Faith as Tacit Knowledge
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Faith is seeing the invisible or is it seeing the unseen? One day I was riding with my son in law who is an avid hunter. As we were riding along he kept saying “Look, do you see the deer?” My usual reply was, “Where?” Then he would point to a spot in the woods and say“There!” However, often even after he pointed out the spot I could not see the deer.
This leads me to the question why. Why could he see the deer, and I could not? I concluded that there were only four possible answers. 1. He had more practice than me. You know the old saying ‘practice makes perfect.’ 2. That he and others have a gift of seeing, i.e. they’re wired differently than other people. 3. It was a combination of both one and two. 4. He was delusional and there were no deer there.
The following is based on my thinking about the above experiences. My first observation is that the more you know about a thing the easier it is to find it and see it. My son in law knows a lot about deer, so he knows what to look for and where to look. I do not. His knowledge has come from years of his personal experience of hunting deer. His knowledge of deer is twofold, it is both objective and tacit. By tacit I mean intuitive. He has a gift of seeing and picking the deer out of the background environment. He does not have the gift because he loves to hunt; he loves to hunt because he has the gift.
My second observation was that people see what they expect to see; what they are looking for and what they want to see. This means that sometimes the knowledge of something and believing it’s there helps you to see. If you do not believe something might be there, you will not even be looking for it. Therefore, unbelief tends to close your eyes and your mind to seeing and believing.
I hike often with a friend who climbs a small mountain on a daily basis. Often he climbs it twice in one day and is on his way down the first time before I start climbing up. My friend prides himself on his awareness so I decided to put his ability to the test to see how much of his surroundings he was actually aware of. So, I began to hide from him to see how long it would take for him notice me. I began by hiding behind large obstacles like trees and rocks, but as the experiment when on I made myself more and more obvious. It finally reach the point that I simply squatted down in the middle of the trail. I was simply amazed at how close he got to me before seeing me. Of course, my last experiment was done on a steeper part of the trail where one is prone to be watching where they are stepping.
My experience lent support to the theory that you tend to see what you are looking for and fail to see what you are not looking for, even if it is self-evident. In other words, you see what you expect to see and you see what you are looking for. Also being intensely focused on one thing causes you not to see or notice other things. We could infer from this that specialization causes people to be blind to other things and to even be ignorant of their own blindness.
There are hidden clues which point to the fact that there is more than meets the eye. Ancient seers who had the ability to see the clues of the unseen labeled them as “faith or revelation”. In this, faith is the product of revelation or God lifting the veil that humans can see the clues to his existence. In this, there is nothing strange with some men seeing God better than others. In fact, it is the norm. The idea that God must show himself equal to all men comes from a Democratic ideology more than sound reason. From this, we can gather, that there is a good reason to follow some men’s opinion on spiritual things. One of the ways you can tell who to follow is laid down by Jesus when he said, by their fruits you shall know them.
The Idea Of The Holy
Albert Einstein said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms — this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.”
Rudolf Otto wrote a book entitled ‘The Idea Of The Holy’ in which he attempts to explain the spiritual experience that Einstein describes and what Otto goes on to refer to as the numinous, which he believes is a sign which points to the deity and could be likened to the voice of God that beckons man to his true center.
The sub-title to Otto’s book of ‘The Idea of the Holy’ is ‘An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and its Relation·to the Rational’, In the book Otto points out that numinous is not rational or reasonable but it not irrational or unreasonable, it is simply outside of those categories. You might call it is super-rational.
It is this numinous experience that the atheist lacks. Because he has not experienced it, it is impossible for him to understand someone who has experienced it like Albert Einstein. Einstein had experienced the Totally Other which was beyond his explanatory powers to communicate it to those who had not experienced it, those that he referred to as dead or blind. Otto’s book is the best attempt I have seen to put the experience into words. You can get a PDF copy at the below address.
The Government is Secular; not the Nation
The Founding Fathers had a vision of a secular Government, not a secular nation or culture. Their vision of a secular government was just that, a Federal Government that was not controlled by any religious institution or organization. Their goal was not to keep religious convictions and dialogue out of the public square. They never inferred that religious convictions on morality should not inform the public or the government.
The kind of secular system proclaimed by some secularists today would involve a violation of the First Amendment which is the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech. Free men have the right to speak their mind on any subject in the public square or in private, this includes the religious and nonreligious. The very idea that people could not express their religious beliefs in the public square or in spaces that some label ‘religious free zones’ is ridiculous and would violate our First Amendment rights.
Some interesting facts; the word secular is not used in any of the Founding documents. The expression, ‘the wall between church and state’ is not found in any of the Founding documents. It was used one time by Thomas Jefferson when writing to a Baptist Church in Connecticut. There is nothing in the Constitution that would hinder states from having a State Religion. The restriction was to only apply specifically to the Federal Government.