Recently I was having a pseudo-spiritual discussion with a friend at work. Another associate of mine overheard our exchange and joined the conversation:
"You know what faith is, right?" We looked up in surprise.
He continued: "Faith is believing in something when there is NO evidence, or believing in something even when all the evidence points in the other direction, you know, believing IN SPITE of the evidence."
He just stared at us looking for approval. Mine was not forthcoming. I replied: "Are you talking about FAITH or BLIND FAITH?"
He wasn't quite sure how to handle that one. It really is sad, I have no doubt that many (if not most) people have a similar view about faith.
Unfortunately they confuse BLIND FAITH with FAITH. And worse, they think that the Bible (or Christianity) requires BLIND FAITH. I imagine that they would be shocked to learn that the Bible never asks us to have BLIND FAITH, just FAITH.
They are vastly different...honest. Let me illustrate.
You are looking to buy a car, and you finally settle (possibly) on a sporty, new car. The salesman invites you to take it out for a "test drive" and he slides into the passenger seat.
You drive off the lot.
Smiling (for now).
Moments later, you come upon an intersection at a pretty good clip, when the light changes suddenly. Your leg instinctively goes for the brake, but the salesman interrupts:
"Oh, you don't hit that pedal to stop, you see, on these new SUV's, you grab your visor and slowly pull it down to stop the vehicle. The brake is above you, not down on the floor."
You look at him with a well-deserved incredulous stare for a fraction of a split second. Against all logic, you quickly reach up and start pulling the visor down, and then...BAM! You smack the car in front of you with a jolt.
What do brake pedals and traffic accidents have to do with the issue of faith, or blind faith? Everything. Honest.
First, though, we need some authoritative definitions:
FAITH (noun): To accept or believe, to place trust in someone or something.
BLIND FAITH (noun): To accept or believe without any direct or supporting evidence of the truthfulness or trustworthiness of the person, thing, or concept.
Let's evaluate our earlier automotive adventure with these definitions in mind. Consider this:
- You do not know the salesman
- The salesman tells you something that is completely outside of your knowledge and experience (visor is the brake)
- The salesman tells you to ignore the natural reaction ("don't hit the brake pedal")
- You have never witnessed anyone using a visor as a brake before.
This is obviously blind faith.
Now, let's look at an alternative ending to the story, illustrating FAITH.
As you approach the yellow light, you slowly apply pressure to the brake pedal, eventually bringing the car to a safe and smooth stop.
No surprises here.
- You have driven many cars before.
- You have used brake pedals many hundreds (if not thousands) of times before, always leading to the desired result of slowing or stopping.
- You have observed many other drivers using the brake pedal to slow or stop their vehicles, as well.
Faith does not mean believing when there is NO evidence, rather, faith is best understood as trust because of evidence.
Faith is trust in someone or something that has been proven worthy of your trust.
I have been married for nearly 20 years. Over this time, my wife has never given me one single reason to doubt her love and faithfulness to me. Therefore, because of the years of consistent behavior, I have FAITH in my wife.
I have come to trust her more and more. My trust has been built upon a solid foundation of many years of experiences and observations.
Imagine that you have a friend that has a spotless record of honesty with you. They have never lied or deceived you, and you implicitly trust that whatever they tell you is true, to the best of their knowledge. Now, imagine that this same friend tells you something that is "hard to believe."
What should be your logical response?
(A) Trust them
(B) Not trust them
Obviously, because of many years of trustworthiness and honesty, the default position should be one of trust.
Detecting Intelligent Causes
Many times skeptics will taunt those who have faith in a Creator, those who trust in the existence of God. These agnostics/atheists will speak of "religion" as "nothing but blind faith" and believing in "pie-in-the-sky-bye-and-bye."
But is this an accurate portrayal of the worldview of the believer?
Imagine a crime scene. A detective is examining the small apartment. There is the lifeless body of the victim, clearly stabbed several times in the back, with the knife handle still protruding.
The picture of what happened is starting to emerge.
The door has been forced open. The victim's purse has been dumped out, and there is no sign of cash, checks, or credit cards. Fingerprints on the knife handle have been carefully wiped off.
Neighbors reported hearing commotion and several screams about the time of death.
What is the assessment of the detective?
Using logic and experience, even an untrained sleuth will obviously regard this a murder scene.
But wait! Isn't that BLIND FAITH? I mean, surely it must be, because the detective hasn't SEEN the killer, and there weren't any eyewitnesses to confirm anything.
Rubbish. Of course this is NOT blind faith. His declaration of homicide is an intelligent decision, based upon evidence, logic, and experience. Unfortunately he has seen his fair share of murder scenes, and he knows murder when he sees it.
