I was always the brilliant kid in school, the one whose homework was the envy of others, who answered the questions first, who was more than a little bit of a know-it-all. That’s hard to shake as we get older and supposedly wiser.
I’m not easily stymied or intimidated by any subject, right up to theoretical physics. I have self-confidence in my intellectual abilities, and sometimes that breezes on into arrogance.
And that’s the fence where faith falls.
Arrogance is misplaced pride. It takes God’s work in us and claims it as our own.
No human can truly grasp what God is, or know how God works in this world. We frustrate ourselves terribly by trying to understand, by trying to unlock “the secrets of life.” We are inside that box, and we cannot see what we are from the outside of it.
As I grappled with the big questions – the meaning of life – I had to lose some of my arrogance. I just don’t know how the resurrection of Jesus worked; I don’t know how God puts life into organisms – why the tulip is alive and the computer isn’t . And despite my ability to undesand, others have had much more profound understanding of God and His vision than I can.
That’s the humility part. I realized that if Thomas Aquinas, Basil the Great, Teresa of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen believed in God – had faith in His goodness and mercy – then I had no excuse not to. They were wiser and full of faith. My faith was strengthened by their faith.
There is a persistent intellectual fantasy that intelligent people don’t have religious experences, that believing in God is a sign of weakness. And yet these great intellects, these great minds who grasped concepts far beyond what we even get taught in school – they believed.
So who are we to doubt?