The idea of “professional doubting” arose out of conversations about the integration of faith and one’s discipline. Although this is a challenge inherent to most academic disciplines, the concept of professional doubting is one I heard first from the scientific graduate students.
On the basis of my understanding of science, I think this is because the need and search for falsification is more obvious within scientific experments. Scientific experiments are set up to prove the validity of a hypothethis. Often the only way to prove something absolutely is through finding a means to show that the hypothesis is actually wrong. One thus approaches one’s work with a need to question and even falsify as much as possible.
If one is taught and constantly lives with the belief that knowledge comes through proving something to be false, this can be hard on one’s faith. Everything about the Bible and religion is thus subject to review and questioning. Not only does this questioning make others within the church very uncomfortable, it can also put one’s own personal faith on shaky ground. For how does one believe what can ultimately not be fully proven? At the same time, despite the challenge posed by the question of evil and suffering, Christianity can not be fully disproven. How then does one live in the inpasse of believing something that does not fit into the system of being falsifiable but instead must ultimately be taken on the basis of faith?