Is Faith A Crutch?

Faith is widely misunderstood today. Many consider faith to be merely a crutch used to cope with the realities of life. Faith is seen by many to be the rejection of reason and rationality. The prominent atheist Richard Dawkins considers faith to be, “the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”
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Rather than seeing Christians refute this claim, it seems many have come to accept that Mr. Dawkins is correct, and not only that, but it also appears that many Christians have come to see faith despite the evidence as something praiseworthy.
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Both of these ideas about faith are wildly inaccurate.
  
Nowhere does the Bible advocate a “blind” faith or making a “leap” of faith. We should not believe in something just for the sake of believing.
  
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as being: “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
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Therefore, faith is believing in things that we can’t see. At first reading, you may be wondering how this is any different than blind faith. If you’re believing in something you can’t see then you must have no good reason to believe it. It’s blind faith. Right?
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 Not so.
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We all rely a lot more heavily on faith than knowledge in everyday life. If we only acted on knowledge, then we would be paralyzed and unable to live.

Say you decide to go to McDonalds for your lunch break. You pick McDonalds because it’s quick, easy, and convenient. It will only take you ten minutes to get there—or at least—you have faith that it will only take you ten minutes. You have no way of knowing that your car will still be where you parked it. You haven’t been watching your car. How do you know a car thief didn’t come by and make off with it while you weren’t looking? Perhaps the president of the United States decided to make a visit to your place of employment, and he really wanted your parking spot so your car was towed. Or perhaps a meteorite fell from the sky and smashed right into your automobile. There are practically an infinite number of scenarios which could occur to leave you with no car.
You can’t see your car, and yet you still have faith that it will be there when you need it get to Micky D’s.
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You enter the parking lot, unfathomably without any hint of worry, and as if by magic, your car is still right where you parked it. Of course, you have no way of knowing that it will start when you try to drive off to get your Big Mac. But, being the person of faith that you are, you get in and turn the key without a second thought. You expect the car to start even though you have no way of knowing that it will. That is some incredible faith!
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You then drive out of the parking lot and onto the highway to reach the nearest nutritional wonder that is McDonalds. You have no way of knowing there are no drunk drivers among you. You have no way of knowing a meteorite isn’t about to smash right onto the road you’re driving on. And yet, you still think lunch is important enough to take such risks…or maybe you just have faith that nothing bad will happen, despite your lack of knowledge.
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Miraculously, you arrive at McDonalds. Yes! It’s still where it used to be! It didn’t go out of business, it didn’t close, it wasn’t hit by a meteorite! (meteorites are so annoying, I know.) You go through the drive-thu, and order a Big Mac and vanilla milkshake—without knowing whether or not they have sold-out of either of those two items. You have faith that they will have them.
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You get your food, and eat it heartily, having faith that it has not been poisoned, or that no one has decided to expectorate into your milkshake. You have no way of knowing these things, and yet you have faith that all is well.
 
We live by faith far more than knowledge. Of course, it’s not a blind faith. You believe your car will be parked where you left it because you have left your car parked before and returned to find it still there. You have turned your key in the ignition countless times, and more often than not, your car starts up. That’s why you wager you can make it to McDonalds. Meteorites don’t fall from the sky to obliterate fast-food restaurants too often either, so based on this knowledge, you have faith that the McDonalds will still be there when you arrive, despite that fact you can’t be absolutely sure.
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I believe this is the same kind of faith we should place in God. Practical, knowledge-based, faith. As Proverbs instructs us, “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” We shouldn’t believe something blindly. Blind faith is not a virtue. True faith is a virtue, believing or hoping for something you can’t see or be absolutely sure of, but have good reasons for believing.
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So Richard Dawkins is incorrect that faith is “belief in spite of evidence”, or at least, he is incorrect that this is the kind of faith the Bible advocates. However, he is probably right that many people do believe things despite, or even because of, a lack of evidence. This is not Biblical.
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God gave us minds, and we are supposed to love God with them (Luke 10:27). A blind faith is not honoring this commandment. What is more, a blind faith is a weak faith, and a faith that is easily shaken. We are also called to always be prepared to give a response to others for what we believe (1 Peter 3:15) but how can we do that if we don’t know why we believe what we do?
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Faith is the result of knowledge and evidence, not an ethereal, mystical force that we cling to despite knowledge. However, discernment is needed here. Sometimes we are incorrect. We think we know something that we don’t. Just because something may appear to conflict with our faith, doesn’t necessarily mean it does.
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Additionally, our actions determine whether or not we really have faith. If you didn’t have faith that your car would still be where you left it, then you wouldn’t have gone and looked for it there. Words don’t determine faith, actions do. You could say that you believe it is going to rain, yet you don’t take an umbrella with you when you go out, then you don’t really believe that it’s going to rain (or you don’t mind getting rained on). This is why the Bible says in James that faith without works is dead. If you don’t act on your faith…then you really don’t have much of a faith, if any at all.
Every day, we make far more decisions based on faith than on knowledge, even Mr. Dawkins. Faith is a very reasonable virtue. No one has a problem with you having faith that your car will start, or that your food won’t have something wrong with it when you go to a restaurant. However, the minute you profess to have faith in God, you are suddenly stepping out of the realm of knowledge and reason and into the land of mysticism and superstition. As Christians, we should not buy into this lie. We must not allow ourselves to be at an intellectual disadvantage when discussing the existence of God.
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Just because you can’t see something, doesn’t make it any less real. I have never seen an electron before—in fact—no one has. No one has seen dark matter or dark energy before either. Even though we have never seen electrons before, we are pretty sure they exist because we have observed their effects.
 
We have never seen dark matter before either, but astrophysicists are pretty sure it exists since without it, galaxies would fly apart due to centrifugal force.
 
Everything with matter interacts with gravity. Therefore, the more matter you have, the more gravity you have. That’s why all of the planets in our solar system orbit the sun. It has the most “stuff” and therefore exhibits the greatest amount of gravitational force. The reason many in the scientific community think dark matter must exist is because there is not enough matter in galaxies to create enough gravity to hold everything together. Galaxies are constantly spinning at incredible speeds, and without enough gravity holding them together, the centrifugal force would send everything flying apart into space.
How much dark matter and energy would there need to be to hold the galaxies together? A lot. In fact, these dark scientists estimate that only 5% of the universe is observable matter. Did you hear that? 5%!!! That means we are taking on FAITH that there is another 95% of the universe that we can’t SEE.
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Dark matter and energy have never been observed. Scientists have created these two things in order to have an explanation for this troubling problem that there is not enough matter in galaxies to hold them together.
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Personally, I see this phenomenon and I see God. As Colossians 1:17 says, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” God is the dark matter and energy holding the universe together. This is one reason why I love outer space so much. I think the glory and grandeur of God are rarely more visible than He is in space. I’ve told people this before and they think I’m crazy. They see space as cold and dark. I see it as displaying the power of God. He is very visible.
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Just like how we cannot see dark matter or electrons but can see their effects, we may not be able to directly see God, but we can observe His effects, and it is these observations which give us ample reason to put our faith in God—or at the very least—the existence of a god.
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“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” – Psalm 19:1

1 Comment

  1. Great post! I loved your McDonald's analogy, complete with meteorites!

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