Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just because I can't remember ...


Moonwalking with Einstein
is a lot of fun. Interesting too.
"Until the age of three or four, almost nothing that happens to us leaves the sort of lasting impression that can be consciously recalled as an adult. The average age that people report having their earliest memory is three and a half, and those tend to be just blurry fragmentary snapshots that are often false."
And yet, when you see a not-yet-speaking 18 month old (OK, he's slow off the blocks) getting excited about the plane flying past or the tiger at the zoo, or getting upset at losing his soft toy or being denied another sweet, then there's no doubt that this is very "conscious" indeed.

Similarly, you can have deep and detailed conversations with a two and a half year old - every single day!

But these incidents and moments, though undeniably conscious experiences at the time, are, almost every single one of them, irrecoverable consciously in later years.

When, therefore, we argue for paedo-faith, we don't need to overstate the difference between it and the faith of an adult. There are differences of verbalisation, self-consciousness*, testedness and so on. But there is no reason to claim (on the basis that "conscious = memorable") that a child's faith is not "conscious" whereas an adult's is.

Because - this is the point from Foer - it is not necessary for something to be "remember-able at a later date" for it to be conscious at the moment it happens.

Just because I can't remember it today doesnt' mean it wasn't conscious when it happened yesterday.

If faith is
"a conscious, willed, and informed confident dependence on another person"
then the faith a baby has is a young version of the same thing. It is not a different thing.

[* in so far as faith is the Christ-ward look, self-consciousness is not only non-essential to faith, it often militates against it. If I'm thinking about whether I believe in Jesus, I'm thinking about my beliefs rather than thinking about Jesus. And, however much I value them, my beliefs are not the Saviour of the world.]