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Doubts and Creeds (2)

3 April, 2006

The quotation in yesterday’s blog comes from a famous poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1862) called In Memoriam.

It is a requiem for a friend who died suddenly of a stroke, but it is also a discussion of many of the issues, including scientific-philosophical questions, that were beginning to be questioned in Victorian Society. Its original title was “The Way of the Soul”.

The full stanza is:

You tell me, doubt is Devil-born.
I know not: one indeed I knew
In many a subtle question versed,
Who touch’d a jarring lyre at first,
But ever strove to make it true:
Perplext in faith, but pure in deeds,
At last he beat his music out.
There lives more faith in honest doubt,
Believe me, than in half the creeds.

I like it because it reminds us that there’s nothing wrong with doubting; in fact it’s human to doubt, to question that which we cannot know for certain (which includes most of the things we would really like to know). To doubt is to have faith in our own ability to keep on seeking our own understanding, rather than blindly accepting anyone else’s.

There’s more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Memoriam_A.H.H.

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