The Faith of Unbelief

Does believing in science require just as much faith as religion? Corey Widmer explores how it takes faith not only to believe in God, but also to not believe in Him.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. How might science "make God irrelevant" in some people's eyes?
  2. What do you think about Vanauken's suggestion that it takes just as much faith to believe Jesus is God as it does to believe he's not God?

There's a lot of popular scientists and philosophers. There's Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, others who have written really boldly, really strongly that, um, science has essentially not only disproved God, but made God irrelevant. They say there were centuries of, of human history where maybe God and religion was necessary to help explain the inexplicable things that we all face, um, in human life but now that we have science, now that science has basically proven the way that things exist, we don't need a idea of God anymore. I always feel like it's a little funny. It reminds me of what happened in 1961 when the Russians sent the first cosmonaut into space, and it was a very exciting moment for the whole world. First person, first human into space. And when he went into space, the mess- the message that he sent back to earth was, God is not here. He was essentially saying, "I have gone into space. I have gone to look for God, and because I do not see him, therefore God does not exist." And of course there's something really silly about that. I mean, the idea, the idea that we could observe God with human instrumentation, with the human eye is absurd and, and and if, if there is a God, if God is real, then I guess what I think is that God would be so big and so beyond us that you couldn't just observe him with like a telescope or in a lab. Uh, God would, God is not an object within the world. If anything, the world is within God, and there's no perspective within the world from which we can, can view God. When I was going through my own period of really severe doubt when I was studying philosophy in college, um, I read a book. It was called "A Severe Mercy" by a man named Sheldon Vanauken, and it was this story about, um, how, how he came to faith in Jesus. And he was an atheist. He was a very committed atheist, and he began to learn about Jesu,s and he began to struggle with this idea that Jesus could be God in the flesh. And he, and he told his parable— he calls it The Parable of the Cliff— and he said, "I imagined myself standing at this cliff and there was this huge gap in front of me, and it was a gap between me and God, and it was a gap that required me to have faith to believe that Jesus was God in the flesh." And he said, "I just did not feel that I had the faith to overcome that gap and get to the other side." But this is what he said. He said, "then I realized, I turned around, and there was a gap behind me as well. There was a gap before me, but by God, there was a gap behind me," and he realized, "I realized at that moment that it took just as much faith to believe that Jesus was God as it took to believe that he was not, and, and that, it's not as if it takes faith that, you know, it's "I'm a man of science, you're a man of faith." No, we're all people of faith. We all are basing our lives on basic presuppositions that cannot be proved. Yes, God cannot be proved, but he cannot be disproved either. And so I think when it comes to Jesus Christ, I think what, what ultimately kind of sent me over the gap was realizing, yeah, I needed to believe that this person, this man was God in the flesh, revealing the unobservable God to me. But I think what made me feel better about it, at least, was knowing that yes, it took faith to believe that but it took just as much faith to believe that he wasn't. And so when I got to the point of realizing that either way, I was going to be living by faith, um, that made it a little bit easier for me to, to step over the gap in front of me.