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Beyond Logic: The Paradox of Faith & Trust

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September 11, 2023

Do you sometimes look back and think life was much simpler back then? Yes, it’s a somewhat random question and an unusual start to an article, but permit me. Let us ponder over the last couple of years, your time at the university, running from one class to another, thinking “everything” rose and fell on your CGPA. Or secondary school, when what was more critical was avoiding that bully or dodging that class teacher who picked on you for no apparent reason. Let’s go all the way back to primary school, “A for Apple, B for Ball,” when all was “mostly” right with the world.

I like thinking back sometimes, asking “What If” questions, and having hypothetical takes on what life may look like today had slightly different decisions been made. If I went to another school, sat next to another person, hung with a different crowd, or had a different math teacher. What if I didn’t make certain foolish decisions, especially given that there were so many, 😂 but I will not indict myself by listing them; I plead the fifth. 🤐

The more I think about it, the more I am awestruck! There were waaaaaaay too many variables and decisions to be made, and the phenomena of the butterfly effect and grandfather effect shed some light on the impossible complexities of having “calculated” navigation through life. This is even without taking the influence of external factors: acts of God, forces of nature, force majeure, life happening to related parties, and related events that are entirely out of any human control. There is no other conclusion outside the fact that it’s an impossibility to draw up any semblance of a predictive model based on logic for walking through life.

So what’s the alternative? To live life happy-go-lucky because nothing can be predicted? Absolutely not. Certain decisions increase the probabilities for particular outcomes (e.g. how smokers are liable to die young; it’s not rocket science. 🚀) However, most of these outcomes are not guaranteed and can be upended on “technicalities.”

Anyway, let’s return to the “happy place”: primary school.

Recall how easy-going primary school math was? (Yes, I know, another question, bear with me.) Of course, it probably didn’t appear as easy back then, 😂 ‘cause some of us still managed to fail some tests/exams. However, in hindsight, compared to the calculus of secondary school, primary school math was a walk in the park. Recall the initial confusion when we were introduced to the different number systems other than the decimal system, which introduced “madness” like “1+1 = 10” on the binary system or “2+2 = 11” on base-3? Wait, you’ve used your knowledge of number systems to buy groundnut ’cause “who e epp?” yeah? 🌚

Let’s try something simpler.

Recall how, before we were introduced to the concept of the number line (the one like a ruler that has 0 in the middle), an equation like “4-10” was an impossibility? It didn’t make any sense because 10 is greater than 4, and you can’t give what you don’t have— ‘cause we didn’t know about negative numbers?

These were simpler times, albeit not because life (or reality) itself was simple but because our perception of it was limited, similar to how our ability to logically predict or direct our lives is limited. Going by pre-number line logic, “4-10” is a foolish equation; similarly, certain “foolish decisions” don’t make sense from a logical but limited point of view. This limited view phenomenon is the reason behind the famous adage,

What an elder sees sitting down, a young person may not see while on top of a tree.

It paints a picture that implies that the wisdom an elder possesses is something that youth may not see, even if they put in the effort—it’s not a question of logic/smarts, but a question of the bandwidth of perception (this bandwidth is perhaps the largeness of heart King Solomon was given).

In other words, using the primary school math analogy, the “bandwidth of perception” question translates to “How much of the number line can you see? Do you even know a number line exists?” The result of this gap in perception is that the stance of the elder may often look like foolishness to the logic of the youngster, and this often leads to contentions if the young and old are trying to align on a matter. Technically, they’re both logically correct, but like the equality of fingers, 🖐🏽 some are more logically correct than others.

I hold the standpoint that the God who created a universe that firmly upholds the tenets of logic cannot be an illogical being. The challenge oftentimes, like with the kid in primary school or the youth atop a tree, is our limited perception. Because we do not understand, we sometimes have a tendency to think His views/instructions are illogical, beyond reason, giving more “voodoo/magic” than science/sense.

Today, however, is not the day to delve into the logic of the spiritual. Our focus is on our reaction to His “foolish” instructions. It is not a question of whether the instructions make sense but a question of trust: Do You Trust Him?

In Numbers 21, the children of Israel were reaping the consequences of sin in the form of poisonous snake bites 🐍 (not the football type), which were killing them. They came to Moses, repentant, and God’s solution was that they should look at the statue of the Bronze serpent, and anyone who looks at it, even though bitten, would live. I know we read it and move on, but pause and think, how does this make any sense? Shouldn’t the solution have been to get rid of the snakes? Or even prevent the snakes from biting like the lions’ mouths were shut? Or should I be looking for medicine for the bites? Isn’t this the same God that said we should not make any graven image in the likeness of anything above or under the heavens? Is He contradicting Himself? And what does the healing of a poisonous snake bite have to do with what I am looking at, ni tori olorun? Like, where’s the connection? Make it “make sense.” While those are very valid questions, Mr. Albert (yes, like Einstein, 👨🏽‍🔬) there are more important questions: Do you trust the God who gave you this instruction?

Sometimes life can look like Numbers 21; everywhere you look, there’s one problem or the other, overrun with snake bites in a corrupted world. Life has a way of swamping us into its realities, and then, sometimes, we start to run around or fight back because it feels logical. It’s like when they tell you, “don’t run when there’s a big dog, he’s only playing with you” — even though it sounds like they mean it’s playing with your life. 🤣 But the solution for the Israelites back then is the solution for Us today. Look Up! Look to Jesus (John 3:14.) This is the “foolishness” of the gospel, and it’s so foolish that some Israelites probably perished because they thought it was too foolish to simply look up, and the snake bites wouldn’t matter.

It’s interesting how, as children, we didn’t argue with the teachers when they told us that “4–10” is possible (at least I know I didn’t; my coconut head tendencies developed much later. 🤣) We trusted that they knew what they were doing and went along. It’s interesting how we do not fully grasp the logic of some of the “science” we live our lives with today (like that car you’re driving— why do we use rubber for the tyres? or asphalt for the roads? Or what makes your phone specifications suitable?) Still, we trust that they know what they’re talking about—even though they sometimes don’t, not out of malevolence, but because they don’t know that they don’t know (for example, the “quality” of medicine practice in the 18th century would amaze you.) We go along with these sciences we sometimes do not fully grasp, not because we understand the logic or they make sense, but because we trust the source. You have an understanding, but you often don’t lean on it when it comes to these things; you lean on the understanding of the “science experts.” It’s a similar request the Bible makes in Proverbs 3:5–6. Yes, you have an understanding, but when it comes to life, do not lean on it. Your understanding can not grasp the impossible complexities of a “calculated” navigation through life that’s why He directs your path.

I recall a conversation I had with a friend a couple years back on the subject of Faith, Knowledge and Logic, and something he said has never left me —

We don’t have all the answers; chances are we’d never understand all the answers, and that’s why we call it faith.

Ultimately, it’s not a question of how much sense it makes but a question of trust. What you need to take that leap of faith is not the sight of the diver or plane that would catch you, or the presence of a parachute, or any other “logical” reason, but trust in the God who loves you (John 3:16), who is able to build you up (Acts 20:32), who has an expected end for you (Jeremiah 29:12), who orders your steps (Psalm 37:23–24), and who is able to keep you from falling.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. — Jude 1:24–25

Itoro Nehemiah

@_it0r0

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