He knows that this was the work of an intelligent criminal, not the result of random, natural forces. Using well-established investigative techniques he can make sound and rational decisions about the event.
Sifting Through the Evidence (Whodunnit?)
As we look out at the Universe, I like to think of it as one massive "crime scene". Obviously something has happened here, and we must become forensic scientists to figure out Who or What has done it. Just like a detective, we can use the same tools--observation, locating evidence, reasoning, and experience to unravel this mystery.
I would like to share 3 categories of evidence that one must consider when investigating the question:
"Did God create the Universe?" (Is He/It "guilty"?).
I like to remember them as the Three C's:
1. The evidence of CREATION.
2. The evidence of COMMUNICATION.
3. The evidence of CONSCIENCE.
The first considers the weight of evidence from our understanding of the complexities and design in the physical Universe, the second involves the undeniable internal evidences from the Bible as the revealed Word of God, and finally, the latter explores the powerful argument from the universal law of morality we find embedded across humanity.
"Why something, rather than nothing?"
This is the question that has plagued both philosophers and naturalists over the centuries. It formally dates back over 300 years ago to German philosopher and mathematician, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, in his treatise "On the Ultimate Origin of Things". It seems much more likely that nothing would exist, yet something does exist...and that something is the Universe (at least). More than a concept, or a singularity, or a vacuum---the Universe IS, and it must be accounted for.
And there is yet another problem far worse than merely accounting for the existence of the Universe. There is the atheistically-troubling issue of the complexity and inherent design manifestly observed in the Universe. Consider:
- (Physics) Governing principles of "Natural Law" (which has never been explained)
- (Biology) Specified complexity of RNA and DNA (which has never been explained)
- (Chemistry) Precision of various elements necessary for life, such as carbon-12 (which has never been explained)
The late Sir Fred Hoyle, considered one of the greatest astronomers of the modern age, made this observation:
"A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question."
Francis S. Collins is the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. Once an atheist, he looked into the evidence for God in nature and became a Christian. Concerning the weight of evidence from just Biology, he said:
"When you have for the first time in front of you this 3.1 billion-letter instruction book that conveys all kinds of information and all kinds of mystery about humankind, you can’t survey that going through page after page without a sense of awe. I can’t help but look at those pages and have a vague sense that this is giving me a glimpse of God’s mind."
Anthony Flew, one of the most famous atheists of the 20th century, began to have doubts in his religion of pure naturalism. His studies of science, especially Biology, left his decades-old skepticism severely shattered. Before he died, he completely recanted atheism, and even wrote a challenging book entitled "There is a God." He offers these observations as a "detective":
"Biologists' investigation of DNA has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce [life], that intelligence must have been involved."
"It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism."
"I have been persuaded that it is simply out of the question that the first living matter evolved out of dead matter and then developed into an extraordinarily complicated creature."
Dr. Werner Gitt, German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology, wrote this about the amazing complexity of DNA:
"A code system is always the result of a mental process… It should be emphasized that matter as such is unable to generate any code. All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required… There is no known natural law through which matter can give rise to information, neither is any physical process or material phenomenon known that can do this."Scientists, professors, and mathematicians--all adding to the case, all contributing as expert witnesses to the investigation of the ultimate "Whodunnit?" mystery. Time and again we find that when skeptics actually pause to consider the evidence, they emerge as confident proponents of a "faith" they previously mocked and ridiculed.
A case in point, was former atheist C.S. Lewis. The prolific writer, debater, and professor said of his conversion to Christian theism (loosely paraphrasing) that he was "dragged kicking and screaming into the faith" because of the evidence. He didn't want to believe, but he couldn't deny the evidence, once investigated. Faith in a Creator is Blind Faith? Science says "No way!" The data is in, and their ramifications are clear. Intelligence was involved, indeed an amazing superintellect, one outside of time and space.
#2: Have you checked your mail lately?
Communication is all around us. Indeed, that last sentence (or even this one) is communication. Billboards, banner ads, phone texts, and love letters--all communication. Communication could be defined as one intelligent agency conveying a message to another intelligent agency.
Some types of communication we consider very valuable, and others, such as email spam, are deemed irritating and annoying. Some are willing to pay millions of dollars for some types of communication (such as signed letters from famous people of history), and others are thrown in the trash without even being read (junk mail).
What is the difference between the two? Essentially it is WHO the communication is from. A letter from the President is bound to received better treatment than an appeal for another low-interest credit card offer from some major bank. The original author is of ultimate importance.
But what if the author was God? You read that right. What if the letter was from the Creator of the Universe. Now...that would be worth keeping at the least, and reading for sure. But has God "spoken" to mankind? Has He/It written a letter to us (so to speak). Since we are creations of God, and we are communicating beings by nature, it would be logical to infer that our Creator is also a being of communication.
