More from Anthony Bloom

Read the second essay, Doubt and the Christian and again found it enjoyable. I’m very happy I picked up two books by Bloom! Explaining doubt, he says:

Doubt is not simply contradiction. Doubt is a moment of dividedness, a dichotomy in our minds; a moment when, having followed a very simple straight road, we come to a fork, and we ask ourselves “Do I go this way or that way?”

He makes an interesting contrast between the role of doubt for the scientist (a systematic weapon, a joy!) and for the believer (anguish). He then (as someone trained in science) suggests lessons from the scientific attitude. The doubt of the scientist is not a doubt in reality, but only in the model or theory which explains reality. Truth is (as he uses it) a model of an underlying reality, a reality that must be perceived and expressed – both of which aspects are imperfect. Further, he notes that truth can be static (like a snapshot that is accurate, but creates an imperfect and even distorted reflection of reality – it is true but does not express the truth). He advocates a more dynamic view of the expression of truth which is even in a sense a falsification of reality:

This is what we are always doing in theology or philosophy: we falsify things when we want to convey a dynamic moment, but often the reader takes them to be an adequate and immobile picture of what reality it [sic]. This is true, for instance, of the trinity.

He goes further to explain how this works:

If we think of a scientist and a believer, then we will see that the scientist’s doubt is systematic, it is surging, it is joyful, it is destructive of what he has done himself because he believes in the reality that is beyond and not in the model that he has constructed. This we must learn as believers for our spiritual life both in the highest forms of theology and in the small simple concrete experience of being a Christian. Whenever we are confronted with a crossroads, whenever we are in doubt, whenever our mind sees two alternatives, instead of saying “Oh God, make me blind, Oh God help me not to see, Oh God give me loyalty to what I know now to be untrue” we should say “God is casting a ray of light which is a ray of reality on something I have outgrown–the smallness of my original vision. I have come to a point when I can see more and deeper, thanks be to God.”

If only that was more regularly our attitude.

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