04.42 – Are we putting too much faith in doubt?

by March 6, 2013

Atheists sometimes induce doubts in us by presenting anti-scriptural arguments that seem irrefutable.

The Bhagavad-gita (04.42) urges us to slay doubt with the sword of knowledge. Thus it exhorts us to refute doubt-inducing arguments by studying scripture carefully and by consulting learned devotees. The deeper we enter into scriptural wisdom, the more we find insights that enrich us devotionally and also resolve our doubts as a fringe benefit.

However, some doubts may require time to resolve. We may need to find a devotee expert enough in a specialized area of knowledge. Or to gain adequate intellectual background for seeing things from a radically different perspective. Or to become sufficiently purified for perceiving reality from a more elevated level of consciousness.

During this interim period, if we let those doubts disrupt our devotional practice, then we err by putting too much faith in doubt. Here’s how.

The history of ideas shows that no notion devised by the human mind is incontrovertible. Over time, new evidence comes up; fresh counter-arguments surface; alternative paradigms emerge. So much so that an argument that appeared irresistible today may become indefensible tomorrow. That’s why, when we let a doubt haunt us, we put far more faith in that doubt than it deserves.

If the history of ideas has taught humanity anything, it has taught intellectual humility: “I don’t know for sure.” Atheists who claim that an argument definitely refutes scripture display an arrogance that is ignorant of history. Though they deride faith in scripture as unreasonable, they themselves repose a faith in doubt that is just as untenable.

Why should we share their faith in doubt? Why should we let the temporary speculations of a finite and fallible brain disturb our faith in the eternal revelation coming from the infinite and infallible brain of God?


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