Sizing Faith, Limiting God
It may seem silly to talk about the "difficulty" or "ease" of the Holy Spirit doing something in a human brain when He is capable of creating mountain ranges, forests, ants, and whales. However, what is truly silly is what it takes for us to believe that He will act in a specific context! I include myself in that indictment, for there is no real difference in difficulty on the part of the Holy Spirit between Him "popping" a vesicle within a neuron to create a specific counter-thought and Him flinging Jupiter into a stable orbit around the sun. However, I confess that my faith too often self-sizes according to the magnitude of the problem God is faced with, rather than according to His proven capability. If you are like me, you more readily believe God can affect a neuron on your behalf than He'll move Mount Saint Helens because the former is way smaller than the latter, not because the latter is way beyond His actual capability. If you are like me, you believe that He can stop stuff from happening more easily in our brains than start anything. Oh we of little faith, not realizing how great a crisis of belief would overwhelm an honest secular materialist encountering solid evidence of God affecting a neuron! We're more inclined to cash a check for 10 dollars than 10 billion, not realizing that an honest Modernist Christian would be stunned to discover that God DOES "write checks"! (Not that I believe that your average secular materialist would actually change their thinking when presented with such evidence. They suffer from a similar affliction when they size their estimation of the significance of evidence according to the size of the claim being proven: Bertrand Russel insisted that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but in actual practice "extraordinary" seems to mean "big enough to be impossible to ignore" or "not what I expect to see" or "what I cannot explain away by spinning a just-so story". Physicists claim that the quantum nature of subatomic events have macroatomic implications that are "impossible to ignore", so one has to wonder what these "geniuses" will say to God on Judgement Day when He confronts them with this contradiction that clouded what they believed to be clear thinking.)
Traditionally, the Church has viewed this problem regarding faith by urging believers to "get more faith" or "get rid of your doubts". Although correct, charity requires that I not voice my opinions regarding the pathological reaction of the Church when individuals attempt to "operationalize" these exhortations.
A theo-engineering approach suggests that we take two different tacks to solving the problem:
- We accept the fact that we have a limited faith and initiate a search for problems that can be solved with the faith that we already possess.
- We work toward increasing our faith so that it can be applied to solve bigger problems.
There is nothing preventing us from pursuing both paths. We will pursue tack #1 in this essay, leaving tack #2 for later ones. [July 3, 2010 Edit: see here for clarification.]
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