Defending the Greenness of Grass

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Truths turn into dogmas the instant that they are disputed. Thus every man who utters a doubt defines a religion. And the skepticism of our time does not really destroy the beliefs, rather it creates them; gives them their limits and their plain and defiant shape. . . .

We who are Christians never knew the great philosophic common sense which inheres in that mystery until the anti-Christian writers pointed it out to us.

The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed. It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them. It is a rational thesis that we are all in a dream; it will be a mystical sanity to say that we are all awake. Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer.

We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face. We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. We shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage. We shall be of those who have seen and yet have believed.

–G. K. Chesterton

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Learning, Doubt and Faith

doubt-faith-copyOne does not learn anything except by believing something, and — conversely — if one doubts everything one learns nothing. On the other hand, believing everything uncritically is the road to disaster. The faculty of doubt is essential. But as I have argued, rational doubt always rests on faith and not vice versa. The relationship between the two cannot be reversed.

― Lesslie Newbigin,
Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship

The Sanity of Mysticism

GK Chesterton 10Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. . . . He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of today) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. . . . He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not. It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that has been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man.

The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid. . . . The one created thing which we cannot look at is the one thing in the light of which we look at everything. Like the sun at noonday, mysticism explains everything else by the blaze of its own victorious invisibility.

–G.K. Chesterton,
Orthodoxy

A doubt-tolerant God

philip-yanceyWhen I speak to college students, I challenge them to find a single argument against God in the older agnostics (Bertrand Russell, Voltaire, David Hume) or the newer ones (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris) that is not already included in books like Psalms, Job, Habakkuk, and Lamentations. I have respect for a God who not only gives us the freedom to reject him, but also includes the arguments we can use in the Bible. God seems rather doubt-tolerant, actually.

–Philip Yancey