Like so many others, doubt is my constant companion when dealing with matters of faith and religion. I make my living working with computers, something that can be seen as the ultimate expression of science, technology, and rational thought. There is often this nagging, self-destructive feeling that my faith and religious practices are nothing more than silly superstitions from a by-gone era that is constantly in conflict with experiences that I’ve had that tell me otherwise. Even these can be “written off” as delusional episodes. Why not? We are inundated with actual nut-cases claiming to know what the Christian god wants, which is so often exactly what they want. We regularly see people exposed as frauds who abuse religion to bilk people for money or make insane predictions about the end of the world. We see the liars and cheats and can’t help but wonder if we might not have been duped by others. It’s a reasonable question and a legitimate concern. However, this is not helpful or useful.
There is an idea in our societies that doubt must be purged in order to have faith. Faith, in this case, isn’t a thoughtful thing but one of blind acceptance. It is the thing that lets others control us, take us for ignorant marks, and manipulate us for their own ends. The “faith” of people who despise doubt is not the faith of free men but the shackles of bondage and servitude that tyrants would fetter us with. They fear doubt because doubt is akin to a runic spell that breaks fetters and frees our minds. This is why we should embrace doubt.
Doubt is a powerful weapon, and a dangerous one. We know that it can leave us questioning our sanity if we don’t control it. We know it can free us from bondage but the risk is also high that this freedom will cause us to reject our troth with the gods. The job of doubt is to break down the old and the rotten but it will also tear down the hardy and needed. As a tool, doubt must be allowed to do its work but not permitted to run amok and destroy everything around it. Doubt, when controlled and made useful, is a fire in the mind by which we can shed light on things so that we can see them for what they truly are and set aflame that which must be sent on. Doubt can prevent us from “going off the deep end” because it will allow us to balance the rational and scientific with the mystical and experiential. Doubt lets us take nothing for granted and requires us to think about what we see, hear, and feel so that we can understand it properly. Doubt is what prevents us from seeing Frigg in a piece of toast. Like fire, when it is contained and controlled, it is a powerful tool for the development of our minds and our faith. Doubt is useful, so embrace it but do not let it control you.