Do We Need Reasons for Our Beliefs?
June 8, 2001
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You are listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
As many of our listeners know we’ve been using Dave Hunt’s books as syllabuses for many of our program series. Not only does that help supply the biblical content we want to discuss, it also affords the opportunity for those interested to get ahold of the book and track with us as we go from chapter to chapter. While you certainly don’t need to have In Defense of the Faith, some people like to have a reference copy for much of what we discuss, and a good portion of that can be found in Dave’s book.
Now, Dave, what I would like to do is stay with the format of the book, which is composed mainly of questions to which you’ve responded over your lifetime as a Christian. I know you’ve mentioned on different programs that people ask you questions. You find the skeptics, the cynics, and those who really are just seeking answers. So, you’ve got a wealth of questions that have been thrown at you over the years.
Dave: Yes, I enjoy it when I am speaking at a church, or a university, or wherever. I really enjoy having a Q&A time because I like to be challenged, and if what I’m saying isn’t true, and they can show me either from logic, or science, or the Bible—primarily the Bible—then I certainly would quickly change my opinion. I don’t want to be led astray myself or lead others astray. So, Tom, we probably mentioned it, but when I was in University, I read everything I could find that the atheists, the critics, the skeptics, had ever written that I could put my hands on. And I can only say the more I read, the more it strengthened my faith to see what pitiful reasons they had for objecting to the Bible or to the existence of God and so forth. I do have files of questions that the atheists, the skeptics, have put forth. We couldn’t, of course, cover them all in this book, so some of these are from personal encounters with people, some of them from the questions of audiences, and others from my files of what some of the great critics have had to say.
Tom: Yeah, well, again we’ll have a little redundancy here, because we do have a segment that is primarily Q&A, but the thing I like about this, Dave, and particularly about your book, [is] there’s a great continuity. And I like going through it. I say, “Oh, there’s a tough one! Let’s see him answer that one!” Now, I know you have the choice of the questions, but I think some of our listeners will find, “Yeah, these are things I’d like to ask somebody.” So, I think they’re going to enjoy that part of it.
Well, let’s jump right in. Chapter one begins with the question: “I have always understood that there is a difference between belief and faith—that belief is based upon fact, and that faith, since it’s related to religion, must be divorced from evidence and reason. Now that seems reasonable, but lately I’ve been wondering whether and why this should be true. Can you help me?” That’s a good question, a good start.
Dave: There is a difference between science and religion—now we’re talking about religion, not faith. Einstein, for example, when he came up with the . . . and I can’t remember what I said in the book, Tom, so you guide it, and I may talk about other things, . . .
Tom: That’s okay.
Dave: But anyway, Einstein, when he came up with the theory of relativity, people would say to him, “Oh well, everything must be relative. I guess that does away with morals, you know, absolutes—there are no absolutes.”
For example, a scientist couldn’t give you a scientific reason why a sunset is beautiful. But the scientist, all he is going by is what he can observe; what he can make repeatable experiments to prove, to demonstrate. There is much that we believe that we cannot prove, because God tells us about things that scientists don’t know about. And then, of course, you have scientists who say, “Well, if I can’t prove it—if I can’t write out a partial differential equation, a harmonic, why the bridge moves the way it does in the wind or whatever—if I can’t put this in a test tube and examine it, then I’m not going to believe it.” Now they used to say that when I was in school. Not any more.
Tom: Dave, but the thinking out there usually is, Well, science is factual; you can prove it. But faith, with regard to religion, it’s myths or whatever. But, Dave, one of the statements you make here is that biblical belief and faith are similar. So this person’s question—they’re making a dichotomy here, which really is not one.
Dave: Well, faith is not a leap in the dark. We must have evidence for what we believe. So the person that says, “Well, this is faith, and that is fact,” they’re mistaken. But we can’t prove everything. For example, Hebrews:11:3, “By faith we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things that do appear.” Okay, they used to say, “Well, that was the first statement of the atomic theory.” No, it’s not. It’s not a theory. The Bible doesn’t give us theories. God is saying there that everything was made out of nothing. I can’t prove that. Science can’t prove that, but God has proved Himself in so many ways. The Bible is a book of history. The Bible is factual. I can check the Bible out. The Book of Mormon—they have no evidence for it. You can’t find a pin. You can’t even identify the topography that they talk about. You haven’t found one civilization or one city, or the ruins of one city that they talk about.
