Msgr. Charles Pope on the Cartesian anxiety of our times—and what faith can offer:
Cartesian anxiety is a term that refers to a longing for absolute certainty, and the belief that scientific methods, should be able to lead us to a firm and unchanging knowledge of ourselves and the world around us. It is called Cartesian due to its connection to René Descartes who sowed seeds of extreme doubt by insisting upon a kind of absolute or ontological certainty in things. Western civilization has suffered from unrealistic expectations as to the basis of knowledge, and a kind of anxiety ever since, that we can really know anything in a way that will satisfy our doubt.