Religion: Can We Know?-Day Seven-Intuition

   We know by use of our senses, by experience and memory (both of which revert to history to settle issues of perception) and authority. Any of these conduits of knowledge can split at the wrong point or leak at the worst moment. We can be mislead by any of them.

   Intuition is another means to knowledge. It is the least understood and the most faithful. Our intuitive responses take all the other roads to knowledge and bring them together at one junction, where the cerbreal cortex meets the human soul. We all act on intution all the time. The more important the matter to be considered (figured, factored, known) the more we are likely, as a person and as a species, to guide our path by intuition.

    Intuitive knowledge is the "faith-based" center of Biblical knowledge. Abraham knows God. God calls Abraham to go to a land "he knows not." Abraham's senses, his history and his authority are all tied up in God. He goes along with God as his GPS (God Positioning System). He does not know where he is going but he knows the God who takes him there. This is intuitive knowledge, wherein all that has been points to what can be and so orders what is at the moment.

   We live by this faith, not just by sight. To understand the faith by which we live is to see the foundation of intuitive knowledge undergirding our decision making process. I live because I trust in God for today. If there is not God, if God is not knowable or God does not care, there is not much reason to live or reason to life. I scramble to exist without God because to cease to exist as I see myself is to end completely. There are times when that does not sound so bad but it belies the moral thinking that dominates our inner most being.

   If God is (He is) and God cares (He does), we can intuit this knowledge; God wants us to know that God is and that God cares. God is knowable in Creation and in others, so that we can know God is. God is careful abut us in providential care (the way God bends history to suit His final purpose).

   When we speak of a personal, providential God, it is not unusual for a (possibly sincere) non-believer to put forward an example of some atrocity enacted from man to man, quite often set to make one's emotional gag-reflex rise with the telling. Perhaps a young girl is being kept captive and regularly abused or a helpless old person is cruelly neglected or a mass of refugees is left to die under the harshest circumstances while ample aid is set on the other side of a barbed wire fence, a few meters distant.

   Why, the non-intuiter wants to know, does God not intervene? What possible good can result when a child is abused, a refugee camp is destroyed or an elder ignored? Where is God, if God is and if God cares?

   Let us give a Christian answer to this dilemma. Notice I offer this as "a" and not "the" Christian answer, as though I have an answer all Christians might accept.

   Inititally, let us open our minds to this argument. Christian teaching offers various certain statements, many of which can be put forward in two or three word statements, for identification purposes. One of those is the "Total Depravity (of Humanity." Man is sin damaged. The damage is universal and powerful. The problem of sin is not knowledge but a severe problem of the will. If man is depraved (and the fellow whose argument starts with the cruelty of man against man admits man is depraved; there is nothing to keep man from doing right, except his will) then there is nothing man will not do to be cruel to other men. Man is limited in cruelty only by means, method and/or opportunity.

   The cruelty of man to man is not God inspired, no matter how many times a powerful figure appeals to Some God to cover his atrocities. In point of fact, the right of a leader to lead should be based in large part on his appeal to the "better angels of our nature."

God asks man to change. If God were to force man to change, the cry would go up against God as "dictator." God can never do enough or do it just right for contrary man, who commits the acts of atrocity in the first place.

   Then, we ought to consider what God has paid already for human sin, before we insist that God continues to owe us a more distinct model or a more definitive act. God's-Son, God's-Self, our Savior comes into the world, helpless and dependent, lives among us, resists the evil that infects our soul and offers His Body and Blood to change the direction of Human History.

   Then, note how God-followers tend to make the intutive leap to altruism. Recent empirical data forcefully suggests that one of the characteristics of a habitually religious person is care for others. It is inappropriate to blame God for human atrocities when His people are most likely among men to relieve suffering than to cause it.

   Then, consider the converting power of God. The atrocious acts of evil men may give way to gracious living in conversion. The man who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace" once made his living as a slave trader. God must hate the slave trade. God raised up men like Wilberforce and Lincoln and like Newton to persuade other men to abandon their cruel commercial and political practices. God did not convert men to be slave traders but from their evil. God is bending history to fit his end, one man at a time.

  Try this intuitive act, based on sensory knowledge, historical imperatives (memory and experience) and authoritative acts and statements. If God is moving history to suit his ends, is it not certain that history will most often correct itself to the more benevolent position? Two hundred years ago in the USA, human beings were bought and sold as property. No more. Sixty years ago in the USA a person could be denied basic civil rights because of their ethnicity; this was legal. No more.

   The Providential God, the History Bender, most often changes history in the democrative rule of law. Men's hearts are slower to change but man can change his mind when events give demand he look at right and wrong in the face. No one could say Satan would make man change for good. Few would insist that man is going to liberalize social policy for the benefit of all left to himself. If it is God, through God's teachings and through God's people, who most often moves history toward compassion and inclusion, how can it be right to ddeprecate God for human atrocities committed one against the other?

   Or, consider the misuse of religion as evidence that not all religion is the same. This is an intutive leap, as well. Religion is effective and effectual, reality based and real, when and where it converts man to good. Religion, real and effective answers the question, "Who is to say what we should do?"

   Education, commerce and joint political action(s) can be good if properly motivated and conducted. No one would argue that education cannot be misused, or that unregulated commerce is not dangerous or that political action(s) can derive from the basest human emotions. Only religion is lumped all together, the saintliest doubter made to answer for the religious despot.

   Intuitively, we know the cosmos must have originated at the direction of an Intelligent Designer. All this just happened to happen? Now, that is a leap of faith based on the least possible researchable likelihoods.

   Intuitively, we sense (know) it is most unlikely an Intelligent Designer would create and desist. To make and abandon is irresponsibility on a cosmic scale.

   intuitively, we decide, then, that God is and God cares. If God is and if God cares, there is no one more important to find and know.

Opinions expressed here are mine alone, not those of any other person or organization or institution.

4 thoughts on “Religion: Can We Know?-Day Seven-Intuition”

  1. Rick, I just read through the series of posts. Was at youth camp last week and am playing catch up. Thank you for wading off into these deep waters. We need to think deeply, lest we find ourselves unable to answer the questions and taunts of those who have either bought into the arguments of or been intimidated by the aggressive atheists and their ilk.
    If we will dig into what’s being said on the other side, we will find substantial flaws. When I read what is being suggested about a ‘selfish gene’ being responsible for even altruistic behavior, I have to laugh. They don’t want a God in heaven, so they try to sneak him in at the cellular level. Looks to me like a deux ex machina.

  2. When we do away with God, we have to have a substitute for love. Selfishness is the explanation of people who just do not want God or anything good for religious people.

  3. Rick –
    There are a number of reasons I am glad you are writing this series. At present the chief reason is to demonstrate the need to be more aware of the vastly different cultural context in which we find ourselves. It is increasingly polarized and the “pop theology” schtick that rules our day just looks silly in the face of these transitions. In fact, more often than not those who engage on that level end up illustrating the very thing they hope to undermine.
    In your words, “May your tribe increase.”

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