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.