To many people uncertainty is a terrifying thing. We want to know and be certain about the fundamental aspects of life. This includes not just religion, but science, careers, money, love, etc. We want concrete answers that we can be sure of and can use to guide us. Self-help books that give us the exact methods to find our passion in life, or tell us exactly how we should spend our money. Certain morals that can guide us in right and wrong. Religious tenets that are foundational and firm and can determine all our other beliefs with certainty. What are we to do when we find the it is not certainty that is fundamental, but uncertainty?
I faced this a little over a decade ago, when all my certainties came crashing down. It’s true that I’ve always had a skeptical mind. I’ve always questioned things and had a natural curiousity. I’m just wired that way. However, I also had my childhood certainties about my Christian faith, that I held with a fair degree of certainty. It was never a question of Christianity being wrong, but how could so many people get it wrong?
As everyone who knows me is well aware, I enjoy a good debate. This time I was going to dismantle the arguments of an agnostic that I worked with. I anticated what his arguments would be and thought of all the counter-arguments so that I would be prepared. He would say that because 9/11 happened, how could there be a good God. And I would say that the terrorists had free will, and went against what God wanted. I was very wrong in any argument that I anticapted. What he asserted instead was that it was ancient myths. Now I knew that there were people who made such arguments, but I had never actually heard somebody say it before. To be honest, to this day I dont know why I had the reaction that I did, but my reaction was to conclude that everything I had grown up with was wrong. I was angry, bitter, and sad, all at the same time. When I got home, I chucked my Bible across the room and broke down. I was at the place where I could reject my faith, or I could look for evidence to see whether or not what the arguments I heard were true and whether or not Christianity in general was true.
I turned to Christian apologetics. I read book after book, and even took a seminary class on the topic. I came to the conclusion that God wanted me to be involved in apologetics in one way or another. Everybody needed to know why they believed what they believed. They needed to know the evidence, and unbelievers needed to be converted by the force of a good argument. Throughout all this time, I can say that my doubts were never truly assuaged. No matter how many books I read, I could always think of counter-arguments to what I read. I could not stop questioning. At church, I shared my “testimony” in front of the congregation that I had no doubt that God was real. I said it because I wanted to believe that I had no doubts, and no one wants to tell the church that after an event like that, you still have doubts. Now, I wish I had been more honest. Instead of looking like a hero of the faith, I would have been much more glad to assure someone that it was ok to have doubts. It’s in the doubts that we ask questions, and solve problems. Then those solutions can generate new questions to seek answers to.
A decade later I can say that I still have many of the same doubts that I held all those years ago. In fact, I think there is some myth in the BIble. I think there is a great deal of truth in those myths for us to live by. What I have found though, is that apologetics isn’t the answer. What the past 10-11 years has taught me is to live with uncertainty. That it is good to be skeptical and ask questions. That is how we grow in knowledge and new understandings and insights. It is also how we grow in wisdom. To live with uncertainty is not to disbelieve. I still believe in God. I don’t know with absolute certainty, but I have faith that he is real, that when we see Jesus we see what God is really like, and that Jesus rose from the dead after he was crucified. Can I prove any of those things? Absolutely not. I believe that my faith is reasonable. Otherwise I would not hold it. But what is reasonable to me, may not be reasonable to someone else. And that is okay. It is not just in this that I live with uncertainty, but in every area of life. And that is okay.
I have my own opinions, theories, beliefs and ideas. I don’t expect everyone to share them. Obviously, I think I’m right, or I would not hold them. But I can be wrong too. Once you realize how ignorant we really are, you can appreciate the little knowledge that we do have, and you can begin to investigate and learn new things. You can explore new and uncharted areas, and slowly chip away at your own ignorance. What I want most in life is to achieve true understanding in my areas of interest. Never to fake it. Do I fake it sometimes. That I have no doubt. I am human after all. I only hope that God appreciates this. I believe that the best way to show that I love God, is by living the way I have been made, and by showing God’s love to others.