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Mar 19 2012

Yes and no, and then again maybe

Some people want to have all the things – religion and science, belief and doubt, props for being thoughtful and admiration for being Deeply Spiritual.

Do you struggle with doubt & questions despite your best intentions? What does it mean about someone if he or she admits to both embracing “belief” and “doubt?” How does science impact your thoughts on this issue?  For this Lent we are asking people to go into potentially dangerous (but also liberating) territory, to ask the hard questions about their faith. After all, doesn’t this season of Lent ask us to identify with the struggles of Jesus, including his expressions of doubt in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross?

So during this Lent we are hosting a conversation on this topic with NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty and psychiatrist/author Curt Thompson, M.D. They approach this topic from their common position of being accomplished science writers and Christians. We did not tell them what to say about faith, we only asked them to be honest. One of the biggest sources of challenge, doubt, and excitement in our faith comes from the world of science, so this particular perspective on doubt requires thinkers like Hagerty and Thompson. They will be signing copies of their respective books on faith and science too.

Challenge, doubt, and excitement – only, not real challenge, doubt, and excitement. Not real challenge and doubt that could actually lead somewhere, just the fashionable kind that lets you be both faithy and thoughty, at least in the eyes of people who like that kind of thing.

In other words they don’t mean it. They say it but they don’t mean it. They’re fans of faith, they’re apologists, so they’re not really doing challenge and doubt, they’re just deploying the words. I find that annoying.

 

7 comments

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  1. 1
    GordonWillis

    “We did not tell them what to say about faith, we only asked them to be honest. One of the biggest sources of challenge, doubt, and excitement in our faith comes from the world of science”

    It’s revealing that they had to ask their tame science-writers to be honest! What were they expecting — dishonesty? Why?

    They say it but they don’t mean it. They’re fans of faith, they’re apologists, so they’re not really doing challenge and doubt, they’re just deploying the words.

    That’s why, and they know it. But the tame science-writers can sign copies of their books! Bribing people to be honest? What price honesty, then? Clearly, honesty is the last thing they want, isn’t it? I suppose that this is honesty™.

    I’m curious about that “challenge, doubt, and excitement” stuff. What an interesting concatenation of key-words. They obviously understand propaganda, but are they being honest about their intentions?

  2. 2
    Hamilton Jacobi

    I wonder why they didn’t ask, say, Dan Barker about what happened when he “ask[ed] the hard questions about [his] faith.” I’m sure he would have been honest too. Must have been an oversight.

  3. 3
    mnb0

    There is a remedy against this annoyance:

  4. 4
    mnb0

    I apologize. I am not very handy with links.

  5. 5
    Ken Pidcock

    What does it mean about someone if he or she admits to both embracing “belief” and “doubt?”

    Embracing doubt. What a creepy concept. It sounds almost like skepticism but, of course, could not be further from it. For a believer, doubt is something to be suppressed transcended, never to be resolved.

    4. What’s the best advice you can give someone seeking to understand how science intersects with their faith?

    When you are looking for that intersection, watch out for the wall.

  6. 6
    GordonWillis

    Ah, but doubt is resolved by faith, and thus all things are transcended. Thus dishonesty is possible, because dishonesty becomes the true™ honesty of faith. All things are possible to them that have faith. Move mountains? No problem. Just believe it. Done.

  7. 7
    sailor1031

    “In other words they don’t mean it. They say it but they don’t mean it. They’re fans of faith, they’re apologists, so they’re not really doing challenge and doubt, they’re just deploying the words. I find that annoying.”

    Two things I find annoying:

    1. Barbara Bradley Hagerty (always have, always will – the woman has no scruples)

    2. NPR allowing itself to be a shill in the marketing of bullshit books

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