Intrinsically, what concerns us can be reduced to three questions: Why, How, and What For. In other words, the problem of the reason for things, the inquiry into the essence and manner of existences, and the search for the purpose of it all. Men have been asking these fundamental questions throughout history and each of them has resulted in a vast realm of knowledge.
In comparatively recent times, however, the third question. of the ultimate purpose, has become superfluous, it is considered to be an inquiry that has no place in modern scientific investigation or progress. It is felt that since human reasoning cannot apprehend any possible solution to the problem, there is no point in asking the question. The only thing we can do, it is believed, is to endeavor to find the causes and the conditions for the existence of things, in other words, a revealing of reality prior to anything ultimate.
Furthermore, the more we know the reasons for natural events, and realize that they are based on the necessity of natural laws, which do not have any perceptible direction or aim, the more certain we feel that everything is a product of the past and nothing can be known beyond that. At least, so speaks modern science.
Is this sufficient reason to dispense with the question entirely? There are many other questions, which like that of the ultimate purpose have no value or any meaning in the realm of scientific thought. Questions of everyday life, like: Is it beautiful? or: Is it good? or all problems of taste and preference. of success and failure. It does not occur to us to eliminate them from the arena of conscious striving because they cannot be fitted into scientific reasoning. Similarly, the question of the end or purpose remains as one of the most persistent and significant of human problems.
Mathematics answers the question “How,” and does so through formulas and equations that are not dependent on time; it is constantly true, it is always in the present. The other sciences relate to the question of “Why” and give the causes and history of things and events. They are engaged with the past.
What about the future? We have no knowledge of it from within ourselves, as we have memory of the past; and the various instruments of the mind, as developed by mathematics and science, are quite at a loss beyond the suppositions based on their analysis of the past and the present. The future is a total mystery, one to which we cannot even relate except through faith.
By faith we do not necessarily mean religious faith. It is rather the general acceptance of the fact that many things, of which we have no direct experience, do exist in some way or other. It is also the belief that whatever was true in the past will continue to act according to natural law and be valid for the future as well. It would seem to be the human condition, then, to have faith in the future. The field of knowledge that deals with faith, and with the future, cannot be the same as those fields which relate to the past, with its reliance on memory, or to the present, with its reliance on abstract thought. On the other hand, it should be well-grounded in its own way; it should be scientifically reliable, even if different from science.
This requires its own assumptions. Faith, in the widest sense of the term, has to presume the existence of certain absolutes, unperceivable and axiomatic, which support the existence of all the transient and random factors, and which make it possible for us to follow them through from the past to the present and the future. Without such a belief, all our reliance on nature and on any sort of order and regularity would be untenable. In other words, this is a faith in that which is beyond nature, in its absolute unchangingness and its consistency, irrespective of time and any other factor; a kind of relation to the Divine.
If, then, there is some absolute guidance from the past to the future, there is also a direction and a purpose. Which answers the question of the meaning of the science of the future, which we call faith. This science views things from every aspect, for knows events are only part of an infinite chain of events, and only by such a kind a of knowledge based on the absolute, can there be a unified grasp of reality — from answers to the questions of “How” and “Why” to those of “What for.”
To be sure, there can be no proof possible for the formulations of this science, just as there is no proof that anything existing in the present will exist in the future: it is by faith that we must accept them. Similarly, one cannot check the events of the future as they become present with the “science of faith,” for it is the very nature of faith that it relates only to the otherwise impenetrable mystery of what will be. Faith does not say what will be: It only enables us to maintain that the future will have a certain coherence and a relation to what came before it.
In other words, this knowledge that deals with the future is religion. It cannot be called upon to provide proofs of its contentions, for they are based on faith. At the same time it is the only basis for a more all-embracing and general knowledge, that will include not only ;the remembered past and the experienced present, but also the hidden future before us. Every religion is thus concerned with the question of ultimate purpose, and finds its justification, value and meaning in it.