Limited Understanding

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“Do you think things always have an explanation?”
“Yes. I believe that they do. But I think that with our human limitations we’re not always able to understand the explanations. But you see, Meg, just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean that the explanation doesn’t exist.”

― Madeleine L’Engle,
A Wrinkle in Time

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We All Live By Faith

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Faith is what an atheist exercises when he steps on an airplane with no scientific proof that the pilot will succeed in getting him to his destination.

Faith is what an atheist has when he lies on an operating table with no scientific proof that the surgeon will do his job properly.

Faith is what an atheist exhibits when he drives through a green light with no scientific proof that other drivers will not come through the intersection on a red light.

Faith is what an atheist demonstrates when he bites into a hamburger with no scientific proof that the fast-food chef has not poisoned it.

Faith is what an atheist practices on a daily basis—you can’t live life without it.

Headed in the Wrong Direction

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One of the most militant atheists among the Oxford faculty, T. D. Weldon, sat in C. S. Lewis’ [at that time still an atheist] room one evening and remarked that the historical authenticity of the Gospels was surprising sound. This deeply disturbed Lewis. He immediately understood the implications. If this “hardest boiled of all the atheists I ever knew” thought the Gospels true, where did that leave him? Where could he turn? “Was there no escape?” He had considered the New Testament’s stories to be myth, not historical fact. If they were true, he realized all other truth faded in significance. Did this mean his whole life was headed in the wrong direction?

Lewis remembered an incident that happened several years earlier—on the first day he arrived at Oxford as a teenager. He left the train station carrying his bags and began to walk in the direction of the college, anticipating his first glimpse of the “fabled cluster of spires and towers” he had heard and dreamed of for so many years. As he walked and headed into the open country, he could see no sign of the great university. When he turned around, he noticed the majestic college spires and towers on the opposite side of the town and realized he was headed in the wrong direction. Lewis wrote many years later in his autobiography, “I did not see to what extent this little adventure was an allegory of my whole life.”

–Armand M. Nicholi, Jr.
The Question of God

A Built-In Homing Instinct

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Homing pigeons have long blown the minds of many with their uncanny ability to find their way home, even across great and disorienting distances. Their innate navigational skills are astounding. Someone jokingly said, “I just sold my homing pigeons on EBay… for the 22nd time.”

It has been suggested that if we could teach a homing pigeon about geography it would probably never arrive at its destination. Its inherent bird instincts are a far superior guide for finding its way to its nest.

Could instinctive faith be a more trustworthy compass for humans than cold rationalism? Although in a state of disrepair, could our basic intuition not point us the right way?  It appears that humans are naturally predisposed, or “wired” to believe in a supreme being. The New Testament declares that the divine law is inscribed upon human hearts (Rom. 2:15). Never has a tribe been discovered that did not have some kind of belief in the supernatural. A recognition of God seems to be our default setting, written in our DNA.

It is not merely on the basis of reason and logic that a person must find God. When we consider how often reason has led us astray, it behooves us to give more credence to instinctive childlike faith.  It could well help many to set off in the direction of home.

Tempted To Take The Leap

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When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe
and the strange coincidences of nature, it’s very tempting
to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure
many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it.

–Physicist Tony Rothman,
Former post-doctoral fellow at Oxford University

Reason, Faith and Folly

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Freudians and political radicals, along with a great many people who would see themselves as neither, are aware that without reason we are sunk, but that reason, even so, is not in the end what is most fundamental about us. Richard Dawkins claims with grandiloquent folly that religious faith dispenses with reason altogether, which wasn’t true even of the dim-witted authoritarian clerics who knocked me around at grammar school. Without reason, we perish; but reason does not go all the way down. It is not wall to wall. Even Richard Dawkins lives more by faith than by reason. There are even those uncharitable observers who have detected the mildest whiff of obsessive irrationalism in his zealous campaign for secular rationality. His anti-religious zeal makes the Gran Inquisitor look like a soggy liberal.

–Terry Eagleton,
Reason, Faith, and Revolution