Apologies for the change in direction here. I generally stay out of faith debates these days. As a younger, more zealot person of faith, I used to seek them out with friends -- but they drained me, and my friendships so much that I rarely "go there" now. But I'm not one to turn down a chance to explain why I think why I do, and also to explain why I think Dawkins and his legion of worshippers (pun intended) get it wrong. For those who want me to talk about computer games, feel free to skip this one if it's not your bag.
On a mini-comments thread the other day (with +Ian Norris
and +Alex Darby
) I suggested that faith was a rational
response to honestly appraising the tools we have available to discern a "correct" worldview -- but I was challenged to explain why, so this is an attempt to do so. Note that I'm not trying to suggest that faith is a response to the "human condition", eg. some pre-programmed response to uncertainity, or some shrinking back from the harshness of the world to a more hopeful place -- but rather a rational, well thought out decision based on a balanced appraisal of the world.
Second disclaimer. You'll be able to argue this position, like /really/ easily. It's based on the old postmodern/modernity dichotomy and there are lots of people who will argue passionately for/against objective truth. That's fine. The whole thing I'm getting at is that it's important to find your own way and lean on your own chosen world view with faith.
I promise I'm not going to turn this into a rant about Dawkins, but I am going to start there. The thing about Professor D and his faithful Rationalistas that I find most baffling is the lack of critical thought in appraising the assumptions that underpin not only scientific reductionism, but fundamental rationalism in its fullness. The Scientific Method is a wonderful tool, necessary for the continuous improvement of scientific knowledge - but it is woefully underskilled for making comments on objective truth sitting outside of its remit. For one thing, it's fully-wedded to scientific knowledge /at the current point of time only/. A hundred and fifty years ago the very smartest minds in the world were adamant that the atom was the tiniest thing that could exist -- they could not comprehend that in the next century it would see not only neutrons, electrons and the like but also charm quarks and up quarks and tiny particles that appear in two places simultaneously, and hint at a multiverse outside our own. Are we so arrogant to think that we've got the rational world so sewn up at this point as to rule out any reality that might exist outside our faculties?
Secondly - why this incessant need to be right? If you die believing something wrong - who cares? Seriously. If your life has been given hope - if it's made you and those around you better/happier/more hopeful/less bitter but it all turns out to be bunkem - was it worth it? I vote yes. Given that I can never know actually whether what I believe is true, why not pick something that just makes life a bit better?
Now I know y'all going to start listing attrocities commited in the name of religion. I'm not about to defend them - but the answer to bad religion isn't necessarily no religion -- perhaps it's good religion. My religion makes me more hopeful, and tells me to be nice to people when my body is aching and I've been wronged over and over again. Through weekly meetings it reminds me to keep trying, keep striving to make the world a better place - to give people something to live for. It keeps the idea of "Justice" and "Fairness" etched in my brain, and ensures that it is the lens I view the world through. It stops me from sitting comfortably when i'm acting like a jerk - and nags me repeatedly that there is always a better way to live.
Maybe a faithless life can give you all those things - but frankly I'm fed up of hearing about what people don't believe and would rather hear what people do believe. What gives you ultimate hope? Is it in human endeavour and scientific progress? Awesome - me too. What else? Share your vision with me; enchant me with its beauty and vision; its depth and grandness. Just know that I looked at the world and all the worldviews that were available to me, and chose one that made sense. In the person of Jesus I found hope, and I choose daily to take that as my path - eyes open, brain engaged. I just don't need a rabid High Priest of Rationalism to tell me what is an acceptable faith to follow. He has chosen his (uncritically), I have chosen mine.