The Excitement of Doubt
My first experience of excitement in doubting something that I’d believed without question to be true was a long, long time ago. You may call it childishly simplistic, but it was honest.
For years, I believed it only took God six days to make the heavens, the earth, and everything in it. Then someone told me the Genesis story was only a story and not the way it really happened. Doubt was planted in my mind. I decided to check it out. In doing so, there was excitement in going from the little garden of Eden to the magnificence of a cosmos billions of years old and a God much bigger than I first imagined. From this experience I purposely doubted other beliefs, beginning with God.
Countless people—among them philosophers and theologians with names like Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Anselm—have written about God. Their writings were interesting, but I saw them as holy speculation and not as the last word on the matter. Multitudes are still writing about God. I wanted to be one of them and see where my own holy speculation would take me. This became exciting: heretical maybe, but definitely exciting.
Religious questions in my Anglican expression of Christianity have been measured by standards proposed by Richard Hooker (1544-1600), the originator of the triad of “Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.” In my case, I added Experience to these, because of a definition of the Bible by my General Seminary Old Testament professor as man’s written response to his experience of God. Now I never find it boring to read written responses to God in any and all religious traditions—Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Islam among them.
There was a time when I doubted the existence of God. But all that thinking, deliberating, pondering and using my imagination—all those experiences—resulted in excitement and exhilaration.
Was God up there? Out there? Within me? What was God? He, She, It, Spirit, Intelligent Force?
Today I have no problem about the existence of God. Nature, life itself, and creation make me believe there is someone or something behind it all. For that someone or something, I like the term God.
My difficulty now is how we describe God: Omnipotent (all powerful)? Omniscient (all knowing)? Omnipresent (everywhere)? Trinity? Incarnate? Just? Forgiving? Loving? These descriptions are our attempts to know and understand God—and in doubting that they are complete descriptions, the excitement continues.