Faith and Reason: Through the Swinging Door Called Imagination
Author’s note: This was published this morning on the Floris website as a “sermon response.” To hear the sermon, click here.
Kids ask the darnedest things. You know like…Why is the grass green? Why is the sky blue? Where do babies come from? I think they are born scientists.
A Christian educator shared a word of caution and wisdom with me once. She said, we get ourselves into trouble when we give the convenient answer, “God made the grass green.” or “God made the sky blue.” or “God made you inside Mommy’s tummy.” (Oh, I cringe even to type that, thinking about all those digestive juices mixing with baby, but alas I am a scientist, too.) Because then, when they learn in school (or nowadays when they turn 2 ½ and start googling) that green comes from chlorophyll and blue is from water vapor and babies…Well, you get my drift. All of a sudden, they know the scientific truth and they figure we were lying. From there they reason that everything they thought was from God actually can be explained by science. If there is something they don’t know, they just haven’t learned that yet.
These youngsters grow up into people who believe that everything is knowable; if they don’t know it, they will. Just give them time. They are reasonable, these young people. We have taught them to be this way. We are reasonable people, after all.
- Thinking, Praying, Imagining?
But I have found that faith stands amid reason (thank you, United Methodist Church) when I continue to ask questions – the way young people do. Some of us, I guess, never grow up. Things like…
What does it feel like to lie down in green pastures? or stand beside still waters? or restore your soul? And how can I find my way here through global warming and tsunamis and hatred? These are questions without simple answers, even when one invokes a Sovereign God. (who, by the way, googling will define but not explain) Yet, these are the conversations we must engage.
What I’ve discovered about myself is that I am not one of those people who can choose faith OR reason. I am a scientist and a person of faith. There is not a wall between these things but a swinging door. That door, I find in prayer of all kinds, is imagination. Not imaginary things but a sense of wondering how things might be and why.
What I’ve found is that children know this swinging door and young people go back and forth through it willingly – once you get to know them and they know you love them. I expect it works for all of our neighbors. It may be why God said we must be as children to enter the Kingdom.
Anselm may be famous for three words: “faith seeking understanding”
Today I sit with these three words: “reasonable faith imagines.” I believe hope lives here.