Thursday, 27 August 2009

By Faith

Following on from a previous post regarding our relationship to nature, it should be remembered that the biblical affirmation of the goodness (not perfection) of nature is a statement of faith. Without that faith perspective any objective view of nature should include its savagery, and sheer cyclical pointlessness. To do otherwise is to ignore (or interpret away) the reality of evolution through natural selection. This doesn't mean that nature is bad or worthless, but just that, without the eyes of faith, nature's imperfections should make us a little more circumspect in regards to the romantic claims we make of nature. This is why I am not one who subscribes to a 'back-to-nature' ideology as the universal panacea for our woes. On its own, nature cannot 'save us'.

The goodness of nature is not the only aspect of our lives that requires faith to be recognizable. Recognising our (and everything's) salvation in Christ is also an act of faith. It could hardly be otherwise. This explains why it often seems that life is anything but saved, and why we should be suspicious of pop gospel claims (and its secularized siblings in the self-help industry) that complete happiness and satisfaction is (or could be if you just did the latest self-help fad) the reality of our lives. Underneath our usual lives we can see the underpinning grace of God, and we can live this grace in the joy and pain we experience in life. But when it comes to salvation there will always be evidence to the contrary right in front of our faces. To see in this contrary, through this contrary and beyond this contrary evidence, God's activity requires faith, and a faith encompassing the realities of life, like crosses.


  1. is the cyclical nature of the evolutionary process really pointless...or is evolution also a statement of faith

  2. Is it even helpful to speak in terms of evolution with its deteministic fatalism? Evolution - a theory and, perhaps, a useful one for its time - reflects modernity's rationalist foundations. New terminology is needed to reflect the reality that nature defeats our attempts to define it and, thereby, control it.


  3. Thanks Stephen and Chris,

    As I understand the current scientific thinking evolution through natural selection has dovetailed with so much else that is known in science that, although it is a theory, this doesn't mean it is expected to be superseded by an utterly new theory. However, science itself still requires faith. Without an underlying belief in the rationality of nature it makes no sense for a scientist to keep on attempting to understand the world around. So, yes, evolution requires faith in this sense.

    Does evolution need to be seen as deterministically fatalistic? I think 'nature red in tooth and claw' raises huge questions about why the world needed to be like this. Couldn't God have worked out a better way? Well, actually, if we are to have a world that has its own integrity then probably not. Although I like the idea of new ways of speaking about the way of the world that tries to pick up its 'enchantment'.