The new atheists say that faith is belief without evidence. One might as well ask, where is the evidence that this is so? If they don’t have evidence for this definition, then their hypocrisy knows no bounds, for they believe this without evidence. Can we trust those who don’t have faith to judge faith correctly?
Baumgardner, in quoting Frank Wolfs, boils the scientific method down to the four following essentials:1
- Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
- Formulation of a hypothesis to explain the phenomena. (In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a mathematical relationship.)
- Use of the hypothesis to predict other phenomena or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
- Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters.
Wolfs explains, “No matter how elegant a theory is, its predictions must agree with experimental results if we are to believe that it is a valid description of nature. In physics, as in every experimental science, ‘experiment is supreme’ and experimental verification of hypothetical predictions is absolutely necessary.”1
Similarly, Atheist Ethicist explains “The way science works, a scientist can’t just shout out that [s]he knows something. She has to say why she thinks she knows something, and then wait for somebody else to confirm the findings.
Some say that the scientific method is a superior form of attaining any meaningful knowledge and that all others are to be discarded. However, Inasmuch as the scientific method requires independent verification, it is inadequate in matters of religion.
All the life and power of true religion consists in the inward and full persuasion of the mind. Religion itself is made of two components: a profession of faith toward God and an outward form of worship. If we are not fully persuaded in our own minds that our faith is true and our form of worship is well-pleasing, we are conducting an exercise in hypocrisy and adding to our list of offenses toward God. This being the nature of religion, the only force that can be used therein is not force at all, but admonishments, exhortations, arguments, and advice.
To require the truth of religion to hinge upon independent verification conducted by another person is to leave the care of your soul, indeed its very salvation, to a person who does not have as vested an interested in your salvation as you have. The mere position of an outside observer does not yield more insight into other men’s faith or worship. These things ought every man to sincerely inquire himself with due diligence, search, study, and meditation. We are all equal in nature concerning these things and no man has been placed above another.
But, let us grant for the moment that the person independently verifying another man’s faith is seeking only that man’s good and has attained superior knowledge. Even then we are in no better position. A government official who shows me the best way to conduct a business, may, upon my failure, shore up my losses and provide security for me. But, there is no security for the life to come that can be given by another man. It is not within another man’s power to ease my loss, or prevent my suffering, or restore me in some measure. That is a matter between God and myself. The Kingdom of God is in the hearts of men (Luke 17:21) and therefore no man, who’s only real jurisdiction is in the physical world, can affect a better care than I of my soul by use of superior knowledge, or outward force, or coercion.
The failure of the scientific method in attaining any efficacious change in the full persuasion of one’s mind in matters of religion, renders pointless the need for proofs or evidence to be submitted to anyone for scrutiny. Every private man’s search and study discovers the truth of the matter unto himself. Indeed, the man to whom the proofs or evidence must be supplied will have his hands full making his own salvation sure. It would be even more treacherous for a man who cares for his soul to submit evidence for scrutiny to someone who has a complete lack of care for his own soul. An atheist is a very poor man indeed to receive advice from on matters of religion.
Therefore, let us leave aside the scientific method in matters of religion and reach toward God in faith and in the full persuasion of the mind.
1. Wolfs, F. 1996. Introduction to the scientific method. Physics Laboratory Experiments, Appendix E, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester
When we are young we have faith in our parents. We obey them (hopefully) because they love us and they show us how life is, and what it should be. As we get older we put faith in our teachers trusting that they are authorities on Mathematics, Science, English, and so on. Each time we learn, we receive by faith the things they teach us since we have no first-hand knowledge of the things they relate to us. It’s better than making each generation rediscover everything over again. However, there is a time to learn what others teach and a time to gather knowledge ourselves. We begin to have faith in ourselves that we have the capabilities to understand the right ways of life. In the process of attaining knowledge we endeavor to reject faulty knowledge. But, we cannot be 100% certain that the knowledge we acquire is free of corruption since it cannot be independently verified by an outside source. Although some people see evidence of a Creator, no 3rd party materializes in front of us to provide confirmation or denial of our findings, and these findings are subject to further criticism from every other person looking for answers or just looking to poke holes in other people’s findings. At this point, two types of people can emerge. The first is a person who begins to find the answers of life within himself, picking himself up by his bootstraps, so to speak, creating his own meaning and purpose, reality and truth. He has faith in himself. The other man perceives that his own reason has limitations and is therefore inadequate to get the answers needed. Since he perceives that the human experience is common to all, he looks for answers outside of himself and humanity. He puts faith in a 3rd party in order to confirm or deny his findings.
What is the difference between a man who has faith in himself and his human teachers, and the man who puts his faith in God? Both of them have faith, but the object of their faith is different. What are the outcomes?
The man who puts faith in himself eventually becomes selfish. This does not mean he only thinks of himself, but rather that all of his charitable and self-serving acts come from values formed from his own authority. His self and others like him are the highest forms of life he can find. He creates his own meaning, his own reality, his own purpose, and his own morality. Essentially he is his own property. He can do with himself what he wants. The obstacles to this, however, are others and laws of society. He respects others because it is reasonable, but he may decide that it is not reasonable if he so wishes. As his self grows in value, he can reason anything he wants. He eventually does not need society to decide what is right and wrong for him to do. If he kills someone it was for a good reason even if society does not agree. If he commits suicide he is only hurting himself and it is just fine because he is his own property. If he hurts others it can be justified. Reasons exist to respect other’s “property”, but reasons also exist that justify the disrespect of other’s “property”. The choice is his. He is the judge and jury. He could be the most moral person or the least moral person. Most everyone will not take it this far. They adopt this philosophy in moderation. Herein lies temporary harmony with the rest of men. However, this philosophy taken to the end of itself can lead to the destruction of self and others and it’s perfectly reasonable.
