Thoughts on Kierkegaard


By Stephen Terry


We speak so often about what is "true." Sometimes a better word than truth might be validity. If the "leap of faith" is subjective, it does not negate the validity of the results. The entire essence of such a leap being taken is the belief that valid results will be found after the leap. If those results "work," then they can be considered valid even if they cannot be shown to be dialectically true. It is the possibility of this validity that causes the "leap of faith" to make sense. It is this validity that gives experiential Christianity the ability to proselytize and grow.  Because dialectic based on scientific method can never push the boundaries of understanding to the infinite, there will always be unknowns. Faith allows a form of understanding that can extend perception beyond those boundaries.


When confronted by validity from beyond the boundaries of understanding, the dialectician who bases all argument on observable, measurable data will maintain that there must be some logical explanation that can be demonstrated for the validity.  Assuming the boundary's ability to expand to reach the point of that valid expression, this is correct.  But since our ability to observe and measure is finite, by definition some of these things will always remain unprovable. This places the dialectician in the position of one who chooses to remain in a cardboard box in ignorance of all that lies outside the box that he/she cannot see and measure. This is a state of "willingly ignorant" if you will.


(An aside: The spell checker is making a case in point. It does not like the word dialectician. Could this be a willing ignorance on its part?)


Even those who want everything to be "correct" in Scripture, in ecclesiology, in theology, etc. should admit that if they have a relationship with Jesus Christ then they have done the same. At some point they passed from the dialectic to the subjectively experiential. This is the essence of a commitment to the unknowable. It is also a demonstration of the tension between scientific method and faith. Science should not deny validities that arrive from beyond the boundaries of knowledge.


We exercise faith everyday. Can I recite the principles of why an electric lamp works? No. I simply know that using its switch works, so I accept its function by faith. Can I give a synopsis of the thermodynamics of microwaves? No. But I know that when I put my popcorn into the microwave oven and push the button, it works. Again, I accept its function by faith not by argument. In many of these and similar ways, everyday, we all do the same. It is this experiential relationship to the world around us that informs the practics of faith and makes the "leap of faith" appear reasonable. When we get a valid result, whether it is light, or popcorn, or a better life, we acknowledge that the result is "true" for us and therefore, perhaps for others.