Published 1-19-1987

Empirical arguments only lead to breakdown of faith

"The fool hath said in his heart, 'There is no God.'  Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity." (Psalms 53:1)

It is a common mistake among Christians to try to prove the truth of Christianity empirically.  Christians are deceived into trusting the scientific method of empiricism, expecting it to support Biblical truth.  This only leads to the breakdown of faith.

Science does not support the Bible.  According to the laws of science, it would be up to us as Christians to prove the truth of the Bible.  We certainly could not expect atheists to prove that there is no God, anymore than we could expect a skeptic to prove that there is no tooth fairy.  We couldn't do it if we had to.

There are numerous proofs offered for Christ, but if we are going to be honest, we must admit that they don't hold up.  By the consistent application of empiricism, the design argument and the first cause argument have been refuted many times, and they are the best most often cited arguments.

Noted Christian author Josh McDowell, who will be on campus this week, falls into this trap in his overabundance of zeal for Christ.  For example, in one of his most often cited arguments, Brother Josh purports to prove the truth of the Bible using probability theory.  He says there was only one chance in 100 trillion of a single man fulfilling all the old Messianic prophecies.  He is only playing into the hands of those who would refute the Bible, because to get numbers like this, he must count many spurious prophecies.  One such prophecy is the one foretelling that Jesus would be a Nazarene, from Judges 13:5, although the context makes it clear that the Nazarene talked about in Judges was Samson.  Brother Josh's arguments just don't hold up under scientific scrutiny.

Not to worry, however, for God does not want us to approach him in that way.  "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (I Corinthians 2:4,5)

This is what faith is all about:  believing without evidence or rational proof.  Reason and faith are two mutually exclusive absolutes.  We can accept Biblical Christianity as our unquestionable premise, or we can accept empiricism, but not both.  They are the opposites of one another.

You have to find Christ through faith; he doesn't want us to use worldly wisdom and the five senses: "For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent...For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom...But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." (I Corinthians 1:19,22,27).  The final word on the use of science and mathematics in talking about God should come from Paul's inspired letter to the Corinthians cited above.  "Let no man deceive himself.  If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  For it is written, He has taken the wise in their own craftiness.  And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." (I Corinthians 3:18-20)

The problem is mostly that, as children, we are not taught, as we should be, that we simply should not use reason to try to understand God.  We should remember this, for humanists want reason to replace the ancient truth of Christianity and become the new religion.  We can know Christ only by accepting our feelings as superior to mere reason (the wisdom of men), holding our feelings in tension with what we see through our eyes and minds.

When I was a child of 15, I would ask questions like, "But if everything hs to have a cause, what caused God?"  Now that I know Christ, however, I have put those questions behind me.  "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall know even as also I am know." (I Corinthians 13:11,12)  I now know that I can't expect to understand God by thinking; I'll just have to wait 'til the next world comes to understand.

Though he is a zealous servant of Christ and an example of devotion, Brother Josh and others like him only tend to discredit Christianity by looking for faith through reason and science.  We can't have it both ways; it is either reason or faith that is our basis of belief.  We can accept both only by severely twisting one or the other out of shape.  Brother Josh would do better to forget trying to use reason to justify Christ, and stick with the Bible.


Albert Barger, a junior majoring in political science, psychology, and journalism, writes "God and Country" weekly for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily represent those of The Daily News or Ball State University.



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