Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012. The basic idea of the Enlightenment, the historical phase which is linked to well-known names like Emmanuel Kant, is that humans can use their own reason, to explore the world. Humans are not bound to wait for anything else, which would enable them. We are given reason, we are given personality, we are given the dignity to understand the laws which govern this world.
Insight and Faith …
Enlightenment has fully developed the idea that we live in a world which is governed by rules and laws, which we can understand. We can gain insight, we can use them, we can control our own life within this world. Historically, we can trace back the roots of this attitude into history, to the old Greek, to ancient China and the mid east, and there are Jewish and Christian roots of the modern world.
What is the role of faith in its relationship to reason? This has moved the philosophers for a long time, approaching the question within the viewpoint of their particular time. Today, the mainstream has developed a rather strong separation of ideas. There is a world of “reason without God”. Science has dropped faith, the quest for truth has tried to strip down the methods and approaches to the interplay of “theory and experiment”. Faith has been pushed into the private realm, mostly.
As a scientist, I am quite happy that I can investigate the rules, which govern this world, by focusing on the facts and by concentration on a particular area, without any need to link it to all others at the same time. As a scientist, we try to decompose a problem into independent sub-problems. We try to understand the particular rule or law, which governs some action or phenomenon. It is good, that you do not need to understand the whole New Testament to investigate some neurotransmitter in the human brain or to work on numerical weather prediction.
Truth, Blindness and Judgment …
But the rules and laws of this world is not everything. There is much more influencing our life. There is the spiritual world, there is our life as a whole, our past, our presence, our future. There is birth and death. There is hope and eternity. In what way are we able to gain insight into God's presence, into the purpose and possibilities of this world, into peace and forgiveness, joy and fulfillment?
I would like to draw your attention to some sentences today, which Jesus said and which are strongly linked to the question of “truth and faith”.
Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (John 9: 39)
Can it be that our insight (blindness or non-blindness) depends on him? Can it be that insight depends on faith? And what does Jesus mean, that he came for judgement? Is the judgement he talks about a category which we can understand in the framework of our modern science focused world view? I would like to leave it with these questions today … and try to explore answers in the following days.
(Roland Potthast) ... more texts