Bill Buckley on skeptics

William F. Buckley, Jr.’s 2005 contribution to NPR’s “This I Believe” is one of my favorites: “How Is It Possible To Believe In A God?” It’s a good example of fides et ratio—faith and reason working together to point toward truth:

I’ve always liked the exchange featuring the excited young Darwinian at the end of the 19th century. He said grandly to the elderly scholar, “How is it possible to believe in God?” The imperishable answer was, “I find it easier to believe in God than to believe that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop.”

That rhetorical bullet has everything — wit and profundity. It has more than once reminded me that skepticism about life and nature is most often expressed by those who take it for granted that belief is an indulgence of the superstitious — indeed their opiate, to quote a historical cosmologist most profoundly dead. Granted, that to look up at the stars comes close to compelling disbelief — how can such a chance arrangement be other than an elaboration — near infinite — of natural impulses? Yes, on the other hand, who is to say that the arrangement of the stars is more easily traceable to nature, than to nature’s molder? What is the greater miracle: the raising of the dead man in Lazarus, or the mere existence of the man who died and of the witnesses who swore to his revival?

The skeptics get away with fixing the odds against the believer, mostly by pointing to phenomena which are only explainable—you see?—by the belief that there was a cause for them, always deducible. But how can one deduce the cause of Hamlet? Or of St. Matthew’s Passion? What is the cause of inspiration?

This I believe: that it is intellectually easier to credit a divine intelligence than to submit dumbly to felicitous congeries about nature. …

Since at least Einstein, we’ve hoped for a unified field theory—a “theory of everything”—to unite disparate fields of research that might explain all of this. We want to reconcile fields like quantum theory with classical physics to explain all natural phenomena.

How can Buckley’s faith and reason work together on behalf of God in our world? We know that the universe is intelligible, so why shouldn’t the God of faith also be the God of creative intelligence, the creator through which all we know holds together?

Another way to put it: a unified field theory for Why Reality Functions may one day be discovered, and a unified field theory for the underlying question Why Reality Exists To Function is what we call God and what we understand in Christ and his revealed love.

(You’ve got to listen to Buckley’s voice to really experience this, by the way.)