November 14, 2003

Faith and Reason

I have never believed in the inerrancy of the Bible. My earliest religious thought as a child was: if God is All Powerful then why does He need a book? Why didn't he just put everything he needs me to know in my heart? Given how many different interpretations of the bible there seem to be wouldn't something like math make more sense? Two plus two still equals four even after 2000 years and no one has managed to change that yet.

Years later I read a book about the history of Mathematics called "Pi in the Sky" by John Barrow. It talked about Godel's Incompleteness Theorem and how it meant there were mathematical statements that, unlike 2+2=4, you could never prove to be true or false. He then went on to observe:

If we define religion to be a system of thought which contains unprovable statements, so it contains an element of faith, then Godel has taught us that not only is mathematics a religion but it is the only religion able to prove itself to be one.

When I read this my childhood thoughts came rushing back. The problem with this mathematical spirituality is it doesn't give you the slightest clue as to what are the right things to have faith in. What to put your faith in is up to you to choose - free will coming back to bite you on the ass.

Despite all my thinking on the subject I still don't claim to know the right things to put my faith in. I believe in the goodness of the human heart, but I also believe the Bible is right when it warns that sometimes our sinful desires lead us to make the wrong choice. I believe the right path is to find the balance between faith and reason:

"it is important for human beings to strike the balance in belief. Believing too much is gullible and superstition, whereas believing too little is cynicism and skepticism."

In difficult times sometimes we lose our faith almost without realizing it. Those times are when we most need to sit down and think about what we believe.

"Faith seeks, understanding finds...unless you believe, you will not understand."

Posted by thom at November 14, 2003 11:34 AM | TrackBack

God is bigger then our fear and doubt. He is not bound by our understanding. there were not many Bibles but simply one translated into many lang. Thus alowing others to understand and to choose to beleve or not to. For that choice is God given and should never be forced or manipulated. Good luck on you walk to understanding we all must walk alone to find God. We will be blessed by others who walk with us for a time, But we all walk alone just the same.

Posted by: Stephie at November 14, 2003 12:38 PM
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