The Bible? The Jews study their history out of the Bible. Archaeologists know where to dig to find old cities, the ruins of old cities, from what the Bible says. The Bible is factual. We can prove that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, not just by faith, but factually we can prove this. We can prove that the events that happened in the Bible actually happened. That what Jesus said, He really said.
Now God proves so much for us that we can check up on, and everything we ever check the Bible out about is true. The skeptics are always wrong. Every time they say the Bible is wrong on this, they prove to be wrong and the Bible is right. But all I am saying is when the Bible says, “God dwells in a light that no man can approach unto, who no man hath seen or can see,” I cannot prove that, I have not been there. But Tom it’s . . .
Tom: Well, Dave, before you get on with that, just going back to this person’s question. It says “. . . related to religion, it must be divorced from evidence and reason.”
Tom: . . . and he’s talking about faith. No, look at the Scriptures. You talked about Hebrews:11:3, but 1 Thessalonians:5:21 says, “Prove all things . . .” This is the Apostle Paul speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Tom: In Acts:1:3 it says, “To whom He showed himself. . . ”
Dave: That is His disciples.
Tom: Right, this is Jesus—“To whom Jesus showed himself alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs.”
Dave: This is after His resurrection. He proved to them, He demonstrated . . .
Tom: So, the Bible itself claims that there are certain things that must proven, that are factual, that are historical, and so on, and we are to look to that.
Dave: Absolutely. Acts 9, you get the beginning of Paul’s modus operandi. It says,
“He confounded the Jews. . . ” This is after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, after he became a believer. It says, “He confounded the Jews, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.” Or, we’ve probably quoted a number of times—I like Apollos, Acts:18:28: “He mightily convinced the Jews, . . . publicly, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.”
So yes, if someone believes—I mean, you say, “Well I was born a Hindu, I’ll die a Hindu”; “I was born a Muslim,” or “I was born a Catholic,” or “I was born a Baptist,” Presbyterian or whatever—wait a minute! If you do not have solid — and we talked about this before—you’re going to step out into eternity one day. If you do not have absolutely solid evidence, you would be a fool to do it.
Tom: Dave let me quote you from your book. I know it’s been a long time, and, you know, you go from book to book, so it is hard to remember. But let me ignite some memories here, okay? I am going to quote you from the book. You say, “It is only common sense that strict proof should be demanded before making a commitment or an investment in this life.”
Tom: Now everybody would go along with that. “How much more important then, to be absolutely certain, based upon solid proof, before accepting by faith those things which affect one’s eternal destiny.”
So the person again that has this question and there may be many out there who are listening to us—if they’ve got “religion,” and there are a lot of mythical religions out there, so we’re not knocking them for that, but if they think that faith with regard to religion, has no basis, no foundation in fact or proof, then what have they got with regard to eternity? They don’t even have a hope and a prayer. They’ve got wishful thinking, maybe.
Dave: People say, “Well, that’s your faith; I’ve got my own faith.” Or, “I don’t want to talk about it; it’s a private matter.” Well, if you’re . . .
Tom: Well, worse than that, it’s intuition, it’s feelings, you know? You get up the next morning—did you have a pepperoni pizza, and your day is off, or you are having a bad hair day.
Dave: Some people say, “I am spiritual but not religious.” Now what they mean by that is, “I’ve got my spirituality, but I don’t want to be tied down by any rules, any dogma.” Well, try to get to the moon in a spacecraft without being tied down by dogma. Try to get on the United Airlines flight from here to there with a ticket to the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. They won’t let you on. You can’t even play a game. This is why we have referees, okay? It’s amazing that people don’t want God to referee His universe. They don’t want God to be able to have any rules. Some kind of a Silly Putty God—“Oh, I believe in some higher power.”
