[Biblemat] S:> Faith
Ethan R. Longhenry
disciple_of_iesus at hotmail.com
Thu Aug 19 15:34:10 CDT 2010
A. Hebrews 11:6
B. Faith, therefore, of critical importance
C. But what is it that we mean by "faith"?
D. An issue made more complicated in our times
1. "Faith" now used in contrast to other aspects of existence
2. In adverse ways: "faith vs. science" or "faith vs. reason"
3. In more "spherical" ways: matters pertaining to the "realm of
faith" as opposed to other matters that might pertain to the
"realm of science" or the "realm of politics" or whatnot
E. What, then, is "faith"?
1. What do we mean when we speak about "faith"?
2. Is this faith to be relegated to only certain aspects of life?
3. Who is it that has faith or does not have faith? Why is faith
F. Let us consider these matters
II. Faith and Evidence
A. At heart, the challenge posed by the modern world is the utter
contrast made between faith and evidence
1. Many have been raised to believe that there is no real
relationship between faith and evidence
2. In their minds, if there is evidence, there is no need for
faith; if faith is necessary, it is because there is no evidence
3. Therefore, "faith" almost becomes a pejorative-- you have
"faith" when you have nothing else to go on, and faith becomes
equated with "blind faith"
4. Matters of "faith" are those that are not measurable or
definable through scientific methods-- theology, morality,
ethics, and the like
5. Thus people are able to effectively sequester their "faith life"
(or lack thereof) into a few selected boxes: in the rest, other
authorities are affirmed, appealed to, and cited
B. But is it true that faith and evidence are in contrast?
C. Consider Hebrews 11:1
1. An excellent and functional definition of faith, even beyond the
realm of Christianity
2. "Assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen"
3. Faith in English, according to Webster: "Belief; the assent of
the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting
on his authority and veracity, without other evidence; the
judgment that what another states or testifies is the truth; the
assent of the mind to the truth of a proposition advanced by
another; belief, or probable evidence of any kind"
4. Is "blind faith"-- faith without any kind of corroborating
evidence-- included? Certainly!
5. But that is not the only kind of "faith" there is-- notice, as
Webster says, "assent of the mind to...probable evidence of any
6. Faith involves assurance of hope and conviction of what is not
seen-- it is not as if this is all without evidence
D. In reality, there is almost no evidence without faith, and little
faith without evidence!
E. Evidence and Faith
1. One of the most pernicious lies that has been foisted upon
people recently is this delusion that "scientific evidence" has
nothing to do with the realm of "faith"
2. Let us consider two of the main theories of science and show
that they still have much to do with "faith"
3. The "Big Bang"
a. It is currently believed by many scientists and others that
the universe began with the "Big Bang" somewhere between
13.3 and 13.9 billion years ago
b. What is the evidence for this? In part, that light moves at
a constant speed of around 671 million miles an hour, and
thus about 6 trillion miles a year
c. Using redshift analysis of the cosmic microwave background
radiation in the universe, believed to be a consequence of
the Big Bang, it appears to be about 13.3 to 13.9 billion
light years away; thus the event took place that long ago
d. Yet notice what these analyses assume: that the speed of
light is constant, and that because there is a distance of
13+ billion light years, that said event took place that long
ago in time
e. Is the speed of light constant? All evidence we have would
suggest so, but who knows what other evidence is waiting to
be found? How could we be sure that the speed of light has
always been constant?
f. How can we be certain that the event took place in reality
because the distance is there? What if it was all created at
one point and made to appear older?
