Believing in doubt

James - Groton, Massachusetts
Entered on April 12, 2009

Religion has never played a big role in my life. My mother’s side is Catholic and my father’s Buddhist, but neither of my parents is particularly religious and I certainly wasn’t exposed to either growing up. I didn’t notice when I was younger, but as I got older it seemed like I was missing something in my life. It wasn’t that I felt a spiritual calling of any kind but rather that I felt like I couldn’t define my identity without it. As I learned more about each faith I encountered the sense of unity, community that religion can bring. However, curiously, I found also unjustified pride, the sense of self-righteousness, despite most religions’ lessons on the importance of humility. I found that many people were so concerned with proving that they were right with their belief, that their choice of faith was true, and this made them blind.

This is not to say that everyone religious or even the majority are arrogant and cannot tolerate others. I only use religion as an example because it causes feverous passion and belief. I hope that the reader will understand that this is not an attack upon religion. This is a criticism on blind faith of any belief that causes fanaticism. Hard core atheists, who believe that they know that there is no God, are just as bad as those who know that there is one. Religion is hardly the only example of this. Recently a Republican senator said that he hopes that the current Democratic president Barack Obama’s economic policies will fail. Note that he not only said he thought the policies would fail, but that he hoped they would. A public servant, who has an obligation to look out for the state of the people, claimed that he hoped that a policy which was intended to help America would fail. This clearly shows the problem of thinking that you’re always right, and not having doubt within yourself.

Doubt is humble. Being able to doubt yourself is a reflection of humility. This is not to say that belief is bad, but when belief blinds you from the truth or any other views it is ignorance. Doubt makes people feel vulnerable, and so they stay away from it to enforce their own beliefs. However it is by embracing it that we become better people and more honest, and become stronger thinkers. Of course without conviction and a certain amount of belief a person cannot have opinions or take actions for causes they believe in. Nevertheless there must be a balance of doubt and conviction, and if there is not it can create one-sided zealots with no sympathy for the other side. Of course,

I believe in doubt. It may seem like a strange thing to say, for isn’t doubt the exact opposite of belief? However lack of self-doubt, the arrogance and pride that comes with it is one of the biggest obstacles to solving the problems that face us today. I don’t mean to preach, or suggest that I myself have always been immune from this lack of doubt. I merely report an observation of a problem that I’ve noticed in my life. Mankind is certainly capable of change, and humility can be learnt. Problems can be solved, and obstacles overcome. We just need to open our eyes. This I believe.