I have often heard Christians speak of doubt almost as if it were a virtue. They say that true faith actually implies doubt, or at the least always accompanies it. Doubt, they say, is a good thing, since the more we doubt, the more we must have faith. Doubt, don’t you see, actually spawns faith.
As past readers of this blog know, I consider this flaming nonsense, since faith and doubt are logically repugnant to each other. Saying that one has faith and doubt at the same time and with respect to the same thing, is like saying that a thing is both black and white at the same time and in the same respect. It may be black at one time and white at another; or black on top and white on the bottom; but it can’t be both black and white at the same time and in the same place.
Anyway, I’ve gone over this many times before (namely here and here; click the “Faith and Doubt” tag to see still more). But in the course of my travels I recently came across this answer to those who contend that doubt in a Christian is a virtue:
“The sensitive loyalty to truth which characterizes many persons tormented with doubt is most praiseworthy. But this very loyalty ought to suggest the necessity of being guided practically by the apparent bearing of the evidence actually available. In moral issues involving an immediate determination of conduct, neutrality is in effect evasion of, rather than loyalty to, truth. What seems to be duty cannot be tested by inaction, nor can the absence of conclusive evidence justify refusal to make the venture. Sympathize as we must with honest doubters, we cannot justify the too common glorification of doubt. It is neither the necessary mark of earnest truth-seeking, nor to be regarded as other than something to be thrown off by the grace of God and by courageous action.
“Our Lord’s language to the doubting Thomas contains an implied rebuke. He plainly reserves His praise for those who escape doubt: St. John xx, 29. To suspend judgment when the data available are not sufficient for satisfying proof is not to show loyalty to truth, but is to miss the only available road thereto.”
The Being and Attributes of God, Francis J. Hall, D.D., New York:Longmans, 1918, p. 74, fn. 1.