Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Don’t We All Doubt?

Daniel Larison, speaking on his blog, Eunomia, about Obama at Notre Dame, spoke about faith and the role of doubt.

I don't agree with Daniel (no surprise there) but as it is essentially a religious first principles argument, I really had no dog in the fight. However, Kent had several cogent comments refuting Daniel's main point that when Obama said "It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us" he spoke about doubt in God.

Kent's point was that Obama spoke about what God had planned for us in our lives, not about whether or not God commanded us to believe in God. Daniel purposely took this approach to argue that Obama pulled a theological dodge regarding what fair-minded people might believe. In fact, Obama spoke of service. Kent spoke of service. Daniel doubled down on his earlier intentional misreading in this comment.

I don't actually care about the doubt part – it's the doubling down on a dumb statement that I find interesting. How does a poster know when to just shut up and take his lumps, or better yet, acknowledge that either his point was poorly made or just plain wrong? It is very tempting to go for the BS and maintain the sanctity of one's written word, but it rarely works.

Best just to admit to human frailty, and try to do better next time. Of course, as a Catholic conservative, that's got to be a hard thing to do. Daniel put his position out there pretty clearly "Everyone is stricken with doubt at times, but it has to be understood that doubt, like an illness, is something from which one may suffer but which is something that needs to be remedied rather than perpetuated or celebrated." The only way to eliminate doubt about the unknowable, and sometimes even the knowable, is to allow a lie into the center of your life, the lie that you actually know anything with absolute certainty. Not a recipe for healthy living.

The only man I have ever known who might, on some level, be a saint was a committed Church of God Christian. Yet on his deathbed at 102, as I listened to him speak, he knew doubt. He didn't voice his doubt directly, but it was an unsubtle doubt even so.

Daniel, along with all the rest of us, has not yet achieved godhood. He is allowed some doubt.


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