Resisting the Urge to Believe

Thursday, 7 January, 2016 - 11:50 am

I recently heard an interview on the radio with an astrophysicist who was talking about developments in his field. Somehow the conversation came around to faith and G-d. The scientist declared that he was an agnostic. He said that he could not accept with certainty that G-d existed and that he tries as much as he can to have alternative explanations for phenomena that religion would associate with the works of a Creator.

He later went on to describe the feeling that he experiences when getting on a mountain with a telescope. When one beholds the vastness of space and the majesty and complexity of the universe one begins to have an emotional reaction of powerful awe. He capped it off by saying that a person of faith would call this a religious experience – a feeling of awe for the Creator of the universe. But since he is not sure it that Creator exists his awe is directed at something that he could not identify.

As I was listening I felt a sense of pity along with some incredulity. Pity that the man, and many others like him, resist the urge to believe. Perhaps it is because acknowledging the existence of G-d comes along with an obligation to follow the instructions of G-d, and they are not looking for that type of structure in their lifestyle. Maybe there are other reasons why they resist.

The incredulity came from the notion that he just described coming face to face with the majesty of G-d’s work yet he still refuses to recognize it for what it is. It is similar to Pharaoh in this week’s Torah portion, who after being slammed over and over again with the plagues continues to insist that he does not acknowledge Hashem.

I wish that this scientist would have the humility and wisdom to stop resisting the urge to believe. Instead of being in conflict with faith, science could be the greatest advocate of belief in Hashem. We recite the words of the Psalms in our prayers, “How numerous are Your works, Hashem!” “How great are Your works, Hashem!” The wonders of creation and the complexity of the universe should be the greatest argument for the existence of a Creator. Embrace what you know in your heart of heart to be true and stop resisting the urge to believe.

A New Orleans native, Rachel Fertel, has been nominated to receive an award for being a young Jewish professional who is making a difference. Please vote for her at Voting ends early next week.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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