“What if you’re wrong? What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jumped, just closed your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you catch you by surprise?” - Nichole Nordeman

Irony can be humbling, because it shows us how life is the exact opposite of what we expected. More often than not, the supernatural is the same way.

Here are some examples of what I mean. When I started reading C.S. Lewis’ book “Miracles,” I was startled by how he initially points out the things that are not proofs of God’s existence, examples that fail to serve as solid evidence of God’s intervention; such as the curing of an illness or the serendipity of an event. While they help solidify personal faith, these things – Lewis argues – do not indisputably prove God’s existence and can be explained by the laws of nature.

Similarly, in one of G.K. Chesterton’s “Father Brown” mystery stories, the priest detective explains to a few agnostics why he believes in God. They’re not convinced until a series of events seem to happen miraculously, and this causes them to believe in the supernatural. Father Brown investigates the case and tells them that it does not prove God’s existence, pointing to how everything in the case is perfectly explainable by natural causes.

There’s another similar instance when Elijah is told to wait in a cave as the Lord passes by. He waits and an earthquake, fire and heavy winds come, but he doesn’t find God in them. Finally, a whispering sound comes and Elijah hides his face since he felt God’s presence in it.

What’s with all of these examples where believers in God are telling us where God is not?

I think the point is to show how God is not what we expect him to be. It’s natural to believe what we want to believe. This understanding of human nature is what led Franciscan Friar Roger Bacon to develop the scientific method in the 13th century. It is based on the concept of counter-intuition, where a person tests his hypothesis – his own intuition or beliefs – until he fails to prove he is wrong.  This method is commonly known as the foundation of any credible empirical study.

It is commonly assumed that religion and science are intrinsically pitted against each other.  At the root of this belief is secular humanism, the idea that humans are at the top of the hierarchy of being and through our reason all things can be explained – and God can be explained away.

I say it is unreasonable to think that all truth is accessible by human reason. Thus, the Church has always been humanist in upholding the dignity of every human person, but she doesn’t put her faith in humanity.   Catholics ought to have a healthy curiosity that challenges their human expectations, while having faith that God’s existence will stand up to their most inquisitive tests. Our faith in God should allow us to take our reason as far as it can go, since we believe there is somewhere further to go once we’ve reached our reason’s limits.

As St. John Paul II states, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth...” Faith in God is the doorway to deeper truth when it seeks a deeper understanding of the things in which it believes. It reorients our view of the world and proposes a mystery that transcends the physical realm, and thereby reveals the deeper form of being that is in all things. It uproots our dependence on human reason and reveals how everything’s nature is rooted in God.

Faith in God is the last thing I would expect it to be, and that is why I believe.

Kilby is a freelance writer for The Monitor and editor of Rambling Spirit magazine (www.ramblingspirit.com). He is a parishioner in St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Yardville.