Faith and Doubt

Most of us have developed a worldview but I wonder how many of us let doubt destroy it?

I suppose weltanschauungen must differ widely from person to person, but my guess is we all have one, even if unacknowledged.

Business titans presumably have a firm belief in amassing great wealth, dictators in the holding of absolute power and the religious in their respective savior.  Adolf expressed his own peculiar weltanschauung in Mein Kampf.  Wonder if he ever had any doubts as he watched smoke rising from the gas chambers.

How does doubt creep in? I have to say I have no understanding of many worldviews and so it would be wrong of me to comment on behalf of others:

Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.

In my own case, at heart I could best describe myself as some sort of idealist, in the philosophical sense.

I believe in Spinoza’s god: “the sum of the natural and physical laws of the universe”.  Further more I believe in free will and the primacy of the mind.

I also believe that certain moral codes are absolute and even if not written in nature, are the natural outcome of intelligence or consciousness. I can not accept that there is no such thing as good or evil; perhaps by definition consciousness or the mind defines such concepts, creates them.

How then does doubt creep in? Well it doesn’t very often and certainly not as regards ethics. I think the trick is to take that route chosen by Blaise Pascal.

The seventeenth Century French philosopher asked what the rational choice would be when asked to wager on the existence or non existence of god:

Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.

If you bet against god, your behavior would be illogical: you would be betting against an eternal life of happiness for the possibility of gaining nothing. We can not prove god’s existence nor can we disprove it so we may as well assume he exists and behave accordingly.

So I am betting on an idealist universe since to do otherwise would affect my worldview adversely.  And thus affect my happiness and well-being.

Why am I thinking about faith and doubt today?

Because of the preponderance of materialism in the philosophy of mind. There is no evidence for the idealist’s position but mercifully, there is none against it either. If you insist on quoting Russell’s Flying Teapot, then I will have to grant that you have a point.

But I will not let that dent my faith that there is something behind the universe other than dull, dead, lifeless matter. Call it an energy, if you will. A force, a field.

Modern scientists are all too keen to promote a universe without ultimate meaning.  They have spent a lifetime measuring and poking and not enough time asking “why?”.

Too many scientists ask only what is there and how it behaves but not how it got there or what it means. Nobody seems interested in the intrinsic nature of matter – only in its behavior.

So if you are having doubts that life has any meaning, stick to your view that it does and that one day we may find the proof. Even if you are wrong at least your life may be a happy one.

Illustration: a copy of the painting of François II Quesnel, which was made for Gérard Edelinck en 1691[réf. nécessaire]. – Own work, CC BY 3.0,


  1. I enjoyed reading your article. In your view does everyone have, implicitly or explicitly, a World View? if I were to be asked on various occasions what my World View is, I might answer differently in some or all occasions. What I see working, using humans and other resources (animate and inanimate) for its purpose, is that force which underlies all living things. The Zygote rules; it must be served, all else is of secondary importance. Is this a World View? I don’t know.


    1. I think its probably quite difficult to get by without some guiding light at the back of your mind. Even if you are only semi conscious of it. And yes, I think we all shift ground occasionally as life progresses. Some of us if course have a siesmic shift. A damascene conversion…. And not necessarily a religious one. I guess my purpose was really to say “I don’t particularly care what the reductionists say, I will have none if it”.

      Liked by 1 person

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