The man who puts his faith in God eventually becomes selfless. This does not mean he never thinks of himself, but rather that all of this charitable and self-serving acts are derived from values given by his Maker. God is the highest form of life he can find. In understanding God’s identity, he realizes his own identity, and derives from God his meaning, reality, purpose, and morality. Essentially, he is God’s property. He can do with himself what he wants, but he gives his self away to the Self of God. In this act, a new identity emerges that naturally follows the character of God. He respects others because they are God’s property, and we are all tenants, so to speak. He does not need society to decide what is right and wrong for him to do. If he kills someone he goes against God’s character. If he commits suicide he is destroying God’s property. If he justifies hurting others, he must ignore God’s laws. Reasons exist to respect God’s property. Reasons not to respect God’s property are products of a corrupt mind. The choice is still the man’s choice, but God is the judge and jury. The man’s degree of morality is dependent upon his conformity to the character of God. Most everyone will not take this as far as it will go. We don’t like to give up our selves completely. We adopt this philosophy in moderation. However, herein lies contention with men, God, and self. This philosophy taken to its end can diminish the self and the lead to a new identity created by God.
Now the paths are laid out before you. Which path will you choose?
(Picture created by Luke.)
Some say that the question of our origins is answerable through science. Isn’t that circular reasoning? It’s like using the stuff inside the box to explain the box when we can’t even fully explain the origins of the stuff inside the box. We like to think “outside the box”, but what we are really doing is thinking about thinking outside the box. None of the theories are independently verifiable since we are all inside the “box”. We may better understand the “stuff” through observation but that has no direct bearing on its origin. The foundation of the theoretical claim cannot be accepted as absolutely true, because the very foundation is in dispute.
We will never have direct, observable, testable, and independently verifiable evidence for things that exist outside of the natural universe. To require that kind of evidence is to assume that non-material things can be found in the material itself which is a logical inconsistency. If no non-material things or no non-material causes of material things exist, then we are left with circular inside-the-box explanations of material origins, the very foundations of which are in dispute. Why is it in dispute? Because the materialistic philosophy of “all I see is all there is” is not rooted in science. It’s rooted in faith.
Atheists have effectively left an intellectual hole while leaving nothing to fill the hole with. Yet, we are encouraged to believe this is somehow not a problem. Faith in the hollow promise of a future answer is no foundation for rejecting faith in a Creator.
Is there anything more basic than faith in the God of creation? Faith that he provided forgiveness and a way for us to be together? Indeed, many atheistic debaters say it is too simple. It’s when we use reason to describe him or what he wants that we have natural contention. To this, I say, “Bring it on.” Let truth grapple with falsehood in the streets. But, let us not bring our “isms” to the fight, these warped windows that we see the world through. Let us not use modernity as our foundation for argument, for it changes all the time. By all means, however, let the lies test the truth. The truth will be stronger as a result. But, let us not allow these things to corrupt our relationship with God. Once inferior ideas are understood to be inadequate, let us drop them and reject them as idols so that there is only the individual and God. If we are to stand before God and give an account, we will not be able to blame our “isms” or modern ideas. Faith saves In the end not reason, philosophy, theology, or intellect. This is the only equality that matters to mankind throughout history, the equal opportunity of faith in God to all people at all times. For no other equality reaches the eternal.
Where is the wisdom to basing our faith on the shifting sands of modern thinking? Modern knowledge itself is always changing. What we think we know now will be left behind in the future. So, whenever someone feels like nailing something down, they are ridiculed for losing relevance. Yet, if we are relevant, there is no knowledge we can claim, neither is there any wisdom to possess. As I see it, we have two choices here. We can believe in the God that stays the same and even claims to stay the same, or we can be blown about with the winds of change that human reason is so fond of. Where does faith fit in with shifting modern thought? No where. And real faith, if we are able to possess it, must be accessible to all times in human history and all peoples for that is the only way for God to make himself known to all generations. That modern people feel we must deconstruct it is a tragedy of the highest order, and severs the hope of a relationship between God and man.
You live inside of a box. The Atheist says, “My reason is all that matters. What reason I find outside of myself, I find in others, and seek to add it to my own so that my view of reality is broadened.” Self, ego, or “I”, is your greatest obstacle to understanding Ultimate Reality. Your sense of unique, irreducible, distinct, individual personhood, is the ultimate illusion and the great obstacle to supreme enlightenment. Truth and reality are connected to the “I” that is distinct and separate from humanity, the one who calls himself “I Am”. The answer to ultimate truth and reality is not a statement or a piece of evidence. It is a person. Atheists live inside their box of reason. Christians realize that the “box” is an illusion, a distraction that obscures your view of the truth. Only when we understand the divine “I” can we truly understand the human “I”. This is not a blind faith, but an enlightening one.
“We have reasoned ourselves into oblivion” – Anonymous