Nazarene Space

Rational Faith

By

James Scott Trimm

 

Many think of faith as irrational.  Logic is often dismissed with phrases like “it’s a matter of faith.”  But faith should never be irrational.  If one were to have irrational faith, one might just as well roll the dice to decide what to believe.  In fact irrational religion is the reason that a world that has gravitated to rationalism, has become secularized.  But it does not have to be that way, faith can and should be rational, it can and should be built upon the foundational principles of logic.

 

 

Proof of a Creator

 

Logic dictates that the universe was in fact created.  There are a number of logical exercises that point to this inescapable conclusion. 

 

The first century philosopher Philo of Alexandria made the observation that “…in all existing things there must be an active cause, and a passive subject…” (On Creation 8) he further observed that “…the passive subject is something inanimate and incapable of motion by any intrinsic power of its own…” (On Creation 9) and therefore he concluded that the universe had to have been “… set in motion, and fashioned, and endowed with life by the intellect [and], became transformed into that most perfect work, this world.” (On Creation 9) leading to the logical conclusion that “...the active cause is the intellect of the universe…” (On Creation 8). 

 

In other words, by observing the universe, we can see a chain of cause and effect.  Every effect can be traced back to a root cause.  Ultimately, if we trace the chain far enough back, we must come to a single “first cause”.  And the fact that the universe exhibits order leads to the logical conclusion that the first cause of the universe must have been an “intellect”. 

 

The Special Creation of the Universe can be easily proven through the apparent conflict between the first two Laws of Thermodynamics.

 

The first law of thermodynamics may be expressed as follows:

 

Increase in internal energy of a system equals heat supplied to the system plus work done on the system.

 

In a thermodynamic cycle, the net heat supplied to the system must always equal the net work done by the system.

 

The net change in internal energy equals the energy that flows in as heat minus the energy that flows out as the work that the system performs on its environment. Work and heat are not defined as separately conserved quantities; they refer only to processes of exchange of energy.

 

From this law we may also conclude that the internal energy obeys the principle of conservation of energy which may be stated:

 

Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. It can only change forms. In any process in an isolated system, the total energy remains the same.

 

The second law of thermodynamics states:

 

When two isolated systems in separate but nearby regions of space, each in thermodynamic equilibrium in itself (but not necessarily in equilibrium with each other at first) are at some time allowed to interact, breaking the isolation that separates the two systems, allowing them to exchange matter or energy, they will eventually reach a mutual thermodynamic equilibrium. The sum of the entropies of the initial, isolated systems is less than or equal to the entropy of the final combination of exchanging systems. In the process of reaching a new thermodynamic equilibrium, total entropy has increased, or at least has not decreased.

 

What is “entropy”, you might ask?   Entropy is the sum total of running down of the energy of the universe.  The energy of the universe is distributed heterogeneously (unevenly) but when any energy flows, it always flows from an area of high intensity to an area of lower intensity.  This means that the universe is working its way toward a homogenous (even) energy distribution of energy).  The entropy of any closed system always increases and the overall entropy of the universe must increase forever to the maximum.  When this occurs all energy will be equally at odds with itself and no work can happen.  All of the hot stars, for example, will have dispelled their energy into cold space.  No work can happen, no motion, nothing will ever “happen” again.  For all practical purposes the universe will be dead.

 

 

The Creation Corollary

 

Now clearly the universe is not dead, work happens every day, and hot stars still pour out energy into cold space.  Entropy is still on the increase and has not yet increased to the maximum.  The universe therefore cannot be infinitely old, or else entropy would have already increased to the maximum.

 

If the universe is not infinitely old then the presence of matter and energy in the universe, prove that there was a time in the finite past in which the first law of thermodynamics was not true, a time at which matter and energy were in fact CREATED.  This is an inescapable corollary of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Special Creation Corollary which might be stated as follows:

 

If energy flows only from an area of high intensity to an area of low intensity, and the distribution of energy in the universe remains heterogeneous, then the universe is of finite age.

 

If the universe is of finite age and it contains matter and energy, then the First Law of Thermodynamics and the Principle of Conservation of Energy have not always been true, and at one time matter and energy were created.

