What is certainty?

If earth’s history were a 24 hour day, human history would be the final two seconds of that day. I heard this statistic recently in connection with my study of our planet’s history and was surprised at how little of an effect it had on me. As I thought about this, I noticed and became able to articulate a development in my faith and my thinking about the world over the past few years which (till recently) remained primarily in my subconscious awareness. I think that, in general, I see reality as larger, more complex, somehow more real than I did a few years ago.

An example of how this plays out: if you asked me four years ago why I believed in God, I might have started with an argument from the Big Bang such as the Kalam Cosmological argument or something like that. If you asked me today, I think I would focus more upon the conviction of sin and inward testimony of the Holy Spirit that I have experienced in my life, together with the peace and assurance I have experienced through my relationship with God. I still think the Kalam argument can be helpful, but its not what I would emphasize. Its not where I would begin. The shift can perhaps be summarized by saying that I am less metaphysically certain and more inwardly certain, more personally settled in a deep awareness of sin and my need for forgiveness. As the transcendent becomes bigger and more obscure, conscience and the moral become louder and more unavoidable. External testimonies become more nuanced while the internal testimony becomes more pointed.

I was thinking recently about blind spots and subjectivity – how we all have them, and we can usually see others’ better than our own. I wrote out on my notebook during class:

“How do you know what you don’t know? How do you evaluate when your very criteria of judgment need to be judged? The depths of humbling the gospel requires! This constant reversal, constant striving, constant groping, ever seeing anew the depths of indwelling sin!

Hope and self-value comes from recognizing and submitting to the reality that I am a sinner.”

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