Faith and Reason

Is it right for Christians to look for evidence of God’s works in history? Shouldn’t we just “take the Bible by faith”?

Is it right for Christians to seek scientific explanations for things God has done, such as the worldwide Flood and the provision of manna in the wilderness?

These questions are being addressed on the March 2023 BC Messenger podcast, which has prompted me to put some related thoughts into this blog post.

In our work here at the Biblical Chronologist and Truth in Time we have at times been presented with these kinds of questions. There can be a hesitation (even disdain) among Christians at any attempt to “search out” the claims of the Bible. Here is an example of a reply we received from a gentleman through social media:

“Being a Christian, I have come to understand that faith is the expectation of hope, its evidence is belief in things not seen. Perhaps to some, if not many, that belief is without substance, therefore not true. Your choice as to what you believe and accept as true. My faith returned to me after years of not accepting Jesus Christ. My belief is strong regardless of what scholars believe is acceptable historical truth or not. God and the written history of the Bible is either accepted or not. No in between. I just believe.”

It is good when an individual’s faith is solidly resting on Christ and the written word of God. I also desire for many to come into this true faith and believe on Jesus the Christ, which is the main reason I am involved in this work. But for many, as C.S. Lewis said, “The heart cannot rejoice in that which the mind rejects as false.” I agree that our Christian faith is the “evidence of things not seen,” however, it is firmly based on truth found in the real world. For example, Jesus literally rose from the dead, in the real world, and Paul said, “if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” Our faith in Christ is grounded on the real-world event of His resurrection from the dead. And if there is no substance to the account of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, then we are no better off than any cult that says, “Just close your eyes and believe.”

There are many (especially within the younger generation of our day) who have been told in a very convincing way that Christianity is based on lies. The gentleman quoted above spoke of a season of struggle with his own faith. He seems to have shut all of the doubts out of his mind and chosen to “just believe.” (I hope it will stand the test of time for him.) Not all have this capability, nor should they. Many, like the Bereans in the New Testament, are searching out whether or not the things the Scriptures say are so, and are in great need of evidence of the truth of God’s Word in the real world. We desire to help demonstrate that Christianity really is a faith based on reason and truth in the real world.

Dr. Aardsma gives a helpful word on the subject of faith and reason:

“When you speak to the issue of faith versus reason, there are two fundamentals which must always be made explicit. First, distinguish between reasoned faith and blind faith. Reasoned faith moves forward into the unknown based upon the available evidence gained to that point. Blind faith is simply a leap in the dark.  There is nothing admirable or even sane about blind faith. The Exodus narrative illustrates God’s attitude on this. He condemns the people, repeatedly, not ever for their failure to shut their eyes and take a blind leap over the cliff, but rather for failing to quell their doubts and complaints and move forward in trust in the midst of adversity, having repeatedly been eye witnesses and participants in God’s many deliverances to the then-present moment.

Second, faith versus reason does not mean faith contrary to reason.  Faith is complementary to reason.  Reason alone is stagnant. It baulks at the current overwhelming circumstances which are currently filling ones senses. It cannot move forward into the unknown darkness ahead by itself. Meanwhile, faith alone is suicide. It is an impulsive close your eyes and jump off the sky scraper. In the proper relationship of faith to reason, faith comes in where reason leaves off, enabling the person to see that, based upon the evidence to the present time, the only sane thing to do is keep trusting and keep moving forward despite the darkness and despite the unknown.”

I believe the major reason that this topic would be unexplored with some Christians is due to the beating that the Old Testament has taken over the last one hundred years. To put it into football terms, Christians have been on the defense far too long, while the opposing side has had the ball for far too long. (It could be said that for a while now we haven’t even been on defense. We have retreated to our “amen corners” in many ways, and haven’t been engaging with the opposing team at all. We as the church have left the game.) It is time for the people of God to get back in the game, get the ball back and get on the offense. And this will only happen with a strong and confident faith in God’s word complimented by strong real-world evidence from God’s world. Faith and reason will always go hand in hand.

And that is what our work is all about, putting the people of God back on the offense with solid, reasonable, real-world answers to the historicity of the biblical accounts.

Would it not be wonderful to live in a world where, for the faithful Christian, faith in God’s Word obviously goes right along with reason, due to the overwhelming evidence in real-world history? Well, the evidence is here, and that day is fast approaching.

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