Doesn’t all faith begin with doubt? In science as in religion, we often arrive at the answers starting from uncertainty. Often, the most ardent defenders of a belief are the people who’ve arrived at some conclusion themselves rather than just accept what they’ve been told; they’ve spotted uncertainty and sought understanding. I think this is because in these cases we feel we own the answer. By having to work for it, our opinion is more important to us and we’re more confident in it.
So, yes: doubt is essential to faith. Doubt is the seed of curiosity. However, fundamentalism isn’t an absence of doubt; it’s an absence of humility. Fundamentalism is what’s left when you forget that all belief started with doubt and therefore choose not to respect others’ opinions nor accommodate their personal liberties.
This blog post was inspired by a thought-provoking TED Talk by Lezley Hazleton on the importance of doubt in religious faith and how its absence is linked to fundamentalism.