Clearing the Fog: ‘Christianity Doesn’t Need Evidence Because Faith is Blind’

By Sean McDowell Published on October 21, 2017

Many atheist critiques of Christianity claim that faith is blind, irrational, stupid. In his book The God Delusion, leading atheist Richard Dawkins asserts that faith opposes reason, and calls faith a “delusion,” which he describes as “persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence” (p. 28).

A common example used to show that the Bible denigrates evidence is the story of doubting Thomas. In The Selfish Gene, Dawkins writes, “Thomas demanded evidence. … The other apostles, whose faith was so strong that they did not need evidence, are held up to us as worthy of imitation” (198). Was Jesus repudiating an evidence-based faith?

In the updated Evidence that Demands a Verdict, my father and I point out three problems with this assertion by Dawkins:

First, Jesus predicted his resurrection on multiple occasions in the presence of the disciples. Thomas should not have been surprised at the return of Jesus. Second, Thomas heard eyewitness testimony (evidence) from the rest of the disciples and yet still refused to believe. (The vast majority of scientific knowledge we possess depends upon trusting the conclusions of other scientists, which is true for virtually all disciplines.)

Third, Jesus did many miracles during his ministry as proof of his identity. In fact, right after the story of Jesus scolding Thomas, John said the miracles of Jesus were recorded “so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).

Christianity Values the Life of the Mind

Despite what Dawkins claims, Christianity values the role of the mind, which includes the proper use of reason and argumentation. Jesus said to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind (Mark 12:30). The Lord said to the nation of Israel, “Come now, let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18). Scripture and church history emphasize the importance of the role of the mind in discipleship and evangelism.

Christianity values the role of the mind, which includes the proper use of reason and argumentation.

In the Old Testament, God showered Egypt with miracles before inviting Israel to follow him into the wilderness. Rather than asking Israel for blind allegiance, God’s miracles through Moses gave them good reasons to trust him. Exodus 14:31 makes this clear: “Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.” Miracles preceded the call to belief, laying the foundation for a rational step of faith.

Faith is Not Blind

Even so, many Christians use the term “faith” to mean “blind faith” rather than biblical faith. But Christianity itself does not demand blind faith. In fact, quite the opposite: when Jesus Christ and the apostles called upon a person to exercise faith, it was not a “blind faith” but rather an intelligent faith. The apostle Paul said, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Tim. 1:12, emphasis added).

Christianity does not demand blind faith; in fact, quite the opposite.

Jesus specifically performed miracles to show who he was, and, as a result, many confidently placed their faith in him. During a trip to Capernaum, Jesus healed a paralytic. After forgiving the man’s sins, Jesus said to the crowd, “‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’ — He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed and go to your house’” (Mark 2:10, 11). Jesus healed the man so people would know he spoke with authority from above.

Christians are often accused of taking a “blind leap into the dark.” However, my father Josh set out to disprove the Christian faith historically, but instead found the evidence powerful and convincing. So, when he became a Christian, it wasn’t a blind leap into the dark, but a knowledgeable step into the light. He placed the evidence onto the scales, and in his estimation, it tipped in favor of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, resurrected from the dead.

You may be convinced by the evidence. On the other hand, you may find it wanting. But the claim that “faith is blind” simply ignores the biblical and historical evidence. In fact, only someone who hasn’t truly weighed the evidence could make such a claim. If you haven’t considered the evidence yet, maybe now is the time.

 

 

Sean McDowell, Ph.D., is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

Originally published at seanmcdowell.org. Reprinted with permission.

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  • Tim Pan

    Until the Holy Spirit fills you the thoughts of God are just so much foolishness.

  • Hmmm…

    Faith actually sees, but on the inside. An image in your mind’s eye. But bible faith must be based on something God has said, not just random things. It’s what’s in God word and what he has indicated to you (which will not contradict the word). Prayer is part of asking him to say something to you upon which to base your faith. Then faith requires corresponding actions. You do not talk and act as if what you say you believe is not real. Faith is believing God, and if you say it that way, it seems to anchor it more. Faith comes from what God has said. Faith grows as you revisit the promise and think on it, and very much adds fullness to any wait for the natural element to manifest. Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    The leap into the dark thing is interesting to challenge. Actually, light comes with the sharing of the Word. You are going toward the light when you respond. You are seeing into the reality and moving toward it.

  • Patmos

    It’s hilarious listening to atheists try to disprove something that can’t be proven, for if it could be proven then the matter would be settled. I wonder if the dimwit Dawkins and all the rest even bothered to look up the meaning of faith. Thing is secular dictionaries, which now also tell us that marriage is perverted, don’t come close to the real definition of faith which can be found in Hebrews:

    “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” 11:6

    The key word in this verse being “evidence” which in the Greek means specifically evidence that settles a case.

    We should all understand by now that the secular mind has abandoned reason, it’s supposed stalwart companion. I mean, is not claiming a man to be a woman the dead give away?

  • Sean said: “The vast majority of scientific knowledge we possess depends upon trusting the conclusions of other scientists, which is true for virtually all disciplines.”

    This probably should be clarified to make it clear that science is not based on the opinions of scientists, or anyone else. Scientific conclusions must be based on information that in one way or another can be repeatedly demonstrated by sound methods to be true. Only conclusions that are based on such empirical evidence are valid, but only for as long as further testing does not discredit them.

    If a science repeatedly makes predictions that can not be verified by objective evidence, that (part of that) science is not reliable. It should not be trusted regardless of how many scientists have the opinion that it is true or valid.

    • Andrew Mason

      The problem is there are scientific fields which make claims that cannot be replicated, but since they accord with the beliefs of the experts in the field, those claims are considered fact.

  • Trilemma

    The object of the Christian faith is there for all to see. Not only can you see it, you can touch it, smell it, and even taste it if you want to. If you get the CD, you can hear it too.

    • J J

      You can’t see, touch, smell, taste, or hear oxygen.
      Therefore oxygen does not exist.

    • GPS Daddy

      Hmm, for a theist, Trilemma, you sure do doubt like an atheist.

      • Trilemma

        Doubt is the antidote for gullibility.

        • GPS Daddy

          Go right ahead and believe that.
          Since you use sooooo many of the new atheist arguments and since you doubt that the spiritual world even exists how about I just refer to you as a new atheist? Sounds good?

        • GPS Daddy

          Since you claim to be a theist, Trilemma, what god or gods do you believe in?

        • Chip Crawford

          I doubt my doubts. Perfect.

  • Libby K

    A study by Vanderbilt University sound that 55 percent of atheists claim to believe in extra-terrestrials.

    Talk about “blind faith.” They call religion a “superstition” and call religious people “irrational” and “unscientific.” Pot to kettle.

  • Hmmm…

    You can’t see wind, but you experience its effect.

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