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The God Squad: Faith is the gateway to truth

January 13, 2012|By Rabbi Gellman

Question: How can one's belief and/or faith have any influence whatsoever regarding what either is or is not absolute truth and/or reality? Isn't the kind of reality or truth you speak of more like the reality and truth of Santa Claus?

Certainly, our beliefs and our faiths influence our behavior, but aren't you saying that our beliefs essentially create the reality of God in our lives? If so, then are you also willing to say that without these beliefs, God ceases to exist?

More directly, does God have any separate existence apart from our beliefs? Finally, aren't we just talking about the rather simple difference between reality and make-believe? — J., Gainesville, Fla., via godsquadquestion@aol.com

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Answer: Faith is not the opposite of truth. Faith is a gateway to truth. Some people find truth through faith and some people find truth without faith. For religious people, faith leads us to truth in the way we read in the New Testament:

"For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love." (2 Peter 1:5-7)

My favorite Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, stated this relationship perfectly, "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."

I also love these words of St. Peter Julian Eymard: "Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."

A wonderful contemporary rabbi, David Wolpe, put it this way:

"A tragedy of humanity in our time is the certainty that what we see is what alone exists, what we create is alone worthy; that by virtue of an existence whose origins we do not understand and whose beauty we did nothing to merit, we are all that is worthwhile. We suffer the peculiar blindness of those who see only the visible."

Faith is a story, a collective story. The story of faith is not about Santa Claus. It is about the story that our lives have deep spiritual meaning. As the author Madeline L'Engle has written, "Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically."

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