Saturday, September 25, 2010
Color Me Curious
By my teenage years my curiosity about the world around me grew to the point that I started haunting libraries, both at my school and our nice public facility. Then I discovered the library at our local university. Awesome.
This opportunity to explore ideas beyond those presented in the sixty-six books that was supposed to contain all the knowledge necessary for a happy life (the Bible, I mean) became addictive.
Mom always fretted about that. She felt reading so many things, so many vastly divergent viewpoints, only served to - as she put it - "torment the mind." To study history was to cast doubt on the Bible's versions of how things got be as they are. To study science was to cast doubt on the Bible's version of how things got started in the first place. To study comparative religion was to cast doubt on the Bible's version of what truth is. And on it went.
To this day it astounds me that so many people willingly put limits on the scope of their knowledge. No less a religious authority than John Paul ll recognized that "truth cannot contradict truth." Although, truth be told, he placed firm limits on how open the mind should be. That to me is the Achilles' heel of religious faith.
If given the opportunity, I would rather know than believe. Honest investigation at least will get us closer to the truth than closed-minded traditionalism. If that conflicts with emotionally nourishing beliefs, so be it. I'm not into denial. I don't want it said of me, "You can't handle the truth." I quit playing pretend games long, long ago.
For me it comes down to acceptance. To not spending my energy swimming against the tide. I want to understand as much about this life as I can, and use that knowledge to live in harmony with the way things are. I was always better helped by Laura Ingalls Wilder's little observation "that which can't be cured must be endured," than I was by the teaching that faith can move mountains.
Once the door of honest investigation was opened to me I could never go back. Many people think of my lack of faith as a character fault. "Without faith it is impossible to please God," I'm told that the Bible says. And it does say that. So our honest curiosity should end in faith?
I can't be happy with that.