“The God that I believe in?” Well, wait a minute! You’d better find out who the real God is. So yes, we must have absolute, solid evidence, because we are stepping out into eternity one day and you can’t come back. You’d better know for sure. So that’s basically, I guess, what we’re trying to say.
Now, Tom, let me say another word about religion. The Bible only mentions the word religion three times. Maybe it’s only twice—in James, I know. “True religion, and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep themselves unspotted from the world.”
The Bible is not a book about religion. Religion is something that man comes up with, and I am not in favor of most religion that is out there, because you have a group of men who have taken control of this, whether they call themselves priests, or theologians, or pastors, or whatever—and I’m not putting down any one of these people, but [for] many of them, it is a means of power and control, and they make the rules. Jesus has much to say about that to the rabbis in Matthew 23, and we’ve quoted it before: “You scallywags, not only don’t you enter into heaven, but you keep others from entering in, because you make up the rules, and they’ve got to go by you.”
Okay, so that’s religion, and I talk to people, even atheists, on airplanes, who, when I begin to explain this, say, “Yeah, that’s a franchise deal,” you know? “Somebody’s got a franchise on how to get to heaven, and somebody else has another one.” No, that’s religion!
This is not religion that we are talking about. We’re talking about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all.” Okay?
Now you say, “Well, I don’t believe that.” Well, you’d better find out whether this is true or not, and if you think you know the true God, let’s find out whether you really do or not. That’s all we are saying. We’re not trying to push anything on anyone. We’re just pleading with people. This is very important. There’s nothing more important.
Tom: And, Dave, we’re pointing to, again, God’s Word. The name of this program is Search the Scriptures Daily. We want people to check out what we’re saying—not because Dave Hunt says it or because whoever—Billy Graham, the pope—whoever. What we’re saying is God’s Word talks about proof, it talks about evidence. Let me quote you 1 Peter:3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason . . .”’—not some subjective feeling, intuitive kind of thing, but the reasons that God gives in His Word, His truth “. . . that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you. . . . ”
Dave: Tom, I often say to audiences, “If you can’t give a solid reason . . . “ Well, I ask them, “Why do you believe in God? Which God do you believe in? Why do you believe the Bible is God’s Word?” (Because mostly I’m talking to Christians.) Or “Why do believe the Qur’an is, or the Hindu Vedas?” “Why do you go to this church, or that church? What is your hope for eternity?”
Now, most of the people that we’re talking to out there, that are listening to us, are probably Christians, so we can talk about the Bible. Check us out from the Bible like the Bereans did. Because this is God’s Word, and we can absolutely prove that this is God’s Word. It is 100 percent true!
But there are other people out there who may not believe that. Now, that’s a problem, because we don’t have time in every program to start from scratch and to prove to them that the Bible is God’s Word. But if they have some doubts, if they have some serious objections, if they have some evidence that they think the Bible is not God’s Word, please write to us, and we will deal with that on the program.
Other than that, as you said, we go by the Bible because we know it is God’s Word.
Tom: Let me pick up on the next question, and again, Dave, the reason I like this book—and I mentioned this to you earlier, before we went on the air—there is such a continuity with regard to things that people wrestle with, and you took a lot of time to write a book to answer these things, and I think anybody who gets ahold of the book will really be blessed.
Here’s the next question along this line: “A famous adage says ‘seeing is believing,’ yet the Bible says, ‘We walk by faith, not by sight’ (2 Corinthians:5:7). These two ideas seem to be in direct conflict with each other. Which one is right?”
Now, you begin by talking about a lot of things that seeing is not sufficient for believing. Anybody been to China? Do you believe there’s a China?
Dave: Well, “We’ve seen pictures of it,” some people would say, but it goes deeper than that. I have never seen a subatomic particle. Now there is much that we can’t see. I’ve never seen space. They tell us that space isn’t empty. It has something; there is some substance to space. I’ve never seen a light particle. We’re not even sure whether these are particles or whether they are waves. Sometimes they act like waves; sometimes they act like particles. I’ve never seen justice. I’ve never seen truth. Tell me, what is the texture of truth? How much does it weigh? What does it smell like? What does it taste like? There are many—in fact the most important—things in life: truth, holiness, purity, godliness, purpose, meaning—they are . . .
