America’s Journey of Faith
Part II — The Truth is... All people walk in faith
© CLIFFORD C. NICHOLS, ESQ., July, 2018
In the hallowed halls of our country’s courts, schools and local governments, people who hold to a faith in God are increasingly being subjected to censure, if not outright scorn.
In the hope of lowering the temperature of these cultural conflicts, perhaps it would do us all some good to take a step back and reflect upon what faith is and who in reality possesses it.
To start, consider the following two disparate views on the subject:
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen… By faith, we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear.” — Hebrews 11:1, 3
"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence." — Richard Dawkins
Undeniably, the writer of Hebrews had a faith in the existence of a God founded upon the complex, intricate, and interconnected wonder of all that mankind is given to observe. All of creation’s cumulative majesty decries the possibility of it being the mere product of some random cosmic accident.
By comparison, Dawkins’ view at first appears to be the polar opposite. But, his view begs the question: is he really a man without any faith of his own, or does he also hold to “convictions based on things not seen?”
Dawkins, a self-professed atheist, advocates around the world for the purity of science. Until 2008, he was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science, where he authored The God Delusion.
He believes people of faith are delusional extremists irrationally opposed to the purity of truths that can only be arrived at by “science.”
One irony presented by his approach, however, is that, as a scientist, he is violating a fundamental tenet of science that holds that an absence of evidence is not evidence that proves absence.
Translation: The fact that one is unable to hear, taste, touch, feel or see something, like God, cannot be relied upon to prove that God does not exist.
By Dawkins attempting to do exactly that, however, he has revealed a second irony: his own “faith” in the infallibility of the human senses.
In other words, Dawkins is arguing that, because the human senses are unable to detect the presence of a God, his conviction — i.e. his faith — that God does not exist is justified. But lacking any evidence to prove the infallibility of these human senses upon which he relies, isn’t he guilty of very same “cop-out” of which he accuses people of faith?
And by his use of this “cop-out,” Dawkins presents us with a third irony.
The procedures of the “science” Dawkins so reveres mandates that, in the study of various phenomena, assumed theoretical variables are to be held constant.
The question then becomes: is Dawkins’ inverse cop-out — the absence of evidence for a God is proof of God’s absence — a variable he applies consistently to other phenomenon? Or is it a cop-out he only applies when attempting to prove there is no God?
For example, consider the phenomenon of light.
Presumably, even Dawkins would admit its existence. However, as is the case with the God Dawkins denies, the reality with light is also that, to date, no scientist has ever been able to taste it, touch it, hear it, feel it … or even see it.
Like God, the only evidence we have that light exists is a reflection of our ability to see that which it illuminates. Were it otherwise, it is conceivable we would be unable to see anything other than the light that surrounds us. Why then is it preposterous to believe the same might also be true of God?
Also, again bearing another possible resemblance to God, there is very little science has been able to tell us about what light even is.
For instance, science has informed us that light is neither fully a wave nor a particle. Yet, this knowledge compels science to acknowledge as fact what is seemingly impossible: that, in some mysterious way, light must be both. For how else can science explain how glass or even water will reflect light like a particle and yet also be unable to prevent it from simultaneously passing through the same solid object as would a wave?
Given the seemingly impossible, yet undeniable, wave-particle duality of light, how can Dawkins, as a scientist, justify rejecting as impossible another duality; that Jesus Christ ironically revealed to mankind by way of comparing himself to being the light sent by God to pierce this world’s darkness in the form of an individual who was both fully human and fully God?
By accepting one seemingly impossible duality as undeniable, while dismissing the other as being impossible, isn’t Dawkins willfully choosing to hold the people of faith he detests to a different standard? And, if that is true, has Dawkins not revealed that for him to deny the existence of God requires that he also must possess a “faith” — in his case a conviction in the non-existence of things not seen — that is arguably at least equal to, if not greater than, the faith of those he has elected to condemn?
Would Dawkins have it be mere coincidence that, 2,000 years after Christ was among us, a renowned scientist known to us as Albert Einstein proved that, for anyone traveling at the speed of the same light to which Jesus compared Himself, time, as we know it, would come to a stop. Thus, for that person would be opened the possibility that life could become eternal — just as Jesus offered mankind.
Coincidence? For Dawkins, perhaps. Then again, for millions of others, perhaps not.
But, is it not this very question that truly identifies the fundamental difference separating the two schools of faith that are so at odds with each other in our culture today?
One side’s conviction — i.e. faith — is guided by a belief that all that is seen and experienced is nothing more than an entirely random series of coincidences, while the other’s is guided by a belief that there are none.
In the end, are we not are all called to choose between these two schools of faith?
And, if that is the case, perhaps all might better understand — and empathize with — those who have chosen differently than we have, if we all paused to consider the advice written by yet another “scientist” of considerable renown.
At the age of 35 he was informed that he had acquired an illness from which he would soon die. Thereafter, he put aside his monumental endeavors and achievements in the fields of mathematics and physics, and applied his genius, for what remained of his life, entirely to a consideration of the eternal.
His efforts left us with the treatise Pensees, in which, among many other seminal ideas and thoughts, he urged his readers to consider the following:
Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is…. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He is. — Blaise Pascal
For to do otherwise, truly would require a leap of faith that defies reason.
© Clifford C. Nichols 2018. Mr. Nichols — a former research associate of The Heritage Foundation — graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, Summa Cum Laude, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, and was elected to membership in the Phi Beta Kappa society. He received his Juris Doctorate degree, Cum Laude, at Northwestern Pritzker University School of Law where he served as a member of the Board of Editors of the Northwestern University Law Review. Today, Mr. Nichols is an attorney licensed to practice law in both California and New Mexico.