On not being ashamed of what we know

Faith & Inspiration

I've always been partial to efforts to prove God from the evidence. I think this was mostly due to my intellectual orientation, my Western-oriented notion that one "knows" something first and foremost by turning it over in one's mind. And there is pride, this overdeveloped pride I carry about in my chest. I never liked atheists thinking I'm stupid because I believe in God, so it served my pride well to be able to hold forth on the mechanics of natural selection, or the essential agreement of the Synoptic Gospels, or what have you.

A focus on evidence can have a valuable effect, especially when your run-of-the-mill atheist essentially parrots the dogma of his creed without understanding what it is he's decided he doesn't believe. Christians aren't supposed to be so good with logical thought, nor is there supposed to be any evidence left by God on the earth. Altering that prejudice alone can open the door to someone's mind, so that he considers, for the first time, whether all this God stuff is really as silly as he's been taught to believe.

At the same time, to write, as pastor Dan Detzell does in The Christian Post, that "Christianity stands upon evidence," and to assert further that the order of salvation is evidence followed by faith, is to embrace the flawed worldview of atheists. It is to fall prey to the notion that knowing comes through the five senses, and that anything beyond that cannot essentially be known. It tells us that the Christian uses his five senses to get himself oriented to the evidence of God, and then he trusts, through faith, that God is out there somewhere, though essentially undetectable insofar as the five senses cannot find Him.

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But this concedes too much to the atheist, who is essentially always a materialist, a devout believer in the notion that nothing exists outside the five senses, because otherwise one of his five senses would have detected it, a piece of illogic so staggering and unscientific that one marvels at how a pre-eminent scientist like Richard Dawkins can embrace it.

Whereas the materialist says, "I cannot detect this invisible God," the materialist Christian says, "I've got plenty of evidence to trust that there is an invisible God."

But what of prayer, the greatest theology, the deep knowing of God that every Christian, if only for once, in perhaps the darkest night of his soul, has known, though he could neither hear, see, taste, smell, or touch it? Surely to find your heart's tuning fork humming in accord with the forever-beating heart of God is a knowing, even though you can't record it to the satisfaction of a Richard Dawkins.

In fact, I'll bet that for many Christians, the process of conviction took exactly the opposite path from what Detzell suggests. We are suddenly struck, as Whittaker Chambers wrote of a moment in his childhood, by the breathtaking reality that God is real, more real than any material thing that has been troubling us. And this epiphany is so soul-shaking that we set about trying to prove it to ourselves. Paul wrote that we are saved by faith, after all, and not from within.

I appreciate the quest for evidence, I really do. But we shouldn't lose sight of the reality that it is God who first pierces us. Only subsequently do we set about trying to scratch away at the obscuring reality around us, to fashion our intellectual briefs for Him. We shouldn't cede this great knowing to the materialists. Let them stand on the five senses. As children of God, we know there is a deeper knowing than these senses can afford.


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