A theology of doubt

In general doubt’s my truth, and might be the only thing I don’t doubt (though I doubt I doubt enough, and so on).

The theology that flows from this undergirding truth – that doubt, in all things, is proper – is a theology of doubt.

Take an infinitude of worlds or universes, many populated by beings of all kinds, and sentient beings, and some without. At some worlds there are great disparities between, hierarchies of, sentients – in terms  of capability, of power. At some worlds there are beings that correspond to some of the definitions we might give the term ‘deity’. There are worlds of no deity, worlds of one, and worlds of many. Some of these universes are built – designed, to purpose – others created accidentally, still others come to be spontaneously.

There’s no scepticism in assuming this plenitude is necessarily existent. The first principle of doubt mandates agnosticism. I take it, therefore, that it is possible that all of these worlds exist concretely, possible that some exist and others do not, possible that there is only one. (That there might be no worlds at all is a harder case to make, since whatever cladding we might want to give this idea constitutes a world if it comprises anything that we might have to concede as existent).

Two further considerations inform this theology of doubt. The first is the possibility of a truly omnipresent, omniscient being, overseeing, and perhaps responsible for, all worlds. The question is the same, in some respects, as that which posits an overarching insentient cosmological structure giving rise to the totality of worlds or universes which exist.

Doubt, as starting principle, again requires that a unifying deity or structure is determined to be a possible feature of the cosmos: perhaps existent, but perhaps not. The corollary of this thought is that there might be two such cosmoses, one containing or contained by an overarching sentience, and one (possibly otherwise identical) without such an entity. And so the resolution to this question is, in a sense, a return to the start. Such a deity, or structure, might govern an infinitude of worlds. But the thought demands a supplementary infinitude, or an infinite number, for other permutations: existent superstructure, omniscients, of various kinds (benevolent, for example, and capricious), and sets of worlds at which all of these are non-existent.

The remaining doubt that characterises this theology concerns my own place in this panoply. Supposing there possibly exists one world or universe, or many worlds, or at the greater magnitude one set of worlds or many. Which of these do I inhabit? Is it a world populated, besides myself, by one or more deities of vastly greater power, perhaps responsible for my existence? Having made the question of divinity and deities a local one, this last consideration is salient. The answer though, in the light of epistemic constraint and humility, is that I don’t know which world this is, from among the possible worlds that do exist – any firm conclusions are susceptible to doubt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *