The Place of Faith and its Relationship to Science

The Definition of Faith as Transcendent Reason
The religious world has made a big deal of faith. This is kind of an understatement. The fact is most people believe what they do because it is an important part of their personal identity.

Some people are highly devotional because it is scary having one’s paradigm shattered. This is to be exposed to the chaos of one’s own mind (the devil!). It is much easier to cling to the established artifacts of one’s own thinking then to fall into the pit of chaos. Most people would rather die than admit that the belief system/paradigm that they have carried most or all their life is wrong in spite of proof of error time and time again. These people become willfully ignorant. This is understandable in that our entire small ego personality is a story we tell ourselves even if it is based on some T.V. reality show or propaganda propagated by oligarchs for the purpose of controlling the ignorant masses.

However, this clinging to old establishment paradigms is what limits us. This is true in both religion and science. The scientific method was developed to avoid clinging but science is still prone to it as much as religion. This fear and clinging in religion is the cause of extremism, fanaticism, and egomaniac power mongering. People who commit fanatical actions due so in order to convince themselves that they actually do believe something. Unfortunately, political and economic forces exploit these fears and convince people to do self-destructive things with religion used as a justification.

There is a real faith but it’s not blind. Many Christians think that faith is a mental ascent to a historical fact of Jesus actually having existed. Even if Jesus did actually exist, believing in that historical fact would be no different than believing that Abraham Lincoln actually existed. Believing in Abe’s existence would not amount to much. However, if one studied his life, the things he wrote and said, studied his biography, then one could attain somewhat of a mental state of union with him and understand his concerns and way of thinking. Abraham Lincoln was an amazing person and dealt with agonies of the deepest kind. This is also true of Jesus.

Unfortunately, Christian fundamentalists has gotten away from what Jesus actually said, at least according to the gospels which were written sixty to ninety years after his actual death even though there is no proof that he actually existed. Not that proof matters. Jesus, as allegory, is much stronger than literalism. If Jesus was a historical, literal person he would have been be raked over the coals by the usual paparazzi and slanderous tabloids.

Actually, that happened anyway. Jesus recounts how John the Baptist ate honey and locusts and the Pharisees (allegorical of all fundamentalists) called him demon possessed. Jesus took bread and drank wine with tax collectors and prostitutes and the same people called him a wine bibber and a glutton. (Mt 11:16-19 ) Some things never change!

There is no way that one can convince the deluded fundamentalists that they have not been chosen by God to destroy the world. We live on a tiny blue planet in the middle of essentially nothing and so many people want to destroy it to get to a higher place. Is this not perfect insanity? Jesus said, “If you can’t be faithful with little how can you be faithful with much? ” (Lk 16:10-12)

It was the Gentiles who stole the scriptures as directed by Constantine to justify mayhem and empire. As Dr. Spong points out, the gospels were written by Jews for Jews but Gentiles stepped in and hijacked what they taught and turned it into a literalist heresy. It was the Apostle Paul who claimed that he had a special revelation from God and insisted that the blessing given to Israel was also extended to Gentiles: “They are not all Israel which are from Israel,”. (Rom 9:6) He stated that Gentiles were subject to the blessings of God as much as anyone who claimed to be of Israel. Elaine Pagles suggested that it was Paul that the John of Patmos wrote about as being the great adulterer of Judaism as written in the letters to the churches.

All of Paul’s writing was about showing that God had blinded Israel so they would reject their own inheritance and God would be justified in “grafting in a wild olive tree.” (Rom. 11:24) He did say however, that when the “fullness of the Gentiles” had been completed, God would bless Israel again. (Rom. 11:23) Paul presents a very strong logical argument to support his case.

As Dr. Spong points out though, Paul was not out to destroy Judaism, he was just trying to include Gentiles in Judaism, yet without the required rituals such as circumcision and other laws. (Gal 5:2) Paul’s ideas of including the Gentiles was not unique to Paul. It was scattered all around in the writing of the prophets in the Old Testament. His genius was putting the whole arguments together which, unfortunately, have been used to affirm the literalist’s dogma but he was not the source of the literalist dogma. Paul was definitely not a literalist.

