Today we're going to take a leap of faith into a soft cushion, to see what
happens when proven knowledge makes faith irrelevant.
There is a profound contradiction rising in the world of religion. Proponents
of various religious dogma such as Creationism, Noah's Flood, and Revelations
have taken a disturbing turn. They are crippling their own religion by attempting
to do scientific research in an effort to prove their religious claims, thus
directly attacking their religion's central pillar: faith.
Abraham is regarded as the father of faith among most of the world's people,
including Muslims, Christians, and Jews. He earned this title through demonstrating
the mightiest act of all: being willing to sacrifice his own son Isaac, indeed
with the dagger poised above his head ready to fall. Isaac was saved when God
sent an angel at the last second to put a stop to it, who told Abraham that
he'd proven his faith. It was an act that very few among us could have duplicated;
I certainly wouldn't have done it. For this reason, Abraham is rightly exalted.
It was truly an act of heroic faith.
Consider this question: If Abraham had known that God would intervene at the
last second to spare Isaac, would his act have been as heroic?
Theological tradition tells us no, it would not have. The reason the Abraham
story is important is that it's the supreme demonstration of faith. Abraham
raised his dagger fully intending to kill his beloved Isaac, all for his faith
in God. He felt every ounce of the unimaginable anguish. Could you have brought
the dagger down and plunged it into your own child? Achieving this level of
faith is the essential goal of all Christians, and for that matter, it is for
Muslims and Jews as well. Faith is the absolute pillar of religion.
Now let's turn the clock forward a few thousand years and see where the faithful
are today. Surprisingly, I see a lot of them doing the equivalent of asking
questions before raising the dagger. Questions like "Can you please prove
to me that the angel's going to intervene?" Can you show me the scientific
evidence that proves Intelligent Design? Can you please prove to me that Moses
parted the Red Sea?
The Associates for Biblical Research (abr.christiananswers.net) publishes
a quarterly PDF document called "Bible & Spade". It's all about archaeological
projects throughout the middle east that they say supports the Biblical record.
The current issue offers evidence from Egypt on the location of the Exodus
crossing of the Red Sea. They have an exhaustive mission statement page, in
which they state and restate their belief that the Bible is absolutely and
literally a correct and true historical document. It is "infallible, inerrant
and authoritative". Their purpose also includes "Edifying the Christian Church
by encouraging a deeper knowledge of, greater appreciation for, and stronger
faith in the Bible through knowledge and correct interpretation of the findings
from archaeology and science." In short, they are all about proving the Bible
is true through archaeology. They call this "encouraging stronger faith in
the Bible". Encouraging faith through proof. They want to force us to believe
Maybe my dictionary is out of date, but faith and proof are oil and water.
Faith needs no proof, and in the presence of proof, faith becomes irrelevant.
Faith means to believe without proof; indeed, it means to believe in spite
of evidence to the contrary. Where is the heroic faith in believing in something
that's proven right before your eyes? That's hardly a demonstration worthy
of Abraham. To seek to marginalize the element of faith by showing supporting
evidence, is to seek to undermine the whole basis of the religion.
We see the same thing happening in any of the numerous groups seeking to find
Noah's Ark on Mt. Ararat in Turkey. On some of their web sites you'll find
tremendous amounts of information about how a wooden ark could have survived
6000 odd years, how it could get so high on the mountain when there's not enough
water on the planet to do it, exactly where it's located in the satellite photographs,
exactly how two of every animal could fit on one ark, what its dimensions are
and where and how it was built, and so forth. But nowhere did I find an explanation
of why it's important that it be found. To my way of thinking, even if you're
of the mindset that Noah's flood was simply a literal account of an incident
and not a meaningful allegory, then allowing it to be found, thus proving the
story, would be more likely to be on Satan's agenda than on God's. Why would
God want to marginalize faith? I can think of every reason why Satan would
want to do this, but not God.
Is proving the Bible really doing the work of God?
Abraham's faith did not need the crutch of supporting scientific evidence
that God is real, nor would he have made much of an impression upon God if
he'd had such. I challenge Christians who are true believers to stick with
their faith, and to hold their faith to be (if I may borrow the terms) "infallible,
inerrant, and authoritative". Or, if you want to use what science tells
us instead, then admit that you're no longer keeping your faith in the infallibity
of the Bible. You cannot do both. A true Christian must question their fellow
believers who attempt to erode faith through the application of science to
scripture. If faith is not enough to support religion on its own, then faith
has already been killed.