Doubt, Faith, the Bible
March 3, 2009
“I began the Bible as a hopeful, but indifferent, agnostic. I wished for a God, but I didn’t really care. I leave the Bible as a hopeless and angry agnostic. I’m brokenhearted about God.”
Then he ends by noting something important:
“As I read the book, I realized that the Bible’s greatest heroes-or, at least, my greatest heroes-are not those who are most faithful, but those who are most contentious and doubtful: Moses negotiating with God at the burning bush, Gideon demanding divine proof before going to war, Job questioning God’s own justice, Abraham demanding that God be merciful to the innocent of Sodom. They challenge God for his capriciousness, and demand justice, order, and morality, even when God refuses to provide them.”
Those Biblical figures called heroes, and pillars, and faithful, and righteous: they doubted. They struggled. Faith did not preclude that; those titles that they earned — could they have earned them without doubting? Would Abraham have been Abraham had he not negotiated for Sodom and Gomorrah? Moses, lost in the desert, doubted and struck the rock in his own name when bringing forth water.
There is an argument to be made that the struggle with doubt is among the most important aspects of faith. I think I would believe that, though I don’t harbor any presumptions about being the one to make it. But we oughtn’t confuse faith with mere belief — the one is a component, an aspect of the other, though integral to it.