Live with a Faith in the human capacity to bring about a better and more sustainable world.
Learn what human capacities are to bring about a better and more sustainable world.
PLaClair, what is for you the difference between yours and George’s proposal? Is there for you something missing in George’s formulation?
George’s formulation is missing the action component. It’s not just about learning. It’s also about doing, in fact creative Faith is mainly about doing. That is where Faith is at its most creative and its most powerful. There are plenty of times when we don’t know the answer to something. Every scientist who ever made a discovery faced that problem. Every student who ever applied to a college or professional school; every person who ever started a new enterprise; every farmer who ever planted a crop; everyone who ever decided to have a child - they all faced uncertainty. Sometimes parts of the answer seem obvious, as in producing a child - but then what do you do with the little critter? For first-time parents who never spent much time around children, the problem can be frightening, and that is when Faith is most needed. Maybe George doesn’t understand that because he hates that kind of talk. But offer this explanation to most people, theistic and non-theists alike, and most of them will know exactly what I’m saying.
In situations like that, where uncertainty is at its greatest, especially when we are afraid, practically all we have is Faith: we go forward, even though we have no guarantee what the outcome will be and only limited information about what it might be. Sometimes we have almost no evidence that we can succeed, as was the case before many of the greatest advances in science. Other times, the likelihood of success, based on the evidence, may seem much stronger. In matters of science, we have scientific method to rely on but following scientific methods does not guarantee that we will find a cure for cancer; of course we could junk all the research because it relies on the dreaded “faith” that there might be a cure if we keep working at it. Sometimes a personal matter is involved; it is in times like that when Faith “rewarded” can seem like a miracle - and it is a miracle if we can just learn to see miracles as outcomes that we didn’t think were possible. There isn’t any supernaturalism in this conception; only the recognition that we don’t know everything, and that new discoveries can liberate us and be exhilarating.
George insists that he’s listening but he isn’t. We’ve been having this disagreement for years. George is one of those people Einstein described as lacking natural piety. Most people see this phenomenon within human behavior, and they know it mainly afflicts self-described atheists. That’s not in any way a criticism of atheism but only of the myopia of some atheists. George and many others can’t seem to abide that idea that Faith can lift people up to higher ground; or he wants to insist that we should put it another way. But this way is just fine. It’s only a problem if you react emotionally to the words, which is essentially all George is doing today and all has been doing here for years. And that is supremely ironic because some of the people who claim they are all about reason are in fact coming straight from their emotional reactions - and not even to content but only to a word. It is one of the goofiest dynamics I’ve ever seen, and I might be nicer about it if I hadn’t done it myself, for many years. I don’t mean this as a personal attack but George and many other people in our communities react emotionally to certain words, and as a result they can’t see the reality when they let the words get in the way. And then we get sidetracked away from the content of what is otherwise a productive discussion.