Yet there is also a less admirable reason why the modern world finds Pilate sympathetic. He is the patron saint of doubt and thus attractive to an age that regards doubt itself as a virtue — or at least as a mark of sophistication in the face of certainties with which we happen to disagree, whether they are the certainties of the religious right, or of fundamentalist Moslems, or of political ideologies. Many intellectuals, academics and (generally liberal) politicians have come to see doubt in these modestly heroic terms. ... Now, considered seriously (which almost never happens), the idea that doubt is either a virtue or a sign of intellectual superiority is nonsense. Chronic doubt is a symptom of depression in clinical psychology. Everyday difficulty in choosing between finely balanced alternatives is simply a sign that we have not investigated the problem sufficiently. And the proper reaction to unjustified certainty is not doubt but the firm analytical refutation of dogmatic error. But that too requires courage.

source: John O'Sullivan on the Passion of the Christ in National Review Online 3/2/2004 tags: Courage, Doubt