Tag Archives: doubt

Skepticism and Me

I would have to call myself a skeptic at least on some level.  This is the way I have described myself for a while and its because I question everything.  I want to know the who, what, when, where and why of almost everything.  Basically, I want sources to back up claims of fact and claims of truth.  Does it make me guarded?  Yes.  Is that bad?  Well, it depends.

The following word picture describes this best I think.  It is not my own but it came from a lecture in a theology class I am taking.  

Think of having your property surrounded by fence both front and back.  There is one gate and it is usually closed with a guard standing there ready to defend against unauthorized entry.  A long line of people, beliefs, theories etc, are wanting in.  Indeed there are already some who are inside the fences.  The ones who are standing outside wanting in must be thoroughly evaluated for their worthiness to be allowed in.  Once proved worthy, the gate opens enough to let that one in and then promptly shuts to block the others out.  In some cases the ones that are inside must be kicked out and re-evaluated before being allowed back in.  

That is my process in a nutshell.  I am best served by not allowing the gates to be wide open (naivety) and by not allowing the gates to remain firmly shut forever (strictly dogmatic).  Instead, I must find that middle ground where every single thought, idea, claim, whatever wants in, must be examined.  My gate can be opened but whatever it is opened for and that which remains inside, must continue to pass the test.  As my instructor put it, “My beliefs are too important to give in so easily”.

This leads into one of the other books I am currently reading called The Skeptical Believer by Daniel Taylor.  In it he wrestles with what he calls his inner atheist, that doubting voice.  He calls himself not just a skeptic and not just a believer but instead a combination of the two.  He is a skeptical believer and I would say that I am as well.

The Theology Program that I am enrolled in and the books I am reading associated with this course of study is helping me come to terms with my doubt.  It has, to a certain degree, been a weight lifted knowing that doubt is alright so long as it is kept on a leash.  This course of study is already reshaping my mind, allowing for a more mature approach to scriptures and the beliefs that follow.  Though for a while I bought in to the idea that I should follow my heart, there is quite enough evidence from the world and in scripture that suggests the heart is a poor guide at best.  

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17-9, ESV)

I’ll end this with a few quotes from The Skeptical Beleiver:

“I am going to argue that doubt is entirely compatible with faith.  In fact, it is required.  If you doubt nothing, you are not exercising faith at all, because you think you have certainty.”

 

“To skepticism, I say ‘sometimes, but with reservations.'”

 

“Be as skeptical about skepticism as skepticism is about everything else”

And Finally:

“…take some comfort that the water walker and the doubter and the denier and the apostle and the martyr are all the same person.  Peter was both skeptic and saint–a combination that holds out hope for me.”

 

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Writing and the Negative Friends

Writers block story

I want to write something that you will absolutely love.  So far I have had more false starts than you can imagine and many free advice givers would likely tell me that I should do something else.  I can’t get writing off of my mind which probably means that I should write.  The problem is that some of my friends don’t want me to.  Their reasons vary but the result is the same…for me to run away thinking that I could never be good enough.

One day when I was a young man, I ran across a kid named Confidence.  I saw his personality just a few times and I tried to copy it.  When I did it gave me bursts of successes.  It felt so good to be like this kid, even though I didn’t know much about him.  But a group of influential people were lurking not to far away.  They shouted to me one day after seeing me acting like Confidence.  One of them yelled, “Hey, do you want to be like everyone else or do you want to be unpopular like Confidence is?”  Despite the good feeling I had when I acted like confidence, I was much more like these other guys so they became my friends.

Mr. Writer’s Block is one of those friends.  He has been very effective in helping me come up with no ideas so that I can’t write them down and fulfill my desire two write.   I’d like to introduce the rest of my friends too.   Meet Doubt.  Doubt is a friend who never leaves me alone.  Doubt worries all the time that I will once again run into Confidence.  He explains to me there are an endless number of positive things which may happen to me if I meet that kid, so Doubt keeps me safe from him.  Doubt also works closely with Mr. Writers Block so that if he fails, Doubt is right there to tell me that the idea I am about to write down is not really good enough.  The others are Insecurity, Fear, Procrastination, his close cousin Ineffective, and last but certainly not least, Mr. Negative.   Fear’s right hand man is insecurity.  Fear is pretty good at his job in life and keeps his buddy Insecurity in line all the time since he can never decide which way he wants to go.  When they are around I am afraid to write.   Fear tells me that if I do write that no one will like it or someone might ridicule me.  Insecurity just whispers in my ear constantly saying that I’m not good enough so why bother.

Procrastination and his close cousin Ineffective are great teammates!  Really its quite awesome to see these two in action.  Like two soldiers looking after one another in battle, procrastination works the fields ahead of Ineffective so that he can be successful.  These two are very sneaky.  Before you know it they have laid the foundations of  getting absolutely nothing done.  Great role models!

At Last Mr. Negative.  If the other’s don’t get the job done in our group, this guy drives us all back to our center.  He has a very loud voice and his words are very persuasive.  Once I remember the guy asking me this question, “if it is hard being in the negative family where nothing gets done, then think of how hard it would be to be in the Confidence family where they are always getting things done”?  How could I argue with him, after all it seems logical.  Mr. Negative tells me that there is nothing worth my time over there with the positives.

These people have been instrumental in my life.  Very loyal friends.  They have been with me almost every step of the way so I find it very difficult to betray them and attempt relationships outside our group.

I have recently been spending more time with the Confidence family though.  It hasn’t been easy because all of my old friends keep calling, asking me to give them some time.  But when I am with the Confidence family I feed on their energy and want to spend more time with them.  When I’m with them I write and I love it!  The funny thing is that being with the Confidence family really isn’t all that hard.  In fact, its a much easier and rewarding life.  So I am going to be giving this new family much more of my time and who knows, maybe someday with their help I may be able to say goodbye to my old friends for good!