Christians and doubt

No, I’ve only read the excellent and well documented biography, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (unabridged), so I feel like maybe I know him a little, but that was over ten years ago. (I don’t hold as much admiration for some of its author’s activities since it was written though.)

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Did you catch that quote I left on the Pithy thread from Meghan O’Gieblin? That is someone who had been deeply steeped in Evangelistic Christianity but as she studies AI and related topics you can see her outlook go from “nothin-but God” to “nothing but machines”. The latter strikes me as every bit as ludicrous as the former, if anything more obviously so. And yet you see so many get caught up in that nothing-but kind of thinking, as if we actually knew so much about everything as to allow us to triage away major areas of thought with no hesitation. I’m sure there are atheists who don’t come out of a literalist Christian orientation who adopt that frame of mind but my hunch is always that an atheist who thinks that way is importing the certainty they formerly held religiously to their new sciency POV. But an all-in, defend to the death one’s own beliefs is not a functional frame of mind for science and science isn’t an adequate frame for every domain of our humanity.


What’s your view of the claim that consciousness is an illusion?

Is it possible? Or are those who see it as possible deluded? For our purpose it doesn’t matter whether the delusion is intentional or not.

How you respond will determine how I respond to your important question.

Even if Yahweh did not exist and the story of Jesus was highly hyperbolic and he was just some dude that lived and died it would not really change that much for me. I would still enjoy the complexity of the Bible’s tales
Woven together. My best friends would still probably be from church just like now. We would still gather together and be on a plant based diet and watch horror films.

I would still enjoy studying nature and spending my evening reading a book or something with my cats. I would still not support mindless murder and I would still be against sexual assault , stealing from others and so on.

It’s not like if I found out god was fake suddenly I would be , “ now I free to kill and force myself on others and spend my weekend stealing.”

I often see people say if God was not real than what’s the purpose of life and there would be no right or wrong and I disagree. Purpose would still be the same. Take care of yourself, take care of your loved ones, consider those less fortunate and let’s try to make better environmental choices. My purpose would still be my son, my cats, my fiancé and the rest of my family and friends. It would still be working enough to be able to take care of myself and I would still continue learning about nature. It’s not like I get even 99.99% of what I pray for so. Irving changed there.

Fischer’s opening quote in chapter 7 “Death by Fundamentalism”

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?

Fischer, Austin. Faith in the Shadows (p. 83). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.


Sort of like a young philosopher looking at an old physicist who says space is not infinitely divisible.

All over the forum we have first hand accounts/testimonies/confessions (some quite anguished) of doubt regarding many different things of faith: the existence of God, what God is like, God’s intervention in any aspect of the universe, how we can know anything about God, salvation, how we live rightly, and on and on.

Why are we not respectful enough to accept these testimonies of anguish, fear, worry as unsought, unwanted burdens in their very trying journeys, I wonder?

Why are we not respectful enough to take them at their word, when they say, “That thing you offered just isn’t helping, whether you’re convinced it should or not.” And rather blaming them, listen to find out what they are looking for. I wonder.



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Why did I cite Keller about his parishioner, Laura Story’s lyrics and George Herbert’s verse?

Another verse for us all to keep in the front of our minds:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

Again I would like to commend Ann Voskamp’s book to all, because anguish is exactly where it came from. 

ETA: It specifically deals with depression.

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I know I have upset some folks here, but maybe we need to be upset sometimes in our pursuit of truth – it’s happened before.

From Fishcher’s chapter on “science and faith”

…while scientifically inclined atheists and scientifically antagonistic believers disagree about whether or not God is dead, they tend to agree on a basic premise that serves as the flawed foundation for the whole conversation: either God does something or nature does something.

From chapter 9, where Fischer sets his sites on what he identifies as the most dangerous bugabear …

Fundamentalism and science pose gravely unnecessary threats to modern Christianity. But the gravest threat to modern Christianity is neither fundamentalism nor science, but stuff. For all intents and purposes, stuff is the new religion, which brings me to the story of a sly, shrewd demon named Mammon.

We like to think of ourselves as “brains-on-a-stick.” We calmly, coolly, rationally think our way through the world, come to the appropriate conclusions, and then choose appropriately. Our behaviors and desires are the result of a clean, rational process. We think our way to what we should want. We move from reason to desire–we reason our way to what is true and good and beautiful, and then act and desire accordingly. All of this is true except when it’s not, which happens to be most of the time because humans are not the thinkers we think we are. We are lovers before we are thinkers.

Happy father’s day everyone!


I don’t think you have really addressed it yet (or its accompanying question).

The heart wants what the heart wants. The taste buds want what they want and sometimes that conflicts with what we want in the way of health and fitness. Our wants can and do genuinely conflict at times. Frequently even.


Ahh! I had to look back to remind myself what ‘question’ was still in play. I was just happily putting Fischer quotes out there.

Okay … so … “the question.” What is the chief end of man? With the answer given that it is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. And you want to know if Fischer’s book comports with this?

All I can say is that his book isn’t about that - which is to say: I have no reason to think he would dispute that specific answer to that question. But his book is engaging with questions that might perhaps be said to precede your question here. I.e. If he’s struggling with the importance of faith - as in faith that there even is a God, and what kind of place or certitude of that faith should we seek and how. His book doesn’t want to just glibly slide by those questions like so many Christians otherwise would who would be eager to press on past all that to all the followup “…so then what” practical kinds of things.

Let’s just say as an overall characterization of Fischer’s book “Faith in the Shadows”, I would not call it so much a “How can we shore up confidence in our faith, and do the whole apologetic ‘evidence that demands a verdict’ tradition proud” kind of a book so much as it is a “What can I do if all that strong faith and apologetics has finally stopped working for me, so now I’m desperate” kind of a book. It’s more for the latter. You won’t be showing them anything they haven’t already read or been exposed to, Dale. They will have read all the McDowell and Stroebel apologetics stuff. They will have heard countless glowing and even miraculous testimonies. Been there. Done that. Still have the T-shirt. There is no, “Oh - but they haven’t yet heard this story from XYZ that I love to share!” Surely that will be the missing piece of their puzzle that, unlike all the other hordes of testimony they’ve already known about - this one will finally bring them the rational assurance to be victoriously confident so that we can bring this story before all our hapless atheistic friends who will finally be silenced by this and forced to concede they’ve been mistaken all along.

This book is not that. And nor would I be speaking glowingly of it if it was. Because while I’m ready to celebrate God’s hand in things along with anybody who is excited to share, I have no need to pretend that any of it is or will be some last word of argumentation to finally deliver all intellectual skeptics to some promise land once and for all. And it’s a good thing too, because Fischer has much bigger and more important fish in his frying pan. Come and enjoy some breakfast with Christ.


She maintains a website, with I think pretty much daily entries, plus encouragement and encouraging resources for those who are struggling. And if you are interested in improving your vocabulary, hers is astonishing (she writes in a poetic prose style).

But false certitude doesn’t result in strong faith

Maybe we are talking about legitimate certitude? Certitude enough to be martyred for. (Yeah, I know – you’re ready to kill me. XD )

I still hope to get to more of the search results in support of our knowing in the epistles, but in the meantime, scan this (again, for some): The Christian’s Confidence & Eternal Security, a list