Now Matter How You Slice It, It Requires Faith


No matter what world view we possess, no matter what we think is true, it requires faith to fill in the gaps. Religious people don't know everything about God, but neither do atheists know everything about science. I think we'd all be better off, if we accepted that faith is required, and stop trying to force one side or the other out of the public debate. Religious people will be better off to learn science, and atheists will be benefited from studying religion.

When I was a young child, I would sit on my living room couch and look at the coat closet in our entryway, sometimes for almost an hour. My recurring thought was to try to imagine what it would be like if there were nothing (for me 'nothing' had the color of 'black', for some reason) and it would freak me out to no end to try to comprehend it. Alternatively, I would try to imagine how it all got here, and that would freak me out, too. Because of my mental limitations, it became comfortable (and logical) for me to trust that God created this earth for us and put us here to learn to become like him.

When my 7-year-old son interrupted our scripture reading the other night with almost verbatim my same boyhood question, I was impressed that nearly every thoughtful child shares this wonderment. I reminded him that you can't imagine nothing as having the color black (I didn't tell him that I used to do the same thing), because black is something. And as our entire family tried to comprehend that one, our heads began to hurt.

There are just some things that our finite minds cannot understand. Like the observation that Richard Dawkins makes in his recent book, entitled The God Delusion. Mr. Dawkins is an atheist in large part because he can't answer the question of how a supposedly perfect being that we call God could have ever come to be.

Mr. Dawkins, suggests, therefore, that it makes much more sense (from a probability standpoint) for a one-celled organism to have spontaneously occurred rather than for God to exist.

I'll admit that such an answer requires faith. As I read Dawkins' book, however, it humored me to come to the realization that, without his realizing it, the tenets that he ascribes to require a similar amount of faith. Mr. Dawkins seems to think that what he has for science is confidence that the small amount of evidence he has for evolution will be borne out with more evidence, while what I have for religion is mere superstition without evidence. In reality, we exercise the same passion toward different objects (I toward God, he toward single-celled organisms); each of us only has partial evidence of what we believe, yet we each firmly believe that our minimal evidence will be confirmed with more evidence (and we have evidence to confirm our logic).

Let's take a simple example of the faith of the atheist--the fossil gap. Here's what evolutionists from the University of California Berkley have to say about it:

Misconception: “Gaps in the fossil record disprove evolution.”

Response: The fact that some transitional fossils are not preserved does not disprove evolution. Evolutionary biologists do not expect that all transitional forms will be found and realize that many species leave no fossils at all. Lots of organisms don't fossilize well and the environmental conditions for forming good fossils are not that common. So, science actually predicts that for many evolutionary changes there will be gaps in the record.
Without a complete litany of evidence, evolutionary biologists are nonetheless confident in their assertion that evolution by Natural Selection of a single-celled organism into a plethora of multi-celled, multi-faceted organisms is a fact. This is the essence of faith.

We are (or should be) learning all the time. Whether we are religionists or atheists, if we look, we can discover evidence that confirms the suspicions that we hold dear. Is there something to evolution? Probably. Is there something to religion? I'm pretty convinced of it. I've got an open mind, and I hope atheists do, too. I am interested to find what motivates people whose lives turn around the speculation that there is no God. In like manner, I hope that rather than writing me off as a superstitious nut, they would be interested in my ruminations.

Evolutionists, many of whom are atheists, admit that there is much they don't yet know about their science. I'll be the first to admit that there is much that I don't know about God. The fact that we don't know everything is no good reason for us to abandon that which we do.

I think we'll find out the answers to everything someday. For now, though, I hope we can agree to disagree, but also to be interested in each other's point of view. I claim to have evidence that God exists, and Richard Dawkins claims that God is not logical or probable. Neither of us, however, has conclusive proof. But regardless of whether one believes in God or not, the sum of what one thinks of how the universe works and how we came to exist requires faith.

In an effort to seed the debate, I'll try to meet the evolutionists halfway. What if...

What if on some planet 'eons' ago a single-celled organism did spontaneously generate, and since that 'time', it has evolved into a perfect entity that we now refer to as God?

Comments

  1. I found a couple of readers' comments in the March 2007 edition of National Geographic to be interesting. One, admitting to be a person of faith, said that he thought strict creationists and strict evolutionists were both off base. He felt that he was one of many that believes that evolution is among the ways God works.

    A second respondent put is more succindtly, saying that science is simply the process of discovering how God works. Of course this view requires faith. But, as you so ably point out, so does pretty much every other view out there.

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  2. After I finish compiling my notes on The God Delusion I will write a new post entitled "God is a Scientist". To state my thesis as a reply to Richard Dawkins: The religion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not constrained as are some (all?) of the other Christian religions, because 1) we don't claim to speak for God when he hasn't spoken to us on a subject (such as evolution), 2) we believe that our religion circumscribes ALL truth, even scientific, and therefore 3) we are free to opine, study, and speculate with the scientists (kind of a liberating thought!).

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  3. Frank, I have also found this to be liberating. It disturbs me when some in the LDS Church want to go back to the dark ages and hold on to dogmas that are not known to be of divine origin.

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  4. I agree. I humors me when people in other religions do it, but it saddens me when people in the LDS church think we are just like other religions, because we are far from it. The way we imagine satan, and the concept of "burning in hell" are two ideas that come to mind of how we are still incorrectly influenced by Christian traditional dogma.

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