Doesn’t faith in God express the rejection of our human intelligence?
Question: Doesn’t faith in God express the rejection of our human intelligence?
Answer: No. Faith in God expresses not the rejection of our human intelligence, but its conclusion.
When we go to a doctor for treatment, most of us don’t automatically have implicit faith in the doctor. We begin with doubt and take a modest leap of faith by adopting his treatment on a trial basis. If we don’t intelligently evaluate whether the treatment is producing its promised results, we may end up being fleeced. When we find that his treatment cures us, then our intellectual analysis concludes in a deepened faith: his treatment worked, so he must be an authentic doctor. At this stage, if the doctor prescribes a certain treatment plan that doesn’t immediately make sense to us, then we need to put faith if we are to benefit further. This faith is the conclusion of our intelligent analysis: as this doctor’s treatment has benefitted me and as he knows more than me, the intelligent course of action for me is to put aside my intelligence and do what he is asking of me.
Let’s apply this treatment analogy to human-divine interaction. All of us find ourselves in a state of dis-ease – at least in the form of periodic, if not perennial, inner discontent. When we seek relief by approaching God, the ultimate doctor, most of us may not have implicit faith in him. We may start with doubt and take a moderate leap of faith by adopting on a trial basis a spiritual path. If we don’t intelligently evaluate whether the path is actually transforming and benefitting us, then we may end up being fleeced by the many mental concoctions that masquerade as scripture-rooted spirituality. When we find that the God-given scriptural treatment plan of meditation, prayer and worship makes us more self-controlled and self-satisfied, then naturally our faith in God increases. This increased faith is a result of our intelligent deliberation: if the God-given scriptural therapy works, then God and his scriptural wisdom must be for real. At this stage, if we find those same scriptures giving some descriptions about God’s nature that don’t immediately make sense to us, then we need to put faith if we are to experience greater spiritual returns. This faith is a result of intellectual humility: as God’s guidelines have factually benefitted me, and as I know he is far wiser than me and he desires my good more than me, the most intelligent course of action for me is to put aside my intelligence and do what he is asking of me through scripture.
Ralph Waldo Emerson puts this conclusion well: “All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all that I have not seen.”