Reading Time: 2 minutes By Joreth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. — Paul Tillich

(A very famous and respected theologian, teacher and ordained Lutheran minister.)


Faith which does not doubt is dead faith.—Miguel de Unamuno

(Spanish essayist, playwright and philosopher)


Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. – Voltaire

(The mantra of an agnostic?)


Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. –Augustine

(This could be interpreted to suggest that faith has an element of self-delusion.)


Few really believe. The most only believe that they believe or even make believe. -Napoleon Bonaparte

(Napoleon was a cynic, apparently.)


“Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.” – Mark Twain

(Twain was a real curmudgeon…and based on this and a lot of his other writings, probably an atheist or agnostic.”


Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.” – Ambrose Bierce, from The Devil’s Dictionary

(Another curmudgeon who had no use for religion)


Now, let’s hear a few words from the other side.

“Fight to escape from your own cleverness. If you do, then you will find salvation and uprightness through Jesus Christ our Lord.” –John Climacus


“Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” ― Martin Luther


(Ben Franklin put it a bit differently.)

“To see by faith is to shut the eye of Reason.” – Ben Franklin


“If knowing answers to life’s questions is absolutely necessary to you, then forget the journey. You will never make it, for this is a journey of unknowables — of unanswered questions, enigmas, incomprehensibles, and, most of all, things unfair.” — Jeanne Guyon

(Any nonbeliever must resign himself/herself to this.)


David W. Key, director of Baptist Studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory, put it more starkly. “The real underlying issue is that fundamentalism in the Southern Baptist form is incompatible with higher education,’’ Professor Key said. “In fundamentalism, you have all the truths. In education, you’re searching for truths.”


Or to put it another way:

“Science is a lot of questions searching for answers.

Religion is a lot of answers and no questions.”

(I am not sure of the origin of this aphorism, but I use it often.)



Bert Bigelow is a trained engineer who pursued a career in software design. Now retired, he enjoys writing short essays on many subjects but mainly focuses on politics and religion and the intersection...

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