1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) tells us “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
There is a difference between blind faith and informed faith. The Bible does not call us to believe through blind faith. Many Christians do not know what an informed faith is. Thomas Aquinas argued for an inter-relationship between two means of knowledge. He taught that faith informs reason and reason informs faith. Actually there are eight sources of knowledge: superstition, authority, experience, intuition, tenacity, rationalism, empiricism, and science (Jackson, 2009). All have positives and negatives.
The main objective information I use for my informed faith is the reliability of the Bible throughout all history. When ancient documents are judged for reliability they are judged on three criteria: number of original/ancient copies of original documents, the closeness of the writers to the actual events time wise, and the collection of external writings relating to the document’s authenticity and historicity. The Bible is the number one ranking ancient document on those three criteria. We have over 5000 early copies of the Biblical manuscripts and many more fragments. Many of the writers were actual eye-witnesses to the events, or next generation. We also have hundreds of ancient texts outside the Bible corroborating historical information to Biblical characters, events, and location. That is reliable evidence.
I also use evidence from reason/logic. A good example of that is www.proofthatgodexists.org. They have an exercise to show that absolute truth exists. The exercise also shows that absolute laws of logic and morality are impossible without a lawgiver. That is logically sound evidence.
After that, I add evidence from personal experience and intuition. Although I recognize that these evidences are only valid for me, they are undeniable because either they are valid or I am insane! Seeing that I’m passing through graduate school with above a 3.0 gpa, and operate in society with no problem – I don’t think I’m insane, so (at least to me), I have no other option than to consider them valid.
That is only some of the evidence I use to form my informed faith. A lot of people throw all knowledge from experience and intuition into the category of unreliable, yet empirical studies have been done on experience and intuition. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing produced observed evidence that experience and intuition, when used alongside empirical methods, does help make better decisions for clients (Welsh & Lyons, 2001). Another study done on teacher’s use of intuition in the classroom shows extreme correlation between experience and problem solving (Thornbjorn & Kroksmark, 2004).
A final method I would add is testing the claims of the Bible. The Bible claims a 6-day creation approximately 6000 years ago. Does the evidence, when looked at objectively, confirm this? Yes. All observed changes within species have never broken the family class barrier (Biblical “kinds”). To believe anything else steps into the realm of interpretation or blind faith, and pseudo-science: unconfirmable assumptions about the past. The Bible claims a worldwide flood? Is there evidence of worldwide destruction? Yes. Billions of dead things buried in sediment layers caused by massive catastrophe laid down all over the world! And these are just a couple claims we can test.
The Bible also offers us answers to the big questions of this world. Why is there suffering in a world created by a loving God? This concept does not make a lot of sense, even to many Christians. But the answer is simple, and crucial to forming an accurate Christian worldview. God created a perfect world for us. We rebelled in the Garden of Eden, and broke that covenant. We now live in a broken, cursed version of that creation. We continue to rebel every day. We are the ones to blame, not God! So, the next logical question is – why doesn’t God intervene and save us? Well, He did! He sent Jesus to allow us a path back to Himself. If God did not create a perfect creation that we broke with sin, why would Jesus’s salvation even be necessary? You see, this whole crucial doctrine falls apart in an evolutionary worldview. If death and suffering was always a part of the original creation, why did we need a savior?
The Bible is a collection of over 60 different books, written by over 40 authors, on 3 different continents, over 1500 years yet tells a cohesive, non-contradicting, prophetic story. It is statistically impossible for a hoax to have been that elaborate. Mountains of physical, archeological evidence also back up the stories in the Bible. Despite this overwhelming amount of reliable evidences, many accusations are hurled at the Bible daily. There is always another side of the story. There will always be a place for faith. Even with all the above informed confirmations, we are still human. We will doubt. That is where faith comes in. Faith should not be our all-consuming belief. It should be that final few yards of road when we think the road in not quite complete. In that analogy it is pertinent to realize that the road is actually complete, we just can’t see it.
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) –
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Jackson, S. (2009). Research methods and statistics (3rd ed.). Belmont, California: Wadsworth.
Thornbjorn, J., & Kroksmark, T. (2004). Teachers’ intuition-in-action: How teachers experience action. Reflective Practice, 5 (3), 357-381.
Welsh, I., & Lyons, C. M. (2001). Evidence-based care and the case for intuition and tacit knowledge in clinical assessment and decision making in mental health nursing practice: an empirical contribution to the debate. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 8: 299–305.