You believe in a lot of things. But what do you believe in the most?
Go into the quiet security of your mind, and you will know that you value one of these more highly than the other four.
“American rates of religious affiliation have plummeted to their lowest point in the past 73 years. And nowhere are they lower than in knowledge-industry hubs like Silicon Valley, where high-skilled jobs are growing the fastest. If religion is in decline, I wondered, then what are Americans worshiping now? What has become our new religion? For many professionals, the answer is work. Work provides the identity, belonging, meaning and purpose that faith traditions once did.”
– Carolyn Chen, NY Times, June 4, 2022
“For thousands of years, our ancestors gazed at the world around us—the people and animals, the mountains and seas, the sun, moon and stars—and saw the divine. As the 19th Psalm puts it, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork.’ Even Isaac Newton saw a universe filled with purpose. In his masterwork, the Principia, he wrote: ‘This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.’ Science advanced by leaps and bounds in the centuries following Newton, and scientists dialed back much of the God-talk. Many thinkers suggested that the universe runs like a mighty clockwork. Perhaps a creator was needed at the beginning, to set it going, but surely it now runs on its own. Einstein, who often spoke of God metaphorically, took a different tack. He rejected a personal deity, but saw a kind of pantheism—roughly, the identification of God with nature—as plausible.”
– Dan Falk, Scientific American, July 27, 2021
1. Where do you place your highest confidence? Is it government?
At one end of this spectrum, Communism believes that citizens should collectively own the means of production, distribution, and exchange which allocates products to everyone in the society. Karl Marx proposed a classless society in which everything would be shared by everyone.
At the other end of the spectrum, Libertarianism says, “We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.” [LP.org) Ayn Rand famously proposed, “If government would just get out of the way, individual self-interest would create a better society!”
To have confidence in government – or in the absence of government – is to believe in people. To have faith in people is Humanism. Is that where you have put your faith?
2. Where do you place your highest confidence? Is it business, capitalism, free enterprise?
“People create value and do good things when they have a profit motive.”
“Capitalism creates jobs and provides a better lifestyle for everyone who participates. It is a virtuous cycle.”
“Business people are problem solvers.”
3. Where do you place your highest confidence? Is it science, medicine, technology?
J.G. Ballard was enthusiastic about living in a technological society. He said, “Science and technology multiply around us. To an increasing extent they dictate the languages in which we speak and think. Either we use those languages, or we remain mute.”
Napoleon Hill echoed J.G. Ballard. “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
But Thomas Schelling, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, disagreed with Napoleon Hill, saying, “The one thing a person cannot do, however brilliant they are, is write up a list of things that would never occur to them.”
I like Thomas Schelling.
Perhaps I am oversimplifying this, but my general feeling is that when we do a thing intuitively, we call it art. When we do it systematically, we call it science. And our love of science seems to be growing exponentially.
“We are awash in numbers. Data is everywhere. Old-fashioned things like words are in retreat; numbers are on the rise. Unquantifiable arenas like history, literature, religion and the arts are receding from public life, replaced by technology, statistics, science and math. Even the most elemental form of communication, the story, is being pushed aside by the list. The results are in: The nerds have won. Time to replace those arrows in the talons of the American eagle with pencils and slide rules. We’ve become the United States of Metrics.”
– Bruce Feiler, NY Times, May 16, 2014
My own opinion echoes that of Tom Robbins, who said, “Romanticism and science are good for each other. The scientist keeps the romantic honest and the romantic keeps the scientist human.”
We will now continue our examination of the major categories of Beliefs.
4. Where do you place your highest confidence? Is it family, friends, relationships?
Robert Frost said, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.”
Edna Buchanan said, “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.”
Anthony Bourdain advised, “Be open to a world where you may not understand or agree with the person next to you, but have a drink with them anyways. Eat slowly. Tip your server. Check in on your friends. Check in on yourself. Enjoy the ride.”
Perhaps you feel as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks did. He said, “My life has been made by three or four, maybe half a dozen, friendships with people who believed in me more than I believed in myself.”
And of course, we all agree with Kahlil Gibran. “And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also. For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.”
5. Where do you place your highest confidence? Is it in God?
My friend Akintunde Omitowoju is a programming genius, one of the few in the world who might be in the same inventive class as Steve Wozniak. Akintunde emphatically agrees with A.W. Tozer, who said, “The trustworthiness of God’s behavior is the foundation for all scientific truth.”
In the opening chapter of Genesis, the only information we’re given about the creation of our universe is, “God said, ‘Let there be…'” And then God continued to say “Let there be this, and let there be that,” until everything existed that needed to be.
Theoretical physicists call that moment The Big Bang. These same theoretical physicists – since the spring of 1995 – have been fascinated with a version of string theory called M-theory. In 2010, Steven Hawking wrote, “M-Theory is the only candidate for a complete theory of the universe.”
Michio Kaku believes M-Theory to be, “so concise that its underlying formula would fit on a T-shirt.”
In essence, M-theory tells us that Time is made of tiny loops of 6-dimensional energy vibrating at a specific frequency. Likewise, Space, Gravity, Matter, and Light are made of similar loops of energy vibrating at their own, specific frequencies. According to string theorist Brian Greene, these loops of energy are so small that if an atom were enlarged to the size of our solar system – with the sun as the nucleus and Pluto as the nearest orbiting electron – a single loop of energy would be the size of a small tree.
Brian Greene calls our universe, “a silent symphony of string.”
So if Hawking, Kaku, Greene and all the other string theorists are correct, it seems perfectly reasonable to see our space-time continuum as nothing but the continuing echo of the voice of God.
In the first chapter of John’s Good News we read,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; (the Word) and without him was not anything made that was made…”
And then John drops the bombshell:
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Wow. If this can be believed, the force that went out from God – his Word – continues to vibrate as our space-time continuum.
In the 17th chapter of the book of Acts, we read, “In Him we live and move and have our being.”
What I have shared with you today is personal. It is not religiosity. It is not codified, step-by-step religion. And it is most certainly not the fearful, angry, anxious posturing of misguided political parties since the First Crusade of 1095.
What I have shared is nothing more than my private understanding of the backstory of that person in whom I have placed my faith.
Roy H. Williams
PS – “As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God.” – Barbara Brown Taylor
Michael Kaeding had no idea how to run his family business when his father unexpectedly passed away. “I had no preconceived notion of the way things were supposed to be done,” Michael recalls. “We just started to naively solve problems, and that was the magic.” Today Michael is the CEO of a company that designs, builds, and rents apartments. His naivety allowed him to perfect a process that saves 50% of what other residential developers spend. Listen and be amazed as Michael tells roving reporter Rotbart how he plans to solve America’s housing shortage and affordability crisis. It’s all happening right now at MondayMorningRadio.com