Faith and Doubt


If you picture God as a powerful magnet the poles would be faith and doubt. Between them they create an invisible force field that affects people differently. Some are oblivious to the tension while others are drawn off balance one way or the other depending on which pole they are closer to.

There is no such thing as a monopole magnet—except in theoretical physics as posited by Paul Dirac—and there is no such thing as true faith without the possibility of honest doubt.

“I do not like books by believers or doubters that make it sound like the question of God is simple,” writes John Ortberg in his latest book, “that anyone with half a brain will agree with them, that people in the other camp are foolish and evil. I have read and known too many people who don’t believe in God who are better and wiser than me. But I do not think the professional doubters will make faith go away. The predictors keep dying and faith keeps growing.

“Because old Mother Nature is a dysfunctional parent who keeps sending us mixed messages, we need both faith and doubt,” Ortberg insists (and I agree). “The birth of every infant whispers of a God who loves stories; the death of every infant calls his existence into question. Writer Michael Novak says that doubt is not so much a dividing line that separates people into different camps as it is a razor’s edge that runs through every soul. Many believers tend to think doubters are given over to meaninglessness, moral confusion, and despair. Many doubters assume believers are nonthinking, dogmatic, judgmental moralizers. But the reality is, we all have believing and doubting inside us. For ‘we all have the same contradictory information to work with.’

“Perhaps great believers and great doubters are more like each other than either group is like the great mass of relatively disinterested middle-grounders. Both are preoccupied with understanding the nature of the universe. Both agree that this is, after all, the great question.”

Amen.

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One thought on “Faith and Doubt

  1. Well said. The thin line between faith and doubt is so hard to walk on. Both the faithful and the doubtful should stop and think about this for a moment before they start to accuse each other.

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