Monday, October 29, 2012

The Common Language of Doubt

Don't you doubt me.

This is a post from June 2012 that was re-published when I was changing some things on the blog. I honestly don't know what happened; it suddenly appeared as the most recent post. Maybe someone needed to see this post today.  If not a miracle, I must have hit "publish" by mistake. Oh well....enjoy.

Here is another insight inspired by Professor Ratzinger from his book Introduction to Christianity and the scripture verse, “When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.” (Matthew 28:17).

I remember having a metaphysical discussion with a secular friend about morality. The question in play was, “Does morality actually exist?” He answered, “Yes, but it’s only a concept.” I paused a moment and said, “Are you comfortable teaching your kids that?” I could see the doubt creeping into his eyes as he answered, “No.”

Doubt is something we all relate to. From the Twelve who walked with Jesus, to some of the greatest saints, to the most orthodox atheist, doubt is a part of our reality. It would be very strange if a finite being with a finite mind never experienced doubt. In fact, I’d say having absolutely no doubts at all might be a clear sign of insanity.

Here are some thoughts paraphrased a bit from Introduction to Christanity, chapter 1, Belief in the World of Today…

Just as the believer can have reservations about his faith, the nonbeliever is troubled by doubts about his unbelief; about the real totality of the world he has made-up in his mind to explain as a self-contained whole. There is no escape from the dilemma of being man. Anyone who makes up his mind to evade the uncertainty of belief will have to experience the uncertainty of UNbelief.

The rivalry between doubt and belief, temptation and certainty exists for all of us. Perhaps this way of doubt, which saves both sides from being shut up in their own worlds, could become an avenue of communication. It prevents both sides from enjoying complete satisfaction; it opens up the believer to the doubter and the doubter to the believer. For one, it is his way of sharing in the fate of the unbeliever; for the other, the form in which belief remains a challenge to him.

Belief has an adventurous “risk-leap” about it and it is helped by our own effort and will. Like John the Baptist we ask, “Are you really He, or shall we look for another?” We pose the question not only out of intellectual honesty & reason’s responsibility, but also in accordance with the interior law of love, which wants to know more and more about Him to whom it has given its “Yes”, so as to be able to love Him more.

Are you really He?

1 comment:

  1. One of the questions that Catholics get from others at times(I do at least) is "Do you really believe what your faith teaches you as true?" My response is yes, I do, though I don't always fully understand why it may be true. That is not doubt, but believing from faith and reason that something is still true, even though we lack the understanding of that truth. We do that many times in other things and not just in matters of faith.

    You may tell your child, "You are my son." but at three years old that child may believe you and accept what you say, though he could not explain why it is so because he is not mature enough to understand the complexities of human reproduction. He just knows it's true.

    I usually ask this question in return; "Why would anyone put their heart and soul, their whole being into believing in something if they doubted it to be true? Who does that?

    A lack of understanding is not doubt, though those distinctions seem to have been blurred today. Thomas doubted the resurrection of Christ because he could not believe that a dead body could rise back to life and unless he saw it himself, he would not believe. That is true doubt in my view. Those of us that have not seen yet believe have been blessed by Christ even though we may not understand God's power of the resurrection. This is not doubt, but belief despite the lack of understanding on our part. It is faith.

    When Christ taught his disciples that unless they ate his body and drank his blood they would have no life in them, were there some that doubted his words? Yes, and they left him then and there. But when he asked his apostles if they would leave him too, they replied no and stayed. They didn't stay despite their doubts, but despite their lack of understanding of what he said. They knew Christ, they saw the miracles he performed, they trusted Christ to be who he said he was and though they did not understand all he said to them, they trusted his words for they trusted him.