The Scientific worldview is the predominant system of faith in the modern West. It originally came from the scientific method which is a process of hypothesis, testing, evaluation, and revising the hypothesis based upon the findings of the testing process. In it’s purest form it is not a system of faith, but a mere process to test one’s assumptions, but we are a long way from that. In our world the scientific method has been adulterated by institutional powers which force the data to validate the assumption rather than test it. Science is now content to disregard any data or findings which would undermine the hypothesis. Weak data is reconfigured to meet the objectives of the institution. When this happens, “Science” becomes a faith system. Any time we assume an institution has the facts and is telling us the truth, we are placing our faith in a religious system.
Since our world is full of cynics, we’ve become very adept at disregarding most truth claims which come from principalities and powers which don’t align with our ideas or (hypo-thesis‘–underlying or lower assumption) of reality. Most truth claims are excluded outright if they are unfamiliar or contrary to those in which we have placed our faith. This is universal. All people are people of faith. Some give almost no consideration to whether the propaganda machines of institutional powers are telling the truth, while others spend countless calories trying to get beneath the surface to find the bigger truth. Getting to or accessing that which is just below the observable surface is a very important consideration in our study today.
While this seems like conformity to the scientific method, it’s actually the very definition of FAITH. It’s something we all do at some level.
The Greek word “ùpóstasis” literally means “under–nature, or under–essence, or under–being.” We would call this “SUB-STANCE“. Science has allowed us to sub-divide the material world into smaller and smaller building blocks by endeavoring to find the “under-essence” or substance of everything. This has revealed that material things “ARE” not at all as they seem. We know that a dense rock is 99.9% space when we look at it from the atomic level. When we explore the upo-stasis of the atoms, we discover that in the sub-atomic world, these atoms are made of light and other particles. Scientifically speaking, the dense rock or the thing that is seen is made up of that which cannot be seen. When a hard rock collides with our forehead, it is ultimately the collision of light particles.
Now that I’ve set this up, I want to invite all comers into this central piece of our study in Hebrews. For the last nine installments, I have been saying the author keeps talking about this “other thing” which he calls the Christ, which has replaced religion and has been moved to the inside, and is the means by which we come to understand our Maker and how we are made and ultimately how we must live, because we are now armed with the truth which frees us from institutional powers.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Hebrews 11:1-3)
Faith is the ùpóstasis of things “expected/ hoped for“. Faith is the under-being of expectation or the essence of hope. Faith is the “helegzos” or proof/evidence of things not seen. Faith dismantles empiricism because it is the very substance of the unseen or yet to be seen world. Not all of reality can be empirically measured. Let me put this another way.
If I want a sandwich, faith is that the nonphysical aspect of reality which knows a sandwich exists and causes me to go after it until it becomes empirically real. The architect “sees” the house before it is ever built and before he ever “sees” it.
We can all imagine the world slightly better than it is right now. Within all of our lives or microcosms we all know of some thing that we can do which would make our microcosm incrementally better. The thing which allows us to discern this is some aspect of the Truth, which comes form life experience, or is passed on from one to another. It doesn’t matter how small the microcosm, we are still able to discern what could “potentially” make it better. When we intervene and bring about that small change in our microcosm, we are placing our faith in that potential which we expect or for which we hope.
Start with our bed or our sink. We know that the disorder of our bed after sleeping can be re-ordered if we make our bed. We know the disorder of a sink full of dishes needs to be re-ordered. If we make our bed or do the dishes, that microcosm of our life is improved by our re-ordering actions. If we ignore this impulse to bring order, greater disorder ensues and brings with it in the microcosm a proportional progression of disorder which then pushes against what we know to be true about order. The proof of this is the psychological dissonance created by our ignoring the impulse for re-order. We might feel guilty or annoyed, the bible calls this dissonance, sin, because we are outside of order.
If you think I’m talking about dishes or bed making, then you are not keeping up here. I’m talking about the single greatest power in the known universe manifesting itself in and as the microcosm of dishes and bed making. I’m saying no human being has every lived without faith, and the under-being of the faith of all humanity is Christ. Every impulse which is obeyed to reorder the smallest microcosm is fidelity to an aspect of the Truth or in other words, Christ following. Call this function by any other term if you must, but science, scripture and all of reality converge on this horizon of our fidelity between the seen and unseen. Even if empiricism denies the existence of non-physical reality, in cannot escape this fact that what is seen is comprised of an essence or under-being which is not empirically measurable. If this were not true, mathematics logic, and countless other non-physical reality could not be perceived.
This under-being has been in and behind and beyond everything forever and is called Christ-the anointed one.
You might call it LIFE.
No one and nothing can exist apart from this upo-stasis. The proof of which is found in things not yet seen but is discerned and expected or hoped. The not-a-thing is a thing. It’s a no-thing which is a thing. It’s called faith and the subject of this thing is called Christ. We deny this reality intellectually, but we cannot deny it functionally or experientially. Now that we know “That” and “What” it is, we must endeavor to have some integrity and honesty surrounding how we are to relate to this frame of ultimate reality.
We all believe in some unseen thing or yet to be seen thing. If that thing alters our choices in life, it is called Faith and there is a continuum of how much this thing alters our choices and thinking about reality. At its larval stage it’s merely self-preservation, at the opposite end it’s radical transformation of everything into it’s optimal state of being.
The easy way of saying this is that obeying our internal impulse to re-order some microcosm is faith or Christ following or participation in the restoration of the macrocosm. If you need a meme, then this is it: Making your bed creates the New World.
Once we see our participation in the small thing, we can see how our calories are to be spent in the big thing. There is not one apart from the other. There is only the small thing and thus the big thing which are merely different experiences with the same thing. None of us can see or do it all, and all of us can see and do some, and the some which we can see and do, we are responsible to do. Doing so bring incremental restoration to the world, disobeying the impulse brings incremental loss to all of humanity. Scripture depicts this as blessing and curse.
Every scenario in human history fits into this. Faith is that big. Faith must be bigger than the known universe. What begins as an “object” of faith must ultimately become the “subject” of our faith. Each of us is found somewhere on this continuum.
Make your bed. Do your dishes. Improve your microcosm. Serve one another to improve their microcosms. Pursue this impulse (this word) to where it ultimately takes us. Hope in the unseen or yet to be seen. Be confident the thing can come about via diligence in the small, no-thing. True science and true faith are not discernible, for true science is not faith in science any more than true faith is faith in ones faith. Both are true because they are both ultimately faith in Christ. Anything that is ultimately true is true because Christ is Truth. Thus faith in the truth and faith in Christ are coextensive. If you see this, you are free from your religion and you have heard the Good News. Rejecting this means your religion controls your frame of reality.
Can we get over our tribal distinctions now and grow up in our faith? There is no one size fits all, no single framework. We are free to do so by whatever means the impulse inside (word) leads us do. I’ll talk about how many forms this takes next week.