Reason, Observation, and Experience—the Holy Trinity of Science.
-Robert G. Ingersoll
Science has made us gods even before we are worthy of being men.
Life does not consist mainly—or even largely—of facts and happenings.
It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s mind.
Citations in Metaphors Be with You by Dr. Mardy Grothe. (HaperCollins, 2016), pp. 352, 398.
Science serves humanity well in its proper place.
But as a Supreme Deity, it becomes a monster because it is made in its creator’s image. Humans created Science which, despite the best of intentions of its secular apostles, has become a religious ideology based on Ingersoll’s Holy Trinity of Reason, Observation, and Experience. Science moves under its own impetus to reveal all and do all that can be done as proof of humanity’s mastery over reality, over the Cosmos.
Which brings us to Rostand’s piercing insight.
Science unleashed from its proper moorings recalls the ancient tale of the Garden of Eden. The tempter, Satan, the Adversary and personification of rebellion against the Creator, slithered up to Eve, the Mother of all living, and said, “Did Adonai (Hebrew meaning “my Lord” instead of saying God’s holy personal name) really say you are not to eat of any tree in the garden?” The Adversary knew full well that the humans could eat of every tree in the garden except one. The whole point was to turn their minds away from all that they had to the one thing they were told not to seek.
Eve was hooked and she answered with an expanded interpretation of what God had actually said, “We may eat from the fruit of the trees of the garden, but from the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, ‘You are neither to eat from it nor touch it, or you will die.”
In the original statement, Adonai had said to Eve’s spouse, “Red” (which is what the name Adam indicates), “You may freely eat from every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.” Not instant death, like a fast-acting poison, but slow deterioration till the body, which was made to live forever in its primal state, gradually breaks down from the destructive effects of continued rebellion and rejection of how the Creator meant things to work.
Incidentally, Adam was there the whole time and overheard the whole transaction. Like many males of the species, he chose to cop out and passively stand by, letting his woman take the risk and blame if it all went south—the whole time having privately thought about doing the very same thing himself.
Interpreters of this story have found all sorts of reasons to reject it outright or change it into something less straightforward than what it says. It has been allegorized since well before the time of Yeshua (Jesus), and ever since by theologians. More recently, and with very shaky foundation, it has been considered a reworking of old Babylonian tales. Its great antiquity cannot be doubted, even if its historicity may be and has been relegated to mythology by modern scholarship.
Myths are now understood to have some root in history and experience. They are attempts to make sense of aspects of human experience and species memory that lie far back in both our origins and our consciousness or, as Freud put it, our “unconscious mind”. Carl Jung described such things as “archetypes” – the visualized, articulated symbols of primary, elemental parts of who and what we are.
There is great mystery in our self-awareness. It is inseparable from our knowledge of the very real existence of both good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice, selfishness and selflessness—all side by side in each of us, all vying for pre-eminence in our thinking, feeling, and acting. A famous Biblical verse refers to it this way, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made”. We are woven together inextricably as a mysterious being which intuitively knows itself both as a self and as a creature of the Creator, whom we cannot escape no matter where we flee and how hard we try. (To get the full picture, read Psalm 139 in the Hebrew Scriptures, usually called the “Old Testament” by Christians.)
It is a curious thing to observe the contortions human intellect performs in avoiding the Creator in order to come up with plausible reasons for the universal human sense of basic moral truths and ideas about justice and good and evil. All sorts of evolutionary scenarios are proposed, and none answer in anything like a truly fulfilling fashion. It is a matter of faith that somehow some great sociologist or evolutionary psychologist or anthropologist will finally close that circle and lay to rest the old “Created in God’s image” fable.
For the simplest, cleanest, most obvious solution is that there is a Supreme Being, a Creator, and a Personal One at that, who has left His/Her signature in and on everything that He/She fashioned. The problem of God will not go away, no matter how hard we strive to block it and reject it (or rather, Him/Her).
But that question cannot be resolved by Science (the secular atheistic ideology, as explained above) or science (the methodology of discovery and investigation of the Cosmos). Science as methodology is a tool open to anyone regardless of their ideology or theology. Science as an ideological position is really a religion without the Creator. The god within is Humanity as the supreme arbiter.
Faith is the decision to trust. As with Eve and Adam, our personified primal ancestors, we always have the choice to trust in the Creator who has signed His/Her work everywhere, or in human ability to refashion the Cosmos, the reality of existence as we find it, according to our evolving wisdom and understanding.
It cannot be denied that religions of all kinds—monotheist, polytheist, Deist, pantheist, animist, and whatever other variations of these there may be—have served too often as agents of the unscrupulous and powerful, justifications for oppression, coercion, control, and even genocide. Godless ideologies have done no better. As we have seen, they are but reworkings of the religious imperative which is native to humanity.
We cannot help ourselves. We must strive to understand, to know, to delve into the secrets of existence, and even of our own drive to seek, to search, to know. It is a compulsion we see at work from Day One of an infant’s life outside the womb, and it is increasingly clear that this drive is present even very early in foetal development prior to birth.
This makes nonsense of the old fable of the “recapitulation” of evolution in the womb as we behold the marvel of a child being woven in that most secret, sacred place within a mother.
Anyone gazing at the absolute awesomeness of the Cosmos, from its tiniest bits in the microcosm to its most stupendous manifestations in the macrocosm, knows intuitively that it is not an accident. Our willful blindness to all this is human hubris lusting to throw off the boundaries set upon us as creatures, no matter how amazing and remarkable we may be among all creatures.
Ockham’s Razor has long been seen as a stroke of logical genius in philosophy. It says that the simplest explanation for any problem, mystery, or conundrum that accounts for the most known facts and disposes of most of the objections is not only the best explanation, but in all likelihood the true one. Ockham’s formulation remains the most elegant and most serviceable ever devised for understanding almost anything, inasmuch as human logic can understand.
Mark Twain was not a Theist. He classified himself as a realist when he said, “Life does not consist mainly—or even largely—of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s mind.” He was describing the inner life, how we experience it. And all of us seek to make sense, to bring order to the “storm of thoughts…blowing through one’s mind.”
In the heat of doing, we may not immediately be processing, but in the moments, in the intervals, in the “in-betweens”, we turn to the innate impulse to understand, to know the “who, what, why, how” of it all. If we have driven away the Maker and all desire to know and relate to Him/Her, we drift to whatever else will take His/Her place. In thought-storm we inevitably seek a port.
We hunger for truth, we must trust in something. Like Ophelia in Shakespeare’s masterpiece Hamlet, we “protest too much” – about our autonomy, our independence, our absolute right to determine for ourselves just who and what we are, even if that means changing that from one day to the next. And underneath it all we are hollow, empty, adrift in an accidental Cosmos which has no essential reason for being there at all.
Which is how we arrive at our post-modern world and society.
TO BE CONTINUED
One thought on “Faith and Hope: Assurance and Conviction, 4”
Good stuff, Vince.
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