Faith in God is Rational
We cannot live without trusting. “I will meet you at McDonalds at seven.” You trust that at seven you will see me at McDonalds waiting for you. You arrive, order your food and take it to a table where your friend waits. You sit in a chair without a care and the chair holds your weight. You exercise trust constantly throughout your day. You trust drivers to stop at red lights and go on green ones.
Why do we trust things in our lives? It is because of past experiences. People tend to be reliable when they promise to meet at a certain time and place. We worry when they don’t show up because that is outside our expectation. You come to a scary suspension bridge and your guide tells you to hold the side ropes and walk across. He assures you that it will hold you. You trust his experience, his expertise. We trust much of what our teachers tell us. At least we do till we are old enough to know better. How often does a parent tell a child “you can do it” and after some effort the child actually does it? We are taught to trust, because it is essential to our growing up.
We trust in many things that we ourselves have never proven or experienced. Caesar lived. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You cannot breath in outer space. The earth is round. The sun is extremely hot. If we believed in only the things we experience for ourselves, our knowledge would be narrow and debilitating.
We trust science and scientists. We trust that science describes the natural world accurately. We believe that scientists are truth tellers and can be trusted. (Unfortunately this has become a serious problem in our modern culture.) We trust our doctors, our historians, our sociologists, and on and on. Trust is essential to our living successfully in the world.
God asks us to trust in Him. When we place our trust in a person, we call it faith. When a person lives up to the trust placed on them, we say they are trust worthy. It seems that many think this kind of trust, this religious faith in God, is not rational. We kind of lose our minds when we begin to trust in God. We make an irrational leap across a wide chasm to get to trusting an unseen being. But is that so?
(Heb 11:1-2 [NET]) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. For by it the people of old received God’s commendation.
This is a much maligned verse. Here is the basis of the misinterpretation that concludes that faith is a blind leap. Faith in God is irrational. It has no basis in fact. At the heart of the verse is the word “conviction,” to be convinced, persuaded. Persuaded by what? The verses that follow give a litany of those who are declared faithful. In each case there was a history of God showing His faithfulness to those individuals. God taught them to trust Him. He made promises that he kept. Promises kept makes us sure of what we hope for. Our faith in God looks to our future home with Him. We have faith that that is a reality because we have learned that God is true to his promises. We may not have seen the outworking of all God’s promises, but we have a profound trust that they will come to fruition. Christian trust is stronger than most because it rests upon a trustworthy God. Chairs do break and people do run red lights. People, things, scientific theories, and teachers will disappoint. God will not disappoint.
Our trust in God rests on His revelation to us, both in nature and in history. It is rational to look at the world and universe around us and marvel at how wonderfully made it is. What power, what knowledge, what being would create such beauty and complexity? We can make very rational arguments from the complexity of the world around us to show that God must exist. Nature screams at us that it did not just erupt out of some spontaneous event where something sprang from not anything, from nothing. Our science supports our trust by telling us that the universe has a beginning. Our logic and our understanding of infinity tells us that the creation around us could not have an infinite past. If the universe had an infinite past, we would not have life. We would not be here. The very nature of an infinite series would not allow it.
Faith in God is rational because He entered into His creation and we have a recorded history of that event. That recorded history is more extensive than for most of our well known historical figures. That history has been looked at and analyzed by many skeptics and their conclusion is that Jesus lived on this earth, died on the cross, and rose from the dead. Those events began a wave of faith in Christ that has survived time and has spread throughout the world.
Faith in God is rational because He has left us with a document that in detail tells us who He is, His purpose and His plan for mankind and the world. It is said that we know 99% accurately the words written in Scripture. Scripture tells a compelling story. It reveals accurate history. Its geography has proven accurate over and over again. Even more, it speaks to our heart and our need as fallen men and women in search of why we are here and what we should be doing with our lives.
Faith in God is rational because He joins Himself with those who trust in Him. He makes Himself known to them. This is no idle, pie in the sky, leap of faith. Christian’s throughout history have given testimony of God’s revelation directly to them. He is real in their lives. He lives. Christianity would have died long ago if this was not true. You can trust a Christian when he tells you how real God is to him. You can bank on it.
You don’t have to lose your mind to be a Christian. You have nature, Scripture, the testimony of believers, and more on which to rely. I would wager that if more people applied sound reasoning in their evaluation of the validity of a Christian faith, more of them would come to see how rational trusting in God really is.
Try a little logic for a moment. If the premises below are true, God exists. Metaphysics, mathematics, and science all support the major premises. Faith in God is not an irrational leap.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument
(1) Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.
(2) The universe has a beginning of its existence. Therefore:
(3) The universe has a cause of its existence.
(4) If the universe has a cause of its existence then that cause is God. Therefore:
(5) God exists.
The atheist/naturalist would say that the universe always existed. It had no beginning. Now that position, in the face of logic and science, takes a huge leap of faith. It just isn’t rational.