turtles all the way down
This title comes from the ancient cosmological model of the earth resting on the back of a huge turtle. But when asked what the turtle is resting on, the answer is that it’s “turtles all the way down.” The futility of logically trying to prove the unprovable is summed up in the last paragraph of the article by the same name by Paul Campos:
“…supporters of intelligent design theory are guilty of impiety when they imagine that something like the nature of God could be subject to scientific verification. (On this point they should consult the ultimate peer-reviewed journal: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.”) The argument between those who treat science as a religion and those who want to make religious belief amenable to the methods of science can produce no winner, or even a coherent disagreement.”
Whenever we try to explain the infinite in finite terms, that is, try to “prove” spiritual principles or even the existence of spirituality or God by logical means, it’s turtles all the way down. There’s always a point where logic runs out, a line we can’t cross, an abyss into which we finally must simply jump. The infinite is by definition, infinite, and so can’t be defined in finite terms. The two are mutually exclusive. When we try, we necessarily run into inevitable paradoxes such as predestination vs. free will, faith vs. works, perseverence of the saints (whether you can lose your salvation or not), and so on. In fact, once you find yourself at one of these impasses, you can be sure you’ve made the error some way back of trying to “prove” something that stands outside of logic itself. Logical principals can only describe logical processes, and infinite processes aren’t logical–they’re, well, infinite.
If the spiritual could be proven, what’s the use of faith? Why is faith so highly prized in Scripture? Because there is no other way to approach the infinite, God, or our spiritual selves in this life of logic any other way. We can move logically to within just a few nanoseconds of the moment of creation, but then when temperatures and velocities approach infinity, we must take a leap of faith. It’s interesting that those who claim atheism, those who say categorically that there is no God are taking just as illogical a leap of faith as those of us who believe there is one. God’s existence can’t be either proven or disproven logically. The only logical response to God is agnosticism–the big “I just don’t know.” So why do we spend so much time trying to “prove” the existence of God or Noah’s ark or the ark of the covenant, the validity of creation science or end times prophecies, or (fill in the blank here)? There seems to be this need in us to have a turtle to stand on, something solid under our faith. But if it’s provable, it’s not faith after all.
Let’s be honest and stop all this. We can prove our faith to ourselves through our direct experience and connection to our God, but not to anyone else. We can know that we know that we know, but we can’t transfer that assurance to anyone else. That’s their job, not ours. Best we can do is show them theeffect of our faith on the quality of our lives and let them interpret that as they will.