Rationalism, reality and religion

11-17. class has kept me from writing here. This weekend there’s been an FGC Travelling Ministries workshop here (State College). Yesterday I spoke from the silence:


We have known for some time that light extends on either side of the visible spectrum. Only a small part of the electromagnetic radiation out there is visible to us. The enlightenment and rationalism posited that the only reality that exists is that which is empirically provable or directly observable, positing essentially that “the only light that is real is that which can be seen.” Thus, since they couldn’t raise people from the dead or conjure miracles, these things had to be the imaginations of those first-century Christians who claimed to have observed them. Reality extends to either side of that which we can see and touch. As the current flows over rocks in the bottom of the river, the waves, swirls, eddies and boils reflect their presence. Even without being able to see the bottom of the river, we know it is there and can make statements about it, whether the rocks are rounded boulders or scaly ledges. And reality extends past that which we can observe relationally, beyond the pale. These currents are visible, too, in our lives. To some degree, we can look at another and understand why they are happy or cranky. The currents of our lives reflect that which is otherwise not visible.


The essence of faith, then is the knowledge that the rocks are real and their presence can be observed through the eddies and swirls in Creation even though we will likely never see them with our eyes. The job of ministry, then, is to help others understand what the rocks in the bottom of the river of the Spirit look like. The rocks are real, even if they can’t be seen or explained.

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