[Editor’s note: this article launches Wondering Fair’s Open Mic category, in which guests can present views not necessarily our own, and with whom we want to graciously debate and interact.]
When it comes to matters of intellectual honesty it seems to be the general consensus that non-religious persons have a much easier time dealing with doubt and uncertainty than most believers. Believers are generally thought to believe anything and everything in the interest of faith, and are not very open to questioning their belief systems. Yet, even though believers are often accused of being dogmatic and prone to wish fulfillment, it seems that atheists can and do fall victim to just as much to wish fulfillment and close mindedness. It is true that many believers perceive any experience of doubt as a kind of infiltration of the Devil (a kind of spiritual cancer), but this could be equally said of many atheists. One senses a kind of desire or hope that God does not exist. There often seems to be a dominant tone of the atheist being completely convinced of him/herself. There is no leverage or room for doubt. God does not exist and that’s that.
On the other hand it seems that doubt is woven into the very fabric of Christianity, unique to any other worldview; namely that God Himself struggled (at least momentarily) with atheism. This is seen in particular on the cross with Jesus crying out, “Why have you forsaken me!!” For a moment in time God questioned his very existence. This is something that G.K. Chesterton points out in his book Orthodoxy:
“It is written, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” No; but the Lord thy God may tempt Himself; and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane. In a garden Satan tempted man: and in a garden God tempted God. He passed in some superhuman manner through our human horror of pessimism. When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed himself for an instant to be an atheist.”
Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek (an atheist, by the way) also picks up on Chesterton when he writes:
“Chesterton is fully aware that we are approaching ‘a matter more dark and awful that it is easy to discuss … a matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared to approach. But in that terrific rule of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but also through doubt. In the standard form of atheism, God dies for men who stop believing in Him; in Christianity, God dies for Himself. In his “Father, why hast thou forsaken me,” Christ himself commits what is, for a Christian, the ultimate sin: he wavers in his Faith.”
As interesting as Zizek’s points may be, it seems that what to Zizek is the “ultimate sin” is in fact a normal process along the journey of faith. Time and time again in Scripture we hear the stories of those who struggled with doubt. Abraham for example, must have experienced INTENSE doubt when he believed that God was asking to sacrifice his only son Isaac. From Abraham to Job, right down to Jesus on the cross, true faith from time to time will wrestle with doubt.
 G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p. 145
 Slavoj Zizek, The Puppet and the Dwarf; the Perverse Core of Christianity, p. 15