Paul’s work was the first documented writing before the gospel writers and even his writing was twenty years after Jesus was crucified and it was an additional forty years before the first actual gospel was written which was the Gospel of Mark. Matthew copied Marks version but added and deleted things. Luke was even later and John’s version was almost after ninety years after the crucifixion of Jesus. The exact dates are not certain but within a plus or minus ten year period. Dr. Spong shows that Paul’s writing was the closest thing to the real deal and he did not discuss a whole lot of stuff that crept into the gospels such as the so called “Virgin Birth”. I propose that all these ideas were allegorical for a higher concept and is in agreement with Dr. Spong that the Jewish writings were never meant to to be literal. In other words, the gospel writers were waxing allegorical and metaphorical big time. They expressed a much higher concept than could be done by reiterating a historical dogma.

We’ve been watch’n too many movies! We think there was a video camera at the base of the cross and the disciples were standing around taking notes. That did not happen! As Dr. Spong points out it was about twenty to ninety years before anything was written down. Nevertheless, this does not mean that all of this is meaningless nonsense. Dr. Spong claims that all the gospel material was allegorical and completely not literal yet it was based on a literal and historical person named Jesus who had a profound mental connection to the multidimensional levels of the universe. I totally agree with this concept. As stated above, it has been a good thing that Jesus has not actually been proven to exist or he would have ended up on a bottle of soda water and sugar full of caffeine! I am referring to the “relic trade”. We are so prone to worshipping something physical if it has even the slightest possibility of being “from God”. The Shroud of Turin is an example. We all want access to higher dimensions and we have them! We have access to all of them! It’s the literalist fundamentalists that keep trying to take it away and steal our soul!

My thesis is, based on the concept of the Jungian idea of the collective unconscious, that the allegorical stories of the gospels paint a much stronger picture of the transcendent and superconscious truth still seeps through but we have to think allegorically. Jesus said he spoke in parables and those blinded by willful ignorance are cursed and will never understand the parables which is their fate and destiny. (Luke 8:10)

Paul very clearly understood that the Old Testament was allegorical. When referring to the story of Hagar and Abraham he said “and this too is an allegory”. (Gal 4:24) Even when referring to the crucifixion of Christ as a punishment administered by the Roman Government for treason, Paul said it actually was a sacrifice for all of us. When something is allegorical it has a meaning that is bigger than, and hidden in, something else. That is what allegory means. Without allegory, Jesus is just another accused heretic murdered by Romans.

Many people may find the idea offensive that Jesus was allegorical; in other words a “symbol”. Apparently, Paul didn’t have a problem with it and Jesus himself said his life had more meaning than could be comprehended at that time. (Jn 16:12) This is what a symbol is! In a very real sense, all of our lives are allegorical. In the mere literalist sense we are nothing but not so sophisticated monkeys, eating, evacuating, breathing and copulating. Actually it is much worse than that. We are a species destroying the planet because of greed and stupidity.

At the level of the transcendent mind, however, we are kings, heroes, martyrs, magicians, and this is our potential. Joseph Campbell pointed this out a while ago. The unconsciousness is where the real world is. Understanding allegory, or a symbol, requires higher levels of mind. (Levy) This is what faith. is. A higher level of mind! It is not some blind neurotic nonsense drummed up by the oligarchs that want to send children into some new battle to die for “freedom”. Christian fundamentalism has turned faith on its head. They say, “You don’t have to understand what it means, just say. ‘it’s true, it’s true etc.'” Real faith, in my opinion, is trying to understand what things really mean. Is this really a strange idea?

We can define the unconsciousness as where we really live as concluded by neurobiologists. (McGilchrist) We can also define true faith as transcendent knowledge coming from our higher levels of mind. Faith does not oppose reason. It is transcendent reason. It is the result of the integration of the conscious, unconsciousness, and superconscious mind. This is why scientists have faith that the universe makes sense at some level in spite of recurring evidence of contradictions time after time. Reality is not a hopeless paradox. It is multidimensional and contrary to our “hunt the rabbit, kill it, and keep the buzzards away” evolutionary survival mind which still dominates our thinking.

