As far as I can make out in reading scientific treatments of the question of origins written for ordinary folks, the farthest the cosmologists can reach back is about 14-15 billion years to the Big Bang. Whether and why there was anything before that to “Bang” is, for the present and foreseeable future, enshrouded inContinue reading “Faith and Hope: Assurance and Conviction, 7 – The Smell of Blood”
Humans do not function as merely and simply biological machinery. All our history and experience from all the history we have any clue about declare that we have ever held to the Cosmos being an awesome and awe-full place which shouts that it was and is created by an operative will according to a design. The will and design are demonstrated by what is, what is in evidence, in actual existence all around us, inside and out, in all things and everywhere all the time. And it all points to Something higher and greater than we – in fact, Someone much more than Something.
Trust-faith is always a personal affair, a decision made by individuals based on particular reasons that make a convincing case to the decider. Such is conviction. Assurance is a strong confidence that our conviction and trust is well-founded, having weighed the evidence from different perspectives, including the possibility that we may just be wrong in our conclusion, but that that is quite unlikely. Hope is what flows from this combination for hope looks to the future with new eyes, new understanding, new possibilities and vistas founded on trust-faith, and the conviction and assurance that ground it and give it depth.
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.
Tertullian’s point was that relying on forms of wisdom which exclude the Creator as the final source of truth maroon the seeker in the empty desert of forever chasing new propositions, forever seeking another savant with the next level of understanding, and forever discovering yet another dead-end road with no food for the empty heart and soul. A very fair-minded man, Tertullian criticized Christian deviants as vehemently as he took apart the nonsense the secularists of his day spouted against Jesus and his followers.
The West is in moral, spiritual, and a deepening social and cultural crisis. As the world’s global cultural engine over the last two hundred years, it has dragged the whole world into the maelstrom of its Mr. Toad Wild Ride which shows no end in sight.
Theists, atheists, agnostics, polytheists, Deists, monists, pantheists – it matters not. We are bred to believe, not just to exist. We are made and formed to trust that there is meaning behind the blind-seeming, ineluctable powers and forces enveloping us in the time-space continuum, or the quantum-chance continuum if you prefer.
The “War” between science and religion is a misconception. Theists and atheists both believe we can discover much about reality by the scientific method. Both believe that our innate creativity and remarkable intellect can use the creation to bring into being things that would not exist without human invention.
Real hope is based on faith, and faith is not an empty leap in the dark – not even, in fact least of all – in Christianity. Despite the caricature of Christian (and “religious”) faith so often used by sceptics and critics, some of them even within the Churches, the Bible never suggests “blind” faith. The best definition of faith in the Bible, perhaps in all human expression in any language of any time, is this: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In another translation, “It is what gives assurance to our hopes; it is what gives us conviction about things we can’t see.” (Book of Hebrews 11:1 – New Testament.)
without Jesus, beyond the binge and after the bloating indigestion, mega-sugar-crash, and fortified eggnog and other spirits hangover, what was it about? Fantasizing about Santa and goodwill to all people for some vague reason? Receiving some gifts that symbolize a love which is usually neglected in practice? Feeling a nice glow for a few days but then crashing back into the loneliness or shallowness of regular life for most of the rest of the year?