I have a new post up over at New Church Perspective on how to act in a way that opens us up to belief (as opposed to forcing ourselves to believe in an artificial way). The post was partly inspired by a great conversation a few months ago between Ross Douthat, Rod Dreher, David Sessions, and Noah Millman, exploring the connections between life and faith (or lack thereof). The main question they were discussing was the extent to which our feelings, actions, and experiences shape what we believe even when it seems to be the other way around.
That question – the way that the intellect guides the will, and the way that the will shapes the intellect – is at the heart of a lot of New Church theology (it’s part of why this blog is called Good and Truth, for example), and it’s something that I try to tackle in my New Church Perspective post. Quoting myself:
We might say to ourselves, “How can I know if Jesus Christ really rose from the dead? How can I actually know that He is God, and that He has an influence on the world today?” And our first instinct might be to think that the way to deal with those doubts is simply to collect enough evidence, weigh it rationally, and come to a conclusion based on pure logic – an intellectual exercise.
The problem, though, is that people don’t actually work that way. Our desires and emotions have far more impact on our ability to assess data than we tend to think, and that’s as true for a committed atheist as it is for a committed Christian. We might not see the connection, but whether or not we want the Lord to be God will have a huge impact on whether we’ll accept or deny the evidence that He is.
Anyway, if you read the post, I’d love to talk about some of the ideas more – I’m well aware of some of the gaping questions the post begs, and I know that faith is not as simple as just following a few steps from an instruction manual. So, critiques are welcome – I’d like to have a conversation.