Is Faith Unreasonable?
by William M. Cwirla
Evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist Dr. Richard Dawkins writes, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” He asserts that people who believe in God suffer from a “god delusion” and might as well believe in a “flying spaghetti monster.”
So, is religious faith, specifically the Christian faith, unreasonable? Must you check your brains at the door of the church to be a Christian?
The book of Hebrews speaks of faith in terms of a conviction about unseen things. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). It goes on to say, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). What is unseen cannot be tested scientifically the way Dr. Dawkins would like. But does that make faith unreasonable?
We reason in different ways. One way is to evaluate evidence and draw conclusions. This is the way of science, history, and crime scene investigations. Much of our day-to-day life is occupied with this way of thinking.
But we also think beyond the level of evidence. When someone says, “I love you,” you don’t reply, “Do you have any evidence for that?” If you say that, you probably won’t be hearing “I love you” very much, so don’t try this at home.
We also reason about abstract concepts such as love, beauty, justice, mercy and goodness. We write poetry and tell stories. We paint images of things we have not seen. We compose melodies we haven’t heard before. We are creative beings who think far beyond what is needed for our survival. To limit ourselves purely to “evidence,” which Dr. Dawkins proposes, would be a terrible failure of the imagination and our most human ways of thinking.
The book of Ecclesiastes says, “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time; also He has put eternity into man’s mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We have “eternity” planted into our minds, causing us to look beyond and outside ourselves and imagine the transcendent and the holy.
In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul wrote, “Ever since the creation of the world [God’s] invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:19-20). God has left His fingerprints on the creation, so that His creatures might recognize His existence, power and deity. Only a creature with an imagination can look at the creation and ponder his Creator.
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