On Faith

indy_leap_of_faith
Sometimes we find ourselves taking a leap—or at least a step—of faith. Who or what do you have faith in? Still from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

Someone once said that the only two things you can be sure of in life are death and taxes. That still holds true today in most parts of the world. Everything else falls under the umbrella that, like it or not, is called faith.

Faith extends to every aspect of your life. You have faith that your car will start in the morning. You have faith that the food you eat will sate your hunger. You have faith that exercising will help you lose weight and tone your muscles. You have faith that the piece of plastic you swipe or insert at the checkout counter will allow you to buy the cup of coffee you need to get your day started. And you have faith that the coffee will be hot, caffinated, and taste the way you want it to.

Faith is what prevents you from taking your whole engine apart every morning, examining every part, and then re-assembling it before inserting the key in the ignition (or now, more commonly, pressing a button). You trust that the men and machines that built your car did it right. If something breaks, you take it to a mechanic and trust that he makes the appropriate repair.

Atheists, and non-Christians in general, often don’t like to admit that they have faith. In fact, one of my favorite books is snarkily titled I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, in which authors Norm Geisler and Frank Turek examine how atheists must have more faith to believe that God does not exist than Christians must have to believe that He does. Say what you will, but you either have faith that there is a God or faith that there isn’t, and calling faith by any other name doesn’t change the issue.

I enjoy apologetics, and I feel fairly well-equipped to defend my beliefs, but apologetics alone will not convince an unsaved man or woman to come to faith in Jesus. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit (see here, for one resource). Hard evidence and logic are used to form arguments that can make people think, but the arguments themselves cannot convince. Faith is required to accept an argument as true, no matter how watertight it might be.

Consider a criminal case in a courtroom, a murder trial such as that of the movie 12 Angry Men. Two sides, the prosecution and the defense, come forward and offer arguments to convince the jury that the murder happened in a certain way. These arguments may be carefully constructed from evidence left on the scene of the crime, witness testimonies, and the demeanor of the defendant. However, when it comes right down to it, no one on the jury was present when the crime was committed; that is, and read this carefully, none of them can know for certain whether the defendant committed the crime or not. If a juror was there and saw the defendant stab the victim in the chest with a switchblade, then he could know for certain, and only then, that the defendant was indeed a murderer. (And in any case, that juror would be a witness, not a juror.) Nevertheless, the evidence may not always be interpreted correctly, meaning the conclusions extrapolated from the evidence could be flawed. Innocence or guilt can never be completely proved; the requirement, at least in America, is “beyond the shadow of a doubt.” What’s the opposite of doubt?

Albrecht_Dürer_-_Adam_and_Eve
Call it oversimplification, but I have more faith in the story of a man made from dirt and a woman made from his rib than I do in macroevolution. Adam and Eve by Albrecht Dürer (1507).

I’ll state it again: faith is required to accept any argument, any evidence, as truth. Atheists must have faith to believe that life spontaneously came to be in a “primordial soup” millions of years ago, and stayed alive long enough to evolve into the bipedal hominoids that we are today. Christians must have faith to believe that God created the Universe (that is, everything that exists) ex nihilo, out of nothing, and that includes man and woman. They must also have faith that God’s son, Jesus Christ, took on human flesh, lived a perfect life, died a death he didn’t deserve, and then rose again—and that one day, he’s coming back to set things right in this broken world.

So, the question is not “Do you have faith?” but “Who or what do you have faith in, and why?” Think about it.

I’ll close with this: I don’t know everything (God does), and I am certainly not as well studied as any scientist or theologian, but I don’t have enough faith to be anything but a follower of Jesus.

One thought on “On Faith

  1. Like the last line: “I don’t know everything (God does), and I am certainly not as well studied as any scientist or theologian, but I don’t have enough faith to be anything but a follower of Jesus.” Me either!

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