Monday, February 18, 2013

Logic and Faith: A Modern Day Parable

We have been discussing on this blog the concept of how logic and faith interact. It is my position that logic leads us to believe in a Creator and that such a Creator must have had a purpose for the creation. If we discover what that purpose is, then we can fulfill it more readily. This would mean that we need to get to know the Creator so we can come to understand his purposes. I have made a variety of logical points over the last few posts to support this position. We could debate various points of logic without end. But at some point, we have gathered enough data to move beyond debate and start drawing some logical conclusions. Those conclusions, when based on facts, can give us the confidence we need to know there is a God and that He wants to be involved in our lives. Love compels us to help those who are not yet at the point of drawing such conclusions move to such a point. Below is a modern parable I wrote that I often give to people who are struggling to make that final step of faith.

Josh’s Logical Step of Faith—a Modern-Day Parable

There was once a little boy named Josh. He was fascinated by science and wanted to know how everything in the universe worked. Even as a little boy, Josh asked complicated questions that had only complicated answers. When Josh grew up, he got a job in a scientific laboratory working for the famous Dr. Reason. Dr. Reason was well known for doing excellent research and producing scholarly reports about that research. As the years passed, Josh was able to be part of exciting research that answered many of his questions about how the universe worked. When Dr. Reason finished a major project, he always published an article in a well-respected scientific journal. The research was meticulous, and the conclusions were rational. Dr. Reason was so careful in his research that no one had ever proven wrong any of the conclusions in his articles. Josh respected Dr. Reason for the research he did and for the solid conclusions in the articles Dr. Reason published.

The longer Josh worked for Dr. Reason, the more their relationship evolved. In time, they became great friends—perhaps even best friends. Dr. Reason would remember little details about Josh and use those details to make Josh’s life more joyful. For example, Dr. Reason remembered that Josh liked chocolate cake, and so he would bring chocolate cake to the lab when it was Josh’s birthday. Though Josh did not have quite as good a memory as Dr. Reason, over time he realized that Dr. Reason like baked chicken. Because of this, Josh would often bring baked chicken to the lab for lunch and share it with Dr. Reason. Dr. Reason was also willing to help Josh when he needed it. When Josh’s car broke down, Dr. Reason gave him a bonus in his paycheck. When Josh’s grandmother passed away, Dr. Reason came to the funeral and sat next to Josh. Though Dr. Reason’s scientific research and scholarly articles meant a lot to Josh, it was all these other things that really made Josh and Dr. Reason friends.

One day Dr. Reason published an article in a journal about a project he had been working on in a different laboratory. Josh knew that Dr. Reason had a number of other labs where he was also doing research. Josh was vaguely aware of what was going on in those labs but did not know all the details like he did in his own lab. When the new article came out, many people did not like Dr. Reason’s conclusions. Josh did his best to defend Dr. Reason’s work, but since he did not know all the details of what was being done in those other labs, he was not able to give as good an answer as he might have liked.

Josh asked Dr. Reason for details, but the research was so complex that Josh really could not fully understand the explanation. Josh tried to explain to others what he did understand, but his explanations were inadequate.

People began to pressure Josh to abandon his friendship with Dr. Reason. People said Josh’s faith in Dr. Reason had blinded Josh to the truth, but Josh was not moved from his belief in Dr. Reason’s abilities or intelligence. Josh patiently explained to others that while he was indeed exercising faith in Dr. Reason, it was not blind faith. From Josh’s perspective, it was only a small step of faith, not a giant leap of faith. Josh’s faith was based on his past experiences with Dr. Reason.  Josh had this perspective because Josh knew Dr. Reason really well.  Dr. Reason had proved himself to Josh, not only in the scholarly research and well-written articles but also in their friendship. It was not blind faith but informed faith that Josh placed in Dr. Reason.
Many people could not understand Josh’s perspective. At first Josh was frustrated with these people, even a little angry at some of them. In his frustration, Josh said a few things he should not have. But in time Josh realized these people could not understand because they did not know Dr. Reason the way he did. Though Josh really did want to know all the details about Dr. Reason’s other project, he knew Dr. Reason well enough to accept that in time, all would be revealed. Josh was comfortable in his logical step of faith and remained Dr. Reason’s lab assistant. Many people did not understand Josh’s choice, but Josh knew it was the right one, so he was at peace with his choice even if others did not understand it.

What is the meaning of this parable? Many people say that Christians blindly follow a God for which there is no scientific proof. But to Christians, God is revealed both in the Bible and in their personal experiences with Him. Christians read the Bible and find parts of it very easy to understand and explain to others. Other parts of the Bible are more difficult to understand and explain. Christians have built such a close relationship with God that they have faith to believe in the more difficult aspects of His will and ways.  Those who are not Christians may call it blind faith or a leap of faith, but for Christians who have a personal relationship with God, it is not a blind leap of faith at all. It is more a logical step of informed faith than a blind leap.  Though others may lack the ability to understand that informed step of faith, to Christians it is simply the next step on the logical journey toward a God of truth.
Adapted from Dr. Dorsett’s book, Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church, published by CrossBooks, a division of Lifeway Christian Resources.

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