Embracing Doubt


My church-going atheist friend…

…the one who enjoys the communion of community every Sunday (see October 25 post)…

…doesn’t talk about his beliefs while in his Sunday-school circle.

And that’s unfortunate…

I think he’d get more from the community experience by sharing his doubts.

For that matter, if he felt free to share his thoughts and feelings, others might also feel more free.

This man might likely be the only atheist there, but others in his church group must also have doubts…

…doubts they may be ashamed of.  Doubts they’d feel less ashamed of…

…if they could only share them.

Generally speaking, in this society, I think we see “doubt” as weakness…

We tend to stand steadfast by our beliefs, even when evidence mounts against them—or especially as evidence mounts against them.

Inflexibility is seen as strength.  So we act confident, though we live in doubt.

Unlike some atheists, my friend is not inflexible.  Consider this: he’s in the process of reading the Bible, front to back.  I think he’s trying to give Christian belief one last chance.  To that, I tip my hat.  He’s not trying to shut down his doubt.

To my mind, any group, any system, any forum that can not allow for doubt, that feels it must banish doubt, does not show true strength.

I believe our new mythology must not only allow doubt, but embrace it.  To embrace our doubts could set us free.

In embracing doubt, we expand our horizons, we further our exploration.  If we’re atheists, we’re still willing to explore the Bible or any other religious text or whatever may be labeled as “the unknown”.  If we’re religious, we’re willing to listen to ideas that run counter to our beliefs.

Such questioning may take us into the dark night of the soul.  But the poets tell us that the dark night can lead us to an even brighter light if we’re willing to work our way through the darkness.

But even if we don’t wish to explore, to ponder the great questions, to search our soul for answers…

…just to admit our doubts, to admit our fears, if done in a secure environment, could provide a great emotional release.

The true purpose of religion is not to explain the mystery of life, but to help us approach that mystery.  Freely admitting our spiritual doubts, within the structure of our chosen religion, could actually deepen our experience of the mystery.

© 2011, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry


About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, and fabulist...A new mythologist, a peace miller, a dream worker...I don't qualify as an illustrator or photographer--I just "make pictures"...I have thirteen books available at amazon... I currently reside in northwest Arkansas, but have lived and worked all over the United States... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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