Faith’s Hidden Truth

 Cliffs of Moher copyright

 “Wonder enlightens Faith, Faith gives birth to Science, Science eliminates Wonder.” A philosophical and spiritual mind reawakens wonder.

As a child I looked up at the night sky and witnessed thousands of brilliant specs of light, called stars. I lay there for hours admiring and tracing them with my little finger. I was stunned by the dazzling beauty and wondered, “what are those stars”? My desire for answers awakened something in me, something called reason.

This reason is simple: great things must come from something greater. Isn’t that logical thought? Whether it’s an angry Volcano God of the primitive Island people or the mythological gods of the past, it is human nature to associate something greater than us to someone greater than us. Likewise a child reasons that stars must be created by someone greater than us, perhaps a Creator? It is reason that leads to faith.

A child’s wonder can be eliminated. “Stars are balls of gas burning thousands of miles away,” she is told. And that’s that. Science is used to kill wonder … or it can lead to further wondrous questions.  How do those balls of gas exist? How do they stay up there? How far are they? How big are they? An active mind looks beyond the answers to continue wondering. Science can allow a wondrous mind to have the highest level of faith because the answers allow us to wonder not the simple questions, but the complex ones.

St. Augustine’s Confessions: No Blind Faith 

It is important to note that the brain is stimulated by reason and logic. A prime example is Saint Augustine’s autobiographical work called Confessions, written in 400 AD. Many scholars and intellectuals associate his confessions to blind faith, beliefs merely thoughts without proof or true perception. St. Augustine confesses to his faith by citing biblical texts, and abiding to the Christian thought of evil, sin, and human confines. He explores the spiritual self and criticizes sciences such as astrology, relationships such as friendship, and attitudes such as old habits, for their non-compliance with faith. Every quote of his confession is only faith pouring over the pages. But does his love for God submit solely to faith? With scrutiny we realize that rational thought is inherent in Augustine’s Confessions. The faith actually comes from a quick deduction of events. He explores reason by simply experiencing passion, will, memories, and time. This reason first comes in knowing his surroundings, and then strengthened by faith to build a relationship with God. While faith is an instinctual connection with the divine, reason is the ability to justify that instinct.There is no such thing as “blind faith.”

Experiencing Passion

St. Augustine’s experience of passion with other humans gives him the knowledge of love. First, he knows passion through loving a friend when he admits, “we love to the point that the human conscience feels guilty if we do not love the person who is loving us, and if that love is not returned” (61). This knowledge of love comes from the experience acquired through life. But as the human relationships are fleeting, St. Augustine uses his guilt of loving temporary things to search for permanence in God. He says, “I had loved as if he would never die…let these transient things be the ground on which my soul praises you” (62). His experience with transient things  is how he learned to love, but transcended such emotion to see them as the foundation to knowing God. In other words, the love he experiences becomes associated with love for God. Without rational experience of love, he would not know love, and thus not have the faith in God.

Exploring Memory

Augustine then explores the relationship between memory and soul. Memories are the grounds to which he knows himself. He says that the memory is where “I meet myself and recall what I am. Actions are inward in the vast halls of my memory. [Memory] receives all these perceptions, to be recalled when needed and considered” (186). Because the physical eyes that create memory can only see so far as to answer his questions, he transcends beyond the physical eyes to create a spiritual level of memory and soul. He sees “a body and a soul, one external and the other internal [so that] what is inward is more superior” (184). While the inward soul is more superior than the external memory, he evidently uses the aid of memory to embrace the soul.  Without Augustine’s understanding of the physical creation of memory, he would not comprehend the soul that eventually knows God.

Examining the Will

St. Augustine examines the human mind in which the old will is bad habits of passions, but these passions are necessities for faith. “The consequence of a distorted will is passion. By servitude to passion, habit is formed, and habit to which there is no resistance becomes necessity” (140). This necessity of the will for passion transcends old human will to the new will. He says, “The new will which was beginning to be within me a will to serve God” overtakes old habit (140).The need for permanence is his reason for investigating old and new human will. Without rationally examining human will of bad habits, Augustine would not know the new will for faith in God.

 

Investigating Time

One of the final stages of investigation is time’s relationship with the divine. St. Augustine knows time through rational investigation of the past, present, and future, before he links time to the soul. “There are three times” he says, “a present of things past, a present of things present, a present of things to come” (235). He profoundly investigates this rational presence of time, and quickly conclude that his soul too knows time. “In the soul there are these three aspects of time[…]the present considering the past is memory, the present considering the present is immediate awareness, the present considering the future is expectation” (235). He realizes that his soul is a path to God, and that this path is taken through the rational investigation of time. Augustine would not know his soul’s relation to God without this logical understanding time.

***

The renowned St. Augustine criticized for his “blind faith” is not so blind when exploring passion, will, memory, and time before making connections to faith. I do not deny that his extreme submission to faith overshadows the foundations of his faith—the rational experiences and observations. In short, St. Augustine is implying that he will use his limited reasoning capabilities (bestowed by God) to discover God for inner peace. “My desire was not to be more certain of you but to be more stable in you” (133). His need for inner peace and stability is the reason for his everlasting faith. Reason and logic all around us point us in the direction of faith. Our minds find reason and our hearts create faith. Faith is not blindly accepted.

–Contrary to popular belief, not having faith is actually hard work because faith is an inherent offshoot of reason, very inherent and embedded in the mind.  To rid of it requires the dumbing of our mind and deactivating the process of reflective thinking.

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