Christ’s teachings alone are enough for me. Hope in Him whose teachings inspire, sustains me in times of peril. When I have no answers and can find none, God is there.
Nuance is something that challenges understanding, especially outside of the scientific community. Scientists, engineers and statisticians strive to communicate with precision. People of faith — not so much. This is not to suggest that scientists, engineers and statisticians cannot also be people of faith. But the same word or phrase can mean different things to different people, even when used in the same way. Take the word, “faith,” for example.
When a fellow believer spoke recently about growing in faith, I asked him what he meant. “Do you mean growing more certain of what you believe discounting reason, or do you mean growing in understanding of what it means to be a believer and practicing what it is that you do believe?”
Faith is a word that has many different meanings. Among them are: confidence or trust in a person or thing; belief that is not based on proof; belief in God or in the doctrines or teaching of religion; the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, a promise, or an engagement as in keeping the faith.
A scientist would probably shy away from using the word, faith. But if he did use it, he would likely mean it in the sense of having high confidence or trust in something. Religious persons are not so shy and use the word quite often. When they do, they most often mean it as a synonym for belief, the noun form, and to believe, the verb form, meaning to accept the doctrines and teachings of their particular faith persuasions.
When I was young and televisions where first becoming commonplace, there was a program one night a week called The Jane Froman Show. Others of my generation might remember Ms. Froman best for the movie of her life story, “With A Song in My Heart,” I do remember the movie, but I do not remember her TV show. Perhaps this is because ours was one of the last households on our block to have a TV. Anyway, Ms. Froman commissioned the writing of a special song, to inspire hope and faith to Americans because she was troubled by the outbreak of war in Korea so soon after the end of World War II. The song, “I Believe,” became the first hit song ever introduced on TV and was recorded by many others in addition to Ms. Froman. It became both a popular and religious standard of the day. Frank Sinatra recorded it. So did Perry Como, Any Williams, Barbara Streisand and Elvis Presley. Frankie Laine‘s version of it spent eighteen non-consecutive weeks at the top of the UK Singles Chart. The most successful version of the song in America, Laine’s recording reached #2 on the charts for three straight weeks.
I have long loved this song. I loved it when I was young and I love it now. When I began this missive, the lyrics came hauntingly back to me. But as much and as long as I have loved it, it has done nothing to increase my faith. Neither has it done anything to help explain my lack of faith. Yes, I believe, but not because of the many times I have heard a newborn baby cry. The miracle of new life is awesome to behold, especially when it is a child of your own. But there is no empirical evidence that even suggests that every drop of rain produces a flower. And we all know people who have gone astray with no one coming to show them the way.
So, why do people believe? More to the point, why do I believe?
“Scholars in the fields of cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive anthropology, artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience, neurobiology, zoology, and ethology are all seeking to explain how human minds acquire, generate, and transmit religious memes by means of ordinary cognitive capacities.”
I borrowed the above words from Wikipedia, folks. I don’t even rightly know the difference between one of these disciplines and the next. But I do know that scientific theories can do nothing to ease the anxieties that a belief in something greater than oneself can comfort.
Some people point to the complexity of our planet and say that this suggests a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today. They say that the universe and everything in it had a beginning and that the Big Bang just doesn’t make sense. They say that the universe operates by uniform laws of nature and ask, if not God, then why? But these so-called proofs are not proofs. They are just unanswered questions – questions that our limited minds may never be able to answer. My answer, notwithstanding all of my doubts, notwithstanding all the contradictions between science, in which I have considerable confidence, and Scripture, itself being filled with errors and contradictions, is that I am a better person professing Christ as my Lord and striving to live according to His teachings. I am a better person being in fellowship with others striving to do the same. Christ’s teachings alone are enough for me. Hope in Him whose teachings inspire, sustains me in times of peril. When I have no answers and can find none, God is there.
The great mind of modern times, Professor Stephen Hawking, author of the best selling book, “A Brief History of Time,” has said that heaven and belief in an afterlife are fairytales for people who are afraid of the dark. Yes, that may be true. But, while fairytales are not true, in the telling of them great truths are often found. And I am one of those mortals who does fear the dark — not so much for myself but for those whom I love. And so, I believe. I chose to believe because there is comfort in the belief. There is no comfort in unbelief.
Please feel free to post a comment. I would enjoy dialogue on this subject.