I’ve made this discovery about doubt. Doubt allows me to breath. It allows my faith to breath.

What is it like to be absolutely certain? It’s alien. Doubt gives my faith space to breath. All of my ideas of God, ideas I share with others, are nevertheless provisional. And things change. Doubt therefore makes room for God.

A mind made up about God is a false mind bearing a false God.

I think that most of the time I’m too afraid to doubt. I’ve been trained to control things and doubt has the stain of chaos or "god I don’t know if I’m right about this".

The Saints were never afraid to doubt. Thomas, standing in front of his friends, says prove it to me. The man with the sick daughter says, "I believe, help my unbelief." Most of my life is lived in the aridity of …"I believe, help my unbelief."

I distrust people who are absolutely certain about God, but I also distrust people who haven’t tried to be or have quite trying to be certain.

There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds. – Alfred Tennyson( 1809-1892) English Poet

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  1. I’m with you on doubt, but sad that you distrust people who’ve quit trying to be certain…..because I can’t see how certainty on matters unprovable is productive, and because I’ve quit trying to be certain. Certainty divides and stresses and I think is mostly false anyhow. We do, after all, see through a glass, darkly….I want to believe there is, as Margaret Atwood said recently, a story beyond what we can touch and be absolutely be certain about, but what’s the point of trying to exchange wanting to believe for certainty when certainty is impossible and elusive, and when it seems mostly false anyhow?

  2. Thanks for this Connie…and for forcing me to clarify. What I have in mind when I say I “distrust” people who quit trying to be certain is that the quest for certainty is innately human. It’s essential to growth. No child jumps into outstretched arms without being certain the arms will catch her. Can she be absolutely certain? No. But she can hold to the “certainty” of faith.
    There is a “post-modernism” (bad sense) that holds to a hyper-relativity and discharges humans of all responsibility to trust because trust implies being “certain” about a few things, and radical relativity rules out all certainty. (With an interesting exception, that is, what you decide is certain or true in your own private realm. And I do mean private, or hyper-individual. This is necessary because otherwise meaning, already hanging by a thread, evaporates outright.)
    To give up the quest for certainty (truth), even though knowing we can never arrive at bedrock, is to give up an aspect of being human. Personally I think it’s only possible to give it up in theory. Soon enough we’ll catch ourselves doing research, trying to gain a better toe-hold, even on things ethereal.
    Mystic’s know better than any of us, the absurdity of possessing bedrock. They are content to forever go on pointing out things that aren’t bedrock. But every “thing” pointed to, that isn’t “bedrock” brings them a hair closer to what is. (If I remember this is the apophatic way)
    And that’s the difference. We can’t make it through a day without being certain of a few things, but we can and do-all the time-make it through without our feet planted on THE foundation…the kind of foundation that the modernist project thought, given enough time and resources, we could always get to.

  3. thanks, I think….though you’re waayyyyy too deep for me and I’m not at all sure I understand (maybe if I get a philosophy degree?)….let me see—are you saying that wanting to believe means I haven’t given up on certainty? That by acknowledging that truth exists, even though I’ll never be certain about having found it, I haven’t given up? If I got that right, I’m comforted, as I didn’t want you to mistrust me. Mistrusting a claim (that I’ve given up on certainty) is different and entirely legit and infinitely more nuanced than mistrusting me….as I’ve only given up on certainty in the sense that I don’t believe we can ever be certain that the way any one of us understands the universe is the right way, or the only way.

  4. “A mind made up about God is a false mind bearing a false God.”

    That’s tremendously insightful. Did you create this phrase yourself, or did someone else say it?

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