Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us. In today’s program, we begin a two-installment series of classics from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives with the late founder of The Berean Call Dave Hunt and TBC executive director Tom McMahon. This week, they address the question: Do You Have an Impeccably Rational Basis for Your Faith? And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re 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.
Dave, in our discussion last week of your book Seeking and Finding God, we talked about the fact that when it comes down to where people are going to spend eternity, many people fall back on religious ideas they’ve grown up with, and they’ve never really scrutinized them, and they couldn’t say whether they’re valid or not. Yet you say, “There’s nothing more important [I’m quoting] than having an impeccably factual and rational basis for one’s faith.” Now, I’m sure there’s some listeners out there, some viewers that probably don’t even believe that’s possible. So how is it that you can say something like that? And I know you’re moving it in the direction of biblical Christianity. You believe that qualifies as a factual, rational religion.
Dave: Well, yeah, because we can prove the Bible is true. But – well, this is what the New Atheists…let’s take Richard Dawkins: faith – that’s not rational; that’s not factual. If you had evidence for it, why would you call it faith? And we’ve discussed this a number of times, Tom, but maybe it’s some time since we have. Well, anyone would be a fool to believe – you’re going to put your faith and your trust, your confidence in something you aren’t sure is true. Are you just going to take somebody’s word for it? This is what the New Atheists says. “Well, faith is just believing…” in fact they say faith is believing without evidence. No, we have to have evidence.
So the Bible – Paul, for example, he reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue in Acts 17 when he came to Thessalonica. He went into the marketplace. He reasoned, he disputed, he debated all the time. He’s not saying, “Listen…now, look: this is it. You just take this as the truth and you just follow me, follow whatever I say.”
Well, I don’t want to get off on the Catholics, but that’s pretty much what the Catholics must do, because the pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra, and the counsels are infallible.
Tom: But, Dave, we even find them among evangelicals, among Protestants, that all of a sudden their beliefs are more traditional, and you find that ideas that they put together…and you’d say, “Well, where does it say that in the Scripture?” Well, it’s a traditional idea. So they don’t think through their religion, their belief system. It’s just a matter of, “Well, I’ll plug into it when I need it.” But even then, if a person would call himself an evangelical, he doesn’t go to the Scripture to support what he believes, or she believes.
Dave: Jesus had really nothing good to say about tradition. In Matthew 15, He says, “…you have made void the Word of God by your tradition.” And you know as a long time Catholic, 30 years, you know that Catholicism has a lot of traditions that contradict the Bible.
Tom: Right, although the Catholics say, “Well, we believe in sacred Scripture.” Along with sacred Scripture there’s the tradition of the church, and of course the teachings of the magisterium of the church.
Dave: And that turns out to be more authoritative than the Bible.
Tom: Sure. These are the commandments of men, as Jesus said.
Dave: Right, yeah. So, Tom, I don’t care what the field is. Atheism is a faith.
Dave: They believe. What do they believe? Well, they think they have some evidence for it, but that’s disputable. We have faith in God. Jesus says, “Have faith in God.”
Now, I have to have a solid basis for my faith. The Bible never teaches: “Well, now, here’s what you believe, and now just jump in and take a leap into the dark, and believe this because this is what the Bible says.”
Tom, I have dear friends. They have an old saying, I guess: “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” Well, that would be true if we really know what God said, but how do we know what God said? Well, Allah…you know, Muhammad would tell you what God said. They call Allah “God.” We have all kinds of false gods out there, so what do we mean when we say, “But God said”? Well, which God? How do you know what He said?
“Well, it’s written down in a book.” Really! How do you know that book really factually reports what God said? How do you know these people are really in touch with God?
So, Tom, we can’t get into that; it’s a whole matter of evidence. It involves manuscripts, it involves how the Bible proves itself. There are no contradictions. As you mentioned recently, 40 different authors over a period of 1,600 years, they wrote these scriptures. It doesn’t contradict; it builds – I mean, you can trace a theme from Genesis to Revelation. How could that happen? Well, they say they were all inspired by the one true God. Pretty hard to refute that, because we can prove that what the Bible says is true, the prophecies especially.
So this is the foundation upon which our faith rests, and we’re not ashamed of having a foundation for faith. If you don’t, why do you believe what you believe? See, a Buddhist could say, “Well, yeah, Buddha said it.”
Or a Muslim could say, “Muhammad said it.”
Or a Hindu, I mean, they’ve got thousands of scriptures. A Hindu could say, “Well, so and so way back 2,000 or 3,000 years ago, he was a great yogi, and this is what he said. So that’s why we….”
“Yeah, but you’ve got all kinds of different sects that follow different gurus.”
“Yeah, but we believe what our gurus said.”
“But how do you know what your gurus said is true? How do you know that your guru has any authority? Where did he get this authority?”
“Well, he’s talking about god.”
“Which god? The God who created the universe? Well, I can take you to the Book that He wrote through 40 prophets He inspired over 1,600 years.” See?
