From today's USA Today . . .
Why Certainty About God is Overrated
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Some atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are similarly locked into their certainty about the non-existence of God. If something has a religious whiff to it, their certainty takes over and reasonable discourse is the victim. Religion, politics and science all have their fundamentalists who are blinded by their so-called certainty.
Doubt, the comeback
But doubt — at least in the world of Christianity — might be making a comeback. Mother Teresa's letters, captured in the 2007 book Come Be My Light, show a servant of God and the Church plagued by her doubts. Jason Boyett writes about doubt in his book O Me of Little Faith, and even hosted a blog on Beliefnet by the same title. He says he is "a committed follower of Jesus who occasionally finds himself wondering if maybe, just maybe, we've made this whole thing up."
Rachel Held Evans' book Evolving in Monkey Town, tells her own story of being brought up in a world of certainty, only to find that it simply didn't make sense. "Most of the people I've encountered are looking not for a religion to answer all their questions but for a community of faith in which they can feel safe asking them," she writes.
It may be OK, finally, for people to admit that they don't know things for sure — whether it's about quarks, light, God or the best way forward for the nation's economy.
At 80, Polkinghorne doesn't let his own doubts keep him from believing, any more than he let his doubts about quantum physics keep him from solving problems. He still prays, still celebrates the Eucharist, still believes in some kind of life eternal.
As for belief in God, "It's a reasonable position, but not a knock-down argument," he said. "It's strong enough to bet my life on it. Just as Polanyi bet his life on his belief, knowing that it might not be true, I give my life to it, but I'm not certain. Sometimes I'm wrong."