faith and reason

Category : God, Jesus, faith, feeding my brain, miracles


Sherlock Holmes once said, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer.”  As we all know Holmes was considered the greatest of detectives (next to Batman of course).  He was able to solve any crime, through the sheer use of logic.

I’ve always admired this type of character because I think it taps into something deep inside us.  As humans we hate not knowing things which is why we’ve spent billions on science so we can better understand the world.  Countless hours have been spent studying dinosaur fossils or plant species.  Even the Loch Ness Monster has his own TV specials!  There’s something about the “unknown” that forces us to seek out answers.

That search for answers is why I love shows like Monk and House.  And why I’ve read stories about great detectives.  Because in the confines of those books, or within a 60 minute span, everything is tied up.  There are no more doubts.  All the puzzles fit.  It’s such a different experience than life.  In the real world we are left with clues we can’t put together.  Questions that don’t have easy answers.  To be honest it frustrates the hell out of me!

Several years ago I was hit with the full force of this problem.  I suddenly realized there was no greater question than “is there a God?  And if so, was he Jesus?”  OK, so that’s really two questions.

I began to realize just how much rides on the answer to those questions.  Morality.  History.  Our purpose.  So I, and many others, have gone out seeking answers.  Unfortunately when confronted with this question people tend to solve it in one of two ways.

  1. We either say, God can only be known through faith.
  2. Or God can only be quantified using science.

I think both of these approaches are off.

God can be known through both faith and reason.  In fact we need both in order to really understand him.

Because this is a monster topic, let’s leave faith for another day, and right now focus on science.  Personally I’m a big fan of science.  I think science is mankind’s greatest invention.  And there’s no doubt that science has radically changed human history.  Heck it’s even responsible for this blog.

Christianity can be hard to accept.  There are a lot of crazy-sounding claims.  God walked as a human?  He was born from a virgin? He rose from the dead?  To me those sound like something you read in a comic book, not in a 2,000 year old document.  It seems to fly in the face of scientific theory.  But does that mean it can’t happen?  And if so, why?

We live in a hyper-scientific society, where reason and logic are said to rule.  But I’m not so sure they do.  Oh sure we tell ourselves that we are logical and reasonable.  But Psychology suggests something else.  Research shows time and again that people don’t like evidence that conflicts with their world view.  We work very hard to minimize that conflict.  Often going as far as simply ignoring the conflicting data.  Remember the Loch Ness Monster?  Despite all of the overwhelming evidence that it doesn’t exist, people still believe.  The same is true of people who deny the lunar landings.

It’s surprisingly easy to use science as an intellectual crutch.  As a way to reject things we don’t necessarily like to talk about (e.g., Angels, Hell, Garbanzo Beans).

Some people will tell you God can’t exist because it’s not being scientific.  But I don’t find that to be a good answer.  It doesn’t satisfy my questions.  We have to address this historical person named Jesus.  How do we square this eye witness testimony with science?  How do we explain people being radically changed when they get to know God?  How do you explain people’s willingness to die when all they had to do was admit they made the story up?  Science doesn’t offer us an answer to “why”.

I don’t pretend any of those questions conclusively prove that God exists.  I can’t prove with 100% certainty that God is real.  But maybe that’s the wrong standard to have?  Maybe certainty isn’t the goal.  After all, how can you be certain I am not an alien robot?  You don’t know me, so you can’t know for sure…  You just take it on faith that I am not an alien robot.

The goal of R3 isn’t to prove that God exists conclusively.  It’s to show that faith and reason aren’t mutually exclusive.  It’s to show you that you can live out a life of faith, and still believe in science.  It’s to get you to challenge your thinking and at least come to an understanding of why you believe what you believe.  Even if you believe there is no God.

To paraphrase Holmes, even though some of the claims of Christianity sound ludicrous, maybe it’s true, no matter how improbable it sounds.

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