So, Tom, for every author of the Bible we have 39 other witnesses who agree, though they lived at different times, never knew one another, came from different cultures. But what do we have with the Qur’an? Well, we have one man: we have Muhammad. We’ve got a lot of problems with Muhammad, and not necessarily the man you would want to have as your closest friend, because even a neighbor could be killed. “You don’t follow what I say, you don’t go by what the Qur’an says—well, it’s the death penalty.” Well, by what authority? I’ve said too much about that, Tom, but it is a problem. But faith must have a solid foundation.
Tom: Now, Dave, it’s not as though we’re looking for gurus, but when the atheists, militant atheists, as we are seeing today, as you’ve been mentioning, when they castigate Christians for being stupid, for following this book, or for following these ideas – and again, them characterizing faith is just you believe whatever comes along, and no basis, no factual basis, it’s not rational, and so on…
Dave: Tom, I’ll interrupt: in fact, they say this is what Christians believe: the less evidence, or if there is no evidence, than the stronger your faith is.
Tom: Right. Now, as I said, we’re not looking for gurus to back us up, but in your book Seeking and Finding God, you talk about Simon Greenleaf. Now, this is the man who was the co-founder of the Harvard Graduate School of Law, and recognized – one Supreme Court Justice, for example, said that he was the highest authority on legal evidence cited in our courts. Now, Dave, he didn’t believe Christianity until he was challenged, but then he investigated it with all the brilliance that he could bring to searching out the Scriptures. How did it turn out for him?
Dave: Brilliance and legal know-how. Well, Greenleaf was challenged by his students: “Dr. Greenleaf, you are the greatest authority on legal evidence in America today. And there was no one who walked this earth who made such fantastic claims for himself as Jesus of Nazareth. Why don’t you apply your expertise to the claims of Jesus?”
Greenleaf said, “Great idea. Never thought of it.”
So he set out to do that. He spent several months investigating, and he reported back to his class something like this: He said, “I have carefully examined the claims of Jesus of Nazareth just as I would examine evidence introduced into court, testimony introduced into court, and I can tell you on the basis of the evidence there is no doubt about it: Jesus was who He claimed to be. He is God, who came to this earth as a man. He never ceased to be God. He never ceased to be man. He is the one and only God-Man. He died for my sins, paid the penalty on the cross for my sins.”
Tom: So he understood justification – the legal aspects of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross – probably better than anybody of that era.
Dave: Right. The epistle of Romans has been called “The Courtroom Drama,” and is studied in law schools, believe it or not, because of the brilliance of Paul in presenting his case. He brings the whole world before the throne of God and he finds the whole world guilty. And then he says there’s only one way that you can solve this problem: somehow the sinner has to be forgiven. Well, how is that going to come about righteously? Well, here is how it happens.
Tom: Yeah. Dave, again, the reason I bring this up is, as you know, and you’re documenting in the book you’re working on now, Dawkins and others who call themselves “The Brights” – they say they’re smarter than everybody else, and there is no doubt that they are smart guys. But do you wonder whether that has sort of run over into stupidity here? Because they say no one but an idiot would follow a religion or get involved in a religion, and so on. Now, let me…
Dave: Well, Tom, we can name many scientists who were brighter than these guys. How about Sir Isaac Newton?
Tom: Well, Dave, in your book, again, Seeking and Finding God, we go down the list, and do you want to make a comment on these individuals? Johannes Kepler, certainly the founder of astronomy; Robert Boyle, the father of modern chemistry; John Ray, the father of English natural history. You mentioned Sir Isaac Newton, Carolus Linnaeus, the father of biological taxonomy; Michael Faraday…I’ll just give you the names: Charles Babbage; John Dalton, the father of Atomic Theory, who revolutionized chemistry. Dave, I could go on and on: Lord Calvin, Gregory Mendel, Louis Pasteur, Wernher von Braun…I mean, on and on and on. So my point here is we don’t need these guys to prove the Bible or support the Bible, but they are not stupid, and they came to Christ through the readings of the Scripture.
Dave: And, Tom, these are some of the brightest of the brights that ever lived. Newton is called the most brilliant guy, his book on mathematics is still studied today, and yet he wrote more about the Bible than he wrote about mathematics. So these Johnny-come-lately New Atheists, they are going to overturn everything?
But, Tom, they have managed to take control of science.
Tom: And the media – they are the darlings of the media, which is a sad comment, because what they are saying is wrong. Again, it’s not rational, neither is it factual, and that’s what really upsets me about them.
Dave: Well, Tom, I don’t think we’ve ever given – I don’t have the website in front of me, so I can’t give it, but they can Google evolution and those who are opposed to it: you’ve got hundreds – I think at the latest count 800 scientists (not nobodies) who are opposed to evolution for scientific reasons, and they are signing up increasingly on the internet. So for these guys to say, “Oh yeah, anybody that believes in God, or anybody that denies evolution, they’ve got to be stupid,” it’s simply overstating what they are trying to prove.
