The New Blog Title
It just didn’t work. After 3.5 years. βλογάπη as a blog name, I mean. People who don’t know Greek understandably had no idea what was going on (I originally assumed only people who knew Greek would care to read the blog). People who did know Greek didn’t always pronounce it as I expected.
Also, my dissertation, which focused a great deal on ἀγάπη, is over and done with. And, most importantly, the dissertation was trying to get people to forget that ἀγάπη (agape) ever became an English word in the first place. Keeping that name only reminds readers that it exists. So βλογάπη had to go.
Just two weeks ago while studying to prepare to teach Hebrews 11:1–3 for my church’s adult Sunday School, the new name hit me: “By Faith We Understand.” It encapsulates what has become a major theme on the blog, one that encompasses all my many posts on Stanley Fish and a significant number of others, too—my most recent book review, for example. I mean simply that the relationship of faith and reason is rightly stated in that order. Faith comes before reason (love, I think, comes before faith, but that’s another issue). Or as Fish would put it,
There is no such thing as “common observation” or simply reporting the facts. To be sure, there is observation and observation can indeed serve to support or challenge hypotheses. But the act of observing can itself only take place within hypotheses (about the way the world is) that cannot be observation’s objects because it is within them that observation and reasoning occur.
Let me hit the same truth from another angle, using yet another Fish quote:
At a certain point, your effort to persuade the other or [his effort to persuade] you runs out, because you’ve reached that bedrock level of belief beyond which argument will not help. So, yes objective truth. But no, there’s no absolutely successful algorithm available for demonstrating it to people who aren’t you.
But I’m not retitling the blog with a Fish quote (“The Power of Interpretive Communities” or something). I’m using Scripture, and for good reason. Hebrews 11:1–3 is a direct challenge to our culture’s way of viewing the world. Modern Western culture, at least, says, “I’ll believe it when I see it”—where “see it” means “subject it to the rigors of the scientific method.” The Bible looks at the modern scientist and says, “You’ve discovered a great deal of useful truth about our world. But you’ve got it all wrong at the foundation. You don’t know truth fundamentally by the scientific method. The scientific method only works because we live in a world of predictable order created by a God we can’t see.” The Bible looks at the modern scientist and says, “By faith we understand…” Hebrews 11 is filled with people who bucked their cultural trends and maintained a rock-solid faith in realities they couldn’t see—faith was for them “proof of things not seen” (11:1).
The modern scientist is under the illusion that there is a kind of knowledge which does not rest ultimately on faith commitments. And because the presumed absolute authority of the scientific method is one of the most powerful “defeater beliefs” in our culture, one that makes the Bible’s claims implausible to a large number, I want to focus attention on it. It has also become enough of a theme on my blog that I think it deserves the title spot.
For perhaps the next 3.5 years. Then we’ll see.