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In the Beginning, God: I Believe So That I May Understand

by | Apr 26, 2024 | Apologetics, Opinion, Religion, The Church, Theology

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In the beginning, God. This is not just the opening line of the Bible, it’s the foundation of all existence, knowledge, and truth. Before the universe, before light and dark, there was God—absolute, sovereign, the epitome of reason and the source of all that is rational and known. This fundamental goes far beyond being simply a Christian or even any religious dogma, it is the premise upon which all genuine understanding is built. You see, without God, we grope in the darkness of irrationality but with Him, the world opens up in its intelligible, glorious truth.

Augustine of Hippo, a 4th-century theologian and philosopher in Roman North Africa, greatly contributed to shaping Christian doctrine in the early church with his writings on grace, free will, and original sin. He famously stated, “I believe in order to understand,” an assertion that was inspired by the scriptural passage Isaiah 7:9. This declaration often echoes the later medieval formulation by Anselm of Canterbury, “Credo ut intelligam” or “I believe so that I may understand.” While Anselm’s phrase is frequently cited, the concept traces its roots back to Augustine’s earlier work, which in turn drew directly from biblical texts.

Augustine’s articulation of this principle challenged the prevalent misconception that faith is merely an irrational leap into the unknown. This biblical concept helped reverse this notion by positing that faith is not about abandoning reason but about its fullest embrace. By starting with the acknowledgment of God, faith becomes the lens through which all else becomes clear, illuminating the depths of reason and understanding in a way that nothing else can. This perspective not only affirms the coherence of faith and reason but also stresses that true understanding begins with belief, bridging the gap between divine revelation and human intellect.

And really, isn’t that the only rational approach in a world where everything from our moral compass to our understanding of the universe is under assault by the arbitrary standards of secular ideologies? The Bible clearly teaches us in Proverbs 1:7 that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” But the world tells us that everything came from nothing—that the complex order and beauty of the world around us is just the product of random chance. They peddle this theory in our schools, plaster it across our media, and mock anyone who dares to challenge their non-thinking narrative. But in reality, this is not just unscientific, it’s completely unreasonable.

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God’s revelation gives us a reliable framework for understanding the world—one that aligns with the observable order and design inherent in creation. This isn’t about stifling curiosity or shunning the pursuit of knowledge, it’s about recognizing the true foundation from which all knowledge springs. The rational, the reasonable, and the scientifically minded should find no conflict in acknowledging a Creator who is both the architect and sustainer of all life.

Every morning, you and I wake up in a world that speaks of this grand design. From the precision of the laws of physics to the intricate beauty of a single leaf, everything points to a Creator. Denying this is not just a failure of morality, it’s a failure of reason. It’s choosing to be blind when you can see, choosing ignorance over enlightenment.

And to be clear, embracing this truth isn’t about accepting a quaint, outdated notion. It’s about engaging with the world as it truly is—complex, ordered, and infused with meaning by a God who not only knows, but declares the end from the beginning. He sits in the heavens and does all that He pleases (Psalm 115:3). Our culture’s fixation on moral equivalence with what god has declared to be sin and its disdain for absolute truth are not just intellectual failures, they are a rebellion against the rational and reasoned reality of God’s universe.

So don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo but dare to say that belief in God is not the antithesis of understanding but its prerequisite. “I believe in order to understand.” With these words, Augustine invites us to a higher reasoning, a superior epistemology that begins not with skepticism but with reverence. This is the path to deeper knowledge, greater truth, and ultimately, a more reasoned life. As we confront the cacophony of voices and the clamor of the irrational, let us hold fast to this: in the beginning, God. And that makes all the difference.

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