"and therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness" Romans 4:22

A person can only have Faith if they have doubts. Certainty is the opposite of Faith. Certainty is the state of mind that says one has all the answers. Faith is the state of mind that says one has serious doubts and uncertainties, but the willingness to follow the best ideas, values, and authorities available, as best one understands them, despite sincere and profound doubts. Faith is good; and without doubts, there can be no Faith. Certainty is bad, for without doubts one becomes bigoted, unable to engage in dialog and consultation, and ultimately blinded.

Abraham is our ultimate exemplar of Faith. Each Manifestation of God has uniquely emphasized attributes. Thus, Jesus was the Son and the Savior, Buddha was the Enlightened One, and Mohammed was the exemplary Prophet. In Abraham, God gave us His ultimate example of the kind of Faith God most favors. Abraham was a preeminent doubter. When God told Abraham that he would father a son and heir although his age was extremely advanced, Abraham doubted so strongly God's promise that he engaged God in a lengthy dialog about how this could be, was it really true? Sarah, Abraham's wife, laughed out loud. Abraham repeatedly brought his internal dialog with God back to his doubts, attempting to assuage his fear and disbelief.

God didn't punish Abraham for doubting His promises. In fact, it was Abraham's dogged struggling on despite his enormous doubts that endeared him to God. Eventually, Sarah bore Abraham a son. Abraham was ecstatic and loved the boy more than father has ever loved son. But ultimately, God demanded that Abraham kill this very son, sacrifice him to God! What did Abraham do? He went doggedly on his way, trekking up a hill to the appointed place, preparing the fire and the rock and the bindings, even though his mind doubted every step of the way. How could his mind not have doubted? By killing his promised son, he would make it impossible for God's very promises to Abraham to be kept, because these promises required this son to grow up and father children and ultimately great nations; and for all the world to eventually be blessed through his descendants; in fact this boy's descendants were promised by God to be central to the unfolding of His eternal covenant with humans!

Fortunately, Abraham was a doubter, a thinker, and he had faith. The internal dialog in his mind must have nearly driven him crazy. In his day and age, God often demanded infant sacrifices. It was to be expected, and one had to obey! But Abraham knew, deep down inside, that this time, it was wrong. Eventually, near the point of distraction, insanity, and no return, Abraham came to his senses. He saw a ram with its horns caught in a thicket. It triggered something in his mind. It was no longer right to sacrifice children, even if one thought God was telling him to do it! A new age in human history dawned that fateful day. Abraham wrestled with his doubts, remained faithful to his God, and ultimately showed the entire human race a better way.

God loved Abraham for this. God did not punish Abraham for "disobeying" and failing to sacrifice his son. Abraham was just the person God needed at that point in time. Later, Abraham's grandson would be a such a passionate doubter that he actually wrestled with God, struggling mightily to integrate in his mind his rational doubts along with his firm faith in God, so much so that his name was changed from Jacob to Israel, "he who wrestled with God." Still later , a descendent of this quarrelsome family was called by God "a man after my own heart", even though David was practically the first existentialist in mind set, as we can see from his poetry, and even though he essentially murdered a beautiful woman's husband in order to marry her. God disapproved of David's sin, but he approved of his faith that was so great that it allowed him to kill Goliath, forge a nation, and father (by Bathsheba, the stolen wife) a line of descendants which later produced Jesus Christ.

Baha'u'llah tells us that science and religion are the two wings with which the human spirit can fly to a new and better civilization. One wing of that bird is religion, the other wing is science. Niether wing is sufficient by its self. Neither wing can be allowed to overpower the other wing. Only by having two well balanced, strong wings can we move forward. Furthermore, humanity's understanding of truth is relative and evolving, in both religion and science. It is a never ending struggle, and if ever we think we have final and perfect understanding of the truth, we are not only wrong but we are putting ourselves in great jeopardy. The reason a bird has wings is to fly, not stand still. By giving us this beautiful metaphor, Baha'u'llah has forevermore shown us that we should never allow scientific truth to completely trump and outweigh religious truth, but equally that we should never allow religious truth to completely trump and outweigh scientific truth. Both are different but completely complementary , both needed but neither capable of sustaining us by itself, without the other.

