Faithful Doubt: The Wisdom of Uncertainty

By Guy Collins

A wide-ranging discussion of the importance of religious doubt, drawing on sources as diverse as postmodern philosophy, the Old Testament and science fiction.

ISBN: 9780718893934


Focussing on three philosophers – Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Derrida, and Slavoj Žižek – Faithful Doubt argues that atheism can be redeeming. Far from being inhospitable to faith, doubt is increasingly necessary for theology.

As well as introducing the thought of contemporary philosophers, Faithful Doubt examines the significance of popular entertainment and narrative. Novels by Ursula K. Le Guin, Neal Stephenson, China Miéville, and others are read alongside Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. Fiction highlights the fluid nature of the sacred and the secular. On the question of evil, Faithful Doubt suggests that wisdom lies in acknowledging uncertainty. Weaving the story of Job together with St Augustine, Donald MacKinnon, and Eleonore Stump, evil exemplifies the necessity for doubt within theology. Faithful Doubt brings a new perspective to debates about the relationship between faith and reason. Concluding with a discussion of Søren Kierkegaard, Collins presents a compelling case for harnessing atheism and doubt in service to Christian faith. In order to “doubt wisely” we need to heed the “faith of the faithless”.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 226

 |   | 

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Guy Collins is the Rector of St Thomas Church, Hanover, and the Episcopal Chaplain to Dartmouth College.



1. Uncertain Truths
     The Logic of Certainty
     Memory Loss
     On Not Knowing
     Doubting Wisely

2. After Reason
     First Paradigm – The Force
     Second Paradigm – The Cylons
        Intermission – Beyond the Cogito
     Third Paradigm – Scientific Monasticism
     The Future Is Now
     The Sacrality of the Secular

3. The Impossible
     Questioning God
     Tout autre est tout autre
     The Impossibles: Derrida’s Paradoxes
     Forgiving Religion?

4. Diabolical Deities
     Denying Hell
     The Devil Is Not in the Detail
     Beyond Anthropomorphism: Augustine
     Beyond Being

5. Holy Agnosis
     The Banality of Evil
     Beyond Augustine? The Challenge of Eleanore Stump

6. True Fiction
     Ruffian or Saint?
     The Book of Nature and the Theological Origins of Science
     Paying Tribute with a Little Help from Augustine
     The Good Samaritan
     Fiction Sets You Free

7. Redeeming Atheism
     The Divinity of Atheism
     The Potentiality of Atheism

8. Breach
     Faithful Fragments
        On Somewhat Disagreeing with Kierkegaard
     Miéville’s Breach
     The Fiction that I Am
        The Structure of Desire
        Beyond Faith or Doubt
     The Faith of the Faithless
     Divine Breach
     The Poetry of Faith



Endorsements and Reviews

From Star Trek and The Hunger Games to Žižek, Agamben, and Derrida, and from the theology of the Apostle Thomas to Kierkegaard and Honest to God, Faithful Doubt presents a powerful body of evidence in favour of the view that believers and atheists alike are ill-served by the ‘God wars’ of the last decade. Guy Collins persuades us that there is indeed wisdom in uncertainty and that faith itself is helped by the admission of doubt.
George Pattison, University of Glasgow

Theological traditions, cutting-edge philosophy, and popular fiction are skilfully woven together. If you are tired of the sterile clash of religious and atheist fundamentalisms, read this book.
Steven Shakespeare, Liverpool Hope University

Guy Collins engages with the whole gamut of philosophy and popular culture in order to question certainties and fundamentalisms of all kinds, whether religious or secular. Written in a lively and accessible style, he shows how doubt is the necessary counterpart to faith, rather than its avowed enemy. Highly recommended for all thoughtful readers, of any faith or none.
Gavin Hyman, University of Lancaster