The Certainty of Faith

We are living in uncertain times. Daily updates regarding the economy, Covid-19, politics, and social issues not only threaten to overwhelm us, they frequently conflict with one another. It’s not uncommon for people to just give up trying to sort it all out. This in itself creates tension in the human soul because we long for certainty. We want to know, and if we can’t know, we want a probability percentage, ie “What are my odds, doctor?”

man jumping on rock formation

Wiser men than I have explored the question of how we know what we know. The philosophical term is epistemology, which sounds kind of like something you yell at an umpire when he makes a bad call. In our day the question goes largely ignored because we have fallen under the enchantment of science. Rather, we have fallen under the enchantment of scientism, which is a religion instead of a discipline.

Science gives us the impression of being firm under our feet when in reality it is like a ship’s deck as it hovers over the waves. Faith is like the good brown dirt of solid ground beneath our feet. Of course, good solid earth may not seem quite so unshakeable during an earthquake, so even this metaphor falls short. But it’s a start.

Covid-19 has shown us the true nature of science, which divorced from a larger theological framework really is just a matter of probability. Based on the amount of time this virus has been around, we don’t know what to do with it. The unknowns, despite the clamor of those who are holding to the politically correct narrative, are overwhelming. How does it transmit? We don’t know. Can children transmit it? We don’t know. Does this drug or that drug help? We don’t know. Is isolation better or is developing a herd immunity better? We don’t know. So what we think we know for certain today may change drastically moving forward based on our observations. We are basing what we “know” about Covid-19 on what we have seen it do up until now, but it’s possible there are larger patterns that we are missing because we have only observed it for a short time.

So let’s apply that same principle to the motion of the sun. We say “it’s as certain as the sunrise”. How certain is the sunrise? What if the 6000 years of recorded human history we have has been part of a much larger pattern and tomorrow, the sun will suddenly behave in a complete “new” way. That would probably end up killing the human race, but it’s possible. How probable? Well, now we’re not talking about certainty anymore; we’re talking about probability.

The things that science claims to know for certain are actually basic things that people have always known, plus a few things. It’s very convenient for me that medical science figured out that leeching is not always the best method of treating an illness, but there’s no doubt that people always knew the difference between being healthy and being sick. The things that “science” gets wrong are the new things. Climate change is clearly happening; it is clearly changing so rapidly that every prediction scientists have made has been wrong. And not wrong by a smidge, but by a smodge (this is a new word I made up that rhymes with smidge. It means a lot).

The old traditions knew of the sun and the moon and stars. And the old pagans were more reasonable than our modern scientists, who think that repetition is somehow a self-sustaining reason for the sun to come up in the morning. Personally, I think it makes more sense that a Titan is pulling it behind his chariot; blind process resulting in harmonious order is a lot less likely. The pagan knew in his bones that someone was dragging the sun up every morning, so when Christianity came along and the light of Truth shone on them, paganism gave way to Christianity. In that way Christianity is closer to paganism than the modern world, because in the modern world men no longer know how to know: we have anchored our thoughts to a tornado and wonder why we are so anxious.

In the end, probability can never approach the certainty of faith. If you are ever going to know something for certain, then you are going to have to know it by faith. And because the modern world doesn’t understand this principle, we cannot be reasonable about Covid-19. If I know that the sun hangs in the heavens at the command of Almighty God, then I have some footing for addressing a virus. It does not bother me that there was a day when the sun stood still (Joshua 10:13), and if it did so tomorrow I would know that there is Someone beyond the sun up to something that probably doesn’t concern me. But if I believe that the sun only comes up in the morning because it always has, then I have no idea what to do with a virus that has never come up before.

Does it matter what we believe? Of course it does, and that is a book well worth reading. But until men rediscover the faculty and reality of faith in a world that derides it, we will never know what it means to know. In the end, the words of God by the prophet Isaiah come ringing down the ages to the children of the 21st century:

If you are not firm in faith,
    you will not be firm at all

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