Now, a bird has two wings, but it also has a head that contains a brain. The brain is the integrative unit, the guidance mechanism, the coordinator of both wings. The brain is not completely rational, scientific, and logical like the one wing, nor is it completely spiritual and soulful like the other wing. The brain must combine the best features of both, but in a holistic way. The brain is full of wave patterns, intricately timed music of synchronous firings of electrochemical neural patterns, firing in complicated temporal and spatial patterns which integrate the rational, logical and analytical with the pattern recognition, associative skills, and inductive aspects of cognition. Brains are made up of nested feedback loops, to form an overall control mechanism. The brain ultimately gets to the heart of the matter and makes the decisions necessary to be made, based on Faith in its overall value systems. Faith comes from the Heart and from the brain. Without the Brain to guide the bird, the scientific wing would never be able to make a decision for lack of sufficient data, and the religious wing would ignore changing circumstances, new data, and would fly straight into a brick wall. Only with the integrative faith generated in the heart of the brain, can the bird fly to new and better destinations.

For no matter how many infallible messengers and interpreters we have, no human can ever have a perfect comprehension of ultimate truth. In fact, any given human's vision of the religious truth at this juncture is, I submit, poised delicately on a knife edge balance, located equidistantly from two points on the the horizon, exactly infinitely far off from the sublime beauty of the ultimate truth, but also infinitely far along from the limited vision possible at the very beginning of the universe's quest to comprehend God's truth. To fall prey to certainty and hubris in a religious sense, therefore, leads us far astray. By the same token, our scientific understanding is also never quite there, for it is informed by our unknown prejudices, unseen biases, and unformed questions, infinitely far from the ultimate reality. Without the light of divine guidance which comes from the heart through religion, science is cold, amoral, and dead. Yet by balancing our guidance between these two very different wings of progress, we can faithfully fulfill Gods plan and move boldly ahead, with one wing correcting the excesses of the other wing. I thank God for Baha'u'llah's gift of this analogy!

Many of us can agree that Jesus Christ, that descendant of David's and Bathsheba's sin, was a Manifestation of God. Yet Jesus Christ doubted, profoundly. He was sorely tempted to become a worldly leader. Thank God he didn't. When he was in the garden of Gethsemane, preparing for his ultimate fate, he wept deep tears, and cried out for God to take away from him the ordeal of crucifixion. He was afraid that in being crucified, he would be throwing away and wasting by far the greatest mind the world had ever seen, its most profound seeker, its most original and valuable entity. After all, he knew that his small rag tag band of followers would each and every one desert him immediately after his crucifixion, through fear for their own lives. How could this rag tag band spread his message and be the instruments of the triumph of his cause? Yet, despite anguish beyond anything we can comprehend, and despite struggling mentally with God to take away this course of action, to come up with a better plan, he ultimately found the Faith to believe that this horrible end, this total and final annihilation of the sensitive and fragile circuits of his brain and body, the finest the world had ever known, would ultimately, by means of these puny followers, set in motion a chain of events that would forever alter the course of human destiny! Yet only because he ultimately found the Faith to believe that it was God's will, and necessary, did he fulfill his destiny. When on the cross, he cried out, "My God My God why hast thou forsaken me?", quoting, as some one has pointed out, his illustrious forebear. Yet his ultimate act of Faith, despite anguish, doubt and remorse, was the central turning point of human spiritual history.

Now that was Faith.

So only a person with great Faith can risk seeking the Truth, no
matter where it may lead. Without Faith, one is afraid that the search
will lead one to some disturbing result which will upset notions so
deeply believed that it would destroy the mind's equilibrium forever.
It is easy for one who believes he already has the whole truth to
pretend to seek the Truth. Having already decided, before getting
started, that certain things are not to be allowed, there is no danger,
no risk, no fear, but also no Truth.
That scientist or scholar has Faith who is willing to open her mind
even to the possibility that there might be higher causes than she can
discover by the scientific method.

That religious person has true Faith who is willing and brave enough
to open his mind to accept whatever truths science might find, to follow
truth wherever it may lead. Even if greatly disturbed by certain new
scientific findings, that person has faith that they can ultimately be
integrated into a true religious mind set. For he has Faith that science
and religion are ultimately compatible.

So, to be completely true to religious principles, a person must
have Faith enough to always continue to doubt, to search, to seek out
the truth whatever it may be.

Back to Table of Contents