The well-known Christian author Timothy Keller wrote: “A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it.”1 Sadly, a person whose natural antibodies don’t function in fighting against disease (as in AIDS and other autoimmune diseases) is not likely to live long. Doubts are like our souls’ white blood cells, picking off false thoughts and fantasies before they can destroy us. Therefore, in our religious beliefs, doubts are the friends of faith, not her enemies.
Think of these Biblical examples:
- The Prophet Elijah needed to hear from God at a critical moment, and he begged for a message to guide him (1 Kings 18:20-40; 19:12). There was a violent windstorm, a powerful earthquake and an uncontrollable fire, but God finally spoke in a “still, small voice.” Elijah had to doubt the loud displays in order to hear God’s gentle whisper.
- Jesus promised to return for his disciples, but he warned them that they would have to discern carefully, for many would say, “Look, here is Christ!” or “There he is!” They would be false Messiahs and prophets whom the disciples will have to doubt, then reject in order to wait for the True (Matthew 23:23-24).” (1 Thessalonians 5:20).
- When Paul visited the Church in the nearby city of Berea, the historian Luke reported: “These were more receptive than those in Thessalonica, for they welcomed the message very eagerly and examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were so [doubted]. Many of them therefore believed” (Acts 17:11-12). Notice here how constructive doubt leads to faith.
- Later in the life of the Early Church, an aging Apostle John reminded the younger generation of believers: “Do not believe every spirit, but test [doubt] the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
Exploration depends on doubt: When Magellan left Spain in 1519 to sail around the cape of South America to reach India, many scoffed because they knew the earth was flat. His doubts allowed him to circle the earth.
Commerce depends on doubt: “I’ll pay for it with these diamonds.” These are diamonds? They look like pieces of glass. I doubt they’re real. If I don’t doubt, I may lose my shirt.
Science depends on doubt: All scientific experimentation is based on doubt. Medical research is as much about doubting and rejecting false cures as about identifying the ones that work.
Just a few days ago, a UFO sighting was reported in the Las Vegas area. For a report on the local TV station click here
Make sure you watch the video of the news cast. In a short couple of minutes, you’ll be listening to the police responding to a call about tall greenish aliens in a family’s backyard, after they themselves had observed an object they believed to be a meteor falling in the night sky. You’ll sense the guarded disbelief of the TV news reporters, as they’re torn between making the story as exciting as possible for their viewers and their responsibility to sort out the actual newsworthy facts. It’s a dance between doubt and faith, and hopefully listeners are able to figure out some truth from it all.
FAITH is a gift of God, but so is DOUBT. The two are dancing partners.
– – Pastor George Van Alstine
1 The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (2008 – Dutton), pp. xvi-xvii.