Doubt and Fear
Doubt and Fear – by P.K.Odendaal – July 2015.
I have, like everybody else, my doubts about many things and I find that I know and believe what other people doubt, and I doubt what other people know and believe. I also know that doubt, like fear, pervades our whole existence and none of them should, as they should only be present to protect us from our own folly.
As for fear, I have largely learned how to fight it and to use it as a protection, and I might have made some progress in fighting doubt and using it for my protection.
But this much I know: the negative aspects of both should be overcome if we are to grow physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually to have a less troublesome existence and a better quality of life.
It is also not incidental that both doubt and fear can be overcome by knowledge and experience. We will at first fear everything, but we learn from childhood that some things should not cause us fear and we may learn later in life that we need not fear anything except ourselves. The same goes for doubt. At childhood we doubt many things including ourselves, and later in life we learn to believe many things, but to keep on doubting ourselves. It is only a fool who does not ever doubt himself and only a fool who never fears anything.
However, my task today is to look only at doubt, and it may surprise you that the origin of our doubt is our free will – not of free will’s own accord, but it is a spin-off of its nature. The best example I can cite here is that some people doubt the existence of God – fortunately something that I do not doubt, but I can understand if people do. The people I refer to here are those who believe God exists and think he does, but do not know it for sure, and the others are those who do not believe in God and think he does not, but do not know for sure – call it believers and atheists.
What fascinates me most is doubt as a spin-off of free will. The argument goes as follows:
If we had free will and we knew God well, we would not be able to use the free will he gave us, because we would have to follow God’s will like robots, which is not His wish for us, or we would resist God like rebels, and free will would then be useless to us. If God would expose or reveal himself fully to us, like in a supernatural occurrence without any doubt or even if He appears to us, then there would be no doubt about His existence and we would then, in line with the argument above, not need any free will. So it is God’s way and commitment to reveal Himself to us in such a way that there will always be doubt, and then we need our free will to decide which is more likely – and that is called probability.
The above paragraph is incidentally the very way we can grow spiritually. If we look closely at our lives and sometimes believe that it was indeed God who revealed Himself in those occurrences, then we would be able to deduct on a certain level of probability the existence of God and of course then these occurrences will increase as we grow older strengthening our faith. The other side of the coin is also true. If we resist every clue of supernatural occurrences we will become immune to it and having had no supernatural experiences it will leave us in the cold or atheistic.
Doubt is thus a necessity for our safety on this planet, but we can overcome its negative impact on our lives by building on these experiences with God. The more we build on it, the nearer we will come to the full knowledge and sureness of His kindness, help and love.