Shadows Of A Doubt

Depending on what sort of court one is engaged in, and in which matters, the question of doubt can take on immense importance. Most of us like to think of certainty as being beyond the shadow of a doubt, but to my knowledge not a single court holds people to that burden of proof, except perhaps those informal ad hoc courts of self-appointed people that hold ideas they do not wish to consider to that standard, by which they can claim innocence because of the undoubted existence of their own doubts. Besides that example, though, dealing with skeptics who are overconfident of their own rationality and knowledge, one cannot find courts that restrict the burden of proof of prosecutors to that standard.

We can always doubt unreasonably, and so it is unwise to hold ourselves or others to a standard of being beyond the shadow of a doubt. A slightly less stringent and more reasonable standard is to hold others to beyond a reasonable doubt, which signifies considerable but not complete certainty in a particular matter. I can speak of myself, for example, that beyond a reasonable doubt I have committed the crime of lese majeste (offending the majesty) in Thailand, and been fortunate to avoid serious jail time. I say this not because I am a particularly evil person, but because my knowledge (limited as it is) as to what is considered across the line in certain matters combined with my very deep knowledge of my own conduct would appear to indicate that on at least a couple of occasions I have been fortunate to avoid very serious and ugly repercussions for my words and actions, and that I am aware that I have been treated by God at least with mercy and not with justice, which strongly encourages me to treat others likewise. Not all judges are particularly generous, but we would all do better to work on that. After all, no mercy will be shown to those who show no mercy.

By nature or nurture, and the combined influence of both at the earliest of ages is such that it is impossible for me to untangle at this point, I am a person of anxious and nervous temperament. For this reason I tend to prefer open and frequent conversation, especially on areas where doubts are severe, to avoid ambiguity and doubt in matters that tend to inflame my own anxiety. One lesson that I continually have to work on, for my own sake as well as others, is in calming myself down and letting matters progress according to their own time. Being someone who particularly hates nagging (and it is impossible for me to detail the extent to which I hate nagging), I work very hard not to nag other people. In fact, I struggle with the opposite extreme, and that is conveying to other people the seriousness of what I feel and what I am dealing with in light of the mild and restrained way in which I tend to express it (which may be a bit of a surprise to those who only know my more outspoken internet persona and may not realize the extent of my personal reserve). In fact, when I mention something as a problem or a concern, it is best to recognize that I tend not to speak out about something bad until it bothers me greatly, which is ironic in light of my reputation for being a bit too outspoken at times.

In life, there are times when we wish to exploit the space that doubt provides for our own safety or respect. If someone is clearly not going to accept our opinion, and is particularly inclined to disprove or debunk it, we wish to create resources for doubt to say that our particular idea is not impossible and not inconceivable. One notices this, for example, in the various far-fetched ways that evolutionists try to climb Mount Improbable and ski the slopes of the near-miraculous through the invention of entirely imaginary multiverses, all the while denying any room to God because of their fears of the God of the gaps, not recognizing their own total hypocrisy in seeking such space for themselves that they wish to deny for others. At other times, as I mentioned earlier, we use doubt to seek to protect ourselves from lawsuits or jail or embarrassment. We may seek to create plausible deniability to avoid confessing our motives or behaviors, especially when we have doubts that others will be friendly or sympathetic to the honest truth. In such cases we seek to have others give us the benefit of the doubt, knowing that with increased information the room for doubt often decreases (though not to zero, given the fact that all aspects of knowledge depend on postulates and fundamental worldviews and assumptions, meaning that there is always incompleteness in any realm of knowledge). Let us serve to both give the benefit of the doubt and to use doubt wisely, seeking to live lives of decency and integrity while seeking to overcome such irrational doubts or double standards that we may have.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Musings and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Shadows Of A Doubt

  1. Pingback: 1 Peter 5:5-7: Cast Your Care Upon The Lord | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Advocate | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Reasonable Doubt | Edge Induced Cohesion

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