Reason vs Faith


My partner is a skeptic. I tell him about something I’ve read, and he raises his eyebrows. Cue furious defensiveness from me. He doesn’t believe in any of the hippie-spiritual stuff that I love-but he does have a particular reverent faith in science, logic and reason. Opposites attract, of course, and I have a particular fascination with natural medicine, and even studied naturopathy for a while. I love experimenting with natural remedies for different things (of the non-serious variety, of course. I’ll give you some kombucha to increase gut bacteria, and suggest B vitamins for the cracks at the corners of your lips. Seriously sick? Go see a doctor asap!). I have a shelf of what Shayne calls my ‘hippie pills’. When he feels a cold coming on, I make him take several of the immune boosting pills that my naturopath gave me, even though he complains and rolls his eyes at me. When he miraculously doesn’t get sick, he says its confirmation bias-he probably wasn’t getting sick anyway. I say he has scepticism bias. There’s such a thing, right?

I grew up in a Christian tradition. We had no problem believing six impossible things before breakfast, as the Queen in Alice in Wonderland so beautifully suggests. We believed in Noah’s ark, which fit all of the species of animals on earth, and we believed in manna falling from heaven, and water being turned into wine, and the Virgin birth. We believed in Daniel, surviving unscathed in the Lion’s den. We believed in Jesus feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and three fishes. Although, I’ve actually seen my mum do a fairly similar thing when we have unexpected visitors, so that last one doesn’t take much of a stretch of faith. Nowadays, I tend to believe that many of the things in the Bible are more allegorical-there are a few different reasons that I believe this, but that’s a story for another day. Even so, I would still like to be able to believe that the miraculous is possible. Especially the water into wine bit-that would come in handy from time to time.

I find that the skeptical world that we live in these days seems to treat this as an either/or question. You either believe in logic and reason or that crazy woo-woo mother-nature hippie stuff. God or science. Medicine or ‘flower power’ and herbs. But does it have to be a dichotomy? Can’t we have both? I can love science and reason while still believing that not everything in this incredible universe can be measured and cataloged and neatly explained.

Have you ever seen a baby chicken pecking its way out of an egg, taking its first wet, unsteady steps, full of all the potential of an adult chicken? You can tell me exactly how it the egg is formed inside the chicken, how each part forms into the baby chick. I know, I know. I did biology at school, and yes, it’s absolutely fascinating. But I still maintain, it’s a small miracle, every time. How about the stars? Surely I can teach my kids both exactly what the stars are, and also teach them to make a wish on the first star they see each night. Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight… I’d also like to think that I can teach my kids about the beauty and mystery of religion and faith, while also encouraging them to think for themselves and make up their own minds. It’s a balancing act, for sure.

In the meantime, despite certain skeptics, I’m going to hang on to my ‘hippie pills’, and keep making wishes on the stars. Last time we did that, my kid told me that he wishes for ‘100 dogs!’ Let’s hope not all of our wishes come true.

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