Faith and Doubt

It has been well said that “Science takes things apart to see how they work. But religion puts things together to see what they mean.” The drive to understand ourselves and our world is something fundamentally human. It sets us apart from the animals. We want to know…and to know that we know.

At the Greek temple of Apollo at Delphi, over the doorway, was an inscription, “Know yourself.” And subsequent Western philosophy has sought to do just that. But two and a half thousand years later philosophers have more questions than answers. We remain a mystery to ourselves. In fact, as Nietzsche said, we knowers are farthest from knowing ourselves. And philosophers have been completely unable to find any absolute foundation for belief about reality which is immune to doubt. Philosophy has not put things together.

Only religion can give us the meaning that we are desperate for. But what does it mean for me to be religious? It should go without saying that it is about more than belonging to an organization and going to the meetings. It is a stance that I take in relation to the world. It is the awareness that I must come to that I am not the center even of my own universe. My actions will never have meaning if they are directed only to the fulfillment of my own needs, desires, goals and principles. To be religious is to have humility when we confront “reality.” That word “humility” comes from the same Latin root as the word “human”…humus. It means “earthiness, reality, lack of pretense.” To be religious is to be down to earth, reality centered, other centered.

For Christians it means being like Jesus’ mother when she said to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” It means being like Jesus who prayed, “Not my will but yours.” Faith is a journey into that will.


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