Knowledge and Faith


In the interim between Christmas (my religious holiday) and the new year, newspapers are full of stories about knowledge and belief. The knowledge stories deal a lot with death, accidental and intentional, and factual information about the world we live in as well as the universe. I will pass over murder, war, accidental death, etc., all of which seem to sell a lot of newspapers and attract listeners and watchers, and move on to science. We are taught that science and the scientific method are the gold standard for knowledge. When I took high school chemistry I had to memorize the Periodic Table of Elements that had the exact number of elements in existence. Since then, I have been shocked to find the list has expanded. The universe itself, which has always been described as infinite, but containing certain fixed characteristics seems to be expanding both in size and characteristics. But, it is in the realm of what we may describe as medical science that certainty is constantly changing. I can’t list the number of pills I have taken in the assurance that they would produce a particular result only to find that they may produce others as well. Like many others, I have swallowed vitamins to make me strong and healthy only to find myself today in a morass of conflicting “findings.” As a child I had body parts removed to restore health that today would be treated without surgery.

There are different religious beliefs about how everything started, why we are here and how we should behave. As a college professor, I have long been aware that faith and factual knowledge are inseparable. “I have reached the limits of what I can find that is factual, so I believe I can draw these conclusions, show these relationships, etc.” The wording is mostly different, but the meaning is the same.

As a Christian, I have just participated in a celebration of the beginning of our story of how we got here, what it should be all about, and, therefore, how we should behave. My faith in this story has given my life direction, provided assurance to proceed when I really felt none, comfort in adversity and the ability to make choices when knowledge provided no, or mutually conflicting, directions. I have to admit that life to me has been worrisome and Christian faith (and my wife) have gotten me through the uncertainty.

  1. #1 by Terry Jackson on January 5, 2014 - 11:34 pm

    Well said, as always, Dr. Boswell. I try to be a person of faith and science – and sometimes ask myself if it is possible to be both. Like you, I find there is no substitute for faith…. God bless you and your family always – happy 2014 and belated Merry Christmas! Terry

  2. #2 by John Boswell on January 6, 2014 - 4:33 pm

    Terry, thank you and you and your family have a great new year in every respect!
    JGB

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