Dear Christian, Doubt is not Your Enemy (Part 2)

In this installment, dear Christian, let’s look at the role of doubt, with regard to religion and truth.  Most religions have sacred books or traditions.  These books make claims about all sorts of things – the origins of the world, prescriptions for daily living, and promises and threats about a supposed afterlife.  The more fundamentalist the religion, the more demands it places on the believer’s mind and life.  Often, fundamentalist faiths seek to impose these view by force of law, for example the Taliban and Sharia law, or religious conservatives in the U.S. who want to impose legal penalties for those who violate their beliefs or ‘offend’ their god. 
Unquestioning acceptance of the idea of an unseen world populated with supernatural beings, or that a certain book contains the communications of one of these invisible super-beings and is therefore authoritative and must be obeyed, is a very dangerous thing.  History has witnessed wars being fought, and people being tortured and executed on the basis of the claims of the various so-called ‘sacred books’ which people follow.

These religious claims of authority are made on the basis of stories.  Stories repeated down through the centuries.  Stories originated by people who we know nothing about.  They could have been insane, or liars, sincerely deluded, or highly imaginative.  We have no way of ascertaining their mental state.  Reason can advise us to mistrust them however, when their stories contradict what archeology and various sciences have discovered about the past, and the world we live in.  Doubts should arise when their stories suffer from internal contradictions and inconsistencies.

Dear believer, I have a question for you:  How do you that you can trust the stories in your sacred book?  How do you know that your book’s claims are true, and the claims of other sacred books are false?  What methodology can you use to test the claims made by religious books, especially when they are claims made about things like invisible beings or an afterlife, which are by nature outside the realm of observation?  Do you really want to base important life-decisions on the basis of unverified stories?  Isn’t it odd that many people put more thought into choosing a cell phone plan than they do into researching their religion’s origins?

Doubt is vital because it can lead you to dig deeper, investigate more, and test the soundness of the beliefs you have bought into.  It is only by doubting, testing, and verifying, that we can separate truth from falsehood.  Unquestioning faith which views doubt as a weakness can only lead to one being trapped in the matrix of lies and delusion.

Doubting and questioning are tools which can lead us to truth.  Skepticism can help you avoid falling for trickery and foolishness. 

Think about it.  What kind of world would we live in if no-one had ever doubted that it was okay to own human beings as slaves?  What if no-one ever doubted the idea that the Earth was flat, or women were the property of men?  What if no-one had doubted that epilepsy was caused by demons, or that gods had to be appeased by human sacrifice?   What would the world be like without the progress and enlightenment made possible by men and women who questioned boldly, without fear?

A world in which no one ever doubted or questioned would be a terrible place in which to live.  Believer, have you ever done due diligence and doubted to dogma you've been taught; the religious claims that your were indoctrinated with in your childhood?  If you haven't, then you are in a dangerous position.    

Written by J. M. Green

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