Moved to Faith by Reliable Sources

In support of the Central Thesis: “No one can actually believe in something blindly.” (Part 1)

What do you consider a reliable source of information?  We put our trust (faith) in others all the time.  Eating at a restaurant shows our faith in the cooks, the health inspectors, or even the friend who tell us, “It looks terrible, but try it!  You’ll love it!”

Faith is evidenced by action.  We depend upon reliable sources to bring us to the point of taking an action like actually putting some disgusting looking food in our mouths.  There is a difference between acknowledging that your friend survived eating at a nasty-looking restaurant, and actually eating the food yourself. 

Faith is NOT magic.  It does not “make something true.”  Nasty-looking (and clean-looking) restaurants can make you very sick even if you REALLY believe they won’t.  But your actions are evidence of your faith and what you trust.

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  (James, Chapter 2, Verse 17)

Being a chemist, I am bothered by those who mistakenly claim that science is devoid of faith.  Let me speak to the scientist.  An honest scientist realizes that testing a theory requires a quantity of faith.  You are expending time, precious days of your life, and often other people’s money and time to see if a theory holds or fails in a controlled set of circumstances.  You are “sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see”.  But, notice the subtlety.  You are not sure of the result or certain of the result, but rather, you are sure that nature is repeatable, logical, and knowable.  How did you come to trust in the stability, the logic, and the “knowability” of nature?  Reliable Sources.

A scientist comes to know about the behavior of nature through reliable sources.  For me, it began with parents explaining the seasons, teachers suggesting books to read, and the books themselves.  I didn’t just learn facts.  I came to trust the philosophy that nature was knowable and that rational thought was trustworthy. This is not an empirical result.  It is a secondary conclusion and the foundation of empiricism.

Hence the flawed logic of scientism’s claim,

If it cannot be empirically proven, then it cannot be objectively true. 

That claim cannot be empirically proven, so that claim commits suicide. 

This example is not a straw man, either.  Here is the claim written in a more popular form,

It must be possible to conceive of evidence that would prove a claim false.

This is most certainly a claim that is non-falsifiable.  Further, in the same article the statement is made:

“Any claim that could not be falsified would be devoid of any propositional content; that is, it would not be making a factual assertion — it would instead be making an emotive statement, a declaration of the way the claimant feels about the world. Nonfalsifiable claims do communicate information, but what they describe is the claimant’s value orientation. They communicate nothing whatsoever of a factual nature, and hence are neither true nor false. Nonfalsifiable statements are propositionally vacuous.”

Therefore, “It must be possible to conceive of evidence that would prove the claim false” is propositionally vacuous. 

If that makes your head explode, good. You should realize that science rests on top of philosophy.  Why do we trust our 5 senses?  Philosophy.  Where does logical experimentation originate?  Philosophy.  And it is philosophy that tells us what is logical, what is reasonable, and what sources (including empirical results) are likely to be trustworthy.

Back to the question.  We use reliable sources to bring us to the point of taking action on our beliefs (faith).  We may not have studied philosophy in school, but we learned it in the school of hard knocks.  Who hasn’t felt the pain of betrayal and learned something about who to trust?  Who hasn’t sniffed old-ish milk trusting their senses to reflect the true nature of the substance?

So the scientist trusting her mentors, the child trusting his parents, the Christian trusting her ministers have more in common than they think.  When it comes to achieving faith in something, we all have to choose our sources and our philosophical framework. 

The question remains, “are the sources we have faith in truly reliable?”  Check out J. Warner Wallace’s book Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels or Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus.  They searched the source documents and interviewed experts until their objections were answered.  Even though they could not see God with their physical eyes, they could clearly see their sources.  Their faith was NOT blind.  And then it came down to action.  They trusted in Christ.  They actually “ate at the restaurant.”

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34, Verse 8)

--DW

Roadmap for the Series 

This series of blog posts will explore what is meant by Christians when they say they have “faith” in Christ. Roadmap for the series:

  • What is the Biblical concept of the word “faith”? (Part 2)
  • How does one come to have “faith” in something?
    • Sources they trust – parents, pastors, professors, publications, papers, posts (Part 3)
    • Intuition – putting the pieces of life together (least “explainable” but still not “blind”) (Part 4)
    • Reaction to stress or joy – mountain tops and valleys in life (Part 5)
    • Experience - direct experience with Christ in some way (Part 6)
  • Conclusion and support of the central thesis (Part 7)