“You’ve just got to have faith.”
These and similar phrases are often thrown about within Christianity. These statements assume that in many ways faith is opposed to reason, logic, science. Rightly, critics criticize Christianity (or at the very least its more public and vocal front) for its anti-intellectualism.
I don’t buy into that.
I believe faith is a logical extension of what can be experienced and reasoned.
A few days ago I watched The Fabric of the Cosmos: Universe or Multiverse? on PBS. The gist of the program was about whether or not our universe is singular or not. Scientists line up on both sides of the issue because the existence or non-existence of the multiverse cannot be empirically tested. There are multiple pieces of evidence that point toward its existence, however, and its existence would in turn explain many of the observed mysteries about our universe.
Towards the end of the program it discussed the role of mathematics: mathematics has often served as a predictor of scientific realities when those realities at the time could not be tested empirically. Many times these mathematic predictions contradict accepted science of the day but are later found to be true.
Some may choose to disagree, but I believe religious faith is similar to mathematics described in the preceding paragraph. Faith is never a leap beyond reason and logic, it is never wishful thinking, but an extension of reality. It integrates what is known and what has been experienced to project a future reality that is based firmly on the past. Just as mathematics models what is already known, and through those models discovers new realities, faith models what is already known and through it projects what the greater, unseen reality ought to be.
That is what I believe Hebrews 11 to be saying to us as it opens, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (ESV)