Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Idol of Certainty

There was once a time in my life that I wanted to know the Truth so badly. Truth was what I could measure, what I could in some way feel satisfied with: some sort of fact or explanation that could be proven. Something I could put my head around and feel content with, but I don’t think life works like that.
Is faith reasonable? I think that faith is an inescapable element of the human existence and to discredit it is to play ignorant to ones own personal experience. Every day one has to operate at certain level in order to survive, we meet with other people, sit in chairs, eat food and drive cars without the slightest thought of what it takes to perform each action. It takes faith to believe that any other people around us are not just the firing of neurons in our brain, it takes faith to drive our cars without checking every nut and bolt before traveling and it even takes faith to sit in a chair. It is completely unreasonable to live life under the constant scrutiny of the logical process, putting no faith in things, always having to prove things. The truth is that there is no way to prove that you won’t die on the highway. So in order to live we suspend total scrutiny, and only use “pure rationality” when we want to feel certain about things.
I have often heard that religion and faith are crutches for the weak. Tools of the imagination to feel safe and loved, but I would contest that the same could be said for the scientific process of knowing. It is a way to satisfy that fear of the unknown inside us because when things are “scientifically proven” we can rest assured that we, the humans, are in control. We have to power to quantify and verify and control. I don’t think that it is fear that drives me into faith and thinking that drives me into rationality, it is fear that makes me want to be in control, and faith that acknowledges the reality that I am not.
I am not saying that all science is a crutch, or that all scientists are unwilling to accept that they are not in control. I am noting that it is faith that makes the world go round, that makes us able to function. Sometimes atheists or agnostics say that Christians have “blind faith:” faith that is not based on anything logical, anything reasonable. To this I ask what evidence they have that no God exists. Some will spout out speculation, but in the end they have no proof. They don’t have any definitive answer, just faith. They can take the little information that they have and get the edge of the cliff, and without proof jump off into atheism just as I have jumped off into Christianity.
I used to think that it would be comforting to know the Truth. I thought that it would let me understand and “subdue” the world around me, but I don’t think that a Truth that could fit itself into my miniscule mind would be much of a Truth at all. So I have resorted to something braver, submission to something bigger and better than what I can cram into my finite being. So I know God the same way that I know a chair will hold me, I sit in it and find out. So far, both have caught me.

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