Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Faith and Knowing

I have a sister-in-law who is brilliant in a way I only wish I could be. She earned her Phd researching the cells that comprise the human heart, and now works in the pharmaceutical industry as a technical writer of sorts. As I understand it, she's something of a linguist who translates complicated medical and scientific jargon into more readily accessible colloquial speech. I once asked her why she finds science and scientific literature so appealing. She responded, "It's the knowing."

The knowing.
Indisputable, quantitative, empirical evidence.

It strikes me that herein lies the difference between faith and knowing. To know something is to be certain, assured, without doubt. By contrast, doubt is inherent in faith. To be faithful is to believe something without assurance, without proof. This is true of the devout, who possess an unwavering faith in the divine. This is true of the man who has unwavering faith in his spouse's love. We cannot prove the existence of God anymore than we can prove we're loved by our wives. We cannot know, but we continue to believe.

These are hardly original notions. Aristotle, Confucius, Carl Sagan. Authors and philosophers ad infinitum have debated the nature of truth. Who am I to presume to add anything notable to the discussion?

I'll say only this. I am a fisherman because I am a believer. I cannot know what any given day on the river might bring. I approach each day with hope, with the belief that some thread and feathers wrapped on the shaft of a hook might tempt an animal to leave its element and enter mine. Maybe this is why the beginning of each day on the water is usually so much better than the end. It's the anticipation, the hope, the belief in what lies ahead.

It's also possible that the beginning of the day is better than the end because there's still beer in the cooler. Of course, I have to believe there will be more there tomorrow.

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