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Can you be an intelligent believer?

Stephen Fry is a man I have a lot of time for. He is funny, thoughtful, brave, and generally all-round talented. The thing that we would probably disagree about is Faith and religion, and a lot of other things in the same ballpark.

What he seems to hate is the exploitative nature of some of the practices. Homeopathy being chosen instead of science, rather than along-side it, the casting of Runes used to lock people into a dependent life-cycle.

As a intelligent believer, I happen to agree.

Ignoring science is rather like shooting yourself in the foot. From my perspective, God gave us reason for, well, a reason. To not use it to explore the world as we know it would be to not seek after wisdom, something God throughout the Old Testament tells us to do. It’s a recurrent call throughout the ancient world, you find it in philosophy, you fin it religion, you find it in the daily life of the people. This wisdom is to be highly valued, treasured, and used to the benefit of all.

I consider myself intelligent. Perhaps not as intelligent as others, but I do understand the basics of science, know what I don’t know about Maths, and try to keep up with the rather dizzying pace of modern advancement. Like all subjects, however, it is fast, and my grip on it I know is just by the fingers. On top of this I’m trying to keep up with developments in my own chosen field of theology, which includes archeology, textual analysis, linguistics (including language discovery), cultural and social anthrapology, and a myriad other minor-related disciplines (not that the disciplines themselves are minor, but their impact on my field is (relatively) minor).

For some people, the simple fact that I happen to have a belief means that the rest of my knowledge is essentially inadmissible. I cannot be intelligent because I believe. That there must be some sort of break in my processes, that I don’t, in some way, truly understand how coincidences work, or how self-fulfilling prophecies work.

No, I have no proof of God. No, I don’t have enough evidence that would stand up to a modern court of inquiry. No, I can’t even offer you proof of the reason why I believe. It was all subjective. Every single part of it. Yes, I know that does not make it science.

However, I have to be true my life experiences. This is the life I’ve lived. I’m the person I am because of the experiences and the knowledge that I have gained. Perhaps if you walked in my shoes, you would understand, but I cannot show you a lifetime of experiences in a way that you will understand unless you begin where I began. I could probably explain it to you, and you would probably, with a rational mind, explain it away, find connections. Connections I have explored, experiences that I have dismissed as having other rational explanations, as childish fantasies. Yet I return to those experiences, they are compounded, expounded, expanded by later experiences, deepened by other understandings.

We haven’t lived the same life. It is entirely possible that people who claim a religion have been aweful to you. That you had a bad experience at the hands of someone who should know better. I was chased out of the Church, but my faith is not based on the religion.

There are those that check their brains at the door when it comes to being a follower of a faith. There are those that require the surety of literal truth in a changing, complex, and wonderful world. There are those that are quite comfortable with the uncomfortable doubt.

I think I would like to call for moderation in the dialogue. It’s not as black-and-white as people like to suggest, with those who have faith being actively anti-intellectual, and those who are atheists being obsessed with learning and advancement. There are anti-intellectuals on both sides.

Though I suppose, that doesn’t make headlines.

~BX