Is Faith Irrational?

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Faith is believing what we have not seen, but that does not mean that it is irrational and foolish.  Sometimes that dichotomy is set up, particularly by those who reject God and see science and reason as the ultimate thing for people to trust in.  They often ridicule or put down Christians for believing what they cannot see, even calling them unscientific or unreasonable.  They see a sharp dichotomy between faith and science, claiming that faith in God contradicts what we see in the physical world around us.  But both the Christian and the naturalist first exercises faith, and then interprets the world around them according to that faith.  There are some things that are simply unprovable; science cannot prove them.  One of those things that science cannot prove absolutely is how the world got here.  We as humans were not there to observe the actual beginning of the world, so we could not observe it directly.  We may find evidence that points in one direction or another.  But that evidence must be interpreted, and our presuppositions based on our faith determine how we will interpret that evidence.  Several months ago Ken Ham debated Bill Nye about origins, and Ken Ham often makes the point that there is a difference between what he calls “historical science” and “observational science.”  He says that observational science is what we can observe and test; it’s what science typically does.  So we can observe and test certain things, and we can use those observations to build things, like rockets and iPhones.  But historical science is based off of observations in the present about things in the past, and the conclusions can be wrong.  During the debate, Bill Nye tried to say that there is no distinction between these two types of things.  He said that if we weren’t watching the debate, we would be watching CSI, a crime drama tv show.  He says that on CSI, the people observe things in the present to solve crimes in the past, so those two things go together.  The implication is that making observations in the present is an infallible way of determining what happened in the past.  But the irony is that crime investigation often makes mistakes based off of their observations.  It is not an infallible way of looking at the past.  TV shows make it look easy to solve crimes, because most crimes are solved in an hour, minus commercials.  Real life crime is not that easy to solve.  But in either case, investigators can often make mistakes based off of their observations.  At times, they believe a certain person is guilty, and when they find some evidence that seems to point to that person, then they conclude that they are right.  But more evidence may come to light proving the person is innocent.  If observations in the present were an infallible way of understanding the past, then there wouldn’t have been a recent news article about a woman who was freed from prison after 17 years because she had been wrongly convicted of murder.  Some things, particular in the past, cannot be proven by scientific observation.  Hebrews 11:3 tells us that when it says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”  The evolutionist believes in evolution by faith, because the origins of the universe are unobservable.  He then interprets what he sees around him from that perspective.  Now much evidence may point to Creation and the Flood and things like that, but we still cannot go back and actually observe them happening.  The Creationist believes in Creation by faith, because that is what God has said.  It is not a blind and irrational belief against all evidence; it is a confidence and certainty of things that God has said.  Based on that confidence, we can interpret the evidence of the world around us and see how it does fit within a Biblical framework.  Faith is believing what we have not seen, even if we have seen evidence to support it.  But that does not mean that faith is irrational and unreasonable.

–Pastor Tim

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