“Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.”*
Paul Tillich, an influential theologian (1886 – 1965), wrote these words in his book, The Dynamics of Faith (1957). He is reminding us that faith often has an element of doubt. People I have met are often scared of such doubts. Some put off or never make a decision to look into spiritual issues because their doubts about God, Jesus, or the Bible get in the way. I usually counsel people to embrace their doubts as a healthy part of their faith. It makes them more honest with God and with other people. Doubt can drive us toward truth.
I would also add that doubt keeps us humble. The book of Proverbs in the Bible has many reminders that humility and wisdom go together. Proverbs 11:2 says that with humility comes wisdom; Proverbs 15:3 and 9:10 teach that respect for God is the beginning of wisdom and that humility comes before honour.
In the contemporary debates of the new atheists and those who argue for God, or the latest arguments concerning creation and evolution, what is often lacking is a healthy sense of doubt and a healthy sense of humility. There are few things more foolish than a person who presents herself or himself as having all of the answers and no doubts. This is equally true of atheists and theists of all types. No one has a complete grasp of any subject. We need each other and we need to be willing to learn from each other.
Today, let us sing a song of praise to doubt. Let us learn from our doubts and may our doubts drive us ever closer to truth.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. – James 3:13.
*(Tillich, 1957, p. 20) Also quoted in (Collins, 2006, p. 33) and (Brouwer 2008)