William Blake, in his “Auguries of Innocence” (early 1800s), has these lines on doubt:
He who mocks the Infant’s Faith
Shall be mockd in Age & Death.
He who shall teach the Child to Doubt
The rotting Grave shall ne’er get out.
He who respects the Infant’s faith
Triumphs over Hell & Death.
The Child’s Toys & the Old Man’s Reasons
Are the Fruits of the Two seasons.
The Questioner who sits so sly
Shall never know how to Reply;
He who replies to words of Doubt
Doth put the Light of Knowledge out.
This obviously seems to be grossly anti-intellectual—but Blake was attached to the notion of VISION—of direct apprehension of the “divine.” The imagination, from Blake’s perspective, is stultified by the intervention of intellectual reductionism. A little further on in Blake’s poem he offers this aphoristic couplet:
A Riddle or the Cricket’s Cry
Is to Doubt a fit Reply.
And just a little further on down he writes:
He who Doubts from what he sees
Will ne’er Believe, do what you Please.
If the Sun & Moon should doubt,
They’d immediately Go out.
Direct experience is, for Blake, something killed when one begins to question it and take it apart (and it is a folly to do so). I understand Blake’s position from the vantage of the imaginitive genius of poetic vision—but it is hard to imagine such a principle being applied as a defense of religious faith as such, for it would make the believer impervious to “reality testing”, discourse, and argument.
It would be a very interesting meeting of minds should Richard Dawkins and William Blake ever meet in Dante’s Purgatorio someday, and have a conversation.