Saturday, December 24, 2005

Things Not Seen

Eugene Robinson says exactly what I have long felt about people who insist that intelligent design is a legitimate scientific way to "prove" the existence of God. Why would anyone want to prove the existence of God, and what does it say about the faith of people who actually would try to do so?

The judge [in the Dover, PA, case] notes that nothing in Darwin forecloses religious belief. Intelligent design, on the contrary, seems to me to be anti-faith.

One of the best definitions of Christian faith is attributed to St. Paul, who called it "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." At every Mass, Roman Catholics around the world "proclaim the mystery of faith." There is no need to have faith in something that can be touched, measured, quantified, predicted; no need for faith in something that can be seen if only we build a big enough telescope or a sensitive enough electron microscope.

What would be the posture of a believer toward a God who could be seen? It might be adoration, I suppose, or obeisance, but it wouldn't be faith as believers since St. Paul have understood it. Faith requires mystery. Faith requires a leap.

Exactly. And as a person who believes that God is real, I am just as inclined to oppose the movement to teach "intelligent design" in public schools on religious grounds as I am to oppose it on the grounds that it violates the separation between church and state. I agree with Robinson that it isn't even possible to prove the existence of God -- and I'm glad.

There is a famous quote: "Doubt is the essence of faith." I don't know the origin of this aphorism, but it's true. The very meaning of the word "faith" implies a lack of certainty. If God's existence could be proved, religious faith would be impossible. That would be a loss I would never want to experience.

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