The fact is, the basis of science is not certainty but, uncertainty. (Levy) Scientists understand the sources of experimental error. Science knows its limits of knowledge and that its theories are only an incomplete attempt of an explanation. Yet, based on what they know, they are willing to extrapolate to new levels of knowledge. This is true faith and it is based on experimentation, logic, extrapolation, and verification. Yet, nothing is absolutely certain. This is why in the book of Hebrews it is written, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of the things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) There is evidence and substance but there is still no certainty; things hoped for but still not seen. Faith is extrapolation based on proven knowledge, not make believe!

All of the science of quantum physics was totally contrary to the scientist’s preferences. This is summed up with Einstein’s shriek about God not playing dice. They were all determinists, for the most part, and they were stuck in a paradigm. All of the scientific revolution from Newton to Einstein was based on an eternal universe. The scientific term is “steady state”. Even Einstein had some evidence of an expanding universe but in spite of that evidence he corrected for that in his equations using a “cosmological constant” which he later admitted was his biggest theoretical blunder and it was based on bias.
They did not want a universe that had a beginning because it would be too close to the religious interpretation of Genesis. (Sheldrake) Nevertheless, they did not just throw up their hands and refuse to accept it even though they wanted to. They had faith in something they didn’t even know what it was. Real faith moves ahead as it accepts new facts and using logic, intuition, and imagination. False faith condemns and kills people because they don’t drag the ball and chain of dogma. False faith keeps their god on a stick, dead, bleeding, and useless. Then it projects and sublimates its self-hate to other people and kills them. I know this is a very strong statement but it must be dealt with.

Scientists understood that the world appears to be made up of things we can’t see. It was a very dark path full of stumbling stones, steep cliffs, and personal attacks from witch hunters. They ventured on to a land they had never seen and did not know what beasts they might encounter next. They ventured on, dwelling in tents and tabernacles made of allegories and ideas. One by one they offered up their favorite theory even though it was like a favorite son. This is the faith of science and which all real faith should be able to do! All faith is in search of knowledge, not dogmas. Verify! Verify! Verify! Sacrifice the false ideas we thought we knew even though it breaks our heart. This is the faith of science and is the basis of all truly spiritual belief freed from dogma.

The Biggest Faith in All the World
Who did Jesus say had the biggest faith? It was a Roman soldier, a Centurion. (Mt 8:5-13) Jesus said, “Never have I heard such great faith ever expressed in entire Israel.” It was a person of an occupying force that was praised for having a better faith than anyone in Israel? Can you imagine the news headlines today? “Jesus praises the occupying force as having a better faith than anyone in Israel!” I can only imagine what the current propaganda “news” channels would say. They would say, “Crucify him!” as they have always done and still do.

The Centurion used sound logic and reason. He said, “I have a certain amount of power. I command people and they do what I say. But, you, Jesus, have much more power than I do and you can heal my daughter even from a distance. You don’t even have to be there. Just make the command and it is done.” He understood the multidimensional and nonlocal state of things. He understood at a very low level the fractal universe but was able to extrapolate to higher levels of concepts. He understood it at an intrinsic sense but could not verbalize the actual scientific basis. This is what faith is! “If this is true for me, than it is a whole lot more true for you, Jesus.” This is what the Centurion was really saying to Jesus, according to my interpretation.

