Faith Walks Backwards

05/27/2014

Religious seekers tend to live their lives walking backwards; that is, they proceed by faith and not by sight. Too often, though, faith is the byproduct of the subconscious mind. Not possible, you might say. Well, consider that science says that at least 95% of our cognitive activity occurs in the subconscious mind (outside of our awareness).

Faith, then, is simply a belief – by definition it is not proof, as if there could ever be proof that God exists. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein best expressed that sentiment this way, “At the core of all well-founded belief, lies belief that is unfounded.” In that regard, religious scriptures are beliefs, not truths. Scripture, however, might be considered by a believer to be the truth because they have faith in those writings. For example, Hindus have faith in their Bhagavad Gita, Judaism the Torah, Muslims the Q’uran and Christians have their Bible. To each group, their sacred writings are considered to be the truth about God, to the exclusion of all other religious writings and beliefs.

It’s a truism that man doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Nevertheless, he still claims to be certain. It’s what I call proof without certainty. We claim to know God even though as the Pascal Wager states, “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible.” Plato, one of the great thinkers of all time, reasoned that, “Beyond all finite experiences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas and principles, there is an Intelligence or Mind, the first principle of all principles, the Supreme Idea on which all other ideas are grounded.” What’s important to note is that his idea of God does not apply to most people’s use of the terms the Creator or the Father but rather to what Plato would call a First Cause. Can we even contemplate what a First Cause might entail? Probably not, even if we walk backwards.

“God is a metaphor which transcends all levels of intellectual thought.”

– Joseph Campbell

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