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Friday, January 6, 2012

Faith and Reason

seven sisters
(The Seven Sisters by Helder Jacinto)
I am a person of faith. I have been a person of faith since I was a little kid. I can’t even remember a time when I wasn’t talking to God. When I was little I used to ask God for the usual stuff; help with tests, protection from bullies, etc… Over the years I started to have conversations with God. These conversations were mostly philosophical. What do I do in this situation? Why do bad things happen to good people? Stuff like that. I was never a normal teenager.

Today I continue my conversations with God. I find myself saying thank you a lot. I guess I do that because I feel very lucky. I have a wonderful life, with an amazing wife, and a great family. And so when I talk with God I always end up saying thank you, regardless of whether my situation is good or bad.

I am a person of reason. I have always been a person of reason. I have always asked questions when confronted with difficult to explain phenomenon. I have always been a person that demanded explanations. I also love to hear the explanations. I love to learn something new. I love to figure out something that was a mystery to me.

And so it is not so mysterious that I eventually wandered into the world of astrophysics. The stars kept pulling at me until I decided to build a telescope and see what they looked like through the eyepiece. I was not disappointed and I still love to view the night sky as often as possible. The heavens speak to me of the glories of God.

The night sky also speaks to me of the glories of reason. When I was learning how my telescope worked, I found out that there was a purpose to all that trigonometry I didn’t learn in High School. A friend gave me the trigonometric formula for finding faint celestial objects that can’t be seen with the naked eye. I sat down with a scientific calculator and did the trigonometry on a pad of paper, comparing the results with calculations made by my computer until I got the numbers right. What that exercise taught me was that the formulas work. If you do them right, they work every time. And I remember thinking, wow, this really makes sense. Now that is reason in action.

I can’t apply a formula to God. When it comes to my faith I can’t punch in the numbers and get the result I want. I can talk about my faith, but I can’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact I can’t prove it at all. I can only tell people that I talk with God all of the time. I can only say that I experience the presence of God within me. I can only testify to what I know and that is that God is with me all of the time and I am never alone. I know this to be true. I can’t prove it to you, or verify it, or calculate it. But I can tell you about my relationship with God, and you can judge for yourself. I can also tell you that if you look, you can also find God within you. But that is entirely up to you. I can show you how to find a galaxy in the night sky, but I can’t show you how to find God. I can only tell you that I speak with God, and that God knows me and cares for me. God knows you and cares for you. But you need to start talking to God to find that out.

Now excuse me while I make a few requests to the Almighty. A bigger telescope would be nice. A lot bigger. And a few of those really expensive eyepieces. And how about some astro-photography equipment…

(God’s response; You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid)

Pastor Bill

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