Just back from another holiday in England (Cumbria this time) I thought I'd relate to you something I've seen there during a woodland walk in a beautiful garden. There was a tree with a small notice that went something like this:
This is the Fairy Tree. If you look closely you might see the fairies. If you don't see them it's probably because you have scared them off already.
Of course this is just a little joke of the gardeners, and parents will probably enjoy reading it to their small children, and watching their reactions, but it made me wonder how this line of reasoning is any different from the religious variety that goes: if you don't feel the presence of God in your life, then it's probably "because you don't believe hard enough", or "because you lead a sinful life", or whatever ad hoc reason is given.
Why should I interpret the fairy tree sign as an obvious joke, and take religious reasoning in the same vein seriously? To be sure, the form is identical, which leads me to regard religious people who buy into this kind of logic as the toddlers of our grown-up world. They are, as it were, intellectually immature. (I realize this may come over as arrogant and derogatory, but that is not how I mean it. It should be seen as a simple statement of my perception, detached from any emotional or judgmental connotations.)
I wonder if any of the religiously inclined here can explain to me exactly how these two cases, the fairy story and the God story, are different.
Faith & Belief, obviously.
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science." - Charles Darwin.