There seems to me to be a forced division between science and faith based systems of thought. I think there is a lot more overlap than each camp’s fundamentalists will grant. Each side wants to replace the other’s term with “Fiction”. But the truth is that theories require faith, even proved ones; and faith requires reason, especially real faith.
But there is a truly magical (and very real) place where these two elements, Fact and Faith come together, hand in hand almost, and demand that we give them equal portions, like siblings requiring the equal division of a packet of candy.
It is only in the realm of inter-personal relationships where fact matters as much as faith.
If someone wrongs you it is as important that they are truly sorry as it is that you believe them to be truly sorry. This belief is not blind, though it is a belief concerning the future over which you have absolutely no control, and it is based on the actions and words of another, over whom you have perhaps a little control, in the present.
This is even more true in the positive, because the positive does not have the accessible fact hooks that the negative does. If someone says that they love you it is as important that what they say is true as it is that you believe it. In the negative at least you have stuff to point to – which is probably what makes skepticism so attractive and accessible, and thoroughly dull and uninspiring.
In here is a little hint as to why a good God must allow evil. If a good God requires faith of His creatures, a good and noble relational component, how would it be faith except that it is resisted by real evil? How would its quality be tested without the fact hooks of the negative.
Science has the same problem, it only takes one experiment to prove a whole theory wrong but a million experiments will never prove it right.
Both fact and faith are required in a person-to-person relationship, in some relationships one needs a little more fact than faith, when dealing with second-hand car salesmen for example. In others one requires a little more faith than fact, when dealing with other people’s children, for example.
But the more intimate the relationship the closer the required measure between the two is.
Romance for example is as much about fact as it is about faith.
There are two self evident conclusions that we must reach at this point:
- This principle has an ultimate reality. There must be a perfect relationship, a Platonic ideal, which demands an exact measure of both. The universe, as we have said, is relational. The basic language of the universe is not mathematics; the universal language is relationship. It is both fact and faith that require God; not just a God, but a relational God – Hebrews 11:6.
- This principle is not related to intelligence. It is understood long before we can speak. It is understood by those with limited intellect as much as those with great intellect.
In fact I dare to say that those with great intellect tend to ignore this principle at their peril, relying too heavily on fact they abandon faith.
This is what drives a man as accomplished as Richard Dawkins to write a book a poorly researched as The God Delusion. Poor research I could still forgive him, despite his research basis, what I find incongruent is his lack of plain thinking, his assumption. He as reached a point where he has become convinced that his opinion on the topic of God requires no more thought, only ill conception and poor research peddled as “fact”.
It is also the reason why a brilliant man like Stephen Hawking can write something so surprisingly stupid in his book, A Brief History of Time:
“Why me? More specifically, why am I so special? Why am I alive? What is the REASON for ME as a person to be here on this planet?… If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God.”
He really thinks that, if God exists, that he has the capacity to “know His mind” as if his intellect is not shouting at him “Stephen wake up! If you understood His mind how could he possibly be God?“.
When he wrote A Brief History of Time it seems that he was agnostic, leaning towards atheism, and it is that kind of overbalance that caused him to conclude, by his fact muscle alone, that there is no God.
It is equally so for any with a special gift, good looks, riches, charisma… each of those things can get in the way of the faith/fact requirement of the perfect relationship.
It’s also important to realize that faith is a Christian commodity– It didn’t matter if Nebuchadnezzar’s court actually felt worshipful toward his golden statue, or that Cretians actually believed Zeus to be immortal in Epimenides’ famous poem.
What mattered were their actions, not their motivation; their religion, not their faith.
That kind of ‘faith’ brings us either to ritual or the cold rationalism of the Machiavelli kind, which was clearly Nebuchadnezzar’s motive.
The “love” that the Greek and Norse gods required was not love at all. There is no love in the nothingness of Buddhism, there is none in the Muslim God, despite his claims. If there is no love then what is required is not faith, but ritual and control, lust and servitude. Just like a marriage without love demands sex and money – faith is one component that a loveless marriage or a loveless god cannot demand.
Faith was first grasped by Abraham, and first truly understood by the twelve. It is a term that has been pirated by other religions new as well as old, “that faith of the Christians, that is what we mean,” they say, but they mean nothing of the kind.
Only the Christian and Hindu gods have Passion, and only by the Christian God can mortals have Passion too.
The test of true worship is this: If it is joyful is it also sincere? And if it is sincere is it also joyful?
Søren Kierkergaard in Journals puts it so well:
“What would be the use of discovering so-called objective truth, of working through all the systems of philosophy and of being able, if required, to review them all and show up the inconsistencies within each system; what good would it do me to be able to develop a theory of the state and combine all the details into a single whole, and so construct a world in which I did not live, but only held up to the view of others; what good would it do me to be able to explain the meaning of Christianity if it had no deeper significance for me and for my life; what good would it do me if truth stood before me, cold and naked, not caring whether I recognized her or not, and producing in me a shudder of fear rather than a trusting devotion?”
He could almost be quoting 1 Cor 13:1-10
Here’s a resounding example of what I’m talking about: