A reader writes:
What I really appreciate about atheists is that they reflect back to me what my faith looks like to someone who is completely unsympathetic, making them so adept at pointing out the weird fundamentalisms I've imbibed. I have to think, Wow, do I really sound that whacked? Quite often atheists have valid points, making me realize I need to go off and reflect quietly within my own thoughts, away from the sermons at church and the rhetoric of Christian friends, and ask why I believe what I believe. Not for apologetic purposes or to sound smart, but just for me.
Your answers to Harris' criticisms have really fleshed out to me what you mean when you talk about "doubt" in your book. The responses you have given illustrate better than anything how the position you have taken is more credible than fundamentalism, simply because the fundamentalist can't answer the atheist as skillfully as you do. That has been very helpful to me. I've been hesitant to fully embrace the term "doubt" because I'm not sure it really is doubt so much as just plain wisdom and humility that comes from having your faith matured and tested. I used to assert that the doctrines I believe are "the truth" and put that to people quite baldly. But what you articulated about the different ways of reaching truth, whether scientific, historical or religious, is a much more accurate representation of what I've actually experienced. A big part of believing what I believe has been going through a long period where I almost lost my faith, thought I was outside the possibility of ever believing as I once did, and thinking I wasn't worthy of ever going back to it. That was a period of serious, serious doubt that still clings to me today, long after I've recovered from it. But having been humbled by doubt, I find that my faith is stronger than ever, because I know how fragile it is and yet how stubbornly enduring it is at the same time.