Monday, April 26, 2010

Choosing Our Beliefs

Several years ago an acquaintance acknowledged that the issue of the age of the earth and our universe did not bother him. Previously, our discussions about creationism issues had not dealt in specifics. I had incorrectly assumed that his statement signaled his belief in an ancient universe. Only when I began to quote specific time frames and events did he clarify his strong belief in recent creation events lasting six solar days. He dismissed my citations of plentiful scientific evidence and fully allowable scripture hermeneutics with the statement, “I know what I believe.”

Historically, from human culture many different forms of belief acquisition have evolved. If a person states he believes something, he holds that belief to be true. How one’s beliefs are acquired and why those beliefs are held to be true have been topics of philosophical debate for centuries. In modern times subjective truth is more highly regarded than objective truth. The oft-used phrase “That works for me” may capture the essence of this reality. Stated another way, what we believe is true may be more dependent on us as believers than on the truth or falsity of what is believed.

On another occasion, during my introductory remarks in an adult Bible class, I introduced our topic of study for the next several months: Creationism and the spectrum of creationist beliefs in the church. One class member defined her position on that belief spectrum by proclaiming, “This is what I was always taught.” It may well be true that what we were taught as children is true. In addition, “knowing what we believe” may also overlap with “knowing what is true.” Our diligent study of the intersection of belief and truth is of vital importance, whether we are studying creationism or any other area of human knowledge. Our 5/10/2009 post remains relevant:

The disciple Thomas has been scorned for his unbelief, earning the nickname “Doubting Thomas.” Jesus’ loving solution for Thomas’s doubt (John 20:24-29 NIV) was to present him with explicit physical evidence of his wounds: “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

In the field of science, physical and empirical evidence are necessary to affirm a hypothesis. Such evidence may not always rise to the standard of absolute proof. In the physical and archeological sciences, however, reasoning from physical clues helps provide preponderance of evidence for establishing the truth of our beliefs. Truth discovery based upon evidence was as useful in Bible times as it is today.