Paul Tillich. Hartshorne wrote a book entitled, The Faith to Doubt: A Protestant Response to Criticism of Religion (1963). Earlier he wrote an article in Theology Today (v. 13, no. 1 [April 1956], 63-71) entitled, "Faith Without Doubt is Dead." In the article he maintains that any honest Christian, unless in total isolation from the real world, will doubt his faith. He states:
Moreover it is fatuous to suppose that because a man is a Christian he is insulated from his world's fate. On the contrary, for us also the anxiety of contemporary doubt is present. Many a sincere Christian has knelt to pray only to watch his prayer fall limp to earth, destroyed by the lurking suspicion that it is but the weak voice of hope sounding hollowly in the immense emptiness of nature. And many a sincere Christian has wondered anxiously whether his belief in God was perhaps after all only so much wishful thinking, a hedge against the brutal realities of man's brief existence. Many have felt the impact of cultural relativism upon their thinking, and have been compelled to reflect upon the purely fortuitous forces which have determined the kind of beliefs we hold to and the kind of standards we regard as normative. Some, doubtless, have experienced nothing that could constitute a threat to their beliefs; but such cultural isolationism is not easy to achieve (p. 64).
Hartshorne maintains its futile to attempt to prove God's existence. He writes:
Basic to the faith of the Christian would appear to be a firm belief in the existence of God; and if God's existence becomes problematic, what better way to allay doubt than to prove that he exists, as did St. Thomas Aquinas, for example. But the difficulty is that the arguments for God's existence have not fared well at the hands of philosophers. Kant's historic demolition of the traditional proofs has pretty well written "finis" to all subsequent attempts to establish God's existence by argument. The certainties of logical demonstration are, after all, purely formal. St. Thomas's arguments presuppose at the outset what is delivered as a conclusion, and thus are not likely to be useful in moving the mind of a doubting Thomas. If one attempts to establish the existence of God empirically, the complete lack of evidence (i.e., of anything that points unambiguously to God) soon cools one's enthusiasm; moreover, one could not hope for more than a degree of probability anyway. And further, to prove that an infinite being or an absolute being exists would be to demonstrate the existence of a logical impossibility, an achievement that would be notable not merely for its results but also for the ingenuity displayed in developing criteria (p. 65).
Hartshorne argues that the Christian must live in the present. He cannot pretend that the world and man's knowledge is the same as it was centuries ago (as fundamentalists do).
It is futile and pathetic to attempt to turn the clock back, to attempt to establish again the beliefs that no longer stand. We would dearly love to preserve our moral standards, our cherished doctrines, our values, our civilization against the skepticism of a godless age. We would raise yesterday from the dead. But this cannot be. The skepticism of contemporary man (in which we reluctantly share) is rooted in the reality of a world situation against which the defensive efforts of any orthodoxy, doctrinal, liturgical, or legal will be broken (p. 66).
The contemporary Christian, according to Hartshorne, must be able to live with doubt and uncertainty. He states: Our Christian faith can give us an understanding and a courage that does not evade doubt but accepts it , that does not evade anxiety but accepts it (p. 67). Of course, this is anathema to the fundamentalist mentality which demands certainty and no ambiguity. Thus, evangelical Christian apologetic ministries rise up to offer "answers" to all of the problems presented against the Christian faith. For those who demand certainty, the "answers" provided by these apologists are good enough. To Hartshorne, however, this desire for certainty is akin to idolatry. He writes:
Orthodoxy always tempts us to equate human insight with God's grace. Doubt, on the other hand, frees us from the idolatry of identifying God's truth with particular theological doctrines, or moral standards, or class interests. Doubt shatters the idols we continually manufacture and discloses the degree to which our reasoning is rationalization, our objectivity is subjectively determined. He who refuses to doubt refuses to think, refuses to take upon himself the full measure of his responsibility as a man. All orthodoxy has this character: that it close the door to doubt and criticism and hence involves our life in crippling distortion (p. 68). . . .
[Doubt] delivers us from the folly of pretending that faith gives us knowledge and virtue that transcend the relativities to which human wisdom and goodness are subject (p. 70).
I respect Harthorne's position. I don't agree with him in his choice to believe in God or Christ but I respect the fact that he realizes it is based on faith and not reason. I have far more respect for him than I do those Christians, and especially those Christian apologists, who think that their faith is based on solid evidence and reasoning.