MOVED TO FAITH BY INTUITION
In support of the Central Thesis:
No one can actually believe in something blindly.
Having a new-born infant in the house is one of the greatest blessings imaginable. But there are also some very disorienting aspects of the newborn that make a computer-programmer-type person a little crazy. Lack of sleep is not a big deal compared to the lack of a functioning user interface. Here’s what I mean.
cue is this
See the issue? I remember being at a loss wondering what the crying signal meant. I quickly made a mental decision tree: 1. Check diaper, 2. Check eating times, 3. Check for localized pain of any sort, 4. Try consolation, 5. Try distractions, 6. Find “Mom”. It worked like a charm most of the time.
Shifting focus, let us try to imagine the thought process of the infant as she struggles with learning the concept of hunger. A strange craving appears. She gets irritated and begins to cry. Mom, Dad, Babysitter come to the rescue with something to drink. Strange craving is satiated. Eventually, the caregivers put a word to this by asking, “Are you feeling hungry?”
Hunger is not a physical entity, but it is very real. Who would be bold enough to claim that hunger is “not real” when so much of the world’s population is desperately and constantly hungry? It is the term we give to the craving for food. You can locate hungry people, but you cannot locate hunger. You might isolate the location in the brain where the craving signal resides, but “hunger cannot be reduced to ion exchanges in neurons”. The concept of hunger only makes sense in the context of craving and satiation.
Now for something completely different… ~ Monty Python
Ever see a breathtaking sunset? Have you been moved to tears by an act of kindness, valor, or self-sacrifice? Are you a fan of great music, great art, or great architecture? Why do you want to travel the world to see the great sites, when these sites are available instantly on the Internet? These things are satiating. But what word do we place on the craving that is satiated in these life-enriching situations? Words like aesthetics, beauty, and meaning come to mind, but there is not a handy word like “hunger” to describe our craving the fulfillment of these desires. This is unfortunate, because without a term, the concept is easily denied.
You can try to deny the existence of the craving for beauty. But you will be easily disproven with one simple observation – the World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure. Crowds do NOT pay thousands upon thousands of dollars twice a day to experience longitudinal waves (sound), coherent light (lasers), two-dimensional imaging (movies), and the abnormally high surface tension of water. They came to see the love scenes of Disney played upon ghost-like walls of water with blasting fountains, laser flashes, and musical flourishes. See for yourself:
With art and beauty we seem to have a grasp of the object we crave, but we are inarticulate when describing the craving. With spiritual matters we have a grasp of the craving, but left to our own devices, we become unsure of the object. Our cravings for the “Holy” show up in our cravings for ritual, for proper words (piety of sorts), for an ordering sovereignty of some kind.
What evidence is there of these cravings? You mean besides the fact that every known civilization has had some sort of spiritual practice? What about the need we feel to have ritual at weddings and funerals? Certain phrases are craved as if they seal some spiritual deal. When disaster strikes, even the most strident anti-theists have been known to cry, “Where’s God!!” We crave a higher power even if it is to have someone to accuse. We do not have a word like “hunger” for this craving, but it is real.
What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself. ~ Blaise Pascal – Mathematician, Physicist, Inventor, and Christian Philosopher – Pensees, E.P. Dutton &Co Inc, 1958, page 367.
This passage of Pascal has been paraphrased into the familiar:
There is a God-shaped hole in all of us. ~ Plumb
(http://youtu.be/pAXxgWZMDHU < song with lyrics below)
There are many Christians who base their faith on this filled void. They know their craving, and they know the satiating object of their craving. Since it is not easily put into words, many of them say,
I just believe.
That is not a satisfying response for them because it does not do justice to the fulfillment they have from lining up their hunger with the object of their affection. It is not a satisfying response for the questioner, either, because a questioner wants more detail, more information, and more concrete terms with which to wrestle.
Perhaps I have described you. If your faith is one of spiritual hunger satiated in Christ, then take some time to put into words a description of the hunger that was satisfied. It doesn’t have to read like the Lawyer’s Case for Christ , the Detective’s Case for Christ , or the Journalist’s Case for Christ . This is YOUR case for Christ, and it is one that someone needs to hear. “I just believe” is not the whole story, and I suspect you know it. But nobody is exempt from 1 Peter 3:15,
…always be prepared to give an answer (apologetic) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,… ~ 1 Peter, Chapter 3, Verse 15.
Operating on intuition involves special care. It is evident from the above post that these cravings do not even have universally-agreed-upon terms. They seem to avoid description. Do not be afraid to find additional reasons to believe. This is the natural maturation process as one goes from trusting Mommy to trusting one’s own feelings. One should move beyond feelings to more rigorously testable facts. There are three advantages to this:
- You can avoid errors and avoid being misled by your fickle feelings.
- You can test the claims of others (and yourself).
- You can provide yourself a “fortress of facts” for those times when you don’t “feel” especially spiritual. If your faith in Christ is based upon “feeling His presence”, then you WILL have a crisis of faith when for whatever reason you interpret your feelings as “not feeling His presence”. This fortress of facts is constructed from reliable sources.
(cf. www.apologetics315.com and www.thepoachedegg.net for more!)
ROADMAP FOR THE SERIES
This series of blog posts will explore what is meant by Christians when they say they have “faith” in Christ. Roadmap for the series:
- Part 1 – Introduction to my “No Such Thing as Blind Faith” series of posts
- Part 2 – What is the Biblical concept of the word “faith”?
- How does one come to have “faith” in something?
- Part 3 – Sources they trust – parents, pastors, professors, publications, papers, posts
- Part 4 – Intuition – putting the pieces of life together (least “explainable” but still not “blind”)
- Part 5 – Reaction to stress or joy – mountain tops and valleys in life
- Part 6 – Experience – direct experience with Christ in some way
- Part 7 – Conclusion, support of the central thesis, and how we come to change our minds