Hebrews 11

At CBS last week we got asked to define faith in our own terms. (This was part of a study on Hebrews 11, naturally.)

The first thing that came to mind was this blog post about this research paper about teaching computer programming. Apparently Computer Science teachers and professors have consistently found that about half their students just never learn much of anything, no matter what approach they use to teach programming. As you can imagine, this is very frustrating for everyone involved.

The researchers claim to have found a way to predict who will succeed. They administered a test with very simple programming questions to the class before they learned anything. Naturally they didn’t get the answers right, but some of them assumed the computer would follow the same rules every time, and they were the ones who learned well and eventually passed the test. The students who did not start with that assumption were (usually) not able to grasp the computer’s behavior and did not do well.

Computers follow rules. It’s what they do. They don’t understand anything that is happening, they just march through the instructions and spit out the result.

Faith, in my mind, is believing that the universe works a little like that. It follows rules. If God says something will happen, then it will happen, because that’s the set of rules He’s given to the universe. He can compensate for chance and predict reactions and already knows what the weather will be like. None of that bothers Him. He never says He’ll do something “if it works out” because He knows it will work out.

He wrote the program. The universe will march through the instructions it is given and spit out the result He planned for. His program is the substance of things hoped for. Knowing that creation follows the instructions it is given is my evidence of things not seen.

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