Friday, October 22, 2010

Pascal & Me

My husband is a Church History professor and keeps a finger on the pulse of religion and culture in the media. Recently he showed me an op/ed piece from USA Today titled Religion and Science Aren’t Friends.

The opinion in this piece is a common one. Believers cannot prove religious "truth" and science is a multicultural search for truth. The piece adds much more about the differences between science and religion and where believers have it wrong. This is an opinion and the writer is welcome to it. For the cyber surfers and my small band of subscribers and followers, this is my opinion.

This discussion is a short one when the resources are not accepted by both parties. The Bible is the believer’s source, the word of truth. Being classified as a believer it is “believed” that the Bible is true. All roads lead back to the Bible, what it contains is the truth therefore it is the solid rock on which the believer stands. If the Bible is not an accepted resource by the opposing debater then the discussion stops here. No agreement will be reached.

This discussion not only stems from different resources but from different mental approaches. The op/ed writer wants to approach from logic and many believers approach from feelings. From the logical angle I defer to Pascal and his wager. The gamble is this: (excerpts from Pensées, part III, note 233):

1. "God is, or He is not"
2. A game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.
3. According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
4. You must wager. It is not optional.
5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that god is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain eternal life; if you lose, you lose nothing.
6. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is only a happy life to gain, and at the end, nothing to lose.

From the feeling approach, which science still struggles to test and evaluate, quantify and qualify, belief comes in stages. There is an initial choice to believe in God, even when all else is in opposition. This is a conscious choice of will to suspend what we see and have faith in what is unseen. Within this “chosen belief” the miraculous happens, (another stumbling block to scientific exploration). God reveals himself to the believer, and from my own experience, the more I seek Him through prayer, study and obedience to His commands (found in the Bible) He is revealed more clearly and substantially until the epiphany, a moment when the choice is no longer a suspension of things seen but a certainty of that which is unseen.

Those who have experienced this know of which I speak. Those who have chosen to believe are seeking that day. Those who don’t understand; choose not to understand; may never understand, no agreement will be reached.

They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. John 16:3 (NIV)

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