The Importance of Doubting God

Doubt EditedIt is important to be skeptical of religion. For this reason, some of my fundamentalist friends are convinced I am going to hell because sometimes I identify with my atheist and agnostic friends more than my believer friends. I may be going there, but I’m skeptical. I always thought it was stupid for two boxers to pray before a match… as if God would help one of them beat the crap out of the other one. Don’t get me wrong, I think prayer is important, but some people pray to God as if he is a supernatural Sugar daddy waiting to give them a little sumpn’ sumpn’ for the trouble. It don’t work that way.

Let me share a few stories about doubt from the Bible to explain why I think it is healthy to question everything.

According to Jesus, John the Baptist was the greatest man ever born prior to the kingdom of heaven. That means greater than Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel just to name a few. Yet not long after John baptized Jesus and professed him to be the Messiah, he was locked in prison and began to doubt. He even sent word to Jesus asking if he was the Christ or if another would come after him.

Another time the father of a sick child requested Jesus to heal his son. Jesus asked him, if he could believe, and the fathers’ response still resonates with me 2000 years later, “Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief!” Essentially, he is saying I want to believe, but it just doesn’t seem logical, so I’m doubtful.

Lastly, you have Jesus dying on the cross and he shouts, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” You can spin that anyway you want, but it sounds to me like in his last moments even Jesus doubted his father, God.

These stories and others, lead me to believe, God does not reject unbelief, but welcomes it. It allows him to work in that space between, what I know and what I don’t know. I tend to lean toward the philosophies presented by Søren Kierkegaard. One of his students summed up his belief system, “the truth is that science and spirituality, rather than addressing similar ground, speak to very different realms of human experience and, at least in theory, have the potential to coexist in peace, complementing rather than constantly battling each other.”

My brain cannot deny factual evidence that contradicts the common understanding of the Bible. Therefore, doubting seems to be an important factor for humans, in light of modern sciences’ inability to explain love and other spiritual concepts. So just like the father in Mark 9:24 I say, “Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief!”


    Interesting description here of perfectionism, moral and metaphysical. Kierkegaard talks also about harmony and it’s relationship to perfectionism. I love when science confirms our belief, but also believe some things just don’t make sense. Love the thought, ‘Virtue is the work of wisdom.’ in other words, virtuous works stem from our ability to learn and make wise choices based on the physical reality, the heavenly promise, our fear, and our faith. All things considered, a wise decision results– harmony is the true perfection. Kierkegaard’s sense of self and individual relatedness to some, means groups can reach perfection, since the group-think is only applicable to the group’s perfection and each individual may not be making the wisest choice. But individuals can independently, reach a virtuous state. Harmony. Interesting thoughts from you!

    • admin says:

      I love the thought of Natural Law. It was one of the primary tenets used by our founding fathers. Thank you for sharing.

  2. For me, God had to step into the space between my belief and doubt and demonstrate His power, grace, and intimate knowledge of me. Only when confronted with mind-blowing, inexplicable miracles was I able to cross the chasm of doubt into true faith. I am Thomas for sure.

    But even now that I am ultimately convinced of God and have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus, there are moments—especially when reading scripture—that my doubt rises up and causes me to dig deeper until I am satisfied. Like Kierkegaard, I am comfortable with the natural tension between scripture and science because I understand each to inform a separate realm of reality—one spiritual, the other physical. But I know many Christians who are unsettled by the apparent contradictions between science and scripture, and consequently choose to leave their intellect at the door of the church. This, I believe, is not only dangerous, but I imagine it grieves God since he gave us both our intellect and our faith with the intention that we use both to the fullest extent to glorify Him.

    So doubt is a helpful tool in our journey of faith. But like any tool, it takes practice and dedication to learn how to wield it effectively.

    • nancynorthrup says:

      The “apparent contradictions” between science and scripture didn’t stumble astrophysicist Hugh Ross. What made him a believer was the high degree of correspondence between science and scripture. Check out

  3. Wade Browne says:

    Thomas Jefferson said, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”
    I don’t know how doubt is important; but I know it must be; because, it seems to be the one constant in human thinking. How could a finite, short-sighted human not entertain doubt when faced with the eternal?
    Good stuff. I’d like to read more.