WHAT IS FAITH?Program 153 by Ernest O'Neill LISTEN
What is faith? We're saying of course that faith is the basis of all the activity that we have in our lives. We have faith in the alarm clock that it will waken us at a certain time in spite of the fact that it doesn't always do that. We have faith in the fact that the faucets will produce hot and cold water at the right time in spite of the fact that they don't always do that. We have faith that the telephone is going to get us through to the necessary contact we have in the business world, though it doesn't always do that.
So, all of our life is based on faith. We act in faith when we buy a certain automobile. We act in the faith that our judgement is correct with the right observations on the reasonable evidence that was presented to us on a reliable car. We put our faith in that and often thousands of dollars of our good money into it. We base all kinds of activity on the faith that we have in Wall Street, in the Stock Exchange, and in the banking system. So, actually faith is that factor in our lives without which life could itself not exist.
So what we have been doing is, applying this term faith to the ultimate realities of life itself -- the most important things that our whole life are based on and of course the most important of all is the world itself. We've been talking about the kinds of faith that we have about the way the world was created.
So, I'm suggesting to you that you ought to put your faith in the fact that this earth -- this two hundred and sixty thousand millions of cubic miles of earth -- was created by a "big bang". Now isn't that reasonable? It was created by an explosion. "Of course, you know your reaction is, "Forget that! The effort that we put into the building of the Empire State Building in New York or the care and precision that we have put into the coal mines that we have burrowed into the earth certainly is clear evidence to us that that kind of complex mechanism does not come from a big bang or from an explosion." If I say to you, "Oh well the big bang took place years ago." You would say, "Okay, the rubble would just be older. It wouldn't be more ordered, it would just be older. but it would still be rubble and destruction. That's all that explosions ever produce."
Of course you would then say to me, "Now listen, look at the complexity of our world, and look at even water itself--water forms more that half the body weight of most animals and plants. Its not readily decomposed. It dissolves many substances. It makes dry substances cohesive and become flexible. With salts in solution it conducts electricity. Then alone or almost alone amongst fluids known to us it reaches its greatest density when cooled not at freezing point but at 4 degrees Centigrade. This has some important consequences. One is that lakes and ponds freeze at the top and not from the bottom upwards. Fish life thus has a chance of surviving a very hard winter. Another consequence is that by its expansion on freezing, water disrupts the rocks and thus breaks them down to form soil, carves out cliffs and valleys, and makes vegetation possible. Water has the highest heat of evaporation of any known substance. This reduces the rise in temperature when a water surface is heated by the sun's rays. Now, do you mean that all this complexity of just one of the substance that make up our earth came about as the result of a big bang, or the result of an explosion? No, I can't have faith in that--that this was all created either by time plus chance, or by a mighty explosion."
Of course that is why a man like Darwin completed you remember, the famous study of evolution called Origin of Species, with this paragraph. He said, "There is a grandeur in this view of life with its several powers having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one." So, Darwin was absolutely certain that this earth is so complex, that originally, way back when earth's evolution took place, there was originally as he says, a Creator.
That's why a man like Einstein says, "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior Spirit who reveals Himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God."So the greatest intellects of our day have no doubt at all that it is reasonable to have faith in the whole truth that all this complicated universe and world that we see around us, resulted not from just a big bang or an explosion, not just from time plus chance, not just from some decomposing substance, but it has resulted from the same kind of order and the same kind of analytical thinking and planning, that we have have made on this earth.
In other words there's something unreasonable about exercising sensible faith which is based on belief plus action on the basis of reasonable evidence; there's something unreasonable about exercising that kind of faith in ordinary everyday life -- about looking at a parked automobile, and observing it closely and watching the way other people have used it and have had experience with it, and then believing that that is a reliable automobile for you and then acting on that belief on the basis of that reasonable evidence and buying it -- there's something utterly unreasonable in exercising that kind of faith in everyday life and then suddenly in relation to your belief and your faith about the world and the universe itself, jumping into an absolute fantasy land, an Alice in Wonderland superstition that the whole thing came about not by that same kind of careful intellectual analysis, as we have used to make our automobiles and our buildings, but believing that the whole thing came about by time plus chance, or by some great explosion.. There's something sad and sick about calling that faith. That is not faith. Surely faith is believing that this world and this universe originated from the exercise of the same kind of intellect as we have used in manufacturing our creations here on earth.