Certainty is the Enemy of Faith

Certainty is the Enemy of Faith June 7, 2015

Certainty is the enemy of faith

The quote comes from Dianna Anderson’s book Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity, which I just reviewed here on the blog.

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  • David Evans

    One meaning could be that you don’t need faith in things you are legitimately certain of. I don’t have faith that 2+2=4. Would there be faith in heaven?

    • The latter is an interesting question. Some envisage an afterlife in which humans leave behind all the constraints that make us human – essentially, deification. But I suspect that, in plausible visions of the future, whether theological or scientific, we or our descendants will never cease to have room to grow.

      • Nick G

        In the currently most plausible futures, this will not be so. If “dark energy” eventually changes sign, the universe contracts, we get the “Big Crunch”, and time ends. If it increases exponentially, we get the “Big Rip”, and everything down to the level of atoms disintegrates. In between, cosmic expansion continues at a moderate pace, all but the local group of galaxies disappear over the cosmic horizon, all the stars burn out, and eventually all the black holes evaporate and nothing but isolated particles remain – the “Heat Death”. Of course no-one can be sure of this, and various physicists both Christian (Frank Tipler) and atheist (Freeman Dyson) have looked for ways we or our descendants could “always have room to grow” – but it looks like whistling in the dark to me. I suggest we should make the most of it while we can, both individually and collectively.

  • I have faith in my abs brakes to stop my car at the light. And I’m certain if my brakes don’t work, my car won’t stop until it hits something. So if certainty is the enemy of faith, can I still save 15% on my car insurance?

  • Father Thyme

    But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6

  • Mo Kip

    Can’t quite agree with the sentiment, as stated. Certainty, rather than enemy to faith, is a manifestation of faith. It may not be the kind of certainty that is founded on concrete evidence (which may be the kind to which she is referring). But, in my humble opinion, faith produces certainty; if not, it is nothing different than hope. Those who received miraculous healings in the narratives of the NT were those who were sure (certain), that it would happen — the ones who had faith — more than mere hope.The semantics can get in the way in discussions like these sometimes, so I understand what she’s trying to say — I just think it’s wrong, as stated. Nevertheless the book sounds worth reading.

    • Mo Kip

      And I will add that I think “dogma” is actually the better word to slot as an enemy of faith — which is so for unique reasons that “certainty” does not comprehend.

      • I think that what you are talking about is better categorized as confidence than certainty. After all, people have stepped out in faith and failed to see their hope fulfilled, as Hebrews 11 itself points out.

        • Mo Kip

          Possibly — I also thought of this. But still think that hope is confidence (with room for uncertainty), where faith is down the spectrum, characterized by more than just confidence. Room for debate, I suppose. I still think it is not quite right to say that certainty is the enemy of faith.

  • David Cohen

    This is why creationism is such a toxic belief. The creationists are, essentially saying that faith isn’t good enough: they need proof! As a result, they have to turn science on its head in order to cram it into their worldview, distorting their viw of the creation they are supposedly praising.

    Creationism isn’t just bad science. It is bad theology.