Qualifying Faith

‘Why the frown my courageous soldier?’ asked the Lord, tenderly looking at the face of Science. Not losing the frown of concentration, Science looked into the Father’s eyes – hoping for clarity without a dialogue. That seemed elusive… So he decided to ask…

Science:  Is Faith ignorance?

God: (Shocked) What?

Science:  Well, why does man struggle so much? After all you have created a humongous universe with everything needed for life on earth embedded in it. He needs oxygen and he has a nose for that. He needs food for energy and you gave him a digestive system. He needs water to drink, and that is both available and usable by him. You gave him an intelligence to comprehend how to be happy, gave him all the tools and the knowledge to implement. There is not one thing You have not provided and yet… yet he struggles to live…

God: (with a sigh) Yes he does… But how does that translate to ‘is faith ignorance?’

Science: Man understands that acceptance is the key to avoid disturbances. He builds a concept of You, God; believes that you are the one who has designed this universe and him to be as it appears to be; begins to accept all that happens in his life as his ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’; calls it faith to execute a choice even without having any control over the outcome; and yet struggles to make every decision… Man feels despite all his talk of faith and acceptance, he is still a puppet in your divine scheme. Don’t get me wrong Father! I certainly know you exist! But isn’t it better for humanity to use the intelligence you have provided into making the right decision without struggling all the time with the burden of karma and faith? Why blindly accept an ignorant way of life when he can well choose an intelligent one, even if it is without You?

God: (with a gentle smile) You seem to have a few things mixed up! Let’s first understand what you mean by ignorance, acceptance and faith, shall we?

Science: Ignorance is ‘not knowing’ the existence of what is. Ignorance is when man doesn’t know he has a choice. Acceptance is a mental act, a neutral or positive attitude towards a proposition. There are two or more options and man decides to ‘accept’ one despite knowing he has the choice of other selections. As he does not have full control over any outcome, he is taught to practice acceptance, for without that he will never be peaceful.

God: Hmmm… So what is faith?

Science: Saint Augustine said “Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe.”

God: Does that really apply to your definition of Faith?

Science: Well, there has been any number of intellectual pondering on belief and acceptance. For instance, according to Hume ‘belief is nothing but a peculiar feeling that is different from what attends the mere reveries of imagination.’ While Descartes held that knowledge of nature is acquired by voluntary acts of cognitive judgement, Hume believes they are acquired by the involuntary growth of cognitive feeling. I guess, faith is an involuntary feeling that grows in man’s cognition.

God: In simple words you are implying that ignorance is lack of knowing, acceptance is an intellectual decision based on the knowing while Faith is an involuntary feeling anchored on knowing. Is that right?

Science: In a way, what you have just said clarifies that ignorance and faith are probably not the same. But the subtleties are too hard to comprehend for the common man.

God: My dear Science, have you ever come across a new born blowing into the mother’s bosom rather than suckling for milk?

Science: (with a little frown of concentration) No! Never!

God: Have you ever come across a fish that can’t breathe in water or a human that can’t breathe on land?

Science: No!

God: Have you ever had the need to teach a new born how to pick the available 20.95% oxygen from the air to breathe?

Science: No Father!

God: That is Faith! There is no need to execute a choice! The new born will suckle milk and never blow; the fish doesn’t need new skills to breathe under water just as man can always breathe on land; and you don’t need even a few minutes of training for the fetus inside the womb to learn how to breathe when it comes outside! Faith is that which is ingrained in every thing, the very nature, the very definition. It needs no choice.

Science: Are you then saying man has no need for intelligence because everything about life is already ingrained in him? Isn’t that then ignorance? Why at all create me if they had no use for choices?

God: Well, my child, the fish doesn’t know that there is something called water into which he is born and without which he will die. He has no need to ‘choose’ to breathe or not. The fish is certainly ‘ignorant’ and will remain so for the rest of his life. He will not even know he has faith! So it is with every human child – embedded with the same quality of not knowing that the ‘I’ – the self exists. However, the human child is bestowed with this awesome faculty of ‘knowing’ faith.

Science: I don’t understand Father!

God: Faith is not something anybody needs to train or inculcate. It already is a part of existence. However, you remain ‘ignorant’ of faith. Faith is not ignorance! Man remains ignorant of Faith. Like a fish in water that doesn’t know it’s in water, not knowing what is, is ignorance. With every passing moment of interaction, when man begins to learn through his intelligent questioning, that knowing of what all is possible, helps him develop  discrimination. Discrimination leads him to make choices between varied options. Using his intelligence to justify the outcome of his choices is acceptance.

Science: But what is the purpose of acceptance? If all that is, is – and that is what you call Faith, how does man’s acceptance or non-acceptance change anything about it?

God: Well, my dear, a fish certainly doesn’t need acceptance. He is embedded with the faith that the water is his world and lives and dies in the faith that nothing else exists. He doesn’t need to ‘accept’ he is a fish nor be accepted by other fish! But man is endowed with intelligence. So he begins by questioning. Questions lead him to answers. And answers need to be ‘accepted’ or ‘rejected’ for further questioning. This process ‘accepting’ or ‘rejecting’ we call as discrimination. Some use this faculty to choose ‘not to question’. Thereby they remain ‘ignorant’. But to most others, finding answers is the way of life. To them acceptance becomes the doorway to faith.

Science: So what is this faith you talk about that isn’t ignorance and beyond mere acceptance.

God: If not knowing is ignorance, knowing and choosing between options is acceptance, knowing what is, but never ever questioning that a second option is available is faith.

Science: I am not sure if I understand…

God: Acceptance needs to be qualified by intelligence. You don’t have to ‘qualify’ Faith. Not knowing that he is born a human, not knowing that he is separate from his mother, not knowing that closing his eyes will not shut out the world, is ‘ignorance’ of the child. Knowing it is his life, he gets to choose, he has to accept the outcome and make renewed choices is ‘acceptance’. Knowing that he is human, has been blessed with the ability to choose, willing to use his faculty of intelligence to grow in curiosity, and yet feel the awe of existence, the wonder of creation, the realization that what is, is, not looking for an alternate, nor needing to qualify is ‘faith’. The choice-less state of simply knowing is Faith.

Written by Gita Krishna Raj  |  Published in infinithoughts in March 2014

When Science met God… |  Segment Eight: A Tryst with God  |  Chapter Two: Qualifying Faith

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