Friday, August 24, 2007

The Dark Night of the Soul

The news that Mother Teresa was afflicted by doubt and felt cut off from God throughout her ministry shows that she was in the same boat as the rest of us. The reaction of atheists to the news has been confused, largely because it destroys one of the central planks of their belief system. They constantly tell us that faith is something that allows no room for doubt while their worthy scepticism makes a virtue of it. So, to find that one of their hate-figures felt bereft that the mystical and life-changing experience of her youth never returned later in life, was a bit of a shock. Some are claiming that Mother Teresa was really an atheist herself, others that her doubts mean that she was a hypocrite.

In reality, we believers always go through periods of doubt when we are desperate for certainty. Moments of crystal clarity are all too rare. But even at those darkest times, I am still a million miles from being an atheist. I couldn’t be one even if I wanted to. In part, it is simply revulsion from the meaninglessness of atheistic existence. Blaise Pascal’s terror of the empty spaces can feel all to real for me. Partly, it’s because when I’m actually reading stuff by Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and their ilk I don’t feel remotely convinced about what they have to say. If the best rational arguments for atheism seem hollow, their claims to be on the side of reason cut no ice. So it is plain that my doubts, when they afflict me, are just as subjective and emotional as the experience of God that he has occasionally blessed me with.

Apologies for the lack of a blog post on Wednesday. There is a bit too much on my plate at the moment but this has meant I’ve not been as productive as I’d like. This also means the article on 529AD is not ready yet. Among other things I need to visit the library and check some sources to make sure they say what they are supposed to. From experience, this is by no means guaranteed.

Click here to read the first chapter of God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science absolutely free.

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