Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Truth and consequences

Theoretical phyicist turned Anglican priest, John Polkinghorne (1930- ) wrote in his book, Quarks, Chaos and Christianity
Everyone knows that religion involves faith. click for moreMany people seem to think that faith involves shutting one's eyes, gritting one's teeth, and believing six impossible things before breakfast, because the Bible or the Pope or some other unquestion- able authority tells us so. Not at all! Faith may involve a leap, but it's a leap into the light, not the dark. The aim of the religious quest, like that of the scientific quest, is to seek motivated belief about what is the case....

Nevertheless, there are obviously differences between science and religion. One of the most significant is that science deals with a physical world that is at our disposal to kick around or pull apart as we please. In short, science can put things to the experimental test. God, however, is not at our disposal in this way. The Bible says, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.' It's no good saying, 'If there is a God, let him strike me down dead.' He just doesn't play that sort of silly game. Nor do people. If I'm always setting little traps to see if you're my friend, in actual fact I'll destroy the possibility of real friendship between us by the distrust I display. In the realm of personal experience, whether between ourselves or with God, we all know that testing has to give way to trusting....

Another difference between scientific knowledge and religious knowledge lies in the consequences that they have for us. My belief in quarks and gluons is intellectually satisfying, but it doesn't affect my life in a radical way. God, on the other hand, is not just their to satisfy our curiosity. The encounter with him will involve the call to bedience as well as the illumination of our minds. Religious knowledge is much more demanding than scientific knowledge. White it requires scrupulous attention to matters of truth, it also calls for the response of commitment to the truth discovered.


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