I would submit, in this Whodunnit? detective case, that the Bible (which claims to be the revealed Word of God), is powerful, and indeed, undeniable, evidence of the existence of an intelligent and powerful Creator. Written over a period of 1500 years, on three continents, with human authors ranging from lowly shepherds to mighty kings, the Bible stands alone among all so-called "sacred" writings in the world.
Examples of the many hundreds of ways in which the Bible is unique could be listed, but I will simply borrow a shortened form from the Ankerberg.com website. He offers the following short list:
Summary: The Uniqueness of The Bible
1. The Bible is the only book in the world that offers objective evidence to be the Word of God. Only the Bible gives real proof of its divine inspiration.
2. The Bible is the only religious Scripture in the world that is inerrant.
3. The Bible is the only ancient book with documented scientific and medical prevision. No other ancient book is ever carefully analyzed along scientific lines, but many modern books have been written on the theme of the Bible and modern science.
4. The Bible is the only religious writing that offers eternal salvation as a free gift entirely by God’s grace and mercy.
5. The Bible is the only major ancient religious writing whose complete textual preservation is established as virtually autographic.
6. The Bible contains the greatest moral standards of any book.
7. Only the Bible begins with the creation of the universe by divine fiat and contains a continuous, if often brief and interspersed, historical record of mankind from the first man, Adam, to the end of history
8. Only the Bible contains detailed prophecies about the coming Savior of the world, prophecies which have proven true in history.
9. Only the Bible has a totally realistic view of human nature, the power to convict people of their sin, and the ability to change human nature.
10. Only the Bible has unique theological content, including its theology proper (the trinity; God’s attributes); soteriology (depravity, imputation, grace, propitiation atonement, reconciliation, regeneration, union with Christ, justification, adoption, sanctification, eternal security, election, etc.); Christology (the incarnation, hypostatic union); pneumatology (the Person and work of the Holy Spirit); eschatology (detailed predictions of the end of history); ecclesiology (the nature of the church as Christ’s bride and in a spiritually organic union with Him); etc.
11. Only the Bible offers a realistic and permanent solution to the problem of human sin and evil.
12. Only the Bible has its accuracy confirmed in history by archeology, science, etc.
13. The internal and historical characteristics of the Bible are unique in its unity and internal consistency despite production over a 1500-year period by 40-plus authors in three languages on three continents discussing scores of controversial subjects, yet having agreement on all issues.
14. The Bible is the most translated, purchased, memorized, and persecuted book in history. For example, it has been translated into some 1700 languages.
15. Only the Bible is fully one-quarter prophetic, containing a total of some 400 complete pages of predictions.
16. Only the Bible has withstood 2000 years of intense scrutiny by critics and not only survived the attacks but prospered and had its credibility strengthened by such criticism. (Voltaire predicted that the Bible would be extinct within 100 years, but within 50 years Voltaire was extinct and his house was a warehouse for the Bibles of the Geneva Bible Society.)
17. Only the Bible has molded the history of Western civilization more than any other book. The Bible has had more influence in the world than any other book.
18. Only the Bible has a Person-specific (Christ-centered) nature for each of its 66 books, detailing the Person’s life in prophecy, type, antitype, etc., 400 to 1500 years before that Person was ever born.
19. Only the Bible proclaims a resurrection of its central figure that can be proven in history.
20. Only the Bible provides historic proof that the one true God loves mankind.
Most people aren't aware that this one fact alone separates the Bible from all other so-called "holy" books. There is a reason that you will not find more than a hint of prophesy in all of these other writings combined---they are only the works of mortal man, they are not the inspired words of God. Man cannot know the future, therefore these other philosophical and religious writings do not contain predictions, or prophecy.
But the Bible is nearly one-third prophetic. Not 1%, not 5%, not every-now-and-then, but almost one-third. That's not just amazing...it's indicative of something far greater---a divine origin. I quote author and scientist Hugh Ross:
"Unique among all books ever written, the Bible accurately foretells specific events-in detail-many years, sometimes centuries, before they occur. Approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter—no errors. (The remaining 500 or so reach into the future and may be seen unfolding as days go by.) Since the probability for any one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 102000 (that is 1 with 2000 zeros written after it)!"Prophecy is proof that God has written us a letter, and that letter is the Bible. The evidence in the case continues to build. "It's becoming elementary, my dear Watson!"
