, to hell with this stagnant path of the ancient way, and let's experience a more exciting thing. Keep in mind that such actions and thoughts stagnant doubt and faith both. We have to be firm in keeping with our old ways once we discover them to be full of treasure, or abandon them if we truly find then are full of nothing but rotting currency. I, myself, if you've not figured it out, have a love of the ancient and am loyal to it, as I find my faith is sync with the faith of the early Church fathers. Call me an old, fashioned, Catholic boy, I don't mind, ;). Though I'm not so old fashioned that I'll jump the refurbished ship for the past, again remember what I said, going with emotions can kill both doubt and faith.
A word of caution here, once you start out on this path of the acolyte, it is not possible to leave it if you are true to it. No matter the age you are, you continue at the feet of the masters, even if you become one yourself. Only death can physically end the search if one is faithful. That being said, doubt is never the end… its always a beginning. Its not the finale… it's the premiere. It is not to be dreaded, unless one holds to it and refuses to move or search. By itself, alone it can kill faith, but with a determined heart, it can enrich faith. Never let the schools tell you to doubt to be skeptical as if it's the all. Think, reason, hold doubt as it is meant to be, the key to your journey to the truth on whichever path you go. A key can not open a door if we simply idolize it, no matter how pretty it is. But allow it to do its job, and begin your search, your path from childhood to student and the path of the acolyte, and doubt will lead from door, to door leading you to truths if you allow it, and allowing you to toss falsehoods aside.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and God bless.