Hidden in the mass of Lake Union houseboats lies a woman both profound in
thought and in speech. A psychologist, author, and self-proclaimed “accidental
theologist” by the name of Lesley Hazelton is one of the lesser-known gems of
human genius in the Seattle metropolitan area. While I assume few of you recognize
the name, some of you may recognize her TED Talk, the Doubt Essential to Faith,
which holds over one million views between media outlets.
In the 14-minute monologue, Hazelton disorients the very root of human
moral code by question our devotion to deities, and how blindly we do so. Hazelton,
who confesses as a Jew by association, and an agnostic by choice, chooses to center
her argument on the story of the first Muslim, Muhammad, in the Qur’an. Her
message, however, is not only applicable to the Islamic faith, but uses it as a
platform to suggest why it might behoove us to incorporate more doubt into our
religious or secular lives.
As controversial as it may seem, you shouldn’t disregard her lesson from its
summary, as her reasoning is more compelling than any I’ve heard for devotion of
any kind. To Hazelton, doubt, is crucial to the understanding and personal relation
between the devotee and deity. It creates deepened comprehension of meaning
gained from teachings and texts, allowing the disciple to appreciate their devotion in
a new light—almost to the extent of enlightenment. Without it, we might follow a
higher being and appreciate it, while lacking true understanding. Questions, of
course, are the best way to get answers.
If you’re interested in watching this TED Talk, check it out here:
Lesley Hazelton also has a blog, which you can subscribe to here: