faith doesn’t replace knowledge

So there’s this new movie out about the ridiculousness of religions and faith by Bill Maher. No link love, but he sure gets quite the mainstream media attention. Both rationalists (aka atheists and/or agonostics) and religious folks say there is media bias for the “other” side.

The thing is, everyone has their own explanation for what the things of the world means, and the stuff that our disciplines of learning have not fully exhaustively addressed. And the thing is, they haven’t, and I think that’s why they’re called fields of inquiries.

Here’s my napkin sketch for how the stuff of life and faith fit together: science, money, relationships, tasks, people, nature, things, arts, etc. Or, to use labels of academic disciplines: Fine Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Mathematics. [aside: so much faster & easier to draw on paper than to use Photoshop, after wasting 15 minutes trying]

Faith assumptions are the answers we have to the question of things we don’t know concretely. (cf. “What don’t you know and how will you learn it?”) And I think this is a good way to think about it, that faith gives perspective and insights into the rest of the world and how the world of learning is figuring out how all the stuff of the world works. And faith definitely colors how we place value on the stuff of life.

[update] Dan Kimball saw that one Religulous movie and commented at length. Not having seen the movie, what I don’t like is people being ridiculed, even if some people are kinda different.

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2 Responses

  1. Erin says:

    some thoughts:
    1. Most mainstream Christianity is rationalist. That's the problem. If it weren't then there would be no “apologetics” as such. <- How do we “argue” for faith? We appeal to reason…Most of our faith is still beholden to the rationalism of the 19thC. (Can we prove something)
    2 My worry about faith being the “answers to the things we don't know concretely” is that it implies a God-of-the-gaps only as powerful as our lack of understanding. Is there anything more concrete than the revelation of Christ for the church? Certainly not for the skeptic…who cannot scientifically prove things, see response #1 🙂 (I'm don't have in mind doubt, though)
    3.How can the social science circle, which I take to include culture, show the effect of culture on faith?
    Great post. There is, afterall, only so much a napkin can hold! The thing about Maher is he makes fun of a God I don't recognize, but I do recognize some of the people he targets. 🙂

  2. djchuang says:

    Erin, great thoughts about the rationalistic influences that have invaded much of modern mainstream Christianity.

    The napkin diagram above was actually shaded in yellow (with a yellow highlighter), and that was to illustrate that faith pervades our notion of knowledge. Actually, depending on the color hues set on your monitor, some of that yellow can/ does show up.

    And, I didn't have a way to draw the diagram to say that what we “know” in what our academia world labels as disciplines is incomplete, and very likely it's only a small part of what is knowable in the universe.

    As for Maher, he doesn't believe in a god, so he's very much ridiculing people who believe in a god. Of the people he's making fun of, I'd like to say that the god they believe in bears no resemblance to the God I believe in, but then what do I know.

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