Faith and reason
Faith and reason are two ways to approach and understand the world around us. They do not oppose each other, they are complementary. Reason satisfies the urge to know, faith the urge to understand. I correct myself: reason and faith may complement each other, and that depends to a large extent on personality structure and its integrative abilities.
The human personality is like a brilliant, precious stone with many facets. Each facet represents a particular intention, tie, interest, need, preference, affinity. Those “interests” might be contradictory but may be experienced as compatible. The mature mind demonstrates an imposing elasticity and plasticity. It tolerates multiple loyalties. I maintain that a personality can only be called mature when it has developed multiple loyalties. The more facets a gem has, the more it shines, the more valuable it is. The more “interests” a mind embraces, the more it glitters, the richer the life of its carrier. If the facet “faith” remains underdeveloped, mind’s glittering lessens, its carat decreases.
I have reached the quintessence of my discourse, but before going into that, I clarify my definition of the construct “normal religiosity.”
Religious receptivity I consider as normal a psychological quality as aesthetic receptivity, and as individually variable as to intensity. What means normal in this context? A universally valid answer does not exist. In the domain of the psyche, moreover, the borders between normal and abnormal are fuzzy. Phenomena we know from psychiatric disorders also occur in the normal population.12
Three characteristics are personally essential to me:
• Joyfulness. Belief in God does not make life heavier, but serves as a support system. It does not generate guilt, but rather confidence and hope: “I am not alone.” The vertical dimension leads to bliss, not to gloom.
• Keeping an open mind. Belief in God is conceived as a personal conviction (ie, a personal faith) and is not absolutized, not transformed into a rigid, codified system of absoluta, a system of universal validity. Faith maintains a measure of mobility. One recognizes, tolerates, and respects other belief systems and is prepared for a critical interchange of ideas. Faith is not a fenced-off system, but an open philosophy of life.
• Incertitude. The believer realizes that faith, by definition, implies uncertainty. Nothing about the existence of God, His will, His policies is definitely established. He represents the ultimate mystery. The believer guesses. He is by definition an (auto-)dialectician, a questioner, a waverer, constantly on the way to fathom something of the inexplicable. Incertitude protects from haughtiness. One realizes that the “house of God” has many rooms. Religious fanaticism is foreign to the believer. In this he may refer to the Bible: “Though all the peoples walk, Each in the names of its Gods, We will walk in the name of the Lord our God” (Micah 4:5).
“Love your neighbour as yourself . . . the stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens” (Leviticus 19:18, 34). This is a text key to both Judaism and Christianity. Dogmatism and intolerance are hard to reconcile with such attitude. Its negation is a disgrace of what the concept of God stands for.