The Power of Reading

In an earlier post, I examined what would happen ‘If All the Books Disappeared.’ Ricky Gervais pointed out that science is the axiom the universe, an unchanging constant that would be discovered again and again should we lose all knowledge and records of learning. He contrasted this to religion which would reappear in a different form because it is couched in culture, language, and context.

For Gervais, science is worth believing in. Religion was not.

In contrast, C. S. Lewis an atheist until his early 30s, described himself as a “reluctant convert” to Christianity,  because as an intellectual, he found he had no choice but to accept what he clearly saw to be truth.

In his essay ‘Is Theology Poetry’ he mused,

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it, I see everything else.

C. S. Lewis

This little comic articulates the importance of ideas to shape the way we see the world. Should we lose all books, humanity would have to reprocess the fundamentals of ‘knowing’ and ‘seeing’ the world, in order to test, examine and rediscover science.

Without ideas of being, notions of truth and identity, we would in fact ‘see’ the world very differently. Science would not only have to be relearned but would have to in fact be ‘re-seen.’

This process of epistemology, the process of ‘knowing’ is philosophical and tied to notions of belief, truth, and identity. This is why humanity are story tellers, and our narratives of identity which form the basis of religious beliefs run parallel to, and indeed fundamental to, the scientific process.

Why this narrative?

Faiths and belief systems are characterised by narratives. An earlier post On Suffering, pointed out how the narratives of different world religions make sense of suffering.

The Christian narrative at its core, is based on a simple tenet:

believe in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and believe that his death was for the restoration of your created purpose – and you will be saved.

Belief itself shapes space and time and so beliefs holds significance.

So why this narrative? What is so magical about this story, that our belief alone shapes eternity?  Doesn’t belief in an exclusive narrative such as this create hate, exclusion and  pride?

Many beliefs do create hate, exclusivity and pride. A belief in moralism or intellectualism definitely leads to pride. It says that “I’m good” or “I’m smart” and “I’m better than you” or I’m smarter than you.” Michel Foucault argued that all truth claims are in fact power-plays.

foucault

In response, it has been pointed out by many apologists and thinkers that the post-Enlightenment post-modern sentiment “there’s no such thing as truth” is an oxymoron, a self-defeating statement. It undermines its own assertion. It corrodes its own ability to claim truth.

The reality is that everybody has beliefs about the world, and by the very nature of believing, excludes others. The significance then lies NOT in suspending belief in an effort to be inclusive, but by extending genuine love to others.

I believe that the Christian narrative fully understood, should make the most loving, inclusive and humble people.

At it’s core, the Christian narrative tells us Ultimate Reality, became flesh and walked the planet. This man, loved those who did not love him, and forgave those who hated him and killed him. The story says, you are not saved because you’re good, but because this man was the good person you could never be. The only way to attain life is to accept you are NOT suffiicient for salvation. His resurrection from death, means that death itself is turned backwards and its power broken. This life IS significant, despite its suffering.

 why this narrative

This narrative, enacted in the hearts and lives of believers, should and could change the world.

 

Does belief shape space and time?

Isn’t it fascinating to read articles such as this from the Science Daily which shares the Quantum Theory of Entanglement and how observation affects reality. The article shows how a beam of electrons is affected by being observed; matter is affected from afar simply by ones eyes resting upon it.

quantum

This takes us back to earlier posts about the power of words to bless and curse. Earlier we discussed that words were as powerful as bullets – to bruise, to blow. Moreover, when heard, sounds affect one physically, altering neural pathways of belief.

So if sounds and sights can affect the physical dimension – this has significance for the realm of art, story, music, song and dance!

Is this why sacred narrative asserts that it is belief and faith that are redemptive?

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” [Romans 4:3]