10. Superstition

by Blake

Many people are raised on a Christianity that involves praying to various saints, worshipping religious artifacts and asking for forgiveness from God through another person.  Questioning and doubt are discouraged.  They are taught that science is generally the enemy of religion.  Their Christian growth is stunted and they foist their own ideas of what they think God should be onto him.  Their god comes to be an idol that ceases to resemble the true God.

These Christians many times find themselves immersed in a science culture – maybe on a university campus – and they become dogmatic empiricists.  They decide that they have matured out of the superstitions of their youth and now operate their belief system based on the rigorous scientific method: “something is not true until you can prove it empirically”; “seeing is believing.”  This seems like a noble operating philosophy which is vaguely associated with things like enlightenment and reason, while religion is simultaneously associated with something like voodoo, myth and all the new age beliefs which are so easy to ridicule.  The way that science observes everything from on high and then judges objectively, appeals to you.

But there is an even higher view.  Philosophy is a branch that even watches the hallowed playing ground of science.  Within philosophy, there is a more profound skepticism than you find in science.  In science, you are skeptical of beliefs you can’t see; but in philosophy, you are skeptical of seeing itself.  And of science itself.  The philosopher recognizes that this world in which we find ourselves, contains many things that we must trust on faith – and we do so on an ongoing, continuous basis.  Metaphysical truths such as the belief that minds other than our own exist, or the belief that the world was not created 5 minutes ago with the appearance of age – these cannot be proven, and yet we believe them wholeheartedly.

In taking the role of this sort of omni-skeptic, philosophy somewhat levels the playing ground of science and religion.  When science ridicules religion with skepticism, philosophy says, “not so fast, science – we are all on shaky ground here.”  Dogmatic belief in science is like belief in the rules of basketball – they work well within this particular court, but who knows what is elsewhere?

Christians should not cower from logic and reason, surrendering these to science, while alternatively believing that religion is the realm of faith alone.  There is actually a sound logic to Christianity, if you will have the courage to look.  If Christianity is true, then it has that sturdy characteristic of being logical and it can withstand whatever questions you have for it.  Or if it can’t, then we can all dispense with it anyway.

“It is indeed possible for us to mature out of a belief in God.  What I would now like to suggest is that it is also possible to mature into a belief in God.  A skeptical atheism or agnosticism is not necessarily the highest state of understanding at which human beings can arrive.  To the contrary, there is reason to believe that behind spurious notions and false conceptions of God there lies a reality that is God.  Is it possible that the path of spiritual growth leads first out of superstition into agnosticism and then out of agnosticism toward an accurate knowledge of God?”  – M. Scott Peck from The Road Less Traveled