What is Faith? Part 1

Have you ever heard the statement, “Well if you don’t understand, just have faith!”  This is an answer given by many well-meaning Christians.  Numerous young people have walked away from Christianity simply because their questions were never addressed.  The only answer they got was, “Quit doubting and just have faith.”

Faith is a word that is often deeply misunderstood. Some people define faith as believing the impossible. People of faith believe that which is contrary to evidence. People of faith ignore reality.  One friend told me that with all the scientific discoveries, it takes all the faith he can muster to believe Genesis chapter 1.

In the movie “The Miracle on 34th Street” the mother tries to convince her daughter to believe by faith that the man who claimed to be Santa was the real Santa.  Here was an extremely intelligent mother telling her daughter to just believe; to just have faith.  She then gave this definition, “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”

A letter to the editor to a local newspaper one writer wrote about faith:  “I met a likable fellow at a tennis court in San Marcos last year and discovered that he was a creationist. I said the fossil record shows sequentially changing species through time. He said biologists, geologists and paleontologists are wrong.  I asked how Noah's flood could have occurred around 2,250 B.C. without the Egyptians noticing, since their civilization was over 1,000 years old by then. He said historians and archaeologists are wrong.  I told him the world must be over 6,000 years old because some processes on Earth took millions of years to occur. He said chemists and geophysicists are wrong. I told him that light from some galaxies has taken millions of years to reach us. He said physicists and astronomers are wrong.  So, I asked: With nearly all of science being so thoroughly wrong on nearly everything, who isn't wrong? The answer was himself and those who agreed with his literal interpretation of the Bible. Welcome to the alternate reality of creationism's faith-based science[1].”

The creationist and others suggest that it is not preferable to search for evidence to support your faith. Faith is not the kind of thing that has anything to do with facts. .  I had a research pediatrician once ask me, Steve why do you place so much importance on evidence for your faith?  Don’t you know evidence destroys the beauty of faith?  Here was a man who deals with facts everyday but when it came to his religious beliefs he threw out any notion that facts had anything to do with his beliefs.

In the examples above we find individuals that believe if we have evidence to prove what we believe, then that takes away from real faith. What they’ve done is made a virtue out of believing against the evidence.  This is all wrong.

Think about it for a moment. Talbot philosophy professor, Dr. J.P. Moreland has suggested that if this is really the Christian view of faith, the best thing that could happen to Christianity is for the bones of Jesus to be discovered. Finding His bones would prove He didn't rise from the dead. When Christians continue to believe that He did, then, they would be demonstrating the strongest of all faith, believing something that all the evidence proved was false; they would be “Believing the unbelievable.”

This is silly. We have faith in the resurrection because we have evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. If we're encouraged to believe because of the evidence for the resurrection, then that proves this other view of faith is false. It may be the view Christians hold in many cases, but it is not the view of the Bible. It is not the view of Christianity.

My objective is to help you understand what Biblical faith is.  I will make the case that “Faith without evidence is dead.”

Go to part 2 here

[1] Carr, Fred; “Creationism has an alternate reality,” North County Times; Faith & Values

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