‘As a matter of faith’ is obviously wordplay on the familiar phrase ‘as a matter of fact’! Science is often perceived to be the quest for “facts” concerning nature. Moreover, a scientist is often imagined to be an impartial observer—disconnected and aloof from the subject of the investigation. This idealized notion of pure objectivity is recognized by philosophers today as flawed. The scientist—indeed, any scholar—always begins with faith in their starting assumptions, beginning with implicit trust in human rationality. There is, therefore, a sense whereby faith precedes knowledge. Faith is essential and not something to be denigrated. Faith, evidently, matters.
All this is reminiscent of St. Anselm’s famous dictum: “I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.”
An individuals’ journey towards God is also an adventure of faith—not a quest for absolute certainty. Having faith requires a commitment prior to the outcome of the engagement with a religious text, like the Bible, (or a scientific experiment). This act is the sign that the interpreter (or investigator) is not detached but intimately involved in the discovery process. Our persistent desire for certainty—whether within science or in our religious tradition—reveals our dislike of living with the twins of faith and doubt. As a Christian, I recognize that we live by faith and fully accept the presence of doubt as normal. Living with uncertainty is simply an inherent part of one’s journey of faith. The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty, since “we walk by faith—not by sight”.
As a matter of faith, this may be a surprising to some. Since faith matters, the object of our trust is worth exploring. Join with me in this journey as you read and engage in the material on this site, and discover for yourself the joy and power of transformative faith.