God is Love — August 28, 2014 at 1:34 am

Humility and “Knowing”: Is Having Faith Arrogant?



Christians like to speak of the “pride” of Atheism. Is faith in God, in and of itself, a sign of intellectual arrogance? That is, in a universe where the one constant seems more and more transparently to be *un*certainty, isn’t faith in God (and thus in capital “T” Truth) a clear-cut case of intellectual overreach? One world-renowned astronomer (Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a Christian herself) seems to unintentionally make this case:

“One of the things that physicists have had to live with for the last 70 years is what’s known famously as Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. It’s touching at something very big and very profound, and it’s saying that at the heart of physics, and therefore I would argue at the heart of everything, there is inherent uncertainty. You cannot know everything absolutely all the time, and that’s the way the world is. And you may not like it, and I know people who don’t like it. I know people who’ve said that Heisenberg’s Law should be taken off the statute book, because it ain’t right, but it is right, it is there, and you either live with it, or you go mad.”

So, how do we carry on a search for “truth” when truth in fact is something which cannot be exhaustively known by any human being, and in fact is not something which anyone can say (with intellectual honesty) “This is 100% certain”?

More and more, I find myself seeing faith as something which, *by definition*, is precisely about reaching the end of what we think we know and accepting the necessity of a leap. Yes, logic will take us perhaps further in pursuing God than we might think it will. But it will not take us all the way. It will not “prove” (as in a sort of experiment using the scientific method) that God exists… or that he does not.

As a Christian, I find that I must live “all in” — that is, with my heart, mind, and actions invested in the Gospel narratives’ truthfulness regarding the life, death, resurrection, and identity of Jesus Christ. Yet, I also admit that the only way I am able to remain in that faith is to constantly test, prod, poke at, and review my beliefs in the light of what I learn through experience and through thoughtful interaction with others as well as my own inner spelunkings.

I cannot say “I am 100% certain the Jesus story happened as described in the Gospels.” But I can say that my entire life is dedicated to living and believing it did so happen. In the end, then, I suggest that I can indeed hold a very strong faith in God yet be humbled by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. And I honestly don’t believe God is offended by such an idea.


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