I agree with other posters who've called Ms. Hecht's definition of doubt into question. I'm a religious doubter. Through prayer, meditation, study, conversation, and observation of life, I have developed a world view that includes a loving divinity underlying all reality. Nevertheless, when I see the suffering of sentient beings and the apparent absurdity of so much of what happens, I feel conflicted emotionally and intellectually. This sometimes painful condition is what I think is more properly called "doubt."
Ms. Hecht, by contrast, sounds as if she's quite confident and unwavering in her answers to certain key questions. She does not believe in a creator or a unifying force underlying reality. She does not believe the universe has any intelligence informing it. She does not believe in an afterlife. That's not doubt. It's not even agnosticism. It's pretty basic materialist atheism — and she's anything but doubtful of it. I mean no disrespect to her position; as I've said, in my own moments of great doubt I think she may well be right. But to call her position of atheistic certainty doubt is to suggest that she has left certain questions open (about God, ultimate meaning, etc.) which are in fact not open at all.
Ms. Hecht is quite right that doubt and atheism are not the same. The difference is that atheists, like religious fundamentalists, wake up each day with the same answers to the biggest questions. Doubters, for better or worse, do not.
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