4. Thus, by necessity, there is "faith" in the evidence-- a
confidence that the speed of light is constant, a confidence
that what is being perceived really took place in time, among
other forms of confidence
5. That confidence can never be proven without a shadow of a
doubt-- thus, there is a measure of faith-- "conviction based on
probable evidence," however probable it is in reality
6. Evolution, specifically human evolution
a. It is difficult to address the subject of human evolution--
the model changes so frequently so as to make it impossible
to say much that is definite
b. What can be said is that the scientists make much of bone
fragments discovered in the ground, especially from Africa
c. Extrapolations are made on the basis of a handful of bones
d. The dating estimates are based on carbon-14 dating and/or
stratigraphic dating-- the belief that sedimentation happens
at a relatively uniform rate
e. Thus there is always much more "interpretation" than
"evidence," and the "interpretation" always fits the model
f. Thus there is plenty of faith here-- faith that stratigraphy
really is legitimate, faith in the consistency of carbon-14
dating, faith that a whole creature can be projected on the
basis of a few bones, and, not least, faith that bones in the
ground really do represent some moment in the past
7. Thus we can see that all kinds of things promoted by the
scientific community demand a level of faith in certain
principles-- operating assumptions
F. Faith and Evidence
1. It is lamentable that people who have faith are derided by many
as simpletons, naïve, or foolish, since they are willing to
believe in something that cannot be empirically "proven"
2. Bertrand Russell did this with his "celestial teapot" in 1952
3. Other examples include the "Invisible Pink Unicorn," the
"Flying Spaghetti Monster," and the "Dragon in my garage"
4. Such are attempts to denigrate faith, to suggest that belief in
the God of the Bible, or other divinities, is akin to believing
in such creatures
5. And yet, interestingly, no one has ever seriously suggested that
there is a celestial teapot, or invisible pink unicorns, flying
spaghetti monsters, or anything of the sort
6. In reality, even in matters of which the secular society deems
"matters of faith," if there is no evidence whatsoever, no one
is going to believe it!
7. Why did so many of our ancestors worship natural forces?
According to Paul, it was a perversion of the accurate
understanding that there is a Power greater than ourselves--
they served the manifestations, not the Source, of the Power
8. People believe what they believe because it makes the best sense
of all the evidence that they can find!
9. Few, if any, have blind faith-- they are convicted of what they
have not seen, they have assurance for their hope, in some kind
10. God has always insisted on such!
11. God proved Himself to the Israelites by delivering them from
bondage in Egypt and by bringing them into the land of Canaan
12. The demonstration of the new covenant is the resurrection of
Jesus from the dead (Acts 17:30-31)
13. Therefore, even faith has its basis in evidence!
G. Life, therefore, cannot be segregated into boxes so easily!
1. One of the tragic consequences of the "Enlightenment" is the
belief that we can specialize everything and place things in
different, non-touching compartments
2. We cannot look to God for "faith" in some categories but then to
politics to other answers or science or economics in their
separate quarters-- instead, matters of faith and evidence
pervade all categories!
3. Fundamentally, however, we must decide where we will place our
trust and to what level we trust before getting to any of the
III. Where Is Our Faith?
A. What, then, is faith?
1. Faith is our conviction of things not seen, assurance of things
2. The big question, then, is where are we placing that conviction?
On what basis is our assurance?
B. On the answers of materialism?
1. Many like to think today that since science has come up with
some possible answers for many mysteries of life, that means we
can explain things and not need recourse to something beyond us
2. Unfortunately for them, possible answers are not necessarily
right answers, and their possible answers leave much to be
C. Is there a God? Or is what we can see all there is?
1. The best answer is the one that makes the most sense of all the
2. Christianity suggests that there is a God who is the Creator of
all things, having made humans in His image (Genesis 1:1-2:3),
who established a comprehensible universe founded in justice,
sustained by His power (cf. Colossians 1:15-17), and that He is
revealed in the Son who came and lived in the first century,
died, and was raised again in power, serving as Lord
(John 1:1-4, 18, Hebrews 1:3, Acts 2:36)
3. Materialists suggest that there is no greater power out there;
ultimately, there is no substance to the thing we call
"meaning"; through entirely natural processes the universe was
formed and life developed
4. Ultimately, materialists cannot explain our ultimate origin, nor
can they provide meaningful explanations of existence, morality,
or ethics, since, in their concept of the universe, meaning is
imposed by humans where it does not substantively exist
5. There is no "reason" for reason, no basis for meaning in
anything; ethics and morality are what is best suited for us
6. Even "evolution" is seen as not really existing, since
"evolution" is a model by which humans attempt to explain
various pieces of evidence uncovered-- but that model has no
substantive existence beyond the minds of men
7. The "higher" elements of humanity: altruism, consciousness,
etc.-- are seen as evolutionary accidents, perhaps "misfirings"
of Darwinist impulses
D. No wonder why we can say that it takes more faith to be an atheist
than it takes to believe in God!
E. Belief in God has the most explanatory power: it explains how it is
that we got here, why things around us can make sense, why we have
moral guidelines in life, why we break those moral guidelines, and
what can be done to restore us to the good graces of our Creator
F. The existence of a Creator God, then, is the most probable
conclusion to all the evidence, and worthy of our assent in belief!
G. Let us believe in God and do His will!
Ethan R. Longhenry / deusvitae at hotmail.com
Main page: http://www.deusvitae.com
Spiritual Manna: http://www.spiritualmanna.info
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