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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 8, 2006

Blind faith not part of God's plan

The Rev. James W. Miller

A skeptic once asked me how I could reconcile my faith with reason. The question is one of blind non-faith. The inner-workings of our minds, which God created, do not need to be reconciled with the one who created them any more than apples need to be reconciled with the tree.

Reason is just one more fruit of God's creation, and in that sense, works right alongside faith.

Reason is no more the opponent of faith than maps are the opponents of travelers. There is a long history of people reasonably searching their way into the faith, and I count myself among them.

Most people think that God gave reason to humanity the way a father gives a rifle to his son, telling him, "You can play with it all you want, just don't point that thing at me."

In fact, God gave reason to us like a telescope and urges us to peek. He is not afraid of intelligent questions about him. He would much rather have us investigate with the passion of a treasure hunter than with the passivity of a spectator. A God who is afraid of me thinking about him is not much of a God.

A reasoned exploration of history and science are all the more likely to turn up hints of God if he really did author the oak tree or manifest in a manger. If he created the world to point to him and our minds to look for him, we should expect them both to be brimming with clues. Everything God-sent should carry the scent of God.

For too long religious people have spiritualized their ignorance by condemning reason. They say, "I don't need reason; I have faith."

They pit their faith against good sense with the wild and unfounded belief that this is a heroic self-sacrifice. In fact, it is not a sign of bravery. It is a sign of fanaticism. They are condemning the gift to honor the giver.

I remember a preacher once telling me to stop questioning and believe. Nothing ever pushed me further from belief.

If God did not intend for us to find him using our reason, then why would Jesus have invited us to try by saying, "Love God with all your mind"?

Today we hear people suggest that we must suspend doubt to believe in the supernatural. Jesus does the exact opposite. He told his followers to suspend doubt on the basis of the things that they witnessed with their own eyes.

It was empiricism applied to the miraculous. It was supernatural healing placed under a microscope.

The question was whether or not their eyesight was good. God doesn't ask us to turn off our reason any more than he asks us to cover our eyes.

The Rev. James W. Miller, author of "God Scent," is a pastor at First Presbyterian Church.