Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is faith a leap?

There are some discussions about what can be believed making the rounds. Like Henry I always read some blogs and sometimes others. So today when Doug decided to castigate Jim West, I thought about conversations I have been having and I will try my hand at the undecidable.

Are faith and science irreconcilable? No - science is based on faith - even on Biblical faith. While Biblical is an acceptable modifier for faith, one can drive a truck through most adjectives. I will say that my Biblical faith is not in conflict with any science. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not for me a God of the gaps nor is the one who broods over chaos a God of confusion.

Doug has already expressed an important option:

The presupposition that underlies both science and theology is that the world is rational, ordered, and patient of being in some measure understood.
Patient ... in some measure - what a lovely phrase! Anglicans are good at this, I guess. Science is the measurable and the world is in some measure, submissive to our thought. And I see from comments on Jim's post that others have responded with the scribal logic of many voices.

The question concerning irreconcilability raised another in my mind as I rode my bicycle home. Is faith a leap? I have in mind the leap of some great philosopher I have not read. If one thought that faith was a leap over irreconcilability, then faith in God would be very difficult in the face even of our limited knowledge. If one thought that the leap was over a chasm - I could agree, but only to the extent that it is a leap over a chasm of angst. As T. S. Eliot noted:
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
My first thought was that faith is inevitable - but this is wrong. Such a thought is human centered. Faith in scientific knowledge and even in its possibility is one of the gifts of God in the being of the heavens and the earth. Faith in God is one of God's gifts to the human no matter how shrewd or simple the flesh considers itself. But then the problem is faith in what God or which God?

Here is a real problem - the particularity of the God of Israel, and the scandalous particularity of Jesus as focusing the God of Israel. The real issue becomes what sort of agreement do we have in this God or with this God? Why should I trust this God in particular? One reason, strangely enough, is the predictability of science.

Faith is a matter of testing. Hah - you will quote for me - do not test the Lord your God. But not that sort of testing as Doug easily notes.
I do not step off 50-storey buildings because I have faith in God and wish to prove it, but because I have knowledge of gravity and do not need to prove it.
Still, faith is, like science, a matter of experiment. So Psalm 34:8. Try it and see. You will find your own reasons that no one can tell you.

What? you say. How can one try something like this? Is this like a trial marriage?

Better than that. This bridegroom will never be your ex. It is no accident that the phrase כִּי־טֹוב יְהוָה, (ci-tov hashem) for יְהוָה is good reflects the origin of light in Genesis 1:4. Just consider the potential and actual misery in the world. Can you say that there is good in this reality? That other Abrahamic religions consider God as good is a consequence of these ancient texts. Contrary to some unqualified propaganda I noted recently, the TNK is not made obsolete by any other book.

Mercy is not a matter of sentiment.

No comments: