The Science of Faith

One of the things I miss most in academia is the certainty of knowing something. Most people outside the “cult” of academia think it is just memorizing a bunch of facts, and to a certain extent, it is. But, once you reach a certain point, there are no more facts. There is only research and “data.” You cannot say “this is the way the world works.” Instead, you have to rely on such things as “it appears” or “the data suggests” or “one might infer that…” Even certain “facts,” such as the theory of relativity, are not fully accepted. In fact, that theory is almost universally as being inaccurate. But, it is still taught because nothing else describes the phenomena as well. (In order to discard it, the new theory would have to describe it better, or be simpler… It’s called Occam’s Razor.)

At the upper levels of academia, results are rarely disputed. Instead, only the methods utilized to obtain those results are examined. That is all that can really be done. The results are plain. If everything is acceptable in regards to methodology, the result is either tentatively accepted, or found to be the results of chance.

But, beyond the realm of science, there is doctrine. While Scripture cannot be proven academically, it has not been disproven. To accept it, we need something stronger than facts. We need something beyond the understanding of empiricists. We need FAITH.

Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (NKJV) Yet, we know it still happened. Faith is powerful. Jesus said, in Matthew 17:20, “…I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” With faith, nothing is impossible! Hebrews 11:4-35 tells a story of amazing things accomplished through faith.

4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.

5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child[b] when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them,[c] embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,”19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.

24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in[e] Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.

As I live in the world where “facts” are questioned, the known is challenged, and all knowledge is accepted only as suggestion, I take comfort in the fact that God has given me something with more certainty. I KNOW I am a child of the King! My God created the heavens and the earth. My God rules the universe.

I KNOW there is one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

I KNOW there is a Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And finally, I KNOW there is one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. (adapted from the Nicene Creed)

In this knowledge I rest, and in this knowledge alone. Laus Deo!

Then sings my soul!

Over the past month or so, I’ve visited several churches around the state for different occasions (a baby dedication in Columbus, a baptism in Milledgeville, etc). One thing I have noticed is the stark differences in music from church to church. I love music in general, but to me a church service is not complete without hymns. Praise and worship music (along with other contemporary styles) has its place, granted. And, I’m certain it ministers to some who hear it. But, for me, church is not church without the old traditions.

They just do not write songs like that anymore. Take, for example, The Love of God:

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

  • Refrain:
    Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
    How measureless and strong!
    It shall forevermore endure—
    The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

The new songs do not come close to the meaning and depth of these lyrics which have stood the test of time. They fill me with such a sense of peace each time I hear them that is unmatched.

Our neighbors love music as much as I (and my family) do. Quite often, they will come up, and we will drag out the hymnals and we just sit around the living room singing. This past Sunday evening was one of those occasions. We had, as we normally do, a wonderful time. It is so nice to be able to sit and spend time with such a family!

Thank you for saying, “No.”

I had originally posted this on my old Xanga account, but wanted to put a copy of it here. Thus the severe backdating.
 

On the Sunday following Thanksgiving, the sermon at our church focused on giving thanks to God. Ever since then, through the chaos of term papers, finals, and the kettle campaign, I have been thinking about it. I’ve been trying to figure out for what am I most thankful. It has not been easy. I started with the obvious: family, health, etc. Then, it occurred to me. I am most thankful for the times when God has said “No” and changed my plans.

Five years ago, I thought I had my life planed. I was going to graduate from the Tech school, get my electrician license, and be married within five years. My electrical business would grow into general construction. I would be living in a large house with federal architecture.

Well, if you are reading this, you probably know me well enough to know that NONE of that has actually taken place. I did finish the Tech school, but with a certificate instead of a diploma. I never sat for the electricians’’ exam. Instead, I went to Georgia Military College and began my true academic career. I grew closer to maturity my two years there than I did in the previous ten years combined.

There was a time when I thought I had found my soul mate, the one with whom I thought I would spend the rest of my life. In my mind, all that was left was to have a talk with the fathers and make it official. Well, the relationship I envisioned never developed. I never had that talk with the fathers. And it is a good thing. If it had, I would have never been able to experience the next phases of my life without being helplessly torn between maintaining the relationship and taking part in one of the greatest opportunities of my life.

Working the campaign was tremendous, but left very little time for anything else. Even when I was doing something else, it was always on my mind. I gave it everything I had. But, it wasn’t enough. We still lost. But, through the contacts formed and experience gained, I was able to get an internship at the General Assembly.

The four months in Atlanta were among the greatest of my life. Sure, I went through times of loneliness. There were times I felt like the only one who actually stood for something. But, I made several great new friends. And, more importantly, it was the first time in my life I KNEW I was doing what I had been called to do. All of the NOs, all the changed plans, had led up to this.

Sure, I have plans for the next five years. But now, it would not surprise me of they all changed. God has been teaching me to depend on him for even my next breath. It is a lesson that has taken me a while to learn, and I’m not quite sure I have it now. Abigail Adams said it wonderfully, “Unto Him who mounts the whirlwind and directs the storm I will cheerfully leave the ordering of my lot, and whether adverse or prosperous days shall be my future portion I will trust in His right had to lead me safely thro.”

So, that is the highlight of my thanks. God has set out a perfect plan for my life. He is willing to tell me “no” when my feeble attempts at running my life would actually ruin my life.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

~ Romans 8:28