I have experienced this response on occasion. One individual I met on
talk.origins corresponded with me for quite a while and one day sent me a
note in which he indicated that he had concluded that indeed I am a
Christian. When you say something that is perceived as an attack on
something that's important to an individual's faith, there will be a
response. If over time, though, they see other indications that you are a
Christian, they may change their minds. While my friend will probably
never abandon young-earth creationism, at least he no longer holds to the
fiction that someone who believes the earth is ancient can't be a Christian.
>> Some familiar examples: a fifth grade teacher repeated the missing day
>> story about NASA running computer programs backwards, an 8th grade teacher
>> and our youth pastor both mentioning that human footprints are found within
>> dinosaur prints in Texas, and finally our pastor presenting the story of
>> British sailor swallowed by a whale (I gave him Ted Davis' "Whale of a
>> article that can be found at the ASA website).
>A fairly common response I get is that we live by faith rather than sight
>(sight=evidence). These are things we are supposed to accpet "by faith"
This is a tougher challenge, of course, because as Christians there _are_
some things that can only be accepted by faith. I would look to Hebrews 11
for guidance on the role of faith. There it says that faith is the
substance of things unseen, the evidence of things hoped for. Clearly
faith helps us deal with what we don't understand. But when we have some
knowledge and some capabilities of investigation, then understanding the
role of faith becomes more challenging. Since I can point to other
passages in Scripture that tell us to investigate the world we live in, I'd
have a hard time claiming that we must believe by faith something our
knowledge and the results of our investigation seem to be contradicting.
Looking at the next few verses of Hebrews 11 may give some guidance. It
says that we know by faith that the earth and the heavens were formed at
God's command (and you can say that whether the process took seven days or
4.6 billion years), that by faith Abel was able to offer a better sacrifice
to God than Cain, and by faith Enoch was taken from this life without
experiencing death. Finally it says that without faith it is impossible to
please God. It all focuses on God and our relationship with Him. We can
investigate virtually anything in nature, given enough ingenuity and
patience. But we cannot investigate God, except as He allows us. It seems
to me that what faith has always been necessary for, and what it will
always be necessary for, is in believing what God tells us about Himself.
And no amount of increasing knowledge will fill in that gap. Only faith
can do it. Perhaps there are things in nature that are among the "secret
things" (Deut 29:29) that we will never be able to understand. But who can
reliably predict what those things are? OTOH I believe the prediction that
we must rely on faith to believe God is rock-solid reliable.
William E. Hamilton, Jr., Ph.D.
Staff Research Engineer
Electrical and Controls Integration MC 480-106-390
GM R&D Center
30500 Mound Road
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