|"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." -- Hebrews 11:1|
|"For wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul." -- Proverbs 2:10|
Recently I have been hearing a lot of debate about faith and knowledge. I have friends of all types and friends of all different faiths, so I have seen many different sides to this debate. I don't mind debate, in fact, I rather enjoy it. I mean, I like to think about all sides of an issue. It helps me better understand my own opinions, and it also helps me to empathize with people who think differently than I do. It is when debate turns negative and hateful that upsets me. We humans tend to get our feelings hurt easily and feel like if someone disagrees with us, they are ignorant and we then move on to judging those who think and believe and live differently than we do. I try very hard NOT to do this.
One the topic of faith vs. knowledge, I say why can't they coexist in harmony with one another?
Many of you know that I spend a lot of time teaching KidsPraise at my church. The lessons I teach and the stories I tell are meant to give the children listening a background in God's word and create a strong foundation of Christian love. I have told many that I think these lessons benefit me even more than they do the kids! I learn something new about my God every time I teach. We focus on a different virtue each month. Guess what? Last month's virtue was knowledge and this month's is faith!
Our definition of knowledge is: discovering something new so you can be better at whatever you do. This encompasses Biblical knowledge as well as general knowledge. I believe that we human beings are "wired" with a natural curiosity to know what we do not know. We WANT to know and we WANT to find the answers to life's hidden secrets. Ever watched a magician and really want to know HOW he did that amazing trick? When we search for the answers, when we pursue those answers with all we have, we DISCOVER. Discovery helps us understand that God IS real because we see His work and His mastery in everything. Discovering who God is excites us! Many times, discovering some answers leads to more questions!
God wants us to know Him better. God wants us to WANT to know him better, so he doesn't give us all the answers. If we understood everything there is to understand, we would stop discovering who God is because we would stop looking. God would be no bigger than our understanding. This would lead to boredom and disinterest. God is bigger than we can EVER imagine, and He doesn't want us to be bored and disinterested in our lives.
How do I KNOW this? I have SEEN God's handiwork in our creation and been excited enough to want to learn more about Him. AND I have also been on the other side. There was a time in my life that I doubted God and stopped searching for Him. I didn't look, so I didn't discover anything new. I became bored and disinterested in God. Was He even real? But, something sparked my interest again and I again found excitement in learning new things about my God and the more I discovered the more I believed.
Our KidsPraise definition of Faith is believing in what you CAN'T see because of what you CAN see. Did you know that a great percentage of scientists and mathematicians truly believe in God? What??? I thought that science and belief in God can't possibly mix? One mathematician put it like this, "And it [algebra, geometry, analysis, etc.] all intertwines and works so perfectly, so beautifully, that you realize that Somebody or Something must have done this. It simply could not have happened by chance. It's a kind of revelation, I guess. And it's very convincing." (Why the mathematicians, more than other scientists, tend to believe there's a God Ted and Virginia Byfeld, British Columbia Report, June 2, 1997, p. 31.)
I have a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science, so it is evident that I value education and what learning new things can do for you. I had anthropology classes in school where I saw with my own eyes fossils and bones from creatures that I don't understand. Do I totally understand how the Biblical literal timeline fits in with what scientists have discovered from studying all they see? No. Does that make me believe less in the God I have discovered for myself? No. While I don't have all the answers, I have seen things in my life that HAD to be from God. What I HAVE seen helps me believe in a God that I can't see. I also know that there are many inconsistencies with our current culture and the Bible, which I believe is God's word. However, this doesn't make me believe God's word less...it makes me want to study ALL of it so I better understand what it means for the people of today's world.
Too many people give up on God too easily. When something happens to cause them to question or doubt, they just give up and say there must not be a God, or at least not the God they thought they knew. I have said this many times, and for me, it is still true: I believe God WANTS us to question Him and SEARCH for the answers to those questions.
So, once again, I conclude that faith and knowledge CAN coexist in harmony in our minds, hearts and in our world. I thank God that my heart and mind are open enough to let the debate rage on and know that even though I learn new things, my Faith in my loving Father God will stand strong. I encourage my friends to keep open hearts and minds themselves and allow God to grow their faith while learning new things as well!