Scientists have power by virtue of the respect commanded by the discipline... We live with poets and politicians, preachers and philosophers. All have their ways of knowing, and all are valid in their proper domain. The world is too complex and interesting for one way to hold all the answers.
Years ago, when I was working on my master's thesis, I went to New York for a semester as an exchange student. What struck me most was the sky. On that side of the world, so far away from the North Pole, the sky is flat and gray, a one-dimensional universe. Here, the sky is arched, and there's almost no pollution. In spring and fall the sky is dark blue or violet, and sunsets last for hours. The sun turns into a dim orange ball that transforms clouds into silver-rimmed red and violet towers. In winter, twenty-four hours a day, uncountable stars outline the vaulted ceiling of the great cathedral we live in. Finnish skies are the reason I believe in God.
Those who find no humor in faith are probably those who find the church a refuge for their own black way of looking at life, although I think many of us find the church a refuge for a lot of our personality faults. Those of us, for example, who never learned to dance feel that the church is an ideal place for us if we can find a church that doesn't believe in dancing. Then we can get away with never having learned how to dance. You can carry this in all sorts of directions and see that the church is a refuge for what is really a 'flaw' in your own makeup.
In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth -- only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.
As the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen — and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
Some religions draw by force of arms; He would draw by force of love. The attraction would not be His words, but Himself. It was His Person around which His teaching centered; not His teaching around which He would be remembered. 'Greater love than this no man hath' - that was the secret of His magnetism.
Religious laws, in all the major religious traditions, have both a letter and a spirit. As I understand the words and example of Jesus, the spirit of the law is all-important whereas the letter, while useful… becomes lifeless and deadly without it. In accord with this distinction a yearning to worship on wilderness ridges or beside rivers rather than in churches could legitimately be called evangelical… if your words or deeds harmonize with the example of Jesus, you are evangelical in spirit whether you claim to be or not. When the non-Christian Ambrose Bierce wrote, “War is the means by which Americans learn geography,” his words are aimed at the same antiwar end as “Blessed are the peacemakers.
For many, the search for Jesus is initiated from experiencing an event in life so powerful, it awakens the dragons of faith; from pain so deep, it calls on the hidden fears of the soul in an effort to survive. For others it means a serious personal life survey that ultimately forces the confrontation with the futility, anesthetics, and despair in their lives.