Real faith is “scientific” and based on trials and testing yet not to be confused with putting God to the test. The Devil used scripture to try and persuade Jesus to use his faith to save himself if he would throw himself off a very tall building. Jesus understood the law of gravity and he knew to violate it would have grave consequences. False faith throws itself tall buildings all the time and in their hubris they expect special favors from God. Jesus rebuked the devil and said “It is written that you shall not tempt the Lord your God”. (Mat 4:6-7)

Faith is not based on ignorance and resistance to new knowledge. It is based on opening our mind to new ideas and concepts ever learning to differentiate between good and evil at very nuanced levels. As it is written, “from faith to faith”. (Rom 1:17) In other words, faith is a living process and grows. It is not dead and unwilling to accommodate new ideas, even setbacks and absolute contraindications. Faith is the basis of resurrection and the resurrection is really about the opening of the mind to completely new ideas, dimensions, and completely new states of mind. Faith is not dead, being alone. Faith is alive and grows with the flow.

The Curse of Willful Ignorance
In a slight, but relevant, digression we will now discuss the “unforgivable sin”. Dr. Spong has a really good discussion about this in his book, “Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy”. In this story, Jesus cast demons out of a person and the Pharisees accused him of casting out demons with the power of the devil. As Dr. Spong points out, this demonstrates that the Pharisees had totally lost the ability to differentiate and discriminate between good and evil. They lost this ability, not because they were just ignorant. They lost it because of a willful desire to justify their own self-serving agenda of greed and power. They were so blinded by their hatred and racism they lost the ability to be honest with themselves and called good evil just to advance their selfish agenda.

They were not unforgivable because they did something wrong. They were unforgivable because they were so convinced of their own self-imposed delusion they did not even feel the need to ask for forgiveness. They fell down a deep fractal of darkness and bad reasoning. This is the essence of being a psychopath as discussed in previous essays and typified by Saul, the first king of Israel and many world leaders today, including our own.

The fascists and the oligarchs always stoke the hatred, racism, divisions (walls), and sexism to stir up their political base so they will go forth and wreak mayhem and destruction. Thus, again, and again, the oligarchs inspire the religious fanatics to do their bidding. All of this is the unforgivable sin. Not because they did bad things but, because they are so lost in the darkness of their own soul they are unrecoverable.

I don’t know how it works exactly, but I really hope there is a hell. There is some very serious hell to pay for the suffering of billions so a few percent of the population can be super rich as the result exploiting the poor and middle class and even sending them all to their death and mayhem which they have done throughout the ages. They are doing again as they use the current Corona Virus pandemic as a way to commit genocide against “blue states”, the poor, the middle class, and especially people of “color”. It is absolute genocide the way the current bunch of oligarchs is “managing” this crisis while they are filling their pockets with tax payer cash.

It is impossible to understand the power of justice when viewing the world today and how it has been in the last ten thousand years of human history. It has always been about those that are willing to lie and crack skulls and murder millions in order to obtain power. David of the Old Testament experienced this full force when he was persecuted by Saul the first King of Israel. (1 Samuel 9-31) In psalm 73, David asked why it was that the wicked prosper but then he had a revelation and he understood their end. This is the problem of only having one lifetime. We can not see the big picture and there is a very big picture. I wish I could see what David saw.

A related subject is that God does not punish sin…”Huh?” Well, this must surely be heresy some may say but, is it not written that “we reap what we sow.”? (Gal. 6:7) My conclusion is that sin is its own punishment. When we engage in greed and hate we burn in that fire. When we stir up strife and divisions and cliques we suffer the consequences. If we are blood sucking war profiteers, international weapons dealers, a despotic torturer of imagined enemies, I suspect that something else goes on as well, but I know not what. We suffer repression, cognitive dissonance, and we fall into the fractal of outer darkness. There is a hell and it’s on earth. There is also a heaven and it’s also on earth. What goes on after we are dead, I have no clue but I suspect it is a similar reflection but opposite somehow.

Summary of the Paradox of Faith and Reason
We live at a time when science has made major breakthroughs and new ideas can pretty much be proposed without someone being burned at the stake as has happened in the past far too many times. This may change soon, however, the way things are going. Science, nevertheless, seems stuck in its reductionist way trying to find the smallest particle. It affirms that there is no God of any kind and that it is foolish to believe in one. We are brought to the point, again, of asking the fundamental question, “What is faith and knowledge in the first place? Are they diametrically opposed? Must we choose one over the other?” To answer that question I refer to the following as a summary.

