Is Faith a Matter of Common Sense?
By Natasha Crain
(This post answers question #12 in my “65 Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer” series. Sign up to receive posts via email to make sure you can answer each one!)
One day last week, I had been busy upstairs for an extended period when I realized how suspiciously quiet it had been downstairs. When three kids ages five and under are quiet for too long, you know there’s a problem.
I arrived downstairs to find my 5-year-old twins at the kitchen table making an underwater volcano from their science kit. I was quite surprised because in the past they’ve only used the kit with me instructing them. Before I could ask what was going on, Kenna explained, “Mommy, we can read the instructions on our own now! The parts we don’t understand, we’ll just figure out.”
Both of my twins became confident readers this year, so in a flash of parental ambivalence I agreed to let them continue while I finished laundry.
Fast-forward 15 minutes. I returned to find a floor covered in colored water and crystals – the unfortunate result of “figuring out” a few things on their own.
The Limits of Common Sense
Like my twins, most people have a tendency to want to figure things out on their own without overthinking it. Precise philosophical definitions aside, we casually refer to this as using our common sense.
Common sense is “sound judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.” It’s an important part of our daily lives. For example, common sense tells us to not walk into the street when we see a car coming.
We run into problems, however, when we attempt to make common sense-type judgments about matters that require more understanding than a simple perception of facts.
For example, no one would try to conduct surgery on another person without medical training. We accept that the ability to do surgery requires a deeper knowledge of medical facts and not just simple perceptions about what makes sense when we cut someone open.
Religious belief is in this same category of complex things that require a different type of knowledge than simple common sense…
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