Intellect and Faith

Photo by Tyler Drendel - Sunset at Fermi Lab
Photo by Tyler Drendel – Sunset at Fermi Lab

Following from part one of twobeing honest about the who and what of our underlying presuppositions

Think about it: can a finite being measure or define, let alone manipulate, an infinite God?

If God is “big” enough to create a universe so large that we cannot see past the beginning or the end, how do we expect to measure such a God?

We are more comfortable in our own element. We can understand the what and the how of the world we live in, but the who is another matter altogether. Non-believers go no further and declare, the “what” and the “how” to be all there is.

At the same time, believers should not be afraid of facts or science. Facts and science help us to know and understand the what and how of creation – and they point to the Who. If we have an attitude open to the Who, we will see the evidence for God. In fact, it will seem self-evident. If a person wants “proof” before belief, such a person will never be satisfied – especially when the proof is a priori limited to the what and the how.

If we approach the idea of God with an “I will believe it when I see it” attitude, we aren’t likely to “see” anything. The intellect informs faith or the intellect dispels faith depending on our starting point, and that is not a matter of the intellect, but a matter of the heart!

In the New Testament, Jesus performed healing and miracles in front of crowds of people. Some people believed, and some people did not. Jesus said God must open our minds to understand (Luke 24:45), but we need to be willing, and that willingness is a matter of the heart, not the mind.

Atheists and agnostics have attempted to stake out an exclusive claim to the realm of intellect and to drive believers from that place. If you have come to faith in God, don’t reject your intellect. Don’t believe the lie that intellectual exercise is only for atheists or agnostics or that we must suspend or abandon our intellect to have faith.

We are instructed to “[s]et [our] minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Col. 3:2) If we believe, we should “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind. Then [we] will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:2)

Our minds should be engaged. God and His will can be tested and proven.

We are guided by faith, of course, but not a blind faith – We are guided by an informed faith! Blind faith is superstition. Faith isn’t the absence of fact or intellect; it’s the willingness to commit to what we know.

The key is in the attitude of the heart.

Are you open to God?

Are you open to the possibility of God?

Do you have anything to lose?

Blaise Pascal said long ago:

Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.

Pascal was not a shallow shill. He was a genius, a mathematician, philosopher, scientist and theologian.

Speaking to believers now. Too often we are neither innocent as doves nor wise as serpents. We allow ourselves to be taken in and influenced by the world and the flesh, and we mistakenly buy into the lie that intellect is at odds with faith. We abandon the ground of intellect to the naturalists and materialists.

God invites us (challenges us), “Come now, let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18) That is a challenge to believers and unbelievers alike.

2 thoughts on “Intellect and Faith

  1. I think at times we often think the problem is intellectual and a lack of the relevant facts. But the heart and will to believe are the strongest factors. As your illustrate so well that in Jesus’ time people chose not believe in the face of his miracles and resurrection. But we should continue to engage, challenge and provoke the hearts and minds of those we encounter.

    Liked by 1 person

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