 

 

The Logical Implications of Providence

 

The first century philosopher made the astute observation, that divine providence is a logical corollary of the existence of  a Creator.  (In this context, providence does not mean “predestination” but the interaction of the Creator with the world toward its benefit).  Philo of Alexandria concludes:

 

And those who describe it as being uncreated, do, without being aware of it, cut off the most useful and necessary of all the qualities which tend to produce piety, namely, providence: (10) for reason proves that the father and creator has a care for that which has been created; for a father is anxious for the life of his children, and a workman aims at the duration of his works, and employs every device imaginable to ward off everything that is pernicious or injurious, and is desirous by every means in his power to provide everything which is useful or profitable for them. But with regard to that which has not been created, there is no feeling of interest as if it were his own in the breast of him who has not created it.

(On Creation 9-10)

 

Philo sees the fact that the universe follows orderly laws is evidence of providence, and that divine providence is evidence of a Creator:

 

It is then a pernicious doctrine, and one for which no one should contend, to establish a system in this world, such as anarchy is in a city, so that it should have no superintendant, or regulator, or judge, by whom everything must be managed and governed.

(On Creation 11)

 

 

Logic Leads to the Elohim of Abraham

 

Divine providence leads to another logical conclusion.  If the Creator has an active involvement with the world, then we should expect to see evidence of His involvement in the history of the world.  Now the two oldest religions in the world are Judaism and Hinduism, these are the only two living religions whose origins lie beyond the dawn of history.  Hinduism is polytheistic, and does not provide us with the monotheistic faith to which our evidence points (i.e. a single first cause).  This leaves us with the faith of Abraham, the root faith of which is Judaism. 

 

 

A Logical Canon for the Tanak

 

Logic now leads us to the foundation for this faith, the Torah as an objective source for information about the Creator, and His faith.  The Torah itself speaks of prophets that would come after Moses (Deut. 18:15-22) pointing us to the other books of the Tanak as well. 

 

Logic would lead us to select a “canon” ; Judith; or standard for this rational faith which has the best textual-historical attestation.  While there are many spurious books,  both ancient and modern, the books of the standard canon of the Tanak are the best attested.  In addition to these, there is excellent attestation for the books of: 1st and 2nd Esdras; Tobit; Judith; Wisdom of Solomon; Sira; Baruch; The Letter of Jeremiah; 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Maccabees, 1st Enoch and the Book of Jasher. 

 

Yeshua as Messiah

 

The Tanak contains over 333 Messianic prophecies which were fulfilled by Yeshua.  The possibility that all of these prophecies might have been fulfilled by one man by chance are 84,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000th of one percent.  Fulfilling just eight of the more detailed prophecies is equivalent to covering the entire state of Texas with silver dollars, and then picking a specific silver dollar at random blindfolded.

 

Logic would dictate, as a simple matter of probability, that the proposition that Yeshua was not the Messiah is a statistically impossible proposition.

 

A Logical Canon for the Ketuvim Netzarim

 

Having a rational conclusion that Yeshua was the Jewish Messiah of Judaism, logic would lead us to seek out the writings of the original followers of Yeshua as authoritative texts.  There are again, many spurious books both ancient and modern, but the books with the best textual-historical attestation are those of the twenty seven books known commonly as the “New Testament”.   In addition the original followers of Yeshua are anciently attested to have used a book known as “the Gospel according to the Hebrews”.

 

Textual Criticism

 

Now before the advent of the printing press, all books had to be hand copied, and this resulted in some amount of human error in the copying process.  There is, however, a logical approach to reconstructing the most original texts of these books.  The process involves applying objective principles of textual criticism to determine which readings are most likely to be the most original.

 

Objective Interpretation

 

It is logical then to take the plain statements made in these texts as axioms which may server are premises for conclusions and corollaries.  The logical approach to this is to apply logical, objective rules of hermeneutics to the text in order to derive a systematic theology built on rational thought.

 

 

Mastering the Emotions

 

Rational faith is not without an emotional element, however the foundation of rational faith is that the rational mind must be master of the emotions, and the emotions should not be master over the mind.  The Torah is the Wisdom of YHWH and enters our understanding like a seed implanted in a womb.  This process gives birth to a knowledge of Torah within us.  This knowledge of Torah flows down into our emotions and produces a love for YHWH that motivates us to observe the positive commandments and an awe for Elohim that drives us not to violate the negative commandments, and fill us with a feeling of Joy.

 

Rational faith is the answer to secularization.  Faith need not be irrational.  Faith can be built upon a rational foundation of logic. 

 

 

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