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.
You meet a thousand times in life with those who, in dealing with any religious question, make at once their appeal to reason, and insist on forthwith rejecting aught that lies beyond its sphere, without however being able to render any clear account of the nature and proper limits of the knowledge thus derived, or of the relation in which such knowledge stands to the religious needs of men. I would invite you, therefore, to inquire seriously whether such persons are not really bowing down before an idol of the mind, which, while itself of very questionable worth, demands as much implicit faith from its worshipers as divine revelation itself.
–Theodor Christlieb Modern Doubt and Christian Belief
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.
I was taught at school, when I had done a sum, to “prove my answer”. The proof or verification of my Christian answer to the cosmic sum is this. When I accept Theology I may find difficulties, at this point or that, in harmonizing it with some particular truths which are embedded in the mythical cosmology derived from science. But I can get in, or allow for, science as a whole.
Granted that Reason is prior to matter and that the light of the primal Reason illuminates finite minds, I can understand how men should come by observation and inference, to know a lot about the universe they live in. If, on the other hand, I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot even fit in science. If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees. And this is to me the final test.
This is how I distinguish dreaming and waking. When I am awake I can, in some degree, account for and study my dream. The dragon that pursued me last night can be fitted into my waking world. I know that there are such things as dreams: I know that I had eaten an indigestible dinner: I know that a man of my reading might be expected to dream of dragons. But while in the nightmare I could not have fitted in my waking experience.
The waking world is judged more real because it can thus contain the dreaming world: the dreaming world is judged less real because it cannot contain the waking one. For the same reason I am certain that in passing from the scientific point of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.