Doubt is not the begining of faith

The faithful often confound me with their tortured explanation as to why their own beliefs are somehow intellectually justified. They want to make faith a virtue; as though believing in God despite any solid evidence is far more brave and integrous than doubt and healthy skepticism.

A fan of the site showed me this article, which claims that it’s the faithful who truly have doubt, while “scientists” are close-minded fools who turn their backs on truth:

…scientists under normal circumstances strive to make their data conform to agreed-upon paradigms. They cling to these paradigms quite tenaciously, even when evidence mounts against them, and the scientific community will only switch paradigms as a last resort. The notion of a completely neutral and objective perspective from which to discern all truth – so crucial to the Enlightenment project – has been shown to be something of a myth, even in the so-called “hard sciences”.

It’s the rare scientist who will claim perfect objectivity, and are perfectly willing to throw out their own pet scientific theories. We know that every human being is prone to accept what confirms his own biases and disregard what doesn’t. This point, however, is irrelevant; science is a method, a way of discerning the truth. It doesn’t matter if a particular scientist is attached to his/her own theory. If it’s incorrect, the error correcting mechanisms of science inevitably weeds out good theories from bad ones.

There is no such method in the world of religion. The very existence of faith is the suppression of doubt, and the celebration of undeserved certainty. While the author claims that “Christian theology has often regarded doubt in a positive light”, he has ignored the legacy of his faith in regards to heresy (were the followers of Arius rewarded for their doubt in the Holy Trinity?) What are we to think of Mark and Luke’s passages that allude to eternal damnation if one even doubts for a moment the existence of the Holy Spirit? How many Christians confess to doubting the validity of the claims of divinity of Jesus, or the virgin birth itself?

Socratic doubt, as understood by Hamann, is the beginning of faith; it’s a form of repentance and confession before the Almighty. And it’s far more radical than any rationalist conception of doubt, which confines itself only to penultimate matters and never creeps into the depths of the soul. The scientist (as scientist) may be skeptical, he may be curious, but he can never really doubt. That is reserved for those who know only as they are known, in faith.

I have no problems believing that religious people have doubts like the rest of us. The difference is in their confidence their doubts are misplaced and ultimately wrong. Faith is a mask of assurance, a false certainty about matters for which there is little or no proof, and more often than not, evidence to the contrary. It should be celebrated the same way ignorance is.

Comments (2)

Leave a Comment

Scroll to top