By Sean Pitman
The Virtues of Empirically-Blind Faith
There are several who frequent this site who are presenting a popular argument that true faith must exist outside of science or empirical evidence – that the weight of empirical evidence for or against the Christian faith in the Divine origin of the Bible shouldn’t matter or affect one’s faith in the Bible as the Divine Word of God.
Some write, “The problem is when an effort is made to maintain that empirical evidence is essential to validate the Bible â€“ that is heresy and blasphemy… Faith is a gift from God that is not acquired through the study of empirical evidence… Those who insist that the ‘weight of empirical evidence’ allows SDAs to believe the Bible are denying God’s Word… Scripture is sufficient and requires no external validationâ€“which is exactly what the official SDA Church teaches!”
In answer to this challenge, those like famous Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias counter with the following:
When pastors believe and teach, â€œall we need is the Bible,â€ they equip their young people with the very line that gets them mocked in the universities and makes them unable and even terrified to relate to their friends. If pastors want their young people to do the work of evangelism â€” to reach their friends â€” that line will not get them anywhere…
If a pastor says, â€œAll we need is the Bible,â€ what does he say to a man who says, â€œAll I need is the Quranâ€? It is a solipsistic method of arguing.
The pastor is saying, â€œAll I need is my own point of reference and nothing more than that.â€ Even the gospel was verified by external references – “we saw, we felt, we touched.” The Bible is a book of history, a book of geography, not just a book of spiritual assertions.
The fact is the resurrection from the dead was the ultimate proof that in history â€” and in empirically verifiable means â€” the Word of God was made certain. Otherwise, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration would have been good enough. But the apostle Peter says in 2 Peter 1:19: â€œWe have the Word of the prophets made more certain â€¦ as to a light shining in a dark place.â€ He testified to the authority and person of Christ, and the resurrected person of Christ.
To believe, â€œAll we need is the Bible and nothing more,â€ is what the monks believed in medieval times, and they resorted to monasteries. We all know the end of that story. This argument may be good enough for those who are convinced the Bible is authority. The Bible, however, is not authoritative in culture or in a world of counter-perspectives. To say that it is authoritative in these situations is to deny both how the Bible defends itself and how our young people need to defend the Bibleâ€™s sufficiency.
It is sad that some people think a person who asks, â€œWhy the Bible?â€ is being dishonest. This is a legitimate question.
And, from one of the comments here on Educate Truth:
One of these frequent posters claims to be a Young Earth Creationists, but believes in creation based on what he refers to as â€œfaith.â€ One could get the idea that he fears that anything scientifically shown to support creation is actually bad since it would then somehow require less faith to believe. His faith, however, is more akin to the Catholic student who is reported to have said, â€œFaith is what you believe that you know ainâ€™t so.â€
This is not Biblical faith. Neither is it the faith of the Adventist pioneers. It certainly doesnâ€™t build faith, it actually destroys genuine faith. This pseudofaith more closely resembles a mere superstitious belief. It is no surprise that agnostics, evolutionists, and other doubters have such an affinity for those who possess this kind of â€œfaithâ€ on this site. Why wouldnâ€™t they agree with it? It doesnâ€™t threaten them in any way. It bolsters their ranks. It confirms their unbelief since they already believe faith is unreasonable.
For me, I have to side with Galileo when he said:
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them. – Galileo Galilei
Consider also the following comments of Mrs. White in this regard:
[God] appeals to reason and waits for each person to decide on the basis of the weight of evidence and the constraint of love. â€“ Steps to Christ, pp. 43-47; The Desire of Ages, p. 458; Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 255; vol. 4, pp. 583, 584.
â€œThe human mind is endowed with power to discriminate between right and wrong. God designs that men shall not decide from impulse, but from weight of evidenceâ€¦ Had the Jews laid by their prejudice and compared written prophecy with the facts characterizing the life of Jesus, they would have perceived a beautiful harmony between the prophecies and their fulfillment in the life and ministry of the lowly Galilean. â€“ Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 458
â€œThose who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence.â€â€”Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 255.
â€œGod gives sufficient evidence for the candid mind to believe; but he who turns from the weight of evidence because there are a few things which he cannot make plain to his finite understanding, will be left in the cold, chilling atmosphere of unbelief and questioning doubts, and will make shipwreck of faith.â€â€”Ibid., vol. 4, pp. 232, 233.
â€œThere are noble women who have had moral courage to decide in favor of the truth from the weight of evidence. They have tact, perception, and good ability, and could make successful Christian workers.â€ â€“ Ellen White, Daughters of God, p. 16
Notice that while there remains room for doubt, God has intended that we make our decisions and form our faith in Him and His Word, the Bible, based on the â€œweight of evidenceâ€.
In line with this sentiment, the Executive Committee of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church issued the following mandate to all boards and educators working for the Church:
We call on all boards and educators at Seventh-day Adventist institutions at all levels to continue upholding and advocating the church’s position on origins. We, along with Seventh-day Adventist parents, expect students to receive a thorough, balanced, and scientifically rigorous exposure to and affirmation of our historic belief in a literal, recent six-day creation, even as they are educated to understand and assess competing philosophies of origins that dominate scientific discussion in the contemporary world.
As a response to the “An Affirmation of Creation–Report”, this document was accepted and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church Executive Committee at the Annual Council in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 13, 2004.