Tom: Dave, can I move you into a little bit . . .
Dave: They are beyond our five senses.
Tom: I know, but let me move you into a little bit more mundane, all right?
Dave: All right.
Tom: This is mild. What about things that we’re seeing but are not really true? I mean, you know, you have a stage magician; you have a mirage in the desert, and so on. Again, going back to this adage, all we’re trying to say here is, wait a minute! Seeing is believing?
Dave: Or depending on whether you’ve got ultraviolet light on, it’s what kind of light you have on it. Tom, let’s put it like this. Let me get a little bit philosophical. I have a page here in front of me . . .
Tom: Just don’t lose me, Dave.
Dave [laughing]: Okay, haha! I have a page in front of me. I’m feeling it with my fingers. I’m looking at the letters. I’m not really in touch—in fact, I think somewhere in here, didn’t I quote Sir James Jeans . . .
Tom: Yes, you did.
Dave: . . . to the effect that he says we are not yet in touch with reality?
Tom: Right, the ultimate reality.
Dave: Yeah, can you give us that quote?
Tom: Sure. “The outstanding achievement of Twentieth-Century physics is not the theory of relativity, or the theory of quanta, or the dissection of the atom, but it is the general recognition that we are not yet in contact with ultimate reality.” James Jeans—I’m not a science guy, but he’s no slouch.
Dave: Right, he was a mathematician-astronomer. “Sir”—so he was knighted.
Well, Tom, that’s what I am trying to say. This page that I am holding here, that I am looking at, I’m really not in touch with that page. It is being mediated to me by light waves that are going into my eye—the rods and cones, and then the nerves are sending that signal to my brain, and my brain is interpreting this, but I have no contact with this thing.
You maybe have a different experience of it than I have, or colors, and so forth. So when you say, “seeing is believing”—no we don’t really see anything; we don’t really have contact with “ultimate reality,” as Sir James Jeans says. Now, if you’re going to talk about “ultimate reality is physical,” you’re not even in touch with that. But wait a minute! There is a spiritual world, and scientists—even hardcore physicists—are recognizing that this physical universe is not all there is. There is a soul and a spirit in man. We talked about that. Words are not physical; thoughts are not physical. You cannot explain your thoughts in the terms of electrical impulses in your brain cells, chemical reactions in your brain, and so forth. No, these are nonphysical, so we haven’t really seen ultimate reality yet. So seeing is not believing, and if you accept that adage you could be deceived.
Tom: Right, on the other hand, there is some value to it. I mean Jesus appeared after His resurrection . . .
Tom: . . . but then He had an interesting thing to say to the doubting Thomas who wasn’t there: “Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe.” This is in John:20:29.
Dave: Tom when the Bible says, “We walk by faith, not by sight,” and that, of course, goes against some of these people who are teaching visualization. They say, “Oh, if we could just visualize Jesus . . . if we could just visualize the situation,” and so forth. No, that’s trying to walk by sight, instead of by faith. Why do I walk by faith instead of by sight? Because God knows what I don’t know. He knows what will happen tomorrow before it happens. He knows what is best for me. Therefore, I am going to trust Him, and that is walking by faith rather than by sight. And it makes a lot of sense, Tom, because He’s smarter than I am, and He really loves me.
Tom: And, again, the Word of God, I Peter 1:8: “Whom having not seen ye love, in whom though now ye see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” God’s Word.
Dave, you make this statement in the book something to the effect that if seeing is believing, then no one could ever believe God.
Dave: Yeah, because no man has seen God at any time. So I understand what a person means by that. “Let me see the evidence before me. Let me check this thing out.” On the other hand, what is really important, we can’t check out, and we need to trust God. But don’t trust God if you don’t know Him! You’d better get to know the true and living God.