Faith, Belief, and Facts

I was in the library today when I saw the title of a book that read something like, Looking for the Historical Jesus.  This is a growing subject in archeology and history in which researchers search for the actual figure of Jesus Christ of Nazarene.

My question is does it matter if the existence of Jesus can be factually proven?  The foundation of Christianity like any religion is faith, and faith is the belief in things unseen and unproven.  My next question is what if you prove that this individual existed?  Can you prove he was the Son of God sprung from the Immaculate Reception?  Can you prove that he is responsible for the miracles he is credited with in The Bible?  Can you prove that he rose on the third day?  Those things are the tenants of the faith so proving his factual existence is interesting though on some level rather meaningless.

Again, because belief in the Holy Trinity is an act of faith, I don’t really care whether it is factually proven that Jesus existed except on a curiosity level to whether they can prove it.  I am more concerned with this growing idea of being able to back up everything in our lives with facts and figures.

I watch lots of television and one of the shows that I watch is Homeland.  This past season of show ran into a lot of problems born of its plotting.  That meant the writers and showrunners had to take a lot of creative license to make the plot work.  Now, any criticisms of whether a character’s actions seemed forced or completely out of character are fair game to me.  If a writer makes a character do something or end up in a certain place that the writer did not earn by making the result a reasonably logical product of the character they have developed throughout the run of the show, then the writer should be excoriated for it.  Especially for shows with long story arches like Homeland.

However, much of the criticism was based on viewers thinking and proving something was very unlikely to happen.  They began watching the show as if it were a documentary and not a work of fiction.  This not only happens in Homeland but in other shows.  That seems to me to be a wrong and misguided way to enjoy fiction.

The joy of fiction is the willing suspension of belief that a viewer, reader, or theatre patron must allow themselves.  It is the idea that this universe you are entering is real for however long you are there.  In that, art, particular the arts of letters, is similar to the faith we give to our religions. That isn’t to say you should not question the universes created or your faith.  Doing so will only make your belief stronger.

It is to say that the laws of the real world do not always apply.  Sometimes things cannot be explained by finding proof that a prophet actually existed.  Nor can they be doubted if you have never had cell phone reception as clear as Abu Nazir did in an abandoned factory out in the middle of nowhere.  Because in trying to explain everything in faith and art will sometimes force you to lose the joy of the experience.

Didn’t feel like writing about sports the last few days.  I will get back to it, especially of my beloved Tar Heels can figure out how to consistently play defense for a full 40 minutes.

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