First, Words are very limited. By words we include verbalized thought. No matter how perfectly one could describe with words the most lucid vision of reality, the description can not contain the whole. Direct perception is a million times more powerful than a verbal description of something. Science has tried to get around this problem through the use of symbols in mathematics and art seeks to transcend words with colors and value. Because of the limitation of words everything we know is limited and incomplete. We have to fill in the gaps and assume it all makes sense somehow.

Second, We have to bear in mind that what we are dealing with is a pretty big thing. We have this universe thing which apparently came from nothing and is expanding in something that is bigger than itself even though there is nothing outside the universe according to scientists. Now physics says that there could be many universes and dimensions but that it really doesn’t mean anything (i.e. nothing mystical going on here). Physicists are struggling hard to make sense of it all and correlate the theories of quantum physics and relativity into one big unified theory so that all the parts move in a mutually consistent way even though mathematics itself is incomplete as Kurt Godel has shown. (Hofstadter) This is not a rant against science. This is about the limitation of words.

Third, we have a complicating factor in this situation in that “we” are here. We are active participants in this system. Us, pain, love, hunger, desire, fear, feed the chickens, kick the dog and holy-moley we have been doing this for thousands of years. As inextricable atoms of endlessly convoluted systems within systems, we lack comprehensive perspective, and can’t easily distinguish confused or blended principles. Some people catch a wild hare and presume to try to make sense of it all.

Trying to make sense of it all is fine. The problems seems to come when we think we have actually succeeded. Freud, for example, thought he had human psychology all figured out, but Carl Jung came along and climbed onto his shoulders presuming to expand the Freudian horizons. Freud rejected Jung’s elaborations and tried to ruin his career.
Even luminary Einstein, rejecting the physical indeterminism and what he saw as the incompleteness of quantum physics, famously huffed, “God does not play dice!”. He spent the rest of his career trying to figure out what game God does play. Neils Bohr, Heisenberg’s colleague in developing quantum physics theory, implored Einstein to stop telling God what to do. In the most extreme cases you can add every tyrant, despot, free thought and liberty destroying wacko to this list in the sense that they think they know the only game in town. Thus, we get stuck in a paradigm and refuse to expand our knowledge. It’s not just religion! It’s also politics.

Fourth, the universe, including our self, is inherently enigmatical. We are and live in an enigma, wrapped in a conundrum on the horns of a dilemma in a martini of chaos. From the conflicting nature of light (behaving as a particle yet simultaneously as a wave), to the contradictory nature of quantum physics and relativity, to the apparent nonlocality of self, we find nothing but opposites and polarity and particles that all run down a rabbit hole and come out the other side as their polar opposites.

This complicated nature of things seems to be the gist of the problem. It is all just too darn complicated! Some people have a problem with this fact. Some people try to simplify things. In fact, we all have to simplify things. If we did not simplify things, to some extent, we could not function. Nevertheless, by the very act of simplifying things we are prone to make ourselves miserable because we cannot understand everything. This is another aspect of the Divine Paradox.

So then, we have the basic human history of the majority of people spending all their effort and thought on survival and the few elite who are the ones who do most of the thinking and tell everyone else what is going on. It is not a bad system really. It is pretty synergistic. Not everyone can sit around with their heads in the clouds, otherwise no one will eat. But then you get the ego thing, the control of the masses by the fear thing, and the go to war and serve God thing, which is really get the king more gold thing.

After a few thousand years of this, people pretty much figure it out and say to hell (or purgatory or Gahanna etc.) with all this religion stuff and say, “I’m gonna be smart” So they become scientists and measure things and develop new languages that nobody but themselves can understand. They proclaim themselves to be the only keepers of knowledge, and before you know it the earth is ripped to shreds and stands on the verge of obliteration by technology run amuck. Pretty much sums it up. Thus, religion hates science and science hates religion. Ironically, many of the religious people who hate science think we have a God-given right to destroy the Earth with science.

