The ongoing search for dark matter received an exciting advancement recently when strongly predicted gamma ray signals were detected at exactly the location and orientation that current dark matter theories predict. Scientists are clear that these results do not constitute a “discovery” as it is so far only a “strong correlation” to the current model – and more direct-observation tests are being planned. Even so, there are those who say things about the strength of the implications of these indirect results like, it would be “very difficult to impossible” for other sources to mimic the observed results. For those involved in the search, the growing faith can be seen.
I think it is revealing to compare the pattern of this scientific development (and others like it) to the realm of faith. God is another type of “dark matter” – “dark” because, like dark matter, His nature is such that He cannot be seen (He is, by virtue of being creator of all things, not made of matter). Also like dark matter, God has predicted characteristics or effects based on the claims made about Him – by definition, He possesses extreme power, and Christian tradition agrees that He has an orientation towards humanity that dictates He will act in various modes to bring about His desired ends. And if God is a powerful and active agent in the universe He created, though invisible, His existence could be inferred indirectly, just as physical dark matter can be. Attempting to make observations from which such inferences could be made, will require knowing details about the claims made about Him. Most fundamentally, that He wants free-chosen interaction – not forced interaction with His creation. This suggests that He will refrain from directly proving Himself to His creation, but will still want to draw them to Himself – through multiple, and variably strong levels of inference – the receiving and integration of which is also known as faith. Faith is not, as commonly thought, belief in something for which there is no evidence; rather it is belief in that which is indirectly inferred from supporting evidence. Faith can even reach a point of supreme confidence if a sufficient amount of inferential material has been amassed.
For the Christian, being able to present the reasoning behind their faith is called for Biblically. The concept of “Christians are just brainwashed” cannot hold up, if Christians have a foundation of experience and inference that supports their faith. Do you have a Christian friend – go ahead and ask them why they believe. You might be surprised what you find. Throughout history, and continuing today, God has revealed Himself in many ways, some very subtly and some much more directly, but even the more direct of revelation events are not exhaustive in their revelation – each instance still requires ongoing faith to trust that the source is indeed Him, and that He can be trusted to enter into a relationship with, safely. It would seem that, ultimately, it is not just our brain that God desires to convince, but our heart – the deepest part of who we are.
Similar to the search for dark matter, or any other scientific discovery that is “seen” by inferred evidence before it is seen directly – those who have chosen to associate themselves with a life of faith in Jesus Christ, are people who find it “difficult or impossible” to draw any other conclusion from the evidence they have been presented with, perceived by both the head and the heart.