A Scientist and a Pastor Walk Into the Desert ...

Everyone, everywhere, lives "by faith".

"EAT" by mst7022 is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
"EAT" by mst7022

A Scientist and a Pastor decided to take a journey together through the Sahara Desert. Late one night, a sand storm suddenly descended upon them and drove them deep into the desert, far from their party. They wandered for days in the vast wasteland, lost without food, water, or shelter.

Just as they were nearing their limit, as they crawled over one last sand dune and rolled down the other side, there, to their utter surprise, was a large, bright neon sign blinking the words,


With a huge neon arrow, pointing towards the East.

"Praise God, we're saved!" shouted the Pastor hoarsely. "It's a sign!"

"Well..." said the Scientist.

"What do you mean, 'Well'? There's a sign right here, in front of us. What do you see?", replied the Pastor.

"Well", the Scientist responded, "what I see is metal, rubber, glass, neon gas ..."

"Yes, yes, of course we all see those things too, but look, it's a sign. Literally, a sign: Eat at Joe's!"

"Well," scoffed the Scientist, "and who exactly is this 'Joe'? Has anybody ever seen 'Joe'? Can you prove that 'Joe' exists?"

"No", said the Pastor, "I can't prove that Joe exists. But I know what I see. We could keep wandering through this desert until we die of thirst, but I choose to believe this sign. I may be acting out of faith, but it is not a blind faith. There is every good reason to believe the sign is true. I'm going to follow it, and I think you should, too."

The Nature of Truth Understood

The first thing to note about Truth is that it either is or it is not. In this story, either Joe's is a real restaurant, or it's not. This is so irrespective of whether one comes to the truth as the Scientist or the Pastor. Our belief or disbelief is immaterial to the essential question of whether something is real, or not.

But no one can prove whether something exists in any ultimate sense. We cannot prove it because it is impossible to prove a negative, in practice. To prove that something exists, we only need to find one example of it. To prove that something doesn't exist, we need to exhaustively find everything that ever was, is, or shall be, so we can demonstrate that none of those is the thing we say doesn't exist.

So Truth as it is and Truth as we can understand it are two very different things. Humankind is bound to the material world with its limitations of time and space. We are always operating without formal proof, or even the ability to obtain it. There isn't a moment of our lives when we have all the data, all the answers, and all the evidence.

Everyone, everywhere, lives "By Faith".

And what is faith? It is simply the hope that what the signs tell us is true. There is nothing "blind" about it, it is the most logical, most aware state that people can be in, given our limitations. Faith is what one concludes about the nature of the universe, based on the evidence that surrounds us.

The real question that confronts us is will we choose to follow the signs, or continue to wander in the desert.


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