A Skeptic’s Faith

“Faith is not living by what you absolutely know to be true; rather, it is to risk everything on a great adventure into the unknown.”

While the thrust of Rabbi Olan’s sermon on January 28, 1962 was about religious faith, it’s interesting to put the timing of his discussion on faith and skepticism into historical context. The day before Rabbi Olan delivered this radio address, astronaut John Glenn was scheduled to be the first American man to orbit the earth. The mission was aborted after Lt. Col. Glenn had already been in the capsule for over two hours; but as the nation watched in anticipation of his historic mission, weather patterns changed rapidly and conditions became unsuitable for launch. When Lt. Col. Glenn eventually made the journey nearly a month later, faith in possibility overruled skepticism about the limits of mankind, and a new chapter in our history was underway.

Imagining the faith it takes to believe in something, anything, whether it’s God, love, or our abilities to explore the great unknown (if, in fact, these are so different) makes for a thought-provoking study for any age.

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“We must live our lives with a robust skepticism which tells us that there is nothing absolutely true. Yet, to live we must stake our destiny on a view of life and defy the possibility of error. “

(Rabbi Olan quotes Louis Untermeyer and Walt Whitman)