Imagine you are single and interested in finding a suitable mate.
You search on a dating site and find a person of interest, but later discover the picture they posted is actually someone else.
That might discourage you from taking the relationship any further because relationships are based on trust. If you can’t trust someone to be honest in posting a picture, how can you believe they will be honest about other matters?
All of us, from believers to agnostics to atheists, live by faith every day, whether we realize it or not.
You drive down the street because you believe that the oncoming traffic will not cross the center line.
You get on a plane because you believe it will land safely. And when you hear about a plane not landing safely, you may think twice about getting on another.
You eat in a restaurant because you believe that the food is prepared safely, but if you hear that people have gotten sick after eating there, you may not go at all.
Faith is foundational to everything we do and every relationship we have.
Faith is foundational even to science. Without faith, science cannot move forward.
Professor Cullen Buie of MIT reminds us that scientific investigation begins with a hypothesis.
A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for something. It is a belief based on incomplete evidence.
That belief or hypothesis then becomes the starting point for further investigation.
Professor Buie says, “In science, you take a risk on an idea without having complete information that it is true or that it will work.”
“Without that initial faith, science grinds to a halt.”
He adds, “The very best research scientists exercise enormous amounts of faith every single day. In fact, that is what makes them so successful.”
For example, scientists last year announced the discovery of the Higgs Boson, a subatomic particle named for physicist Peter Higgs, who first theorized about its existence back in the 1960s.
Scientists and various governments spent five decades and billions of dollars looking for this particle whose only evidence was theoretical and mathematical.
In fact, they built the largest particle accelerator on earth, the Large Hadron Collider, beneath Switzerland and France primarily to find the Higgs Boson.
Why? The answer is faith. Those scientists believed the particle existed.
Some atheists deride faith as “blind,” as nothing more than a belief in the absence of any evidence.
But as we have seen, faith is belief based on evidence, however partial or incomplete that evidence may be, whether in science, religion or in life generally.
Christian faith is based on the evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If solid evidence is found that Jesus failed to rise from the dead, then the Christian religion would be falsified — that is, proven false.
But the Christian religion has not been proven false, despite attempts to do so.
In fact, the evidence for the Resurrection has stood the test of time and has led even skeptics to the opposite conclusion — that the tomb was empty and that Christ has risen, just as he had predicted and the Hebrew prophets had foretold.
To live is to believe, and to act is always to act on the basis of faith — faith in the evidence available.
Professor Buie claims that we do not live in a world where some people employ faith and others do not.
“Everyone exercises faith,” he says. “The real question is, ‘Where is your faith?’”
It should come as no surprise to any student of holy Scripture that receiving forgiveness of sins and eternal life is also a matter of faith — faith in the Christ who died for the sins of all people and who rose to prove that our debt of sin has been paid in full.
In fact, the idea that salvation itself comes to us through faith in Jesus Christ and not through our own work, merit or achievement should be the least surprising truth of all.
The Rev. John Armstrong is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Columbus, and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.