On Faith II: The Transaction

waterfallIn my prior post on the subject of faith, I addressed some of the tensions between faith and reason, pointed out the tightly-constricted world of those who embrace the material while a priori excluding the transcendent, and attempted to make the point that faith of any kind — be it as simple as starting your car or as mystical as praying for healing — requires both a trust based far more on experience than knowledge, and a trustworthy, dependable faith object.

But faith requires more than simply trust in a reliable object — it requires that such a trust proceed from the true nature of that object. Thus when we talk of religious or spiritual faith — and this is the faith of which we are most concerned — it is not simply sufficient that our trust in God (whom we understand to be completely trustworthy) will invariably bring results. Our trust must be consistent and harmonious with the nature of God to bear fruit. These conditions or constraints which dictate and direct the faith relationship I have called — for lack of a better term — the transaction of faith. To simply trust, while disregarding the true nature of God, is to practice mere wishful thinking or magical projection. And a trustworthy God in whom no genuine trust (or misdirected trust) is vested will likewise avail us nothing.
Continue reading “On Faith II: The Transaction”

On Faith I: Faith & Reason

Grand opening, first Tacoma Narrows BridgeIn July 1940, an engineering marvel was completed: the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge. One of the longest suspension bridges in the world at the time, it exemplified the light, graceful architectural trend of suspension bridges built in this era. Called the crowning achievement of his career, designer Leon Moisseiff — the architect of the Golden Gate and Bay bridges in San Francisco — later declared “our plans seemed 100% perfect.”
Yet 4 months later, on November 7 1940, the Narrows Bridge catastrophically collapsed in a windstorm into Puget Sound.

Gertie collapsesLeon Moisseiff had unshakable faith in the reliability of his newly-completed masterpiece. He would have had no qualms whatsoever trusting its dependability in any weather conditions. Yet had he stood upon his own creation on November 7th, 1940, his faith would have been fatal. The object of his faith was unreliable, and the strength of his faith irrelevant.

Faith has become the diametric of reason … practiced only by deluded fools who reject the graceful catenary and steel-plate certainty of scientific rationalism.

Faith is an idea frequently voiced, but little understood. It is commonly mentioned in the pejorative sense in today’s secular society, where it has become a proxy for belief in the unbelievable, the unprovable, the superstitious and the mythical. Faith has become the diametric of reason — unreasonably so, as we shall see — practiced only by deluded fools who reject the graceful catenary and steel-plate certainty of scientific rationalism.

Yet faith–not love–makes the world go ’round. You exercise faith when you place the key in the ignition and start your car. You have faith when you flip a switch, expecting light to rush forth from a fixture, or music from stereo speakers. You have faith that your coat will keep you warm and dry; your plane will stay aloft; your surgeon will bring you through a heart bypass. The atheist has utter faith in his reason, that belief in God is beyond logic and therefore must be rejected. Such faith is nothing more than trust: a confidence that the object is reliable, the tool is trustworthy, its behavior predictable, its nature dependable. In the physical realm, such trust may be based in part on knowledge — one can study the flow of electrons and principles of resistance which make a light bulb glow — but such erudition is entirely optional, and rarely grasped by those who rely on its behavior. The object of faith may be entirely reliable yet utterly beyond our comprehension — or, as Leon Moisseiff discovered to his great dismay, deeply understood yet profoundly unreliable.
Continue reading “On Faith I: Faith & Reason”