A Culture of Doubt
In the West, we have a saying, “Seeing is believing.” How many times have you heard the declaration, “I’ll believe that when I see it”? Hard evidence is valued over trust or belief, almost every time. One can build a friends trust, and have them “believe” in you, but even that is a time-tested process built on temporal evidence. Since the Enlightenment, western man has been so tied up in this Aristotelian notion of the here and now and what that entails. If I can touch it, it exists. Anything I cannot fully understand must be doubted. As a good friend of mine, Ben, says, “We live in a culture of doubt. Doubt should be assumed as it is our starting point.” One is actually out-of-place or odd, if one doesn’t struggle with doubt. Given a proper understanding of Western thought, one can assume a starting place of doubt and it suddenly isn’t so terrifying any more.
So if doubt is expected, or even understood to be our starting point how does that help us? Well, what IS a starting point? Or better yet, what is a starting point not? It is not an end. Just because you have struggles with doubt does not mean you will end with doubt. It is, by nature, a process not a solution, a question, not an answer. One’s doubt will eventually lead to a certainty. Whether that certainty will be encouraging or not is another question, but the doubt itself must be transient. Even in our culture, the doubt or skeptical though is only there so one can push through to clarity of thought on the subject.
I spent so many years terrified and paralyzed by my doubt, when I should have realized that all that doubt really was doing was spurring me on to the deeper truths. Doubt is our cultural inheritance but our inheritance does not need to define us. We can go forth and make our own fortune. Go forth!