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some responses – and a challenge!

June 12, 2011

I don’t agree that doubt is the opposite of faith, within the religious community. In fact I endorse and facilitate open sessions for people within the Christian faith community to air their questions and uncertainties, because I believe (interesting word!) that our faith grows through questioning, and deepens through exchange with other believers and non-believers.

Doubt, for me, is more a recognition that, so far, I have not fitted everything together with no loose ends. Let’s take one example from the Christian canon. I don’t know exactly what happens at the moment of death. There are plenty of Biblical clues, lots of useful images, but there is no blow-by-blow account of the journey of the spirit once the body has stopped functioning. There are thoughts such as “today with me in paradise”, suggesting an instant arrival in heaven; but these have to be put alongside images of everyone arriving simultaneously in some celestial court of judgement, where the “sheep” and “goats” will be divided (incidentally, on the grounds of their behaviour not their creed!). I personally can live with uncertainty – call it doubt? – about this issue. It doesn’t seem to me to matter greatly which is is going to happen to me!

Accepting, knowing, believing

I accept that the light from the sun takes about 8 minutes to reach earth. That’s what I’ve been told by people who have researched it, and I’ve seen no substantive argument against.
I know that I am Kate Towner’s biological father. All sorts of factual data could be brought forward to substantiate that statement (not least the similarities of personality!). I know that no amount of rational analysis will overturn that fact.

I believe that Jesus of Nazareth said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (although of course he said its equivalent in either Greek or Aramaic). I have done my best to do the research myself – including visiting the British Library and seeing for myself the oldest New Testament manuscripts they hold there, and talking to an expert in that department. But my sense that this is true is not just from that research – it is linked to my prayer life, and to my spiritual journey, where my experiences are consistent with that belief.

By the way, do you seriously think that two genealogies undermines the whole Biblical revelation of the character and purpose of God? I think in current quantum mechanics we are asked to hold more than two apparently “opposites” simultaneously – for example the absolute nature of the speed of light, and yet the weird “twinning” of particles moving away from each other at twice that relative speed!

Does that help you grasp what was saying initially about the attempts I have made, and continue to make, to inspect my world-view and test it both “outwardly” against facts and “inwardly” against experience.

A challenge
Your title, taken from from one of your favourite authors, really surprised me! Are you trying to be provocative and offensive, or do you really think what the title says is true? If the former, that does seem to be stepping aside from the spirit in which we undertook this dialogue! Prodding, yes, that I expect; provoking maybe from time to time; but deliberate offence is surely not on!

So let’s assume that somehow you put the title there because you hold it to be true.
Then you have surely stopped working by your own rules! The title opens with the bald statement that belief is a wound. That is a value judgement, not a bit of rational analysis! And a pretty damning judgement, which consigns about 98% of the human race that have lived so far to the category of “wounded”, and posits some amazing superior group – do you belong to it? – which is not wounded in this way, but instead has some esoteric “knowledge”. That sounds like the basis of most sects and the majority of cults!

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