“The same motive [lust for control] may lead us to curtail our hopes. We adjust our plans easily to pleasant surprises, but unpleasant surprises threaten our control. From the standpoint of control, therefore, pessimism seems a stronger position than optimism. I think this fact is the main source of the intellectual machismo that prides itself on a sort of ‘tough-mindedness’ that refuses to hope for very much. The desire for control tempts us to believe that if we hope for too much we will make fools of ourselves, whereas if we turn out to have hoped for too little we will only have proved to be ‘stronger’ than we needed to be. This machismo is no more rational than the wishful thinking of which the hopeful are often accused. And when there is talk of ‘wishful thinking,’ we would do well to realize that if we have a nonrational motive for believing the best, most of us have a nonrational motive for believing the worst. Pessimism is not happier than optimism; hope is happier than despair. But it is quite possible to prefer control to happiness.
What Christianity promises may seem ‘too good to be true’; the emotional meaning of this is that Christianity promises more than we can hope for without giving up control. The supreme threat to our control, however, is God himself…Is the desire for control something that inhibits me from trusting God? …The feeling that it is stronger, more controlling, to expect evil than to expect good is a powerful enemy of faith.”
—Robert Adams, “The Virtue of Faith” in The Virtue of Faith and Other Essays in Philosophical Theology (Oxford, 1987), 19-20