Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dr. Bob on Faith & Reason

I have only skimmed the post, but already I know it will be a must-keep for my blog. The last thing I do this morning before going to work is provide a link to this excellent essay about faith. Faith, as the doctor points out, is not abut results but intentions. And there is no such thing, you know, as "blind faith." It is always exercised with eyes wide open and the expectation that the future will be better than the present.

The man of faith sees an effect, and attributes its cause to the transcendent, while open to the possibility that the cause may be random or material in nature. The skeptic has no such freedom: the cause cannot be the transcendent, for the transcendent does not exist. His viewpoint is “reality-based” only insofar as the reality he trusts excludes the transcendent. The man of faith can afford to be wrong, and may often be so; such is the process of growth in the unseen world. The skeptic cannot be wrong — for if he is, his worldview is utterly demolished.

There is, however, another aspect of faith which must be met, if this trust is to bear fruit in deepening our experience and our understanding of the transcendent. This is the transaction of faith: the trust must be grounded in and bounded by the nature of that which is trusted. A light will not illuminate by flipping a switch unconnected by wires; a car will not start by placing your house key in the ignition, or your car key in the door. The nature of the object demands that the action based on trust be within fixed parameters dictated by the object’s design or character.

One of my undergraduate disciplines was the academic study of Folklore. Before you laugh, it's not really basketweaving (though that is also part of the study, believe it or not) but a serious examination of how folktales and mythology intersect in the lives of people all over the world. Anyone who wants to be in denial about mythology does so at his peril, revealing a depth of ignorance worse than smacking your lips at a formal dinner.

I asked my professor for a definition of myth and he replied, "Myth is the highest form of truth in any society." Joseph Campbell himself could not have been more succinct. I think this essay on faith and reason may intersect with the most respectible of all studies, why and how mankind reaches out to God and how His divine response can be found in the lives of all believers.

With a "1" in the post title, On Faith I, this looks like the start of another series from Dr. Bob, this one on faith. The reader will save a lot of catching up to follow along from the beginning.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, not surprisingly, has a lot to say about the subject. I am satisfied with St. Paul' straightforward, if opaque, definition from Hebrews 11...

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Or, in the words of the King James version:
...the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

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