We say advisedly doubt, because no one, Catholic: or non-Catholic, has ever been certain of any proposition which contradicts the great truths of religion, revealed or natural. These doubts exist in the minds of believers and unbelievers. The wonder to the thinking man is how there can exist any hesitation in assenting to the teachings of the Church, which has been in the forefront of evidence since the coming of Christ. Two thousand years in existence, and it wears no wrinkle on its majestic brow. The longest lived of all the so-called Churches, it has lost none of its vigor; it is still erect and has not yet been attacked by any of the forerunners of decrepitude; assailed more repeatedly and with more hatred than any other creed, it shows not the mark of a single scar. Why, therefore, do men doubt?
I. Because of indifference. Men are too busy in seeking a livelihood, too busy in the pursuit of wealth and fame. They permit themselves to be absorbed by the cares of existence. The visible world intrudes itself more strenuously upon their attention. They look not beyond these horizons. The body and all that goes to make up its comfort completely fits their vision. The interests of earth seem paramount, and they hesitate when they are summoned either by the voice of their conscience or by the voice of the legitimate teachers. They have learned the lesson by their habits of thought and by environment that this world is everything to which everything else is subordinate, and so they walk along the pathway of life in ignorance and indifference in the question of the eternal truths, and hence no wonder their attitude is one of doubt.
II. Because of the passions. They deliver themselves up to the exterior dissipations of life. They follow wherever their senses or the gratification of their inclinations calls them. They become the slaves of their desires, immersed in libertinism. The flesh is all in all to them. The spirit is weakened. Yet they must solace themselves in their saner moments. To admit the teaching of faith would be to admit the folly and the danger of their condition, would make them dread future retribution. Reflection becomes agony for them, and they console themselves by a doubting perhaps that what is said of God and heaven and hen may be fiction, or, at any rate, exaggerated.
When does a Catholic allow doubt to enter his soul? Is it when he aspires to a better life? Is it not rather when having thrown all the commandments of God to the winds he elects to remain on the forbidden paths?
III. Because of what we might call the glamour of science. This is a scientific age. Science seems to have run a prosperous race and to have left faith behind. Science, when its voice is heard indistinctly, seems to proclaim itself queen, arbiter of matter and thought in the universe. Among the aristocracy of intellect it is more the fashion to assent to the conclusions of science than to the declarations of faith. One cannot be a scientist and a believer. Hence belief seems to smack of lack of culture; of ignorance, of the masses, of the proletariat.
How many are misled by such views as the foregoing?
Yet how superficial it all is, and how uncertain the foundation on which it rests and how easily refuted!
It may be said that of these causes of doubt the most dangerous and the most prolific is indifference.