Pseudofaith

Some years ago, I decided to get a Christmas gift for a spiritual director that I had just stating to meet with that particular year. I didn’t want to get cash, so I thought I would go to a shopping center and look for something in a store.

Later, I thought, why not just get a gift certificate to a good store? I don’t know exactly what he wants, so that way, he can choose something he actually likes rather than me swinging and missing. So, I walked around looking to pick a store that I would get a gift certificate to, and I noticed a sign in the middle in the mall: a mall gift certificate. That’s it, I thought. I could get him a mall gift certificate, and that way he could find a store he actually likes  instead of my guessing.

Well, at that point, the next thought naturally and easily entered my head: why not just give cash? Then he can go *anywhere* to get what he wants! I had returned, bit by bit, to the very place I didn’t want to be. Because I really didn’t know the guy, I had only known him about 6 months. It takes a long time to actually know someone.

Richard Feynman was one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. I saw a video recently where he talked about pseudoscience. He explained that so-called experts publish pseudoscientific conclusions they’re reached about things that affect everyday life. But he doesn’t believe them. He doesn’t believe them because they make big conclusions after only a little work.

He said, “I have the advantage of having found out how hard it is to get to really know something. How careful you have to be about checking your experiments, how easy it is to make mistakes and fool yourself. I know what it means to know something. Therefore, I see how they get their information, and I can’t believe that they know it – they haven’t done the work necessary, they haven’t done the checks necessary, they haven’t done the care necessary.”

In living a life with God, you have to be careful about what conclusions you make about God and how you make them, about checking your emotional thoughts and ideas about God and the spiritual science of human life. It is very easy to make mistakes and fool yourself, especially if you’re experiencing the powerful feelings of making a special difference in someone else’s life. It is easy and tempting to believe that we already know, because then we can subtly hide behind our own needs for validation, and avoid our own real need for healing that is at the beginning, end, and center of it all. You can get caught living a pseudofaith.

Coming to know God is a long, slow process of discovery. It takes a lot of work and care and patience. It mostly requires growing in the humility to be comfortable saying, “I don’t know.” And it always begins and ends with our own healing.

Be careful of pseudofaith.

For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. (2 Tim 4:3-4)

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