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Faith By Reason Contents




Chapter 7 ~ Conclusion

REASON, comprised of observation and induction and contiguous with increases in human knowledge, is the best means currently available for guiding faith. (If you’re still not convinced go back and reread everything.)

This may be best summed up with a story:

It’s the 1950’s. Family in the suburbs, husband a good provider. They’re not rich, but there’s enough for necessities and a few luxuries.

One day his wife says to him, “You need a hobby.” He’d always admired finely-built furniture, so he uses some money he had saved to outfit his basement with woodworking tools. After studying techniques and safety tips in Popular Mechanics, he begins some projects— simple at first, then more complex.

Friends start seeing his work and complimenting him on it, and for the next year or so he’s the happiest man on the block. Then a financial reversal hits his plant and he is laid off. He finds a new job with another company, but it’s in a different field and pays considerably less. Soon family finances are running tight.

His wife suggests that he try to sell some of his handcrafted furniture to supplement the family income, but he fears that if he became dependent on it economically it would take the enjoyment out of it, becoming too much like a second job. He has another plan.

To tide them over until a promised pay raise he decides to sell his woodworking tools. He runs an ad in the paper. His tools are well cared for and in good condition, so they net more than enough to pick up the temporary slack in the family budget.

For a while all is well, but without his basement shop he misses having a creative outlet.

His wife’s hobby is Scrabble, so to help fill the void he starts sharing her passion, discovering an increasing interest in the game. They begin inviting other couples over to play, occasionally on weekday evenings as well as on weekends.

For his birthday he asks for and receives a book on Scrabble strategy, and for Christmas a Scrabble dictionary. His playing ability improves. Before long he is winning nearly all his games, even against trios of strong opponents.

By now though the game board has seen so much wear that not only are its corners and hinge broken but the print is wearing off the squares themselves, especially the most often-used ones located near the center of the board. The husband and wife talk of buying a new one, but are too sentimentally attached to the old.

Besides, even if the print was missing you could still tell whether a square was Double Letter Score or Double Word Score by its color.

By the spring of the following year there are some squares where all or nearly all of even the color is gone, and in a few cases it’s getting hard to make out that they are even bonus squares at all.

This adds a new, unexpected strategy to the game— being able to successfully argue that you are due a bonus by covering a badly-worn square, and how much that bonus is. Now the wife is winning about as many games as her husband.

By now you’re probably starting to wonder where this is going. Who knows.

Let’s try again, different story:

It’s present day. We’re on a trip, travelling to a destination via a road that turns gradually rugged, eventually dissolving into a footpath through the woods; we drive our car as far as we safely can on the road before getting out and walking.

Similarly we employ faith only where perception and analysis (empiricism and logic) come up short.

We mustn’t forget that reason and thereby all science is itself dependent on faith, though on the core level it’s a kind of faith we’re so certain of that we consider it beyond doubt in order to get on to other matters, whether they be tying one on or painting the town red.

Speaking of red— let’s say we have two apples (red of course) and add two more (red) apples, we count them and find we have four (apples).

It’s conceivable that there might come a time when we’d get a count other than four, but not only does this seem unlikely (unless of course we eat one) but since we’ve gotten four and nothing else so many times, we take for granted that two plus two equals four.

[Some might argue that an equation this simple is tautological— a self-evident redundancy. But this introduces a BAD (Binary/Analogue Disjunction): Surely a more complex equation, say E=MC², would not be tautological. So where— and how— do we draw the line?]

At the other extreme, belief in the wildest speculation requires at least a teenybopper of logic along with the faith— if nothing else simply to conceive and understand it. Though their ratio varies, faith and reason are entwined, forming an aesthetic symmetrical pattern suitable for framing (your local craft store will have the necessary materials).

On our ontological journey we’re an unusual traveler with a unique car, mostly but not entirely riding in the vehicle at the beginning and mostly but not entirely walking outside it by the time we approach our destination.

The process of getting out of the car will occur gradually during the trip.

It’s unlikely to be a smooth transition. There’ll be occasions when we won’t have to come out any further for a while, or maybe even be able to climb back in to a limited extent.

But our ability to ride versus walk at any given time will depend on the condition of the road, our vehicle’s capabilities, and whether we are lucky, skillful, or persuasive enough to occasionally make Triple Word Score. triform

Faith By Reason Contents
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© 1999-2007 Warren Farr — revised 9/25