Tom: Dave, last week we talked a bit about tolerance and intolerance, and I used to think those words, you know, they had some value, they were reasonable, and so on. But I’m not so sure anymore. Today if I have a conviction about something that somebody else disagrees with, especially regarding a religious belief, I’m accused of being intolerant, or worse than that, I could actually be accused of committing a hate crime.
Dave: Yeah, but how come they’re not accused of being intolerant for disagreeing with you?
Tom: You wonder, wouldn’t you?
Dave: That’s a good question. Well, Tom, you see, the issue is no longer truth. Truth doesn’t matter. We just want to get along with one another, and we don’t want anyone to be offended, and we want everyone to feel free. So to do their own thing, and not be contradicted – but wait a minute. We just had a demonstration probably a year or two ago by hundreds of Muslims in Washington D.C. demanding their rights. Now, how about let’s get even a dozen Christians in Pakistan or Afghanistan, much less Saudi Arabia, holding a demonstration demanding their rights! You’ve got no rights in Saudi Arabia, and I won’t go into that, but this thing gets pretty well mixed up.
Tom: Yeah. But, Dave, let’s just go across the border, up north here to Canada. We know – we have some friends in ministry up there that were forced to leave Canada because their ministry was a ministry of discernment, religious discernment, and they had some issues in terms of comparing biblical Christianity with Mormonism, with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the government comes along and says, “No, you can’t do that. That’s intolerance.” So you can’t even make a distinction between one group and another group. You know, it’s not like they were standing in front of, you know, the Mormon temple and trying to burn it down, or rushing into it and creating all kinds of destruction and havoc. They were just saying, “Look, what they believe is different from what we believe. Here are the differences. You decide.” You can’t do that anymore!
Dave: Tom, I’m really frightened. I’m worried about the day when one scientist can say to the other scientist, “Wait a minute, you’re contradicting me. That’s a hate crime. You are not honoring my opinion.” We’ve got real problems.
Tom: Well, Dave, how about a math teacher telling a student, “Look…” I mean, let’s take it down to the second grade: 2+2=4, and the child puts down 5. You see, this is theater of the absurd, but it’s being mandated by governments, not just Saudi Arabia, not just Pakistan, and so on, but Canada, and it’s coming along in this country.
Dave: Well, Tom, I don’t know of anything worse, because if I cannot express my faith in God, and if I cannot express why I have that faith, if I cannot quote the Bible, if I cannot quote the words of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth, the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me…”
Wait a minute! “Jesus, didn’t you know that Muhammad would be coming along and you’re contradicting him, because he says that the Qur’an is the only truth out there?” Tom…
Tom: Or the gurus are telling us there are many ways.
Dave: Right. Well, you call it the “theater of the absurd,” and it is, in fact. Well, okay.
Tom: Dave, when you quoted Jesus saying, “I am the way, the truth, the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me,” He also said – and I’d like you to talk about this for a minute – He also said in Matthew:7:13,14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Dave: Well, Tom, we’ve got some real problems here. Destruction – something leads to destruction? In one of the verses that you quote often, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” But how can you say that? You’re being dogmatic now. Tom, something is either right or wrong. You remember – how long ago since I quoted Allan Bloom?
Tom: Probably a couple of weeks ago, but he’s worth…we could quote him every week, Dave, because of the wisdom that he is challenging us with.
Dave: He wrote the book The Closing of the American Mind, a brilliant title, and he said, “Why would I say the American mind has been closed?” Well, how did it get closed? Well, he says, “In America the one virtue is openness to everything.” You couldn’t say something is wrong. That would offend people. “Well,” says Dr. Bloom, philosophy professor at the University of Chicago, “it just could be that their minds are closed.” Well, they’re open to everything except one thing: they are closed to the possibility maybe something’s right and something else is wrong. Well, we better examine that one, but you can’t, because to say that anybody is wrong, that’s offensive.
Tom: So, Dave, is this what Jesus meant when He said that “because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it…” is it because it’s so secretive or so obscure that you couldn’t find it? What is He getting at?
Dave: No, because—well, for example, in the Old Testament, God through His prophet Jeremiah said, “You will search for me and find me when you seek for me with all your heart.” So the people that don’t find it, they don’t want to find it. They want to take their own way.
Tom: The broad way that leads to destruction.
Dave: Right, because it’s more popular. Look, how many people are on this – this is the broad road that leads to destruction, and the way to heaven is very narrow. I mean, you've got some very careful tolerances if you’re going to get your capsule to the moon. You’ve got some very narrow tolerances, and if you’re going to get to heaven, you have some very narrow tolerances – in fact, only through Jesus Christ.
Tom: Right. And, Dave, all we need to do is be willing. That’s the issue here, not that I’m not bright enough, I’m not this or whatever. You need to be willing. That’s where the heart comes in, that’s the attitude, and God will direct you.
Dave: Willing to know the true God, and let Him correct you of your false ideas.
Gary: You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. The complete radio discussion of Dave’s Seeking and Finding God is available from The Berean Call.
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