Basically, religion has to realize that it uses science and science has to realize that it uses faith. Faith can be defined many ways. To many religious people, faith is a mental ascent to a historical fact or an alleged historical fact. For many other people a belief in God is no more than an imaginary playmate as the result of a neurosis or psychosis. They then seek to convince others of the historical fact and beat each other over the head as to what exactly this historical fact actually was and means.

At the same time religious people use science as much as anyone else. Science is nothing but observation, analysis, and extrapolation. Obviously, no one would make it very long without the use of observation, analysis, and extrapolation. Try walking down a flight of stairs without it.

Among scientists, faith arises as a trust in the consistency of nature in spite of the fact of the apparent inherent inconsistency that they have demonstrated time and time again dealing with light and quantum physics. Nevertheless, they have faith that somewhere down the road they will figure it all out and achieve the Nirvana of Grand Field Theory, or the Grand Unified Theory, or the Grand Grand Theory or whatever. They still don’t seem to have realized that as soon as they get the Grand Unified Theory figured out they will discover something even more bizarre and they will have to come up with something even bigger such as dark matter and dark energy. In the meantime they are content that as long as they follow all the laws and rules of nature, and don’t get their wires crossed, they can trust that insulators will always work as insulators and they won’t fry their pocket change every time they flip on a light switch.

Of course, many religious people will say that it is not just this historical fact or that fact but rather they feel it and know it at a certain level, therefore it must be true. Science says the same thing. Scientists talk about the atom but say it is just a model, a concept of something indefinable and ineffable. It is just a symbol of something much greater. Of course, this something greater has no inherent intelligence or consciousness as we do or we would be approaching something like a, well, umm–a God. Dogs forbid!

Religion has its experiments, proofs and failures, and science has its experiments, proofs and failures. Science has its principles, and religion has them also. Religions seem to work for a lot of people and even though they can cause great destruction you can’t really ban them. Science works for a lot of people but it also can cause great destruction even though it is not inherently evil but can be used for evil. Greedy people misuse it and religious people misuse it and unfortunately many times they are one and the same. The point is that religion is as much a science as science is a religion. (Harari)

It is well and good that people be allowed to experiment with feeling and thought-provoking things. It kind of makes up for all this grinding survival that has occupied us for these thousands of years. The problem is, again, when people become wise in their own conceit and are not willing to listen to outside sources and will not recognize a proven failure.

Therein lies the biggest difference between science and religion. Science is willing to recognize a doomed theory and move on. Well, actually, science is not very good at that either. Science can get stuck in the graft game as much as religion does. Take any grant seeking professor and he or she is as likely to come up with a convenient answer as any profit seeking prophet.

Nevertheless, science surpasses blind faith by the fact that we are still alive as the result of science exemplified in agriculture, engineering, and medicine. Now the challenge is to save ourselves and the Earth when all these sectors have been taken over by unregulated, predatory, and litigant forces only out to make a buck. Making a buck is one thing. Making billions and trillions at the expense of humanity and our life sustaining environment is another thing called “the Devil” in Biblical parlance. Previous essays on the Eighth Apocalypse goes into more detail.

Campbell, Joseph; The Power of Myth, Anchor; 1991
Harari, Yuval Noah; Sapiens–A Brief History of Humankind; Vintage Books; 2011; pp. 275-306.
Hofstadter, Douglas R. Godel, Escher and Bach, Vintage Books, 1980.
Levy, Paul; The Quantum Revelation-A Radical Synthesis of Science and Spirituality; Select Books; 2018; pp. 283-286.
McGilchrist, Iain; The Master and His Emissary–The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World; Yale University Press; 2009.
Pagles, Elaine; Revelations-Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation; Viking; 2012.
Sheldrake, Rupert; The Presence of the Past–Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature; Icon Books; 1988; pp. 17-32
Spong, John Shelby; Biblical literalism–A Gentile Heresy; Harper Collins Publishers; 2016; pp. 181-189.
Spong, John Shelby; Liberating the Gospels-Reading the Gospels with Jewish Eyes; Harper Collins; 1996

Review & Commentary