In a world of rising skepticism and disenchantment---We believe that engaging the future can help faith come alive. We as a community need to be able to show how the future can renew our faith, and the faith of individuals, families, communities, and the world.
The CTA advocates for the value of faith in navigating a complex and unknown future.
Definition of Faith
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Heb 11:1)
To make this contemporary:
"Now faith is confidence in what we hopefully expect to achieve or experience, and the certainty we feel about what we cannot scientifically verify."
Common misrepresentations of Faith, which are not faith at all, must be refuted by the church:
- "Believing things contrary to evidence" (Sam Harris)
- Defensiveness against science – the science/faith conflict hypothesis
- Taking allegorical scripture literally
Faith can include:
- Faithfulness as a character trait
- Trust in God's existence and character that re-orients your life
- Part of trio of "Faith, Hope and Love" (God's unconditional love)
- Confidence that all truth is God's truth
- Confidence that science leads to God
Faith and Epistemology
Fallibilism. We lack total knowledge of the Creation. How do we deal with this 'epistemic gap'? A rigorous definition of faith needs an epistemic framework. Scripture includes the concept of fallibilism, the concept that we can never be exactly sure of what is right.
"Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:9
"Those who say they know something do not yet know as they ought" 1 Corinthians 8:2
"Recognition of fallibility is a prerequisite to a community of mutual agency and correction." – Micah Redding
Action. All observations are theory laden (Karl Popper). That is, we never see events without a pre-existing framework of understanding. And yet we must act.
Science is fragmentary and incomplete; it advances but slowly and is never finished; but life cannot wait. (Emile Durkheim)
Science is good. Experimenting and testing is essential. And yet, we cannot wait until all possibilities are evaluated. We must always act in the face of incomplete knowledge and understanding. And we must act.
Dialogue. Because knowledge progresses not by observation, but by conjecture and critique, it is important to hear all voices. Good-faith free speech is a necessary but insufficient condition for what we really want, which is great quality learning dialogue.
Political polarisation is spoken against in Scripture. (Gal 5:19), which advocates loving and listening to those with whom you disagree. To love your enemies means to listen to them and engage with them, conceding points when appropriate.
Epistemology. Creating powerful explanatory knowledge, and testing what really are the best choices for the future, requires a better epistemological framework, that defines domains of knowledge, and truth-seeking processes.
English is limited to a single verb 'to know', whereas romance languages typically have at least two, one 'know how to do' and one 'to be familiar with'. English speakers are more likely to jump from sketchy head knowledge to certainty.
Since we know in part, fallibility and humility should be the hallmarks of our conversation. But then, we are required to act, based on this incomplete information. Therefore we must do so carefully, working on the biggest obvious pain points. Our solutions must be tested carefully, and reverted if found to make things worse.
Faith and Ethical Choices
As with other forms of knowledge, fallibilism applies to knowing the right ethical choices. Scripture provides evidence of three ethical systems: Virtue, Deontological and Consequentialist. Each has strengths and weaknesses.
Virtue : Strengths: actively enhances you personally, by changing your intentions. Weaknesses: Can be blind to consequences and make you feel self-righteous. Choices can be subjective.
Deontological (Duty/Rules-based): Guides us to prevent damage based on consolidated experience. Weaknesses: being rule-bound, and minimal compliance.
Consequentialism : Strengths: testing and verifying the actual outcomes. Weakness: the consequences can be filtered to suit those in power.
All three ethical lenses should be applied to proposed actions. Rules such as A/B testing and verifying before rolling out, as well as reverting quickly are important. A virtuous person checks all consequences and does not proceed 'on principle' without verifying by experiment. A virtuous person listens to the consolidated wisdom of deontological rules and principles.
By faithfulness to the character of Christ, and by faith we can learn what is most likely to be the least wrong course of action.
Faith is a confident call to Action
Faith is an optimistic commitment to a vision. Faith is confidence in God, from both the General and Special Revelations.
Faith confidently expects that all truth is God's truth, and expects the convergence of Science and Religion.
Faith confidently and optimistically seeks transformational technology.
"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries." (Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomer)
Christians are both journeying with Science, and already at the destination, having 'bridged the epistemic gap', and having faith in ultimate goodness of the Creator, and the right moral choices.
The creation is understandable. Humans create "explanatory knowledge".
Therefore we can be confident, optimistic, and embracing of future scientific changes in the nature of humanity. Non-Christians are welcome to join Christians in this faith journey.