It may seem as though I am a glutton for punishment – but I actually read and do a fair amount of research on the un-churched, the atheist, and the ex-Christian. I do this for several reasons: 1) I am always wondering what makes a person not believe what is to me so very obvious, 2) I always hope and pray there will be some way for me to engage those communities in a helpful and winsome way, 3) it keeps me from forgetting that Jesus died for those people as well and I have a responsibility to shine his light in places where I may not be welcome.
With that caveat in mind I was reading a post on exChristian.net, which is as it sounds: a website for people who have left the Christian faith and who need moral support – or as often is the case – intellectual fire power against Christians. Anyway, the poster – Dan – had left Christianity because of the passage from Hebrews 11:1 that says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I encourage you to read his story if for no other reason then to pray for him and those like him who struggle against his own intellect and will.
What follows is my response to his story and the role of faith in every person’s life regardless of their religious convictions (or lack thereof).
My comment –
So, it was the whole idea that faith is about the hope of things unseen that turned you from faith? I don’t follow? What is evolutionary biology, but putting faith in things that haven’t been seen? While there is some evidence for the overall evolutionary theory, it still and always will remain just that, a theory. No one will be able to go back in time and watch the actual development of every species on the planet – so at best the evidence is circumstantial and anecdotal. The rest you have to take on faith.
The same is true with ancient history. All of the history we have is based on the accounts of other people, and no one has or will be able to go back and look to check that their accounts were accurate. We take those things on faith.
Let’s talk about something more personal – relationships. How do we know our spouses love us? They tell us, maybe they show us – but what does love look like or sound like? Is it not possible that they may treat you kindly or lovingly merely to manipulate you? Sure, then what they are demonstrating is not love, but in fact derision. You don’t believe that about your spouse – you believe they treat you lovingly because they love you – but even the evidence has to be taken on faith.
There is at least that much evidence for the existence of God and Jesus Christ. There are accounts, written and otherwise, that point to God. There is evidence for the historical person of Jesus, his life and crucifixion, and eye-witness records of his resurrection. Now true, the majority of that evidence comes from the Bible, but why do we treat the eye-witness accounts there with any more strengency than we do others? And in this account it tells us that God loves us and evidence of that is that Jesus died for our sins. Believing the evidence of God’s love is surely faith.
Ultimately, faith is always the hope in things unseen – and faith is a fact that everyone must live by – whether it’s faith in science, historical accounts, our personal relationships, or religion… Because we cannot see or experience everything, everywhere, at all times – faith is a necessity. It’s just a matter of where you place it.