[Originally published as part of 5 Dangerous Ideas About Faith]
Dangerous Idea # 2 “Faith is blind”
It has become popular in some circles to talk about faith in God, miracles, and the Bible as something that people who are not intellectually or scientifically inclined embrace. In fact, in conversations with my Uber riders, I have heard many times that they had decided that they couldn’t believe in God because they are science people and the Bible just didn’t seem logical and agree with science. Thus, they reason that they had to put aside the mythological trappings of their upbringing in order to be a whole person that has consistency of mind and heart.
They feel like they can resonate with Mark Twain’s quote that faith is “believing in something you know ain’t so.”
When they are honest, they may admit that there is an internal conflict between their heart and mind. In their heart, they may find it comforting to believe that they were created by a divine being that loves and cares for them, who gives them purpose, a sense of ultimate justice, and hope of paradise at the end of life.
However, also waging war in their heart, they feel like it would be easier if God didn’t exist so that they could pursue living in ways that are contrary to how the Bible describes what they believe the good life is.
They may believe that when it comes to certain issues of morality and pleasure, God might have gotten it wrong, and consequently, he might have gotten other things wrong. All of a sudden it becomes more appealing to be open to the idea that God might not actually exist.
Now, if someone doesn’t have adequate reasons to understand or justify the existence of a divine, all-powerful, personal, perfectly good creator, then the price tag of walking away from the idea of a creator will be very low. It’s the next logical step. This is where many current atheists, skeptics, and agnostics find themselves.
The connection between the mind and heart in regard to faith was described well by author Dr. Stephen Meyer when he said:
The heart cannot exult in what the mind rejects.
If belief in God doesn’t make any logical sense to you, then your only justification for maintaining belief and making sense of hard times will be your feelings of comfort and kinship that you receive from others in a faith community. So long as believing in God “works for you” (pragmatism), then it will be a convenient belief. As soon as it stops “working” for what you want out of life, then it is an easy intellectual step to redefine who God is or reject belief in him altogether. In the end, your heart can’t be passionate about what, deep down, your mind thinks is illogical. Your heart truly can’t become passionate about what your mind rejects.
However, as mentioned earlier, religious truth should reflect reality, and we can only discover joy and purpose in life if our lives are in conformity with truth. A Christian would describe faith as trust based on evidence.
Here are a couple of Bible passages that demonstrate the evidential, reasonable nature of faith:
Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed Luke 1:1-4
“You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment.” Matthew 22:37–38
Biblical faith should not be afraid of questions, testing, and doubting. Are you willing to test everything that you believe to see if it is really true? Scripture gives us permission to do so.
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:19–21
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1
If you are expected to accept a belief without question, that may be a bad sign. For a belief to be true, it needs to be the BEST explanation for reality, not a belief despite what reality tells me.
Reluctance to question an idea is a sign of insecurity in a belief’s foundation; it indicates a fear that deep down, this belief really isn’t justified, and I may have to change my entire life. Organizations that will not allow you to ask questions about their fundamental beliefs should themself be questioned. If we are in deep pursuit of truth, I believe that questioning, if addressed with objectivity and humility, can lead to deeper levels of faith.
This is to be distinguished from the type of doubting that turns towards cynicism and distancing from belief. The type of doubting I am referring to is the kind that will make the pursuit of truth a top priority because it longs to embrace and grow deeper in a belief that best explains the biggest questions in life: why and how we are on this earth.
Responding to your doubts and questions may lead you to deeper levels of faith. However, it will not result in you being able to understand and answer everything related to faith (called scientism).
For example, for a time, I questioned if the New Testament had been reliably transmitted over the centuries. I investigated the transmission process of the New Testament and discovered that the case for its reliable transmission is stronger than ever. This does not mean that I have no doubts or questions at all, but I believe that the most reasonable conclusion is that we have exactly what they wrote.
If God exists and has spoken to humanity, we should be able to understand and apprehend his message to us. While we should not expect to fully comprehend an infinite being since we are finite, limited creatures, we can have a reasonable faith based on good evidence.
The Basis of Biblical Faith
You may be asking yourself at this point: OK, then give me one reason why I should even believe that God exists! If you are saying that faith is not blind but based on evidence — show me.
Faith, as defined by the Bible, “is trust based on good reasons.”
Much like when you are walking and get a rock in your shoe, you eventually decide to stop and address the issue. I want to put a stone in a nonbeliever’s shoe with these questions:
- If there ever was a time that there was nothing, why is there something?
- Can matter create Itself?
- If space, time, and matter had a beginning, wouldn’t the cause for all of space, time, and matter be beyond space, time and matter?
We are all (both theists and atheists) looking for a space-less, timeless, immaterial cause for everything in the universe. Which is the more logical conclusion: everything was caused by a space-less, timeless, immaterial divine being, or everything was caused by a space-less, timeless, immaterial nothing?
Out of nothing, nothing always comes. Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit.