I get asked occasionally if I’ve heard this or that quote about doubt and faith from such-and-such famous person. In most (but not all) cases, yes, I’m aware of the quote. This is due to two reasons:
1) Because I’m a big philosophers-and-theologians-and-writers nerd. Actually, the “nerd” tag explains a lot of things about me.
2) Because collecting doubt-quotes has been something of a hobby of mine for several years. I’ve been assembling them, I guess, for the same reason more pious folk read inspirational sayings or Bible verse-a-day calendars: because they make me feel better.
Because they make me exhale in relief.
Because they help me remember I’m not alone.
Not all of these quotes ended up in my book, but some did. A few are from Christian believers. Others are not. Some of them, to those who are less prone to doubt, may sound like self-justification of what you might identify as spiritual weakness. And I get that. I really do.
But these thoughts are comforting to me, and whether you agree entirely with them or not, I think they can be informative to any discussion about religious doubt and uncertainty.
Anyway, I figured this was as good a time as any to gather them up into a single place. Here you go:
• “Doubt is but another element of faith.” (St. Augustine)
• “Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.”
• “Don’t expect faith to clear things up for you. It is trust, not
certainty.” (Flannery O’Connor)
• “You call for faith: I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists. The more of doubt, the stronger faith, I say, If faith o’ercomes doubt.” (Robert Browning)
• “Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.” (French novelist and writer Andre Gide)
• “Unthinking faith is a curious offering to be made to the creator of the human mind.” (John A Hutchinson)
• “It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be
unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.” (G. K.
• “The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by
doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the
truth.” (Pierre Abelard)
• “Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No Doubt:
no awakening” (Ancient Zen saying)
• “The whole problem
with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of
themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” (Bertrand Russell)
• “Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters.” (Isaac Bashevis Singer)
• “To deny, to believe, and to doubt absolutely — this is for man what
running is for a horse.” (Pascal)
• “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” (Rene Descartes)
• “I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.” (American Playwright Wilson Mizner)
I love that one: Doubt is what gets you an education. That’s true. It’s not always a comfortable education, but it’s an education all the same.
Your thoughts? Do these kinds of quotes inspire/comfort/encourage you like they do me? Are there any doubt-y quotes I’ve missed?
If so, please share.