A new perspective on doubt (to me anyway)
It has recently been brought to my attention that doubt is not properly conceived strictly as a negative position. In reality we have a two sided coin; doubt being the negative side, is balanced by positive and simultaneous belief. The one cannot exist without the other. For instance to utter a statement in the form of "I doubt P" is at the same moment affirming "I believe not P", or "I believe P is not proven". What is revealed here is that in order for us to doubt anything we must believe something else which we are not at present doubting.
As Trevor Hart puts it in his highly recommended book "Faith Thinking",
Thus every doubt has a fiduciary structure and is rooted in a set of faith commitments which for so long as they support the doubt, cannot themselves be doubted. The branch upon which every doubt sits is a belief. To insist on chopping this branch off in the misguided attempt to assume a wholly uncommitted position can only result in self-referential destruction, as the initial doubt itself falls to the floor.
The reason I find all this so fascinating is that for quite some time now I have felt that in the absence of mathematical/empirical certitude the most responsible epistemological stance to assume is that of doubt. (not just epistemological humility) As such, my Christianity, which does not at all rise to such a level, has been held in tension with this basic conviction. However after reflecting on the above perspective it becomes clear that doubt is not analogous to an uncommitted stance. The question must then be raised, what does our commitment rest on in light of the always searching tendrils of Cartesian doubt?
I'm hoping I will have something to say to this question in an upcoming post I'm working on while also responding to Matt's questions here. Apologies for the roughness of anything I post this week. Whatever I end up posting is an attempt by me to synthesize material we are being drenched with while away at "intensives". (aka two weeks of 8 hour per day lectures) It's a wonderful exercise in drinking from a fire hose. I feel like complete mush at the end of the day, but I also can't help but feel like I need to do something with what was thrown our way before crawling into bed. Otherwise I fear it will all seep out my ears as I sleep. Speaking of sleep...