#3-Morals are the Moral to the Story
The story is told of a bright, eager college student in a philosophy class. The teacher had given instructions about an essay test that could cover any topic of deep personal interest to each student. He set out several colored folders on his desk and told the students to pick one and place their finished essay test into it before the end of the class period. The eager young student poured his heart and mind into his carefully argued thesis, and with minutes to spare, confidently strolled up to the aged professor, opened a blue folder and slid his test in.
The professor peered at him from above rounded-spectacles. "What was your thesis, young man?" The student smiled, "It's about how atheism denies objective morality." The wise sage nodded ever so slightly. "I see, I see," he said.
The professor then pulled out the student's test, and without even glancing at a single line of the meticulous draft, put a large, red "F" at the top of the paper. The student's countenance dropped as his eyes darted from the grade to the teacher's face. "But, but, I don't understand...you haven't even read it, how can you fail me?!"
"Oh, I'm sorry, " the instructor continued, "let me explain. I don't like the color blue, so all tests in the blue folder get an 'F'". The student was indignant. He looked at the teacher, then around at the few remaining students scattered about. "But--that's not fair! It isn't right!"
How quickly the true inward reality of an issue comes knocking when we least expect it. All the carefully crafted arguments and cleverly arranged research vanishes like the emperor's clothes once exposed to the light of even a child's comprehension of the facts. The atheist is in a quandary: on the one hand, they worship at the mantra "The universe--all there ever was, is, or ever will be" but yet on the other hand they cannot escape the universal experience of (gasp! here it comes) morality.
Morality, that inner witness to something that "ought to be", a conscious and yet subconscious acknowledgement that some things are intrinsically "right" and others are undeniably "wrong". That pleasant sense of FAIRNESS or that horrific realization of INEQUALITY, or INJUSTICE. People often speak of the "innocence of a child," in other words, kids will often point out the fundamental issues that us "adults" are too complicated and sophisticated to, um...admit.
Take a mother and father with three young kids. On Christmas morning, the children rush down to the living room and see a boatload of beautifully wrapped gifts under a brilliantly decorated tree. But, upon closer inspection, to the horror of the other two, all of the gifts are for the same child. All for him, NONE for them. Now, ask them about the reality of the fundamental issue of morality or fairness. They will tell you the truth, every time. Even the one who has been the beneficiary of such a lopsided affair will express a certain amount of discomfort, even though it is unfair in their favor.
Here in America we cherish and value the Declaration of Independence. Drafted by a mix of intelligent, enlightened, and thoughtful founders, it declares:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..."
Right there, within the first few paragraphs of arguably one of the most important, quoted, and well-supported documents of all time, is a treasure trove of understanding about this issue. Notice certain key words, such as "self-evident", "equal", and "Rights." Also, note the foundation of these moral issues: Their Creator. America's founders, whether deist, theist, or fundamental Christian, considered to be among the greatest congregations of educated people ever assembled, understood and laid out the case before us ever so eloquently. Morality is a universal truth, and it is given by our Creator.
Moving forward at least two centuries, the famous Oxford professor and former-atheist-turned-Christian, C.S. Lewis, put it ever so bluntly (as he was known to do):
"The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike...Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish."
In fact, it was the irrefutable issue of morality, of the undeniable witness of fairness, equality, and justice, that tormented the mind of the brilliant skeptic. As he wrestled with the implications of this universal phenomenon, the light of a greater truth began to dawn on his intellectual horizon. As he finally emerged out of the haze of his own arrogant self-deception, he declared:
"Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning..."
The atheist is an extremely precarious position once the debate goes down the line of the concept of objective morality---and here's why. As the framers of the Declaration correctly asserted, morality can only exist if there is a higher authority, endowed by our "Creator". Without a lawgiver, an authority, a Creator, a God, who has made the Universe, and all that is within it, including us, then obviously morality is nothing more than an illusion. But the universal witness is incontrovertible---morality exists.
Closing the Case...
It looks like the detective has set down the evidence and is submitting his report to the chief. The preponderance of evidence from diverse fields such as physics, biology, chemistry, literature, history, and even psychology and sociology have all agreed. The Whodunnit? is solved.
Is there anyone out there willing to claim that the investigator has managed to compile many pages of cogent arguments, quotes, facts, and even mathematical calculations all while being blind-folded?
I didn't think so.
You see, a good detective relies upon evidence, logic, reasoning, experience, and expert testimony. A good detective places his trust in those sources and methods which have proven themselves in the past, repeatedly.
It appears that the skeptics who charge Christians with "blind faith" had first better lift the corner of their own bandana and look in the mirror.
They just might be surprised to discover just who really has blind faith.
They may be tempted to join former atheist, Frank Turek, who recently quipped:
"I don't have enough faith to be an atheist."
If you enjoyed this article, please copy the link and share it with others. Thank you---Ktisis